Have Mercy!

 

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Be merciful, just as your father is merciful. Luke: 36

Welcome to day 13 students! Today I was reminded to be merciful. I know that the 40 days of Lent that we are sharing we want to pour out Mercy for others. Do you remember a time when you were showed Mercy? As a student you may have been given more time to complete an assignment. as a teenager your parents may have gone easier on you when they found out you were up to no good. As an adult you may have messed something up at work and the boss gave you another chance. You may have hurt a friend’s feelings by making a rude comment. Mercy feels really good when you are all the other end of it. Sometimes we feel like we are unforgivable. People will forgive us but we will not forgive ourselves.

Let’s take this lesson a little deeper. Have you ever dealt with a person that is a taker? They are just very spiteful and make you feel horrible. How do you show Mercy to a person who is so unkind and inconsiderate? In most cases these people are very selfish and self-centered. They create unhealthy situations in order to get what they want. How do you show Mercy to a person that is so self-absorbed? Students, it is very hard. This person could be a relative, boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, long time friend, or a fellow employee at work. It’s so hard when you have to deal with people that are spiteful. If they are in your life, face it, you have to deal with them.

Let’s think about ways that are positive or Christian ways to deal with spiteful people. First, recognize the situation and how it makes you feel. If they have a negative impact on you something needs to change. Spiteful people can steal your joy, but they are also still part of our Christian family.

When you are confronted by a spiteful person, the first thing to do is not to react. That plays right into their hands. They use emotions to manipulate you. Most times you will give in just to have peace. When you react to them with arguing you automatically lose. I know it is really hard to show Mercy to these types of people but instead of reacting close your eyes and say a prayer for patience.

Next, try to talk to the calmly. Express how you feel. Use I statements. I feel very sad when this happens or I am uncomfortable with this situation. If you use you statements they will use them to play the victim. Stand your ground and be calm setting clear boundaries. If we are going to arguing I am leaving or hanging up the phone. If it is texting, ignore them. Hit delete and don’t even read it. Don’t engage the negative behavior. Then pray about it and for them.

Last but not least, these personality types are usually in need of a good friend. They are insecure. Stand your ground, be positive, and don’t react. You can be the person that helps them make a change. If they can’t be civil then try to limit your contact with them. Remember when you do see them try to always be kind. You can’t control anyone but yourself. Everyone is deserving of God’s mercy. Today think of a difficult person you deal with and say a prayer for him/her. Be merciful.

Sal the Merciful Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quote of the day:
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindoll

Knock on the Door

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Matthew 7:7&8
The Answer to Prayers.
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Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
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For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Good early morning students! This is coming to you a bit late but this is day nine of our adventure. Ironically I got a knock at my door early yesterday morning. It was my aunt and her husband that had come to visit. They are newlyweds. They are at the young ages of 76 and 85. They live close to Cookeville, Tennessee and had traveled to visit relatives and follow up on some doctors appointments. When my aunt visits, it is a wonderful day for Sal. She showers me with love and helps me do things that normally do not get done. She gives me love and attention because my mother loved her so much. You see my mother is beginning a journey with Alzheimer’s. My aunt comes to share that love of sisters and keep it alive. After she performs many works of Mercy for me, we then play Rook. It’s my favorite and she will stay and play until my body is worn out. Why am I telling you all of this? This is why my post for day 9 is late! I am only human. And back row yes you will have two assignments today.
Our journey has been fruitful. We are resisting temptations, forgiving others, praying for those who need it most, freeing our hearts of hatred, and doing acts of Mercy to change the world. Yesterday before I got the knock on the door, I had decided that our lesson was to be about the Bible verses Matthew 7:7&8. We’ve been working so hard to help change the world. We’ve been focusing on others and how our attitudes, skills, and knowledge can be used in this world. Today, I am wanting us to think really hard. We need to search our hearts and discover something that is in need of God’s Mercy. It could be a sick parent, a child of ours struggling with addiction, students that we teach who come from neglected homes that will suffer greatly during the breaks from school, or an unhealthy habit that we just can’t seem to break. Your homework is to knock. Knock on the door of heaven with your prayer. I’ll give you a little cheat sheet. Here is a small prayer:
Dear God,
Here I am Lord. I know I am not worthy of all the good could you give me but as a child of yours I am knocking on the door and asking for an act of Mercy. You told us if we knock you will open that door. If we seek we will find help from you. Today I ask you to open the door and help (feel in your request here.) Thank you God for hearing me. Help me to be a light in this world in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen
Sal the Knocking on Heaven’s Door Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quote of the day:
Attitude
Skills
Knowledge
All you simply need to do is ASK. God will use your attitude, skills, and knowledge to answer prayers.
Dorothy Alley
FORMER PRESIDENT OF CCW
From a speech given to the council of Catholic women: CCW. Currently the best mother in law and Rook partner ever!

Broken

Sal with one of her fav students
In my mind today I am thinking about brokenness. Students, today is a hard lesson for me. I’m struggling to type with my eyes. My arms and hands are now broken. I have been so angry and sad because I can’t type with ease. I am broken. This reflection is not about me. It is about how so many things and people in my life path are broken and I feel so helpless because I want to fix them. That is what healthy Sal would do. I’m ashamed that my prayers lately have been for eternal peace. I know where I will be whole again but yet I’m still here. Writing is my only physical way left to teach. So yes back row, the script is flipped. I’m the one with all the homework and I hate it.
Today’s lesson : brokeness. How many like math? That is what I thought, only the front row. When you get the wrong answer you start over again. Why is this so hard for us? So many things in our human existence are broken : families, schools, health care, the government, our morality, and our churches. You know at the center of all of this chaos lies the simple solution of putting the missing love back in our family units. I don’t speak from a perspective of having come from a perfect family but from a broken one. As I lay here typing through teary eyes, I want my students to have a brighter and better future. I want you to heed this valuable lesson. The broken home that reared Sal had a strong God feariing woman, but that couldn’t save all of us from the evils of addiction. It hurts to watch your sibling kill themselves slowly. It hurts even more when nothing you do can repair their hearts. So many families have at least one broken child. As a teacher I witnessed so many broken children my heart literally ached daily. The horrible reality is the number of these children are growing more rapidly than children with a sound, stable family structure. Broken.

With all problems there are solutions. The biggest problem is that we are all human. In our world today we see no need for God. We are the master of our lives. We can Google anything. We have all become Einsteins. If it feels good do it. Forget about consequences. Hey it’s our life and leave us be. And see how well it is working? That’s sarcasm students. Can we start over? Can we put God in the center of everything we do? If every action, every thought, and every word is done with God in our minds and hearts then brokeness can be healed. Can we admit that we need help? We are not gods, but we desperately need the order, structure, and love of God. It’s not hocus-pocus or stuff and nonsense. From my make shift podium, I ask you to try. Yes back row, it’s probably the most crucial homework assignment I’ve ever given. I’ll continue to pray for all of you until my last breath.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Sal the Broken Gal

 

The Still Within

The Still Within
I am the good shepherd. . . . My sheep know my voice, and I know them. —John 10: 14, 27

In my mind today, I’m thinking of the hectic past month. I’m missing my silent morning moments. It makes me think of one of my favorite English teachers Ms. Marjorie Neal. Her motto was, “Go, Go, Go!” Her bubbly personality, short red, curly hair, and petite stature are still with me. After long bursts of activity when I feel like becoming a hermit, I hear her mantra, “Go, Go, Go!” I see her occasionally at restaurants in our little burg. I always speak, but I know she doesn’t recognize the present Sal. Then I was six feet tall, skinny as a rail, and a goofy gal. Now I’m in a scoot, growing a voluptuous buddha belly, and hidden by my disease. All that is trivial though because Mrs. Neal gave me something to use on my journey and God knows how to do this unbeknownst. So we roll with it.

Lately my mind has been screaming “No, No, No!” I’ve gotten use to my silent times with my maker and as of late my phone is constantly ringing or dinging. My calendar has been chocked full. The to do list has lengthened. As soon as I check off a task another two are added. I just pull up my dipe and put my scoot in rabbit mode and “Go, Go, Go!” Whew!

Every night my sweet “Chuck” aka Abbey jumps into my bed and we have our “Snuggle-time.” Last night I listened to her hectic life of Calculus, honors English, and standardized test oh my! She was trying to be positive and look passed her to do list. She’s summing up her high school chapter and it’s a whirlwind of college applications, ACT/SAT’s, and homework. As I listened, I realized she was exhausted and frustrated like me. She’s missing her times of solitude and silence. We discussed ways to order her day so all items would be neatly checked off. We talked about the busyness of this season and how to survive. What did we do? We added to our list! 😮 Our plan was to rise at 5:30 AM and walk through our neighborhood together then we would jump start our day. The coffee would call us home, and we would have an extra hour to begin our beginning.

It worked! The stars and moon greeted us as our coonhound bayed on our stroll. We shook the cobwebs and solved a few Alley “porbrums.” (Alley speak for problems) It was beautiful. It was a bit of solitude and communion with the Maker as we watched as the sun began to illum the day. We felt more prepared to face our calendars, homework, tests, and tasks. My “Chuck” and I are learning to carry our silence within us because there are plans and places God needs us go and to accomplish. All of this is part of it. The Still Within is bigger than any standardized test or bursting calendar. It sustains us. It keeps us rolling on and checking off our lists. All we need to do is take a brief pause, breathe, and let it fill our lives. Amazingly our “No, No, No’s” become “Go, Go, Go’s!”

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Go, Go, Go Gal

Quotes of the day from a dear friend fighting breast cancer and leukemia while being a caregiver of her husband who has championed a massive stroke AND is the best event planner and MUMA this side of heaven, Tracy Cupples. She sent me these encouraging words after me sending my “pity pot” to do list this morning.

“You know that’s how you roll. I have come to realize…….. that’s a big part of what’s keeping you alive. You don’t slow down long enough to realize what is going on with your body………AND …….the biggest reason…….God is keeping you rolling for HIM because no one is a brighter light.”

“Sarah, one day we’ll all stop rolling. So roll on and spread love and light. That’s who you are…..that’s who you’ve always been…… before ALS. Here’s the thing…… people listen with intent now. God knows who will roll on for HIM. Your house is waiting on you and that crown too………. We win either way, Sarah!!!!”
Ms. Tracy “Muma” Cupples

Crosses

Whew! Crosses!

“Do not worry about . . . what you are to say” (Luke 12:11).

In my mind lately, I’ve wanted to write and to share but I haven’t found the words, time, or energy. I’m still here fighting to empty myself for what really matters. Well, students I’m am definitely running on empty and yes I’m singing Jackson Browne as I peck this out. I’m hopping off of the pity party wagon today and feel like my tank is being restored. Whew! The Holy Spirit (We call it the HS at my house.) has been nudging me to share words so here I go.

Crosses. I love them. Unconsciously I have filled my home with them. The symbolism of them brings me joy. Studying and reflecting lately the meaning and connection of crosses in my life has taken on a whole new meaning.

Crosses are responsibilities and events in our lives. They are heavy and burdensome. They do not discriminate according to race, economic status, or social status. They come in all shapes and sizes. They have many names: death, cancer, strokes, ALS, Alzheimer’s, bankruptcy, homelessness, Autism, Parkinson’s, debt, mental illness, unemployment, estranged family members, addictions, and plain ole loneliness barely scrape the many types of crosses we bear on our earthly journey. Makes you want to wave the white flag doesn’t it? I hear the back row saying, “Amen! It’s too tough. Let’s stop this lesson and just have recess every day!” Calm down. Breathe. Adjust that cross on your back and carry it with all your strength. Embrace it. Settle down back row and quit making the Cuckoo gesture. I’m not crazy. Your cross-training (I love this pun!) is to strengthen you, embellish you, and transform you into the vessel needed to complete your purpose for the greater good. It is.

Those crosses teach you patience. They teach you humility. They connect you with the suffering of Christ. They are unexplainable mercies of God that when the cross is lifted, Grace engulfs you. You get 20/20 vision and the lightbulb becomes blinding showing you the abundance of fruits from your labor.

Still don’t believe me? Think of a horrible time in your life. If you’re honest with yourself, you found a rainbow after the storm. You learned to appreciate something you overlooked. You learned to control your tongue. You quit blaming others for your shortcomings. You had the courage to right a wrong and say, “Forgive me. I’m so sorry.” You learned to pray instead of lashing out on social media or try to numb yourself with alcohol or drugs. I saw your jaws drop open. You get it. 😀

Students, you have a pop quiz today. No, I don’t love to torture you; I just love you. I want to fill your tank. Today, identify a cross you are carrying. Whatever it is, big or small, whisper, “God, I accept this cross for you. Help me. Use it for YOUR plan, not mine. I’m weary and tired. Give me strength. Thank you for hearing me and helping me bring joy into my valleys. Amen.”
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Cross-bearing Gal

Quote of the Day:
“True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”
Nikos Kazantzakis

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

“Lord, help me overcome my biases. I want to be able to see you in every person I meet.”

As I read my devotional this morning, I smiled thinking of the message. I remembered as a child watching the PBS program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and singing along. Decades later I would watch the show with my children. Of my children, Ian liked it the most. I chuckle when I visit that time in my mind. I still hear him saying as a toddler, “Momma, I want to play the piano (he pronounced it pee-an-do with all long vowels of course) like Mr. Rogers when I grow up.” I thank God for these precious memories of my children. I thank God for those messages that helped shape me as a child.

After reading the parable of the Good Samaritan, I realized the relevance of it in our modern lives. Today, I think we can substitute Samaritan and Jew for many disgruntled “neighbors.” Here’s the shortlist: Republican vs. Democrat, Muslim vs. Christianity, Jew vs. Muslim, Pro-life vs. ProChoice, Gay vs. Straight, Catholic vs. Protestant, & Black vs. White. Whew! I could add more but you get the idea. Would you care for your neighbor like the Samaritan did? Would you use your arms to hold this dying adversary? Could you open your mouth to give a kind word? How about untying your purse strings to give a meal to a starving foe? Use your body to shield them from hateful slurs and threats? Or do we continue to be consumed by hate believing that they deserve to be chastised and hurt? See. We are all called to be a “Good Samaritan.” I hear my back row students squirming in their seats. It is very hard to love those who hate and persecute you.

In this present time our lives are so influenced with confusing messages like “If it feels good, do it” or “It’s all about me #YOLO.” It’s true we only have one earthly life to live. Sadly, those who choose to act morally are often chided in our culture for their weaknesses. They don’t fit in to the popular social circles. After reading the scriptures about the parable of the Good Samaritan, I felt nudged to implore you to find a way to help that wounded person on your life path. We all have at least one person we can choose to help. Imagine if we all encouraged one person a day for a year. Wow! Today, seek out a neighbor to love and serve. Let’s make the most of this beautiful day!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Neighbor Loving Gal

Quotes of the Day by Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.”

“There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.”

“Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Turn, Turn, Turn

A time to love, and a time to hate. (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

 

In my mind today, I’m mulling over my readings. I was excited to read Ecclesiastes today. I hear the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” and smile. These verses are so poetic. I love anything linguistic: words, rhymes, puns, or sentence structure. It makes my brain hum. I drive my family crazy with my nonsensical outbursts as I turn everything into a show tunes sing-a-long.

Hate is such a strong word. As I’ve grown, I’ve mellowed. I don’t have the heart to hate anymore. People that is. I truly see and know we are all part of something big and are created for good. Each life has a purpose.

I admit it. There are things I hate. I hate when I find out former students have died too soon. I hate cancer, ALS/MND, Alzheimer’s, mental illnesses, strokes, and freak, fatal accidents. I hate addictions. I hate parental neglect. I hate prejudice. I hate that some people feel unloved. I hate that we value things over human life. I hate that we are so easy to judge and resent others. I hate that my hands are too weak to Blog like I used to Blog. I hate that my body is betraying me. I hate being sick. It’s true. There is a time to hate.

One of the last books we read at our local bookclub, “Turn the Page,” was The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. One of the characters in the novel was hated by the village because of his German heritage. The village had lost many sons at the hands of the Germans during WWI. He was a simple young man, a baker. Amid the slurs and taunting, he smiled. His wife asked him, “How can you forgive and be so happy?” He told her, “I can forgive and forget… it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.” When this quote was used to end our discussion all of us had an “aha” moment. So there are also times to forgive and forget. I think this is so hard for us as humans. We cling to our anger and resentment like it’s a gem. Don’t. Life is too short; it’s but a breath on the timeline of time. Make your breath a refreshing one. One that breathes life into everyone on your life path. Let it fill the air with sounds of love and affirmations. Let it sing praise. “Turn, Turn, Turn” your hate into love.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Things I Hate Gal

Quotes of the Day:

Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes: so tangled that you can’t tell which is which until you’ve shot them both, and then it’s too late.
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

To have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

We always have a choice. All of us
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans