Monthly Archives: December 2012

COMFORT and JOY Comfort Dogs Help Heal Newtown, CT

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Reflections from Tim Hetzner – President of Lutheran Church Charities

Reflections from the heart from Friday, December 14th – Sandy Hook Tragedy

Since hearing of the shootings early on the 14th, to being invited out with our Comfort Dogs that same day, leaving at 6 am Saturday, arriving Saturday night with 10 LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and handlers – it all now seems like a blur.

It was nonstop – and in many ways still is as we prepare to return for the opening of school on January 2nd. Every emotion plays in – crying, hugging, smiling, listening, being in awe. My heart bleeds for the families of those who lost young children in this way, and the loss of respected teachers and workers. I don’t know if I could ever experience what they feel. I do know this! In darkness, light always shines through! In evil acts, God’s mercy and goodness always prevails!

A close friend asked me today if I had the emotional strength to go back; we are leaving at 3 am on January 1st. My answer was NO, but we have to – it is what we do with the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs – bringing the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering. To bring comfort and healing to those who suffer. To see how the Almighty Creator works through one of his creation – these golden retrievers – and to see how tired they are but how anxious they are to return – well – THEY KNOW, YES THEY KNOW, they know that they have to go back – and they are ready! God also knows where He wants us!

Please continue to keep the town and surrounding area of Newtown, Connecticut in your prayers. Everyone there are incredible people! I have learned so much from them and their love for each other and their courage! So this is my reflection, – the “rest of the story” – we’ll let the pictures of the Comfort Dogs with the children and people speak for themselves.

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To all who have supported in prayer and financially to make our trip possible – I say THANK YOU!

God Bless YOU! Please continue to keep ALL in your prayers,

Tim

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Every day of our lives is recorded in Your book…

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I still can’t make sense of the tragic incident in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary, but now I’ve had a little more time to process the situation.  Actually, I know I’ll never be able to make sense out of what happened as it makes completely no sense.  

However, there is something that does make sense.  I know how deeply God loves His children.  I know the story of how Jesus wept upon learning about the death of a loved one.  I believe He wept again on Friday.  

I began to reflect on one of my favorite Psalms, one that I’ve referenced before: Psalm 139. The Lord knows everything about us.  He knows when we sit and when we rise. Every moment He knows where we are.  He knows what we are going to say before we say it. He places a hand of blessing on our heads.  If we go up to the heaven,  He is there.  Even in darkness we cannot hide from Him.

He knit us together inside of our mothers.  He watched us being formed.  He saw us before we were born.  He recorded every day of our lives in His book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.    His thoughts of us are innumerable.  The fact is, we are His.  Each one of us is on this earth for an unknown number of days.  Each of us has a purpose.  Some make it much longer than others.  We don’t know why.  God does though.

God will be able to do something with Sandy Hook that not a one of us can.  He will make something good come out of this horrific experience.  His grace will pour over His people.  It will not hurt less.  It will not be understandable.  There will be anger and pain.  That is our humanness.  God will bring together family members who have been split apart.  He will reignite relationships that have nearly burned out.  God will make someone unexpectedly do a great kindness that helps people beyond measure.  God will do something that is positive because we know in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Difficult times are ahead as well.  For those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior they will find these times even more trying.  Some people may draw apart instead of together.  They need our love and prayers. Death is never easy under any circumstance.  We must not judge how it is handled.  It is an ending, and when we love so deeply we also feel enormous pain from the loss.  God doesn’t take away the pain, but He walks with us through it.  For those who believe we know that we ultimately rest in comfort in God’s loving arms.   I pray 26 people are there now and they are rejoicing in the presence of their Lord.  

This doesn’t address why God allows things like this to happen.  It is a question that can’t be answered.  For me I have to remind myself that life on this earth is not the end all-be all. That awaits for me in Heaven.  

I continue to pray for Sandy Hook, the families and community.  My heart continues to ache.  However, my faith in our Father is also certain and I trust Him.   Please continue to pray that people are healed and not separated but joined in faith and love.

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God why?

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My heart is broken to learn of the devastating shooting that took place earlier today in Newton, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  At current reporting 26 adults and children have been killed.  I don’t understand why.  I’ll never understand why.  Please pray for the families, relatives, friends and the community.  The impact of this event will be far-reaching.  We need God’s healing hands and loving arms to be wrapped around us all right now.  It will be easy for people to say there is no God or that He doesn’t care.  We know God exists.  We know we have redemption through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  There is no explanation I can think of for this tragedy.  For now I will share a Psalm of comfort, dwell on its words and pray.  The fear the victims confronted now rests in the loving arms of Jesus and they are at rest in Heavenly peace.

Psalm 73: 21-26

When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

 

My Matrix moment

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I’m reclassifying my current state as my Matrix moment.  Do you recall the first time you saw the movie The Matrix with Keanu Reeves?  It had those super cool freeze moments where Keanu would be in battle, leap in the air in some amazing body-contorting posture and then to defy gravity the cinematographer would freeze the position for a few seconds before reality ensued again?  That’s how I’m feeling about life right now. Although I’m not looking anywhere near as cool as Keanu did in his black leather duster and Neo sunglasses–but, I could you know!

In my last post I talked about thinking my life direction was going to be clarified based on an event that took place last weekend, but it only confused me more.  I was driving yesterday and this vision of me in that Neo-Matrix moment crossed my mind.  I was running forward, even in battle, if you will, and all the sudden everything stopped.  There was a moment where I took a leap that I thought would finish off the battle, but I got caught in that gravity defying Cirque du soleil trick and I’m just frozen in the air right now.  

Except I’m not really frozen.  I’m moving forward.  I’m not just waiting.  Life calls and I have to continue on with all that.  Let’s say instead that the subject of directionally where my life is ultimately headed is frozen for the moment.  The rest of me is running quickly like a rodent on a hamster wheel.  

The good news- I do know where I’m ultimately headed.  I do know who is in charge and He is much more inventive and creative than I.  He’s got plans I can’t begin to fathom.  I’m working on changing my attitude to anticipating what is in store vs. looking with gloom at what I’m going to HAVE to do next.  

I heard a speaker on the radio sharing a story about the three men who were sent to the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar to burn to death.  This is the Bible story from Daniel.  As you recall, the king did not succeed.  God intervened and the men, though smack dab in the middle of the fire, were not even charred.  The commentator made the point that God did not save the men FROM the fire.  He saved the men IN the fire.  That was deep for me.  God lets us have a multitude of experiences in our lives, both good and bad, AND he walks with us through each and every one of them.  

His love endures forever.  

Psalm 124: Our help is from the Lord who made Heaven and earth!

 

Release

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This past weekend my life direction was supposed to become clearer to me.  All the loose ends were to be tidied up and I was going to know how my life would be changing in the coming months.  I’m currently job interviewing and opportunities keep taking my family and me out of state.  We don’t really know what we are supposed to do.  I’ve questioned why leaving this state, where I’m comfortably surrounded by family and friends, seems inevitable.  Doors don’t seem to be opening where we live now.  

In response to my changing employment situation, we put our house on the market to bring our cost of living down.  Unexpectedly we sold it in three days.  It must be for a reason.  In this market, who sells their home in three days?  Our closing is mid-January.   We don’t currently have a place to live after the closing. This past weekend was going to clarify if my family and I would be staying or going and show us where we would probably be spending the next few years of our lives.  We could then figure out our living arrangements.

This weekend didn’t go as planned.   God didn’t make anything surrounding my circumstances abundantly clear.  In fact, this weekend created greater confusion for me.  What could be the purpose of that?  Am I not ready?  Is something better out there?  Am I being tested?  Am I not getting something?  Is the answer right in front of my face?  Were my expectations way off course?  

Maybe God’s direction to me is getting lost in translation some how.  It can’t be that He’s not answering yet, can it?   Am I not passing the test?   Do I need more testing because once again I’m not  faithfully trusting Him completely?  Does God know that we don’t have a home to live in after mid-January? Does God know we need more income for our outgo?  Are my prayers being translated in a language God doesn’t understand?  Are His answers being translated in a language I don’t understand?

Hmmmm, lots of questions today.  You know what?  I don’t know the answers.  God hasn’t provided them yet- at least not in a way I easily recognize.  The answers aren’t lost.  They just haven’t arrived yet.  It’s not time.  I’m not in control of this situation. Therefore, I am forced to trust in God’s wisdom or drive myself crazy.  I know what the crazy choice is like.  So instead, I need to trust.  Trust with all my heart, all my soul, all my being.  Every cell of my body needs to trust Him.  

As I write this I close my eyes occasionally to try and experience the trust.  To experience completely letting go. I can feel it for a second- complete release.  Then my mind brings me back.  I try again.  It makes me smile.  

I’m going to keep working on it.  It seems the more frequently I release the better I feel. The anxiety subsides.  It’s freeing.  I wish this freedom for you today.  I’ll wait for the answer.  It will come.

Psalm 118:5  In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and rescued me.