New On The Blog

A toast may be offered in any setting and made to an individual or a group. Increase your confidence at your next social gathering by learning the ins and outs of this ancient tradition. Toasting to someone’s health or honor goes back to biblical times and can be found in most cultures including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians.

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

Bullet Journal: Staying Organized




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. Showcasing the differences, my husband has his day planned via an electronic method. I tried this for several years, but I need to gather my thoughts with pen and paper. I am a tactile person, and I finally gave myself permission to go back to a notebook. What a difference this has made in my productivity!


No matter what method you use, a common trait of all successful people when it comes to a daily schedule is putting boundaries around their time. I want to share how I structure my day. I use The Bullet Journal Method. There is great freedom in this system, so do not let my way be a “must” in how you approach this. Part of the process is figuring out what works best for you. Let me also say a lot of people spend a great deal of time color coding and decorating their journals. I do not. Mine is very utilitarian. Do what you enjoy. There is no right or wrong way. Let me walk you through my journal.


1. Obituary: On the first blank page, I have written my obituary. What??? I learned this tip from Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, in a course I took about establishing a daily routine. It might sound crazy, but it is life changing. If you read your obituary each morning, you will stay focused on the goals you are working to accomplish. I have 3 main accomplishments I would like my family and friends to say about me when I die. If I am going to reach these goals, then I better use each day productively and in service toward that end. My focus might change over the years, and if so, I will re-write my eulogy.


2. Future Log: Twice a year I do a massive brain dump in my journal. I write down everything I want to accomplish, books I want to read, projects I want to work on, recipes I want to make, etc. If it pops in my mind, even something I want to do 5 years from now, I write it down. I capture all of this in my Future Log pages. The point of this is to clear your mind. A clear mind functions more efficiently when there is not clutter clogging the brain.


3. Monthly Calendar: After the Future Log is complete, I create a page for each month of that calendar year. I look at the Future Log and assign every item a month. If one item I wrote in my Future Log was create Christmas cards, then I can put that in the month of September as an item to accomplish (because I do these several months before December). Buy my husband a birthday gift is on my Future Log. Where would that go? His birthday is at the end of July, so I will put this action to be completed in the month of July. Every item that enters your brain, which you then dump onto the Future Log, can be assigned a month. If you write a goal to accomplish something 5 years from now, just leave it in the Future Log. You do not need to assign it a month unless you need to begin taking baby steps toward accomplishing that goal. You can roll this into a Future Log for the following year.



4. Weekly Calendar: My Future Log is now organized by months. At the beginning of each week, I look only at the month in which I am in. I decide what tasks I will accomplish this week based on that month. Why only look at that month? It gets rid of the noise from all the other months. If I had to look at my entire Future Log every week, I would stay in a state of chaos and feel completely overwhelmed.


5. Daily Calendar: Now it is time to create the daily calendar. Each morning, after my quiet time, I pull out my journal and ONLY look at my weekly calendar. Why? Same reason as in #4. If I looked at the entire month, I would become overwhelmed. I only look at the items I will accomplish this week. Based on my weekly calendar, I write my tasks for the day. This is where I get more specific, and more critical, as to where I will spend my time. “People who trust fate are often confused and filled with regret. God did not hand you a television to watch, he handed you a script to write,” Donald Miller. Your life is one big story, but you start with a blank script. Either you will write your story, or you will give the power to someone else to write your story. Structure your life in such a way that each day brings meaning and takes you further into the parable of your life. “Social media is great at drawing you into their story. Don’t live someone else’s story. Live your story. Turn off the TV, don’t waste time on Netflix. Don’t live someone else’s story. Live YOUR story,” says Miller. If we do not schedule our day, then the whirlwind of life eats away at our time. When we take a break at 10a.m. to check social media, suddenly we look up and an hour has passed by. Did that hour help write your story? Or did being an observer in what others are doing just cost you an hour of your own life? Having a daily calendar that keeps you focused on creating your story has proven to be the most successful approach to time management.


6. Format of Daily Calendar: I divide my daily calendar into three parts:

a. Morning Routine

i. Breakfast/News 6:30-7:30a.m.

ii. Quiet Time/Bible Reading 7:30-8:30a.m.

iii. Exercise/Get Dressed 8:30-9:30a.m.

b. My Story

i. Write “Success” blog series

ii. Edit contributing writer article

iii. Record ad

c. Tasks

i. Pick up cleaning

ii. Meet with architect

iii. Set doctor’s appointment


Morning Routine: This is how I start my day. I try to stick with the time allotted, but I give myself some grace in this area. Having a written timeframe helps me stay on track, though.


My Story: This is where I work on items dealing with my obituary. (Yep, always sounds weird and feels even weirder to write! I might change this to My Graduation Story.). Remember, your obituary keeps you focused on what you want to accomplish in life. What story am I writing? Running to the cleaners does not get me closer to my goals. Yes, the cleaning needs to be picked up, but if I get it tomorrow vs today, is it really that important? Yet, if I let all the mundane tasks of life override My Story, then this becomes a day wasted. I write three things each day I want to accomplish for My Story. If I find I can do more, then I go to my weekly calendar and choose a fourth item. Sometimes I only finish two items, and that is alright. I will just roll it over to the next day. Once I finish the items under My Story, then I move to the Tasks.


Tasks: Tasks include the more mundane items that must be tackled each day: errands, doctor’s appointments. It can also be items that do not require as much brain power: dinner with a friend, attending your child’s soccer game, volunteering at your church food drive. If you are in the corporate world, tasks might be weekly internal office meetings. They are necessary to keep things moving forward, but they do not help you in your story. Your My Story items in the corporate world would be actions that help you write your work story: creating the long-term growth plan for the business, landing the large client. It is best to put the My Story items before Tasks, because these require more brain cells. By the time the afternoon rolls around, you are fatigued and will not be bringing your A game. (Some people are more alert in the afternoon, but for the majority, this is the best approach).


Filtering my day by categorizing items as My Story or Tasks helps me focus on what is important. Putting boundaries around my day also helps me say NO to distractions, interruptions, and when others put unsolicited demands on my time. Learning to say NO is a big step that must be mastered if you are going to make progress in your story.


“Freud said man’s motivation is for pleasure. Victor Frankel said, ‘No, Freud is wrong. Man’s motivation is for meaning, and when man cannot find meaning he numbs himself with pleasure.’”-Donald Miller.

Pleasure is fleeting. Meaning is what gives us the fuel we need to persevere.


“Who is casting the vision for your life? You? Some other institution? Or somebody else? If you give control over your life to someone else (or to fate), then they are responsible for the outcome. If you have control of your own life, then you are responsible for the outcome. God gave us freedom over our lives to write our own story. This scares some people. They rather be told what to do. What we really fear is the responsibility. I don’t want you to see it as a responsibility. I want you to see it as fun. Creating your own story, with all the success and failures, is fun.” -Miller


I look forward to creating my calendar. I love doing the brain dump for the year, and it feels good to organize my life in a way that keeps me focused on the story God has given me to write. If you wake up each day with purpose, you will find meaning in your life. It is time to write your own story and stop living someone else’s life. Here’s to successful planning!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou