Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


♥♥♥ WOW ♥♥♥

I have three WOWS! to share this Wednesday. Ready?

WOW! #1–

We had the last night of our Beth Moore study of James–Mercy Triumphs (I know it’s the last one because I can remember the title without looking.) And let me tell you, I was so wowed! I thought the other ladies were going to have to scrape me up off the tile floor to send me home when it was over.

And at the end, she took the study full circle to where she’d started. 1 Corinthians 15:7–Then He (Jesus) appeared to James, then to all the apostles

James, His brother. James, who’d grown up with Him. James, who didn’t believe until after the resurrection.

Beth asked us to imagine the scene when Jesus appeared to James. Did He come up behind James? Did He call him by name or just say, “Brother”?

When I imagine it, the only thing I can imagine is the thrill that must have zapped James’s heart, and he knew.

Jesus, his brother, is Christ. God.  Then (in my mind, at least) the big hug.

I wish I could share the entire study with you. I wish I could start all over again.

Over the weeks I’ve learned so much. I would like to suggest that Beth do a study just on Jame 3. She could call it, “Tongue Training 101. Bring your own whip and chair.”

James 3: 7-8: 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

I’d be first in line for that one.

Then we were Wowed when Beth recited the ENTIRE Book of James by heart.

Don’t you love that phrase, by heart? When she recites that book, you know she’s using her heart.

WOW! #2–

Sister Debbie. She was called yesterday while at work and asked to lead our small group last night. No time to go home and get ready for it.

Wow! She didn’t panic. Didn’t suddenly have to go out of town. Didn’t call in sick. (I’m great at coming up with excuses.)

She just stepped up to the plate and did a great job.

For me, a great leader is one who’s humble enough to share her failures and weaknesses as well as her strengths and joy in the Lord. Deb is able to do that and so much more.

I raised that girl right. 😉 (Wish I could take the credit!)

WOW! #3–

One of the women in our group had a baby a couple of weeks ago, and she was there with that sweet baby girl for our last night of Triumphs.

Such a pretty baby! And such a sweet mama with a heart for the Lord. (Sorry, no picture.)

I got to play a little bit with the baby’s big brother one afternoon at work. He’d found my nephew’s toys and was having fun with them. I stepped into the room to tell the little guy hi, so he turned giant Leggos into a gun to shoot me with.

As the mother of boys, I jumped into that game with both feet. We had a great battle. I’m thinking about asking his grandmother to bring him back to work so we can play some more. 😉


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Holy Humor

Some of my earliest memories are set in the Christian Church in Old Ford. I love being with Christians, reading and writing about them AND laughing with them.

We can all be pretty funny. Especially when we don’t mean to be.

So when I got the following yesterday from my walking buddy on HER birthday, I knew I had to share it with y’all. Enjoy! (And tell her happy birthday if you see her.)

🙂 🙂 🙂

A father was approached by his small son who told him proudly, “I know what the Bible means!”

His father smiled and replied, “What do you mean, you ‘know’ what the Bible means?

The son replied, “I do know!”

“Okay,” said his father. “What does the Bible mean?”

“That’s easy , Daddy…” the young boy replied excitedly,” It stands for ‘Basic Information Before Leaving Earth.’

🙂 🙂 🙂

 There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.

“Is there anything breakable in here?” asked the postal clerk.

“Only the Ten Commandments.” answered the lady.

🙂 🙂 🙂

“Somebody has said there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord,” and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter.

Then he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 10 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.”

When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

While driving in Pennsylvania , a family caught up to an Amish carriage.. The owner of the carriage obviously had a sense of humor, because attached to the back of the carriage was a hand printed sign… “Energy efficient vehicle: Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

A Sunday School teacher began her lesson with a question, “Boys and girls, what do we know about God?”

A hand shot up in the air. “He is an artist!” said the kindergarten boy.

“Really? How do you know?” the teacher asked.

“You know – Our Father, who does art in Heaven… ”

🙂 🙂 🙂

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.

“Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Sunday after church, a Mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about.

The daughter answered, “Don’t be scared, you’ll get your quilt.”

Needless to say, the Mom was perplexed. Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the Mom asked him what that morning’s Sunday school lesson was about.

He said “Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

“Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently. “But, you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

At that moment, the substitute organist played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!




I might have mentioned my mama had six kids, five of whom were girls. When I’d gone to college and Sister Debbie was getting close, Mama must have decided she didn’t have enough to do, or maybe she was tired of sewing.

She decided to open a dress shop, and she wanted to have it open for the Easter shopping season. (Easter was a big sewing/dress shopping time in our Small Town World.)

She and Dad looked around for a place to put the shop and decided the empty front portion of the bank building where Dad had his office would be the perfect spot.

She went to market with a friend who owned a dress shop in a town not too far away and ordered stock for her store. She and Dad and my sibs old enough to help got busy turning a bank into a dress shop.

She called me one night at school at college, and wanted to talk about naming the store. Since it had been The First National Bank, she thought about naming it The First Place. I loved that idea (a few years later we heard of several stores that took the name) but it wasn’t the one she ultimately chose.

In the end, she named her store Four Seasons Fashions, but people in town called it Mary Sue’s.

She worried a lot about the store in the beginning, so much she could hardly eat. Dad told her it cost less to open her store than to hit one dry hole, so stop sweating it.  Still, she talked about taking several people to market with her so she could be sure get it right–Grandmother, so she’d have someone with “older” taste and opinions, someone like Sister Debbie or me with a young person’s opinion, and so on.

In the end, she learned to think about the people she wanted to sell to. She would go into a show room at market and, as she bought the merchandise, she’d think one thing looked like this woman, and wouldn’t another woman enjoy that.

I left Bible college after my second year and switched to a school in Tulsa with a fashion merchandising course. A few years later, I went to work for Mom. I loved working at Four Seasons. Loved almost every part of it.

I enjoyed doing displays, buying the merchandise and, mostly, getting to know the people in our Small Town World.

I worked in other clothing stores over the years–Tulsa, Ponca City, Bartlesville, from large department stores to a store much like Mom’s, but I never worked anyplace where the owner worried about or liked her customers so much.

Or knew them so well.

Once I started working there, Mama didn’t feel she had to be at the shop quite as much. But she loved going to market and seeing the newest clothes. We didn’t buy the most expensive designer clothes, but we sometimes had to walk down their halls going to another manufacturer nearby.

I started getting sick with tonsilitis once on our way to Dallas. By the time we got there, my throat was killing me, but I thought I could tough it out until I got home to my own doctor. We were going to a showroom near the designers’ when a woman stopped me to ask where I got the flower pin I was wearing.

While we chatted, I got started feeling really bad. Apparently it showed in my face because she nearly dragged me into the (designer!) showroom where she worked and forced me to eat a plate of melon and ham. At least the melon felt good on my throat! LOL. I remember later wishing I’d felt better so I could have taken note of how that showroom was different than the less expensive places.

Mama only missed going to market once in all the years she owned Four Seasons–when her high school aged nephew in Texas died. That was one of those times when she needed to be with her sister.

We used lots of ways to publicize our clothes–a large window in front where our prettiest clothes were on display, occasional fashion shows, and we sometimes we advertised in the local paper. But the best advertisement in the world was my mama when she went anywhere, dressed in Four Seasons’ stock.

She made those clothes look great!


When God Speaks

I have a great friend, Jackie King, who writes cozy mysteries and is one of those people I just look forward to spending time with. When she speaks (or blogs or sends something to the loop) I take time to read it ASAP.

 Jackie King and Peggy Fielding–Foxy Hens

Today she sent a note to the loop that said she’d blogged about Writer’s Block, come on over. I went straight over there to take advantage of her wisdom.

In case you aren’t worried about WB, I’ll tell you what hit me hard this morning. She said she was having problems with her Grace Cassidy mystery she’s writing. (They’re set in B&B’s–so much fun!)

Then some small voice from deep inside said (my belief is this whisper comes from God), “Buck up, pour some glue in the chair and sit down. You’ve been here before.”

WOW. (I made the part bold that stopped me in my tracks.)

I made a comment (I like to let my friends know I’ve visited) then came back to sign in at STW so I could use it as signature over there. When I got here, I had a comment pending from a total stranger.

Here it is:

It’s amazing how often God uses blog posts to speak that timely word of encouragement into my life. I’m glad I stumbled on your blog through Mr. Island Traveler and found this verse.:)

This morning, just when I was wondering what I was going to blog about, I read about God speaking into others’ lives twice! I had a feeling He was speaking to me.

But here’s what I’m wondering, When God Speaks, how often do we listen?

Or maybe the real question is, When God Speaks, do we recognize it? And do we obey?

There are times when things around me are so loud, I can’t hear. Or I’m too busy. Or I don’t have time.

Ouch. Is that true for you, too? (Is it just me?)

Does my admission (maybe it’s a confession) stop you like it does me?

How can I not have time, when the Creator of the Universe and everything in it takes time to speak to me?

How could I be too busy when the One who paid for my sins as if they were His own wants to spend time with me?

Why wouldn’t I listen when He speaks? Sometimes He has to repeat Himself several times, then nearly shout to be heard, doesn’t He?

Have you ever thought that it would be easier if He just spoke to us during our morning quiet times? I mean, after all, things are quiet. (That’s why it’s called quiet time.) We are listening right then. His word is there, in front of us. We’ve been talking to Him. Why not talk to us then?

Oh, my goodness, neighbors. Why would we try to limit God in any way? Why would we say, “Not now, Lord”?

Maybe we should be more like Jackie and listen for any/everything He has for us and appreciate that He loves us so much!

Thank you Jackie and Yen.


The Little Shack Out Back

A coworker and I were discussing the logistic problems of having only one bathroom in a house, even if only two people live there. Especially if one has few schedules to keep and likes to make a little mischief.

It got me to thinking about the days before there were bathrooms inside houses. When you had to take a hike to get to the john. My parents experienced them more than I did, and their parents even more. And, of course, through the years the subject has come up from time to time.

So I have a question for you today, and I really hope you’ll answer it. Ready? Okay, here it is.

Have you every used an outhouse?

An outhouse is a small structure, separate from the house, placed over a hole in the ground, also known as “the facilities.” Please don’t confuse it with a porta-john from a catering service. They bring a fiberglass building with some kind of chemicals below to take care of most of the odor, and usually replace it once a week or so.

I’m talking about the old wooden structures.

A hole in a wooden seat (really, a hole in a board) was made for your convenience. Instead of toliet paper, you used a Sears-Robuck catalogue. 😦

 This picture is of a two hole outhouse. If one hole was larger, it was for adults, the other smaller one would have been for children. If the holes were the same size, I don’t know why there would have been two.

I read that a half moon cut in the door is the sign of an outhouse for the womenfolk. A full moon means it’s for the men. (Makes me wonder if that’s where the idea of mooning people came from.)

Imagine–two privies!–one for men and another for women, and a yard big enough to accomidate them. Had to be the rich folks in town.

BTW: Most outhouses weren’t as pretty as the log cabin one above. Most looked more like this–

 When we were kids, Old Ford still had an outhouse or two in town. I had a couple of onery cousins who loved to tip them over on Halloween. If I remember the story right, a church in town had a parsonage with an outhouse.

One Halloween, my cousins trick-or-treated a while, then decided to make some mischief. They shot out a streetlight or two, then decided to do a little small-house tipping.

They trekked over to the parsonage and snuck around back. When they got there, they very quietly crossed the yard and with a hard shove, turned that outhouse over.

What they didn’t know (but learned very quickly) was the preacher was USING the facility at the time!

I heard (but I’m not sure if it’s true) that the next Halloween, the preacher was ready for them. In preparation for the big night, he moved the outhouse over just a few feet. Then, when the evildoers came sneaking through the dark to tip over the little-house-out-back, they didn’t see that it had been moved. They fell in the yuck-filled hole.


Antique hunters love to find old home sites. They especially look for the spot where the outhouse was and dig it up. Why? Because before dirt was thrown in the hole when the privy was moved to a new spot, the hole was often packed with the day’s non-returnables, which are valuable now–old bottles.

A few years ago, clever homeowners collected outdoor johns–just to have that rustic look in their backyard. They didn’t use them for the purpose they were intended. (As far as I know, anyway.) I even found a website that sells outhouse decor. (Switchplates, shower curtains, towels, etc.)

Outdoor privies have always deeply impressed me, but not necessarily the good way. Why? (Glad you asked.)

  1. They stink! Actually, stink is a mild word for the way an outhouse smells. It’s awful. GAS-tly!
  2. Spiders love them. If you look closely, spiders don’t have noses. If they did, they wouldn’t hide in an outhouse. But they do. All kinds of spiders (and other horrible nasty biting, stinging ground crawlers.)
  3. There’s almost never electricity in an outhouse. I don’t know why, unless it’s because they have to be moved from time to time. At night, it’s really dark in one! How’s a girl supposed to see a spider or other critter without light?
  4. In the middle of a dark night (especially in winter) an outhouse is a long, long way from your bedroom.
  5. In the hot summertime sun, the facility is much too close, especially if the prevailing wind is from that direction. (Blech!)

So, how about you? Have you ever made that fun trip to the little girls’ (or boys’) back house?

 If we still used them today, do you think they might look more like this?

From Larry Lawrence–

I told you it was cold in the winter! 🙂

Santa doesn’t mind. (The elf does!)

I saw these at Lowes last fall. So funny, but really not the way I want to decorate for Christmas.

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Happy Birthday, Sister Cindy!

Sister Cindy’s having a birthday today. Because she’s my younger sister, and it would in a way be telling on myself, I won’t tell you her age. 🙂 (Mama always said, “A woman who’ll tell her age will tell anything,” and I agree.)

So how will my sister celebrate? Probably by going to work. She works at a T-Town hospital, helping new mamas who want to feed their babies the “right” way. (She an RN and a Lactation Something-or-other.)

Little known facts about Sister Cindy:

  • A riproaring success as a preschool model in a fashion show in the basement of the Methodist Church.

  • The quietest Spess kid.
  • Told the second grade teacher who’d taught the first three Spess girls and was preparing to teach #4, “She isn’t like the rest of us.”
  • Was left at church TWICE, and had to be taken home by the preacher.
  • Wore braces on her teeth. (As did all the Spess sisters except #4. She really was different.)
  • Could have been the New Shirley Temple . . . if she’d had blond hair. And corkscrew curls.
  • Got Mama’s hands.

  • The only Spess Sister with a college degree. (With five kids to outsmart, she needed it!)

  • Uncle Charlie liked her best. (Everyone else might have like her best, but Uncle Charlie didn’t try to hide it.)
  • FFA Sweetheart!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Sister Cindy. Hope it’s a great one!

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Which One Are You?


  • When you find a great new diet, do you shout the news or keep it to yourself?
  • Is a new store with the latest styles and prices 1/3 of the mall stores, a chance to spread the news to everyone or do you keep it to yourself?
  • When people picture you, is it with your arms open wide or folded across your chest?
  • Are you an includer or an excluder?

Remember the movie, “Electric Horseman” with Robert *sigh* Redford and Jane Fonda? Prime example of an Includer and an Excluder.

Sonny Steele (Robert) is an Includer. He’s a five time All Around World Champion Cowboy. His talent has brought him fame and fortune, which he shares with his friends (who hang with him most of the time) and just about anyone else who comes his way.

Sonny Steele says, “As far as I see it, either we’re all going to heaven or we’re not.” See? Inclusive. He wants everyone to get in on the good stuff.

On the other hand, Hallie Martin (Jane Fonda) a reporter, is an excluder who wants an exclusive. When Sonny steals Rising Star, a famous race horse, she tracks him down for a one-on-one interview. No way she’s going to share with other reporters. Part of her fame is that she’s able to be the only one to do things such as this.

She plans to share what she learns, but it’s for her career, not her love of people or horses or Sonny Steele.

So I’m wondering, are most people these days Includers or Excluders?

When most people find something fun and new, do they like to tell the world about it?

From a great tasting cup of coffee (have you tried Star Bucks’ Cinnamon Dolce Latte? Oh, yum!) or a wonderful place to eat (if you haven’t been there, you have to try Ted’s Cafe Escondido. And ask for Atomic Salsa. Double YUM!)  or a great new book (I mention them here all the time) do most people want everybody to get to enjoy what they’ve enjoyed?

Oh, I understand the reason for being an excluder, and I can relate.

If I keep the store with the great prices to myself, I can have twice the clothes and nobody will realize they’re so inexpensive. If I keep a new book with The Secret about how to become a great writer to myself, I might be able to achieve NYT best-selling author status. If I keep a wonderful place to eat a secret, I won’t have to wait as long for a table.

If I keep the secret, I can be smarter or better dressed or more in-the-know than others around me.

But I’ve never been that good at keeping secrets. If I know something wonderful, I want the people I know and love to get to benefit from it.

Maybe it’s because I’m from a large family, and we had to be Includers. No choice. Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian, and Jesus is an Includer. (He died for everyone.)

Or maybe it’s growing up when I did and where I did. In my Small Town World, neighbors helped out neighbors and all the kids on our street played together without leaving anyone out. (Most of the time.)

It was a happy, laid back time, when moms stayed at home and cooked meals for the sick, nearly everyone went to church and most people stayed married.

Everyone got to go to school.

Everyone got a Christmas present.

Everyone got a Valentine.

Everyone got to vote in elections.

Everyone was welcome at church.

Which do you think is better? A world of Includers or Excluders?

Any idea which one you are?