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It is summer in Houston, and last night our bedroom A/C went kaput! My first reaction was to grumble, but then I reminded myself to “choose happiness!” I was thankful we had a guestroom to sleep in that had cool air and a fan. As we crawled into an unfamiliar bed, I was quickly reminded of the times I preached to others: “Every good hostess should sleep in her own guestroom for one full night. You will immediately see what is missing!”

Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. 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.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Lisa Lou

How to Listen Effectively



Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.


1. Whether at a party or in a business meeting, a good listener will always make eye contact with the person they are speaking with. Put yourself to the test. After you walk away, can you remember the color of their eyes?


2. A respectful listener will not look around the room while speaking with someone. This sends the message you are not interested in what is being said. Give the person your full attention and do not be distracted. After the speaker has finished, you may politely extricate yourself from the conversation.


3. An active listener will mirror back what the speaker is saying.

Speaker: “I just returned from New Zealand.”

Active listener: “You just returned from New Zealand?!? How fabulous! Where did you go during your trip?”


4. An active listener will ask questions, when clarification is needed, but they will not steer the conversation a different direction.

Good Example:

Speaker: “We just returned from our church’s trip to Israel, and it was truly life-changing.”

Active Listener: “I have often heard that it is life-changing. Can you point to anything specific that made you feel this way?


Bad Example:

Speaker: “We just returned from our church’s trip to Israel, and it was truly life-changing.”

Selfish Listener: “You went on the trip with the church? I heard Nancy and her husband were on the trip. Her daughter was supposed to go with them but could not since she is expecting her first baby. I do not think she is pleased with her doctor. Did you hear that medical facility is closing down?”


See what just happened? In the first example, the active listener showed interest in the speaker by seeking more information about the trip and keeping the focus on them. In the second example, the selfish listener diverted the conversation to what SHE wanted to talk about, instead of being a good listener and staying engaged in the subject the speaker brought up. If you find yourself guilty of this, quickly get back on point so the person does not view you as uninterested or selfish.


5. When someone is telling a story, do not interrupt to complete their sentence. I recently attended a party where I attempted to tell a story 3 different times, only to be interrupted at every turn. The person in our group was not intentionally being rude, but they were in a state of excitement and could not calm down enough to be a good, active listener. It was exhausting trying to speak. I finally stopped trying and moved on to another group. An active listener practices patience by focusing on the speaker’s words.


6. Do not just listen to the words. Listen to the tone of the speaker. Our physical body and our words do not always speak the same language. Concentrate on the person’s heart, not just their words, and determine what the speaker is really trying to convey. If someone is upset, their words will come out as complaints, but deep down they are trying to express they are hurting.


7. Let the speaker know you are listening AND interested. Give little tidbits of feedback throughout the conversation. “That must have been very exciting!” Or even a simple, “Oh, wow!”


8. When listening to others, NEVER check your phone. Even just for a quick peek. By taking your eyes away from the conversation, you have allowed someone else (the person on the other end of the phone) to interrupt your conversation. If someone walked up and interrupted your conversation in person, you would not allow this, because it is rude. Think of your phone as a person because guess what? It is! Just in digital format.


9. If you are in the middle of a project and your spouse comes into the room and begins talking, put down what you are doing, make eye contact, and give them your attention. If you cannot take a long break at the moment say, “I want to focus on what you are saying. Give me two more minutes to finish this task, and then I can give you my full attention.” Or, “I have a deadline I am trying to meet. I want to hear what you have to say. May we talk at dinner?”


10. Body language is important if you are to be an active listener. Good posture, whether standing or sitting, will tell the speaker if you are interested or bored. When someone is speaking, lean forward and show you are physically engaged. Stay within 18”-24” of the person you are speaking with. Any further back and your body language will be screaming, “I’m trying to leave this conversation!”


11. Repeat back to the speaker what you heard them say. This becomes more important when you are engaged in talks that are not just social in nature. In a marriage, you might say, “Let me make sure I understand what you are asking me to do.” This is good active listening, and it greatly improves communication. It is amazing how often two people hear things differently. By clarifying the comments, you will save yourself a lot of problems later.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou