Saturday, August 8, 2015

People and shells, shells and people

     This past week I went on a 3 day adventure with my mom and daughter. If you missed it, you can catch up here : . As I was combing the beaches , sifting through piles, I saw something in the process that I had never noticed before. Shells are an awful lot like people. I know, it sounds like a stretch but just hang in there and allow me to explain.
     Of course, there is the obvious, all shells, just as people, are created by God . All have some of the same characteristics, yet all are unique in their own way. Some are black. Some are white. Some are multi-colored, and the rest are all shades in between. There are many different sizes, some are tiny. Some are large. The rest are in between.

Some shells are smooth. Some are rough around the edges.There are skinny shells and fat ones. There are ones that you can find hundreds of in a short period of time ( like the ones pictured above) and then there are the more rare ones that there are fewer of ( like the ones pictured here.)
No two shells are exactly alike, yet every one of them starts out the same. Seashells are the exoskeletons of mollusks such as snails, clams, oysters and many others. Such shells have three distinct layers and are composed mostly of calcium carbonate with only a small quantity of protein--no more than 2 percent. These shells, unlike typical animal structures, are not made up of cells. Mantle tissue that is located under and in contact with the shell secretes proteins and mineral extracellularly to form the shell. Think of laying down steel (protein) and pouring concrete (mineral) over it. Thus, seashells grow from the bottom up, or by adding material at the margins. Since their exoskeleton is not shed, molluscan shells must enlarge to accommodate body growth. This pattern of growth results in three distinct shell layers: an outer proteinaceous periosteum (uncalcified), a prismatic layer (calcified) and an inner pearly layer of nacre (calcified).
    As the creature inside of the shell grows, so does the shell Once the sea creature living within a shell dies, the empty shell washes up on the shore to be found by someone like me, who finds beauty in them and their purpose.The ocean is unforgiving, tossing everything inside of it to and fro every minute of every day. Shells are hard to protect the creature inside but they aren't indestructible. There comes a time when the constant pounding of the ocean will produce chips, cracks, and gouges. Just as a shell can be broken, so can we. Sometimes the constant pounding of life chips away at us, cracks our hearts, and gouges our souls.The blemishes caused by the storms of life aren't always immediately evident. At first glance the exterior still looks whole and perfect.


A closer look reveals the damage done to the interior.
     There are times in this journey called life that we feel washed up and abandoned upon the shore. Every once in a while someone like me runs across the broken shells that other's may leave laying and I pick them up and take them home because I see beauty in the brokenness. Every once in a while someone will see the beauty in a broken abandoned soul and love it regardless of it's blemishes and even if that never happens, God still does. Our heavenly Father created us , each one of us with some the same characteristics as everyone else, but all absolutely totally different than everyone else. He sees our brokenness even when no one else can. He sees past the chips, cracks, and gouges. He leans down, picks us up in His massive loving hands, and takes us home after the life within us ends.

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