Resurrection

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,

  • Stay home
  • 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.)
  • Last but not least Pray 

Freak out! Not!

My big ol’ family

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


Tips:

  1. Stay home if you can.
  2. Stock up on fever reducer, Mucinex, and cough medicines. Alternate between Tylenol and another fever reducer like ibuprofen.
  3. Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of fluids if you start to show signs. 
  4. If the fever becomes uncontrollable or breathing becomes worse, go to an ER. 
  5. Use a humidifier or a steamy hot bathroom.

Breaking Bread

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

Seeds

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

Fortitude

Good day students! I hope the world is treating you with Justice. I also hope that you are treating others with Justice. Today we are going to talk about fortitude. Fortitude is a very wonderful virtue. The only downside to fortitude is that you have to go through trials in your life in order for your fortitude to shine.
This morning I got a text from our youngest daughter. She is at the end of her high school career and is taking calculus. Today they did some example problems for the AP exam. She said, “Thank God that God will still love me even though I am going to fail this calculus AP exam.” What does she need to do students? That’s right front row, she needs to summon her fortitude or strength. It’s really hard to do that when you are at the end of something like your high school career. I know inside of her mind she is thinking what the heck? Does this test really matter that much? I also know my daughter. I know she will muster the strength to do her best. And as long as she does that, she will have peace because she knows God will love her anyway. That’s what fortitude is, try your hardest in the face of adversity to take the high road and do your best.
In my little small corner of the world, there have been a lot of life events: births, deaths, cancer, and dealing with the ebb and flow of the each day. Life is tough. Especially when you have to say goodbye to your soulmate and trust that there is another birth with their leaving this Earth. Trust that the love and memories that you have created will sustain you until you take that journey. Seeing the DNA of your family carry on. Wow! Life is a miracle. Watching beloved friends fight cancer and other diseases takes fortitude. Waking up and facing a new day takes fortitude. How can we help when so much is trying to snatch or our joy? Well students, you call on your other virtues to help you build fortitude in others. Help them to be strong and courageous. Pray for them. Take them meals. Mail a funny card or a heartfelt note. Visit them. Share a story about them to their loved ones.
Students, we need to be fortitudious. Be strong for your sisters and brothers on this planet. We are in this together. Believe me when I say there is strength in numbers. And that’s right back row, you do have homework. Here it is. I want you to flex your fortitude muscles. Use all of your lessons we have learned this far andd show your strength. Show the strength of faith that you have as a Christian. Let someone lean on you today. Hold them up with your spiritual strength. It doesn’t matter if you do a good deed or a simple prayer. Just do it.
Sal the Fortitudious Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
Courage is the most important of all the
virtues because without courage, you
can’t practice any other virtue
consistently.
Maya Angelou
       No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.
Orson F. Whitney
       True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear or the opposition of enemies… Though Christian fortitude appears in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us; yet it much more appears in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and strongest enemies and have greatest advantage against us. The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.
Jonathan Edwards

Be Real

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Happy Monday students! I hope you are completing all of your assignments. Today you were supposed to listen to your heart and start fighting temptations. We’ve come a long way in 6 days. These forty days are going to be like mathematics. They will culminate or build on one another. Back row go ahead and get the ice pack for your head now. Explain it to them front row. That’s right you have to do each lesson everyday so let’s review. We are fixing our hearts. We are not pointing fingers and judging others. We are trying to do healthy things for our bodies like eating right and taking time for ourselves. We are praying for those people that we think negative thoughts about. Last but not least, we are avoiding temptation. Yes back row we still have a field trip this weekend but I will remind you of that later.

Who are you? No, I mean really who are you? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Are you authentic? Long ago I had a friend tell me ,”Sarah, you are real.” This was probably one of the best compliments I have ever been given. What she meant was that that I am the same person wherever you meet me. She commented that this is rare. I am blessed with many, true friends. Are you? What are true friends? These are the people that love you enough to keep your soul from danger. They call you out when needed. They are there in good times and in bad. I know who I am. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I am far from perfect, but I try everyday to be the best Christian that I can possibly be. Here’s the most important thing, I try to be the best person I can be each and every day. I think that’s what we are called to do.

Some years back a friend and I were talking and she said “Sarah I feel so terrible about my life.” I was baffled! She was beautiful, had a great career, devoted husband, wonderful, beautiful healthy daughter so why was she feeling so terrible? She said, “I look around on Facebook and see how others are so happy. They are doing such great things. They have such great trips; their kids are gorgeous, and I just feel like blah.” Students, I want you to think about this. That’s right front row, on social media we could be whatever we want to be. This is so dangerous. That’s right students, it’s not real. Social media has really changed the face of communication. We can put the best bits of ourselves and our lives out there and easily delete the rest. The narcissistic nature of this is so unhealthy. This morning I listened to a video discussing how we are simply observing life. We are snapping our cameras to be sure people see us doing fabulous things. There’s nothing wrong with this unless we are not in the moments of our lives. We quickly get in to the game of competition and comparing ourselves. Is the answer to disregard all social media? To completely go away from it? I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Yes use your social feeds to contact and communicate with family and friends. Use it to put good into the world. Beware if you use it to boost your ego or to create a fake persona. This is where the sin creeps into our lives. Know who you are and what you stand for and then you can begin to be real. God wants you to be you. It’s true he loves you just the way you are. And he has created you for a divine purpose.

Homework time! I want you to write down 5 things you like. I want you to write down 5 things that you don’t like. Look at your social media. Yes back row you can put down homework as one of your things you don’t like. Is it real? Is this really the life that you’re living? Are your social platforms positive? Are you putting things out there to help others or just to help yourself? Before you post your next picture or status update think about if it is real? Are you competing with others or genuinely sharing to communicate with others? Are the things that you put out there healthy and positive? Be honest and ask yourself before you push that post button. Can you be real?

Sal the Real Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quote of the day:
Never apologize for what you feel. It’s like saying sorry for being real.
Lil Wayne

Be who you are and say what you want, for those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Dr. Seuss
Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!
Robert Browning

Ride the energy of your own unique spirit.
Gabrielle Roth

To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.
Oscar Wilde

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
Confucius

You were born an original. Don t die a copy.
John Mason

Being yourself is all it takes. If you want to impress someone don’t be someone else just be yourself.
Selena Gomez

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
Judy Garland

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.
David Carradine

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Steve Jobs

Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide

Temptation

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Luke 4:1-13

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert and was tempted

Happy Sunday students! Sundays are always busy for me. I go to church early and teach the high school religion class and then attend church. After that we always share a meal together with family. By the time I get home it’s late afternoon and I really like to nap, read, watch sports with my family, and chill with them all day. However today I went to see a play at our local high school. When I finally got home it was really late, but I’m so grateful that I did go. I saw several of my former students. This always makes me happy. Some of the students that were active in the play are currently in my religion class. It did my heart good to see those students on their way to adulthood. This was the last play of the drama teacher who has meant so much to our teaching community for 20 years. This whole weekend has been like a Mr. Holland’s Opus sequel but instead of course it would have been tagged Ms. Solomon’s Last Acts. I give Ms. Chris Solomon props for a job well done. The students love of her is a testament to a job well done. More than 1,000 students came this weekend to celebrate her teaching career. Are you catching the puns students? I whispered a prayer for our school system to be able to find another teacher as dedicated as she has been. Someone to come love and teach and give her heart as she has all these years.

Today’s lesson is about temptation. This morning I was tired. I stayed up late to watch a Memphis Tigers basketball game and knew daylight savings time was robbing an hour of sleep from me. I knew I would have to get up early to make it to teach, Church, eat with the family, and then attend the play. I was very tempted to just cut my day short and go home to relax. I’m so very glad that I didn’t do that. I was very blessed with lots of love and was able to give love by shaking off the temptation to stay home. Many times we are tempted to be selfish especially selfish with our time. Students if you’re thinking of being a teacher remember giving your time and attention to your students is one of the best gifts they could ever receive.

Today our lesson for religion class and also in church was about temptations and how to deal with it. Our hearts are tempted almost continually as we go through our earthly life. The gospel was from Luke 4: 1-13. As Catholic Christians the 40 days before Easter, Lent, we try to reenact Jesus’s 40 days in the desert within our own lives. How do we deal with all of this temptation? My students and I talked about the temptations of high school: sex, drugs, peer pressure, excluding others, and basically trying to survive. We talked about how Jesus was tempted 40 days in the desert. He was promised everything but he chose to stay the course for us. The devil does the same to us. He whispers to us that it will not hurt if we abuse our bodies with drugs and give our bodies away without remorse. He encourages us to make fun of those students who are awkward. Like Adam and Eve, once we’ve bitten the forbidden fruit we feel so ashamed and instead of turning back to God we run the other direction as fast as we can. Sometimes we don’t even look back until we are in our sixties. I have witnessed this with my own siblings. How do we battle this? How did Jesus Battle this? Well, it was in today’s readings: Luke 4:1 He was led by the Spirit. Good news students, upon your Confirmation* you receive the Holy Spirit with you. Today when I was tempted to stay home and pull the crippled card I listened to the Holy Spirit. It urged to me to go. I know you hear the Holy Spirit, too. Yes of course back row this is your homework. When you are tempted stop and try to listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you. So tomorrow at school or at work whenever you are tempted, stop listen and for that twinge from your heart before you choose to act. The other assignment you have is to go on a field trip next Sunday. Take a break from work. That work could be at home or it could be something that you feel you have to do with the yard. Don’t do it. Find a place to go to church or just to read scriptures and meditate for an hour. Give time to God and to yourself. You can’t have a healthy heart if it’s overworked. The whole day needs to be a day off, time with God, and family. Rest as much as you can. That’s an order.

Sal the Tempted Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quote of the day:

“People have to realize that just because you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, because every once in a while everyone stumbles. Living by faith is about when you do mess up, getting back up, brushing yourself off, and keep trying to improve where you mess up or where you have temptation.”
Tim Tebow

*Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church[1]. It is the one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church, the other two being Baptism and Holy Communion.[2]
According to Catholic doctrine, the Sacrament of Confirmation enables the faithful to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, strengthening them in their Christian life.