Nuggets

In my mind today, I have been feeding my brain with literature. I am studying again! Don’t moan back row, students. Be joyful that I am looking for God. It has been a while since I have had the strength to read and focus. What threw me out of my stagnating reverie was YouTube. Yes, even dinosaurs like me look at it. I usually look for gardening videos and Christian talks about the Faith. I’m a “ real gone cat.” That’s an idiom, students. I digress but I was scrolling the YT and saw 26 books every Christian should read by Peter Kreeft. I watched it about three weeks ago and just finished the first book : an autobiography called A Severe Mercy. Of the 26 books, only two were autobiographies. I decided to start with the autobiographies. It was this one or Confessions by St. Augustine. The latter seemed too heavy for my fragile mind. 

After I got the title downloaded to my kindle, I discovered it was written by a man from 100 years ago about losing the love of his life. When I watched the YT video I just got the book titles and hurried to my list to read before my flesh became weak again. Finding out it was about grief and losing the love of his life, I was all in. I knew in my heart that the book was no accident. I do believe that God wanted me to read it ; it was divinely inspired. 

My mind as well as my heart have been muddled wading through my husband’s death into eternal life. The nuggets of gold I mined from this autobiography reinforced my mind, soul, and spirit giving peace to my battered, grief stricken heart. Good News indeed! The first nugget of truth about true love: it is more than physical attraction. In the beginning of my relationship with Ken, we wanted to be together all of the time. We couldn’t get enough of one another. In the book the author describes this time as their Pagan love. I believe that many relationships begin in this whirlwind of romance and freedom. It’s often referred to as the honeymoon stage. Often weeks into the relationship this fades and the rose colored glasses are too smeared and dirty to see through. What then fosters a good, healthy relationship or marriage? Commonality. Do you share common interests, goals, and morals? If not, I bet the relationship failed. Remember the song lyrics : don’t go changing to try to please me, I want you just the way you are?  Did you really want your person just the way they are? Was it reciprocated, did they feel the same way? If you honestly answered yes, congrats! To move forward to a deeper love it is imperative. The reality of real love is possible. I live in a little southern town and I look out at the world and hope desperately that people, men and women, have not given up on the sanctity of marriage. The plan for us to be one and that love being a treasure trove that grows stronger throughout eternity. Ken and I have it ( present tense.) I feel it. 

Nugget number two was: there is no other joy in the world better than Christian Joy. I hear the back row grumble. What other joy is there that has no baggage, consequences, or price? Love, real love, is free. It is not self serving. It does not constantly think about “me.” We all as humans yearn for eternity. We have been trying to figure out a way to live forever since the dawn of mankind. Christian Joy is walking your earthy life to God’s beat. There’s nothing you can do to buy or win it. It is staying in the Light of Christ. The plan for us is to be happy. How in this upside down society that you and I live in could this be possible? Is there any chance of getting true love and Christian Joy? I pray that there is. I have children and grandchildren ( my posterity) that I want to have these treasures.  Walking a righteous path is so hard, but so rewarding ; remember eternity students? Students, when you have true love do you want to be with them forever? Absolutely! This brings me to my last nugget of truth, my Epiphany for all of us grieving people whom I know. Just like the author in A Severe Mercy, I still “ feel” my beloved ‘s presence. Some days are so heavy with the weight of him I have crying days. These were so many before my Epiphany nugget. I felt that I was crazy and losing my mind and my love forever. Not so! Listen up my widow and widower friends. The last nugget will bring you hope. I pray that it does. 

The big epiphany nugget from the book gave me something to ensure that Ken is somewhere waiting for me out there in eternity. Remember the marriage covenant? Remember Saint Paul and stating that when a man and woman become one then their souls are united as one. This, to me, gives hope and evidence to being together again. When our souls depart from earth they leave intimeness ( no clocks or time keeping in eternity) and have all the time in eternity. Ken and your love are free from earthly chains. If your heart shattered when they departed, good. Hold on front row students, I am making a point. If your heart shattered, it was a true love. It was real. It had and still has life. True love is eternal. Just like Saint Paul stated two souls become one so the other half fledged before the other, so our loves are still there waiting for our day to soar. The hardest part is our waiting. Not for our beloved who are out of time. Remember when sharing your lives there was never enough time. I yearned for our Saturdays of time shared with each other. There could have never been enough Saturdays to satisfy our love. I believe a part of my soul left when his took flight. A death of a part of me that resurrected with him lives on in eternity where every day is a Saturday. 

Does everyone get this “true” love? Sadly, I don’t think so. It’s hard to live a covenant. Do more people want “ true” love.? I think that our society and culture in America need it more than ever. I remember a woman who was considering divorce told me that the infidelity of her husband was too much. She said that she wanted a man who only saw her in the room even if Halle Berry was in the same room. Ladies and gentlemen, do you feel the same? I know I did, but I was blessed to have it for 33 years. He always told me that he had the most beautiful woman in the church every Sunday,  ALS and all of the trappings included. I know back row, you think he was blowing smoke but he would say he still saw the girl he married. The sacrament of marriage is real. The covenant is sealed with love. I thank God for it. I think that those who achieve it have lots to look forward to even in death. This covenant has been flipped in our culture. Students, take heart. Surely there are many other people seeking it too. Remember all of the feelings that I have of Ken being so close in songs, places, and the space surrounding us? The signs the kids and I have? They are real. They have meaning. How can I be so confident? Everything is created by God. Everything God creates has meaning. I will soldier on until my eternity journey begins. Then I will be with him in a time free zone ready to share eternal Saturdays again.  

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the True Love Gal

Quote of the Day :

“But love is the final reality ; and anyone who doesn’t understand this, be he a writer or a sage,, is a man flawed in wisdom. “

Sheldon Vanauken

The Grief That Stole Christmas

The Grief that Stole Christmas 

In my mind today of course I am thinking about Christmas. Looking at Christmases past on social media, remembering how much I put into Christmas before ALS. Each year I was so jolly and even enjoyed the elves’ shenanigans! I have always been a NUT for Christmas to the point that I drove my family nuts. Here is an example of my overzealous behavior: 19 elves. I heard that gasp, students. What a NUT, right? 

This year was the year of “The Grief that Stole Christmas” since my sweet husband is celebrating a Celestial Christmas. Some of his best, worn out dad jokes were about canceling Christmas. The closer Christmas came,  the more frequent the cancellation threats.This year is a new season, a new normal. I know that I don’t have the corner market for grief, but it really hurts. Writing is therapy, and I am so thankful for all of you, students. 

First new normal was no big gathering at our house on Christmas Eve. We always hosted every side of the family and would have sometimes over 50 people, relatives and friends. Then the old Griefy Claus caused a collapse in our world. No gathering. I then had an idea, a wonderful idea! An awesome, wonderful idea! Intimate Christmas Eve with our kids and grandchildren. I was not the most chipper and we were missing two Grands. Guess what happened? We had a fabulous time! We could feel the love. We shared wonderful memories of their Dad, brother, and all of our crazy Christmas past. The new normal will be Christmas Eve with Gram at noon, KFC, and shared time. Enjoying watching the kids play. So Bah Humbug Griefy Claus! The kids were gone and that left the three amigos. Ben, Abbey, and I watched SpongeBob Christmas and so many others. We laughed until we cried. Last but not least, a good, hot shower, tucked tight in bed, It’s A Wonderful Life in color on the bedroom tv, and the sweetest daughter beside me made for the best Christmas Eve ever. Ben was busy with the elf work that robbed my Christmas Eve sleep all those years before as a healthy mom staying up til the wee hours of the morning. I slept like Patrick Star under his rock. (SpongeBob reference, parents!)  

Before I knew it, the alarm clock was going off. Ben said, “Mom, we have church.” We had the perfect excuse to stay home. There had been a winter storm with dangerous low temperatures. Don’t forget Griefy Claus! The one thing that Ken never canceled was church on Sunday, especially the high holy days. That was a rule of our Home: God first. It has been our trusted compass. Ben got me up and ready. We gathered the food items for my mother-in-law’s gathering to drop off, then grabbed her for church. Here comes Griefy Claus! She had burst pipes and no electricity. We ended up with a lot of good ham and another gathering collapse. New season. Ben learned to make pecan pie from one of our good friends. We wanted to give something special for people that doesn’t come from a store and means a bit more. I was ever so glad to be in church. I cried but it was tears of joy. My joy meter was 100% before we were to the Gospel. Our daughter leading music and pies for the church family made my heart swell three sizes. Although the other traditional gathering collapsed, a new one was born. We had Ab’s boyfriend pop in and my other son, too. It was like a trip back in time. They were laughing and playing video games. It was the BEST. Just our little brood. I felt Ken and Nick were right there with us. My husband was a father first and foremost. He worked so so hard his entire life for us. The children we shared came through, heavenly and earthly. Grief didn’t stop Christmas. Somehow it came just the same. The love never left us. This morning Ben and I talked about dying young and the old saying only the good die young. This life is so full of grief, the earthly one. It makes a Celestial Christmas sound even better. Not the Monty Python heaven, back row. Stay with me! That is why we believe that there is so much more on the other side. No GRIEF! Let’s not forget that mortality issue. Remember the first time you realized that you were destined to be dust? Eye opener! The whole world does fall in love this time of year. It is the most wonderful time of the year. Why? That’s right front row, light entered the darkness and Jesus Christ entered our earthly drama. He brought the best Christmas gift of all.

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the Griefy Claus Gal

Quote for the Day:

 “Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” -Emily Dickinson 

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” -Helen Keller 

“Say not in grief that they are gone, but give thanks that they were yours.” -Hebrew proverb 

Things Griefy Claus taught me:

  1. Don’t think that my children will love the same tic-tacky Christmas trappings (decorations) putting them up and down! No decorations next year just a tree, the memory one, and one nativity. Peace is better than the grief!
  2. I get that a new chapter has begun and I have to be a BLT: BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER. There is a purpose for me on this side of heaven. 
  3. I will miss Ken until the day I die. 

Treasure Chest

In my mind I have a to-do list that is longer than Santa’s: thank yous, budgets to balance, insurance to buy, and more to-do lists to make. Last Thursday, I felt its weight. I had to do something to feel again. I had to self talk myself to get up, stay awake, listen, participate, and try to get my Thursday to some kind of normalcy.  I have an online Bible study each Thursday. Our online class was there in cyberspace waiting to meet. Guess what students? I did it and I was so grateful, relieved, and reassured by these faithful friends. They are in their “ Brady Bunch” zoom boxes. Just like the One with us, never wavering, and always there for us. I could feel my spirits lift. 

Change. My life is so different, but I realized I  am wasting days. I am fighting to leave as much love as possible to my family, friends, and everyone I meet. I don’t need to waste a second. Remember my to do lists? I am making lists of love. Watch out! I may show up to bring you some Holiday cheer! I have been giddy today finding my groove. Remembering the magic of Christmas, my daughter’s voice and the Holy Spirit at her last collegiate Christmas Choir Concert. Warning! Get your kleenex. I promise good and bad tears, cross my heart! I felt my husband more than usual.   

Choir was and is our youngest child’s gift from God. We have traveled as far as New York City to see her perform.  We gave her tools, opportunities, and support to help her excel. She blossomed into an amazing classical musician, pianist, songwriter, and Operatic singer. Her Choir scholarships help make it possible for her to get four years of college for one year. Thanks to our Mr. Bart, Mr.  Davis, and her hard work. 

Ken NEVER missed one activity our children had. Never. Did I? Yes. My husband was a Saint. I called him and still say he’s my St. Joseph. On the drive down to Memphis for her last Christmas Concert, as we rolled down Highway 51 I was remembering all of those trips that we had together either chasing a concert,  a child’s performance, or vacations.  He wanted so badly to make it until our girl graduated from college. The tears rolled with the miles.  Sure some were sad tears because I miss him, but they were also because I was so grateful for our life together.  He left us a million memories, a million playlist to listen to, a million bad dad jokes, a million good night sleep tight I love yous, a million songs that remind us of what is important, and a billion smiles to remember. I thank God everyday all I have to do is close my eyes and I can find something beautiful from my time on Earth in my mind.  If you can’t do that, students, you need to work on it. God gives us this life as well as the next. Here it is at Christmas and I really need you to be in the moments with your people. These memories are part of your treasure chest.  Hold it tight. Yes it is homework!

 We arrived and I immediately had PTSD from the last few years of coming to the concert. It literally took God and all the gumption we had just to get there, especially last year. It was blustery and rainy and I had to roll down the streets of Memphis in my wheelchair to get a police officer to help get him to the venue. His anxiety was off the charts, and I had no clue how I was going to talk him down. This was her junior year and the music department was privy to whom these two disabled parents belonged.  We had to get the front handicap entrance open because the back one didn’t accommodate a wheelchair. So as Ken and I limped in, we were spotted. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. We were led to front and center. We both cried last year.  Cried because she did an excellent job, and we soaked it all in to our treasure chest of moments. I was shaken out of my reverie when my son said, “The wheelchair lift won’t work.” Murphy’s Law! We pulled out front, five minutes till showtime, and this my students is when the wailing and anxiety take over me. He said, “ I’ve got it mom.” Thank you Ken and Granddaddy Wayne for passing those mechanical genes to our three sons. He had to hand crank me in and out of the van but thanks be to God we did not miss her singing. So after all of that and getting two 83 year old Grams to the restroom, I think we’re on angel wings, along with the Holy Spirit and using God’s speed.  We arrived at the beautiful Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, one of the oldest churches in Memphis,Tennessee. We got a good seat, not as good as last year’s event.  I don’t think I opened my eyes very much at all. I felt his arm over my shoulder and his voice whispering periodically, “Do you hear Abbey?” I did. Her voice is so bold, and full bodied, and angelic.  Between songs he would take pictures and  ALWAYS video her solos, not this year. Every girl should get a Dad like Ken. Hey, I should write the book for Dad’s expecting a daughter. Ha! Here’s the title: Secret Club! I called it their S.C. aka Secret Club. His Board of Directors Monthly meetings alway gave them a S.C. meeting. They were so close and my heart breaks for her and other girls who were given too little time with their fathers. Remember what I said about treasure chests? Open them, revisit them, and most definitely make more for your journey. Yes, it’s your holiday homework! I hear that unfriendly “Ho, Ho, Ho” back row! Be good for goodness sake.

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the Treasure Chest Gal

Workin’ hard every day

Never notice how the time slips away

People come, seasons go

We got something that’ll never grow old.

I don’t care if the sun don’t shine

And the rain keeps pouring down on me and mine ‘Cause our kind of love never seems to get old It’s better than silver and gold.

Neil Young

Flying on Sid Kid’s Wings

In my mind today I am thinking about a young, twenty two year old girl named Sidney. She is my muse and inspiration since my world was up-ended on July second. I had no clue about the depths of grief I would encounter and still do at the drop of a hat. Crying one minute and laughing the next. Students, I am a loose cannon. After my husband passed to the next adventure, I just wanted to run so fast and far. I decided I needed a new ship to chart my course. The Blue Mystery Machine has been a solid ride, but I am thinking of trips. It’s been ages since we had an enjoyable trip. Even trips to Memphis were so hard physically for us. 

I began my search for a handicapped accessible BIG van so that I could do bucket list stuff with family and friends. I was searching for a gently used one. I found one in Virginia. It was perfect. I called and someone else was coming to look at it Monday. I continued searching. I found two new ones. The prices were almost double. Sure enough it was sold and I was looking for another van. After a month, I had decided to just buy one new. The next Monday I opened my phone and Sid’s Mom text me that the van deal with the other people fell through. I was just starting to call to order a new one. The message said, “Still interested in our van?” I called immediately and made arrangements. I told them that I would pay to have it towed here, but they wanted one last trip in “Sid Kid’s” ride.

They took their time traveling from Virginia across Tennessee. They got to do lots and see lots of things that Sid would love. She was such a wonderful daughter. She loved music so much, especially country music. They felt like family.  I feel so privileged to be able to use Sid Kid’s “Earthly” wings.  She entered heaven about 6 months before my sweet husband. 

I have had so many trips using Sid Kid’s Wings. Along with a group of parishioners and friends, we made a pilgrimage right after I got the van to Perryville, Missouri, The Saint Mary’s of the Barrens Church, home of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. I am just getting started. I am hoping to do a little traveling, especially small little trips to just see what all is around me. Hopefully I will get to do a few bucket list trips! One thing is for sure, I will take Sidney in my heart. Never forget those people like Sidney who love with their whole heart. Yearn for a heart like theirs, pure. 

Some people are born with SMA, Cerebral Palsy, Duchenne’s MD, and so many others MND’s: Motor Neuron Disease. Today’s students pray for all of those young and old that are going through these debilitating diseases. Join in with others to promote a cure. We do a Haunted Trail for advocacy, awareness, and a cure. Addi is the Queen of our Haunted Trail. Please whisper or shout a prayer. Addi needs prayers and to be tolerating feedings at home November 21 for a huge sweet 16th party!  If you have never been able to be around kids like Jonathon, Liam, Sid or Addi you are really missing out on the real meaning of joy.  Remember that there are angels around us!  God is always bigger. We just have to ask. Please ask with me today for these miracles.

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the ALS Gal 

Quotes of the Day:

„It is not the length of life, but the depth.“ —  Ralph Waldo Emmerson 

„Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.“ —  Stephen Hawking

„Life is: beautiful, funny, fragile, amazing, tragic, challenging, rewarding and above all, short. Hug longer, love harder, laugh more. And know we are all in this together, even when it seems unbearable.“ —  Unknown author

And I genuinely laughed yesterday.  🙂 Thanks be to God 

Sarah Alley 

MSH

In my mind today, I’m so very sad. My sweet husband (MSH as my daughter says for short) left for heaven July 2nd, 2022.  I cry and then I laugh and then cry some more.  Watching someone you love fade away in front of your eyes is so very hard. I do not have a corner on the market though.  This is indeed a tale as old as time. I am just so blessed for the 33 years that we spent together. We shared such a special kind of love. 

Students, I want to share a little bit about MSH.  Our kids would tell me, “Oh no, mom is talking about my sweet husband again!” (Editor’s note from Abbey: that’s exactly what I just did.)  33 years ago I did marry the sweetest man ever. When we decided to get married, I was 20 and he was 34. He told me I had to be okay with him dying first.  I told him that I understood and he was the kind of man I wanted: a good father. You see, after I came home from college after quitting basketball and a full scholarship at the University of Memphis or Memphis State, I was floundering. I took a job at a daycare. That’s where I met Nicholas, Ken’s son.  

Nick and I hit it off. He was the worst napper ever. I, Miss Sarah, had to rub his back to try to get him to sleep. Nap time was serious and I had to rescue a lot of restless nappers; but Nick was a frequent flyer!  I always noticed when Nick’s dad would come and he would be so happy. I could tell his dad was a hard worker. He came in with a bright blue hard hat and covered with white polymer from a local factory. The way he ran to Ken melted my heart. I thought, “That is the kind of man I want to be a father to my kids.”  Well, he then started coming in all cleaned up. Nick had told me his parents were divorced. I had also noticed “no ring.” We were definitely “zinging” on one another, so when opportunity and chance met, we took it. Nick had fallen on a block and had to have stitches. Ken wanted me to go and help. I can still remember the day. The hard hat matched his blue truck (and his eyes, but we won’t get into that!). He had Memphis State stuff in the cab. We talked about the Tigers and he asked me to come over and watch the game with them. That was it. No other man would ever be in my heart again.  He popped in a cassette tape of REM and we headed to the hospital. Recently he told the kids he knew that I had a rock’n’roll heart from that first ride in his blue pickup truck because I knew all the words from “It’s the end of the world as we know it” by REM. I miss my sweet husband. MSH!

I had accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball in the fall to Lambeth University but I didn’t go. Instead Ken and I went to Crockett county courthouse and we got our marriage license. I still remember the questions: Name, birthday, social number, and have you ever been married before?  I breathed through the questions. And then it was his turn. “Have you ever been married before?” Asks the clerk. Ken answered, “Yes.” “How many times?” Asks the clerk. “3 times.” answered Ken.  My eyes bugged out and my ears felt like they were deceiving me. I said, “What?  I only know about 2.” We then went to the hallway and talked about this. I was shaken but I was crazy in love. We did not immediately get married after this but waited until I was over the shock of another life/wife to deal with because two was hard enough. 

In November 1989, we went down the bluff to the Bogota bottoms and got married. Mr. Don Childress, County commissioner, was slopping his hogs in his hog pen. His sweet, spunky, beautiful wife said, “Get out of that pen and clean up. I want you to get The Bible and say some good words and not just you are married.” Ken’s daughter, Andi, and his best friend David Jones stood up for us. We went to Pizza Hut for supper and then home. 

The next morning I called my mother and I told her that I was married. She said I didn’t think you were really going to get married. She was very upset. She said she wanted me to have a nice wedding. She said over and over that she just wanted more for me. My father on the other hand told her to let go.  He said Rachel, he is a good man; he will take care of our daughter. He did, he still does and he always will take care of their girl.  This is how this crazy love began. I thank God for this love because love endures all. Students I hope one day you are blessed with a love like ours. RIP MSH

Quotes of the Day:

Alleyisms

Ken aka Papa Smurf by Clarissa Haymon, Papa Razzi by Ab, me, and  Lady Gaga, Rop by Ab

In the memorial video look for odd pictures. He loved to take and look for odd pictures. He also liked to take pictures of abandoned old businesses in Memphis.

Birthdays were his favorite (even though he always joked that they were canceled, along with Christmas, every single year). He filmed almost every birthday.

He loved loved loved music. His music collection is astounding.  He loved to discover new bands and home-tapers.  Book of Kills, R.Stevie Moore, Barty Aum, etc.

He was a Trivia master of music history and bands as well as sports statistics. I never heard him ever misspell a word or not know how to spell a word.  Thanks be to the nuns at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Memphis Tennessee.

Another one of our songs. 🙂

What I feel, I can’t say

But my love is there for you any time of day

But if it’s not love that you need

Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

What I know, I can do

If I give my love now to everyone like you

But if it’s not love that you need

Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

What I feel, I can’t say

But my love is there for you any time of day

But if it’s not love that you need

Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

Oh, tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

What is my life without your love?

Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

Oh, tell me, what is my life without your love?

Songwriters: George Harrison

Pentecost is coming!

What is the world of Sal the ALS Gal? Well lately I have been so, so busy. There is always work to do. We Catholics Christians are still celebrating Easter! This was our sixth Sunday of Easter celebrations. We are waiting for the Ascension of Jesus celebration and of course Pentecost. Pentecost is the end of our Easter season so we have a lot of Easter parties left to do. It seems the only places I find peace these days are at my church or in my prayer Spots. It is just a mad, mad world out there! 

I feel like such a bad teacher. Here it is at the end of the year and I just haven’t been able to write. I’ve had so many tough things to deal with in my life and am trying to give these to God. His yoke is easy. Students, you shouldn’t let negative things get in the way of doing good for others. It is our job as we go through this thing we call life. Lately I have been invisible to a lot of you, but know that I have been very busy. I am starting a community garden in my neighborhood. God has given me two gardeners, I call angels, Alan and Marcelo. I hope that the people I live with in this neighborhood will use it to teach especially the children and each other how God provides through gardening. It always makes me think that our hearts and souls are Gardens. They become weedy and lots of the good stuff gets choked out but that’s what Jesus does for us. He de-weeds our horribly weed choked hearts. Let’s not forget the Holy Spirit; it flows through each of us and all around us every day. It is what the beautiful things in the world are created of: the Holy Spirit. The breeze we feel but we cannot see: the Holy Spirit. When I go to a prayer spot or church I let Jesus in my heart and I allow Him to take all those weedy things out that keep me from being close to Him: death of loved ones, diseases that are incurable, senseless violence within our world, and the ever raging wars. The Earth is crying for us to embrace her and to take care of her because our days will be over very soon. Yet our children’s days are all on the horizon. This lets us know that we should teach our children every single day. We are to teach them and guide them until our very last breath. Even the way we die will speak volumes to our children and grandchildren. The way we live speaks even louder. If you are a parent and you are reading this I know that you have a very serious job that will last your entire life. Take heart because that is a blessing. Every child is a gift from God. Whether that child is wanted or not. Remember those widows and orphans of the world just like I preach so much about and don’t forget your immigrants either because we should love each other and help each other to do the good that needs to be done. Remember we are all sojourners on this earth. 

Another thing that I have been blessed to do recently is to give out scholarships again from the race for ALS awareness and also for my beloved friend Bart Williams. Reading through all of the applications and then being able to go and put a face to an essay was exhilarating. That is just the teacher in me of course. It just made my heart so big to see so many young people ready to go on their next Journey. God is really so good. I am so blessed to live in such a little place in West Tennessee that has a tremendous amount of love for each other. This is something that is becoming such a rarity. Places like these have enough love to cover so many shortcomings. If you don’t have it where you live you can come live here or you could start trying to build it where you are. This is our commission to do the good work. The good work also comes at a price. This price is a lot for some people because you have to think of yourself last. This is the opposite of what the world is telling us. I hope many of you are learning to winnow what you hear because the easiest or should I say the most clever deceiver ever has set us up for a huge battle. This battle is for our children.  I may lose a lot of readers from this point on because it’s so hard to believe in something so much bigger than you. With everything we have today it seems like God could be a fairy tale. God could just be mythology remixed according to intellectuals. All I do know  is that I do feel God and I do feel that he lives within my heart. So many people ask me how could you do what you do?  The answer is so simple; it is not me who drives my heart and my soul and my body. It’s no longer I; it is Christ who lives Within Me. So students just give it a chance. Come see me come; talk to me. I’m still here but one day, one glorious morning my soul will rise.  

Another thing that I will be doing during this summer is passing out food for three weeks in June and three  weeks in July to students who are currently in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade along with review material for the upcoming school year. If you would like to be a part of this or if you know someone who would benefit from this please contact me. You can do this on Facebook Messenger or ask someone for my number. It is all free. We will feed the families of these children for 6 weeks out of the summer as well as give them materials to continue to learn while they are out for the summer vacation. The great thing is if these children need help they will have a teacher at our church to help them aka me and a lot of my students from my religious class will be helping to serve all of these children this summer. If there is a child or family with older children I will get those materials and will give them food as well for the week. Please just contact me. God will provide. 

Last but not least I will continue a Bible study at my house throughout this summer on Mondays. This feeds my soul to be able to discuss things together about God. We are currently doing The Chosen series. It is so important students to surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. This could be in your family, your friends from school, or your work friends. I was just telling my husband that I was so blessed to be surrounded by teachers that knew what was important. If I had not had Labrenda, Tammy, Clara, Andrea, and Mandy I don’t know that I could have continued teaching and blessed more without knowing that God was with me through you. The Bible study is helping me deal with some really hard seasons in my personal life. Most of you know that it is not only me that is sick but also my husband. Barring a miracle this time is becoming shorter each day, but we all understand that death is such a part of life. We are trying our best to live and love each day and enjoy the days we have left together. So if you love my husband or if you know him please reach out. You could call him or come by and visit. Long visits are really hard but he would love to see some of you, read a text, or email. You see his mission field was totally different from mine. He was out there with the common laborers or the people that make this country and so many other countries work. It has been really hard for sure. I think it is just part of the guy thing; girls we always are ready to hug and love each other, but for men it’s a different way to show that you care. Just pray for us because we do know that God is so much bigger than all of these problems. All problems are just Earthly problems. We were told in order to get to see Jesus we had to carry our crosses. I think my husband and I have done a good job of carrying these crosses. We understand that we do not build Treasures here but we build them up in heaven by our acts of kindness and goodness to promote the kingdom of God here on Earth. It is about to be summer break students, but for sure I will be giving you more and more lessons as long as I have breath to breathe. Love to all of you and God bless and keep you. 

Sarah Anderson Alley

“And though their love was hanging on a limb she taught him how to dance and start again.” Neil Young

Winnowing Words and Thoughts

Winnowing your words and thoughts 

In my mind today I am winnowing my words and thoughts.  I know back row; what in the world is winnowing?  I am simply separating and selecting. Students, we each have a finite time to do good.  It is very important to keep your soul and mind on what is important.  There are only so many situations that you can make a difference. You do not need to waste the space in your head or your heart. This has been a new lesson for me. I am getting there slowly but surely. The one thing that is meeting me as I do this is peace. As I eliminate more things that I can do nothing about, these things that I can come to the forefront.  I have told you before that the most precious commodity is this little time we spend together on Earth.  Don’t waste it! 

What if an angel came to you and told you tomorrow you will die? Examine your soul and mind.  What occupies it or both of them? Are they full of things you can do nothing about?  Are you thinking of someone who has hurt you? Are you dwelling on money, the lack of or acquisition of it?  Is the psycho babble of the world rattling in your head and heart?  Are addictions stealing your morals?  Is every thought about yourself? It looks like we all need to winnow our thoughts and souls and words.  I just got an amen from the front row! 

I don’t write to make you feel hopeless; I write to hopefully inspire you to a greater calling: an Agape love. Every single thing in our lives works toward something. Renewal. It is so evident especially in the Spring. Down to the last atom there is a purpose for life.The time-line continues forward infinitely. Atoms of our forefathers greet us in the budding of trees. Nothing is wasted in nature as God intended. One day we will meet eternity. This is a thought worth saving. This thought can help you understand how precious this little life is and do your good works for God on this leg of your journey home.

Homework time! This week students winnow your hearts and minds. Be purposeful.  Choose good life giving words. Fill your mind with thoughts of how you can bless others. Here’s an action plan: pray for those people in life that hurt you, pray for those that are elderly and need love, pray for those who are taking care of people who are in need, if you have a chance to help someone, Do it! Look up Agape and let that love guide you.  I hope you understand that Ms. Alley “agape” loves you!

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the AGAPE GAL 

 Quotes of the Day by Marcus Aurelius:

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.

Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.

Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears. 

The best answer to anger is silence. 

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.

Gethsemane Gardens

In my mind, I have been desperately trying to stay the course, the narrow way. Students when you are looking at memento mori, All things will die, it puts your life in a positive perspective.

Last year at Easter I was in the hospital fighting for my life. Two weeks ago my husband was at Vanderbilt fighting for his life. Four days into his stay at the hospital our youngest granddaughter was rushed to Le bonheur. Both are now home. God’s mercy has rained down once again on the Alley family.

My husband is one of the most honorable men I have ever met. I think in some ways he is a saint for putting up with me. He is also very stubborn. His pulmonologist wanted him to go to the emergency room because his oxygen levels dipped into the 40s as he slept. Remember I said he is very stubborn so he bargained for one more night before going to the emergency room in Nashville. That night was like a night in the garden of Gethsemane for my son and me. He watched till 3 AM and I watched you until 6 AM. Each time he would go into the low numbers we would stir him. Then the next day my son drove him to Nashville to Vanderbilt. My son told me that we almost lost him on the way and he had to continually keep him awake. When he reached the ER his CO2 levels were 100%. The normal level is in the twenties. In the year 2009 they told my husband he had 2 years left on these lungs. With much love and sacrifice from family and friends, the hands and feet of God, have pulled us back out and given us more time together. We know we will die one day. We totally accept that. But students also understand that we are created of flesh and spirit. The spiritual world is a mystery but we are part of it. As our earthly life ends, our spiritual birth will begin. My husband and I know that there is more. Thanks be to God. Our bodies will return to the Earth but our spirits will soar.

Life is more limited for him but he is still here for a time as we all are. Students, our work is not over until all know the truth. The closer I get to heaven the more I feel. Last night I was able to go to Holy Thursday service. I was tired but I stayed the course and I am so glad. I was able to witness 13 young young boys and girls take their 1st communion. As the priest washed their feet just like the disciples that fateful night I wept with happiness. Watching all of the parents and the children built up hope within me that others want to take care of the treasures on this Earth, especially the children. Although this world is upside down there is still a light of Christ that will shine until the very end of time on Earth.

Yesterday I was also blessed to go around my little town square. Every shop I visited and every car that passed was filled with good greetings and love as my Goddaughter and I were getting silent auction gifts to raise money for the local YMCA. God was filling my heart with love that I had thought was leaving our little community. Every word, every conversation, spoke of a greater Love. It gave me hope.

Last Thursday night was the night in the garden of Gethsemane. As we left the church in silence following the Eucharist, I was challenged with my own dark night. Thinking about all of the hurts in all of our families and all of the tragedy of the world. Friends with cancer and friends with strokes received many prayers. I did not sleep much last night. As I awoke Friday morning, I gave thanks to God for one more day. It was indeed a Good Friday. Students find somewhere to celebrate Christ this Sunday; it’s homework!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Triduum loving Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.“ — Fulton J. Sheen

“What Our Lord did say on the cross was to forgive. Forgive your Pilates, who are too weak to defend your justice; forgive your Herods, who are too sensual to perceive your spirituality; forgive your Judases, who think worth is to be measured in terms of silver.”
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

“The virtue of hope lies not in the future of time, but beyond the tomb in eternity; its object is not the abundant life of earth, but the eternal love of God.” -Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

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

Where is your joy?

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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