Broken Shells

Walking along the beach, most people pass by the broken shells as they look for the perfect ones. Sandy Ley did the same as she walks close to the water’s edge as her husband Mike searches closer to the dunes for sea beans, messages in a bottle and anything else of interest. For years, Sandy stepped over the broken shells as she looked for the whole ones to take home to be cleaned and displayed.

The beach combing community loves to share their treasure stories with others who also enjoy time on the beach. A Canadian friend told the Leys about a book which inspired her to stop and pick up broken shells.

“My Beautiful Broken Shell” by Carol Hambler Adams with Paintings by D. Morgan is a small book of narrative poetry which shares the author’s experience during a time when she felt frightened, discouraged and alone. Adams realized she was broken just like the scallop shell she had discarded.

Adams continues to share her thoughts, such as:

“Broken shells inspire others

and demonstrate the will to go on

in a way that no perfect shell

could ever do.”


“Broken shells are shells

that have been tested…

and tried…and hurt…

yet they don’t quit.

They continue to be.”

The Canadian friend told the Leys she shares the broken shells she found while beach combing with patients in a clinic in her small home town. She felt the patients found comfort holding these small shell fragments during stressful times.

Sandy bought the book, read it and thought, “We had been seeing these (broken clam) shells for years but never picked very many up because we didn’t know what to do with them. Now we had a purpose.”


Sandy said the pieces of clam shells are certainly beautiful and everyone who looks at and touches them is just fascinated with the look and feel of the smooth  edges. The Leys have found these all along the Gulf of Mexico beaches – a few at a time or layers deep.

Sandy's Necklace 2

In the spring of 2016, one of Sandy’s very good friends’ daughter-in-law was struggling with cancer. A broken shell was given to her. Every friend seems to have a loved one with health concerns so a beautiful broken shell is given to each friend. Some are used to create a simple necklace so the shell can be worn close to the heart.

With the shell gift, Sandy includes a note with her own paraphrased message:

“My Beautiful Broken Shell”

“A person can be compared to a shell. Some are whole, some are broken but still very beautiful. A broken shell teaches us to look at the beauty of what is left. Whether your body is broken from illness or injury or your heart is broken from loss, it is still beautiful.

You may have had lots of tears, lots of pain and struggles, but you have learned endurance, faith and strength. “Broken shells have been tested, tried, hurt but they don’t quit – they continue to be!”

Use this broken shell as a worry stone, pray with it or just carry it for luck.”

Sandy Ley found a purpose for the beautiful broken shells she once had stepped over and passed by.




2 thoughts on “Broken Shells

  1. Love this story. I had never heard of this book but I’m going to buy it when I can. The one I read and bought again after many years is by Anne Morrow Lindberg Gift from the Sea. I read it as a twenty years old and it moved with me everywhere but a few years ago they did construction in my house and a lot of stuff was lost. I love the story of the broken shell. I have migraines virtually half of the month so next time I see a broken shell I’ll have a necklace made with it.


Comments are closed.