Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.



Once upon a time in the beautiful village of C-Town, there was a shop called Janyce’s Paintin’ Parlor. Janyce Brown was the painting teacher and I was one of her (less talented) students.  (And after I’d leave the lesson, she’d “help” my picture a little bit.) 🙂

Janyce was one of those people who made you feel as if she was thrilled to see you. No matter what your age, if she knew you, she was your friend.

And that laugh! Janyce had a laugh that could bring a grin to the crankiest face.  (And she often did!)

There were so many things I appreciated about Janyce. She was an extremely talented singer. She was never in a bad mood. Always willing to lend a hand. Never tiptoed around a subject but very gently told things like they were. (Don’t you love that?)

And she never ever forgot my name. (I mentioned before that someone who could tell which sis is which and not mix up names is tops with me!)


SistersNot that we look alike. 🙂 Or ever looked alike.


For some reason, though, people sometimes confuse us.

But never Janyce. Don’t you love that?

Last February, Janyce went to be with the Lord and her husband, John, a hard working man who passed the previous November. That was a huge loss for C-Town.

So this past weekend, J & J’s children had an estate sale. I went by a few times to lend a hand and for the sheer enjoyment of seeing the children of this beautiful couple.

They are all younger than me, but Cheryl was one of my sister’s best friends, Julie worked for me at the dress shop and I taught Mike in Bible School. He still lives here and goes to church with us.

What amazed me, though, was how much Janyce and I were alike in taste.

She adored her children, their spouses and her grandchildren. I do, too. (Well, I WILL adore my grandchildren as soon as I get the chance.)

The books she read were the same books I read, and like me, she had dozens and dozens of them. (And her daughter said she would have loved my werewolf book.)

She collected antiques, and surprise! I enjoy antiques. (Wish I’d followed her when she went antiquing!) 🙂

I bought a table at the sale that my husband says she probably bought in a “hippy” shop. I bought a table in a shop like that right after we were married.

I bought her grinding stone knife/ax sharpener.

Don't you love it?

Just like Uncle Henry’s

And a great dresser. (I’ll try to take pictures to share soon.) The dresser needs a little work, but that’s what antiques are about. Right? (I think G-Man can fix it.)

It’s not the “stuff” that thrills me so much as the connection through them to Janyce and John. When I see the table or dresser, I’ll think of that family and the joy they’ve given everyone who knew them.

And every time I see the sharpener, I’ll remember my mom’s Uncle Henry. He had one just like it that we played on as kids.

I wonder if the greatest gift God gave us (after Jesus/eternal life/Heaven, family and friends) is our ability to remember happy times together.

The things that matter most–painting lessons, trips, good times working and worshiping together and Janyce’s fantastic laugh–can’t be given away or even sold.

They can only be shared and relived in our hearts. What a gift!

Janyce's daughter and granddaughter  I swiped this picture off Kelsey’s Facebook page. 😛


Happy Birthday, Matt!

Today is #2 son’s birthday! He’s 31 years old. (I had to get out my calculator to be sure that was right. LOL)

matt and grandmommie_edited-1

I have to tell you, I’m proud that he’s my son! He makes me look good. 🙂 From the way he lives his life to his choice of a wife, I’m thrilled with this boy.

Before we had Matt, I was pregnant three times in a year. Two broke my heart when they ended in miscarriages, but JOY, JOY, JOY! The third time was Matt. (You’ve heard ‘third time’s the charm.’ He is!)

Once while I carried him under my heart, I accidentally touched an electric fence. That jolt sent me to my knees–then flying to the doctor. “Have I hurt my baby?”

Nope. He’s perfect.

I tried to have Matt on my dad’s birthday. (September 30th) But no, Matt wanted his very own day. 😛

a susan and matt

As a little boy, he loved to come home (or to our pharmacy) and play school. I heard about the day’s happenings while he played pretend. A few years later, he’d get one of G-Man’s counting trays and “count” M & M’s like pills–just like his daddy was doing. He loved to go with our new workers on deliveries so he could show them where our customers lived.

When he got a little older, he learned to count change so he could ring up customers at the store (with Mama watching.)

Matt is so very funny and fun to be with. He has a tender heart. One that’s easily bruised, yet expands quickly to include new friends.

matt snow tears

Now he’s a hard-working responsible adult, always willing to help out anyone in need. He chose a wife who is beautiful, loving and sweet, sweet, sweet. (Good choice, Matt!)


For your birthday, Matt, I’m giving you a blessing and a crown.

Proverbs 5:18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Happy birthday, baby boy! Your daddy and I are blessed to be your parents!




Living Proof

Know what I did last weekend? I went to the Living Proof (Beth Moore) conference in T-Town. WHAT A BLESSING!

I was there with two of my sisters, Debbie Sparks and Amy Nation, and several of my spiritual sisters. What a fantastic time in the Lord!

And some of us got to sit right on the front row!

This video is a recap of the weekend. If you watch it, at four minutes in you’ll see my sister, Amy, in her wheelchair. Look quick! (That’s my arm in white clapping next to her. LOL!)

I’m telling you, I was hugely blessed from our time together. I had only one complaint about the entire weekend. (Not the rain.)


But then, even if it had gone on for a solid week, I’m not sure that would be long enough.

Living Proof Live: Tulsa, OK – Recap.

A little farther down on the Living Proof Blog, I saw this. And once more, I was blown away.

My Dear Sister,
God has summoned you

To a growth-spurt of Grace
Know your Biblical facts
And stand squarely and securely
On the Name of Jesus alone
With your head tucked under grace
Get out of your cemetery
And quit trying to call
That old you from the dead
You are somebody new
In Christ you are highly favored
And wildly empowered
Forever loved
Completely made clean
Sin no longer has dominion over you
Trade all your anxieties
For the peace of Jesus Christ
You have been justified freely
By His death and resurrection
Listen hard, Girlfriend:
Live like you know it.
You are called to the obedience of faith
So credit Jesus alone
And take Him at His Word
He credits that as righteousness.
Never forget that God’s grace abounds
So if you find yourself in short supply
Get your head back under that spout
And drink like you’re dying of thirst
When times are hard
And your strength melts to weakness
God’s grace will always be sufficient
It won’t be long
Till we see His face
And He will show Himself worthy
Of every ounce of pain and faith
Now to Him who is able
To keep your feet from falling
And to present you
Before the Presence of His glory
With overwhelming joy
Be glory and majesty
Dominion and authority
Both now and forever

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Wowzer Woman

Ever noticed how people you meet as a child make a huge impression on your life? Mrs. Shriner was a woman who really wowed mine.

When I was in second grade, Mom started me taking piano lessons with Mrs. Shriner. At least, that’s what her students called her. Actually, her name was Patti Adams Shriner.

Mrs. Shriner lived in a house just a few blocks from my school, so on nice days I walked to my lessons.

I remember walking in the first day of my lessons.

walking shriner's houseThis is Mrs. Shriner’s house last year. (Or the year before.)

At that time we had an old upright piano in the garage, and all I could play was, “I Dropped My Dolly In the Dirt.”

Mrs. Shriner was a small woman who walked with a slight limp from a broken hip she’d suffered a few years earlier. The house had an odd odor, which I thought must be what wine smelled like.

Having actually smelled wine, I now believe it was Ben Gay I smelled, which she used to ease the pain of arthritis in her hip.

There were two pianos in her living room. A grand piano, which we took our lessons on, and a smaller piano that she used when she needed dueling pianos.

Funny, I don’t remember what her hairstyle was. I remember her hands, her nails always in a perfect oval with clear pink polish, and her beautiful diamond ring that she wore all the time although we couldn’t wear any jewelry when we played. 🙂

I even remember her shoes. But not her hair. Weird, huh?

Every month we had piano club in her living room. All her students were required to be there and we were to play a song we’d learned in the past month. Sister Debbie says she played the same tune every month for most of the time we took lessons.

Sometimes during my lessons, Mrs. Shriner would teach me music history. She taught me about Beethoven, Chopin and Hayden.

She told me about going to Paris when she was young, and taking lessons from a great pianist who’d learned under one of the great composers.

She showed me a black and white picture once of a building she’d built to live in and give lessons and performances in the ’20’s.

ms shriner riversidestudioShe said she had the windows placed so they’d look like the notes of an ascending scale. I remember the picture and that it was somewhere in T-Town from all those years ago. Today I did a Google search and found this picture and that it’s really kind of a famous building.

She lost it during the depression, but an actor bought it several years later and started putting on a play there called, “The Drunkard.”

Strangely enough, a few years ago I had an acquaintance who’d been one of the actors in “The Drunkard,” but she never mentioned the building it was in. Just that it was on Riverside Drive. (I need to drive over there and see it myself. 1381 Riverside Drive–the corner of Riverside and Houston. )

But Mrs. Shriner was so much more than just a piano teacher with a rich history. She was kind and compassionate woman who loved her students very much. I remember once she though I was about to cry.  Actually, I had a piece of glitter at the corner of my eye from an art project at school, but when she saw it glimmer, she worried that she’d somehow hurt my feelings.

She would move from her teaching stool to our bench to play a song and show us how it was supposed to sound, even though I’m sure it hurt her to move from stool to bench and back.

Her specialty was a composition that I absolutely love to hear to this day. It’s called Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin. She’d play it for us at Music Club. (If she didn’t play it, it didn’t feel like we’d had Club.)

She said the music was found after Chopin’s death in his trash can. According to Mrs. Shriner, he had thrown the manuscript away because it was written with different time in each hand. The right hand plays semiquavers against triplets in the left hand. Sounds hard, doesn’t it?

If I got bored during my lesson toward the end, I’d sometimes ask her to play FI and she would. Oh! My! Stars!!! She had such fire and passion when she played that music.

It’s something I never hoped to play, but oh, how I enjoyed it! Funny thing is, even back in second grade, I imagined a story while she played. (I did that during the songs I played, too.)

Want to hear it?

In case you’re wondering, no. The little girl isn’t me. (Don’t be disappointed. I can still play, “I Dropped My Dolly.”

Mrs. Shriner died in 1965 when she was 82 years old. She’s buried in our cemetery next to her father. (I think.)

ms shriner headstone

The bottom of her headstone is the first stanza or two of the treble staff music for “Fantasie Impromptu.”

My Small Town World has had some of the most beautiful people ever living there. Everyone’s STW is filled with Wowzer People if we’ll just take the time to get to know them.

Mrs. Shriner was absolutely one of them!

miss shriner 3



I have to tell you about my daughter-in-laws. I have three fantastic(!) DILs. #1 Son’s wife is a lawyer (is that cool or what?) Baby Boy’s wife is an architect (I’m still amazed by that girl!) and the girl I’m going to tell you about today.

Middle Son’s wife, Nikki.

Nikki has one of those smiles. You know the kind. No matter how bad your day is, when she hits you with that 1000 watt grin, you just have to grin back.

matt-and-nikkiNikki has a job, goes to college (she’s studying to be a teacher) sings BEAUTIFULLY, and she’s an inspiration. Let me say that again. She’s an


One day, out of the blue, I saw this on Facebook.

7 nikki

This is one of the bravest women I know. She isn’t afraid to bare her soul, and in the mean time she’s inspiring others.

She posts a collage nearly every day with pictures and sayings.

6 nikki

It’s not the fact that she has a problem with weight (who doesn’t?) that inspires me.

5 nikkiIt’s seeing the way she’s taken the bull by the horns. She’s changed her life. She focuses on the up and not the down. She sets goals and sticks to them until she reaches them.

1 nikki

And she drinks water. I hate water! (Mama taught us it rusts your stomach, and I’ve never found a reason to disagree with her.)

2 nikki

I love the way she takes time for herself. She finds apps to help her out. She finds words to inspire her. (They inspire me, too.) SHE WORKS OUT!

8 nikki

Nikki has a true gift from God. She lifts and encourages and leads and inspires, and she makes others smile.

She can do anything in the world with her gift.

If she becomes a teacher, her students will be the happiest kiddos in school.

She could head up a successful presidential campaign.

She would be an author’s dream publicist.

She’d be a perfect Chamber of Commerce president.

Even a great (happy) Dear Abby.

I’m encouraging her to start a blog where she talks about her weight loss and workout journey. Or, even better, she can use mine anytime she wants!

I’m thinking I might use her ideas to make up inspirations for my writing. I don’t know if I have even a little of her ability, but I’m going to rip off her idea and give it a try.

How about you? Any place in your life where you could use some inspiration? I know just the girl who can help!

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The song  below was our special worship song Sunday morning.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, the best part of Sunday Morning church is the song/communion/prayer time. Don’t get me wrong. Preacher Dave is the best minister I’ve had the pleasure of learning from. I really enjoy hearing him.

While I learn from PD, during the song/communion/prayer time I’m part of worship. For me, corporate worship means more than just those two words put together.

It’s our hearts joining together in adoration of the King, (AKA the Creator of the Universe and everything in it.)

It’s beautiful!

This past Sunday, just before we heard from the preach, a trio from the worship team sang while we watched the video. (Dad asked if they were the Andrews Sisters because of the beauty of their song.)

Take a few moments to listen and watch. You’ll be blessed.



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SSMT # 13 (I Think I Missed a Couple Along the Way)

Time to change the verse I’m memorizing. 🙂 So! Fun!

Honestly, I love memorizing God’s word. Or trying to memorize it. Sometimes I put it in my heart and mind and it slips right out again. Oy! LOL.

Here’s my verses for the next couple of weeks:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14-15

Confession: I might have memorized this verse before. Not this year (I checked) but sometime in the past, I’ve tried to memorize it.

I’m trying again. 😛

Reasons: I love that part about shining like stars in the sky. I love stars! I’m not sure if I like this verse because of the stars or if I like stars because of this verse. Kind of a chicken and egg thing, ya know?

Yeah, I’m weird, but God loves me.

This time, though, instead of just trying to memorize the part of the verse I like, I’m doing all of it and the verse before it. The one that convicts me every time I read it.


Excuse me? EVERYTHING?


Maybe this verse struck me this time because we’re deciding something at church that could (but I sincerely hope won’t) cause some grumbling AND complaining.

Or because when things change even a bit in a worship service, a lot of G & C can be heard!

Or maybe it’s because churches I dearly love have split more than once because of grumbling and complaining.

Or because people I hold very close to my heart have stopped attending worship services because they’re grumbling and complaining in their hearts.

Probably, though, it’s because I do my fair share of grumbling and complaining. (Ever wonder why you’re so talented in something bad, like grumbling and complaining? I do.) 

So I’m going to imprint this verse on my heart and try, try, try to stop EVERY time I want to grumble and complain. If I don’t G & C and just give it to God, He can fix it. 🙂

So, here we go.

Do everything without grumbling and complaining so that you may become blameless and pure “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

What’s your favorite or Life verse?