"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3
I pray this over all who mourn the tragic loss of life in Newtown, CT. I first heard of the horrific events while at school, in the 5th grade classroom where I teach. As many of you, I could not fully absorb what was happening. It was only later that the reality began to sink in- beautiful children, like my students, taken.
Perhaps it's too soon to hope for beauty, but perhaps not. Over the years, I've had the privilege to teach many wonderful children, and last year in particular I taught an exceptional girl. She is not exceptional because of her intelligence, beauty or maturity - although she possesses all of these traits, she is remarkable because of her generosity. Last year, she and a friend started making jewelry and sold it to benefit a local animal shelter. Over the summer, she and her cousin had a lemonade stand and used the profits to buy cookie dough. She made cookies and brought them to residents at a local nursing home. She sold the rest of the cookies to buy her mom a gift. She kept nothing for herself.
I told Corynne about our adoption when she came to visit my classroom before school opened in August. Since then, she has sent several emails updating me on her life and events and asking about how the adoption is going. Recently, we met for a "coffee date" today with her mom to catch up, and she proceeded to ask questions about the adoption and how things work, and then she told me about how she has been fundraising on my behalf. Corynne and her mom (who was in tears) explained how Corynne made a jar with a picture of the Ethiopian map on it, and began collecting money since we first talked about adoption. She gave all of the money she earned (did not keep a penny for herself), sold some of her toys, and took a special offering at church to give to our adoption. She then went into her book bag and handed me a crumbled wad of $20s. It took everything in me to fight back the tears (although I totally lost in when I got to the car). I truly witnessed a piece of Christ in that moment. Her joy in giving me this gift was astounding.
Through our adoption process we have witnessed more beauty, faith and generosity than you can imagine, and Corynne is a beautiful part of this story that only God can write. There is undeniable evil in the world, but today I was reminded today of the beauty.