Snow Days, Valentine’s, and Gratitude

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.
snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. .

Political, Material, and Self

“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?

Continue reading “Political, Material, and Self”

Merry Christmas 2020

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 
 

Thanksgiving 2020

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

What is a Man?

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

…but rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

Kathy & George

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.”

Cookie

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

BFG

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

Back to Basics

What in the World?

In my mind today, I am thinking of our humanity. Where is it going? What are we doing? What are our morals? I do so much reading trying to find the answer to all of this chaos that we are experiencing in the world at this moment. The world has always been chaotic, but some of us have never had these struggles and choices to make that strengthen our morals. Where do our morals come from? I hope and pray that most of us live by a moral code that spreads goodness for our fellow men and women. In my heart I believe that most of us do have this and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. We shouldn’t be ashamed to serve those and help those who are hurting in this world. We shouldn’t be ashamed to admit and that say we are sorry for past transgressions. Let me get back to the first question. What is the world is going on and where are our morals? Currently there are about 7.8 billion people on this planet. Here is how they believe:

Adherents in 2020
Religion Adherents Percentage

Christianity 2.3 billion29%

Islam 1.9 billion 24%

Hinduism 1.2 billion 15.4%

Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist 1.1 billion 14.1%

Most of the people on this planet still believe in moral codes. So we need to begin to live by these codes especially in the United States where I am blessed to live. I am not ashamed to say that I am a Catholic Christian. This does not mean that I do not love or care for other Christians or people. It is quite the opposite. It means that I care so much for their welfare and existence as much as I do for my own. It also means that I believe in a creator. If we could live our code of morals the world could be such a beautiful place. I have studied other religions in college courses as well as with religious sisters. We all have a common thread of love of God’s creation but only one flipped the script of history. Instead of becoming stronger and dominating others it called us to be a servant for others. I know many will begin to talk of all the travesties that have happened within the Christian faith especially Catholicism. The problem with all religions is the inability of humans to live out the code of morals. Do you blame the creator for the frail humans who do harm in the name of God? This is a trick question. You pray for them and you help them with restorative justice. That means you try to help them restore their humanity. Some cases may be beyond us and left to the Creator. 


How smart are you? As for me, I know there are so many things I have not experienced or studied or even understand. Who knows all of these mysterious mysteries? You may want to quote philosophers or mention a brilliant scientist but the world that we live in is a mystery. I believe it will always be a mystery. I believe we should do as much good as we can with science for humanity, but science can only take you so far. What we fail to understand is that there is something more. Something that is far greater than we can even wrap our tiny minds around. Something that promotes goodness for all. Something that wants us to live in communion with each other regardless of our race, religious preference, socio-economic level, and sexual or gender preference. We are to live with love in our hearts for everyone and everything in this world. Will we always agree? Never. But if we’d love in spite our prejudices and differences then we are living as the Christ who lives within us.


Do you believe in taking a life of another person? Regardless of the age of that person? The one thing that divides Catholic Christians from others is our staunch belief that life begins at the conception in the womb. We believe abortions are murder. If this baby is to be without any interference, it will become a person. I am a woman. I understand that there are times when you may or may not want a child. It may be because of your financial situation, health, or that you were taken advantage of by someone. The child that you carry did not have the choice. But you have a choice. I have read and witnessed so many who have had abortions and have gravely regretted it. I have also witnessed people who have a child that was conceived and is flawed genetically. The choice to keep that child has brought immense, inexplicable joy to a family. These children have souls. My family has lived this with our wonderful Jonathan. He was born with a heart defect. The surgery did not go well and had severe brain damage. He is loved and cherished by our family. His life is important. You have a soul. My daughter often gets into social media battles with people who are for abortion. The biggest argument she has had to face is the young lady has been raped. As I have said before, I am a woman. I have experienced horrible things but many are kept quiet and I give them to God. I pray for those who hurt this young lady as well as the one that hurt me long ago. My experience did not result in a child but it was horrific all the same. I also want to say that I am a mother. I have felt the stir in my womb of my children. It is something that I will always remember and cherish. Had I a child that wasn’t wanted I don’t believe I could have had an abortion. Part of that child would be of me and my creator, God. I think adoption is the answer not abortion. I can never be for abortion or murder of any kind. I hope you could not be for it either. I think this issue of abortion has totally ripped our country in half. As long as we continue to legalize abortion, I fear we will not be able to heal the wounds of this country. 


This blog has been on my heart for a long time. I know intellectuals that will call me stupid, superstitious, country bumpkin, and irrelevant. Whenever I took up my cross, I knew they would. The history of the world does not look too wonderful whenever our morals are removed especially through political means. Removing religion from a society ethically destabilizes it. This is what I mean. The people of the culture will do self-serving things instead of selfless things for other humans. Speaking of trickling down, it will trickle down into every vocation within the society. Here is a history question for you. Why were the British vulnerable to the colonists of America? They depended on hired mercenaries called Hessians. They were here for pay. They worked to better themselves not to better their society. The soldiers here from Britain were here out of love and loyalty to the crown but their livelihood was elsewhere. The colonists had everything to lose. Why do we believe the World War II era and veterans are considered the greatest generation? They died to end an evil. They gave everything. Why? They lived by a moral code. All veterans of this country lived by a code of selflessness regardless of which side of history they were on during their lives. We cannot continue to allow hate to rule our hearts. Our livelihood today depends on selfless service for the better of all. Most know that I have a very debilitating illness. I depend on doctors and nurses to help me live. If they did not have a selfless servant’s heart what a travesty for me that would be. Most people want to help others and to live in harmony. Most people want just enough to enjoy life. It is those that are greedy and want others to serve them that are driving a lot of the discontent in this world. We all are born into different stations in life. We all all failing to see that being the master of your own life is unattainable. There is no joy. What is it to gain the world, but to lose yourself in the process? Some of the most unhappy people I have ever met are those that have so so much monetary advantages. I will never be a rich woman by earthly standards nor do I aspire to be. This is not my goal. My goal is to love and serve and to continue to believe in that mysterious beauty of God. The laws of my faith will help bring that mysterious beauty to life on Earth. The biggest treasures you will ever find on this Earth are those souls around you. Those souls to whom one can love and share this earthly life. We cannot erase the ugliest of our past. As Christians, we can only choose to forgive. We can choose to build a better kingdom here on Earth. A kingdom that loves everyone and gives each person respect. You could argue with me. You can dismiss me. You can scoff at me. You can call me names. Do you know what I will do? I will love you anyway. I will pray for you and this country and this world everyday. There are things that we can do. We can do those things out of our Christian codes. There are 2.1 billion of us. Today I call you to love and pray for everyone. Change needs to happen but it has to be done with a heart of a servant. Can you be that servant?
Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the I Love the World Gal


Quotes of the day: 


St. Ireaneous”The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”Gandhi
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”Leo Tolstoy

Population statistics from https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/