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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!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! As a busy mom, Mother’s Day can sneak up on you with the chaos of end of the year school activities, home projects, and travel plans. Moms have a heart of gold and do not have expectations of presents, but we still love the gesture of gifting to make the day special and show our appreciation for everything she does for the family.

“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. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

  • Lisa Lou

Be Content


Four inches of snow in Houston.


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.


As I write this it will be 9 days before our plumber can fix the frozen pipes that burst throughout our home. It is frustrating, but we are just one among thousands experiencing the same difficulties. Our attitudes in life are a choice, and this is one time I am having to act upon that choice. Throughout this last week one word kept coming to mind: contentment. This state of being is different than happiness. Happiness is defined as experiencing frequent positive thoughts, such as joy, interest, or pride. Whereas contentment can be described as a deeper feeling of satisfaction and gratitude. Happiness has a short lifespan, but contentment is longer lasting and goes much deeper.


In Paul’s letter to the Philippians many of us think of the well-known verse that says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” When my husband and I first married we dedicated these words as our family motto. We went as far as adding a sassy ending, “…so get out of my way.” We often repeat, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, so get out of my way.” These are motivating words we live by that help us overcome naysayers who have often told us our goals or dreams cannot be accomplished. These words remind us the “negative Nancy’s” have no power over us when God has clearly told us WE CAN.


Louie grew to love the fire. Spent hours gazing at the flames.


As common as this verse is to many, and as personal as it is to my family, I had not spent as much time studying the words written just before. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV-emphasis mine).


As my husband and I were taking inventory of our dwindling water supply, and dividing our food into smaller quantities, I cannot say there was happiness abounding in my heart, but I can say there was contentment. I had a great feeling of gratitude, and a thankful heart for provision. To keep a joyful outlook this past week with every frustration we encountered, I changed my focus to find the good.


  • Power went out: Grateful for two gas fireplaces

  • Water shut off: Grateful we had extra water bottles stored up from the pandemic

  • No water to bathe: Grateful for make-up wipes and baby powder to clean our face and bodies

  • Toilets not working: Grateful for an abundance of swimming pool water

  • Pipes burst and flooded our kitchen: Grateful we were safe and for our expert handyman friend who stopped the gushing water


It’s a mess!


  • Below freezing temperatures with no heat: Grateful for long johns and two dogs that can keep us warm in bed

  • Son and daughter (in law) also no power or water: Grateful our veteran son knew how to keep his family warm and make a pot of soup over a wood burning fire; grateful for a daughter (in law) that chose to put her trust in her new husband that he knew what he was doing, even when it was scary

  • My mom lost power/water at same time son/daughter did: Grateful our power came on right as theirs went off and they can stay with us

  • Wondering how we will feed 5 mouths: Grateful for freezer full of steaks stored up from the pandemic


Father and son cooking steaks over gas stove by candlelight.

  • Working in a messy kitchen/no power or water: Grateful for family time; father/son cooking steaks together; daughter (in law) bringing mushrooms/carrots from their refrigerator to provide sides with our meal

  • No bath in 6 days: Grateful for friends with hot water and showers

  • No plumber available for 9 days: Grateful our friend was able to close off all other pipes and direct water just to our bathroom; grateful to family/friends for the use of their washing machines/dishwashers


This is a short list of the gratitude we found in our contentment. After our family steak night, sitting among broken pipes in a waterless house, our son finished his last bite and declared to everyone present, “This is fun!” You must know him to understand this is not out of the ordinary. He was born with a smile on his face, speaks to every stranger, and finds a playful happiness in his surroundings. He lives in the reality he finds himself in at that moment and treats life as a story to treasure and enjoy. To him, quality time with family means more than most things, so why wouldn’t he think a steak dinner with his wife, parents, and grandmother was fun? He was not looking at what we did not have (water, low food supplies, no heat in his own home), he saw what we did have, and he declared it good.


Enjoying a warm meal surrounded by family, dogs, a fire, and bursting pipes.


A friend reminded me, “One cannot truly appreciate anything unless it is occasionally denied.” I appreciate what we have, and I am also thankful for the lessons that revealed our weaknesses. Once any experience or project is completed, we should always evaluate what we learned. Ask yourself what worked and what did not and if you would change anything next time.


What will I do differently to prepare for the next arctic storm that hits Texas (more likely the next hurricane that hits our Gulf Coast region)?

  • Keep a big supply of water year-round so I do not have to rely on the stores

  • Store flashlights inside the house instead of the garage where our sweltering summer heat causes the batteries to die

  • Stock up on MREs (meals ready to eat) that our military use and can last for decades

  • And the #1 thing on my list??? Install a generator to power our home!

It is good to find happiness and joy even in difficult circumstances, but it is alright to just be content. This week I was content, finding satisfaction with each day and gratitude for our provisions.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou