Christmas has come and gone and the new year is just around the corner. That is why I have not been writing or reading much by way of blogs. It’s just been too hectic. However, I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas (and if you had snow I’m totally jealous).
One of the things that come with holidays is time off from work; when school is out I don’t have to drive a school bus. The downside to Christmas break is that I must go 3 weeks without that income. The upside is that I have more free time to do things with my children, including our exchange student, Freaya.
Back in the middle of December, right after schools dismissed for the break, I decided to take Freaya and Haley (my youngest daughter) up to the top of Lookout Mountain for some free sightseeing. Lookout Mountain – famous for the “Battle Above the Clouds” and Rock City – is not far from where I live. You can actually see the mountain from our front yard.
On the top of Lookout Mountain are several things worth seeing, such as the Incline and Point Park. The view from the overlook at the Incline (the world’s steepest railway – it goes straight up the side of the mountain) is wonderful, especially on a clear day. Likewise, the view from Point Park, famous for it’s iconic view of the Tennessee River and Moccasin Bend is equally stunning.
But it’s in the museum and gift shop next to Point Park where a large painting of the Battle of Lookout Mountain is kept. This was what I really wanted to take Freaya, our exchange student from South Korea, to see. The massive 13’x30′ painting was painted by James Walker, an Englishman. He was paid an incredible $20,000 commission for the work which was completed in 1874.
On the way down Lookout Mountain I decided to make a quick stop at Mountain Memories, a quaint gift shop right beside the tracks of the Incline. Believe it or not, this was the very first time I had ever stopped at this shop, even though I have lived in Chattanooga most of my life. I guess that’s typical for locals.
Anyway, Mountain Memories is a family-owned business which has been in operation for nearly 90 years (run by the granddaughter of the one who discovered Ruby Falls)! Unlike many other shops, this place sell some really unique items, including handmade quilts and genuine Civil War artifacts, like a bone saw and “carved bullets” (lead shot with teeth marks, the kind left by soldiers having arms and legs amputated – where the term “bite the bullet” came from). I highly recommend you stopping by when you’re in town.
Broken and Beautiful
Like I said, there were a lot of unique and unusual gifts for sale at Mountain Memories, but it was some rather common little geodes that caught Freaya’s attention. With all the artifacts from the days of mortal combat on display, Freaya asked an honest question when she first glimpsed the pile of round stones: “Why are they selling rocks?”
Haley sorta laughed, then picked up one of the “rocks” and showed her – they were geodes, and one had been broken open.
“These are not just rocks,” Haley said. She went on to tell our guest that what makes them special is that although they may look like rocks, it’s only when you break them that you can see how beautiful they are on the inside.
She said, “You know, it’s a lot like people. We may be ugly on the outside, but it’s when we are broken that you get to see the beautiful on the inside…and what makes us beautiful is Jesus.”
That’s so true, Haley. I’m sorry for what you’ve been put through, but I’m glad you understand what can come from it: the beauty of Christ for all to see. We owe it all to Jesus!
That was a free field trip worth taking!