Me! I am a retired teacher. I taught 20 years. I retired because of my weakened condition but my mind is afire. I read, write, reflect, and write every day. My POV is usually as a teacher but not always. I have a bucket list and on it is to be a published author. I have many books to write. I want a cure for ALS. I want to spread LOVE. I want my maker to use me until I'm completely exhausted. Life is for living. "Enjoy every sandwich" Warren Zevon
In my mind today, I am so full of the HS (Alley speak for Holy Spirit.) I have been granted more time to be with you. I recently spent nine days in the hospital. Four of those days were in ICU. I spent the last of Lent and part of Holy week in the hospital. It is a long beautiful story that I am putting into a book. After I was out of the storm, God whispered to me to write this book. So, I am writing the book. I am about six pages into it. It will probably be a novella and for the back row that is a smaller novel. I hear you cheering. Yes less words to read! I have so many blessings and miracles too relate to you through the book. Got also told me it would be a bestseller if I would just write it. So I have a lot of work to do students. Does this get you off of the hook? Never.
After I came home from the hospital, I can’t say that I was not changed by it because I was. It is not the first time that I have almost touched eternity during my fight with ALS. After this visit my tongue has matured. A lot of you will think that is silly but it’s true. All of the things that I think of when people come to me petitioning for prayers for their lives are now flowing out of me and my speech. My tongue is unleashed by the Holy Spirit. I just pray what God puts in me to this person or people. Yes, it is a little awkward for my family to see their mother just saying godly things to people and randomly speaking to those around me. Since I have been home I have not been able to ventute out as much. I have no fear though because God is bringing people to me wherever I am.
Before the septic shock, I had joined the Bible study and then started one as well. One Bible study would be on Thursdays and the other would be on Mondays. This was all miraculous. One of my really good friends could tell that I was needing something. I would sit at my window all days without my grandson reading, praying, writing, and crying. I was crying for our little community, our government, our country, and our world. The tears would fall relentlessly down my cheeks. My heart would hurt because I was separated from all of those whom I loved on the other side of the window. I had not physically touched most of my siblings, my brother, or any of my beloved friends for almost a year. My heart was tortured. My friend suggested I joined a community Bible study. It was to be done online. So I did. I became engrossed in it whenever I was in the moods of desperation. It was so good. It gave me so much armor to use once I was back on the battlefield for God. A week after I had begun this Bible study a couple of my closest friends from bunco came by and asked if I could lead a Bible study. God definitely placed me in a position and gave me the words and materials to go deeper with his word. He gave me the words to share with these women. We began to meet on Mondays. The first meeting had several scratching their heads wondering what they had gotten themselves into because studying God’s word is work. It is such fruitful work. After the first meeting I began to pray for the little group of women that they would see the glory, that they would see the sword of truth that we could use to battle the devil, and that they would understand the story of our faith. The next meeting the member that was the most confused and disheartened was on fire for God. The words that she found were nuggets of truth that she found and grew connections with her experience with God and catapulted her to a next level. Thanks be to God! The devil was not too happy I’m sure because the next week after meeting is when I was placed in the hospital. I promise you I will give you all of the details of the hospital to stay especially the back row because I know you like all the gruesome stuff! It’s just going to have to be in the book. Our meeting this week I am happy to say God is still on fire within all of us. I believe that if had I gone on to heaven these women would rally together and continue to march forward searching for the truth. You see I need the Bible study to help me find the words, the correct words that God wants me to use. I have figured out how to walk or roll the way God wants me to so he can shine through me but I need words. Words that will help other souls be on fire for God. That is what is happening right now in this study. There is a spiritual battle to be fought. There is good and evil. There are mysteries. I know that so so many of us are so far from God. We have tried to figure out all these mysteries and explain away the real truth. Everything comes through God. Everything. That means science as well. Somewhere down the line we have divorced our faith from science. We have to get back. I feel this call so deeply.
Yesterday one of girls from the Bible study called me urgently wanting to speak. It was a verse of 2nd Corinthians 4:7-11 that spoke so loudly to her that she wanted to share it with me. She said, ” Sarah, God wanted me to share this with you today and I’m so glad I was able to catch you on the phone. ” I told her I was so happy to receive her call. It was an explanation for me of what was going on with my life at this moment, at this time.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
As my life is consumed for Christ; death will come take my flesh.
Once freed from its mortal veil, my spirit will shine eternally with my creator.
That has been the goal from the beginning for us all No longer I. Today is a beautiful day. I thank God for each one especially ones spent with friends and family. I’ll be sure to share it with you tomorrow. Lots of sun / dirt / plants and my sister Sandy.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Jar of Clay Gal
This is something else I want us all to start praying together. (Thanks Amy)
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
In my mind lately, I have been wanting to write for so long. There have been so many mornings that I had read something that made me think of all of you. Things that touched my heart and I want to share. Seeing all of the little miracles around me unfold. Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s more than just green beer and wearing green to keep from getting pinched! I know the back row did not want to hear that. During these long days of the pandemic I have been so blessed to be enveloped with love from my family. Now, I did not say that we did not fight or get into squabbles. In the Alley house, we call our squabbles incidents. We have certainly had several ” incidents.” We have recently begun to inch out of our little dens like Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog. Depending your mindset, how much did you grow during the pandemic? Did you grow spiritually? Did you grow emotionally? Think of what you gained from the pandemic time. I certainly gained a lot. Yes, back row, you have homework. Think of things that you were blessed with during the pandemic. This leads me back to St. Patrick. Saint Patrick did not struggle through a pandemic but the parallels of his indentured servitude are something we can look at to help us understand the power of God. Let me paint the picture a little bit for my students. St. Patrick was born to two very devout Christian parents in Roman Brittania. They were wealthy. He had a great life until one day he was captured by Irish pagans and sold into slavery as a shepherd in Ireland. He was about 16 years old. 16! Can you even imagine? It makes our pandemic time look very wimpy. He was not a very studious child but as he spent his days on the mountains and hills in Ireland tending the sheep, he got closer and closer to God. He felt God within him. He spoke with God. After several years of enslavement, God told him to go to the coast. He would find a boat there. This boat would take him back to his home country. He traveled 200 miles of course on foot. I don’t think they had many types of transportation in the 4th century. He did see a boat and whenever he went up to the boat and begged for a passage back to his home country the sailors said no. As he was walking away, they had a change of heart. They allowed him to ride with them. The journey was perilous. There were many times of despair. One of those occasions the sailors told him to pray to his God because they were all going to starve to death. Patrick did just that. He prayed and there were pigs freshly slaughtered that they came upon. They ate their fill. Patrick made it back to his family. Before the celibacy rule, his father and grandfather were priests. He followed suit. Something kept telling him to go back to Ireland. He had a dream that the people of the Ireland were begging him to come back. After his studies, he returned to Ireland. He became a bishop there. He performed many miracles and some of those were on the high holidays of the Druids. This always caused a stir. Saint Patrick lit a fire on the high holy day of darkness. They were not able to put the fire out. Miracles like these help to convert the Irish people to Christianity. The miracle that is most talked about is how St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. When we think of Saint Patrick’s Day we think of clovers. They are associated with Saint Patrick’s Day because he used the clover to describe God as three people in one. St Patrick was very close to nature and saw God everywhere in nature. He walked fearlessly having been granted a long life in Ireland. His only fear was of his God. Anything of this earth did not bother Saint Patrick. Today he is the patron saint of Ireland. You see back row, It’s more than green beer and wearing the color green! Don’t forget your homework! There are blessings everyday in our lives. There are tiny miracles all around us. During this time I have been given a group of women to read and share the Bible with and try to figure out how we can be closer to God. I have been given little notes of love in the mail from people of all types of faith that are praying for me. I am so thankful. I really do feel the prayers. How did you grow like Saint Patrick? Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the loving Saint Patrick Gal Quotes of the day: Saint Patrick Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.
In my mind today, I’m thinking about snow days, Valentine’s, and gratitude. Oh snow days! I know all of my back row students are just having such a good time. I have spent my morning in prayers and devotions watching the beauty of the children in my neighborhood. They are sledding like wild fire down the drive into my front yard. I had messaged them to please let the kids sled down the neighbor’s drive into my own yard. It brings back such great memories of me with my children. If it is done just right, you can catch air at the bottom and jump up and go into our yard. We were always ready for a good snow day but it was even better when ice was involved. That means you can really jet on your sled. I also think of the sweet parents that are out there with their children enduring the cold. Many would love to just sit inside and get an extra day to relax and if you’re a teacher to get grades done as well as curriculum plans. It makes my heart so happy that these parents sacrifice for their children. That is what it’s all about sacrificing for others happiness. Sure I didn’t want to go out all the time in the cold and the mess that it made was rough as well. The joy that my children got was worth more to me. Those moments that we get to be with our children are fleeting. If you’re reading this today, grab a sled, a piece of cardboard, garbage can lid or anything that gives less friction (Yes back row students this is a lesson. Less friction the faster you go!) then get out there with those children! Valentine’s day has always been such a beautiful holiday for me. I have the most thoughtful husband. He always gives me the most beautiful flowers. He even signs the card himself every year. I know this is frivolous but it is such a beautiful sign of love. Today, I read about how a man should not be alone. God knew that Adam was lonely. He had created such an abundance of creatures but he knew that Adam needed a helpmate. I am so glad and grateful I thank God because He gave me such a wonderful partner in life. I hope your Valentine’s day is full of gratitude and love for the one you spend your life with on this earth. We only get one life. It is so sad we spend our time making plans and not enjoying it. Today I joined a book club discussion with several different women. I was so grateful to see other women of faith wanting to stay as close as they can to the word of God. I am just grateful for the ability to still be a part of God’s plan. Gratitude is so beautiful. Since you’re having a good day out of school here is a little bit of homework. Think of three things that you are grateful for and yes back row you could say snow days for one. I am grateful for my sweet neighbors and their beautiful children who unbeknownst to them fill me was so much joy as I watch them through my window. I am grateful for this life even if it is in a wheelchair. I am so very grateful for each and every moment that I can spend with you and my family. Last but not least, I am grateful for this time given to me so I can become closer to God. Have a wonderful snow day and Valentine’s day! May your heart be full. Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the Grateful Gal Quotes of the Day:Kindness is like snow– It beautifies everything it covers. A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. .
“We live in a post-Christian world that puts its eggs into three basic baskets: political, material, and self.”
In my mind today I am try desperately to figure out how to go forward. I read recently about how as humans in a post Christian world we put things into three categories: political, material, and self. What do we really worry about in this modern life? I guess I’m not so modern in my thinking because it is easy to get swept away into the fray of chaos which we live in now more than ever.
I have always been proud to be an American. So proud until I learned of all of the growing pain of this country. We have done a lot of good but we have failed on so many levels. I was never enamoured by political parties of any sort. I tried to figure out which party would be best for all. Which political party would serve its constituents the best? Political parties in my thoughts were to keep the country going and doing the best it can for each of its individuals. I remember George Washington warning of the evils of political parties from my textbooks. We just have such a hard time listening. In my small little mind, I have always thought the government was there to work for us: the people. I didn’t think it was there to define what a human was; all it was to do was to clarify that we all have inalienable rights and yes those come from the Creator. You are supposed to keep God out of things political. When God is the creator of all things, it seems kind of silly to try to keep him out of it. We did not need government to tell us how or when we should worship. That goes with our inalienable rights given not only by government supposedly but from God. Remember free will? The free will to choose what we believe without fear of being tarred and feathered. God is gracious enough to give us the choice because he knows if those choices are not made with a heart a willing heart then it is a moot point. You do have to believe something or you will fall for anything. I used to love to teach The Bill of Rights. We have these rights: speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. This is just the first amendment. It did get me in a lot of trouble because my students would then petition the cafeteria and post things around the school. The lunch ladies were not too happy. I had to explain to them that the students were just exercising their right and we understood their hands were tied by the food services they had to use and the rules they had to go by given from the government. The students wanted to get their point across. They did. Right now the political party thorn is wedging deeper and deeper into our American culture. I keep hearing George Washington warning us and then I hear on the news of more and more unrest. I know I’m just a retired teacher with a lot of time on my hands in a wheelchair but if things do not work, can’t there be change? Just this morning I was listening to the news for 5 minutes. That’s all I allow myself. A 5-minute briefing of what’s going on in the world. Something that jumped out at me was in Germany they have a Christian Democratic party. The ideals of this party are based within their faith. You don’t believe in them; you get out. Do the Germans have an oppressive Christian Democratic party that is leeching all of the life out of them? I don’t think so. The ideals of Christianity are constantly attacked. The ideals that we tried to live up to as Christians are very good ideals. We need to live up to them. If we did, it would help save a lot of grief. If everything was created with the widowed and the orphaned in mind and the protection of those most vunerable in our little communities then so much goodness could come out of it. We tend to do this anyway without the legality of the government. We are constantly fighting poverty the best that we can in my little corner of the world. This is what needs to be fought: Poverty. Ignorance. Greed. Change, it’s hard. There are good things out there with our political affiliations but there’s also a lot of bad. It is time that we change. It is time that we say we want a party that is affiliated with our ideals and beliefs. The country cannot be a theocracy but the political parties can be affiliated with such. This is the segue for all of those hurting and wondering what’s going on in our country? How many more people would be apart of a democratic party if it was called the Christian Democratic party? How about a Christian Republican party? I think there will be millions. I am not ready to give up my ideals about faith just like so many others out there. I cannot be a part of taking lives. It states thou shalt not kill in bold black and white. We have created ways to make money while punishing or subjecting others. This is wrong. Corruption is everywhere. Restorative justice. Redemption. These things sound so familiar. We have to make changes for the greater good of all. Are we a post Christian society? I don’t think so.
The second category is material. Materialism. Consumerism. This is another thing we as humans worry about. Yes we should worry if we have a roof over our head. Yes we should worry if our children are not being educated. I think the material trap is part of the corporate world to keep us running for something to fill a hole that can only be filled by contentment. Contentment. When is enough for you to be content with your life? Is it when you finally move into that exclusive neighborhood? Is it when you finally have designer clothes and purses? Is it when you are driving the newest Cadillac? When do you become content? It’s certainly not after you receive the monthly payments on that Cadillac. It’s a trap. We feel like we need more. Most have enough to be okay. My father would always say we’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses. That’s exactly what everyone is trying to do. Every family cannot be a Roosevelt, Carnegie, or Rockefeller. The sad thing is we try so very hard to keep up. In this effort to keep up, we trade a lot of things that are very important. One of those things we have traded is our family structure. In order for us to have the things that we have we have to sacrifice by allowing someone else to raise our children. This is good if you can afford the best and people who have the best interest in your children. I am very blessed that family always helped with my children. My job was aligned with their schedules. It really was a win-win situation. So many people are not this fortunate. They lean on the institutions we have put in place so they can continue to work so they can buy stuff. As the corporate world boomed, the pay for the workers did not. Herein lies why we are so angry. The wealth generated by these corporations could have done more than they have for the American people they depended upon. I just keep hearing George Bailey telling Mr. Potter, “Is it too much to ask for someone to have two bedrooms and a bathroom with a decent roof over their heads?” That’s all anyone really wants is to be able to provide and take care of their families. We have got to get off of this track of wanting materialistic empty items. We want contentment. The only way my friend to get contentment is to be okay with what you have. To see all the blessings around you and to be glad for those blessings. It’s wanting what you have. What do most Americans want? They want to say the American dream is dead but I don’t think so. We all want to have lives with meaning spent with people we love. Some of the poorest people in the world are the most content. It is so sad that we have missed the mark so badly. There is no big surprise to the ending of each of our lives. We are going to perish from this world. I am with George Bailey. I think that everyone should have the chance to not be cheated and to live a decent life with the people they love around them. Capitalism can work if people reinvest in their workers and their welfare. Care if the bus stops are well lit. Care if the schools are safe. A book I read recently discussed how to go forward if corporations fail. Invest locally: community banks, farmer’s markets, and small businesses. Right now in my little burg we have amazing community support from First Citizens National Bank, Security Bank, Sonic, General Appliance, Independent Radiology, Ford Construction, Forcum Lannom, Lucky Liquor, and so many mom and pop businesses that are doing it very well. A big part of survival will be dependent on local farmers which have been crowded out by commercial farms. Animal husbandry does anyone remember that? Can we put the humaneness back in humanity?
Self. This is the busiest time of year for places to help you improve yourself. From gym memberships to diet fads and courses to help you be more confident and be a better version of yourself, you name it we have it. All of the ads and commercials you see want you to worry about yourself. You know when I worry about myself or what I need, I am a basket case. I don’t think we’re supposed to focus on self. What about me? What do I get out of this? This is such a sad place to be when you worry so much about your own little self. It is called selfishness. Have you ever met a selfish person? Everything is about yes you guessed it, them. They are so busy telling you of all of the ills of their life they don’t realize anything else is going on around them. It’s just their world and you’re just living in it. There have been simple iconic selfish characters in literature but the one that moved to me to this piece of writing was none other than Ebenezer Scrooge. Now there is a selfish guy. I really think old Ebenezer is a good analogy for corporations. Most Americans want just to be able to provide and work for their families welfare. Now that most women are in the workforce, I bet you there are several that would love to be able to live on one salary and be home with their children. This is not all women of course but the choice should be given. Our livelihood should not be dependent upon both parents working. It is not working for our culture. It is tearing apart the fabric of our families. People should not be looked down upon because they choose to stay home and care for their children. Women should be for women in whatever they choose. The rhetoric of the day has women at odds with each other. Remember those ads that tell you to be ultra independent: be self-driven and the master of your own destiny. We all have destinies but I don’t think those align with selfishness as ads will tell you. This huge wheel of existence has a lot of weak spokes. The people in the most powerful places drive it. Are they guiding it in our best interest as humans? Or has the power lulled them to sleep?
In my mind today I have been trying so hard to find the Joy. The pandemic has driven everyone into their tightest circles possible. In my family, the circle is huge. The times of huge gatherings was not to be had this year. From March until who knows, we will miss very many wonderful gatherings or take a chance. The fragility of our health makes it harder than ever because we want to be with all of our loved ones. If I sat in my wheelchair and dwelled on this everyday, I don’t think I would have any tears left. I believe I would cry myself empty. That is why I reach for my devotionals each day. I try to feed my mind with good words and directions before I begin each day. Some days you just have to cuss. I hear you back row; you are laughing. After losing it, I turn back and ask for forgiveness. The tensions inside of our homes is real. Even in our most tenuous moments there is joy! Don’t believe me back row? Let’s take it to trial. You be the judge!
Exhibit A Last year I got a new wheelchair. It was to be driven by my head and neck. I didn’t realize that my neck muscles would begin to atrophy before I ever mastered it. So, it sat in the corner in my room broken after I had run into a car outside and broken the drive device. The new chair sat there for a year, and I continued to drive the old one. My left arm is now weakening and I am barely able to drive with a joystick but I was still able to tootle around especially outside. Next, the batteries were running out on the old wheelchair that I was using and I was forced to contact the wheelchair people. They came to get the wheelchair and put many adaptations on it for me. After three more with months of waiting, it arrived! I was so excited to drive again without worrying about the battery dying. My dogs were getting seriously mad at me because I could not roll with them. The eye gaze system was a bit jerky but I thought hey I can do this. I did tootle a bit and then I was waiting for a day to go outside and practice. Driving with your eyes inside takes a lot of skill especially whenever you have an s curve on the way into the bedroom. Don’t you remember whenever you were learning to drive? They take you to big parking lots and let you practice. I was bound and determined to learn to drive this wheelchair. My son and I headed outside. I began to drive it down the ramp but whenever I got out of the garage it died. It would not work. It kept saying no eyes detected! We sat out there for 2 hours trying to figure out why the wheelchair would not work. It had to be me or some wire that wasn’t attached correctly. I did hit a few doors and walls in the house. Whenever we gave up and came in, it worked in the house. I had suggested that maybe the sunlight was interfering with it. So I called the technology people that created the eye gaze and found out that I was given the cheapest version available. Insurance did not think it was necessary for me to be outside driving on my own. Folks, I am not dead yet. As long as I am breathing, I want to go outside it doesn’t matter if it is 0° or 110°. This girl loves outside. It’s where I find most of my joy. It is where God meets me. After several meltdowns and conversations with insurance and technology people I believe they have approved the eye gaze that works outside as well as inside. What I had discovered was unless you have an advocate you are your own. Where is the joy? The joy was I was able to advocate for myself. The joy was now I know even more how important it is to donate to the ALS chapter because they are huge advocates of getting us what we need. The virtual race that we had this year made it possible to give a nice donation to the ALS chapter. Joy abounds. I can call at any time and they are able and willing to help me live with ALS. Verdict: Help those who have no advocate. I guarantee you you will find joy!
Exhibit B If you know me, You know I am an absolute nut for Christmas! I always have been. Did I always get everything I wanted for Christmas as a child? Never. But that’s okay. It was about the songs and the feeling that Christmas gives that was always what I loved. Let us not forget the awesome claymation cartoons. I was born at the right time. I still torture my children to this day and grandchildren with watching those antique shows together. I just drive my family crazy. Lists. I am list maker. Even if I cannot physically write anymore, I make lists in my head and occasionally voice to text them like I am now. I shoot those list out to my poor children. The ones that are trapped with me in this house. That’s how I think they feel sometimes! They then begin to try to help. This year the list was completely ignored. The kids started decorating without any attention given to the list. So cue the meltdown. I asked them what were they doing? Why were they dragging out all this stuff but I actually said junk? I asked desperately, “Did you even read the list?” The list was way simpler than what was going on. They were dragging out things I had not seen in years. The house was a wreck. I was a wreck. They were frazzled. It was not a beautiful Christmas scene from a Hallmark movie at all. After we all got over it (10 days later) the decorating began. They tried to back up and punt. I had only planned on one tree this year. Yes, I know it’s horrible that I have more than one tree and I am stuck in a wheelchair and I still want those trees up. The list that I had given them explicitly said one tree. I wanted the Nativity tree because that is what this time of year is really all about anyway. It was like one of those quizzes your teacher gives you and then when you get to the end it says put your name at the top and you will get a 100. Don’t worry about answering the questions. If that had been done, lots less crying and gnashing of teeth would have happened while decorating. The whole house almost came down whenever they found out I had nixed the memory tree. Needless to say, decorating is done and there are three trees up. The tree that means the most to my children is the one that is full of memories. Note to self! It is the one that has traveled with us through our lives together. It has all sorts of ornaments from friends and school crafts. It carries with it people and friends who are no longer with us. The nativity tree used to be in the foyer. The memory tree was always in the living room. It had lived with us. It was the staple tree from the very beginning. This year I flipped them. After all of the dust settled, my sweet husband who never says anything says, “I can’t believe you picked the Nativity tree. Didn’t you realize the children would be upset? The memory tree is also my favorite. It should be in the living room.” Verdict: Don’t assume that others love the cherish same things that you do even if you live in the same household. Be considerate of their time and feelings regardless if there is a list. My list caused so much grief and wasted so much time. I should have just let them decorate the way they wanted. It will be theirs to do one day anyway. After one nasty exchange, I suddenly realized I was being over zealous with the trappings of Christmas. I felt just like the Grinch before he had an epiphany. It really only matters that we are here and we will be able to make more memories God willing. That’s it. You don’t need anything: a tree, gifts, or extravagance of any kind to find the Joy of Christmas.
Bed sores (another gift from being in a wheelchair that is stationary,) uti infections, and beyond and I could never forget to mention the near death experiences of choking. Yes we have been through a lot of falling down with our health lately. The pandemic makes it so much harder to look at the bright side of things. If this is how you feel, it is time to flip the script. You need to look around yourself and see all of those blessings. Look around and find people who need blessings. Now that you have opened your eyes, you need to get busy. You have so many gifts of joy to unwrap this advent. Here are some of the gifts I have received: fresh eggs from a friend who has a farm each Saturday delivered straight to my mailbox or my garage, surprise drop offs of pumpkin bread and pies, a dear friend who is very sick made the dressing for my Christmas meal that tastes so much like my mother’s, my children trying to make me want to live longer, my grandson who has ripped every vehicle off of every tree with a few other ornaments, a window visit from my grand girls that I have not seen in months, and beautiful Christmas cards from friends that I never knew I would be able to hear from again. These are just a few of the gifts from people who just love us. That is complete Joy. God speaks to us every single day not just Christmas. He is in the little birds that sit by my window and pick berries. He is in the squirrels that skitter and fight and play around my window everyday. He is in the playful dogs that come to my window wanting to know why I am not out there with them. He is in my children that desperately try to make everything okay. He is in the sweet husband that guards his little family so well even though he himself has lost so much. He is in the bulbs that I saved and are now beginning to sprout in my window. Every message he gives me is of LOVE and a promise of resurrection. I see things sometimes that I know are just for me from God. Students there is Joy whether we open our eyes to see it or not. What are you waiting for? Find your joy!
Merry Christmas! Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the ALS Gal
Quotes for the Season: “Cover them,” he says. “I do not wish to see them.” Ebenezer Scrooge “Bring them here,” He says. “I wish to see them.” Jesus Christ Do you see the difference? Scrooge did not want to see the poor of the world. He did not want to feel responsible or guilty or worse not to feel anything. To you much that is given… always remember that. Jesus said bring those to me who are on the fringes of life.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
In my mind today, I have had such strong emotions this November. Novembers are always hard for us since our son left the Earth. It was 10 years this year. So so many have left us. It is our job to continue on and to spread love and unselfish acts. We have been isolated because of our health. Everything is different this year because of the pandemic. This was the first year we did not get to see our grand girls. This was the first year that we didn’t have 50 plus people to share a family meal. Our wonderful weekends at church and with family have been thwarted since March. There has just been so much grief in our world. My heart cannot take it. Yesterday at the end of November in my readings I was reminded to stop, pray, and hope for better times on this Earth. Although everything has seemed so sad and dreary we have to fight through the dark times. We have to search for the good even if it is just thru our own window. There is so much good still to be done; there is still so much good in our lives although we often overlook it. I am thankful for the blessings of getting to see my husband and children every day. I am grateful that my youngest grandson is able to be with me so so much because his parents are having to work. It brings so much light and joy to us. It makes me realize that our jobs during this time maybe just simply to love each other I mean really love each other. Not post a pic on social media to show all the wonderful love but really really give that wonderful love even if you don’t get a picture. Be in the moment. I know I have always been a little bit nutty but I tried to imprint memories in my mind as I am having them. There is a treasure trove to be revisited. As I look out the big window with my grandson and see all of the beauty of the birds and the squirrels playing, I know there is no place that I should be but with him. I see that real love when he falls asleep on his Uncle Ben because Uncle Ben has the best hugs. I see that love when Abbey has to say “No!” I also see that love when he goes to her for his essential needs, snacks! I see that love when he sings along with us or adds a new word. I see real love when he jumps up in Poppy’s chair and shares his cereal with his coffee in the afternoons just like my grand girls always did. I hear that love when I hear my daughter is singing for her classes upstairs. I feel that love especially when my family has to feed me and bathe me.Even if I am a guinea pig for all of my daughters beauty stuff! I have just not ever been a girly girl or a diva I guess. She loves it and I love that she wants to keep me healthy. I even see that kind of love when the cat will jump on my feet and just lay there for hours. ALS continues to take but I refuse to give it my joy. My joy -o- meter has been up and down like the stock market but when I open my devotionals and all of my readings I find the strength to fight. Stop, pray, and hope. My hope is way bigger than a mustard seed and I know where my Joy comes from and that’s all that I need. Last but not least, I am thankful for you. For loving and supporting me and this fight, I can never repay all of the kindness that surrounds me. I can only say, thanks be to God. Sarah Anderson AlleySal the Thankful Gal Quotes for the Day: Indeed, this life is a test. It is a test of many things – of our convictions and priorities, our faith and our faithfulness, our patience and our resilience, and in the end, our ultimate desires.Sherri L. Dew Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.Buddha Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.Alphonse Karr
In my mind today I have been thinking about what it means to be a man? Actually I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Yes are they different from a woman? Physically? Emotionally? Think about it. We all have our idea of what it is to be a man. I can remember back to my sandlot days. I was such a tom-boy. Anything the guys did I was going to do better or break my neck trying to do it. I loved, loved being outside and physical with the world. I resented when the captain (a boy) demanded to take my last strike in the middle of a game as if we would automatically lose if I took my own last strike. It made me so mad. As I sit back in my chair and watch the world go by especially during the pandemic I see that we are lacking so much as an American culture. We have lost our idenity. Our boys have lost their motivation. They have lost their leadership abilities. It is just getting more prevalent each generation. We need to redefine what it means to be a man in this country. If you could right now, write down or brainstorm what it means to be a man to you. If you are a boy write down what you think it means. If you’re a girl write down what you think it means and what kind of man would you want to marry? Think about the shows you watch on television. Which ones are the real men or the definition of it? What about movies? How are men portrayed in the shows or the things that you watch? Remember garbage in and garbage out students. Does what you see align with the definition you wrote or thought of when I asked you? Who are your heroes? Do they have to have fantastical powers? Can an ordinary man just be a hero? Just like the song, where have all the good guys gone? Many American children today have excess. They don’t have to struggle for food or shelter. This is a good thing, but I think we lost our way though. Haven’t you always heard if you don’t work for it you will not appreciate it? We have a lot of underappreciative generations that are just now becoming adults. I don’t know if I could say appreciative, because they did not have the example that was needed. They did not know how to be men because no one ever showed them. There was no rite of passage for most of them. When do they become men in our American culture? Students do you see why it is important for us to define a man? I don’t want to get into the big gender debate but men are very important whether I want them to take my last strike or not. I am not saying that women cannot lead. I am not saying that women are any less. I am saying there are differences. I don’t understand why we have to demonize men in order to feel good about being a woman. Being a woman is a whole other thing entirely. As a woman I do want my rights, but I do not want to take away from or add to because of my gender. If I work the same job, yes I deserve the same pay. If I want to stay home with my children, I should be looked upon with honor not distain. If my husband is the head of my household, it does not render me powerless it shows that we are united together for the good of our family. I look around and see so many other cultures embracing what we used to have. A family centered around God working together for the greater good. How did we lose this? Are we listening to the right propaganda? Think about it. What is a man? The answer is really simple. It’s like finding the forrest among the trees. Sal the Concerned Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley Quotes: “A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitat
e him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.” Niccolo Macheveli “The strength and power of a country depends absolutely on the quantity of good men and women in it.” John Ruskin
“Good men by nature, wish to know. I know that many will call this useless work… men who desire nothing but material riches and are absolutely devoid of that of wisdom, which is the food and only true riches of the mind.” Leonardo da Vinci
In my mind today I am thinking about death. Just plain and simple death. Our God sweeps in and takes those we love. How we take it so personal when someone has to go. Then we think about fairness; is there any fairness? Is there ever a good time for us humans? My family and I have been going to the same church for 30 years and my mother-in-law since the 1970’s. This is something very odd for me. Growing up I did not have a home church. I spent many days on church vans trying to find a home for my little young girl soul. You see my mother had to work third shift and there were no family going to church together days. This is something that I found to be very, very important. Will it guarantee your kids always act right? Never. But there is just something about the love of a church for you and for your family that is an extension of the greater love from God. I thank God for my little church. Recently we have lost so many wonderful people. I shouldn’t say lost. They are home. They have crossed the Rubicon. They have crossed the great divide. I have seen so many of these people for 30 years and now they have started the new journey. Nothing stops it; it will happen. It will come. What’s more important is are you ready? Is anyone really ever ready? I really think so. Whenever you reach your spiritual maturity point, you realize. It is a reckoning within your own soul. There is a peace about you. A peace about the way you live, share your life, and help the least. It just shows in every fiber of your being. Congratulations! When you get to this point, you are well on your way to communion with the Saints. Here is the saddest part, some people never get there. They never cross the maturity into spirituality. Your dying is a birth into new life. Our bodies are the old wineskins. You cannot put good wine into old wineskins. Remember Mary’s request at the wedding and Cannan. Do as her son tells you. Those who are closest to you will never be ready for you to go but thank God for His plan. Thank God for His Mercy. Thank God for His Grace that is everlasting. It is still a mystery but one that we are privy, too. We will all cross the Jordan, ride the peace train, or just catch that long black train for our next journey. This past year we have seen so many of our church make that journey. It wasn’t all Covid-19 but the natural and slow ebb of living a long fruitful life. Life, are you living it? Or just going through the motions? This is it folks. It is time for people to get ready. You really don’t need a ticket, you just thank the Lord and get on that train knowing you have run the race well. Were you faithful to your spouse? Were you sure your children attended church on Sundays? Were you a good grandparent? Did you love all of those even those who grind your gears? Did you try to do small acts of kindness with no one knowing about them? Did you pray and stay in contact with God throughout this journey? Did you do for the least? Don’t say there aren’t any because we serve 750 families a month at Matthew 25:40. This is the tip of the iceberg. You have a job that only you can do. Jesus calls us our entire lives. I really hope you stopped to listen like our beloved George. Our last member that left for eternity and communion with the Saints, I remember oh so well. I think we need to buckle up. I think we are going to lose a lot of good people, but we are getting them to the light. We need others to step up. Two years ago I was privileged to go through the RCIA program with our church with my daughter in law. George was also a part of that class. I remember that very first evening. I leaned over as we were going in to ask George if he had decided to join the dark side? Just joking of course, it’s the light side! But he said yep I think I’m going to do it. I knew George from his fabulous older sister who had always been a champion of our local schools and tried to be the good in this little county. Many moons later after his sister had moved on, he began to come with one of our longtime members. Just as he loved us, he was drawn into the love of our little parish. I remember when he began to come to church. My boys were like he looks like a rockstar! We always thought he was the Elvis of Holy Angels. He had the best hair ever. He also dressed like Tony Saprano. Too cool! I just so, so loved to be able to watch him blossom into the fruitful life of being a Catholic Christian. It brings tears even now. I am so happy for George. The waiting is the hardest part. Living while knowing some day, somewhere, somehow, we will be called back to our heavenly creator. We know there is more. I think George was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He was always so excited to work at the Salvation Army to serve the least. I can still see him and Kathy with their aprons. Smiling, singing, and whistling that was George while mopping or sweeping at The Salvation Army or with the Knights of Columbus fish fries. They with many others helped me and fought to keep our kids active in church. If Matthew 25:40 needed him, he was there. As a matter of fact, if anyone needed him he never hesitated to help out. They were so very supportive and I know that the family will continue to be because that is what Christians do. There’s a kingdom to be built. We were all given tasks. I can say without a doubt that George finished very well and I know no one will argue. When George retired from being a doctor, he could have done anything. He could have traveled extensively. He could have gone on all types of medical conventions and do the circuit learning even more. He could have moved to Knoxville and enjoyed every single ball game. Doesn’t matter the sport, he could have caught them all. He could have chosen to be single, foot-loose and fancy free. He did like Mary instead of Martha, For a while, he sat at God’s feet and soaked up all of God’s love then to he became a Martha for Holy Angels Catholic Church. Thanks be to God for Kathy for opening up her heart again to the sacrament of marriage. Along with God you loved him into eternity. It’s not forever and we will all be together with all of those saints one day, one day.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Saint loving Gal
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
In my mind today, I have been working through losing one of my favorite friends to heaven and trying to focus on making this year’s race a success. My friend was the reason I took over this race. He has some very big shoes to fill on our committee. In order to honor my friend, I wanted to explain how it all came to be. After being forced into retirement because of my weakened physical abilities, I noticed there were advocates that did a yearly walk for ALS. I thought this was so cool and the way I could try to find a way to be useful. Every year in our little West Tennessee town we have always had race on the 3rd Saturday of October. It was coming up on the 26th annual Mission March. I called my friend who had always run in it as I had in the past and asked how could I do a walk in conjunction with the Mission March to help support ALS research and help our little community in some way. To give back to the community that had always loved me through this horrible disease that was my goal. When I called Bart, I asked him if we could do a simple walk along with the Mission March event. He sadly told me that the event had been canceled. He then told me that he had run the race every single year and was very sad it was going to be let go. I said, “I’ll be on the committee if you want to try to do something with it.” He replied, ” Be on the committee? You are the committee!” And so out of that conversation, became the Autumn March for ALS. We had big dreams for the race. Each year we wanted to build on the next. As the race began to gain steam, we had the idea of all kids running free. Especially the youngest of our community. We understood the benefits for children to run. Children need exercise, healthy competition, and camaraderie. The shirts would be free for these students. The shirts are also a gift from us to our kids in this area and wherever else they may land. The shirts can be used as a spirit shirt for school and it could also be used underneath polo shirts that are mandated by our systems. We understood that many kids have needs that can’t always be met. This was just another little way we could help out the least of ours. Do we lose money when we do this? It depends on what you are talking about. Yes we lose part of our bottom dollar but we also gain so much by way of spreading that light and love to others which is priceless. We wanted the race to inspire students to be healthy, to become teammates, and to feel good about themselves. We had a vision that schools all around the area and eventually around the country could join in our fight for a cure and a brighter future. We always hoped that the children would outnumber the adults. We both thought of Spain and how the running of the bulls would be so cool if the bulls were children running down our streets. I am not going to give up. I know Bart would not want me to ever give up. Another wonderful thing that blossomed out of the race was support for local scholarships to local seniors. This money that we raise helps those students start a chapter in college. Each year we hope to give more and more scholarships. This year we were able to give four $1,000 scholarships. We call these scholarships The Autumn March “Whatever it Takes Scholarship” was added to our efforts in order to honor long time teacher and admistrator Robert Cupples and Sarah Alley. All of our legacies should be for the future and that is our kids. These scholarships help leave a legacy to share the light in our little corners of the world. The only thing required is to write an essay about how you will be a light in the world after college or trade school and give it to your guidance counselor. The people in your neighborhood who do the jobs needed and do those while shedding light to all the dark places are needed now more than ever. Another way that we try to help others is through local donations to non-profit organizations. We were able to give Matthew 25:40 a gift of money during a very trying financial year to ensure the least got Christmas presents and other needs covered. We are all on the same team. Mr. Bart worked tirelessly up to the very end. He continued to encourage me and now I encourage you. If you can donate to help sponsor students to run and to receive a shirt free, please donate. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $100. Just help us be the good that’s what Bart would want. As many know, Mr Bart was one of the best cookie bakers and sweet treat makers of all time! Everyone coveted those was wonderful cookies and caramels. It was a tradition that he started with his kids and they would deliver those to people around them especially the elderly and during the holidays. He was a grandfather and his grandchildren called him Cookie. You and I both know why. He’d never visited without sharing those wonderful cookies. Please help support us during this crazy year of virtual everything! If you are at school, please have groups of kids sign up and walk or run to show their support for Mr Bart, a cure, or a brighter tomorrow. Make posters and celebrate! You could do all of the above by signing up and posting your accomplishments! As usual we will have a trophy for the school with the largest number of students to run. We then deliver the trophy and cookies to the winners! Last years winner was Fifth Consolidated Elementary. The beauty is it could all be done at your leisure. I’m hoping that all runs will be completed by October 31st and posted to our websites to share the love! Sarah Anderson AlleySal the Autumn March Gal Quotes of the day: Have courage…….Be kind…….Eat cookies!!The secret ingredient is always…….kindness. All you need is love and cookies!!Bake the world a better place. Peace, Love, & Cookies Tracy Cupples https://runsignup.com/Race/TN/Dyersburg/AutumnMarchforALSVirtual
In my mind today, I am full of heartache, tears, and gratitude. Recently, our little town lost something very precious. It’s not a government grant or a local business but a person. A priceless person. That person was what I always called our “BFG.” He was our big friendly giant. (Students did you not read The BFG by Roald Dahl. No? Read it. It’s homework!) You would think with his stature that he would stand out, but that isn’t the case. He was so full of humility and he never wanted any credit for anything he had done or inspired. One of our colleagues said it like this, “He was a brilliant man and could have chosen any career, but he chose to be a teacher and a school counselor.” This is so true. I am so glad he chose to be a teacher and counselor. He has literally inspired thousands of children in our little community. He has inspired them to learn their multiplication facts, to be authors, influenced their emotional health, and even their physical health by inspiring them to run or walk. He was always a champion for the underdogs. He focused on reaching the least of us throughout his career. He was a tinker of sorts. He would take old bikes and refurbish them. He would deliver those bikes to children who had no other means of getting one. Things like this are never advertised. He is the one that inspired me to go around and save apples and milk from students at lunch that were unused. We then would distribute those inconspicuously to the students who needed them the most. Wasting was always something that he wanted to end. He was a writer or author should I say? He would do writing classes with the students and inspire their imaginations. He even wrote books and put them in the library at the school. They were self-published of course but he was showing the students by living his life that anything was possible. He even wrote a column for the paper about Highway 51. He was a carpenter. He built many items for his loved ones and was always there to help with Habitat for Humanity in our little town. He was a lover of the Earth. He started recycling in this area way before anyone else ever thought of it. Guess what he inspired his students to do? He was also a runner. He was a race organizer. He loved to run. I remember many moons ago when he inspired me to run. I remember getting New Balance shoes just like his. I didn’t want to be like Mike. I realized who the real heroes really were. He was a cyclist. I don’t know if many knew about his cycling adventures. I think he biked across states in the Midwest. It was Ohio. One of the bikes he used for that trek, I had refurbished whenever I started by cycling adventure. I remember returning it to him after I figured out my cycling days were over. It was a special bike. I also have a tandum bike he gifted to me to share with friends. I promised him that I would. So Darla and Jeff you know who you are, I have it hanging in my the garage waiting for you. He even held a political office for a while. I remember when he was running for office. I ran the Mission March that year wearing his campaign shirt. After the race, he came over and thanked me for wearing it. He was a leader in our local Civitan organization. He was always trying to help others learn to be good citizens and he helped influence this organization to support local nonprofits as well as many other things. He was a mechanic. He always had several project cars going. He just couldn’t stand to see those cars rust and fade away. He refurbished several during his time here with us. If you see a yellow Honda, you always think of him. He was also a baker of treats. The first thing my daughter said was, “Oh mom, No more cookies.” He would always give her a dozen to take with her to college to share. They are the absolute best cookies ever baked. He and his youngest invented the marvelous recipe but of course he gave her all of the credit. Last but not least, he was a storyteller. His stories were always so fantastical. He was just so wise. He was so much like Mister Rogers. I think he rivaled him in every way and how blessed are we that had him.
I remember asking him about how he met his wife. I always do this. It amazes me how people meet and fall in love. He described it as almost a love at first sight. He was always enamored by his wife’s beautiful, brilliant mind and strength. That love blessed them with many children. I am so thankful to God for their relocation to our area. After his wife finished law school at Vanderbilt, they came to our little corner of the world. She would fight the legal battles with her intelligent mind and he would fight the local poverty through his vocation. Such a match that blessed this little area. He and I had many conversations, but after I learned of his journey back to our Creator, I kept thinking of John Cougar Mellencamp. I know my students in the back are thinking she’s lost it! He recalled the time that he and his wife went to one of his concerts. The morning after I realized he had left the Earth, I couldn’t quit crying. I tried to hold back tears in front of my children. The next morning at coffee time, my husband said, “It’s okay. Cry. We lost one of the good ones. While I was doing my prayers, I realized that I didn’t need to pray for healing of this body for him, but said a prayer for his journey home.” So I did for a long time. My children were very worried as I knew they would be. So I went out to my prayer spot on the deck and played John Cougar Mellencamp. In every song that played I could feel a thread of his life: “Jack and Diane,” “Born in a Small Town,” “Cherry Bomb,” “Check It Out,” and “Little Pink Houses.” Sitting out there listening to music a butterfly approached me. It stayed with me all day. As soon as I saw it, I remembered what my friend’s grandmother had once told me about butterflies and how they give you a sign from heaven. I immediately felt so warm. I knew he was where we all want to be. He had shed his body and was flying. This morning I knew I had to get this out of me to honor my friend. I decided to just check my email one time before I started. I received a an email from his daughter. You see, he and I exchanged at least an email a week. Just silly updates about what we are writing or what our children were up to and about living each day to its fullest. I just kept hoping I would hear from him one more time and I did through his youngest. You see, the seed he planted in her is beginning to bloom. After I read it, the same butterfly landed outside of my window on the hydrangea bush where I sit each morning and pray. As teachers and counselors, we understand that the fruit of our labor is not often seen in our lifetime. I know because of him, there will be so many more like him. I know he has planted so many seeds in this little community. If you are a former student of his, that seed is probably in you. Embrace it. Do just like our BFG or Mister Rogers, Be the Good.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I Love Mr. Bart Gal
Dedicated to Barton “Bart” Joseph Williams
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson