Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Are you ready for the big day? I’m not sure I’m ever really ready, but since I have yet to learn how to stop time, it’s coming anyway. 😉

One of my favorite things about Christmas has always been the Sunday before. I have tons of memories of me, my sisters and Mama, all in matching velvet dresses on Christmas Sunday. Sometimes Mom got Jeffrey in a matching velvet vest, but for some reason could never get Dad in one. 🙂


I still love church on Christmas Sunday. We sing all the songs I’ve always loved, or most of them. And we hear about the Bethlehem Adventure–or at least part of it, depending on the preacher and what God gives him to share.

I love learning what I think I know and realize I don’t know. Like the wise men. You know, like the song. “We Three Kings of Orient are . . . ” and learning I don’t know how many Wise Men there were. (No one does.) And the idea that Mary rode a donkey when she and Joseph went to Bethlehem. Go back and read it again. Where’s that donkey? 😦 Poor Mary.


More than anything, I like the reminder that Immanuel (God with us) who created the universe, became an infant so that thirty odd years later He could die for our sins. Our sins, not His. (He was perfect.) No matter how many rules we had, we couldn’t be perfect enough. But He is God, so He’s perfect, the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins.

His presence (remember, He’s Immanuel, God with us) is our present for eternity.

I like that so very, very much.

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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


A Day That Will Live

cropped-merry-ornament.jpgA long, long time ago in a land far, far away (at least it seems that way now) I had a very good friend named Mary. (Yes, that’s her real name.)  Mary was dating a guy she really liked (a bunch!) and he had a friend she thought I’d like.

“Want me to fix you up?”

No. No! I don’t like blind dates. I had one once, and he turned out to be a kindergartener.

But she assured me that this guy not only wasn’t a kindergartener, he’d finished college and had a real job.

Ooookay. Let’s do it! (I tried not to act too thrilled, but she probably noticed how excited I was when I didn’t stop jumping up and down.)

Now I’d had a few less than stellar dates in my time. I had one where the guy took me to Denny’s, looked at the menu and said, “I had no idea it would be this expensive!” so we got up and left.

Another guy took me out and asked me to marry him on the first date. (Uh, no. But thanks.)

And yet another guy, who had a key chain with a girl’s name on it. When I asked who Tara was (not really her name) he said, “Have I been talking about her a lot? We just broke up . . . ”

See ya.

Anyway, I knew better than to place any big expectations on this date. But at least I figured I’d be safe, since my friend, Mary, and her guy, Sam, would be with us.

December 7th, a day that will live in infamy. It was cold and windy night (for real) and I was running late. (As usual.) My apartment had only one door and it was a sliding glass patio-type door. When G-Man and his buddy got there, I didn’t have my dress on yet, so I couldn’t even invite them in.

“Hurry up! It’s cold out here.” Sigh.

I hurried, so they didn’t turn into a pair of popsicles They were just a little blue from the cold when I let them in. As soon as the ice melted off their noses and ears, we bundled up and went to pick up Mary.

I remember that Christmas season as one of the best in my memory. Why? Probably because I didn’t have a lot of stress over gifts or decorating, and I wasn’t responsible for making anyone else’s Christmas “perfect.” (And I didn’t have a kid pointing to someone else’s gifts and saying, “I didn’t get as much as him.)

All I had was a really nice guy to talk to, spend time with, get to know, and fall in love with. Great way to spend Christmas, if you ask me. 🙂

We were married five months and twelve days later.

Pretty nice Christmas present Mary gave me, wasn’t it?


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.


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.

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. 🙂


Christmas Week

One week until Christmas. This morning I’m going to stop worrying about gifts and trees and other temporary things for a little while and consider the Reason for the Season. Jesus.

I have Luke 2:11-12 on a sticky note, which keeps it at the top of my blogs until I take it down. (It’s there because #4 and I are memorizing it for our final SSMT of the year.)

Yesterday I heard a man talking about how the shepherds, who were first to hear the Good News, and when they did, they RAN  to find Him.

I don’t know what else the man had to say because my mind took off. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I couldn’t keep from thinking about it in the angels’ point of view.

Imagine, being in Heaven when the announcement was ready to be made. Today, God has become a man!!! He is Christ, the Saviour. Were the angels all excited? Did they all want to get to announce the news?

Can’t you see them, all standing on tiptoe, hoping Yahweh will choose them to give the announcement that Christ, the Saviour, has been born?

Finally, one gets the job, and gives the word to the shepherds.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

But the rest of the angels can’t stand it. They have to sing out their joy.

Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

Next my  brain switches to the Shepherds’ POV. (Point of View)

There they are with the sheep all bedded down for the night. They’re chatting as they do every evening before the graveyard shift starts. Some are getting ready to sleep while the rest are getting ready to stroll around the perimeter or sing to the sheep.

Out of nowhere, a being appears who is unmistakably an angel. The shepherds don’t question that it was an angel.

 The glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified!

When they see the angel, I imagine they all froze.

“Behold!” (NIV says, Be not afraid, but I like, BEHOLD!!!)

Don’t you imagine all the shepherd’s crooks hit the ground?

“I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all people.”

When the angel who brought the news finishes the announcement, as if to prove to the shepherd they hadn’t imagined the single angel, a whole flock of angels appear.

“Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels were gone and the sky was black again, the shepherds ran to find the Christ Child.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Okay, maybe that’s why God decided to tell the shepherds first, because He knew they would spread the word.

Now can you put yourself in Mary’s place? She’s a young girl, a virgin, who has traveled far from her home with the man she’s going to marry. I think I read someplace that it took them about a week to travel to Bethlehem.

The last week before my first child was born, Mom made me stop driving a few blocks to work at Four Seasons, our dress shop. (I think she was afraid I’d slip and fall in the snow and have him on Broadway.)

Mary either walked or rode a donkey for most of that week as she traveled to Bethlehem.

The night before my first son was born, I wasn’t comfortable any place–walking, sitting or lying down. I went to a basket ball game, but couldn’t stay too long because #1 son’s feet were in my ribs.

Try to imagine the exhausted girl, Mary, and Joseph as they tried to find a place for her to rest. When the pains started, had they found the stable? Or did the man who owned the inn see that she was in labor and send them to the barn after he heard her cries?

Was Mary frightened as she had God’s son? I doubt that He took away the pain of childbirth. When her body worked to expel Christ, Creator of the Universe, and the only person with her was a man who’d never been married or delivered a child while a barn full of animals looked on, was she surprised or taken aback?

I was when my body took over, even though I’d read the books and gone through the classes.

19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Ready for True Christmas? I am. I want to celebrate The Reason for The Season all year ’round.

How about you?

Wishing you and your family a wonderful faith filled Christmas.