Joy

I was trying to read this really good book when the wiener dogs decided it was time to play. Bandit, the younger, flipped the book up from my lap and started licking my face. Daisy, the alpha, began to whine to be pet. I was disgruntled, that book was really good.

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Then Bandit crawled under the blanket I had wrapped around me to “surprise” Daisy and Daisy got up on her hind legs to crash down on him. They began this dance of up on hind legs and down on the bed. Roll over and jump up as fast as you can. I put the book aside.

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Bandit lovingingly placed his paw on Daisy nose and began licking her face. They continued romping for some time and I realized that this was the moment! This was the one I should be a part of. Such joy those dogs bring me! They are always on my list of gratitudes, but I don’t always mindfully spend time in the moment with them.

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“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.” Isaiah 55:12

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What else goes on that I miss? Why does life have to be a bunch a goals, and “to do” lists to keep me occupied all day?

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The verse goes on to say:
“The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause.”

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Being mindful about all that goes on around us as we plug through the day helps us to see the glory of God. The mountains are bursting with song! And we don’t even know it!

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Daisy is in her spot on the bed and Bandit lays on the floor in a sprig of sunlight that comes through the window. The sun is winter bright in my backyard. There are squirrels playing too, on the fence posts and hopping into the trees.

I still haven’t picked up my book again. There is too much to see! I feel like clapping my hands in applause.

My Soul will be Satisfied

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 63. It is a testament of love to God. It is an example of praise that sings a love song to the Lord. In fact, it has been sung in a love song by Shane and Shane.

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You may read the Bible every day as part of your devotions or you may read it like it’s a “can’t put down” novel. I would encourage you to step into the story and let it entrance you like that Number One Bestseller. I can’t help but step into Psalm 63 because it’s so lovely.

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“Oh God my God how I search for you! How I thirst for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. How I long to find you! How I wish I could go into your sanctuary and see you strength and glory, for your love and kindness are better to me than life itself. How I praise you” Psalm 63:1-3

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Aren’t there days when you feel you are empty? Parched from the weariness of life? Or maybe you just don’t know what’s ahead of you. This Psalm can be used as a mindfulness exercise. When we move into purposeful mindfulness with God, we seek Him, search for Him to fill our spirit.

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As we find Him, we lift our hands in prayer, bless Him, and just be with Him.

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“I will bless you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. At last I shall be satisfied; I will praise you with great joy.” Psalm 63:4-5
Oh, to be satisfied right where we are! That is the end result of Mindfulness. What could be better than being satisfied and living in the now as God has created for us?

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“Often at night I lie in bed and remember you, meditating on your greatness till morning smiles through my window. You have been my constant helper; therefore, I sing for joy under the protection of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand reaches down and holds me up.” Psalm 63:6-8

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There are plenty of nights that I can’t sleep and I lay there just ruminating about the things I have to do or the things I did, or sometimes just in hopelessness and grief. I focus on God with my breathing: Breathe in “Praise” breathe out “God.” I count my blessings and gratitude’s until I finally fall asleep under His gentle wings.

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The chapter ends with typical Psalm fashion about how our enemies will go down because of the strength of God. Don’t skip over this. You may not have enemies at your door with arrows, but you may, like me, have thoughts that are self-deprecating or self-destructive. This Psalm tells us that there is no room for that when you’re praising God. In the last verse the Psalm states that the cheaters and deceivers will be silenced.

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Believe me when I tell you that I am my own worst enemy, but this promise from Psalm 63 is like a balm on my negative thoughts. God has me in the palm of His hand. I am under His wings and His hand is at my back. Who am I to tell myself any different?

Values

I have this re-occurring dream that I cannot find my car. I think it is in a certain parking lot, but there are barriers to me getting to that area. I walk around trying to find a way to get in and when I do, my car isn’t there. In these dreams there are lots of obstacles that I find in my way. I just want to get home.

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I think the interpretation is that I don’t have a way to get where I want to. I am feeling trapped. Now that I’m not working, I have had a feeling of being untethered and have aimlessly been going through my days deciding what to do when I feel like doing it. I realized that I wasn’t feeling productive and I was lonely.

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“True to your Word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.” Psalm 23:3

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What I need are values to live by. Tenets that help me to determine the things I should and want to do in my life. Value are ideals or principles that are important to us. It’s not like you choose your values and set up an action plan and do it and it’s over. It’s setting up the ideals that you want to live by and creating actions that exemplify them. It’s living the good life with some self-direction!

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God should be a part of this exercise because who knows you better than he does? His guidance and direction can lead you to see things that you can’t see for yourself. I started me values list with a mindfulness exercise asking God to show me areas in my life that need to be fulfilled. Values are our guiding compass and those of us who love God know that He is in charge of that compass. If we live like Jesus we will be fulfilled.

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I referred to the DBT section on Values and created some of my own in order to have a life worth living:
• Choose to be Spiritual
• Attend to family relationships
• Reconnect with friends
• Contribute
• Take care of myself physically

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Carnegie Mellon has a PDF about determining your values, It starts with a very long list of core values from which you choose the ones that apply to you. The thought is to write it down or highlight without thinking too hard about it. Next you group together similar values to make a list of no more than five categories. Than choose one work from each list that best identifies the value you want in your life.

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I used the Carnegie Mellon PDF along with the DBT list to come up with my core values. Now it’s up to me to make sure the things I do each day match up with these values. I wrote out some beginning steps for each of the values and saved the list in my phone Notes app so I can refer to it easily and I shared it with my therapist.

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Being spiritual to me is going to church, doing daily devotionals and reading uplifting and positive books. Prayer also plays a big part in leading a spiritual life. I know God has purpose for me and by praying and communing with Him I can find that purpose. Meanwhile I can take steps to improve my day to day living.

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I can attend to my family relationships by being a support to my husband and providing direction and friendship with my children. I can keep contact with family far away by phone. One of the things I decided to do was make a budget for my daughter to help her navigate her financial life. I am going out to lunch with my daughter Hillary this week. I also decided to meet my husband for lunch regularly and do at least one fun thing every weekend like going to a movie.

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I called up an old friend and set up a lunch date and scheduled myself to work the local food pantry. I’ve been baking more which is something I enjoy, and my family appreciates.

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When I was at church I saw a notice on the bulletin board for volunteering at a local hospital. I took down the number, called it and am now working on my application packet. I went to my doctor to have her fill out her section, I contacted friend and asked them to fill out the references section and soon I will have a complete packet to bring to the hospital for an interview.

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Contribution is a big part of my values. I think if I can give back, have purpose, that a lot of my depression can be thwarted. I also believe that God is leading me this way. My therapist tells me that volunteering is key. That I could find fulfillment as well as create a commitment to which I am depended on.

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I’ll keep you posted!

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“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. Al the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause.” Isaiah 55:12