An Object Lesson from a Goose

When Mother Goose returned the clueless fish to the fish tank, half of them were instantly killed by the toxic effects of chlorine in their water. “Chlorine shock” was the term used by my bloggish friend Debra at BreatheLighter. It was an accident, of course, but stuff happens in aquarium life. As soon as Mother Goose remembered and quickly added the water conditioner, the remaining fish were saved from an untimely demise.

We all realize that under the right circumstances, chlorine is our friend. It’s the chemical that blasts all of the germs out of our drinking water, and makes our swimming pools a safer place to play. Few chemicals are as efficient at disinfecting our lives as chlorine.

However, chlorine has also been used as a weapon of warfare. During WWI, Germany first used chlorine as a chemical weapon. Canisters of chlorine gas were simply opened on the battlefield and the gas was dispersed by wind currents into the camps of the allied forces.

Poison gas used as a weapon in WWI.

It was a hideous weapon, and even today we do not lack for hideous weapons.

But getting back to my fish story, the fish who were exposed to the chlorine in their home could do nothing to protect themselves. In fact, they didn’t even know what was happening to them. The effects of the chlorine in their water were swift and deadly. They could not possibly fight back. They had no resources of their own to fight against chlorine — there was no way on earth these fish could neutralize their own water and make it habitable and safe. Helpless. At the mercy of the poison. It was a foregone conclusion that they would die. Hopeless.

Only the rapid application of the water conditioner saved the remaining fish.

Let’s look for a little life application now, shall we? (Note: if you are at all squeamish about discussing topics of a spiritual nature, this might be a good time for you to go and check your email or your facebook updates…:-) )

In our lives, in our world, we must deal with toxicity at many levels. There are pollutants and irritants in the air we breathe. We are bombarded with harmful solar radiation everyday. Depending on where you live on this Earth, you may have to fix your tainted water before it is drinkable. The food we consume can be full of pesticides and herbicides — harmful if not toxic to our bodies, to be sure.

Besides the poisons in our natural environment, we also must deal with the toxic effects of the media in our lives. The bad news and bad vibes spewed forth day and night from news sources and broadcast entertainment works as nerve gas (chlorine) on our minds — telling us that we are meaningless individuals with no purpose other than to consume and be consumed. The messages we receive from the voices around us can leak into our very souls, rendering us hopeless and helpless and pretty darn depressed.

And then there are the negatives within us. The feelings of guilt and shame that eat away at the joy in our lives, the burdens we carry as a result of our own personal sins and the toxic talk we feed ourselves everyday.

Our own individual fish tanks, our worlds, are pretty much filled with different forms of chlorine, and often we don’t even know what is hitting us, but we feel like we are sinking deeper and deeper. Unable to help ourselves.

But we try, don’t we?

There’s the old “denial” treatment. Just pretend that nothing is wrong and it will all go away.

Or just cover it all up with whatever makes us numb and happy.

Or find a religion that works for us. Talk to the “universe” or make a vow to Buddha or work really hard in our lives to be better persons and rise to the next level of play — like a video game, beat the bad guys, the monsters and bosses and level up. But there’s no winning level, is there? Just more of the same…

Even Jewel asked “Who will save your soul?”

Even Paul asked, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

There’s only one person who loves you enough to save you and rescue you from sin and poison and death. Only one God who has the power and the love to accomplish what we could never do on our own. Talk to Jesus about this today. He’s the simple solution, the “water conditioner” who can neutralize the poison in your heart and your life.

Trust me — Mother Goose speaks from experience here. His love has saved me. He loves you too.

Mother Goose Addicted?

In the spirit of all good Twelve Step Programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous…

“Hello. My name is Mother Goose, and I came here this afternoon to admit that I am an ice chewer.”

The first step is always to admit that you have a problem. Yes, I have that problem. Even now, as I type this sentence, I am thinking about ice, cubed and crushed. But the good news is that I am getting free of my addiction; in fact, I’ve gone nearly 48 hours without chewing, except for a small bit of Joe’s slushy yesterday which I dumped in the sink as soon as I got home.

“Mother Goose,” you ask. “How did this happen? Why did you start? What was missing in your life that you needed to turn to ice, cubed and crushed?”

I can only hang my head in shame.

Like all addictions and OCDs, it all began so very innocently. It was a warm day in Oak Park, and I needed to cool off. I walked to the refrigerator and held my cup under the ice-maker spout. The ice cubes happily chunked out and into my cup. I added some water. Mother Goose is in the stage of her life when “hot flashes” are an issue, so sucking on ice cubes and drinking ice water throughout the day seemed reasonable. In fact, it seemed practically medicinal!

When the ice cubes became soaked in water and softer, I would chew them. They crunch so well between my teeth, making a satisfying solid sensation. Within the span of a few short days, that crunch feeling combined with the cooling effects of the ice became an unusual obsession for Mother Goose.

I was sneaking ice. When nobody was looking, I’d get just a few more cubes in my cup. I would hastily steal other people’s ice from their cups when they weren’t looking. The middle of the night ice. The first thing in the morning ice. The cup of ice for the road. One for the car. One to take along on my walk. Two for the afternoon baseball games, one for the movie theater. It was becoming so overwhelming.

I walked into a bar, and honked, “Gimme a cuppa ice, and make it snappy!”

Oh poor Mother Goose…her large rubbery feet were taking her down a very slippery road. Many of her family and friends expressed concern, even alarm, as she consumed more and more of the frozen substance. Even my precious nine year old AnnaRose googled “chewing ice” to find out what she could do to help her mommy.

“Please, Mom, at least eat it crushed instead of cubed,” she pleaded with me.

I’m so embarrassed to say that Mother Goose simply shrugged her shoulders and greedily took another cube into her mouth.

And then the side effects began to bother me. The constant chill in my mouth caused 24-hour dry mouth syndrome. I bought a special mouth spray product to help with that. See how one problem can lead to many? And then my tongue became sore and inflamed — no amount of pain relief gel could ease my discomfort….or my guilt.

The syndrome of ice chewing is an OCD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It even has an official medical name, Pagophagia. Chomping and chomping, day and night, for weeks now Mother Goose could not bear the thought of having an addiction. I was living on ice and denial.

“Seriously,” I told myself and others. “This can’t be a real problem.” Twenty years ago, I quit smoking cigarettes. That was a real problem, and it was very difficult addiction to quit. How would I be able to kick this new habit? Is there even a “patch” for this?

Mr. Mother Goose has tried to reason that there must be a logical explanation, an underlying medical condition which lays just below the surface of his wife’s problem. He has consulted with women friends, and has been told that Mother Goose must be anemic. Surely a daily iron pill down the gullet will refresh her and cure her disorder within a month. Though I certainly do appreciate that diagnosis, I must point out that Mother Goose has been a blood donor for over a year, and my blood is checked every three months for anemia. I have never been told that I have low iron, or even borderline low iron. We must dismiss that diagnosis…

I can only confess that I am a goose with a problem. I can only take one day at a time to get over this. I would humbly ask for your prayers for strength and courage to overcome my addiction.

My family, I beg your forgiveness. I now realize how badly I have hurt you, how selfish I have been — thinking only of myself and where I’d get the next cup of ice. How could I have been so misled to think that chewing ice could solve my problems? Please forgive me and please give me another chance to prove that I’m a healthy goose with a good grip on life, that I don’t need this ice crutch anymore.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at “Coping with the symptoms of Menopause — healthy alternatives to ice chomping”. I hope you’ll return for that informative post.

In the meantime, please share with Mother Goose your own personal experiences. Are you a recovered ice chewer? Do you have other OCDs you’d like to discuss? Is there a better way to cool off? Is there hope for Mother Goose?

Grace and Mercy

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

These were Jesus’ words to the Pharisees and teachers of the law in ancient Israel. They had brought to Him a woman caught in the very act of adultery, indeed, a crime worthy of capital punishment at that time. Electrocution and lethal injection hadn’t caught on yet — they were gathering stones. Rocks. Boulders, if possible.

Rumor has it that they had set up the woman intentionally. It’s all ancient politics, of course, but they were actually trying to trap Jesus Himself into breaking one of their many laws by whichever answer He gave them regarding her execution. In an interesting side note, their law required the execution of both parties of the adultery, not just the woman….but oh well, they weren’t really interested in maintaining the purity of the law anyway….

So they asked Jesus, “Well, she’s broken the Law. We actually caught her in the act. Moses said that we should stone such women. Now what do you say?”

The Bible says that Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. I wonder what He was writing… maybe the names and sins of the men before Him… maybe all the laws that would have to be changed because of God’s love… maybe He was remembering and recording the day when each of these men would themselves pass away into eternity. We just don’t know what Jesus was writing, but His wisdom remains in His words to the accusers.

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

One by one, the men walked away from the scene. The older ones left first. They wouldn’t get their blood satisfaction today. Finally only Jesus was left with the woman still standing there. He stood up from His writing and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

God’s mercy.

His mercy is shocking. It was scandalous two thousand years ago, and it is still scandalous today. He was such a controversial figure in His culture that the religious leaders of His time strangely found Him guilty of blasphemy and had Him executed just to get Him out of the way, to silence Him, to prevent Him from leading a revolution, an insurrection against the Roman government. The religious leaders had no idea that His Kingdom is not of this world, and that His followers would soon be spreading His good news all around the world. He was convicted in a mock trial and sentenced to death via torture on the Roman cross. Capital punishment for a sinless man. Sinless man. He never even had a sinful thought! The death penalty for the son of God who knew no sin EVER.

And yet, here’s what they didn’t have a clue about: He took our sins with Him to the cross. He was executed in our place. We deserved the death penalty for our sins against a holy God, but Love stepped in and saved us from that eternal horror.

God’s grace.

How do I feel about the death penalty? I hate it. It has no place in our country or in our world today.

But I’m eternally thankful for the cross.

Back of the Basket

Sometimes when I read a blog, I have to ask myself, “What happened that caused them to write that? There’s something between the lines, but I just can’t see it with my old foggy eyes.” I wonder if anyone asked that question yesterday with my short little story about Little Wife’s basket…

I had every intention of telling a funny story about Little Wife in one of her hilarious adventures. Halfway through my thought process, the mailman delivered his daily stuff. The first envelope I opened was the bad news that the high school would not waive its fees because our income did not fall within their restricted guidelines.

Next I opened the envelope from Compassion Int’l which is usually a wonderful letter from the young lady I’ve sponsored for more than eleven years — her name is Annet, and she lives in Uganda. You may remember that one of the great gifts Mark gave me for our anniversary was a savings account so that I could plan to visit her in the fall of 2012, and I’ve been very excited about that journey.

I immediately realized that the letter inside was not from Annet — not her handwriting. It was actually from the child development director at the Nangalama Child Development Center in Jinja where Annet has been connected to the services of Compassion. Her letter was brief — thanks for being Annet’s sponsor, unfortunately she is unavailable to respond in writing to my letters. Here is a direct quote from the heart-breaking letter:

“Annet finished [her studies] as a nursing aide and went to look for employment. In the due course, she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby. She preferred to stay away from home, and her parents do not know where she is living now. Efforts are however in place to find Annet and as soon as we find her, we shall request her to write to you.”

I have no more details than that. Just a sadness and a mother’s heart of worry for this woman who I’ve known since she was eight years old, the same age that AnnaRose is right now. So that’s why I just started putting all my stuff in the basket yesterday — too much stuff was cluttering up my heart, and the tears in my eyes blurring the screen so that I couldn’t tell you more about Little Wife.

Please pray with me that my dear daughter in Uganda is safe, and that she is not all alone in the city. Pray that God will guide her and lead her and comfort her and strengthen her and give her His peace. And may His sweetest blessings fall on you today.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 63,068 honks to date

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