Every year at the beach we search for strawberries in the sand. One of us will return from a long walk on the beach and announce, “I found six strawberries!” The others of us will admire the find and tell the lucky finder how pretty the strawberries are. Each day more of us will search and find our strawberries and we’ll talk about whose is the pinkest or which has its wings intact.
Strawberries in the sand are actually calico scallop shells and the “wings” are technically called ears. I’m not sure how the shells came to be known to us as strawberries but I can guess it’s because of the red, maroon, or rose colors found on most of them. However the “strawberry” name happened, it stuck. We even call the black scallops, “black strawberries”.
We throw the barnacle-encrusted strawberries back into the waves and continue our hunt. Our favorite strawberries are deep purples or vibrant pinks with no holes and both wings. If the colors are especially beautiful or unique enough, then holes and wings make no difference.
We’ve been calling them by the name for so long we forget that others don’t know about it. A newcomer to our beach gathering gives strange looks when we talk about searching for strawberries on the beach.
It’s just one of our things. Like chocolate gravy on Christmas Eve and stargazing in the back of a pickup on hot August nights, gathering stalks of cotton from the fields in October, or The Sound of Music the day after Thanksgiving.
Every year we go to the beach to gather with friends and family. One of our favorite things is to look for shells. The shells that catch my eye are the broken
pieces….like these. The ones that have been broken so long and been tumbled around in the ocean so much that their edges are smoothed out and rounded.
God notices the broken too. Broken ones like you and me. The ones with shattered dreams and splintered lives. Those of us wondering what’s next because everything we’ve known before is gone. The weary ones and sick ones and those of us asking what it’s all for. The ones of us with doubts and fears. Those with regrets and mistakes and failures stacked up high. Those of us on the edge of something new but scared to take the leap.
He sees you. But more than that….He loves you.
Give Him your broken heart. All of it. Your questions too. All of them.
He makes beautiful things out of broken ones.
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. ” Psalm 51:17 NIV
Here’s how I repurposed
some of the broken shells I’ve found…….a frame for one of our beach pictures.
Several years ago I saw an interesting mailbox. I don’t make a habit of noticing mailboxes but when I walked by this one…..well….that’s the thing. I couldn’t walk by it. My daughter and I stopped and looked at it for a long time. The entire mailbox was covered with a collection of trinkets, shells, shiny things, tiny things, buttons, and all other sorts of fun pieces and symbols.
Since then, I’ve saved my own little charms, jewels, shells and trinkets. I’ve attached the items to a wooden chest and created my own little wonder. I don’t buy the trinkets to use in this project. I use things we have around the house that are no longer needed, or I find the items. All the shells are kindly provided to me by the Atlantic Ocean.
The broken pieces of shells smoothed out by tumbling in the ocean, hearts, bottle caps, and flowers adorn the top. There are rocks, and stars, and bows. Several earrings that lost its other, a lollipop, a snowflake, and a fleur de lis. There’s a butterfly, a horseshoe, a cross, and other tiny things.
I’m still collecting…….it’s a work in progress. Eventually the treasures that I collect and save on the inside will be on the outside. The entire chest will be covered with symbols, charms, and lots of things that sparkle.