Steering Clear of Danger

For a month we visited my sister and her husband near Mount Palomar in Oak Grove, California. Our trailer was located near a hill an eighth of a mile from her house, and I often walked around or climb the hill for exercise.

In our second week, I saw footprints near our RV. Small prints from critters such as racoons, birds, rabbits, and squirrels were all around our site with larger paw-prints about thirty feet away. The geographical feature on the nearby hill that interested me was a mound of boulders that resembled the large cat enclosures at the San Diego Zoo. I mentioned that to Carol, so as we exited the trailer we playfully called out, “Here, kitty-kitty.”

Several days after a light rain, I saw some larger tracks that were probably a week old. Because of the rain, I couldn’t clearly identify the animal, but two suspects entered my mind:  bear and cougar. When I asked one of the neighbors if bear were in the area, he said he never saw bear anywhere around.

When I asked if cougars were nearby, he said, “No, but we have mountain lions.”

I chuckled and explained that mountain lions, cougars, and pumas are all the same animal.

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Okay, then, we have cougars here. These hills are home to them, and one or two call this valley their home.”

Well, that was encouraging. I have to watch out for only two of these cats. When I mentioned this to my sister, she said she received a phone call several days previously stating a large mountain lion was spotted nearby.

Cougars have more names in various languages – including more than 40 English names – than any other cat. Cougar, screamer, puma, and mountain lion are the four more popular English names; and because of the Disney film Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar, I choose to call them cougars. But in Southern California they are usually called mountain lions because their tawny color resembles that of the African Lion.

Cougars are the largest native North American cat and are the fourth-largest world-wide, but they are not referred to as a large cat. Male cougars can weigh up to 220 pounds but average around 150, while the females can weigh up to 141 but average around 121. Their overall length – nose to tail – varies from five to nine feet.

I laughed when I discovered why the cougar is not considered a large cat: it can’t roar. They hiss, growl, purr, chirp and whistle. But instead of roaring, they scream! That’s why they are called screamers.

Cougars live an average of eight to ten years in the wild, and more than 20 years in captivity. Depending on food supply, the male’s territory varies from 58-380 square miles while the female’s territory varies from 30-165 square miles. With its large hind legs, this cat has been known to jump 18-feet straight up, leap 40-feet horizontally, and can sprint up to 55 miles-per-hour.

This cat is in a zoo.

Adult cougars will kill and eat one major meal (dear, antelope, elk, etc.) every two weeks, but a mother feeding her cubs might take down a meal twice a week. If the cat can’t find a large animal, it’ll eat many smaller critters, and all small animal species are fair game – including skunks. It does not normally hunt humans, but as humanity encroaches on the cat’s territory, attacks have been recorded. But it will kill anyone or anything that comes near its cubs.

I looked up cougar paw-prints online, then went back to check the prints in the sand. They were prints of a Cougar!

Back to the foothills of Mount Palomar.

Twice in the next three weeks, I found fresh prints. The size and depth of the print suggested a 120-140-pound critter. And one morning as I exited the trailer, I saw what resembled the hind-quarters of a cougar disappearing over one of the larger boulders. I no longer called “Here, kitty-kitty” as I exited the trailer.

A number of family members gathered in my sister’s home for Bible study and discussions several evenings a week, and we usually ended them after dark. Therefore, when I walked to the trailer, I carried a light and made sufficient noise to scare away any unwanted visitors. I am not a fearful person, but I steer clear of potential danger.

It All is Beauty to Me

Driving over a hill, I wonder what I’ll see.

It may be a rock or a rill, it all is beauty to me.

Magnificent valley below, flowering bush and tall tree,

Swaying as the wind does blow, it all is beauty to me.

Climbing the mountain high with my head up in the cloud,

Breathing deeply, I sigh, and praise the Lord out loud.

Seeing the vista so wide, away from the noisy crowd,

With only birds at my side, I praise the Lord out loud.

Sailing along the coast, the wind and rain I brave,

I thrill with Jesus, my host, and with the freedom he gave.

Sitting on sandy shore, watching the crashing wave,

Thinking of God I adore, and the freedom He gave.

Walking through forest green, quiet meadow and lake,

I thrive in nature serene with each breath that I take.

Turning to go home, I plant my stake,

Planning again to roam with each breath that I take.

Thoughts on Godly Character

It’s interesting how different folk prioritize character traits, or Godly attributes, as having a higher value than others. For example, one person considers honesty as the highest character trait on the list, while someone else views compassion as the most important. Yet another extols humility. So, which one is the most important?

That can’t be answered because it misses the main point, and it reminds me of when a friend asked me some years ago, “Which of your five children do you value the most?” I told him, “That question has no answer because they are all equally valuable.” And it’s the same with the various attributes of God: they are all equally important.

Character is a transliteration of χαρακτήρ, or carakter, which denotes express image. The idea is a brand, an engraving or indelible mark – in this case, an image or imprint on the soul. Therefore, a character trait of God is an attribute which characterizes or closely represents the nature of God.

Having worked with an organization which taught about living with high integrity and good character, I helped teach what I unofficially called the character traits of God. There are quite a few identified in the Bible, but here is my list. Don’t go to sleep now. Read this list slowly and think about God as you read each word (in alphabetical order).

Depending on the circumstances, God is: Alert, Attentive, Available, Bold, Cautious, Compassionate, Content, Creative, Decisive, [shows] Deference, [is] Dependable, Determined, Diligent, Discerning, Discrete, [manifests] Endurance, [is] Enthusiastic, Faithful, Flexible, Forgiving, Generous, Gentle, Grateful, Hospitable, Holy, Humble, [shows] Initiative, [is] Joyful, Just, Loving, Loyal, Meek, [Jesus was] Obedient, [is] Orderly, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Patient, Persuasive, Punctual, Resourceful, Responsible, [Jesus was] Reverent, [is] Righteous, Secure, Self-Controlled, Sensitive, Sincere, Sovereign, Thorough, Thrifty, Tolerant, Transcendent, Truthful, Virtuous, and Wise.

Still awake? Good. Almighty God is more amazing than you or I could ever imagine! After reading this partial list, can any one of them be considered more important than the others? The answer is a definite No. It takes all of them – plus more – to describe or define Who our God is.

But we can truthfully say: depending on the circumstances, several may be more applicable than others.

For Example: If I am going for a job interview, a Loving or Reverent attitude might not be as relevant as being Attentive and Punctual – depending on the job, of course. And if the house is on fire, we can forget Hospitality; but being Decisive, Determined, and Dependable would really help.

A friend manifested no less than 31 Godly character traits as he repaired the air conditioning unit on my RV. It’s amazing how much we represent God as we help others. Why is that?

When God created mankind, He programmed us to be like Him. In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make man in our image; to be like us.” Therefore, as we endeavor to live a good life, it isn’t just our duty and responsibility to represent God – to be His ambassadors – we can’t help it because it’s part of who we are. And as we help others we are the extension of God’s hands and feet.

But there’s another side to this.

Some folk purposely live in rebellion against God. Some thrive as they steal or defraud others, damage reputations, hurt or commit murder. Some are greedy, ruthless, haters of good. I could continue, but you get the point. These folk are blocking God’s eternal plan for their lives.

However, if they repent and honestly ask to be forgiven, God will Forgive them although they may face the consequences of their poor decisions.

Living with Godly character and integrity produces a wholesome life now, and a wonderful life for eternity.

 What kind of character are you? What are you doing with the time God has given you here on earth?

I Nearly Missed This Week

It was July 4 and I didn’t write,

I happen to not be at home.

On the road, and enjoying life,

I didn’t write a tome.

Visiting our daughter who lives down south,

South of Dallas in Texas,

Her amazing kids are our grandkids,

And they all love and respect us.

From 15 years to 2 weeks old,

I enjoy being with them.

We play, we laugh, we always have fun,

Each one is a special gem.

Well, I’ll stop writing and get back

And see what the troops are doing.

Today is our son’s birthday

And I’ll find out what’s brewing.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

And may you love and honor the Lord.

I’ll endeavor to write again next week;

So enjoy life, love God, and don’t get bored.

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