Cheesecake Factory

Wanda came to Houston from Tampa, Florida on November 18, 2003 for six days. One night she asked, "Are you hungry? Where do you want to go to eat?"

I said: "I don't want chicken. Yesterday, I had baked chicken with mushroom gravy for lunch. You brought home chicken pitas from Jack-in-the-Box for supper. At the Forum Luncheon today I had chicken breast with artichoke sauce." Wanda said she wanted to eat something you can't buy in Tampa. She named several restaurants with a favorite entree. I said, "My sisters came to my house to play Spades this month. For lunch, I served potato soup from Doyle's and chicken strip salad from Chick-Fill-A. Our snack for supper was Southwestern egg rolls from Chili's. They were scrumptious!"

Wanda asked, "They ARE good. Do you know where they are better?"

"No where! Who could make them better?"

"The Cheese Factory in the Galleria. They have Avocado Egg Rolls to die for! Let's go there. I want some vanilla bean cheese cake. They make the BEST."

We put on pretty dresses and left home about 6:30. We walked across the sidewalk and through the revolving doors. The hostess informed us seating was on the upper level only and extended her hand toward the winding stairway. I asked, "How high are those stairs? I don't do steps very well." She showed us the elevator beyond the bar to take us to the second floor. We were seated at a cozy table for two beside a window with a view of tall buildings, the busy 610 Freeway and the white and red lights of traffic coming and going.

It was good to be here. We had three large halved egg rolls apiece served with a delicious dipping sauce. Wanda said: "Just think: When we get to Heaven, we can eat all these we want and never get fat!" They were so filling, we could eat only one-third of the large platter of the chicken salads. I chose the pumpkin cheesecake. The samples served to us while waiting for a table had a definite more-ish taste! Wanda had her favorite, vanilla bean.

We were the only ones to enter the elevator going down. The doors closed. When they opened again, a crowd of people were waiting to get in. One woman was pushing a baby in a buggy. Wanda and I stepped out among them, and she said, "This looks like where we got in." To the man next to her, she asked, "What floor is this? Is this the first floor?" "No," he replied, "It's the second." We both quickly scurried back into the crowded elevator with barely enough room for us. We were very confused! Wanda asked, "What happened? Is there a third floor? Didn't you push the down button?" "No," I answered. "I thought you pushed it."

Then we realized that we were so busy talking while in the elevator that we didn't notice it never moved! Soon, a crowd gathered to go downstairs. Someone finally pushed the button, opening the doors. Oh, how we laughed! This never happened to us before. I said, "When I get on the elevator to Heaven, I must be sure to push the button. Or else I may head back to earth."

At midnight, cousin Don called me from Anchorage, Alaska. He does this often, usually after midnight. It's three hours earlier there. I told him about the elevator ride, and our laughter zipped through the sound waves all the way to Alaska and back to Texas. He asked about the weather here. I said, "It's mid seventies; real nice. A cool, strong breeze is blowing." He said, "It's 10 below zero here. They said it would warm up tomorrow and I'm gonna hold them to that." I said, "How much warmer? To zero?" He laughed. He lives in the land of SNOW.

I wish we had snow just for a day or two. However, it would throw our city into chaos--extreme confusion and disorder! For a while, snow fell once every ten years, lasting only a day or two. Seems like the last time it covered our yard was in the fifties. Since only one-third of the land on our earth ever has snow, there are many people who have never seen it. All snowflakes pictured are real photos. Snow is one of God's winter wonders: tiny crystals of just water and air which form in a dazzling array of shapes. NO TWO SNOWFLAKES ARE EXACTLY ALIKE! They are all six-sided, and even have tiny hexagon centers. There are flakes which come from a great height in very cold temperatures which have two hexagonal plates arranged one on top of the other attached by a hexagonal column. No other substance crystallizes in such an infinite variety of beautiful forms as water.

There is much less water in snow than in rain. It would take a 6-inch layer of moist snow or a 30-inch layer of dry snow to equal the water in a 1-inch rainfall. The tiny crystal surfaces of fresh snow reflect light and make the snow appear white. Red, green, blue and even black snow is occasionally seen in many parts of the world, caused by microscopic plants, tiny fungi or dust collected by the snow as it falls through the air.

I always wondered why Eskimos and explorers in the Arctic regions build igloos or huts of snow blocks which can be kept surprisingly warm even in the coldest weather. It is because of the great amount of air in the snowflakes when it blankets the ground, keeping the heat rising from the warmer layers of earth below. In severe winters, snow protects the dormant vegetation beneath it! I used to marvel at lily bulbs springing up into gorgeous flowers after a snowfall. In 1931, Mr. W. A. Bentley of Vermont was the first person to photograph more than 1,000 different forms of snowflakes. YOU ARE A SNOWFLAKE! Just as there has never been found two snowflakes exactly alike, neither are there any two persons alike. There are six billion two hundred thirty-four million people in the world: That's 6,234,000,000 different persons. Even more mind boggling is that each person has ten fingers, and no two fingerprints are alike! Even identical twins have different fingerprints. No one has ever found two leaves alike, or two blades of grass. Our God is awesome! His creations are astronomical!

God made each of us different because each one of us has something to give that no one else can give. You are not supposed to be exactly like your parents or your siblings. God intended that you should be your own individual self. Remember: THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD JUST LIKE YOU. What you are is God's gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to Him. God loves each and every person. He cares! He gives us freedom to choose how to use our talents. We are free to choose the type of person we want to be. He sent his Son, Jesus, to earth to show us how to live. If we choose to follow His rules, He promises we'll live forever in Heaven with Him. The happiest life you can live is by keeping His commandments. If everyone kept them, we wouldn't have to put locks on our doors. We wouldn't even need policemen or jails. You were created to serve God. When we go against our creation, we are most miserable. With prayer asking God to be with us every day, makes each day peaceful and happy.

From October 5 to November 23, 2003 (40 days), our church joined over 4,100 churches nationwide (over 60 in the Houston-area) in a spiritual quest to learn the purpose of life. This movement was created two years ago by Rev. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? Since life is preparation for eternity, I want to use my time on earth fulfilling God's purposes for me: to get to know and love God better; to show love to other believers; to make choices that grow my character; to serve God by serving others; and to share the Good News. I kept a journal of 40 days with God, which I will share with you next month.

As I begin another year, I just want to continue getting closer to the Lord every day. He is the center of my life. He takes care of me, and gives me all I need.

My daughter-in-law, Ethel Rose, just put about two dozen of Thomas Kinkade's gorgeous screen saver pictures in my computer. I am amazed at the beauty he paints of homes, flowers, mountains, rivers, trees--our beautiful world God created for us. What will Heaven be like?

"God thundereth marvelously with His voice; great things doeth He, which we cannot comprehend. For He saith to the SNOW, 'Be thou on the earth'" (Job 37:5,6).

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