Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Is It Easter?

English: Easter, old greec salut Deutsch: Oste...

I saw one of those I-need-to-educate-you-silly-Christians things on Facebook the other day. It talked about some fertility goddess few people have heard of and that it (she?) was what Easter is really based on.

In that comment, even the word Easter was supposed to have come from that goddess’s name. The question is also asked in that comment, “or did you think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?”

I answered (you didn’t think I could keep my mouth shut, did you?) that maybe the proper name shouldn’t be ‘Easter’. (I’ve never actually seen it in the Bible any more than I’ve seen the word ‘Christmas’.) I even did a search online to see if I could find where the word came from. I found a lot of sermons, but finding the actual origin is a little hard.

The best I could find was

Easter: An Early Celebration of Christ’s Resurrection
Another idea involves the history of the Frankish church (Germans who settled in Rome during the fifth century). Their the celebration of Christ’s resurrection included the word alba, which means white (the color of the robes worn during the resurrection festival). Alba also meant sunrise. So when the name of the festival was translated into German, the sunrise meaning, ostern, was selected, likely in error. One theory is that Ostern is the origin of the word Easter.

 You can read more about it if you want.

The eggs and bunnies? They represent new beginnings. A brand new life–which is what we have when we’re in Christ. A life without blemish. Without stain. Without sin. Washed in The Blood, we’re whiter than snow, because Jesus paid the price for our sins when he died on the cross and rose again three days later.

Maybe we should just call it Resurrection Sunday.

It doesn’t matter what we call it. What matters is that you’ve accepted Christ. He died for my sin and yours.

Do you live for Him?

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Berry Bunnies

What’s a Mama to do when kids turn into adults, but she doesn’t?

I have three boys and three DILs, and when Easter loomed on the horizon, my thoughts went to Easter baskets. The last few years, the guys haven’t been too thrilled with their EB gifts. For some reason, yo-yos, Silly Putty and Slinkys just don’t put big smiles on most of their faces.

So this year I thought, what should I do? Hm. I know. A bunny.

So I rushed to T-Town and bought a nice white bunny with loooong ears.

You know how bunnies are. As expected, one bunny multiplied.

And multiplied.

Until there were six! Yay!

Just what I needed. Six bunnies for six kiddos.

 But they’re all sitting on empty boxes. I can’t give my kids empty boxes, can I? What to fill those boxes with?

Since it’s springtime, and I wanted somethng that wasn’t a candy egg, I decided on berries. But I couldn’t just put plain berries in the box. And since topping them with whiffed cream wasn’t an option–too messy–I had to think of something else.

  Strawberries. (My fav.)

Lots of berries.

 I could dip them in chocolate, put them in a paper muffin cup and set them in the boxes. But I’d read that you couldn’t make them too far ahead or the chocolate would sweat.

Imagine eating a sweaty chocolate. Ga-ross!

So I looked up Martha. You know Martha, don’t you? Martha Stewart–one of my all time housekeepping/cooking/organizing gurus.

She agreed. Make them just a little ahead of time and they’ll be “perfect.”

I rushed home from our Easter service at church and started melting chocolate in a homemade double boiler. Last time I tried to make a double boiler using a bowl, I broke the bowl, so I was careful not to put much water in my sauce pan. (For some reason, even Pyrex bowls don’t like boiling water on their undersides while cold things are on the oversides.)

 I used semi-sweet chocolate

and white chocolate.

When time was growing short and the white chocolate hadn’t hardened yet, I put them in the fridge for a few moments. That helped.

Just before the kids were due, I lined the boxes with wax paper and boxed them up.

 I put a few sparkles on this one. In the picture, it looks like freckles, but it was really pretty. 🙂

Bunny boxes filled with chocolate covered strawberries.

Of course, #1 Son complained he doesn’t like anything on his strawberries except sugar. I’ll remember that next year. It’s a whole lot easier!


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Happy Resurrection Day (aka Easter)

Easter is actually the name of a fertility goddess, so I’m going with Resurrection Sunday.

♪♫ In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it

you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade . . . ♫♪

Did your mama sing that song this time of year? Mine sang a lot, and this time of year she liked to sing Easter Bonnet.

We sang this is Miss Thelma’s music class, too. (Miss Thelma was reported to have a glass eye and a dying husband. She called everyone–student, parent and principal–“Honey Love.”) She even explained what a rotogravure is. Or was.

Did the Easter Bunny visit you when you were a kid? He visited me . . . a time or two. Not like I see now days, of course. It was much more fun getting to dye eggs.

Mama boiled dozens of eggs (with six kids she needed a lot) bought the dye tablets and we dyed with the scent of cider vinegar filling our heads until “the world looked level.”

Then on Easter, we’d take turns hiding and finding the eggs.

I asked my walking buddy if they did Easter eggs when she was a kid. Absolutely, her family did. Her parents hid the eggs before they got up on Easter morning, and the kids would rush out to find them. Then they peeled and ate them.

That kind of shocked me. For us, Easter eggs were hidden and found over and over until they cracked, were broken or lost. (When one was lost and found several weeks later . . . blech!)

Remember wearing Easter bonnets and white gloves? (They didn’t stay white very long when I wore them.) We had can-cans to make our skirts full and rustle-y. And since we always went to church–on Easter, too–we had Easter dinner at home. That usually meant with dad’s parents and family, but sometimes Mom’s side would go to church with us on Easter and stay for Sunday dinner.

And remember when everyone had an Easter Lilly? Sometimes we filled the church with them, other times we only saw the ones that someone sent as a gift. Grandmother planted hers in the garden when it quit blooming, and sometimes it would live and bloom again.

This evening we’re celebrating birthdays–BBs and mine. BB requested roast, mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m fixing the roast and gravy. This year since I have three adult sons with wives, I’ll have help fixing it! (Yay!)

For birthday cake we’re having strawberry shortcake. (Oh, yeah! Love that SSC.) We do it the easy way. We buy the dessert cups and fill them with strawberries, topped with whipped cream.

I don’t know if there’ll be any Easter baskets, but there might be a surprise or two. 🙂

I hope you have a happy, Spirit led, family filled Resurrection Sunday!

Ps: Without looking, do you know what a rotogravure is?


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Alllll-moooost–

–Here! (Almost Here!)

Good Friday, that is. 😉

I learned about several Good Friday traditions when I visited Fisheaters.

Mark 15:25, 33 And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him… And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour.

Jesus suffered on the cross from noon until 3:00 pm, so those are the most holy hours of all. It’s called “Tre Ore” or “Three Hours’ Agony”.

People who observe Three Hours’ Agony act as if they’re at a funeral all day–wearing black, covering mirrors, and no celebrating anything. (Not even birthdays–thank goodness.)

I read that people often fast from Good Friday until Resurrection Sunday. (Not me.) If they choose not to fast, traditionally Hot Cross Buns are eaten.

From Fisheaters–

As to foods, Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten for breakfast on this day, and are about the only luxury afforded in this time of mourning. Legend says that a priest at St. Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire gave these to the poor on Good Friday beginning in A.D. 1361, and the tradition was born.

Just as I’m thinking, “Whew! I don’t even know where you’d buy Hot Cross Buns,” I see the rest of the story.

Below is a recipe for them:

Hot Cross Buns

Buns: 1 cup milk

2 TBSP yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter, melted, cooled

1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

4 eggs

5 cups flour

1 1/3 cups currants or raisins

1 egg white

Glaze: 1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1- 2 TBSP milk

In a small saucepan, heat milk to very warm, but not hot (110°F if using a candy thermometer).

Fit an electric mixer with a dough hook. Pour warm milk in the bowl of mixer and sprinkle yeast over. Mix to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes. With mixer running at low speed, add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Gradually add flour, dough will be wet and sticky, and continue kneading with dough hook until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Detach bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes. Return bowl to mixer and knead until smooth and elastic, for about 3 more minutes. Add currants or raisins and knead until well mixed. At this point, dough will still be fairly wet and sticky.

Shape dough in a ball, place in a buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Excess moisture will be absorbed by the morning.

Let dough sit at room temperature for about a half-hour. Line a large baking pan (or pans) with parchment paper (you could also lightly grease a baking pan, but parchment works better).

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (in half, half again, etc., etc.). Shape each portion into a ball and place on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400° F.

When buns have risen, take a sharp or serrated knife and carefully slash buns with a cross shape all the way across the top (an equilateral Greek Cross). Brush them with egg white and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F, then bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer to a wire rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients, and spoon over buns in the cross pattern made earlier.

Serve warm with butter, if possible.

Makes me tired just to read all that!

It is customary, because of the Cross on the buns, to kiss them before eating, and to share one of these Hot Cross Buns with someone, reciting these words:

Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be.

Hot Cross buns are said to never corrupt (good to know, right?) and Catholics used to keep a few all year to grate some of it into water for the sick to consume.

When I first took piano lessons, I learned a song about them, and of course, I sang along. 🙂

♫ How Cross Buns! Hot Cross buns! ♫

♫ One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns! ♫

♫ If you have no daughters give them to your sons, ♫

♫ One a penny, two a penny Hot cross buns ♫

I hope you have a GOOD, Good Friday

If the recipe for Hot Cross Buns above looked a little difficult to you, too, try this one. It’s from Southern Living and much easier!

I’m still looking for one that starts with frozen rolls. 🙂 Or maybe I can find a bakery that sells them. BTW: If I have HCB this year, they’ll be my first.

Are the buns a tradition in your family or, if you have them, will they be your virgin voyage, too?

Know where I can buy a dozen or so?


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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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I Confess!

Ever heard confession is good for the soul? I’m not sure if I believe that or not, but I’m going to give it a smack.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Next week is Holy Week. Passover starts Friday, which is also Good Friday. A week from Palm Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter. A very spiritual time in the life of Christians.

Here’s my confession–Even with angels singing all around us this time of year, I’m going to tell you about my love for the Three Stooges. 🙂

(That’s right. Today I’m as deep as a mud puddle.)

What’s not to like about the Stooges? Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard. Moe and Curly were brothers. And they were funny! My friends and I loved watching them after school. They made 190 short films, each one stupider than the one before. Gotta love a group who’ll act like that to entertain kids. (And adults who are kids at heart. My man laughs out loud when he watches them!)

When the shows stopped having Curly in them and started having Shemp, my friends and I were really sad. But one of our moms told us Curly had been dead a long time and we were watching reruns.

After Curly died, Shemp Howard (also his brother) took over. Shemp died next (that must have been a hard-on-the-actor job) so they hired Joe Besser who was replaced by Joe DeRita. Emil Sitka was the last man to take the third man spot.

With the Stooges, most people either love them or hate them. There’s not much gray area when it comes to slapstick fun. They made a show once where Moe played Hitler (I’ll Never Heil Again) and another where they were Civil War spies. So funny!

My favorite Stooges show has always been the one about the haunted suit of armor. The guy in the armor had peeked at Lady Godiva when she rode buck naked on a buckskin through town, even though everyone had been ordered not to look. As punishment, his spirit was sentenced to live in that suit of armor for 300 years. (I don’t remember how many years, but that sounds right.)

In the end, Lady Godiva rides up, the suit of armor hops onto the horse behind her and they ride into the sunset. And no. She’s not carrying a can opener. 😉

Do you hate ’em or love ’em? If you love ’em, what’s your fav?


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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!