Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Unwanted Visitors in Life

Do you have bats in your life? No, I’m not asking if you are bats. (I don’t really want to know. Snicker.)

I’m wondering if you have things in your life you’d just as soon not have hanging around. Things you aren’t real proud of that scare, surprise or even shock you.

If you do, how do you respond to them?

This bat died of old age. We didn't hurt him.

This bat died of old age. We didn’t hurt him.

We have REAL bats at my office. You know, those little rats with wings? Yes, bats are good for the environment, they eat bugs, but they aren’t really great in the work place, if you get my drift.

Bat crawling in the hallway.

Bat crawling in the hallway.

We have some people at our office who panic when one crawls into their sight. If the little mammal is crawling up the hall (yes, that’s unnerving!) and these women are fifteen feet away at their desks, they’ll close their doors and block all the cracks and openings until the little bugger is gone. (I’m not sure if they’re covering their necks or not.)

If others of us pick up a paper towel or move a chair, and there’s a bat hiding there, we SHRIEK!  drop whatever we moved and run for the hills. (Notice, I’m not naming any names here–especially mine!)

Bat toes under a paper towel.

Bat toes under a paper towel.

Someone in the office (not me) will calmly get a paper towel, gently pick the little guys up and take them away.

We’ve tried several ways to get rid of them. A year or two ago, we had someone come and close up any tiny hole they might get into. (Last year we only had one bat that I can think of.) But with the heat and lack of rain, the hole filler must have shrunk and we’ve got unwanted visitors again.

We’ve talked to pest control people, but they aren’t the answer. We haven’t found live bat traps.

Bat hanging around.

Bat hanging around.

So yesterday I went to the feed store and bought something that G-Man and I used to get rid of squirrels in his dad’s attic. It smells really bad, so the critters are supposed to leave. (Worked on squirrels.)

I put the stuff out–but it really does smell. And since people work in the office and they don’t like the smell any better than bats do, it might not be a long term answer. But if we can get the bats to leave, we can close up those holes again. Maybe permanently.

Sometime last night, I got to thinking about bats at the office and sins in our lives. Did you ever have anything that you thought you’d gotten rid of only to have it come crawling back up the hall of your mind again?

Or have you ever been rocking along, doing pretty well when you move something and (shriek!) there’s that sin! Again!!!

I’m not telling you how to fix it (Gotta take care of my beam before I can help with your splinter.) but I know the Man Who can get rid of them.

Give your bats (your sins) to Him (after all, He already paid for them) then close up the holes and stay close up to Him. It’s the only way to be batless. 🙂

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. — James 7-10 The Message

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Intention Living

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Don’t you love this? Wouldn’t it make a wonderful blog header?

It was posted by Intentional Living on Facebook. (Intentional Living is my FAVORITE talk radio!)

 This is what was written under it:

It is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 NIV

Check out today’s eDevo at http://archive.aweber.com/edevo/MzMgA/h/Finding_power_for_life.htm


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Teach the Children

 

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

From Facebook–

This isn’t original with me (it’s all over Facebook) but I love it. I’m sharing it here in case you missed it. Wednesday, we’ll be back to our regularly schoeduled program.

merry-christmas-ball.jpg
Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn’t help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.

I don’t know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed, and there were tears in his eyes.

“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked, “Why are you crying?”

“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly.

“But Santa, the children love you,” I said.
“Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them,” Santa said, “but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not their fault. It’s just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children.”

“Teach them what?” I asked.

Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent.”

Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”

Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him.”

“Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful Gift.”

Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.”

Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room. “The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God’s Son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ’s foot steps… to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light so shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what is symbolized when the twinkling lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles, each of them representing one of God’s precious children, their light shining for all to see.”

Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. “The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy: white to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God’s promises. The candy cane is in the form of a ‘J’ to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd’s crook, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life.”

“Teach these things to the children.”

Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. “The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children.”

I asked, “But where does that leave you, Santa?”

The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa’s face. “Why bless you, my dear,” he laughed, “I’m only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I’ll ever be forgotten.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“That’s why I came,” said Santa. “You’re an adult. If you don’t teach the children these things, then who will?”

(Author Unknown)


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The Dogwood

One of the reasons I chose this theme for my blog is the picture at the top. The header is a picture of dogwood blossoms. (I liked the pink for spring, too.)

I could have chosen this one

with Forget-Me-Nots in the picture.

Or this one

with Tiger Lilies.

But I wanted the Dogwood, and I knew I’d keep it until Easter. Here’s why.

In Jesus’ time, the dogwood grew

To a stately size and a lovely hue.

‘Twas strong & firm it’s branches interwoven

For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.

Seeing the distress at this use of their wood

Christ made a promise which still holds good:

“Never again shall the dogwood grow

Large enough to be used

so Slender & twisted, it shall be

With blossoms like the cross for all to see.

As blood stains the petals marked in brown

The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.

All who see it will remember me

Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.

Cherished and protected this tree shall be

A reminder to all of my agony.”

~Unknown

(source: http://www.footprint.co.za/)

This is from Fisheaters.com

It is said at the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the Cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in His gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: “Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross — two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints — brown with rust and stained with red — and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember.”

You’ll see beautiful dogwoods blooming all over the place in Okie World right now–both pink and white. When you notice one, I hope you’re remember the legend. 

I doubt Christ truly died on a dogwood tree. I don’t know what kind of trees they had in Israel two thousand years ago, but I doubt they have (or had) dogwoods. But it’s a nice story. 

But the real point is, Jesus died, tortured on a cross, bearing the weight of OUR sins, not His. And after three days in the tomb, He rose again. Even death couldn’t contain him, because He is God. 

There’s a song we used to sing every year at Easter. Now you never hear it, but I loved singing it. See if you remember it.

Refrain: Up from the grave He arose; with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever, with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

What’s your favorite Resurrection Sunday song? Want to share some of the words?
 


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☺ My Real Birthday ☺

Yesterday was my birthday. My Christian birthday. For most of my life, I didn’t remember the date of our baptism, so since it was one year on Easter, I celebrated every Easter, no matter what the date was.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I ran over to the church on a weekday and asked the secretary if she could find it.

She did. It read, “Mrs. Gary Shay, baptised March 29, 19–.

“Who wrote that?” I asked, feeling a little irritated. I’ve never understood being called Mrs. G-Man when my name’s Susan, and I don’t mind explaining. “That’s not my name, and it sure wasn’t my name when I accepted Christ!”

Naturally, the secretary had an explanation so sweet that I shrugged and let her shove me out the door. (Joking. I went to high school with this sweet woman, and she never gives anyone the bum’s rush.)

Isn’t it funny, though, that seven words tell what happened all those years ago? It doesn’t really. It might help if you looked at the line right above mine. It said, “Carol Spess, baptised March 29, 19–.

Same day, same year.

I was seven years old, Daddy was twenty-eight. He’d gone to church some while growing up, but he’d never accepted Christ as his Savior.

When my parents married, Mama was a CHRISTIAN. She had a heart for the Lord that shined so bright, to be around her you nearly needed sunglasses. Make that SONglasses. 😉

Naturally, she took her kids to Sunday School and church and Vacation Bible School and every other time the doors were open. After we moved to C-Town, Daddy started going to church with us all the time.

When we hadn’t been here very long, Roy and Gloria Blizzard, the young new First Christian preacher and his wife, moved in down the street. They got to be really good friends with my folks. They spent time together, laughed together, and often ate together.

I think Dad saw the light of Christ in Mama and Roy and Gloria and the other people in our church, and wanted that for himself.

On that Resurrection Sunday (a loooong time ago) I wanted to be baptised. I wanted Christ to live in me, and I wanted Daddy to be baptised, too. But when I looked up at him that morning, he was hanging on to the pew in front of him, real tight. I wasn’t sure what to do.

So I pushed him. 🙂 He still remembers trying to make up his mind that morning, one way or the other, and hanging tight to that wooden pew, when I gave him a few strong nudges.

You might wonder how an seven-year-old girl could know enough about God to make a decision like that. After all, I hadn’t seen much of life and nothing of the world. I hadn’t had problems I wanted Him to help me through, and I sure didn’t possess a lot of Biblical knowledge.

But I’d seen Jesus. I talked with Him and LOVED Him, and wanted Him to live in me for all my life.

So I nudged Dad and it worked. Daddy and I started up the aisle with Mama right beside us, holding my hand. Funny the things you remember and what you don’t remember. I don’t remember my Easter dress that year or Mom’s or my sisters’. I don’t remember who else was baptised that day, but there were several of us.

I remember Mama’s hand shook, but Daddy’s was rock steady. She’d already accepted Christ, and had been baptised at a young-ish age. Why should she tremble? I wondered.

I don’t remember my voice being childishly high or clear, but it probably was as I made the Good Confession–

“I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I want Him as my personal savior.”

Mama went to the dressing area and helped me put on a red robe that was a mile to long, but that didn’t matter because when I waded into the baptistery at the front of the church, it floated and didn’t trip me.

Roy, our preacher, was a tall man with jet black hair who talked with a Texas accent. I don’t remember where he was from, just that sometimes his words sounded double jointed.

He gave me a handkerchief to put over my nose and raised one hand, “Susan Caroll Spess, I baptise you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins so that you may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Buried with Him through baptism into His death, (he lowered me under, so there was water noise in my ears) to rise and walk in the newness of life.”

So wish us both a happy Christian birthday. I’d tell you how old we are, spiritually, but I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count.

And my dad? He grew as a Christian and in a few years became a Deacon. Several years after that, he was made an Elder. Because of his and Mama’s witness, his mother, father, at least two of his siblings and the other five of his children (and others in his life) became Christians.

Then at my son’s wedding this past weekend, Dad prayed before the reception that God would bless the food to our nourishment and, more importantly, Brad and Nicole’s life together.

As he prayed, I got a feeling deep inside that even though my baby was married and would never truly be my baby again, everything was going according to God’s plan.

Thank you with all my heart.

Love you, Pops.

PS: All of the beautiful scripture pictures are from Pearls of Grace on Facebook. Thanks!


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A Servant’s Heart

A servant with a true heart will respond like a servant when treated like one.

I’ve heard that or something close to it said a couple of times, and to be very honest, the first time I heard it, I was kind of shocked. Not because of the idea. It makes sense. But because I’d never thought of it that way.

A Christian is Christlike, right? In public school, when I was in 5th grade, there was a question on a test that said, What does “Christian” mean?

Correct Answer: A follower of Christ. (I missed it, because I spelled follower wrong. A flower of Christ just doesn’t have the same meaning.)

A follower of Christ is one who walks with him. Does what He did. They’re like Christ.

I get that, because in Okie Land when I was a kid, most little girls were taught to act like that. In fact, I don’t remember a girl in grade school who didn’t at least claim a church.

And it wasn’t only our parents who taught us that kind of thing. School teachers did, too. “Be nice. Play fair. Don’t leave anyone out. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember the Golden Rule.”

Matthew 7:12

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Trouble is these days, people don’t always respond in kind. If I’m nice to you, you’re supposed to be nice to me. Right?

Philippians 2:5-7

5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Gulp.

What, exactly, was a servant back in Jesus time? Probably not someone named Jeeves, who wore a tux and answered the door when the bell rang. And probably not a woman who wore a white apron and silly cap, who bobbed curtseys and said, “Yes, mum.”

I’ve mentioned I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m not a Bible historian, either. I can’t tell you exactly how a servant was treated during the time Christ was on earth, but I can’t imagine it being much fun.

I doubt the family the servant worked for remembered please and thank you or gave them the same food as the family ate. Or a clean bed to sleep in.

I think a servant’s role was to work his/her heart out for a family that was more often than not rude and ungrateful. They were probably talked down to, berated and blamed for things they didn’t do.

I figure with all the drama in a household, they were supposed to do their work in a cheerful manner. (Who wants to be around a grouchy servant? I don’t even like grouchy waitresses.) And, of course, a servant should fade into the woodwork but be johnny-on-the-spot when needed.

♥ ♥ ♥

Ever been treated like a servant and had your hair catch on fire? I have. 😦

Ever been treated like a servant and treated that person like a servant right back? I have. 😦

Ever been treated like a servant and left in a huff, never to return? I have. 😦

Ever seen someone you love treated like a servant, and not been able to forgive it, even after many, many years? I have. 😦

Ever wish you could have “helped” God when He decided what a true Christian is? I have. 😦

♥ ♥ ♥

I don’t mind serving, as long as I don’t get treated as if that’s my due. I want to be appreciated. Loved. Applauded. Appreciated for what I’ve done.

But Jesus wasn’t. He was beaten. Spit on. Denied. Nailed to a cross for my sins.

After all that, He said, Father forgive them. They just don’t get it. Yet. (My paraphrase.)

Luke 23:34

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Forgive me, Lord, when I just don’t get it. Yet.


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Wowed Wednesday

I hadn’t planned to talk about “Mercy Triumphs” again this morning, but after experiencing the first session last night, it’s big on my mind.

In case I didn’t mention it yesterday, “Mercy Triumphs” is a study of the Book of James.

Beth Moore does a wonderful job of allowing God to work through her. She shares what other people would board up in a closet without telling more than we need to know. She bares her heart and lets you see it beat. Unless I’m very wrong, she asks God to fill her from her toes to her nose in order to use her to His glory. (And His alone.)

When the video was over, it seemed everyone in the room took a collective breath. The woman sitting next to me whispered, “Wow.”

The Bible study leader stood up in the front of the room. “Wow.”

I was wowed, too.

  • Beth was able to explain to those who believe that Mary is an eternal virgin that, according to the Word, she had other children–without being in the least offensive. In fact, she told them to try to press on through it because they didn’t want to miss what God had in store for them.
  • Who James was–
  •                 The oldest of Jesus’s half-siblings.
  •                 One of the half-sibs who said, “He (Jesus) is out of his mind.” Mark 3:21.
  •                 One Jesus appeared to after His resurrection. (1 Cor 15:7)

Of course, she started my imagination to working. She made me think what it would have been like to grow up with Jesus as my older brother. Imagine, having a sibling who never did anything wrong. Who never got in trouble.

I might have picked on the poor guy. Called him Goody-Two-Shoes Sandals. Tried to talk Him into doing my chores for me.

Imagine learning your older brother was God.

Wow.

Another way Beth wowed me was the way she can take scriptures I’ve read over and over (and probably had read to me a bunch of times) and show me a phrase I’ve totally missed. Just this Christmas I read the account of when Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22.) I read about Simeon seeing Jesus and knowing that God had fulfilled his promise that he wouldn’t die until he’d seen the Lord’s Christ.

I read where Simeon blessed them and even the part where he said to Mary,

 “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35a

But somehow I missed,

“And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

How did I miss that?

You know, I listened to “Breath of Heaven” a hundred times in December. I shared it here at least twice.

http://youtu.be/68Hl57NhR0o

For some reason I was drawn back again and again to Mary’s story–who she’d been and how she’d lived, pregnant with the Savior. And then after He was born, visited by shepherds, and then the Magi.

I think maybe I was being prepared for this Bible study. As Paul Harvey use to say, “And now the rest of the story.”  Or at least more understanding of it. 🙂