Sunday, February 28, 2010


© Carol Brown

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Prayer of Gratitude

Dear God, I thank you for every breath I take,
For daily kindnesses, for friends who share my smiles and tears,
For sun and rain, for planting and harvest seasons,
For times of sorrow and for times of joy.

I praise you, God, for your amazing grace given freely to all,
For forgiving me when I do not deserve mercy,
For loving me when I feel unloveable, and
For holding me when I cannot stand.

I worship thee, God, for thy unfailing goodness,
For showering us with gifts we seldom see,
For giving us the miracles of life and laughter and beauty,
For showing us that the path to happiness and peace
Is following you.

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Discovering Your Divine Worth

Each one of us is a divine child of God, who loves us infinitely and incomprehensibly. If we understand how magnificently God loves us, none of us would feel insecure, inferior, or incompetent. We would celebrate our lives, our gifts, and our blessings. We would experience greater peace.

Today, remember that you have infinite worth. You are created in God's image. He wants you to be happy. Let Him help you.

I really like Marianne Williamson's insights into the power and glory of each person. May her words inspire you to experience greater serenity today as you face the challenges that are part of everyday life.

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

© Carol Brown

Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebrating Differences

Because God creates people who have unique appearances, talents, interests, and personalities, He finds diversity beautiful. Much suffering is created when we allow the differences of others to destroy our peace. Of course, we need to set healthy boundaries to protect ourselves from those who would injure us, but as we celebrate one another’s differences and show loving kindness to those around us, we experience greater peace of mind and compassion for ourselves and others.

Here are some differences we can celebrate:

• Whether we are tall or short, thick or thin, dark- or light-skinned, we are divine creations. The media lies when it says that women need large chests, long hair, no wrinkles, and tiny waists and noses to be pretty. It lies when it says that men need big muscles, distinctive abs, and chiseled features to be handsome. As we see the beauty in others, we celebrate our own beauty as well.

• Each of us has amazing gifts and talents. Some may be more noticeable or celebrated than others, but each of our talents is invaluable. Some are great listeners and counselors. Others are skilled artists, musicians, writers, speakers, thinkers, analysts, advisors, teachers, or leaders. No one’s gift is less valued or valuable than another’s.

• Some are educated in universities while others learn from the college of hard knocks or from life experience. Each person has much to teach others, whether they are a grade school drop-out or a PhD. My dad dropped out of school when he was twelve to support his family, and is one of the wisest and smartest men I know. (He was also a successful business and entrepreneur.) I’m grateful for the education I was blessed to obtain, but learn much from my friends who did not have an opportunity or inclination to go to college.

• Whether we are old or young or in between, we have much to teach others and much to learn from others. I learn wisdom and mindfulness from my ninety-year old friends. I learn how to live in the moment, to quickly forgive, and to celebrate the wonders of life from children. I have friends in each decade of life and cherish each one of them.

• Whether we are rich or poor, we have infinite worth. Our culture celebrates wealth,and although it’s nice when we have enough money to help those in need, many who struggle financially can teach us so much. One of my dearest friends survives on a few hundred dollars of disability benefits each month and has taught me so much about finding joy and peace amid poverty. She gives freely from her meager income, and receives abundantly from the love and kindness of others.

• Racial, cultural, and religious differences have separated people for centuries. When God tells us He is no respecter of persons, He must feel sad when we judge and condemn others because of their color, beliefs, or upbringing. We enrich our lives when we include in our circle of friendship people from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

• Politics can become so divisive if we allow them to be. Our immediate family has members of several political persuasions, and we can share our ideas respectfully around the dinner table. No political party has a monopoly on truth or integrity, nor does any political commentator.

Just as every snowflake is unique and exquisite, every person is an original, beautiful, divine creation. As we focus on the strengths of others and celebrate differences, we will enhance the peace in our hearts and homes.

© Carol Brown

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Praise the Lord

Nothing promotes peace faster than praising the Lord for his mercy, goodness, and love. Whether we praise Him in song, conversation, worship, or prayer, our spirits are renewed, and we experience an outpouring of his kindness. When we praise God from our hearts, we allow Him to manifest His power and presence in our lives.

Consider some examples from the Bible that give us reasons to praise and worship God:

• PRAISE ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 150:1-6)

• Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:8)
• Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:2-3).

• In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. (Psalm 56:4)

• UNTO thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare (Psalm 75:1).

We can learn to develop an attitude of praise and thanksgiving even when life presents us
with challenges. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we read, “In everything given thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (NKJV).

Now, Paul does not counsel us to be thankful for everything but in everything. We don’t have to thank God that our husband lost his job, but we can be grateful that we have food to eat and loving friends and family members who care about us. We aren’t asked to thank God for illness or adversity, but we can praise Him for His strength, mercy, and loving kindness that carries us through difficult times.

We can incorporate praise and worship into our everyday lives. We can praise God when we’re driving, doing the dishes, and talking with friends. We can praise the Lord when we’re cleaning our house, weeding a garden, or taking a walk. Praising God can become an integral part of our lives.

The Lord gives us so much and asks for so little. One thing He expects of His children is that they have grateful hearts and that they appreciate His goodness. Nothing is more frustrating that when we give generously to our children and they show no gratitude in return. Surely, we must sadden our Creator when we fail to acknowledge His hand in every good thing in our lives. Today, let us “ praise thee, O Lord, among the people:[let us] I will sing unto thee among the nations.”

© Carol Brown

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Gift of Gratitude

When we see horrific suffering—as we’ve witnessed in Haiti recently—it motivates me to feel more profound gratitude for the gifts that we easily take for granted. When we feel overwhelmed with problems, it helps to reflect on our many blessings. That simple act can bring us peace amid suffering.

It's a simple law that when we celebrate love, we will receive love; when we celebrate goodness, goodness will follow; when we celebrate thankfulness, we receive peace. Paul said, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you."

As I consider the millions of people through the world who do not enjoy even the basic necessities of life, here’s a list of a few things for which I’m especially grateful. Please feel free to include yours.

• My family, friends, and neighbors (of course)

• Clean water to drink

• Food, grocery stores, my oven and microwave

• My refrigerator, washer, dryer, and furnace

• Doctors, nurses, hospitals, medicine, and medical clinics

• My home

• Schools, libraries, books, and computers

• My bathtub, shower, sprinkler system, lawn, and trees

• My bed, sofa, lights, chairs, kitchen table, and piano

• God, who loves each of us infinitely and eternally

• My arms, legs, eyes, ears, skin, hair, organs

• Freedom

As we choose thoughts of gratitude, we dispel feelings of fear, anger, and sorrow. Meister Echkart wrote, "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is, 'Thank you,' it would be enough.” The Bible tells us in the Book of Colossians, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts....and be ye thankful" (Colossians 3:15).

© Carol Brown

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Choose Peace Instead of This

Robert Holden, a renowned psychotherapist, who wrote Happiness Now and Shift Happens: Powerful Ways to Transform Your Life, tells about a life-altering experience that happened to him in a hotel room in Finland. Because he had an evening alone, he decided to meditate on forgiveness for fifteen minutes before he ordered his dinner. As he settled into a comfortable chair and began his forgiveness meditation, he became aware of this thought: “What would it be like to experience total peace?” Two thoughts soon followed: “Forgiveness heals all grievances” and “Forgiveness gives you wings.”

He started to let go of all of his grievances for fifteen minutes, and four hours later, he still continued his mediation. One by one, old grievances resurfaced in his mind, including family members, past teachers, clients, and bosses, and unethical politicians and salesmen. After each person came to his mind, he affirmed, "I choose peace instead of this.” As he inhaled, he expressed forgiveness for that person, and as he exhaled, he released all pain, fear and suffering.

By the time he finished, he experienced perfect peace. He said that his "mind was totally free of all judgment, fear, doubt and pain. [His] heart was expanding beyond the edges of [his] body." He felt so happy that he could have disappeared. He discovered, “Whenever I forgive anyone—it sets me free.”

© Carol Brown

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wreck

Driving home from our vacation, my husband and I were stalled in a huge traffic jam on a major interstate highway. Within a few minutes, two ambulances and a fire truck whizzed by. Eventually, the emergency vehicles left, but we were not allowed to pass the wreck. When I mentioned to my husband that I wished we had driven out of the city a few minutes earlier, he replied, “If we had, we might have been involved in the accident.”

My husband and I waited calmly, praying that those in the overturned vehicles were not seriously injured. We turned on some beautiful music and turned off the car engine. After about an hour, a police officer drove by and said that because hazardous material was spilled, we would need to make a u-turn and exit the city through a different route. I asked him if the people involved in the accident were going to be okay, and he assured me that no one had been seriously injured. I offered a silent prayer of thanks.

After several cars left the freeway and reentered it on the opposite side, we had the chance to do the same. To make the u-turn, we had to drive off a steep embankment, travel across a dusty field, and then race up another precipitous embankment. As we drove onto the freeway, people in a car that was hundreds of feet behind us—seeing that we were apparently entered the freeway illegally—honked at us. Those in the vehicle sneered and shook their heads in disgust as they drove past us. I wondered how often we tend to misjudge a situation because we don’t know all of the extenuating circumstances.

As we drove along, we saw miles of vehicles that were stalled because of the wreck. I offered a silent prayer for anyone who might be missing an important appointment because of the accident. Driving through a part of the city that we had never seen, my husband and I noticed the scenery that we would have missed if we had not been required to take the detour. After another half-hour or so, we left the city in the alternate route that the police officer had recommended to us and were on our way home.

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"Maybe," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"Maybe," replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"Maybe,"answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.

When we live mindfully, we become less stressed by unexpected events. We can enjoy the present moment, even when it brings us unexpected disappointment. We recognize that whatever life brings us, this too, will pass. Nothing in life remains constant. Friends move. Family members die. We, too, grow older and will eventually pass away.

Living mindfully allows us to experience serenity amid the stresses of life. It can calm our nerves, lessen our tendency to misjudge others, and help us find joy in the journey. It allows us to feel God’s infinite love for us and to find peace amid sorrow.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, February 11, 2010

40 Years

It's been forty years since I married my great guy. The day seemed as beautiful as this picture.

We've had happy times and sad ones, stress-filled days and peaceful ones. When I was a newlywed and young mother, I wish I'd known more about living mindfully. It would have made my life so much calmer. We cannot chance the past, but we can live mindfully in the present.

Now I do. I'm glad I can share my thoughts about living peacefully with you. These concepts have revolutionized my life. Thanks for reading. May this day bring you peace.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Valentines' Peace

Last week I told two of my granddaughters—Emma, 10, and Hailey, 7—that they could do anything they wanted: go to the aquarium, a movie, to our favorite shopping village, or out to dinner. They thought over the options and decided they wanted to make valentines for some shut-ins and deliver them. We had a peaceful, serene time serving others, and it brought us great joy.

For those without spouses—and sometimes even for those who do—Valentines Day may not bring them the joy that it could. Here are a few suggestions to enhance your peace during this holiday that celebrates love.

• Make or buy some cookies and give them anonymously to some of your widowed or single neighbors.

• Send some cards to your friends or loved ones who are going through challenging times.

• Write a loving note to someone who needs some kindness.

• Invite some lonely friends over for a potluck dinner or dessert. Play some games or just visit and enjoy one another’s company.

• Do a small act of service for a stranger.

• Take a casserole over to a new mother or elderly grandma.

• Share some sweet treats or a dollar-store stuffed animal with a child.

This holiday gives us countless opportunities to enhance our peace by reaching out with
love to some of our friends and neighbors who may be overlooked during this joyful holiday. One or two small acts of service can make a big difference in enhancing your peace during at this season and throughout the year.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, February 4, 2010

10 Ways to Experience Authentic Peace

Inner peace is a result of every thought we think, every word we say, and every deed we perform. Today—and every day—choose peace. Pursue and seek after it, and then choose those thoughts, words, and actions and enhance your peace. The follow steps can help you find peace—even when life is sorrowful and difficult.

1. Accept and love yourself just as you are. As you truly love yourself, you free yourself to become all that you can be. You allow God to make you an instrument of His peace.

2. Follow your bliss. Ask God you help you discover your unique and divine mission on earth. As you surrender to His will, you will discover what your life purpose truly is, and He will help you become more than you ever imagined.

3. Write down those things that create peace and then build them into your life. Peace does not have to cost one penny. Enjoying the beauties of nature and listening to inspirational talks or music is free. Breathing deeply, refusing to worry about the past or future, and living in the present moment do not cost anything, and yet those simple acts can transform our lives.

4. Love someone. Call a friend. Visit a lonely neighbor. Make a pot of soup or a batch of cookies and share it with someone. Small acts of service can make such a big difference in our lives—and in the lives of others.

5. Forgive freely. Refuse to allow past grudges to destroy present peace. Forgiveness is one of the most healing gifts you can give yourself.

6. Express gratitude. Write down five things you are grateful for today. Thank God for all He has given you. The more grateful we are, the more peace we experience.

7. Choose to be a victor, not a victim. We can either allow the adversities of life to destroy us or to strengthen us. Our attitudes are truly our altitude. We can either say “Why did this happen to me” or “What can I learn from this experience.”

8. Nurture yourself today. Read a good book. Say kind things to yourself. No one has the power to destroy your peace if you do not give it to them.

9. Live mindfully. Enjoy each precious moment that God has given you. Savor each bite of food. Listen to the birds singing outside your window. Feel the warmth of the sun. Smell the fragrance of flower. Notice the light in the eyes of a friend. Be still, and experience the peace of God that passes all understanding.

10. Meditate for a few minutes. Think about a beautiful scene from nature. Focus on God’s loving kindness. Picture yourself enfolded in the arms of God’s love. Breathe in love, and breathe out kindness. Breathe in hope, and breathe out harmony.

Many distractions and stresses in life can easily destroy our peace if we let them. If we proactively pursue peace, we can find it. Someone said, "Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."

© Carol Brown

Monday, February 1, 2010

How to Make Peace with Anyone--Including Yourself

Nothing destroys peace faster that contention. Each of us has the power to live peacefully with others when we turn away from contentious thinking and center our thoughts on loving kindness. We create peaceful relationships when we show mercy to ourselves and others—-the same mercy that we ask God to show us.

When people are unkind, we can choose whether or not we allow their actions to destroy our peace of mind. When we live in the present—free from past pain or worries about the future—we experience peace.

When we decide to respect and value ourselves and others as children of God, we achieve inner peace. We discover that everything we experience in life can teach us how to experience God's love more fully. Our enemies become our teachers when we learn patience and develop mercy as we learn to to forgive--even when forgiveness is not easy to do.

Some people are much harder on themselves that they are on other people. If you are oppressed by past sins, allow God to cleanse your heart and then move forward so that you can enjoy everyday life. Allow Him to free you from guilt and despair.

Some may try to attack us because they live in a state of inner pain and fear. If we hold vengeful feelings toward another, we become as miserable as they are. Instead of harboring hatred, process the pain and then release it to a Higher Power. We can cast all of our burdens—our sorrow, fears, hurts, disappointment, and grief-- on the Lord, and He will sustain us. After all, He alone understands our pain, for He already suffered it.

Today, consider if there is anyone--including yourself--that needs your forgiveness. Then ask the Master to give you the power to forgive. And, He will.

© Carol Brown