Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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Why the Cross?

I have some very pretty crosses. My first Bible from Grandma and Granddad Reeves when I was eight had a gold cross on the zipper that closed it.

I have a beautiful cross with a gold coin at its center (widow’s mite) that my dad bought when he went to Israel several years ago. I love it!

I even made some purse jewelry one day with crosses hanging from it. (Several fell off. I’m kind of hard on that kind of thing.)

But for some reason, I woke up this morning with question on my mind.

Why the cross?

I’m not asking why Jesus went to the cross. I know why.

No human is perfect. We all sin.

Romans 3:23–For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

And no sinful thing or person can be in God’s holy presence.

Romans 6:23 a– For the wages of sin is death

Eternal death. Hell. But Jesus went to the cross and died so that if we accept this gift (freely given) we can live. Eternally. In the presence of God.

Romans 6:23 b (the rest of the verse) But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I don’t understand how the cross became our main Christian icon. To be very honest, the cross was ugly.

 The Passion of the Christ.

This the best depiction I could find that shows what the Cross of Christ really looked like. (Probably.) 

The cross wasn’t just ugly, it was hideous. An instrument of torture. I’ve heard it said that it’s kind of like wearing an electric chair around your neck. (Except an electric chair does the job faster than the cross did.)

From Wikipedia: During the first two centuries of Christianity, the cross may have been rare in Christian iconography, as it depicts a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution and Christians were reluctant to use it.

I don’t blame them!

One of the earliest Christian symbols was the Ichthus, or fish symbol.

Remember the meaning behind it?

ichthus = 2) an iconographic symbol for Christ from the initials in the Greek phrase Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter (Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour, ιχθύς in Greek); or representing Jesus as a fisher of men.

I wonder why we didn’t just stay with that?  

Of course, the cross is to remind us of Christ’s sacrifice as well as His love.

They’re so pretty, they do remind me of the beauty of His love.

But how in the world did we ever start using a cross? Do you know?


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Oklahoma State University Athletics logo

Image via Wikipedia

Me and football? *snicker* I was a cheerleader, but tht doesn’t mean I knew what was going on out on the field. I’ve been to a few high school games this year because I have two (!) great footballing senior nephews playing.

Sister Debbie has to explain what’s happening. (G-Man does it when we’re home. Or Middle Son.)

Today, Middle Son is in Missouri, watching Oklahoma State beat them. I know OSU is winning, because I can see the score now and then on TV when I look up from my ‘puter. If they didn’t post it, I wouldn’t have any way of knowing.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy going to football games. I love being at the game. The excitement in the air is contageous. The entire stand you sit in is usually pulling together for one side or the other to win.

Talk about an instand Small Town World!!! It’s great.

One year, G-Man, Middle Son, one of the nephews and I went to watch Oklahoma University play Colorado in a Big Twelve Championship Game in Kansas City.

If you ignore the fact that it was FREEZING, and the wind was blowing, and the score was so lop-sided, it was almost boring, we had a fantastic time. 🙂

And we got to do a little shopping while we were at KC, so that’s always fun.

The good thing about watching Oklahoma State University (I call it Oklahoma Spess University because so many kids in my family went there) is they’re winning these days.

And, of course, Pistol Pete. He’s, like, the coolest mascot ever!


Gotta Love It!!!

Imagine my house is a cabin deep in a forest somewhere, and a forest fire is blazing toward me. I have only minutes to snatch a few of my favorite, most cherished things. What would I take?

Along with my Bibles, kids’ baby books, pictures (while we’re imagining, pretend I have a dump truck to load it all in) my laptop, old things handed down to me from G-Man’s family and mine (and it’s a slow moving forest fire) the one thing I couldn’t leave without is this–

This is a cookbook my friend, Marilyn Pappano, gave me a few years ago. One day, she mentioned she was making one for her son for Christmas. I immediately started jumping up and down like a demented bunny rabbit, waving my hands like a traffic cop at the Indy 500 and screaming, “Me, too! Me, too! I want one of those.”

Okay, maybe I wasn’t quite that animated, but I would have been if the situation had required it. 🙂

Marilyn just smiled her sweet smile and remembered. By the time Christmas rolled around, I’d put the cookbook out of my mind (hey, that’s a lot of work!) but Miss M hadn’t. 

Thank you again, M! This is the gift that keeps on giving and never wears out. (The pages are in page protectors so if I get food or oil on them, they can be wiped right off.)  

Marilyn is one of the very best cooks (my fam excluded, of course) I’ve ever known in my life. She’s lived all over the south and collected the absolute b-e-s-t recipes I’ve ever begged for.

Just a taste of her Jambalaya will make your tongue lap your brains out. (That’s a saying my granddad passed down to my dad, who passed it to me. It means it’s good stuff.)  

I’ve already shared at least one of her recipes. Remember Ummm–Babyback Ribs? That’s a Marilyn recipe. (I fixed it just this week. So good!)

This week, I’m sharing a snack with you. Marilyn took these to our Christmas party one year. They’re a great, delicious snack and not (very) unhealthy!

I’m not sure who Regina Hicks is, but the woman knows what tastes good.

Here’s how you do it–

Put the spices and oil in a shaker jar and the pretzels in a container such as a plastic bag or Tupperware container with a tight fitting lid. Pour the spicy oil over the pretzels, close the container and shake it up.

Every 15 minutes for two hours, shake it up again. And, just like magic, the pretzels are ready.

I poured them out on a paper towel covered cookie sheet, but there wasn’t any oil to absorb. The pretzels had soaked up every bit of the oil and spices. And when you eat them, they don’t have an oily taste or touch.

I don’t know where it all goes, but those pretzels are addictive. (I didn’t have cayenne pepper, so I used chipotle pepper and tossed in 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.) They were still yummy good, but I think I’ll add more spices next time–or maybe I’ll buy some cayenne and do it right. 😉

 I’m telling you, this is good stuff!

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Dad’s Par-ty!

A hamburger with a rim of lettuce sitting on a...

Image via Wikipedia

At last! I got the pictures from Carollea of Dad’s party.

Remember the Big Day? It was so much fun!

These two are deep in discussion. Never fails when they get together.

Of course, fun times were had at the party. Naturally, Dad shared in several hugs and handshakes.

Sparky was the name of Dad’s horse. (There should have been a comma after the you, but hey. Perfection is boring. LOL)

The cake was delicious! Half chocolate, half white and a cherry filling. Oh, baby! The girls at Homeland bake a mean cake.

Jeffrey and I grilled hamburgers, I caught my grill on fire. (Not my fault! There was too much fat in the meat. That’s my story and I’m sticking!)

Everyone in the office brought dishes to share. I’m telling you, these women can cook!

And this crew can eat! They didn’t even back off when they found out I was helping with the hamburgers. 🙂

But before a bite was eaten, before one person filled his (or her) plate, we thanked God– for health, and friends and, most importantly (in my book, anyway) for family, near and far, and those who’ve gone on before us, but shaped our lives and helped us become who we are.

The best gift of all.



Wowed Wednesday

Yesterday was Tombstone Tuesday, so today must be Wowed Wednesday. (To be honest, what wows me is people. Must be that curiosity gene.)

Okay, I know I just talked about walking on Friday,

but go with me on this. 🙂

My walking buddy and I charged past some great yardscapes yesterday.

A tree challenged witch.

A spider infested house.

And even a brand new neighborhood graveyard, which just recently sprung up. Shades of The ‘Burbs. *Shiver*

But the house that stopped us in our tracks is a very familiar one to me. It’s the house where I took piano lessons from the time I was in second grade. It’s the place I walked to once a month for Piano Club.

The home’s current owner and one of her beautiful daughters were there, putting on the finishing touches when we power walked up 😉 and screeched to a halt.

We said hello and told them how beautiful their decorations are. Then I asked for permission to take pictures. And since we’re all from the same Small Town World (I used to smile when the sisters came in the dress shop) I took the chance to chat a bit.

We had such a great talk! I loved the few moments we got to hang together and wished we had more.

Beautiful yardscape, ladies. Love it! And more, I had so much fun catching up. Trouble is, now I want to know more.

It’s really not my fault. It has to be that curiosity gene.


Tombstone Tuesday–Found it!

This picture was taken by Janis Hart at Find-A-Grave.

Carollea, my walking buddy, and I have been watching for the Civil War General’s tombstone I read about in The Cleveland American several years ago as we trek around the cemetery. I had an idea which section the grave was in, but we’d wandered through before and we hadn’t found it.

Until yesterday!

At first, the upright tombstone was all we saw. “This guy’s a Colonel.”

Then we noticed something under the dirt. Carollea did a great job of shoving the dirt off the concrete buried there, and we found . . .

Woohoo! It was our General! Not JUST a General, a Brigadier General. (BTW: I accidentally cut off the date of his death–1907 if you’re wondering.

Here’s what one website had to say about him.

Birth: May 25, 1830
Franklin County
Ohio, USA
Death: Sep. 16, 1907
Pawnee County
Oklahoma, USA

Civil War Union Brevet (I think Brevet means it was a temporary field commission-ss) Brigadier General. Prior to the war he was a prosecuting attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Wabash, Indiana.On the morning after Fort Sumter fell to the Confederates, he joined the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and was commissioned a Captain.He took part in the battle of Springfield, Missouri (DIL2 is from Springfield! Talk about a Small Town World!ss)and Pea Ridge, Arkansas,(I’ve been to that battle and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in May of 1863. He distinguished himself in other battles and was promoted Colonel in command of the 130th Regiment Indiana Infantry. On March 13, 1865, he was brevetted Brigadier General and placed in command of seven counties in the western district of North Carolina.(bio by: John “J-Cat” Griffith)

This is Charles.

He could have used a comb, but otherwise, he looks pretty nice, doesn’t he? 🙂 But if you look at his eyes, they look kind of haunted. Makes me wonder what sadness he’d suffered during that horrible war. And what the horrors he saw did to him.

Charles Sherman Parrish is possibly the only Civil War general buried in Oklahoma , according to the information published by Robert Grierson entitled, Here They Lie – Burial Sites of Famous People in Oklahoma, (n.d.).

He is buried in a simple grave in Lot 14, Section 4 of Block 59 at the Woodland Cemetery in Cleveland, Oklahoma. There are apparently no other family members buried at this site.

Charles (Think people called him Chuck? Or maybe Charlie?) had many jobs after the war from the Indiana State Senate to Register in Bancruptcy to Inspector of Customs in New Orleans.

General Parrish went west in 1891 to get away from his old associates and rebuild a legal business. It was stated in newspaper stories that his old habits so controlled him that he never sufficiently established himself to warrant sending back east for his family.

He spent eight to ten years at Perry and Orlando, Oklahoma. He was also in Cloud County, Kansas in 1888 and Republic County, Kansas in 1889.

On November 11, 1903, he was admitted to the Mountain Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Jonesboro, Tennessee for three years.

He died in Cleveland, Oklahoma on September 16, 1907.

I wonder if he really didn’t have relatives here in C-Town, as the biographies suggest. I remember a wonderful librarian we had for years when I was a kid.I think Parrish was her name–Sis was the name we knew her by. She took care of our library from the day I got my first library card until I was out of school.

While I was in college, I tried to check out, “Doctors’ Wives,” but Sis wouldn’t let me. “I don’t think your mom would want you to read that book.” 🙂 And she was right!

If I remember right, Sis had a husband who was a really nice postman. (No, that’s not an oxymoron. No jokes about the postal department, please. LOL)

I’m hoping Sis and her husband, whose name it seems like was Walt, were related to Charles. I hope they knew him, loved him, were his family and were with him at his death.

It’s just too sad to think of the man being all alone when he died.   

You can read about Charles at and

Or check him out on Google. He’s pretty interesting.


Just a Whisper

I mentioned that I’m a finalist in Where the Magic Begins, didn’t I? Like, maybe a thousand times? 😉 I’m entered in an unpublished contest because this is a different category than I’ve written in before.

The category is Sweet Contemporary, which for me means Christian Women’s Fiction or Inspirational. In the past, I’ve always written Single Title or Sensual Contempory. The difference is a real eye opener.

Why did I change?

Last November, I entered NaNoWriMo, and it had a real effect on me.

From Wikipedia–National Novel Writing Month –also known as NaNoWriMo /ˌnænoʊˈraɪmoʊ/– is an annual internet-based creative writing project which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month.

I was writing along on a project, and not a bad one, and doing really well. I’d figured how many words a day I had to write to get the book finished by the end of the month, then I wrote more than that. I was ahead of the game, when a still, small whisper of a thought came to me.

The more I worked, the louder that whisper became until there was a deafening din inside me every morning when I got up to write.


The thought was right. It wasn’t me. From what I understood to be the rules of the road for that type of book, my characters couldn’t live their lives the way I try to live mine. They couldn’t pray (very much, anyway) about problems, spend time in the Word or practice the presence of God. So I stopped working on that book. I doubt I’ll finish it.

The book I entered in the contest is my first attempt at Christian Women’s Fiction. We’ll see how it goes.

If you’d like to read the first little bit, here it is–

Cleveland Ave in downtown Loveland, CO

Image via Wikipedia

Chapter One

Since when did kindergarteners throw such a mean elbow? Dr. Joe Gardner sidestepped the blow aimed at his diaphragm. The child’s piercing cry as he squirmed on the table was impossible to block, but fear caused it. Not pain.

 Edna Thornton, the head nurse who kept the Loveland, Colorado Children’s Hospital running, took over. “Get Miss Sara.”

Joe shot Edna a furious glance. “What are you—” Pain exploded between his legs, sickening him to his gut as the kid’s heels connected a solid blow. Fighting the urge to collapse on the floor, curl in a fetal position and vomit up his breakfast, he leaned against the equipment cabinet and tried to breathe.

As his vision cleared, he stared at the nurse. “What . . . ” Just that word sent pain radiating again. Swallowing hard, he drew a slow breath. “Why did you send—?”

Eyes snapping, she frowned.  “Typical doctor. Her name is Sara Charles and she does more good than most doctors.”

He’d return her look if he could only stop hunching over, but he’d learned not to glare from an inferior position a long time ago. Nurses would run over you. And being the new guy at the hospital, he couldn’t afford that.

But it hurt so darn much. He closed his eyes and, taking a breath, he straightened the knee he’d cocked too slowly to block the boy’s kick and forced his back erect. And when he opened his eyes, an angel walked into the room.

Trauma there causes hallucinations? He blinked hard and looked again.

The woman’s gaze settled on him, dismissed him as insignificant, then focused elsewhere. Her dark hair—or was it red?—was drawn back to a low ponytail. Slender, but not painfully so, she had a figure that at one time would have made him drool.


The woman had a quick, quiet conversation with Edna, then turned to the little boy, now curled up on the table. Probably exhausted from his winning bout with Joe.

There you go.

Will I be able to sell it? I don’t know, but I hope so. I do know if it’s God’s will, I absolutely will. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see. 😉