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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. 

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.”

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.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

  • Lisa Lou

Be Happy - Part 4

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

Summary of the book The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud

When we look over the many characteristics of happy people, goal setting is at the top of the list. Setting goals is biblical as well. Proverbs 13:12 states: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When we live a life that is just “going through the motions” and never achieving, we feel depressed and listless. Yet, even those times when our only goal is to get through our “to do” list by the end of the day, once accomplished, we have a sense of satisfaction. We feel refreshed and complete.

A life must have goals, and these goals should stem from the desires of our heart. God gave each of us different talents and gifts. He has a different plan for each of us. Two people can have the exact same goal, but their approach may be very different. For example, both may have a desire to help their local homeless shelter. One person is very math oriented, and the way they contribute is by working on the financial books of the organization. The other person has the gift of hospitality, and they help the shelter by hosting fundraisers. Both people are working toward the same end, yet they are going about it in very different ways. If the “party person” sat at a desk and crunched numbers all day for the charity, because she felt she was “supposed to,” she would be miserable. If the “numbers person” was given the task of hosting a fundraiser, the charity might fold on the spot! The point of this is, you need to know what your God-given talents are, and put them to use based on where your heart is guiding you.

My family and I set goals every year. We put aside about 2 hours right after the new year and have a “dream” session. We write down everything we would like to do, from 1-year to 20-year goals. We dream about our financial aspirations, our personal desires, along with our material and spiritual goals. Our favorite question is: If we could do anything we wanted to do, what would it be? I love this part of goal setting, because everyone loves to dream. Nothing is off limits. Nothing is too big or out of reach. We just dream! This is a very important part of the goal setting process, and it should not be discounted. God has placed these desires in our heart, and our job is to figure out which ones we are to act upon. So, don’t skip this step. Just start writing!

After this initial session, we then get a little more serious. First, we pray about these goals, “Ok, God. We had fun doing this dream session, but now we want to know what YOU want us to accomplish this year. Where are we to put our focus?” It is amazing to watch this work. Every time we finish praying, it becomes very clear which of our goals are frivolous, and which ones start to come into focus. We begin crossing things off the list until eventually we are left with a few dreams we can really sink our teeth into. A good prayer to pray is, “Lord, don’t let me desire anything that is not Your will.” God’s will for our lives is the same as saying God’s goals for our lives. God will place the desires in our heart for the things He wants us to accomplish. If our heart aligns with God’s plan, we will be very joyful people.

I want to reference a portion of a transcript from John Piper from his blog, which explains in greater detail what it means to align with God’s plan.

This is what David meant when he said in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desires of the heart cease to be merely natural desires when the heart delights above all else in the Lord. Delighting in the Lord — in the hallowing of his name and the seeking of his kingdom and the doing of his will — transforms all-natural desires into God-related desires. Prayer is not for gratifying natural desires. It is for fruit-bearing, for the glory of God. Another way of saying it is this: if you want God to respond to your interests, you must be devoted to HIS interests. God is God. He does not run the world by hiring the consulting firm called Mankind. He lets mankind share in the running of the world through prayer to the degree that we consult with HIM and get our goals and desires in tune with HIS purposes. The evidence for this in the writing of John is in 1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence which we have before him, that, if we ask anything according to HIS will, he hears us.” Prayer is not for gratifying our natural desires. It is for gratifying our desires when those desires have been so purified and so saturated with God that they coincide with HIS plans. “If we ask anything according to HIS will (all emphasis mine).”

This is why my husband and I always pray over our “dream” session once we are finished and ask God, “Ok, God, what do YOU want us to accomplish?” We know our goals will not come to fruition if they are goals that belong only to us and do not FIRST belong to Him. Back to Dr. Cloud and what he says when setting goals. Choose goals that fit your strengths (as mentioned earlier). Then break your goals down into doable chunks. Lastly, he reminds us not to forget the journey when he says, “…the happiness is found not mostly in the finish line of your goal but in the journey itself, so choose goals that call for you to love the work itself and that involve you in tasks you enjoy doing.”

I fit this description to a tee. My life has always been about the journey. Obviously, I love to entertain (to me, it really IS all about the table!). Although I love to entertain the joy comes in the planning and preparation. I cannot tell you how many times I have said an hour before I am about to host an event, “Let’s hurry and get this party over with so I can start planning the next event.” Sometimes, it is not actually about the party, it is about the preparation leading up to the party. This is just how God wired me. (On a side note, once the party begins and my guests arrive, I have as much fun as they do, because my other great joy is seeing the people around me take a respite from life and enjoy fellowship with others).

So, our marching orders for today:

Have fun and daydream.

Capture your greatest desires on paper.

Pray over your goals and see which ones begin to show more clarity.

Write a step by step action plan of how you will accomplish a specific goal.

Break that goal into small chunks so it is more easily accomplished.

BEGIN (No goal is accomplished unless you take physical steps to achieve!)

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

(link to Be Happy - Part 5)

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