Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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!




♥ Most Precious ♥

Want to see one of the coolest gifts, ever?

I’ve received lots of wonderful gifts in my life, and this ranks right up there at the very top.

1-tg-5Isn’t it beautiful?

It’s a gift I’ll always, always remember.

To be honest, I love every gift anyone has ever given me. I’m kinda like a little kid. You could give me a plastic squirt gun and I’d jump up and down with joy.

What’s so special about this simple white pitcher? (Besides the person who gave it to me.) It’s kind of like people. It’s what’s inside that makes it what it is.

1-tg-4Can you tell what’s on those pieces of paper? God’s word, written in the gifter’s hand.

 A lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

1-tg-3Proverbs 17:17–a hint to tell you who this was from.

1-tg-2BTW: I don’t leave the scriptures she wrote out for me lying around. I just wanted you to see them. 🙂

 A note also came with it. To me. Me, alone. (When you’re one of six kids, being the special “one” is unusual. And very welcome.) It tells me she loves me and that she prays for me each morning during her quiet time. And that the scriptures are ones that made her think of me or that God whispered to her about.

And she shared them with me.

I cry happy, thankful tears each time I look at my gift and think about (or read) the note, which lives in my Bible so I can read it and reread it.

I’ve thought about different ways I could use this idea for other people. I could make one of those memory boards with pretty ribbons to hold things in place, and put the scriptures under the ribbons. Or I could print them out and have them matted and framed at Hobby Lobby. There are tons of ways to share scriptures.

But nothing like that could ever mean what this has meant to me. A pitcher–not what The Woman at the Well used, but it holds the Living Water.

One more picture.


I hope you can read it.

Thank you, #4. Philippians 1:3-6 . . . Me, you, too!

For two years, having your note in my Bible and this pitcher of God’s words to you in my home has been a gift that kept on giving.

I’m looking forward to studying Gideon with you.



Speak To My Heart, God (Please!)

If you’re looking for a wonderful book, I’d like to suggest one for you that I’ve had for several years. It’s by Kay Arthur and called, Speak to My Heart, God. The book was written in 1993, and is a book I go back to time after time.

It has fifty (or so) three and four page chapters with titles such as “When Things Go Wrong,” “When You’re Disappointed, Discouraged, Defeated,” “When Your Expectations Aren’t In Him,” and “When You Wonder If People Can Tell You Are His.”

Normally, I don’t like books with short devotions in them because they seem somehow incomplete. But this book is different. It has answers to questions I didn’t know anyone else asks. Kay shares them without belaboring a point.

I don’t have permission from Kay, so I’m going to give you pieces of one of her chapters today. (I really wish I could share the entire thing, but I don’t want to get in trouble!)

I watched a friend crumble (understandably) when she learned of her friend’s devistating  diagonsis the other day.

There’s a young man in our Small Town World with a horrible illness that the entire community is praying for.

I’ve prayed for ministers who are disappointed and becoming disheartened because the work they’re doing and the words they’re preaching seem to be falling on fallow ground.

I’ve watched friends lose their babies after going through nine months of carrying them within their bodies, and I know there’s only One who can comfort, who has the answers.

Kay has a chapter called, “When The Forecast Is Bleak,” which I happened to read just the other day. The second line of this chapter starts, “It’s hard to trust God for cool, but pleasant weather when it’s in the mid-90’s . . . (What about over 100 for days on end, and the forecast is triple digit for the next week? I wonder.)

From Kay–

It’s hard, isn’t it, to trust God for anything when the “forecast” is contrary to what we want or feel we need?

Maybe it’s finances . . . and the forecast is grim.
Maybe it’s an restored relationship . . . and the forecast is hopeless.
Maybe it’s a job . . . and the forecast is bleak.
Maybe it’s a report from the doctor . . . and the forecast is ominous.

Whatever–and it could be anything–you know you are totally helpless in the situation.

The first thing Kay suggests we do (we all have these situations in our lives) is to “latch on to 1 John 1:9.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

After that, she says there’s only one thing left to do. “You cast all your care on the One who cares for you.”

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Again, from Kay–

What concerns you is of the utmost concern to Him.

He cast hailstones on Israel’s enemies and made the sun stand still so that “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that . . . when the Lord listened to the voice of a man” (Joshua 10:13-14).

Have you asked God to hear your cry?

Did He not promise to “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)? Did He not say, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33)?

Kay reminds us the Bible tells us God can’t change, He can’t lie, and He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Or me.)

God’s hand is mighty . . . so mighty that He controls the wind. “He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and by His power He directed the south wind” (Psalm 78:26). When Samuel called to the Lord, “the Lord sent thunder and rain that day” (1 Samuel 12:18) . . . and when He wanted, He withheld rain, or sent rain on one city but not another (Amos 4:7).

He is God!

You have done what you can. I have done what I can. Now we must rest in Him. God will do as He pleases, and none will thwart His hand or His will . . . no matter what “the forecast.” God is greater than forecasts.

His throne sits above all the circumstances of life, and “He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earch: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35 KJV)

You might have noticed (like I have) that God doesn’t always obey us when we pray for something. Sometimes he says, “No,” other times, “Wait a while.” But Kay explains that.

Cry to Him. If it is for your good and His glory, He will answer. If not, He won’t, (actually, He will answer no–ss) because what He has planned is better . . . even though it may rain.

The plans He has for you are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10)

Thank you, Kay. God has given you a beautiful gift. Thank you for sharing.

And friends, check out her book. You’ll be glad you did.


God says, “I love you!”

I have a theory about God. I don’t have a scripture to back it up, and if I told it to one of the Bible scholars in my life, they’d probably laugh at me.

To be very honest, though, I think I’m right.

Here it is: I believe that from time to time, God looks at us and says, “Have I told you lately how much I love you?” And since we can’t actually hear God (most of the time) He shows us.

Sometimes it’s a beautiful sunset. Other times, it’s a cool morning breeze when the temp should be in the 90’s. And sometimes it’s a friend’s smile.

On our way home from my aunt’s funeral the other day, He did just that.

We stayed all night at Raton, New Mexico. I wasn’t particularly happy with the hotel we stayed in, so I was more than ready to head home. But I noticed a big patch of thistles growing behind the hotel.

Thistle patches aren’t something we see very often, and they were pretty, so I wandered around there with my camera.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I’ve accidentally grown thistles under my bird feeders, but mine are kind of spindly and unloved. These were beautiful.

So I snapped away

and then I noticed something at the bottom of the hill.

God’s “I LOVE YOU.”

Not just a deer. A buck!

He noticed me about the same time I saw him. Either he was too hungry to care I was there

or he was used to having his picture taken. Kind of looks like he’s posing here, doesn’t it? 🙂

I shot him, he watched me, and ate. I’m convinced that little deer was sent from above to remind me of God’s love.

If I could get down that hill without tumbling, how close would he let me come? Was he someone’s pet? Had God tamed him enough that I could touch him?

But G-Man and Sister Debbie were waiting for me, and I was a little ambivilent about trekking down that hill.

Then something happened. A sign that the little buck was finished posing and our time together was over.

He mooned me. 🙂


Marching Orders

I might have mentioned that I’m one of six kiddos. We grew up next door to Dad’s parents, and because Grandmother didn’t drive whenever we went anywhere, she usually went with us, as well as our friends and any cousins who were staying with the grandparents at that time.

And yes, we all fit in one car. (It was before the day of seatbelts and airbags.) Getting everyone out the door and into the car to get anywhere on time (including church) was quite a feat.

When Dad got ready to leave, he’d come into the kitchen or livingroom where we usually waited and give us our marching orders. (Start shooing us toward the car.)

Sometimes, while we grabbed Bibles and purses and diaper bags and bottles, he’d try to rush us. But rather than yelling, “Let’s go. LET’S GO!” he started quoting a poem.

After a while, he just had to say the first line, and we scooted.

“Let’s be up and doing!”

Sometimes he’d quote more of the poem.

“Let’s be up and doing
with a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing,
learn to labor and to wait.”

There was one more verse he’d toss out at the end from time to time. I didn’t learn until I had Internet that I’d heard it wrong and it was out of order. Here’s what I heard–

“It’s not joy and not sorrow
that’s our destiny our way,
but to know that each tomorrow
finds us further than today.”

“Burma Shave.” 🙂

It’s from a Longfellow poem Dad  had to learn in high school called, “Psalm of Life.” He quoted the last (9th) stanza first and the 3rd stanza, which I learned wrong, last. Here’s the real 3rd stanza–

“Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.”

Burma Shave isn’t part of the poem. 😛

I won’t put the entire poem here. (Booooring.) But if you’d like to read it, here’s the link. 

He learned other poems that are lots more exciting, but what’s interesting is that he remembers it sixty odd years later.

Here’s my favorite of Dad’s poems.

“Comanches over the hill top! Six trappers on the plain.”

Anyone (who isn’t part of my flock of siblings) know that one?


How Do You Spend Your Quiet Time?

I woke up this morning with a few questions floating around in my head. I’ll answer them, and then I’d love it if you would, too.

Isn’t it important to take time to be with the Lord? The difference inside me when I take time for it is amazing.

Of course, we need to worship with others. Churches met in houses in Bible times. Acts 20:7 says they came together on the first day of the week. And we’re told not to stop meeting with other Christians so we can encourage one another.

Hebrews 24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I made the bold part, well, bold so I wouldn’t forget what I was talking about. 🙂

Just like we need to spend time alone time with each of our kids, we need alone time with our Heavenly Father, too. Most people in my life call it their Quiet Time. Yes, it has capital letters when they say it. What do you call it?

Jesus looked for ways to escape the crowd that followed Him so He could have a Quiet Time.

Remember David? He started life as a shepherd. Much of his time watching the sheep was spent communing with the Lord.

Psalm 103: 1 Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

So here are the questions floating between my ears this morning.

1- Where is your favorite place to spend your Quiet Time?

I read a book years ago by Evelyn Christenson called, “What Happens When Women Pray.”

In that book, she talks about spending her time alone with the Lord in an old green chair. Later, when she’d either recovered the chair or bought a new one, she still referred to the place where she met with the Lord as her green chair. I loved that.

So my question this morning could be, “Where is your green chair?”

My Answer: My favorite green chair (when the weather is right) is on my deck, overlooking my garden. If I’m not at home, my favorite place is outside if at all possible.

I could make the argument that it’s Biblical because life began in a garden and Jesus prayed in a garden, but I don’t know that it matters WHERE we spend time with Him as long as we spend it. Why do I ask? Because I like to be able to envision you when you’re there.

2- How is your favorite way to spend your Quiet Time?

My answer: I love reading during my QT. Over the years, I’ve gone through books by Anne Ortlund, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Chip Ingram and many others. Sometimes, I like to choose a book of the Bible and read through it, writing down my own impressions about what God is saying to me. It might not make sense to anyone except me, so I don’t share it. 🙂

Sometimes I listen to speakers. I’ve listened to several of Beth Moore’s Bible Studies during my QT.

Once in a while I sing to the Lord, and of course, I spend time in prayer.

3- Do you need anything besides your Bible for your QT?

My answer: I’ve heard people say you should have your QT before you do anything else in the morning. One of the authors I read (Anne Ortlund, maybe?) thought you should brush your teeth before you spend time with the Lord. LOL. If I’m going outside, I like to get dressed in case someone happens to come by.

The main thing I need is whatever book I’m reading through, my Bible and a hot cup of coffee. And something to write on. (For some reason, writers write. Go figure!)

4- Do you see a difference in your life when you take time for QT and when you don’t?

My answer: Absolutely. I respond differently to problems and people in my life when I’ve had time with Him. My days are smoother and I’m happier (so are most of the people around me.) It seems as if I see the nicer, brighter side of life when I’m Quiet Timing than when I’m not.

Now how about it? Will you answer the questions?

Happy anniversary Danny and China. I wish you many, many more!

And a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my man! I love you!

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Another of Our Wedding Trads

A day or two ago, I told you about the Wedding Bible Tradition our mama started back in 1949.

The other important (in my mind, at least) tradition is one that started after Mama died.

I don’t remember who started it. I just know it wasn’t me. One of my brilliant sisters (I’m thinking Sister Debbie or Sister Cindy or maybe both) wore a piece of Mama’s jewelry to one of our Important Events. (Either a graduation or a wedding or something REALLY important, at least in our lives.)

Anyway, they pointed it out to me and said, “I wanted Mama to be represented.” I loved that idea! So after that, I wore something of Mom’s to every Important Event.

When #1 Son had his surprise wedding (have I told you about that?) I wore one of Mama’s rings. When I told him why I was wearing it, he got tears in his eyes for just a moment. Good tears, but still, tears.

At another Important Event, I told the honoree I’d brought Mama and showed my piece of jewelry. Honoree popped back at me and we went away smiling.

Then my niece who lived next door to me for a while got married. Gorgeous girl. Beautiful wedding. Fabulous time. After her makeup was on, while she was dressing, I dropped into the dressing room to say hi.

While I was there, I did my, “I brought Grandmommy,” thing, expecting a sweet smile.

Instead, I got tears. Not just filled eyes. I got TEARS! streaming down her face. “Why’d you do this to me?”

I scrammed out of there, fast! I could just see me walking into the wedding with a black eye or maybe an Indian sunburn from my sister as punishment for my evilness. (Sorry about that, Kendal.)

Fast forward to Brad’s Big Day. No matter how many tears my niece had shed, I still wanted my sibs to represent Mama by wearing her jewelry. So I texted each of them and asked them to wear at least one piece.

 That’s my hand on the far left. I inherited a ring Mama got once when we were in New York City, and while it’s not one I wear very often, it brings back wonderful memories. (I was seven months pregnant with my first son.)

Amy’s is next. She wears Mom’s spinner ring all the time. Deb has on Mom’s ring, and Cindy (far right) who I’m guessing has forgiven me for making her daughter cry at her wedding has on Mama’s ring, bracelet and a necklace.

Even #4, who wasn’t able to make it to the wedding (although she wanted to be there with all her heart) kept Mama with her that day.

Brother Jeffrey forgot.

When I told Brad about it the night of his wedding, there were no tears. No popping back.

He just gave me a sincere smile and said, “Wow, Mom. That’s really nice.”

Maybe I should have called this blog A Show of Hands. 🙂

Anyone want to share a tradition your family enjoys? Wedding? Christmas? Births of babies? Anything?

I’d love to find a new one to rip off. 🙂