Heatstroke, Kids and Cars

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Like many of you, I have been shocked and saddened by the huge spike in heatstroke related to cars and children this year. Already, the death toll has surpassed 2015 statistics. For the whole year. And it’s only August 17. That’s staggering and a strong indicator of an issue that needs to be addressed.

Are you one of those people who is quick to judge the parents? I used to be. How can you forget your child? If you would lay down your life for your child, how could you possibly forget your child in a car on a hot day?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how easily I could be one of those parents. Life is crazy. Life is fast-paced. Always trying to focus on the next task, the next destination – our mental check-list in our head is continually moving at a rapid pace as we add extra to-do’s to our already overly insane schedule.

So imagine this. Imagine this is you.

It’s a school day for your 3 kids. It’s a regular, crazy morning as you make sure each child has their backpack, sweaters, shoes on, homework packed, as you  head out the door. You commend your children on co-operating so well this morning as you steer your vehicle towards school to drop off. Traffic happens. Your thoughts wander to what you’re going to feed the family for dinner and how you need to prepare for the upcoming family vacation.

As you near the school, you realize you’re now late. You speed into the school parking lot and the kids fly out the sliding doors of your minivan and slam them behind them. You wave as they are quickly enveloped by the rest of the schoolyard children, take a sip of your coffee, and head out to your next destination. You head to the mall. Thinking about dinner, it would be nice to shop the produce market, butcher and bakery all conveniently located at your nearby shopping centre.

You grab your coffee as you leave your van, lock the doors, and head to the mall. While there, you are distracted by a great sale at your favourite clothing store. And then realize you forgot you are out of soap so maybe you should pick out something nice since it is on sale at the store next door. Eventually you finish your to-do list – 3 hours later.

You head back to your van and are shocked to see it surrounded by police and ambulance vehicles. You scream as you approach, asking “what is going on?” A woman runs at you, pointing her fingers in your face as she yells “how could you do this to your child? How could you leave your child to die?”

You’re confused – you dropped your children off at the school.

But your kindergartner fell asleep on the way to school. You didn’t realize it. In the confusion at drop-off, you thought another blonde-haired child on the playground was your own and you waved good bye.

So now I ask, could it happen to you? What are we doing as a country, or personally, to prevent this from becoming an already growing epidemic?

The thought scares me. I double-check, sometimes triple-check my vehicle when I park my van at the Skytrain station before heading onto the train. What if Meagan had run back in to be “funny” and was hiding in the back? What if I was distracted in the regular morning drop-off rituals and just forgot to drop Noah off at daycare? The possibilities are endless.

So what’s my point? I’m not quite sure. We need to stop condemning these parents and caregivers who really will be serving a life sentence for forgetting their kids in cars on a hot day. We need to be vigilant and overly cautious and double-check our vehicles before exiting.

But I also believe it’s time for car seat and vehicle manufacturers to step up and pay attention. This is a problem. It needs to be addressed. Changes have to be made. Kids have to stop dying.

If you really believe this couldn’t happen to you, please check out Kids and Cars and read a story or two on how it has happened to so many loving, caring parents, such as yourself.

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Infant & Pregnancy Loss – I am 1 in 4

one in four

Today is October 15. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. A day where mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all those affected by the loss of a baby taken either before birth or shortly after, can remember. Can grieve. Can think “what if?”, can ask “but why?”

When in reality, every day a mother will remember. Will grieve. Will think, “what if” and ask “but why?”

Our first child would have turned 11 this year.

I remember the whirlwind of it all. The nervous excitement, the excited phone call to my husband, to my mom, then to my best friend (who was also expecting), the anticipation… only to be followed shortly after with fear, panic, and a grief I had never known before. We lost our baby very early on, between 6 and 10 weeks of being pregnant. But it didn’t soften the blow.

That child was ours. That child was wanted. That child was prayed for. A few weeks before the positive pregnancy test, my doctor wanted to send me for tests to find out why we weren’t conceiving. I said no. I was convinced that everything was okay, and we decided to wait on God. And God answered. Not in the way we had prayed, but in the way that He saw best.

He answered in a big way. Yes, we were able to have children. But no, not yet. We weren’t ready. And He knew that was true, even if we didn’t know it at the time.

But sometimes I still doubt whether His decision was best.

When I see my 11 year old niece in grade 6 and think there is a best cousin/friend that she is missing and she doesn’t know it. When I look at my 9 year old daughter and she asks questions that would be so wonderfully answered by a knowledgeable, older sibling that could understand and empathize with her like only an older sibling can.

When I look within and realize even with 3 children here on earth, there is always a part of my heart that is missing because it has already gone to Heaven to be with our child.

But God knew the pain we would go through. He knew we needed it. He knew it would make us appreciate the 3 children that our doctor said would probably never happen. Because with that child that I never got to hold, He gave me the hope and conviction that one day, I would hold a child of our own. And we would know love like we never knew possible. And we would depend on Him like we never knew we should.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov 3:5).

Trust in Him. He knows what’s best for me.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

He brought me down in grief, but joy did come. Three-fold. Three blessings that we never expected or deserve.

Do I fully understand it? No, not yet. But I will. Just not in this life.

Making God the Priority

A few years ago, I had a conversation with someone who asked me about personal devotions and time spent in Bible study. I remember getting a little defensive and also thinking the word “personal” was in there for a reason – this was personal and really, none of her business. But I replied truthfully (sort of). “Oh, you know, I really do try. But it’s hard with two kids, trying to run after them and their schedules, plus I DO work full-time. So it’s not like I can go to Tuesday morning Bible study.”

I heard this answer or similar words over and over. “We read the Bible together as a family every night. Even if it’s Sunday. We try not to miss that.” Again – the word “personal” was missing from the answer. “We attend a couples Bible study every second Wednesday, plus I go to Tuesday morning Bible study. That keeps me pretty busy”. Again – notice a word missing? Personal.

The more I searched for answers regarding my life and feelings and things that just felt missing, I started to reach out. First to other women I knew who basically would pat my back and said “Oh, it’s okay. You’re trying hard and you’ve got a busy life. God understands that.” I felt conflicted. Something was definitely missing, but I didn’t know where to start.

I flailed as I randomly read Christian articles and subscribed to Christian authors on the web and Facebook. I asked for recommendations for a personal devotion and received a few replies. I had no direction and seemingly no purpose in my study. I tried a personal devotion book on my own which included an exercise of creating a personal organizer with a tab labelled “TAG”. Before I read this book, the acronym “TAG” was completely foreign to me. Time Alone with God. Huh? This wasn’t about a morning or evening prayer. This was searching out answers and questions and really spending time with my God. I had no idea where to start or how to make it part of my daily life.

One night I was feeling frustrated and defeated, but searching. Searching for how to make God a priority. Knowing He wasn’t, and trying to fit that in to my life. Into my busy schedule.

And therein lay the answer. I was trying to make God fit me. Fit my schedule. Give God a little corner and say, “There God! You fit right there. You can be part of my life, but only if You stay in that little space.”

I examined my daily schedule. While I said and thought I didn’t have time for more study and “TAG”, where was I spending my time? Sure, there were necessities like eating and sleeping. But what about my time on Candy Crush? Or watching TV? Was I making mindless entertainment more of a priority than God?

I won’t get into how it happened (possibly save that for another day), but I started to have my “TAG” every morning (or lunch break while at work). And things began to change. I started a daily personal reading schedule where I dissected, researched, reflected on and learned how to apply God’s Word to my life.

And that corner I had “allowed” God to be put in and be part of my life? It grew. Turns out God didn’t like being put in a corner and told He could occupy a part of me. Turns out our God is a jealous God. He wanted ALL of me. Not just a corner.

So I’ve surrendered. And made Him the priority. One of the ways that helps me keep that focus is morning devotions.

I now start my day in His Word, in His presence, and ask Him to fill my day with Him. Not just a corner. But every little part.

I sometimes just sit in awe that it took me over 30 years to know God. Yes, He was always there, patiently waiting for me to figure it out. He never got frustrated with me or turned His back on me. He waited patiently. And now I know Him.

But to enjoy him we must know him. Seeing is savoring. If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. But we will not be stunned with joy, as when the fog clears and you find yourself on the brink of some vast precipice.

(John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist)

And don’t confuse this with something it’s not. Personal devotions are not repeated, memorized prayers, sometimes put to cute little tunes. Or reciting the Lord’s Prayer either out loud or in your head, which eventually becomes second nature with no thought or heart in it.

And there is nothing wrong with participating in couples’ Bible study, Tuesday morning ladies’ study, reading at the family dinner table – these are all GOOD THINGS. VERY good things. But they are meant to fuel your relationship with God. Not be the foundation and only source.

Recently, I asked someone about her personal devotion time. Her answer was eerily similar to what I had replied a few years ago. “It’s hard. I have 3 kids, a house to run, and I work full-time. Plus all the kids’ activities. I try, but it’s hard.”

I get it. I do. But I promise you. If you make Time Alone with God part of your daily life, you will feel the difference. You will see the difference. It will filter into every little aspect of your life. Let Him fill you.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father … that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(Eph 3: 14-19)

Noah Michael Smith

Soooo… this poor blog. Honestly, why do I start a blog? (Because I love to write.) Why do I not keep it up? (Because life is busy and honestly, I forget about it most of the time.)  Why is it important I keep it up? (Family and friends like to see the updates, plus sometimes I really do have something important to say and hope someone out there is touched by it.)

Yes, I know the questions, AND I know the answers. So for today, I’ll start with an update.

Noah Michael Smith joined our family on September 16, 2014. Totally different than my girls so far. He is happy, easy-going, has “issues” (e.g. loves his mommy so please don’t take him away from his dear mommy, and then there’s his eczema which apparently is a milk allergy. Which I am terribly thrilled about as being his primary food source at the moment…) We are truly, truly blessed with this child. This morning I spent some extra time just watching him sleep and just marveling at the fact that this child was not expected but I could not imagine him not being here.

So I am going to leave it at that for today, as Ryan is working late and all 3 children are quick to demand my attention at any second (and as I’m typing this child #2 is having a meltdown because in her words “she is hungry and bored”).

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A Family Update

We are doing well! Kaitlyn is loving grade 2 and excels at reading, to the point where if we’re not careful, she can be up half the night reading.

Meagan is – well, she’s Meagan. Lots of fun, trouble, and everything else that comes along with being 4. Can’t believe our baby girl is starting kindergarten in the fall.

Ryan is busy with school, work, his blog, committees, and so much more.

And me? Well, busy as usual. Work, Bible study, time with the family. And – oh right – there’s this.

surprise

1 More – Vegetable Beef Soup

Here’s the recipe from tonight’s dinner. Ryan loved the fact that he could have 2 helpings, or bread (or really, both) and still be under his usual calories/fat intake for dinner time. I doubled the recipe and will definitely quadruple it for next time for freezing. Great soup!

Vegetable Beef Soup (from Company’s Coming, Cooking for Two

Ingredients:

1/4 lb boneless beef, such as stew beef, diced

3 c. water

1/4 c. chopped onion

1/4 c. sliced carrot

1/4 c. sliced celery

1/4 c. diced turnip

1 sliced small leek, white park only (optional, so we left out)

1/4 t. beef bouillon powder

1/2 bay leaf (we left out… I have a thing about bay leafs and find them useless and annoying)

pinch ground thyme

1/2 t parsley flakes

pinch ground cloves

1/2 t salt

1/8 t pepper

1 c. grated cabbage

2 french bread slices, dried, cut to fit (optional – so we left out and I had whole grain bread as a side and dipped it in my soup)

Combine beef and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and boil very slowly for 1 hr.

Add next 12 ingredients (if my counting is wrong, don’t put in cabbage yet). Cook, covered for 30 minutes .

Stir in cabbage. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

If you’re using the bread slices, which we didn’t: Put bread slices in bottom of 2 soup bowls. Discard bay leaf (if using). Divide soup between bowls.

Makes 800 ml (3.5 cups) Serves 2.

1 serving: 86 cal, 1.9 gr fat, 10 gr protein, 810 mg sodium (less if you used less salt and sodium reduced beef bouillon as I did)

Healthy Recipes – Italian Squash Stir-Fry

Ryan and I are committed to a healthier lifestyle for 2014. Ryan recently weighed in, and well, it wasn’t pretty. I’ve been struggling lately too with my new job (which I absolutely love), but it means a lot less getting up from behind the computer for 7 hours a day. My contribution is trying to find healthier meals to share with the family and we came across two good ones this week. Here’s the first. If you have any to share, please do! Happy New Year’s everyone!

Italian Squash Stir-Fry (from Company’s Coming, Low-Fat Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil

4 small green or yellow zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ slices

Large red onion, slivered lengthwise

1/4 c thinly sliced fresh basil

1 t salt

1/8 t pepper

6 large plum (I used roma) tomatoes, sliced

1 c skim mozzarella cheese grated

sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese

Serve over hot cooked whole-grain rice or whole-grain pasta

Heath oil in wok or skillet until hot. Stir fry zucchini with onion 3-5 minutes until tender-crisp. Stir in basil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Spread zucchini mixture evenly in bottom of wok or skillet. Lay tomato over zucchini. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook for 2 minutes until cheese is melted (I put the lid on and it took longer than 2 minutes, more like 10). Do not stir. Sprinkle with parmesan. Serves 6.

1 serving: 123 cal, 7 g protein, 6.1 gr total fat (2.5 sat fat, 11.8 mg chol), 562 sodium

squash stir fry

Kate & Meg Jewellery Co.

In addition to home, work, Bible studies, and the rest of life, I have recently launched a new home-based business, Kate & Meg Jewellery Co. (named after my daughters, Kaitlyn and Meagan). It is truly a family collaboration, with my sister, Rebecca, helping me with the naming of the company, my husband, Ryan, contributing to design ideas and some photos (in addition to trips to craft stores when I need supplies in a hurry), and another sister, Andrea, who designed my fabulous logo which I am in love with:

Kate-Meg-color-400px-web

I have always wanted one of those necklaces with my kids’ names stamped on them, so I started looking into how to make one. I picked up an inexpensive letter set and the supplies I needed, and started practicing. Before I knew it, people were making inquiries on how they could get a piece, and my Facebook page was launched: https://www.facebook.com/kateandmeg

mom necklace discsbirth mom necklace

I have to say, our family has truly been blessed with sales to date, which have covered my initial set-up expenses and paid for our Christmas shopping this year. I don’t overextend myself and will be honest if a design idea is beyond my expertise, and will give realistic turn-around times for orders, balancing time with my family and my full-time job. I absolutely love that I can now make meaningful, heartfelt, handmade gifts as well.

A gift for Meagan’s preschool teacher:

teacher keychain

 

And a gift for Ryan:

sinner dog tags

For an idea of what I do, I invite you to check out my Facebook page and website: http://kateandmeg.webs.com/

Bible Study Update

Blogging is so easy, it’s making the time to do it that’s difficult. Now it’s been 3 months since my last post and I’ve been up to so much, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll have to break down my updates into categories, so I’ll start with one that means the most to me right now, Bible study.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been blessed by discovering Good Morning Girls, an online ministry that provides free Bible study materials throughout the year. I started in 2013 during the Luke study “Loving Like Jesus” and I read the last part of the book of Luke in a way that I’ve never done before. I paid attention. To every little verse and word. When something didn’t quite make sense to me, I would dig deeper (concordances, discussions, and research) until I was satisfied I truly understood what I was reading. Recently, they put out a study with lots of materials, including a kids program, for Advent. I wanted to share this with whoever else may find it useful, so I put a couple invitations on Facebook that if anyone was interested, I would host a small group online. The response was great and before I knew it, we had about 15 members, and we dove into the Word of God. Having the kids involved was amazing as well, and they would expect the evening devotional and craft every night, as we discussed why we were doing what we were doing. For the next study which starts in January, I am hoping to officially register as a leader so I can be more effective in leading our small group.

Which leads me to now – the gap between studies. Without a set program, I tend not to be as faithful. I need to make it a priority, because when I do, I get so much out of it. I am also picking up a second study in January, which focuses on figuring why we crave, and instead of craving for earthly things like food, craving for God to fill our voids. The book we are using is Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. I’ll let you know what I think of it as I progress 🙂 This study is hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

I recently completed my first Proverbs 31 study and it was amazing. The book was A Confident Heart by Renee Swope and at first I was skeptical. I didn’t really struggle with confidence, did I? Was this some self-help Christian book? Not at all. About the the third chapter in, I started to discover things about myself that I never realized before. I was holding myself back from trying new things, or talking to new people, because it was easy to say I don’t have that personality and it’s not within my comfort zone. Which reminded me of a quote I once heard “God did not call us to be comfortable”. Our first and foremost calling in life is not as a mother. Not even as a wife. It is as a Child of God. Am I missing all the potential He has given me by not paying attention to everything He has put in front of me? The parable of talents was focused on a couple times throughout the book, and I couldn’t help but feel like God was awakening me to realize I cannot bury my talents and make up excuses. I need to use them to multiply the work Jesus started. How? I’m still not sure.

I’m on a journey. Stay tuned.

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The Lord’s House – some thoughts on Luke 19

Today in my online Bible study group, we are studying Luke 19, with a focus on verses 45-46:

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

When I started to think about my initial observations on the text, I was stumped. Growing up, I knew the story of Jesus clearing the temple but always envisioned Jesus being angry, yelling and tossing tables left and right. Nowhere in any version of the story do I now read the word “anger”. He cleared the temple. Told them what His Father’s house was meant to be, and then got rid of what wasn’t supposed to be there.

But what is the point of the story? I googled, I read commentaries, but they mostly reiterated the story. I texted Ryan and tried to get his insights.

And then I re-read it.

“My house shall be a place of prayer”. This reminded me of why we go to church. It’s not a place where we go to dress the nicest, or make new business contacts, or talk in the parking lot about people on the other side of the parking lot – we are there to speak with God and be close to Him. To hear Him speak to us and grow closer to Him.

Remember why Christ instituted the church – as believing brothers and sisters in Christ, we come together to pray, hear God speak to us, and respond to His message. We are not there to see who showed up and who didn’t. We are not there because maybe if we make a good showing, the other members will shop at our store or buy our goods later in the week. We are not there so the elders will stay off our backs about our attendance. We are not there to hear a good concert or listen to the minister tell us that God will give us great riches on earth if we have a positive attitude and ask Him for it. If these are the reasons we’re at church, it’s time to take a deep look within.

I’ve been one of these people. Our church is traditional. We sing from the Genevan Psalter with the only accompaniment being an organ. We have a Church Order that we adhere to. Our services can seem predictable. And to some, boring and dry.

But when you listen? When you participate in congregational prayer? Church is amazing. Listening to the 10 Commandments every Sunday and knowing how we all fall short but with the grace of God, we are redeemed! Hearing the Word of God preached with such conviction, truth, and might. What a blessing! In our church we are blessed to receive two messages every Sunday. To some this is a chore. But what a true blessing! Some weeks I wish we had more services mid-week to help me get through the week.

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