New On The Blog

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

Traveling with Friends



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.


2. Destination: Determine your destination. This may sound unnecessary, but it is important. I cannot travel to high altitudes, and the friends we travel with know this. They are always kind and accommodating when I am around. People have preferences in their choice of destinations so get everyone’s input before proceeding.


3. Transportation: How will you get to your location? Are you flying, driving? Is everyone taking their own car, or are you renting a van? If you rent, remember to let the company know who will be driving, as this matters for insurance.


4. Finances: Be honest about what you can and cannot do. There is no shame in this. It is honorable to be a good steward of your money. Ways to cut back: stay in a B&B and cook your own food; instead of a 5-star hotel stay in a 3-star; go camping; stay fewer nights. It is better to stay 2 nights and enjoy all the activities (which cost money) than 5 nights and have no money to participate in the events with your friends.

5. Who Pays: Decide who pays for what activities and meals before leaving town. Is everyone on their own? Will you split things down the middle? If participating in shared activities, maybe one person fronts the cost and everyone else Venmo’s the money to that person before the activity begins. Have a plan and pay promptly.


6. Itinerary: Plan what you will do on your trip before leaving town and get input from the group. Once the itinerary is in place, have one person take the lead in preparing a written agenda. This avoids confusion. No one can say they did not know, because it is written for all to see. An itinerary also helps people plan accordingly when packing.


7. Contacts: If you are traveling with people you do not know, make a few friends, and put their contact information into your phone. This allows you to stay connected to the group and can be extremely helpful if you are running late or have an emergency.


8. Be on Time: When working within a group, be on time. You do not want to be “that” person who is always running late. If you tend to get behind allow yourself an extra 15 minutes before you need to meet up with your friends. Being prompt is one way of showing respect to those around you.


9. Good Companion: Have a good attitude. If your group agrees to an activity, participate unless there is a reason why you cannot. If you do not wish to join in, tell everyone up front you will sit this one out. If you do not feel well or need rest, let them know. You do not need to be beholden to everyone else, but honesty is key. Be a good communicator about what you will and will not do.


10. Luggage: Do not overpack. Rule of thumb is one suitcase and one carryon per person. Remember you have other people to think about. Fitting four adults into a sedan with four suitcases and four carry-ons will be quite tight. Be mindful when packing.


11. Roommates: If you are in a situation where you will be sharing a room, ask the organizer of the trip to do their best to match people with similar habits. A night owl and an early riser? Probably not the best combination.


12. Social Media: Be careful what you post. Other people may feel left out if they were not included in your friend group. Also, showing pictures while you are out of town is an open invitation for criminal activity in your home. Police departments strongly advise against posting when you are traveling. Most importantly, you are with friends presumably to be together. Minimize your phone time and learn to be physically and mentally present with the people you are with.


Vacationing with friends can be great fun. The key is to communicate up front, be intentional, set boundaries, and have a plan. Not all people have a personality that travels well with others. If you are the type of person that needs a certain structure, is not flexible, and becomes irritated if you must change plans midstream, then group travel is probably not for you. When others are involved, flexibility, a good attitude, and a little grace are necessities. Friends that frequently go places together know their ultimate outcome is not exclusively about the destination or excursions. Their goal is creating deeper connection, love of each other, and memories to carry them through life.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou