Mrs. Dunlap, my teacher at the one-room school, thought long and hard about a craft we could do for Mother’s Day. For Christmas we had made and painted candle holders out of Plaster-Of-Paris. Last year we painted a shapely jelly jar with paint that cracked and made beautiful designs similar to ice crystals that form on a window in the winter. Our tissue-crafted carnations on green pipe cleaners looked beautiful in our royal blue, hot pink, or emerald green crackled vases for Mother’s Day. Our handmade gifts were epic, and we wanted nothing less this year.
“We are going to make fried marble necklaces for your mothers today,” Mrs. Dunlap announced.
“Fried Marbles?” we questioned? “What are fried marbles?”
“We are going to fry marbles,” she explained. “We will have to be very careful because we will use the stove in the teacherage,” (the one-room apartment the teacher of the one-room school lived in during the school year). “Then when the marbles are very hot, we will drop them into ice-cold water. You’ll see what happens.”
She showed us the clear glass marbles. “I only want 2 or 3 students at a time,” she said. The rest of you can work on your Mother’s Day cards.
Mrs. Dunlap took two fifth-grade students and one third-grade student first. I picked out a pink sheet of construction paper for my Mother’s Day card. I wanted this Mother’s Day to be the most special day ever.
“Okay, who would like to be next,” Mrs. Dunlap asked when the first group finished their marbles. My hand shot up, and Mrs. Dunlap nodded toward me and Ellen.
“Look at these!” Candace exclaimed when we entered the teacherage. “Aren’t they pretty?”
“How did you do that?” Ellen asked.
“You’ll see,” chuckled Mrs. Dunlap. “First, we start with a clear marble. Uh, you better choose two. We had a few break with the last group.”
We each chose two clear glass marbles and placed them in the hot frying pan on the stove. We rolled the marbles around in the pan until they were very hot. Then Mrs. Dunlap took a spoon, scooped up the marbles, and dropped them into a pan of iced water.
When she dropped the hot marbles into the icy water, they shattered inside, making them look like diamonds. One of them broke in half, just like she had said.
“They are so pretty!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, I didn’t know if I was going to like this fried marble idea, but it’s really cool,” Ellen agreed.
Once we all had a beautiful shattered marble, Mrs. Dunlap helped us glue the “gem” to the finding (the metal piece that holds the gemstone), and we admired the beautiful gold chain necklaces. This was the best Mother’s Day present we had ever made.
I often thought about that shattered marble. To my young mind, it was beautiful. We took an ordinary marble and submitted it to extreme heat, then suddenly thrust into the icy water. It was that process that brought out its beauty.
How much is that like any process God has created for beauty? The extreme pressure it takes to create a diamond, the upheaval, volcanic activity, and erosion it takes to create and carve the majestic mountains, and the death and cold darkness of the earth for a seed as it turns into a seedling ultimately making a forest!
How much is that like you and me?
John 16:33 | I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
2 Corinthians | 12:10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
James 1:2-4 | Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Even when hardship is brought on by ourselves due to drifting away or rebellion from God, He may discipline us to bring us back to himself.
Hebrews 12:6-8 | My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined–and everyone undergoes discipline–then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
When we were children, we were unblemished. Our skin was clear, our hearts delighted in simple pleasures. We grow and experience difficulties; we are told to share, taught to be helpers, sent to school, and soon have conflicts with peers. Not everything goes our way.
The pressures of life set in, but that is necessary to make us grow up.
There is deep beauty found in submission to God’s will, a calm maturity that develops through the good and bad times, working, raising children, being a good neighbor, enduring sorrow, and enjoying life day after day, year after year. Some are called home sooner, and we are shattered only to be held together by our heavenly Father.
And then one day, when you look in the mirror, a young person will no longer look back at you. At first it’s hard to believe, because you don’t feel any different. But then you smile because you realize that fading outward beauty and the shattered dreams of things hoped for have been replaced by an inner beauty. That inner beauty is unmistakable to your family and friends who have gained their strength and encouragement by your example.
The wrinkles that decorate your face are telltale lines of a life well-lived. Laughing, crying, smiling lines. Lines of deepest sorrow and unspeakable joys. Lines of concern when your children start to drive or move away. Lines of love and hope and contentment. Greying hair, the crowning glory of a life well spent.
“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” Benjamin Franklin
“You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for leading me through the years, and giving me strength and faith through times of difficulty. I thank you that when I was shattered, you kept every piece in place, and I am a living testimony of your goodness. Help me walk upright, confident of your love. I know I am a child of the most high God. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. He who knew no sin became sin for me. I pray for an outpouring of your Holy Spirit as I continue to move in faith that I might impact the world around me for eternity. In Jesus Name. Amen.