Death

Death

In my mind today, I’m thinking of death. On the Catholic calendar, the day after Christmas is a day of remembrance for the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen. As I read I was thinking, why would this be placed in such a celebratory time of year?

Death. It does come for each of us. It doesn’t care what time of year. Recently, death has visited a sweet, young woman to whom I shared my writings with each day. Janie was only 56 years old. She was terminally ill and my brother suggested I send my reflections to her. After each reflection, she would send me a text or some type of positive affirmation. We became friends even though I never was able to see her face to face. Rest In Peace my sweet friend. I’ll see you on the other side. Death is not an end.

This Christmas held so many blessings but also sadness. The day after Christmas my family lost a member. My sister’s husband crossed over after several years of physical debilitation. During family gatherings we would joke about who was going to die first. Then we would discuss how our bodies are betraying us. We then thought of the blessings in our lives. We all missed him Thanksgiving and he was hospitalized through December so we missed him Christmas as well. Death came to him December 26th, on the day of the celebration of the first christian martyr.

So back to the question, “Why should we celebrate the death of the first martyr the day after celebrating a savior’s birth? Where’s our season of joy?” Just as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:55, Death lost it’s sting. We have joy, hope, and faith that there’s more to our lives than our earthly chapter. There is more! Shout it from the rooftops. This is what Janie sent me after one of my reflections: “Thank you Sarah. Now, I understand. I’m not scared of death anymore. I get it” Gordon, my brother-in-law, also made his peace with this life. We all will have to meet Death one day. The seasons may all vary when Death arrives, but the sting will be gone. There lies the true meaning of Christmas.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Death be not Proud Gal

Dedicated to:
Janie Newhouse 1961-2017
Gordon Hooper 1952-2017

Quotes of the Day:

“If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”
Maya Angelou

“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”
Socrates

“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”
Leonardo da Vinci

1 Corinthians 15:55 & 56
55
“O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Small things for a BIG God

Small things for a Big God

 

In my mind today, I’m realizing Christmas is quickly approaching. Yesterday was to be my first day of infusions, but my veins blew. It’s okay and this happens. Friday I should be getting a port inserted. This will be used for my “new normal” of infusions. Every setback happens for a reason.

This week of advent has been a week of rejoicing and busyness. We are having a special service Thursday at church. It will be a night of singing, Christmas spirit, and fun. If you have time, come join us at 6 PM. All week I’ve been working with our youth on a little 15 minute skit to present Thursday night.

Christmas is really about the small things. When we were discussing this night with the committee, the idea of a skit hit me. I used to teach a drama class and direct plays during one part of my teaching career. The old light bulb bleeped on in my mind. I thought to myself I’m going to put on a skit with the youth at church. I didn’t have much enthusiasm and response from the students. I thought that no one would show to participate. This Monday when I was anxiously awaiting the children to arrive the priest stopped by and I told him, “If they come great if not we will remove the skit from the program.” Much to my delight, they came! My heart swelled as they came bustling in to the practice. Small things.

Working with the youth this week has brought me so much joy. I’m so proud of the older students “taking one” for Sal the Play Directing Gal. This small act of kindness is bringing me such great joy. One of the smaller students whispered to my sixteen year old daughter, “I’m doing this because my mom wants me me to do it.” My daughter whispered back, “Me too.” Small gifts like these are free but so priceless.

Today, we will have our final practice. As I watch them hone their parts, I know the small sacrifices we do are for an colossal God. The effects of our small gifts to our big God can reverberate for infinity through time and space. He uses our small acts of kindness in such tremendous ways. Christmas is coming and the best presents aren’t from a store. The best gifts are the small things we do for our Big God.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Small Things Gal

Dedicated to our small parish, Holy Angels

Quotes of the Day:
“Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. Jesus is God’s perfect, indescribable gift. The amazing thing is that not only are we able to receive this gift, but we are able to share it with others on Christmas and every other day of the year.”
Joel Osteen

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”
Buddha

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud”
Maya Angelou

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”
Swami Sivananda

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
Helen Keller

Faith, Hope, Love, & Radicava

Faith, Hope, Love, & Radicava

 

In my mind today, I’m thinking of rejoicing. This is the third week of advent. We are called to rejoice remembering our savior entered the world. Behold! Emmanuel is here within each of us. He is.

Ironically, I’m also rejoicing because with faith, hope, and love God has granted an approval for me to begin infusions of a new drug to sustain me on this side of heaven for a bit longer. It’s called Radicava. If all goes well, Sal the Hopeful Gal will be given more time to share my light with you.

If you research ALS, there are so, so many variations. I’ve already been blessed by a slower progressing form of the disease. Now, Radicava may slow down my progression further still. So Sal is the Rejoicing Gal! My first infusion starts tomorrow. I promise to update as I go through this process. We PALS (people with ALS) pray for more time. We want to love just a little longer.

Are there glitches? Oh yes, isn’t there always? First, I’m praying I have no allergic reactions. Second, I’m praying both my insurances help pay for it. At the moment, only my private insurance is willing to pay. The costs are outrageous My first infusion is $15,000. Only 70% is being covered at the moment, but I have hope that all will work out. I’ve been carried for my 48 years in His Palm, and I have peace with whatever life throws my way. Just this morning I was reminded that each trouble we encounter has meaning and purpose. Last, I’m asking for your continued love and prayers as I begin this part of my journey.

So students, God willing we will have many more lessons together. I’m headed to the church today to work with the youth on a Christmas skit to be presented Thursday night. I asked God to use me and I sincerely thank Him for doing so through help from my family and friends. I am living not dying with ALS. I’m not giving up or slowing down. Just like Robert Frost penned, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Radicava Gal

Dedicated to past and present PALS. We pray that there will be no more PALS in the future.

Quotes of the Day:
“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”
Hippocrates

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
Audrey Hepburn

“Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”
Karl A. Menninger

https://www.radicava.com/patient/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-als-drug-approved-for-lou-gehrigs-disease-radicava/

Creating Your Bedford Falls

Creating Your Bedford Falls

In my mind today, I’m thinking of my favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. This is saying something because boy, I have so many favorite Christmas movies from classics to modern. The movie was originally a flop but over time it became a blockbuster. There are so many lessons in this film. I enjoy uncovering each one and new ones each year. You have an assignment! If you haven’t watched it, watch it! Then continue reading this blog. The film is 71 years old. It is AMAZING!

Analyze the characters and then look around your town or city. See if you can match the characters with people you know. Yes, that’s another assignment. Quit grumbling. Yes, every town sadly has its share of Mr. Potters, but also just as many Peter Baileys. At least I hope so. I hear the back row grumbling, not everyone lives in a small town and small town living isn’t always so “grand.” I agree it has its drawbacks but the blessings outweigh the cons. Here’s the secret: you can have your own Bedford Falls anywhere in the world. Oh ye of little faith! Where do you reside on this blue and green planet? Whether it be urban or rural, a Bedford Falls can be established. How? Your cities or hamlets are not physical entities; they are made of living substance not inanimate objects. Why are fictional places like Bedford Falls, Stars Hollow, Bluebell, and Mayberry so charming? Think students. Yes! It’s the people. Be kind to all the people in your sphere of living. Each one has a purpose and function. Each one needs love and encouragement whether they work in a shop on 5th Avenue NYC or a small grocery store in the countryside. They are the true substance of our “Bedford Falls”

In every life, some rain must fall. The difference is knowing you have living, breathing characters to bring you a needed meal, help with a broken car, or simply share an umbrella during your monsoon moments of life. Start recognizing the George Baileys in your burgs. Help the Uncle Billys who struggle with keeping it all together. Go watch the lil ZuZus recitals. Cheer on hometown heroes, these are your Harry Baileys. Compliment your Sam Wainwrights for their philanthropy. Embrace your Martini families for striving for the American Dream. Treat the Violets of your town with respect and give them dignity. As for the Mr. Potters, you have to battle their icy hearts with love. Take the high road always because they are the ones that need love the most. Love cannot be purchased only created with help from our creator. Are you ready to create your own Bedford Falls? Sal the It’s a Wonderful Life Gal has been for a while. Join me.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Bedford Falls Gal

Dedicated to the hamlets in NW. Tennessee: Dyersburg, Newbern, Trimble, & Union City
I adore the Mom & Pops and each and every village square.

 

Quotes of the Day:

“All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
Pa Bailey aka Peter Bailey

“Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them and you weren’t there to save Harry.”
Clarence

“You see George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?”
Clarence

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
George Bailey

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Clarence

“Look, Daddy. Teacher says: every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
ZuZu Bailey

“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”
Clarence

Tis the Season

”Tis the Season

In my mind today, I’m reflecting on the blessings in my life. When your blessings are so, so numerous that you have a hard time listing them then you are living right. When you are able to see them instead of your woes, you are truly fortunate. Your assignment students is to list three of your blessings and then whisper a thanks be to God for them. Then, Bless three other people. Then see what happens. And yes, back row you can list no school for two weeks starting this Friday as a blessing!

This is the second week of advent. This week we focus on the return of Jesus. Our hope is in the saving of the world: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the meantime, each of us is called to bring Jesus to the world in our actions. We should be blessing others by being Christ in the world. I’ve had so many unexpected blessings: my youth Group, our coming home committee, and Christmas carolers from a former student. Lately, my eyes and heart are seeing so much in my little nook of the world. It’s beautiful.

Blessings and tidings of joy flow. They are in flux. One of my biggest blessings is my family. My Aunt Linda is one of the most selfless people I know. She truly has a servant’s heart. My Aunt Linda is the one who gives me baths each day because of my immobility. She and I talk about blessings flowing all the time. It’s usually while we are in the shower. Students, do you want blessings, good tidings, and cheer? They flow. Really. The more you give, the more you get. So why are you waiting? Start helping others. There are as many ways to bless others as there are snowflakes. So, my snow-people start spreading your magic this season.

Be jolly! Yes, there are always reasons to smile. Watching children visit Santa is so entertaining. Seeing an older couple still giddy to be together 50 years later, always makes me smile. Young people going to holiday dances all dressed up and bubbling over with excitement are automatic mood changers. This is the season to be merry, very. Sal the Jolly Gal wants you during this second week of Advent to be the Hope of Christ coming back to earth. I Hope and pray you can. ”Tis the Season for Love.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Blessed Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
Roy L. Smith

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
St. Francis of Assisi

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Mother Teresa

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”
Thomas S. Monson

 

 

Laughter, Lights, & Love

Laughter, Lights, and Love

In my mind today, I’m thinking about Laughter, Lights, and Love. God blessed me with two of the best biological sisters this little sister could ever ask for. We love unconditionally. When one hurts so does the others. I’m so grateful for the hearts my mother nourished in each of her children. Through her strong belief, faith, and hope in God, she created something stunning from her strife as a predominately single mom. She helped us to laugh at our troubles as we grew. She shined her love-light in so many ways that gave us examples of kindness. She showered us with a fierce love that soaked into our souls. God has also granted me sisters in Christ. I have been given writing & book-loving buds, childhood comrades, college cohorts, Alley Alliance warriors, committee cronies, Parish pals, teaching chums, neighbor friends, and Bunco buddies. In each season and chapter of my life, I have and am still blessed beyond measure.

Last night we had our Christmas Bunco Blast at another “sister’s” new business, Holy Cow. It’s located in the quaint, cozy town of Trimble, Tennessee. This group of Bunco “sisters” has been playing together for one score and two years. Students, remember how many years are in a score? Back row, I’m not talking about a Monday night football score! Listen! That’s right front row! Twenty! Add the two and voila, we have shared twenty-two wonderful years together. We’ve been “sisters” through having babies, divorces, retirements, deaths, job changes, moves, our kid’s going to college and getting married, and now our season has the joy of grandchildren. A couple of Bunco Buddies have great-grandchildren. Our age range is a broad spectrum, but that just adds to the spice of our crew. Our little group has shared so much of each other’s pain, happiness, and love. We are the “Ya-Ya’s” of Bunco and we have oh, so much fun.

Last night, the Light of the season was in us all. I laughed hysterically at our antics. Tears of happiness rested in my eyes the entire night. My heart was filled with so much Light, Laughter, and Love for these “sisters.” I’m ever so grateful for each one of them. They are each unique and wonderful in their own ways. While my weakness in my body continues, our sisterhood grows stronger still. You see when you face life’s hardest moments true friends stay. The rest of the world may sadly walk away in the face of adversity, but not my Bunco Ya-Ya’s. They have walked with me through my “new normals” of ALS/PMA. From putting up temporary ramps to feeding me, they brain-storm ways to keep our Bunco Train chugging. I know they will for as long as I have breath in me. We are “Sisters” to the end.

Students, I pray you find God-given siblings in this life. They are truly priceless. If you have some, make time this advent to spend precious moments with them. If you haven’t, then get busy and reach out. Embrace those around you at work or church. Start your own Ya-Ya group! Before you know it, the Laughter, Lights, and Love will traverse scores of time.

So students, this week’s theme for Advent is Light of the Holy Spirit. As we journey through this week of activities, obligations, and bustle, don’t just plug in your Christmas lights on your trees. Be sure that the one you light up first is the Light from above, the Holy Spirit. It was a gift given to mankind over 100 scores ago. It’s in your heart. Be sure to plug it in and let it shine.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Heart-light Gal

Dedicated to all of my Bunco Buddies
Thanks for Dot’s message and reflection from her latest retreat!

Quotes of the Day:
“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.”
Euripides

“Friends are the siblings God never gave us.”
Mencius

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
Helen Keller

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Grateful

Grateful

In my mind today, I’m thinking about the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday. As I read and prayed this morning, the word grateful kept popping up. The more I sat in the stillness, the more I was filled with such gratefulness. Each day is such a gift. Ken and I know this all to well.

I’m so grateful our family is growing. We have a new three month old member, Owen Monroe. My son’s fiancé Carlin’s family joined us creating more love and diversity. There were old recipes and new. The bounty of food was so abundant. The joining of families is such a beautiful sight. The saying, “The More the Merrier” is definitely true.

After Thanksgiving, I felt oh, so peaceful. The last three months have been harrowing. As we held hands and prayed (yes back row, just like The Whos down in Whoville,) a warmth spread all over Sal the Prayerful Gal’s body. Tears brimmed my eyes as the realization hit me. Lots of my prayers have been answered. My niece who had been deathly sick is on the road to recovery. She looks healthier and stronger than I have seen her in years. My precious mother that has short-term memory issues still remembers our names and has snuggles and hugs that are priceless. Our Grands lost their father seven years ago, but have a wonderful, stable home and are growing into happy, healthy, and amazing people. My husband had a good time enjoying all the company despite his ever present cannula and health issues. And last but not least, my great nephew sat on my scoot with me when he could have easily been on the other side of heaven just a few weeks ago. Ladies and Gentlemen, God is Good ALL the Time. He gave us a day of such love and gratefulness. I will always treasure and be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Being thankful in all things is easy when prayers are answered. There are going to be days and times when God answers our prayers in ways we don’t quite understand. We as mere humans have to be okay with those answers as well. This is where some hearts turn cold, angry, and bitter. Students, please try to be thankful in all things. I pray continually for God to help me find His blessings in all things: the Good and the Bad.

Here lies your lesson for Thanksgiving this year. Back row I know you want me to drop the holiday lessons, but I’m a teacher 365 days of the year so quit grumbling and listen. Continue to pray always without ceasing. If someone or something is causing you pain, pray and ask for guidance. In everything be thankful. God doesn’t take days off. He hasn’t forgotten you. The unanswered prayers often turn out to be blessings in disguise. Just be still, patient, and thankful. Always, always be Grateful.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the ever so Grateful Gal

Dedicated to my family’s miracles of 2017

Quotes of the Day:

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” —Willie Nelson

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” —Charles Dickens

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein