Nourishing Attitudes

Oklahoma has never, in recorded history, had temperatures below freezing for eleven days in a row. We have weird weather, and we are used to changing conditions. This Arctic blast brought us a layer of ice and about eight inches of snow. All classes were online. All meetings were online. We’ve been stuck mostly inside and mostly together more than usual because even long walks were difficult. We got on each other’s nerves. In my house, I think the man and mancubs would all award me a medal for being the Crankiest. Aside from having our routine disrupted, I’m not sure I had anything to be cranky about. Between all the other craziness in the world and a project list longer than my arm, I was suddenly overwhelmed.

I usually manage overwhelm by taking a walk in the sunshine. But it was too cold and slick to walk for long, and the sun was absent. Sometimes I can beat overwhelm by picking a couple of short and simple tasks from my list and doing them to build some momentum for the next thing. But I just couldn’t wrap my head around any of the small things that needed doing.

Then, a young friend called me to say that she had offended someone accidentally and though she had apologized and received forgiveness from God and from the offended, she was having trouble forgiving herself and moving past it. Umm… I know that feeling, and I understand that one even though I didn’t understand my own stuck-ness. I could tell her that she’d have to take her thoughts and turn them in the way she wanted them to go – to take the lesson from the situation but stop replaying it; to do something different – walk, run, clean, sing, whatever would help her to be physically active and to literally move on; and to be intentional about gratitude.

Choosing Gratitude helps us to not focus on the things that we don’t like. Instead, we can focus on the things that we are grateful for. In the recent weird weather, we were blessed to never lose power, and we haven’t had any broken pipes so far, though things are still thawing. We have plenty of food and water. We are so thankful that even our biggest problems caused by the storms were small: trash couldn’t be picked up, the mail couldn’t always get through, and some packages were late, and produce delivery was delayed. As I focused on these things, my crankiness improved.

Friday afternoon, I went to pick up groceries from Sprouts and Aldi. I came home and was putting things away when I discovered that I didn’t have the pasta and such I’d ordered for dinner, but I did have one and a half pounds of scallops and some other things I hadn’t asked for. I messaged the store, and they refunded my account for the things I was missing and said to keep the mistakes. I ordered my necessary items again and worked until time to drive back to pick them up. I came home with my own groceries.

I fought the urge to be cranky about having to go back and get the things that should have been right in the first place. In reality, someone had stuck my name on the wrong grocery bags. It was an accident. Also, while I did have things to do, none of them were timed commitments or emergent problems. I could easily go back and try again. There was no reason to be angry, and extending kindness helped out everyone involved and got the problem fixed quickly.

I best nourish attitudes around here when I am in control of my own. Whether I like it or not, I set the atmosphere in this house. Other people’s attitudes will follow mine. Reflecting on things I can be grateful for and taking my thoughts captive makes my home happier for everyone who walks in the door, not just for me.


The unexpected pound-and-a-half of scallops sent me looking for a new recipe, since I don’t usually buy scallops at all, and I wasn’t sure that everyone would eat them. HalfBakedHarvest didn’t fail me. I found this recipe for Browned Butter Scallops and Burst Tomato Pasta that was delicious.

This week in the library

I didn’t read all of each of these books this week. I read FROM all of them. I finished one (noted below). *

*All links are Amazon affiliate links.

Nourishing a Marriage

I’m nervous about telling anyone how to nourish a marriage. Marriages are as unique as the people in them, and ours is no exception. We’ve stood together for moments on the top of the mountain surrounded by a splendid view, moments in the deepest, darkest of valleys, and many, many days of blessed ordinary time. We generally like each other and have been together since we were teenagers. 

Understand how you compliment each other

We don’t compete because we are good at different things. He listens to my historical tales, and I listen to his scientific stories. I learn languages faster and am more interested in linguistics, but he puts me to shame in math. I’m the chef, but all computers obey his command, from the alarm and sprinkler systems to the TV, our laptops, and our phones. We both write – about significantly different topics and very distinct arenas – and we’d both love to try new things in that arena.

Understand your similarities

In other areas, we are very similar. We both need our quiet, but we love our people. We love our books, so we own a library. We like our home, but we also like adventures. We are good at working. We are bad at resting (though we are working on that). We try to be good children and helpers to our parents, good parents and leaders for our children, and good to each other. We love Jesus and chase hard after Him while following His lead to serve, teach, and give. 

Understand Your Differences

That isn’t to say we don’t have disagreements. Blessedly, he is giving when I am being stubborn, but occasionally, he puts his foot down. I ignore things that bother me, like stuff laying around long after he’s done with it and just put things away because I’m the one who notices until I hit a breaking point and ask him to take care of it. We have an agreement to clearly ask for what is needed so that we don’t leave problems brewing. I’m more likely to let things brew than he is, and I’m more likely to have an expectation he doesn’t know about. Since we know all these things, we tend to them regularly. 

Be Willing to Change Your Heart

Jesus makes our marriage work. We’ve both had to ask forgiveness regularly, serve each other instead of ourselves, give when we don’t feel like it, accept love when we think it isn’t warranted, and change our hearts and minds and plans. Sometimes we get answers in reading Scripture or through prayer that helps us course-correct before we have a large issue. 

Be Intentional about Being Together

Nourishing a marriage takes effort. We have different jobs and volunteer responsibilities as well as various functions in the household, so we aren’t always together. We have dinner together most evenings. We stop together at the end of the day and just hang out a bit. We usually go to bed and get up at the same time, though sometimes I need more rest and get put to bed early. We typically walk together sometime during the day since we are often both at home. These small, ordinary moments allow us to stay connected.


The combination of the delivery of our supply of beef and Valentine’s Day meant that I cooked some steaks for my men. I think I finally found an indoor steak-cooking method that I like. I’m currently working with an electric stove, so adjusting the heat quickly is difficult. I heated the cast iron skillet until it was hot on one burner and put a big skillet on medium heat on another burner with butter, garlic, and rosemary in it.

I seared the steaks in the hot skillet and then moved them to the other pan to cook to the desired medium-rare. It worked beautifully, and I’ll do it again. We also had baked potatoes (yellow and sweet) and roasted broccoli. And I made an Instant Pot Chocolate Cheesecake, which tasted ok, but wasn’t terrific. I won’t share the recipe because I won’t use it again.

This week in the library

I didn’t read all of each of these books this week. I read FROM all of them. I finished one (noted below). *

  • Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who is There (finished)
  • Kristan Hannah’s The Four Winds (finished; a compelling story of an unprecedented time; read in one day because I had to know what happened)
  • Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has been making it into our pastor’s sermons this month. (finished; interesting, lots of words for small but important concepts)
  • Matthew Pollard’s The Introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone (finished; only headings really needed)
  • J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. (so interesting; it’s a textbook for chefs; summer science/life skills curriculum?)
  • Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet (beautiful; I’m savoring it, but I’ll finish this month and move to the next volume of her journals.)
  • Vishal Mangalwadi’s The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (such an intriguing work. Completely worth the time and maybe free from Audible?)
  • Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (via audio, but I have a pretty copy, and I’m on page 231/1358)
  • Schweikart & Dougherty’s A Patriot’s History of the Modern World, volume 1 (on page 273/424)

*All links are Amazon affiliate links.

Nourishing the Soul

The last event we went to before the world shut down was Courtyard Theatre’s production of Bright Star. It was a beautiful story of redemption, and I wound up going to all three showings. My then-senior was the lighting designer, and he and his class were sad to be doing their last performance together and excited by the thought of their next endeavors.Then the world shut down, and everything stopped, leaving our Class of 2020 unable to take ACTs, visit colleges, finish their classes in person, or celebrate their accomplishments with hundreds of friends and relatives. Their normal was stolen.

But this past weekend, Courtyard returned to the theater, in a musical called Curtains. Some of my students were in the cast, and my now-college son helped train a new lighting team. I was thrilled to see all of them display the skills hinted at in the classroom. Mostly, I was thrilled to be doing something normal. Well, it wasn’t completely normal. The audience was distanced by more than six feet between family groups, and masks were absolutely required. No congregating was allowed in the aisles or lobby. But our community was gathered for the purpose of enjoying a story and some music together. The kids and their directors killed it, and Curtains was hilarious. But mostly, it was a taste of the future, when the world recovers and the theater thrives again. I needed a taste of normal.

Speaking of things to come, this bush that lost its leaves months ago has new buds. Oklahoma is swathed in ice this week, but once it warms up, we may be free from freezing temperatures until late November. Spring will come quickly, bringing thunderstorms, flowers, and windy warmth, and we’ll all be tempted to plant annuals before Easter. The promise of Newness is good for my soul.

However, this very cold week, I’m breaking my step streak. I’m not equipped for walking in slick streets, freezing temperatures, and colder windchills. My wardrobe doesn’t accommodate that, and it’s so rare here that it doesn’t make sense to buy appropriate gear. I’ll try to get some exercise inside, and I’ll get back to the habit of walking when it warms up.

This week in the kitchen

I like recipes from both HalfBakedHarvest and A Spicy Perspective. A few weeks ago, I made this Chopped Steak with Mushroom Gravy and mashed potatoes for my men, and this weekend I used the same meat mixture to make stuffed peppers for the Super Bowl. The meal of the week was a super-sized version of this Sheet Pan Salmon. The men loved it, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s what I snapped while the boys were running down the stairs to dinner.

This week in the library

I didn’t read all of each of these books this week. I read FROM all of them. I finished one (noted below). *

*All links are Amazon affiliate links.

Nourishing the Mind

I started my week with fruit strewn all over the kitchen counter. The onions and potatoes were in their usual bowls, but ripening bananas and pears were just laying around and the kitchen felt chaotic. A friend of mine contained it all in a pretty white bowl and order descended. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m usually quick to containerize.

It’s amazing to me how quickly the atmosphere of our home falls apart when chaos reigns. I live in a normal house with normal humans. Shoes and jackets are left in living room regularly. There are often dirty socks under the couch. Random glasses sit around. Things pile up until I deal with the mess or make other people do it. I’m the one that is actually bothered by clutter, but everyone else appreciates the absence of clutter once it is gone because the room feels more peaceful.

Another way to care for my mind has been to avoid reading the reports of sensationalist media. I’ve long read news from multiple sources, but following @allsidesnow means that I can get the news from left, right, and center all in one space. Of course, they are still choosing what to show me, but at least it’s easy to find them all. Also, @sharonsaysso is a breath of fresh air on the internet, discussing issues in government in a way that explains the thinking of multiple viewpoints. She makes me think that Americans aren’t as far from agreement as it seems, but that we are being intentionally divided by sensationalist media. It’s easy to act on emotion instead of facts. Finding the facts allows the engagement of rational thought.

John of Damacus, a seventh century scholar, monk and Eastern Orthodox priest, writes

“Nothing is more estimable than knowledge, for knowledge is the light of the rational soul. The opposite, which is ignorance, is darkness. Just as the absence of light is darkness, so is the absence of knowledge a darkness of reason. Now, ignorance is proper to irrational beings, which knowledge is proper to those who are rational.”

(quoted in Mangalwadi, The Book That Made Your World 86)

Obviously, I read a lot. Reading grants me both Truth and new information, delivers new ideas (or new views of old ideas) for me to think on, or gets me lost in another world for a few minutes. If I walk by myself, I listen to an audiobook. I read myself to sleep at night. I read for a half-hour in the morning, and I have a book in several strategic locations in my house that make it as easy to pick one up and read a few pages as to scroll through Facebook or Instagram. And Saturday morning is for reading.


I didn’t read all of each of these books this week. I read FROM all of them. I finished one (noted below). *

*All links are Amazon affiliate links.