Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Worship With Me

Is there anything spiritually sweeter than worshipping with your Christian family? (Whether you’re together or apart, near or far.) There may be, but I haven’t found it yet.

Yesterday was no exception. I’m trying not to miss a Sunday at church this year, but I seem to be an every-other-week Sunday School attender. I got out of the habit of going to SS for the two or three years that my hip was so bad. Not a good thing!

Next time, I think I’ll switch to the SS class at the front of the church. It might be geared for our Senior Saints, but if I promise not to slow them down, they might let me come.

I’ve wanted get back into Sunday School each week, but I hate starting in the middle of a study because I feel as if I’m asking questions that have probably been answered already. So I asked Dick, the teacher, what they were studying.

When he answered “Philippians,” and I nearly jumped up and down. (That’s against the rules with my new hip or I might have done it. LOL) 

I love Philippians. One of my favorite books (I probably say that about every book I study.) One of my favorite verses is there–Philippians 2:15: “So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which YOU SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE.”

Those last seven words are the part I like best. An encouragement by Paul. Even though we’re just tiny points of light, with Christ as the center of our lives we can (and should) shine in a universe of darkness.

I’d missed the first few weeks of his study, so I was afraid I’d missed my verse. Wrong! LOL.  

Dick is a wonderful teacher. You can tell how many hours he’s spend in study and prayer preparing for his class. The way he teaches reminds me of the way Grandad Ray ate chicken. (Stay with me here.)

Grandad was born in 1900, married Grandmother when she was 17, so that was 1922 (I think.) All four of his children were born by 1930, when the Great Depression was in full swing.

I’m not telling you they starved or stood in bread or soup lines, but I know things weren’t easy for anyone at that time. So they wasted very little. When Grandad ate a chicken leg, he didn’t leave much. He ate the meat around the bone, then off the ends of the bone. Right there, more people are finished, but not Grandad. He’d crack the bone, break it in half and suck out the marrow.

As kids, when we asked him about it, he answered, “That’s the best part.”

When Dick teaches, he talks about the parts that every other book talks about, then he goes deeper. He sucks the marrow out of The Word–the best part–and that can’t be done in a hurry.

So far I’ve made it to Sunday School every other week. Don’t ask me why. I made it the first week, but the next I was an hour late and just in time for church. (I’m not sure how it happened, but it made #4 laugh when I told her about it.)

Made it the next week, but not the next. *Sigh* But that’s not so bad. When I miss a week of what Dick’s teaching, I can quickly catch up. 😉

Did you make it to worship yesterday? (Or Saturday, if that’s the day you go.) Do you go to Sunday School?

Do you have a favorite scripture in Philippians? A favorite scripture? What about your SSMT?

If the answers to all those questions are no, post a comment and just say hi.

God is who he says he is.

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Our Small Town

This is the picture I posted last time. It’s a section of a postcard, postmarked 1907.

You can still see the postmark–1907. The year Oklahoma became a state. If you’re wondering, that’s a one cent stamp up there in the corner. A 1902 series.

Here’s the entire postcard–

The rock building on the left is still there today. The sign on it says Gent’s Furnishings–men’s clothes. I believe a family named Martin owned it. Looking closely, I can see R-T-I-N painted on the rock at the extreme left edge of the picture.  

From the angle of the picture, it looks as if it was shot from the corner where my office stands today. That’s another very old building there in C-Town.

I’ve been told that our building was originally a funeral parlor. Kind of an eerie thought (for me, at least.) I’ve been in and out of the place most of my life (it was a furniture store when I was growing up) and I’ve never seen any sign of it’s original purpose.

Of course, I lived in Pryor Creek when they did the renovation to make it our office. My bil, Noel, worked on it, though. I should probably ask him if they found any strange drains, vaults or odd body parts. 😉

It’s hard to tell what everything is in the picture, so I got out a handy dandy magnifier.

I don’t know what it is, but it’s very nice to have sometimes. It’s very strong.

I looked through it at the postcard so I could see small details. There are three oil derricks in the picture. (Derricks in those days were left as a permanent part of the well, I think, so they could pull the well–take the pump and rods/tubing out–when there were problems. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

The streets of C-Town were all dirt at that time. Imagine what it was like during rainy days. No fun at all! We think we have trouble keeping mud and oil off the carpet  today, but imagine it then. LOL.

Someone had a brick plant outside of C-Town, so at some point, Broadway and many of the side streets were paved with brick. I’ve seen a picture (somewhere–probably in the tag office) of the men laying that brick. Broadway’s brick has since been paved over, but the beautiful side streets are still brownish red bricks. One of my many favorite things about our Small Town World.


Doing Lunch

This is a 1907 postcard I bought online. It’s early day C-Town–the community well. The buildings you see are still standing and are diagonal from our office.

The well, sadly, is gone. (So is the horse and buggy.) The descendants of the people in the picture are probably still here. (I hope!) 

I want to tell you a little more about our Small Town World. C-Town is a friendly place, and small enough that even if you don’t know someone else who lives here, you most likely do know someone they know or are kin to.

“Oh, you know Jane Doe. She’s that woman from Timbuktu who married Joe Blow’s cousin.”

I almost never go anywhere with SA that she isn’t spoken to over and over again. “Hi Amy! How you doing, Amy?”

(BTW-In this week’s newspaper, they asked several people what we could do to improve C-Town. SA was one of those people. She answered, “Convince people to be more friendly.” I told her I’m not sure that’s possible. She said the interviewer caught her unaware, and friendliness was the only thing she could think of.)

As I’ve said until you’re probably sick of hearing it, I work in the family business, and normally have lunch in the kitchen at the office. Sometimes, though, we go out. (Sister Amy loves it when we go out.)

There aren’t a lot of places to eat in our small town, but there are a few really good ones. One of those has pretty darn tasty Tex-Mex fare.  We went there yesterday. We were quickly seated, our waitress of choice brought our drinks nearly as soon as our seats hit the seat (the sign of a GREAT waitress!) and a friend came in the door.

Now this woman is more than just a friend (although friends are VIPs in my book) she has a beautiful voice, has a heart for God and she’s my hairdresser. When I say to know her is to love her, I’m not exaggerating. Everyone adores this red-headed woman.

We invited her to sit with us, and she slid in the round booth next to Dad. She had her Bible with her and explained that she usually read the day’s segment during lunch. (She’s reading through the Bible in a year, too.)

That’s when she remembered a question she had about something she’d read and marked a few days earlier. She opened her Bible and we had a wonderful discussion about Moses and Exodus there, in the middle of the restaurant.

After we discussed that question, she moved on to another one. I loved it, eating lunch with some of my favorite people in the world and discussing my favorite subject! (I could talk about God’s love all day long.)

Not one person in our Small Town restaurant batted an eye. We weren’t whispering. We didn’t get loud or try to get everyone’s attention, but we didn’t hide what we were doing, either.

There were people in the adjacent booths and nearby tables, but I didn’t see anyone roll their eyes or so much as shrug at our discussion.

One of the things I love most about living in a place like C-Town is that they know us there, and expect to hear that kind of thing from our table. If we’d ordered alcohol or told loud, dirty stories, we would have raised a few eyebrows.

A few years ago, someone had a saying after their signature in their emails (Holly Jacobs, who says she lives in Hollyworld, maybe?) that said something like, “I love living in my own world. They know and accept me there.”

Maybe that’s the thing about the small towns that make up the world. You never have to be anything except who you are.

And they love us anyway.


The Lists

Cover of "The Help"

Cover of The Help

A few years ago, my brother (who, simply put, is a Man of God) mentioned that he keeps a prayer list, which he uses when he’s having his morning worship time. The only trouble with that is, he said, it keeps getting longer and longer because he couldn’t take anyone he’d prayed for off his list. Once he prayed for someone he always prayed for that person.

Have you read THE HELP by Katheryn Stockett? Great book, and in August, it’ll be a movie. (I hope it’s half as good as the book.)

It’s set in the south and is about black/white relationships in 1962 Mississippi. When you read The Help, you experience the emotions that both the black and white women experience.

An eye-opening book. What impressed me most was Aibileen. (From Kathryn’s website)

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

But that’s not what impressed me. In the book, Aibileen writes out her prayers. And everyone in the black community knows that when Aibileen writes out a prayer, God listens.

When I read THE HELP, I kept thinking about Jeffrey and his list.  

Then I downloaded The Inheritance from Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore). It’s a recording of a weekly Bible Study Beth taught weekly in Houston, Texas. One of the weeks she say to the women, “I wish you could see my prayer journal, Siestas. You’re all over it.”

(BTW: I downloaded the MP3s, not the DVD. They’re $4 each–$36.

All three of these people are powerful prayer warriors. (Okay, Aibileen is a fictional prayer warrior, but I have a feeling she’s modeled after someone real.)

Is there a connection between prayer and writing? I know it’s not a magic bullet, but is there something in taking a pen in hand and spelling out your prayers? Is it that, when we write out prayers on paper we also write them on our hearts?

Or is it that when a person cares enough to take the time to write out their prayers, God sees how very sincere they are? 

I don’t know. There’s no commandment that says, “Thou shalt write down your prayers.”

Jesus didn’t have a pad of paper where He wrote out His. But he did take time to get away from the crowd, move away from his apostles, even away from his closest friends and spent several hours in prayer.

Most of us don’t/can’t do that (even His closest couldn’t) but taking time to write out prayers or at least keeping a list of who we’re praying for might just be a step in that direction. A place to pour out our hearts as we speak to Him.

Do you keep a prayer journal or ongoing list of people you’re praying for? Does it make a difference in your prayer life?   

In case you’re wondering, I bought a notebook to use as my prayer journal this year. We’ll see how I do.



This Aging Biz

I got this in an email from Cathy, one of my “forever friends”. (A forever friend is a friend I’ve known since before my memory began and loved forever!) BTW: This kind of friendship as it is much too rare!
Please send back. ( I did ) It’s neat.  Don’t delete this one, you’ll laugh when you see the return message.  In case you’re wondering, there is no return message. There’s never a return message, so I knew there wouldn’t be one this time. But I like what it says. This isn’t the original Maxine cartoon that came in the email. I couldn’t get that one to transfer, so I thought I’d send an early V Day greeting instead. 
 I would never trade my amazing friends, my  wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.  As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of  myself. I’ve become my own friend.. I don’t chide myself for eating  that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but  looks so avanté garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be  messy, to be extravagant. 

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before  they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish  to weep over a lost love … I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with  abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful.  But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I  eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not  break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken  hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will  never know the joy of being imperfect.


I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have  my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever  etched into deep grooves on my face.
 So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. 

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about  what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore.

I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I  like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it). 

From Susan: If I hadn’t lived this long, I wouldn’t have seen so many of God’s miracles that have happened right before my eyes such as the life of my sister Amy and the birth of her two precious daughters. And I would have missed having God’s voice become a familiar echo in my heart.


Forward this to at least 7 people and see what happens on your screen . You will laugh your head off!!!!!!!!!! Like I said at the beginning, nothing ever happens when you forward one of these things. So make a comment instead. You might not see what happens on this side of the screen, but you’ll most likely win a grin!



Rent a Grandbaby Program?

Family watching television, c. 1958

Image via Wikipedia

As nice girls, my sisters and I were taught not to brag–and we Spess girls learned the lesson well. We didn’t brag that we had the toughest jeans or most tangled hair.

 We never bragged that our dad was smartest or that our mom was prettiest (although they were!)

When we grew up and married, we didn’t brag about whose husband had the most hair or whose house had the fewest termites.

We didn’t even brag about our kids being sweetest/smartest/most athletic/had teeth at the youngest age or got potty trained the earliest. (Maybe because they weren’t/didn’t.)

But let me tell you, when grandkids start making the scene, there are no holds barred!

Here’s the deal–I have no grandchildren. Sister Lisa has one, Sister Cindy has two, and Sister Debbie has two.

Just yesterday I called Sister Lisa, and who did she let answer the phone? Her brilliant and beautiful soon-to-have-a-birthday grandson!


And yesterday, the same day, Sister Debbie played Grandmommie right in front of me.

That’s right, she had BOTH her granddaughters for the day. One is a two-year-old and the other ten months. Because she was having so much fun, Sister D invited me, Sister Amy and friend, Bev, over for lunch.

When we got there we walked in, the dog barked and scared the older granddaughter, who started crying. Sister Debbie was already holding one granddaughter, and picked up the other one. One granddaughter in each arm.

Is that shameless bragging or what?

And to make matters worse, both are beautiful and brilliant.

I wonder if there’s an adopt a grandbaby program I can get into? I want one!



Cover of "Father of the Bride (15th Anniv...

Cover via Amazon

What an absolutely perfect day I had yesterday!

A beautiful worship service with my Christian Sibs, then I had the absolute joy of doing something I never thought I’d get to do. I went with DIL2b to try on wedding dresses. I have to tell you, it was so much fun!

Besides my wedding dress, the only other wedding dress I’ve shopped for was Sister Amy’s. And I wasn’t with her when she found the one she ended up with. While we shopped with Amy, the owner of the shop turned on me–“Who do you work for?”

Since Mom and several sisters were there with Amy, I was a little suprised to be singled out. “Do what?”

“I want to know who you work for.”

“Professional Pharmacy in Pryor. Why do you ask?”

“Your comments and questions . . . you sound as if you work . . . .  She looked a little embarrassed. “The other bridal shops in town have women trying to shop us all the time to get our styles and prices. I thought you were one of them.”

“Mom owned a dress shop for years. I managed it for her, but we didn’t sell wedding dresses.”

“That’s why you know so much.” She went back to work, comforted that I wasn’t stealing her secrets.

Luckily, yesterday I didn’t have that problem.

We walked in to the shop a few minutes before our appointment (I had no idea you had to make an appointment to shop for wedding gowns!) and the assistant manager immediately greeted us. She asked Nikki (aka DIL2b) a few questions, then turned us over to a real sweetheart saleswoman.

This saleswoman took the list of dresses Nikki had found online and we got started.

They disappeared behind a wall of mirrors into a dressing room, and I watched the other shoppers. One group that got there before us had a mother, at least two sisters and a friend or two.

The bride of that group was a size 4. Tiny little thing with hair that came just below her shoulders. She was gorgeous, but there was something just a little off about her joy. I don’t know if they’d spent weeks going from bridal shop to bridal shop or if there was a little m/d friction.

This girl had on a dress that looked as if it were designed for her. Fit her perfectly from what I could tell, but she wasn’t happy with it and whipped on another. She had a tat in beautiful colors on her wrist and one on the back of her neck that had wings.

Not something I usually expect to see on a beautiful bride, but the world, she is a changing! LOL.

My DIL2b came out and looked at her first dress–something Cinderella would have worn. A beautiful crystal encrusted top, and a skirt with layer after layer of tull. We loved the top, but the skirt, not so much.

I just took pictures and told DIL#2 what I thought. And that was mostly, “I like that. That one’s nice.”

Nikki went back to try the second dress while I people watched some more. A trio of young women came in. This time the bride wasn’t trying on dresses. Her bridesmaids were. The girls weren’t built exactly alike, but they tried on similar dresses.

Something new (to me, at least) is the thing where bridesmaids don’t dress alike or even in the same color. I’m not sure what tied them together, except it looked as if they’d all have on street length dresses, and most likely will carry identical bouquets.

This bride hated any dress that was pink or peachy colored. No matter what silhouette or fabric, if the color grossed her out, she hated the dress and wouldn’t even consider it in other colors.

Nikki came out in her next dress. Again, the top was okay, but the skirt–meh. The saleslady showed her how the alterations lady could take off a couple of layers, but still, it left us luke warm.

DIL2b disappeared behind the mirrors again and I watched another bride come out dressed in white. The woman’s dress fit perfectly. The right length, everything! I soon found out she was picking it up, not just shopping. 

As I watched, the man with her went into the dressing room and closed the door behind him. Hm. Wedding coordinator? The closest I’ve been to a WC was watching Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. Martin Short was the WC (I think) and if this guy was a Martin-type-WC, I would have been happy.

But this guy was no movie WC. When he looked at the bride, I could see in his eyes that he cared deeply about her. If he was the WC, the Groom was in real trouble.

Then Nikki came out in THE DRESS. Thinking back, it seems I heard the angels sing when she stepped out. It fit her perfectly–once they pulled it up and clipped it. It made her waist disappear and her eyes sparkle. 

I adored it! Nikki loved it! I took pictures with my camera and my phone. I sent pictures to Nikki to forward to her mom (who couldn’t be there because she had to work). I also sent some to #4.

Sorry, I can’t post them here, but Middle Son might accidentally read my blog sometime before he gets married. And we do not want him to see the dress before hand.

We talked about trying on another dress or two, but in the end, she loved this one so much she wouldn’t take it off. Everyone–DIL2b, her MIL2b, the saleslady and assistant manager–everyone LOVED the dress.

As we finished up, I chatted with the other bride and her WC. Turns out he’s the groom. (Thank heaven! Some of those looks he gave her really worried me.)

He said, “I’m the groom.”

I answered, “Shut your eyes, quick! You aren’t supposed to see the dress before the wedding.”

“We aren’t doing much the traditional way,” he answered with a small smile.

His bride spoke up. “We aren’t from here and don’t have family close, so he’s had to  help me.”

That made me sad for her and her mother. They were missing so much they could never get back. 

“But I kind of wish we could have kept the dress a secret for our wedding day,” the man murmured.

That earned him an unhappy look. “Now you tell me!”

Hoping I hadn’t started a family fight before they became a fam, I said, “If it weren’t for the pictures, I doubt G-Man would remember what my dress looked like. That’s such an intense time, it’s hard to take in all the details.”

After that encounter, I was very happy to scurry out to the car. If there was a battle, we missed it! LOL.

We met the rest of the Shay Clan at Kilkenny’s for #1 son’s birthday dinner. As usual, we had a great time together. I’ll post pictures tomorrow. 

Better run. I’m late for work–as usual! Ü

Before I go, though, tell me about your wedding dress. (Or your bride’s.) Did you make it or have it made? One of the most beautiful wedding dresses I’ve seen was white velvet with pearl trim my college friend, Mina, had made for her wedding. Gorgeous!

Did you buy it? My SIL went all the way to Arkansas to get hers.

Did you shop around the world to find it?

Terminally Curious would love to know.