Saturday, July 20, 2019

Spinal Chord

Our spinal chord is the center of our body's functions. It houses our central nervous system which sends impulses for thought and movement. It keeps our bodies upright, enables us to bend, and sit.

Damage to the spinal chord could severely alter our lives. 

The way we live our lives has a spinal chord too. It is called our soul. Our soul is comprised of values and codes of conduct. Our values and codes of conduct provide guidance for handling day to day living in a healthy, positive and supportive way for ourselves, family, friends, neighbors and strangers.

We develop our values and codes of conduct in many ways. At first we learn from the environment in which we were raised. As we mature, we keep or change what we learn to fit who we are becoming. This change can happen over our entire life as we expand our
    knowledge through new experiences and people.

Many of us use our religion's values and codes of conduct for our soul (there are approximately 4,300 religions and about 5.8 billion people of our 7.5 billion population, approximately 84% claim affiliation with one of those religions). And the atheists I know follow a code of conduct to cause not harm and live for the common good of all.

I wonder how our religious values and codes of conduct are influencing our current political life?

How is it okay to pit people against one another through race, the color of our skin?

It appears to me the political stage is being used as the means to win the sought after office through separating us.

Winning at all cost. Proceed with caution.

A departure from our values and codes of conduct could severely alter our souls.

Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting him (Acts chapter 9). Saul was executing followers of Jesus. Saul was operating from his learned values and codes of conduct. And then he experienced something new, blindness and dependence on others. And he experienced new people through this blindness which opens him to a new way of thinking and acting. Saul becomes Paul and is the greatest teacher of Jesus way of living, his way of love and common purpose.

Jesus links himself to humanity in this passage by stating that when we do something to another we are doing it to Jesus. This for me is an answer to why Jesus died in such a horrific and brutal way. Jesus took on all of humanities persecutions (before, during and after his life). These persecutions occur in may different ways and in this post I am pointing us toward our political life. How we act politically is a persecution to those who are harmed.

One political harm is racism. 

Racism is a sin because it says that one color of skin is better that any other color of skin. Racism pits us against each other by giving us the idea that 'I am better that you.' And this attitude has been imbedded into our legal and economic systems. Making it difficult for people of color to flourish and have equality throughout the established systems. We can change this together!

In God's eyes we are equal. Paul states this clearly in Galatians chapter 3: "there is no Jew or Gentile, no slave or free, no woman or man because we are all one in Jesus Christ (every human being is created in the image and likeness of God. We come from the same source. We are family).

As a nation we have done some really great and really horrific things.

We put a man on the moon. Why can't we end racism? 
Maybe our current political state is a call to do just that.

We are all equal. 

Let's live it! 

In our interactions with each other.
In our day to day choices. 

Together, let's create a giant leap for all human kind by ending racism!


White Fragility, why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin Deangelo
So you want to talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
America's Original Sin by Jim Wallis
Why we can't wait by Martin Luther King
and these;

Saturday, March 31, 2018


Oppression is the word that comes into my prayer about Jesus being in the tomb today.

Could the tomb be a representation of areas in my life where I am the oppressor thereby the oppressed?
The oppressing showing up in my thoughts words action and inaction?
If so, and if I’m not alone in this, how it might impact us as community/church/God’s creation? In our relationships with God, ourselves and others?

Today, I sit with Jesus in my tomb.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Morning Cafe

We’ve heard about the concept of ‘letting go’. It is to help us heal, change, provide freedom from what is unwanted, people/relationships is a releasing, a giving away of something. On some level I’m seeing my letting go as holding negativity or I’m thinking the thing I’m releasing is not good.

Which brought me to wonder about its opposite, letting come.

In contrast to letting go, letting come is an opening to receiving. To me, It feels light and positive, hopeful of the possibilities.

I say to Jesus, let it come, the unfolding of your promises, the teaching of this feeling. Let it come, the wisdom to know how to proceed. Let it come, the ability to love in a difficult situation. Let it come, the compassion and empathy within a pastoral care moment.
I feel myself soften, relax and receive peace in my opening of letting come what will come. It feels like, for me a stronger way to build trust with Jesus than I find in the letting go process. In letting come, I feel a partnership with Jesus. Yes, Jesus, we can do this together. And that gives me great JOY!
+peace and love 💕

Saturday, December 16, 2017


by Stephanie Zak
It seems that the squeakiest wheels always get the grease.
Yet, listening in stillness is what ultimately brings peace.

It seems that above average success is what’s considered best.
Yet, much of what is aimed for won’t matter at that final test.

It seems society’s goal is to achieve the Midas Touch.
Yet, acts of kindness lead to the greatest profit; they mean so very much.

It seems success is measured by accumulating stuff.
Yet, True Success is what I need, and is more than enough.

After all, whose approval am I earning?
And will it satisfy my deep longing and yearning?

Wanting what I think others have is like holding on to an illusion.
It’s rarely what I think it is and only creates confusion.

What if I could press “reset” and honor the Strength inside?
What if my cares were in a basket and I gave them to my One True Guide?

I would know in my heart what I am meant to do.
Even though my eyes can’t see far away, I’d feel faith’s clear view.

Letting My Partner lead is my sought-after answer;
I could humbly become an angelic dancer.

Filling my heart with love is the best way to see.
Letting go and letting Him guide my steps is what will set me free.

I have the choice whether or not to take His hand.
And I can always decide when to sit and when to stand.

But grasping His Hand will strengthen my fortitude.
My path will still have twists and turns, but will be marked with gratitude.

Faith brings hope in the middle of the night.
Hope strengthens resilience. There will be morning light.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Destruction to construction

I dreamt of an apocalypse. Mass destruction and evil. The group of people I was with were peaceful and loving. We helped each other and others. There were people destroying and killing. They came by us and we accepted them. Over time, resources started to dwindle even artillery. This forced us to work together more.

We worked at rebuilding our resources, planting, fixing destroyed homes. We helped each other. Even those who were killing and destroying changed to a loving peaceful way of living.

Isn't this what we need today? Aren't we destroying and killing?

It's time we live with love and peace to start rebuilding. To show this way to the destroyers, change their hearts from destruction to construction. From killing to life. From hatred/war to love/peace.

Dear Lord, I don't know what this dream means. Please show me what you are trying to tell me. Show me the way. I love you Jesus. BAM

Thursday, November 2, 2017

What about you?

I created the first bike share business in the ‘70s.

I am the sixth child of seven in my family. My mom stayed at home to raise us and my dad was a mason who built many of the buildings in our area, namely the Hackensack University medical buildings, Holy Name Hospital and the Woodcrest Center.

I rarely got anything new as a child. My older siblings would get new toys, bikes and clothes. My younger sister and I got what they no longer used. The bikes were pretty beat up by the time we were able to use them. I learned to use various tools to take one bike apart to build another. I built the bike I wanted and discovered that my sister also like to ride it.  I saw this as an opportunity to make some money and I decided to charge her for each use – Bike share. She paid me as she used the bike and I was in business.

Business is great! Isn’t it?
We can create something and then sell it to others for money!

My bike share business continued until my sister got the bike stolen from outside a store she was in. I continued to charge her until she told our mom which put me out of business!

A business I admire is banking. It is brilliant! We give our money to the bank and the bank lends the money back to us and others for a fee that is higher than what it pays us!

What about you? What business do you admire?

I began my career with JP Morgan Chase’s leasing division. Back then, the help wanted ads in the local newspaper was the main resource for job hunting. Generally, large corporations, like JP Morgan Chase only used recruiting firms for open positions. And because of this knowledge, I was skeptical about any possibility to land the position when I saw a JP Morgan Chase help wanted ad for an Accountant. I decided to apply anyway with the thought that if I did get an interview it would be good practice.
I did get the interview and eventually the job. This experience taught me to try, to go for it even if the odds are against me. And that there is always something to learn in the experience of trying.
I worked with JP Morgan Chase for 5 years as a lease accountant and eventually a manager. The managers I worked with gave me interesting projects that enabled me to use my skills and education. The projects also stretched me to learn new skills and increase knowledge. Unfortunately, JP Morgan Chase decided to get out of the leasing business and I had to look for a new job. In the meantime, I worked with colleagues as we sold the portfolio to GE Capital. The unsold portfolio was moved to the Rochester NY office.
My husband and I had our first child during this time and I returned to work from vacation to find a note on my desk with a recruiting firm’s number. 
I called the number and spoke with the recruiter who said she was looking for an accountant for BMW. BMW was interested in taking their small auto lease portfolio which was being managed by GE Capital in house by creating a captive finance company, BMW Financial Services. The recruiter explained the position qualifications which were exactly what I was doing with JP Morgan Chase. I interviewed for the position and was hired. I was thrilled because being involved with a startup was one of my career goals. And I got to do it with BMW! Throughout my 25-year career with BMW I was involved with many different projects and supported tremendous growth, from 90,000 to over 400,000 units today. 
In recent years, I’ve seen a shift from running a business that is all about profits to one that takes the community at large into consideration.
Business leaders are beginning to understand that all business is people business. Business cannot survive without customers and employees. Both of which are people!
I call this shift, companies supporting the common good. Not too many years ago people satisfied their need to do good through the religious organization they affiliated with. Today people are leaving and not affiliating with religious organizations for various reasons. Corporations are providing opportunities to do good through community partnering and volunteer programs which satisfies this human need within us. 
Earlier this year we experienced horrific violence in Charlottesville Virginia that ended in one death and many being injured. It was a wakeup call to how divided we are as a nation.  In response to Trump’s inability to condemn the hateful actions and speech many business leaders resigned from his economic council. Apple’s CEO pledged $2 million in donations to fight hate. 
Earlier this year, President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord and manufacturers, BMW included, stated their commitment to continue to reduce their carbon foot print. 
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): "There’s a new focus on environmental responsibility and small business owners can make a difference by protecting our ecosystem and serving customers who value environmental efforts."
And according to a business trend site, Balance. com, “Millennials are people born between 1978 and 2000. They are 77.5 million strong with over $1.7 billion in spending power (so far). This group has lived the digital life and their entrance into the workforce has enabled them to be more adaptable, collaborative, and innovative than any other generation. This generation is diverse and they embrace community as inclusive of all cultures and classes.
The key for companies will be capturing Millennials' interest and business. According to the American Express Open Forum, businesses -- particularly small businesses -- can capitalize on some of these Millennial traits and interests by making things easy to share, emphasizing local connections, and "gamifying" Millennials' loyalty.”  And we see new business emerging for both the Millennials and Baby Boomers such as;

·        in-home care for elder and infants

·        tiny houses

·         car, bike and home sharing. 
All of this change is being driven by us, the consumers. Consumers have an advantage in this environment because business leaders know they must support the common good in order to remain profitable. Our buying power is creating much change in our world today.

What about you? Have you experienced this shift in your life?

As MBA students and business owners, I encourage you to pay attention to the shift in consciousness that is occurring in our world because it is a component in decisions for success. It is a part of the business plan and it may be a factor in your job search.
Living for oneself and one’s family is not enough anymore. We have become a global family through the use of the internet. Our interconnectivity is more visible than ever. Our decisions effect more than ourselves.
We have the possibility to continue to create space for the common good. We also have the possibility to become a channel for people to realize their dreams through the product or service we provide and through the living wages we pay.
We have the possibility to be friendly to our environment, our home, the earth, by using ecological and economical means in our production of products and services.
Our present and future are dependent on the daily decisions we make about the businesses we create, the careers we build and the lives we live.

What about you? What will you decide today?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

We are ALL chosen

Why are there only 7.5 billion people in the world and not 7.5 trillion?

I ask this question because I recently watched a news program about the Hubble telescope. The scientist being interviewed said the minerals in our body come from the stars. If we are made from the stars and there are more than a trillion stars in the universe then why are there so few of us, in comparison to the number of stars, living on earth? I think it is because we are the chosen ones!

Matthew 22: 2-10, 14
The kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants to tell the guests to come to the feast but they did not want to come. So, he sent other servants with this message for the guests. “My feast is ready now; my steers and prize calves have been butchered and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast. But the invited guests paid no attention and went about their business, one went to his farm, another to his store, while others grabbed the servants, beat and killed them. The king was very angry so he sent soldiers who killed those murderers and burned down their city. Then he called his servants and said to them ‘my wedding feast is ready but the people I invited did not accept it. Now go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find. So, the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, good and bad alike. The wedding hall was filled. Jesus concluded, many are invited but few are chosen.
·         Chosen means one who is the object of choice or of divine favor.
·         Chose means to select freely and after consideration.
Every one of us, 7.5 billion people, are chosen through our existence, our life. We are ‘of divine favor’ because we are created, given life. And our life is the living invitation to the wedding feast, the kingdom. 
The idea of God choosing only a few of us breeds separation among us because it means that only a portion of the 7.5 billion people God created are favored by God and this is not true. All are of divine favor. Otherwise, we would not be here on earth, alive and experiencing God's abundance. We would still be stars.
The king’s servants invite the guests and they chose not to attend. They prefer to take care of their fields, businesses, their everyday personal errands and events. And this is how many of us are today. We are invited to cultivate God’s kingdom through loving, liberating and life-giving relationships with God, ourselves, others, animals and our planet yet we choose to remain as we are, busy with our daily activities, harming and at times killing ourselves, others, animals and our planet figuratively and literally.
We have the opportunity to choose to say yes to God’s wedding feast invitation, (being loving, liberating and life-giving) by cultivating seven qualities within ourselves and helping others do the same. 
I received most of the information below (italicized text is my interpretation) from a Jesus Movement retreat presented and led by the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellars.
Become Loving by cultivating the qualities of;
1.      Belovedness.
2.      Gratitude.
Become Liberating by cultivating the qualities of;
3.      Freedom.
4.      Curiosity.
5.      Humility & Resilience.
Become Life-Giving by cultivating the qualities of;
6.      Compassion.
7.      Joy.

How to cultivate the seven qualities
Become Loving by cultivating the qualities of;
1.      Belovedness.
Belovedness is not a feeling, we claim it ~ I am beloved, I am possible. Recognizing that we are beloved enables us to be love for others. God invested time and energy into our creation. Our life is the symbol of God’s love. Knowing we are loved, God’s beloved, gives us courage to share an open loving spirit that helps to heal the world and communicate the gospel. 

Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 

·        Recall a moment when you truly felt beloved by God. What was happening? How did you feel?
·        How would being rooted in God’s love change the way you share love in the world?
·       What helps/would help you to cultivate your belief in your own belovedness? How might you help to cultivate that belovedness in others?

2.      Gratitude.
As beloved we feel gratitude towards God, ourselves and others. We come to know that everything is a gift. The fact that we can consider to be thankful is something to be thankful for. We cultivate gratitude by practicing it throughout the day. Begin by writing one or two people/places/things/experiences you are grateful for. Thank God throughout the day for breath or the sun. As we practice gratitude it becomes easier and our grateful list grows. Gratitude shifts our thoughts of scarcity to abundance. And as our gratitude grows we are able to give sacrificially for the love of the world. Life, hope, food, money pour out of us. Our game changes from ‘the one with the most toys wins’ to sharing our gifts with others for all to 'win.'

Gratitude Resource:

Psalm 95:1-6 O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 

·       Recall a moment when you felt deep Gratitude. What was happening? How did you feel?
·       Did your gratitude move you to act or share with others differently? How?
·      What helps/would help you to cultivate an inner sense of gratitude? How might you help to cultivate gratitude in others?

Become Liberating by cultivating the qualities of; 

3.      Freedom.
We are free when we are able to be our authentic self, help others find their authentic self and are excited when we see someone being authentic. I visualize freedom through the soaring hawk gliding through the air effortlessly. Being our authentic self means that we know who we are, how to be and what to do with our lives. We accept ourselves and others. Cultivating freedom enables us to celebrate and participate in others’ liberation.

Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbors as yourself.” 

·       Recall a moment when you felt truly FREE. What was happening? How did you feel?
·       Did your sense of freedom move you to act or to share with others differently? How?
·       What helps/would help you to cultivate an inner sense of freedom? How might you help to cultivate freedom in others?

4.      Curiosity.
Cultivating curiosity enables us to receive hospitality and wisdom of the other.
As an educated, trained and experienced coach and spiritual director, curiosity it the most important quality to have because it states that I do not have the answers for anyone but myself. Being curious by asking open ended questions enables the person I am serving to find their own answers. This process helps them to see what they could not see on their own.
We help others cultivate curiosity by being aware that we all hold a part of truth, allowing others to share their ‘stuff’ by talking less and listening more, listening for what is not being said. And coaxing the unsaid through open ended questions which leads the other to ‘aha’ moments. 

John 4: 7-12, 27-30 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” ….Just then His disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to Him. 
In the scripture passage, Jesus pushes the cultural norms of His day by visiting with a Samaritan woman at a town well. Back in that time, community wells were the source for water. And women used this time to converse with other women of the town to hear the local news. This is where the saying ‘heard it at the water cooler’ evolved from. This woman is at the well during a time when she knows no other women will be there because she is not liked by the other women. And here is Jesus talking with her! LOVE it! He is so radical and courageous in His love for us, ALL of us! 
  • Why didn’t the disciples say anything about Jesus’ speaking to the woman?
  • Jesus’ time with this woman inspired her to tell people (she knew did not like her) all about her experience. Have you ever been so excited about something that you had to tell everyone?
  • The Samaritan woman’s enthusiasm inspired the people to leave to city to see for themselves! Has your enthusiasm inspired curiosity and action from those you told?
  • Recall a moment when you were surprised by the wisdom of someone unexpected. What was happening? How did you feel?
  • Did you become more curious or open to such experiences – and people -going forward? If so, how?
  • What helps/would help you to cultivate curiosity within? How might you help others to cultivate curiosity?

5.      Humility & Resilience.
Cultivating humility and resilience enables us to take risks and persevere for the gospel. Humility is a realistic assessment of who we are and who God is. Humility and Resilience is strength. It is being able to admit that I do not always live the way God calls me to, take time to reflect and continue trying. It is being able to admit that I make mistakes or I mess up, apologize and move forward with a ‘continuous improvement’ mindset.

Mark 6:1-6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are no without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. 

This scripture reveals that our inability to cultivate humility results in our inability to see the truth that is right before us which closes us down from living freely. This scripture also reveals Jesus’ resilience because he accepts that not all of the chosen is open to his way of life and he continues to teach it all the way to the cross. His resilience encourages us to share his truth of freedom (gospel) with those in our lives so they too may live and share it. 

·        Recall a moment when you messed up and were humbled but bounced back. What was happening? How did you feel?
·        Did you approach failure or taking risks differently after that experience? What did your capacity for Humility and Resilience make it possible for you to do or to share later?
·        What helps/would help you to cultivate humility and resilience within? How might you help to cultivate an appreciation of humility and a capacity for resilience? 

Become Life-Giving by cultivating the qualities of; 

6.      Compassion.
Cultivating compassion enables us to partner for others’ healing and liberation. Compassion is our capacity to feel for others. It gets awakened by being in touch with our own pain then we can experience the pain of others and don’t want to see them go through it. Other words to describe compassion are; womb love, tender love from the mother place, gut love, concern for someone else, interdependence and union, I am because we are. 

Sometimes it is too hard to stay with all the pain in our world. Watching the daily news is so heartbreaking and frustrating because we don’t know how we can help and when we cultivate compassion we desperately want to help. One way to help is through prayer. In the 1800’s, there was a woman named Adelyn who was bedridden due to illness. She shared with her friend Emily that she wanted to serve Jesus in some way and was frustrated because she was stuck in bed. Together, Adelyn and Emily, decided that they would pray. Intercessory prayer became their way of service. And from this desire to serve the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross (SCHC) and Adelynrood (Adelyn + rood which means cross) Retreat center was born. The SCHC is comprised of women who take vows of intercessory prayer, social justice and simplicity of life, they do not live in community, they live their lives like we do and they live their vows. They run the retreat house and invite us to join them in their service by attending various programs, volunteering time/talents in running the retreat house or donating money. All of this came about through the desire of one woman who wanted to help! What can we do!!! With God’s help everything is possible! 
Please visit to learn more.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 

I think this passage spells out that we are nothing without God which is a compelling reason to be compassionate. 

·        Recall a moment when you felt deep compassion for the suffering of others… or for yourself. What was happening? How did you feel? Where in your body did “compassion” reside?
·        Did your sense of compassion move you to act or share with others differently? How?
·        What helps/would help you to cultivate compassion within? How might you help others to cultivate compassion? 

7.      Joy.
Cultivating joy enables us to share joy and delight in God’s presence in the world. After we have cultivated all of the 6 qualities above we understand that our life is love, liberty and life giving which results in feeling joy and living joyfully all the time. And we become contagious, others want to know what we know. And we can tell them with the hope that they will open their hearts and mind to the truth of the gospel.
Isaiah 12:3-6 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
·        Recall a moment when you felt great Joy. What happened? How did you feel? How did you respond?
·        Did your sense of joy move you to act or move differently in the world? How did others respond?
·        What helps/would help you to cultivate inner joy? How might you help others to cultivate joy?