• GRACE NOTES 10/09/2010: Sometimes it's hip to be square.

    Although I’m embarrassed to admit this, I’m a sucker for whatever’s cool or hip.

    When I was 12, I convinced my mom that I needed a pair of white go-go boots because the “Hullabaloo” dancers wore them on TV. (If you have to ask “What’s ‘Hullabalo?’” I don’t want to hear it.)

    Mom got them for me at the Stride Rite shoe store, but I never wore them. Hip and cool chicks could get away with wearing white go-go boots, but I never could, not at 12 or 22 or 32.

  • Pupit pay doesn't always cut it

    TUPELO, Miss. — On his resume, the Rev. Mike Warren can list several tasks he regularly performs, including presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. He can also list oil changes, tire rotations and battery checks.

    Warren, 55, is the proud pastor of New Home Baptist Church, a small Southern Baptist congregation in Itawamba County. Make no mistake about it, Warren loves being a pastor.

    “I started preaching when I was still in high school, and I knew this was what the Lord wanted me to do,” said Warren, the father of two grown children.

  • ON RELIGION 9/25/10: Quran flap a tough dilemma

    The deaths of the 10 International Assistance Mission medical workers inspired headlines that were both shocking and numbingly familiar, since these are dangerous times for believers whose convictions steer them into Afghan­istan.

    A Taliban leader blandly told the press: “They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all.”

    If they had only waited a few weeks, the gunmen could have claimed that their victims were linked to a global conspiracy to burn Qurans.

  • Mission of a lifetime

    For Harmon Schmelzenbach, it was a matter of kill or be killed.

    A career missionary living in Africa, he spotted a young male lion.

    “We had a day school with 800 little kids,” he said. “And you can’t have lions wandering around the hibiscus bushes,” he said.

    He had a pistol and only two bullets, so his aim had to be dead-on.

    The lion’s head now hangs in Schmelzenbach’s study in his Floral City home.

  • 'Cowboy church' comes to Dunnellon

    Before he was a preacher, the Rev. Ed Anthony found himself living out of his car, homeless, hopeless and drunk.

    He was parked by a dumpster behind a bar, “dying from the inside out.”

    He had been a policeman in Palm Beach County, a paramedic, a Marine. He knew better, but he was an alcoholic.

    One night he knew he had come to a fork in the road: He could continue down a path of destruction or walk in the light.

  • GRACE NOTES 10/02/2010: "Act like a Christian!"

    On the way home from church last week, I heard a radio spot.

    One guy tells another guy about his neighbor who’s always hard on his son. They’ll be out playing ball in the yard and the dad will constantly tell his son, “You’ll never be a ball player if you keep messing up like that.”

    Then the guy says, “Get this — on Sunday mornings the whole family gets in the car and goes to church.”

    His friend asks, “How do you know they’re going to church?”

  • Can't keep him down

    “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” — James 1:2-3.

    Twenty-five years ago, a man drinking coffee in a Kentucky restaurant needed a kidney, so the Rev. John Mattingly gave him his.

    “I had a kidney; he needed one,” he said. “I knew God wanted me to do it.”

  • GRACE NOTES 9/25/10: It's a family thing

    Recently, my broth­er’s father-in-law, Ed Bremser, died after a very long illness.

    Just a few months before that, his mother-in-law, Audrey, died.

    The Bremser family is a bunch of huggy, kissy, demonstrative, fiercely loyal, loud, emotionally close people.

    They’ve had a lot of tragedy and hardship in their ranks, but they stick together. Over the years, the Bremsers have been my brother’s primary family.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 09/18/2010: The Mikveh.

    It is considered the source of life, and here in Florida, it is a precious commodity, even though we are surrounded on three sides by it. And while we welcome the life-giving moisture, the destructive forces of hurricanes are not a desirable guest in our midst.

  • The way of the Tao

    As Nuris Lemire walks her life’s path, she’s drawing from the various religious traditions and practices of her past, from Catholicism to Judaism to Buddhism, Native American religion and Hinduism.

    All have brought her to this place, to Taoism.

    She has been studying with Master Yun Xiang Tseng (Master Chen) since 2003. Her husband, Dr. Jim Lemire, has been studying for four years.