UP

In my mind today I am thinking about up.  Yes front row I know that that is just a preposition  or a direction but that is exactly what I am thinking about the word up.  I also remember the rule never to end a sentence with a preposition.  I do not want to discuss the grammatical rules of English today. I want to talk about the word up and how it has really been in the middle of my thoughts lately.

God is good all of the time and I can’t remember God ever for building something downwards. We mere humans either. Why up and not down?  Think about it. 

Today our world is so busy building things up like technology and material wealth. We build-up science as the ultimate answer to save us from death or an untimely death. We build-up governments. Our governments are supposed to protect their constituents. It is supposed to build them up and not down.  Front row you are going to love this lesson. Who gives these liberties? Do our governments give us liberties? 

Look around you. In this little city where I live we are building things up everywhere. There are new churches being built. There are new banks being built. There are new shopping centers being built. Progress. Our little city is growing. After the pandemic, the people of my little town have awakened to so much  building up of everything around us except our attendees back to church.  I hear the back row starting to moan. 

The pandemic tore us down. It isolated us.  It changed our habits. It tricked us.  It made us think that this life is so precious that we have to do whatever we can to save it. We all lost so many precious family members and friends. They left this Earthly life. Why are we so easily discouraged?  We are so easily led down that road to perdition.  It is a super highway.  

We are just mere humans. We are easily confused and divided.  My favorite subject to teach was always history. I always told my students we need to know our history.  The history of civilization. The history of being a human. It is not always a beautiful picture. Our road to becoming an independent country was built with the precious blood of fathers and sons. They died so we could build-up something great in the eyes of the world under the name of God.  Yes front row I do hear you.  We are not a theocracy. I totally understand that but I also hear the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  The word creator changes everything. 

This is the point I am trying to get across to you students. Who gives us all of these rights? All of these human rights that we enjoy right here and the good old USA are given to us in the Bill of Rights. Right? They are given to us by God, the creator. Why is this so important?  There is no bill of sale. They cannot be taken from us. If we take our principles from God, we are able to create something good for all.  What are we building up today? Are we building up avarice and ignorance?  Are we learning from our history or are we trying to tear it down and rewrite it? Are we building our own narrative because we worship new gods?  This is your homework for the holidays while you feast on turkey. Be honest with yourself and ask what you are building up in your life?  What are you trying to tear down and why? 

The world does have order. It has a natural order. I believe it was created by God. Our God is a God of order. There is a morality that is driven by goodness. There is an eternal city that is also orderly. The road to it is very narrow. There is another city that is very disorderly. The road to it is very wide. This city is governed by man and has only chaos. It is created by a god of destruction. This city will end and not last for an eternity. This city is something my son and I call the clown world.   Everything is the opposite: Evil is good; good is evil. It is the place where a human can be god of his Earthly life. Students you have a lot of critical thinking to do during your break. 

I know there are so many of us that believe in a supreme God-man-Holy Spirit.  We want to work with God’s creation not to destroy it.  We want our lives to be measured by the good we do not the gold we acquire. We need to build each other up. We may not meet in the pews but we can meet on our knees. Pray. Yes, it is the most important homework I have ever given.

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the Build-up Gal

Quotes of the Day by Venerable Fulton Sheen 

If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.

When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.

You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.

The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.

Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.

Autumn March for ALS 2021

In my mind today, I am excited about having time to write. October has grown from being a one event to a multi – event month. My family, God bless them, for putting up with me and my divinely inspired ways to pump good into our little corner of the world. This month I have really pushed all of my family to the precipice of sanity. I apologise, but look at how God blessed others through the efforts of my family and friends. That’s what it’s all about students. Pouring out yourself for others. 

This year without key players to pull off the race, it became my beast of burden. I knew God would bring the people to pull it off. The Alley Alliance is a Motley crew of dedicated individuals. We have learned to persevere despite cancer, strokes, mental illness, ALS, death, etc. I could fill the entire blog with the obstacles we deal with and shoulder as a team. The most important member is God. He literally carries us each year. He carries me all the time. I feel it. 

  The race is every year on the 3rd Saturday of October. It has been this way now for 32 years. I definitely do not want to jinx the race but there has only been one day out of the 32 years that it has rained.  This year the race fell a lot earlier because of the calendar. There was a huge chance of rain that morning. The clouds parted and it was so beautiful.  There was not a one single cloud in the sky. Miracles. I cannot even tell you how many angels showed up that day to help this be such a beautiful day. There were old friends and new friends that came to do the work to make this happen. There were so many people praying for the race in heaven as well as on Earth. So many beautiful things have been born out of the Autumn March for ALS: What Ever It Takes Scholarships, Bart Williams Cookie Scholarships, Back to School Biking for Bart, Addi’s Haunted Trail, connections with Depot Days race and stronger ties with Newbern, Tennessee, and CHRISTgiving 2021. The race ties so many people together in our little community from the YMCA to the Parks and Recreation authorities. It includes people from all walks of life from mayors to farmers. We are able to do so much good for all of those around us just because of this little race. Next year will be year 7 for me as the race director, God willing.  It will be October 15th 2022 downtown Dyersburg, TN at 9 AM. If you want to be a part of something wonderful then mark your calendar! I know next year will be even bigger and better for the greater good.  Thank you to the entirety of our little county in Tennessee.  It is so wonderful to be a part of such a lovely and loving community. Thanks be to God.

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the Autumn March Gal 

Quote for the Day:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Dr. Seuss

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

Picasso 

Non nobis solum nati sumus. (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)

Cicero 

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill 

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

Mohammad Ali

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

Einstein 

In a gentle way, you can shake the world.

Gandhi 

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.

St. Catherine of Siena

Like a Rolling Stone

In my mind today, I am thinking about The Rolling Stones. Students, I don’t expect you to know that band although they are still rolling on tour. They just lost their drummer at the ripe young age of 80 years old. I hear you back row. Yes he was ancient, but he was still a phenomenal drummer. Read his biography, yes, it’s homework and yes you can use Wikipedia. Warning! Be ready to be amazed. This blog has been in my mind for a while. It’s not about The Rolling Stones but about how motifs and themes weave throughout our lives. This theme / motif just happens to be sparked or “Started up” by memories the Alleys have of the band. 

If you know my husband, you know he had three other lives before we met. One of the reasons I fell so quick and hard for him was because he was so into music. I still love to hear him talk about all of the cool experiences he has had collecting and researching and looking for interesting new musicians online now. Before the world wide web he researched through magazines like Trouser Press. The best part of his passion for music is going to live shows and concerts. He’s been to so many in his four lives. I’m so grateful I have had the pleasure of spending this final season with him. His story of when he saw The Stones in ‘76 in Tampa Bay with his oldest daughter on his shoulders shows how long he has been a Stones fan. As a family, we have always had an affinity for all kinds of music. We watch live concerts and still have such a love for music. This is a gift he gives us. He calls it useless information; I call it treasure. These are the gifts that find their way through time around fire pits, Thanksgiving tables, and family reunions. Do you see how The Rolling Stones can spark such sweet memories? 

Fast forward to 1994, we were able to get good seats for the Voodoo Lounge tour coming to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. ‘Oh what a night!’  It was one for the books. I am very much a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. Two beers down and Mick Jagger had nothing on me! Yes students, teachers go to concerts and sometimes drink beer. Settle down, back row. I was 25 years old. This was a beautiful season for us. I remember it oh so well.  

Ken and I kept rolling on with our lives just as the Stones kept rolling on tour. Lives end and begin as we live our little existence. There is an ebb and flow of good and bad. The journey is what makes being human so amazing. The initial spark for this blog was a picture of my newest granddaughter and me. She is wearing her two year old brother’s t-shirt. My husband said, “I was at that show.” Time continues to roll by us, but as I look back I am so grateful that we were in the present moments of our lives together. Lots of people didn’t think the love that we have would have even endured. I was too young and he was divorced with two children is what most whispered even in our own families. Tomorrow will mark 32 years that we have loved each other with such a special love under the beautiful sacrament of marriage. I always say prayers for people especially my children to be able to find a love so grand and so selfless.  Did I say that it would be easy? Grief Free? Every day a party?  I think every marriage has some type of trials, but we have come to be so fickle and selfish in our searching for love and companionship.  We have forgotten that love is not an abstract concept or an emotion, but an action of self-giving sacrifice for another’s well being. We take the backseat. Our culture today scoffs at such sacrifice and commitment.  Ideas such as these will get you nowhere; this is what the culture wants us to believe. Post modern society wants us to just get the most out of life and think of ourselves only. Students, what kind of love do you aspire to gain during your life? Just like Mick sings, “You got the mix, Charlie, you got the fix, It’s love!” I would marry him again and not change anything, even ALS. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.  Happy Anniversary to my little rock and roll. So glad that God put us together. I know in this life and in our next eternal life we will be together with God. 

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the Rocking Roll Gal

Quotes for the Day:

My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me. By Winston Churchill 

Love is often the fruit of marriage. By Moliere 

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife. By Franz Schubert 

There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends. By Homer

Dreams, Miracles, and Angels

In my mind today,  I have been amazed at angels, miracles, and dreams. Students, I am currently Sal the super busy Gal. I am currently juggling this year’s race, a Haunted Trail, and serving on committees to bring the good to our little corner of the world besides having two weekly Bible studies [one virtually and one in person] and teaching Wednesday nights at church.  I don’t tell you this to impress you, I tell you because just think what you could do with an ambulatory body. I totally understand that I get one chance to do as much good as I can for God on this Earth. I totally understand that we are all living on borrowed time. Heaven does really await us if we only choose it. Have you made your choice? Or are you wavering? I think that is why I write this blog, my students. 

Today is the feast day for guardian angels. This week was also a holy day for the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Do you believe in angels? I hear a lot of people talking about angels. I have read a lot of books about people seeing angels. Whether you choose to believe or not each one of us is granted a guardian angel at our birth. That gives us a segue into miracles. 

Have you ever had a time in your life where you escaped death? Miraculously, you were unscathed. As I think back over my life, oh, there have been several occasions that I should have suffered grave injuries but walked away unharmed. I can remember on one of my birthdays I was in a terrible motorcycle accident with my brother. He only had on cut off blue jeans. He had stopped by to wish me a happy birthday on one of the coolest motorcycle ever. I begged and pleaded with my mother to let me ride just up to the highway and back. I was on the back and I was around 11 years old. I don’t remember what caused my brother to have to lay the motorcycle down on the highway but this is what I remember. I could still see how we were slowly going toward the pavement. My brother reached around and grabbed me. He threw me into the median. As all of this was going on while the traffic was completely stalled. Everything was frozen in time. I watched my brother’s body fly across the pavement. Remember he didn’t have on anything but cut off jeans. On one side of his body he had severe road rash and horrible deep holes where some of the flesh had been ripped away by gravel. I sat there in the grass and watched him get up bloody and come over and asked me if I was okay. I think I just shook my head yes. He righted the motorcycle and we got on it. He took me home. This accident happened on the bypass that was only a few miles from my house. The birthday girl arrived back safely but my poor brother had a long road of recovery. I am so sure that the guardian angels of my brother and I are still very busy and have been throughout our lives. Another time I was in a wreck and everything was going in slow motion as we hydroplaned. I threw my hands up and just started praying because I thought this is it. My friend, Big D, grabbed me and the steering wheel. I  was freaking out and she said get ahold of yourself! We barely missed rolling the truck down an embankment that would have surely killed us. Guardian angels are real. I have had so many near death experiences. One of those, actually the last one, I am writing it into a book. I don’t think God is ready for me to leave the Earth yet. I still have lots of work to do. I want to live a life that speaks of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know I will go to the other side one day. The closer I get the less scared I become.

And last but not least, let’s talk about dreams. I have some of the most vivid crazy dreams ever. Just ask my poor family. In one of the Bible studies we are talking about the Book of Daniel. Talk about dreams! This guy was an interpreter of Dreams. As we discussed all of these Mysteries of the Bible, my mind became clearer. One of the ladies in our group had covid. She was not supposed to live. Her family was called in several times. As she lay there on a vent for days upon days she had vivid dreams. She explained to us that she felt a battle. Something was trying to pull her to death and something was trying to pull her back to Earth. She had friends that drove all the way from Alabama to just drive around the hospital in Jackson, Tennessee to pray for her. She is a miracle. She also had vivid dreams that she is trying to understand. The doctors told her that the medicine she was on would not have caused such vivid dreams. My husband was also on a vent a couple of years ago. He did not remember anything. You see dreams are important. They happened all the times throughout the Bible. There is something mysterious and so much bigger than ourselves that fights each day for the good. Have you made a connection yet? Yes! Front row students, angels, miracles, and dreams are so intertwined. Good question back row! Yes, if there are angels, there are demons as well. We have to guard ourselves against the demons that are also out there fighting for the evil to do their god’s bidding. Here’s a good assignment for you over fall break. Read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is exactly what I envision the devil and his demons are trying to do even today. These letters were written at a very pivotal time in history. I think we are there again students. Are we going to choose the good? Are we going to be the good? Are we going to give in to all of our vices? It is so easy to give in to all of your vices. It is not easy to say no. You have to be strong. Join me and try to be the good. There is a good fight and this is it. 

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the Dreaming Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

“There are many who are not guilty of doing anything wrong but very guilty of sins of omission – the things they neglect to do – the good things – the kind, thoughtful words, compassionate thoughts and hopeful attitudes they might have had towards their neighbor.”

Mother Angelica 

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” C.S. Lewis 

“For every angel fluttering through the skies, there is a divine counterpart here on Earth. Each of us has a golden celestial-self just waiting to be awakened.” Sue K

Suck it Up Buttercup!

They are the ones who . . . bear fruit through perseverance. (Luke 8:15)

In my mind today, it’s so full of words and emotions and blogs that are swimming in my head and making me dizzy! (Remember that song “Dizzy” students? If you haven’t,  listen to it. Yes, it’s homework back row!) Let’s look at that word perseverance. The above is my verse for the day.

What is perseverance? Well, it’s when you suck it up buttercup and just do the work that needs to be done. Never give up. Never. Today’s readings talked about the parable of the seeds and the types of ground they will fall upon. So this is another assignment too, I want you to reflect on your heart. Not the blockages or your cholesterol but your heart. Is your heart workable? Is it ready to hear good things and to do good things? A teaching partner of mine always said if a child’s heart becomes hardened by the world then it is hard for us as teachers to break through all of the hurt. Thankfully in the 20 years that I was able to teach I could only recall about five children who would not allow us to help their hardened hearts. What is the cure for a child whose heart or even an adult whose heart has been so devastated? It doesn’t even allow his/her ears to hear good things. Something that stuck out to me one Sunday was this :it is not the outside world that can defile your heart but what you put in or let in it. This makes me feel so much better especially as a teacher. If you can get them to listen and put good things into their hearts, it will help their heart to be fruitful. It could crowd the bad and the good works will overflow.They will give good back because that’s what God wanted all along.

Some things that harden your heart for example are addictions. God had warned us of these; they are the seven deadly sins. That’s homework, too. You need to look up the seven deadly sins and be honest with yourself. Which one of these allows your heart to be defiled and corrupted? Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. These are the tools that help us to fall and fail. These are not tools of God. If you are reading this right now and you have trouble with any type of addiction God will help you. It’s a two way street. Just like the woman that Jesus said your sins are forgiven but go and sin no more. You simply have to say help me God. Help me not to overindulge in whatever vice you have. I do not want to be a slave to my addictions. You have overflow. You have to try your best to resist. Will you always be able to resist? Probably not. You will still have times that you fall. Here is the key. Remember what I told you I heard at church? Yes, that’s right nothing from the outside can defile you. Only what is in your heart can. If your heart has been hurt over and over then you have a lot of work to do. The work will be hard . Nothing that is worth anything is easy. God did not promise this life would be easy, on the contrary he told us it was going to be extremely hard. That is why we have Jesus. Our God is the God of redemption. Are you tired of this world and its snares? Place your burdens on Christ. He will carry you. Whisper that simple, “Help me God.”

What do you keep in your heart? Is it treasure? Is it trash? Is it weeds? Is it bouquets of beautiful flowers? You see students, it’s your choice what you put in your heart. Please begin to build treasure in your heart. How? By doing the good that needs to be done, Wherever You Are! We are all in this together. It doesn’t matter red, yellow, black, white or whatever you want to call yourself. Every single one of you, students, is first and foremost a child of God. That is your label. So many people today will argue that there is no God. So how can I be a child of God? Well until you are able to create another human without anything but basic elements then you will only be a child of God. How do you think we got here? A creator blessed is how we came to be. Science is not our God. I totally understand that a lot of hurt has been done in the name of God. We have to realize that hurt comes from our weaknesses as humans. We are given a free will. The free will to make good choices or to make bad choices. As a teacher so many times it hurt my heart to see precious children who were not loved or treasured. Their hearts were just a mess. The good news is until you take your last breath, your heart can be Redeemed by God. Does this mean you’re going to get that Escalade or the popularity you always wanted? No. It means that God will allow you to love again and you be sure to give love. Why, because that’s how love is. The more you give the more you get in return. That’s why I talk about building treasure in your heart. Do something good for your mother today. Do something good for your neighbor today. Stop and talk to someone who looks lonely. If you see someone hurting or in a bad situation you pray for them and help if you can. This is what building treasure in your heart in looks like. The treasure will continue to grow and it will flow out of you like gifts to everyone around you. You don’t believe me back row? Try it! I think you will be so amazed at what God will do for your heart. Do your homework!

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Perseverance Gal

Prayer for Today: “Jesus, help me persevere in prayer so that I can bear fruit for you.”

Death into Life

In my mind lately, I have been thinking a lot about this life and this world. I don’t have all the answers. Who does? I don’t know how we go each day and continue through sorrow, great times, and mediocre days. The latest book club read was a deep one. It made you analyze everything. I have already had my eyes open to so much of the grief caused by the human will and wheel. This world keeps turning and turning. It is older than time or the time that we are cognizant of at least. The book is set in the heart of the African continent: the Congo or Zaire. The thing is the oldest forest is where I took the journey with this book. Students, when I read a book I actually take a vacation. I begin research on the areas of the book: topographical and political. The more that I find out or see of this amazing planet we call home I know there is something so mystical about it. This area is considered the cradle of civilization. To have trees that are thousands of years old and to be able to walk under those are to me treasured. The richness of this area was so baffling. The ruthlessness of this area was breathtaking. In the 17 months of the stay there, 31 children died in the little village. Do the math. Back row you can do division and you can also round and figure out the percentage. I know that the front row wants more data like the total number of births, but the point is that the mortality rate in this area is astounding to someone like us living here in the United States. The amazing thing is that the people there, the indigenous people, work with life just as well as they do with death. This is how this book connected with my mind as I live this little bitty life in West Tennessee.

Do you ever think about the older you get the smaller you feel? I don’t know if it is our brains that pick up the speed and start collecting data and figure out that we are quite insignificant. There are so many things going on on this earth at this very second from forest fires, to hurricanes, to droughts, to famine, to deadly viruses, and the list could fill an entire blog. This is the point. No matter how big or small you feel in this life, this is it. This is our journey. This is my journey. What is this we call ourselves today? The information age? The disinformation age? Who do you trust? Who do you believe? What do you believe? How do you believe it? Who’s right? Who is wrong? All of this stuff gets in my head and I try to make sense of it. I am not always successful but I had a reckoning the other day at church of course that has urged me to write and teach.

Sunday before last was the day chosen to Christen or baptize our youngest granddaughter. I have been so blessed in this little life. Things are so crazy everywhere but in this moment I received clarity. I watched my beautiful daughter-in-law hold my beautiful granddaughter during the service. A sadness washed over me. I quickly realized this was a blessing; I was getting to watch my four grandchildren grow and become so beautiful and wonderful. I thought about my youngest daughter. As I prayed and swayed with the rhythm of the mass and heaven coming down to this little altar in Tennessee, I envisioned my youngest daughter holding an infant at the baptismal fount beside a handsome man. She was glowing. The homily or the message is what took my breath. The message this Sunday was about whether in life or death we are all connected. Even after my death I will be able to visit this altar each time the hallelujahs and the Holy Holy Holy are sung in unison. I realized this is where my spirit dwells with God. My days will be filled in heaven as they are on earth. I will be able to visit and be a part of that everlasting love until we are all back together. Death really does not have the sting we humans are so fearful of in our fragile, mortal vessels. The fabric of our lives, our very own DNA will continue the journey. Everyone wants specifics. In the Congo, the people understood so well the ebb and flow of life and death. Does this mean that they had a hard heart? No. It means the exact opposite of that. The children lost were wailed over and cried over as their bodies began to return to the very dark soil of the heart of Africa. So many of the women have up to nine children but only one survives and that is if they are lucky. Each one is cherished and celebrated whether they stay in the living or are in death. Their little time here is part of what God calls creation. Everything works together. Everything is of God to these indigenous people. They continually depend on daily sustenance from God. Does it magically poof out of the air? No. Is it a treacherous and hard life? Yes, most definitely. Front row students, what have I tried to get across to you? That is right. We have to embrace our journey no matter how small and try to do the good work with God for all. Can I change governments and all of the wheels of consumerism and neglect of this precious earth? No but I can do the best I can with what God has given me and where he has placed me in his picture of our world. Do what you can where you are. Do not forget the gift of our planet. We have the chance to use our knowledge for good. To live gentler lives on the land and to not rape and pillage other areas for the consumeristic will and wheel. To be a good steward of the land is what God wants for us. To live in communion with the land and to treat it with respect. I am going to die one day. Who knows what day? The next church service that I attended the priest announced that one of our faithful parishioners had entered into heaven that same very day. Was I sad? Yes very for us but not for him. He did his work well. I smiled. I knew he had no limits anymore of his earthly body. He had come down to the altar and celebrated with us. I felt so full of God and the Holy Spirit. Yes we say goodbye but then we are born into that everlasting life. At the funeral mass, there were so many reminders of his goodness. The biggest ones were his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I was able to sit right behind a beautiful 9-month-old child. She was so beautiful and I could see the light in her eyes. I could see her Papi’s spirit shining through her. She smiled so beautifully and communicated with me. I am so astounded at the children that are drawn to me. This body ravaged with ALS is a spectacle indeed. I just think the light of Christ beams out of me in some way or form so children want to touch me and to smile and giggle. I know the back row thinks that they are laughing and giggling because I look so goofy but I think there’s just something more. I don’t think it; I know it. For all of those who have faced death of a loved one or are facing death I am to tell you be not afraid. Don’t be scared to live for fear of dying. It is in your death that you are one of those praying for others. Your journey matters. Let me say that again for the back row: your earthly journey matters no matter how long or short, big or small. Live it fully with the grace of God.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Living Eternally Gal

Quotes of the Day:

Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.

 Saint Augustine

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

 Saint Augustine

Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.

 Saint Augustine

Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.

Saint Augustine

Martha, Jubliees, and Prophets

It shall be a jubilee for you. (Leviticus 25:10)

In my mind today students, I am thinking about Marthas and Marys as well as years of jubilees. I definitely do not want to forget about prophets. As of late I have been quite the Martha. Students, do you know who I’m talking about? You know the sisters of Lazarus. Martha was that sister that was always busy, busy, busy! She was busy preparing the way to have a great feast or festival to gather as many people together as she possibly could to hear the words of her friend Jesus. Her sister Mary on the other hand was the one that sat at his feet and listened to all of his stories and parables. She listened to Jesus’ philosophy of life. She is also the one that much to Judas’ chagrin used an entire container of perfumed oils on Jesus’s feet. The longer I live with ALS the more I become a Mary. I have been given time to study, read, pray, and reflect on what God really wants for us. During this season I have met the most amazing Martha.

This Martha that I have become a sister with is so like the Martha of Jesus’s time. They’re not enough adjectives to assign to this amazing woman. She has and will continue to try to work and bless others in the little city and county in which we live. Her influence and inspiration doesn’t just reach within the little county borders. Everyone she meets realizes what an amazing woman she is. For years she has been a one-man show or should I say a one-woman show holding up Matthew 25:40 INC by her sheer will. I came up on board with her during one of the most tumultuous seasons of our little nonprofit. She never wavered. She never lost faith. She continually leans on God. She is a friend of those on the fringe of life. I am so glad to be a part of this with her. The little group of women that all fight so desperately for this little non-profit remind me so much of those women that were at the cross. (There’s also good men that are in our boat!) We are building something so beautiful, so big, and we know God is going to bless it. Our goal is to be a non-profit that can stand alone and help all of those in need. You see, we are so very blessed to be tied with wonderful organizations like the United Way. We want to be able to help all people regardless of their station. This is hard to do whenever you have so many guidelines. During the pandemic there were so many new clients that were just like my precious Martha and me. People that just work to survive and to provide for their children. People that want to give their children a hand up not a handout. These people in turn would turn around and give much of their stimulus contributions to us to help keep going forward for all. Jesus told us the poor would always be with us and we do provide very well for them at Matthew 25:40 INC. We want to be able to provide for all of God’s children. That means the ones who fall on hard times, the addicted, the struggling women with children with an absent father or visa-versa, the struggling sons and fathers, and the homeless. All of the Marthas on the ship have so many wonderful ideas and plans to help our little city and county be the healing source God intended for those that are the least. You never know when a storm will come to you. We want to be able to use our faith and God’s Providence to help you. Thanks be to God for all of the Marthas and the Marys.

Yesterday was a great day! It was a day of jubilee. I began reading my scriptures this morning and that was the first thing I read. Jubilees are years of great forgiveness and love. They spread hope. They are new seasons. We had the Back to School Biking for Bart parade yesterday. We had 250 backpacks full of supplies, treats, and chronologically separated for grades ready to go. Several people came with bikes. Several people came just to walk. Several came to just show how wonderful Mr Bart was to us. We had an antique bike rack donated and blessed that will be at the Farmers market to commemorate Mr Bart. We had several new bicycles donated as well as old to be given to children. We had children chanting Mr Bart, Mr Bart, Mr Bart,! This was all going on while his precious grandchildren watched. They know how special their “Cookie” was. His children were so happy. His wife was so gracious as always. We had our own jubilee yesterday! 

Students, what is the definition of a prophet? Come on first row! Don’t think about money all the time. Yes, learned teacher. If you live in this little corner of Tennessee you will probably say you were blessed to know a prophet. That would be my friend, Mr Bart. He was so many things rolled up into one. Everything honorable he possessed. Humility beyond compare. He was very gallant. He was a school counselor and teacher for 40 plus years. Had cancer not come to his door, I know he would still be there today. I don’t really think he was that well known in the little city in which he was born, Miami, Ohio. But boy oh boy, we all know him by name and he knows us. My friend taught me so much and now that he is gone on to bigger acquisitions in heaven. All of us are going to pick up the baton that he has left for us. He really prepared us well. His legacy will continue on. Students, do you think that there are prophets still around today? Oh I really do. They may not wear sandals or dashikis in our little town or county but they are all pulling for you to be the best person you could possibly be. What is that? Well students, the best you could possibly be is to be a living saint. Those are some tough standards to live up to but it is doable. Just look at the long list of saints throughout history. People didn’t just stop trying to live lives as saints; we have just become blind to the possibility of living up to these standards. It is so much easier to not worry about others and their strife. To stay complacent in your comfort and to just live your life for you and not for others. It is a big deal and a big challenge. I really think you could do it, students. I am trying my very best but I also fail. I just won’t give up! Our big friendly giant, Mr Bart, was definitely on to something. He was a quiet man. His life on the other hand screamed volumes of how to be a better person. Students, I want you to look around and search out people that live lives that are honorable. Yes it is homework. I want you to thank them. Just like I am writing this to thank all of you for our little jubilee yesterday! God is good all the time. All the time God is good!

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Prophet Seeking Gal

Quotes of the day:

It shall be a jubilee for you. (Leviticus 25:10)

What you do to the least of these you do to me. (Matthew 25:40)

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.

Paul Simon

https://www.matthew2540.org/

Indiana Alley

In my mind, I have been very busy. So has my sweet little family because of me. It is so hard to be a caregiver. I think it is the hardest thing ever. It becomes very tenuous at times whenever those closest to me become exhausted and even hurt because of my ALS adventure.

This past week has been a whirlwind. Lots of jobs to do and lots of places to go to advocate for the good. I absolutely wear my family out. My son who is my main caregiver had his back go out. My daughter who has been my main caregiver as well during the pandemic and the summer has gone to a summer adventure archaeological dig for school. My poor husband has to be on continuous oxygen all the time. His health is just as fragile as mine. I really cannot write this crazy stuff that happens to us. My other son has two little ones and his life is very wild trying to build a family and work. This is why I have some days that are just crying days.

I cry because my children should not have to do this for me. Don’t get me wrong I am so very grateful for them. I do not want to hurt them and that’s what it feels like on these crying days. My sweet sister has had to come and try to fill in the empty spaces but this is not fair for her. She just began her season of retirement. ALS just plainly sucks, that’s all it is in a nutshell. The days that I watch my family suffer because of me hurts me more than anything. I have to cry through the tears just to write this stuff. It hurts so, so much in my heart and in my soul. Mother’s are supposed to take care of their children, not the other way around. I truly hate that my family has drawn the short straw.

As we hurriedly tried to get everything together for my last little bird to head out for her archaeological adventure, I found myself having little spells of grief and crying. She and I have this secret club; it is the Bug Club. We had so many days together this summer working at the library with children that we didn’t have extra special bug-to-bug time a lot. We shared ourselves with the community and at the end of the summer I found myself craving for just a little more bug to bug time. Our last little bug adventure was to Charlene’s Tea Room. The next day I had Bunco with the Bunco girls. We rushed out after Bunco so I could go to church with her that evening. She was not going to be able to go to Sunday services because of leaving on the archaeological adventure AKA Indiana Alley. Everything was just going by at light speed. That’s how life is. If you do not enjoy the journey, you end up a very sad person. I had enjoyed this journey and I was wanting more but I knew this season was over. That’s why I was flooded with so many tears. When she left I became almost inconsolable. Unbeknownst to me she had to come back in for something and she heard me crying. She came around the corner and said, “What’s going on with you?” I just kept blubbering and crying. She washed my face, cleaned out my snoot, and let me blow my nose. She was very adult-like and told me, “You’ve got to cut this out. I’m not going to be here to wipe your nose again for a while. Big bug you need to strengthen up.” I was able to suck it up buttercup after that. God gave me a little bit of fortitude to reassure her and my little bird was off again.

I didn’t want her to stay with me, that was not why I was such a mess emotionally. I just knew nothing gold could really stay. Remember that quote students? It was the book I did at the first of the year almost every year: The Outsiders. It’s so true. Life is an ebb and flow of good times and bad and a whole lot in between. The important thing is to embrace those golden times. If you didn’t embrace them then you would never cry when they were over. Students, be in the moment of your life. It was our essential rule number 55, carpe diem. This is life. This is my life. This is your life. If you do not treasure your moments, then you are missing out on so much during your earthly journey. No day is ever promised so please get out and enjoy your day. It may be the last one that you get. Yes back row, it’s homework!

Sal the Carpe Diem Gal

Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the Day:

“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.”

—The Dalai Lama

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”

—Ann Landers

A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.”

—Elizabeth Gaskell

Biking for Babies

In my mind today, I am thinking about bicycles and babies. Yes back row students the things that eat, sleep, and poop and that’s about it! Each year there is something fabulous that happens in our country. We have a group of young missionaries that ride bikes in the shape of a cross in the middle of our United States of America. They do this to spread the word about babies. It is for babies that are never given their first breath. These young missionaries have a central starting point in St. Louis, Missouri. From St. Louis, Missouri each group will ride out at the four Cardinal directions. Students, do you remember those? North, South, East, West are the directions they ride. They will ride down 800 mi and then back up for the leg that comes through our little city. Each year we are blessed enough to share a church service with them and feed them. We get to hear their stories about why they do what they do for babies. We get their background stories and we actually make friends of these wonderful missionaries.

After the church service, we share a meal with them. The missionaries will then spread out and sit with different tables to talk about the journey and their mission. This year the missionary that sat with me was named Mary. You may think it’s ironic but I am getting used to the way God works in my life. This beautiful young lady is on fire for God and for the fragile lives that are taken away each year because of abortions. I know that people want to be the boss of their own bodies. After all God has given them free will to do as they please for their body but here’s the rub. Whenever someone becomes pregnant there is another soul living within them. Another body entirely to its own and this is the way God created us to reproduce. Do pregnancies always come at the best times? Do some pregnancies come at the hands of violence? Yes and yes. Who has the authority to choose if life is granted to go forward? If that life is to come into a world and take a breath, who decides if it could go forward into this world? Should we have the choice to take a life, a soul. Yes I know that there are so many children that are born to such grievous situations. I know that our society is not equipping single mothers with everything they need, especially holding the father’s accountable. I just know that thou shalt not kill is a grievance against God. I also know that many who do have abortions suffer lots of mental anguish and are changed forever after the decision has been carried out. I also know that minorities get more abortions than any other demographic in the United States. The adoption system in this country is broken. The rights of children are nonexistent, especially unborn children. Should a law that is part of our government give the right to kill? No. I repeat it over and over No! If that child is unborn or if that child is in prison from being raised from a broken home the answer is still no. Taking a life is not what I want to be a part of and I hope you feel the same. There are lots of things that need to be fixed in our country and this is one of them. It should not be legal to have an abortion or to kill someone on death row. We have to look for better options. In the huge court case Roe versus Wade even the woman that started the whole ball rolling regretted it. She regretted the whole business. Something within her stirred. I know what the something was. Do you? We are at a point in this country that we need to make changes for the good. This law has absolutely splintered our country and I want you to call your congressmen and women and ask them to get rid of anything political that is for abortions or the death penalty. Life is given and who are we to take it?

As Mary shared her story with us, this blog was forming in my mind. I want you to think about King Herod. I want you to think about after he realized a new king was amongst us and had been born. He sent out legislation to kill all boys 2 years old and under. In the Catholic Church we call this the slaughtering of the innocents. It is commemorated in our calendar each year as we pray for those that have died before us. Each year as we think about this travesty, I weep. I weep for the unborn. I weep for those born into horrible situations. I weep for those children who are among me that need so much love. I weep for my country who has gone so astray from God. Today’s students if you want to know what your homework is, here it is: pray to end legal abortion in our country and pray to end the death penalty. If you want to know more about biking for babies, I will leave a link for you. Please join me in our efforts to build God’s kingdom here. How so very blessed are we here in my little corner of West Tennessee to be pro-life. Thanks be to God for Life Choices and Lifebeats here to help the most vulnerable around us in West Tennessee.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Baby Loving Gal

https://bikingforbabies.com/

Quotes for the Day:

I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.

Ronald Reagan

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta

I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is ‘Abortion’, because it is a war against the child… A direct killing of the innocent child, ‘Murder’ by the mother herself… And if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love… And we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts

Mother Theresa 

It seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime.

Mahatma Gandhi

In my world you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children…The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth.

Thomas L. Friedman

Wrestling with God

In my mind today I am wrestling with God. I got up this morning and read my scriptures. I read about Jacob wrestling with someone but the person had extreme strength. They didn’t give up the fight. In the end the angel or God spoke to him and said from this day forward you will be Israel. I said I cannot imagine wrestling with God but then when I look at my life with ALS I am wrestling with God. Sometimes I wrestle with God and plead for more time to be with family and friends. Sometimes I wrestle with God crying out for him to use me to help this little city be a place of solace, a place of peace. Sometimes I wrestle with God and cry out for him to end it. I’m exhausted and tired and ready to go to my resting place. Some days are diamonds students and some days are dust. I’ve had quite a few dusty days. My body has been screaming out in pain but the pain of my physicality is not what cripples me. It is the pain in my heart that longs to be free. Free to be with God forever. Peace. Rest. Bliss. These are things that my heart craves. These are things that I know as a human I will never be totally free of while I am on this Earth. There is always someone that needs a loving touch, a helping hand, or a simple prayer. Busy. That’s what I am, busy. To look at the chair you may imagine that this girl is not busy. She is like the queen bee! I chuckle because at the library last week and the week before we talked about bees with the children. As they described the queen bee, I thought wow that is the way my family has to be for me. It doesn’t seem very fair. These are days that I cry out for God to rescue his faithful servant. There is so much to harvest for God in our lives. Just as scripture says the laborers are few. That is why I wrestle to stay here. I talk to God often and I know his plans are for the good of not just for me but for everyone around me. I have to stay the course even though some days I desperately want to wave a white flag. Students, do you wrestle with God? I know the back row thinks they can take him out! And you may think that I am a little crazy to think that anyone would try to wrestle with God but we do. We bargain constantly. We wrestle with God when he speaks to our hearts and we do not listen. If something goes wrong in our life, we wrestle with God. Students, what are you wrestling with today? If it is something you feel trapped with or is it someone who has hurt you, stop wrestling God. Ask him to take it. He will. This will be the only way I will surrender, into the arms of God. Have you figured out what you need? Cry out to God. Yes, it is a daily assignment!

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Wrestling Gal

Quote of the Day

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Matthew 9:37-38