Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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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!

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Bible School

The preach announced that there would be a Bible School meeting this week, and those wonderful childhood memories came rushing back.

I loved Bible School when I was a kid. Two weeks of going to church every morning and having nice women teach us about God, help us do crafts and give us treats was my idea of a great time.

Some of my earliest memories are Bible School in the Ford. We went to the Christian Church, and while I don’t remember the preacher’s name, I remember the way Mr. Krotzer, the Sunday School Superintendent, used to rock up on his toes and down, again and again.

I remember my SS teacher was a pretty girl named Helen. I was a little confused at VBS when she wasn’t my teacher, but I had fun anyway because we did crafts. (Popsicle sticks had a big part of my life.) We learned stories that continued from day-to-day. And that was when all the kids from little to big played wonderful games.

VBS was where I first played Farmer in the Dell. And Red Rover. We didn’t watch a film or do things inside. We got out and ran! Almost anytime a large group of kids came together, there were games that involved everyone. Kids learned to take care of the little ones and get along with the big. 

I went to VBS nearly all the way through high school, and taught after that. Back then, parents encouraged–no, they insisted–their children go. Where else would they learn about how much God loved them?

Remember the songs we sang?

Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

The B-i-b-l-e, yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the word of God, the B-i-b-l-e.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, we are weak but He is strong.  

Remember felt boards and modeling clay? I taught two-year-olds one year, and they had so much fun together, I couldn’t get their attention. (Hey, they were two.) So I made some silly sock puppets and used a funny voice. They listened with rapt attention.

Oh, and the wonderful Bible truths we learned. The Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, Cane and Abel. How God changed Abram’s name. David and Goliath. The miracle of Jesus’s birth. Jesus when He was twelve and being left at the temple. Jesus and his disciples. Jesus’s miracles–Turning water to wine. Walking on water. Calming the storm. Dying on a cross and rising on the third day.

One of the things I remember most about VBS was the way the women who taught it enjoyed what they were doing. Their love for God was obvious, and they shared that love with the kids they were teaching.

Knowing God and knowing about God is so very sweet. If you have a child in your life and possibly can, find a VBS for them to attend. You’ll both be blessed for it.