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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

Mental Screen:
Finding Truth in Our Daily Routine

"I heard my 13-year-old daughter, Tabitha, in her bedroom. "Finally brothers, whatever is noble – “

“No wait, finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is admirable –“

“No, that's not it either! Whatever is pure, or is it whatever is right?" Exasperated, she yelled, "MOM! I just can't get it. Will you please help me?"


Cramming for an exam, especially in Bible class, was always a stressful time at our house.

The Battlefield of Single Parenting
"This is the last thing I feel like doing tonight," I muttered, bolting up the stairs. "I'm exhausted. I'm hungry. And she has such a hard time with memorization. Lord, why tonight? I just don't have the energy!"

But I walked through her bedroom door, spotted her buried beneath piles of wadded paper, and was filled with compassion.

“O.K. honey, let’s take a look at it.”

We spent the majority of our time engaged in the mother-daughter dance of, ‘Do you want my help or not?’ Two hours later, we decided her broken recital of the memory verse was enough to make a good grade. We walked away, depleted, without much to say to each other the rest of the evening.

I started dinner. It suddenly hit me that I’d missed a unique opportunity to go beyond the surface need of help with homework. I was too tired. I didn’t have time to deal with the real life issues – her insecurity, lack of confidence and inadequate study skills– because I was exhausted with my own struggle from our daily routine.

I battled each day to juggle my career and my family life. As a single parent, odds seemed insurmountable at times. I needed the income my career provided, yet the travel it required often pulled me away from home. And that left Tabitha spending a lot of time with friends and relatives.

I desired so many good things for Tabitha, but when would we have the time?

As an advertising director for a national magazine, I attended enough motivational seminars to understand my attitude is often a direct reflection of what I feed my mind. I had no problem applying that to my career. I was consistently one of the company's top salespeople.

Yet accolades didn’t help in the battleground of my single-parent home. Somehow, I left all the positive thinking at the office. I didn't have the strength to apply it to my daily life. At times, my negative thoughts overwhelmed me.

Practical Application
Several months into our battle with the daily routine, I had an early morning epiphany. The verse my daughter was trying to memorize that night came to my mind.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." Phil 4:8 (Holy Bible, NIV, Zondervan Publishing)

That’s it! More than just planting positive thoughts in my mind, I needed to refocus my negative thoughts – replace them with positive ones. It was time to put into use these words of old, and practically apply the principles in my daily life.

The insight the author shared, through this verse, began to shape me. Instead of being negative about my shortcomings, I learned to dwell on things that were honorable and noble about my life; things that were free from moral fault or guilt; things that were lovely; and things that were admirable or deserved esteem.

Mental Screen
Finally, I got it. What I think does impact what I do and who I am – at home and at work! I need to filter the negative thoughts of financial worry, stress, fatigue, and indecision that often immobilized me. It’s a conscious choice. And this verse is my plumb line.

Using this screen, I could learn to control my negative thoughts. My circumstances don’t have to overwhelm me. What a defining moment.

I would like to say the financial worry, stress, and the fatigue of being a single parent immediately dissipated, but it didn't. What did change was the way I felt when I faced those same circumstances. When negative thoughts threatened me again, I slowly refused them. Then, I replaced them with thoughts of truth.

Although my circumstances didn't change right away, my attitude did. And, I thought I was helping my daughter with her homework.

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.


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