Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


March? How’d That Happen?

Can you believe it’s March already? I can’t. Seems like just yesterday was February.

So, March. Anybody know where March got its name? Anybody? (No cheating by looking it up.)

What do you think of when you think of March? I think of —

  1. Wind! In like a lion and out like a lamb or vice versa? I can never remember. Maybe it changes every year, just to keep me confused.
  2. St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve never looked into who St. Patrick was (did he drive the snakes out of Ireland?) or how we’re supposed to be celebrating, but I can’t imagine it’s with green beer. (Yuck.) Or pinching anyone who’s not wearing green.

Question: When you drink green beer, do your teeth absorbed the green color? Or is it just people with green teeth who drink it?


3. Often we have Easter to stress over in March. Not this year (it’s a couple of days after my birthday in April.) So instead of Easter, I’m stressing over–

      4- BB’s wedding.

Hey, stress keeps my heart beating and me kicking, so it’s all good.

March also means that this year is 1/6 gone. Good grief. I think there’s a magician out there somewhere who’s making entire weeks disappear.


Do You Lent?

 The Spess crew, at least my section of it, has never been Lent observers. It’s not something that’s talked about in the Christian Church, unless you’re wearing black and have a problem. No, wait. That’s lint. Never mind.

I’ve heard about the Holy Week preparation, but I’ve never known what it was.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve known a lot of people who wanted to celebrate Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, they just didn’t go through the Lent part.

So one year, Sister Debbie decided to give up coffee for Lent.

“Do WHAT?” (I always have such a kind way of responding.)

She gave me her sweet nun’s smile. (I wonder what’s going on in her head when she does that.) “I’m giving up coffee for Lent.”

That stopped me. Totally. Lent? Give up something for it? Was it a sin for a Christian to give up something for Lent? No. Probably not.

I blamed it on her friends. She must have a buddy who’d influenced her, which was a shock in itself. Even as a kid, Deb never was one to follow others. Leave it to her to wait until she was full grown, then choose a holy path to follow someone down. 😉

So after a couple of years of observing her observe Lent, I decided to look it up. (Notice I didn’t say I’m going for it.)

The traditional purpose of Lent is the penitential preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial.

Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, as well as some Baptists and Mennonites. 

Baptists? I didn’t grow up with very many Catholics or Lutherans, but I’ve had lots of Baptist friends, and never head them speak of Lent. What’s up with that?

Next, I looked up Great Lent. It, apparently, is observed by Orthodox Catholics. Now I have to look up what Orthodox means. Just a minute.

The word orthodox, from Greek orthos (“right”, “true”, “straight”) + doxa (“opinion” or “belief”, related to dokein, “to think”),[1] is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion.

When I read about Great Lent, something warmed my heart.

Orthodox Christians are expected to pay closer attention to and increase their private prayer. According to Orthodox theology, when asceticism (fasting, etc) is increased, prayer must be increased also.

Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’re going through the pain of fasting (as Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness just before He started His ministry) the only reason to do it is to enhance your prayer life.

We had a professor at Bible College who’d prayed and fasted for forty days. I never heard him speak of it, but others did and they shared what he’d done.

I always imagined he took the forty days during the summer, when he wasn’t teaching, to go someplace by himself so, like Jesus, he could fast and pray and be alone with the Lord.

And yes, I could see it in his life. Even though he was never my professor, I enteracted with him on campus and heard him speak in chapel. There really was something different about him.

If I’m reading this right, Lent is the preparation for Holy Week. Not just giving something up, but a time to get closer to the Lord and get ready for Resurrection Sunday.

Anybody? Am I right?

How about you? Do you observe Lent? Do you give something up or fast during that time? I think I’d like to learn more.

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God’s Grace

#4 shared this with me, so I’m passing it on. Thanks, Sister of mine!

God’s Grace

There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak….

“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage.. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.

I stopped the lad and asked, “What do you have there, son?”

“Just some old birds,” came the reply.

“What are you going to do with them?” I asked.

“Take ’em home and have fun with ’em,” he answered. “I’m gonna tease ’em and pull out their feathers to make ’em fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.”

“But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?”

“Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy. “They like birds. I’ll take ’em to them.”

The pastor was silent for a moment. “How much do you want for those birds, son?”

“Huh?? !!! Why, you do want them birds, mister.

They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing. They ain’t even pretty!”

“How much?” the pastor asked again.

The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, “$10?”

The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story:

One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. “Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn’t resist. Got ’em all!”

“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.

Satan replied, “Oh, I’m gonna have fun! I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I’m gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!”

“And what will you do when you are done with them?”

Jesus asked. “Oh, I’ll kill ’em,” Satan glared proudly.

“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, you don’t want those people. They ain’t no good. Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you. They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don’t want those people!!”

“How much? He asked again.

Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your blood, tears and your life.”

Jesus said, “DONE!” Then He paid the price.

The pastor picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit.



Are You Ready?

It’s a holiday weekend. Are you prepared? Do you have your Easter basket cleaned out and ready for the Easter Bunny to fill up again? Do you have your new Easter dress and Easter shoes? And what about your Easter bonnet? Is it all spruced up and ready to go?

Me, either. I won’t be buying an Easter bonnet (I’m not sure where they come from) I doubt if I’ll have a new dress or shoes or a basket, old or new. But I’m ready for Easter. I love that holiday!

What a beautiful celebration. The day our Lord rose from the grave.

My favorite Easter song used to be, “Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord. Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph for his foes. He arose the victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah!!! Christ arose!”

We’ll be celebrating birthdays this Easter. Three of us had birthdays in April–BB and G-Man (happy birthday, darlin!) and me. So for our birthday dinner and to celebrate Easter, we’re having steak.

I know you’re supposed to have ham on Easter (I don’t know why. If anybody knows the reason for that tradition, please let me know!) but I’m not very good at following “rules.” For Christmas we have prime rib instead of turkey. At Thanksgiving we have ham and turkey. (See? I can follow tradition once in a while.)  And for Easter, we usually have smoked ribs. This year, it’s steak.

Great Steak

Heat up the grill, salt and pepper the steaks, toss them on the heat to sear (to keep juices in) but not long enough to burn, then move them away from the flame to cook. Cooking time depends on how thick your steaks are and how well done you like them. (Ever notice how a lot of cooking depends on how much of something you have?)   

How good your steak is depends on two things–the quality of the meat you start with (Ribeye is my favorite. Also, we raise our own beef.) and NOT overcooking.

Baked potatoes will be on our table. Who doesn’t know how to bake a potato?

Baked Potatoes

Wash well, dry, rub on a little vegetable oil and toss into the oven at 425 for an hour or until tender when you poke it with a fork. Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, grated cheese and whatever you enjoy.

#1 Son usually brings deviled eggs to our get togethers. (Perfect food for that boy to make–deviled. 😉 ) I’m not really sure where deviled eggs get their name. I used to think it was because the best thing to do with the devil is to bite him and send him on his way, but that’s probably wrong. 

When I worked in Wayne’s Grocery Store (back in high school) we sold something called Deviled Ham. I haven’t eaten it, but I think it has to do with the additional ingredients added to the minced ham.

Hey, Wiki knows!

The term “deviled” dates back to the 19th century, referring to the use of particularly hot spices in cooking. Contemporary versions of deviled eggs tend to include a wider range of seasonings and added foods, such as garlic, horseradish, wasabi, cheese, chutney, capers, salsa, hot sauce, mushrooms, spinach, sour cream, caviar, smoked salmon or other seafood, and sardines and may not therefore always be spicy.

The term “deviled,” in reference to food, was in use in the 18th century, with the first known print reference appearing in 1786. In the 19th century, it came to be used most often with spicy or zesty food, including eggs prepared with mustard, pepper or other ingredients stuffed in the yolk cavity.

devilled eggs

Image by freakgirl via Flickr


Deviled Eggs

Hard boil a dozen eggs (or more, depending on the number of guests you’ll have and how much they like them.) Peel the eggs. (Peeling is the hardest part.) Cut them in half from the pointy end to the round end, remove yolks to a separate bowl. Mash the yolks. Add Miracle Whip, mustard and sweet relish. Sometimes I add a little sweet pickle juice.  (How much of everything you add depends on how much yolk mash you have. This is a taste and add recipe.) Mix well. Then put the yolk mixture back in the egg halves, either with a spoon or if you want pretty ones, use a pastry bag with a big star tip on it. A little sweet paprika sprinkled on top makes them very pretty but doesn’t change the flavor much.   

How will you celebrate Easter? Will you go to church? Even if you haven’t darkened the doors lately, I promise you’ll be welcome. I wouldn’t begin to tell you which church to attend–as long as God is there, you’ll be in the right place.

Will you have ham or do you enjoy the less traditional? Will your “big deal meal” be dinner out, noon at home or brunch with loved ones?

Will your entire family be there? In spirit, I hope, if they aren’t able to make it to your home. I think all my kids and their sweeties will make it home. I’m planning on it! And if for some reason they can’t, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for next year.

How about you? Are you having only family or are you inviting someone who doesn’t have family nearby to share it with?

Whatever you do, and whomever you share Easter, enjoy.



From the Mouths of Babes

Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Image via Wikipedia

Sunday morning was Palm Sunday–the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, cheered by crowds of people waving palm leaves and even throwing their cloaks in the road to soften his path.

Our church here in C-Town does a great job of celebrating Palm Sunday. Every year the children come into church, waving palm branches and cheering. I’m not positive all the little ones (if they’re big enough to walk, they get to participate) understand why they do the palm waving, but the adults understand.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week.

I’m still going through the Bible. I’m in Matthew and reading about–you guessed it–Holy Week.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” 

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

“Hosanna in the highest!”  Matt. 21: 8 & 9

I asked a four year old buddy of mine, “Why do we celebrate Easter?”

He didn’t miss a beat. “To get candy!”

Worded that question wrong. LOL. “So, what’s Easter about?”

“It’th when Jethuth died for our thinth.” My buddy has a slight lisp.

“And then what happened?” Gotta give the right cues.

“He roth from the dead.” He shrugged as if to say, everybody knows that.

Don’t you love it when kids answer as if they were there?

And talking about kids, another little friend of mine (this one’s seven) made her confession of faith Sunday and was baptized into Christ. She’s the cutest little thing with blond hair and big eyes and no bigger than a minute.

I’m not quoting this, because I didn’t write all the words down, but this is pretty much it: The Preach (aka: Little Bit’s dad)–Why did you come forward?

Little Bit: I want to give my heart to Jesus and be forgiven!

Beautiful, pure, unadulterated faith–only children come by it naturally.

“He said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” Matt. 18:3