Thursday, February 27, 2014

His Yoke Is Easy

When we become acquainted with Jesus, we discover that He loves us perfectly every moment of our lives. His love is infinite, endless, and incomprehensible.  We see glimpses of it as we read His words and observe His love reflected in the actions of kind, compassionate people.  I see His love in the actions of my parents, my good husband, and my caring family and friends. Even an encounter with a kind stranger can remind us of God's love for us.

Jesus taught us that loving God, ourselves and others is the essence of his gospel.  He also reminded us that if we love Him, we keep His commandments.  His love empowers us to love ourselves and others.  His love enables us to keep His commandments and to repent when we forget to follow Him.  He has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us.  He carries us every moment of our lives.  He is a wonderful God.

During the Savior's time, the Pharisees teachings were burdensome and harsh.  They gave people laundry lists of rules to obey, treated others harshly, and and even plotted to kill the Savior.  Their teachings or rules were called a yoke, and their yoke was heavy.

The Savior's teachings were simple.   He said:  Believe.  Trust.  Hope.  Love.  Forgive.  Be grateful.  Follow me.

He gives us the power to love Him, obey Him, and follow Him as we trust completely in Him.  His grace allows us to become all that He wants us to be.

 As we come unto Him, listen to His words, and serve Him, we discover that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Then, we will find rest for our souls and peace amid sorrow.

&copy Carol Brown

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Have a Dream

Each one of us can create and accomplish a dream that makes our world a better place.  We do this by looking into our hearts to discover our destiny, looking around us to determine who needs our special gifts, and looking upward to receive God's help in lifting, loving and serving others.

Martin Luther King knew that God loves all of his children, including those who are poor, black, or disenfranchised.  He changed the destiny of millions of people when he spoke up against injustice, racial bigotry, and inequality.  His determination to secure civil rights for all people in the United States though non-violent means inspires us to looks into our own hearts and speak up for justice, truth, and freedom.

You can make a difference!  Every one of us can lift another's burden, radiate goodness, and stand up for those around us who suffer.   Every one of us can leave a legacy of love, compassionate, and courage.

Consider these quotes by Martin Luther King:

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creat
ivity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” 

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  

“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” 

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”   

We can make a difference in our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities. We can be a beacon of hope to those who are oppressed, provide strong arms for those who falter, and shine our lights of goodness and mercy in a troubled world.  

We can speak up respectfully and powerfully in neighborhood meetings, city councils, and church classes.   We can visit the sick, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked.  Together and individually, we can make a difference.  

Let us begin today.

&copy Carol Brown

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best Christmas Advice Ever

This Christmas, mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.
Write a letter.
Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth.
 Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
Keep a promise.
Forgo a grudge.
Forgive an enemy.
Try to understand.
Examine your demands on others.
Think first of someone else.
 Be kind.
Be gentle.
Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.
Welcome a stranger.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love and then speak it again.
     --Howard W. Hunter

&copy Carol Brown

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Autumn Is about Letting Go

Autumn is about letting go. 
Let go of your worries, fears, grievances.
Allow God to fill your heart with peace, joy, and contentment. 
Just as leaves fall to the ground
and flowers die on cold, crisp autumn eves, 
Allow this season to remind you that everything changes.
Nothing stays the same.
Choose to free yourself from the baggage of 
resentment, shame, and criticism.
Learn to accept yourself and others,
knowing that we are all children of God
and that He loves us with a perfect love.
Notice the beauty of this season,
A time of harvest, abundance, and reaping.
Trust that God will give you the power to forgive yourself and others,
release you from mistakes of the past,
and free you from fears for the future.
Remember that with Him, all things are possible.
Allow His love to heal your broken heart,
to give you beauty for ashes
and make you whole.

--Carol Rich Brown

&copy Carol Brown

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Focus on the Positive

I used to suffer from SAD, seasonal affective disorder.  When the gloomy winter days appeared, with days and weeks of smog and snow, I felt depressed, exhausted, and miserable.  As I focused on the grey skies, the cold weather, and the snow-covered streets, I was sad and unhappy.

Then I discovered the power of meditation and gratitude.

As I learned how to meditate, I recognized that I was choosing negative thoughts that caused me to feel unhappy.  I also realized that I was overlooking the beauty around me and focusing on things that I perceived to be negative. 

Now, I realize that some are medically depressed during winter and need light therapy and sometimes they need medication to help.  But others, like me, become unhappy because of the thoughts they choose to rerun in their minds. 

Today, I am as happy in the winter as in the summer.  I rejoice in the gift of snow and in its exquisite beauty.  I savor each cold day, as I enjoy hot soups, a warm fireplace, and central heat.  I thank God continually for these blessings. 

I rejoice when I see the coral clouds and the slivers of iridescent golden light of our desert sunsets.  I appreciate the blessings of living in a place with changing four seasons which delight the senses.  I enjoy the winter blizzards as much as the first blooms of spring, the explosion of flowers during the summer, and the amazing beauty of autumn leaves. I am richly blessed.

We all have winter seasons in our life that require us to focus on the positive if we are to be happy.  Illness, financial reverses, loss, and other trials can distract us from remembering how truly blessed we are.  As we release negative thoughts and notice the good things in life, we can find peace, even when life is difficult.

May you find peace today and always as you focus you the blessings and beauties of life.

&copy Carol Brown

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finding Peace in Silence

In this noisy, chaotic world, we need to find spaces of silence.  Silence for meditation.  Silence for pondering.  Silence for listening.  Silence for peace.

Mother Teresa in "No Greater Love" said:

“We cannot find God in noise and agitation.
Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence.
What is essential is not what we say but what God tells us and what He tells others through us.
In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls.
In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.
Silence of our eyes.
Silence of our ears.
Silence of our mouths.
Silence of our minds.
…in the silence of the heart
God will speak.”

Today, find a space for silence.  Breathe slowly and deeply.  Discover the peace that exists in quiet moments.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Peace, Be Still

What storms do you face right now?

Here are a few that my family has experienced over the years:

 • Deaths of parents, siblings, and close friends

• Serious chronic health problems

• Job loss

 • Serious accidents and injuries

• Torture and rape of a child

• Life-threatening hospitalizations

That’s the short list.

Life is filled with storms that threaten to overwhelm us, capsize our boats, and sink our spirits. The experience of morality is not easy. Yet, even amid the storms, we can find peace. God will either calm the storm or give us strength to endure it when we trust in Him.

I have seen God calm some serious storms in my life. Loved ones have been miraculously healed. Friends and family have appeared to comfort and bless me when I became too weary to carry on. At times God has encircled me in the arms of His love.

But there are seasons when the storms rage even though we plead for Divine intervention. We feel lost and alone. Our burdens become too heavy to bear. During those times, we can either turn to God for strength or we can attempt to go it alone.

 Remember Peter, who had enough faith to walk on the water towards Jesus. As long as His eyes were focused on Christ, he succeeded. As soon as he focused on the threatening waves surrounding Him, he sank. Life is like that. Our thoughts and priorities determine whether we find peace or misery amid the storms of life.

 If we focus on fear, bitterness or anger, our lives seem hopeless. We feel overwhelmed with each new storm that appears in our lives. When we center our thoughts on the Savior, we discover that He wants to carry our burdens, to heal our broken hearts, and to give us peace even when life is very, very difficult.

Shortly before Jesus was suffered in Gethsemane and was crucified at Calvary, he counseled his disciples, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (New Living Translation).

 Christ promises that amid the challenges of life, we can be of good cheer because he has overcome the world, conquering death and sin. As we trust in Him completely, we can find peace amid sorrow.

So how do we find this peace?

• Learn of Him. Study his words. Become acquainted with God and make Him your closest and dearest friend.

• Listen to Him. Pray continually, praising God and asking to needful blessings. Listen to His words which speak peace to our souls.

• Remember Him. Throughout the day as you face trials and challenges, consider how he responded to difficulties and follow His example of patience, love, and faithfulness.

• Trust Him. Give me all your cares, worries, fears, and concerns, and trust that He will carry them and carry you.

• Love Him. Bask in His perfect and unspeakable love. Allow Him to enfold you in the arms of His love. Turn your heart, energy, mind, and strength to loving Him, praising Him, worshiping Him, and honoring Him. He is alone worthy of all of our love, devotion, faith, trust, and gratitude.

During the past year, I determined to know God better. I feasted on His word, sometimes spending hours studying the Bible each morning. I prayed more intently, and I remembered Him throughout the day. Today I feel that I know God more intimately than I ever before.  That season prepared me for a significant storm.

This month tragedy has again struck our family. Our youngest son has been diagnosed with a rare, incurable and painful disease. As he, his wife, and we are coming to grips with this difficult news, we can either become bitter or better. Our decision to either turn away from God or keep our hearts focused on Him will determine whether we can find peace amid this mighty storm.

God promises:

 • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

• Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct (or make smooth) your paths.

• Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

• The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
• What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

• And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Today as you face the storms of your life, focus on God’s love, goodness, mercy, and compassion. Allow Him to comfort you, to carry to, to make you whole.

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Peace of God's Infinite Love

God loves us so much that He gave His only beloved Son to die for you and for me. His gift is more priceless that we can imagine. God's love gives us hope that we can live with Him again. Christ's love conquered both spiritual and physical death. His love allows us to become like Him if we chose to follow and obey Him. His love heals our broken hearts when we give Him our pain, sorrows, fears, disappointments, and worries. His love is the most powerful force in the universe.

The following actions allow us to access God's infinite love, a love that fills our hearts with peace and happiness:

Prayer When we communicate with God, we can cast our burdens on Him, experience the healing power of His spirit, and find solutions to our problems and concerns. He is the supreme Counselor and the best Friend we could ever have. As we talk and listen to Him, He surrounds us in the arms of His perfect love.

Scripture study The scriptures are God's love letters to us, and when we read them, we discover who God is, who we are, and how deeply he loves us. Consider how John describes God's love: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Trust in God As we communicate with God and study His words, we discover that we can trust completely in Him as our Counselor, Creator, and Companion. When we trust in Him, he carries us every day of our lives and directs our journey in life, leading us back into his presence. In Psalm 36, we read, "Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed."

Follow Him
God wants to give us all that He has. He asks for very little in return. He asks us to give Him our hearts. When he listen to him and obey him, he immediately blesses us and fills our hearts with peace and our spirits with love. He gives our lives with purpose and direction. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

The world is filled with darkness, disappointment and despair. Christ gave his life for us that that we can walk with courage, compassion, and comfort amid the sorrows of life. He is the Life, Light, and the Truth. He knows you and loves you so much that he died for you so you can live eternally with him. Isn't that wonderful news?

© Carol Brown