Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Christmas is Coming (and there’s nothing we can do about it.)

How’s your December going? Everything on schedule? All decorated and wrapped, just waiting for the big guy to make his appearance?

Is anybody out there waving your hand, yelling, “Me! Me! Me!”? If so, come on over to my house.

I need help.

(Big surprise.) (Not.) :D

One thing I am staying on top of is my daily reading, “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. I have to fight myself to keep from reading ahead.

If I ever met this woman, I’ll have to give her a big hug.

I do have one tree up and decorated. It’s the wild tree with ornaments from friends and from my kiddos when they were small and ones I’ve made and they’ve made. It’s my favorite tree.

My other tree is also my favorite tree. It has Grandmother’s ornaments on it. And some antique ornaments I’ve collected. I can’t share it with you today because it’s not up yet.

I will share some of my ornaments from my Everything Tree. They aren’t my favorites, because I don’t have favorites. Trying to chose the one I like best would be like trying to choose the friend I liked best. Or my favorite Bible verse. I just can’t do it.

But I can share some with you.

treeThis one was made by a friend.

tree-2

A can lid, turned into a beautiful tree by one of my kiddos. (Trash to Treasure. A miracle of Christmas.)

tree-3

Another treasure, made by one of my kiddos.

tree-4

Dirty Santa ornament exchange with my writing sisters. I love, love, love these.

tree-5

Three of my best gifts ever–Danny, Matt and Brad.

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A friend was taking a stained glass class the year I got this one. It’s too heavy for a “real” tree, so I had to start buying fake ones just so it could be on it. :D

tree-7

From my secret sister once, years and years ago. That friend was a sweetheart and I miss her terribly.

tree-8

I bought this bunch of unbreakable ornaments the year Danny was 11 months old on Christmas. The still give me a smile.

I have OSU ornaments from when my boys were in college, a dog and cat ornament because we’re pet people, and lots of stars. I love stars. They’re a great reminder. Read Philippians 2:15 and see if you can guess just one of the reasons why. Of course, you’ll need to read it in the New International Version to see what I’m talking about. ;)

My absolute favorite thing at Christmas? The best gift. The best feeling. The best anything?

There's only one gift better than this.

There’s only one gift better than this.

nativity

The gift of salvation.

Any hints for getting everything done, finished, baked, wrapped and gorgeous before Dec. 24th? I need all the help I can get!

 

 

 


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True Christmas

The Christmas Season is on us. Are you ready? I’m not. Rarely am before Christmas Eve. And then, I’m usually afraid I’ve forgotten, missed, messed up or lost something important.

Because I want Christmas to be perfect like mine was when I was a kid.

Hopefully, though, this year is going to be different.

Yup. I say that every year. I know I do, but this year I mean it. (I hope!)

Since one definition of crazy is doing things exactly the same way and expecting a different outcome, I had to change something. So this year, I’ve added to what I’m doing this Christmas Season.

While some people might think doing anything extra during this hurried, harried time of year is just nuts, I’ve added in a new Bible study that’s not just something to get through. It’s a time to slow down and remember what the Christmas Season is truly about.

It’s called, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I bought it last year, and ended up saving it until this Christmas because I didn’t have time to catch up. Sigh.

Ann starts at the beginning of the Bible and leads us to Jesus. She teaches us about the Jesse Tree, which I’ve never heard of before. And about Advent, which I’ve heard of but never observed.

The funny thing about the study is that I can’t just zoom through it. If I’m in running mode, I can’t hear what she has to say. I have to slow down and breathe to read her words. (If I want them to make sense.)

Today, she talked about Jacob when he had the dream about the angels going up and down the ladder to Heaven, and the Lord was at the top. (Genesis 28: 10-16) Remember?

In her words for today she writes,

If, just for a moment, you stand in the doorway, linger a bit in front of the tree

(My tree isn’t up yet.–ss)

it’s strange how you can see it–how every Christmas tree is a ladder, and Jesus is your ladder who hung on that tree . . . so you have the gift of rest. When you are wrung out, that’s a sign you’ve been reaching for the rungs. The work at the very heart of salvation is the work at the very heart of Christmas: simply rest.

Here is holy.

The wonder of all this–God looks at you at your lowest and loves you all the way to the sky.

God carries you all the way home.

Like Heaven opening up slow everywhere.

Wow. Just, wow!

Imagine, someone telling us to relax through Christmas. No worries. No stress.

And she has a sticky note for each day. You can see them here.

I wish I’d read this study a long time ago, when my children were small or even when my mother was young and running herself ragged to have a perfect Christmas for all of her kids.

But maybe she didn’t need it. Mom worked hard to get Christmas right (even sewing dresses for all her girls most years) but she had a calm, inner peace that I sometimes forget and don’t think I inherited.

Some of us just need a hand from others like Ann Voskamp to have the real joy of Christmas.

I’m not asking you to buy her book. I’m just asking you to slow down and celebrate True Christmas.

 

 


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I Heard . . . God?

I’m wondering, does anyone else think God talks to them?

Before you send for the guys with the big butterfly nets, hear me out. I don’t think He talks to me. It’s not like I hear His voice or anything. But I truly think He’s involved in our everyday lives and He communicates with us if we let Him.

Click here to read about one of the times when God spoke to me.

I think He talks to us anytime we’re willing to listen. But we don’t get to edit what He says. :)

A few years ago, I started to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s a national challenge each November to write a fifty-thousand word manuscript in a month. That’s 1667 words a day. I wanted to be finished before Thanksgiving, so I upped my daily scheduled word count to more than 2000.

So a couple of weeks in, I was on schedule. No editing. No rereading. Just getting up every morning at 4:00 am to write, write, write.

e computer

About halfway into the book, I woke up one morning and it was as if God had emblazed a thought in my mind. That wasn’t the kind of book I should be writing. It wasn’t the kind of book for which I wanted to be remembered. So I stopped that book right there and started working toward writing Christian Women’s Fiction.

Now, here’s my latest adventure. (Preacher Dave calls them Weird God Things. I like that.) Back on September 23rd, I hit the point in the book I’m working on where I stalled out. I loved the book and the series that it would be part of. Star and Glory and Eli and all the other characters had become friends to me. But in my mind it just wasn’t going anywhere.

e fingers

So I prayed about it. “Is this what You want me to be doing, Lord? Am I listening to You or is it my ego pushing me? Should I write or not? WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

 Now, anyone who knows me knows I enjoy listening to Beth Moore.

beth moore

I’m not a Beth worshipper, but she speaks to women my age. I get her. You know? She’s on Life Today most Wednesdays, so I listen to her while I get ready for work.

That morning, September 24th, the very next day, this is how she started her show. I copied it from the Life Today website instead of paraphrasing because I wanted you to hear her.

Beth: And I wonder today, just so we can get on the same page mentally, what is it hanging over your head? What is it, that project, that thing that you started? For somebody listening today or watching — it is a book.

Oh! My! Stars! I was stunned.

Beth: Something — there’s like chapters of it and it just keeps sitting there — just sitting there.

I’m not sure I was even breathing at this point. :)

Beth: And you just keep saying, “I’m waiting on the Lord.” And the Lord is up there going, “I’m waiting on you.” Anybody?

I was mentally jumping up and down and waving my arms at this point.

Beth: I’m not saying that’s necessarily your situation, I’m saying, you need to check and see. Is it Him we’re waiting on or is He up there going, “I’m waiting on you. I brought you into this.”

Gulp. Double-gulp. Really?

The. Very. Next. Day.

Here’s a link to the actual video so you can hear it for yourself–

http://lifetoday.org/video/it-is-finished-part-1-2/

Does God talks to us? Could everything I just described just be a coincidence?

Do things like this happened to anyone else?

 

 


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Thanksgiving Faves

Did you like Turkey Day when you were a kid? What was your favorite thing?

I know. That’s a long, long ago for some of us, but come on and try. You can do it!

Remember the songs you sang at school?

♪♫ Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go . . . ♪♫ 

♪♫♪♫ A Turkey Sat on a Backyard Fence and He Sang this Sad, Sad Tune . . . ♫♪♫♪

Remember the turkeys we colored?cartoon turkey The five fingered turkeys we drew?

1 turk

Of course, I only remember good things. ;)

We had huge Thanksgivings. Either Mom’s family or Dad’s would come to our house or next door to the grandparents. We didn’t have a house big enough to hold all of both families at once. (Or enough china and silverware.)

We looked forward to the holiday for weeks before hand. One aunt lived in Texas, and we only saw her once every year or two, so we’d get excited to see her and find out what kind of car she was driving. (She favored cars with big fins, and last I heard she still has one of the beauties.) Some aunts and uncles lived in Colorado, so we didn’t see them often in the winter. But when everyone got together, talk about fun!

Family who lived close enough brought food. The kitchen table would be full of main dishes and veggies like Green Rice and turkey and turkey dressing (aka stuffing). Grandma nearly always made hot rolls. Award winning, Blue Ribbon Hot Rolls!!! YUM!

The counter tops were usually covered with desserts, such as Apple Cake and Pineapple Cream Pie.    

I don’t remember how much work it was, because the grown ups chased us out from underfoot, and if it was warm enough we’d play outside roller skating or riding bikes or playing tag.

If it wasn’t, we played in the garage. Put a car in the garage? Who ever heard of such a thing? We had ping pong tables or pool tables, games and toys out there. That’s where Angie (our Toy Manchester Terrier) and her puppies lived. So while we waited for the yummy food, we had lots to do.

And when it was time to eat, we had so much GREAT food! So many people we loved, who loved us right back.

I don’t think I could name my favorite thing about Thanksgiving. Food? Family? Fun? All three?

How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

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Doing the Drag

I posted this on my FB Page.

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Responses made me laugh out loud.

Then I started thinking–Was it just back in the day when gasoline was c-h-e-a-p that kids did that kind of thing? Was it just Small Town Worlds? Just Oklahoma?

I don’t know.

Around here, though, kids liked to pile in a car and ride around, but only certain streets. They’d drive down main street through town, turn on the other main street, drive to the end, circle the fast food restaurant there and head back the way they came.

I’m not sure where they turned around on the north end of town. Anybody?

We called it Dragging Main. You could count on seeing certain kids riding there Friday or Saturday night. (And a lot of week nights.)

And you didn’t just drive. You had to honk at your friends in other cars when you passed them.

The reason we did it wasn’t about driving or riding, you know ?

Okay, I didn’t do it. (Honest, Dad!) But everybody else did. I was sure then and I’m positive now. Every single person in this Small Town World got to drag main except me!

It was a social thing.

It was about hanging with friends and making new friends. Flirting with boys (or girls). Having fun.

And sometimes, the cars stopped and the occupants mixed up and started Dragging Main again. Of course, after the mixing, sometimes kids rode together who shouldn’t have been together, and then watch out for the drama!

But hey, at that age, life is all about the drama. Right?

Now the Terminally Curious in me is asking, Has it ended? Did Dragging Main go the way of cheap gas?

If it ended, what took it’s place?

One more question: Did you Drag Main? And if you did, did your mama know?

♥  ♥  ♥


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CALL ME KILLER!

Or: My Writer’s Weekend Revisited

I have friends who take a weekend now and then to go somewhere and just write. These smart women leave home and hubby and kiddos, check into a hotel or cabin and spend their entire time writing.

I’ve never done that. My writing schedule consists of getting up early and writing before the rest of the house wakes up. But I envy these women their dedication and stern I’m-going-to-do-it-ness. (Yes, I do like making up my own words. Why do you ask?)

Once a year for the past few years, though, I’ve gone with G-man to OKC for a weekend. He’s there to get his continuing education hours. (Keeps his pharmacy license alive.) So while he studies, I hang out in the hotel room.

images

One year, I spent as much time knitting as writing. The next year, I spent my time writing blog posts so I could concentrate on writing for the next few weeks after I got home. But this year, I decided I would write. Nothing but write. Write, write, write. Words on paper. Go. Go. Go.

Note: Not as easy as it sounds.

I knew that going in, so I decided to take notes on my progress. Here they are: (Don’t laugh.)

6:50 am–My first “true-ish” writer’s weekend, where I’m hoping to do nothing but get words on paper. It’s Saturday Morning, October 25, 2014.

My goal for the weekend: Make it to 50,000 words.

Yes, I’ve had weekends before where I’ve written, but this one is different. I’m Determined! I’m Dedicated! I’m Delovely! (Sorry, couldn’t come up with another D word.)

So . . . I’m not here to watch TV, shop or visit. I’m going to see how many words I can get on paper–on screen, rather. :)

I’m starting at 46,190 words. Gary and I are going to breakfast in a few, and the writing will begin!!!

*  *  *

Saturday Morning:

7:00 am–breakfast.

7:40 am–Back at work. Somehow, I lost 7 words in the last read through. Sigh. At 46,183 I’m heading the wrong direction. Better get busy.

8:15–Stop for TV man to fix it. Probably should have left it broken, but hey.

8:25–Back at work.

e fingers

9:30 am–47,159. Almost a thousand word in two hours. 500 words an hour. Sigh. Why don’t I write faster?

10:15– Sleepy. Gotta wake up. Walked the square. 47,689 words.

11:00– Took a Benadryl for stuffy nose and headache, which brought on a short nap. 48,080. Message from sweet friend and wrote her back. Praying for friend.

11:40–Gary back for lunch. 48, 258. (Yikes. FB and texts are stopping me. Gotta quit that!)

1:00–Lunch is over and G-Man is heading back to class. I’m too full! (What is it about a buffet that makes me eat too much? Argh!)

Back to the words.

Sometime in the last half hour, I fell asleep on my keyboard. I woke up to CCCCCC across the page. Do C’s count? No? Sigh. 48, 506.

Sunday morning 4:15 am 48,509–Napped yesterday afternoon (maybe next time I have a writing weekend, I should skip lunch or make it a light one) and G-Man got out of class early.

2623 words for Saturday. Not killer, but better than a poke in the eye.

Okay, starting at 48,509 today. And it’s a go!

Sunday morning 4:15 am 48,509, And it’s a go!

Have to check out of the room at 1:00. (Late check out. Yay!) But G-Man doesn’t get out of class until 5:00. Sweet hubby bought me a power converter so I could write in the car without draining my battery. We’ll see how that works out.

Hot and windy outside. Had to change seats several times while I wrote. The Internet doesn’t reach outside the hotel. Stingy people. :( (Just kidding.) No Internet is a good and bad thing. I don’t get sidetracked by emails and FB, but I also can’t Google things I need to know.

e computer

So I wrote much of the afternoon. Kind of weird to sit in the parking lot with a computer in my lap. People walking by had to wonder what I was doing, but who cares?

I didn’t streak through a manuscript. Apparently, I’m a tortoise writer. The tune from that old cartoon about the lazy buzzard or eagle or some big bird keeps playing in my head. ♪♫ I’m bringing home a baby bumble bee. ♪♫

Final word count for the weekend–50, 493. Made my goal with a few to spare.

Not wildly successful, but not too bad.

Anybody else take weekends to dedicate yourself to something? I need help!

See? I’m a real Killer. :P

 

 


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Oh, Wow! Oh, Wow! OOOOOOOH, WOW!!!!

I’M A GRANDMOMMY!!!!

Yes, I’m screaming! And I’m doing a lot of (virtual) jumping up and down and dancing on the ceiling! Because . . . I’M A GRANDMOMMY!

I haven’t shared before today because I needed permission (I do not want to get banned from baby adoring!)

And know what? He is gorgeous! Beautiful! And BRILLIANT!!!

♥ ♥ ♥

dannyThis isn’t our new grandbaby. This is our son, the baby’s daddy. Born on his due date, five pounds, thirteen ounces of perfect baby boy.

And our new little pumpkin looks a lot like this. :D

Want to know what it feels like to be a brand new, first time, week old grandmommy? I can tell you.

It’s like . . .

  • Winning the Boston Marathon without running a step
  • as you win a jillion, million dollar lottery without buying a ticket
  • while winning the Irish Sweepstakes without even trying.
  • at the same time as you get the world best, biggest, sweetest, most coveted award for just being alive!!!

Funny thing is, being a grandmommy makes you (me, at least) kind of gah, gah. I find myself holding our little guy close to my heart and just gazing at the boy. Even his cry is music to my ears–except it usually means it’s time for him to eat. Again. :)

I’ve offered to go over in the night to hold him so his parents can sleep, but they haven’t taken me up on that yet. Probably a good thing, too. I think it takes young people to be what a kiddo needs.

Besides, my son and his wife have everything under control. Any question they have, they Google and find the answer. (And since my DIL’s sister is a OB-GYN with a nine-month-old of her own, anything they can’t find, Sister knows!)  Need an extra pair of arms? There’s a thing you can wrap all around you and the baby so he’s snugged right up to you and he’ll never slip. Need a place for him to sleep close by but where he won’t get squished? There’s a nest that’ll fit right in your bed where he’ll be safe.

They have all the answers!

And yes, the knitter in me has been busy, too. baby-hatBaby’s new hat! I made it a little big on purpose, so he can grow into it. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

baby-bootiesAnd if you believe I made the hat large on purpose, maybe you’ll believe I made his high tops too big for that reason, too! :D

At least they’ll be there when he’s ready for them.

baby-hand-1This is Granddaddy, holding a brand-new precious hand while Daddy holds his other hand.

baby-hand-2Doesn’t it make your heart melt to see grown men take such perfect care of a newborn? (Sniff)

One more picture of my first baby boy when he was just three months old.

baby-danny

New babies are God’s perfect gift. I couldn’t be more excited unless I was twins.

♥ ♥ ♥ 

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