Nuggets

In my mind today, I have been feeding my brain with literature. I am studying again! Don’t moan back row, students. Be joyful that I am looking for God. It has been a while since I have had the strength to read and focus. What threw me out of my stagnating reverie was YouTube. Yes, even dinosaurs like me look at it. I usually look for gardening videos and Christian talks about the Faith. I’m a “ real gone cat.” That’s an idiom, students. I digress but I was scrolling the YT and saw 26 books every Christian should read by Peter Kreeft. I watched it about three weeks ago and just finished the first book : an autobiography called A Severe Mercy. Of the 26 books, only two were autobiographies. I decided to start with the autobiographies. It was this one or Confessions by St. Augustine. The latter seemed too heavy for my fragile mind. 

After I got the title downloaded to my kindle, I discovered it was written by a man from 100 years ago about losing the love of his life. When I watched the YT video I just got the book titles and hurried to my list to read before my flesh became weak again. Finding out it was about grief and losing the love of his life, I was all in. I knew in my heart that the book was no accident. I do believe that God wanted me to read it ; it was divinely inspired. 

My mind as well as my heart have been muddled wading through my husband’s death into eternal life. The nuggets of gold I mined from this autobiography reinforced my mind, soul, and spirit giving peace to my battered, grief stricken heart. Good News indeed! The first nugget of truth about true love: it is more than physical attraction. In the beginning of my relationship with Ken, we wanted to be together all of the time. We couldn’t get enough of one another. In the book the author describes this time as their Pagan love. I believe that many relationships begin in this whirlwind of romance and freedom. It’s often referred to as the honeymoon stage. Often weeks into the relationship this fades and the rose colored glasses are too smeared and dirty to see through. What then fosters a good, healthy relationship or marriage? Commonality. Do you share common interests, goals, and morals? If not, I bet the relationship failed. Remember the song lyrics : don’t go changing to try to please me, I want you just the way you are?  Did you really want your person just the way they are? Was it reciprocated, did they feel the same way? If you honestly answered yes, congrats! To move forward to a deeper love it is imperative. The reality of real love is possible. I live in a little southern town and I look out at the world and hope desperately that people, men and women, have not given up on the sanctity of marriage. The plan for us to be one and that love being a treasure trove that grows stronger throughout eternity. Ken and I have it ( present tense.) I feel it. 

Nugget number two was: there is no other joy in the world better than Christian Joy. I hear the back row grumble. What other joy is there that has no baggage, consequences, or price? Love, real love, is free. It is not self serving. It does not constantly think about “me.” We all as humans yearn for eternity. We have been trying to figure out a way to live forever since the dawn of mankind. Christian Joy is walking your earthy life to God’s beat. There’s nothing you can do to buy or win it. It is staying in the Light of Christ. The plan for us is to be happy. How in this upside down society that you and I live in could this be possible? Is there any chance of getting true love and Christian Joy? I pray that there is. I have children and grandchildren ( my posterity) that I want to have these treasures.  Walking a righteous path is so hard, but so rewarding ; remember eternity students? Students, when you have true love do you want to be with them forever? Absolutely! This brings me to my last nugget of truth, my Epiphany for all of us grieving people whom I know. Just like the author in A Severe Mercy, I still “ feel” my beloved ‘s presence. Some days are so heavy with the weight of him I have crying days. These were so many before my Epiphany nugget. I felt that I was crazy and losing my mind and my love forever. Not so! Listen up my widow and widower friends. The last nugget will bring you hope. I pray that it does. 

The big epiphany nugget from the book gave me something to ensure that Ken is somewhere waiting for me out there in eternity. Remember the marriage covenant? Remember Saint Paul and stating that when a man and woman become one then their souls are united as one. This, to me, gives hope and evidence to being together again. When our souls depart from earth they leave intimeness ( no clocks or time keeping in eternity) and have all the time in eternity. Ken and your love are free from earthly chains. If your heart shattered when they departed, good. Hold on front row students, I am making a point. If your heart shattered, it was a true love. It was real. It had and still has life. True love is eternal. Just like Saint Paul stated two souls become one so the other half fledged before the other, so our loves are still there waiting for our day to soar. The hardest part is our waiting. Not for our beloved who are out of time. Remember when sharing your lives there was never enough time. I yearned for our Saturdays of time shared with each other. There could have never been enough Saturdays to satisfy our love. I believe a part of my soul left when his took flight. A death of a part of me that resurrected with him lives on in eternity where every day is a Saturday. 

Does everyone get this “true” love? Sadly, I don’t think so. It’s hard to live a covenant. Do more people want “ true” love.? I think that our society and culture in America need it more than ever. I remember a woman who was considering divorce told me that the infidelity of her husband was too much. She said that she wanted a man who only saw her in the room even if Halle Berry was in the same room. Ladies and gentlemen, do you feel the same? I know I did, but I was blessed to have it for 33 years. He always told me that he had the most beautiful woman in the church every Sunday,  ALS and all of the trappings included. I know back row, you think he was blowing smoke but he would say he still saw the girl he married. The sacrament of marriage is real. The covenant is sealed with love. I thank God for it. I think that those who achieve it have lots to look forward to even in death. This covenant has been flipped in our culture. Students, take heart. Surely there are many other people seeking it too. Remember all of the feelings that I have of Ken being so close in songs, places, and the space surrounding us? The signs the kids and I have? They are real. They have meaning. How can I be so confident? Everything is created by God. Everything God creates has meaning. I will soldier on until my eternity journey begins. Then I will be with him in a time free zone ready to share eternal Saturdays again.  

Sarah Anderson Alley 

Sal the True Love Gal

Quote of the Day :

“But love is the final reality ; and anyone who doesn’t understand this, be he a writer or a sage,, is a man flawed in wisdom. “

Sheldon Vanauken

Eternal Home

“God . . . has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3: 11 NLT).

When I was born, my family lived on Perry Circle in our small town. Although it was part of our government housing authority or the “Jets” or “The West Side,” it was home. My mother was so grateful for indoor plumbing and the amenities of “city living.” She took pride in that opportunity to have a home that was safe for her five children. She had many angels that helped her deal with life’s bumps: an unreliable alcoholic husband, five children, and acquiring a skill to provide for her family.

My amazing mother was able to complete a CNA license and find decent work to provide stability in our home. My father was able to pull himself together long enough for us to get a special assistance loan to buy a house in a small neighborhood. The mortgage note was $80 for 30 years. It guaranteed my mother’s children a home and set down roots for all of us. My mother had social workers that advised her to hang on to her house. They were proud of my hard working mother for fighting through poverty and becoming self-sufficient. Our new home was a blessing.

Today, I think of my mother’s story. The first chapter that was written as a sharecropper’s daughter and the struggles that shape you. The chapters about marrying young to a charismatic, charming alcoholic that left her with a broken heart and a lot of strife. The chapters of overcoming poverty and reconciling with a husband fighting to find redemption in his sobriety that spoke volumes of character to her children. My mother is now living her final chapters of this earthly life in the home that she paid for with blood, sweat, and tears. Thanks be to God she still lives there today even though Alzheimer’s disease is threatening her earthly finale.

My mother knew how important having a home is. She knew her earthly chapter urged her to make a home for her children. My wise mother also knew that her final earthly home wasn’t her last destination. Regardless of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, she stills tells us that there is more.

I love the home that my husband and I have built together. It’s been a refuge for our children, family, and grandchildren. It’s only 7 miles from where my story began on Perry Circle. Like my mother, I’ve enjoyed my earthly journey potholes included. My heart seeks for a more eternal home just as hers does.

My heart is sadden by those who have lost faith that there is more. Not realizing there is a God. The culture of our world implies that peace and happiness are attainable through satisfying our human desires through selfishness, freedom, and indulgence. Have you ever heard someone say, “I want to be miserable?” Me either but when I roll around in my chair I see an awful lot of miserable people. I’m so grateful for my mom who “walked the walk” and showed me true love and happiness. She did everything out of love. Why? God had whispered to her through many prayers and written on her heart that we are all on a journey through this life to eternity where we will find our home in the heart of God.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Eternal Home Loving Gal

Quote of the Day:
“When you hold your baby in your arms the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it’s a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity.”
Rose Kennedy

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

My Heart is Overwhelmed

IMG_5694So much is happening in my world. I’m losing muscle strength but the love of God, family, and friends sustains me. When I confide to the trusting souls God has placed in my life, I am able to “back up and punt.” They help me dig deep and create a new game plan. A game plan that takes my focus off of the “me.” I was reminded today that “All Sunshine makes a Desert.”

We all have burdens to bear: bills that need paid, sick friends, and addicted loved ones. It literally overwhelms our hearts. Just the other day I was hoping for an end to my mind being trapped in this human body. The day was full of bustling activities and I became exhausted and hungry. I had to choose whether to eat or breathe. I chose the latter. By suppertime I was ravenous but had to have help eating. So I was stubborn and tried to wait it out not wanting to inconvenience my family. I had another Apostle Paul moment with my pride. I lost, again. I was reproached by my husband. He reminded me that I’m not a burden and not to drive myself to dehydration and hunger. They wanted me here. I swallowed my pride along with my food as he fed me.

Yesterday, my youngest was taking her first college tour. It was too arduous to get me ready and make the appointment. So the pity party began to creep into my mind with confetti and streamers clouding my thoughts. I pushed the negative out and started reading my devotional. I counted my blessings. I prayed. And then she sent me a text, “Thank y’all for giving me freedom and trusting me.” My heart was overwhelmed. I felt God embrace me. I felt so loved and my heart was light. We do need the rain. It washes our perspectives so we can see the sun. Today my prayers are for our overwhelmed hearts that we will not lose heart.
“God I trust in you.”
Amen

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Overwhelmed Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.”
Rick Warren

“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
Aeschylus

“I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

They Kept the Faith

In my mind today, I’m pretty rattled. In all truth the past few weeks have been full of grief. A classmate and former student of mine started their new chapter in heaven. This earthly life is one of many questions and uncertainties. Keeping the faith is so hard when sadness is all around. My prayers lately are “God help me keep the faith. I know I’m but a wretched sinner myself and do not deserve all the good that you give me. Just use me as part of your plan and please forgive my mean words, thoughts, and actions.” Yes, we all have chinks in our character, me especially.

This morning I read about Peter and Paul. It helped to remind me that all is not lost. We all remember Peter’s big declarations, “Lord, I could never deny you!” Then the old cock crows and he is scared and his faith is shaken. In these tough times, I feel Peter’s pain. I know you do, too. Then after the resurrection he tells Peter to tend and feed his sheep. He understands our two big W’s: weakness and wretchedness.

Then we have the Persecutor Saul/Paul. He was super wretched. He was responsible for many deaths of early Christians. God took his sight so he could be able to see the real truth and meaning of life. He became one of the best vehicles for spreading truth and light into our muddled world. The letters of Paul never fail to ignite my heart.

I want to think that today our lives are the worst they’ve ever been. People dying of cancer too soon, brokenness of families, suffering children, and rampant addictions coupled with ignorance make me want to just give up. Toss it all away and just take care of my family and forget all of the nuts out there. My faith just wavers some days like it has the past few weeks. I want to be like Peter and run or roll away in my wheelchair. I make myself pick up my devotional, Bible, and spiritual reading and whisper prayers “God help me. God protect my loved ones. God help me. The world is getting to me. Please hear me. Let me be a light. Don’t let me give up. Help me understand that this life is not all that we have. Thank you for listening.” Your Wretched & Weary Gal Sal
Amen
I keep the faith. Why? It’s all we really have. The world has always been a mess and will continue to be so because humans are broken. Here’s the objective kids: In keeping the Faith, doing good deeds, and creating a culture of love, we win the race. We finish well. Each of our little lives matter in the big picture. I’m trying hard not to give up. Don’t ever give up and walk with me by Faith and not by sight.

Sal the Rolling by Faith Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to:
Kelly Jo Blair Hicks
Teresa Hughes Milligan

Quote of the Day:
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Mother Teresa

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
Rabindranath Tagore

“Our last earthly breath is the beginning of happily ever after.”
Sarah Anderson Alley

895 Miles


Today as I was jostled awake and placed into my chair, I was thinking of my children. I’ve been so blessed with each child God gifted to me.

I drank my coffee and looked out my kitchen window at the many bird feeders and birdhouses. This is a treat in every season. The feeders are low thanks to a squirrel who has decided to live on the Alley compound. I know my Ben will fill them for me. He also keeps my flowers watered by the window in the living room so I can see the hummingbirds zip in to feed every day. He has chosen to be my primary caregiver. A part of me hates this because he is putting his life on hold to care for me. He reassures me that he is okay and wants to be my person. We live one day at a time and this time with him has been so fruitful. I thank God for it. He makes living in a chair not just bearable but sunny.

Then I thought of my oldest Ian. He just started a new career and got married. I say little prayers for him throughout the day. He has chosen a tough career, but he assures me it is one he enjoys. I can’t believe he is just a year away from being thirty years old. My sons have become men overnight. They each love our family fiercely. They each bring joy to our lives. I’m so blessed for the love they give us.

Oh my youngest was a gift from above, too. I hate that my body started to betray me while she was so young. I couldn’t be the field trip chaperone mom. I couldn’t fix her hair because my hands and arms atrophied first. I feel she was cheated of the physically strong mother her brothers had. We made the best of the situation. Now, she’s on the cusp of her senior year in high school. As I thought of her this morning, I smiled. She’s on a summer adventure in New York City. She studying her two of her favorites: theatre and journalism. She’s staying in the heart of Manhattan at the Fordham University Lincoln Center. Each day I check my messages and there’s a new adventure. “Mom, guess what?” Me excitedly, “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” Abbey replies, “Just saw Sarah Jessica Parker getting on the subway. No big deal.” Me “NO WAY!” Then she tells me, “Yup, going in the subway by Central Park near the Brownstone neighborhood.” She’s 895 miles from me, but our hearts are always together. I know she will fly far from me but nothing not even ALS can separate our hearts. She will carry us along. It is sad that our season of parenting is coming to a close. The dynamics will change, but that’s life. When I think of my children, I am so humbled that God chose me to be their mother. I’m grateful for each moment and memory. It’s been my greatest adventure.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Mom Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“My children are the reason I laugh, smile and want to get up every morning”
Gena Lee Nolin

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Fredrick Douglass

“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