Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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The TRUE Christmas Story

Haloed Angel

God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.

29-33 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,     be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him     the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—     no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

35 The angel answered,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,     the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth     will be called Holy, Son of God.–Luke 1:27-35 The Message


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Sunday “Thanks!”

I woke up this morning to rain on the roof. Oh, how I love that sound!

I have a thing for rain, and I tried to share it with all my children. We love the sound it makes, the wonderful, earthy smell in the air while it’s coming down and the cozy, snuggled in feeling of being inside while it rains outside.

My first thought this morning was, Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  But that didn’t seem like quite enough. So I decided to let David help me.

1 Chronicles 29

10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.

12 Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.

13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

Remember who David was? He was the little brother who killed Goliath, the giant Philistine, who had the entire army of Israel shaking in their sandals.

He was the shepherd boy God chose to be king over His people.

He sinned before God, and was still humble enough to ask for and receive God’s forgiveness.

He was the great-granddaddy of Jesus.

He wrote most of our favorite Psalms.

Speaking of which, this is one of mine–

Psalm 18

1- I love you, Lord, my strength.

2- The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield of my salvation, my stronghold.


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Wish-I-Could-Bottle-It-And-Keep-It

When I opened my eyes this morning, it was nearly six. *sigh* I know a lot of people love to sleep in. They stay in bed, feel pampered, rested, happy.

I hate it when I accidentally sleep in. I feel as if I missed something. The world is doing and being and happening, and I miss it all.

I don’t get as much written or accomplished, and I feel kind of pfffffft.

So today when I finally open my eyes at just before six, I’m more than just a little disappointed. After dragging a comb through my hair, I stumble downstairs.

And, oh! A great surprise!

The sun isn’t quite over the horizon, so the world is still a little shadowy, all the colors sweet and muted and absolutely gorgeous. The temperature is 59 degrees. Wish-I-could-bottle-it-and-keep-it weather.

Makes me want to sing opera. 🙂 Or at least The Sound of Music. (Think Julie Andrews spinning on her mountain.)

The music is birdsong. We have a mockingbird who likes to go through his repertoire of songs. I’m not sure which bird the rest of the music is coming from, but I’m grooving on it.  🙂

I love mornings!

David must have just experienced mornings just like this one, because he put what I’m feeling into words.

1 Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. 2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent 3and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. 4 He makes winds his messengers,flames of fire his servants. 5 He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.    Psalm 104 NIV 


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Sunday Spice

"Sunday school, Indians and white[s].&quo...

Indian Territory Sunday School

In case you’re wondering, the picture above is from the time before Okie Land was a state, which happened in 1907. And no, I’m not in it. 🙂 I like to think I would have been, though.

When I was a kid, my family almost never missed church. If it was Sunday morning, it was understood by the entire family that we’d be in Sunday School and church. (Sunday night and Wednesday night, too.)

We didn’t get up and ask if we were going. We knew. We didn’t get to stay all night with other people on Saturday night, because it was like a school night. There was someplace we were going to go the next day.

Church.

When I was very young, everyone went to churchAll the time. If someone I knew didn’t go to church regularly, they didn’t admit it. That just wasn’t acceptable in our Small Town World.

When I was in 5th or  6th grade, I met my first classmate who belonged to a church that was very different from ours. I knew it was different because she didn’t stand up when we saluted the flag or heard the National Anthem. But she went to church.

Things changed drastically after that. People moved into C-Town who didn’t go. And didn’t care. Talk about an awakening for this small town girl!

Today, fewer and fewer people go to church. Most of the people I know believe in God. They just don’t enjoy corporate worship, so they don’t go. Or they’re too busy to go. Or they can’t remember where their letter is. (My aunt told my mama that once. I’m not sure what it means.)

I look forward to Sunday worship. For me, it’s a time of refreshment and renewal. A time when I can focus solely on the One who LOVES me so much, He died for me. He paid the consequences for MY sin, even though He’d never come near sin.

I started to name this blog SWEET SUNDAY, but just now changed it to SUNDAY SPICE. Why? Because when I think of worship, I don’t get a sweet, devoted, laid-back feeling like the nuns in an old movie.

I get jazzed. I love singing praises to the King. Love being with others of like faith. And I love, love, love learning from Preacher Dave.

I don’t speak in the language of angels like Paul or dance before God like David, but I absolutely understand why they did. Our worship service is very well planned, but I’m absolutely thrilled when everything stops so we can spend time in prayer with a hurting saint. Or someone comes forward and is baptized into Christ.

Sundays spice up the rest of my week. And I’m very grateful it does!


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Hoedown!

For the past seven years, our church has had a Harvest Hoedown. Nearly everyone in the congregation pitches in.

Before the fun starts, David fills us in one last time. We’re reminded why we’re there and we ask God to bless what we’re doing. It’s for His glory, not ours. We want everyone to know they’re welcome.

All ages

are welcome. And all ages pitch in.

We have clowns

and games

 

and critters to pet.

We have fun houses.

and fun kids

and cowboys, ready to teach you how to rope.

I’m not sure who had the most fun, the workers or the guests, but I didn’t hear one person who wished they weren’t there. I expect there are plenty who’ll wish they had been.

Our only objective was to share Christ’s love.

I’m hoping we did a pretty good job of it. Because, when you come right down to it, what else is worth it?


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Fire. Proof.

My sister called me yesterday afternoon when I was in Stillwater. “Are you at home?”

“No. We’re working on the boy’s house, just getting ready to leave. What’s up?”

“We’re on our way home from Tulsa. There’s a big fire–smoke everywhere. I talked to a friend whose house is in a neighborhood nears yours and they’re being evacuated.”

Wow. Those words put a little extra length in my stride as I carried things to the car. I wasn’t really worried, but my heart beat a little bit faster and I couldn’t quite fill my lungs when I breathed. We headed home pretty quickly.

We take the turnpike because once we get on it, it’s pretty much a straight shot to our house. Yesterday, when we got to the end, cars were backed up about for about a half mile. The highway to take us on home was closed.

As we went through the only open lane, a man told me to take the road to 51 and go into Tulsa.

“Can I go to C-Town instead?”

“Yes.”

“Can I get back on the highway from C-Town?”

“Once you’re past forty-eight, you’re fine.” The man was so nice. And it was so hot! I wish I’d given him something to drink, but in my excitement I forgot I had Gatorade in the car with me. 😦

Thank God for cell phones. G-Man isn’t as prone to ask questions as I am, so I called him and told him what I’d learned.

“He didn’t tell me that.”

“He didn’t tell me, either. I had to ask.”

We headed toward C-Town and kept meeting long lines of cars–people being routed off the highway because of fire. As we got nearer the house, we could see huge clouds of dark blue, nearly purple smoke. It looked like a bruise.

Of course, I imagined one of those fires being my house. It wasn’t. (Thank you, Jesus!) We passed a convenience store whose parking lot was filled with emergency vehicles. Two ambulances were there on stand-by. On the back bumper of one sat a fire fighter who looked exhausted. Sick. Really beat up.

I wasn’t close enough to recognize him, but I prayed for the man and all the  men who put their lives on the line to stop fires.

As I drove, I listened to a preacher on Bott Radio (95.1 FM).

He talked about David and Goliath, comparing Goliath to the giant problems and worries in our lives.

David was very young and a shepherd, not a soldier. Goliath was nine feet tall and wore armour that weighed as much as David. He had huge sword and spear.

David told the king he would take on Goliath in combat, even though the entire Israel army was afraid of him. David wasn’t afraid. He knew God would handle Goliath, he told the king he’d killed a lion and a bear, and he told the king that God had done that. He’d take care of this giant, too.

So the king allowed David (and God) to take Goliath on.

David had a sling and five stones. Goliath laughed at him, but David just fit the first stone into his sling, swung it around and let it fly. God gave it the speed and accuracy it needed to plow right into the only unprotected spot on Goliath–his forehead. And it took him down.

All our giants aren’t named Goliath. Sometimes they’re called Debt. Or Substance Abuse. Or Unplanned Pregnancy. Or Illness. (From me–sometimes they’re called Fire!)

“The fire of God burns so hot, no Goliath can stand against it.”

I was amazed! Here I was, worried about fire and it’s like God spoke to me out of that radio. “My fire is hotter than that stuff you’re worried about. Stop worrying. Put it in My hands. They’re fire-proof.”

I’m so glad they are!


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A Funny Thing

Sometimes my preacher talks about Weird God Things that happen in the lives of people he knows. He preached about a WGT his brother experienced once, concerning tithing. (I think.)

When I was getting ready for hip replacement surgery, I just about worried myself sick over it. I didn’t want to die in surgery. My kids needed me. G-Man needed me. I needed to experience grandchildren, yada yada. So, naturally, I started praying about it. (What else is there to do?)

Early one morning just days before the surgery, I woke myself up, and started praying. I fell asleep again had a dream.

I was a glass orb. (You know, like a delicate Christmas ornament.) God picked me up and put me in a leather briefcase like my dad used to have. He showed me all around, so I knew that I was the only one in there. Nobody else was hiding in any of the pockets, nooks or crannies. (I’m not sure why, except I’m one of six kids. I was rarely the only one anywhere.)

Then God made me understand that He was the heavy leather case and I was the breakable glass ball. And nothing could happen to me that God didn’t specifically allow.

Wait, let me amend that. Nothing CAN happen to me that God doesn’t specifically allow. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

God answered me and I held tight to that promise.

And just in case His will was to take me to Heaven during that surgery, I wanted David (my preacher) to know so he could share it at my funeral–especially for my boys. (For once in my life, I wanted to be prepared.)

After hearing about the dream, David pronounced it a Weird God Thing.

After the dream, I stopped fretting about the surgery. I didn’t stop praying, but I was comforted. 

Fast forward to yesterday. I told you about my memory verse. “Be still and know that I am God.” We even talked just a little about “Be still” and how Grandma used to tell us that when things got too noisy around her house.

It was never easy to be still, no matter how many times Grandma told us. There were so many sights and sounds to investigate.

So this morning, I woke up at 3:45, and guess what. I was deaf. Couldn’t hear a thing out of one ear and just barely out of the other. Yep, allergies have hit me hard. I just don’t remember ever before losing my hearing.

I have lost my voice before. (Like, totally, dude!) But that didn’t keep my from trying to talk. I couldn’t be still. I still went to work. Still cooked and cleaned and took care of kids. (It’s been a while since that happened.) 

But this morning when I couldn’t hear, I finally understood exactly what that verse means. Be still. Shut out the world. Don’t use your usual crutches (radio, TV, FB, whatever) to give you that, “I’m not really alone” feeling.

Be alone, all by yourself. Stopping up my ears worked for me. For once, I was able to be still because the world couldn’t break in. Only God was there with me. 

It lasted through breakfast, while I dressed and did my hair, and (sadly) all the way through church. I could barely hear music message God gave us through Dorothea. I’d really been looking forward to hearing it after visiting her place of business (to get my skunk stripe colored) last Thursday. 

She’d told me that day how much this song meant to her. How she related to the woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Dorothea sings from her heart, doesn’t ask for praise, although she deserves it.

Below is Cece Winan one of G-Man’s favorite singers, singing the song Dorothea blessed us with this morning.  

I didn’t hear much of her song but still, I’m thankful for the stillness. And for Weird God Things.

Has God ever given you a WGT? Want to share?