UNITY OF VANCOUVER
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BEING A SPIRITUAL LEADER IN YOUR FAMILY
REVEREND BERNADETTE VOORHEES
OCTOBER 18, 2015
(all rights reserved)


MEDITATION

Prayer is our conscious link to God. Prayer calms fears & doubts as we hold only
thoughts of God’s love. God is at work in your life & in the life of your loved ones &
nothing is beyond the power of God to heal and bless.

Myrtle Fillmore, Co-founder of Unity, said we must teach our children about God & teach them to pray. She asked parents to teach their children the Prayer of Faith. Bring a special child into your mind now, as we pray it together: “God is my help in every need. God does my every hunger feed. God walks beside me, guides my way through every moment of the day. I now am wise. I now am true, patient, kind & loving too. All things I am can do & be through Christ the truth that is in me. God is my health; I can’t be sick. God is my strength--unfailing, quick. God is my all; I know no fear since God & love & truth are here.” Take these words into the silence. Nothing can shake your faith as you rest in the silence & know that God is always with you & those you care about. Life is eternal & as God is with you, God is with all the children you are praying for. God’s love is working in & through you bringing forth renewed strength. God’s wholeness is in you & in every relationship that you have because the manifestation of pure God love is everywhere present.

In the nature of love we pray & believe. Amen.

BEING A SPIRITUAL LEADER IN YOUR FAMILY

In the comic “Cathy,” Cathy says, “It takes 21 days to embrace a new habit.” Then she thinks about it & says, “That is not very much at all! Just 21 days.” In the next frame, she says, “Just 21 days! In the grand scheme of life, what’s 21 days?” In the next frame she says, “It’s 20 days, 23 hours & 59 minutes longer than it takes to get comfortable with a bad habit.”

Perhaps, we do need to form some new habits. Life is change BUT growth is optional. We are here, this morning because we want to experience life in the highest, richest & most positive way not only for ourselves but also for our family & everyone around us. We are here at Unity of Vancouver because we choose growth. We choose to live the best possible life & with God, we know that we can do this.

This morning we’re going to learn how to influence ourselves in positive ways,
by being proactive & taking responsibility to become Spiritual Leaders in our own families.
We can spread the essence of God, wherever we go & raise extraordinary children who
know an ordinary person can do amazing things when working with God. We can empower
ourselves & our children to do things we’ve been conditioned to think we can’t do.

Let me begin with a short story. A teenage girl was driving home from her after school job. She snagged her fender on the bumper of another car. She was in tears as she explained that it was a new car, only a few days out of the showroom. How was she ever going to explain the damage to her dad? The driver of the other car was sympathetic but explained that they must note each other's license numbers & registration numbers. As the young woman reached into the large, brown envelop to retrieve the documents, a piece of paper fell out. In a heavy masculine scrawl were these words: “In case of accident, remember honey, it's you I love & not the car." Question: In this moment & as the girl grew up, what was more important the memory of getting the car or the note?

Our children remember the love we give them more than the material gifts. The greatest
gift we can give our children is God Centered Parenting. We begin by taking
responsibility to become Spiritual Students ourselves & asking God to guide us to be the
best Spiritual Example to our family & friends we can possibly be.

In 1991, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that traditional families make up only 50.8% of all the children being raised in America. According to this study, ‘A traditional family consists of 2 married heterosexual adults in their 1st marriage, living with only their biological children.” It’s a very narrow definition & wouldn’t include the ‘Walton’s because in that family Grandma & Grandpa are living under the same roof. It also wouldn’t include the Brady Bunch because Mike & Carol Brady created a blended family after their spouses died. It wouldn’t include Steve Douglas’ of “My 3 Sons” because he was a widowed, single dad. Would it include you & your family? By 2014, this number had dropped to 46%. This marks a huge change from 1960 when of children were raised in families that fit this description & 1980 when 61% did. A rapid change in American family structure has altered the image of who’s gathering for the holidays. Today, many Americans are delaying marriage & some foregoing the institution completely. The share of children born outside of marriage is now 41%, up from just 5% in 1960.

The current survey indicates that 6% of all children are living with a stepparent. One of the largest shifts in family structure is that 34% of children today are living with an unmarried parent- up from just 9% in 1960 & 19% in 1980. In addition a growing number of children, currently 5% aren’t living with either parent but with a grandparent – a phenomenon that is growing as the current economic recession continues.

In his book, “Raising Can-Do Kids: Giving Children the Tools to Thrive in a Fast-Changing World”, Dr. Richard Rende, lists 5 ingredients for a healthy family.

1. Spiritual wellness.
2. Commitment to each other’s welfare & happiness. I'm concerned about my daughter & my son & they're concerned about me.

3. An appreciation of each other & truly enjoying the other person’s company.

4. Spending time together in ways that say the family unit is important. Each family member is responsible to share in caring for the home & contributing to family life.

5. The ability to cope with stress & crisis because you're a team.

He says, “In a world that’s changing at warp speed, our kids need to navigate a path to success without a roadmap – something entrepreneurs do every day. We must look to the world of entrepreneurship, in addition to child development experts, for insights on helping our kids to gain the skills they’ll need in order to prosper personally & professionally in their world. Raising Can-Do Kids is the 1st book to make a link between the essential qualities that make great entrepreneurs tick and what we know about how children learn and grow, offering parents proven ways to raise kids who embrace the uncertain, challenging adventure that is growing up in today’s (& tomorrow’s) changing world. Each chapter is devoted to a quality including curiosity, inventiveness, optimism, opportunity-seeking, compassion & service -- & reveals how parents can nurture these qualities & help “future-proof” our children & set them up for success on their own terms. We can help our children to express the greatness that's inherent in them.

We can help our children to live life without fear, to keep their childlike wonder
& total trust, their unquestioning faith & their capacity for love by Spiritual Parenting & accepting the responsibility of seeking out the resources & learning opportunities we need to be a Spiritual Leader to our family. Spiritual parenting occurs when we place ourselves in right relationship with our child; when we acknowledge ourselves 1st as Spiritual Beings. From that awareness we can then acknowledge our children as the Spiritual Beings they truly are.

Q. What does it mean to be a Spiritual Being? A. Everyone is a Spiritual Being with a spiritual nature, whether they're conscious of it or not. Some will develop this inherent nature more than others. Jesus Christ, for example demonstrated the potential for developing his spiritual nature. It's each individual's choice to develop or not develop his/her spiritual nature. Each person is his/her own spiritual authority. This means each has their own direct relationship with God.

Q. What is spirit? A. Spirit is the principle of life; the breath of God in all creation. Spirit is a name for the presence & action of God.

Q. What is spirituality? A. Spirituality is the consciousness that relates us directly to God. It's the awareness of our divine nature & our oneness, our Unity with that Creator.

Q. How is parenting a spiritual practice? A. Once we have accepted the belief that we are made in the image & likeness of God, we can consciously choose to develop our spiritual nature, by consciously acknowledging the divine spirit (God) present in our children & ourselves.

Spiritual parenting differs from other parenting practices because you acknowledge your child's spiritual nature & when you do this, your child feels recognized, honored, loved & respected --not just as an Ego, but as ‘an Essence,’ as his or her own Spiritual Authority. When children are encouraged & respected as having their own direct relationship with God, there is an incredible expression of self-confidence & feeling of empowerment. Being recognized in this way diminishes the need for a child to strive to get attention in other, less positive ways.

Q. How do I become more spiritual in my parenting? A. Just as we dedicate ourselves to our children's physical well being & watch over their mental/emotional development, we must also learn ways to nurture our children’s spiritual well being by devoting time & giving spirituality a greater priority in our family life. As your Spiritual Consciousness grows, you reflect back to your child his or her own growing spirituality. One way to do this is through Prayer. We can help our children by praying with them & teaching them how to pray & ask for guidance for their concerns & problems & establishing regular prayer times everyday.

Q. What is prayer? A. Prayer is talking & with God, your own Higher Self, the highest or deepest good within you. It's direct contact with God through your own thoughts & feelings. God is ever present in you. The link is always there, to use or not use anytime you choose. Sharing Prayer with your children helps them experience peace & happiness within themselves & with others. It helps them to know how to solve their own problems & how not create as many problems to begin with.

So, how do we pray with our children?

1. START PRAYING YOURSELF. Establish a private prayer practice & start praying. If it is hard for you to pray or you're out of practice, begin your prayers by asking for guidance in healing your relationship with God; then spend time in the silence, listening until the guidance comes. Being comfortable with yourself, praying will make it easier & natural to pray with others.

2. ONCE WE BELIEVE THE EXPERIENCE OF PRAYER IS IRREPLACEABLE IN OUR LIVES & OUR CHILDREN'S LIVES, SET ASIDE A SPECIFIC TIMES FOR PERSONAL & FAMILY PRAYER. Prayer can take place anytime, anywhere, but if you're just beginning to build this habit, it's best to make a specific daily commitment. Choose a time that works in your present schedule & stick with it.

3. USE PRAYERS & VERSES FROM SCRIPTURE a favorite prayer from your own childhood or a short prayer that is easy to memorize. Memorizing prayers, poems & scripture verses & saying them together as a morning or evening ritual helps calm & focus energy to help find that inner link with God & gives children comforting tools they carry with them wherever they go.

4. SINGING SONGS TOGETHER AS A FORM OF PRAYER & CULTIVATE A POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE.

5. DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE BY NAMING BLESSINGS & LOOKING FOR THE GOOD. An easy prayer is to say "Thank you Go for all the good things that happened today," & name them one by one. Think on all the blessings you have received & Problems shrink and can be seen in truer perspective.

6. GIVE THANKS FOR ANYTHING & EVERYTHING AT ANY TIME OR PLACE. In developing this "attitude of gratitude" we are establishing in ourselves the deep conviction that we are profoundly loved & cared for. This is 1 of the most powerful ways to reinforce an open channel to the Divine.

7. USE & TEACH YOUR CHILDREN SIMPLE STATEMENTS OF TRUTH ABOUT GOD & US: For example: "I know you hear me always," or "God, you fill my heart with love," or God's will for me is only good." or "The Christ in me loves the Christ in you.” "I love you, bless you & appreciate you just the way you are.”

8. APPRECIATE, HONOR & PROTECT THE NATURAL WORLD AS PART OF GOD & US. As we notice the divine essence of all life, we are moved to prayerful thanks, or spiritual affirmations of God's omnipresence.

9. TEACH THEM TO PRAY FOR DIVINE IDEAS & FEELINGS, NOT THINGS: So often we pray for things: a new house, car, toy presents for a birthday or Christmas, & so by example, we teach our children to pray for things. Children pick this right up from the source--their parents. PRAYING FOR THINGS IS NOT BAD. It just 'LIMITS' HOW WE PERCEIVE the ANSWER to our PRAYERS. When a child prays for toys at Christmas, you can help that child understand that s/he is really praying for the feeling of being wonderfully satisfied with love & abundance. When we pray for a new house, we are really praying for comfortable, safe shelter & having our needs provided for. Helping children to shift their focus from specific 'things' to the ideas & feelings behind the things opens their minds to the many different ways their prayers might be answered.

10. PRAYER IS THE MOST POWERFUL TOOL FOR PROBLEM SOLVING. Helping your child lift up a problem & turn it over to God is 1 of the greatest gifts you can give them. It's important to pray with your children about their concerns & needs. Be respectful & non-judgmental--their problems are real to them & very important.

As parents, we can help our children know:

1. Prayer is always answered

2. A problem is an opportunity to learn and grow.

3. We don't encounter problems in life without also having the solutions to them.

4. As parents, we will love and support them unconditionally in all their efforts to resolve the problem.

5. God is only good. Everything is working for the good.

6. We cannot always see or know just exactly what that good will is.

7. We can trust God with everything & we can trust each other.
Create a family climate of love & safety & that climate of love & safety will go & be
with your child even when you are not able to be there to love & protect them.

There is no greater gift you can give to you child than an active, positive faith that helps them to meet life successfully. & No greater gift that you can give to the world & the future as a positive, successful, loving, responsible, & creative individual. The most powerful impact we adults have on children is as role models. If we wish our children to value the inner spiritual life, then we must give intentional regard to offering these experiences to our children & to letting them see that we value them.

When you look into the face of your child think of that child as a child of God. Feel a sense of wonder when you think of all that they brought with them into life. When you think about what lies ahead of them, be glad that they are a part of God & that God will be with them each and every day.

Let us pray: The light of God surrounds us. The love of God enfolds us the power of God protects us, the presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are god is, and all is well.

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