Posts Tagged ‘Security’

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DISCOVERING THE BIGGEST LOSER – Nov 6

November 6, 2014

“God settles the solitary in a home…” Psalm 68:6a

I recently returned from a business trip to the Los Angles, California area. Like many business trips,  I found myself with an afternoon departure time leaving me with a long morning of free time.  Since I was going to be lingering through a day, I decided to do my lounging outside the confines of TSA.  My client had mentioned the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area. Since I collect National Park lapel pins, I decided to take this opportunity to collect another. Therefore, I weaved my way along the Ventura Freeway amongst the morning commuters and a rising California sun to the Park visitor center. This visit was unique to other parks I have visited due to the solitary of the experience. I pulled my rental car under a shade canopy in the visitor center parking lot. Mine was the singular vehicle occupying a space designed for many. I got out of the car and looked for other visitors. There were none. I was the only visitor on this morning. King Gillette Ranch, main residence courtyard,... I perused the exhibits of the visitor center and learned that I was on the King Gillette Ranch. This had been a ranch commissioned by King Camp Gillette, of the Gillette razor fame and fortune, as a “paradise on earth, California style” in the late 1920’s. I meandered from the Visitor Center along a nature trail lined with native plants, intent on working my way to see the Gillette Ranch House. In typical California fashion, the trail did not lead to the Gillette ranch house so I had drive. I found my way to yet another parking lot only this one was filled with cars. While I now parked with other cars, the atmosphere was still unsettling due to the absences of people. I wandered toward the buildings in search of King Gillette’s California styled paradise. Oddly, all of the buildings appeared to be in some sort of administrative use. There were no tourist directions or information kiosks. “Very strange”, I thought as I slowly gazed across the campus from the steps of its largest building, wondering what I should do. Mr. Tumnus That was when I saw a young lady, hustling fawn-like, across the grass expanse disappearing down a trail on the opposite side. I considered returning to my car and heading back to the airport, since I had no idea what lay down the trail she traveled. However, she looked intent so I decided to follow my new “Mrs. Tumnus” and explore this rather drought stricken caricature of paradise. She led me under a grove of oaks and down a slightly descending trail. The tree canopy diffused the intensity of the sun but the appearance of activity ahead was still cloaked behind the glare particular to California. I could make out approximately a dozen people milling about as I strolled closer but that was not what focused my attention. It was the cameras. There were four cameras; two sets each focused on separate points of interest. I quickly stopped because the path  I was on was going to take me directly across their back-sight. biggest loser 2I looped around to another trail that took me further away from the activity but still let me investigate what was going on. I immediately knew what was occurring from the voice that rushed across the woodland. “C’mon, pick up that jump rope. Two minutes; start…now!”, I had to restrain myself from instinctively jumping in-place. Jillian Michaels, the tormentor of my basement workouts, was leading a workout of two hapless fellows. My wife and I had filled our winter mornings doing the Jillian’s Body Revolution.  Therefore, I knew that voice and right there in front of me stood the rather small body of that distinctively large voice. biggest loser 1As I looked closer, there was Bob Harper over in the corner, having an intimate discussion with one of his competitors that did not look as intimate with two cameras peering over their shoulders. I looked around me and saw a beige building with “Biggest Loser” sprawled across its entrance. I had stumbled upon the filming of an episode of the Biggest Loser. This may have been the Gillette Ranch but it is now more famous as the Biggest Loser Ranch. I pulled out my cell phone and started taking pictures, which drew the attention of an official looking individual. He approached me and inquired as to whether I was “with the show”. When he discovered that I lacked the appropriate credentials, he informed me that they could not allow me to be taking pictures. I apologized but when we continued to stare awkwardly at each other, I realized that my presence was not entirely welcome. So, I decided that it probably was time to head back to the airport rather than participating in a game of “catch me if you can” around the Biggest Loser ranch. Once I was back in the secured confines of the Burbank airport, I reflected upon how cool my little adventure had been. The unexpected surprise revealed from following “Mrs. Tumnus” provided an enjoyment, whose memory still engenders a smile within me. I would never have had the fun of discovery if I had not taken the initiative to do something different. You just never know what you might stumble upon when you explore beyond your security zones. A quick inspection of my life reveals a busy mind hard at work constructing a myriad of security zones. However, they are not really for security, but more for comfort. My tendency is toward the comfortable solitary.

My preference has been to read a book at the airport rather than explore the unfamiliar.

I cringe when confronted with social mingling in its various forms.

I would rather have on one real conversation than twenty superficial discussions of the weather.

I have turned from gatherings due to the absence of an insider to make my introduction.

I have curiously watched many a “Mrs. Tumnus” walk over a ridge into the unfamiliar and merely returned to the security zone of a known life.

King Gillette Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains Na...I have written about being an introvert before (Hello, My Name is JD and I’m an Introvert). Yet, I still find it an embarrassing admission that even now with so many gray hairs in my beard, my actions can still be dominated by such a childlike preoccupation with self. My little surprise in the Santa Monica mountains reminded me that while it is fine to be an introvert (I needed my own blog to preach that back to me) there might just be wonderful discoveries just beyond the safe boundaries that we have established for our self-esteem. Maybe, the curious draw of the “Mr. Tumnus” or “Mrs. Tumnus” that we encounter is really the Spirit leading us to an enjoyment that will bring a lasting smiling to our hearts.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving me a little surprise in the Santa Monica mountains.  Thank you for for encouraging me to go beyond my comfort zone while reassuring me that there is nothing wrong with me.  Lord, please make this disposition to be with people that you have given me be a blessing to others.  Lord, lead me to the wonderful surprises you have awaiting.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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NONE CARE FOR CHUCK – Oct 21

October 21, 2014

“Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.” Psalm 142:4

DSC_0032Our duck, Chuck, cannot fairly be considered our duck. Chuck lives with us or, more accurately, around us. He was delivered to our home by some friends needing to relocate Chuck. Chuck needed to exist at a new home or he was soon to cease existing.

My wife, who has a soft spot for ducks, agreed to take in Chuck.

Chuck is a Muscovy duck. Muscovians can fly and perch in trees. They are a very hardy duck. Even so, we originally enclosed Chuck in our chicken coop at night. Coyotes roam our vicinity and we have lost several chickens in the night’s darkness to a local pack. We did not want Chuck to become “foie gras” for a coyote, so each night we herded him into the refuge of the coop.

DSC_0040However, Chuck is a large, male, bird. This means he eats a lot, without producing any eggs. We noticed a steep increase in the consumption of chicken feed after Chuck took up residence in our coop. The chicken food consumed by Chuck was proving to be expensive amusement of watching him waddle across our lawn. Our friends told us that they had never put Chuck in their chicken coop and he had survived.  So, Chuck has been deprived of the refuge of the coop.

I was awakened at 3 AM last week to the yipping of several coyotes. I groggily remembered that I had forgotten to close the gate to the chicken coop. I pulled myself out of bed, slipped into rubber boots, and headed outside with flashlight in hand. The sounds of the coyotes immediately cease as I closed the door behind me. They were close.

I went into the coop and counted my chickens. They were all silently and safely roosting. I looked for Chuck as I closed the coop gate behind me. He was nowhere to be seen so I headed back to the house. I wished Chuck good luck as I went back to bed.

DSC_0022The following morning, there was Chuck waddling across the lawn. He had made it. “Good for you, Chuck”, I thought as I ate my oatmeal.

We don’t really provide care to Chuck. We give him inexpensive corn and water, but as far as security, Chuck is on his own.  I look for Chuck each morning, half expecting to see a strewn patch of feathers signifying the demise of Chuck the duck. Yet, I am pleased to see him make it through the night…”good for you Chuck”.

winter treeI know that many people feel that God has the same attitude toward them, as I have for Chuck.  I have heard too many times the adage, “God helps those who help themselves”. It is an unspoken belief that God sleeps through our dark nights, coming to our aid only when we have shown enough resilience to survive to the dawn.

Those who are in Christ are not Chucks. We are the precious children of our Heavenly Father, for whom He provides care.

He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own knows me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:12-15)

fall treeOur God cares not only enough to get out of bed when He hears the threatening sounds of wolves, He cared enough to send His own Son as the good shepherd to lay down His life for the sheep – you who know His voice.

You are cared for, Beloved of God, even when you feel like you are without refuge. “Good for you, JD” is not the affirmation I receive from God as I emerge from a trial or temptation. He is the good shepherd who watches over me through my long nights. He is our refuge who closes the gate of our soul to the wolves of darkness. He is the one who cares for us as we are silently sleeping in the security of our faith.

Therefore, we need to remember the love of our Father and learn to cry out to Him as the Psalmist when dark thoughts threaten our security:

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being my refuge.  Thank you for caring for me.  Thank you for your Son – who layed down his life for me.  Thank you for sustaining me through every trial and temptation.  Thank you for leading me to the rock that is higher than I.  Thank you for being my strong tower against the enemy even when I am unaware of the danger around me.  Lord, let me take refuge in the shelter of your wings.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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