This week our focus is on gratitude. 

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)

 

 

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We Respond with Empathy

Good morning – Greetings on this beautiful day!

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.
Stacey

 

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40 Days Centering Moment

Congratulations!  You are halfway to the goal of 40 days of positive actions and positive thoughts.  Keep up the great effort!

I am grateful that we have today – another opportunity for kindness and for positive actions embodying our values of safety and integrity.

More positivity to come in the next 20 days ….

Kindness in words creates confidence.

Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.

Kindness in giving creates love.

-Lao Tzu

When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world. 

-Harold Kushner

Peace to you this day as you strive to be kind to yourself, kind to others and kind to all God’s creation – Stacey

Rev. Stacey Nickerson
Director of Church and Community Engagement
Board Of Child Care of The United Methodist Church, Inc.

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Centering Moment: Act with Integrity

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 –

Stacey

 

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
snickerson@boardofchildcare.org

Enriching communities, one family at a time.

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I make a commitment to strive for positivity in my life for the next 40 days

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.

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40 Days of Positivity: Congratulations

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,
Stacey

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Impact

Our final week brings us to the fourth core value of BCC:

Aim for Impact.  In other words, we are striving to make a difference.

I invite you to look back over your calendar of these last few weeks.
Does any one action stand out for you?  Spirtual
Where were you most challenged?
How have you grown?
What will you do now?

Imagine with me the cumulative effect of all of our positive actions and thoughts blessed by God’s grace.  Thank you!

May God multiply our impact for the good of young people and their families in our communities and in our world.

With hope –
Stacey

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Empathy

A message from Reverend Stacey, BCC Chaplain and Director of Church and Community Engagement.

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. – Mohsin Hamid

“Empathy will guide our programming and culture at all levels. We recognize that without empathy we cannot understand what type of care and encouragement to provide. A supportive work and program environment means possessing a desire to know and understand others.” (BCC Core Value Statement)

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It refers to the ability to relate to another person’s pain vicariously as if one has experienced that pain themselves. Empathy is different from sympathy because you put yourself in another person’s “shoes.”

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.
-Daniel H. Pink

You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself. -John Steinbeck

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant? -Henry David Thoreau

While we are striving to respond with empathy to others around us, we must also be kind to ourselves and feed our own spirits.

I want to interject a bit of humor here with this anonymous quote on empathy: Before you criticize someone … you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

Scriptures in the Judeo-Christian tradition call us to love our neighbors as our selves. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that our neighbor is anyone in need.

We work together as a BCC team to make a positive impact in our communities on behalf of children, youth and families.

Here is an inspirational word from Christian scriptures: So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Our small acts of positive living are making a difference! Always remember, you are not alone.

 

 

This was originally part of our 40 Days of Positive Actions activity, sponsored by BCC Spiritual Life Team.

 

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Be Kind

A message from Reverend Stacey, BCC Chaplain and Director of Church and Community Engagement.

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deed are the fruits.
-19th century rhyme

Our focus this week is on being kind to ourselves as well as to others.

I am reminded of this quote from the Dalai Lama:
“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.”

We need to practice being kind at all times.  Small acts of kindness make all the difference in our lives and in the lives of others. 

In one of our houses in Baltimore, the youth are writing in on their “40 Days of Positive Actions” calendar the specific actions that they are taking each day. One example was that a youth shared a snack with another.  It is inspiring to learn how our young people are making this practice meaningful in their daily lives.  Thank you to all of our staff who are encouraging positive actions and modeling them.

There are many scriptures that make clear God’s desire for us to be kind to one another.  God’s own kindness is our example.

Here are some verses from the Bible to illustrate:

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom God loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
-Colossians 3:12-13 (New Living Translation)

Be kind and loving to each other.
-Ephesians 4:32

The Lord has told you what goodness is.  This is what God wants from you:  Be fair to other people.  Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God.
-Micah 6:8

Let us encourage one another to be kind to ourselves and to be kind to one another.  We all deserve more kindness in our lives as well as the joy of showing kindness!

Hope we have a great week!
Rev. Stacey

And always remember:

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
-Aesop

 

 

This was originally part of our 40 Days of Positive Actions activity, sponsored by BCC Spiritual Life Team.

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