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

Forgive

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Students, welcome to day 7 of our adventure. I hope you are figuring out who you are. I hope you are trying to be the best you you could possibly be. All of our assignments are designed to help us. Yesterday you had to think of five things that you like and five things that you don’t like. Back row I know you think that this is a silly assignment but in order to know who you are you have to know what you like and what you don’t like.
Let’s use me as a guinea pig. I like honesty, loyalty, humility, patience, and understanding. Now if you want to know what I don’t like did just think of the opposites of the five that I just listed. Help me out. What’s the opposite of honesty? What about loyalty? Now just do the same with patience, humility, and understanding. I know the back row is grumbling. Yes, it’s okay to like things like fast cars and fancy houses but I want to make the world a better place. I want to have a clean heart. If I clutter my heart with acquiring materialistic objects then I will not have room for the things that really matter. We’ve all done this. Thinking if I could just have the right clothes or the right car oh, I’ll be so happy.I would like myself because everybody else will like me too. This is where as humans we are tricked in today’s culture. Be careful. Think about it like this do you think more people will like you if you have fancy clothes or if you are just honest and true and dependable? You see where I’m going with this. Yes back row I will give you another chance to make a better list.
Today’s readings contained The Lord’s Prayer. This will teach us a lot about today’s lesson. What are the things that stick out in The Lord’s Prayer? Let’s look at Matthew 6:7-15. Get those highlighters out.
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray: / Our Father who art in heaven, / hallowed be thy name, / thy Kingdom come, /thy will be done, / on earth as it is in heaven. / Give us this day our daily bread; / and forgive us our trespasses, / as we forgive those who trespass against us; / and lead us not into temptation, / but deliver us from evil.
“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
The biggest or most important part of this I believe is that we have to forgive others. When we forgive others we are also forgiven. We are then giving peace and inturn we are receiving peace. What happens if we don’t forgive? Well, then God will not forgive us. Remember the list of things that I like? The opposite of honesty is someone who tells lies. How does it feel when someone lies to you? That’s right you get mad and you are filled with anger. Your feelings are hurt. You start plotting your revenge. After reading the Lord’s prayer, we know we have to forgive. The hurt and anger should lead us to prayer. A prayer for ourselves to be able to deal with the hurt and anger. A prayer for the person that hurt us. That means we cannot hold grudges. We have to learn to forgive despite all of the anger and hurt that we feel. This is so hard. Front row you are so smart. That’s right our homework today is to think of someone that we need to forgive. It could be a parent, a son or daughter, a sibling, or a friend. It may even be yourself. I find forgiving myself is one of the hardest things to do. Probably the hardest thing of all is admitting that you have done something wrong and need to reconcile with that person. Asking for forgiveness is one of the greatest lessons in humility. Your heart will be very glad you did. There’s no better time than now to forgive. So what are you waiting for?
Sal the Forgiving Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
Bruce Lee
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Ghandi

Be Real

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

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

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

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

Sal the Real Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

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

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

Ride the energy of your own unique spirit.
Gabrielle Roth

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

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
Confucius

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

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

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

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

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

Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide

Temptation

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Luke 4:1-13

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

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

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

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

Sal the Tempted Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quote of the day:

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

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

 

 

What a sinner?

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Luke 5:27-32
I did not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.
Students we have made it four days! Today reading this verse I always chuckle. We are so like the Pharisees. We want to point out all the dusty old sinners. Or say things like, “Why are you hanging out with those people?” Sometimes when we get a little bit of religion we get a whole lot of self-righteousness. We become the finger pointers or as some people say holier than thou. We humans are so funny because we want to put everything in categories. We want strict boundaries. We want to make the rules. We want to be God and judge others. I’ll use my daughters new catchphrase, “That ain’t it chief!” That’s right back row. I’m guilty but you guys are pretty rowdy. So we all get it right? We are all sinners that are supposed to follow the rules given to us by God and not use them to hurt or harm others.
Now let’s work on our heart. How could we put into action this lesson? Let’s reflect. If we’re honest we know that we are finger pointers. Here’s our homework. Tomorrow whether you go to church or just go to Walmart I want you to look around. As you look around I want you to pay attention to what you think about those you see. When you start to think something negative, stop yourself. Those people that you see and have negative thoughts about if you make eye contact with them give them a smile or a kind gesture. Control your mind of thinking those negative thoughts. We all have them. Be strong and control them. We have to control our minds in order to help clean out the clutter of our hearts.
Back row I apologize I know that I have given a lot of homework. We have to work on our hearts everyday to make a change. We need to fast continually. We need to do healthy things for ourselves to grow spiritually. Everyday is a good day. Each day we are together we are finding out more and more about how to live a better life and help others to be loved. We are figuring out what we are called to do and what is our purpose. I’m so glad to be on this journey with you.
Sal the Pointing the Finger Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quote of the day:
“Just because you are happy does not mean the day is perfect, but you have looked beyond its imperfections.”
Bob Marley

Fasting

True Fasting
Isaiah 58:5-9
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
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Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
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Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Here we are students at day 3. Yesterday we talked about being happy and we are called to be happy. But what is happy? True happiness is not external. It comes from within. It’s like the Grinch told us that you can’t buy it. Oh and don’t forget the Beatles. Our whole unit of study is about our hearts and today we are going to  incorporate fasting.
Why do we fast? We touched on it a little bit with the back row and their cigarette situation. Today as I read these Bible verses from Isaiah were so poignant. We try to give up pleasures. We want to do good by giving them up but we need to realize that fasting should become a habit. A healthy habit that helps us find our way to true happiness. It is written in black and white what true fasting is in the Isaiah verses. We are to be people who want social justice for everyone. We should feed the poor and clothe the needy. We should provide shelter for those who are in need. We are all family in Christ. So fasting is so much more that just abstaining from pleasures. It’s a call to serve. It’s a call to make a habit of serving all year long not just for 40 days. It is a way of life. And when you do all these things: feed the poor, clothe the naked, and give shelter to the hopeless, you better watch out! Your happy meter is going to peg out and explode!
Today as I studied I thought about my high school days. I thought about wanting to fit in and to have the right clothes. I thought about those kids that seem like they never wore the same thing twice. I thought about those kids that got brand new cars at the age of 16. I always thought wow how lucky are they! Those kids got everything they wanted. But you know I don’t think a lot of them were happy. As I have grown into an adult I’ve realized so much. Raising my children I knew they should not have everything that they wanted. Why? I knew from experience that kids that get what they want are not necessarily happy. You see lots of those kids that I went to school with had all the flashy things but being from a modest family of lower income I had something so much more valuable. This was a mother that would listen to me and was interested in me. We had so many talks about life. She was brutally honest about sex and drugs. She asked about my friends and knew them. She cared about my morality. My father loved me unconditionally. He conquered alcoholism and became such a devoted father. Sometimes as a teenager I wondered why can’t I have what all these other kids have? But as I’ve grown up I realized my parents did a great job giving me what I needed. God also provided me with positive adults that shaped me as I grew. I’m so grateful for them. Remember students we want to clear out our hearts and find true happiness. We have to take inventory of our hearts, and we have to be honest.
Back row here’s your homework. You need to fast by giving. So I want you to do a little search in your communities to see where you can give. It may be a bag of clothes that are not worn out or working at the soup kitchen in your town. It could be simply picking up someone’s check at a diner. We need to get out of our heads and we need to focus on others. Back row I can already hear all of your excuses. I hear some of you even say those poor people need to get out get a job! Why should I give to people who are so lazy? You’re asking me to give these good clothes away for free? Ms. Alley how is this ever going to help them or make me happy?
Isaiah 58:9
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
My summary of this is if you bless others God will bless you.
So what are you waiting for? Get on your homework. And I will see you again tomorrow!
Sal the Fasting Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quote of the day:
The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
Kent M. Keith

40 days with Sal

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