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Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

  • Lisa Lou

7 Things Children Must Know to Be Successful




Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us.


Formal education is important, particularly in certain fields, but we should not discount the fact 85% of our success comes from soft skills. This includes our ability to socialize and interact with other people. (Three different research projects over the past 100 years from Harvard, Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford confirm these percentages).


Based on research, and my own experiences, these are the areas in which I would make sure my child was proficient to give them the greatest chance for success.


1. Communication:

a. Look people in the eyes and smile.

b. Greet people with a hello, a firm handshake, and introduce yourself.

c. Do not gossip. Creating a reputation of trustworthiness is important.

d. Create a dossier on your relationships which include:

i. Birthday, anniversary, children, schools attended, hobbies.

ii. Why? It helps you commit these to memory, and you will have these facts easily assessable when you need them. Most importantly, we should treat others like we want to be treated. Showing someone they are worthy of your time by remembering important milestones in their life is a character trait we should all seek to attain.

e. Send hand-written thank you notes.

f. Learn to practice active listening by repeating back to the person what you heard them say.

g. Seek to understand the other person’s position on any given topic.


2. Dining Skills (Basics):

a. Place your napkin in your lap.

b. Do not begin eating until your host begins.

c. Do not speak with food in your mouth.

d. Do not gobble up your food. Eat at the same pace as the rest of the table.

e. Use your utensils starting from the outside and working in.

f. Set your utensil down after each bite.

g. Do not talk with a utensil in your hand.

h. Ask for an item to be passed. Do not reach across the table.

i. When you are finished and leave the table, place your napkin to the left of your plate.


“In today’s culture parents are increasingly challenged in mentoring their children with fundamental rules of etiquette,” says Thomas Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals. Corley spent five years studying the traits of both the successful and unsuccessful and discovered strong connections between, what he calls, “rich habits” and “poverty habits.” He went on to say, “The family dinner experience has been replaced with fast food and eating dinner on the couch. Social media has replaced the family conversation. All of this makes it increasingly difficult for parents to teach basic manners to their children.”


Parents, the number one thing I recommend is to have dinner as a family, at the table, as often as possible. Set the table with the correct plates and utensils. Just like an athlete, we should practice like we play. If you practice good table manners at home, these will become second nature for your child when they are out in public.




3. Image/Learning to Dress:

a. Just as soldiers wear specific uniforms for certain events, so do civilians.

i. Work: different professions have individual dress codes. A doctor wears scrubs. A priest might wear a liturgical robe. If you are unsure what your work dress code is, copy your boss. If he wears a tie, you wear a tie. If she wears a business suit, you wear a business suit.

ii. Job Interview: Err on the dressier side. Business suit for women and suit with tie for men (depending on the type of job you are interviewing for).

b. Image matters! People WILL judge you on what you wear and how you present yourself. If you walk hunched over, you tell people you are insecure. If your sportscoat is sloppy, it tells people you do not pay attention to details. If your clothes do not match, it appears you cannot dress yourself and “connect the dots.” How does this translate in the real world? “He is insecure. He does not take pride in how he looks. He does not show common sense. Is this who I want representing my company? Will he be able to interact with clients? Will he have the attention to detail I need to handle the financial statements of our business?”


4. Manners:

a. Always say please.

b. Always say thank you.

c. Say Yes, not Yeah.

d. Do not interrupt.

e. Keep your eyes focused on the person speaking to you. Do not look around the room even if you are not interested in what they are saying. This will give the impression they are unimportant.

f. Learn to compliment others.

g. The wise man holds his tongue. Learn to keep negative thoughts to yourself.

h. Do not curse.

i. Remember that manners are a condition of your heart. Do not be rude! Your manners show everyone who you really are on the inside.


"It's …a very competitive world. People are seeking etiquette training to stay on top of their game," says Patricia Napier-Fitzgerald, founder of The Etiquette School of New York.


5. Set Goals:

a. What are you trying to achieve?

b. Is it attainable?

c. By when do you want to achieve it?

d. What actions will you need to take to reach your goal?

e. Are you willing to make the sacrifices needed?


When children are little, start with small things. Maybe one goal every month, depending on their age. A goal our son made when he was little was to take the training wheels off his bike. Was this an attainable goal? Yes. We showed him what he needed to do to be successful, and he achieved his goal.



6. Time Management:

a. Keep a calendar/journal.

b. Have a structured daily schedule.

c. Learn organizational skills.

7. Social Capital:

a. Definition: Social capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. “… 88% of (successful) people agree with the statement, ‘Relationships are critical to financial success,’” says Corley.

b. How do you attain social capital? Networking, being active in your church and in your community. Joining professional organizations and volunteer groups. Attend events, become involved, give back to society. Those that stay home miss out on building social capital. Most jobs and opportunities are not found through advertisements and bulletin boards. They are found through word of mouth. One thing I will caution against. Do not join a group just to network. As Wayne Baker states in his book Achieving Success Through Social Capital, “If a person joins an association just to ‘network,’ people see right through the false front. But if you join an association you believe in—one that has a mission you are passionate about—you will form new relationships as a natural by-product of your involvement with the association. Social capital is the by-product, sometimes a very deliberate and conscious by-product, of the pursuit of meaningful activities.”

c. Even God uses social capitol to accomplish His plans! Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, but through hardship, trials, and hard work, he found himself in proximity to those that made the decisions. He gave his best in whatever job was assigned to him. People noticed, including the Pharaoh. Being in proximity to the Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt could observe Joseph, and Joseph earned his trust. This opened the door for Joseph to be named Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph’s brothers were also placed in positions of authority because of their connections to Joseph. The Pharaoh trusted Joseph, so he also trusted Joseph’s brothers. This is social capital at work. People are naturally more comfortable working with those they have been around, those they know personally or remotely. And decision makers are more likely to take a chance on someone based on a personal recommendation.


Education is important, but do not neglect the significance of soft skills that will define 85% of most people’s success: communication; dining skills; image; manners; setting goals; time management; social capital. It may seem like a lot to accomplish, but you have been given approximately 18 years with your child to train them in the way they should go. What if he is leaving home in a year? It is never too late to start. Though these 7 points are important tools for your child’s future, the most important role we have as parents is to give our children a foundation based on God’s word.



How do we do this? “…the value that God placed on teaching our children the truth is clearly addressed by Moses who stressed to his people the importance of teaching their children about the Lord and His commands and laws: ‘Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates.’ Deuteronomy 6:7-9.” -gotquestions.org


Teach them to serve the One who provides all things. “…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." -Joshua 24:15 (emphasis mine).


And remember, parents, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”-Proverbs 22:6. “Parents have been given the privilege of being stewards of their children’s lives for a very short time, but the teaching and training they provide is eternal. According to the promise of Proverbs, a child who is diligently trained in the ‘way he should go’ will remain true to that way in this life and reap its rewards in the next.” -gotquestions.org


Together with you,

Lisa Lou


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