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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.

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Q/A My Money His Money Our Money

Q: I have several money questions. I am recently married. Is it alright to buy myself things without checking with my husband? Is it alright to spend my spouse’s money on things for myself? Should you spend your spouse’s money even if you can afford it with your own money? Is it wiser to just have your own separate bank account to deposit your money in?

A: To get to the root of the issue, we need to change the questions. Healthy couples set up a system for handling finances that enables both to feel safe. Household expenses and other necessities are clearly defined along with goals for saving and giving. Surplus money can be allocated for luxuries or travel and other mutually agreed upon items. Marriage is about “oneness” and walking in agreement. When we marry, we make a covenant with God and take on each other’s identity. Our lives are no longer mine or his, but ours. We celebrate together, we mourn together, and we carry each other’s burdens. If one spouse is sick, the other steps up to take care of them. We would not say, “Sorry you are sick, but you are on your own. Hope you feel better soon.” If one spouse has a problem they are dealing with, the other spouse does not say, “Sorry about your problem. Have fun solving it.”


In marriage, there is not my money and his money. If the mother stayed home to take care of the children, and the husband was the breadwinner, would the mother not be allowed to spend money because, technically, the husband earned it, thus making it his money? As a couple, we contribute to the greater good of the marriage and family through shared contribution. This might include salary, house chores, yard maintenance, cooking, cleaning the dishes, on and on. Both husband and wife bring their contributions to the marriage in different ways.


If you take a “my money/his money” approach, how would this next scenario work? The wife agrees, with her salary, to save for their child’s college tuition, while the husband, with his salary, agrees to save for the house mortgage. Mom receives a pay cut due to hard times and cannot save as much. Would dad say, “Sorry, daughter, you cannot attend college because, mom wasn’t able to save enough.” In marriage, we do life together. We are partners. One of the top struggles in marriage is finances. Some maintain a hers vs his mentality. When we do this, we have not merged every aspect of our lives. We are still living as two separate people. This is what roommates do, not spouses. Why would we combine every other part of our lives, but when it comes to money we say, “Oh, no, you don’t! I made this money. It is mine and stays in my corner.” If one spouse brings debt into a marriage, the other spouse does not say, “Have fun paying that debt off.” Instead, they tackle the debt together. My burdens become my spouse’s burdens.


Couples need to look at their combined income, create a budget (we call it a spending plan in our family), and agree, together, what the goals of the family will be. Does this mean you have no freedom to splurge on your own? Of course not. We all need that freedom, and we do not need a spouse staring over our shoulder. But that decision should be made as a couple. If you have $1,000 of discretionary money remaining each month (after savings and giving), then you might agree that each of you take $500 for yourself. You do not need to then ask each other if it is alright if you buy something with your $500. You have agreed, together, that it is yours to spend as you wish, and the other spouse should not question this.


If you find the next month you only have $600 of extra money, then you both need to tighten in your belts, regardless of who’s income went down. Money problems is one of the top reasons for divorce. It is something that needs to be worked out. If you and your husband struggle in this area, you may need to address the need with a counselor or respected third party so the problem can be defined, and a reasonable solution found. Dave Ramsey is a leading expert in the field of finances and marriage. Here are 2 articles that talk about marriage and money. I highly recommend diving into his resources for healthy examples of marriage and money: www.daveramsey.com


Article 1:

https://ktar.com/story/2587495/dave-ramsey-says-married-couples-should-combine-finances/#:~:text=Jesus%20said%20it%20this%20way,re%20reaching%20for%20those%20together.

Article 2:

https://www.daveramsey.com/askdave/relationships-and-money/daves-take-on-separate-checking-accounts#:~:text=Dave's%20Take%20On%20Separate%20Checking%20Accounts&text=If%20you%20want%20to%20be,to%20avoid%20bouncing%20checks%20otherwise.

Knowing how to handle finances is important for the relationship. When you use the correct tools to set up a healthy system, you will be amazed how this helps your overall marriage.

Patti Hatton and Lisa Lou

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