Christians are taught "all things work together for good."
This week, it's difficult to see how that can be true for the families and friends of the children and adults who died at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut Friday.
I am the mother of five children. They are grown now, but a mother always remembers her children as they were when they were young.
When Laurie was 6 years old, she was an instant mother's helper when triplet siblings joined the family. She would come home from school, put down her book bag and happily snuggle with a baby on the sofa.
When Drew was 6, he was Daddy's little dairy farm helper, spending much of his after-school time in the barn. He would gladly have lived on MacDonald's hamburgers.
Katie was a very obedient 6-year-old, and I have to say she was somewhat of a tattletale when her two triplet brothers were finding trouble. She was big on giving and receive hugs and was especially close to her Mom-Mom.
David liked to dress up and had a toy box full of hats. He also fell deeply in love with an all-black farm kitten he named Minny.
Jonathan showed signs of becoming a future crop farmer. As soon as he could toddle, he spent hours plowing and harvesting imaginary fields with Ertl tractors and machinery in the sandbox under a big maple tree in our yard.
At Christmastime, we baked and decorated cutout cookies, made "gingerbread" houses by gluing graham crackers together with royal icing and baked a birthday cake for Baby Jesus.
Who knew what they would be when they grew up? The world seemed full of possibilities for these young ones.
I am blessed to know how they all turned out as adults and to experience the love and joy their children bring into my life now.
Twenty mothers in Newtown, Conn., will not so lucky.
Perhaps seeing the tragedy of 27 deaths in a small New England community unfold from afar, where we can weep and feel anger from a distance without having to deal directly with the immeasurable loss, we can, after all, take something positive away from the experience for our own lives.
Politicians and pundits have already begun to take up the topics of gun legislation, school safety and funding for mental health and guidance programs. We don't know yet where these efforts will lead.
Many local school districts are now sending out reassurance to families.
A message was posted by Catasauqua Area School District on the Sheckler Elementary School Facebook site.
"If anyone has questions regarding school safety or advice regarding discussing this event with your child, please contact your building principal or guidance counselor," it said. "The safety and well-being of your children and our students is our highest priority."
As individuals, without waiting for our community and national leaders to take action, perhaps we can take steps to make this tragedy work for good in our lives.
We can enjoy the precious moments of the Christmas season without taking them for granted. We can remember there is never a promise of another holiday season for us in 2013 and spend some time appreciating the family and experiences we are privileged to have this year.
We can say "I love you" and "Thank you" and "You are appreciated" more often, knowing that no one's future is guaranteed.
I resolve to be a spark of happiness to strangers at the mall who may be feeling more holiday pressure than Christmas spirit.
I resolve to spend less time worrying about how the candied sweet potatoes turn out at Christmas dinner and more time sitting on the living room floor playing games with my grandchildren.
I will also tell my children how proud of them I am for meeting the many challenges of their lives, one day at a time.
Every moment with them will be that much more precious this year.