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We could spend hours diving into every aspect of table do’s and don’ts, but I want to give you my top 13 tips that will help you navigate any social or business gathering with confidence.

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts.

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts.

Vacations are back on the calendar, and many people are crossing the country through our friendly skies. I thought a refresher on airport and plane travel might do us all a little good.

I heard the most interesting ad the other day. There is a company that offers private-type flights for the commercial world. They describe themselves as a “hop on jet service.” On their website it states, “The convenience of private air but at commercial prices.” I looked them up, and there was one flight from Dallas to Houston for only $99!

“Conflict is part of every marriage. Thirty-seven percent of newlyweds admit to being more critical of their mates after marriage. And 30 percent report an increase in arguments. Whether you argue does not determine the health of your marriage. Far more important than how often you argue is how you argue.

With Father’s Day coming soon, you and your family will be celebrating one of the most important men in your life- Dad. As a child, he was your hero, your protector, and your solid rock. Now that you are older, you admire him for all that he has done for you and you still look to him for advice and wisdom. Picking out the perfect gift for Dad is not easy!

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

Graduation is a pivotal point in a young person’s life. It is the beginning of a season of responsibility, coming of age, and independence. As these twenty-somethings are about to discover the meaning of “adulting,” here are some gift ideas that will no doubt be a blessing in your college grad’s new life.

If some of you are thinking, “I believe I have read this letter before,” you would be correct. Our son and daughter (in law) had a beautiful wedding ceremony planned for April of 2020. As with thousands around the country, they had to postpone the big event, but chose to hold a private covenant ceremony in our backyard. Well, we are finally celebrating their wedding vows, and it was on my heart to re-post the letter I wrote to my son last year. Some things have changed (he is now 25, not 24 as the letter states), but I hope you enjoy!

 I heard the most interesting ad the other day. There is a company that offers private-type flights for the commercial world. They describe themselves as a “hop on jet service.” On their website it states, “The convenience of private air but at commercial prices.” I looked them up, and there was one flight from Dallas to Houston for only $99! 

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

 

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

  • Lisa Lou

A Woman’s Influence on Her Family



(Left to Right): Christopher and Lisa Zook. Cecelia and Christopher Zook, Jr. (And Colonel! Louie didn’t make the cut. He was too squirmy.)


“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I could not change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I could not change the town, so I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” –An Unknown Monk (1100 A.D.)

Learning to juggle responsibilities of a career, volunteer duties, friendships, and family can be a herculean task. As we navigate adult life, we need to remind ourselves our activities outside our family should not cause us to neglect our responsibilities to our family. As women, it is a top priority to protect the interests of those under our protection, and the most sacred place we do this is within the 4 walls where we live. As the unknown Monk said, if we can create healthy families, we can change the world.

My husband and I mentor newly married couples, and we notice most brides catch something from each other. It is called the nesting bug. Sharing the same season of life with other ladies elevates this gathering instinct, but I am here to state, the desire to nest is very real. God has placed this in our hearts, and it should not be ignored. Proverbs 31 is often quoted as an example of the godly woman. One of the verses shows how she effectively cares for her family.

Lisa Lou’s maternal great grandparents.


As we begin to build our homes, the responsibilities can seem overwhelming. We look for guidance in our moms or grandmothers, but often wonder, “How did she do it?” We need to give ourselves a little break, because the examples we watch in our mentors are of ladies that have been on the job for many years. They, too, learned through trial and error.

With fulltime careers, many women struggle to balance what the perception of family life should be verses reality. The Instagram pictures and Pinterest boards of designer homes flood our minds. We envision 5-star homecooked meals. Our perfect ending to a long day is settling down with our recently betrothed to unwind with a glass of wine while sharing experiences from our day and dreaming about the 1.5 children we will one day call our own. As an empty nester married more than 3 decades, I can confidently say this perfect scenario is rare.

A more realistic day looks like this: Traffic causes you to arrive home late so the dog did not have his routine potty break. You are greeted at the door with a pile of poo you barely step over while at the same time realizing you forgot to thaw the chicken for tonight’s dinner. You can either eat late or order take-out…again. The laundry you put in the dryer before leaving for work is still wet, leaving the clothes wrinkled. They will require extra ironing. If you have children, they are starved for your attention. You hand off the crying baby to your husband when he arrives home (he was late, too) so you can help little Johnny with his homework. After everyone is fed, bathed, and in bed, you have a few minutes to yourself, but you are so tired, you close your eyes, drift off to sleep, and dream about the “perfect” home life you are determined to create.

When the honeymoon is over, the routine of life takes hold, and responsibilities begin to pile up. Women can feel overwhelmed with family life and what they perceive it takes to manage a godly home. They can also feel pressure from the outside world that tells them other pursuits (more important agendas) should fill their time. It becomes an internal game of tug-of-war. This is when we stop, take a breath, realign our priorities, and remind ourselves family and home are designed by God to be the primary place we meet our needs. And as wives and moms, we are part of the lifeblood that flows through our family.

Homes should be a refuge from the world. It is the place we need to feel safe and loved. It is where we learn, grow, and establish relationships. When the home is a place of protection, it will successfully serve as ground zero. It will become a place to teach and train our families, where we grow and learn, where we share laughter, sorrows, play games, struggle through homework, and engage in disagreements and arguments. Home is where we shape the personalities and beliefs of our children and learn to become partners with our spouse. It is where we heal the sick, nourish our bodies, and celebrate milestones. The Oxford dictionary states, “Home is where something flourishes.” Simply put, the home is where we “do life.” The influence a woman yields in her house is powerful as she creates, guides, and leads the personality of her family. God has placed us in a position of honor and authority, but it comes with responsibility, and it should not be taken lightly.

Although that yearning desire to establish our families and our home can lead to attention distracting pursuits of beautiful furniture, top notch appliances, and impeccable landscaping, it is important we remember our homes are to be used to minister to our families, and the physical building in which we dwell should not be seen as the ultimate goal in creating our storybook life. If we do this, we will have turned those four walls into an idol that replaces the purpose of home.

Whether you are the main provider, a single mother, or the always-on-the-go volunteer, it is important to remember our priority is within our family. No one can serve two masters, and as a modern woman living in the world, we must never lose sight of this fact.

To make sure there is no misunderstanding, becoming the embodiment of Martha Stewart is not required to have healthy and functioning families. Nor should it be our goal (unless you are naturally gifted in this way). I rarely cook, I do not enjoy yard work, and I will NOT pick up dead bugs in my house! What I can do, though, is provide a refuge for my family, create a place for them to grow and learn, and equip them with the tools they need to face the challenges of the world. I can prepare my children to stand on their own, and I can be a partner with my husband.

I can also work to make our home a place of hospitality for others. These four walls in which we live may not be ideal. Our dinners might be burned, our bedrooms left messy, but love of family covers up a lot of mistakes. When our children leave home, they will not remember if their 5th birthday party was perfect. In fact, they probably will not remember it at all. What they will remember is the love you poured into them and the legacy they will carry in their hearts of a godly woman they call blessed.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou