I’m on vacation in one of my favorite places on earth- the Florida beach on the Gulf of Mexico.There’s a 7 mile stretch between Pensacola and Navarre called the Gulf Island National Seashore. It’s a protected area so there are absolutely no buildings- no high rise hotels, no restaurants, no bars, and no tatoo parlors; only a 2 lane road with a 35 mph speed limit. It’s the beautiful beach the way God made it. Two years ago when we drove through with our kids, I told Tom, “One day, I want to come back and run this gorgeous stretch. You can drop me off and pick me up on the other side”.
Well, the “one day” just arrived today! I excitedly prepared for my run of beauty which included lots of sunscreen, lots of water, and my favorite sunglasses. There were special signs placed all along the road reading “Shorebird nesting- 20 mph”. How cute- the Mamma birds are nesting so the cars need to drive even slower. Just perfect!!! Maybe I’ll see a nest or two. I just can’t wait!
It wasn’t long before my “How cute!” turned into “Hey!!! what’s going on???” I had no more run 100 yards when these cute mamma shore birds starting flying overhead, screeching and dive bombing my head- obviously threatened by my presence. Tom and I were running the first few miles together, and I was a few steps behind him laughing at the one brave bird who got within a foot of his head, swooping down over and over. Laughter soon turned to dismay as the number of birds increased and I started hearing splats hit the ground beside me. How could my much anticipated run in such a beautiful location be so full of poop?
It was then that I remembered a word picture given by Dan Cruver at the Together for Adoption convention in Atlanta last fall. He said that adoption is the road between beauty and brokenness. Adoption is so beautiful because it pictures what Christ does for us- taking us as His children and calling us His own. But it is only possible because of brokenness in our world. Dan said that he realized this as he stood on a road in Haiti with the beautiful emerald ocean on one side and a mass grave with thousands of hurricane victims buried on the other. As I ran along today trying to dodge the bird poop falling down, I also thought of my own adopted children. They are so beautiful and were so anticipated. Yet because of their early years of abandonment and institutionalization, they have a lot of yuck to work through in their hearts and lives.
This sometimes translates into difficult parenting. But isn’t that the reality of adoption?
When I reached the other side of the Gulf Island National Seashore an hour later, I was covered in bird poop. But along the way I chose to enjoy the beautiful white sand, listen to the roll of waves, smell the salty air, feel the breeze on my face, and thank God for my wonderful, adopted children.