In my mind today I am thinking of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We hear of this every year at Christmas time. Have we ever really taken the time students to look these things up and to define them and create connections within your own minds? It is true what teachers tell you. If you see something unfamiliar or you have no clue, use a dictionary. These three gifts were given and recorded throughout history. King Herod knew the implications of such gifts. He held power over the tribe of Judah. He controlled their high priests. He murdered so many Jewish boys trying to stop the rise of a new King of the Jews. His plans were thwarted. This powerful birth had been foretold. The whole Earth rejoiced and nature sang. Here’s the secret sauce students. It still does. So many good and beautiful things happen at Christmas more than any other time of the year. Let’s talk about those three gifts.
Gold. Think about it, students: the golden rule, the gold standard, more precious than gold, etc. Gold is a precious metal. It has a symbol of AU on the periodic table of elements. They brought the baby Jesus something priceless. A gift to show the worth of this blessed son that would save the world by allowing Agape to be the guidance for all from this day forward. Students, Agape is a special kind of love: sacrificial. What an amazing gift He is. What could we give God this year that is more precious than gold? Could you show great charity? Think about that.
Frankincense. This is a gum or sap that comes from trees in Somalia and coastal Arabia. It is used for its strong perfume when burnt. The smoke is aromatic and used for rituals. It is very expensive. They have discovered that it is good for medicinal reasons: asthma, ibs, cancer, skin problems, and arthritis. It is still harvested today. This gift shows devotion to the health and life of Christ. Christ still lives today within each one of us if we only allow him to be in charge of our hearts. How can you show great devotion, students? Yes it is homework.
Last but not least, myrrh. It is also a resin or gum from a tree. These trees grow naturally in these countries: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia. It also has medicinal properties just like frankincense. It also has uses for perfume and incense. It has been used before Christ came as a man in religious ceremonies of the Hebrews. Moses used it. Jacob used it. Esther used it. Jesus was given it on the cross mixed with wine. Joseph of Arimathea gave it for Jesus’s burial. Ancient Egyptians as do those of Islamic faith used and use it. It is used to anoint holy people. It represents a sacrifice. What could you sacrifice for Christ? Would you sacrifice? Some people can’t even do this. They have become so self centered which is the very opposite of why Christ came to this world. Agape.
Today is the last day of Christmas for us as Catholic christians. It is the Epiphany of our Lord. The realization that God did enter the world and He came to save us by giving us a better way to love: Agape. As I watch the children from my window play in the snow, I wish you a Happy Agape Day! Now get outside and enjoy students! Build a Snowman for me and throw a few snowballs! The best of all is to sled. Be sure to do plenty of that!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Agape Gal
Quotes of the Day:
1. “When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, ‘Works Of Love’, 1847.
2. “Shine your soul with the same egoless humility as the rainbow and no matter where you go in this world or the next, love will find you, attend you, and bless you.”
― Aberjhani, ‘Journey Through The Power Of The Rainbow: Quotations From A Life Made Out Of Poetry’, 2014.
3. “Divine love, agape, is self-sacrificing love, which sounds difficult, as it is, and not very attractive. If the best image we have of love is of a man who’s been tortured and hung upon a cross … But it is the highest Christian image of love.”
― Kevin Hart, ‘The Poetry And Prayers Of Kevin Hart’, 2011.
4. “Agape is total love… Whoever knows and experiences agape learns that nothing else in the world is important – just love.”
― Paolo Coelho, ‘The Pilgrimage’, 1987.
5. “The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.”
In my mind today I am thinking about laughter, loyalty, and love. Students, I have been having a dark night of the soul. It is just everywhere I go or turn I feel sadness and grief. I look at the world and I see all of the brokenness. My heart literally aches in my chest. The past few weeks have been so hard. Everywhere I look even within my own home I see the demon of the world trying to tear us apart. I guess students I have taken my eyes off of the cross. I have allowed my heart to be pierced by so much evil. I have allowed it to get into my mind. I hear you mumbling back row thinking she’s really lost it this time. For at least a month I have not been able to sleep well. I wake up and stare at the ceiling. I watch the shadows and I pray. I cannot tell you how many prayers were lifted from my body during this dark season of my soul. I finally realized that I was not putting things at the altar and letting God take them away. I have tried to fix a lot of things instead of allowing God to carry the heavy burdens of my heart. Shame on me. If I could have curled up in the fetal position these last 2 weeks that’s where I would have been. I know that we all have to go. I realized it is just part of the circle. All of the wonderful plans that I try to put in place for God are futile. My husband and my journey will end. Hopefully God will give us more precious time with our families and friends. But no matter how hard I try to help those that I leave behind is futile. During this time I have been surrounded by people but I have felt so lonely. I allowed hopelessness to enter into my heart. The only way I can figure it out or explain it is that I think I have been mourning. I am mourning what was. I am mourning what will come one day without me. My physical separation from my family and friends, especially my grandchildren. Take heart, students. Do not allow the devil to steal your present moments and make you so sad because you are wasting days. Days that could be spent loving and laughing with the ones you love. I have almost driven my family crazy this last month. They have been desperately trying to help me get out of this dark place. Here’s what you need to understand. Students just because I lay all of my burdens at the foot of the cross; they are still there. They are but I am definitely protected from them. God does not take these horrible things away from us, we have to give them to him. We have to let so much go and that is so hard because we want to be fixers of our hearts and souls. We want to fix our broken families. We want to fix our broken brothers and sisters. We want to fix things where our children have no struggles. This is the hardest lesson of all. In my midnight prayers God told me you have to let me have everything. You are a child of God. You do work for me, but let me work for you too. I am so guilty of this. Back row don’t get too comfortable because I am getting back up or back in my chair to finish my race. I know that you will be sad that we still have more lessons to learn. Even the teacher needs lessons sometimes. As I watch the birds from my window every morning it reminds me. Especially this morning as I watched the robins have a party in all the trees eating the berries. They exist because of something bigger. They do not struggle. God provides everything. He does that for us as well if we only let him. Today I do feel all of the pain and suffering of my friends and family but I am using that to guide my prayers. I will be loyal to God. I will immerse myself with His love. I am seeking joy and laughter. I am letting go and letting God. Yes it is homework!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Troubled Heart Gal
In the moments of desperation God came to me so many times through the hands of my friends. Out of nowhere I received flowers right after I had to say goodbye to a wonderful pet. Our cat of 15 plus years. Thank you Sandy for being God’s handmaiden. I received cookies that are a secret family recipe from my friend. Thank you Carrie for loving me like Christ. I had so many meaningful conversations. They helped me to divide the light from the dark. Thank you Andrea, Father Patrick, Charlotte, Carol, and so many others. Your love and prayers have bolstered me in my weakness.
This post is for all of those out there that continue to love and pray and help others. You are the angels on Earth that God works through.
Quote of the Day:
In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God. The dark night of the soul is a journey into light, a journey from your darkness into the strength and hidden resources of your soul. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.
In my mind today I am thinking about cause and effect. I remember the days of teaching Language Arts. Oh, how I loved to intertwine all of those academic subjects into one! I was even able to teach history through the language arts. The history teachers loved me. Language arts is the study of literature, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
Today I am talking about cause and effect. This used to be a standard in the curriculum that we had to be sure students understood. The thing is it can be applied to our lives today. This is how you teach. You teach students to use what they learned in your class and apply it to the lives that they will live as adults.
Cause and effect. Let’s look at our world today. What is causing all of the grief and turmoil in this world? In our country? In our little cities? In our homes? Let’s work backwards. Yes students, I know I have taught you many ways to figure out problems especially in math. Look at the answer 21, and then figure out, how in the world did you get that answer? Well that is cause and effect. What caused you to get the number 21, for example? Did you multiply seven 3 times? Did you add up three rows of 7? What operation did you use to get the answer 21?
Cause and effect. What is happening right now in our world? What causes: School shootings, unwanted children, fatherless children, children orphaned from addictions of their parents, genocides, human trafficking, plagues, floods, famine, etc. These are all effects. What causes this to happen in a society of civilized people? We are definitely not focused on the family. I said this on purpose because this is something I used to listen to and read books about from the person that coined this phrase: Dr. James Dobson.
When I became a mother, I became scared. Scared of what the world would do to my children. I was so desperate to find a way to protect them. The first thing I did was to ask my husband to help us find a church to attend and raise our children. This is something that I never had but I saw others had. I had a very hard working mother, trying to survive with 5 children and an absent father for a while because of addictions. She didn’t have the luxury of time to take us to church. She would find church services on television to help us or to watch with her. She made me understand how important it was to have God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to help you through all these terrible famines, floods, and storms of life. One of her favorites for us to watch together was Adrian Rogers of Bellevue Baptist church in Memphis, Tennessee.
You see, my mother never learned to drive, but she tried to find a way to help us look towards something bigger that would help us have order at our houses and homes when we became mothers and fathers. My 5th grade teacher called the television the Idiot Box. I understand why because now we have miniature idiot boxes. We are letting things control us instead of using them to help us. My mother used the Idiot Box to help us the best way she could while working late shifts and overtimes so we could be okay.
Students, let’s analyze this. The cause of me searching so desperately to be the best mother I could possibly be was my mother pointing the way to something better than this life. My mother did not have a lot of money, but she had so much love for her God and her children. She knew that that would be a greater gift. She prayed all of the time. We found several notebooks filled with prayers for us. We understood she feared for our souls as well as our Earthly lives. She knew that she was limited, but her God wasn’t. He would help us through the storms of life. She told us there was a right and wrong. The effects of my mother’s love and prayers are that some of her children are still believing and try to give their children that inheritance that can never be taken away. Back row students, listen. My mother had 5 children, and we are not perfect, but we do understand that this world is not the end of it all. She is the reason. She is the cause, and my life is the effect.
Let’s take the lesson to a bigger picture than just one family. Look at the world. We have children murdered every day. I am sad to say in the good old USA we have abortions, school shootings, and human trafficking. What is the cause of this? We are losing our connection with the Divine. Mothers do not know how to be mothers. Fathers do not know how to be fathers. Children are brought into a world of turmoil. They have no structure. Destruction is what they have, or a structure of busyness.
We are too busy to go to church. We are too busy to spend time with our children. We have been lulled to sleep with technology and the fear of missing out. YouTube is a babysitter. Being a parent is the hardest job if you do it right. It is a huge struggle. We don’t have the time to do it the way it should be done. We do have time, however, to shuffle thousands of activities that keep them from being children. We want them to be something bigger.
I was an athlete, and it is true that your competition practices while you are asleep. In reality, only a small percentage will be able to go forward as a professional athlete, but then what? In one of the blogs I have written recently, I talked about building things up instead of tearing things down. If you do not understand your past, and if you do not have traditions that are good and pure for your family, then your present moments are just discombobulated.
We live in the present moment. Our present moments are guided by our traditions of family. If we tear those down, we have done a grave injustice to our children. If you spend all of your moments without goals, you have no future. You won’t have a future. We want everything right now. Impatience.
Students, do you think that we are very impatient? We cannot tear down our family traditions, because if we do, we tear down our families. That is exactly what El Diablo wants. He wants us to forget how to be mothers and fathers. Is it working? My precious mother knew that when she had children, they would be her legacy. They would be how she put what she loved so dearly into the future. What are the mothers and fathers of today putting into their children for a legacy? Are they filling them with virtue and morals? Or are they teaching them how to be a better rat in the rat race?
Here’s the rub: they are not teaching much of anything to the children anymore. It is not the school’s job to raise your children. It is not the government’s job to provide for all of your children. It is your job. It would be fabulous to have a professional athlete for a son or daughter, but the BEST joy is to be a good mother or father. To see them choose the better part of this earthly life, which is to love each other and to take care of the most important thing that God gives us: our families.
Wake up, America. Wake up, world. Just like James Dobson told us, we need to focus on the family if we want to make what we have left a better place to live. Understand that love is an action verb. It is not an emotion. It is not sex or lust. It is a sacrificial gift of one person to another. Sacrifice. It gives up everything to God.
Sacrifice your desires to help your partner be the best mother or father they could possibly be. That goes both ways within a marriage. That’s why we call marriage a sacrament from God. It is not to be looked upon as all pleasure. It is not to be looked upon as trivial or easy. Marriage and love are very hard. It is not just a whimsical passion of unfettered love. We have definitely lost our focus on the family.
This is the 1st week of advent, and this is what I hope for us in this country: focus on the family again. Yes back row, this is homework!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Cause and Effect Gal
Quotes of the Day:
The best way to get children to do what you want is to spend time with them before disciplinary problems occur—having fun together and enjoying mutual laughter and joy. When those moments of love and closeness happen, kids are not as tempted to challenge and test the limits. Many confrontations can be avoided by building friendships with kids and thereby making them want to cooperate at home. It sure beats anger as a motivator of little ones!
Nations that are populated largely by immature, immoral, weak-willed, cowardly, and self-indulgent men cannot and will not long endure. These types of men include those who sire and abandon their children; who cheat on their wives; who lie, steal, and covet; who hate their countrymen; and who serve no god but money. That is the direction culture is taking today’s boys.
Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.
No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.
Great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes.
Whenever two human beings spend time together, sooner or later they will probably irritate one another. This is true of best friends, married couples, parents and children, or teachers and students. The question is: How do they respond when friction occurs? There are four basic ways they can react:
• They can internalize the anger and send it downward into a memory bank that never forgets. This creates great pressure within and can even result in disease and other problems.
• They can pout and be rude without discussing the issues. This further irritates the other person and leaves him or her to draw his or her own conclusions about what the problem may be.
• They can blow up and try to hurt the other person. This causes the death of friendships, marriages, homes, and businesses.
• Or they can talk to one another about their feelings, being very careful not to attack the dignity and worth of the other person. This approach often leads to permanent and healthy relationships.
In my mind today, I am excited about having time to write. October has grown from being a one event to a multi – event month. My family, God bless them, for putting up with me and my divinely inspired ways to pump good into our little corner of the world. This month I have really pushed all of my family to the precipice of sanity. I apologise, but look at how God blessed others through the efforts of my family and friends. That’s what it’s all about students. Pouring out yourself for others.
This year without key players to pull off the race, it became my beast of burden. I knew God would bring the people to pull it off. The Alley Alliance is a Motley crew of dedicated individuals. We have learned to persevere despite cancer, strokes, mental illness, ALS, death, etc. I could fill the entire blog with the obstacles we deal with and shoulder as a team. The most important member is God. He literally carries us each year. He carries me all the time. I feel it.
The race is every year on the 3rd Saturday of October. It has been this way now for 32 years. I definitely do not want to jinx the race but there has only been one day out of the 32 years that it has rained. This year the race fell a lot earlier because of the calendar. There was a huge chance of rain that morning. The clouds parted and it was so beautiful. There was not a one single cloud in the sky. Miracles. I cannot even tell you how many angels showed up that day to help this be such a beautiful day. There were old friends and new friends that came to do the work to make this happen. There were so many people praying for the race in heaven as well as on Earth. So many beautiful things have been born out of the Autumn March for ALS: What Ever It Takes Scholarships, Bart Williams Cookie Scholarships, Back to School Biking for Bart, Addi’s Haunted Trail, connections with Depot Days race and stronger ties with Newbern, Tennessee, and CHRISTgiving 2021. The race ties so many people together in our little community from the YMCA to the Parks and Recreation authorities. It includes people from all walks of life from mayors to farmers. We are able to do so much good for all of those around us just because of this little race. Next year will be year 7 for me as the race director, God willing. It will be October 15th 2022 downtown Dyersburg, TN at 9 AM. If you want to be a part of something wonderful then mark your calendar! I know next year will be even bigger and better for the greater good. Thank you to the entirety of our little county in Tennessee. It is so wonderful to be a part of such a lovely and loving community. Thanks be to God.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Autumn March Gal
Quote for the Day:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
Non nobis solum nati sumus. (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.
They are the ones who . . . bear fruit through perseverance. (Luke 8:15)
In my mind today, it’s so full of words and emotions and blogs that are swimming in my head and making me dizzy! (Remember that song “Dizzy” students? If you haven’t, listen to it. Yes, it’s homework back row!) Let’s look at that word perseverance. The above is my verse for the day.
What is perseverance? Well, it’s when you suck it up buttercup and just do the work that needs to be done. Never give up. Never. Today’s readings talked about the parable of the seeds and the types of ground they will fall upon. So this is another assignment too, I want you to reflect on your heart. Not the blockages or your cholesterol but your heart. Is your heart workable? Is it ready to hear good things and to do good things? A teaching partner of mine always said if a child’s heart becomes hardened by the world then it is hard for us as teachers to break through all of the hurt. Thankfully in the 20 years that I was able to teach I could only recall about five children who would not allow us to help their hardened hearts. What is the cure for a child whose heart or even an adult whose heart has been so devastated? It doesn’t even allow his/her ears to hear good things. Something that stuck out to me one Sunday was this :it is not the outside world that can defile your heart but what you put in or let in it. This makes me feel so much better especially as a teacher. If you can get them to listen and put good things into their hearts, it will help their heart to be fruitful. It could crowd the bad and the good works will overflow.They will give good back because that’s what God wanted all along.
Some things that harden your heart for example are addictions. God had warned us of these; they are the seven deadly sins. That’s homework, too. You need to look up the seven deadly sins and be honest with yourself. Which one of these allows your heart to be defiled and corrupted? Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. These are the tools that help us to fall and fail. These are not tools of God. If you are reading this right now and you have trouble with any type of addiction God will help you. It’s a two way street. Just like the woman that Jesus said your sins are forgiven but go and sin no more. You simply have to say help me God. Help me not to overindulge in whatever vice you have. I do not want to be a slave to my addictions. You have overflow. You have to try your best to resist. Will you always be able to resist? Probably not. You will still have times that you fall. Here is the key. Remember what I told you I heard at church? Yes, that’s right nothing from the outside can defile you. Only what is in your heart can. If your heart has been hurt over and over then you have a lot of work to do. The work will be hard . Nothing that is worth anything is easy. God did not promise this life would be easy, on the contrary he told us it was going to be extremely hard. That is why we have Jesus. Our God is the God of redemption. Are you tired of this world and its snares? Place your burdens on Christ. He will carry you. Whisper that simple, “Help me God.”
What do you keep in your heart? Is it treasure? Is it trash? Is it weeds? Is it bouquets of beautiful flowers? You see students, it’s your choice what you put in your heart. Please begin to build treasure in your heart. How? By doing the good that needs to be done, Wherever You Are! We are all in this together. It doesn’t matter red, yellow, black, white or whatever you want to call yourself. Every single one of you, students, is first and foremost a child of God. That is your label. So many people today will argue that there is no God. So how can I be a child of God? Well until you are able to create another human without anything but basic elements then you will only be a child of God. How do you think we got here? A creator blessed is how we came to be. Science is not our God. I totally understand that a lot of hurt has been done in the name of God. We have to realize that hurt comes from our weaknesses as humans. We are given a free will. The free will to make good choices or to make bad choices. As a teacher so many times it hurt my heart to see precious children who were not loved or treasured. Their hearts were just a mess. The good news is until you take your last breath, your heart can be Redeemed by God. Does this mean you’re going to get that Escalade or the popularity you always wanted? No. It means that God will allow you to love again and you be sure to give love. Why, because that’s how love is. The more you give the more you get in return. That’s why I talk about building treasure in your heart. Do something good for your mother today. Do something good for your neighbor today. Stop and talk to someone who looks lonely. If you see someone hurting or in a bad situation you pray for them and help if you can. This is what building treasure in your heart in looks like. The treasure will continue to grow and it will flow out of you like gifts to everyone around you. You don’t believe me back row? Try it! I think you will be so amazed at what God will do for your heart. Do your homework!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Perseverance Gal
Prayer for Today: “Jesus, help me persevere in prayer so that I can bear fruit for you.”
In my mind, I have been very busy. So has my sweet little family because of me. It is so hard to be a caregiver. I think it is the hardest thing ever. It becomes very tenuous at times whenever those closest to me become exhausted and even hurt because of my ALS adventure.
This past week has been a whirlwind. Lots of jobs to do and lots of places to go to advocate for the good. I absolutely wear my family out. My son who is my main caregiver had his back go out. My daughter who has been my main caregiver as well during the pandemic and the summer has gone to a summer adventure archaeological dig for school. My poor husband has to be on continuous oxygen all the time. His health is just as fragile as mine. I really cannot write this crazy stuff that happens to us. My other son has two little ones and his life is very wild trying to build a family and work. This is why I have some days that are just crying days.
I cry because my children should not have to do this for me. Don’t get me wrong I am so very grateful for them. I do not want to hurt them and that’s what it feels like on these crying days. My sweet sister has had to come and try to fill in the empty spaces but this is not fair for her. She just began her season of retirement. ALS just plainly sucks, that’s all it is in a nutshell. The days that I watch my family suffer because of me hurts me more than anything. I have to cry through the tears just to write this stuff. It hurts so, so much in my heart and in my soul. Mother’s are supposed to take care of their children, not the other way around. I truly hate that my family has drawn the short straw.
As we hurriedly tried to get everything together for my last little bird to head out for her archaeological adventure, I found myself having little spells of grief and crying. She and I have this secret club; it is the Bug Club. We had so many days together this summer working at the library with children that we didn’t have extra special bug-to-bug time a lot. We shared ourselves with the community and at the end of the summer I found myself craving for just a little more bug to bug time. Our last little bug adventure was to Charlene’s Tea Room. The next day I had Bunco with the Bunco girls. We rushed out after Bunco so I could go to church with her that evening. She was not going to be able to go to Sunday services because of leaving on the archaeological adventure AKA Indiana Alley. Everything was just going by at light speed. That’s how life is. If you do not enjoy the journey, you end up a very sad person. I had enjoyed this journey and I was wanting more but I knew this season was over. That’s why I was flooded with so many tears. When she left I became almost inconsolable. Unbeknownst to me she had to come back in for something and she heard me crying. She came around the corner and said, “What’s going on with you?” I just kept blubbering and crying. She washed my face, cleaned out my snoot, and let me blow my nose. She was very adult-like and told me, “You’ve got to cut this out. I’m not going to be here to wipe your nose again for a while. Big bug you need to strengthen up.” I was able to suck it up buttercup after that. God gave me a little bit of fortitude to reassure her and my little bird was off again.
I didn’t want her to stay with me, that was not why I was such a mess emotionally. I just knew nothing gold could really stay. Remember that quote students? It was the book I did at the first of the year almost every year: The Outsiders. It’s so true. Life is an ebb and flow of good times and bad and a whole lot in between. The important thing is to embrace those golden times. If you didn’t embrace them then you would never cry when they were over. Students, be in the moment of your life. It was our essential rule number 55, carpe diem. This is life. This is my life. This is your life. If you do not treasure your moments, then you are missing out on so much during your earthly journey. No day is ever promised so please get out and enjoy your day. It may be the last one that you get. Yes back row, it’s homework!
Sal the Carpe Diem Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the Day:
“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.”
—The Dalai Lama
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”
A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.”
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.
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.
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
It seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime.
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.
In my mind today I am wrestling with God. I got up this morning and read my scriptures. I read about Jacob wrestling with someone but the person had extreme strength. They didn’t give up the fight. In the end the angel or God spoke to him and said from this day forward you will be Israel. I said I cannot imagine wrestling with God but then when I look at my life with ALS I am wrestling with God. Sometimes I wrestle with God and plead for more time to be with family and friends. Sometimes I wrestle with God crying out for him to use me to help this little city be a place of solace, a place of peace. Sometimes I wrestle with God and cry out for him to end it. I’m exhausted and tired and ready to go to my resting place. Some days are diamonds students and some days are dust. I’ve had quite a few dusty days. My body has been screaming out in pain but the pain of my physicality is not what cripples me. It is the pain in my heart that longs to be free. Free to be with God forever. Peace. Rest. Bliss. These are things that my heart craves. These are things that I know as a human I will never be totally free of while I am on this Earth. There is always someone that needs a loving touch, a helping hand, or a simple prayer. Busy. That’s what I am, busy. To look at the chair you may imagine that this girl is not busy. She is like the queen bee! I chuckle because at the library last week and the week before we talked about bees with the children. As they described the queen bee, I thought wow that is the way my family has to be for me. It doesn’t seem very fair. These are days that I cry out for God to rescue his faithful servant. There is so much to harvest for God in our lives. Just as scripture says the laborers are few. That is why I wrestle to stay here. I talk to God often and I know his plans are for the good of not just for me but for everyone around me. I have to stay the course even though some days I desperately want to wave a white flag. Students, do you wrestle with God? I know the back row thinks they can take him out! And you may think that I am a little crazy to think that anyone would try to wrestle with God but we do. We bargain constantly. We wrestle with God when he speaks to our hearts and we do not listen. If something goes wrong in our life, we wrestle with God. Students, what are you wrestling with today? If it is something you feel trapped with or is it someone who has hurt you, stop wrestling God. Ask him to take it. He will. This will be the only way I will surrender, into the arms of God. Have you figured out what you need? Cry out to God. Yes, it is a daily assignment!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Wrestling Gal
Quote of the Day
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Matthew 9:37-38
In my mind today, I have been thinking of all of the miracles around us. Every day I begin my morning with the readings from the Bible: verses from the Old testament, verses from the New testament, and Psalms. They always speak so loudly to my heart. Ironically and mysteriously they always line up with my life. Is this because I am cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? Am I a raving lunatic? Something inside me tells me that I am very lucky. Something inside of me woke up when I was diagnosed with ALS. It sent me on a journey to find the way, the truth and the life. I began to read so many things to try to figure out what this earthly life is really all about, and not if, but when I die, what happens? The verses today speak of a man who left heaven to be among us in the suffering world we call home. Crazy, right? There is historical basis and evidence that the man lived and performed lots of miracles. He only got 33 earthly years before death came for him, but for the first time in history, death was not victorious. You see, death is of Hell, not Heaven. Death can no longer be proud. Face it. Everything, from the universe, the solar system, the planet, the beings on the planet, the oceans, the sky, the water cycle, the complicated life forms within forests that are so much older than us, down to the last blade of grass is all inexplicable. Inexplicable. Do you hear me? Not one single human has the ability to understand or to create what we already have in motion. Yes, we are learning tidbits, just like the genetic fixer shot. But we do not have the ability to infuse a soul into a being. Even if I did not have ALS, I would die one day. It is just part of the cycle of life. We desperately try to get as much as we can out of this earthly life, but there’s more. The people that have the abilities to do these wonderful things hopefully have the good of all in their thoughts and hearts. I know that when I take my last breath, it will be just a breath away from eternal life. I will leave this earth headed to heaven. You see it, death was conquered. If you are of heaven, then you will be there in a nanosecond after your last breath. Every electrical pulse within you that helps us to live this earthly life will be jettisoned back to our maker. Remember students, energy can never be created nor destroyed but changed. Today, so many can see only the trees, not the forest.
This morning, I listened to my Flash Briefing and they have a genetic fixer injection. It is so promising. It can possibly correct muscular dystrophies, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. This is so great. Then, I think about how something that has potential for so much good could be used for evil. It made me think about Brave New World. This summer I have sold my soul to the local public library. Much to the chagrin of my family, I have volunteered to do two classes a week with the local children this summer. Hey, I’m not dead yet! This has been such a fruitful season, even though it’s been hectic. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I get to be with children and adults and talk about art and writing. It’s been so successful that many adults are like, “Can you do this when the kids go back? That way we can enjoy it!” I’m telling you, it has been such a wonderful, wonderful experience. The other upside is that I am getting to use the posh conference room with my book club for adults at the public library. We have first dibs on the conference room with the big cushy chairs with wheels and the huge executive table. Stuff like in the oval office! The name of the book club is called Turn the Page. And yes, students, I love Bob Seger. Selling your soul to the public library gives you some perks. We meet on the third Wednesday of the month. This is also one of the wonderful parts of my life in this season. This group of octogenarians and septuagenarians sprinkled with several other age groups is just absolutely amazing. They are so valuable. I learn so much from them every time we have a book club meeting. This will be our fifth year! These people have lived a life. They see how the world is and how it has changed so rapidly, ignoring the traditions and virtues that were passed down culturally from grandparent to parent to child. Generational love that extends across time. All of these wonderful book club members have this and they share so much. Our culture today is toxic to those who are the most vulnerable. If you look at it, in a way, we are institutionalizing our children from the cradle to the grave. I am so grateful that these people I meet with are able to still live independently. They are just treasure troves of knowledge. Several are veterans of different wars, discussing things within the same group. It’s great! One of my star pupils is Vernita. As we were discussing our book this month, Brave New World, she told the group that she didn’t understand why Ms Sarah had wanted all of us to read this book until she got about three chapters into it. She said, “Bingo! This stuff is happening today.” Sadly, it is. Separate and destroy the nuclear family and you can take down any culture. You will destroy their children. Look around you. We are so tied up with trying to make heaven on Earth that we are losing something much more precious, and that is living in the moment, absorbing the beauty of nature, relishing the love of family, and sharing such wonderful lives that grow so much fruit for those that will come after us. I am asking you, students, to care first and foremost for your family, your community, your friends, the gift of your station here on this Earth, and the ability to know that love conquers all. The station of your life has a lot to do with the choices you make. We are all such fragile human beings created with a light or an electric pulse, however you look at it. It is part of something so much bigger. Something so much stronger than where you were born or who your parents are. God did not create you to be destroyed but to be redeemed. The devil is the destroyer. God wants you to be with Him one day.
After having the classes with the children on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we usually go down to a little mom and pop coffee shop called The Bus Stop. A little history lesson is that The Bus Stop was the original bus stop in our little town, and it has now been refurbished and repurposed. This is our little dive. We were there last Thursday. I was rolling around the downtown area and going to another little mom and pop shop to purchase something. Another good reason to do the library activities is that I get to be with my grandchildren and lots of other children. As my oldest grandchild and I were going back across the street to meet the others at the coffee shop, I had a man come up to me, and he wanted to pray for me. Now, we were getting ready to load up the mystery machine AKA my big blue handicap van. He asked me if I had a moment, and I always do if someone wants to pray for me. He said, “I recently have been given a miracle. I have been woken up to the spirit and power of God. I almost lost my son. God brought him back to me.” He explained that he had been raised Christian but had never really felt or understood the power until he almost lost his child. He said his life was a wreck. His marriage was a wreck. He said his children had suffered from their broken marriage. After his son was given a miracle, he has been urged to share and to pray for others. He said, “When I saw you cross the street, I thought to myself, that woman could barely breathe. She rolls in a wheelchair, and God said, ‘Go pray for her.'” The first thing he asked me as he approached was, “Do you believe in miracles?” Now remember, we are trying to load the mystery machine. I have two grandchildren with me, me and my ALS awkwardness, and my 82-year-old mother-in-law. He wanted to speak to me, and I answered him. I said, “Yes, absolutely. You can pray for me.” He had told me he was inside of the coffee shop trying to write about the miracle of his family. We talked for at least 30 minutes and probably even more because we began to pray for each other. My family had loaded into the mystery machine while he and I had our moments of prayers and thoughts. Miracles.
The last two days of my readings have been about miracles. Today was the one about the little girl that everyone thought was dead and Jesus told the man, “She will live.” Recently, I heard about a little girl who was in a similar situation. She was about 12 years old. Her wonderful young mother has to do everything from being the father and the mother and everything in between. She survived a broken marriage, and she fought her way through school. She became a teacher. All of this while being a single mom. Family and friends have helped her through this season. Tragically, the same Thursday I was talking with this man about miracles, she was in a car accident. She survived. Her son survived but has lots of injuries to his legs and many surgeries ahead of him. Her young daughter, around 12 years old, did not. Also, one of the students this summer at the library has a terminally ill brother, and as he talked with me, he let me know that his brother is enroute to heaven. He is now at the doorstep. How can these families survive this gut-wrenching grief? Here is where belief in God gets really hard. So many precious mothers lose children. It always makes me think of the man that performed so many miracles. His earthly life ended with his mother at the foot of a brutal crucifixion. Precious blood pooled around his feet. The precious blood was poured out for all. And then you think about the agony of Mary having to watch a child being tortured to death and then you really get how Mary’s heart felt. How this father felt. How this mother felt. But thanks to the sacrifice of that man of 33 years, because of that the little girl who’s just entered heaven was only away for a nanosecond. Death is no more for her. She is of heaven. What does it take to get through the travesties of human life? Faith. Is it explainable? Not always. Will you know for sure or can you understand totally? Maybe. I hope it doesn’t take cancer, ALS, losing a child, or any type of terminal diagnosis for you to understand. Don’t ever forget that there are angels above us and among us that help us through these times. Don’t ever forget that there is an advocate in the Holy Spirit to help us with our journey each day. Don’t ever forget that there is a son of God and He did come to Earth. Don’t ever forget to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and especially above all things. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you do these things students, you will be part of the body of Christ. If you do this, before you know it you will be back with the Father who has all the answers you ever thought to ask and even ones you didn’t. Miracles.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Miracle Gal
Dedicated to Jason, Amber, Kim, and to all those out there who have cried out for their children.
Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.
In my mind today, I am thinking about birthdays, summertime, grandchildren, and friendships. I am so so grateful for all of the love that shows up in my life every single day. I recently had my 52nd birthday. I can’t tell you how much beauty and love was poured into me from so many people. I received so many wonderful well wishes and even gifts from people that I haven’t been able to be around in a while because of the pandemic and just distance. That’s something you need to understand students. True friendships will never end. It may be someone you went to kindergarten with but that love is always there and sparks so many beautiful memories. We all have seasons to go through in our lives. The people and friends that surround us are what make it so special. It’s not that you had the best set of cleats on the softball team or if you were the most popular in school. It is about the true friendships that weave in and out of your life until you go to the next chapter. I am so amazed that God has gifted me with so much time. I am so very grateful for the time. Students that is the second objective of the day. Let me reiterate the first one in case the back row of students was doodling on their paper. The first objective of today is knowing that love and friendships are eternal. The second objective today is the most valuable thing in anyone’s life is time. Think about it, students. Time is something that we give to others. We give them our time. Let me break it down for you. All of those times when you listen to others without speaking that is treasure. All of those times when you meet others just to help them be okay and have lunch to talk over problems or just to enjoy each other’s company, that is treasure. Especially when you feel like you have no time to spare and you do it anyway, that is true friendship and that is true treasure. So many of us want to think of treasure in terms of materialistic things. That is so far from the truth. Things that pass away on this Earth are not treasure. The memories and the love you share, giving your time to others is the true treasure of this life. I am so grateful for the 52 years of time that God has given me. I take each day as an absolute gift. The time that God is giving me is the time for me to share God’s love to those around me. It is not because I’m in a wheelchair and I have ALS; it is because that’s what we are created to do. We are created to live in communion with each other and to love one another as brothers and sisters. I didn’t say it was easy but it is so very worth it. Why do I give so much time to the local library? Why do I give so much time to Matthew 25:40? Why do I give so much time to my little book club every month? Why do I give so much time to the children at the church that I attend? Why do I give so much time to my friends? Why do I give so much time to you students? It is because gratitude begets generosity. I am so very grateful for every second of my life. Generosity is something we are in great need of during this season of Earth. Most people are wanting to look and point fingers at those who are not being what they need to be. Competition and comparison are killing our nation. I don’t know what news is fake or not anymore whenever I open my phone. Everyone has an agenda and they all want to brainwash us to their agendas. Everything that we need to know students and this is objective number three for the day is simply to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love others the way you love yourself. As I look out onto social media and to other things like news and commercials, it’s all telling us it’s all about us. It’s all about what we want. I’m not talking about civil rights. Yes we all deserve civil rights but the lives that we build are not contingent to things that we get like money or status or cars. I totally understand that people are born into different situations. Some of these situations are not so great. How do people rise above horrible situations? How do we pursue happiness? That’s a question for the ages. We have the right to pursue happiness and happiness is not a given. Look at history. There are so many atrocious events in human history but there are also so many beautiful stories of those who rise above horrible situations. It’s not just a black or white question. We want happiness for others. The objective that is so crucial right now is that happiness is nothing that you will be able to attain of your own volition. You cannot be the God of your life. If you surrender to commercialism and materialistic culture or science, then you are allowing that to be the God of your life. I remember something I read a long time ago that stated happiness is being content with what you have and where you are. I have seen so many children in my lifetime as a teacher that have no reason to be joyful. Their homes are broken. Their parents are addicted. They are raising their siblings. They are not allowed to be children in their own right. This is a tragedy. If we want to satisfy our needs at the cost of our children then we have missed the mark. The world is trying to have a paradigm shift. We are trying to shift from parents being selfless and what they build for their children to being selfish. It will never work. The most important commodity in every culture is their children. Let me say that again. The most important commodity in every culture is their children. How are we as Americans treating our children? It breaks my heart to see so many broken families and parents and children. If you want to erase a culture, what do you do? You attack their children. If you look at our culture in America today, what do you see? Be real with yourself. Ask any teacher today and they will tell you that our society is in trouble. Another thing that we need to look really hard at is how people are treated who try desperately to raise their children in a Christian home but they are mocked within our societal structure. If women choose to stay home and raise their children, they are mocked. They are made to feel less than. Is this right? When someone gets pregnant because of unprotected sex or even an abusive situation what is the first default people come to in our society? Abortion. I know there are people who have been raped and have conceived a child from that situation. It is never okay to take a life. Thou shall not kill. There are so many variants and arguments to this. I am not belittling the people who have been abused and conceived. What I am trying to get you to see is when someone has a child or has sex what is going to happen or possibly happen? Conception. The start of a new soul within another person. Who has the right to abort another person? The same thing goes for the death penalty. We have so many ways to do things differently but we choose to do them according to man’s rules. We have forgotten God’s rules. I know so many people that have had abortions and they regret it. Many of those were girls with wealthy parents. Some were just girls that were not ready or it was not the right time. If you look at the statistics many of the aborted in our country are minorities. Is this okay? There are so many people that would love to be parents but the system is not for children anymore. I don’t really know if it ever was. I am telling you today students that the first thing we should protect in our country is our children. It doesn’t matter the color of the skin or the situation they are born in, we should protect children. How do you do that? Love. Children do not need materialistic things. All they need is love. All we need is love. So students review today’s lesson. Objective one is true friendships are eternal. Go out and make a new friend today. The second objective is time is the biggest treasure given to you as a human being. Go out and spend your time on something beautiful. It may just be sitting out looking at nature but do it! Yes it’s homework. And last but not least happiness is something that comes from within and you need to remember how you get happiness. Love God and love each other the way you love yourself. I have so much faith that you will do these things and you will start your journey of gratitude begets generosity. You want to have that heart that freely flows love to others. Why? It is what we are called to do, love. So yes your homework is to go out and to love others the way you love yourself. Don’t pick someone like your mother. Yes love her but back row students find someone that you have a beef with and then show them some kindness. You will be amazed at what love can do! It can turn sinners into saints. It can turn bullies into team players. It can help you build a kingdom of God. Thank you for being so generous and reading my blogs. I am eternally grateful. Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the Grateful Gal Quotes of the day: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” — Dr. Seuss
“Adults are just outdated children.” — Dr. Seuss
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” — Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” — Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist
“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, evangelist