Gratitude begets generosity

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


Basketball and Brokenness

In my mind today I am thinking about brokenness and basketball. There are so many ways to break your body playing sports. The relentless practices while everyone else is sleeping is the real deal. My mother to this day tells me that I have run my body in to the wheelchair. You see she has a hard time remembering the recent years. Each time I get to see her it breaks her heart over and over again. We soon move forward after the initial shock, she sees that my body may be broken but my spirit is brighter than ever. All Thanks be to God. We then talk about her childhood and my childhood and the beautiful memories we have. We begin to see the way God has never forsaketh this poor, humble and beautiful family warts and all. The first visit we were blessed to have after the pandemic we sat on my back porch and talked the sun down. I was able to spend my favourite time of the day with her. The blue hour right after sunset is when I feel and hear God the best. Students look up the blue hour on the internet. Find a day to sit and watch God’s glory in your heart and soul. I guarantee that your heart will stir within your chest. This, my wonderful students, is the Holy Spirit. Yes back row it’s homework! Yes you can even have a beer as you watch, but remember everything in moderation.

Let’s get back to the Glory Days of my youth. This is what God has urged me to share :blessings from brokenness. I remember all of those wonderful years of my youth playing sports in my small town. My love for sports came at such a young age. I was blessed that my parents were able to purchase a small, beautiful house in a new upcoming neighbourhood. We would leave the government projects and my mother would be able to fulfil a lifelong dream of owning her own home. It would be a sanctuary of sorts for her five children. She paid eighty one dollars a month for thirty years. She did. She is still living there by God’s love and the love of the children she bore. The move from the city to this rural neighbourhood blessed me immensely. I had lots of kids to play kickball, baseball, and basketball. One of the kids whose parents had a double lot let us have our own “sandlot.” Yes back row, kids really did play ball in their neighbourhoods like the movie. Where do you think they got the idea for the movie? Fact is better than fiction! Yes back row, add that to the homework.. Watch The Sandlot and laugh your arses off.

This new neighbourhood also blessed me with a small county school to attend. I can fill books with all of our Holice Powell Elementary School antics. Sadly as I began my school adventure my father’s five years of sobriety ended. He would be estranged from us for until my eighth grade year at HPS. God provided me with a beautiful friend and her family loved me as their own daughter. You see, my mother never learned to drive. She also worked third shift at the nursing home. She entrusted her youngest daughter to this amazing family. It started with PTO basketball in the third grade on Friday nights at the school. My best friend’s mom was our coach. They were so vital to me in this broken season. They picked me up and took me home for almost the entirety of my childhood. It Began with PTO basketball but this family encouraged me to play basketball and softball at the Neighbourhood Activity Center until their daughter and I could be on the little basketball team at Holice Powell. Our little school was K-8. We continued softball at the NAC throughout our lives playing on various church teams as young adults. I thank God for that place that was started and staffed by the Johnson family. The impact it has on our little city is still reverberating to this day. This amazing family started the parks and recreation for our town with lots of blood, sweat, tears and the love of Christ. Today there are three pools, beautiful parks with walking trails, tennis courts, softball fields, weight room, community rooms for family gatherings, and last but not least, gymnasiums. They gave us children places to have good clean fun. I spent many summers splashing in the pools they advocated for and yes back row it was so similar to The Sandlot. Watch it!

My father had gone to the VA Hospital in his early fifties, around 52. He rejoined our family. He was on his road to redemption. He became involved in my life with sports and even coached my softball teams at the Neighbourhood Activity Center. I owed so much to the family that nurtured me until my family became whole again. My childhood friend became involved in AAU travel basketball in the summers of our high school years. We drifted apart and had different friend groups but continued to play basketball for our high school :DHS. We had one of the first great girls basketball teams at our school. The other successful team had been decades earlier and led by Lillian Yarbro. Our four years of high school we made it to the state tournament three of the four. The whole city loved us. I thank God every day for my small town. My senior year, we won the district but lost in the second round of the regional tournament. It was one of those games that the mojo was not in our favour. It was a gut wrenching loss and the season of high school was over.

The next season would be college. I had no idea how to navigate the scholarship and college selection. I had a decent ACT score but my choices were dwindling because I waited until the last minute to choose. The University of Memphis, then Memphis State, had an available full scholarship. I had always loved the Tigers and would mimic the center, Keith Lee, in my backyard on the dirt court. There was absolutely no grass in the basketball area. It had been worn off by years of backyard ball. I wanted to make my little city proud so I chose Memphis State. The first year was so hard. In the country growing up, your chickens have pecking orders. I was the lowest in our pecking order. I had not sat on the bench since 7th grade. I was now in the big pond. The coach and I never clicked. I was a free spirit. I was not the best player and I lacked confidence. I went to a coach that thrived on fast breaks and pressure defense from half court sets and slow down defense. College had the shot clock. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I swallowed my pride and sat on the bench. I told myself next year I would come in ready. I promised myself I would be better. In the summer I worked for a daycare keeping school age children. That next fall I came back to college with a mission. I was going to get some playing time. I worked so hard however I was still a ghost to my coach. The last straw was the Tennessee game against the legendary coach Pat Head Summit. We had two outstanding post players and at the half we were tied. Our outside game was nonexistent. We needed shooters. I was a baller shot-caller. I was big, skinny, slow, but I could shoot from anywhere on the court. She played every single person but me. After the game the first words out of her mouth in the locker room were, “Girls, you fought hard but I tried every combination possible. We needed outside shooting. “I felt so small. She looked directly at me but never put me in the game. I felt like the Isralites of the Old Testament. I was girding my loins and fleeing. I went to the dorm, packed up, and headed home. The coaches came by to talk me down. Even she who could not be named. I went back home and back to the day care where I would meet the love of my life. I turned down two more scholarships and got married.

For years I lived a quiet life. Ashamed that I had let my city down. I was determined to rectify the failure. I went to the local community college and began my own road to redemption. I had to go before the board and tell them I would fulfil the scholarship. I was granted one year of eligibility. I would go back, play, and get my GPA back up. A fire had been lit inside me. My life was different now. My husband and I had children and I had a much bigger reason to succeed. I received my associate degree in science. I began my junior year at The University of Memphis. I graduated in 1997. This was exactly ten years from my high school graduation. My husband and I had four children and I began my teaching career. I was blessed to serve the children of my city for twenty years before ALS. I was able to give back and love them the way they loved me. No more shame. Just love. Love covers so many sins and hurts. Students, today the lesson is never give up and always get up. Every life road will have pot holes and forks. Not one life is perfectly happy. The happiness is in the journey. Allow God to shoulder your failures and try again. Choose good. Choose God. Students, those are the key.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the ALS Gal

Quote for the Day
Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Seeds

In my mind I have been thinking about all of the beautiful blessings that have come to me. There have been so many ideas and blogs floating around in my head lately and I have just not been able to get them onto paper and into your minds. Tonight I finally have a little bit of time and I need to get all of this out because students I need to have room to keep learning and growing and writing. Yes it is a lifetime process so buckle up and do your best. Here is some hope work not homework! Because hope is what I need you to put out into our community and world. I want you to read something from the Bible everyday, say a short prayer for those around you, and look for opportunities around you to plant a seed of hope. That means students find someone that needs a blessing and you plant that seed of love and help them. Even if it’s taking someone’s buggy back for them at the grocery store. Before I send you on your way to spread hope I wanted to talk more about seeds. Stop grumbling back row!
I have always loved gardening. For fun I used to read horticulture magazines. Recently I realized I think I was a bit of a weird kid. I did not fit in well even with my cousins. The antics of my youth with my cousins has inspired a story even: the cousin conundrum! This was completely off topic but I’m trying to paint the picture here so be patient. Back to gardening. I have a wonderful friend that during the pandemic began to research how to sustain your family by growing vegetables in cubes. She and I have a lot of history together. We attended college together, raised children together, and taught for 20 years in similar systems but ended our careers together. I remember after I got the news that my body would be totally deteriorated in 10 to 11 years and I told her. She looked me in the eyes, grabbed me and hugged me. Then looked in my eyes again and said, “Oh my sweet friend no.” She began to weep and hold me. This was a day of tears. Her heart literally hurt for me. Unbeknownst to us my sweet friend would have a horrible stroke and have to retire 2 years before I did.
This amazing friend of mine can do more with her broken body than three people. She called me and asked me if I wanted to try the gardening techniques that she had learned. I of course said yes immediately! If it’s about dirt excuse me Master gardeners I mean soil  and plants you can count me in. You see this part of my life is the part of my life that no one in my house enjoys. Having a friend call and ask if she can plant flowers and vegetables for me is like a dream come true. So she and I picked two days and she would come over and show me all that she had learned.
The next sunny day that we had she came over with all of her magical materials! She had pea gravel, compost, topsoil, and peat moss. She carried all the materials and we took them to a shady spot. She began her assembly line method of creating the veggie boxes. I was utterly amazed! My friend who had suffered and lost so much from her stroke was giving me a lesson. You see I had been having some bad days let’s be real I believe I had a few months of sadness during all of this pandemic. My sweet strong friend used this time to learn and grow and to plant seeds to feed her family just in case we have to start doing things a lot different in our country. Even if we can still get things in stores, knowing how to do it is so much more satisfying. My friend has become a Master Gardener. I watched her beauty and strength as she packed all of the veggie boxes made. It me so so proud of her. Proud that she never gave up. Proud that she enjoys her life. Proud that she always wants to help others. Proud that she has turned her sadness into joy. Proud that she is grateful for her brokenness and Jesus shines through it. But does she ever have pity parties? Absolutely! We all do. But the seeds of happiness that are sown by our friends will choke out so much sadness, grief and depression if we just let it. If we just plant seeds for each other, just think how much beauty could be in our world.
The pandemic has changed so many people. I know that it has changed so many people for the good. I think the powers that be wanted to scare us and split us apart is feeling a backlash of faith and light and strength. What is all this? It is the power of good. It is the power of love. It is the power of truth. Students we all know good and evil. It seems like a continuous fight and it is. We have to continue to fight to plant good seeds and even more importantly be sure those seeds we plant are from the way, the truth, and the light of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the Seed Planting Gal
Quote of the Day Grow where you are planted.

Jars of Clay

In my mind today, I am so full of the HS (Alley speak for Holy Spirit.) I have been granted more time to be with you. I recently spent nine days in the hospital. Four of those days were in ICU. I spent the last of Lent and part of Holy week in the hospital. It is a long beautiful story that I am putting into a book. After I was out of the storm, God whispered to me to write this book. So, I am writing the book. I am about six pages into it. It will probably be a novella and for the back row that is a smaller novel. I hear you cheering. Yes less words to read! I have so many blessings and miracles too relate to you through the book. Got also told me it would be a bestseller if I would just write it. So I have a lot of work to do students. Does this get you off of the hook? Never.

After I came home from the hospital, I can’t say that I was not changed by it because I was. It is not the first time that I have almost touched eternity during my fight with ALS. After this visit my tongue has matured. A lot of you will think that is silly but it’s true. All of the things that I think of when people come to me petitioning for prayers for their lives are now flowing out of me and my speech. My tongue is unleashed by the Holy Spirit. I just pray what God puts in me to this person or people. Yes, it is a little awkward for my family to see their mother just saying godly things to people and randomly speaking to those around me. Since I have been home I have not been able to ventute out as much. I have no fear though because God is bringing people to me wherever I am.

Before the septic shock, I had joined the Bible study and then started one as well. One Bible study would be on Thursdays and the other would be on Mondays. This was all miraculous. One of my really good friends could tell that I was needing something. I would sit at my window all days without my grandson reading, praying, writing, and crying. I was crying for our little community, our government, our country, and our world. The tears would fall relentlessly down my cheeks. My heart would hurt because I was separated from all of those whom I loved on the other side of the window. I had not physically touched most of my siblings, my brother, or any of my beloved friends for almost a year. My heart was tortured. My friend suggested I joined a community Bible study. It was to be done online. So I did. I became engrossed in it whenever I was in the moods of desperation. It was so good. It gave me so much armor to use once I was back on the battlefield for God. A week after I had begun this Bible study a couple of my closest friends from bunco came by and asked if I could lead a Bible study. God definitely placed me in a position and gave me the words and materials to go deeper with his word. He gave me the words to share with these women. We began to meet on Mondays. The first meeting had several scratching their heads wondering what they had gotten themselves into because studying God’s word is work. It is such fruitful work. After the first meeting I began to pray for the little group of women that they would see the glory, that they would see the sword of truth that we could use to battle the devil, and that they would understand the story of our faith. The next meeting the member that was the most confused and disheartened was on fire for God. The words that she found were nuggets of truth that she found and grew connections with her experience with God and catapulted her to a next level. Thanks be to God! The devil was not too happy I’m sure because the next week after meeting is when I was placed in the hospital. I promise you I will give you all of the details of the hospital to stay especially the back row because I know you like all the gruesome stuff! It’s just going to have to be in the book. Our meeting this week I am happy to say God is still on fire within all of us. I believe that if had I gone on to heaven these women would rally together and continue to march forward searching for the truth. You see I need the Bible study to help me find the words, the correct words that God wants me to use. I have figured out how to walk or roll the way God wants me to so he can shine through me but I need words. Words that will help other souls be on fire for God. That is what is happening right now in this study. There is a spiritual battle to be fought. There is good and evil. There are mysteries. I know that so so many of us are so far from God. We have tried to figure out all these mysteries and explain away the real truth. Everything comes through God. Everything. That means science as well. Somewhere down the line we have divorced our faith from science. We have to get back. I feel this call so deeply.

Yesterday one of girls from the Bible study called me urgently wanting to speak. It was a verse of 2nd Corinthians 4:7-11 that spoke so loudly to her that she wanted to share it with me. She said, ” Sarah, God wanted me to share this with you today and I’m so glad I was able to catch you on the phone. ” I told her I was so happy to receive her call. It was an explanation for me of what was going on with my life at this moment, at this time. 

  7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

As my life is consumed for Christ; death will come take my flesh. 

Once  freed from its mortal veil, my spirit will shine eternally with my creator. 

That has been the goal from the beginning for us all No longer I. Today is a beautiful day. I thank God for each one especially ones spent with friends and family. I’ll be sure to share it with you tomorrow. Lots of sun / dirt / plants and my sister Sandy.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Jar of Clay Gal

This is something else I want us all to start praying together. (Thanks Amy)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Snow Days, Valentine’s, and Gratitude

In my mind today, I’m thinking about snow days, Valentine’s, and gratitude. Oh snow days! I know all of my back row students are just having such a good time. I have spent my morning in prayers and devotions watching the beauty of the children in my neighborhood. They are sledding like wild fire down the drive into my front yard. I had messaged them to please let the kids sled down the neighbor’s drive into my own yard. It brings back such great memories of me with my children. If it is done just right, you can catch air at the bottom and jump up and go into our yard. We were always ready for a good snow day but it was even better when ice was involved. That means you can really jet on your sled. I also think of the sweet parents that are out there with their children enduring the cold. Many would love to just sit inside and get an extra day to relax and if you’re a teacher to get grades done as well as curriculum plans. It makes my heart so happy that these parents sacrifice for their children. That is what it’s all about sacrificing for others happiness. Sure I didn’t want to go out all the time in the cold and the mess that it made was rough as well. The joy that my children got was worth more to me. Those moments that we get to be with our children are fleeting. If you’re reading this today, grab a sled, a piece of cardboard, garbage can lid or anything that gives less friction (Yes back row students this is a lesson. Less friction the faster you go!) then get out there with those children!
Valentine’s day has always been such a beautiful holiday for me. I have the most thoughtful husband. He always gives me the most beautiful flowers. He even signs the card himself every year. I know this is frivolous but it is such a beautiful sign of love. Today, I read about how a man should not be alone. God knew that Adam was lonely. He had created such an abundance of creatures but he knew that Adam needed a helpmate. I am so glad and grateful I thank God because He gave me such a wonderful partner in life. I hope your Valentine’s day is full of gratitude and love for the one you spend your life with on this earth. We only get one life. It is so sad we spend our time making plans and not enjoying it.
Today I joined a book club discussion with several different women. I was so grateful to see other women of faith wanting to stay as close as they can to the word of God. I am just grateful for the ability to still be a part of God’s plan. Gratitude is so beautiful. Since you’re having a good day out of school here is a little bit of homework. Think of three things that you are grateful for and yes back row you could say snow days for one. I am grateful for my sweet neighbors and their beautiful children who unbeknownst to them fill me was so much joy as I watch them through my window. I am grateful for this life even if it is in a wheelchair. I am so very grateful for each and every moment that I can spend with you and my family. Last but not least, I am grateful for this time given to me so I can become closer to God. Have a wonderful snow day and Valentine’s day! May your heart be full.
Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the Grateful Gal
Quotes of the Day:Kindness is like snow– It beautifies everything it covers.
snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. .

Thanksgiving 2020

In my mind today, I have had such strong emotions this November. Novembers are always hard for us since our son left the Earth. It was 10 years this year. So so many have left us. It is our job to continue on and to spread love and unselfish acts. We have been isolated because of our health. Everything is different this year because of the pandemic. This was the first year we did not get to see our grand girls. This was the first year that we didn’t have 50 plus people to share a family meal. Our wonderful weekends at church and with family have been thwarted since March. There has just been so much grief in our world. My heart cannot take it.
Yesterday at the end of November in my readings I was reminded to stop, pray, and hope for better times on this Earth. Although everything has seemed so sad and dreary we have to fight through the dark times. We have to search for the good even if it is just thru our own window. There is so much good still to be done; there is still so much good in our lives although we often overlook it. I am thankful for the blessings of getting to see my husband and children every day. I am grateful that my youngest grandson is able to be with me so so much because his parents are having to work. It brings so much light and joy to us. It makes me realize that our jobs during this time maybe just simply to love each other I mean really love each other. Not post a pic on social media to show all the wonderful love but really really give that wonderful love even if you don’t get a picture. Be in the moment. I know I have always been a little bit nutty but I tried to imprint memories in my mind as I am having them. There is a treasure trove to be revisited. As I look out the big window with my grandson and see all of the beauty of the birds and the squirrels playing, I know there is no place that I should be but with him. I see that real love when he falls asleep on his Uncle Ben because Uncle Ben has the best hugs. I see that love when Abbey has to say “No!” I also see that love when he goes to her for his essential needs, snacks! I see that love when he sings along with us or adds a new word. I see real love when he jumps up in Poppy’s chair and shares his cereal with his coffee in the afternoons just like my grand girls always did. I hear that love when I hear my daughter is singing for her classes upstairs. I feel that love especially when my family has to feed me and bathe me.Even if I am a guinea pig for all of my daughters beauty stuff! I have just not ever been a girly girl or a diva I guess. She loves it and I love that she wants to keep me healthy.  I even see that kind of love when the cat will jump on my feet and just lay there for hours. ALS continues to take but I refuse to give it my joy. My joy -o- meter has been up and down like the stock market but when I open my devotionals and all of my readings I find the strength to fight. Stop, pray, and hope. My hope is way bigger than a mustard seed and I know where my Joy comes from and that’s all that I need. Last but not least, I am thankful for you. For loving and supporting me and this fight, I can never repay all of the kindness that surrounds me. I can only say, thanks be to God.
Sarah Anderson AlleySal the Thankful Gal
Quotes for the Day:
Indeed, this life is a test. It is a test of many things – of our convictions and priorities, our faith and our faithfulness, our patience and our resilience, and in the end, our ultimate desires.Sherri L. Dew
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.Buddha
Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.Alphonse Karr

What is a Man?

In my mind today I have been thinking about what it means to be a man? Actually I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Yes are they different from a woman? Physically? Emotionally? Think about it. We all have our idea of what it is to be a man.
I can remember back to my sandlot days. I was such a tom-boy. Anything the guys did I was going to do better or break my neck trying to do it. I loved, loved being outside and physical with the world. I resented when the captain (a boy) demanded to take my last strike in the middle of a game as if we would automatically lose if I took my own last strike. It made me so mad. 
As I sit back in my chair and watch the world go by especially during the pandemic I see that we are lacking so much as an American culture. We have lost our idenity. Our boys have lost their motivation. They have lost their leadership abilities. It is just getting more prevalent each generation. We need to redefine what it means to be a man in this country. If you could right now, write down or brainstorm what it means to be a man to you. If you are a boy write down what you think it means. If you’re a girl write down what you think it means and what kind of man would you want to marry? Think about the shows you watch on television. Which ones are the real men or the definition of it? What about movies? How are men portrayed in the shows or the things that you watch? Remember garbage in and garbage out students. Does what you see align with the definition you wrote or thought of when I asked you? Who are your heroes? Do they have to have fantastical powers? Can an ordinary man just be a hero? Just like the song, where have all the good guys gone?
Many American children today have excess. They don’t have to struggle for food or shelter. This is a good thing, but I think we lost our way though. Haven’t you always heard if you don’t work for it you will not appreciate it? We have a lot of underappreciative generations that are just now becoming adults. I don’t know if I could say appreciative, because they did not have the example that was needed. They did not know how to be men because no one ever showed them. There was no rite of passage for most of them. When do they become men in our American culture? Students do you see why it is important for us to define a man? I don’t want to get into the big gender debate but men are very important whether I want them to take my last strike or not. I am not saying that women cannot lead. I am not saying that women are any less. I am saying there are differences. I don’t understand why we have to demonize men in order to feel good about being a woman. Being a woman is a whole other thing entirely. As a woman I do want my rights, but I do not want to take away from or add to because of my gender. If I work the same job, yes I deserve the same pay. If I want to stay home with my children, I should be looked upon with honor not distain. If my husband is the head of my household, it does not render me powerless it shows that we are united together for the good of our family. I look around and see so many other cultures embracing what we used to have. A family centered around God working together for the greater good. How did we lose this? Are we listening to the right propaganda? Think about it. What is a man? The answer is really simple. It’s like finding the forrest among the trees.
Sal the Concerned Gal

Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes:
“A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitat

e him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.” Niccolo Macheveli
“The strength and power of a country depends absolutely on the quantity of good men and women in it.” John Ruskin


“Good men by nature, wish to know. I know that many will call this useless work… men who desire nothing but material riches and are absolutely devoid of that of wisdom, which is the food and only true riches of the mind.” Leonardo da Vinci

…but rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

Kathy & George

In my mind today I am thinking about death. Just plain and simple death. Our God sweeps in and takes those we love. How we take it so personal when someone has to go. Then we think about fairness; is there any fairness? Is there ever a good time for us humans?
My family and I have been going to the same church for 30 years and my mother-in-law since the 1970’s. This is something very odd for me. Growing up I did not have a home church. I spent many days on church vans trying to find a home for my little young girl soul. You see my mother had to work third shift and there were no family going to church together days. This is something that I found to be very, very important. Will it guarantee your kids always act right? Never. But there is just something about the love of a church for you and for your family that is an extension of the greater love from God. I thank God for my little church.
Recently we have lost so many wonderful people. I shouldn’t say lost. They are home. They have crossed the Rubicon. They have crossed the great divide. I have seen so many of these people for 30 years and now they have started the new journey. Nothing stops it; it will happen. It will come. What’s more important is are you ready? Is anyone really ever ready? I really think so. Whenever you reach your spiritual maturity point, you realize. It is a reckoning within your own soul. There is a peace about you. A peace about the way you live, share your life, and help the least. It just shows in every fiber of your being. Congratulations! When you get to this point, you are well on your way to communion with the Saints. Here is the saddest part, some people never get there. They never cross the maturity into spirituality. Your dying is a birth into new life. Our bodies are the old wineskins. You cannot put good wine into old wineskins. Remember Mary’s request at the wedding and Cannan. Do as her son tells you.
Those who are closest to you will never be ready for you to go but thank God for His plan. Thank God for His Mercy. Thank God for His Grace that is everlasting. It is still a mystery but one that we are privy, too. We will all cross the Jordan, ride the peace train, or just catch that long black train for our next journey. This past year we have seen so many of our church make that journey. It wasn’t all Covid-19 but the natural and slow ebb of living a long fruitful life. Life, are you living it? Or just going through the motions? This is it folks. It is time for people to get ready. You really don’t need a ticket, you just thank the Lord and get on that train knowing you have run the race well. Were you faithful to your spouse? Were you sure your children attended church on Sundays? Were you a good grandparent? Did you love all of those even those who grind your gears? Did you try to do small acts of kindness with no one knowing about them? Did you pray and stay in contact with God throughout this journey? Did you do for the least? Don’t say there aren’t any because we serve 750 families a month at Matthew 25:40. This is the tip of the iceberg. You have a job that only you can do. Jesus calls us our entire lives. I really hope you stopped to listen like our beloved George.
Our last member that left for eternity and communion with the Saints, I remember oh so well. I think we need to buckle up. I think we are going to lose a lot of good people, but we are getting them to the light. We need others to step up. Two years ago I was privileged to go through the RCIA program with our church with my daughter in law. George was also a part of that class. I remember that very first evening. I leaned over as we were going in to ask George if he had decided to join the dark side? Just joking of course, it’s the light side! But he said yep I think I’m going to do it. I knew George from his fabulous older sister who had always been a champion of our local schools and tried to be the good in this little county. Many moons later after his sister had moved on, he began to come with one of our longtime members. Just as he loved us, he was drawn into the love of our little parish. I remember when he began to come to church. My boys were like he looks like a rockstar! We always thought he was the Elvis of Holy Angels. He had the best hair ever. He also dressed like Tony Saprano. Too cool! I just so, so loved to be able to watch him blossom into the fruitful life of being a Catholic Christian. It brings tears even now. I am so happy for George. The waiting is the hardest part. Living while knowing some day, somewhere, somehow, we will be called back to our heavenly creator. We know there is more. I think George was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He was always so excited to work at the Salvation Army to serve the least. I can still see him and Kathy with their aprons. Smiling, singing, and whistling that was George while mopping or sweeping at The Salvation Army or with the Knights of Columbus fish fries. They with many others helped me and fought to keep our kids active in church. If Matthew 25:40 needed him, he was there. As a matter of fact, if anyone needed him he never hesitated to help out. They were so very supportive and I know that the family will continue to be because that is what Christians do. There’s a kingdom to be built. We were all given tasks. I can say without a doubt that George finished very well and I know no one will argue. When George retired from being a doctor, he could have done anything. He could have traveled extensively. He could have gone on all types of medical conventions and do the circuit learning even more. He could have moved to Knoxville and enjoyed every single ball game. Doesn’t matter the sport, he could have caught them all. He could have chosen to be single, foot-loose and fancy free. He did like Mary instead of Martha, For a while, he sat at God’s feet and soaked up all of God’s love then to he became a Martha for Holy Angels Catholic Church. Thanks be to God for Kathy for opening up her heart again to the sacrament of marriage. Along with God you loved him into eternity. It’s not forever and we will all be together with all of those saints one day, one day.

 Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Saint loving Gal

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Cookie

In my mind today, I have been working through losing one of my favorite friends to heaven and trying to focus on making this year’s race a success. My friend was the reason I took over this race. He has some very big shoes to fill on our committee. In order to honor my friend, I wanted to explain how it all came to be.
After being forced into retirement because of my weakened physical abilities, I noticed there were advocates that did a yearly walk for ALS. I thought this was so cool and the way I could try to find a way to be useful. Every year in our little West Tennessee town we have always had race on the 3rd Saturday of October. It was coming up on the 26th annual Mission March. I called my friend who had always run in it as I had in the past and asked how could I do a walk in conjunction with the Mission March to help support ALS research and help our little community in some way. To give back to the community that had always loved me through this horrible disease that was my goal. When I called Bart, I asked him if we could do a simple walk along with the Mission March event. He sadly told me that the event had been canceled. He then told me that he had run the race every single year and was very sad it was going to be let go. I said, “I’ll be on the committee if you want to try to do something with it.” He replied, ” Be on the committee? You are the committee!” And so out of that conversation, became the Autumn March for ALS. 
We had big dreams for the race. Each year we wanted to build on the next. As the race began to gain steam, we had the idea of all kids running free. Especially the youngest of our community. We understood the benefits for children to run. Children need exercise, healthy competition, and camaraderie. The shirts would be free for these students. The shirts are also a gift from us to our kids in this area and wherever else they may land. The shirts can be used as a spirit shirt for school and it could also be used underneath polo shirts that are mandated by our systems. We understood that many kids have needs that can’t always be met. This was just another little way we could help out the least of ours. Do we lose money when we do this? It depends on what you are talking about. Yes we lose part of our bottom dollar but we also gain so much by way of spreading that light and love to others which is priceless. We wanted the race to inspire students to be healthy, to become teammates, and to feel good about themselves. We had a vision that schools all around the area and eventually around the country could join in our fight for a cure and a brighter future. We always hoped that the children would outnumber the adults. We both thought of Spain and how the running of the bulls would be so cool if the bulls were children running down our streets. I am not going to give up. I know Bart would not want me to ever give up. 
Another wonderful thing that blossomed out of the race was support for local scholarships to local seniors. This money that we raise helps those students start a chapter in college. Each year we hope to give more and more scholarships. This year we were able to give four $1,000 scholarships. We call these scholarships The Autumn March “Whatever it Takes Scholarship” was added to our efforts in order to honor long time teacher and admistrator Robert Cupples and Sarah Alley. All of our legacies should be for the future and that is our kids. These scholarships help leave a legacy to share the light in our little corners of the world. The only thing required is to write an essay about how you will be a light in the world after college or trade school and give it to your guidance counselor. 
The people in your neighborhood who do the jobs needed and do those while shedding light to all the dark places are needed now more than ever. Another way that we try to help others is through local donations to non-profit organizations. We were able to give Matthew 25:40 a gift of money during a very trying financial year to ensure the least got Christmas presents and other needs covered. We are all on the same team.
Mr. Bart worked tirelessly up to the very end. He continued to encourage me and now I encourage you. If you can donate to help sponsor students to run and to receive a shirt free, please donate. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $100. Just help us be the good that’s what Bart would want. As many know, Mr Bart was one of the best cookie bakers and sweet treat makers of all time! Everyone coveted those was wonderful cookies and caramels. It was a tradition that he started with his kids and they would deliver those to people around them especially the elderly and during the holidays. He was a grandfather and his grandchildren called him Cookie. You and I both know why. He’d never visited without sharing those wonderful cookies. Please help support us during this crazy year of virtual everything! If you are at school, please have groups of kids sign up and walk or run to show their support for Mr Bart, a cure, or a brighter tomorrow. Make posters and celebrate! You could do all of the above by signing up and posting your accomplishments! As usual we will have a trophy for the school with the largest number of students to run. We then deliver the trophy and cookies to the winners! Last years winner was Fifth Consolidated Elementary. The beauty is it could all be done at your leisure. I’m hoping that all runs will be completed by October 31st and posted to our websites to share the love! 
Sarah Anderson AlleySal the Autumn March Gal
Quotes of the day: Have courage…….Be kind…….Eat cookies!!The secret ingredient is always…….kindness. All you need is love and cookies!!Bake the world a better place. Peace, Love, & Cookies Tracy Cupples https://runsignup.com/Race/TN/Dyersburg/AutumnMarchforALSVirtual

The Last shall be First

Happy Holy Thursday students! Today as I finished my readings, I imagined Jesus washing my feet. Why did he do this? Why did he, the son of God, wash the feet of his disciples? Peter resisted. Jesus told him unless he was allowed to wash his feet then he could not truly follow Jesus. I love the way we learn lessons from Jesus. He was the champion of Socratic thought and questioning. He continually flips the script. Think of God. God is at the top of all. He is the CEO of life. What are we? Well, we all have different stations and life. We are teachers, sanitation workers, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, stay-at-home moms, drug addicts, alcoholics, railroad conductors, relatives caring for other relatives who are sick, managers of small businesses, homeless people, mentally ill people, young people, elderly people, disabled people, and the list could go on forever. We all have a station. Which of the station’s do you think should be the feet washers? Aha! That’s right back row, you could never imagine a doctor or lawyer washing a homeless person’s feet. That’s exactly what we are supposed to do. Front row when you get your PhD you should not be haughty. You should still wash your brothers and sisters feet who are less fortunate than you. Not literally unless the chance arises, but you are called to put others first regardless of their station. This is exactly today’s lesson. We are called to love each other and serving each other to the end of our earthly lives.
Jesus understood that for something bigger to be born something had to die. Look at biblical history. Isaac was going to die at Abraham’s hand. Abraham understood his covenant with God had to be stronger than that with his own son. At Passover, remember all of the unblemished, male lambs and goats that were sacrificed for The Exodus out of Egypt? Something had to die to protect the Israelites. Have you ever had a chance to hold a baby lamb? It makes my stomach hurt to think of them being sacrificed. Today’s Gospel ask for us to die. Back-row do not get upset; I am not asking you to die literally. We are to die to ourselves. That means our egos are to die. We are to love each other as we love ourselves. This is so hard in a world that is so egocentric, so selfish. It takes constant practice. If we practice those virtues every single day eventually we will defeat our ego. We will begin to see Christ in others regardless of the station they have been given in this life. We can get there. I know we can. Your homework today is to think of your station in life. Make a plan to wash someone’s feet. If you see a homeless person, offer them your respect by looking them in the eyes and simply greet them with kindness. Let them know they are part of the one body. If you are of a more humble station like wheelchair Sal, hold your head up and smile. Greet all those you meet with the joy of Christ in your heart. You are very important, too. Remember students one bread, one body, and one Lord of all.
Sal the Sacrifice it All Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the day:
“The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, “as I have done… so also must you do.” (Jn 13: 15). Pope John Paul II
“When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.’”
Blessed Mother Teresa
This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wine at night Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.
Once in this time wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind; Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.
This flesh you break, this blood you let
 Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape Born of the sensual root and sap; My wine you drink, my bread you snap.
Dylan Thomas