WEST OF SOUTH BEACH (Part 4 of 4) in Katy, Texas

Thursday, September 22 was "Rita evacuation day". Dexter left his hotel in the Galleria area at 7:00 a.m. It took 5 hours to drive to the airport to catch the 3:00 p.m. flight to Tampa.

Ronnie and Ethel were uneasy, living so close to Galveston. They decided to stay with Dortha and Dale. They left home at 9:00 this morning and arrived at 7:00 p.m. -- 10 hours! This should have been a 45-minute trip! Ethel was in much pain from foot surgery on Tuesday.

Cora's grandson, Michael asked -- and was invited -- to come to Katy and stay with Cora's daughter, Linda, who has 4 cats. With Michael came Melanie, baby Kiley (15 months old), Melanie's sister and her mother, 3 cats, 2 turtles, 3 dogs, 1 hamster and 2 gerbils. They traveled in two cars and a pickup truck. Michael decided they'd leave at 3:a.m. Thursday morning to avoid the traffic. HA! So did everybody else. They arrived at 2:p.m. It took 11 hours to drive from LaPorte to Katy. Michael said, "Hurricane Rita gave a whole new meaning for bumper-to-bumper traffic!"

Later that evening, Michael and sleeping daughter Kiley came to Cora's for a visit. We played Spades while she slept! Since we were expecting the hurricane, we filled the bathtubs with water to flush toilets. But with adventurous Kiley around, we emptied the tubs. We couldn't take a chance on her wandering out of our sight.

Michael and Kiley returned on Friday and Saturday. We played Spades all day. It was so much fun. How many young grandsons would spend quality time with three grandmas? Kiley is adorable! She played with her toys; took a nap; entertained herself while we enjoyed Spades. Michael and Melanie talk to Kiley like she was born speaking English. I was amazed at her knowledge and understanding.

Sunday, we had all the folks over for breakfast--NOT one on the South Beach diet! Later we had hamburgers from the backyard grill. We played games all day: Crack The Case; Wheel of Fortune; and Spades! I had telephone calls from Vaada in Colorado, from Don in Anchorage, Alaska, and from Teresa in Fairbanks, Alaska. They were concerned about my being in Hurricane Rita! Monday, Sept. 26, everyone was back in their homes again.

The menu for Friday, our last day of dieting, was Portobello Pizza for lunch; Grilled Salmon, Couscous and White Asparagus Salad for dinner. Saturday the 24th, was graduation day! We had our final weigh-in. Cora lost 4 pounds, Elaine lost 6, Kathleen lost 7, and I lost 3. We shared the costs of groceries. Kathleen brought some things with her; and Cora had a few of the ingredients. The total spent was $l,253.31, or $3l3.33 each for the 30-day period.

I confess I did not enjoy most of the new foods on the South Beach diet. No diet is for everyone! I smile when I think of a favorite Scripture, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." By my secret complaining to Him only, He allowed me to have Diverticulitis, Vertigo, and an auto air-conditioning problem during the month of dieting which caused me not be on it half of the time! I missed 17 days! Be careful how you pray!

Some teased us at the beginning of our venture saying we wouldn't be speaking to each other before the month was up! How can four sisters remain friends living together that long?

Every morning, we have prayer time around the breakfast table. It is a sweet time of prayer and fellowship with God. We pray for each other; thank God for our families and many blessings. The three sisters went to church every Sunday. I only went once, because of illness. They say, "A family that prays together, stays together." Besides, we really love each other.

Sunday night, the 25th, I was gluing Halloween pictures on envelopes for the October "Happenings" mail-out. When Cora and Elaine went to bed, I got out a Thank-you Card which I had bought for Cora. It said all the pretty words I wanted to say about her hospitality. I added my note of appreciation. I wrote that I was enclosing some money to help pay for some of the things she didn't list on the expenses: gasoline to go grocery shopping almost every day; all the household paper goods we used; and extra utilities. I put the card on my dresser. The next morning, I told Cora I would try to go home. But if the traffic was bad, I'd come back! She was vacuuming the dining room. Perfect! I slipped into her bedroom and put the sealed Thank-you card on her bed. We both loaded my things in my car, hugged, and said good-bye. I backed out of the driveway totally engrossed in thoughts of home and wondering how much mail had accumulated at the post office these past 30 days. I had not driven past Cora's house, when my thoughts were interrupted by a "voice" saying to me: "You forgot to put money in the envelope!" That had to be God. WHEN, if ever, would I have thought of that? I had sealed the envelope just before putting it on Cora's bed. I got goose-bumps just thinking how terrible it could have been!

NOW, how will I get into her room without her knowing? Maybe the kitchen door to the garage won't be locked, and I can slip in and out without being seen! NO! I knocked and Cora appeared. I said, "You know, there's always the forgetting of something!" Elaine called to Cora from the den, saying, "There was a telephone call for Tillie. They left a message." Cora went to the base station of the phone system in the kitchen while I slipped into her adjoining bedroom. I ripped open the envelope, and placed the money inside. I returned before Cora finished getting the message. It was from my neighbor, Herta, whom I called to see if we had electricity. With no answer, I called Sharon and learned the electricity was on after being off seven hours.

I said another quick good-bye to Cora, and hurried out the door.

Yes, that was God looking out after me. He even arranged the events (getting Cora out of my presence) so I could handle everything just as I wanted to. I never cease to be amazed at His goodness toward me. He cares about all the little details of our lives as well as the big ones!

Cora, Kathleen, Elaine and I got together again at noon on January 23rd to celebrate my birthday No. 85! We dined at Johnny Carino's Italian Restaurant on I-10 in Katy -- Excellent food! Then went to Cora's and played three rounds of Spades, ending at 1:00 A.M. The most exciting game was when Cora and I lost to Elaine and Kathleen with a score of 509 to 510!

Cora and Kathleen continue eating most meals from the South Beach Diet. Elaine can't cook because of her stroke. I've lost three more pounds on the diet my doctor gave me. I learned that if I fix everything in the morning that I will eat that day, then I can stay on it. Otherwise, when supper-time comes, I'll say, "I don’t want to cook supper! It's ready and waiting for me at the restaurants. I'll try again tomorrow!"

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Copies of this poem were passed out to everyone in my Sunday School class:

When I say…"I am a Christian," I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."

I'm whispering "I was lost. Now, I'm found and forgiven."

When I say…"I am a Christian," I don't speak of this with pride.

I'm confessing that I stumble, and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say…"I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong.

I'm professing that I'm weak, and need His strength to carry on.

When I say…"I am a Christian," I'm not bragging of success.

I'm admitting I have failed, and need God to clean up my mess.

When I say…"I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect.

My flaws are far too visible. But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say…"I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain.

I have my share of heartaches. So, I call upon His name.

When I say…"I am a Christian," I'm not holier than thou.

I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow!

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