Thursday, December 7, 2017

Missing in the Manger

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Williams home. We’re in Florida for Christmas this year. After more than thirty years down here, it doesn’t seem odd any more to see Christmas lights on palm trees. As a matter of fact, it can be quite beautiful. But this year, I’ve noticed a flamboyance of flamingos wearing little Santa hats. I have to say, that’s not my style, but my best friend, no doubt, has one.

We live in a little villa, perfect for those of us who are of a certain age. The kids are grown, and if you’re lucky, out on their own. One of ours is living with us, and while we are delighted to be able to give him temporary housing, it does make things a bit more cramped than we had anticipated. Especially in a small space.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

To Go or Not to Go? One Tough Decision



by Debra DuPree Williams  @DDuPreeWilliams



That question comes up a lot during the busy holiday season. Do we pack up the kids, put the dog and cat in the kennel at no small expense? Do we drag out suitcases and clothes to last a week or two, or even a long weekend, for the entire family? Will the relatives have a washer? Does it still work? Is there room for all of us? What about when that relative comes for Christmas dinner? I don’t need to tell you who it is. We all have at least one.



I’m going to give you my thoughts on this. And remember, these belong to me. Formulate your own thoughts and opinions.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

We Gather Together

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams


We Gather Together 
Many will be singing We Gather Together today, either in church or gathered around your Thanksgiving table. I wanted to tell you a bit about its origins.

When this lovely hymn was written by Adrianus Valerius in 1597, the Dutch were involved in a war for their national liberation against the Catholic King Phillip II of Spain. It was written in celebration of the Dutch victory over the Spanish forces at the Battle of Turnhout. It became well-known and much-loved by the Dutch because they had been forbidden to gather and worship as Protestants.

The hymn, set to the tune Kremser, made its first appearance in print in 1626 in a collection of Dutch patriotic songs, “Nederlandtsche Gedenck-Clanck”. The text we all know was written by Theodore Baker in 1894.


Do you remember singing this at church or around your family’s table? Tell us about that.

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free! Amen

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Get By With A Little Help - From a Blog

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Do you look with envy at all those Instagram and FaceBook posts where people’s homes are decorated to the nines? You know the ones I’m talking about. Your sister who has every cutesy-pie little decorative piece here and there and everywhere and she posts photos of Every. Single. Thing. she owns. You do realize that you are not the abnormal one in this picture, don’t you? So many of us are in the last-minute-club that looking at those photos just sends us into the Guilt Zone─much scarier than the Twilight Zone.

Blog, Book, and Busy
I’ve been writing this blog for a few months now, but I've also been working on a book for a couple of years. I’m in the midst of edits and am trying to get it ready to go out to editors and agents. I’ve won some awards and my book has garnered some attention this year, but it needed the help of a good red pen. Enter an outstanding editor.

My editor is the best. Her suggestions and catches are making this a much better book. She even has me doing written exercises in my weakest areas, all to make me a better writer. Now throw in cataract surgery, remodeling a home, six hundred miles from where I currently live, and the absolute need for quality hugging time with my granddaughters. I just have to have that sugar fix. It’s what keeps this DD going and it’s so much better than chocolate! I failed to say that I’m in Florida and our girls are in northern Virginia. Busy, busy.  But that’s life.

So, in the middle of the night, when I do my best thinking, I began looking for ways to make the upcoming holidays a bit easier. I started with my Library of Resources (LOR). My social media coach told me I need one of these, and it has been a lifesaver. If you don’t have one, you need one, especially if you are a writer or a blogger. So here a few of my favorite sites. Some have been in my LOR for a while, but some I just found in the wee hours this morning.

Some Favorite Blogs
One of my favorite blogs is Hymns and Verses. Doreen Cagno has such a pretty home and she tells you where to purchase her finds. I love that. You won’t believe what all she can do with the simplest of things from Wal-Mart or Ikea! Check her out and you’ll see what I mean. If you like her, don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter so that you get her outstanding ideas. She has fall décor as well as her current look for Christmas. Don’t forget to dig into old posts. She has gems in there! https://hymnsandverses.com/

I found this great blog this morning. Flea Market Gardening. She has great ideas for all seasons, but you will love her Christmas décor. Even though her blog posts appear to be a bit older, they still generate great ideas. Go check it out at http://www.fleamarketgardening.org/ So many ideas, with links to each within her blog. Be sure to search for one that has twenty one ideas for Christmas.

Another one I found this morning has so many fantastic projects, I won’t ever get around to half of them. One of my favorite things about Shaunna West is that she is a fellow-Alabamian. She lives just up the road a piece from my hometown of Andalusia, Alabama. You’ll love her blog, I promise. And, if you live in or near Troy, Alabama, she has a store there, y’all!  Her blog is Perfectly Imperfect. I love that name. From gorgeous painted furniture to a teaser for an HGTV show, her site is fabulous.

Of course, there are the ones you would expect to see, Martha Stewart, House Beautiful, Southern Living. Of these, my favorite is Southern Living as it has everything from great food, to décor for any and all seasons.

The nice thing is, even if you don’t go all-out like these bloggers, you can use their ideas to create something you do have time to do, something that works for your family. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your family will think you are a genius and that you worked so hard to make the holidays special. And besides, its’ all about making memories, not about perfection. I have to interject one more blog here. Check out Just 18 Summers by my friend Michelle Cox. Talk about making memories. It isn't all about the holidays, but you'll love her blog.
http://just18summers.com/

Just to help you out a bit more, I’m including my sister’s recipe for Busy-Day Chili. I’ve been making this for years and it couldn’t be better or easier. I hope you enjoy it.

What are some of your favorite blogs? Have they helped you make the holidays less stressful? Share a link with us and tell us about them. 

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Bobbie’s Busy-Day Chili

3 pounds ground beef (you may use turkey)
Two Envelopes French’s Chili-O seasoning mix
One 30-Oz. Can Tomato Sauce
One 30-Oz. Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
Three cans Bush’s Seasoned Chili Beans (use the heat level you prefer, and don’t rinse!)
Two to three cans additional kidney beans (I mix them for a variety of color. Rinse and drain these)

Brown the ground beef.
Add the packets of Chili-O
Stir in the Tomato Sauce followed by the tomatoes
Stir in the Chili Beans
Stir in the rinsed and drained kidney beans
The only water I add is that used when I rinse out my cans. It’s isn’t a lot. Less than a cup. Pour from one can to the next, slosh it around and pour into the next can.

At this point, you may add any other spices you like. It isn’t necessary, but if you like yours hot, by all means, grab that bottle of hot sauce or that little bottle of red pepper and shake away.

Cook on low, stirring pretty often as the sugars in the ingredients will tend to stick and may burn if you have your heat too high.  I cook mine at least an hour just to blend all the flavors.

Serve with shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream.
This takes less than 30 minutes to throw together.
It freezes well.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fall-The Glory of God's Creation



by Debra DuPree Williams@DDuPreeWilliams

Almost everyone I know says fall is their favorite season. It happens to be my favorite, too. I love watching the leaves change from their summer green into the yellows, oranges, reds, and even browns of fall. It’s their way of bidding us goodbye for a season, with a promise to return in the spring.

All the leaf-hoppers in those parts of this great country of ours must agree with us. In the Asheville area, where I live for a portion of the year, the hotels and parkways, scenic-vista-pullovers and area restaurants, are filled with those coming to view God in all of His glory. When we were recently up that way, we took two lovely drives to view the leaves. I guess that makes my hubby and me a part of the very group about which I just spoke.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Greatest of the Great, A Golden Reunion

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Two weeks ago, I attended my fiftieth high school reunion. Like everyone else there, I wondered where on earth the years had gone. It had been fifty years since I had seen some of my classmates. Others, I’ve seen fairly recently. Facebook and Instagram have proven valuable instruments in keeping us connected to one another.

The festivities began on Thursday and concluded with a breakfast on Sunday morning at the Andalusia Country Club. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend all of the events, but I did make it for the Saturday evening gathering at Springdale, an old estate in Andalusia, purchased by the city, and now used for purposes such as our class reunion.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It's That Time of Year . . . Have You Done This?



by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Here it is, already past the mid-point mark of October and I am just now thinking about October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With the stories I know of family and friends who have walked this dark road, you would think I’d remember. But, life took over, I got busy . . . and I simply forgot.

My sister Bobbie was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2015. My husband and I were sitting in the Fatz restaurant in Candler, North Carolina, when I got the call from her. I had to leave the restaurant, I was crying so hard.

Cancer is the one word that most of us dread hearing. It invades our bodies and our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, unlike anything else on the face of the earth. It’s an ugly word.

But, since our family members are followers of Christ, we all began to pray for my sister. I put her on every prayer chain I could find. In fact, many of you prayed for her. I cannot begin to tell you how very thankful we are for every single utterance of her name.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Unexpected Journey

by Debra DuPree Williams                                                                           @DDuPreeWilliams

Back in 2011, when my husband and I lived with our eldest son and his family for a few months, I spent a great deal of time with our then, fourteen-month-old granddaughter. She was a delight, as was her seven-year-old sister. Their needs were very different. Jim chauffeured P to all of her camps and activities while I remained at home with E.


E and I spent many happy hours devouring every little board book and every picture book in their home. She had her favorites. One of those was about a band. Since she comes from a long line of musicians, including her dad who plays guitar and drums, and her mother who was a drummer in a rock band back in her school days, I think it was just a genetic thing for her to be drawn to that little book.


But one of her books made me cringe every time I read it. The rhythm of the words was off. I had a hard time reading that book, but E loved it, so I read it anyway and tried not to make too many faces.

One night I thought, I can do this. I’ve written poetry all my life. I think I could write a children’s book. So, I set about giving it a go. I wrote a book about music, of course (I have two degrees in music). It wasn’t a grand book, but it was a start. It featured an adorable little conductor whom I called Maestro Musik. It taught some basic music lessons, too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

From Generation to Generation

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Our Great-Nephew Brit and His Beautiful wife, Kelly
I did something for the first time ever this past Friday. Actually, my husband and I did this together. We attended a baby reveal party. Now, when we were having our kids, there was no such thing as a baby reveal party. If you wanted to know the sex of your unborn child, they would tell you during a routine ultrasound, but only if you wanted to know. And no one had heard of a baby-reveal party.

We didn’t want to know. We decided that we wanted to be surprised because we knew we were going to be thrilled no matter the baby’s gender. So, three times we waited. Three times we were blessed with little boys. Precious little boys.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Now We See in a Mirror Darkly

                                              by Debra DuPreeWilliams @DDuPreeWilliams

I recently had cataracts surgery. I cannot begin to tell you how much I dreaded that particular procedure. Even though my husband and several family members have been through it and they all assured me that it was “a piece of cake” I just couldn’t imagine being awake, though highly sedated, for such. I’m the proverbial chicken when it comes to things like this. At one time, I was even needle phobic and would pass out during a simple blood draw. Heart issues cured me of that, big time.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday when I had my left eye done. My husband had told me, “You won’t even remember it. All you’ll see is bright lights and a psychedelic show.” I’m not much for light shows. They give me migraines, every single time. Just the thought of being aware of what was happening to me was enough to have me running for the hills.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Helping One Another in the Midst of Life's Storms

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams


One thing we Americans do well is to look out for one another. While some factions seek only to tear us apart, I just don’t see that as a part of our future. When the going gets tough, we come to one another’s aid in dramatic ways.

Take hurricane Harvey. Who could have predicted the amount of flooding the poor people of Texas would have to endure? It just wasn’t on the radar, pun intended. At least, not to the extent that was seen. 

But people were hurting, and others heard their cries and came running. Even when they didn’t have to. Even when they put themselves in harm’s way. Even to the extent of sacrificing their lives in order to help their fellow man. The Bible tells us in John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mayhaws, Mimi, Mel, and Mayhem - Brought to You by a Nasty Gal Named Irma



by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

What a couple of weeks we’ve had. Virtually every square inch of Florida has been impacted in one way or another by hurricane, Irma. We didn’t just get to watch as most of our country did, from a safe distance and the air-conditioned luxury of our living room. No, we had to watch in order to make the decision if we should stay or go. Many of Florida’s citizens had no choice as they were in mandatory evacuation zones. Where we live was right on the edge of one of those zones. So, we prepared by putting up our storm shutters, bringing in supplies of food and water, talking our two middle sons into coming to our home, gassing up our car, and praying.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sacred Harp Singing

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
 
Last week I told you about learning that my grandfather, Wilburn Bass, was a leader in the Sacred Harp singing community in south Alabama. I’m still trying to deal with that surprise. I cannot believe that no one ever told us this about Grandpa. It could be that our mother didn’t even know as her father passed when she was just seven years old. Since I recall attending Sacred Harp sings with his widow, my Granny, I have to wonder why we never knew this information.

I’m sure some of you know what I mean when I say Sacred Harp singing, but many more of you likely do not. While I’m no expert on the subject, I do know a bit about it. If you saw the movie Cold Mountain, you may recall the scene in the church where they were singing and raising and lowering their arms in the rhythm of the music. That was Sacred Harp.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Social Media and Genealogy Connections

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Facebook has been around for quite a while now. But many people are just becoming aware of how effective it can be for finding and connecting with long-lost family members. It seems that the advent of DNA testing for ordinary folks has increased the awareness of social media for such.

In my own family, once I did the DNA testing available through Ancestry, I was able to connect with family members I had never known before. And through those connections, I was able to join a couple of closed, or private, DNA pages on Facebook and reach even more extended family members.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Wish I"d Asked That - Family Questionnaire Part 3


@DDuPreeWilliamsby Debra DuPree Williams 
This week we finish with our questions for family members. This is a great tool for those who don’t want to take the time to write a memoir. Your family will thank you one day if they haven’t already done so. I know that there are many questions my sister and I wish we had asked of our parents and grandparents, and even of our aunts and uncles. So many family stories lost to time. I hope you have found this helpful and that you have added your own questions to the ones in my list.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Wish I'd Asked That - Family Questionnaire Part II



by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Last week I asked if you had begun a memoir and I gave you a list of questions to ask family members in case you aren’t into writing a memoir. 

I hope that you enjoyed reading through those and that you may have gotten to interview a relative or two. 

This week, we continue with part two of the questions regarding your adulthood.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Wish I'd Asked That . . . Family Questionnaire Part I



by Debra DuPree Williams @ DDuPreeWilliams

DuPree Siblings with Spouses and Two Nieces 1980s
I’m of the generation that is likely next for Glory. My parents went home to be with the Lord in 1996 and 2012. While my sister and I did encourage them to tell us many of their life stories, there are still things we wish we had asked. Before it was too late.

The Past has Passed
There are things about our grandparents we wish we knew. We were too young to care when they were still alive. My Granddaddy DuPree, my last grandparent, died when I was only thirteen. I can tell you that at that age, I didn’t care about much besides getting to spend at least a couple of weeks with my cousins in the summer time. How I wish we had gathered around family members and asked all the things we would love to know now.

If you haven’t begun a memoir or if you don’t care about writing such, how about just answering some questions with a sentence or two? I think most people could and would do that. Perhaps you could get one of your children or even a grandchild to write down your answers.

Let's Get Started
Below are just a few questions to get you started. I will use multiple posts to make this easier and more manageable. These questions can be used not just for you, but for your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and any other family member you wish to question. Some may seem obvious, but believe me, you may be surprised at what you thought you knew. For example, we always thought our mother was born in the same county in which we were born. She wasn’t. She was born in a totally different county, at her grandmother’s home. And she wasn’t the first of the twins to be born, she was last, making her her father’s seventeenth and final child.

If you don’t like my questions, make up your own. This is just a basic guideline. Have fun with this, and be very glad that you didn’t wait too long.

The Questions:

Your Childhood, Schooldays, and College:
  • When and where were you born?
  • Where did you get your name?
  • Where did you fall in birth order?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Where did you live when you were a child?
  • Tell us about your home(s) and how long you lived in each one.
  • Who were your closest friends?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • How did you spend your free time?
  • Did you play outdoors or mostly indoors?
  • What games did you play?
  • What were your favorite television shows?
  • What was your favorite music?
  • Did you play an instrument or did you sing or dance?
  • Were you in any groups such as FFA or Scouts?
  • Were you in any clubs or groups in high school?
  • Who were your favorite teachers?
  • What were your favorite subjects.
  • How old were you when you began dating?
  • Were you allowed to go steady?
  • Did you learn to drive in high school? Did you take driver education?
  • Did you ever own your own car or did you drive the family car?
  • Did you take college entrance exams? How did you do on those?
  • Did you attend college? Where, and what was your major?
  • What degree or degrees did you earn?
  • Did you use that degree in your professional life?
  • Were you in a fraternity or a sorority? Which one?
  • Were you in any groups, such as academic societies?
  • Were you in sports in college? Which one(s)?
  • Were you active in musical groups or theatre?
This is a good start. Next time we’ll enter your adult years.

Can you think of any other questions you’d like to ask about your relatives’ formative years? Leave those in the space below. 

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