Have Mercy!

Have Mercy!


In my mind today, I’m trying to center myself and plot out how I want to serve others in the new year. Believe it or not, I’m still here with ALS/PMA dipe and all. I’ve found the cure to melancholy and depression. I’ve shared it before and I’ll continue until the “back row” students understand. It truly is in giving that we receive. Focus outward, not inward. It makes life bearable especially for Sal the ALS Gal. I hear some of you complaining that you have no money to help others. Hey, neither do I, but I do have mercy that can be given in abundance. Mercy: compassionate treatment of those in distress: blessings. I’m searching for ways to serve and deliver mercy.

Last Friday night I attended a local basketball game. It takes a lot to get Sal the Basketball Loving Gal out of the house especially in the winter and at night. It’s a sacrifice indeed. I never know how my body will betray me from fatigue and atrophy. Let’s just say it was really rebelling Friday night. My right hand wouldn’t push the joystick to drive my scoot, my neck was wobbly and terribly tired, and my breathing was labored affecting my speech. I had a big dose of humility as I was escorted to my area. Being so frail in a place where I was once so strong is truly humbling.

I looked around the crowd and saw familiar faces: former colleagues, students, and peers. The student section was full of life and youth. As the girls ran out for warm-ups, I remembered my years on the basketball court. I was so very grateful to be able to watch, enjoy, and remember other seasons of my life. Ironically, it was “Throwback” night and the theme was the 1980’s. The students were all decked out in 80’s garb. It made me chuckle. Big bangs, concert shirts, and mini skirts, were all the rage. Whew! Have mercy on our style!

Many people came by and gave me hugs, talked basketball, told me how my former classroom is going, and updated me on their current undertakings. Guess what students? They gave me mercy. Compassion. What costs nothing but can reverberate and last an eternity? Mercy. Forgiveness. Loving the unloveable. Especially when love and forgiveness is not deserved, this is the ultimate form of mercy. Will I ever get there? I’m trying desperately to do so. And of course I urge you to find mercy that may be locked up inside of your own hearts. We have all been hurt by others. We have all had times of gossiping. We have all been “twits.” Unpack mercy this year. Yes, this is an assignment back row. Remember to have mercy on yourselves first.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Merciful Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“God’s mercy is fresh and new every morning.”
Joyce Meyer

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Jesus Christ

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
Winston Churchill

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
Abraham Lincoln

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
Pope Francis

 

Adversity

Adversity

In my mind today I’m thinking of adversity. If you’re human, you will have times of adversity. Let’s define adversity: difficulties, misfortune, sorrow, suffering, hardship, woe, and pain. Wow! So many synonyms for one word. I could go on and on. Adversity has no discretion. It can ruin the best of days. It will pop up any place: home, work, church, school, or playgrounds. It could be a health, personal, financial, or spiritual crisis. I know back row students, Ms. Alley sounds like a “Debbie Downer.” It’s true, but there are many lessons and blessings in adversities.

No, I’m not off of my rocker in 2018. During my lesson for Sunday School, we talked about resolutions and making goals for ourselves. We looked at health, academic, personal growth, and relationships. Goals are great. It took a while for Sal the Nutty Professor Gal to realize this in her own life. Goals are things we strive to accomplish in our lives. The key word is strive because old adversity pops up even when we have the best of intentions. What we learn through our struggles is persistence, humility, and gumption. This is our lesson for today. Yes, plans go awry, but we have to find our center and rise above it. So be thankful for adversity.

Each Sunday in class we read about a Saint. Sal the Fruity Teaching Gal calls this the “Saint of the Week!” I get excited reading about saint’s lives because it never ceases to amaze me how they turn such horrendous adversity into something good. This week we read about Thomas Merton. He’s a controversial and colorful saint. He was tested and tried continually about his contemplative thoughts about God. He was a person who thought “out of the box.” This concerned many leaders in the Catholic faith. I admire him because he had gumption, persistence, and humility. He never quit his faith. He knew there was more meaning and purpose for the human life regardless of naysayers. I feel that, too. Even my own children question my faith because of the hand I’ve been dealt with my health. They are still angry at times, but I know God uses everything even terminal illnesses for some type of good. I think the hardest thing in the world is truly letting go and letting God use you. Humans want to control their own destinies. All we can do is try to do more good than harm in our gifted earthly lives.

Before we go, the back row knows what I’m going to say and yes you’re right! Here’s your assignment. Think about you life and strife. Then, find a way to react in a positive way to the hand you’ve been dealt. No troubles at the moment? Lucky you! Now, find a way to give a blessing to the humans who are struggling. We are a team of humans. There is no us versus them. This is it. WE have to work together to be the helpers, healers, and hosts of the true light of the Holy Spirit. Remember adversity is a wonderful teacher. Are you teachable?

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Embrace Adversity Gal

Dedicated to all of those who support Sal the ALS Gal through prayers, friendship, medical bills, and love. You want me here longer and for that I’m so humbled.

Quotes of the Day:
All by Thomas Merton
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”

“We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others.”

 

 

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

Love Flows

 

Love Flows

In my mind, I’m thinking about “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “(Romans 13:9) This precept covers many commandments. I’ve always said it’s easy to love those neighbors with which you have commonalities, but what about those who “grind your gears?”

Well, when those people lash out at you or send you passive aggressive messages or talk about you behind your back how do you respond? Sal the Young Ambulatory Gal probably acted totally different that Sal the Old ALS Gal. Young Sal probably played the passive aggressive psychological warfare right back without batting an eye. She also snapped a lot quicker than she would now. Even before I became Sal the Handicapped Gal my heart began to change.

I remember after being hurt by co-workers, family, friends, or parents, I would retreat to my classroom turn out the lights and weep. Within my weeping time, I would pray for my heart and those who had hurt me. You know what, God dried my tears and helped me to smile and forgive never looking back or reacting negatively to those who hurt me. During one of my dark classroom, weeping moments God sent one of my dearest teaching friends to console me. I still go back to this even today when I feel hurt by someone. She said, “Sal feel honored. If you weren’t acting selflessly, then you wouldn’t be doing the right thing. Look at how they treated Jesus. You are blessed with being genuine and acting with your heart.”

The times of scrutiny and backlash haven’t ceased just because I’ve retired from the public sector of teaching. I’ve become really good at praying before reacting to hurtful “neighbors.” You see when your heart is in the right place it makes me think of “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) It’s ever so hard to love in the face of sordidness, pettiness, ignobleness, or haughtiness. People can really be the worst. That’s what prompted me to write today. I want us to think about how others have shown us love.

Love abounds in my life. Here are some recent examples. My family keeps me clean and scrubbed. Most people trapped in a wheelchair don’t get the luxury of a bath and consistently being changed. Yes back row, I meant changing my dipe. Yesterday, I was whisked away by a sweet friend to a painting class with a long time friend. We then bought items for Operation Shoebox to use at my Youth Group. My son who had worked all day took me to Bible study and loaded and unloaded my van. My mother-in-law joined in helping as well. This is just one day in the life of Sal the Loved Gal. God sends people to help me live life to the fullest.

Okay here’s where as a teacher I want you to figure out how can all of this love continually surround me? Think and as a good teacher always should, I’ll give you adequate thinking time. Hear that Jeopardy music in your head? Need a hint? Examine the title of this blog post: Love Flows. Want to love and feel loved? It’s vital that YOU make the initial love offering even to those who hurt you. Forgive them. Especially to the ones who continually lash out or respond with hate. Make no room for revenge or mean reactions in your heart. Catch those moments and whisper a prayer of patience and help for you and the neighbor. I promise if you do, the dam you have built within your heart will begin to crumble. Love will soon be overflowing in your lives. Today try to react with love. Let your Love Flow!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Love your Neighbor Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“Just let your love flow
Like a mountain stream
And let your love grow
With the smallest of dreams”
The Bellamy Brothers

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.