When Celebration and Sadness Collide

As many of you know, Chris and I are welcoming a new bundle of joy into our family very soon. We are so excited, and the kids are overjoyed to have a little brother! We have had so many fun conversations about what it will be like to have a baby around for them. They are all great helpers who love to serve. When they get excited, we sit and talk about all of their questions. Many nights, they will come over to me unprompted to surprise me with a foot massage or to read a book to baby Micah.

One night, A said that he liked that we were a colorful family, that all of our skin tones are so different. K responded with, “Yes. I think it will be so fun to have a white brother. I’ve got one really dark brother (pointing to B), one lighter brother (pointing to A), and now I will have one really white brother!” We’re all laughing and talking about it, when all of the sudden, B turns to us with his jaw dropped and says, “Wait a minute! Baby Micah is going to be WHITE?!?!” Hahaha. So we explained to him that a baby gets his traits from his biological mom and dad, and B explains that he thought that if you were born in the United States, your skin would be white. But if you were born in Honduras, then your skin would be brown. We all just laughed and laughed and laughed. It has been so fun to celebrate and learn about babies as a family!

This last Saturday, we were surprised with a baby shower hosted by some teachers at the local public school where I teach, and many women from the sewing clinic also came. It was so special for us. We received so many sacrificial gifts. Gifts made with love and gifts given from the heart. And we had tons of fun!  Then on Sunday, we had a “virtual” baby shower with our home church and family, and we were truly showered with love! We felt love from afar, bridging the gap of distance, and letting us know that we are not forgotten. We are prayed for and loved on even when we don’t realize it!

It was so special… We were reveling in the joy of it all when K asked me a question… “If we were born from your body, would we have had baby showers too?”

Everyone wants to say that a foster child or an adopted child is no different than a biological child. But that’s not true. My love for them is the same. But I never got to celebrate their births. We never had baby showers for them. I never got to feel them kick inside of me. My grandma didn’t get to make their first baby quilt, and my mom didn’t get to cross stitch their first blanket. The reality of this is all very sad. It’s sad for me and for K that I will never be able to show her what she looked like as a baby or a toddler. B and A will never know what their first words were or how much they weighed when they were born. But we will have all of these things with Micah? So what happens when A says, “That’s not fair.” What happens when B asks why we only have baby pictures and memory boxes of Micah.

Where does the sadness end and the celebration begin? Or can the two coincide? How can we grieve loss and celebrate fullness?

This may sound silly, but after I prayed for a clear explanation and understanding for myself and our kiddos, the first thing God filled my head with was the movie Inside Out. If you haven’t watched it, basically the whole theme of the movie is that we have to let ourselves feel sadness and not just cover it up with fake joy. Then our joy can be real. So that’s how I have tried to explain it to the kids. First, they all have permission to be sad about the hardships life has thrown them.

But secondly, God reminded me of this verse: Psalm 30:11-12

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

And it reminded me once again of the line we have discussed over and over with our kids from day one.  GOD USES BAD THINGS FOR HIS GOOD.  So I talked to the kids about this. We are allowed to be sad. Life has been hard, and Satan sure knows how to throw curve balls that can be devastating. But when God uses your experiences or your tragedies for His good, there is celebration right in the middle of the sadness! There is a joy that comes in the morning!

The kids’ responses were so sweet. K asked, “Do you think that God has used the bad in my life to make me understand and love Buddy so much?” (Buddy is the nickname of the Bowman’s youngest little one.) “That is God’s good coming from the bad, right?”  Yes. Most definitely. That’s the joy coming in the morning! That’s what happens when we truly feel that grief, but we let God use it for His kingdom! That’s where the sadness turns to celebration.