Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


So Long, Farewell . . .

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Our youth minister, Stony Capehart, who has been here at FC3 (First Christian Church C-Town) for 18 years, is leaving. And I really hate to see him go.

When I first knew him, the boy had long hair–shoulder length, maybe–which I absolutely adored. (Probably a throw-back to my youth when my parents totally disapproved of any guys who had hair past their ears.) Besides, he was the perfect “Jesus” for Easter pagents.

Stony had a ride to die for. (When I was at Ozark, most of the guy’s cars barely ran. LOL!) To be honest, I don’t know cars, but I think it might have been a Camero, and it was old enough that the engine was big and, although I never saw it,  I have a feeling that car could move. And he has a tat from when he rode bulls.  

Each year, Stony took our youth (and half the kids in town) on ski trips in winter and a trip in the summer. Always, always there was a deep spiritual overtone to the trips. (Yes, I’d love to have sponsored, but never did.)

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Stony has acted as more than a youth minister, as least in the last few years. He has wisdom, a sense of humor and a gentle way of passing along what he knows that makes him very easy to talk to. When Preacher Dave (our minister) learned his daughter had a brain tumor a few years ago, Stony stepped up and helped fill the gap while David was gone.

Our HEIC (Head Elder In Charge) Dick, spoke yesterday during the communion service about separation.  When Christians go different ways (when they die or move to a new town) it’s never “Goodbye.” It’s really, “Until we meet again,” because we will be together again. If not here on earth, then most certainly we’ll be together in heaven. At first, we thought he was talking about his wife, who’d been gone a week and had just come back. After the service, when Stony made his, “So long, farewell,” announcement, we learned what Dick the elder meant. 😦

It’s a sad time for the church family at FC3. But family never ends and love never dies. (After all, God is Love, and He can’t die, so in the book of this romance writer at least, Love can’t either.)

We’ll miss you, Capeharts. And if we don’t see you before then, let’s have a Great Big C-Town Party in Heaven!



Losing Bradley

Back when we lived in Pryor Creek, my kids were pretty small.

(I might have mentioned that a time or two before.) We had three kids and a pharmacy and were active in the South Side Christian Church–more than enough for any couple to say grace over.

I said a lot of grace.

Anyway, once when #3 was about two, I’d worked hard at the pharmacy all day dealing with customers, employees, vendors and you name it. G-Man spent his day dealing with sick people and trying to read doctors’ scribbles. (An art in itself!)

I picked the kids up after work, went to the grocery store, then headed home.

It was just warm enough to be uncomfortable. We got home and I unloaded kids, groceries, school books, etc. About the time I got everything into the house, I noticed I hadn’t seen our youngest lately. “Where’s Brad?” I asked Danny, the oldest.

“I don’t know.”

“Have you seen Brad?” I asked Matt, the middle child.


I went through the entire house–the family room, living room, all four bedrooms and the closets. No Bradley.

You know that feeling you get when you can’t find your child? That empty, frantic, I-want-to-have-a-screaming-meltdown-but-I-don’t-have-time panicky feeling? I had it.

“Look for him in the backyard,” I hollered at Danny as I scurried out the front. We looked all around the yard. The neighbors saw us looking and joined in.

One looked along and in the creek and pond across the street from our house (another scary moment when I realized he could be IN the pond, rather than next to it) someone else looked in the other backyards in the neighborhood.

The more we looked, the  more people joined in the search. And the more frightened I was. Finally, the little girl from next door peeked into the van. Not the front of the van–I’d already look in from the windshield–or the middle row of seats, where #3 had been sitting.

She looked in the very, very back, and there sat Brad, with the contents of my purse spread all around him.

I was so relieved, everything inside me just melted. I hugged him until he squealed. “What were you doing in the back of the van?” I asked. “Why didn’t you get out?”

It was very simple. “I wanted some gum.”

The kid figured out that if he found gum in the house, he’d have to share. But if he found it when no one was around, he could chew it all by himself.

He’s no dummy.

That little gum-loving boy is getting married to a sweet young woman in March. She’s smart and pretty and just the girl I would have picked for him if he’d left it up to me.

Don’t they make a beautiful couple? Imagine the gorgeous babies they’ll make (when they get around to giving me grandchildren.) 🙂

The best part about his fiancée? We like her. And we like her family. They’re good people. The kind you can kick off your shoes and have a nice long chat with.

I have to tell you, I’m thrilled that all my boys have girls I adore. Girls that are fun to be with. Girls that fit into our family as if God made that space specifically for them.

I think He did, btw. I prayed for it long enough!

You know what, though? I still miss my sweet babies. :}

Ps: The guy in the red suit isn’t mine.


An Old Ford Tale

I love to get my dad and uncle talking about “the day”. When they tell stories about the Ford, the original one that is no more, I find my own memories of a town (gone for years and years) waking up. I don’t remember houses so much as the road and trees that lined it.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m reading “Cherokee Strip Fever”  by Zola Sample, which is written about the Ford area before the opening of the Cherokee Strip (at least so far in the book).

Zola was born a Bellis. The story tells of her mother, Charity, coming out to Oklahoma territory alone with three children, before Zola was born. When she arrives, she goes to the town of Sinnett (the book says, “Just down the road from C-Town.” Cool, huh?)

So I wondered, just where was the town of Sinnett? I’d love to go there to explore and see if I can find any remains of buildings. Maybe the post office.

Turns out, it’s very near the place I live right now. First day off I have, I’m heading that way. I want to  explore the old cemetery and see if there are names I recognize from the book. Look around and see . . . what I can see. I’ll take a few pictures and share them here. Next time I have a free day, that is. 🙂

Dad tells me he knew Charity. Remembered her well, in fact, and much of their family.

He said Zola and her husband lived next door to his aunt and uncle, Lena and Cecil Shoemaker, when their daughter, Judy, was just a little girl.

“Where did they live?” I asked.

“You know where Nola lived?”

“Past us on the highway?” That’s the only house I remembered for the Fishers.

Dad laughed. “The house before that. Next door to the grocery store, the house with the big lot.”

I remembered that house because I used to trick-or-treat the Vaughts there.

“I used to mow that big lot for fifty cents!” He chuckled at the memory. “Lena and Cecil lived on past them on the other side of the street.”

Memories surfaced from the fog in my brain. “Did someone else I know live down that street?”

“Yes. Mr. and Mrs. Lambertson lived down there, and the Wards–Uncle Joe’s in laws.”

A memory of my mom getting her hand smashed in a car door at the Ward’s house popped in. Dad didn’t remember it, but I remember Mom lying on the bed in their house with ice on her hand. Funny what we remember.

“Was the Christian Church on down that street?”

“Yes, it was.” I used to walk home from church with my cousin Kathy on that street when I was little.

Finally, he got to tell me the story. “One day, Cecil decided to put up a clothes line for Lena.” (Early day clothes dryer as well as a kid’s “tent” superstructure.)

“While he dug the first hole, Lena and Judy, who was a cute, tiny little girl, left to run some errands. They were gone a little while, and when they got back, Judy ran into the back yard to see how her daddy was getting along. Cecil had just finished digging the second hole.

“Judy saw that hole and was just amazed. She ran back to her mom. ‘Mama, did Daddy carry that big hole all the way over there by himself or did Dex help him?'”

The only problem with the story is that when Dad told it, he called Dex Deb. According to Zola’s obituary, Deb was Zola’s brother name, not her her husband, Dexter’s.

I need a little help from the Shoemaker girls to find out which one lived next door.

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Bill Taylor in Old Ford

Yesterday, Dad, Brother Jeffrey, Sister Amy, her daughter Hope and I all went to a funeral together. While we traveled, Hope, who is fifteen-and-a-half and got her driver’s permit after only a few tries, told us she doesn’t like to drive.

Dad told her about Grandmommie (my mom) who loved cars and driving. (She usually drove when they went someplace.)

Mom had a great love of cars and could name the make and model of a car with ease. She paid so much attention, she could tell you what kind of car everyone in Old Ford drove.

Grandma Reeves (1898-1990) had seven children, but I’m not sure she ever had a driver’s license since she started driving before they were required. When Mom was fourteen (or so) Grandma sent her to a woman’s house to buy eggs. The woman who sold the eggs also sold milk and butter. “She was a really hard worker,” Dad said.

That was about 1945, and by that year, I’m pretty sure licenses were required in Oklahoma.

Anyway, this little fourteen-year-old (or so) girl took the family car from Tom Mann’s house where they lived (north-west side of Old Ford, I think) and drove to the river bridge, which she had to cross.

Now that’s a scary thought because, if I remember right the bridge had a kind of pathway where your tires were supposed to go.

Knowing I was going to drive across the bridge when I was fourteen would have made me really nervous, and having to get my tires in exactly the right place would have made me a wreck!

This bridge was like this, only longer.

Must have affected Mom, too, but she made it across. She drove on a little ways, and when the dirt road made a sharp turn, she cut it too sharp and was on the wrong side when she saw a car coming toward her. In her panic, she hit the brakes and just stopped, right where she was–on the wrong side.

The man coming toward her was Bill Taylor, Bob Taylor’s grandfather. To this day my dad talks about what a nice, nice guy he was.

Bill was looking at something in the field and not watching the road, so he plowed right into Mama, whose car was still stopped on the wrong side of the road. And remember, she was fourteen. He probably could have made her family pay to fix his car.

But Bill wasn’t like that. After the wreck, he calmed Mom down and insisted on paying for both cars to be fixed.

He thought he was at fault since he hadn’t been paying attention, and he did what he knew in his heart was right, no matter what the law might have said.

Dad mentioned that Bill was an elder for years and years in the Christian Church in Old Ford.

I don’t have a clear memory of Bill Taylor, but he sounds like a man who lived his religion 24/7. (We need more people like him in this world!)

I’d like to have been old enough to really know him. (Someday, I think I will.)

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WGT– Miracles in Joplin

Isn’t it a Small Town World? Neighbors reaching out from across the state and from other states to lend a hand in Joplin to those hurting and in need.

Don’t you love hearing about the Small Town attitude in America?

I think I’ve mentioned that I attended Ozark Christian College back in the dark ages. My heart broke as I listened to the news about the devistation of Joplin. A woman I knew at the school was killed in the storm. Several people I knew (and who wouldn’t remember me) including a wonderful professor, had their homes destroyed.

If you’ve paid attention, you’ve seen God’s hand in the recovery time and time again. I wanted to share some of it with you in case you’d missed it.

I’m taking this directly from Discovery Ministries website. I can’t share all of it (I hope I’m not breaking the law by sharing what I am) but I hope you’ll click over and read the entire story.   BTW: CHCC is College Heights Christian Church. DM is Discovery Ministries. I just copied a part from the second half of the account. Please read the entire story if you have time.

The Joplin tornado happened on May 22nd. On the 23rd, seven people from Discovery Ministries drove to Joplin and made a call to find out what was happening.

We thought for a moment and figured we could help right then. In
incident-command training, we had learned that taking notes of what decisions are made the first few hours of a crisis helps in the following hours and days.

Since we teach communication and other principles for effective meetings, we are good note takers. Jeremy and I each took a radio, note pad and pencil. The rest of the DM group prayed and waited with a radio for further instructions. Jeremy quickly followed Jay and I shadowed Randy.

As I recorded what time Randy told which person to do what task, Randy noticed me and asked who I was and what I was doing. I told him my name, that I was with DM and that I was taking notes for him. He gave me a little smile and a nod and then turned to continue making decisions.

There’s a lot more to this story I’m skipping–please find time to read it. I wanted you to see the glory of God’s touch.

The rest of the story of the miracles Jesus worked this week would fill volumes.
I’ll give a summary.

Monday approximately 6:30 p.m., CHCC and DM entered a relationship I will fondly remember forever. I immediately called Colette and
asked her to partner with . . . three guys with lots of experience in incident command – to join in praying specifically for the challenges they knew, better than we, that we faced.

Lisa and Kim, two original recruits from the church, joined the DM team to design the intake, sorting and distribution of donations and training of volunteers to run that system.

We finished at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. That basic system, with numerous improvements made by many people and organizations, continues functioning as I write this report at 9:25 a.m. Saturday morning.

I am still amazed at the number of victims we were able to assist. I know that by Wednesday evening we had distributed food, clothing, and other basic essentials to over 2,000 people, fed over 2,000 meals to volunteers, and had unbelievable opportunities for ministry, including one request for baptism.

My favorite element of the system was the Personal Shopping Assistants (PSA’s). These volunteers met each person at the entrance, introduced themselves, and carried people’s items for them.

They tried to connect with people, asking their stories of survival, praying, laughing, hugging and crying with them. It was amazing how many big hearted and courageous volunteers made the whole system run and how they constantly made the system better.

The Big Questions

How did a church staff that functions on a collaborative-unity model get connected with a small ministry that functions on a collaborative-unity model at just the right time?

How did the right people show up during the week, hundreds of times, just before we realized they were needed? How did those people courageously accept the challenge after briefly considering the magnitude of what they were being asked to do?

Zechariah 4: 6 “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
says the LORD of hosts.” (1995 NASB).

Saying that CHCC, DM or any other person or organization involved, really did great things is somewhat like saying the tools in the toolbox built a house. Jesus is the Master Carpenter.

If you have a moment, please, please, please go to Discovery Ministries and read the entire account. I promise you’ll be blessed.

Praying for Joplin.


Christian Church in Old Ford

When I was a little girl, Mama took me to the Christian Church in the Ford. Every memory I have of that church has a smile attached to it. Either it was a really happy-and-on-our-way-to-heaven place or I was just too young to catch on to the human conflicts. (Probably the age thing.)

I remember a grandmotherly woman with soft wrinkles and a soft lap and a sweet smile. Her husband liked to stand with his hands behind his back and rock from his heels to his toes and back again. Mom told me after I was grown their names were Mr. and Mrs. Krotzer.

I remember being a flower girl (drop one petal at a time as you step-stop-step-stop down the aisle) along with my same-age cousin in a beautiful young woman named Kay’s wedding.

And I remember having super nice Sunday School teachers. I’m not very clear on this memory, but I seem to remember two of them. Nancy Krotzer and Helen Sissom. I don’t remember many lessons, but I remember looking forward to being there.

Each week, the SS teacher taught us a new verse. When it was time for church to start, the teacher would lead our class out of the room and we’d line up on the stage in front of the podium. Then the teacher would help us repeat our verse.

Mom said one Sunday, we all said our verse and, as usual, the congregation chuckled. I’m sure it was a ‘we love you’ laugh, but I didn’t like it. *embarrassed here* I put my hands on my hips and yelled, “What’s so funny?” They laughed louder.

Great idea, getting kids started memorizing at the get-go, isn’t it? The ability to memorize helps us in so many ways–learning (remember taking tests?) making friends and influencing people, picking up on how-to-do-its.

Memorizing God’s word can affect us for eternity.

So like I’ve mentioned several times, I joined a group of women called the Siesta Scripture Memorization Team and on the 1st and 15th, we memorize a new one.

The cute one in the hat is #4. (I thank God for you every time you come to mind.)

As a way to remain close (closer, closest) even though we don’t get to see each other often enough, #4 and I have joined forces in this. And every other week, it seems I have a new favorite.

Here’s what we’ve memorized so far. (Or tried to memorize.)

1/1–Eph. 3:18
1/15–1 Pet. 3:9
2/1–Eph. 1:18
*2/15–Num. 6:24-26
3/1–Phil. 4:5-7
3/15–Psm 119:10
4/1–Psm 46:10
4/15–Rom. 4:20
5/1–Psm. 34:4
*5/15–Luke 1:46
*6/1–Eph. 1:3

Look the up. They’re wonderful.

The ones with stars are my favs. I think. (Kind of like trying to decide which is your favorite son. Impossible!) Could be they’re the ones I can remember without too much help. Too bad I don’t have a small Miss Helen/Nancy on my shoulder to help me along.

BTW: #4, this one’s for you!


Land-Run Celebrations

I have several faded memories of parades in the Ford. Once I rode on the First Christian Church float (in a big wagon with all the other Sunday School kids, if I remember right) while my cousin rode her cute little kiddie car. (I wonder if her legs hurt from pedalling when it was over?) And another time I rode with my cousin, Randall, on his horse, Randy. Both parades were to celebrate The Rodeo! We loved those rodeos!

When my family moved to C-Town, there wasn’t a rodeo, so no rodeo parade. Instead, C-Town celebrated the opening of the Cherokee Outlet on September 16th of each year. (Or maybe it was the closest Saturday to that date.)

Over six millions acres had been up for grabs that day in 1893.

I’m sure there were people around when I was a kid who’d made the run, but I didn’t know any.

Doesn’t the land run look like it was exciting?

 We’ve all seen the movies, watched the experience through the TV screen. But imagine actually being there for that adrenalin rush. Whoa!

Photographer William S. Prettyman learned that the opening of the Cherokee Strip was going to be the biggest land run of all, so he built a tower at the edge of the run, put three cameras there with three photographers. He took the above picture himself, then ran to get in the race.

I read several accounts of people trying to sign up to be part of the run. Hot, dusty, discouraging days with water costing a nickel a drink and standing in line from can’t see to can’t see and still not getting a certificate to run must have been disheartening. And even when they’d signed up, they weren’t guaranteed to get land.

The people were strong hearted gamblers, for sure!

Back when I was a kid and we had a celebration, but we DIDN’T have a landrun. Not even a pretend one. (Maybe the memories were still too fresh.) Instead we had a parade.

This picture must have been taken at a parade before we moved to C-Town. I don’t remember them calling it Old Settlers Day, but I do remember the Otasco Store and drug store being there.

And I remember Bayouth’s being next door to Ben Franklin. 🙂

We had street dances to celebrate the opening, beard growing contests (for men only) and free (!) delicious (!!) barbecue sandwiches!!! (I remember standing in line for those. YUM! Wonder if they came from Dari Diner?)

Sometimes we had a pet and bicycle parade. I wanted to take our toy Manchester Terrier, Tiny, in the parade one year, but she wouldn’t walk on a leash. I didn’t think it would look very good to drag this little five-pound black dog for six blocks on the end of a chain, so I decided to carry her in a baby’s bath tub.

When I was in the garage finding the tub, I noticed a box of crocheted baby clothes someone had given Mom, so I dressed Tiny in a frilly little pink jacket and bonnet.

That stubborn little mongrel won Best Dressed Pet (could have been ONLY dressed pet) and I won a dollar!

For a while after Keystone Lake was built, C-Town stopped having Pioneer Day and started have Jolly Roger Day. After several years, though, we reverted to PD. A much better way to celebrate our heritage.

Besides, I got tired of walking around in an eye patch and saying, “Arrrrrr!” 😉