Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

In my mind lately, I have been wanting to write for so long. There have been so many mornings that I had read something that made me think of all of you. Things that touched my heart and I want to share. Seeing all of the little miracles around me unfold. Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s more than just green beer and wearing green to keep from getting pinched! I know the back row did not want to hear that.
During these long days of the pandemic I have been so blessed to be enveloped with love from my family. Now, I did not say that we did not fight or get into squabbles. In the Alley house, we call our squabbles incidents. We have certainly had several ” incidents.” We have recently begun to inch out of our little dens like Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog. Depending your mindset, how much did you grow during the pandemic? Did you grow spiritually? Did you grow emotionally? Think of what you gained from the pandemic time. I certainly gained a lot. Yes, back row, you have homework. Think of things that you were blessed with during the pandemic.
This leads me back to St. Patrick. Saint Patrick did not struggle through a pandemic but the parallels of his indentured servitude are something we can look at to help us understand the power of God. Let me paint the picture a little bit for my students. St. Patrick was born to two very devout Christian parents in Roman Brittania. They were wealthy. He had a great life until one day he was captured by Irish pagans and sold into slavery as a shepherd in Ireland. He was about 16 years old. 16! Can you even imagine? It makes our pandemic time look very wimpy. He was not a very studious child but as he spent his days on the mountains and hills in Ireland tending the sheep, he got closer and closer to God. He felt God within him. He spoke with God. After several years of enslavement, God told him to go to the coast. He would find a boat there. This boat would take him back to his home country. He traveled 200 miles of course on foot. I don’t think they had many types of transportation in the 4th century. He did see a boat and whenever he went up to the boat and begged for a passage back to his home country the sailors said no. As he was walking away, they had a change of heart. They allowed him to ride with them. The journey was perilous. There were many times of despair. One of those occasions the sailors told him to pray to his God because they were all going to starve to death. Patrick did just that. He prayed and there were pigs freshly slaughtered that they came upon. They ate their fill. Patrick made it back to his family. Before the celibacy rule, his father and grandfather were priests. He followed suit. Something kept telling him to go back to Ireland. He had a dream that the people of the Ireland were begging him to come back. After his studies, he returned to Ireland. He became a bishop there. He performed many miracles and some of those were on the high holidays of the Druids. This always caused a stir. Saint Patrick lit a fire on the high holy day of darkness. They were not able to put the fire out. Miracles like these help to convert the Irish people to Christianity. The miracle that is most talked about is how St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. When we think of Saint Patrick’s Day we think of clovers. They are associated with Saint Patrick’s Day because he used the clover to describe God as three people in one. St Patrick was very close to nature and saw God everywhere in nature. He walked fearlessly having been granted a long life in Ireland. His only fear was of his God. Anything of this earth did not bother Saint Patrick. Today he is the patron saint of Ireland. You see back row, It’s more than green beer and wearing the color green!
Don’t forget your homework! There are blessings everyday in our lives. There are tiny miracles all around us. During this time I have been given a group of women to read and share the Bible with and try to figure out how we can be closer to God. I have been given little notes of love in the mail from people of all types of faith that are praying for me. I am so thankful. I really do feel the prayers. How did you grow like Saint Patrick?
Sarah Anderson Alley Sal the loving Saint Patrick Gal
Quotes of the day: Saint Patrick
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.

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Addiction

Addiction


In my mind today, I’m thinking about addiction. Addiction is when you forsake everything for something you desire. Regardless of the harm you inflict on others, the acquisition is all that matters.

Recently the kids and I were talking about a popular tv series that has a notorious alcoholic as the protagonist. My IV Specialist was here and she watches the same series. I asked her if she had a “Frank” in her family. She said, “Gosh, no!” I was astounded. Heck, my family and my husband’s have at least one “Frank” and multiples in some generations. Addiction is hereditary.

Last night as I was trying to go to sleep I kept thinking about addictions. I love watching documentaries and biographies. In grade school my favorite books were biographies. Anyway in a documentary I watched the other day a famous musician had to move to another country to escape the cocaine culture and create music with a clear mind. He had been so “high” for years he had become numb to living in reality. Numb. That’s the word that kept turning over and over in my mind as I wished for sleep to come last night. Addiction numbs you. One doesn’t want to deal with the trappings of life or doesn’t know how to deal with real life situations. The past sometimes prompts you to search for something to mask the pain. The pain must never surface lest you risk feeling. It’s so, so sad that people want to be numb. The musician began again, but this time he could “feel.” He experienced life even heartbreak but it steeled him. He released an amazing album. Out of his stupor, he grew. At the end of his life dying with a excruciating cancer, he didn’t enjoy the “highs” of his medication. He wanted to feel every minute of life he had left. He had conquered addiction.

In a reflection I read it clarified addictions so well. It actually gave insight to the mindset of a person addicted. As I read it I thought, “What a great blog this would make? Addiction.” So many of us today are touched by chemical addiction. Heroine is making a huge comeback. It’s creeping from urban areas to little burgs like mine. Opioids, hydros and pain meds, are recking havoc in our families. I’m praying the “meth” phase is dwindling amongst our population, but sadly it’s becoming more prevalent. Addiction. It is exhausting and heart wrenching when people you love are numb. The addicted continue to deceive not only us but also themselves. Most addicted people feel they are doing great. They use the blame game when cornered or the “At least I’m not like ________, they are doing ________ which is so much worse than me.” Sound familiar? I hope not for your heart’s sake. There’s only one way to truly heal from an addiction. Allow yourself to feel and deal with what drives your pain and thirst to be numb. Then allow something greater to fill your heart and fuel your spirit. That something is God. I pray you’re fortunate to never have to deal with addiction. If you do, know it is in God’s hands.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the End Addiction Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“But they are living on a fundamental self-deception which nothing could cure except the extraordinary advent of God’s love and forgiveness.”
Fr. Herbert McCabe, God, Christ and Us

“Ashes to ashes,
funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low”
David Bowie

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”
Carl Jung

“Addiction is a hugely complex and destructive disease, and its impact can be simply devastating. All too often, lives and families can be shattered by it.”
Kate Middleton

“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.”
Patrick J. Kennedy

 

Snow Days

Snow Days

In my mind, I’m thinking about snow days. In my healthy, ambulatory life as a teacher, I lived for snow days! Last night as our little burg buzzed about the cancellation of school, a part of Sal the Snow Day Gal was giddy. When the alert dinged my phone informing us about the cancelling of school, I was ecstatic! This morning after my husband was ready for work he came to my side of the bed, jerked off the covers, and raised my head with the remote. I fuzzily opened my eyes and said, “Why are you waking me up? There’s no school. It’s a snow day.” For a brief moment I had forgotten I was Sal the ALS Gal. I was going to relish an icy, cold day sleeping in and the romping in the snow with my kids, friends, and dogs. Then, I remembered. I have to get up every day at 6 AM because that’s the routine for Sal the ALS Gal: up, meds, coffee and toast, potty, suction my lungs, back in my chair, read, pray, and write. This happens every day but Saturday. On Saturday I get to sleep until around 10 AM.

Don’t you love snow days? I hear the back row mumbling for me to zip it because I’m ruining their snow day! Since you’re already awake, let’s talk a bit. This morning the story I read was about the paralytic that was lowered through the ceiling so Jesus could heal him. It doesn’t mention this paralytic man having great faith. Who was full of faith? That’s right front row students, his friends knew if they could just get their crippled friend to Jesus, he would be healed. I hear you asking, “Was he healed?” Yes, students, he was. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven. Rise, take your mat, and walk.” The point is we all need “faith-full” friends. Friends that know your struggles and have faith God is fighting with you. Sal the ALS Gal has so, so many faith-full friends and for that I’m so blessed.

I joke with my children that I need tire chains for my scoot (wheelchair) on days like this. Man, I could really cut up on this snow and ice if I did. Sal the Fast & the Furious Gal I would definitely be! Vin Diesel who? Of course you have a lesson on this snow day! What kind of teacher do you think I am? Today, get out there! Get out of the digital world! No video games or tv until you do at least three of these assignments. Here they are! Take your fur babies on a hike in the woods. Go sledding with your children and friends. Drink lots of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. Make a snow angel. Make and eat snow cream. Hey, snow days are for FUN! These are some of Sal the Snow Day Gal’s favorites. What are you waiting for? Bundle up and get out there!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I LOVE Snow Days Gal

Dedicated to all those who love snow! Especially, the Snow Queen of West Tennessee, Ann Carson.

Quotes of the Day:

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”
John Ruskin

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”
Andy Goldsworthy

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder.”
Susan Orlean

 

Blessings

Blessings

In my mind today I think of the many blessings I’m given. God shows up through the people in my life daily. Sal the Feeble Gal realizes no man or woman is an island.

Remember your first car? I certainly do. I remember working in a restaurant the summer before my junior year. I was saving for my first “hooptie.” And a “hooptie” it was! I was thrilled. This year we were contemplating getting our youngest a car, but with our current situation it didn’t seem possible. That’s when many blessings occurred. A long time friend who owns a car lot worked her magic for us. She and I were reunited by working together on the Autumn March for ALS this year. She took care of everything and voila! She delivered the car Christmas Eve with tags and nothing to pay but what our credit union gave us. This was such a tremendous blessing. I could never thank this little burg enough from Dyersburg Glass to friends. Blessings.

The Friday before Christmas, I had a port inserted. My ALS treatments were to begin the day after Christmas. Being selected and approved for this new innovative treatment was a miracle and blessing all rolled into one. The initial treatment is an infusion for 14 days straight, two weeks off, and then 10 consecutive days. This pattern will repeat for as long as I’m on earth. The I.V. Specialist trained my son and so it begins. Guess what? My hands are stronger. I’ve had a couple productive coughs which haven’t happened in two years. I am breathing deeper. My neck is stronger. I wiggled my right toe. Much to my husband’s chagrin, my hands are lasting longer on the iPad games. He says I put the death grip on it at bedtime because I’m like a kid with my curfew. Look at all of these blessings!

With blessings, sometimes hiccups occur. With this medicine, my private insurance is paying but Medicare refused to pick up the remaining 30%. It cost approximately $160,000 per year. Each treatment is $1,000. So, I’ve had $8,000 worth thus far. I have a friend who owns a restaurant and is going to put percentage of the profits one Sunday a month toward my medical costs. I am so very blessed.

Each one of you who read my blog and give me hope are such blessings. You encourage me to fight for more days. You encourage me to believe there is good in the world and to promote goodwill. I can never thank all of you enough for the blessings that you are. You kindle my spirit. Thank you for loving Sal the Cheesy Gal.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Blessed Gal

Dedicated to my friends, “Cousin Eddie,” Dyersburg Glass, Los Lomas, ALS Secret Santas, The Ice Bucket Challenge, Autumn March for ALS, Alley Alliance,  & Johnson Motor Company

Quotes of the Day:

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

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.”
Lawrence Welk

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”
John Wooden

 

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.

 

 

Small things for a BIG God

Small things for a Big God

 

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Small Things Gal

Dedicated to our small parish, Holy Angels

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

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

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

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

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

Faith, Hope, Love, & Radicava

Faith, Hope, Love, & Radicava

 

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Radicava Gal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Your Bedford Falls

Creating Your Bedford Falls

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

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

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

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Bedford Falls Gal

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

 

Quotes of the Day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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