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

Life

Life

 

 

 

 


In my mind today I’m thinking about how we can survive this life. Just like the old saying, “No one gets out alive” the truth hurts. As we trundle down our life lines, we have many hills to climb and sometimes when you’re lucky you catch some effortless down hill coasting. This reminds me of my biking and running seasons. Those coasting moments are refreshing.

Our book club just read The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. It has just been made into a major motion picture. It was a great read about survival and love. Just like in life, we encounter mountains. The mountains can be literal like in our book but also figurative. We have mountains to climb in our personal lives, workplaces, peer groups, families, and especially our spiritual lives. We slip, fall, get lost, and sometimes tumble over the cliff wall. The most important thing is that we give our all so we have no regrets. That’s when we are able to lift our eyes up to see the Glory of the blessings we have given and received in our lives. When the mountain seems too steep, use blind Faith to get you to the top. This whole “life” is so much bigger than we mere humans can fathom.

I ended our Book Club meeting with a quote by a wise, beautiful woman. I was lucky enough in this life to meet her and hear her sing. The quote paralleled the motifs of our book. “To succeed in life you need three things, a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.” Your wishbones are your dreams. Your determination is your backbone. Your sense of humor which is ever so important is your funny bone. If you can find humor on your steepest mountain climbs, you’ll be at the summit before you know it. Today as you begin your weekend and Thanksgiving holidays, find your wishbones, backbones, and funny bones.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Mountain Climbing Gal
Dedicated to Reba McIntire for her beautiful spirit, inspiration, and strength.

Quotes of the Day:
“To succeed in life you need three things, a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.”
Reba McIntire

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Edward Abbey

 

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
Muhammad Ali

“Patience and Diligence, like faith, remove mountains.”
William Penn

 

When the Saints Go Marching In…

When the Saints Go Marching In…

In my mind today, I’m reading and reflecting on today’s Holy Day: The Feast of All Saints. You ever hear people say, “That person is a Saint!” Well, what makes a Saint?

Everyday I read about a different Saint. It’s part of my morning ritual. These courageous people many times suffered tremendously during their lives. To top it off many times they died gruesome deaths: burning at the stake, disemboweled, quartered at their death and scattered, or crucified upside down. I see the back row woke up with all of these graphic descriptions. The way they died didn’t automatically put them on the list for sainthood. It was the way they continued to live despite the suffering. They constantly sought what was true, right, and justified by God. They were light bearers. They spread hope, joy, and love in the mist of hopelessness. After reading this phrase “saints faced walls but saw them as doors,” made me stop and think how wonderful? What an inspiring frame of mind. When backed into a corner, they didn’t see the walls of terminal diseases, starvation, injustice, abject poverty, or tyranny. They envisioned solutions and lived those solutions never relenting until their deaths. They never feared death because they knew their purpose was bigger. Could you surrender your life for the greater good?

During mass each week we have a time to remember those souls who have gone before us. I have always loved this brief part of our service. I’m able to remember and whisper prayers for family and friends who are on the other side of heaven. I get lost in my mind remembering them and the love I still carry for them in my heart. I imagine they can feel the love emanating from all of us here on earth and they smile because I do. Amazingly we each are given an earthly life that intertwines with so many. I’m excited to see and understand all the connections when I cross over into eternity. Yes back row, I am a bit fruity.

Today, strive to be a Saint. Saints were ordinary people like you and me. It’s not about how much you give, do, or pray. It’s about the way in which you give, do, or pray. It’s about what is in your heart as you give, do, or pray. It’s about a journey of thinking of others before you think of yourselves. It’s about “finding doors” when you are walled in a corner. Back row it’s not about illusions but simply unleashing the magic within our own hearts. Let’s all join in the choir of saints and give of ourselves, do something kind, and pray for each other.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I wanna be a Saint Gal

Dedicated to all of those who have gone before us.

Quotes of the Day:
“I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately, when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by.”
Thérèse of Lisieux

“A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint.”
Albert Schweitzer

“In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 120 saints of China, 87 of whom were ethnically Chinese. My home church was incredibly excited because this was the first time the Roman Catholic Church acknowledged Chinese citizens in this way.”
Gene Luen Yang

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor.”
Mother Teresa

 

To Do Lists

 

To Do Lists

In my mind today, I’m thinking about to do lists. I am summing up a huge to do list and it feels so good to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I completed to Youth Group Fall Festival and the Autumn March for ALS 2017. I only have thank you cards and shirt deliveries left to do for the Fall Festival and the race. It feels good to check off our lists doesn’t it?

Remember I’m Sal the Busy Gal and have already begun a new list of Winter and Fall things I want to accomplish. Winter is tough on an ALS Gal. The scariness of getting sick and punching my card for heaven is always looming during flu and pneumonia season. Most PALS(People with ALS) make their final exit in this way. I push that out of my mind and live one day at a time. It’s the best way to live. I find joy in each day I’m given. My goals besides staying alive this winter are to paint more, write seriously on my projects to publish, and start reading once a week with children. Serving projects are Operation Shoebox, doing a painting project with the Union Mission kids, and working with the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen. Whew!

Today, I’m reflecting back over the race and the outpouring of love I felt. It’s an uber hectic time for me, but one full of such beauty. Seeing all of the families, runners, and children shows me that God is still in the middle of my fight. He was there everywhere.

The Fall Festival was changed last minute and I was worried that it would flop. God showed up yesterday, too. It was lunch with our church family. The children were all bustling around and playing games manned by the older kids. The food turned out fantastic. The arms and legs serving and cleaning were outstanding. It was a wonderful day. Everyone that stayed enjoyed themselves and it made me so very happy.

Here’s my lesson today students: God shows up in all of our lives. He is there whether we notice Him or not. Look at your to do lists. Make sure you invite God along on your adventures. After you check it off your list, you will be able to look back and see where His presence touched each moment.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the To Do List Gal

Dedicated to The Alley Alliance and Holy Angels Youth Group.

Quotes of the Day:

“If you’re like me, I get hooked into to-do lists, you know. I’ll say I checked that off. Okay, I did that. And you have all these things you’re doing.”
Jeff Bridges

“One thing I’ve tried to never do is make wish lists. I try to have a very steppingstone mentality about this whole thing, where as soon as you make one step you visualize the next step, not five steps ahead.”
Taylor Swift

 

“I don’t see anyone for the first hour and a half that I’m awake. I don’t like to talk, and I don’t like to hear any sounds. People know not to bother me! I use that time to read, and make lists and notes of things I have to do later in the day.”
Robert Wilson
This is me, too!!!

Crushes

 

Crushes

In my mind today, I’m thinking about crushes. Take a moment to reflect back in time. I had huge crushes on “The Fonz” and John Travolta as a teenager. I also had crushes in high school. Do you remember your first crush or first love? Often a crush if mutual becomes a first love. Sometimes they sustain the stress of high school and college. The couple will then wed and start the adult season together. Sometimes it works but not often. My high school graduating class had several that made their first love last and are still together thirty years later. Even our oldest daughter has a successful marriage and life with her high school sweetheart. Kudos to them! They are the exceptions.

First crushes sometimes falter before they even start. It’s still heart-breaking. I’m Sal the Melancholy Gal today because my youngest is so innocent and about to enter the world of crushes, first relationships, and disappointments. As I watch and talk with her about this chapter, my heart breaks. She so needs me more than I ever thought. If you know our “Chuck,” she’s a pretty special gal. She is searching desperately for a knight in shining armor. She wants to date and experience this season. She has very high standards. She’s mature and confident in who she is. Sadly, she’s finding out most people her age are not. Peer pressure has reared its ugly head. She’s realizing people change according to whom they are with at the time. Peer pressure. Most of the teenagers are like chameleons. The skin you’re in depends on the clique you are around. It’s the worst. Here’s the saddest part, it happens in every season of life. I didn’t realize being comfortable and confident in your own skin was such a rarity. But ah, it is. My girl is cursed like her mother of being true to herself. Marching to a beat that is original to you.

We’ve always had a nightly ritual. I used to climb the stairs and snuggle her each night. We would read, talk, and write. We would do a breathing treatment for her asthma and fall asleep snuggled together. When climbing the stairs wasn’t an option anymore, the snuggle-fest was moved to my room. The roles have reversed. We sling me in bed and place my bi-pap mask on my face. After the boys hug and kiss us goodnight, the snuggle-fest commences. We talk and I listen to my girl’s struggles with academics, projects, and trying to survive socially in high school. I could tell she had been crying last night and my heart broke. Why does high school have to be so complicated?

As we talked, I remembered my high school years. I remembered how awkward crushes were and your heart being broken. When you have guy friends and you think, “Hey, he likes me!” Then that super, pretty popular girl arrives and you are dropped like a hot potato. Even worse, the guy says, “Will you ask (fill in the blank) out for me?” You say sure when you want to scream, cry, and run all at the same time. I can’t begin to tell you how many times this happened to me. Watching my girl endure it has made my heart ache.

The thing that I have to remind her of is that this will pass. Keep your head up. Keep being “you” and good things will happen. Everything as a 16 year old is magnified times a billion. Like Taylor Swift sings, “Shake it Off.” I’m so glad I’m still here for her as I realized she still needs me whether I’m Sal the Broken Down Gal or not. This precious time has been granted to us. I thank God every single day for this time with my children.

The first words of my devotion this morning were, “Come to Me when you are hurting and I will soothe your pain. …..I have called you to live differently from the world—to depend on Me to meet all your needs. That’s where you’ll find true confidence and strength. Let Me be your everything. I am all you need.” And then I cried. I cried because I had been carrying that pain for her as she struggles through her awkward teenage years. I cried because I wanted her to be happy. I cried when I realized she was doing the right thing. I cried because I was relieved that she would always be taken care of even if I’m not here.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Tearful Gal

Dedicated to:
Patrick & Libby
Scott & Amy
Don & Andi
Artie & Pennye
Alan & Stephanie

Quotes of the Day:
“It’s like trying to describe what you feel when you’re standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child. You have to be there to really know what it’s like.”
Jack Schmitt

“Memory has always fascinated me. Think of it. You can recall at will your first day in high school, your first date, your first love.”
Eric Kandel

“First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.”
George Bernard Shaw

“When everything happens to you when you’re so young, you’re very lucky, but by the same token, you’re never going to have that same feeling again. The first time anything happens to you – your first love, your first success – the second one is never the same.”
Lauren Bacall

“First crushes are properly named. That’s exactly what happens to your heart when the white knight you see evolves into a troll.”
Sarah Anderson Alley

 

Thumper!!!

Thumper!!!

In my mind today I’m thinking about social media, the Internet, and technology. I’m ever so thankful today. I opened up my social media feed this morning and they were all are full of prayers and positive vibes. This gave me hope that in our space and time we can flip the script.

We can spread love and blanket the evil that invades our minds each time we open up social media. Face it. Twitter, FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google have become a forum for Americans and most of the industrialized world. Ignoring it is not effective. We now have to use it to spread faith, hope, and love. It shouldn’t be the face of dissension.

Social media can be a cohesive tool to bring positive ideas and people together. When I taught I would ask my students many times, “What did Thumper’s father tell him?”

This applies to us on all types of levels. Social media used by rabble rousers just puts us against each other. As a history teacher, I know that at the heart of all change in this country love has resided. That understanding among the common men and women has created our country into a country of hope. We need unity in our country. That’s the only way we will give hope and ensure hope for the future. Hope for good, affordable healthcare for all, a higher minimum wage and benefits for those who work, students getting degrees without drowning in debt, and education systems directed by seasoned educators not politicians and testing companies. These are just a few on my wish list.

Let’s take the gloves off Americans. We are not each other’s adversary. We are allies to spread hope. I feel most are like me. We want a government that works for us as problem solvers. Not spending time calling for donations to keep them in office. They should not be in any position of government because they have the largest fundraising or banking account. They should be there because they have the biggest hearts for ALL Americans from the homeless to the billionaires. Here’s a thought, let them work for minimum wage and get their own healthcare. Most have been economically successful, right? Maybe I’m way off base. In my little corner of the USA common, everyday Americans are genuinely good. We want to have a family, a way to provide and feed that family, a two-car garage with dependable cars, a retirement fund, and good educations for our kids. Am I right?

I will not look at media and believe all the doom and gloom. Yes it’s out there, but there’s so much more good going on in our communities. Let’s all hit the “share” button on the good.

Sal the Political Gal

PS
I’m not endorsed by anyone. I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Independent, etc. Everyone has a moral compass. Doing what is right has no political affiliation, but maybe one of the Divine sort.

Dedicated to the common, simple, everyday Americans

Quotes of the Day:
“When terrorists attacked the symbols of our national unity and strength, they failed to realize that they were just symbols of our strength. The real strength of our nation comes from our people – not our buildings.”
Michael Enzi

“It is important for people to be able to read all sides of every question; for a feeling of national unity does not come from one-sided or inadequate information, but from a sense of freedom impartially secured and of opportunity equalized by a just government.”
Jeannette Rankin

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
Mattie Stepanek

“Where there is unity there is always victory.”
Publilius Syrus