Five hopeful things.

Susan M - August 1, 2009

Mostly non-Mormon things. And some are weird (or unexpected), too.

1. GMH

My teenage daughter asked me the other day if I’d heard of a website called F* My Life, a place where people post gripes about how sucky their day has been. I hadn’t.

She was only asking me about it because she’d heard of a site someone had created in response called GivesMeHope.com.

People post about experiences they’ve had that give them hope.

Often they’re tales of a stranger’s generosity, like this one:

A few years ago, I was sitting on a bus in the Dominican Republic with many other tourists waiting to go back to our resort. It was hot and many children were complaining to their parents. Then one man got up, counted the children and got off the bus. He went to the ice cream shop and bought every child an ice cream cone. He GMH.

Sometimes, it’s just simple kindness:

My brother has Down Syndrome and doesn’t speak very well. This week while we were down the beach he tried to learn how to skim board.He would try and ask the other boys how they did it and they would laugh at him and walk away. The last day 4 teenage boys spent hours with him teaching him. They were so patient. He wouldn’t stop smiling :)They GMH.

Check it out.

2. Salvation Mountain

Out in the California desert in the Imperial Valley, there is an environmental disaster known as the Salton Sea. It’s a giant lake that was created in the early 1900s when they were trying to irrigate the valley with water from the Colorado River. An engineering mistake almost led to the entire river re-routing itself through the valley. It took a long time to fix, like years, I think. And a giant lake was formed.

The lake has very high salinity levels. The fish in the lake are dying off. The water is slowly evaporating. It gets a lot of agricultural run-off full of chemicals. If the lake is allowed to evaporate completely, it’ll leave behind toxic dirt. It’s just a mess.

You come to me in dreams

In the 50s it was seen as a potential resort area. Yacht clubs were built. People like Frank Sinatra would go boating there. Neighborhoods were planned—streets paved. But no houses built. Conditions became unpleasant and people abandoned the area. Today, many places on the lake are like a wasteland. There are dead fish lining the shore on the west side of the lake. And wow, does it stink in the summer.

On the southeast end of the lake is a town called Niland. Niland used to be home to a military base, but the base closed down. Left behind were big slabs of concrete. A perfect spot to park a bus or an RV. A homeless/hobo community has formed there. They call it Slab City.

almost there

Maybe you’ve heard of it. It was in the movie Into the Wild, if you’ve seen that.

A man who lives there started a project. He thought he’d spend a week there working on it, and he’s still there 25 years later. His name is Leonard Knight, and a sweeter, gentler man I don’t think you could find.

He calls his project Salvation Mountain.

never

He’s painted an entire hillside with messages about God and love and Christ.

into my heart

He’s built it all out of hay, clay, and mud—adobe. He’s created rooms and lives there.

Salvation Mountain

There are several vehicles there that he’s painted, as well.

You'd better keep on looking for me

It’s amazing that out in the middle of a desert wasteland, where many places look like the apocalypse, someone has managed to build something so full of love and hope.

To learn more.

3. Operation Beautiful

Operation Beautiful is a website that was inspired by the Gives Me Hope website. The woman who started it was discouraged by what she calls Fat Talk, or women denigrating their looks because they don’t meet the “ideals” they see in movies, on tv and in magazines.

She leaves encouraging notes on mirrors in restrooms, and others have started doing it too. People email her a picture of the notes they’ve left, and she posts them on the site.

To learn more.

4. The Crystal Cathedral

I live in Orange County, CA, home of the Crystal Cathedral, Robert Schuller’s televised church. I went there one day to take pictures. I was expecting it to be a spectacle, and it was, in many ways.

But it was more than that, too.

There are several buildings on the grounds, and the architecture of each is rather different.

There is the Tower of Hope:

Tower of Hope

The Crystal Cathedral:

With great tall spires

And there is the Prayer Spire:

watch your step

Among others. There are also sculptures depicting scenes from the scriptures all over the place. They’re a little bit creepy, but I think any sculpture of a person that you can walk right up to is going to be creepy.

Moses with the 10 Commandments:

I give you the Fifteen...No, TEN Commandments!

Job:

Yet trouble came.

And a statue of the baby Jesus, which someone told me the employees there refer to as Terminator Jesus:

silver and gold

Among others.

But the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the ground. Most of the pavement there has scriptures embedded in it. It also has the name of the person who donated the money for that block of pavement, but that didn’t bother me much. Maybe it’s because I’m such a text-based, visual person, but I found it really amazing to have a scripture everywhere I looked.

Crystal Cathedral

Crystal Cathedral

It’s an interesting place. I wasn’t expecting to get the sense of hope from it that I found. Everywhere I turned, every step I took, a message of faith and love and hope was waiting.

5. Mormon Women

OK, yeah, Mormon women in general give me hope, but I’m referring to a website. I’ve been rather out of it with the LDS group blogs, so this may have been publicized and I missed it. But it could use more publicity.

The website has regular weekly features: Missionary Mondays, Sharing Our Voices (Tues & Thurs), Portraits of Women (Wed), Ask A Mormon Woman (Fri), Links We Like (Sat), We Believe (Sun).

The intent of the site is partially to show people that Mormon women are fun, creative, positive, and amazing…just like everybody else. It’s a neat way to let our light shine, when there are so many anti- sites out there.

It GMH.

Check it out.

11 Comments »

  1. Awesome! I hadn’t heard about any of these, Susan. Thanks for sharing them.

    Comment by ESO — August 1, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  2. Susan, This post kicks ass. It GMH.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — August 1, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  3. I’ve been reading GMH for the past hour. Wow.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — August 1, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

  4. Susan, I loved all of these! Thank you.

    I am definitely going to leave beauty notes around now too. I am always dismayed by negative self talk by women.

    So to all you nine moon readers:

    You are more beautiful than you know. You are smarter, funnier, and better than you give yourselves credit for. If fact, you all GMH.

    Comment by Janelle — August 1, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

  5. Awesome and inspiring post. I had no idea about these sights; so thanks for sharing! I will be delving into these! I need some positive energy, especially right now!

    Comment by Kaylana — August 2, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  6. My 18yo daughter rode the metro train into Compton yesterday. She saw a younger girl on the train in an outfit she thought was really cute. The girl had a scar on her face. When the girl got off the train, my daughter wrote a note that said “Your outfit is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen” and held it up to the train window, tapping on the glass so the girl would see it. GMH

    Comment by Susan M — August 2, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  7. The downside to bringing up GMH is that I had to check out FML too.

    I’ve been reading FML for the past hour. Wow.

    Comment by Orwell — August 2, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

  8. This is cool. Thanks.

    But yeah, Terminator Jesus kind of creeped me out.

    Comment by Hunter — August 3, 2009 @ 8:57 am

  9. One more reason Susan M is the bomb.

    Comment by Tracy M — August 3, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  10. That Jesus looks a little like the Emperor from Star Wars.

    Comment by Bill — August 3, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  11. I live right across the street from the United Palace Theater, originally (in 1930) a Lowe’s movie theater, but purchase by the televangelist, Rev. Ike, in 1969, and subsequently restored to its former glory. It too has a prayer tower. Check out some of the interiors.

    Sadly, Rev. Ike died just last week. Although his prosperity gospel was not uncontroversial, he did my neighborhood a great service in preserving an architectural masterpiece.

    Comment by Bill — August 3, 2009 @ 11:55 am

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