Sunday, May 31, 2009

Counting Blessings

The past year has been a tough one for me. I can't walk without pain any more and need a knee replacement. I'm not that old and feel sad that I can't garden, mow my lawn, do housework, walk, and shop with the ease that I once could. People have broken my heart, and I working hard to put it back together again with God's help.

Because of the sorrows I have experienced not only this year but throughout my life, I started writing this blog. I have discovered that you can find peace amid sorrow, even when you heart is shattered with grief and pain.

One secret to serenity is counting our blessings. I know we've all heard the drill: Count your many blessings, name them one....but when you're overwhelmed with suffering, it's easy to focus on the things we lack. We all long for good health, kind friends, and a loving family, but some do not enjoy these gifts. When we struggle with life's challenges, we need--more than ever--to focus on our blessings.

Yesterday I visited an elderly woman who is losing her sight and hearing. Widowed, Helen lives in a retirement facility. During the past months, macular degeneration has stolen her vision from her. Now her hearing is fading as well. She can't hear conversations at a dinner table or with a soft-spoken friend. And yet Helen was counting her blessings.

She refused to focus on her losses and instead celebrated her many blessings. She reflected on her grandchildren and children and her love for them. She expressed gratitude that she can still walk and think and remember. She laughed and smiled and cracked jokes. She refuses to live with self-pity or misery.

Helen loves the Lord and feels the comfort of the Spirit in her life. "The Holy Ghost is my constant companion," she said. "I am never alone, and I feel the peace, joy, and solace of the Comforter when I am discouraged."

Helen's life shows that the "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, [and]faith." She radiates love and goodness in her countenance and her words. Her life, though difficult, is peaceful, even though it is laced with sorrow.

We teased each other, reflected on our blessings, and shared memories. I shouted loudly, and Helen heard most of the things I said. Our six-year friendship grows sweeter with each visit.

For all those who, like Helen, are experiencing bitter loss, we can "let the peace of God rule in [our] hearts, and be...thankful." Gratitude is truly one of the secrets of living a happy and peaceful life.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Forgiving Ourselves and Others

Sometimes horrible things happen to innocent people. It is easy to become paralyzed by the bitterness we feel towards the offender or by the guilt we feel. We can become our own worst enemies when we live in shame, blame, and guilt because of the innocent or malicious choices of another.

A few years ago, I volunteered in the Rape Recovery Center in our city. As I worked in community outreach, manned the rape crisis hot line, and trained with rape survivors, I discovered that most rape survivors blame themselves. Because they are so helpless at the time that are abused, they absorb the thinking of the perpetrator, who often believes the victim wants or deserves to be raped.

Some who have never been sexually abused (one-third of women in the United States have and one-seventh of men have) may be paralyzed with shame. Many judge themselves very harshly and need to forgive themselves for innocent mistakes. Others cannot forgive themselves after they have repented from their sins.

When we have been grievously injured, we face the challenge of forgiving our offender. If we decide not to forgive, we will eventually become poisoned by the bitterness we harbor. Although we may not be able to forgive another immediately, some changes in the way we think can help us forgive anyone--includings ourselves and even our worst enemy.

First, we need to try to view the person who injured us from God's perspective. You and the offender are both children of God, and He loves you both. You do not know the heart of the offender, but God does, and you can turn judgment over to God. That is such a freeing process.

Next, we can show empathy toward the offender. We can picture him as a wounded child or a dying elderly person. As we do, we can realize that if the offender were whole, he would not have injured you. We can process your pain by writing the offender a letter (and choosing whether or not to mail it), imagining oourselves speaking to the offender (or sharing your pain with him or her privately), or letting God know how much we've suffered. We can ask God to heal us and help us to forgive. We may or may not choose to allow the offender into our life again, but we can still forgive.

We know that we have truly forgiven when we can ask God to bless our offender and mean it. When God asks us to forgive others, He asks us to also forgive ourselves. Sometimes we are less forgiving of ourselves than we are of others.

When we accept the reality that God never causes evil--but that He is bound by the law of agency that allows us and others to make mistakes, sin, and hurt one another--we can find peace amid suffering. We can love and forgive God, who never really needed our forgiveness in the first place. We can love ourselves even when we are flawed, mortal, and imperfect. And we can forgive our offenders, which is truly one of the most healing gifts that we can give ourselves.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Forgiving God

We've all met good people who suffer terribly. When this happens to us--or to someone we love--we may wonder why God allows such pain. Others may turn away from God's love because of their anger. Some may feel that if God loved them, He would have prevented their suffering.

Recently, grief, anguish, and heartbreak has left me spent and overwhelmed. For the first time in my life, my suffering has been so great that I've felt angry with God. My faith--once so strong and unfaltering--has been shaken.

After much contemplation and soul-searching, I now realize (on a deeper level than I ever have)that God not only understands my pain, but He has already suffered it. I've spent months studying His words so that I could better love Him and understand Him. Perhaps if you feel blindsided by adversity, some of these thoughts may help.

Moses said, "I call heaven and earth to record this day gainst you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Although God is all-powerful, He is bound by eternal laws, and one of them is agency. He allows us to choose good or evil, and with the choices we make, we either bless or harm others. Sometimes we do this intentionally; other times we offend others innocently. But offenses occur, and some of them are horrific.

"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." Some sorrow results from accidents: planes crash, people drive carelessly, trees blow over in the wind. Natural disasters and human error cause great suffering. We live in a world where millions suffer because of famines, earthquakes, and mortal mistakes. God does not manipulate natural phenomena or mortals to cause human suffering. He may allow us to become more humble and teachable through temporal experiences, but He does not maliciously inflict pain on anyone.

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Because our bodies are imperfect, they experience disease, aging, and pain. God is not a ruthless ruler who smites us with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. These illnesses may result from our health choices, but they may also appear randomly. We can't blame God because we or others suffer. Pain is part of mortality, but as we endure trials well, our spirits are refined and we become more like our Savior.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Suffering does result when we rebel against God. When we are paralyzed with anxiety and grief because of sinful behavior, we can repent and God will forgive us and heal us from this pain. We can control this kind of suffering and God will relieve it when seek His help.

If we feel angry with God, perhaps we can consider Job who lost everything: his children, health, wealth, friends, even the support and comfort of his wife. After his wife told Job to curse God and die and after his friends blamed him for causing his own suffering, Job declared, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though worms destroy my body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."

If we have friends who still love us, although our suffering is excruciating, we are not like Job, who lost everything. Yet, after knowing more loss than most mortals ever experience, Job eventually regained all that he had lost--and much more. Job reminds us that loss is temporary but that faith can lift us eternally into God's presence.

As we come to know God, we realize that He is the source of all that is good. His grace sustains and heals us. As we place our hope in Christ, we can find peace amid sorrow and beauty amid ashes.

© Carol Brown

Friday, May 22, 2009

Absolute Surrender

We experience peace when we allow God to direct our lives. When we trust that God loves us perfectly and that He waits to bless us, He strengthens us so that we can withstand the storms of life. This requires absolute surrender.

Surrendering our lives to God is the third step in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program. When I have faced adversities that overwhelmed me, I have discovered that God is a merciful and compassionate Helper. When I could not make it on my own, I have learned that with God, all things are possible. (See my April 27, 2009 post "Enfolded in the Arms of God's Love.)

Life can be unpredictable and cruel. Sometimes we may feel helpless and overwhelmed by the adversity we experience. We may lose a job, a home, or a loved one. We may suffer pain, persecution, or unspeakable grief. All of us will some day--if not now--face challenges that bring us to our knees. When we reach the end of our rope, we can either hang on until we lose all strength or we can allow God to carry us.

My friend, Diane, describes the trial of watching her husband battle cancer as being in the eye of the storm. Diane and her husband, Ford, are riding the rollercoaster of chemo, radiation, and a myraid complications of terminal cancer with grace, sorrow, and peace. They have surrendered their lives and their hearts to God, and He is carrying them through a mighty storm.

When my dad battled leukemia, he surrendered his life to God--as He had done continuously in his life--and found serenity amid suffering. As his body weakened, his spirit grew stronger. While he lay dying, he comforted others when they visited him in the hospital. He trusted that God's love was all that he needed, and he trusted that God knew him personally and loved him infinitely. He died peacefully amid sorrow and great pain.

But I just can't do this, you say. I'm a control freak. I can't give my life to Someone I do not know.

I would suggest you get to know Him on a deep, personal level. Talk to Him as you would talk to your best friend. Unload your sorrows, fear, pain, and grief on Him, and let Him carry it. Read His words as you would study your favorite school subject or work of literature. Search out His messages of loving kindness and mercy in the Scriptures and become acquainted with His compassion, empathy, and wisdom. Then ask for His help, trusting that He will help you.

He says that He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He has already suffering everything you will ever suffer--and more. He know exactly how to feel and precisely how to help you.

No words are more often repeated in Scripture than these: Ask and ye shall receive. Ask, and then open your heart so that you can receive. Give God a chance through absolute surrender and discover the beginning of miracles.

© Carol Brown

How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Everyday Life

As the pressures of life increase, it is easy to become overwhelmed with worry. Many struggle with anxiety and fear on a regular basis. Thanks to the research of Jeanne Segal, author of Raising Your Emotional Intelligence, there are six tips that can help us stop worrying and start enjoying everyday life.

First, Dr. Segal suggests that we accept the fact that life is uncertain and that there are many things that we can't control. She encourages us not to focus on worst-case scenarios and to instead accept that although we may cannot predict the future, we can enjoy the good things we have in the present.

Next, she advises us to set a time for worry each day. Write down any worries that we have and then review during during that time. (I had a friend with serious health problems who allowed herself a half-hour of worry time each day. She said any more than that make her very sick.) during the worry time--preferably in the afternoon or early evening--we can go over our worries. If we accomplish this is less than 30 minutes, good for us!

Then, Dr. Segal suggests that we challenge our negative thinking.We can ask ourselves if our worrying is helping or hurting us. We can also consider what we would say to a friend who had similiar worries.

Relaxation also helps reduce worrying. Progressive muscle relaxation in which we tense and then relax groups of muscles can reduce tension. Deep breathing and meditation can also be very helpful.

Dr. Segal says that research shows that taking good care of ourselves also helps. Healthy eating, regular exercise, limiting caffeine and sugar, eliminating alcohol and nicotine, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to friends for emotional support reduces anxiety and worry and helps us face stressful situations.

Finally, she suggests that we "stay focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good. The capacity to recognize your emotions and express them appropriately helps you avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states."

In addition to her suggestions, I would add that reading inspirational literature, prayer, and an attitude of gratitude greatly reduces our worries and allows us to enjoy everyday life. If you have any others suggestions, please comment. And today, may we take time to enjoy the journey and enjoy our abundant blessings.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Power of Acceptance

I'm a very curious person, which can bring me either peace or sorrow. I love to learn about new things, read new books, meet new people. I love to travel, explore, analyze, and study. However, my curiosity becomes a negative thing when I start going down the road of "why me" or "why her, him, or them." That is a toxic journey.

Sometimes life can punch us in the gut, leaving us doubled-over and struggling for air. When that happens, it's easy to ask, "Why did that happen to me?" Why did I get cancer? Why did he leave me? Why did she die? Why was my daughter raped? Why was my son paralyzed in the accident? Why is my best friend critically ill? Why? Why? Why?

These kinds of questions can destroy our peace. They can leave us anxious, frustrated, and angry. They can create in us a perpetual state of victim hood.

So, instead of asking "why me," we can ask "why not me." We are human, and as mortals sometimes we and our loved ones get sick, suffer, and die. It isn't fair that sometimes good people suffer and some bad people do not. It isn't fair that some good people are lied about and abused while some bad people are celebrated and honored. When we accept the fact that life is not fair, we discover the power of acceptance.

Learning to accept the highs and lows of mortality with equanimity and grace fosters peace, compassion, and joy. As we accept that morality includes suffering, we also accept that suffering can teach us to be kinder and more merciful. Wayne Dyer said, "If I could define enlightenment briefly I would say it is 'the quiet acceptance of what is.'”

While we accept the injustices of life, we can also speak out against them. Think of the powerful people who have worked to overcome injustice without destroying their inner peace: Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, and Christ found peace amid suffering as they labored to serve those who needed comfort and respect. We can, too.

So, the next time you are tempted to ask, "why me," instead ask "what can I learn from my suffering so that I can better love others." Those who suffer can become bitter or blessed. Our attitude determines whether suffering destroys or enlightens us. The key to peace of mind is learning to accept suffering as a part of life and then to allow suffering to teach us compassion so that we can better love others.

Consider the words in the serenity prayer by Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

© Carol Brown

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pornography and Peace

So many people don't truly love themselves. Women can be especially hard on themselves--comparing themselves with the air-brushed images of size-2 women that confront them in check-out lines, billboards, and malls. These images bombard them on television, at movies, and in store fronts. And somehow these fake images convince some women that they aren't thin enough, beautiful enough, or glamourous enough, when in reality no one looks as perfect as these advertisements and magazine covers pretend.

Hugh Hefner made soft-core pornography acceptable to the main-stream public, and woman have become dehumanized and demoralized in the process. If you doubt the influence of soft- and hard-core porn on women and girls, read the book "Pornified," written by a journalist who wanted to objectively determined the effect--either good or bad--that porn was having in America. (Her findings would be true for other countries as well.) Her observations are alarming, for she discovered (among other things) that the porn industry would convince women that they are nothing more than a sexual commodity and would have men treat them as such.

I have spend hundreds of hours researching the effects of porn on self-esteem, and I also speak widely about porn addiction and recovery. Each month porn becomes more prolific in our culture as sexting, cell phone porn, media and entertainment porn become more widely available and acceptable. Millions of people are addicted to porn in the United States and many more millions are addicted world-wide. And millions of women are feeling worthless and less than whole because of the messages and images that bombard them each day.

Tomorrow study the magazines you see at the check-out stand or the headlines you read in major magazines. Notice what they say about the value of womanhood. Notice how the voices and images in our cultures are dehumanizing women.

Pornography can destroy the peace in families, hearts, and homes. We can start today to speak up politely in behalf of virtue and decency. And, we can refuse to allow air-brushed images determine our self-worth.
© Carol Brown

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Really Matters

In 100 years, it won't matter how much money you made, how big your house was, how prestigious your job was, or how famous you were. It won't matter if you if you were stylish, wealthy, or popular.

In 100 years, it will matter if you made a difference in the life of a child, if you helped those in need, and if you learned to love and forgive. It will matter if you learned to be kind and caring, if you lived with integrity and virtue, and if you if you loved God and others more than you loved worldly things.

I've attended a lot of funerals, and I've noticed that the only things that really matter after a person dies is the example they set, the people they loved, and they values they cherished. I've looked in a lot of coffins and haven't seen a person take a single possession with them. Not one.

Our culture lies to us. It teaches us that in order to be happy we need to wear the latest styles, redecorate our homes, and have power and wealth. It tells us that pride, deceit, immorality, and greed foster personal peace when, in fact, they destroy our peace.

I've loved and lost a lot of my friends and family, and I know how precious memories are of loving moments shared, kind words remembered, and lessons taught. Thank you, Dad, for showing me that you can find peace amid sorrow and for always keeping your promises. Thanks, Mom, for loving me unconditionally and for teaching me that true joy is found in serving others. You both taught me that even though life can be very difficult, we can still find happiness during the hard times as we place our trust in God.
© Carol Brown

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Simpler Life

When we choose to live a simpler life by cutting back and slowing down, we experience greater peace of mind. We can reduce the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves: wanting a perfect house, body, life, career, family. Instead of wanting a perfect life, we can seek for a good life. Simple changes in our expectations of ourselves and others can make a big difference.

Dejunking our rooms, apartments, or homes creates a more peaceful environment. More important is dejunking our minds. Eliminating junk thoughts such as "should have," "must have," and "would have" fosters peace. As we declutter our surroundings and our minds, we create greater harmony in our hearts and homes.

Next, we can seek to declutter our lives. When we remove toxic activities from our lives, we are happier. We need to set healthy boundaries and say "no" to those things that steal our peace. We also need to say "yes" to activities that heal our spirits--meditation, nature walks, reading inspirational literature, and nurturing friendships.

As we accept and love ourselves just as we are, we allow the healing power of God's love to fill the empty spaces of your heart and life. We can learn to live joyfully and mindfully in each moment. It may take practice and perserverence, but we can seek after peace.

I have tried to live the perfect live, to be everything to everyone, and to say "yes" to everything asked of me. Trust me, this is not a good idea. Do not, I repeat, do not try this at home!

My mom and dad grew up when there was no electricity in homes, indoor plumbing, phones, or cars, and both commented that life was happier back then. Now, I'm not suggesting we all need to live in a tent and cook over an open fire. I'm a big fan of washers and dryers, refrigerators, and warm showers--to name a few conveniences that I love. However, sometimes our fast-paced world can steal our peace. I have learned from personal experience that as we live a simpler life--one filled with goodness, mercy, and gentleness--we feel much happier.
© Carol Brown

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Healing Meditation

The following meditation has literally saved my sanity! Dr. Weiss' meditation CD, which is found at the end of his book "Meditation: Achieving Inner Peace and Tranquility in Your Life," is priceless. (The book is disappointing, but to get the CD, you need to buy the book, which is available on Here's a simplified version of the meditation. (It's so much better when you can listen to Dr. Weiss' soothing voice).

For a few moments focus on your breathing. Breathe deeply and slowly until you feel more relaxed and calm. Relax all your muscles starting with your head and then going down to your shoulders, back, arms, and legs.

Now imagine a beautiful, healing light going through your body, starting with the top of your body and going through each part of your body. Feel the light fill every part of your body, soothing and relaxing every part of your body. Feel the light flowing into every organ of your body with its healing power. Allow the light to relax and heal every muscle and nerve in your body.

Now allow the light to surround your body with its love and healing power. Let it enfold you in peace and joy. Focus only on the beauty of the light. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a beautiful garden (or meadow). Allow your body to rest and heal itself as you imagine yourself in the garden.

Let your body fill with the healing energy of the light. Let go of all anxieties and all troubles of life. Let go of all negative thoughts and emotions. Let go of anger and frustration. Let go of all sadness, grief, and despair. Let the light fill you with joy, peace, and happiness. Allow yourself to recuperate and repair.

Give up all harmful thoughts to the light. Give up all fear and worry. Release all pain and sorrow. Let the light fill you with beautiful energy and peace. Focus again on your breathing and return to life refreshed and restored.

(This is a highly simplified version of the mediation by Dr. Brian Weiss in "Meditation: Achieving Inner Peace and Tranquility in Your Life".)
© Carol Brown

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Honoring Mothers

My friend (we'll call her Sarah) has been caring for her birth mother, who suffers from severe mental illness, for many years. Terribly abused and neglected, Sarah and her brother were taken from their birth mother when they were toddlers after the courts ruled that their mother was an unfit parent. Sarah and her brother lived in foster homes until they were in their teens. A loving family adopted them after all attempts to reunite the children with their birth mother failed.

Now Sarah cares for her desparately ill birth mother. Having every reason to reject and even despise her birth mother, Sarah instead chooses to honor her. Sarah is one of the most serene, cheerful persons I know. She has found the secret to happiness and inner peace: love.
© Carol Brown

Saturday, May 9, 2009


One thing that all mortals share is that we all have mothers. I lost mine 10 years ago, so Mother's Day is a hard day for me. I miss her a lot.

Today I rejoiced with a mother who welcomed her eighteenth adopted special needs child to her loving family and also grieved at the passing of my friend, a mother of a 17-year daughter and a young married daughter with four children. And I've thought a lot about mothers.

One way we can find greater peace in life is honoring, loving, and forgiving our mothers. The most miserable people I know hold on to grudges against their mothers. Some of them have never been mothers themselves and don't know how truly daunting the job is. Others seem to be stuck in a pity party and want to blame their bad choices on their moms.

When my mother was alive, every year on Mother's Day, I cooked dinner for her and pampered her. I brought me such joy and peace to serve her not only on Mother's Day but throughout the year. Sometimes serving her was very inconvenient--even difficult--but it still brought me peace. I gave up a promising career to care for her, but don't regret the choice at all.

I volunteer in a retirement center and see many forgotten mothers whose children are too "busy" to call or visit them. It's been fun to adopt a couple of these moms and try to love them the way I loved my own mother. There are so many lonely people in the world who long for kindness, and a lot of them are elderly, widowed mothers.

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat," said Mother Teresa. Loving and forgiving our mothers brings us peace. As we honor our mothers by living in love, goodness, and forgiveness, we find peace.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and to all who celebrate motherhood. It is a noble and difficult calling. May we find peace as we love and forgive our mothers and as we reach out with love to those who feel unwanted, unloved and forgotten.
© Carol Brown

Friday, May 8, 2009

Forgiving Ourselves

I grew up subconsciously competing with my half-sister who graduated first in her class of medical students. (Do not, I repeat, do not try this at home.) In the process, I expected way too much of myself and became a perfectionist. (Right now I'm a recovering perfectionist.) I was miserable and exhausted, and my life was not peaceful.

Sometimes we are more judgmental and harsh with ourselves than we would be with a friend--or even an acquaintance. There are several reasons we treat ourselves unkindly. We may be comparing ourselves at our worst with others at their best. We may try to please everyone and in the process lose ourselves. Perhaps we believe the saying "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well," when, in reality, only a few things are worth doing well and other things aren't all that important.

We may blame ourselves for innocent mistakes we make. Even Mother Teresa, Moses, and Paul had bad days. Mother Teresa sometimes doubted herself and her faith. Moses had a bad temper, and Paul overcame some really bad behavior to become a disciple of Christ. When we strive to become whole, we seek to love ourselves as God loves us--with all of our flaws, imperfections, and frailties.

We may feel guilty because of deliberate sins. God reminds us that when we repent, our sins--though they were once like scarlet--become white as snow. After we forsake and confess our sins, God forgives us completely. Then we need to forgive ourselves.

When we realize that we can't please everyone and accept our own humanity, we begin our journey to peace. When we stop comparing ourselves to others and love ourselves just as we are, we continue on the journey, and when we forgive ourselves and others, we complete it.
© Carol Brown

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Media and Mood

Recently, Susan Boyle, who sang with such beauty that millions were amazed, was called "frumpy" by the media. Instead of focusing on her incredible talent, the media criticized this beautiful woman for the shoes, nylons, and dress she worn. They ridiculed her hairstyle and her eyebrows. They suggested that she needed a makeover, and she complied. Now, I think it's great when we try to look and act our best, but sometimes it's easy to focus on what's wrong with ourselves and others instead of what's right.

What are the themes of most television shows and movies today? Do they celebrate violence, immorality, cruelty, or contention? Do they present a size 2 voluptuous Barbie look-alike as the epitome of beauty? Do they assume that if we aren't nipped and tucked, we're unattractive?

We live in a culture that would destroy our peace if we allow it to. It would convince us that we aren't skinny enough, sexy enough, stylish enough, or smart enough. It would brainwash us into believing that only the famous, wealthy, vicious, or voluptuous are worth anything.

What if for a day or a week (or a month or a year) we quit watching, listening to and reading anything that would destroy our peace. What if we stopped spending our dollars on movies that promote brutality or perversion.

I'm a news junkie, but for the past month, I quit taking the paper and listening to any news that is unsettling. I feel much better. I also turn off shows that make me feel less than whole. I refuse to listen to people argue or belittle others in any form of media. And I will not listen to lyrics that do not promote goodness and virtue.

I am turning on a lot of beautiful, uplifting music, watching movies that inspire me, and reading books that promote peace. Life is so short, and our time is so precious. Today choose media and promotes peace and notice the difference it makes in your mood.
© Carol Brown

Beautiful Lord

Some days are really hard. We wonder why we are here, what God expects of us, and who can help us endure the heartaches we face.

There is One who can help us. He says that he will feed his flock like a shepherd, that he will gather us, his lambs, with his arms and carry us in his bosom. He promises that when we trust in Him and focus our thoughts on Him, He will keep us in perfect peace. So how do we do that?

We can trust that He keeps His promises. We can picture Him carrying us in his arms and holding us during our times of sorrow. We can believe that He hears our prayers and then accept His will in our lives. We can trust that as light follows darkness, peace follows pain.

It took a lot of trust for Rahab, a harlot, to allow Joshua to stay in her home. Because of her faith, the Lord saved her and her entire household. It takes a lot of courage to trust in a Higher Power when health, financial, or relationship issues have brought us to our knees. When we place our trust in God, He will save us. Our beautiful Lord will give us peace amid sorrow.
© Carol Brown

The Joy of Service

Today I was talking to my 7-year old granddaughter. She said, "Grandma, why do you like to help others so much? I think it looks really hard to do?"

"Because helping others makes me happy," I replied," and because Jesus wants us to love others."

"Oh," she said. "I still think it looks hard. But maybe when I get older it'll be easier to do."

We are naturally selfish and self-centered. It is easy to do our own thing and ignore the rest of the world. Of course, we need to take good care of ourselves and try to love ourselves as the Lord loves us, but we find joy and peace when we look beyond ourselves and do some small act of service for another.

Perhaps you could call a friend, email an acquaintance, or send an appreciative message on Facebook. You might smile at a stranger, let someone merge in front of you in traffic, or commplement a clerk. You could say a kind word to a famiy member, a teacher, or a work associate. As we love others, and the love that we share returns to us multiplied and sanctified. It is the secret path to happiness and peace.
© Carol Brown