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Challenge: Stretched Too Thin

My son almost died because I was on my phone: A cautionary tale

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Staying Present on the Farm


This is one of those personal stories that hurts me to the core to expose. But I pray it helps you make sure face-to-face connection is placed above our virtual connections.

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One weekend when my Beckham was a year old, we walked outside to play. Our Sophie, four years old at the time and always moving, played “castle” in the haystacks and boogied all over the wooden trailer, pretending it was her personal stage. Meanwhile, the littlest wandered among the orange pumpkins, played under the corn shocks, and chased the purring golden kitten.

I watched and smiled at their antics, enjoying the fall breeze and warm sunshine. After a while I decided to start moving the 50 or so small pumpkins we'd harvested from our garden and place them atop the wooden picnic tables beside us. I’d pick up the pumpkins, look around to ensure the safety of my two kiddos, and then carry my armful of pumpkins to a table. My eyes would go from pumpkins to table to kids—and back again. I did this almost a dozen times.

But my phone was sitting on top of the picnic table too. And it beckoned me to pick it up. The siren call of what I’m missing out on by looking at what’s right in front of me sang loudly, urging me to abandon my careful watch.

I picked up the phone. And started swiping toward the news to see the status of the Florida Keys and Miami, as they were being battered by a hurricane. I escaped for a few brief seconds into the news story, wondering how my family, who lived close to Miami, would fare.

Suddenly, my reading was interrupted by my daughter’s screams. She was on the other side of the pumpkin-filled trailer. I ran.

My heart stopped when I spotted my kids, but my legs kept going. I screamed, but internally praised God.

The one-year-old had chased the little yellow kitten all the way to the goldfish pond that sits in our yard. And my baby boy was in the pond.

His sister, the four-year-old I frequently bemoan for being too independent, was clutching the back of his footed pajamas, keeping his body from going under.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

What if Sophie hadn’t been there? What if she hadn’t been so independent and capable? What if…?

I snatched up Beckham and tucked both my kids into the safety of my lap. Tears streaming, I hugged them and told Sophie, “You saved Baby Boy’s life. You saved Baby Boy’s life. You saved Baby Boy’s life.”

And then I cursed that phone. That siren dangerously lurks and beckons us to go off course. That siren keeps many a mama and dad from fully engaging with their children.

The irony didn’t escape me. You see, when we worry too much about other people’s storms, we are liable to create tragic storms in our very own lives.

My baby could have drowned.

I’m the mama who is hyperalert at all times. We’ve had too many bad accidents in our lives for me to be anything but vigilant. But in this one circumstance I let down my guard. And my child, too young to swim, ended up in the pond.

That sentence sends shivers down my spine.

Thank You, God, for saving this child. Thank You for making sure that my capable Sophie, who loves her little brother, was on guard.

I shall heed this warning. And I share it with you too.

Put down the phone. We must keep our attention on what is before us.

When will I try to check my phone? In the morning before everyone wakes up, in the car before I start the engine (after everyone is buckled in), while I’m cooking meals (yes, this is why my food doesn’t taste as good), and at night when I have some time to myself.

When my littles are around, I’m going to be more purposeful with my time.

It’s easy to lose our focus on the present, isn’t it? Especially when we have instant access to everything going on all around the globe.

Let’s resolve to be more focused on the here and now. Let’s try to worry less about things out of our control and focus more on what is in front of our eyes.

(From The Growing Season: A Year-of-Down-on-The-Farm Devotions by Sarah Philpott. Grab a copy online at all major retailers.)

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