Thursday, June 21, 2018

Half-Baked Beats Blown to Bits

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

One thing about me that most people don’t know is that I have a super-sensitive nose. That’s right, I’ve been gifted with the nose of a blood hound.

To prove my point, here is a short story. Our youngest son and I were walking through a mall in Florida one day. We were coming from one end, exiting through one of the big anchors, level two, into the promenade inside the mall. I told my son that I smelled spearmint and that someone nearby was chewing spearmint gum. Now, we all know that very distinctive odor. You probably don’t smell it as I do, but you are familiar with it.

We made our way down the storefronts and the aroma grew stronger. Son, didn’t smell it. Yet. We make our way to the other end of the mall and took the escalator to the bottom floor. Now, the smell was almost overpowering. At the bottom of the escalator, on the first floor, all the way on the opposite end of the mall, stood a woman taking one of those familiar surveys. She was smacking away on none other than spearmint gum. And this is just one such story of which there are too many to count.

Cooking With Gas
I’ve only recently begun to cook with gas. In the past, I’ve only had electric stoves. Neither my husband nor I had a clue that we shouldn’t be smelling gas. Period.

So, I go in to cook dinner Monday night. I turn on the oven to put in the chicken and it reeks of gas. Well, I didn’t think much about it. Gas stoves always smell like gas when you first turn them on. Don’t they? But I texted hubby and told him that it was still smelling.

The week before, it was late afternoon and I had been sitting in our den, around the corner from the kitchen, and I thought I smelled gas, again. This made about the fifth or sixth time that I could really smell it. Thing is, the stove hadn’t been turned on all day. Hey, I’m a writer, not a cook (actually, I'm an excellent southern cook). I called my husband down from his office to smell it. He entered the kitchen and agreed, yes, there was definitely a gas odor. But we didn’t call the gas company. A big no-no.

The Gas Man Cometh
Fast forward to Monday. I put my Greek-style chicken breasts into the oven, turned it on and let the little beauties cook away . . . for about twenty minutes. In the meantime, I went into my office and texted the love of my life that I still smelled gas, maybe we really should contact the gas company. Next thing I know, here comes the gas man, knocking on the door.

All of this is my way of giving you some safety tips in regards to gas. I have lived my entire life without knowing these things. And I’m no spring chicken, unlike the lovely breasts cooking away, or by now, not so much cooking as sitting there half-baked, since the gas man told me to turn off the oven.

If You Smell Gas
  • Get out of your house. Period. Just go!
  • Do NOT turn off the gas. (Yes, you read that right).
  • By all means do NOT turn ON the gas!!
  • Do NOT strike a match, or a lighter or anything else.
  • Do NOT flip any switch of any kind, ON or OFF.
  • Do NOT use your cell phone.
  • Get away from your house.
  • NOW you may call the gas company.
We live in a gated community with a manned gate. I didn’t know this, but they won’t contact you in any way to let you know the gas man cometh as it could cause a spark and blow up your home.

When he arrived, the gas man knocked after he checked the gas levels around our front door. He did NOT ring the doorbell. He came inside, told me to go ahead and turn off the oven, then he proceeded to check the stove top, burner, by burner. He even had me to tell him if the gas coming from an unlighted burner was what I had smelled. I assured him that it was. He then had me turn the oven on as he checked it for a leak. No gas leaks. At least, not the natural gas that I was smelling. But, we do have an issue with our new stove. It isn’t efficiently burning the gas that is pumped into it and therefore, has a carbon monoxide buildup. A very high-level carbon monoxide buildup. We opened the rear door, not far from the kitchen, to let the gasses leave our home.

I'd Rather Be Cooking
So, we will spend about two weeks eating microwavable meals, sandwiches, delivered pizzas, or in restaurants. That’s about how long it will take the repair company to order, receive, and come test our stove with the same type gas meter the gas man used.

So now you know what to do should you ever experience such. I pray that you do not, but the gas man cautioned that this could have been disastrous. And I’m giving extra thanks to my Heavenly Father for the gift of my blood hound nose.

Be safe, my friends.

Have you ever had a gas leak in your home? Did you follow all of these precautions? Tell us about that below.

Half-Baked Beats Blown to Bits @DDuPreeWilliams (Click to Tweet)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

At the End of Your Rope?

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
Have you ever felt that you were at the end of your rope? I think most of us have. Sometimes life just throws so much at us that it’s hard to cope. We don’t know if the decisions we’ve made are the right ones, friends betray us, people say hurtful, cruel things to us or about us. The ones we thought would always be there either leave this world or they simply abandon us for one reason or another.

When I saw the man up in the tree in our back yard, I had to walk away. See, I’m deathly afraid of heights—Acrophobia. I have a case of that big time. I don’t do well on even a short step ladder. Forget the eight-foot one out in our garage. Nope. That little beauty is my husband’s domain.

We recently moved into our condo here in North Carolina. The actual move-in was at the end of January, but we weren’t really living here until the beginning of May. In January, there were no leaves on the trees outside our rear windows. We had a fairly unobstructed view of the golf course that lies beyond our boundary.


When we returned in May, things had changed dramatically. The bare limbs now waved green foliage of every shape, size, and color. So many shades of green. They are beautiful tulip poplar and oak trees. Some of God’s most majestic trees. In fact, the Joyce Kilmer Forest is located not too far from where we now live. It’s right in the middle of the Cradle of Forestry in North Carolina. That particular forest has many, many tulip poplar or yellow poplar trees. They can grow to a height of one-hundred-ninety feet with an average height of seventy to one hundred feet. This thing can get so big that its trunk can be as large as ten feet in diameter. Now that is a large tree. And just a bit of trivia, the tulip poplar isn't really a poplar tree, nor is it related to tulips. It is most closely related to the magnolia.

So, this morning a group of men, arborists, came to trim those trees. While they are quite lovely, they grow quickly and their limbs were touching our roof. Since our HOA is responsible for the maintenance of our roofs, they needed to trim the limbs away from ours. When I heard the noise around nine a.m., I went to see what it was. That’s when I saw the man, at least seventy feet up that tree, hanging by nothing more than a thin rope. I walked away, but dashed back to snap a quick photo or two.


Arborist in Triangle, Symbolic of The Trinity
Now, there’s no way on the face of this earth that I could do what this man does. Uh-uh, no way, no how. I’m thankful for people like him who can do the necessary work and take that burden off my shoulders. He puts his faith in that rope and harness that tether him to safety. If he stumbles and falls, he knows they will catch him. That’s trust. Faith.

Here’s the thing. When you have those days in which you feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, when things aren’t going according to plan, or those days you feel lost, abandoned, stuck, out on a limb, there is someone you can count on. His name is Jesus.

Jesus never promised us a life without troubles. In fact, he told us that we would, indeed, have troubles (John 16:33). But we are to take heart for He has overcome the world. Jesus, himself, bids us to come to him and learn from him. That is when we find the rest and the peace we are seeking.  (Matthew 11:28-30). Yes, you may still be stuck for a time, but you will not be out on that limb alone. Jesus will be right there with you, holding onto you, carrying the load for you. He will not leave you (Matthew 28:20).

He Will Catch You

Just as the arborist, high up in our trees, put his faith in his lifeline, should you find yourself at the end of your rope, you can put your faith and trust in God. He’s there with the best lifeline ever . . . one to which there is no end. He offers you all the things you may be longing for but can’t quite reach because you are so far out on that limb. Again, you are not alone, and should you fall, He will catch you in his arms, open wide with unconditional love, for that is the nature of God (I John 4:7-8).

Have you ever found yourself out on a limb and in need of a rope or a lifeline? How did you cope? Share your experience with us below.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Voices of the Past

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
The Headstone of my GGG Grandparents
Y’all know that I’m into charting the genealogies of my family. I’ve been working on some lines for as long as twenty years, maybe even more. With a few, I got lucky, or rather, blessed. There were people who did the foot work long before I became interested. And when I say foot work, I mean literal walking through courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries, not to mention, vacant fields where old homesteads once sat. I imagine they spent hours rummaging through dusty, old documents in search of that one paper that would tell them this is who you are.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Have You Done Your Homework?

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

That may seem an odd question to ask as school draws to a close for the summer. For many, this is just the start of a very busy season. Just because school is out doesn’t mean the work ends. I’m talking about for writers.

This time last week I was busy running around the hills and up and down the stairs on the campus at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I was there with my sister for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. This is a fabulous conference for those of you who may have any kind of interest or a calling to write. It is run by Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills, two outstanding authors and all-around fabulous women. Each of these ladies has the heart of a teacher.

BRMCWC, as the conference is called by many, is a full four days of learning the craft of writing from the very best teachers in the industry. If you go to this site  you will be able to read all about the faculty for this year. Delve deeper and you will find classes they taught. It is an intense week filled with not only learning opportunities, but appointments with agents, editors, and publishers, and just about anyone associated with the publishing industry. We also have a time of worship each morning and each evening followed by keynotes from member of the faculty.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Making Tough Decisions

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
I’ve recently had to make a pretty big decision. It was big to me, although in the scope of my entire life, it would seem inconsequential. I actually struggled for weeks with this. I declined something I thought I was being called to do. But when I look back, this decision had been there all along.

When this opportunity first presented itself, I was gung ho. But in the back of my mind I was hearing, wait, the timing isn’t right.  But I didn’t heed that voice. I just went headlong and even talked about it with enthusiasm. All the while, that Voice was imploring me to wait. (Psalm 27:14)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Family Reunion: Making Memories

By Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
We’ve recently had my husband’s two sisters and their husbands visiting. Sue, the younger of the two, and her husband Bill live in Athens, Greece, and we don’t see them very often. Kay and her husband Randy live in Birmingham and they’ve come several times since we’ve lived in North Carolina. It’s been five years since the three siblings were together.

One thing families always seem to do is reminisce about the olden days. We are no exception.  They talked about people and places they all remember from their childhoods. I’ve heard these stories so often after almost forty-five years of being married to the baby of the family, that I know many of the people and places, too. And it doesn’t hurt that my husband’s mother grew up in my hometown. We graduated from Andalusia High School, twenty-eight years apart.

Talk And More Talk

We talked for days, sharing this memory and that one. We shared laughter and we shared tears. We talked about their beloved parents and how proud they would be of where each child’s, grandchild’s, and great-grandchild’s path has taken them. We talked about how differently they each saw the same shared moments of their lives. Three separate perceptions of the same events.

One thing we all agreed upon while talking was how quickly the years have gone by. We marveled at how old our children are. We all asked, “how can they be that old when I’m not even that old?” I think this must be true of most of us. We look and feel every one of our years, but in our hearts and our minds, we are still that twenty or thirty-something young person just starting out on this journey. If you aren’t there yet, just wait. I promise it’ll be here before you know it.

Golden Anniversary
Sister number one, Kay, and her husband celebrated their fiftieth anniversary while we were all together. We had an intimate family gathering complete with a little cake for them to slice. That was a special time for all of us. How many people these days stay married for that long? Between the three couples we have a total of one-hundred-forty-four years of marriage! Now, if you throw my sister and her husband into the mix, we have two-hundred years of marriage. Wow! Two-hundred years ago, it was 1818. Alabama, the state in which we were all born (with the exception of Bill who was born in Greece) wasn’t even a state. That didn’t happen until 1819.

As we celebrated with Kay and Randy, we all marveled again at how this could possibly be us. Married this many years. That should be our parents, at best.

Time does have a way of slipping by. Those moments we are together are precious. Treat them thusly. Tell the people in your life that you love them. Tell them how they’ve influenced your life, made a difference in it. We don’t know when our next reunion will be. None of us is promised tomorrow. Share the message within your heart today.

Share the Good News

And if you have loved ones who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, don’t be afraid to share the Gospel message with them. After all, we want to have a family reunion in Heaven where each and every family member will be present. What a glorious day!

Are you having a hard time believing the number of candles on your birthday or anniversary cake? Share your thoughts with us.