Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


I Know the Big Guy!

I know the real Santa.

Don’t raise your eyebrows. It’s true, I do know him.

I met him a long time ago, back when my kids were small.

Here’s how I know him. Every year, St. Nick visited C-Town. When my kids were little, even though we lived in Pryor Creek and had our own parade there, the boys insisted we had to come home to C-Town because that was the only place where the real Santa made it for the parade.

So we’d come home. We watched the bands and floats and Shriners entertain, and even though there was a wonderful show going on, the boys only wanted one thing. Okay, two things. Candy and to see Santa riding on the big red fire engine.

And when Santa cruised past, he always waved his hand at our corner of the parade route and shouted, “Hi Danny! Hi Kyle! Hi Matt! Hi Brad! Hi Grant! Hi Melanie!  Merry Christmas.” For him to know their names, he had to be the authentic Kris Kringle, didn’t he?

Santa also took time to come to our church to visit with the kids after the Christmas program. He not only knew their names, he gave them  each a bag of candy, too.

So #1 son deducted that he HAD to be the only real Santa.

Who was I to argue?

SHAY KIDS DO NOT READ THIS!!! (I mean it. You’ve been warned.)

PS:  Don’t tell my kiddos, but the Big Guy was represented by a Christian man in our church. His suit was made by one of the wonderfully talented women in our church. (Don’t you love people who donate their time and talent so freely?)

This man was kind and loving to the kids in town and very, very patient. (With the length of some of the lists and the crying the babies did, he had to have a ton of patience!)

Not only was he a member of the church we went to most of my life, but he was also a neighbor. They make the best Santas, don’t they?

Way back when I was a kid and one of my sibs recognized the Santa we visited or noticed his beard wasn’t real, Mama always explained it by telling them the man was Santa’s helper. He had to have helpers like that because the Big Guy was so busy at the North Pole getting ready to fill up that sleigh and make his whirl-wind trip to all the boys and girls in the world.

Wow. Remember believing that? What a sweet time it was when we really believed that all the world received gifts. Back before we knew about hate, unhappiness, prejudice and my-way-or-the-highway kinds of life. And before we knew about poverty in parts of the world that make you cry to think about.

I still believe in Santa. (Even though Paula told me the truth when I was four. BTW–it’s okay, Paula. I enjoyed knowing and helping Mom keep the secret all those years.)

Besides, Santa is the Spirit of giving and Christmas and forgetting old hurts and loving one another. So of course, I BELIEVE!

Do you?


What Mama Told Her Kid

When I was little, little, before the time of younger brother and sisters, I asked some really silly questions.


When Mama started teaching me the “alphabet,” (a new word in my vocabulary)  I asked her if they left any letters out of it.

I have to give her points. She didn’t laugh. She just answered, “I don’t think so.”

One day after church, I asked her where God came from. (Isn’t it cool the way kids always ask Mama the easy stuff?)

She answered, “He didn’t come from anywhere. He’s always been here. He made the world and everything in it.”

And when I asked her where Santa came from, she had the answer.

I don’t remember if the answer was in a book she read to me or if it was something she made up. I seem to remember colorful pictures, but there are a lot of Christmas books in my past. 😉

Here’s what she told me: (At least, this is the way I remember it, and probably what I told my kids.)

Once upon a time there was a man named Kris Kringle.  He and his wife really loved kids.

Mr. and Mrs. Kringle didn’t have children of their own, so they prayed and prayed for one. While they waited for God to answer their prayer, Mr. Kringle made toys while Mrs. Kringle baked cookies and made candy that came to their shop.

Once a year, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Kringles gave a toy to every child in the town.

Mr. and Mrs. Kringle grew very old and never had any children, and one day they died. When they got to Heaven, God said, “You’ve been so good, I’m going to make you a saint.  What would you like your eternal reward to be??”

Mr. and Mrs. Kringle didn’t hesitate. “We want to be with the children.”

So God made Kris “Saint Nicholas.” St. Nick and his wife continue to make toys, and every year, to celebrate the birth of Christ, he gives a toy to every child in the whole world.

That’s what Mama told her children. Or at least, that’s what she told this child.

What did your mama tell you?


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.


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!


Mercy Triumphs!

Okay, I finally got all my goals for 2012 written down. Not on my vision board yet, but I’ve saved them to my desktop so they can’t be lost. 🙂

The first thing on my list is, “More of Him, less of me.” (Or something that means the same thing.)

And I’m super excited! Tonight is the first night of FC3’s women’s Bible study. It’s a Beth Moore study on the book of James called, “Mercy Triumphs”. I’m practically jumping up and down with anticipation because I can hardly wait!

God must have been reading over my shoulder (or maybe He was writing my goals for me.) He sent such a fantastic study for us to start out the year.

I read Beth’s blog fairly regularly, and from time to time while she was working on this study, she’d mention it. (If I remember right, her daughter worked with her on it.)

Mostly what she’d say was about the work God was doing in her life while she worked on the book.

The above with link you to Beth telling about her new Bible study.

I enjoy reading Beth’s books, but even more, I enjoy hearing her speak. (I’ve never heard her in person, but someday . . . !) Beth has so much enthusiasm when she’s speaking about the Lord. Her words are deep down, heartfelt and, from the fruit she bears, Inspired.

Beth says in her promo, “If you’re looking to put some real feet to your walk of faith . . . or if maybe you want to know how this whole God thing is suppose to live itself out on planet earth, this might be the Bible study for you.”

Even though I don’t know who’s leading the study for FC3, I know it’s the Bible study for me.

I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

If you live close, come over and join the group. You know there’s always room for everyone!

Leave a comment

How Do You Read?

A copy of Barclay’s Amoy translation, opened t...

I have a question for you:

When you read your Bible, do you ever find yourself reading with an outward view?

I’m embarrassed to share it, but if I’m not careful, here’s what I catch myself doing: I’ll be reading along in, oh, say Proverbs. As I read, I have a kind of inner dialogue with God. (Does everyone or am I the only person who has chats with the Almighty?)

13:1–A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

Did you want me to jot that on a post-it, Lord, and stick it to my kid’s doors? I’m not sure they’ve read it, and they really should. Except, would it be okay to change father’s instruction to mother’s? Or even parents?

3– He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

Oh, yes, Father! I know Terrance should hear that one. He had to have missed it. I’ll be happy to share with him.

4– The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

I know lots of people who need to hear that, Father! Thank you. I can share it with writers who don’t write and bloggers who don’t blog. So many people out there need to learn that lesson! 

7–One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

Wow. People haven’t changed much, have they, Lord?

10–Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. 

Oh, I know people who should read that! And “pride goeth before a fall”. I know, because they’re too proud to listen when I share your stuff with them. Gotta write that one down!

13–He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

Oh, you want me to share with Rosemary, don’t you, Lord? Maybe I should drop her a note in the mail. I don’t have to sign it, so she won’t have to be embarrassed when I’m around.

See what I’m talking about? If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself reading to see who can use a verse so I can “share”. But what I should really be doing is reading to see what God has to say to me.

13– He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded. 14–The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. 15–Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.

Good understanding of God’s word is what I’m praying for. I don’t want to scorn instruction that God has put in front of me. I hope I can drink deeply from the fountain of life and respect God’s commands so I can be rewarded.

I want to bring a smile to God’s lips (“at least the woman’s trying”) not make Him roll His eyes. (“She just doesn’t get it.”)