On behalf of the Spiritual Life Team, I invite you to pause for a moment to center on being thankful.
What are you thankful for in this moment?
How will you show your gratitude today?
Here are some inspirational thoughts to guide us in our practice of gratitude:
Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. Alice Walker
Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. Henri Frederic Amiel
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Ward
Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
I believe deeply that gratitude is an essential component of positive living. Gratitude is healing and transforming. It cannot be imposed; gratitude can be nurtured and modeled. Gratitude makes us more fully who God created each of us to be. It brings us perspective.
Be intentional about living in gratitude. Let us look for ways to show our gratitude to God (Higher Power) and to one another.
Don’t forget to do something kind for yourself in gratitude for the gift of your life and the unique person you are.
On Wednesday of this week UMHC and BCC held a merger celebration. Some of you may know that for many years UMHC has used a heart as part of its logo. The picture above includes a heart and it reminded me of how grateful we are to be working together as one. We are grateful for the past years of dedicated service through our organizations; we give thanks for the promise of the future together and we express gratitude for the present partnership that will lead to impacting more children, more families, and more communities.
I conclude with one verse of scripture from the early Church: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)
On behalf of the Spiritual Life Team, I invite you to take a moment and breathe… center yourself in compassion and kindness.
This week’s theme of our 40 Days of Positive Actions and Thoughts is related to our third core value: we respond with empathy.
I offer this quote to get you thinking and to encourage conversations with one another.
Empathy: “Let me hold the door for you. I may have never walked in your shoes, but I can see your soles are worn, your strength is torn under the weight of a story I have never lived before. Let me hold the door for you. After all you’ve walked through, It’s the least I can do.” -Morgan Harper Nichols
Responding with empathy requires effort and intentional action. It is important to remember that feeling empathy and compassion for others and ourselves must lead to action if we are to have an impact.
I offer this prayer from a Native American tradition:
Oh, Great Spirit, Help me to remain calm and strong In the face of all that comes toward me. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden In every leaf and rock. Help me seek pure thoughts and act With the intention of helping others. Help me find compassion Without empathy overwhelming me.
-Great Spirit Prayer
For those who wish to turn to Christian scriptures, I offer a reminder that empathy and compassion are at the heart of following Jesus Christ.
“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:14)
Jesus’ teaching is grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18
I close with this thought-provoking quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who gave his life for his Christian faith as an anti-Nazi dissident:
We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, And more in the light of what they suffer.
We hold you in our prayers and compassionate intentions.
On behalf of the entire Spiritual Life Team, I invite you to spend a few moments in intentional positive thinking.
We have completed one quarter (10 days) of our commitment to 40 Days of Positive Actions!
Thank you for striving with us in this journey. I am grateful for each one of you.
How are you doing with daily acts of gratitude, kindness and positive thinking? I hope that you are noticing some changes in yourself. Perhaps you are like me and have experienced some challenges to focusing on being positive.
At times, I am sure that we all have lost focus. When this happens, gently direct your attention back to the positive. Remember that the more time you spend in positive thinking, the more positive your thinking will be. In addition, your individual positivity makes a difference for our community.
Our theme for this coming week is based on BCC’s second core value:
Act with Integrity.
We also suggest the action theme of Be Honest.
Integrity is compromised of honesty but also truth, congruity, sincerity, and consistency. It requires ethics, thoughtfulness, intentionality, principles, coherence and moral rightness.
How would you define or describe integrity?
Consider some of these quotes.
Integrity is doing the right thing even when it is difficult. Anonymous
Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Oprah Winfrey
Integrity, the choice between what’s convenient and what’s right. Tony Dungy
Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. W. Clement Stone
I believe that we live with integrity when our beliefs, words and actions are congruent with who we say we are and who we are in actuality.
Integrity is the difference between just “talking the talk” and “walking the walk.”
I asked a group of our youth to define integrity. Here was one answer: “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching and holding yourself accountable when you don’t do the right thing.”
Let’s hold each other accountable with our commitment to positive actions today and this week.
I am grateful for these moments of centering and for your participation.
If you would like some scriptures to consider, please continue reading.
The integrity of the honest keeps them on track. Proverbs 11:3a (The Message)
May integrity and honesty protect me for I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:21 (New Living Translation)
Observe those who have integrity and watch those whose heart is right because the future belongs to persons of peace. Psalm 37:37 (Common English Bible)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
When we live and act with integrity, we will have peace.
Blessings on our week ahead –
Rev. Stacey Nickerson
Director of Church and Community Engagement
Board Of Child Care of The United Methodist Church, Inc.
3300 Gaither Road
Baltimore, MD 21244
(443) 845-4388 firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the first week of 40 Days of Positive Actions and Thoughts!
On Wednesday, everyone in our BCC community was invited to take this pledge:
I make a commitment to strive for positivity in my life for the next 40 days. I will practice being kind to others as well as to myself.
We begin our positive actions with taking care of ourselves and making sure that we are safe. I once heard that people training to become Buddhist monks spend the first year of their training learning how to be compassionate with themselves. In order to care for others effectively, we must first care for ourselves.
Where are you in making yourself a priority? How do you care for yourself as a whole person – physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, intellectually?
How can you practice being kind to yourself?
In terms of our BCC core values, safety is first. Safety is our mindset at all times and in all situations. We work in a trauma-informed way to prepare our environment, ourselves and others. What can you do this day to help yourself and others be safe?
You can act on increasing your safety and the safety of others wherever you are. Each one of us impacts the overall environment and we can contribute positively to the safety of our BCC community.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
check around for items that might be a threat to someone’s safety such as a sharp item discarded on the sidewalk
deepen trust in your therapeutic relationships
introduce yourself to a visitor or a staff/youth you do not know
plan for an emergency
help a child or young person to talk about how they can contract for safety for themselves
“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” -Jodi Rell
Thank you for taking a moment to reflect with me on positivity, particularly in terms of self-care and safety.
For those of you who would like some religious resources, read on for selected scripture verses in the Judeo-Christian traditions.
The most ancient God is a place of safety; the eternal arms are a support. Deuteronomy 33:27
My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. God is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. God is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:3
I will lie down and fall asleep in peace because you alone, God, let me live in safety. Psalm 4:8
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. God is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. Psalm 16:9
God’s name is a place of protection – good people can run there and be safe. Proverbs 18:10
You can go to God Most High to hide. You can go to God All-Powerful for protection. I say to God, “You are my place of safety, my fortress. My God, I trust in you.” Psalm 91:1-2
As appropriate, I encourage to discuss images of God that help us feel safe and secure in our relationship with God. The scriptures give us many starting points for discussion.
May we work together with God’s blessing to increase our sense of safety as individuals and as a community. May we be kind to ourselves and then extend that kindness to others.
On behalf of the Spiritual Life Team I would like to invite all of you to participate in the 40 Days of Positive Actions and Thoughts campaign!
I will practice being kind to others as well as to myself.
Everyone is encouraged to increase the positivity in our individual lives and across BCC. We will work together over the next forty days (not counting Sundays) to embody our core values of safety, integrity, empathy and impact. Please join us by taking your pledge of positivity!
I make a commitment to strive for positivity in my life for the next 40 days.
All members of the BCC community are invited to make this commitment. Attached you will find a calendar to keep track of your actions. You can write in each day what you do or check it off or place a sticker or color it in – however you want to record how you live out your commitment for each day. The 40 Days begins on Wednesday, March 6.
Feel free to adapt the chart and use it with your family and friends at home or the young people you work with here.
In order to encourage our BCC youth to participate and provide concrete incentives, we suggest that you tie the pledge of positivity in with our PBIS programs already in place. You may reward positive actions with “behavior bucks” as appropriate.
At the end of the 40 days, we will have opportunities to celebrate our commitment to positivity. Please look for the invitations from our Spiritual Life team.
Along the way, we will be supporting our collective efforts through spiritual life programming and weekly emails with specific suggestions on how to implement positive living. Your actions will make an impact within the entire BCC community and beyond.
Make the commitment – take the pledge – and let’s live and act in a spirit of positivity!
With gratitude from BCC’s Spiritual Life Team:
West Virginia Spiritual Life Coordinator – Mr. Aaron Andrews
Baltimore Spiritual Life Coordinator – Ms. Lakia Johnson
Denton – Pastor John Allen
PA – Pastor Bobby Jones
WV – Ms. Barbara Byers, Substance Abuse Treatment Director
Rev. Stacey Nickerson, Director of Church and Community Engagement
If you are able and would like to join with our youth in Baltimore in celebrating, you are welcome to come to the Chapel on Wednesday, April 18 from 4:15 until 5:00 p.m. Mr. Shawn will be hosting a small reception. We will have certificates for all of our participants. If you would like me to email one to you, please reply to me with your request.
If you cannot join us in person, please pause wherever you are and offer a moment of gratitude to God for yourself and for all of our BCC family! I will be in BWI Airport, most likely, at that time – but please know that I will be expressing my gratitude with intention.
Keep up the positive actions and positive thoughts!
I will be sending more emails of encouragement. Remember, you may opt out from receiving them whenever you wish.
May the beauty and promise of the butterfly inspire us to embrace change with courage, joy and gratitude!
God’s Blessings to you,
I have been reading a book recommended to me by two of our colleagues – The Gratitude Diaries: How A Year Looking On The Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan.
The above quote is from the book.
We are nearing the end of our 40 day commitment and I recommend that each of us begins to plan how we will continue to focus on positive actions and thoughts. I am going to pursue some type of gratitude journal because I know that I need some type of structure in order to keep focused.
Whatever you decide, let’s continue to support one another in positive actions. I am grateful for each of you and this opportunity we have to work together for a common purpose of enriching communities, one family at a time.