SANTA MARIA DE JESUS, GUATEMALA — For a stray dog here, Canela — as we called her for her cinnamon color — seemed family friendly.
I reached down and scratched her head as we registered and paid to ascend Agua Volcano. I was used to stray dogs being mostly hostile, snarling barking curs that you had a stone ready to throw at (sorry, the dogs in Guatemala were rough 12 years ago when I was a missionary).
But I didn’t understand what was happening when the dog attached herself to us and accompanied us up the volcano, classified in the guidebooks as a “strenuous” climb.
All the while Canela wagged her tail and played, hunted wild animals, accepted snacks and water from us. As we descended, we came across a French tourist, also accompanied by a dog. “Is this your dog?” I asked. No, he said, they are the guide dogs who go with you for a little food and water.
Then I realized what was going on. Canela was a guide dog. But she was more than just that. She had found a family for the day and wagged her tail unceasingly. Of course, my heart broke and love swelled up.
Canela had adopted us.
I charged off ahead of my group of 10 friends from Guatemala City, determined to bag the peak. As I descended I really began to struggle. On the one hand, my muscles had burned out. On the other, the soles of sneakers lacked adequate grip, causing me to slip and fall nine times until Pastor Ludving fashioned me two walking sticks from branches using his machete.
I was struggling. But the dog shared no such similar tiredness. Instead, she charged off into the overgrowth looking for prey. She would always pop back… Read the rest: This dog adopted her own family
When Adelso Lemus was expanding his business and felt pressured to cover ballooning expenses with sales, he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
“The doctor was gently telling us that they were going to see what they could do,” Adelso told God Reports. “I didn’t want to do chemo because the last time I had cancer it jacked me up.”
From his hospital bed, he watched his family huddle.
They weren’t weeping; they were strategizing. Who would do what to cover Dad’s extensive responsibilities in the business? Adelso and his family sought what they always wanted in times of trial: a turnaround, for good to come out of the bad.
“I wasn’t thinking I was going to die,” he says. “I just needed to work this through and get back to the business.”
Adelso miraculously survived the cancer. His 10-year-old business of specialty tres leches cakes now grosses $1 million in revenue.
He shares his life philosophy on a radio podcast “The Flipside” which encourages listeners to not despair but to find how “all things work together for the good,” as the Bible says.
Adelso, 54, lives in San Antonio, Texas. He got saved as a youth in Albuquerque when he saw a formerly “fried” pothead” all cleaned up and alive.” It was an unexpected surprise, and the young man invited Adelso to church. He didn’t want to go, but his friend hounded him and he broke down. Of course, Adelso ended up receiving Jesus and transformation.
He grew zealous for the things of God and even prepared himself to enter ministry. He was part of the church-planting mission that emphasized evangelism and discipleship and not Bible school degrees.
He and new-convert Veronica got married “Jesus people style,” the way the hippies did in the Jesus Movement of the 70s, without expensive ballroom-like details and during the Sunday morning service. They were in love with each other and considered the fact that Jesus didn’t have any money.
Adelso and Veronica marched off to Panama, where they were missionaries for nine years. It was a wild time of scrambling to make ends meet. Adelso became very resourceful as he adeptly negotiated equipment and building rentals without having enough money to do so. Navigating financial hardship with resourcefulness became a skill he carried forward in life and it became the hallmark of his business.
“It hardened my hide to be able to go through what I’ve gone through in the business,” he says.
When his 25th wedding anniversary approached, he was on staff at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. He decided to save as much money he could every week to honor his wife with a big bash to renew their wedding vows. He wanted to make up for the skimpy beginnings of married life.
How would he cobble together the money for the event? His sister gave him a secret recipe, a tres leches cake with a non-traditional flourish, pineapple. It was off the radar, but when he took samples to some local restaurants they were curious.
“Tres leches with pineapple?” one proprietor said. “That’s weird.”
He tasted it.
“The way they responded in the restaurant was really positive,” Adelso explains. “I wanted them to taste it to see if it had any potential. They really liked it. I just chased the dream because of the reaction that I got. It was a genuine surprised reaction. I thought, Wow, they really liked it. It made me realize that this was something I could possibly do on the side.”
He started at home, but you can’t cook at home for commercial ventures for long.
The preparation for a wedding renewal turned into a full-time business. He needed to rent space at a bakery. At a cooking conference where he impressed with free samples, an acquaintance tipped him off to a 2,000-square-foot San Antonio bakery that could rent him space in the evenings.
The U.S. Women’s National Team doesn’t look like a winning team. To be sure, they’ve got good defense, a good goalie, good passing. But once they get the ball up top, they invariably strike as quickly as possible. It looks as if they are trying to shoot because they’re afraid they’ll lose possession.
This straight-to-goal strategy can catch opponents off guard. But a good offense varies its methods. The quality of the players is such that they should be able to maintain possession in their opponents’ half, probing patiently and waiting for a slip-up to exploit.
Sometimes, I’m too hurried and worried. Sometimes I lose my self-possession. The best strategy in life is to remain calm, not get upset, to manifest the peace of Jesus that comes in the Spirit.
Celebrating a goal
I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. women lose this World Cup. I hope they manage to win regardless of flawed strategy.
The nice thing about Christianity is that one day you can blow it, and the next you can recover and keep on serving Jesus. Not so much is at stake. One day’s mistake can be rectified. Jesus is teaching us to mature every day. Don’t live life too hurried, too worried. 😀
*I don’t own the rights to these photos, and I’m not making any money on them.
Quarterback Tom Brady says it wasn’t under-inflated balls that helped the New England Patriots clinch the AFC Championship. It was the team chaplain. The 4-time Super Bowl winner is telling people that Jack Easterby, 31, gets a lion’s share of the credit for the Patriot’s season, which culminated with a final win against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. “He’s just a great person and friend,” Brady told ESPN. “You feel a special connection with him and with his genuine caring for all the people in his life.” While some team chaplains may feel neglected by their organization, Easterby is on the Patriot payroll with an office near Coach Bill Belichick. He’s an exceptionally upbeat former college basketball player who connects with professional athletes. His website, “The Greatest Champion,” encourages viewers to accept the greatest champion of all — Jesus Christ — who hung on the cross and resurrected from the dead. Safety Devin McCourty called Easterby “a godsend to this team” who has “helped create better men,” ESPN reported. Read the rest of my Christian sports article.