The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety

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Sorry about that title.

This article probably won’t help you much when it comes to child safety.

Because, frankly, for the past seven years, I have learned one important lesson from the internet and the news: children die out there.

There are the obvious fears that we face as parents: cancer, drowning, strangulation, suffocation, choking, car accidents, being ran over, accidental shootings, targeted shootings…

but in case we weren’t scared enough already, there’s also all of the obscure stuff out there that makes the rounds on Facebook and 24-hour news channels like wildfire: secondary drowning, sandhole collapsesbrain-eating amoebas in pond water, etc., etc., etc.

Every possible way in which a child was harmed or has died is cataloged and published and shared and you’re sitting there zoned out in front of your computer reading about it like a slumped-over toad (because isn’t that what we all look like while we’re on the computer?), but on the inside this scream of hysteria is building in your throatal regions because your greatest fear – losing this little piece of you that you love so fiercely – is being described in another harrowing tale, and even worse, in a new horrible way that you never even dreamed of!!!

Seriously?

A sandhole collapse on the beach?

The water and the sharks weren’t scary enough?

Or the pedophiles?

Now we’re dealing with sand, too?!

Please, please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being prepared, and I am so grateful to the brave mothers who shared their stories to inform us of potential dangers that might threaten our children.

But you know what I don’t love?

Adding fear to my fear.

Adding worry to my worry.

Adding terrifying tableaux to my suitcase of worst-case scenarios.

I had so many of those already.

And now, I’m not only a wreck as I watch my kids swim, paranoid that I won’t see the nearly undetectable signs of drowning

now I’m watching them for hours afterward to make sure they are not secondarily drowning… 

and my mama-sized panic is compounding and I’m thinking crazy little somethings like this...

You know, Rebekah got some water in her nose and choked for a while. I read that the symptoms of secondary drowning are lethargy and sluggishness. But…my kids just swam for seven hours and now they’re all sacked out like corpses in the living room…what if she is drowning right now??? Should I wake her up? I know I’m being crazy. But…what if I’m wrong and its too late?!..

Sometimes, when I’m not panicking in the midst of all these potential dangers, toils and snares, I can’t help but reminisce about my carefree childhood in Oklahoma where my best friend and I could go meandering down our remote gravel road, sticking our feet in the creek, playing alone in the barn, going swimming in the pond…

you know what?

My kids don’t know that life.

Because, six years ago, two girls were shot and killed while meandering down an Oklahoma country road very similar to the one that I used to frequent.

Gravel roads haven’t looked safe since.

And there are snakes in the creek.

And there could be deadly amoebas in the pond.

And there could be sex offenders near the barn.

And that’s just the beginning.

They can’t drink out of the waterhose. That’s toxic.

If the baby falls asleep in his carseat, we should wake him up after we bring him inside because nine babies died from sleeping in carseats this year (by the way, why is this article all over Facebook right now when it was written in 2006?!).

Oh! And speaking of Baby Shepherd, OH MY GOSH, there is a balloon next to him and it must be popped and discarded of because if a baby even touches a balloon, they could inhale it and choke to death!!!

And sorry, this is off the subject a bit, but did you know that having a child blow out the candles on a birthday cake is a great carrier for germs?

(not to mention their hair could catch on fire).

God?

I’m freaking out here.

Again, I sincerely don’t want to be misunderstood: my point is not that it is bad to be informed.

Information is good.

Warnings are great.

Education is a gift.

And you’d better believe that if something tragic happened to my child that I could help others to avoid, I would do everything I could to get the word out.

My point has nothing to do with the information, really…

and everything to do with what we DO with the information.

How do we respond when we read these warnings?

Do they make us paranoid?

Do they chew up our bellies with fear?

Do they cause us to imagine the worst?

Do they make us feel helpless?

These kinds of responses are red flags, and they are scarier than pond water, because they belie a problem that is deeply rooted within us, a problem that is as old as time and feels impossible to shake…

We don’t trust God.

We want to BE God.

And, deep down, we hope that if we do this and avoid that and plan for this that nothing bad will happen to our children, ever.

All of which point to a most unbiblical conclusion…

we think that the only hope for our children is us.

And that is how the simple act of reading internet articles can be a diving board that catapults us into very dangerous waters; cataloging every possible death trap and fearing every single worst-case scenario, we subconsciously trample upon every word the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, about His goodness, about His will, and about His calling.

Through our fear and helplessness, we discard the scriptures that we so vocally uphold, saying aloud “Yes, Lord! You are so good and ‘I surrender all’ and ‘have thine own way’ and all those Christiany things I’m supposed to say” while our hearts are kind of screaming “YOU AREN’T BIG ENOUGH, GOD, AND YOU DON’T CARE ENOUGH”.

If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, consider how the article about secondary drowning receives our rapt attention while God-breathed texts like Romans 8 gather dust on our bedside table…

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you hear that?

This is just one tiny excerpt from a book that is TEEMING with hope.

Hope for me.

Hope for my kids.

And while those ancient words may not contain step-by-step instructions for keeping my kids alive, they provide so much more, a bountiful feast of peace and truth for my fearful soul…

a wellspring of beautiful principles that my starving and terrified heart devours.

God is in control.

God is good.

God does everything for my good.

God created my kids.

God loves my kids more than I do.

God has a plan for me that will bring Him glory.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

I am in Christ, and my children can be trusted to Him.

There are greater things to fear than death.

Granted, the Bible makes no promise that all of my safety- and wellness-centered prayers for my children will be answered; in fact, most passages of comfort in the Word were written to a people who were enduring suffering like many of us have never seen.

It is inevitable: every person dies and no one is exempt from pain and sadness.

But when I read the Word, it helps me to breathe.

It realigns my heart with a truth that I cannot inwardly deny.

It stamps a purpose and a hope upon even my worst-case scenarios.

And it reminds me that this life isn’t even the one I’m supposed to be living for, anyway, and that, if God would be so gracious, I have eternity to spend with each of my most-beloved children.

Eternity!

So yes, let’s read and share all the articles and take the precautions as we slather on the suncreen and zip up the sleepsacks and fasten the safety helmets and cut up the grapes and mince the hot dogs and AVOID ALL WATER, PERIOD…

but let’s also stop living as if there is no God.

After all, there is really nothing more toxic, hazardous, poisonous or dangerous than that.

 ~

Want to keep up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary? Find us on facebook! I promise not to share scary articles there. :)

Selah Springs: The Revelation

~ The following post finally sums up what God did in my heart as I was happily holed up in the Hill Country. I hope it is a lesson I never forget, and that it encourages you, as well. ~

So here we are at the end of our second full day at Selah Springs Ranch, and I’ve realized something…

I’ve got to cut down on my time at the computer when I’m at home.

Here’s what happens.

During the children’s naps, or after they’ve gone to bed or when they’re watching a movie, I sometimes (often) sit down just to mindlessly peruse facebook or Pinterest. I have no qualms about admitting this out loud. As the youths say, its how I roll, yo.

But most of the time, during this daily downtime when the rest of the house is sleeping, I truly and actually sit down at the computer to “work”…which, in my world, means to make important internet purchases (I can HEAR my husband guffawing from here), or to edit and organize photos, or to work on inspiring and world-changing blog posts (like the one where I looked like a beached whale on the Slip n’ Slide). And in the process of my work, when I’m waiting for something to load, or when I can’t think of what I want to write about, or when I absentmindedly wonder if I have any new notifications or e-mails, I consequently pull up a gazillion tabs, including Pinterest and facebook and my antique AOL account and my Anthropologie wishlist, and…I get irretrievably lost.

Sometimes I emerge from this coma-inducing Internet Neverland feeling grouchy and discontent, and my heart knows full well that I have poorly misused my time, but…more often than not, I enjoy the heck out of myself.

I love the internet.

I could spend days on it.

That said, here at Selah Springs, without this delightful hobby lingering enticingly in my home office 24/7, I am finding that I was sorely in need of a week-long internet detox…

if only for the purpose of realizing how much I needed to have an internet detox.

And the reasons have surprised me.

For it is not uncommon to hear people resolve to fast or withdraw from the computer, is it? They might realize that the internet has encroached upon their time with their families or has kept them from doing their chores, and they need to step away for a bit in order to reinstitute who is machine and who is master.

But that’s not really my issue (this time). Because, even though I am a huge fan of all of my favorite internet haunts, I usually rigorously guard my family time, and have even refrained from purchasing an iphone to keep the internet in our home office only. I rarely allow myself time on the computer when my kids are downstairs, and spend most of their naptime at least trying to do my aforementioned “work”, and that’s usually after I’ve completed (a few of) my daily chores. And so the problem I have been awakened to goes a little deeper than that and stung a little worse…

For I’ve been slapped upside the head by the following realization: Not only do facebook and mindless internet surfing potentially replace face-to-face time with the people in my life when we are in the same room together, it also replaces something when the people in my life are asleep or out of the house…

my thoughts of them.

It distracts me.

It exchanges the quietest and richest times of my day with dull and shallow entertainment.

In other words, during the most potentially meditative moments in my life, I am voluntarily allowing my heart and my thoughts to be pulled away from the ones I am called to love more than anyone or anything, and worse, including my Heavenly Father.

As I have been without my dearly loved imac this week and have lolled around the Ranch or even spent a day shopping with my girls in Fredericksburg, I have once again become acquainted with how long a day can be, full of opportunities to think and to pray and to love. At home, I most usually fill those empty spaces up with my computer. A quiet moment comes and I slip into the office and check for facebook notifications. Or  the kids run upstairs to play and I sit down for “just a second” to add a book I’ve been meaning to buy to my Amazon shopping cart. Or I get lost in the midst of my “work” like I mentioned above. But here, at Selah Springs Ranch, I am finding that those empty spaces are much better filled, and completely – and I mean, completely – change the way I relate to others…

I find myself missing my husband more often and wishing to cuddle up next to him on the couch (but no funny stuff, Mister)…

or thinking intently about my role as a wife and mother and asking for grace to live like Christ…

or communing with God as I drink in the beautiful world He made for us…

or thinking about my kids and cherishing their sweet faces and mannerisms…

or thanking God for my entire family and praying for their well-being…

Thus, by the time the empty space is over and we are together again, my thoughts are not wrapped up in some distant world. They are focused. In the quiet of the day, I have been meeting with God and thinking of and longing for my family, and I am ready to show them my love when we are once more reunited.

The result?

I reach over and rub my husband’s back more often when we’re sitting beside one another.

I am happy and prepared to sit and read a book to my kids when they ask.

I can more easily discern what is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable (Philippians 4:8) from what is fleeting and self-absorbed and unedifying.

I have patience stored back up when the quiet moment is over and welcome my children back downstairs with open arms rather than hopping up with an addled brain and foggy intentions…

Its amazing what God can do in your heart when you allow yourself to be talked to.

And so, really, my “revelation” was a simple one: what I had at Selah Springs – the focus, the intentionality, the gratitude…I want that every day.

And so from now on, I’ll be more closely monitering my extracurricular computer activity, not just when the kids are awake, but when they are sleeping. And when I am blogging or writing, I will not open extra tabs. And I will still enjoy facebook as much as ever, but once a day, in one sitting.

The rest of the time, I want to use my brain and resourcefully use the peace that God allows me each day to mindfully – rather than mindlessly – recharge and reset.

I’ve been operating for years under the assumption that naptime was ME-time. But the conviction of the sweet Spirit of God has shown me this week…

Me-time (without serious moderation) is sinking sand. But living for others – even when they are asleep – is some kind of beautiful and makes the heart much, much happier when naptime is over.

~

Coming up tomorrow ~ the FINAL Selah Springs installment!