Where I See God

I see God in nature. As a child, I would refuse to go inside on a pretty day. My mother told me that at two years of age my best friend Clayton and I would head out with our pails to rescue bugs. When we moved to a neighborhood and had a nice sized yard, I would find holes filled with toads. I would take them in to our bathroom, place them in the sink, and shut the door. I then would head out to find more. Whoever opened the bathroom door would be in for a big surprise. It was usually my mom. I can hear her saying, “Sarah Anne, what in the world are you doing?”

I cried when people killed bugs. Sometimes my older brother did it just to torment me. He would pull the legs off of a grasshopper and ask, “You want me to put it out of it’s misery?” In my mind I envisioned a little hospital crew reattaching the maimed part and quickly said, “Yes! Please help it.” He would proceed to stomp the poor insect while I wailed and sobbed. Another evil tactic was talking my grass-hopper collections and tossing them into spider webs as I screeched. Traumatic times indeed. Boys really are made of “snakes and snails.”

I remember walks with my dogs discovering snakes, gullies, riverlets, and ponds. The adventures were always satisfying eating wild berries and snatching fruit from neighbors trees to serve as a makeshift lunch. I would explore for hours and heading home in the gloaming which is still a favorite time of day for me. Everything glows and seems lucid to the eye. These walks continued until being ambulatory was stolen away by by ALS. My dogs and I explored the woods around my home. We’ve flushed squirrels and deer. Watching the hounds bay and chase is a beautiful sight. Of course, no one was harmed. The joy is in the pursuit which is a good thing because my girls never caught anything. Watching them rush to ponds to swim and flounce their sodden coats as they came back to me on our adventure always made me smile.

Today, I roll and still commune with nature. It’s limited to my yard but it’s a sanctuary to me. I trek in my scoot watching birds enjoy my feeders, birdhouses, and trees. The butterflies and bees scurrying and harvesting from my flowers. My dogs follow me and rest at my feet as I look up dreamily into the trees I planted as mere saplings. Their girth a treasure I thought I would never see. I spend hours watching and listening to nature. From toddler to death, I will enjoy my sacred time with God in his roofless sanctuary.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Nature Gal

 

 

For Heaven’s Sake

For Heaven’s Sake

In my mind today, I’m thinking of Heaven. You know the polar opposite is Hell. Quit snorting and giggling back row. Yes, I said Hell. When I found out my timeline was going to be drastically shorter than what I expected, I started reading and researching Death and Heaven. I read several books about people who had literally died and been revived. I read books by hospice workers who had experienced people leaving this earthly chapter. My kids thought I was a bit touched in the head and morbid when I discussed my latest book at the supper table. What I found was a common thread of weightlessness, bliss, light, angels, and seeing people who had crossed over sometimes years ago.

Are people just fantasizing? I really don’t think so. There are just too many experiences to explain it all away. I remember in one book the author entered in a place of bright light with the most amazing music and welcoming people but then was told, “It’s not your time. You have to go back.” He was jolted back to earth in a shattered and disabled body. He wasn’t happy about it but eventually saw the purpose for staying earthbound hence his book.

One book I read was written by a hospice nurse. She had been comforting people as they crossed over for more than 30 years. In most of her cases, the person saw angels or people from their past before crossing over. She developed a sixth sense of when death was near.

Can you imagine seeing an angel or multitudes of them? What about seeing loved ones of long ago? Think about seeing God the creator. Wow! What a feeling that would be.

Can you imagine heaven? I can and do often. In church on Sunday, I do. I close my eyes, listen to the music, hear all the people proceeding to the altar for communion, and envision heaven. Just like mass, there will be beautiful music as we all process toward God. All shapes, sizes, and colors of people. It’s beautiful. Usually tears start falling because for those precious minutes after I receive communion, my mind and heart are lifted to heaven. I know there’s more.

I know my students are ready to call the paddy wagon to come take Sal the Mediation Gal off to the “Cuckoo’s Nest.” So, is there more? Is there a heaven? Yes, that’s your assignment today: ponder Heaven. It’s for you to decide if Heaven exist, but for heaven’s sake I hope you do.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Seeking Heaven Gal

Quotes for the Day:
“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
Jules Renard

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”
George Bernard Shaw

“I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to Heaven, and I will look down on my beautiful life.”
Yayoi Kusama

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
C. S. Lewis

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Jesus Christ

Two of the many books I read about 5 years ago:
Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey by Trudy Harris

90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Dan Piper

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.”

 

 

Blessings

Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Blessed Gal

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

Quotes of the Day:

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

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

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

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

In my mind today I’m thinking of all of the blessings of 2017 and how things have changed from my childhood. Remember as a child how the 2000’s seemed otherworldly? They seemed so distant as we envisioned a world like The Jetsons. We’ve yet to have flying cars, but we have rumbas, drones, and FaceTime which are amazing when I think of my techno-free childhood.

My family certainly wasn’t the jet-set. We had an antenna for tv and seven tv channels. One of those was PBS. I think I’m the only one that couldn’t live without it, and it’s still one of my favorite channels. Go ahead back row and call me a geek. Mr. Rogers taught me how to deal with kids like you. Now, kids watch tv on their phones. Remember favorite tv shows that we all gathered to watch? The only time we could watch cartoons was Saturday mornings. If you slept late, you missed out.

What about having one phone jack and one phone in the entire house? I was envious of friends that had phones in their bedrooms. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it? Phones were for function and not so much for entertainment. I remember waiting anxiously by the phone for that person I was crushing on to call so my parents wouldn’t embarrass me or interrogate them if someone of the opposite sex called. Just like Archie and Edith sang, “Those were the days.”

It makes me wonder what will kids today look back on and feel nostalgic about when they reminisce? Are things today worse or not as fun or are we not as connected as days gone by? Are we all freaking out? Yes, there is a lot of disparity, but I also see so much good. There are many organizations and individuals working for people struggling in the middle of the healthcare gap crisis, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, neglected children, better environmental choices, and natural disaster relief. And we aren’t giving up or stopping. Why? The good anyone does reverberates and multiplies no matter how minuscule the deed. 2018 here I come. Sal the New Year Gal is brimming with ideas to promote goodwill toward all. Join me.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the 2018 Gal

Dedicated to Matthew 25:40, Salvation Army, Union Mission, McIvers Grant Public Library, Dyersburg City Schools, and Dyer County Schools

Quotes of the Day:

“I just believe in the goodwill of people, the power of people to do something positive.”
Eddie Izzard

“In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics.”
JFK

“Justice and goodwill will outlast passion.”
James A. Garfield

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/

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