Camden's teacher has taught him to "flip the vowel," when he is reading. So, when he comes to the word "dig" and pronounces the word with a long i sound, and he realizes it doesn't make sense, I just say, "try flipping the vowel." He tries a short i and it makes sense. That simple change of the vowel sound can turn a confusing sentence into one that is part of a bigger picture, and eventually weaves effortlessly into the storyline.
So many thoughts and feelings enter my head on a typical day.
Will anyone bother to read this?
Do my kids eat too many ham sandwiches?
Does the fact that my kid is wearing shorts in 35 degree weather make me look like a bad mom? (for the record, I decided to let him learn the hard way)
Left unchecked, these thoughts fly around above my head like missiles, preparing to be dropped by a dive bomber.
But they don't have to.
In his book, Anxious About Nothing, Max Lucado writes,
"You can be the air traffic controller of your mental airport. You occupy the control tower and can direct the mental traffic of your world. Thoughts circle above, coming and going. If one of them lands, it is because you gave it permission. If it leaves, it is because you directed it to do so. You can select your thought pattern."
My thoughts actually come alive when I look at it this way, and when a negative thought, for instance, "I'm not a good cook. My kids eat the same thing every week," comes into my head, I simply don't allow it to land. I send it off, into the endless sky, where it will evaporate into nothing, and plague me no more. Better yet, I allow the truth to land, and grant it permission to take up residence. "I am a good cook. We are in a season of busyness, when it is difficult to try new recipes, but my kids are still eating healthy foods and vegetables (even though mostly carrots) every night."
Expanding on this idea, and with a little help from Lucado's teachings, I can use Paul's words to craft a prayer that flips my perspective from the thoughts that threaten to steal my joy, to the thoughts that have the capacity to build me back up. Recognizing what I already have can steer my thoughts back to reality, to a place where I remember that I am doing the best that I can, with what I have been given. With Philippians 4:8 as my guide, I can recognize...
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true..." I was raised by a mom who is a good cook, and who taught me how to make a variety of healthy meals for my family.
"Whatever is noble..." Sitting down at the dinner table with whatever family members are present--no tv or cell phones allowed--happens as often as possible.
"Whatever is right..." I strive to cook a healthy meal every night we are home.
"Whatever is pure..." Laughter abounds at our kitchen table, as we talk about our days and catch up with each other.
"Whatever is lovely..." My kids are healthy and happy.
"Whatever is admirable..." My family is willing to try new foods...usually.
"If anything is excellent..." When the words, "This is my favorite meal you cook, Mom," are uttered, that is EXCELLENT.
"Or praiseworthy..." That my three children and husband can sit at the table, and feed themselves the food I have prepared...that is something for which to give praise.
"Think about such things."
By the time I have thought through these verses, I no longer have time for the worry of not being creative in the kitchen. Who cares? I have bigger fish to fry.
And so, the concept of flipping my view is born.
The reality is, there is not a whole lot I can control in this world, but I do have COMPLETE and UTTER CONTROL over what I choose to think. I can flip my view from the negative, defeating thoughts that want to take me down, to the noble, true, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy thoughts that can bring me back up.
I can flip the vowel, change the narrative, rewrite the script. That's the good news. I control my thought pattern. And just like anything in life, the more I practice, the more I will fall into a positive thought pattern.
When negative thoughts threaten to invade, I have to remember to flip the vowel. That doesn't mean everything will always fall into place, like when Camden figured out the word "dig" in the story we were reading, and the story made sense. But it does mean that I am starting with the truth. The truth that I am doing the very best I can. The truth that what matters in this world is that I strive for what is true, noble, admirable, and praiseworthy. And that I set my mind on those things, not on where I feel like I am falling short.
Flip your view. Choose your own perspective. You are in control.