Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It if matters to you, it matters to Him

My God is a God of love, and He makes it very clear to me on a regular basis that what matters to me, matters to him. When I pray, He is always faithful in answering my prayers. He always hears me, and always responds. I could recount so many stories for you of times when He has responded in amazing ways, miraculous ways; but when I consider the title of this post, one particular story springs to mind - a story that clearly demonstrates in my life that even the little things matter to Him if they matter to us.

Last year, hubby and I took our kids to the Brookfield show. It's not quite the same as the Murwillumbah show (my home town), not particularly exciting, very expensive, and if you have small children there are only about 2 rides that they can go on. None the less we headed to Brookfield for the annual highway robbery ehem... I mean show. Hubby was working, so we were meeting him there when he had a break for an hour or so before he went back to work. I rolled up, and pulled the pram out of the car. As I did so my wedding ring flew off my finger, and I saw (and heard) it roll straight across the narrow country road and into the mud and grass on the other side of the road. Uh oh! I kept my eyes firmly on the spot where it landed, and crossed the road to find it, but a couple of cars passed in between the ring and I, causing me to lose my focus. When I got to the other side the grass was tall, so before long I realised I had no real hope of finding it. Great! this trip just got a whole lot more expensive, I thought to myself as I got the kids out of the car. It was just my gold wedding band, thankfully not the engagement ring, but still valuable to me.

We met up with super-hubby and had a nice time at the show. I spent a few moments praying we'd find the ring, and then put it out of my mind. We returned to the car an hour or so later, and again I prayed we'd find it, and in complete faith we set about searching through the mud, grass and leaves in about the spot where I'd seen it land. My hope started to dwindle as there was no sign of it, and I opened the back of the SUV to put the pram away. I laid down the tailgate, folded up the pram, shoved it in the back, and as I reached down to close the tailgate I saw my ring sitting there - in the middle of the tailgate! It was even standing up on its side...haha!

Now I'm sure I could come up with  list of logical, natural explanations for how my ring ended up standing on its side on the tailgate of my car- that is, if I hadn't seen it roll across to the other side of the road and land in the mud. Finding my lost wedding ring is not earth-shatteringly amazing, it might even be considered insignificant in the eyes of most people... But that's the point. Big or small, it mattered to me, so it mattered to Him

As I said earlier, this is just one of many answered prayers that I could recount - and many are far more spectacular than this. But sometimes it's the little things He does for us that can really show us how much we mean to Him.

If you've never experienced Gods love, or an answered prayer on this way maybe it's because you haven't asked...what have you got to lose?  In my experience, He always responds in some way.

If it matters to you, it matters to Him.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Five tips to get you started towards a healthier life for you and your family

We're surrounded by information - it comes at us constantly, everyday - over the airwaves, on our smart phones, computers, tv, radio, and from well-meaning friends and family. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed! I know that happens to me, especially when discussing how to live a healthy lifestyle and raise children with a solid understanding of how to look after their own health when they become responsible adults (one day way in the distant future!!! Yikes it's going fast!).

Lately I've been delving deeper into this area, and am finding a wealth of information on every possible related subject - too much information in fact! Some of you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by just getting food into your kids each day, much less thinking about how to make sure they get all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc that they need each day, and how to reduce the chemical-load on their little systems. It's mind boggling at times!

So, I thought it might be useful if I put together five simple things that you can do to get started on the journey, and that way you can take one step at a time... or five steps at once, it's up to you!

If you're like me, you find the terms 'parabens', 'sulphites', 'trichlosan', 'preservatives', 'BPA', and so on seem to be everywhere. It can seem impossible to avoid all of the nasties when you have a house to maintain, a budget to keep, and children to feed. Sometimes it's good to take a step back, inhale, and start from the beginning.

I firmly believe that God has provided us with everything we need in our natural environment for healthy living. To that end, here are some simple tips to utilise God's provision to get started on a new lifestyle that will help your family to live healthier, happier lives.

1. Ditch the margarine (or anything permutation of it!).
The companies that make this stuff have done a marvelous job of convincing us that lower fat is better for us and artificial is better than natural somehow. All natural butter is chock full of nutrients and vitamins, along with the fats that growing bodies (and not growing bodies) need. In moderation, butter is good for us! Margerine is not! I found a butter at Coles called 'Spreadable Dairy Blend' that seems to be pretty good, I'm sure there are many others out there. All it contains is Cream (70%), Canola Oil (27%), Water, Salt and Vitamins (A & D). If in doubt, find a spread that has the shortest list of ingredients possible.

2. Start to empty your cupboards of all chemical cleaning products.
Antibacterial products are actually causing us worse long term health problems than they are solving by strengthening the bacteria that's out there and weakening our immune systems; and all those chemicals are terrible for your health and that of your kids. Asthma, allergies, repeated infections, food intolerances, ADHD and behavioural issues, and many other common ailments can be the result of too much exposure to chemicals through using these cleaning products in our homes (combined with the chemical load of the outside world). Instead, start to use bicarb (baking) soda and vinegar - they will clean most of your home. Lemon juice can come in handy too. There are also other products out there such as Borax, Liquid Castille Soap, Essential oils (many of which are naturally antibacterial) and tonnes of information on the internet about cleaning with all natural products. And another advantage of losing the chemicals in your home is that the earth benefits as well!

3. Buy organic
One of the most common herbicides used the world over, if swished around in your mouth and then spat out again, causes certain death within minutes from respiratory failure! And we eat products that have this stuff all over them! No wonder the incidence of asthma has increased exponentially as the use of this herbicide has spread! Herbicides and pesticides are everywhere, and not only are they toxic, but they also prevent our bodies from fully absorbing the nutrients in our food. So, even if we were eating a completely balanced nutritious diet (which of course we all are... haha!), we can't absorb all of the vitamins and minerals we need. Buying organic will reduce the chemical interference that asails your body on a daily basis, and will help restore balance and health as you eat nutritious food and better absorb the nutrients in that food.

I know that it can seem as though organic is too expensive, but it's definitely improved. We buy all organic fruit and veges now, and our weekly bill isn't any higher, as we've stopped buying expensive chemical cleaning and personal hygene products, so it all evens out in the end!

4. Buy all natural (and preferably organic) personal care products.
Did you know that all soaps, shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, mouthwashes, moisturisers and makeup products from the major brands contain sulphites (like sodium laurel sulphate), parabens, chemical preservatives, artificial colours and fragrances, and the list goes on? We're putting these things on our skin and on our children's skin! Time to ditch the traditional personal care products, and instead select all natural, organic products. Instead of buying that brand name shower gel, buy an organic one made from natural products. Instead of the expensive shampoo, go organic or better still, wash your hair with bicarb (baking soda), and rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar and water. It's cheap, it makes your hair unbelievably soft, doesn't strip it of natural oils, and isn't carcinogenic (unlike most shampoos). All-natural makeup is a must as well, and there are quite a few good, even affordable, ones available now days (such as 'Nude by Nature').

5. Use supplements to replace vitamins, minerals and good bacteria in your body.
We try to avoid giving our children anti-biotics too often, but let's face it sometimes they need them and thank goodness we have them available! However, after a round of anti-biotics, it's so important to replace the good bacteria in their little stomachs (and yours as well if you've had anti-biotics). Pro-biotics are great and come in a variety of forms. You can take capsules, or drink a pro-biotic drink (kids love these), or they also come in powdered form. I'm no expert, but I've heard that there is a pretty big gap in quality between the good and bad pro-biotics, so ask around if you're not sure. I've been recommended the ones from http://www.return2health.net/.

Vitamins are also a must. As mentioned before, our diets just don't contain enough vitamins, and that's IF we're eating well. On top of the chemical interferance there's also overfarming of soil, animals being fed the wrong foods and then passing this onto us (ie. grass fed beef contains many times more essential vitamins than grain fed beef does), and much more. Imagine how few vitamins we're getting if we don't get (among other things) green leafy vegetables, fish oil, protein, seeds, nuts, grains and wheat germ into our diet everyday! Vitamin C is known for its ability to support our immune systems when we're sick, but it does a lot more than that and can be taken every day. We should also be taking B Complex, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and for those of us who are paranoid of sunburn Vitamin D as well. There are of course many other nutrients contained in a standard multi-vitamin that are essential for good health, but I think we should take these other vitamins on top of a standard multi-vitamin (this is for us adults) as the quanities in these tablets are based on recommended daily intakes that assume we're getting three organic, balanced meals each day and not snacking on empty calories (which of couse we aren't, right???:-)).

There you have it!

I tried to keep it simple, but got a bit verbose at times. I guess my biggest advice would be to do the research yourself if you're not sure. But hopefully these five tips might help you get started on a journey towards better health for you and your family.

I'd love to hear your tips on healthy living as well!

Bron xo

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Naturally good

So I know that a lot of people have switched to all natural cleaning supplies for their homes because they realise just how bad the chemical load of these products is for our family's health, immune systems etc, and for the environment (not to mention the hip pocket), but how many of us have switched to all natural for the things that we put on our skin (that are then absorbed directly into our bodies!)?

I have been remiss in this area, and am gradually switching over to all natural for everything we use in our home, including my skin care regime (I say regime, but let's face it - it's really just a cleanser and some moisturiser).

So, I've been trying out a few home remedies lately, and I have to say that they are really enjoyable to use and so easy to put together and very inexpensive.

I thought I'd share with you my latest experiment, yesterday I made an exfolient (recipe follows), and it was very nice!

It contains lemon juice and bicarb (baking) soda. That's it!

Why lemon? Because it...
  • Cleans (it's even anti-bacterial)
  • softens
  • exfoliates
  • brightens, repairs (goodbye age spots and blemishes!)
  • contains vitamins (such as C, a great anti-oxidant)
  • shrinks pores
  • detoxifies
  • smooths wrinkles
Why bicarb (baking) soda? Because it...
  • cleans
  • exfoliates
All you have to do is squeeze a couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice into a small bowl, add a teaspoon of bicarb soda, watch it fizz away, then dip a cotton wipe into the mixture and gently rub all over your face - the bicarb soda will act as a physical exfoliant, and you'll be able to feel it at work. Leave the concoction on your face for 10 minutes, then rinse off with warm water and moisturise immediately.

Don't forget to use sunscreen (there are natural options for this too) if you go outside after using this recipe, as lemon juice can enhance the effects of the sun.

Your skin should feel refreshed and tingly, and if you use it regularly you should start to see results before too long. Let me know how you go!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Memory lane

I was reading a blog post about childhood, and how much times have changed - the experiences that we had as children are so different to what our children experience. This is especially true for me and my children - our experiences on some levels are so very different, and sometimes I wonder how that will effect them, and who they will become.

I grew up on a farm, in northern NSW, just outside of Murwillumbah. My Dad was a semi-retired saddler, and my Mum stayed home. There were four kids, and we had what you might call an idyllic childhood - loving parents, pony club, freedom to roam, etc etc.
I don't know if anyone else will find it interesting or not, but I thought I might walk down memory lane and take you with me... just for fun.

Cattle farming
We lived on a small hobby farm in northern New South Wales, hidden in a valley overshadowed by Mount Warning, and ten minutes’ drive from Murwillumbah. It was a beautiful valley, and a quaint farm, where I got to spend my rosy childhood. It was spring, and on a cattle farm that means only one thing – calves! Tiny little calves were being born everyday, and they were so cute I couldn’t resist spending every moment with them. In excitement I’d watch them being born, and then in disgust as the mother cow crunched through her afterbirth. I’d watch them being licked clean, and mewing - quietly finding their voice. Then I’d wriggle closer until I could touch their curly forehead, soft nose and rough tongue. They’d smell me in curiosity, and the mother would pay me no attention. Then they’d wobble to their feet and begin to move haltingly in for a feed, only minutes after birth. It was an amazing thing to witness. Then after that, I’d walk with them, talk to them, pat them, cuddle them and watch them learn about the world around them for hours of each day, until one day they’d shy away and then that would be it – they were tame no more.

One night, we were all fed, bathed and ready for bed. Mum was reading our nightly story, sitting on the floor in between my bed and my sister, Fiona’s bed. I loved this time of night, the stories Mum read were a fantasy world where I could go and be anyone I wanted to be, and anything was possible. Dad came in and said that he needed my help out in the paddock, and I was to bring a torch. I got up and got changed into some warm clothes, and went out with my torch to meet Dad. We walked up the paddock together under the moon and stars, with the mountains dark shadows in front and behind us. I couldn’t see a thing, other than the shaft of light at my feet, and those shadows all around. Dad stopped beside a cow, laying on her side and moaning. She was in labour, and it didn’t look like it was going well. Dad told me to hold the torch up, and he reached inside her and pulled on the calves legs. It took a while, but finally he managed to heave it out onto the ground. It didn’t move. Dad looked at it a moment, gave it a rub, checked its airways, but there was nothing to be done. He unclipped the small sheath attached to his belt, and pulled out his pocket knife. Then he started to skin the calf. I held the trembling torch up as high as I could, and tried to look away, but every time I did the torch light shifted too, and Dad told me he couldn’t see what he was doing. So I looked back and held the torch diligently in place as Dad removed the pretty brown and white spotted skin from the tiny calf, leaving only pink in its place.

When he had finished skinning the calf, he took the skin in his hands and beckoned me to follow him. I walked along beside him until we came to another calf. This one was standing on its own in the middle of the paddock. I asked Dad where his Mum was, and he said that she was too young to be a mother and had rejected him, and he was starving without her milk. Then he knelt down beside the calf, patted it gently and slung the newly stripped calf skin over its back. He took some string from his belt, and tied the skin firmly in place. Then, he led the little calf over to the mother whose baby still lay pink beside her. She sniffed eagerly at the little calf in his brown and white spotted coat, and stood up next to him, mooing softly. She pushed him gently towards her udder and he began to feed timidly at first, then urgently. Dad and I smiled at each other, and turned back towards the house, suddenly very tired.
School & floods
One gloomy school day, just after lunch a student came into my English class and gave Mr Cross a note. He read it and then clapped for our attention. “OK, listen up! Anyone on the Tyalgum bus, get your bag and head to the upper bus stop, you’re going home early today.”

Yay! I loved floods. We usually got one or two big floods a year in Murwillumbah, sometimes even three. Floods where half the town went under, at least all the houses on stilts did anyway, and we were always stranded out in Eungella, unable to get to school for several days. We would have so much fun. We’d head down to the Oxley river, just under the big old timber bridge where the water usually danced and shimmied over the rocks in gentle bubbling rapids. When the flood waters came though, the rapids would be smoothed out into big brown rolling waves, and the river would speed by, in a hurry to get to the ocean, carrying logs, branches, livestock and anything else it could pick up on its way.

Then, Belinda and I would jump into one of those big waves, and let it carry us too. The key to successfully navigating a flooded river was to relax, stay calm, and not fight it. We would do a gentle breaststroke towards the side of the river, ever so slowly inching our way to the side, while the river carried us swiftly towards its destination. After a while we would get close enough to a fir tree, whose tip protruded from the rushing water, grab a-hold of its spindles and drag ourselves bit by bit to the shore. Sometimes it was quite a hike to get back to the bridge to jump in again, but the ride sure was worth it – that mix of fear, adrenaline and satisfaction always drove me back for more.

If however, I saw a goanna, snake, or any other similar type of creature swimming towards me, I’d duck under the water before they mistook me for driftwood and climbed onto my head.

After swimming in the swollen river, we’d head back to my place and join the boys riding bodyboards in the flooded creek on our farm, past the big tree, through the paddocks and down over the driveway in one big rush.

I was thinking about all of this as the bus carried us home, and the rain continued to hammer against the windows, the noise drowning out the hum of conversation. When we got past Sproule’s and saw our house in the distance, a little sliver of concern started to spread in the pit of my stomach. Our house already looked almost surrounded. The creek was more swollen than I’d seen it in a while, and the rain was showing no signs of letting up. I turned to look for the horses, they were close to being stranded in the front paddock, with their means of escape diminishing with each passing moment. We had to get home quickly, before the water got any deeper over the driveway, and before the horses were cut off from higher ground.

All three of us got off the bus together and headed up the dirt road for home. Small rushing creeks of water ran along each side of the road, and large potholes filled with muddy water pockmarked the road, each raindrop landing with a large splash as the soaked ground refused to hold any more moisture.

We reached the driveway, and all bent down to remove shoes and socks. They were already wet, but we had to be able to feel our way across the little bridge over the creek on our driveway, since the creek was now rushing over it and churning about on the other side where it met with the water coming through the big cement pipe under the road. We picked our way across the bridge slowly, and in single file. Feet feeling around for a firm grip before committing to the next step, each following in the others’ footsteps. The rushing water tugged at our legs. I could feel it pulling, cold pins pushing into my calves. I slipped on a rock, but managed to catch myself before I was dragged under the muddy waves.

When we got home, Mum was smiling at us, standing behind the bench, spatula in hand, flipping pikelets in the hot buttered electric frying pan on the kitchen bench. “How was your day”, she asked as we each hugged her side and bent to smell the golden pikelets sizzling in front of her. They smelled delicious, and the others each dried off, changed, and then sat down to eat as many as they could – hot with honey or jam on top, and butter melting down the sides and dripping onto our eager fingers. There’s nothing like coming in from the soaking rain, to a warm home, a fresh change of clothes, and hot buttered pikelets made with love and a smile. I didn’t have time to change though, so I grabbed a couple, and headed out the back door to rescue the horses. I picked up my gumboots and banged then upside down on the ground to make sure they weren’t housing any snakes or spiders before slipping my feet into them. Then, I licked my fingers and reached for three halters before making my way down the paddock to the front of the property.
The horses were blithely eating grass, in complete ignorance of the rising creek on their right side that was cutting them off from escaping the encroaching river on their left. I pushed the halter over Pride’s nose, and led her through the swirling creek water, up the hill, through the sucking mud in the gateway that took the boots right off my feet as I walked causing me to stand on one foot and yank the boot free before taking the next step. I let Pridie go, and then headed back for Amber and Twinkle. They didn’t want to follow calmly like Pridie had, and shied away from the brown creek, but I persisted and managed to get them to higher ground. Time to go inside and enjoy some dry clothes and more hot pikelets. As I was walking through the backyard, each footstep slushing  and slurping, I noticed something small in the grass. I bent down and picked up a penny turtle, pushing its way through the grass and rainwater. I felt its scaly skin and tiny sharp claws, and peered into its small blinking eyes, before placing it back into the water. It felt strange to find a turtle swimming through the backyard.

The rain kept coming relentlessly, not pitter patter rain, but pounding rain. Rain so loud that it’s hard to hold a conversation, so everyone lays about reading, while Mum irons. I couldn’t even practice the organ with rain like that downing out every other sound. Late in the afternoon Mr Sproule came across the paddock on his tractor. He asked if Dad could help him try to rescue a man who was stuck in his car down on the road in front of their house. The river was getting higher by the moment, and they really needed to get him out of there before it got any higher.

I didn’t want him to go, but didn’t feel as though I could say so, seeing as a man’s life was at stake. So he went, and we all sat around waiting, while Mum put the tea on to cook. We waited and waited, and the gloomy day began to darken as night crept in. Finally, Dad came back and told us what had happened. By the time he and Mr Sproule had gotten back down to the road, the river had risen to the roof of the man’s car, and he was standing on top of the car. When he saw them, he called out ‘Help me! Please!”.

Dad threw a rope out to him to catch, but the man was too far away, and when it landed in the water the rope was violently sucked underneath. Everytime Dad threw out the rope, it never quite reached the man, and every time it was sucked under the water. The water level kept rising, now up over the roof of the car, now tugging at his ankles, but he was just too far away to catch the rope. Then, Dad and Mr Sproule went up to the house and found a surfboard. They tied the surfboard to the end of the rope, and the other end they fixed to the tractor. Then, they lowered the surfboard into the murkey water from the side of the tractor, intending that Dad would paddle out to the man and pull him to shore. However, the moment that the surfboard touched the swirling surface of the water the nose of the surfboard was sucked under the water and the surfboard was pulled away, popping up at the end of the rope. It was all they could do to haul it back to the tractor again. They laboured on until dusk, but couldn’t reach the man on the roof of his car in the middle of the raging river, and had to turn back for home.

Dad said he could still hear the man calling out and crying for them to come back and help him. I shivered when I thought of him out there now in the dark, surrounded by the engorged river, rising steadily, all alone in the night.
to be continued...
Disclaimer: I definitely don't recommend doing any of the things in the above post, and my parents had no idea what I was up to most of the time since  I didn't want to worry them with little things like that, and anyway the only rule was to be home by dark... :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday bliss

 We had a lovely holiday a few weeks ago. We spent two weeks at Valla beach, about 5 minutes outside of Nambucca Heads. We thought the weather was going to be cold and rainy (according to weather reports), but it was absolutely lovely. Hot during the day, nice and cool at night.
We rented a little house with three bedrooms upstairs, and one bedroom downstairs where Mum and Dad stayed for about 5 nights. We spent every morning at one beach or another, investigating quite a few beaches in the area. The closest ones, at Valla, were almost entirely deserted every time we were there, so it was like having our own private beach.
 The kids had an absolute blast, both of them love playing in the sand and jumping the waves. Also, the beaches nearby had lots of rock pools, and what L liked to call 'pirate caves', so she was pretty thrilled with the whole thing, in fact by the end she told me she'd decided to move there.

Our afternoons were spent with E and L going fishing or riding or hiking, while G napped and I either napped and/or read books. I managed to read 5 books: Tara Road, The curious incident of the dog in the night, The boy in the striped pyjamas, The secret life of bees, and an Agatha Christie. All very good - and to me a sign of a good holiday.

We also got a chance to visit relatives in Coffs Harbour, and relatives visited us from Port Macquarie, so all in all it was a lovely time. Mum and Dad babysat a couple of nights, and E and I got to go on a couple of dates, which was very out of the ordinary for us, and in fact quite difficult to stay out past our bedtime. Haha!

The best part of all, after two weeks away we were actually quite relaxed when we got back home. The kids travelled amazingly well - thanks to DVD players and various DVDs, and a never-ending stash of snacks.

We got back on the Saturday, and I started back at work on the Monday after 14 months on maternity leave. Needless to say, it was quite a shock to the system, and I'm still recovering. I'm working 3 days per week, with a commute on the bus of 1 hour each way, and trying to juggle the kids, housework, and work - it's quite a challenge.

I started back to work with 1500 emails in my inbox! Yikes! Things are going ok now - I'm trying to ease back into the swing of things. We have a lovely nanny two days per week, and super-Dad takes the kids on Fridays. It's all working quite well, and the kids (although a bit needy and cuddly) seem to be adjusting fine... not sure that I can say the same for myself. I loved every minute of my time at home, and wish it didn't have to end, but whaddya do?

One thing's for sure... I'm tired. Off to bed now. xo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's with women's shoes???

I was feeling quite proud of my new red wedges today as I slipped them on to march into the office. Only I didn't march, it was more like skating... ice-skating to be exact. Funny how I didn't notice at the shoe shop but these shoes are slippery! Now I'm pushing and gliding through the office, afraid to take my feet too far off the ground in case I slip and give myself a concussion, legs in the air.

Why is it that the manufacturer's of women's shoes can't seem to get it right? It can't be that hard, surely - it's certainly not rocket science. All we ask for are shoes that are:

  • cute
  • comfortable and supportive
  • don't carry a high risk of producing concussions with our underwear on display for all to see!
I don't think I'm asking too much am I? My experience has been that shoes are either cute or comfortable and stable. As I get older, the cute shoes in my closet move further towards the back and begin to gather dust.

Why can't we be cute and comfortable. I have heard that beauty is pain, but I'm greedy and want the beauty without the pain. I want my cake and I don't just want to look at it, I want to eat it too. Is that so wrong?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why do bad things happen?

One of the subjects that people frequently discuss when things go wrong in life is, ‘why do bad things happen?’, or ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’  In this life we can experience tragedy, innocence destroyed, grief, and pain – it happens every day. People want to know why, want to believe that there is a reason for the things that happen, but can’t find a satisfactory answer to help them understand the purpose for what they are going through.
Many people believe that we should accept the tragedy and pain of our circumstances as being God’s unfathomable will. However, the Bible tells us that God is good (Psalm 100:5) and that He loves us (John 3:16). So if He is good and he truly loves us, how can bad things – terminal illness, pain, suffering, loss etc. – be a part of His will for us? To put it simply, they aren’t – sickness, pain, suffering, loss – none of these things are God’s will for our lives. He doesn’t cause or desire the bad stuff to happen, but he does promise to work every situation for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
Do you remember the classic children’s tale, Pinnochio? To summarise the plot, Geppetto creates Pinnochio, a small wooden puppet because he’s lonely and wants someone to keep him company. However, Pinocchio can’t feel love, he can’t experience true intimacy in relationships, and he has no free will – because he is a puppet. So, Geppetto wishes that Pinnochio could become a real boy, and the blue fairy brings Pinnochio to life. Once he’s alive, and has free will, the deluge of bad decision making comes, along with all the terrible consequences. He listens to the wrong people, heads down the wrong path, is separated from Geppetto, and causes Geppetto a lot of pain and worry. Free will for Pinnochio meant that he was free to do as he chose, whatever the consequences, and that his creator could no longer control him like a puppet.
When God created humankind, he loved us and desired an intimate relationship with us (Leviticus 26:12). He created us in His image, so that we would desire intimacy with him as well. Of course he couldn’t create us as puppets that only did what He wanted us to do, because that would mean we couldn’t have an intimate relationship with Him or anyone else – that kind of relationship has to be entered into freely, and can’t be forced. So, he gave us free will; the freedom to choose to do what we wished; to have a relationship with him or even to be disobedient and separated from Him if that was the path that we chose.
When God created the universe, He put in place many laws. He created physical laws, such as the law of gravity, and spiritual laws, such as the one that requires payment of death for disobedience (Romans 6:22-23). Another set of spiritual laws that were put in place in the beginning had to do with authority. God is all powerful, and authority is derived when the one with power delegates his power to someone else. So, when God created us, he delegated his authority to us to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28-30). We were in charge, and we were in intimate communion with God as the source of everything we needed. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve exercised their free will to act in disobedience to God. This was when sin entered the world, and along with it came death. What is often not fully understood is that when we disobeyed God and instead obeyed Satan, we also gave or delegated our authority over the earth to Satan. He became the ‘prince of this world’ (John 14:30), and because of that he has been able to cause havoc ever since with the authority that we delegated to him.
When we experience something tragic in our lives, it is not a result of our own personal sin, or something that we have done or have not done (e.g. karma), but is a consequence of the very existence of sin in the world; the sin that transferred our authority over the world to Satan. The people who suffer in this life, and the way that they suffer is certainly not fair. Often the greatest suffering seems to be borne by the least deserving. This is not God’s will for us; it is a consequence of sin in the world. The Bible tells us that ‘the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8), and the destruction he sews is not part of God’s will or God’s plan for us.
There is good news, and it is this: when Jesus came to earth, he overcame sin and death by being made perfect in His obedience (Hebrews 5:9) and then dying as a sacrifice to cover the death payment that was due for the sin of the world – for all of us (John 3:16). His death returned things to their rightful order, so that if we receive him as Lord of our life, and return to an intimate relationship with God, we can have our original authority over the earth restored to us (Matthew 28:18; John 14:12). This means that we, as children of God, now have authority over Satan and all of his destructive plans. In order for authority to be meaningful though, in any situation, it must be understood and used appropriately. Jesus was our example of how to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, allowing God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven now – his good and perfect will. Our world will never be perfect this side of heaven, but if we exercise our authority in Christ, we can overturn the machinations of the enemy and experience victory in our everyday lives, and in the lives of those around us.
It is not God’s will for bad things to happen; it is a result of humankind exercising free will to be disobedient and bring sin into the world, handing our authority over the earth to the enemy. However, God loves us so much, and so desperately wants to restore our relationship with Him, and return us to a life of authority, freedom, abundance, joy, peace, hope, and love - the way that he originally intended for us to live - that He has given us a way to defeat sin and death, and bring heaven to earth now. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way, and through him we can follow his example in exerting our restored authority on the earth to reverse the work of the enemy. God is good, and He has good things planned for each and every one of us. In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”’.
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