Courage is the most important of all thevirtues because without courage, youcan’t practice any other virtueconsistently.Maya AngelouNo 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. WhitneyTrue 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
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.
Be who you are and say what you want, for those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!
Ride the energy of your own unique spirit.
To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
You were born an original. Don t die a copy.
Being yourself is all it takes. If you want to impress someone don’t be someone else just be yourself.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide
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.”
*Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is the one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church, the other two being Baptism and Holy Communion.
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.
In my mind today, I’ve had so much going on since January. All of it hasn’t been pleasant. I know you have been thinking Ms. Alley must be on a sabbatical. I promise I’m going to try to write more using the new technology. I’ve been avoiding it because of my lack of strength in my arms and hands.
With the new year lots of pros and cons have come to Sal the ALS Gal. I’ve had more doctor trips that I care to mention and my other systems are trying to act up. Hey, that’s the way it goes. Something is going to come to usher me to the other side. It could be ALS but it also might be some of these other issues. You know what I say? Bring it on! But oh there have been so, so many blessings for the Alley family. We’ve had a wonderful birthday celebrating 80 years of life for Dot. Our Vanderbilt appointment showed us teetering along with little change. Yes my beloved Ken drags oxygen tanks and works every day. He’s strongest man I know. We have a new grandchild to boot. I’m not going to lie I have had some very dark times but I think this is common to a lot of people during the winter months. I so love spring, summer, and fall. I love winter but it’s just tougher I think because of the starkness and the long, dark nights. I was coming home the other day from a lot of errands and celebrating a birthday with my mother-in-law and her sepogterian and octogenarian friends aka the daily mass praying pillars of our church, and I saw the green sprouts all over the weeping willow trees. The sight of this gave me such a warm feeling that I was yet again going to see another spring. God is so good.
So with another season students springs more lessons. Did you get that pun? I think the message or objective today should be about faithful friends. Saturday, I had Bunco at my house. Now students Bunco is when women get together and play a game with dice, they eat, and they make merry. After making a lot of merry with these wonderful apple sangria’s that one of my faithful friends made, I was not a very faithful friend. I found my mouth running out of control talking about how I had an encounter with a curmudgeon.
That evening I reflected on the Bible readings for Sunday. I was creating my lesson for my high school religious students. The readings we were to cover talked about the wooden beam that’s in your eye. If you don’t know about this verse, then I’ll share it with you. Luke 6:42 Remove the wooden beam from your eye first. Basically when you’re running your tongue about others their faults are baby splinters but you have a whole beam of wood in your eye so really should I be talking about them? The next readings said if you really want to know someone listen to them because their mouth will reveal their heart, Sirah 27:7 Praise no one before he speaks. I can’t tell you how shaken I felt. The whole lesson was about being a hypocrite. I was totally flabbergasted and whenever I taught the students the next morning I shared with them how I had let my friends down. I told them I let the cat out of the bag by opening my mouth making ugly comments. It was so very humbling and I needed that dose of humility.
Students we have Lent coming up. Some of you may be saying what is Lent? Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It is a huge deal for me. As a Catholic Christian you look at yourself and you make a plan for 40 days. What will you do to make yourself better? Many people want to give up lattes and frappes or chocolate. I think we should go a little deeper. Quit growling back row because I know you hate it when we have to think out-of-the-box. But let’s really think about what could we do for 40 days that would bring more light to the world and a healthier place and be grateful for the lives that we have been given.
Last night as I lay awake, I thought about this. I wake up often and I can’t go back to sleep. I started praying. l thought of all the people that I need to pray for I and said extra prayers and then it hit me. I haven’t been writing enough lately. So I’m going to try to write a blog for 40 days straight. You may get sick of me; you may turn off the notifications, and think she’s really lost it. I’m going to try to communicate and put things out there for us to think about for 40 days. And yes there will probably be homework.
Today’s objective was about being a better friend so stop running your mouth about others and to do what you have been called to do. We all have warts. So you’re a lesson today is to think about the Bible verses that struck me so strongly last Saturday. Can you relate? Is there something you could do to rectify your wagging tongue? Your constant judging of others? I want you to make a plan. I want you to think before you talk. I need to do that as well.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. If you have a chance attend to church. Get your ashes. And think about the next chapter of your life. Those ashes on Wednesday get me everytime and I hope they help you reflect on your path. If you don’t have a church you can come to my church. I will go tomorrow at noon to receive my ashes. I will think of my little journey. We will have several services: 8 AM, 12 noon, 6 PM, and 7:30 PM (Spanish.)
Get ready students! We are going on a ride for 40 days. I can’t wait to torture you. Just kidding!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Tongue Wagging Gal
Proud Youth Minister and Teacher of Holy Angels Catholic Church
Quote of the day:
The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. —John 14: 27
In my mind today, I’m thinking of the new year and all it will hold. I want it to hold peace for us all. Peace in our homes. Peace for the sick and elderly. Peace for the neglected children. Peace.
The Christmas season is a celebration of good will toward all. It’s a time to rejoice of a savior that came to give us the peace we all crave. It is the best gift if only we could let it grow. I know we can.
I read a quote on a friend’s social media page that said “Be the things you loved most about the people that are gone.” This made me stop and think. There are so many that have gone and it’s simply part of life, dying. The more I thought, I realized we do have those things in our DNA and they are pumped through our hearts. They are expressed in our actions. They are still here. We just need to never forget and nurture them. Guess what? They give peace to us and peace to others.
I haven’t written in a while because my arms are betraying me. Three years ago I met a young man of 73 years online. He and I shared our ups and downs with ALS. He lived in the Netherlands. We were able to face time each other. He told me when his hands and arms became paralyzed, he was finished. He couldn’t bear to burden his beloved wife any longer. He chose to have an assisted death. It’s been three years since we said goodbye. I still have his last Christmas gift wrapped and in my pantry. I didn’t get it mailed. It’s there to remind me of my friend. The good that was in him will live on through those he loved. I know many will judge his last choice, but waiting for peace in a body physically silenced by ALS is something I wish on no one.
Students let’s be harbingers of Peace in the new year. It’s been here all along. Just let it flow from your actions and words. Be the good. Where should you start? A wise woman once said begin with your family. All we need to do is literally “Give Peace a Chance.”
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Peace Spreading Gal
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.
Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it.
There is no key to happiness; the door is always open.
Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other – it doesn’t matter who it is – and that will help to grow up in greater love for each other.
“Do not worry about . . . what you are to say” (Luke 12:11).
In my mind lately, I’ve wanted to write and to share but I haven’t found the words, time, or energy. I’m still here fighting to empty myself for what really matters. Well, students I’m am definitely running on empty and yes I’m singing Jackson Browne as I peck this out. I’m hopping off of the pity party wagon today and feel like my tank is being restored. Whew! The Holy Spirit (We call it the HS at my house.) has been nudging me to share words so here I go.
Crosses. I love them. Unconsciously I have filled my home with them. The symbolism of them brings me joy. Studying and reflecting lately the meaning and connection of crosses in my life has taken on a whole new meaning.
Crosses are responsibilities and events in our lives. They are heavy and burdensome. They do not discriminate according to race, economic status, or social status. They come in all shapes and sizes. They have many names: death, cancer, strokes, ALS, Alzheimer’s, bankruptcy, homelessness, Autism, Parkinson’s, debt, mental illness, unemployment, estranged family members, addictions, and plain ole loneliness barely scrape the many types of crosses we bear on our earthly journey. Makes you want to wave the white flag doesn’t it? I hear the back row saying, “Amen! It’s too tough. Let’s stop this lesson and just have recess every day!” Calm down. Breathe. Adjust that cross on your back and carry it with all your strength. Embrace it. Settle down back row and quit making the Cuckoo gesture. I’m not crazy. Your cross-training (I love this pun!) is to strengthen you, embellish you, and transform you into the vessel needed to complete your purpose for the greater good. It is.
Those crosses teach you patience. They teach you humility. They connect you with the suffering of Christ. They are unexplainable mercies of God that when the cross is lifted, Grace engulfs you. You get 20/20 vision and the lightbulb becomes blinding showing you the abundance of fruits from your labor.
Still don’t believe me? Think of a horrible time in your life. If you’re honest with yourself, you found a rainbow after the storm. You learned to appreciate something you overlooked. You learned to control your tongue. You quit blaming others for your shortcomings. You had the courage to right a wrong and say, “Forgive me. I’m so sorry.” You learned to pray instead of lashing out on social media or try to numb yourself with alcohol or drugs. I saw your jaws drop open. You get it. 😀
Students, you have a pop quiz today. No, I don’t love to torture you; I just love you. I want to fill your tank. Today, identify a cross you are carrying. Whatever it is, big or small, whisper, “God, I accept this cross for you. Help me. Use it for YOUR plan, not mine. I’m weary and tired. Give me strength. Thank you for hearing me and helping me bring joy into my valleys. Amen.”
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Cross-bearing Gal
Quote of the Day:
“True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”
A time to love, and a time to hate. (Ecclesiastes 3:8)
In my mind today, I’m mulling over my readings. I was excited to read Ecclesiastes today. I hear the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” and smile. These verses are so poetic. I love anything linguistic: words, rhymes, puns, or sentence structure. It makes my brain hum. I drive my family crazy with my nonsensical outbursts as I turn everything into a show tunes sing-a-long.
Hate is such a strong word. As I’ve grown, I’ve mellowed. I don’t have the heart to hate anymore. People that is. I truly see and know we are all part of something big and are created for good. Each life has a purpose.
I admit it. There are things I hate. I hate when I find out former students have died too soon. I hate cancer, ALS/MND, Alzheimer’s, mental illnesses, strokes, and freak, fatal accidents. I hate addictions. I hate parental neglect. I hate prejudice. I hate that some people feel unloved. I hate that we value things over human life. I hate that we are so easy to judge and resent others. I hate that my hands are too weak to Blog like I used to Blog. I hate that my body is betraying me. I hate being sick. It’s true. There is a time to hate.
One of the last books we read at our local bookclub, “Turn the Page,” was The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. One of the characters in the novel was hated by the village because of his German heritage. The village had lost many sons at the hands of the Germans during WWI. He was a simple young man, a baker. Amid the slurs and taunting, he smiled. His wife asked him, “How can you forgive and be so happy?” He told her, “I can forgive and forget… it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.” When this quote was used to end our discussion all of us had an “aha” moment. So there are also times to forgive and forget. I think this is so hard for us as humans. We cling to our anger and resentment like it’s a gem. Don’t. Life is too short; it’s but a breath on the timeline of time. Make your breath a refreshing one. One that breathes life into everyone on your life path. Let it fill the air with sounds of love and affirmations. Let it sing praise. “Turn, Turn, Turn” your hate into love.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Things I Hate Gal
Quotes of the Day:
Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes: so tangled that you can’t tell which is which until you’ve shot them both, and then it’s too late.
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
To have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
We always have a choice. All of us
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans