New On The Blog

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.

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.

  • Lisa Lou

Be Happy - Part 5

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

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



Our son started playing football in 3rd grade. During the middle of the season, we could tell he was giving in to fear and not performing the way he had earlier in the season. When a child is young, sports are more about building character and teaching life lessons, not about the performance on the field. I do not believe parents should ask for “A” performance, but they do want to instill “A” effort. “Give your best,” we all say, “even if that best is only a “C.” What we do not want to see, though, is fear in our child affecting performance. Fear should be driven out and replaced with courage to march forward into the challenge ahead. If a child learns to develop courage and overcome fear, no matter what the outcome, they will experience success.


From the time our son was 5, he wanted to be a soldier. He would ask me when he was very little when he could “go fight.” I told him he was already a soldier. That he became a soldier the moment he asked Jesus to enter his life (which, interestingly, was also when he was 5). I reminded him that there is a constant spiritual battle that takes place around us every day, and that God had called him to be a soldier in HIS army. I told him that everything we do is a battle between good and evil. Since speaking “soldier” was a form of communication he always understood, I used this same strategy to speak to him about the fear that had crept into his mind on the football field. I said, “Caz, you know everything you do is a battle between good and evil. Even on the football field. Every decision you make is a decision to either give God the victory or give Satan the victory. If God tells you that you CAN do something, but you believe you CANNOT do something, then you have just given Satan the victory. Every time you step onto the field, you need to ask yourself who you are giving the victory to. Who are you playing for? Which team are you putting in the Win category?”


The next Saturday, our son had the best performance of his season. He played with no fear and walked in freedom. I noticed after the game that there was some writing on his skin that was poking out from beneath his forearm guards. I did not say anything to him, because I had a feeling it was private, otherwise, he would have told me about it before the game. Eventually, he took the guards off, and I was able to catch a glimpse of what was written. On each arm he had drawn a cross. On one arm he had written, “Go God.” On the other arm he had written, “Beat Satan.”


Caz had a choice to make that day. He could give in to the negativity that was entering his brain telling him that he was not good enough, that he did not have what it takes, and he could take the victory away from God. Or, he could push those thoughts out of his mind, know in his heart he could “do all things through Christ who strengthened him,” (Philippians 4:13) and give the victory to God. He chose victory. Oh, if all of us had the faith of a child!


In The Law of Happiness, Dr. Cloud talks about how happy people think. He says, “Happy people think well.” He uses the example of two women that were both single. They each were ready to start dating more, so they signed up on a dating site. The first girl went on a date, and she felt it went well. Unfortunately, the guy never called again. She was so discouraged that she canceled her membership on the dating site. She said things like, “This always happens to me. Guys just don’t like me. I will never find anyone.” The second girl was rejected several times on the dating site before she even received her first date, but she did not let that stop her. She just kept plugging away. Eventually, she met a wonderful man. Today, they are married with two children. She did not let the first few rejections create negative thoughts. She took an “oh, well” attitude, and kept going. She did not let these isolated incidents define her entire being. (Side note: There is an important point Dr. Cloud makes. Unhappy people take one bad incident and link it to their entire circumstance. “No guy likes me.” Really?? Not one single guy in the entire world likes you? They cling to this attitude and throw away everything. Happy people, on the other hand, take one bad incident and treat it just as it is…one bad incident. They do not let it define them.)


As simple as it sounds, happy people think thoughts that make them happy. Unhappy people think thoughts that bring them down, cause fear and create depression. I have a confession to make here. As I was writing this blog, I began doubting myself. I found myself asking, “Who am I to write about this? I’m almost always happy. How can I write about something I rarely experience?” Suddenly, a wave of memories flooded my brain. They were dark, and I didn’t really like what I saw. I began remembering unhappy moments in my life.


I grew up with a wonderful father that was ill most of my life. I never knew if “today” would be his last day. That’s a scary way for a child to live. Much of my life he was in and out of hospitals, enduring surgery after surgery. When I was in college, my 16-year-old cousin, who lived in the town where I attended school, was killed in a car wreck. While I was attending the university my grandfather, who also lived in my college town, was shot at gunpoint in the chest. I was by his side while he and my grandmother endured the trial of his attempted murderer. My father was able to walk me down the aisle when I married, but upon returning from my honeymoon, he was back in the hospital and died a year later. My husband and I went through years of infertility, and when our son was finally born, he was in ICU for two weeks with medical professionals telling us they weren’t sure he would make it. It was touch and go, but he survived. A short time later, we suffered a miscarriage and were unable to have more children. While our son was in the Army, we watched him deal with the danger, heartache and turmoil that is a part of every soldier’s life. This same son had an accident during one of his airborne jumps when his chute did not open properly, which ended with him having surgery and earning him the title of disabled vet. My mother recently had an accident that caused broken ribs, a broken nose and a concussion that severed a nerve in her brain causing her eyes to permanently cross. After 30 medical visits and procedures, her eyes are now healed. I live with a chronic condition that I, mostly, keep controlled through lifestyle habits and medication.


Yuk, yuk, yuk! These are just a few quick examples that came to my mind in the span of a couple minutes. I am even more burdened thinking about the trials many of my friends are currently enduring. From losing a child to fighting terrible diseases. It’s enough to make you want to crawl in a hole and never emerge. Yet, these same friends I am thinking about embrace life with joy and hope and a happiness that is contagious. I write this to say the realization of choosing to be happy smacked me in the face today. There are a lot of things I fail at in life, but I really do try to live by the principle that my circumstances will not define my happiness, and I have watched friends and family be incredible examples of this same truth.


I have also known people that go through similar situations as those mentioned above, and they spend their lives being miserable and angry at the world. Once we complete any grieving process that is needed, we have only two choices to make. We either choose to be happy, despite our circumstances, or we choose to be unhappy and be controlled by our circumstances. This does not mean we do not have times of despair, but the overriding trait of happiness is a choice.


My desire to choose happiness probably comes from the side of my personality that says life really is “all about the party.” I enjoy having fun too much to let a bad circumstance keep me from the celebration of LIFE. Or, maybe I have this attitude, because my family also has this attitude. When my grandfather was shot, I was in the middle of chairing a huge event at my university. Although my grandparents only lived 20 blocks from campus, they did not tell me about the shooting until the day after my event had concluded. When I became upset with them for not calling me, their response was, “Oh, honey, we didn’t want anything to take your mind off what you were doing. It was a very important week for you. We are fine.”


My mother had her accident on a Sunday evening. I didn’t learn about it until Monday morning. We were scheduled to have lunch that day, and I received a text that said, “Pumpkin, I don’t think I can have lunch today. I had a little accident.” What?!? I immediately drove to her house to realize this was far from a little accident! Six days later, suffering pain from all of her broken bones, she went to a make-up artist that worked miracles on her face covering up all the bruising, and she joined me in hosting a bridal shower for a precious person in my life (the sister of my soon-to-be daughter-in-law). My mother could have complained about how much she hurt, and she could have stayed home. No one would have faulted her for this! She rightfully deserved a lot of compassion and sympathy, but she never sought this. As only my mom could say, “Hot damn, I have a party to host!” Wow!! She really is my heroine. She CHOSE to be happy and not let her circumstances define her. (*)


When I look back on how my family responded to two serious incidents in our lives, they almost treated the events as just a hiccup in the road. Both events required multiple surgeries, weeks of hospital visits (sitting through a horrible attempted murder trial) and months and months of finding our “new normal.” Yet, none of them let their circumstances DEFINE their happiness.


I do not want to make it sound like I have it all together, because I don’t. (And I have friends, right now, going through things that are much worse than anything I have ever dealt with.) I do not like blog posts where people only show the best side of themselves and not the reality of life. I think that is why I wanted to mention some of my unhappy moments, and to also assure you, I make mistakes, I fail often, and I am not always strong. And, yes, sometimes I choose to be (wait for it) …unhappy! I sometimes get mad at the world and throw a temper tantrum (not my finest moments). But on days like today, when I can rise above any situation in my life, I am so thankful for the example of my family, and the promises from my God, that my happiness is NOT found in my circumstances. My happiness truly is a choice that I must make every day. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my family.

Psychological research has proven that the way we think affects every aspect of our lives from our biological and mental health to our performance in the world. My husband takes physical steps to help him create a positive mood and “think happy.” He does this by spontaneously jumping up and down to change his mindset, and he also does this by constantly playing music. It is a rare occasion you will walk into our home that you will not hear some genre of song playing. It’s difficult to be grumpy and unhappy when your favorite tunes are being piped through the speaker.


Here’s another thought. What if we began viewing our negative thoughts as a spiritual battle that is taking place? I guarantee we would start thinking in a more positive light. At the beginning of this blog, we looked at the experiences of two women who had signed up to participate in a dating website. The first woman in the example viewed life through a negative prism. Her thoughts were, “I am not desirable. No man wants to date me. My future is dismal.” What would have happened, though, if she had thought like this, “You are MY child, and nothing can separate you from MY love.” (Paraphrased from Romans 8:38-39.)


“Successful and happy people are not overcome by their circumstances, losses, setbacks, or other events. Instead, they overcome them,” states Dr. Cloud. God says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2-emphasis mine.)


God is talking about transforming the way we think. When negative thoughts enter our mind, we must push them away and replace them with positive thoughts. I know this can be very difficult. I do this by trying to view everything in my life as good vs. evil. I try to see the spiritual battle around me the same way I taught my son to do. I get angry when I think I might lose the battle to the enemy. My anger helps me fight harder to make sure the victory stays in God’s corner. I find it easier to push the negative thoughts out when there is a fire of “fight” in my belly. Those negative thoughts of “self-doubt; I can’t; I’m not good enough,” are not from God, therefore they should not be a part of who we are. We are here for a reason. God created us for a purpose. No child is an accident, because God doesn’t make mistakes! Tell yourself, “I really am special! God has something planned just for me…ME!!” If that does not make us think happy thoughts, I do not know what will.


We are in a battle every day. Do not give into negative thoughts. YOU were created for a reason. Go God! Beat Satan!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou


(*How we choose to feel and react to circumstances IS a choice. I fully acknowledge that some people deal with deeper mental or chemical issues that can affect how they approach life, though. These blogs are not speaking to this deeper issue. If you find yourself struggling in any of these areas, and you seem unable to “choose” your emotions and reactions, then my hope is that you will seek a true professional counselor that can help you overcome these obstacles so you can be on your way to living a truly happy life.)


I want to dedicate this article to a dear friend of mine. I had just written this blog when I ran into her at our local hardware store. She, and her family, are going through a very difficult time. While I was speaking with her, I was amazed at her sweet spirit and joyful attitude. Although she is in a very trying season of life, she chooses to be happy in her circumstances. It is not a façade. She has a joy in her life that is bigger than any trial she is currently experiencing. I hope she is reading this article, and I hope she knows I am speaking of her (friend, sorority sister, two precious sons and daughter). My dear sister, YOU are the embodiment of what it means to be truly happy.


(link to Be Happy - Part 6)