In my mind, I have been thinking about regrets. We all have them. I regret that I didn’t work hard in school. I regret that I wasted time on silly, meaningless activities instead of building my character. I regret wasting time and energy being negative because owning my problems seems too hard. Face it. We all fall short sometimes. How can we defeat the regrettable times in our lives?
There is time to turn it around as long as you have breath in your body. At Fifty-three years old I can’t go back to school and be the valedictorian, but I can educate myself by reading. So many people without degrees have been writers, musicians, and positive influences for mankind. Einstein hated school. God had a totally different plan for his life’s work that didn’t make him have to have a 30+ on the ACT. Be positive because God has a beautiful plan for your life, too. Believe it!
As any human, there has been wasting of time. We’ve wasted money and resources, too! Maybe this could have been used in a better way. Instead of beating myself up for it, I should move through it while owning my ignorance and do it differently next time. It’s only in failure that we truly learn. Different actions will give different results. Spend your time building up those around you. It is never a waste, but an investment.
Being negative. Have you ever been negative? Close-minded and full of anger, I have been there before and I never want to go there again. I wasted too much time and energy to be healthy. When I owned my part, I figured out that I was part of the problem. Jealousy and condemnation for past hurts made me see red if I even thought about these people. I finally was able to break free. How? First I asked God to forgive me and help me feel better. I was so tired of carrying this in my heart. God answered me. “Forgive them. Pray for them.”It was not immediate. It took time. Each time I thought of the person I would say a prayer for them. I would ask God to bless them at that moment. I was finding inner peace. The peace that only God can give. People hurt and disappoint us on our Earthly journey. It could be our children, spouse, or long time friend but the fact that if you can own the part of the problem, tell the person you love them, and pray for them shows spiritual and emotional growth. This is how to make it positive. It’s a win-win situation. You free your heart of hate and you become stronger than ever before to build up others, even those who love you the least. The people who carry hate in their hearts are people who have probably had the roughest road to travel on the human highway. One of the last little nuggets of faith my late husband and I shared was about this statement he read in one of his daily devotions:You only love Jesus as much as the person you like the least. Profound. I know so many people hurt. If you want to be free of it, trust God and pray for those who persecute you and free your heart from pain. Only God can heal your broken heart, but you have to open your heart to Him.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Heal your Heart Gal
Quotes for the Day
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the Light.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
It is not an easy journey , to get to a place where you forgive people, but it is a good powerful place , because it frees you.
The weak can never forgive. It is an attribute of the strong.
Scripture Colossians 3:12-15
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.
In my mind today of course I am thinking about Christmas. Looking at Christmases past on social media, remembering how much I put into Christmas before ALS. Each year I was so jolly and even enjoyed the elves’ shenanigans! I have always been a NUT for Christmas to the point that I drove my family nuts. Here is an example of my overzealous behavior: 19 elves. I heard that gasp, students. What a NUT, right?
This year was the year of “The Grief that Stole Christmas” since my sweet husband is celebrating a Celestial Christmas. Some of his best, worn out dad jokes were about canceling Christmas. The closer Christmas came, the more frequent the cancellation threats.This year is a new season, a new normal. I know that I don’t have the corner market for grief, but it really hurts. Writing is therapy, and I am so thankful for all of you, students.
First new normal was no big gathering at our house on Christmas Eve. We always hosted every side of the family and would have sometimes over 50 people, relatives and friends. Then the old Griefy Claus caused a collapse in our world. No gathering. I then had an idea, a wonderful idea! An awesome, wonderful idea! Intimate Christmas Eve with our kids and grandchildren. I was not the most chipper and we were missing two Grands. Guess what happened? We had a fabulous time! We could feel the love. We shared wonderful memories of their Dad, brother, and all of our crazy Christmas past. The new normal will be Christmas Eve with Gram at noon, KFC, and shared time. Enjoying watching the kids play. So Bah Humbug Griefy Claus! The kids were gone and that left the three amigos. Ben, Abbey, and I watched SpongeBob Christmas and so many others. We laughed until we cried. Last but not least, a good, hot shower, tucked tight in bed, It’s A Wonderful Life in color on the bedroom tv, and the sweetest daughter beside me made for the best Christmas Eve ever. Ben was busy with the elf work that robbed my Christmas Eve sleep all those years before as a healthy mom staying up til the wee hours of the morning. I slept like Patrick Star under his rock. (SpongeBob reference, parents!)
Before I knew it, the alarm clock was going off. Ben said, “Mom, we have church.” We had the perfect excuse to stay home. There had been a winter storm with dangerous low temperatures. Don’t forget Griefy Claus! The one thing that Ken never canceled was church on Sunday, especially the high holy days. That was a rule of our Home: God first. It has been our trusted compass. Ben got me up and ready. We gathered the food items for my mother-in-law’s gathering to drop off, then grabbed her for church. Here comes Griefy Claus! She had burst pipes and no electricity. We ended up with a lot of good ham and another gathering collapse. New season. Ben learned to make pecan pie from one of our good friends. We wanted to give something special for people that doesn’t come from a store and means a bit more. I was ever so glad to be in church. I cried but it was tears of joy. My joy meter was 100% before we were to the Gospel. Our daughter leading music and pies for the church family made my heart swell three sizes. Although the other traditional gathering collapsed, a new one was born. We had Ab’s boyfriend pop in and my other son, too. It was like a trip back in time. They were laughing and playing video games. It was the BEST. Just our little brood. I felt Ken and Nick were right there with us. My husband was a father first and foremost. He worked so so hard his entire life for us. The children we shared came through, heavenly and earthly. Grief didn’t stop Christmas. Somehow it came just the same. The love never left us. This morning Ben and I talked about dying young and the old saying only the good die young. This life is so full of grief, the earthly one. It makes a Celestial Christmas sound even better. Not the Monty Python heaven, back row. Stay with me! That is why we believe that there is so much more on the other side. No GRIEF! Let’s not forget that mortality issue. Remember the first time you realized that you were destined to be dust? Eye opener! The whole world does fall in love this time of year. It is the most wonderful time of the year. Why? That’s right front row, light entered the darkness and Jesus Christ entered our earthly drama. He brought the best Christmas gift of all.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Griefy Claus Gal
Quote for the Day:
“Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” -Emily Dickinson
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” -Helen Keller
“Say not in grief that they are gone, but give thanks that they were yours.” -Hebrew proverb
Things Griefy Claus taught me:
Don’t think that my children will love the same tic-tacky Christmas trappings (decorations) putting them up and down! No decorations next year just a tree, the memory one, and one nativity. Peace is better than the grief!
I get that a new chapter has begun and I have to be a BLT: BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER. There is a purpose for me on this side of heaven.
In my mind I have a to-do list that is longer than Santa’s: thank yous, budgets to balance, insurance to buy, and more to-do lists to make. Last Thursday, I felt its weight. I had to do something to feel again. I had to self talk myself to get up, stay awake, listen, participate, and try to get my Thursday to some kind of normalcy. I have an online Bible study each Thursday. Our online class was there in cyberspace waiting to meet. Guess what students? I did it and I was so grateful, relieved, and reassured by these faithful friends. They are in their “ Brady Bunch” zoom boxes. Just like the One with us, never wavering, and always there for us. I could feel my spirits lift.
Change. My life is so different, but I realized I am wasting days. I am fighting to leave as much love as possible to my family, friends, and everyone I meet. I don’t need to waste a second. Remember my to do lists? I am making lists of love. Watch out! I may show up to bring you some Holiday cheer! I have been giddy today finding my groove. Remembering the magic of Christmas, my daughter’s voice and the Holy Spirit at her last collegiate Christmas Choir Concert. Warning! Get your kleenex. I promise good and bad tears, cross my heart! I felt my husband more than usual.
Choir was and is our youngest child’s gift from God. We have traveled as far as New York City to see her perform. We gave her tools, opportunities, and support to help her excel. She blossomed into an amazing classical musician, pianist, songwriter, and Operatic singer. Her Choir scholarships help make it possible for her to get four years of college for one year. Thanks to our Mr. Bart, Mr. Davis, and her hard work.
Ken NEVER missed one activity our children had. Never. Did I? Yes. My husband was a Saint. I called him and still say he’s my St. Joseph. On the drive down to Memphis for her last Christmas Concert, as we rolled down Highway 51 I was remembering all of those trips that we had together either chasing a concert, a child’s performance, or vacations. He wanted so badly to make it until our girl graduated from college. The tears rolled with the miles. Sure some were sad tears because I miss him, but they were also because I was so grateful for our life together. He left us a million memories, a million playlist to listen to, a million bad dad jokes, a million good night sleep tight I love yous, a million songs that remind us of what is important, and a billion smiles to remember. I thank God everyday all I have to do is close my eyes and I can find something beautiful from my time on Earth in my mind. If you can’t do that, students, you need to work on it. God gives us this life as well as the next. Here it is at Christmas and I really need you to be in the moments with your people. These memories are part of your treasure chest. Hold it tight. Yes it is homework!
We arrived and I immediately had PTSD from the last few years of coming to the concert. It literally took God and all the gumption we had just to get there, especially last year. It was blustery and rainy and I had to roll down the streets of Memphis in my wheelchair to get a police officer to help get him to the venue. His anxiety was off the charts, and I had no clue how I was going to talk him down. This was her junior year and the music department was privy to whom these two disabled parents belonged. We had to get the front handicap entrance open because the back one didn’t accommodate a wheelchair. So as Ken and I limped in, we were spotted. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. We were led to front and center. We both cried last year. Cried because she did an excellent job, and we soaked it all in to our treasure chest of moments. I was shaken out of my reverie when my son said, “The wheelchair lift won’t work.” Murphy’s Law! We pulled out front, five minutes till showtime, and this my students is when the wailing and anxiety take over me. He said, “ I’ve got it mom.” Thank you Ken and Granddaddy Wayne for passing those mechanical genes to our three sons. He had to hand crank me in and out of the van but thanks be to God we did not miss her singing. So after all of that and getting two 83 year old Grams to the restroom, I think we’re on angel wings, along with the Holy Spirit and using God’s speed. We arrived at the beautiful Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, one of the oldest churches in Memphis,Tennessee. We got a good seat, not as good as last year’s event. I don’t think I opened my eyes very much at all. I felt his arm over my shoulder and his voice whispering periodically, “Do you hear Abbey?” I did. Her voice is so bold, and full bodied, and angelic. Between songs he would take pictures and ALWAYS video her solos, not this year. Every girl should get a Dad like Ken. Hey, I should write the book for Dad’s expecting a daughter. Ha! Here’s the title: Secret Club! I called it their S.C. aka Secret Club. His Board of Directors Monthly meetings alway gave them a S.C. meeting. They were so close and my heart breaks for her and other girls who were given too little time with their fathers. Remember what I said about treasure chests? Open them, revisit them, and most definitely make more for your journey. Yes, it’s your holiday homework! I hear that unfriendly “Ho, Ho, Ho” back row! Be good for goodness sake.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Treasure Chest Gal
Workin’ hard every day
Never notice how the time slips away
People come, seasons go
We got something that’ll never grow old.
I don’t care if the sun don’t shine
And the rain keeps pouring down on me and mine ‘Cause our kind of love never seems to get old It’s better than silver and gold.
In my mind today I am winnowing my words and thoughts. I know back row; what in the world is winnowing? I am simply separating and selecting. Students, we each have a finite time to do good. It is very important to keep your soul and mind on what is important. There are only so many situations that you can make a difference. You do not need to waste the space in your head or your heart. This has been a new lesson for me. I am getting there slowly but surely. The one thing that is meeting me as I do this is peace. As I eliminate more things that I can do nothing about, these things that I can come to the forefront. I have told you before that the most precious commodity is this little time we spend together on Earth. Don’t waste it!
What if an angel came to you and told you tomorrow you will die? Examine your soul and mind. What occupies it or both of them? Are they full of things you can do nothing about? Are you thinking of someone who has hurt you? Are you dwelling on money, the lack of or acquisition of it? Is the psycho babble of the world rattling in your head and heart? Are addictions stealing your morals? Is every thought about yourself? It looks like we all need to winnow our thoughts and souls and words. I just got an amen from the front row!
I don’t write to make you feel hopeless; I write to hopefully inspire you to a greater calling: an Agape love. Every single thing in our lives works toward something. Renewal. It is so evident especially in the Spring. Down to the last atom there is a purpose for life.The time-line continues forward infinitely. Atoms of our forefathers greet us in the budding of trees. Nothing is wasted in nature as God intended. One day we will meet eternity. This is a thought worth saving. This thought can help you understand how precious this little life is and do your good works for God on this leg of your journey home.
Homework time! This week students winnow your hearts and minds. Be purposeful. Choose good life giving words. Fill your mind with thoughts of how you can bless others. Here’s an action plan: pray for those people in life that hurt you, pray for those that are elderly and need love, pray for those who are taking care of people who are in need, if you have a chance to help someone, Do it! Look up Agape and let that love guide you. I hope you understand that Ms. Alley “agape” loves you!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the AGAPE GAL
Quotes of the Day by Marcus Aurelius:
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.
Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.
Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.
Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.
The best answer to anger is silence.
The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
In my mind today I am thinking about my daily readings from yesterday. There was a man who had been crippled for 38 years. He is just lying there waiting for someone to help him get into the waters. 38 years. When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be well he did not wait for the answer. He told him to pick up the mat and walk. He did.
I can totally relate to the man lying around for 38 years. I have been wheelchair bound since 2015. As I write this blog, I am waiting to get a shower. I can’t get up and do it myself. If it were feasible I would have a shower every single day. In order for me to do that I would have to have some type of time travel device. In order to bathe a quadriplegic it takes about 2 hours to do everything. Although I cannot walk and carry my mat, I improvise. Students the mat can be any type of limitation that you have.
I was asked to give a speech last Sunday at our little parish. It definitely was a “mat” situation. I did not want to do it but God kept pushing me to pick up my “mat.”
My heart has been very heavy lately. The last thing I wanted to do was to talk about my journey of faith. As I watched, sang and listened to our special guest artist, Sarah Hart, God nudged me. She was talking about her mother and the legacy of love that mother’s provide. I had already decided to do a 3 point speech about the elephant in the room[me in the scoot with ALS], my/our purpose, and seeking to see Jesus in our lives. Just before leaving to go to make this speech, I got a call from my daughter. She had just been through a traumatic experience. Most of you know my daughter and know that she is a music major as well as an education major. She has 20 hours this semester. She had 22 hours last semester. My girl has been very busy and exhausted. She is a junior in college. She had text me earlier in the week about a competition in voice that she was going to be auditioning at the University of Memphis. She was super pumped and super excited and super prepared! She thought she had made it to the next level. She kept asking them where her evaluation was. She and a choir friend went together. She did not make the cut. Her friend did. On top of that they could not find her scores. The scores would help her deal with her failure. She had called me Sunday right before I left to give the speech to tell me about this traumatic experience. I listened and let her cry. It hurts so much to hear your children cry. She started tearing herself down as I was listening to her. I simply asked her, Who do you need to worry about impressing in this life? Where do you get most of your joy from singing? I also asked her if she had someone there to hug her? She told me that she did. I told her I was so thankful that God put some arms there to hug her but to lean into the phone and feel my hug. She laughed and said I have some things to do and I am so glad that I talked to you. After we got off the phone I had about 15 minutes till time to be at the church.
The speech did explain the key points but God put something else on my heart. I can’t quite remember everything that I shared. I also shared part of the book that I began after being in the hospital last year on this same week in 2021. A lot of people told me I did a fabulous job but I felt like a fabulous flop. The other presenter told me about the wonderful job I did. I told her jokingly that next year whenever I get this book published we would do it again! She agreed, so watch out next March!
I’m going to end this blog with a little of what I shared. Prayers that I get my homework[my book Resurrection published]done students. Yes pray for me; it’s homework!
by Sarah Alley
I am going to tell you the story of how God used my broken body one Holy Week during March and April of 2021.
God has (and does!) speak to me as I have been going down this bumpy road with my health. I have a motor neuron disease that takes pieces of my muscle each day I am alive. It destroys my motor neurons so my brain cannot speak to them.
All this has led to so many wonderful miracles because of my weakness.
When I was first diagnosed and knew what the path I was on would be – a body so atrophied – I was very angry with God. I had a sweet friend that told me to stop being bitter and to stop being angry.
“Just because you are having to teach children while using a cane, that should not matter. You should tell God why you’re angry and talk with him.”
She told me to go to my closet and have it out with God.
One thing she told me before she left my classroom that day was, “You need to think about the things you can still do, Sarah. You have to let go of the things you cannot do. I know you’ve always been a runner and an athlete, but you are so much more. When you get home, you tell God how you feel.”
When she left my room, I’m not going to say that I wasn’t angry at her. Part of me grumbled, ‘What does she know? She can still walk. She can still get out there and play with her students and her children. She is really blessed because she can still wipe her own butt!”
That’s how I judge things these days. If you can wipe your own butt, you are so very blessed. (As a teacher, I often bird walk – so that was a little bird walk.)
That day, when I got home I did go to my closet.
I sat in the wheelchair that I was using part-time, because I was fighting so hard to keep myself from being abnormal.
I wanted to be normal for my students.
In those moments in the closet, I told God I was so angry.
“God, why me? I have such a fruitful job. I’m bringing so many children to You that are broken. I help them to learn to love You, God, but I cannot teach if I cannot walk and be there. God, You know these children. These children are the rowdy children that You have blessed me with, and I have to be physically strong. These are my favorite children, the children that people throw away. God, help me to still be there for them longer.”
I sat there. And cried.
And then, I heard God in my mind.
“My sweet girl, you are so much more than your physical body.”
I had peace.
So, the next day, I did what my friend told me to do.
I embraced all the things I could still do. And those things blessed my road as a teacher.
I am very good with technology. I was still able to teach through technology until my 21st year, and then my body began to give out. I was not able to breathe properly. My diaphragm was dying.
While teaching one day, I passed out.
When I woke up, one of my students, Jari, said, “Ms. Alley, we think you have narcolepsy.”
I knew something was terribly wrong.
That evening, I was rushed to the hospital in Jackson, Tennessee.
My husband got me up. He tried to help me get ready and I was so sick I had a bowel movement all over my body. He had to help me get in the shower, clean me off, put me in the truck, and rush me to the hospital.
The whole time he was driving, my blood pressure and my oxygen levels were fading away. My husband kept putting the oximeter on me to check me.
“Please stay with me, Sarah. Please stay with me.”
I made him go by his work to fax some important papers to my wonderful physical therapist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
He said, “Sarah, we don’t have time for this.”
I said, “You need to do this, because I need a chair so I’m still able to teach.”
He stopped and faxed the papers. And then we were on our way to Jackson County Hospital.
When we got there, I was rushed back. I was fading fast.
They put me on a ventilator, but my body was so tired. I was dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.
I was unconscious for two days. I remember a nurse coming in and saying, “If you will not wear this mask, you will die. Your body is full of poison.”
I let them place the mask on me.
After lots of prayers and petitions at my bedside, I went on a magical trip.
My body felt so light and I was tingly all over. It was like I was in some type of other world. I was riding in a red convertible Cadillac with my son. I think I dreamed of this car, or was given this car during this dream because of the movie Thelma and Louise. My leg was draped over the side. My son Ian was driving the Cadillac.
The thing that was odd or very strange, was that we were flying through the clouds. We were circling the Earth and then God talked to me.
My son said, “Mother, if you need to go home, it’s okay. Jesus will take you. You can go home, but you know you have to fight if you want to stay.”
I was so tired and exhausted. My body was wanting to fly home to heaven.
We were driving through the clouds and God said to me, “If you want to come home, let me touch your toe as you come by me. You will know when I will be by you. I will ask you 3 times.”
My son and I were having a great vacation in the clouds. We were floating along.
Then he looked at me and said, “Mama, we’re coming up to God.”
God asked, “Do you want to come home?”
At the last minute, I pulled my foot away so we still were in flight. We ventured in the car and we looked and saw so many odd people, so many odd creatures, so many other inexplicable things. It was unreal and I could not quite figure out where these creatures came from; it was a world I have never seen before.
My son touched my arm and he said, “God is up ahead. What are you going to do?”
So I began to think about that wonderful rest and that wonderful glory. But, at the last minute, I looked at my son and I pulled my foot back.
We rolled on again and we landed in a city that was so broken. It was like a Sodom and Gomorrah. It was evil. Animals were dead everywhere; things were horrible. It was like an apocalyptic scene. There was pollution everywhere. The earth was charred and gas emissions and smoke belched from deep chasms. There was no life. The stench was overcoming. My heart squeezed in my chest.
We began to move forward again, leaving the broken world behind,.
My son said, “Mother, God is up ahead. Are you wanting to go home?”
I just sat there in silence.
We came upon the brightness of God. I waited to the exact last minute possible – even up to the nanosecond – then I pulled my foot back. I woke up and was so happy to see all of my children and family around my bed. They had been praying for me to come home to Earth and I did.
Let’s fast forward about seven years to March 2021. It was a Tuesday.
My sweet mother-in-law had such a hard time during the pandemic. She almost lost her husband. She almost lost her own life. And she still had so many children she watched over. She came to have a break. She has so many burdens.
Tuesdays were our days to get together and to write cards of encouragement to parishioners. We write little notes of love to others in our little town to let them know we love them and we’re thankful for them. This day, we had decided to work our Bible Club questions in with our visit.
After she fed me lunch, we went into the living room and she got comfortable. She got her writing pad and we were going to begin our study on John chapter 1.
My nurse came by to access my port, so I could begin my infusions. The medicine helps to get the toxins out of my blood so my motor neurons can stay healthy longer. After my port was assessed and my nurse had left, I began to feel very strange.
I was tingly all over again like I had been before. I felt my body become lighter. There was a buzz feeling, like I was leaving it. I was so cold. My son wrapped me in three blankets and put a space heater under me. My teeth were chattering so hard it was hurting my teeth.
My son looked at me and he asked, “Mother are you dying?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t feel right. Will you call my nurse back?”
We called her and she came right away. She checked everything she could.
She said, “Ms. Sarah, Everything looks good. I don’t know what’s going on.”
I had a little reprieve during her stay to check me over and my chills abated. My jaws quit clacking. She had no sooner left my side and I began another vicious attack of tingling, my ears were hot, my jaw was chattering so hard.
My son looked at me and asked, again, “Mom are you dying?”
I said, “Get your grandmother’s oximeter please.”
He placed the oximeter on my hands and my heart rate was 40. Then, my heart rate was racing to 130. Then, down to 40. It was up and down. Up and down. I was so scared because I knew I was going to die in front of my family.
I told him, “Please call 911.”
A little comic relief here:
He said, “How do I call?”
I said, slowly, “Call 9-1-1. Just push 9-1-1.”
I was talking with the emergency team, and I said, “I just don’t feel right. I’m hurting. I’ve got all these symptoms. I don’t know what’s wrong with my body, but I don’t feel right. Something’s going on.”
They started asking a lot of questions.
I said, “Look, please send someone.”
She said, “Honey, we are sending them. But please stay on the phone with me, so you can stay conscious.”
So in walks the ambulance team.
I’m sitting there, and the EMT says, “Sarah Anderson, What are you doing?”
The EMT was a long-time friend whom I had gone to school with. I played basketball and he was a good baseball player. He was also a very handsome guy and I had heard through the grapevine, he was a player of ladies, too. (That’s a little more comic relief.)
As they’re putting me on the stretcher, and they’re getting me out the door, my sweet daughter is saying my last rights over me. She prayed over me and said, “Mother, repeat after me: Rebuke the Devil, confess your sins.”
I was trying to say all my last rights but I couldn’t focus.
My brain was fuzzy and I was leaving my body again.
As he was rolling up the driveway, I saw a man. This man looked just like my husband’s brother. We call him Daddy Mite. He was grabbing my arm and telling me, “I’m Praying for you.”
Each time he would tell me he was praying, I would tell him to not pray for me, but pray for his mother. We did this about three times. Then, the ambulance door was shut.
Keith got me into the ambulance and when we were in there, he said, “Sarah, I think you are in septic shock.”
I was bewildered.
I said, “I don’t know what that is, I’m just hurting.”
He said, “Honey, if your heart stops, do you want me to bring you back? “
I instantly began to cry.
I watched the sunset in the west as we headed east toward the hospital. I saw the glory of God in the clouds and in the glow of the setting sun. It was my favorite time of day, when God speaks so loudly.
I said to Keith, “I want to go home to God, but my family is not ready for me to leave them.”
He said, “Don’t say anything else, Sarah. I understand and I will take care of you.”
He began to wire his information to the hospital and when I got there, they rushed me back.
They confirmed I had septic shock.
My body was full of e coli. It was in my blood. They thought it could have been from my port activation since it had been 6 months since it had been activated. It could also have been my kidneys, which were having such a hard time dealing with the bacteria in my body.
Two weeks prior, I had been taken off of every antibiotic to allow my body to rest from them.
My doctor said, “Do not get on antibiotics anymore, unless you are urinating blood or you’re hurting so bad that you can’t stand it.”
So, while I’m going through all this in my mind, and, I’m thinking, “Did that have something to do with the sepsis?” I think when the Devil is after you, he throws everything at you to keep you from staying here to do God’s work.
My priest was the first one in the emergency room, before my family. He gave me my last rights. He prayed over me. As I was lying there, I felt the vomit come up in my throat. I was trying to tell my emergency nurse I was going to aspirate.
Father Patrick said, “She’s got ALS. She needs to be tilted up.”
He tilted me just in time, but then I pulled a Linda Blair.
I threw up all over my sweet priest.
I said, “I’m so sorry for going Linda Blair on you, Father Patrick.”
He continued to pray over me, and I continued to lift others up that I knew are hurting. I knew I might not be here to help them get to Him.
So we prayed.
He prayed and I prayed for so many of our parishioners.
I prayed for the people in my life. I was just thankful that God had given me extra time.
Father Patrick said, “Who do you want to see first?”
In my mind today I am thinking about circles. This is the third week of Lent. This week examine your circles. In my readings today, Jesus expanded His Circles.
My Circles change all the time. I have my nuclear family circle. My church family and friends circle which continues to grow. My student circle helps me stay focused and motivated to God’s plan. Circles are so important in our lives.
I was listening to my ten minutes of news and heard about the world’s strife: Ukraine, nuclear weapon races, earthquakes and forest fires, tsunamis, and cyclones. Orphans and widows abandoned while armies March to occupy physical space for its natural resources disregarding the humans in the path of destruction. Is this new? Sadly it has been going on since history became recorded. It so depressed me, but then I thought about Circles.
How could one person make any change for these horrific situations? These events popping up across the globe make me, you, and so many feel helpless and defeated. Most of these situations are not in our Circles. God tells us it’s the human condition and there will always be wars, diseases, catastrophic events, poor struggling people, and death on earth. Sounds like we drew the short straw, but your perspective is key. What can we do?
First and foremost Pray for those areas and ask for God’s protection. Pray for the world everyday and its woes. Now back to our immediate and real work, our circles. This is where we get in the middle of the battles God has put in front of us. Here are some examples: abandoned children in our families and little towns, addicted, broken brothers and sisters, donate to non-profit organizations that are on the front-lines of this war against systemic poverty, ask school systems how you can help children with tough home lives, give of your excess, lead others to the light with your life, and pray for strength to do God’s work where you live. Just think if we all took care of our circles and they took care of us.
God’s kingdom is not on Earth. It is in heaven. We are the ones who are supposed to build-up and protect God’s work on Earth as it is in heaven. It’s a tough job. Start with your circles. Mend them with forgiveness. Grow them with acts of kindness. Show them LOVE: the unconditional kind. Before you know it, your circles will expand and grow. Your circles will change the world. It’s the third week of Lent, grow your circles this week!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Circle Gal
Quotes of the Day:
Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.
The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.
In my mind today I am thinking about life. Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Lent. Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday: the day we remember that we will return to dust. Life on this Earth is so short. This is why it is vital to choose life. How do we get the most out of Lent, the forty days before Easter, much less life? Well students, it takes persistence, patience, time, and humility. Most of all, it takes LOVE. Not the easy love but the kind of love when you come last and everyone else comes first. Easy, right? Forty days is a walk in the park, not! Now try 365 days. Arduous indeed.
We missed the first Sunday of Lent. I absolutely hate to miss church on Sundays. This day has always been reserved as a Family Day for us. Church is the best part. It is the place that helps makes everything make sense. It reminds us of who we are and what our job is in the world. It is where I feel peace. My soul gets refreshed.
We had ventured to Rhodes College in Memphis Saturday night. Our youngest had a choir concert. It was to begin at 7:30 and end at 9 o’clock PM. We arrived at 7:30 PM. It took us 30 minutes to get into the building. This is just the way life is for us now. Between ALS, dragging oxygen tanks, and anxiety attacks, it was miraculous that we made it. I have to forget that I am a girl in a wheelchair with ALS. I know this does not make sense but it’s true. Whenever my husband gets in trouble I turn into Wonder Woman in a wheelchair! I know that my superpowers come from above. I had to go and get security from campus to drive him over but hey we made it! It is funny but my family and my friends forget that I have ALS. Which is fantastic! Others look at us wondering what in the world are these two people thinking. I am sure they think that we have escaped the nursing home. When it comes to our family, friends and especially children we choose life. We choose to take risks to be there. We choose life. We trust in God. What is that Bible verse front row? That’s right, if God is for us, who can be against us?
Students it is the beginning of Lent and I want you to choose life. I want you to help others choose life. Instead of giving up something frivolous, choose action. Try to give of yourself. Here is a precept for you: Matthew 25:37-40 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
It is the 40 days of Lent. What are you going to give to help others choose life? A life of sacrifice to help others is priceless. Live a life that will turn others back to God and the virtues he gave us. A life that will choose and have a just God rule over your inalienable rights not man or men. God gives and men will take. This Lent how will you choose to use your time, talent, and treasures to help others CHOOSE LIFE!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the CHOOSE LIFE Gal
Quotes of the Day:
You only love Jesus as much as the person you love the least. Dorothy Day
“In our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us remember the One who “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the “living water” of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ.”
“Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him. Fasting involves choosing a sober lifestyle; a way of life that does not waste, a way of life that does not “throw away”. Fasting helps us to attune our hearts to the essential and to sharing.”
In my mind today, I’m thinking of strengths and weaknesses. We all have them. Right now is a very weak or difficult time for me. Every time I move two steps forward in my home-family life, spiritual life, church life, community life, and author/writing life I am shoved three steps backwards. You notice I didn’t mention physical life. That is because God carries me and I have no worries. If physically I crumpled, I know God and what the endgame would be. Faith.
Memento mori, students. The world is wanting us to forget this. My son who takes care of us brought this Marcus Aurelius quote to my attention. Yes, regardless of your status we all pass on from the earth. How do you interpret this? Back row do you say YOLO? Front row: do you say it’s best to get as much money as we can to live as long as possible in comfort? Invest well! What about the rest of you? My husband and I are an everyday Joe and Jane. We have worked and we have invested and we have done what the world expected us to do. Guess what? No matter how you do it there is always going to be heart rendering times.
Now that we are both retired we can begin the real work that God wants us to do. I had already started this journey up to retirement 6 years ago. ALS took my job but it didn’t take my spirit. Students do you realize that not even the devil or God can take your will. At first my spirit was broken, then I realized the gifts God gave me in retirement: spiritual growth, teaching high school religious class, Bible studies, time to write and reflect, time to grow my intelligence, time to be still and know God, Turn the Page Book Club, bond with my middle child, see my Grands, and be on committees to help our little town. Now hopefully my husband can do the same and join me for our “real” Earthly work before our departure.
Families are so complicated. At Shady Oaks Retirement Home, our house, we have “incidents.” Some are over quickly but some of these linger and creep into our daily lives and squash our happiness for weeks. It emotionally deflates me. It tries to deplete my spiritual life. Some days like today I hang on by a thread of hope. Hope that my children are not scarred from caring for two fragile parents. Prayers that they will see God’s work through me even though many times I am pushed to my physical limits. Trying desperately to lead by example. Our last book club book was The Kite Runner. I so related to the father. It made me think that we have always had prodigal sons from the beginning. Look at the first, Lucifer. There is a struggle in the dynamics of children with parents. There always will be on earth. This is one of the crosses of having children. As hard as we try, we can never make their lives “happy.” That is the hardest thing for a parent.
“Lord, be glorified in my weaknesses as well as in my strengths.” This was my simple prayer reflection today. It inspired this blog. God knows how terribly weak we are. God also knows how terribly strong we are. Pray today for God to help us persevere THROUGH our weaknesses and to provide strength to do “the real work” in our Earthly journey. Happy snow day students!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Do the Work Gal
Quotes of the Day:
“When you retire, that is when your real work begins.”
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.”
“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”
In my mind today I am thinking of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We hear of this every year at Christmas time. Have we ever really taken the time students to look these things up and to define them and create connections within your own minds? It is true what teachers tell you. If you see something unfamiliar or you have no clue, use a dictionary. These three gifts were given and recorded throughout history. King Herod knew the implications of such gifts. He held power over the tribe of Judah. He controlled their high priests. He murdered so many Jewish boys trying to stop the rise of a new King of the Jews. His plans were thwarted. This powerful birth had been foretold. The whole Earth rejoiced and nature sang. Here’s the secret sauce students. It still does. So many good and beautiful things happen at Christmas more than any other time of the year. Let’s talk about those three gifts.
Gold. Think about it, students: the golden rule, the gold standard, more precious than gold, etc. Gold is a precious metal. It has a symbol of AU on the periodic table of elements. They brought the baby Jesus something priceless. A gift to show the worth of this blessed son that would save the world by allowing Agape to be the guidance for all from this day forward. Students, Agape is a special kind of love: sacrificial. What an amazing gift He is. What could we give God this year that is more precious than gold? Could you show great charity? Think about that.
Frankincense. This is a gum or sap that comes from trees in Somalia and coastal Arabia. It is used for its strong perfume when burnt. The smoke is aromatic and used for rituals. It is very expensive. They have discovered that it is good for medicinal reasons: asthma, ibs, cancer, skin problems, and arthritis. It is still harvested today. This gift shows devotion to the health and life of Christ. Christ still lives today within each one of us if we only allow him to be in charge of our hearts. How can you show great devotion, students? Yes it is homework.
Last but not least, myrrh. It is also a resin or gum from a tree. These trees grow naturally in these countries: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia. It also has medicinal properties just like frankincense. It also has uses for perfume and incense. It has been used before Christ came as a man in religious ceremonies of the Hebrews. Moses used it. Jacob used it. Esther used it. Jesus was given it on the cross mixed with wine. Joseph of Arimathea gave it for Jesus’s burial. Ancient Egyptians as do those of Islamic faith used and use it. It is used to anoint holy people. It represents a sacrifice. What could you sacrifice for Christ? Would you sacrifice? Some people can’t even do this. They have become so self centered which is the very opposite of why Christ came to this world. Agape.
Today is the last day of Christmas for us as Catholic christians. It is the Epiphany of our Lord. The realization that God did enter the world and He came to save us by giving us a better way to love: Agape. As I watch the children from my window play in the snow, I wish you a Happy Agape Day! Now get outside and enjoy students! Build a Snowman for me and throw a few snowballs! The best of all is to sled. Be sure to do plenty of that!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Agape Gal
Quotes of the Day:
1. “When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, ‘Works Of Love’, 1847.
2. “Shine your soul with the same egoless humility as the rainbow and no matter where you go in this world or the next, love will find you, attend you, and bless you.”
― Aberjhani, ‘Journey Through The Power Of The Rainbow: Quotations From A Life Made Out Of Poetry’, 2014.
3. “Divine love, agape, is self-sacrificing love, which sounds difficult, as it is, and not very attractive. If the best image we have of love is of a man who’s been tortured and hung upon a cross … But it is the highest Christian image of love.”
― Kevin Hart, ‘The Poetry And Prayers Of Kevin Hart’, 2011.
4. “Agape is total love… Whoever knows and experiences agape learns that nothing else in the world is important – just love.”
― Paolo Coelho, ‘The Pilgrimage’, 1987.
5. “The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.”
In my mind today I am thinking about cause and effect. I remember the days of teaching Language Arts. Oh, how I loved to intertwine all of those academic subjects into one! I was even able to teach history through the language arts. The history teachers loved me. Language arts is the study of literature, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
Today I am talking about cause and effect. This used to be a standard in the curriculum that we had to be sure students understood. The thing is it can be applied to our lives today. This is how you teach. You teach students to use what they learned in your class and apply it to the lives that they will live as adults.
Cause and effect. Let’s look at our world today. What is causing all of the grief and turmoil in this world? In our country? In our little cities? In our homes? Let’s work backwards. Yes students, I know I have taught you many ways to figure out problems especially in math. Look at the answer 21, and then figure out, how in the world did you get that answer? Well that is cause and effect. What caused you to get the number 21, for example? Did you multiply seven 3 times? Did you add up three rows of 7? What operation did you use to get the answer 21?
Cause and effect. What is happening right now in our world? What causes: School shootings, unwanted children, fatherless children, children orphaned from addictions of their parents, genocides, human trafficking, plagues, floods, famine, etc. These are all effects. What causes this to happen in a society of civilized people? We are definitely not focused on the family. I said this on purpose because this is something I used to listen to and read books about from the person that coined this phrase: Dr. James Dobson.
When I became a mother, I became scared. Scared of what the world would do to my children. I was so desperate to find a way to protect them. The first thing I did was to ask my husband to help us find a church to attend and raise our children. This is something that I never had but I saw others had. I had a very hard working mother, trying to survive with 5 children and an absent father for a while because of addictions. She didn’t have the luxury of time to take us to church. She would find church services on television to help us or to watch with her. She made me understand how important it was to have God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to help you through all these terrible famines, floods, and storms of life. One of her favorites for us to watch together was Adrian Rogers of Bellevue Baptist church in Memphis, Tennessee.
You see, my mother never learned to drive, but she tried to find a way to help us look towards something bigger that would help us have order at our houses and homes when we became mothers and fathers. My 5th grade teacher called the television the Idiot Box. I understand why because now we have miniature idiot boxes. We are letting things control us instead of using them to help us. My mother used the Idiot Box to help us the best way she could while working late shifts and overtimes so we could be okay.
Students, let’s analyze this. The cause of me searching so desperately to be the best mother I could possibly be was my mother pointing the way to something better than this life. My mother did not have a lot of money, but she had so much love for her God and her children. She knew that that would be a greater gift. She prayed all of the time. We found several notebooks filled with prayers for us. We understood she feared for our souls as well as our Earthly lives. She knew that she was limited, but her God wasn’t. He would help us through the storms of life. She told us there was a right and wrong. The effects of my mother’s love and prayers are that some of her children are still believing and try to give their children that inheritance that can never be taken away. Back row students, listen. My mother had 5 children, and we are not perfect, but we do understand that this world is not the end of it all. She is the reason. She is the cause, and my life is the effect.
Let’s take the lesson to a bigger picture than just one family. Look at the world. We have children murdered every day. I am sad to say in the good old USA we have abortions, school shootings, and human trafficking. What is the cause of this? We are losing our connection with the Divine. Mothers do not know how to be mothers. Fathers do not know how to be fathers. Children are brought into a world of turmoil. They have no structure. Destruction is what they have, or a structure of busyness.
We are too busy to go to church. We are too busy to spend time with our children. We have been lulled to sleep with technology and the fear of missing out. YouTube is a babysitter. Being a parent is the hardest job if you do it right. It is a huge struggle. We don’t have the time to do it the way it should be done. We do have time, however, to shuffle thousands of activities that keep them from being children. We want them to be something bigger.
I was an athlete, and it is true that your competition practices while you are asleep. In reality, only a small percentage will be able to go forward as a professional athlete, but then what? In one of the blogs I have written recently, I talked about building things up instead of tearing things down. If you do not understand your past, and if you do not have traditions that are good and pure for your family, then your present moments are just discombobulated.
We live in the present moment. Our present moments are guided by our traditions of family. If we tear those down, we have done a grave injustice to our children. If you spend all of your moments without goals, you have no future. You won’t have a future. We want everything right now. Impatience.
Students, do you think that we are very impatient? We cannot tear down our family traditions, because if we do, we tear down our families. That is exactly what El Diablo wants. He wants us to forget how to be mothers and fathers. Is it working? My precious mother knew that when she had children, they would be her legacy. They would be how she put what she loved so dearly into the future. What are the mothers and fathers of today putting into their children for a legacy? Are they filling them with virtue and morals? Or are they teaching them how to be a better rat in the rat race?
Here’s the rub: they are not teaching much of anything to the children anymore. It is not the school’s job to raise your children. It is not the government’s job to provide for all of your children. It is your job. It would be fabulous to have a professional athlete for a son or daughter, but the BEST joy is to be a good mother or father. To see them choose the better part of this earthly life, which is to love each other and to take care of the most important thing that God gives us: our families.
Wake up, America. Wake up, world. Just like James Dobson told us, we need to focus on the family if we want to make what we have left a better place to live. Understand that love is an action verb. It is not an emotion. It is not sex or lust. It is a sacrificial gift of one person to another. Sacrifice. It gives up everything to God.
Sacrifice your desires to help your partner be the best mother or father they could possibly be. That goes both ways within a marriage. That’s why we call marriage a sacrament from God. It is not to be looked upon as all pleasure. It is not to be looked upon as trivial or easy. Marriage and love are very hard. It is not just a whimsical passion of unfettered love. We have definitely lost our focus on the family.
This is the 1st week of advent, and this is what I hope for us in this country: focus on the family again. Yes back row, this is homework!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Cause and Effect Gal
Quotes of the Day:
The best way to get children to do what you want is to spend time with them before disciplinary problems occur—having fun together and enjoying mutual laughter and joy. When those moments of love and closeness happen, kids are not as tempted to challenge and test the limits. Many confrontations can be avoided by building friendships with kids and thereby making them want to cooperate at home. It sure beats anger as a motivator of little ones!
Nations that are populated largely by immature, immoral, weak-willed, cowardly, and self-indulgent men cannot and will not long endure. These types of men include those who sire and abandon their children; who cheat on their wives; who lie, steal, and covet; who hate their countrymen; and who serve no god but money. That is the direction culture is taking today’s boys.
Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.
No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.
Great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes.
Whenever two human beings spend time together, sooner or later they will probably irritate one another. This is true of best friends, married couples, parents and children, or teachers and students. The question is: How do they respond when friction occurs? There are four basic ways they can react:
• They can internalize the anger and send it downward into a memory bank that never forgets. This creates great pressure within and can even result in disease and other problems.
• They can pout and be rude without discussing the issues. This further irritates the other person and leaves him or her to draw his or her own conclusions about what the problem may be.
• They can blow up and try to hurt the other person. This causes the death of friendships, marriages, homes, and businesses.
• Or they can talk to one another about their feelings, being very careful not to attack the dignity and worth of the other person. This approach often leads to permanent and healthy relationships.