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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40 Days of Positivity

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

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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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Practicing Kindness

I would like to share a link to a brief video that I hope you will find helpful for yourself, for the young people and families with whom you work and for your own family and friends.

It is a way to practice kindness.

We used this as our Centering Moment for the October Senior Leadership Team meeting.  Since then I have found myself intentionally sending kind wishes often.

Right now I pause to offer kind wishes to each of you and pray that the practice of kindness increases in our BCC community and throughout our world. May it begin with me.

On behalf of the Spiritual Life team, God’s peace and loving-kindness to all – Stacey

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Prayer Today

I have been reading My Spiritual Journey by The Dalai Lama and have found lots of inspiration and challenge from this spiritual leader and Buddhist monk.  Meditating on his writing is helping me to increase my capacity for the practice of compassion for others and myself.

Here is a prayer offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

I pray for a more loving human family.  Even when I meet a stranger each time I have the same feeling:  “He is another member of my human family.”  Such an attitude deepens my affection and respect for all beings.
May this natural loving-kindness become my small contribution to world peace!
I pray for a world that is more friendly, more loving, and for a better understanding among the human family, on this planet.
That is the appeal I make from the bottom of my heart to all those who hate suffering and cherish lasting happiness.

Will you join me in this prayer and to a commitment to increase our practice of compassion?

Peace,
Stacey

P.S.  This prayer was part of our Centering Moment today at the Senior Leadership Team meeting.  Please feel free to share it with those around you – including colleagues and the young people with whom we work.  Blessings!

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Rosh Hashanah

At sunset yesterday, Wednesday, September 20, our Jewish friends will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and conclude on the evening of Friday, September 22.  The year will be 5778.

Here is a traditional greeting to offer: L’shana tovah u’metukah – “For a good and sweet year.” 

This is pronounced l’shah-NAH toe-VAH ooh-meh-too-KAH (oo as in food).

Please join me in wishing everyone who is celebrating a very happy new year!

L’shana tovah u’metukah!

This is a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate the good things of the past year and look forward to a new beginning with God’s blessing.

I want to share with you a brief video for the celebration. Last year a group of people from different communities around the world recorded a special blessing song for Rosh Hashanah. The video was done by 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center. This is the link to the video: I hope you enjoy it.

 

https://youtu.be/sHlLYhYNbc0

Hope and Peace to all – Rev. Stacey

 

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Follow Me and I’ll Make You Fishers of Men

Scripture Reference: Matthew Chapter 4: Verses 18-20
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of galilee, he saw two brothers-Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew-throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come follow me, and I will show you how to be fishers of men.” And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Simon and Andrew probably thought this was where they were supposed to be in life. They probably thought this was what they were meant to do for a living. That maybe they reached their potential and this was all they would do and be in life. However, Jesus comes along with an offer they couldn’t refuse. He tells them to “follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” In other words, you think what you’re doing now is good, but if you follow me I can show you greatness. They were content catching fish. Jesus called them to change lives.

There are levels in our lives that God wants to take us too. Levels that include amazing opportunities and blessings. Levels that include helping others and having a positive impact in a negative world. Simon and Andrew would not have tapped into the greatness of God if they weren’t willing to follow Jesus. Jesus is telling us today that He can do great things in our lives and takes us to heights that we never imagined, if we’re willing to follow Him. If we’re willing to leave “our nets” and follow Him, He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we should ever ask or think, according to the power that lies in us!

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