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

Justice

Students do you remember that rhyme: “1,2 skip a few?” I promise that it’s not what’s happening with our 40 days together. It makes me think of a John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” This is exactly what happened to me. Life has been happening. We have been busy researching and visiting places that could be the next chapter for our youngest daughter. But now I am back ready to double up on our journey through our 40 days.
The last day we had class we talked about temperance. Temperance is very important as we live our lives. We need to show restraint with those things that tempt us and threaten to become idols in our lives. I hope you practiced using temperance this past weekend.
We are working on virtues. We are trying to right our ship and have smooth sailing toward our goal. These forty days we are working toward many goals: creating a pure heart, creating moments of kindness toward others, clearing out the clutter of our hearts, making our little corner of the world better, and practicing virtues. Today we will add another virtue. This virtue is called Justice.
When you hear the word justice, you think of fairness, court cases, and being slighted in some way or another. The virtue Justice is something that we as humans need. It is a check on ourselves. How do we use Justice in our lives? Justice is a balance between being selfish and selfless. There is a happy balance in the middle. It is very hard to walk this thin line in our daily lives.
Charity and Justice can be used synonymously. Are you charitable to others when everything is going their way? There are days when we wonder why did I not get what I wanted and the other person did. I told you that I had been busy. One of the things that happened this past week was our daughter did not get into a college that she picked as her top choice. Looking at her transcript and her community involvement it made no sense that she did not get into this college. So we all wanted to scream, “This is not fair!” Eating humble pie is very hard. It is one of the hardest things to do when things do not go your way. Even harder is being happy for those who have made it to a goal that you yearned for and have failed.
What should we do? How can we practice Charity or Justice when these things slap us in the face? First we should be firm with ourselves. We should not fall in the face of adversity but straighten our backbones and persevere. I believe everything happens for the good of all even if we do not get everything we want. This helps us practice humility and patience. We need to remain truthful and upright and be cautious not to slander others who have reached a goal that we so desperately wanted. We need to pray with gratitude the ability to run this race of life. Until you draw your last breath, the race is on. Embrace these times of hardship. These are the times you learn exponentially. They help you become a stronger, more faithful, and a virtuous person.
Think about a time when things didn’t go the way you wished. It may have been a job promotion or position on a sports team that you didn’t get. Did you handle it with Justice and Charity? I know many times in my life I did not. Thanks be to God I am still learning how to be a virtuous person. I hope the next time you and I are faced with a tough situation, we choose to be charitable and act out of Justice. Dry your eyes and blow those noses. Today is a new day and we have living to do!
Sal the Stiff Upper Lip Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
MLK Jr
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Fredrick Douglass
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triump.
Haile Selassie

Prudence

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Welcome students to day fourteen! Our last assignment was to have mercy on people who are hard to deal with. I hope you had some success. If you didn’t, you need to keep trying. In the next lessons we are going to get a tune up on our hearts. In order for us to put good out into the world, we have to have strong hearts.
What makes a strong heart? Or what makes a heart strong? Our hearts drive our actions. We want to have good actions. I know we have cleaned out a lot of clutter in just 14 days but we still have work to do. Are you a virtuous person? I know the back row was asking what is virtuous? Being virtuous, is what being a Christian is all about. It is what God wants us to be. We have to be morally sound. We have to practice our morals and put them into action that is what being virtuous is.
First virtue we are going to work on is Prudence. Back row I know you are scratching your heads because Prudence is an odd word. Prudence is the cornerstone to all the other virtues. If you do not have Prudence it will be hard to practice and put in place the other virtues. Do you have the ability to choose the correct course of action? Everyday we are given choices. Do we choose the best course of action? Do we show patience when we’re dealing with those spiteful people? What about showing wisdom and not being ensnared into an argument? Do we choose the courage to walk away from a bad situation? You see Prudence is very important. It is being able to discern the best course of action.
How do we master this virtue? Just like everything else it takes practice. It takes studying. The best way for me to find answers is through scriptures. Each day read something from the Bible. If you do a daily devotion, that is based on a Bible verse. Look at Philippians 4: 8&9
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
These verses tell us to fill our minds with things that are good and pure. Have you ever heard of “garbage in garbage out?” If you fill your minds with bad things then your mind will think bad things. It’s a slippery slope. Next you will be acting in bad ways. Back row you know the things I’m talking about: violent video games and pornography. These are two that we need to guard our minds against. It’s very hard to do so in a culture that has become so lax. Remember we need to make a change and this is the way to do it. We need to live moral lives. Today’s homework is to take inventory of your minds. Is there something you should cut out? Are there things you need to protect your children from seeing? What “garbage” is getting through the filter to your mind? What media is unhealthy? For the last 26 days of our adventure, try to fill your mind and senses with positive images, music, and media. Let’s see if you gain Prudence.
Sal the Prudent Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.
Aesop
Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken.
Pope Benedict XVI
You must rouse into people’s consciousness their own prudence and strength, if you want to raise their character.
Luc de Clapiers

Have Mercy!

 

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Be merciful, just as your father is merciful. Luke: 36

Welcome to day 13 students! Today I was reminded to be merciful. I know that the 40 days of Lent that we are sharing we want to pour out Mercy for others. Do you remember a time when you were showed Mercy? As a student you may have been given more time to complete an assignment. as a teenager your parents may have gone easier on you when they found out you were up to no good. As an adult you may have messed something up at work and the boss gave you another chance. You may have hurt a friend’s feelings by making a rude comment. Mercy feels really good when you are all the other end of it. Sometimes we feel like we are unforgivable. People will forgive us but we will not forgive ourselves.

Let’s take this lesson a little deeper. Have you ever dealt with a person that is a taker? They are just very spiteful and make you feel horrible. How do you show Mercy to a person who is so unkind and inconsiderate? In most cases these people are very selfish and self-centered. They create unhealthy situations in order to get what they want. How do you show Mercy to a person that is so self-absorbed? Students, it is very hard. This person could be a relative, boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, long time friend, or a fellow employee at work. It’s so hard when you have to deal with people that are spiteful. If they are in your life, face it, you have to deal with them.

Let’s think about ways that are positive or Christian ways to deal with spiteful people. First, recognize the situation and how it makes you feel. If they have a negative impact on you something needs to change. Spiteful people can steal your joy, but they are also still part of our Christian family.

When you are confronted by a spiteful person, the first thing to do is not to react. That plays right into their hands. They use emotions to manipulate you. Most times you will give in just to have peace. When you react to them with arguing you automatically lose. I know it is really hard to show Mercy to these types of people but instead of reacting close your eyes and say a prayer for patience.

Next, try to talk to the calmly. Express how you feel. Use I statements. I feel very sad when this happens or I am uncomfortable with this situation. If you use you statements they will use them to play the victim. Stand your ground and be calm setting clear boundaries. If we are going to arguing I am leaving or hanging up the phone. If it is texting, ignore them. Hit delete and don’t even read it. Don’t engage the negative behavior. Then pray about it and for them.

Last but not least, these personality types are usually in need of a good friend. They are insecure. Stand your ground, be positive, and don’t react. You can be the person that helps them make a change. If they can’t be civil then try to limit your contact with them. Remember when you do see them try to always be kind. You can’t control anyone but yourself. Everyone is deserving of God’s mercy. Today think of a difficult person you deal with and say a prayer for him/her. Be merciful.

Sal the Merciful Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quote of the day:
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindoll

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! People all over the world celebrate this day. Students do you know where the holiday has its roots? That’s right front row the Roman Catholic faith. Catholics believe in the communion of saints. That is that some people have lived holy lives and are canonized as saints. We believe these people are in heaven. So today is the feast day of Saint Patrick. He is the patron saint of Ireland although he wasn’t Irish. He was Scottish. He was captured and enslaved from ages 16 to 22. He escaped to France and became a Catholic. He vowed to return to Ireland convert it to Catholicism. He was successful. He established many monasteries, churches, and schools. There are many legends surrounding Saint Patrick. My favorite is that he used the shamrock to explain the trinity. He died on March 17, 461. Students this may be an extra credit question on our final exam!
Today our readings were about the covenant of Abraham and the promise of his people outnumbering the stars. This makes me remember using the book by Lois Lowery Number the Stars as an English teacher. The gospel reading was about the transfiguration of Jesus when he went to pray on the mountain. It makes me think of the old Ten Commandments movie. Moses (Charlton Heston) came down from Mt. Sinai looking like he stuck his finger in a light socket. Boy, he was transfigured! This makes chuckle.
First let’s look at the promise to Abraham. Do you realize that even though many of us are not descendents of Hebrew ethnicity, we are a part of God’s holy family through Jesus Christ. If you look at the covenant to Abraham like this it’s easy to see that yes we are also his posterity or future children. The price paid by Jesus was not only for the Jewish people but also the Gentiles and all humans. We are family! All 7.53 billion of us.
Think about transfiguration. When you are transfigured, you are changed. Students, this is exactly what we want to do with our 40 days before Easter. Remember? We wanted to rend our hearts. We wanted to clear the clutter. I think we are on our way to doing so. Every homework assignment we complete, we will transfigure our hearts. This is our second Sunday of Lent. We have four more weeks to go and a lot of transfiguration yet to accomplish. Thank you for walking with me as I roll through these forty days with you. Here are a few reflection questions as we move into our next week together:
Are you finding God?
Are you feeling like your heart is lighter?
Are you happier?
Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!
Sal the Transfiguring Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Dedicated to:
Brenda Darby Reed my cousin who was born on St. Patrick’s Day. She’s celebrating in heaven this year.
Quote of the day:
Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
Saint Patrick

Grand Time!

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This weekend I’ve been having a grand time! I have enjoyed my family and especially my grandchildren. March is also a busy time for me because I love college basketball. When basketball games are on, we watch as a family. This is one of the reasons students that my blog is late. But have no fear I will catch up.

The readings today filled me with joy. I felt very special. God has chosen us to be his holy people. He has chosen to give us life to the fullest and weekends with my family and grandchildren make me feel that promise has been fulfilled. God really wants us to be happy I know I’ve said this over and over but I want you to believe it. Remember I told you to take a field trip this weekend. I said that field trip could be to church or just spend moments to yourself or with your family. I hope that you plan to do this.

This weekend think about what is keeping you from being happy. What is keeping you from spending precious time with your families? Are you completing your homework? There is a God and he is on your side. Whom shall we fear? I want you to look at these Bible verses from Paul to the Romans:
Scripture Romans 8:35-39
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: / “For your sake we are being slain all the day; / we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” / No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

You see students, we are loved. Nothing can separate us from this great love and the gifts that God wants for us is this life and also after this life. These forty days we are going to unwrap this beautiful gift. Homework? Love your family.

Sal the Trust God Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the day:
“Love is like the wind oh, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
Nicholas Sparks

“No matter what has happened to you in the past or what is going on in your life right now, it has no power to keep you from having an amazingly good future if you will walk by faith in God. God loves you! He wants you to live with victory over sin so you can possess His promises for your life today!”
Joyce Meyer

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
Billy Graham

Reconcile

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Happy Friday! Students today we have shared 10 days together. Time really flies when you’re having fun, right back row? We have a list of things that we need to do. Those things will create a lot of goodness and light. Examine your heart. Does it feel a little lighter? I know that my heart does just by being able to teach.

Today the readings focus on forgiving others in particularly your brother. Try loving those who hurt you. It also mentions when you do good things, good things will happen to you. That’s right front row this sounds like karma. Many times in our faith as Christians we think karma is a pagan ideal. But hey, we came up with the same idea but with just a different label. Good works will beget good works. Love will beget love.

Today is such a beautiful warm Friday here in my little corner of the world. Spring is in the air and with that comes spring fever for students. Students are not only guilty of getting spring fever, I have always been guilty of yearning for the outdoors when the weather becomes beautiful. But back row we have to stay the course. On this beautiful Friday our homework assignment is to think about a brother or sister or a relative that needs to be forgiven. Someone that needs your prayer. Someone that you need to reconcile with and to show Mercy. It will not be easy. So this weekend when you encounter a relative or sibling, try to show love and forgiveness. If you don’t have a chance to see this person or they live far away from you, write and send them a letter or card or send them a text message. The message needs to be positive with no underlying anger or passive aggressiveness. It could simply be a remember when…. Share with them a memory of a good time. Or simply sign love and your name. Trust me and trust God. This is a thorn that needs removing. Be strong! Do it!

Sal the Reconcile Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quote of the day:
Do you have to have a reason for loving?
Brigitte Bardot