Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm a Born Again Christian & I'm Voting For Obama!

Dr. James Dobson does not speak for me, an evangelical Christian. He does not interpret the Bible on my behalf. On the contrary, when I think about Focus on the Family and Dr. Dobson, I am reminded of Matthew, Chapter 6, vs. 5, "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." (King James Version.) I listen to Focus on the Family nearly everyday, and it has occurred to me that whatever message Dr. Dobson tries to convey ends up being a completely self adulating story. Today was the last day I will have listened to Focus on the Family.
When Dr. Dobson rediculed U.S. Senator Barack Obama's "distortion of the Bible," and the Senator's "fruitcake interpretation of the {U.S.} Constitution," he offended me, not as a Democrat, but as a Christian. He offended me as a born again child of the Living God. When did evangelicals relinquish our brain cells? When was it decided that belief in the Holy Bible as the infallible Word of God would be confined to one particular dogma? Hey, I didn't get that memo. Dr. Dobson does not speak for me as a Christian, as an American, as anything. Quite frankly I am ashamed that too many of my brothers and sisters in Christ follow Dr. Dobson blindly down a very broad and dangerous road.
If I wasn't certain prior to today which presidential candidate would ultimately win my vote, I am now very adamant, and ironically, Dr. Dobson can take credit for the epiphany. I will give my vote to the candidate who speaks of healing and peace. I will vote for Barack Obama. If the Lord comes back before I have to cast that vote, all the better.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oh Yes, Family

This is my family. My mom and dad are seated on the couch. (That's Myrtle in Dad's lap.) My husband, Phil, and I are standing behind them. This photo was taken Thanksgiving 2004. My dad was gone by Thanksgiving 2005.
I was named after my dad, his being Paul Martin Goff. My mother is Reba Webb Goff. Both my parents are products of Ludlow, Kentucky. Dad always referred to Reba as the "prettiest girl to ever come out of Ludlow High School." She hated that.
My parents were married 54 years. They set the example for commitment. I do remember times they were extremely angry with each other, but they obviously got over them. For the most part, I think they were both happy with their lives.
My dad worked for the railroad for 37 years of his life. He was a pipefitter by trade, although he was very talented and could just about anything he wanted. My mother worked for the Boone County KY Fiscal Court as a secretary, first in the Juvenile Court, and then in the Police Department. She retired from the police department when she was 65. A year later, she went back to work part time. I doubt she'll ever completely retire.
My parents were strict Southern Baptists in the "old" sense of the phrase. That is, they both believe the Bible cover to cover. They believe in the priesthood of the individual believer. They believe in the autonomy of the local church, and they understood the difference between preachers speaking to their own church and tele-evangelists who had a different calling on their lives. They preferred the former.
My parents were also strict Democrats. Even when the county around them was becoming republican, they stayed true to their values. Franklin Roosevelt put people to work. My grandfather (John Webb) was able to work through the great depression, thanks to the WPA. My great-uncle gave his legs at the invasion of Normandy. The DNA spilled on battlefields around the world bought them the right to be Democrats, no matter what those who would call them "demoncrats" would say. To my parents, those people were neocon opportunists who had suddenly gotten two nickles to rub together and had forgotten from whence they came.
To know me is to know that, as much as I might have at one time fought it, I am a chip off the old block! I am that Southern Baptist who reserves the right to interpret the Bible as it speaks to me. I am that Democrat whose core belief is in the responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves.
These are things I have tried to change over the years, but they come to me through DNA. As my parents were, so am I. We can't choose family. We are products of what God sent before us, and even if that weren't so, I don't think I'd want it any differently.
Now an upcoming post will be about my extended family, and that's DNA of a different variety.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1994, back before it became a buzzword for undefined pain. Fortunately, I was being treated by a doctor who was suffering from the same thing, so she didn't look at me like I had three heads when I described what I was feeling.
There is a new commercial out now that shows a woman with deep bruising at places where she has pain. That's exactly how it feels. It feels like there bruises all over my body, extremely painful to touch. Sleep comes very slowly and is difficult at best. Muscles don't relax, and the Robaxin does not seem to help. I lie in bed with my eyes closed, looking into my eyelids for self hypnotic relief. When morning does come crashing in, it brings stiff joints and tension headaches that last for hours.
Some days are better than others, but some days seem like a total waste of time. Today, for example, instead of going to church and taking my corn for the pot luck meal, I was on the couch all day. My head ached, my shoulders throbbed, and when I got up to move from one room to another, my back felt like it had been twisted into a tiny knot and was trying vainly to untwist itself. My knees feel like walking will cause them to subluxate, causing me to fall. My ankles are stiff, and my toes feel like they are splaying, trying to get away from one another.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition, that the scientific world is just now studying in a serious way. The best that can be done, however, is to treat it symptomatically. There is nothing to prevent it and nothing to stop it. Lyrica has come onto the market, but it's expensive, and my insurance won't pay for it. Even with the discount card, it's more expensive than I can afford.
My hope is that someday, there will be answers for fibromyalgia sufferers. As for now, I hope there are more days like yesterday and fewer days like today.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Mutation of a Pekingese

This is my dog, Tex. He is a Pekingese. As you can see, he looks like he ran into a wall and smashed his face. He snorts, sneezes and snores through life.

He has a rolling ambling gate about him. More than that, he waddles, and with his brown bushy coat, he looks like a walking paper bag.

The standard of the breed says a peke should be no more than 14 lbs. Well, let's call Tex a mutation. He's a 22 lb. stocky little dog. He's still short and close to the ground, but Tex is big to be a peke.

If I ever have another little dog, I may name him Napolean, because Tex truly has that complex of thinking he is much bigger than he actually is. He's my watch dog. I have a german shepherd that would just lick a stranger to death. Not Tex, oh noooooo... Tex will take an ankle off if he doesn't like the looks or smell of a stranger.

I love Tex. He's one of the dogs that forgives me almost daily. He's very demanding, so he gets told "no" a lot. He's very persistent, so he gets ignored a lot. He's very loving, and he gets wallowed a lot. Tex would go anywhere with me, and I feel terrible when I don't take him. But, like I said, he's my watch dog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Everything I Know About Forgiveness I Learned from My Dogs

Everything I Know About Forgiveness, I Learned From My Dogs!
Sam and Tex are my dogs. Sam is an 95 pound German Shepherd, while Tex is a 20 pound Pekingnese. (Yes, I know, Tex is a large Peke, but he's just a pet.) I love my dogs for one reason: They love me. No matter what I do or where I go, my dogs want to be with me. They are my cheerleaders, my biggest fans. They protect me when they sense danger. They watch out for my cats. Most of all, they forgive me no matter what I do. I love my dogs.
I take them for a rides in my Rendezvous from Germantown to Falmouth, forgetting that windy KY 22 probably isn't the best road for a dog's stomach. Sometimes they get sick, but they forgive me.
Occasionally, I run out of dog food and try to fool them with cat food. They don't like it, but they forgive me.
They must feel abandoned when I leave them home alone, but they forgive me.
Tex gets allergy injections every Saturday. He hates them, but he forgives me.
Sam gets yelled at for jumping into the pond, but he forgives me and jumps in again!
One time I threw the frisbee and accidentally hit Sam in the head with it, but he forgave me.
When Sam came to live with us, he stole all of Tex's toys, but Tex forgave me and Sam.
People say dogs can't rationalize, but I think they can. Why else would mine forgive and forget all the stupid things I do? My dogs love me. Yes, I said they love me, and that is an emotion - not a human emotion attributed to the dogs either. I wouldn't take a million dollars for either one of my dogs.


My Goddaughter is Brittany. She just turned 13, but she thinks she's going on 20. In many ways, she's barely out of diapers. I love Brittany for all the reasons she can drive me nuts. She's beautiful. She's talented. She's smart. She's boy crazy. She's popular.

Brittany is nothing like I was at 13. In fact, I was probably more like she is now (confident, happy, holding the tiger by the tail) at 22 than she is going into adolescence.
I worry about her, because she jumps into things with her heart instead of her head. The little things trip her up and send her into those adolescent rantings. However, she can be the one of the dearest sweetest people I've ever known. Her heart breaks for people who are mistreated, and she defends people who often go unnoticed or misunderstood. She knows she's beautiful, but she's unashamed to befriend other students who don't necessarily fall into the beautiful crowd.
In a world of things that can really bring a person down, I'm so thankful for Brittany. She's somebody who makes me very proud.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Commentaries on Sunday's Sermon, Jun 15, 2008

It confuses me when preachers speak of God's omniscience and man's free will in the same sentence, as if the concepts are interchangeable. If God never gets confused by it, one has to wonder if He isn't at least amused.
Today, Brother Tony, when speaking of what Jesus meant by "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done," (Matthew 6:10,) suggested the Kingdom Christ is referring to is God's Kingdom on earth inherited by and in the stewardship of mankind. Mankind was put here to do God's will. Ergo, God's will should be man's will. His example was to set aside God's time for God and squander it not on things that are irrelevant. (So far so good...)
Brother Tony spoke of four entities that have pull over the will of man: 1. God, 2. Self, 3. Others, 4. Satan. Well, really? I'm not so sure, and here's why. Who other than God would or could call man into communion with God? Who other than God puts it upon one's heart to go to church, to study the Word, to witness to the lost? If man is in the will of God, then man has died to self and cannot be removed to self, others or Satan. If one accepts the assumption that when one has been saved, he has died to self, been buried and resurrected as a new creature in Christ Jesus, then this new creature has no self will.
If God has ordained the footsteps of the righteous; And if God has called each man to Himself; And if man has received sanctification through salvation; then the work is done. "Thy Kingdom Come" is not synonymous with "God let me do your will while here on earth." It is synonymous with "Father, live through me that Your will may be seen on earth as it is in Heaven." God's omnipotence precludes the possibility that a child of God can "act" in ways that are outside of not only His knowing, but His direction.
In Tony's sermon this morning, he spoke of the potter who molded his clay into a particular vessel. It is the will of the potter that determines the usefulness of his artwork. Likewise, God determines the usefulness of each of His vessels. A clay pot cannot fill itself with soil or seeds. Likewise, a new life in Christ cannot fill itself and has no usefulness except what God has purposed.
I believe that God has called each of us according to His will, because that's what the Bible says. When our human feet fall over each other, God and God alone can mend the cracks and make us useful again. God is omniscient and therefore knows what the future holds. I believe it would be better to say, "Church, let us be thankful we are in God's will." Pray, "Holy Spirit, move in this place." It can't be proper theology to put God into a tiny little box and say, "We'll do your will now, Lord. Direct us." As Christians, we must be about feeding each other and edifying God's church. If God is in the box, who is holding up the world? I would much prefer it if God is holding up the world so the church can be about feeding His sheep. That way, we would never have to worry if we are in God's will, and the world would know we are Christians by His love.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Life in the Benign

My brother-in-law thinks he is really smart. He always wants people to know what he knows and how much. Now, John is a great guy. He's funny, sometimes charming and works very very hard and always pays his taxes, admiral attributes no question.

It's just that John doesn't really know what is going on in the world except as it applies to him. He knows the cost of fuel has increased, and that it now costs him nearly $100.00 to fill up his Explorer. He knows the USA is at war somewhere in the Middle East, but he doesn't really know why. He assumes it's about oil. He knows who is running for president, but he doesn't really know anything about the candidates other than what some guy at the farm supply has told him. He's not going to read anything for himself. He won't investigate urban legends; that would take too much of his time. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't worth the time away from the tobacco field.

This attitude is what I term, 'benign." For too many people here, the world begins and ends at either end of the AA Highway. It's not a cancer, in that, people don't die from their ignorance. On the contrary, they live. They go to church on Sundays, and they support their schools. They join Homemakers and meet monthly to discuss cooking, recreation, and all the things going on in their hometowns.

So, I'm not talking about a cancer. It's more like an algae... you know... that fungus that turns a pond green and lingers there year after year after year. It doesn't spread beyond the pond like a malignancy. It just exists, stagnate and green.

Such is my brother-in-law and so many other people here where I live. Their literary boundaries stop at True Confessions and The Bracken County News. They read the Maysville Ledger Independent for obituaries and farm sales. News commentaries, political analysis, entertainment news and world events are not relevant to life in the benign, so they go unknown .

My brother-in-law graduated from high school here. He lives in the city, but he took Bracken County with him. My step-daughter grew up here, but she lives in the city. She left Bracken County behind, probably forever. To overcome the benign, is too often to escape it. The world can't get in here, so the open-minded must go into the world. Opportunity is out there, not in here. So, Bracken County stays the same. Life in the benign exists while the world passes by.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughts About Tim Russert

This is such a sad day. Meet The Press journalist, Tim Russert, has died. This is not a qualified essay. I've never met the man. Like millions of political junkies all across the country, I watched Meet the Press and the Tim Russert Show on CNBC every chance I had.

Russert had a common man's approach to delivering political news. His analysis was almost always right on the money, and his ability to decode the inside the beltway encryptions on things and them deliver them in such a way that everyone could relate was unique.

Tim Russert was a journalist who will be missed. Meet the Press will never be the same. Watching the political conventions on television will never be the same.

Bracken County Creed

Bracken County, Kentucky is a small rural county that to most outsiders would be considered a hole in the wall. There are no street lights, no flashing yellow cautions and certainly no McDonalds.

There are, however, a courthouse, 33 churches, two hardware stores, eight restaurants, one library and four banks. There is also one really huge item that is impossible to ignore, although the town's folk do ignore it. This town has a huge boulder resting square on its shoulder.

That rock is due to a paradox, the likes of which I have never seen before. The people have an identity crisis, yet they know exactly who and what they are and they will not change.

Delving into my husband's genealogy, I found ancestors of current county residents going back to 1792. Coopers, Clarks, Mains, Jeffersons, Poes, Jetts and so many more have been here in this county since Kentucky was first settled and became a state. My husband's lineage is among the Clarks, Poes and Jetts, yet in many ways he is an outsider because his mother can only trace the lineage of one side of her family to the history that is Bracken. Bracken Countians know themselves by their ties to the land. They have cultivated it and their DNA has made it whatever it is today. It is not just a place where people live. This is a place that lives for them because of them.

I love this place because of the heritage. I hate it for the same reason. I will never be a Bracken Countian even if I live here for 30 more years. Don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting there aren't nice people here, because there are some lovely people who would do anything for anybody in need.... anything except call him from Bracken County.