Saturday, December 31, 2011

Be Still and Know

God wants us to know Him and trust in Him. He wants us to be happy. As we still our minds and trust in Him, He fills our hearts with peace.

Consider what the Bible says about knowing God:

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

• Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

• Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

• My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.

• Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

• But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him.

• Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

With Job, I testify that I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Always Remember Him

When we pray to and praise God continually, we find peace. As we focus our thoughts on the Lord during the day, we experience a peace that passes all understand. We do not worry about the future because we trust that God is guiding us. We do not anguish because of past events because we give our hearts to the Lord. We know that He forgives, loves and heals us. He is our Redeemer, our Rock, and our best and most loyal Friend. He will never forsake us!

When we remember our Creator continually, we care more about Him than anything else. We love Him more than anything else. We honor Him more than anything else.

We are never alone with God is with us. Knowing that He is by our side, we realize that we can overcome all things. Because He strengthens us, we know that we can endure any trials or temptations that we face.

Each morning we can reflect on His perfect love for us and on His tender mercies. As we study the word of God and remember the Word, we discover that we can find peace even when life is difficult. We can find peace even when others betray us, when we are sick or tired, or when we feel overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

As we pray, we can ask God to manifest His love to us. We can ask Him to guide us in each decision that we make. We can praise Him for the countless ways He blesses us, provides for us, and protects us. We can ask for His protection and direction.

This week I went alone to a second doctor’s visit. My husband was far away on a business trip, and doctors wanted me to undergo a second series of diagnostic x-rays to determine whether or not I had cancer. As a prayed, I felt perfect peace. I knew that whether or not I had a serious health problem, God was with me. I knew He cared about me and loved me. I prepared for a good result but also knew that if the outcome was bad, the Lord would comfort me.

Happily, the results were positive but this experience taught me that even during difficult times, I can experience peace as I focus my thoughts on my loving Father and trust in His tender care. May you find peace today as you seek to center your heart, mind, and emotions on the Lord. Remember, He said, “I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.”

© Carol Brown

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wise Men Seek Him Still

Just as the wise men travelled far to find Jesus, we, too, can find Him and as we do, we will find peace. As we become acquainted with the Savior and seek to follow Him we discover that He is heal, comfort, and strengthen us as we face the challenges of life. He is our Rock, our Comforter, and our Prince of Peace.

As we reflect on the Savior’s life, we find that He exemplified seven qualities that create peace. As we reflect on His life and try to become like Him, we experience greater peace. As we discover who He is, we also discover what we can become.

Let’s consider seven of the Savior’s qualities that promote peace:

Humility Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. He did not seek after fame, power, or wealth, but instead spend His time serving the sick, the troubled, the disenfranchised. As we turn away from prideful behaviors and turn towards Jesus, we realize that He gives us gifts that money and acclaim cannot buy. He gives us hope, courage, faith, and love—the most priceless gifts of all.

Patience Jesus did not complain when people spat upon Him, scourged Him, and tortured Him. He did not condemn those who nailed Him to the cross and instead offered hope to thief who suffered beside Him and asked John to care for His mother. Christ is the perfect example of patience.

Kindness Jesus took the time to bless little children, heal the lepers, and minister to the outcasts. He ministered to a Samaritan woman, whom the Jews rejected because of her race, sex, and sins. He showed us that love looks beyond outward appearance and sees with the heart.

Compassion Jesus wept with them at the passing of their brother, even though He knew that He would shortly raise Lazarus from the dead. Because He suffered all things, He understands suffering and knows how to console us.

Mercy When Jesus forgave the adulterous women, we asked those who were without sin to cast stones as her. Of course, no one did. Then, he counseled the woman, “Go, and sin no more.” He forgives us when we repent and asks us to forgive all. He showed us that we should ask our Father to forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Love Our Savior loved us so perfectly that He took upon Him all of our sins, sorrows, and suffering. He laid down His life for you and for me so that we can be resurrected and, if we choose, live forever with Him. We cannot comprehend the love that He has for us, but as we learn of His, we get a glimpse of His amazing love.

Faithfulness No one is a more loyal Friend or Counselor than our Savior. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. He tells us that He carries us every day of our lives, not just during the hard times. He is always willing to comfort, bless, and console us. Loved ones may move or pass away, friends may forsake us, but Jesus will never fail us. He loves us with an everlasting love and merely asks that we love Him in return. He gives us everything good that we have and asks for so little in return.

May you feast on the Savior's perfect love during this season--and throughout the coming year.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Best Gift Ever Given

The best gift ever given was the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ, who willing gave His life for us that we might live forever with Him. He offered this gift because of His pure love for us. Consider how much the Father loves us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Consider the gifts that God bestows on us through the gift of His son:
Comfort Because Christ suffered all things, He knows how to succor us when we suffer. He understands you perfectly. He will send His Comforter to help you when you ask for His help.


God waits to forgive you when you turn away from your sins and turn to Him, asking for His mercy. He tells us that even though our sins are as scarlet, we can become as white as snow through the power of His compassionate love.


God waits for us to approach Him in prayer and answers our prayers in ways that are best suited to our individual needs. As we cast our burdens on Him through prayer, He will give us peace of mind.


As reflect on the bounteous blessings that God has given us, our hearts are filled with joy. We rejoice in His goodness, His kindness, His love, and His tender mercies. We remember that every good gift that we receive is from God.


As we trust in God, we realize that we are not alone. God tells us that He carries us every day of our lives. He is our Father, and we are His children. He loves us with a perfect love, and that love can bind up our broken hearts and make us whole.


No one loves you as much as our Savior loves you. We loved you so much that He laid down His life for you. He took all of you sins, sorrows, and suffering upon Him because of His infinite love for you personally. He rose from the grave and rules with glory and majesty. He longs for you to experience His love, to envelop you in the arms of His love. Ask Him to reveal His love to you. He will.

John wrote, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

In a world that focuses on buying and getting, God asks that we open our hearts to receive His love. Then He asks us to share that love with others. He has given us the best gifts imaginable. He gave us life and the opportunity to live eternally with Him. All that He asks is that we give Him our hearts, hearts filled with obedience, humility, goodness, and love. With Paul, we proclaim, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."

© Carol Brown

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eight Ways to Find Peace during the Holidays (and throughout the coming year)

At this time of year when we celebrate the life of the Prince of Peace, it is easy to lose our peace of mind when we are bombarded by advertisements, materialism, and unrealistic expectations. A few simple tips can make the Holidays happier and less stressful:

Serve someone. As we reach out to those in need, we experience the peace and good will. Service can be as simple as an anonymous gift, a thank you card, or a cheerful phone call. Whenever we bless the life of another, we allow God’s love to radiate through us to one of His precious children, and that love fills our hearts with peace.

Share a smile. We when smile to family, friends, and strangers, we discover that we feel more peaceful. As you smile, you can say a silent prayer, asking God to bless those you encounter with His love and protection.

Savor your blessings. As we reflect upon the countless gifts we enjoy, we realize that we have enough. We do not need presents, material possessions, or stuff to define or validate us. God’s love gives us the greatest gift of all: peace beyond anything that we can understand.

Seek God. God promises us that when we seek Him, we will find Him, and finding Him creates peace in our lives. How do we seek God? By becoming acquainted with Him through prayer and Scripture study, by trying to live as He lived and serve as He served, by thinking about Him, loving Him, and remembering Him. You are His children created in His image. As we seek Him, He teaches us that He loves us with an infinite love, and that is the path to peace.

Search out someone who needs your love. So many people need your one-of-a –kind love. It may be a widow down the street, your next-door neighbor, a coworker, or friend. It may be someone who seems difficult to love. Ask God to show you whom He wants you to love and how to love them. He will help you know what you can do to lift another, and as you do that, you will find that you are lifted as well.

Show kindness. Kind words and deeds are manifestations of God’s love. They bind up broken hearts, ease troubled minds, and heal wounded souls. When we speak with kindness, we do not criticize, condemn, or judge others. Instead, we celebrate the strengths and gifts that we see in one another, including ourselves. We share words of encouragement, gratitude, and compassion with others, and we also do the same for ourselves.

Simplify. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we remember He lived a simple life. As we focus on those things that matter most—relationships, love, and spirituality—we discover that Christmas does not come from a store. It is found within the recesses of loving hearts everywhere.

Surrender to a Higher Power. When I was nineteen, my father died, and I was left alone to navigate the challenges of life. I was an only child, and my mother was very ill and poor. I had no one I could turn to for solace and guidance—no one, that is, but God. I surrendered my financial, academic, and health challenges to Him. I gave my life to Him and discovered that as I did, He gave me His wisdom, comfort, and perfect love. My life has never been the same.

As we give our hearts to God, He gives us hearts filled with peace and comfort. When life is difficult, He strengthens us. When our hearts are broken, He waits to heal them. When our burdens seem too heavy to bear, He waits to carry them. All we have to do is ask in faith, trusting that He will answer our prayers in the manner and season that is right for us.

May you be enfolded in the arms of God’s love during the Holiday season and throughout the coming year, and may you radiate that love to others.

© Carol Brown

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seven Ways that Gratitude Creates Peace

In the entryway of my friend’s home are the words of George Herbert: “O Lord thou hast given so much to me. Give me one more thing, a grateful heart.” Gratitude reminds us that every good thing we enjoy is a gift from God. It teaches us that although we are everything to God, and He wants to bless us with peace. All that He asks is that we choose to live in a spirit of gratitude.

Gratitude produces a spirit of peace in our hearts and homes. It offers hope, happiness, and contentment to those who choose it. Meister Eckhart understood this when he wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole lives is ‘thank you,’ it is enough.”

Gratitude creates peace in eight simple but profound ways:

When we show gratitude, we stop comparing ourselves with others. As we focus on the blessings we enjoy, we fail to notice if others have more, accomplish more, or do more than we do. We recognize that we are richly blessed and that the gift of peace is a priceless one. You cannot buy peace in a store. It is freely given when our hearts are filled with thanksgiving.

When we are grateful, we live in the moment. We do not reflect on what we lacked in the past or what we desire in the future. Today’s blessings are enough. Thornton Wilder said: “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

When we express gratitude, we celebrate the good in ourselves and others. When we notice the kindness, generosity and compassion of others, we overlook their weaknesses and frailties. Everyone has some quality or gift for which we can be grateful. Even our enemies become our teachers when choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.

When we show gratitude, we savor the simple blessings of life. As we enjoy the beauty of a sunset or the smile of a child, we realize that we are rich indeed. Each breath we take is a gift from God, and there is always something for which we can be thankful. Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.”

When we express gratitude, we remember that a Higher Power loves us. As we thank God for the blessings we receive, we invite His Spirit and His love into our hearts. His love fills us with happiness and peace. His love can heal the world when our hearts are knit together in love for one another.
When we are grateful, we remember that we receive more than we give. We can never outdo God in giving.

Even the most generous person cannot match the bounties of God’s endless goodness. The air we breathe, the light and water that nourishes each plant, the food we eat, each precious moment on earth is a gift from God. As we attempt to repay Him for His bounteous gifts, He immediately blesses us, and we are constantly in His debt. God blesses us so abundantly and merely asks for our gratitude—and our hearts filled with love for Him and for others.

When we show gratitude, we delight in the mercies that God shows us. God loves to forgive His repentant children. He waits to give us those things that will help us become more like Him. Although life may be difficult, He wants us to learn from our struggles and sorrows. As we ask for His help and trust in His loving kindness, He gives us the strength to overcome our weaknesses. He wants to envelop us in the arms of His love.

Melodie Beattie wrote: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity….It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Happy Thanksgiving! May you find peace this day and always.

&copy Carol Brown

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Peace of Gratitude

Living in a spirit of gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to achieve greater peace of mind—and also one of the easiest. It isn’t hard to look around you and find others whose life is much harder than you own. Even my friend, Beth, who was paralyzed and suffered more than any person I have known, lived in a continual spirit of gratitude for the blessings she enjoyed. When she had a really bad day, she allowed herself no more than half an hour to feel sorry for herself, and then moved on!

Beth had a miserable childhood. Her mother resented her, saying Beth was the reason she had to get married. She was raped as a child by a babysitter, and when she reported the abuse to her parents, she was accused of lying. When she was a teen-ager, cancer ate through her spine and eventually destroyed the use of her legs. A certified teacher, she was not hired because of her disability, so she created beautiful art, taught children in her home, and became a world-class wife and mother. My children were some of the benefactors of her amazing talents.

Although she often developed huge bedsores that required hospitalization, struggled with terrible infections, and suffered with two bouts of cancer and other health challenges, Beth is one of the most cheerful persons I have ever known. When cancer returned, she endured the suffering and pain with courage and grace until the illness took her life.

Beth taught me to live in the present, to savor life, and to love those around us, even when they are difficult to love. She taught me to be thankful for the little things—the smile of a friend, a small act of kindness, a moment of laughter, the song of birds, and the artistry of a shadow that moves across the wall. She taught me to live in a spirit of gratitude.

I grew up without central heating, electric washers and dryers, air conditioning in homes or cars, a television, and countless other things that many consider to be necessities today, and yet I was a happy child. Because my father had survived a terrible car accident that left him disabled, he lost his career, his home, and his wealth, but he never lost His faith in God, his love for life, and his love for family and friends. He taught me to enjoy the journey, even when it’s difficult.

I lost Beth and my father to cancer many years ago but their beautiful, ebullient spirits live in my heart. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, please reflect on the simple blessings that you enjoy. If you have someone who loves you, praise the Lord. If you enjoy the necessities of life, thank God. If you recognize His love in your life, you are rich beyond measure.

With David, I rejoice: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”(Psalm 42:5).

© Carol Brown

Friday, November 11, 2011

How to Remove Peace-stealers

Thoughts, circumstances, and challenges can destroy our peace if we allow them to do so. Peace is a precious gift from God and needs careful nurturing. Consider the things that steal our peace:

• Comparing our appearance, personality, talents, accomplishments, or possessions with others

• Focusing on the faults of others

• Ignoring our own strengths

• Harboring thoughts of self-pity, shame, bitterness, or negativity

• Ingratitude

• Feeling that no one loves us or cares about us

• Believing that we are worthless, useless, unable to change, a product of our environment, or damaged

• Assuming that God does not know us, value us, love us, or cherish us

So, how to do eliminate the peace-stealers from our lives so that we can be peace-givers? We begin by centering our hearts and minds on our loving Father. As we study His words and become acquainted with Him through prayer and meditation, we discover that He loves us more than we can imagine and that He wants us to live in a spirit of peace, even when times are difficult.

Next, we allow God’s love to permeate the broken parts of our hearts. We give Him our guilt, shame, pain, bitterness, and burdens and allow Him to heal us. We ask for His forgiveness when we make mistakes. He ask for His help when we feel weak or overwhelmed. We seek to better understand His infinite love when we feel alone or afraid.

Finally, we remember to live with a spirit of gratitude and contentment. We focus of the blessings we enjoy and trust that God is carrying us each moment of our lives. As we savor the bounties of His love, we share that love with others—through our smiles, service, prayers, and loving thoughts.

Remember , Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Today, choose to enjoy the peace of God’s abundant love for you.

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God's Infinite Love Gives Us Peace

Amid the sorrows of life, God's perfect love gives us solace and peace. As we feast on His words, bask in His love, and focus on His loving qualities, He enfolds us in His arms of love. Because He has suffered all, He understands all of our suffering and knows how to succor us. These descriptions of God's unfailing and infinite love for each one of us can help us find peace amid sorrow:

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever (Psalm 52:8).

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger,abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).

Give thanks to the God of heaven for His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:13-16).

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5).

Listen to me, whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you (Isaiah 46:4-6).

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior. in all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old(Isaiah 63:7-9).

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love (John 15:9).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you(1 Peter 5:7).

Today, as you reflect on God's perfect love for you personally, let that love remove all worries, fears, and concerns from your heart. Today, as you bask in His love, allow Him to give you peace.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Biblical Tips for Finding Inner Peace

The Bible contains powerful ways that can help anyone experience greater peace of mind. God wants each of His children to be happy, and in the Bible, we find helpful tips to find peace amid the sorrows of life.

Listen to the Lord. “ I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people “ (Psalm 85:8 NLV). We hear God’s voice when we read His words and heed the promptings of the Spirit. God’s word helps us to feast on God’s perfect love for us and teaches us how to become more like Him, which promotes inner peace.

Trust in God. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLV ) When we focus on thoughts on Christ and trust that He loves us and cares for us, He eases our burdens and binds up our broken hearts. God knows us and understands the challenges, trials, and sorrows that we experience. We are HIs precious children, and He will strength and bless us as we trust in Him.

Don’t fear. Before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLV). Shortly before He was crucified, Jesus’ counseled His follower to love others as He loved them. When we live in a spirit of love, that love casts out fear.

Do good. “Glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good….for God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:10 NIV). When we serve others, make good choices, and keep the commandments, God blesses us with inner peace, which is a gift of the Spirit.

Be spiritually minded. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6 KJV). As we center our thoughts on the Savior and on things that are good, virtuous, and lovely, we are spiritually minded. Then the gifts of the Spirit--which include love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness-- can fill our hearts with peace.

Centering our hearts on God creates peace. As we think about Him, follow Him, love Him, and obey Him, He gives us the gift of peace—even when our lives are filled with suffering and sorrow. He asks us to come to Him when we feel burdened and overwhelmed and promises that He will give us rest, peace, and comfort. What a wonderful promise!

© Carol Brown

Sunday, October 16, 2011

God Has Not Promised

© Carol Brown

Monday, October 10, 2011

Be Kind to Yourself

When we love and value ourselves just as we are, we empower ourselves to become all that we can be. We then can better love and value others, for we realize that everyone is a precious child of God and understand that no one is of greater or lesser value than another.

When we are kind to ourselves, we nurture ourselves,set healthy boundaries, and do not try to run faster than we can walk. When we feel compassion for ourselves, we refuse to compare ourselves to others. Because we honor our own gifts and potential, we can also celebrate the gifts and potential of others.

Consider the ways that we can be kind to ourselves:

1. Honor and respect your body. Realize that because you are wonderfully made, you do not need to compare your physical appearance to others. When you are kind to your body, you choose a healthy lifestyle. You eat nutritious foods, exercise when possible, and schedule time for sleep and rest. You do not compare yourself to others but honor and cherish your body as a precious gift from God.

2. Choose to remember kind thoughts about yourself and others. Although it is easy to think negatively about ourselves, harboring critical or shame-filled thoughts, we can recognize those thoughts when they appear and then release them. It may be helpful to memorize a positive affirmation or two to help during times when our inner dialogue becomes stuck in negative thinking patterns. Here are a few suggestions: I feel safe and protected. I am always loved. I can handle anything that comes into my life. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I am at peace in my own body. I relish in the experience of life. I transmit harmony to everyone I meet. I am whole and complete. I move easily with the flow of life. I choose to experience kindness and compassion.

3. Release shame and guilt. When we experience shame, we believe we are unworthy of love, that we are defective. When we remember that we are a divine child of God, we realize that we are innately precious and powerful. Guilt can be a healthy emotion when it motivates us to turn away from a self-destructive choice and replace it with a self-compassionate one. However, staying stuck in guilt-filled thoughts can keep us from turning away from negative behavior and turning to a Higher Power.

4. Forgive yourself. Accept the fact that because none of us is perfect, each of us will make our share of mistakes while we are on this mortal journey. We can remain stuck in our guilt, learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them, or give up trying to become whole because we refuse to forgive ourselves. As we release our need to be perfect, we can pursue a path of wholeness and peace.

5. Celebrate your talents and gifts. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it was stupid.” Discover your gifts and then use them to bless the life of someone else. Each of us has the ability to make life more beautiful and happy not only for ourselves but for others as we develop and then share our talents.

6. Set healthy boundaries. Sometimes we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves. If we are finding ourselves burned out, worn out, or fed up with the demands of others, we need to learn to say “no,” to delegate wisely, or to pace ourselves in our efforts to meet the needs of those whom we love. We need to take the time to care for ourselves so that we can care for others in positive ways.

7. Live in a spirit of gratitude. Thank God daily for the blessings that you enjoy. Receive service and love from others with an open heart. As we recognize and appreciate the many spiritual and material gifts that we enjoy, we live in a spirit of kindness. We are less prone to compare ourselves to others, to envy others, or to criticize ourselves and others. When we are truly thankful for all that we have, we see life through the lens of contentment and peace. And, that contentment creates feelings of joy, kindness, happiness, goodness, and patience. I love the words of Meister Eckhart, who wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

When we stop and think about it, isn’t everyone worthy of our kindness. Then, too, are you.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Selfishness, Selflessness and Self-compassion

We experience peace when we learn to fully love ourselves so that we can then radiate that love to others. When we care only about achieving, earning, or having more than others, we do not find true peace. When are not content when we are either comparing ourselves with those whom we believe are above us or ridiculing those whom we consider beneath us. Selfishness does not promotes genuine serenity for true love gives as well as receives love.

Although helping and serving others can provide peace, if we love others instead of loving ourselves we can become dependent on others for our happiness instead of trusting in God as the Source of all peace and joy. The account of the Prodigal Son describes a father who loved his son perfectly without becoming codependent on his son for his own happiness. When the son rebelled from his father, the father allowed the son to suffer the consequences for his unwise decisions yet enthusiastically welcomed his son back after the son repented and returned. If the father had tried to rescue his son, his son would not have learned from his bad choices. If the father had been consumed with self-loathing because of his son's self-defeating choices, he might have lacked the strength to forgive his repentent child and receive him when he returned. When we become obsessively selfless, we may be effective at giving love but not at receiving it.

When we trust completely in God, we allow Him to fill our hearts with peace even when life is difficult and unfair. When we feast on God's infinite love for us, we can then give and receive His love freely. Self-compassion, a gift from God, enhances our ability to love ourselves and to love others. We learn to love ourselves because God first loved us. Then, filled with His love, we can love others in healthy ways that promote happiness and peace.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Self-Compassion versus Self-Esteem

Dr. Kristen Neff recently published a book about self-compassion, which is her research specialty as a psychologist. Self-esteem, which is promoted in many schools throughout the United States, is comparison-based and fear-based. It emphasizes that we need to be better than others to be valued. It assumes that we need to be smarter, more attractive, more successful that others, a thinking pattern that can foster anxiety and depression if we don't believe we're good enough or narcissism and selfishness if we assume we're better than others.

Self-compassion is love-based, an acceptance and appreciation for ourselves just the way we, divine children of God, are. When we have self-compassion, we treat ourselves with the same kindness and understanding that we would treat a dear friend. We seek to love ourselves as unconditionally as God loves us. Sharon Salzberg says, "Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilence, compassion,and understanding within that are simply part of being alive."

Dr. Neff explains that self-compassion has three components:

Self-kindness. When we are gentle and patient with ourselves, we accept the fact that we won't always have the life experiences we would choose and we won't always be perfect in every situation. This simple but profound change in our thinking patterns can enhance our inner peace.

Common humanity. When we realize that all people suffer and experience sorrow and difficulties at times, we discover that we are not alone. We are consequently less judgmental of our personal mistakes and find it easier to forgive ourselves and others when we or they are less than perfect.

Mindfulness. When we are mindful, we recognize our negative emotions, feel them, and then allow ourselves to release them so that they are neither suppressed or exaggerated. As we become aware of the verbal chatter we listen to in our minds, we can also notice the physical results of our thinking. For example, fearful thinking may produce tension in our necks, backs, or shoulders. When we allow ourselves to process our fears, we can then work on releasing the tension in our bodies and minds through meditation and mindfulness.

Dr. Neff's book is a ground-breaking work in self-compassion, which is an important component of peace. She writes, "Self-compassion has the power to....transmute suffering into joy. By changing the way we relate to our own imperfection and pain, we can actually change our experience of living. Try as we may, we can't control life so that it is exactly as we want it to...yet when we wrap our suffering in the cocoon of compassion, something new emerges. Some wonderful, exquisite, beautiful."

&copy Carol Brown

Monday, September 19, 2011

Peace and Self-Compassion

Sometimes we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Many of us are more forgiving and compassionate to others than we are to ourselves. When we continually give to others without caring for ourselves, we may experience burn out or even severe depression.

So how to we show self-compassion without becoming a narcissist? Here are a few ways that can help:

• Remember that you are a beloved child of God, and that He loves you just the way you are. Just as a parent loves their children unconditionally, God loves us with a pure and perfect love. He cares about us more than we can comprehend. He loved you—individually—enough to die for you, that you might live forever with Him if you choose to love and follow Him.

• Learn to distinguish between guilt and shame. Guilt motivates us to turn away from sin and turn towards God. Shame locks us in fear that we aren’t good enough, beautiful enough, or capable enough—even when we are doing our best. Dr. Brene Brown writes: “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Seek to eliminate shameful thoughts from your mind and replace them with thoughts of gratitude and love.

• Celebrate your talents and divine worth. Remember that God created you in His image and that you are amazing just the way you are. No one in the world has your abilities and gifts. As you cultivate your talents and share them with others, you will experience inner peace. With that peace, we can become an instrument in healing the world.

Today, do something kind for yourself. In the process, you will be energied to show compassion for others. Remember, God asks us to love others as we love ourselves--not instead of loving ourselves.

The Dalai Lama, in his book How to Be Compassionate, says: "As we become nicer human beings, our neighbors, friends, parents, spouses, and children will experience less anger, prompting them to become more warm-hearted, compassionate, and harmonious. The very atmosphere becomes happier, which even promotes good health. This is the way to change the world."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Perfect Peace

It's been a hectic few months filled with joy and sorrow. My husband's brother died, then mine. A beloved cousin passed away. Our son married a wonderful woman and is now the parent of three beautiful children. There were days of happiness and days filled with pain. Some experiences brought me peace. Others broke my heart.

Yet, amid the challenges of life, the Lord promises us peace when He trust in Him.

May you enjoy this inspired song and experience greater peace on your life.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Peace and Perfectionism

Some of us are trying too hard to do too much. We are weary and don't find the peace we are seeking. If you are an over-achiever, you may need to slow down to find peace. You may need to say "no" to some less essential things so that you can embrace the simple joys of living.

God knows you better than you know yourself. He wants you to be happy. He wants to enfold you in the arms of His love. To experience that bliss, we need to tune out the world with its worries and fears and tune into the comfort of God's infinite compassion for each one of us.

When God asked us to become "perfect," as the Bible suggests, the Greek origin of that word is "whole" and "complete". God wants us to develop our talents and gifts in a joyful manner. He wants us to learn to love and forgive completely and without reservation. He wants heal us with His grace and unimaginable power, but He does not want us to wear ourselves out chasing unrealistic goals.

Yesterday I attended my brother-in-law Ray's funeral. During the past year, two brothers and two of my dearest friends have died. Most of my extended family have passed away, and I've grieved at the loss of many of my closest friends. These dear people have taught me many lessons about finding peace. Here are a few:

Don't sweat the small stuff. People who are dying treasure time with loved ones. They don't care about the material possessions they have accumulated but value precious moments spent with close friends and family members. People who don't sweat the small stuff experience greater peace than those who do.

Live in the moment. The past is gone. Don't fret about it. The future is ahead. Don't worry about events that may never occur. Plan wisely and then enjoy the beauties of life. Listen to the birds chirping outside your window. Notice the leaves blooming on the trees. Watch the sparkle in the eyes of your loved ones. Breathe deeply and reflect on the blessings which God has given you.

Celebrate life. My dear brother-in-law Terry has buried two wives, two sons, and his beloved granddaughter is currently fighting brain cancer.His life has been very difficult, yet his trials have taught him that God lives and loves Him. Terry shares God's love with others by sending them an inspirational text each morning that he has composed. He reaches out to those who are grieving and invites family members to lunch each week. He loves life and has become a hero to those of us who are fortunate to know and love him.

Remember that ideals are not sticks to beat ourselves with but stars to steer by. Only one man ever walked the earth, and Jesus was and is God incarnate. As we learn from His example, we realize that God Himself took times to go into the mountains and commune with His Father. He took time to meditate and rest. Our Sabbaths offer us a day of spiritual renewal, and we can take time each day to refresh our spirits as we pray, read the Scriptures, and bask in God's love.

I like the story of the little cracked pot. A waterbearer in India had two large pots. One hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress's house. The cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

The pot replied, "I have been able for these past two years to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress's house. Because of my flaws, you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer replied, "As we return to the mistress's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

As they went up the hill, the cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some, but at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so it again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress's table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house."

May we remember that each of us can become instruments in God's hands as we give our hearts--and our weaknesses--to Him and and allow Him to make our weak things strong according to I will and perfect timing.

© Carol Brown

Friday, May 6, 2011

Peace-filled Thinking

When we center our thoughts on love, hope, and faith, we experience peace. In a world filled with messages of hate and despair, sometimes we find that we lose the sense of serenity that we seek, yet peace is available. Consider the words of Paul, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).

Paul teaches us how to turn negative thoughts into peace-filled ones in this simple statement. Here a few tips that may help you experience greater peace and happiness as you implement Paul's advice.

Give your worries to God.

All of us have concerns and troubles at times, and when we do, we need a Higher Power to help us. We can tell God about all of our worries and fears and then give them to Him. Let Him carry them. Let Him comfort us.

Ask for help.

Life is too hard to make it on our own. We need God's help. Ask Him specifically for the things you need. If you need help on a test, ask Him help you remember the things you've studied. If you need help in a relationship, ask Him what you can do to strengthen and sustain it? If you need help in solving a difficult problem, study out possible solutions and then ask God to confirm if your choice is the right one. He waits to listen and is the best Counselor ever!

Give thanks in all things.

Many times when we find we are discouraged and disheartened, we are forgetting to express gratitude for the blessings we have. Can you see? Give thanks. Can you walk? Give thanks. Can you hear? Give God praise for that gift. Can you smell, taste, breathe, laugh, and love? Thank God for those precious gifts. As we focus on what we have--and not on what we lack--we discover that we are rich in the things that really matter.

Ask God to guard your thoughts and feelings.

If you find yourself berating yourself or others, ask Him to give you compassion. If you find yourself condemning yourself or others, ask Him to give you mercy. If you find yourself losing hope, ask Him to strengthen your faith. Then, after you ask for His help, decide to change your thoughts. Think positively of yourself and others. Choose to forgive. Spend time each day praising God and remembering His many acts of kindness and tender mercy.

God wants us to be happy. As we center on thoughts on Christ, He will show us how to experience peace. We know apostle Paul suffered throughout his life with physical infirmities, and yet God used Him as a powerful instrument for good. Paul wrote that the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul replied, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me....For when I am weak, then am I strong."

May you find the peace this day that God is so eager to give you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Know that My Redeemer Lives

The Savior I love healed the sick, the blind, and the infirm. He showed compassion for those who were weak, ostracized, or despised. Even an ailing woman who touched the hem of His clock was healed because of her faith in Him. He ate with sinners and treated women as equals. He is a God of love.

The Savior I love fed five thousand people with a boy's offering of five fishes and two loaves of bread, yet after the people feasted until they were full, there was enough food left over to fill twelve baskets. He is a God of generosity.

The Savior I worship forgave an adulterous woman who was about to be stoned and asked her accusers to condemn her only if they were without sin. He forgave the soldiers who crucified Him while suffering on the cross. He is a God of mercy.

The Savior I love calmed the troubled seas, turned water into wine at a wedding celebration, and comforted the broken hearted. He raised the dead. He suffered beyond anything we can comprehend for you and for me. He laid down His life for us and then took it up again, that each of us may be resurrected. He is a God of power.

The Christ I worship has infinite love, goodness, and purity. He asks us to follow Him so that we can be happy. He asks us to love Him so we can find peace.

© Carol Brown

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Peace of Patience

My friend, Suzanne, who has know her share of trials and adversity, calls patience the "p" word because it sometimes seems difficult to not sweat the small stuff and to wait patiently on the Lord when life is difficult. Suzanne had undergone numerous surgeries and faces the challenges of poverty and loneliness with grace, yet some days she admits that she is too critical of herself and others. Although some are naturally patient--like my granddaught Chloe, who is amazingly patient for a two-year old, patience is a quality that each of us can develop more fully and is worth the effort.

St. Teresa of Avila, one of my favorite sages, said,

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Patience comes when we allow God to become our strength, our hope, and our peace, even during times of suffering. Although trusting in God doesn't always come easily, when we do, it makes our life easy. I have learned that when we rely on Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

So how do we increase in patience?


Before you speak or act in a negative manner, breathe deeply and ask yourself, "Does this promote peace? Is this a loving thing to say or do?" Sometimes, the most loving thing we can say is, "No. I wish I could but I can't right now." We cannot be everything to everyone and promote patience.


Focus on God's perfect love for you. Focus of the fact that each one of us is a child of God. Picture Him as a loving Shepherd who is nourishing you, leading you beside still waters, and healing you. Picture His loving expression as He holds you in His arms. Remember that He carries you every moment of your life, not just when times are difficult, but every moment of every day.


Give your problems, concerns and worries to God in prayer, trusting that He will carry your burdens and bind up your broken heart. Believe that God loves you more that you can even imagine and that He waits to help you face life's challenges. He longs for you to ask for His help. He stands at the door, waiting for you to knock.

Paul taught, "Be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good for each other and for all" (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, NAB). In Galatians, patience is listed as one of the "fruit of the Spirit": "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law". (Galatians 5:21-23, NIV). In Timothy, the Bible states that "Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life".(1 Timothy 1:15-17, NIV).

May we follow the Savior's example, who forgave His enemies, served those who were forgotten or rejected, and who loved others perfectly. May we enjoy the peace of His patience.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Experience Peace of Mind

The thoughts we choose determine whether or not we experience peace. We have the power to choose thoughts of fear or thoughts of love. As we monitor our thoughts, we can decide to eliminate negative, toxic thoughts and replace them with peace-filled, healing ones. This is one of the greatest powers we possess, for our thoughts determine the words we speak and the actions we perform. We are what we think.

As we monitor our thoughts, we become observers and managers of them. We then can choose to eliminate negative thoughts before that overwhelm us and replace them with positive ones. For example, if I find myself criticizing a situation or person, I replace those judgmental thoughts with loving ones. I pray for those whom I have allowed to offend me. I look for the strengths in others, rather than weaknesses. I celebrate the divine in everyone I meet, remembering that we are all children of God, who loves us with immeasurable love.

Just like it's easier to pull a weed when it's small, it's easier to remove negative thought patterns when they first begin. If you find that toxic or unpleasant thoughts are disturbing your peace of mind, replace them with thoughts of gratitude and love. I have learned that when we foster loving thoughts, it dispells our fearful ones.

In his book Anatomy of the Soul, Dr. Curt Thompson shows have we can rewire our minds by transforming our thinking patterns. A psychiatrist, Dr. Thompson shares many ideas that help us do that. Here are a few of them:

Meditation "The practice of meditation....puts us in position to be open to God's search of us. It enables us to be aware of our bodies and how God may be speaking to us through them." Psalms 119 says, "I meditate on your precepts and consider yours ways....Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds."

Prayer "Meditation naturally leads to prayer. Paul admonishes us to be devoted to prayer (Colossians 4:2); not only should we long to pray, we should be aware that it, too, will require hard work....Prayer in turn leads us, like the psalmist, to answer God with our prayers of petition and praise as we become aware of the depth of his love and beauty."

Fasting Dr. Thompson says that fasting "puts us deeply in touch with our bodies" and helps us realize how often we use food to "shut off distressing emotion triggered by implicit memories."

Study Dr. Thompson suggests that keeping a written prayer and reflection journal is helpful, along with enjoying the beauties of nature and various expressions of art.

As we pray, meditate, study, and serve, we discover the mind of Christ. Consider Paul's words: "The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:5-6). "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit within?...Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2).

I have discovered that when I observe my thoughts, replacing fearful ones with peaceful ones, my life is transformed. As I reflect on God's infinite love for me, I can better radiate that love to others. As I feel His love, I want to share His love through service and kindness, which is a wonderful way to experience peace of mind.

© Carol Brown

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Prayer that Fosters Peace

I found this beautiful prayer here. Although some religions do not practice Lent and although your prayers may be phrased differently than this one, this prayer inspires each of us to experience greater peace and joy. Please enjoy these beautiful thoughts.

Lord Jesus Christ, I trust my life to you.

My times are in your hands.

Before I was formed you knew me.

I give my past to you

So that you can uncover and heal my pain.

Each day you sustain and give life to me.

I give this present moment to you

So that I can live fully immersed in your ways.

Your thoughts of me are precious.

I give my future to you

So that I can become all that you intend me to be.

Past, present, future--are all held in your abiding presence.

May I live always in the knowledge of your unfailing love.

You, who are patient and kind, carry us in your arms forever.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Peace of Prayer

Prayer is one of the most powerful ways to find inner peace, yet sometimes we may forget to use that blessing to the fullest advantage. In this hectic, fast-paced world, we may find it difficult to pause and pray. Here are some times we can pray and experience the serenity of that wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father.

--in the shower

--while driving

--while on hold for a phone call

--while cooking dinner

--while waiting for a business client

--while getting dressed in the morning

--while waiting in line at the supermarket

--when we see a stranger who is struggling

--while we're reading a blog

--when we are seeking to say just the right words while talking to a friend or family member

Jesus asked us to pray always. These are just a few ways we can.

There is power in individual prayer and in community prayer as well. If any of you dear readers would appreciate some extra prayers, please let me know. I promise you that I will, and I believe others who read this blog will pray for you as well.

This week, would you please pray for my sister-in-law, Dorothy Rich. Her dear husband, my brother George, passed away on Monday, and I know she would appreciate your prayers.
Thank you!

© Carol Brown

Friday, March 18, 2011

You Are a Child of God

Imagine how peaceful the world would be if everyone remembered that each person on earth is a child of God. Imagine how much peace we would experience if we remember that we are children of God, that He numbers every hair of our heads, that we are precious in His sight. This knowledge can transform our hearts, homes, communities, and eventually our countries and the world. This truth can create peace.

Imagine what would happen if we treated ourselves as creations of divine worth. Would be speak more kindly about and to ourselves? Would we forgive ourselves when we make mistakes? Would we stop comparing ourselves with others?

Imagine how we would feel if we remember that everyone on earth is a beloved child of God. Would we cherish our neighbors, friends, family members, and even our enemies? Would we respect people of all races, religions, and cultures, people who are old, young, sick, well, different from us and similar to us?

If people throughout the world understood this simple truth, they could serve as instruments of God in healing the world.

Imagine how the world would be transformed if every child learned that he or she has infinite worth--and that every other person on earth has infinite worth as well. Imagine what would happen if children learned to serve, forgive, and comfort one another. Imagine if adults exemplified kindness, goodness, and love in their words and actions. I believe this knowledge is the foundation of peace.

Imagine if people became peacemakers, peacegivers, and peace teachers. We can begin one person at a time, one day at a time, for one life influences thousands of others. We can begin today.

May we bask in God's infinite love for us, and may we radiate that love to His other children throughout the world.

© Carol Brown

Friday, March 11, 2011

Finding Peace during Difficult Times

Everywhere we look lately there is trouble. We see innocent civilians killed and maimed in wars and civil unrest throughout the world. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornados are destroying lives, homes, and cities. It is easy to become discouraged, and even depressed, as we see the devastation throughout the world.

As we grieve for the many millions who suffer, starve, or die, we can find peace when we pray for them. Whenever we hear of a catastrophe, we can pray for the people who are suffering. We can ask God to comfort and bless them. We can pray for peace.

We can also do something to ease the suffering in the world. I like to donate to Kiva, where microloans are given to needy people so they can start a small business. When the loan is repaid, I lend the $25 to someone else. Before we donate, we need to make certain that the site is safe and that the money goes directly to those in need--and not to wealthy administrators of the organization.

In our church, we collect donations each week for women and children who flee abusive situations to go to shelters in our city. We gather toiletries, diapers, books, games, quilts, school supplies to bring comfort and love to the 2000 individuals who enter these shelters each year. Elderly women in our city also knit scarves and hats to place in the kits.

One young woman in our neighborhood recently spent four months in Ghana, caring for orphans, teaching sanitation and nutrition to villagers, and supplying a remote village with medical supplies. Her service made a huge difference in the lives of others and transformed her own life as well.

She writes, "From September to December I at the age of 20 took off a semester of school, and went to Ghana by myself to volunteer my time. I did not go with a program. While there I was able to teach all levels of health to the village of Antwikwaa. I fundraised back home, started a medical clinic in a village that has never had a single medical supply within its reaches. When I went to say goodbye to my village the chiefs voted, and had come to the decision to make me queen mother aka nana mckell. It was an entire day process of carrying me through the village, sacrificing whiskey to the gods, drumming, dancing, singing, speeches, and by far the most humbling amazing experience I could ever ask for. By far the best adventure of the year, and more particularly my life. It was not an ordinary adventure in that it changed me emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I'm in close contact with the village, the medical clinic is running smoothly, and I hope to be back within the next couple years! "

Whether we do something big or small, every prayer we offer, every donation we make, and every act of service we give makes a difference. When millions of people in the world join together to love, serve, and care for one another, we will begin to turn suffering into peace.

Let us begin today.

© Carol Brown

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Life's Peaceful Paradoxes

We experience peace and joy when we discover and practice life’s beautiful paradoxes:

• When we give, we receive.

• When we forgive, we are forgiven.

• When we love, we are loved.

• When we serve, we are served.

• When we show mercy, we receive mercy.

• When we give peace, we receive peace.

• When we show kindness, we experience kindness.

• When we give God our hearts, He gives us His heart filled with unspeakable love.

We always receive more than we give. Gratitude, generosity, and goodness are the keys to peace. Love is the path.

May you walk in the path of peace today.

© Carol Brown

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Peace of Gratitude

Life’s challenges become much easier to bear when we live in a spirit of gratitude. This week I have replaced fearful thoughts with grateful ones. It has made such a difference!

Instead of thinking, “My car isn’t working. How awful!” I’ve thought, “Thank goodness for mechanics who can fix my car. I am so grateful for them!”

Instead of thinking, “My husband’s incision is infected. What a nightmare.” We’ve thought, “How grateful we are for a skilled physician and antibiotics that can help us. What a blessing!”

Instead of thinking, “It’s been such a terrible day. I’ve suffered unbearably with a kidney stone,” I thought, “I am so thankful for a caring emergency room staff that eventually eased my pain. I’m glad that my husband was home to drive me to the hospital. I’m grateful that I have caring family members who visited me and showed loving kindness.”

We truly have the power to find peace amid suffering. When we choose to have an attitude of gratitude, we can live with happiness and serenity even when life presents us with unexpected challenges. Melody Beattie writes, "Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace
for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Power of Stillness

One of the fastest ways to find peace of mind is to meditate and savor the luxury of silence. Quietness heals the spirit and invites inspiration. And, best of all, it is free.

Think of all the things that intrude on our tranquility: television, radio, i-pods, mp3 players, construction, traffic, or work related noise, and the thousands of other intrusions that can disturb our peace. If we can find a few minutes to turn off and tune out the sounds of the world and meditate, we experience physical renewal, psychological calming, and spiritual strength.

Those who have gone on mediation retreats describe the intense joy and love that permeates their souls. I have found that when I spend time meditating in the mountains, a peaceful feeling envelops my soul, and ideas flood into my mind that help me achieve greater happiness in my everyday life. Decisions are easier to make, challenges are easier to face, and inspiration is easier to receive in a quiet, serene environment.

Eckhart Tolle writes, "It is the stillness that will save and transform the world." Although I don’t agree with all of his teachings, I highly recommend his books and tapes for those who want to learn how to effectively meditate and find the power of stillness. He also says, “When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”

I would suggest you set some time for yourself where you can focus on your breathing and meditate on a Higher Power. Allow the intrusive thoughts of your mind to quiet down. Savor the sound of silence. Explore your heart, which was born to love. Let the love of God enfold, comfort and heal you.

Most religious traditions encourage meditation, In the Bible we read, “Be still, and know that I am God.” In the Bhagavad Gita we read, “For those who wish to climb the mountain of spiritual awareness, the path is selfless work. For those who have attained the summit of union with the Lord, the path is stillness and peace.” Chuang Tzu, a teacher of Taoism, writes, “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.”

Today I am basking in stillness, and it is a joyful thing.

© Carol Brown

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day because it provides us with opportunities to show love to those around us. There are lonely people we can cheer, sad people we can encourage, and forgotten people we can celebrate. What a glorious day!

My friend, Dianne, a recent widow, is opening up her heart and home to tend her neighbors' children, so they can celebrate the evening with their spouses. During a time of great sorrow, she is finding peace as she shares her love with others.

My granddaughter and I visited a shut-in, and this sweet woman brought us more joy and happiness than we could ever have brought her. Love is such a beautiful thing, for when we give love, we receive greater love.

Today look around you and see if there is a few people you can love: a widowed neighbor, a shy co-worker, a forgotten friend. Make a call. Drop by a card. Smile. Share your love.

Remember there are those whose hearts are broken, who are lonely and friendless, who may have fallen, and who are not currently able to enjoy life. Extend the hand of hope. Embrace with an arm of appreciation and affection. Be the balm of blessing to another. Enjoy the day!

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Seeing Jesus in All His Distressing Disguises

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. When we are filled with love our energy is peaceful and joyful. We radiate happiness to others.

So what keeps us from loving ourselves and others fully? Whenever we send words, thoughts, or deeds that are judgmental to another, we dispel love. Although we must continually protect ourselves from dangerous situations and individuals, we can still love everyone, even those who are difficult to love.

Judgmental thoughts are usually fear-based or pride-based. We either feel we are better than someone (pride) or that someone is our enemy (fear) when we think negatively about another.

So think about the following people and note if you have any unloving reactions to them:

• Someone from a different race than yours

• Someone from a different religion that yours

• Someone from a different country than yours

• Someone who has a different job than yours

• Someone with a different education than yours

• Someone with a different personality than yours

• Someone with a different appearance than yours

• Someone from a different social or economic class

• Someone who has a different lifestyle than yours

• Someone from a different political persuasion than yours

You may think, “I celebrate differences. I don’t think about anyone disrespectfully.” Then ask yourself honestly if you have ever spoken unkindly about anyone who is the following groups:

• Men/women

• Poor/rich

• Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Protestants, Jews, Mormons, atheists, agnostics,
or members of any other religious group

• Gay/straight

• Republicans, Democrats, Green Party members, Tea Party Members, Liberals,
Conservatives, or members of any other political group in your nation

• People who wear the latest fashions, who dress sensibly, or who wear second-hand or tattered clothing

• Those who live in mansions, trailers, shacks, big homes, apartments, small homes, or who are homeless

• Politicians, lawyers, stay-at-home mothers, working mothers, childless woman, unmarried men and women, tax collectors, salesmen

• The elderly, teen-agers, children, or adults

• Prisoners, immigrants, or someone who speaks with an accent

• Those who are mentally or physically ill or people with disabilities

• Any other individual or group of individuals that you may feel is of less value than another

Every person on earth is a child of God and has divine worth. As children of God, we are created to love. Love is our mission and our journey to peace.

Mother Teresa described those she served as “Jesus in a distressing disguise.” She said, “Keep giving Jesus to your people not by words, but by your example, by your being in love with Jesus, by radiating his holiness and spreading his fragrance of love everywhere you go. Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength. Be happy and at peace. Accept whatever he gives, and give whatever he takes with a big smile. You belong to him."

Each morning the Missionaries of Charity, nuns who follow Mother Teresa’s example by serving the dying and destitute throughout the world, offer this prayer:

Dear Lord, the Great Healer, I kneel before you, since every perfect gift must come from you. I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart. Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift up a part of the burden of my suffering fellowmen, and a realization of the privilege that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness, that with the simple faith of a child, I may rely on you. Amen.

May this be our prayer, too.

World peace will not come until individuals become peace-givers, peace-thinkers, and peace-speakers. It begins with every loving thought we think and every unkind thought we refuse. It begins with every loving word we speak and every unkind remark we forego. It begins with every loving deed we do and every unkind act we avoid. It begins one person at a time, and that one person can radiate love to hundreds of people, who will then do the same.

Some day the power of love will heal the world.

&copy Carol Brown

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be one of the most difficult things we ever do—and one of the most healing. For those who have suffered horrific abuse, forgiveness can take time, but once completed, it allows us freedom and peace. We are free from the bitterness, pain, and suffering that the abuser inflicted upon us. We are free to live with peace, joy, and happiness.

For huge offenses, sometimes we need a power greater than our own to forgive. Remember the story of the man lying by the pool of Bethesda for thirty-eight long years, waiting to be healed. Jesus saw the suffering man and asked him a simple but profound question, “Wilt thou be made whole?” or, “Do you want to be healed?”

At some point, we need to ask ourselves that question. “Do we want to be whole?” If we choose to remain in a state of unforgiveness, healing cannot occur in our lives. We will see ourselves as a victim which will motivate us to behave in self-defeating ways. If we make the decision to be healed, we allow a Higher Power to free us from past hurts so that we can enjoy present peace and future happiness.

The following are some suggestions from the amazing book, The Forgiveness Formula by Kathleen Griffin, a sexual abuse survivor:

• Begin by forgiving yourself.

• Write down a list of those you have not forgiven.

• Divide the list into hard and easy offenses.

• Forgive someone who is easy to forgive.

• Take your time, remembering you are in complete control about whom you will forgive and how long you take to do it.

• After you have completed the easy list, then tackle the hard one.

• Ask for help from a Higher Power as needed.

• Do not rush the process.

• Notice how much better you feel after you have forgiven.

• Use that positive energy as a motivator to continue on your journey of forgiveness.

Griffin shares this statement from A Course in Miracles that is so powerful:

What could you want that forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep, abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect in can never be upset? All this forgiveness offers you.

Griffen ends her book with these words: “Forgiveness is the key to all our futures. It opens a whole new world of possibilities for us all. To forgive it to say, ‘It stops here. Now. With me.’”

© Carol Brown

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Live Like You Were Dying

Imagine how our lives would change if we spent every day living like we were dying. Would we savor each moment a little more? Would we feel more grateful for the blessings we enjoy? Would we be a little kinder? Would we hold onto grudges?

For many years, I have served the elderly and dying, and they have taught me so much. They have taught me not to sweat the small stuff, to celebrate the good people in our lives, and to not take myself so seriously. They have taught me how to love.

When I visit my elderly friends, they hug me and kiss my cheeks. They think I am beautiful. They belief I am smart and amazing. Why? Because they recognize the value of a human soul. They have discovered that each one of us is a child of God, a miracle.

Although my husband’s father, Bill, was an angry and abusive parent, my husband, Ken, forgave his dad completely before his dad showed remorse. Living with fear, my father-in-law beat Ken mercilessly as a child and youth. On Bill’s death bed, he asked Ken for forgiveness. Ken replied, “Dad, there is nothing to forgive.”

Even before my terminally-ill father-in-law recognized his mistakes and feel deep remorse for his parenting errors, Ken let go of the pain and sorrow of his childhood and truly loved his dad. Ken is a happy, peaceful man because he forgives, and Bill died peacefully because he knew he was loved. Truly, with love all things are possible, even forgiveness.

I love Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” In the lyrics a man tells how he lived differently after he learned he might be dying. He says:

I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.

My dad died when I was 19, but he had two precious years to enjoy each day before cancer ended his mortal life. He savored every crocus that bloomed in the spring. He listened deeply to everything I said. He told me he loved me often. And I listened to him more intently and treasured the time I spent with him.

I learned a lot from that experience.

This week try to see life through the eyes of those whose days on earth are limited. (And, in truth, aren’t all of us dying—some just a little sooner that others?) Call a friend. Visit your sister, your mother, your neighbor. Send a card. You will experience greater peace if you do.

As we savor each precious moment of life and the privilege of being with those we love, life is richer and sweeter. We find that peace was inside our hearts all along, waiting to be discovered.

© Carol Brown

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Choose Love

Each moment of our lives, we either choose love or something else. When we choose love, we experience peace. We feel confident, serene, and happy. We recognize that as children of God, we are born to love. Love is our nature. Love is our mission. Love is our gift.

When we choose anything else, we may feel sad, bitter, angry, or apathetic. When we lose sight of love, we may succumb to self-pity, addictive behaviors, or selfishness. Although those habits may bring temporary pleasure, they will not give us permanent peace. Only love does that.
In a world filled with conflict and violence, it is possible to choose love. We do it by doing the following:

• Fill your heart with loving thoughts. Replace and eliminate those that are not. When a contentious, judgmental thought enters your mind, recognize it as a non-loving thought and refuse to entertain it.

• Surround yourself with loving friends, people who truly love God, themselves, and others. Our power to love others increases when we access the energy of people who love.

• Surrender to the power of God’s love. Spend time daily praying and meditating on His love. Ask Him to show you how to love yourself and others better. He will.

• Accept the fact that no one is perfect. Allow others to make mistakes just as you do. Celebrate the good in others, even those who seem unlovable, for those people are hungry for love.

• As you focus your thoughts on love, speak words of love and encouragement to others. Smile often. Allow yourself to become an instrument of God’s love.

• Become an active listener. When others are speaking, seek to understand them and edify them.

• Seek to serve as your energy and circumstances permit.

Prayer is the heart of love. Kind words are the expression of love. Compassionate service is the instrument of love. When we love others, that love returns to us multiplied. As we sow thoughts, words, and deeds of love, we reap a rich harvest of peace and joy.

Love gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Learning to love God completely and to love ourselves and others unconditionally is the secret to finding peace amid sorrow.

Love, some day, will heal the world.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world—no matter how how imperfect—becomes rich and beautiful; it consists solely of opportunities for love.”

© Carol Brown

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow Down

Our culture moves fast. Fast foods, fast cars, fast sex, fast Internet access. Speed is killing us! The average TV show moves between shots every three to six seconds to keep us engaged.

Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Mindful Brain and a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA Medical School found that multitasking can release stress hormones and adrenaline into our systems. In addition, when we try to do too much at once, our brain “doesn’t have the time to make the neural connections in the cortex humanitatis—the part of the brain that makes us civilized creatures.”

We experience greater peace when we slow down and enjoy the journey. Inspiration comes best in solitude. My life has been transformed during times of gentle reflection. I came to know God walking to school and praying for guidance. I have never experienced greater love. I decided the best major for me, whom I should marry, and my life’s path during times of quiet reflection.

So how do we slow down in a fast-paced world? Here are a few suggestions:

• Ask yourself, “Will this really matter in 100 years?” This question makes in so much easier to prioritize. For me, next to my love for God, loving relationships with family and friends matter most, so I make them a priority. It then becomes easier to decide between two attractive choices.

• Take time to worship. Whatever your religious beliefs are, take time each day to access a Higher Power. Ask Him to guide you in paths of peace and to help you carry your burdens. I know God hears and answers all of our prayers, although sometimes He responds in unexpected ways. As we place our lives in His hands, He blesses us in ways that we cannot anticipate.

• If you must choose between fear and love, choose love. Choose to honor your marriage covenants even when the world glamorizes infidelity. Choose to be a survivor and not a victim when life is unfair. Choose to release your worries to a loving Creator and enjoy the gifts of each moment. Our minds are powerful tools. We can choose love.

• Move a little slower. Eat more deliberately, savoring each bite. Walk more slowly, enjoying the beautiful scenery that delights our senses. Speak a little slower, pondering each word spoken and heard. Remember the Simon and Garfunkle song, “Slow down, you move too fast.”

• Learn how to meditate and enjoy the bliss of mindfulness. It was transform your life!

• Simplify your life. Can you spend less of your time on things that matter least and devote more time to things that matter more? Can you delegate, eliminate, or consolidate some chores so that you can spend more quality time with those you love?

Today I heard the story of a grandfather who stood by the window with his young grandson and reflected upon choices that he has made in his life. That moment of quiet contemplation changed the grandfather’s life. He realized that he had made and was making choices that were not strengthening his marriage and family. He suddenly understood that he needed to make some significant changes in his lifestyle and habits so that he could experience greater peace, harmony and love in his home.

The grandfather changed. He now serves others in significant ways and has discovered God’s personal love for him in ways he had never known before in his life. One moment of simple meditation transformed this man’s life. He can do the same for you and for me.

Start today.

Remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi, one of my favorite sages, “There is more to life than increasing its speed."

© Carol Brown