Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Never Retreat!

I’m away at a writers’ retreat this weekend. And, just as I suspected, we’re having crazy fun.

This is a fantastic group of women.

We’re not all the same age. (We range from 18 to MYOB.)

We’re not all the same religion.

We’re don’t all have the same hair color. (Some of us don’t even remember the original color. Others don’t want to.)

What we have in common is that we’re all writers. Romance writers. (The best kind is the HEA–happily ever after–kind.) We love a great story. And very few of us can tell you our names in less than a page-and-a-half.

Last night, we had a delicious meal, then came back to the suite to just chat, and ended up talking about our writing histories. (Go figure.) Roughly half of us are published. Some of us have even confessed for money.

The unpubbed women were so much fun to listen to as they talked about their WIPs. (Works In Progress.)

The one thing these women have in common, besides being writers?

They’re all so very passionate–

  • about telling a great story.
  • about learning whenever and whatever they can.
  • about supporting each other.

From the woman just beginning to our master, Rita winner (80 books and counting) we’re a lift each other up, cheer each other on, lend a hand when we can and cry with you if we can’t crew.

And just to be very honest, we never retreat.

We ATTACK!

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Wedding Trads

The Spess Girls have a couple of traditions when it comes to family weddings.

Most revolve around our mom.

The first one started back in 1949, when Mama married Daddy. After Mama graduated from high school, she moved to Old Ford to live with her brother and his wife. Her parents still lived in Texas. They couldn’t afford to come to the wedding, but they sent her $50. That would be $468.20 today. (I looked it up.)

I’m not sure what Mama did with all that money, but some of it she spent on her wedding dress (bought at Lerner’s in Tulsa) and some of it she spent on a white Bible to carry in her wedding.

It’s not as pristine as it used to be, but remember–

— it’s survived six kids. One evil child even wrote Mama’s name in it.

She should have smacked me for it, but she didn’t.

Anyway, when I got married, Mama wanted me to carry her Bible in my wedding. I wanted a bouquet to throw, but I wanted to carry the Bible, too.

So Mama bought this cover. It hid the yellowing leather and my bouquet could be tied to it. (That’s what the ribbon on top is for.)

So I carried it and my sisters all carried it. (I think.) I’m not sure if Brother Jeffrey or his wife carried it. Mama wasn’t quite as pushy insistant helpful as her daughters are. 🙂 But my boys’ wives all carried Mama’s Bible in their weddings. And they not only liked the idea, they acted as if they were thrilled to have it.

Many of the grandkids have had it in their weddings, but not all. One sister lives outside of C-Town (When most of us moved home, Daddy moved to the Ford, but #4 stayed where she is.) so she might not have thought about it.

And once the Bible went home with the wrong MIL, so we didn’t have it for at least one ceremony. But many of the kids have carried it, too.

My #1 son suggested that we write the names of everyone who carried it in the Bible so we won’t forget the history of it. (I won’t be doing the writing. I promise.)

So that’s our most important wedding trad. I think the sisters tried to start one where they “fixed” the bride’s nightgown just before she left on her honeymoon, but that trad died out. Or maybe it was beaten to death. Anyway, I don’t hear about it anymore.

So, how about it? Do you have a wedding tradition you’ll share?


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A Ring Thing

This started out to be a post called We Nailed It.

Warning: What you’re about to see maybe disturbing. Look at your own risk.

The foot in the blue sandal is a human foot on a live person. The odd color (paleness) caused by a lack of sunshine. People with this malady can be mistaken for walking snowmen. Do not let this happen to you.

But I forgot to take pictures of all the fun we had.

So I started to take a few this morning to share. You know, Show-And-Tell?

I snapped my toes.

And I snapped my fingers.

And that’s when I noticed what I really wanted to blog about.

The rings I wear. I sleep in them, swim in them, do everything I do in them. (Except get manicures. I take them off for that.)

The larger one is the one my man put on my finger during our wedding. He has one just like it, just a few sizes bigger.

The smaller one was my mama’s. Daddy gave it to her during their wedding. She was eighteen years old. He was nineteen.

 I’ll have worn it for twenty-one years on May 20 this year.

I don’t wear her ring as a protest against drunk driving. And I don’t wear it because its gold or old.

 I wear it to remind me of a couple of kids who got married and started raising a family two years later. Who named their first daughter after a pair of basketball shoes.

Who loved each other so much, worked together so well and had such a perfect marriage, all of their children have turned themselves inside out to emulate it.

I look at her ring and remember the first year we lived in Pryor Creek. Brad’s birthday party was going to flop, and on short notice, Mama gathered up the C-Town grandchildren and an armload of gifts and rushed to be there in time to cheer after he blew out his candles.

I remember the first year I was married and she dreamed I ran away from home. In her dream, she took my man to live with her and Dad.

I remember Mother’s Day weekend twenty-one years ago. I took the kids home to be with her, and she stopped everything to fish with my boys and the rest of the C-Town grandkids.

I look at her ring, and I remember the mother-in-law, the grandmommy, the friend, wife and mother I want to be.

  Mama won’t be at Brad’s wedding, but her spirit will be there in each of her children. And her grandchildren. And her great-grandchildren.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:28-31 NIV


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♪♫ Down in my Heart ♪♫

Ever paid attention to the joy at weddings? No matter whose it is or the circumstances of that union, I’ve never attended a wedding where joy of some degree wasn’t present.

Joy is so much a part of most wedding celebrations that it’s almost as visible as the flowers or even an extra guest.

If you haven’t particularly noticed it other people’s weddings, think back to your own. Remember the effervescence bubbling through your veins? The happiness that made your steps so light, you wondered if someone had spiked your Post Toasties with helium?

And that smile. You couldn’t banish it, could you? You know the one I mean. It stayed on your face so long, your cheeks cramped and ached. But you still couldn’t get rid of it because something inside you wouldn’t let it die.

That’s the joy I’m talking about.

Joy such as that is all through the Bible, especially when speaking of weddings.

Jeremiah 33:11–

–the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.”

And Solomon had joy by the tail. Of course, he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (Who knows how many children and GRANDCHILDREN!)

He had joy multiplied many times in his life.

Song of Songs 4:10–How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!  How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume  more than any spice!

Okay, the sister thing makes me a little anxious, but I’m sure if I were any kind of Bible scholar, I could explain it.

I’m not.

If you kind of skim past the sister thing, isn’t that a description of joy without ever using the word? She gives him so much joy, he’s light-headed.

John 3:29–The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

That’s John the Baptist

talking about Jesus. Even that guy who lived and preached in the wilderness, who wore camel-hair and ate grasshoppers (ick!) knew about the joy at a wedding.

We’re within a couple of weeks of our third son’s upcoming nuptials, and joy is already buzzing around, looking for a place to land.

(That could be because I’ve found my ensem and shoes for the wedding, so I’m ready to go.;)  )

We’re thrilled for Brad. He marrying into such a nice family, we all love them.

And we’re ecstatic for us–we’re getting a third daughter who we already love as if she were our own.

Psalm 30:5–For his anger lasts only a moment,  but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night,  but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Brad and Nicole, I wish you a lifetime stuffed full of rejoicing.


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More Wedding and a Few Pics

You’d think by this time of my life (and we are NOT going to talk about what time it is!) I wouldn’t be so likely to stress out.I mean, after all, I should know what I am. What I will and won’t do. Apparently, I’m still learning.

When I think back to the weeks before our wonderful wedding, I’m kind of surprised I wasn’t worse.

We just had a few problems. Probably nothing like other people have, but it was more than I’ve had to handle in a long time.

Recount:

  1. Pinky Prob. I messed up my little finger on my right hand several weeks before the nuptials and, while that had no direct effect on the ceremony, it had an effect on me! You’d just be surprised how much you use that pinky–everything from opening or closing screw-on type closures to putting on eyeliner and a ton of things in between.
  2. Inventory. (At Prairie Supply.) The wedding boy manages our supply store and decided to change things up a bit over there, starting with a very detailed inventory to enter into the computer. But that put a lot more work on my baby boy, which stressed him (he worked a lot of late hours!) and in turned stressed me. Oy.
  3. The rehearsal dinner. I could have had it catered. I even looked into it, but what I found available in C-Town conflicted with the reception dinner. (Which was YUM! 🙂 ) I could have picked up the food in T Town and driven it back before the rehearsal, but I still would have had to warm it and set it up and, and, and . . . !
  4. What I’d wear. How to wear my hair. And how I looked. And how I’d look in pictures. I know that sounds really self-absorbed, but I just didn’t want to be an embarrassment. I didn’t want Matt to show the pictures to his kids someday and say, “Yeah, those days Mama looked pretty much like a wild woman. “
  5. Wedding boy was hit with a kidney stone and had to have it removed 3 days before the wedding. It was worse than the doc expected and more painful than anyone expected and still hurting the day of the wedding.
  6. The air conditioner in the Fellowship Hall quit working while we were trying to get the rehearsal dinner ready. It was hot.
  7. The air conditioner in the Fellowship Hall puddled in the middle of the Fellowship Hall while we were getting ready for the rehearsal dinner. (Thank goodness Sister Debbie knew where the mop and bucket were kept!)

I shouldn’t have stressed. Here’s why–

These pictures were taken by my #1 DIL. Great job, China! Thanks for sharing.

This is a pic of the boys, waiting on the bride. Little Bit took a tumble at the end of the wedding and rolled right off the stage.

Preacher Dave about to get down to business.

They danced. (sniff)

She tossed the bouquet.

Doesn’t she have a great smile?


And they did the garter thing. 😉

And my siblings were there with me. (Two sisters in wheel chairs!) All of them. Even the sister who couldn’t be on site.

Thank you, God, for giving us family. I don’t know how I’d survive without them.


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Wedding Joy

The wedding was beautiful!

Fun! Joyful, even.

And yes, of course, I cried.

The groom was so handsome! (So were all the groomsmen!!!) The bride was beautiful and very sincere.

The ring bearers were wonderful! (Groomsman Bradley bribed the smaller one with Gummy Bears to keep him closeby, until he fell right off the stage!)

The flowergirls were so cute! One wasn’t sure she was going to go down the aisle, so while we peeked out a window to see a few pictures being taken, I told them how important their job was. “Each petal you drop is a blessing for the bride and groom. It’s important that you drop them all the way to the front so Matt and Nikki will have a happy marriage.”

They did a perfect job. And when they got to the front, the older one sat right down on the steps and made herself at home!

Preacher Dave was wonderful. If I’d been writing his part, I couldn’t have done a better job. He voiced exactly what I knew in my heart. Both sets of parents were asked to take part in helping the new couple form their home–not the house, where they live place. The where-ever-we-are-as-long-as-we’re-together-we-have-a-home place.

We promised.

He told the couple that marriage would teach them a lot about love.

And all the people said, “Dur!” Ü

I’m not being disrespectful to Preacher Dave. I’ve just been married long enough to realize that I had no idea what love was until I lived through a lot of what life had to throw at us.

The fires of this world can either turn the first blush of love to ash or it will change it to a patina that only becomes more beautiful as the years go by.

At the reception I danced with my son. I can’t tell you the name of the song he picked. Whatever it was (and I’m sure I’ll find out one of these days) the parts I heard voiced perfectly my feelings Saturday.

While we danced, I told him he’d been one of the greatest joys of my life. (Along with his two brothers.)

Looking back, I’d only change one thing. I wish I’d asked them to use the verse I asked Preacher Tom to quote in my wedding to G-Man so long ago–

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

Yes, I know Ruth was speaking to her MIL, Naomi. But I think it was because of Ruth’s love for her deceased husband that she said it. Don’t you know she would have said it to him if she’d been able to?

That’s my prayer for the new Mr. and Mrs. Shay.

 


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Wedding Week Wednesday

I might have I mentioned my son is getting married this week–probably only a few thousand times. In case you’re worried for me, I’m not quite as tense as I was.

I only woke up five times last night. *rolls eyes*

Yesterday was the hardest day yet. Yesterday, I went through pictures for the ones they’ll show at the wedding. It came home, yet again, just how much I miss my babies.

This is the baby who’s getting married. I found a pile of pictures of the boy that he can use, and I haven’t pulled the digital ones off the desk top computer yet. Or the ones from the surprise wedding.

The the best pictures, the ones I’ll never forget, are the ones etched on my heart–taking his first steps, his first day at preschool, the day the delivery girl carried him in from the car with blood streaming down his face and neck from a deep cut in his upper lip.

The night he kissed his first girl, his first piano lesson, the day we bought his sax and each time he played. How could I forget the joy he found when he could finally run the register at the pharmacy?

The look on his face the day I punished him by NOT letting him go to work.

Matt worked for the college while he was in school. At one time he made those phone calls to the alumnus (we all love to get those, don’t we?) and “met” a friend of mine from here in C-Town, and couldn’t wait to call and tell me about it.

I sometimes wonder how long his do-you-wanna-donate phone calls lasted. LOL! The kid has always been a people person. Must have gotten that from my mom.

  Who wouldn’t love that smile?