Dust

Last week the verse “And whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” haunted me. I tried to interpret it into my own being. I have this flaw within me that wants to help and give until it becomes unhealthy. I have members of my family and friends that have addiction problems. Sadly, today this is not an exception. Many of you reading this are no stranger to drug addiction and it’s horrible consequences.

Too many children in our society are orphans because of this rampant epidemic. Drugs just hollow out a person. It takes their heart and leaves a selfish, insatiable shell. As a former teacher, I have seen so many children altered by this current epidemic. The neglect is rampant. The emotional abuse cuts so deep. Face it America, our family system is shattered. The children are lost in this shrapnel. The cycle of poverty is growing exponentially. When do we shake the dust from our feet?

I love working with children at our local library. There is a huge building beside it. This building stood for sale a long time. When I would go to the library, I always envisioned a safe house for children. A place they could show up on the doorstep and find immunity from their chaotic lives. A place where they could have a warm meal, a clean bed, and quiet place to read and study away from the drama of the world of addiction. You know going home from school hungry with only dry cereal to live on and no adult there to ask you about your day. Taking care of younger siblings while riffraff comes in and out of your house at all hours. Trying your best to avoid sexual predators. Surviving. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to take children home with me and give them the nurturing and love they deserved. To provide a place for them to thrive and grow and crush the cycle of poverty. The building has been bought and someone is renovating it. Such a dream.

When do we shake the dust and move on from those who continue to choose evil? We give them love, resources, and shelter but are we giving them God? Are we enabling bad choices at the cost of the lives of children? I think we are. These children are feral without any moral and spiritual guidance. Faith without works is empty but don’t you also believe works without faith is just as futile? These things haunt my thoughts. Money, nice clothes, and food don’t remedy the deep rooted issue we are facing. It’s a heart problem. Hearts of children harden by the minute because of this cycle.

Ironically our homily last Sunday was about “Dust.” For two weeks I had rolled the “shaking dust” verse in my mind. The priest had a beautiful message of “dusting” off our spiritual lives. There are ways for us to reach out and help be a “dust mop” to those around us. We need to not be scared to lend a hand and give hugs. Time is short. It helped me realize that although sometimes our love falls on deaf ears we need to shake off the dust and let some go, dust never sleeps. America has layers of dust and I need to move on with my mop to find new areas of need. If we all did our dusting, we could make America shine again.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Dust Hating Gal

Quote of the Day:

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
Pablo Picasso

‘Till Death Do Us Part

‘Till Death Do Us Part


In my mind today, I’m thinking about true partnerships and commitments. Yesterday was a dear friend’s birthday. We’ve know each other for years, but as of late we’ve become “soul sisters.”

Our lives have eerily paralleled. We married young to older men who had children. We love being a mother. We put love into creating and sustaining our marriages. We both deal with health issues of our spouses and our own. Thirty years ago when we fell in love with these men, we never envisioned the mountains we would climb. We both know where we draw our strength to push forward relishing every grandchild and moments of true love.

It’s not all roses and we both have our crying days. I know that I can be real with her. We both miss so many of the same things. We let each other know it’s okay to grieve our healthy years. With the help of our amazing husbands, we’ve grown to understand and cherish “In sickness and in health and until death do us part.” Would we change any of it? Never.

She recently had a birthday. In the wee hours, she awoke to another bout of sickness. In the mist of cleaning up after her physically challenged, dearly loved husband she found a letter he had written to her before the “stomach bug” attacked. She read it to me and I felt tears fall down my cheeks. How lovely to be cherished and loved so, so much. Even better is to know and realize God’s blessings amid the storms of life and be so blessed with true love. This is truly what life is about.

Happy Birthday my friend. You are the wind beneath so many wings. Like the wind, you go unnoticed but always felt. You always are thinking of ways to serve others unbeknownst. I love and treasure my “soul sister.” Thank you for being that wind beneath my wings when I feel like giving up. Happy, Happy Birthday!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Soul Sister Gal

Dedicated to Tracy

Quotes of the Day:
“You need a lot of luck to find people with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. Some people manage to find their soul mate. Others don’t. I think love is like a lottery.”
Kylie Minogue

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”
George Sand

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Lao Tzu

“Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of family.”
R.W.C.

“I love you more than peach milkshakes, enough said.”
R.W.C.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

In my mind today I’m thinking of all of the blessings of 2017 and how things have changed from my childhood. Remember as a child how the 2000’s seemed otherworldly? They seemed so distant as we envisioned a world like The Jetsons. We’ve yet to have flying cars, but we have rumbas, drones, and FaceTime which are amazing when I think of my techno-free childhood.

My family certainly wasn’t the jet-set. We had an antenna for tv and seven tv channels. One of those was PBS. I think I’m the only one that couldn’t live without it, and it’s still one of my favorite channels. Go ahead back row and call me a geek. Mr. Rogers taught me how to deal with kids like you. Now, kids watch tv on their phones. Remember favorite tv shows that we all gathered to watch? The only time we could watch cartoons was Saturday mornings. If you slept late, you missed out.

What about having one phone jack and one phone in the entire house? I was envious of friends that had phones in their bedrooms. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it? Phones were for function and not so much for entertainment. I remember waiting anxiously by the phone for that person I was crushing on to call so my parents wouldn’t embarrass me or interrogate them if someone of the opposite sex called. Just like Archie and Edith sang, “Those were the days.”

It makes me wonder what will kids today look back on and feel nostalgic about when they reminisce? Are things today worse or not as fun or are we not as connected as days gone by? Are we all freaking out? Yes, there is a lot of disparity, but I also see so much good. There are many organizations and individuals working for people struggling in the middle of the healthcare gap crisis, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, neglected children, better environmental choices, and natural disaster relief. And we aren’t giving up or stopping. Why? The good anyone does reverberates and multiplies no matter how minuscule the deed. 2018 here I come. Sal the New Year Gal is brimming with ideas to promote goodwill toward all. Join me.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the 2018 Gal

Dedicated to Matthew 25:40, Salvation Army, Union Mission, McIvers Grant Public Library, Dyersburg City Schools, and Dyer County Schools

Quotes of the Day:

“I just believe in the goodwill of people, the power of people to do something positive.”
Eddie Izzard

“In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics.”
JFK

“Justice and goodwill will outlast passion.”
James A. Garfield

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.

 

 

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

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