We took this in our backyard prior to our family Christmas.
Ok, so after reading the post on quirkybee.blogspot.com, I decided to also vent on something that sorta bugs me when we get close to the Christmas season. I attached a picture that I took, so it stays with the troybradfordphoto theme (no blogs without a picture of it).
So here I am at the airport in Seattle the other day. I was waiting in the loooooooong line for Starbucks coffee and of course I was next to someone who wanted to talk. She was mentioning the fact that she was surprised that Starbucks still called their holiday coffee a “Christmas Blend”. Then she goes on to tell me how she is a “Christian”, but she doesn’t necessarily think that it matters is someone uses “holiday” or “Christmas”. Of course, me being the introvert that I am, (especially in airports) I am thinking that maybe I didn’t want coffee after all. I can’t believe that out of all of the people in the airport, she picked me to share her opinion with. Well, the conversation continued and then she got me to thinking. She was telling me how she almost lost a friend over that very thing. The friend was insistent on boycotting a particular store because they use the phrase “Happy Holidays” in their advertisements instead of “Merry Christmas”. When she didn’t agree with her friend, the “disagreement” began. In reality, it turned “ugly”. So here is the thought that is going through my head. “Would Jesus really get upset over such a technicality?” If they are so insistent in using “Happy Holidays”, maybe we should think of why? We shouldn’t be so arrogant and think that just because we believe in Jesus Christ, that everyone else should (because we are right and they are wrong). Maybe if we just appreciated the fact that some stores (or people) say “Merry Christmas” (and let them know that) and not hold it against the ones that say “Happy Holidays”, then we might be portraying the love that Jesus extends to us (and them) every day. Remember how undeserving we really are! Do you think the world sees the boycotting or complaining as our absolute love for our Savior or do you think they see it as our arrogance that we are saying we are right and they are wrong? I DON’T want to come across as a person that is compromising my beliefs, but I DO want to be a person that doesn’t let my personal “technicalities” get in the way of letting others see the grace that Christ provides all of us all year long. By the way, love that “Christmas Blend” coffee!
Got away this weekend (well sorta). We went over to the Gaylord Hotel to eat out and see the ICE display. Lots of fun, if it weren't for all of the other people with the same idea. We stuck it out and in the end had a great time (and some good food). See troybradfordiphonephotos.blogspot.com for a picture of some shopping that we also did...
Below are some more pictures of my trip to Salvation Mountain. As you read on, the pictures may become the insignificant part.
To be honest, I didn't know what to expect when I was thinking of going. Almost backed out several times because of the unknowns. I had to leave the hotel at 5:00 am and drive 3 1/2 hours in California traffic to get there. Wasn't for sure how anxious I was to travel by myself to a place in the middle of nowhere in the California desert. As I got closer, I started to realize that I was probably standing out. I pulled into Niland, CA (population 1,184) in my Volvo S80 sedan (thanks Hertz for the great upgrade). Most of the cars were very vintage (pre-1980ish). So I made my final turn onto Main Street and headed a couple of miles out of Niland to Slab City. This is the place that is proud of the fact that it is "the last free place" to live. Turns out the land is occupied by people who want to 'get away' for free. Leonard Knight happened to be one of those people...
So I pull into the entrance to get to Salvation Mountain and was greeted by someone other than Leonard. Realizing that I had travelled too far to back out now, I got out of the car and introduced myself. Because I had left so early, nobody else was there yet. Found out that Leonard was in Niland having breakfast. So I had about 30-40 minutes to talk to Kevin. What a great conversation! He was a volunteer that had taken 6 months off to come down and spend some time with Leonard and help. He spent alot of time telling me about Leonard and the area around Slab City (in particular Niland and the Salton Sea). I felt like I was in an advanced history class... So then he let me know that Leonard was coming. I turned around to see a small brightly painted car heading down the road at a fairly fast rate of speed. As the car approached the drive, you can hear the brakes working overtime. Kevin said that Leonard sometimes forgets about the brakes. So here he comes up the drive in his car with a big smile on his face. Kevin let me know to talk loud and look directly at Leonard, since he didn't hear that well. No sooner than the car stopped, Leonard hops out and comes up to shake my hand. He asks me if I have ever been to Salvation Mountain and then offers to take me on a tour. The amazing thing about the tour was how he continually talked about all of the details on the mountain and how his face absolutely glowed that someone actually came to hear about it. He was constantly apologizing for "gabbing too much". And he made sure that we knew that the reason that he did this was that he wanted us all to know how much God loved us. He kept letting everyone (by this time there were around 30-40 people) know that he loved it when we took pictures, because then more people would hear about the message that he was trying to get out. I can honestly say that I took alot of pictures, so now I feel like I should do my part and post them for others to see.
So what was the big deal about going to the middle of the desert to see an old man that had spent a large portion of his life building a mountain out of clay and painting it with bright colors and graffiti about God? Didn't really realize it until after I left... Think about this... Here is a man who made a decision that most of us could never make; to simplify his life and focus on a God who loved him unconditionally. He continued on this path despite his apparent failures time after time of getting the message across. Even when people didn't come, he continued. Now he is in the latter part of his life and people are coming from everywhere to the middle of nowhere just to meet him and hear his message. What would we give to have an impact like that? Most that come to meet him are probably already Christians. But remember that he has made his home in the middle of an area that many people come to because they have no other home. Leonard is there with a bright, BOLD statement as a backdrop that can't be missed "God Is Love"! So my question is: HOW BOLD IS OUR STATEMENT?
What an amazing experience/story to listen to Leonard Knight talk
about why he built the mountain and how he builds the different parts
of the mountain. He is such an humble person with a definite child-
like innocence regarding God's amazing love for us. He kept
mentioning over and over how "he doesn't know why people keep coming",
but he definitely let's you know that he is using the opportunity to
tell about God's love. This structure was at the entrance. More
pictures and more stories to come...
Some people think of Philadelphia and they think of cheesesteak, the Phillies, the Eagles, the Liberty bell, Ben Franklin, or many other early American history icons. When I thought of Philly, I couldn't wait to go see Rocky and run the famous stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Looking for souvenirs to bring back to Maci and Sadi, I immediately found exactly what they would want; Rocky t-shirts... This is the only picture that I took in Philly that cost me. There was an entrepreneur waiting by the statue. He assured me two things: his pictures that he had taken were all over the world and he was too old to run with my camera (he could see the look in my eyes when I handed him over $$$$ worth of camera gear). Afterwards, he was glad to tell me how slow things were with the economy and all. My only regret was that I didn't get a picture of or with him. Maybe next time...
would have had more time, I could have spent a whole day just taking
pictures of parking meters. Between the age of the meters (they were
mostly all functional), and the buildings/bridges in the background,
it was the 'perfect storm' for photography. I hope to have some
pictures downloaded from my 'real' camera sometime this week. Always
seem too busy to get them downloaded. The iPhone and all of the
camera apps make it way too easy. This may be the reason for
upgrading to the newest iPhone; just to get the 3mp camera.
cameras... Took this one with my iPhone. Funny that it says (now
demolished). Like I couldn't tell by looking around and seeing all of