Flower of the Day: Impatiens or Vinca?

I’m not sure which.

More Flowers of the Day.

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Anti-Abortion Activists, Your Job Is Just Beginning

For the record, I am anti-abortion. I believe life starts at the moment of conception and that society has a responsibility to protect that life.

I just don’t think we need to write laws that prevent abortion.

Does that seem contradictory? Let me explain my logic.

We live in a society that views sex as a recreational activity with no limitations. Just turn on a television set if you don’t know what I mean. The idea of abstinence is shot down as ridiculous. I don’t agree that without abortion women are being forced to carry babies (except in the case of rape). If you consent to engage in an activity that is known to cause children, you shouldn’t be surprised if you become pregnant. Both men and women who don’t want to immediately become parents should practice birth control. It’s widely available and free in many places, although it has been known to fail occasionally.

Although some women’s reasons for having abortions seem frivolous (it’s a girl and we wanted a boy), many feel they have no choice. The timing of the pregnancy may mean financial hardship or lost opportunity. Let’s face it, having a little person depend on you for the next 18+ years means a large investment of time, energy, and money.

I hate to say it, but in the almost 50 years since Roe vs. Wade, abortion opponents have done very little to lessen the economic burden of raising children in this country. I have the horrible feeling that the people who are celebrating in the streets today are congratulating themselves that they got their cause through the Supreme Court without giving thought to what this will mean to women who find themselves inconveniently pregnant.

It’s not just their problem, it’s ours.

If we do nothing, more children in this country will grow up in poverty. The divide between the few rich and the many who are not will just grow.

There will be a baby boom, requiring better access to prenatal care and more obstetricians and birth centers. We will need more schools and better funding for them, and more teachers and other staffers who need to be paid a decent salary (which we have been failing to do in many places in the US, especially in my own state of Arizona). We will need better access to child care with good facilities and many more qualified caretakers, so that parents can afford to work. We will need more pediatricians and children’s hospitals. These need to be in place almost immediately. Oh, and it will cost money. Thank you so much, anti-abortion activists, for raising our tax bills.

Not that the government can or will provide all these things.

I am reminded of the African proverb: it takes a village to raise a child.

So I am asking you anti-abortion activists, do you just want everybody else to live by your high ethical standards, or do you really care about women and children and struggling families? Because you have an obligation to be part of the solution. Your activism is just getting started.

What can you do? Give. Give your money and yourself.

  • Give to organizations that help families in distress and need. In Arizona (and maybe in your state, too—check your state’s revenue department website to find out) there are state tax credits for donations to organizations like pregnancy centers, food banks, foster care and adoption support, public and private schools. They will cost you nothing (unless you exceed their limits, and shouldn’t you, since you care so much about the babies?), so you have no excuse not to take advantage of them.
  • If you are retired, why not befriend a neighbor with kids? Offer to care for their children during the period after school until the parents come home from work. Make them a snack. Help them with their homework. Play board games with them. You will be so blessed.
  • Plant a garden so that you can share your tomatoes, zucchinis, and flowers with families who are struggling to put food on the table. I’ll bet you can find someone in your own neighborhood who will really appreciate it.
  • When your own kids outgrow their clothes, look for someone who can use them. When our own children were growing up, people often helped us in this way. It was a lifesaver.
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Scripture Break #34

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Return to the Riparian Preserve

“Have you seen the spoonbill who lives here?” asked a man with a camera.

“No, I’ve never seen the spoonbill, but I see you’ve brought the big gun,” I said, pointing to the huge telephoto lens on his camera.

The Gilbert Riparian Preserve is a popular local venue for nature photographers. I posted about it in 2016 and 2017, but I hadn’t been back there since. One day last January, I drove to the 110 acre park that boasts a lake, seven ponds, hiking trails, a playground, and an observatory. I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy on a weekday; I was lucky to get a parking spot. The park was full of senior citizens and parents with young children. And also lots of ducks.

Water Ranch Lake
Lots of mallards

When I was a little girl, we’d go to the local pond with a bag of stale bread and tear it up to feed the ducks. Bread is no longer a recommended duck cuisine. At the Preserve, only at the lake (not at the ponds) are you allowed to feed the ducks, and only birdseed, corn, and whole-grain cereal are permitted. (Most people, like the kids above, bring baggies of Cheerios.)

I think this little house sparrow wants in on the Cheerio action.

Ring-necked ducks. See the white markings on their bills?

A turtle sunning himself

As I wandered around from pond to pond, I found lots of things to look at and wonder about.

A garden of saguaro cactus

No blossoms in this garden in January, but as I read the dedication, I realized it was planted in honor of a baby who died the day she was born.

Benches appear throughout the preserve. This one had a placard that particularly touched me:

In one of the ponds I noticed some wading birds fishing for food.

An American avocet. See the curved-upward beak?

A black-necked stilt

And further on, another turtle:

I noticed a painted rock nestled in the V of a tree trunk:

A gambrel’s quail sprinted across the trail in front of me, and I was barely able to snap a shot before it disappeared into the brush:

I won’t let another four-and-a-half years pass before I make another trip to the Preserve. Maybe I’ll see you there. . .

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My Ultimate Summer Day

What’s your favorite season? Mine hasn’t changed since I was a child growing up in New Jersey–summer! I associate that season with time off for fun. Our ten weeks of summer break was deeply needed after so many months cooped up in school.

I don’t like weather that involves raking or shoveling. Winter is enjoyable here in the Arizona desert, but I still like summer better, though in the 100+ degree heat, I’d prefer to be in the pool if I have to be outside.

My ideal summer day is based on the ones I experienced as a 15-year-old. The sky would be blue, the sun warm, the temperature in the mid-to-upper 80s (though with the typical 85% humidity, it would be much less comfortable than Arizona dry heat), and I would be at the beach. I’d have a cooler with me, with cold soda and sandwiches and snacks. I’d have no responsibilities for the day—no job to go to, no meals to prepare, no appointments upcoming, no pressing deadlines to meet. And I’d have a friend with me, preferably one of the opposite sex.

When our kids were little and we still lived in New Jersey, but closer to the Pennsylvania border rather than near the Atlantic shore, we might drive half an hour to a lake to have a change of pace from the backyard pool. But my ideal day still included sun and water.

When we moved to Arizona, we bought another house with a pool, because we knew it would play a big part in our summers. A lot of people don’t like having pools, because they see the upkeep as tedious and expensive. But we had five kids. Going on a one-week vacation during the summer would cost us more than the price of a year’s worth of pool chemicals. And really, if you invest in a good pool vacuum, maintenance only takes maybe an hour or less a week (assuming you don’t have trees dropping leaves directly into the pool). When the kids were young, we were in the pool every day. The kids’ birthday parties were always pool parties (except for Andy’s—he was born in December).

Now, with our kids all grown, we are not in the pool every day from April through October. Greg’s not been in the pool in years. I average about a dozen dips per summer, though every time I go in, I wonder why I don’t do it every day.

I’ve only been in once so far this year. But Monday is Memorial Day (which in New Jersey is considered the first day of beach season), so after meditating on the sacrifices of our Armed Services, I’m planning to cool off in the pool.

I can’t wait.

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11 Things to Do When You Have Nothing to Do

Or when you’re bored with what you have to do. Or if you ever get some free time.

  1. Read the books in your TBR pile. (If you’re not a bookaholic, you might not know that TBR means To Be Read.)
  2. Go somewhere fun to people-watch—a park, the mall (do people still go to malls?), a coffee shop, a bench downtown.
  3. Take a day trip to that nearby tourist trap you’ve never been to, or a museum, or a zoo, or a botanical garden, or a cathedral.
  4. Go on a hike, or on a walk around a neighborhood you’ve never been to. (Use your best judgment—in some towns, an unknown neighborhood is not a safe place to stroll.)
  5. See if you can find 20 things to photograph in your home, your backyard, or your apartment complex. Choose your artsiest photo, get it printed out as an 8 x 10, frame it and hang it on your wall (or give it as a gift).
  6. Doodle.
  7. If you’re a writer, daydream and/or brainstorm ideas. (If you’re a blogger, make up a list of prompts and send them to me! Or post it on your blog, and give us a link in the comments.)
  8. If you have CDs or records, look through them for ones you haven’t heard in a long time, and listen to them.
  9. Dig out your old clarinet, or accordion, or whatever instrument is under your bed gathering dust, and play it.
  10. Remember that needlepoint kit/ model car kit/ macramé project/ fancy recipe you were going to make? Work on that.
  11. Write a snail mail letter to a person you know who would appreciate it. (Hint: choose an older person, someone who thinks Facebook is newfangled.)
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Scripture Break #33

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Lost Memories

Surprise—my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I feel like all my storage capacity has been filled, and it takes longer and longer to access my data, like an old worn out computer.

When I was a young adult, I could tell you the name of every teacher I’d ever had, from kindergarten to grad school. Now I can tell you only a handful of professors’ names, and few high school teacher’s names, but I do still remember my teachers from kindergarten to grade 6. Why do I remember names from childhood, but not from college?

Not that my memory was ever all that great. All my life I’ve had frequent bouts of panic when I couldn’t find my keys, my glasses, my wallet. And for decades I’ve walked into rooms without recalling why I wanted to be there.

About twenty-five years ago I had episodes while driving when I didn’t recognize where I was or remember where I was heading. After a few weeks of this, I asked my bible study group to pray for me. I was afraid I was going to have to surrender my driver’s license. Afterward, a woman asked me if I was taking antihistamines, as a friend of hers had experienced the same symptoms. At first, I said no, but then I realized my nasal spray was an antihistamine. I stopped using it, and a few days later my disorientation disappeared.

When my husband returned home after surgical complications and an extended stay in a skilled nursing facility, I was overwhelmed with his medication schedule, his doctor appointments, his physical therapy requirements, and the maintenance his feeding tube required. Suddenly there was so much to remember, and my brain was not up to it.

A few years earlier I had started a notebook with all our medical information; I just had to remember to keep it updated and bring it with me to appointments (since I couldn’t remember what tests he’d had, what the results were, or all the medicines he was taking). I sat down with the medications Greg came home from the rehab facility with, and made a chart of when he took what. I still refer to my (updated) chart each week as I set up his morning 7-day pillbox and his evening 7-day pillbox, and made sure they’re refilled regularly.

Nevertheless, mistakes happen. I get them mixed up. So far, no fatal errors, but each one raises my stress level.

I made an appointment with the neurologist, who administered tests that show I don’t have Alzheimer’s, thank God, but I do have mild cognitive disfunction. I now take medication twice a day that’s supposed to prevent my memory from deteriorating further.

I don’t think it’s 100% effective, but I’ve stopped panicking about it.      

The funny thing is, every once in a while something will pop into my head—a vivid memory of an incident from the past that I’ll realize I haven’t thought about in decades. Sometimes it will be triggered by a whiff of an aroma, or a song from my childhood.

My oldest son has the most amazing memory. He remembers things that happened when he was a baby, and he can pinpoint the year of events that are fuzzy in my recollections. He remembers actors in movies, and which movies won Oscars in which years, and all sorts of trivia.

Maybe memory skips generations. I don’t know.

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Stickers Seen on a Rear End

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Praying for Your Adult Children

I recently reread The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. It has 30 chapters, each discussing a particular aspect of concern to a parent, and containing a prayer and a collection of applicable scripture verses. I prayed through that book on a regular basis during my five kids’ childhoods.

One criticism that I have of the book is that the writing is full of Christian jargon. I don’t think terminology is needed in a prayer. God hears us when we speak from the heart.

On rereading it now that my youngest is nearly 33, the focus is not what I would choose for my needs today. But I’m happy I had it when they were young, and I would recommend it to parents of children and teens.

I made a list of the things I want to continue praying about for my adult children. Maybe you would find these elements useful as you pray for yours.

  • Long ago I learned to pray that God would make my children into the people He created them to be. (In fact, I pray that for myself and my husband as well.) It’s hard to see your children make choices that you disagree with. But at some point, you have to let them own their own decisions. I don’t dare to think that I know better than God what’s best for my children. He may let them go down a path I wouldn’t want them to take in order for them to learn an important lesson. He will provide them with exactly the experiences that will shape them according to His purposes.
  • Pray that they trust in God. Their faith may go dormant; pray that God will rekindle it.
  • Pray that they experience love—first and foremost the love God has for them. Also the love and acceptance of family, friends, and community. Pray that God willing, He will prepare a life partner for them, and that they will love each other deeply.
  • Pray for their physical health, that God would heal any disease within them. Pray that they would do all the things that preserve their health, such as eating nutritious food and exercising. Pray they will avoid any activity that would harm their health, such as smoking or abusing alcohol.
  • Pray for their mental health, that God would bless them with a positive and hopeful attitude about life. Pray that if they experience depression or hopelessness or lack of worth, they would seek help, and that God would nudge them in that direction and open doors so that they can get the help they need.
  • Pray for your children’s homes. Pray that they can obtain suitable living quarters at a sustainable price. Pray that the right housing would open up in a convenient location. Pray that God would bless their dwellings and that their homes would be an island of peace and security and joy and love.
  • Pray for their safety. Pray that natural disasters would not occur around them. Pray that they would live in such a way that they don’t affect the environment negatively. Pray that they will not be attacked by evil people and that they will be alert and not take part in risky behaviors.
  • Pray for their jobs. Pray that they can earn a living with meaningful work at appropriate compensation. Pray that they will sense the special talents God has given them and use them to serve the community. Pray that they will devote their best efforts, grow in their jobs, be successful, be promoted, and that their work will give them satisfaction.
  • Pray that God would build their character. Pray that they will act with integrity, obeying God’s laws and our country’s laws. Pray that they will be honest and compassionate, generous with their time and their resources, willing to pitch in and help those in need.
  • Pray that your children would have a sense of God’s purpose for their lives, and they would embrace it as their mission. Pray that God would equip them for their life’s journey. Pray that they would not give their attention or energy to anything that would contradict their purpose.
  • Pray that they will be lifelong learners, that they will have a spirit of curiosity, and that they will seek information and truth and understanding all the days of their lives. Pray that they will be willing to share what they know with other seekers of wisdom. Pray that they will develop their talents and use them for their own enjoyment and the joy of others.
  • Pray that God would give them discernment. Pray that His holy Spirit would guide them in their dealings and help them avoid placing their trust in the wrong people and places. Pray that they will be able to recognize when an opportunity is good and when something is not right.
  • Pray that they maintain balance in their lives. May they work hard, but make time to rest and refresh their spirits. May they have fun in their lives, but their own pleasure be secondary to their responsibilities and to the needs of those around them. May they have everything they need, but not accumulate possessions for the sake of acquisition.
  • Pray that God will connect your children with people who will be good friends, who will encourage them to be the best versions of themselves, and who will call them out when they’re on the wrong track. Pray that they will have a few people whom they can depend on to tell the truth, be with them when needed, and have fun with.
  • Pray that God will not allow them to be lured into addiction of any sort, whether drugs, gambling, sex, pornography, alcohol, tobacco, or uncontrolled spending. If they have an addiction, pray that God will take away its allure and their desire, and will lead them to get help.
  • Pray that your children will not be hindered by fear. Fear can keep them from taking next steps and can lead to despair. Pray that they can face their fears. Pray that if they experience failure, they will find the strength to recover and continue on. Pray that when they struggle, they will trust that they can endure until they reach the other side.
  • Pray that they have joy, which is different than happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances; joy transcends circumstances. Pray that they will have the confidence that comes from God’s peace.

In my list, I have included much of what appears in Omartian’s book, but adjusted for grown children. Our kids never outgrow their need for our prayers on their behalf.

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