I am a retired teacher. I taught 20 years. I retired because of my weakened condition but my mind is afire. I read, write, reflect, and write every day. My POV is usually as a teacher but not always. I have a bucket list and on it is to be a published author. I have many books to write. I want a cure for ALS. I want to spread LOVE. I want my maker to use me until I'm completely exhausted. Life is for living.
"Enjoy every sandwich"
In my mind today, I’m thinking of Resurrection. It was in today’s gospel reading. Lazarus was brought back to life. With the pandemic that lurks over our country and world, lots of people begin to reevaluate and start thinking about the BIG question: What happens when a mortal person dies? Yesterday’s readings talked of the resiliency of trees. Did you ever notice what happens when a tree is cut down? There is evidence by my mailbox. There are new shoots each spring that my nephew cuts back for me. Trees are amazing. They were here before us and will outlive most humans. I have several dear friends fighting cancer in the midst of a pandemic. Lots of my prayers are with them these days. One recently read a book given by his children about trees. From the jest of the book and gift, I think my friend’s children were saying, “Look Dad, we are your shoots. We will continue the good work started. Don’t worry.” It’s so true. Whenever I look into my grandchildren’s eyes, I see good. I see a future. I see pieces of my child, my husband, and me. God has wonderful plans. I have faith in that. I do not fear death. Everyone has questions and fears of the unknown. Most are resistant to change, good or bad. During the early stages of this pandemic, I have seen change. I have seen sacrifice. I have seen selflessness. I have seen God working with us in this small community. If you don’t know by now, I am a teacher by trade. My fellow teachers are doing teacher parades to the children who live on the precipice of poverty (in cars no physical contact). My amazing community of teachers is delivering lunches to these children. Yes, they are taking measures and being safe. There are ways to BE THE GOOD safely. Guess what? They are planting seeds that will one day be shoots and yes trees in our community. As a matter of fact, many of our teachers are from this area. Many were my students. I want those teachers in all systems during this time to know how thankful I am and ever so proud to live in this little “Mayberry.” “Whenever you help the least, I am there also.” God is with you and for you. These are great lessons we are learning today and I have faith and hope that after the dust settles, we will be forever changed for the good. Greed has no place where love resides. Some will not make it through this without losing their earthly lives. This is just life. It’s not too late. I believe people can choose good and be the examples given in small town America. These examples will resound throughout our country and the world. So what happens when we die? Rest, peace, release, and our spirit/soul continues it’s journey. That journey back to the source of all goodness. During my meditation times, I feel as if I am resting there in His Heart. That’s where I long to be. Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Resurrection Gal Dedicated to my wonderful, amazing, and selfless teachers and school systems during this time. If you can,
Keep safe distances
Limited contact with others for at least two weeks but longer is better. (It’s been 14 since my daughter came home from college. We are staying to ourselves.)
In my mind today, I am thinking about the recent disease pandemic. This morning I began looking at news updates before I opened my devotional. Big mistake! Then I began reading about all of the epidemic and pandemics of the past. I was trying to find some type of consolation for this rapid spreading disease. I had to make myself stop and open my devotional. I focused on the readings and then flipped back and forth from this week’s readings. They had consolation for me where I could not find any anywhere else: tv, internet, or social media.
Proverbs 3:5-12 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, / on your own intelligence do not rely; / In all your ways be mindful of him, / and he will make straight your paths. / Do not be wise in your own eyes, / fear the Lord and turn away from evil; / This will mean health for your flesh / and vigor for your bones. / Honor the Lord with your wealth, / with first fruits of all your produce; / Then will your barns be filled with plenty, / with new wine your vats will overflow. / The discipline of the Lord, my son, do not spurn; / do not disdain his reproof; / For whom the Lord loves he reproves, / as a father, the son he favors.
Students read this three times. What pops out? We are reminded that we are mere humans. We do not have all the answers. We do need to live in a godly way. We need to turn from evil. We need to start giving God the glory and love that he deserves. How can we do this? It’s really simple. Love each other. This is not going to be the last time something comes around to diminish our lives and livelihood. If we do this, God will take care of us. It may not be on the Earth but we will go to Him upon our death. We were made to flower and fade. We do not get the luxury of choosing the length of our earthly lives.
Then Jeremiah 17: 5-10
Thus says the Lord: / Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, / who seeks his strength in flesh, / whose heart turns away from the Lord. / He is like a barren bush in the desert / that enjoys no change of season, / But stands in a lava waste, / a salt and empty earth. / Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, / whose hope is the Lord. / He is like a tree planted beside the waters / that stretches out its roots to the stream: / It fears not the heat when it comes, / its leaves stay green; / In the year of drought it shows no distress, / but still bears fruit. / More tortuous than all else is the human heart, / beyond remedy; who can understand it? / I, the Lord, alone probe the mind / and test the heart, / To reward everyone according to his ways, / according to the merit of his deeds.
Students read this one three times. Back row quit grumbling. What is this virus? Is it a curse? Where can we find refuge? That’s right front row. We know our hope comes from our belief in God. God has gifted each human with different talents. Those with talents will be leaned heavily upon during this time. Pray for these who are on the front lines fighting this pandemic. The ones that are using their God given talents to create test and figure out the code of this virus. I pray that God gives them the insight to create a vaccine.
Psalms 90: 1-4, 14-17 O Lord, you have been our refuge,from generation to generation.Before the mountains were born,or the earth or the world were brought forth,you are God, from age to age.You turn human beings back to dust,and say, “Return, O children of Adam.”To your eyes a thousand yearsare like yesterday, come and gone,or like a watch in the night.At dawn, fill us with your faithful love;we shall exult and rejoice all our days.Give us joy for the days of our affliction,for the years when we looked upon evil.Let your deed be seen by your servants,and your glorious power by their children.Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;give success to the work of our hands.O give success to the work of our hands.
Students, you know the drill. Read it three times. What sticks out in this one? That’s right God is eternal. Before the mountains were born; he has been here from generation to generation. He is not limited by time or space. That’s right back row, we will turn back to dust. Give us joy in the days of trouble or affliction. That’s right back row. We are petitioning God. You guys are really getting it. We are asking Him to help us through this giving success to the heads and hands of those who are working for the greater good. Help those who have continued to look to evil for answers and turn back to you.
The last two readings were about Joseph’s brothers and how they betrayed him and threw him into the well. They sold him as a slave to Egypt. Next, I read about the parable of the vineyard as the workers killed the heir as soon as the father/owner had left in order to steal the riches.
First, we are so upset at Joseph’s brothers right? He was treated horribly. Envy. Acting out of their sin God turned it into a blessing. Had Joseph not been sold into slavery, the line of Abraham would have ceased to exist. It was for the greater good. Students, God is in every single aspect of our being.
The parable of the vineyard shows us how we reject the authority over us. We think how could they tell us what to do? We can overcome them and do it ourselves. We are good at rejecting what is good for us. So many rejected Jesus and his teachings. Who wants rules? That’s right back row, nobody. This is pride. We have been gifted with consciousness and made in the image of God. We fall when we try to be the God of our own lives. Turn away from evil and do good. Be a part of the healing that God wants to give us. He works through us.
Some of us will not make it through this pandemic. My husband and I may very well be two that do not make it. We are susepectible because of underlining issues: COPD & ALS. We will trust in God and take the precautions that have been given. We will use this time to pull closer as a family and a community. We will enjoy this time together in solidarity. We will not live in fear. We will live one day at a time. That’s all we get.
Students use this time to grow closer to your loved ones. Use it to enjoy one another’s company. Make a blessing out of this. There is no amount of toilet paper or antibiotics that can cure this. Be strong. Put your faith where it should be.
Sal the Fragile Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Stay home if you can.
Stock up on fever reducer, Mucinex, and cough medicines. Alternate between Tylenol and another fever reducer like ibuprofen.
Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of fluids if you start to show signs.
If the fever becomes uncontrollable or breathing becomes worse, go to an ER.
In my mind today I am thinking of breaking bread. This was something Ken and I were always adament about with our family. We always ate together around the table, no devices, and enjoyed each others company sharing our day. Breaking bread with each other is such a beautiful example of human communion. If you have not noticed, it is Lent. These 40 days before Easter we do our best to become closer to God. Many people give up sweets or favorite drinks. Some give up technology. The flip side to this is instead of giving up something try to give of yourself in some way. One year I gave a bag full of items a day to the local shelter. So 40 bags of stuff were donated. Another year I tried to go to church each time there was mass. Remember that the Catholic Church has church every day, but some parishes take at least one day off during the week. So I could literally go to church 6 days a week for 40 days. This year I am attending a Bible study on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. The Bible study is based on the seven deadly sins and the seven heavenly virtues. Lent is a time for Christians all over the world to work on their vices and virtues. I understand that many of you are in the mist of survival. Spring is coming and so many families are busy. There are baseball and softball practices as well as soccer practices. It’s so hard to juggle all of the trappings of being a parent. So if there’s nothing else you could squeeze into your schedule, remember to just break bread with one another especially if you are busy and meeting yourself coming and going. Even if you eat out or get takeout, bring it home and sit around your table. I think a lot of Americans are not taking time to commune with each other especially at meal times. Our table is less crowded now because our little birds have flown the nest, but when they are home it is fabulous. To see a family gathered around the table enjoying one another is such a beautiful sight. Each morning I drink my coffee and eat my breakfast with my husband as I watched through the big window at the children scurrying for school. I remember those days. They go by too quickly. This is a time in our liturgical calendar to focus on what God wants in our lives. If the rat race has you down, remember you can still break bread with one another. Listen to each other. Look at each other. Work on those family ties. They are so precious and if done right they are so strong. Remember that “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” (Mother Teresa aka St. Teresa of Calcutta) Sarah Anderson AlleySal the Breaking Bread Gal “When we sit at the table, there is more going on than satisfying hunger. It is sad to think of those who eat simply to satisfy their hunger and who do not permit themselves to linger under the many spells offered by a good meal – the satisfaction of our hearts, our minds and our spirits.” Leo Buscaglia
“When we sit at the table, there is more going on than satisfying hunger. It is sad to think of those who eat simply to satisfy their hunger and who do not permit themselves to linger under the many spells offered by a good meal – the satisfaction of our hearts, our minds and our spirits.” Anthony Bourdain
In my mind today I am thinking of all of the people who fight chronic illnesses: ALS, cancer, addictions, MS, Duchenne MD, or Alzheimer’s. The list could fill the entire page. What makes one jolly and another bitter and sullen? I read this just this morning:
The testing of your faith produces perseverance so that you may be perfect and complete.
I hear this often, “How can you believe in a God that tortures and tests you?”
This life is so much bigger than my illness. There are so many people suffering in this world. An average lifespan of a human is 79 years. There have been only five generations since the Mayflower landing. Time for all of us is limited and it flies by so quickly we waste so much time being depressed or upset about trivial matters when we could be spending time together with family and friends sharing meals, conversation, and love whether we are sick or not. Times a’wasting my friends.
Do you realize we are all tested every day of our lives? We are the sons and daughters of God. We are made in His image to love and to be loved. So many people are not loved in our society today. It is just a shame. Our path to goodness has been clouded by social media, the internet, drug addictions, and children who are neglected. I get really sad when I think of the people who are addicted and cannot love themselves. I have people very close to me who do not love themselves; therefore, they could not love others. They are hurt from their childhood and are taught by the hard knocks of life. They are suffering, too. Please stop and say a prayer for all of those who are living with or affected by addiction. Never stop praying for them.
As a teacher, I administered many tests. The kids hated them. As a teacher, I looked forward to the tests to see how much the students have learned. It’s an indicator. It helped me to see where their weakness lie. Back row, not because I could just put red ink all over their paper and say “Ah-hah, you didn’t study did you?” The scores showed me where my students needed help. Then I could go back and fill in the gaps so they understood the content of the lesson. Of course, I would allow them to retake it. Here’s an analogy, you learn more when you are unsuccessful. Your brain will say, “I’m not falling for that again!”
Our trials and test in this life show how much we have learned. I have learned living with ALS that there is purpose in my suffering. My mornings are spent with prayer and quiet time. I find messages that come through scriptures and prayers. Just like today. In the book of James, he tells us to offer it up to God. How do you survive living with cancer, ALS, MS, addictions, Alzheimer, or any other condition that steals your joy? We will all die one day and that is just a fact. How we die is just a minor detail. The main objective students is not how we die but how do we live? The precious time that is given to us whether it be 79 years or less is indeed precious.
Teaching my high school students in PRE(Parish Religious Education) yesterday I shared one of my dark times with them. Yes, I have dark times. We all do healthy or not. I told them about my daughter at college getting free tickets to a front row opera from someone. She went Valentine’s Day by herself to see this opera. She reported that it was one of the best Valentine’s Days ever. It made me sad because in my mind I envisioned the gal without ALS. In my mind I could see me rushing from work and going to Memphis to the opera with her. I cry every time I visit that vision. I get angry. Then, I offer it up. I thank God for my songbird, her life, and her happiness. My students already know that I am cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs so the tears don’t scare them much anymore. But in my closing prayer, I thanked God for all of them and for my ability to be there. You see we all have work to do. Regardless of our station whether we are in jail or living at home waiting on hospice there is work to be done. There is joy to be had in the journey. That joy does not come from success in this world. It comes from something much bigger. Do you have something to offer up? Right now just say these words, “Dear God, I cannot do this alone. Please help me to find my joy in you. Use me dear God for your good. All of my struggles I give them up for the good of your kingdom. Help me dear God to be a light for others. Help me to love the child of God you created in me so I can find my joy in you.”
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Offer it up Gal
Quotes of the day:
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song
In my mind today I’m having an emotional day. Being a mom of a college student is much tougher than I ever imagined. I miss my bird but know God has plans and has planted so many seeds in her soul. The visits are brief and I hate to see her taillights in the drive but seeds were made to grow and produce fruit.
Recently I read one of my favorite parables in the Bible. Yes, it was about seeds. I look at family and friends and I am ever so blessed to have such a fruitful life. The Alley ground has been fertilized by love. The harvest is so beautiful.
We are all seeds planted here on Earth with so much potential to do good. Three years ago I was asked to be a keynote speaker for the local school’s BETA Club, my high school. They are at the academic top of their class. Talk about potential. Oh the places these seeds will go! They have started the adult season of college, marriage, and jobs; I see them being fruitful and knowing that I was their teacher at one time makes me so very happy. It’s all about the harvest. The parable has so many ways seeds can fail: rocky ground, dry, weedy, and depleted. I’ve been here this week. Depleted. Remember the Bible verse about flowering and fading? We all have to to it, fade. Fading is a part of it. Look at a farmer’s field. There is some serious fading happening in my little burg; the fields are void of vegetation. One day we will all fade but how can we cultivate our hearts so that we can be the good?
We at times all have weedy, depleted, rocky, hard hearts especially when our friends and family are in turmoil around us. As a Christian, we can pray instead of react in a negative way. We can react with kindness when our loved ones lash out at us for not enabling them. Sometimes the best thing is to keep your distance but always pray. If your heart is so heavy, find a time to be alone and cry. Scream and let all of the frustrations out. Literally tell God you are mad at Him and hurting. I have had to do this and still do when I see so many hurting around me. I cry, scream out, and then talk to God. Note I can’t talk until the ugly cry and screaming session. The release helps me to calmly talk to God about my doubts and frustrations. All of my why’s that have built up for example why is someone precious being attacked with something as horrible as cancer, why is addiction so rampant, and why are there so many children hurting. Where are you God? Then I pray. I pray for God to let me be Jesus on this earth to help others. I ask him in my prayers to show me a way. He always finds a way into my mind to show me how to help. My prayer after receiving ALS was for God to use me until there was nothing left: let your will be done.
Keep your heart fertile. Let the seeds of goodness grow. Sometimes we all have a heart that needs a little tending to, but remember that you could also plant seeds of goodness in your daily lives. All it takes is a kind word to brighten someone’s day. You actually help to cultivate kindness in the hearts of others. Punxsutawney Phil said ring is just around the corner. Do you have your seeds ready? Is your heart ready to grow in goodness? I hope this message plants a seed in your heart. Sal the Be the Good GalSarah Anderson Alley Quotes of the Day: “When life hands you dirt plant seeds.” “A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.”Matshona Dhliwayo
In my mind today I’m bufuzzled. I ran across this verse last week, “Who are you?” My brain wants to add o’s and sing it like the band The Who does. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you do or say something and think did that come from my mouth? It’s so tough to be the person that you are called to be.
This whole wonderment has had me shaken. Am I being the best person I can be? I’m at a crossroads. My mission is about to change. It’s been tough letting go of the work and person I have been in the past few years. With ALS, we have plateaus and valleys. I’m in the middle of a valley and figuring out the next season. The work will be new and rejuvenating. This work has been calling me for more than a year. I have no clue if I will be successful or not. I just have to try. Why? It is a calling from God. I have been blessed with a good mind, three degrees, and a broken body. It doesn’t matter folks. God will carry me and qualify me as I go.
It’s a New Year! Lots of resolutions. I remember every January grumbling at the YMCA because of the huge flux of people who were going to get in shape. I chuckle remembering that season of my life with my Y buds. I was a different person then with different jobs. Every season needs to be lived and cherished. There is truly knowledge to be learned and jobs to be done until our last breath.
I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts. I’m powering up for the next Sal the I Know Who I Am Gal. Who am I? I’m first and foremost a Child of God. Read, listen, and pray today. Figure it out. Who are you?
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Child of God Gal
Quotes of the Day:
They asked John the Baptist, “Who are you?”
He replied, ”I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
In my mind today, I’m thinking that Christmas is practically here!!! The second week of Advent flew by and now we are on the cusp of the final week of Advent. Christmas is just around the corner!
Christmas is a time for little miracles. They happen with gifts of love from our families and friends. Sometimes random strangers do random works of kindness. You may slip a struggling family a Christmas card with a bit of cash. You might help a young adult go to a conference. You may take meals to those shut-in and lonely. So many family and friends get the ultimate vacation to heaven. All of the above, I have witnessed this season. Here is the best thing. My little parish is learning to love like this all year. That is really the goal isn’t it? Embracing and celebrating God by loving your fellow men and women. I’m so proud Holy Angels Catholic Church is being Christ in our little community all year. If you need a church family, come let us love you.
I love Christmas! I can’t shout it enough! It’s a time when the secular world joins the religious and shout, “Joy to the World!” There’s something different here. The world really does fall in love. You know what I love the most? Time slows down. We get breaks from routines. Visiting with family and friends, attending choir concerts, and sharing meals and traditions, these are the joys of the season. Creating those memories that will last a lifetime and re-living the times that we’ve shared. Such happiness abounds.
In my little life, in my little corner of the world, in my little burg, and in my little parish, I am so blessed to know and feel the true meaning of this season. So much so that I want to make everyday Christmas. I think this was God’s goal all along. Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Sal the Christmas Loving Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quote of the Day:
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”