Friday, December 31, 2010

What Wondrous Love Is This

The little baby in the manger whose birth we recently celebrated became a Man. He changed lives. He expected difficult things of His followers.

He asked His disciples to forsake all and serve beside Him. He asked people to turn away from their sins and become whole. He asked for total devotion, saying, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And, He offered them everything in return: healing, resurrection, and eternal life.

When the Savior approached the Samaritan woman at the well, He knew she was living in sin, but He also knew she had great faith. Although Samaritans, sinners. and women were not valued in the Jewish culture, Jesus reached out to a simple, and yet wonderful woman, with kindness, respect, and love. After the woman discovered who the Savior was, she ran to tell others about Him. She was transformed by the Savior's love.

As we begin a new year, perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves and others is loving, following, and honoring God. When we do this, we are happy and content. Although a consecrated life may appear difficult, in reality, it is an easier life, for it frees us from the despair of guilt, sin, and addiction. Accepting Christ is the path to perfect peace.

Accepting Christ begins with trusting Him and believing that He knows us and loves us infinitely. As we accept Christ, we pray constantly, we serve unselfishly, and we forgive others as He has forgiven us. When we accept Christ, we allow Him to mold us into His image. We forsake the world and follow Him. We give Him our hearts, and He creates in us a new heart and a new spirit. What wondrous love is this!

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to Create a Peace-filled New Year

Typically, at this time of year we make a list of things we hope to accomplish during the coming year and eventually discover that we have not succeeded in accomplishing our goals. Although this works for some, there is an easier way to achieve our dreams. This begins with changing our thinking.

Since our subconscious believes everything we tell it, we can make a list of our aspirations and then write down a statement that shows we already have completed our goal. For example, instead of saying, “I will lose 5/10/15 pounds this year,” say, “ I eat nutritious foods in moderate portions, and I feel healthy and fit.”

Here are some other examples of positive affirmations that can make your aspirations become a reality:

• I spend quality time with my family and friends.

• I enjoy every moment and live mindfully.

• I celebrate life and appreciate the beauties around me.

• I am a positive person and speak encouraging words to others.

• I live simply and joyfully.

• I draw into my life people who are positive and loving.

• I replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

• I love myself just as I am.

Write down the affirmations that you choose and put them where you see them daily. You may also decide to include a copy in your journal, purse, wallet, or planner. Then, as you read them, ask God to help you accomplish them. He is the true Peace-giver, and He will help you become everything that He wants you to be.

May this year be filled with peace as you reflect only on positive affirmations that increase your personal serenity. And, as we fill our own hearts with peace, that peace radiates to others.

Happy, peace-filled New Year!

© Carol Brown

Monday, December 20, 2010

Finding Peace during the Few Days before Christmas

During the few days before Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holidays. When we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, we become anxious and frustrated. Here are a few ideas that I’m
trying to implement to make these precious days before Christmas more peaceful:

Delegate. If you are having others over for dinner or a party, perhaps you can ask for their help with food or activities in advance.

Simplify. Can you make a phone call instead of mailing a card, donate to a charity instead of buying unneeded gifts, or skip an invitation or two when you are already exhausted? Can you buy less for yourself and others and find other ways of showing love? Can you share your excess material possessions with those in need?

• Accept imperfection in yourself and others. Your house does not have to be decorated to HGTV perfection, nor do you have to look like you just stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine for the holidays to be wonderful. Celebrate your own humanity, remembering that the One whose birthday we honor is the only perfect being who has ever lived.

Focus on the Savior’s life. He lived simply. He loved purely. His gifts to us are priceless.

Merry Christmas to you and to those you love. May you find peace and joy during this blessed time of year.

© Carol Brown

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Breathe of Heaven

"Breathe of Heaven" is a beautiful Christmas tune performed so reverently by Amy Grant. Her words about our Savior touch my heart and help me feel the Savior's love for each one of His children during this Christmas season. May this video bring you comfort and peace, and may you feel the Father's infinite love for you.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"I Will Honor Christmas in My Heart and Try to Keep It All the Year"

Perhaps Charles Dickens understood the spirit of Christmas best. He realized that it is in giving, not getting, that we discover the true joy of the season. Consider some of his words in his classic story, A Christmas Carol and from his other writings.

•A repentant Scrooge says, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

"A loving heart is the truest wisdom."

"Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door."

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else."

"Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."

"Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature."

"We forge the chains we wear in life."

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."

"We need never be ashamed of our tears."

"There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor."

"Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape."

"Remember!--It is Christianity to do good always--even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbours as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts... If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in peace."

© Carol Brown

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creating Peace during the Twelve Days of Christmas

I love finding ways to make the twelve days of Christmas meaningful and peace-filled. Here are a few suggestions that can be adapted to your circumstances and completed in any way that feels comfortable to you. This year I can already completed most of these suggestions, and it has truly been a peace-filled season. As we focus of giving love instead of getting stuff, Christmas becomes a matter of the heart, an attitude that can permeate our lives each day of the year.

First day: Send an anonymous thank you note to someone in your family, at work, or in your neighborhood.

Second day: Leave a treat on the door on a widow or widower in your neighborhood.

Third day: Donate a toy to a needy child.

Fourth day: Donate some food to a Food Bank.

Fifth day: Share some gently used clothing with the homeless, the poor, or those who are abused.

Sixth day: Write a list of reasons you appreciate your spouse, brother, sister, mother, or father. Include the list in a Christmas card and send or give it to the person.

Seventh day: Reflect on the gifts and blessings that God has given you this year. Thank Him for each one of them.

Eighth day: Invite someone who is lonely to dinner, lunch, hot chocolate, for dessert, or to a free Christmas concert.

Ninth day: Read Luke 2 and reflect on God’s infinite love for you and for all of His children. Think of one way you can share His love with others and then do it.

Tenth day: Take a healthy treat to an elderly or shut-in person. Spend some time visiting with him or her.

Eleventh day: Do something kind for yourself. Take a warm bath or read something inspiration. Reflect upon the unique talents and gifts that God has given you.

Twelfth day: Today give yourself and others a priceless gift that bestows happiness, joy, and serenity to the giver: forgiveness. If you find it too difficult to forgive someone who has offended you, ask God to help you. He will. If you need time to forgive, allow yourself to process your emotions, but after you have done so, choose forgiveness, which frees you from the burden of bitterness.

May you discover that as we radiate Christlike love to ourselves and others during the holiday season, we experience the true spirit of Christmas, which is pure love.

© Carol Brown

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finding Peace during the Holidays...and throughout the Year

For many, this time of year can be very hectic. We may feel overwhelmed by company and family parties to host or attend, gifts to buy and wrap, and the endless varities of traditions that accompany the holiday season. If you're feeling stressed, consider these four tips that will help you experience peace and happiness.

Remember the reason for the season.

Find ways to turn your hearts to God and away from the materialism that bombards us. Spend time daily in prayer and meditation. Thank God for the countless blessings that you enjoy. Reflect upon the tender mercies that you experience on a daily basis. Notice that every breath you take, every bite of food that you eat, and every good thing you enjoy is a gift from Him. Thank Him for the gift of His Son, which is a gift too magnificent to comprehend and fully appreciate.

Find joy in the simple things.

We had the pleasure of hosting my husband’s widowed brother for the weekend. Terry has buried two dear wives and two sons. He could be bitter, angry, and self-pitying, yet he spent hours talking about the blessings he enjoys.

Was he angry when his wives and sons died? Absolutely. For some time Terry was angry at God, and he still wonders why He lost those who are so dear to him. But now Terry focuses on what he can do for others. He writes a positive thought each day and texts it to many friends and family members. He serves his grandchildren and children. He savors the beauties of nature. He visits the lonely and those who are grieving and offers them comfort, and he is peaceful.

Although he has few material possessions, Terry lives a rich life because he has discovered the secret to happiness: that a generous, kind spirit coupled with a grateful heart creates peace. There are so many who are forgotten at Christmastime and throughout the year who need your kind words, your listening ears, and your loving deeds. Ask God to direct you to someone who needs you and discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Focus on giving not getting.

Although my husband and I are not wealthy, we have a comfortable life. Consequently, we ask our loved ones to give to a charity of their choice at Christmas time instead of giving us a gift. Our immediate family members pool their resources and find a destitute family that we can help. We, along with our sons, sons-in-law, daughters and daughters-in-laws, have the joy of giving food, clothing, and gifts to a family who would otherwise have nothing at Christmas. There is no sweeter gift that we can give ourselves at Christmas than sharing with someone in need.

Remember that it not about the presents but about His presence.

The Spirit of God is a comforter and peace-giver. As we invite the Spirit into our hearts and homes by the peaceful thoughts we think, the uplifting music we select, and the loving words and deeds that we choose, we experience the true spirit of Christmas. A loving God hears and answers our prayers. He wants us to feel His love and experience the peace of His spirit. As we seek to live worthily to feel His Spirit, He will direct us to ways that we can find peace...even when we are experiencing sorrow.

© Carol Brown