Category Archives: Inspiring

Denise Ann Lewandowski Turner (1966-2013)

Standard

Each child of God, and we are all His children, has a story and part of my own story was intermingled with my childhood friend Denise Ann.  We played together, laughed together and fought like siblings.   Mostly, she shared her parents with me, without jealousy,  and in the deepest sense of  love.  She joined our Lord and Savior this December.   I’ve been thinking of some of the times we shared as children and wanted to share a few.

Summers in Junction

Before Fredericksburg was anything and a family with a motor home was a big deal,  we would head out for the deer lease in the Winnebago loaded with good eats, some adults and a bunch of kids.   As we rolled along the highway, we played dominoes, black jack and pitch with nickels and dimes.   Denise’s brother would aggravate us and we would antagonize him by ganging up to tattle or trick him into losing in a card game.   We were about seven or eight, but Denise seemed so much more mature than me and took on the role of big sister.

There was a natural spring on the land in Junction that bubbled into a cool pool for swimming.   The water was clear and soothing and out in the middle was an ancient boulder where the water was so deep the bottom was no where to be seen.  Somehow we made it over and stood like Jane of the jungle on the top of the rock.   I would never jump off  into the wild blue yonder on my own and had no plans of doing so that day.  Denise thought otherwise.   She pushed me off and I swam for dear life to get to the shallow part.   I was furious as she laughed when I asked her what she would have done if I had drowned.  Quite calmly,  and completely in charge,  she replied in her matter of  fact tone, ” I would have saved you.”  So she would have and did many times after.  I became a strong swimmer that summer.   We had many summers in water there, on the Brazos, at the SPJST pool and other places I can’t recall the names of and we always stuck together.  I hope Denise swims in a pool of crisp cool water again with the heavens beaming around her.

Chappell Hill

From the dune buggy, tractor, four wheeler and her first pick up, we ran the pasture and the river fearlessly.  It was a child’s paradise on the weekend and holidays and I loved being included on those trips.   We attended our first dance at Silver Wings with her older cousins and aunts.   We hounded  the sand barges of the Brazos with her cousins and uncles.   There were picnics, card games, church bazaars, fishing and cooking, family and friends who popped in to visit at the house on the hill.  It was the best of times with sweet memories ingrained in me of simpler days.

Denise’s Polish grandma, called Busia and pronounced Busha,  had tiny chickens with tiny eggs that we collected.  Busia’s house was down the hill from the weekend house and we visited every time to collect those eggs and see what was cooking in her kitchen.   She was my first memory of a real grandma and I loved her country house especially the kitchen where she rolled out and cut wide egg noodles on her table.  I can still see her in my mind with her rolling-pin stooped over the table.   The kitchen smelled amazing and the soup that she served with those egg noodles compare to nothing I have had since.   Busia made more than just good food.  She crocheted adorable poodles around Ivory soap for Denise and then me.   The last time we were there, we hung  freshly starched curtains in that kitchen.   I hope Denise is in her grandma’s heavenly kitchen enjoying those egg noodles looking out the window at emerald green pastures.

Daddy

Only a daddy’s girl could talk her father into buying a white horse with blue eyes.   Denise did just that and that crazy white horse was named “Spook”.   We rode him in a fenced pasture and her daddy never let us out of  his sight.   Then there was the sparkly red bass boat named, “My Dee Dee”, Denise’s nickname from her daddy.   We spent summers on Houston County Lake while he drove “My Dee Dee”,  circling and circling so that everyone could have a turn at trying to ski.  We night fished for crappie on Somerville and he never complained about prissy little girls being in the way.   He kept all the gadgets and motors running on the various mechanical toys.  He watched over us when things were a little dangerous never mentioning it to a doting mom.  He gave us our freedom and taught us how to read the directions before assembly.  One simple rule that could be applied to most things in life.   Denise had his common sense and mechanical ability.   Both would come in handy when we got into trouble or helped someone else out of a jam like the times she would tell me to get out and lock the hub so we could use her four-wheel drive pick up to pull someone out of a ditch.   Denise  was a daddy’s girl.   Only a little girl, confident in her daddy’s love, could share him with me on my wedding day when he walked me down the aisle and gave me away. I hope Denise is in the presence of God knowing the same,  yet greater love, of her Heavenly Father.

Momma

Waking up to a warm wash cloth was such a loving and novel thing to me when I was with Denise.   Her momma did that everyday of Denise’s childhood with love and tenderness to wake her children and I was privileged to be included.   She chaperoned, baked, cleaned, washed, ironed, decorated, volunteered,  chauffeured, waited up nights and prayed.   There was always a carload of extra kids to take to school and snacks for too many after school.    She is my best memory of a mom and I would pull those memories from childhood many times when I was able to stay at home with my children.    Denise never minded sharing her mother or it never showed.   Her momma could love more than just her own,  and Denise loved others in the same way, pulling friends into her inner circle even just for a meal when they most needed a mother’s love.   Both mother and daughter took the simple art of homemaking and cooking and provided a ministry of comfort and fellowship to others.   Over the years, there have been wedding cakes, cookies, roasts, barbeques, salsa and the most amazing homegrown pickles.    I hope Denise is cooking a feast in Heaven for all of her loved ones already  there and she can hear all of her momma’s  prayers while she works.

Our Hope

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

To believe in everlasting life is  to worship God Himself.  It is the promise to be reunited with our loved ones.  It is part of our faith, written in His Word, and the longing of believers to be in Heaven.   Those of us left behind must remain here holding on to this promise ourselves, working out our faith, and finishing a good race and overcoming this world to enter into His presence.  This is a free gift offered to us through Jesus Christ with no string, no requirement other than to believe.    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6.   I know Denise knows Jesus who is Our Hope.

Advertisements

The Thanksgiving Sandwich

Standard

Time is at an accelerated and ever rapidly increasing pace for me these days.   I looked up and realized that Thanksgiving was upon me and many things needed to be done to make the holiday a festive and food filled extravaganza for family and friends to enjoy.    After the death of my mother and sister,  holidays have been bitter sweet as I struggle to regain and establish traditions without them and to carry on  a few passed down from my mother.   Having said that,   I was thinking of how much my mother loved Thanksgiving sandwiches with mayonnaise, sweet pickles and crispy potato chips.   I made her dressing again this year and my sons say it tastes just like their grandmother’s dressing – my mother’s.   Another memory came to mind about my sister who hosted Thanksgiving one year and made dressing from a box.  My brothers promptly rejected the box stuff and we still laugh about it  today.   

The night before this Thanksgiving,  my guys  stood in the kitchen laughing, eating and making tiny pecan pies for the next day’s feast.   We thought about running to the store to buy a newspaper for the sales that would commence promptly after our over indulgence in the food we would consume the next day.  On second thought we decided to just stay home and forego the sales this year.     We lamented over how our day to be thankful is sandwiched between an over celebrated Halloween and an over spent  Christmas with both beginning earlier and earlier every year.   Thanksgiving gets sandwiched between the two and the real meaning gets lost in the preparation of  food and the sales.  We all sat down and discussed what we are thankful for and I wanted to share a few with you.

What we are grateful for…

From the Aggie:  A home cooked meal, being home, family and food from home (that’s a repeat)

From the Senior:  Family, good teachers

From Himself:  Being together, our home, a job

From Me:  My family believing in God, each person having a relationship with Him

This Thanksgiving I am lingering over the sandwich that signifies the last of the turkey so that I can remember that the day was meant to be for thankfulness.   I am holding on to gratitude, but not for things that will pass away.  I am thankful for the things that will remain and the hope of eternity.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…Hebrews 12:28

So…It’s Saturday

Standard

It is rare for me to be home on a Saturday by myself.   The sons are at the TAMU game and the husband travels and is never home anyway.   Himself, the hubby, has called multiple times to check on me.   I wonder what he thinks I’ve been doing all these years while he travels and I’ve been home for days on end with two little boys.   After all, I can sit around and eat bon bons with or without the kids.    (Sarcasm aside, we made that decision years ago so that I would be able to stay home and home school our children.   I consider it a gift and am very grateful to my husband for making it possible.)

Having a blank canvas for the day was very appealing.  Well, not really blank.   I had a few business things to take care of, bills to pay and a sinus headache which is usual anyway.   I wake up before daylight on most days.  I don’t know why.  I just do.   This morning, after the sunrise and a light shower, I found this around the front of the house.

Ezekiel 1:28

Around noon I was contemplating lunch and realized my choices were not limited to all things manly; such as:  the usual, steak or sausage, taco or burritos, burgers or pizza.   It slowly dawned on me that I didn’t not have to cook a large “stick to your ribs”  meal that would be devoured in ten minutes and two hours later the ominous, “What’s for supper?”  would waft through the house.   It was delightful to know that it could be chicken salad and fruit without any complaints and dramatic, “I have to turn in my man card now!”

After lunch I packaged my handmade pumpkin soap.   There are two colors, orange and white, both are goat’s milk with cinnamon spice fragrance.   These will be in my antique booth at Hermann’s Downtown Brenham.

Handmade Goat Milk Soap

The day is winding down, but I saw a rainbow, ate a simple lunch, finished my soap, groomed the dog, talked to a friend, designed a card, and these came in the mail…

Johnson Brothers Plates

So it is Saturday and I just might be able to embrace this soon to be empty nest.

Irish House Blessing

Standard

 

 

Wishing you always—

Walls for the wind

And a roof for the rain

And tea beside the fire—

Laughter to cheer you

And those you love near you—

And all that your heart might desire!

and if things be wrong…

It’s easy to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song.
But the man worthwhile is the one who can smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with years.
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through the tears.

 

and…

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

A Blessed House, A Blessed Nation???

Standard

Independence Day is a profoundly patriotic day for our family.   Our family fought in The Revolutionary War, with no government to supply uniforms, weapons, food or shoes for their feet, and we won on principle and determination.   Most of all, we won because we were a godly people soon to be a  nation founded on The Word of God.  Men like Washington himself prayed.  At Mount Vernon, his home still preserved today, you can see a prayer journal that he kept with only a small sample of his personal prayers.  President Washington had no shame in praying in public nor did his predecessors such as Lincoln up to the last President Bush.  Today, we are so far from the ideals of President Washington.   If only…

we heeded Washington’s Prayer:

“Of all dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”  from the farewell address

No doubt, there are few today in our  self-indulgent and intelligent society who could comprehend the meaning of these two sentences,  let alone apply even a portion of the concept of morality.   Proof in the decay of our morals is the debate occurring in the special session of the Texas Legislature.   The media portray Wendy Davis as a hero to women and little Wendy minions chant, “Hail Satan” to Pro Life supporters singing Amazing Grace and children stand next to Wendy with signs that read, “Leave my mommy’s vagina alone.”  Where did these children come from and where are the Al Sharpton’s  to cry for the unborn;  particularly,  unborn black children who have been aborted at a rate of  1,876 per day?   The bill does not  eliminate abortions, Wendy Davis still  retains her Pro-Choice Murder,  rather the bill would stop abortions after twenty weeks and stop the abortion mills like Gosnell’s of which Texas had their own version of horror.   How have we come so far?

In our own homes is where the moral decay or complete lack of principle begins.   We send our children to the public indoctrination chambers that teach tolerance for the most evil deeds and intolerance for goodness and light.   We sit and watch the garbage of television and pay to do so while watching programs that tout immorality.  The number of wholesome and decent shows that depict a family with  fathers and mothers in  monogamous relationships are completely non-existent.   We don’t read God’s Word in our homes, but profess to be Christian, and never pray for this country.   We live a lie everyday telling ourselves that Washington is corrupt and there is nothing we can do about it as long as what they do doesn’t affect me or mine.   Could we find our way back by heeding this simple House Blessing from long ago (pictured in photo above)?

Order

our Houses

with God’s Word and principles contained in The Bible so that we find :

Contentment

beyond what we watch on television and what our next purchase will be so that we focus on

Hospitality

helping others by serving with no ulterior motive to promote ourselves so that our homes will reflect

Godliness

demonstrated to others so that they will desire to seek God for themselves.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  II Chronicles 7:14

The future of  Independence Day in four words:

Humble, Pray, Seek,  Turn

 

The Pigeon

Standard

Usually,  I associate pigeons with city life and the parking lots that make up most of the landscape not allocated for buildings.  Instead, my pigeon decided to come to the country where there are no other pigeons and many other birds that would love to prey upon any defenseless city dweller that encroaches their territory.  There was purpose in the destination the pigeon chose, but I didn’t fully understand why until a few days later.

There have been many things that have come to my yard including abandoned,  soon to be  momma  cats  that need a safe place to have a litter.  This is comical to my friends and family because I have no affinity for cats or even birds other than live and let live.    For the few animals who make their presence known to me,  by coming to my kitchen door,  I pay attention and somehow the two of us manage to communicate.  The pigeon came to my back porch and eventually to the door.   It needed help and all I know to do is give food, water and protection from predators.  Each night the pigeon slept on the lowest eve of the porch and then during the day she stayed as close as possible to the door and porch.  Eventually, I held her in my hands and it cooed and I talked and sang to her.  She had a mate that perched upon the roof, watching and observing the care she received.  I meant to take photos of him.  He stayed with us for  several days until we had our roof replaced which is another story about the storms of  life and the bumps and bruises that happen.

On her last day with me, she perched in the water bowl I set out for her and seemed alert.   A few hours after this photo, I noticed her mate right beside her on the ground.   My pigeon must have had some bumps and bruises that I couldn’t see.  She was dying.   Curiously, her last breath occurred with her neck stretched upwards.  Her fellow pigeon stayed near her so I left her for a few hours so that he could grieve.   I wrapped her in a cloth and buried her next to Reba (my chicken).

After hanging out on top of the chicken coop, the mate made his way into the chicken run and eventually inside the chicken coop.  I feel guilty because I didn’t know if this was a healthy situation for the chickens and the girls didn’t care much for the intrusion so I kept chasing him out of their domain.  When the roofers came,  and stayed for three days,   he left and hasn’t come back.  There are some who believe that animals will not be with us in eternity.  God does not specifically say in His Word that our pets will be with us in Heaven or not.   However, the scripture says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

Death has been knocking all around me these past years enough to get me to tally all the losses.  Counting from my earliest recollection:  My young uncle who died in a fishing accident, my grandfather,  my young uncle due to medical malpractice,  my brother who was killed by a drunk driver,  my mother to cancer,  my sister to cancer,  my uncle to old age and there were others in between who meant much to me and others.  Their absence from this life still causes me to grieve.

Death has become a part of me so much so that I can say that I understand and embrace the hope of  Heaven beyond my own understanding.  There are many religions that promise different things in the after life.  Yet, there is no other religion that gives us the hope of eternity shared with our loved ones as was revealed to John and promised to us as believers:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:1-5

One sure fact that we all face is D-E-A-T-H.   Atheists, Agnostics and all believers of any religion will die.  There is no escaping it.    The question we must ask  is, “If there is an eternity, where will I spend it?”

 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

My Aunt Madge and Uncle Lee, One Without The Other

Standard

A few weeks ago, on my way to Round Top, I called my Aunt Madge;  and,  the love of her life, her completeness, her best friend and lover, her life long companion for sixty-nine years and my beloved Uncle Lee  answered the phone.   He chatted away asking me if I had made the canned green tomatoes that he enjoys so much.   He sure would appreciate me bringing him some pickled green tomatoes.  Yes, he sure did love them and life and children and grandchildren and the greats and the great greats and My Aunt Madge, exclusively,  for a few months shy of seven decades.

My Uncle Lee served his country in the Navy during World War II.  He came home and raised two children and more generations along the way.  He was a Mason, a Shriner and an Elk.  Most of all he was the love of my Aunt Madge’s life and she was his.   My husband and I have tried to model our marriage after theirs.  After all, they have stood the test of time, they stood with us when we were married practically giving us away themselves by hosting our wedding at their lodge and cooking for days so that our guests would be served the best barbecue in Texas.   It was no easy feat.

Everywhere she was he was standing beside her helping and loving everyone that came in contact with them.  When you spoke with her on the phone, the conversation was with both of them.  He would echo in the background completing her sentences and adding to the stories or the treasured advice they would share if you asked.  He was the tall dark-haired handsome man who only needed her and his family.   The measure of the man was his love of God, his wife and family.  That was all he ever needed and it was everything that made the man more than himself.

When I spoke with my Aunt Madge, she never mentioned herself or how she would cope.  Her faith in God is amazing.  She said she pictured my Uncle Lee with one of her grandsons, who had been called home way before his time.  They are in Heaven getting ready for the rest of us while laughing and catching up on lost time.    One of her favorite scriptures is, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”   Her words were noble and praiseworthy; trusting in God who she knows so well.  All the people she had come in contact over the past few days in the hospital and while making arrangements for his burial,  she appreciated and praised their efforts.  Her neighbors and family who are beside her were her concerns.  She never mentioned herself, not once.

My Aunt Madge took time in her grief to give me words of encouragement to tell me to hold strong to my marriage.  That most marriages end because one or the other spends too much, to enjoy life and not worry about the material things because nothing, nothing at all, can be taken with you.  She wanted me to hear that loud and clear.  She said I have a good husband.  We are doing a good job.  I just wept.   How can someone stand so firm at such a time?

Hubert Lee Langston, Sr., was eighty seven years old, married Fanny Madge Collins sixty-nine years ago.  Together, they have a son and a daughter and five grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, numerous great greats.    His latest goal was to make it to seventy years with his best friend.   His legacy is to love all others before yourself.

Uncle Lee, well done, thy good and faithful servant.  To God be the glory!