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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

Why We Love Hallmark Movies


My Prince Charming


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.


Why do we love these movies? Why do we keep watching the same ones over and over, each with its already known predictable outcome? I believe there are two reasons we are drawn to this timeless message. My first theory revolves around relationships. Here is the typical formula in almost every show:


  • A busy executive is forced to return home.

  • Once she arrives there is a chance encounter with an old love.

  • Due to unforeseen circumstances, the two set out to save a local business from the destruction which causes the couple to now have a shared mission.

  • The work is hard, but they take a spontaneous break to play together, usually prompted by unexpected snow that magically appears.

  • Now exhausted, the moment calls for rest by a warm fire, where the power suddenly goes out.

  • This forces quality time between the two and evidence of tangible love begins to surface.

  • Just before a pivotal kiss, the phone rings. They choose to ignore it because they will no longer allow the world to come between them.

  • In another scene we see her fix his tie (they are always crooked). She has now become his helpmate.

  • They are successful in saving the local business and work well together as partners.

  • Towards the end of the show a villain appears on the scene, often in the form of a current boyfriend from the evil big city.

  • Prince charming must fight for his sweetheart. At the same time, she is faced with a choice. “Do I follow my heart and give up my old life, or do I make the safe choice of perceived security?”

  • In the end, her restless soul chooses true love which ultimately leads her home.


In healthy relationships there are certain traits most couples have in common. A husband and wife share more than love. They are partners. They have common goals. They share a mission. They serve as helpmates. They play together. And when one person is willing to sacrifice for the love of another, it gives us a sense of worthiness. When home is an emotionally healthy place, there is a feeling of protection and security.


Hallmark movies have all the ingredients real couples seek. A partner, a shared mission, a playmate, a protector, and a love that will sacrifice everything. It is no secret why we yearn for these movies as we search for that authenticity to fill the void in our heart.


My second theory runs parallel to the first. Marriage was created by God to give us a taste of what is to come. But our soul is never quite satisfied because the union between man and woman is just a small sampling of the authentic relationship we seek with God. This is why it pains my heart when I hear young brides say of their new groom, “He completes me.” It may feel that way initially, but soon the restless heart stirs, still searching. Why? Because she has put her hope in man instead of looking to God for true completeness.



Compare the formula found in all romances to God’s continued calling:


In Hallmark, the character returns home. I am reminded Christ is our true Home, and we are on a continual search until He returns. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 ESV). “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3:20 ESV).


The return of the character in the story often represents a family member that has gone astray. I am reminded God always welcomes the prodigal home. “‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said… ’For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:19-23 ESV).

In the movie the character often has no place to stay. They feel lost and alone. I am reminded God says we are never alone. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV). “…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV).


In our show, the character is often a loner with no family. I am reminded God says we are a part of His family. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV). “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12 ESV).


In Hallmark there is always a lost love. I am reminded, “…God is love.” (1 John 4:8 ESV).


In the movie the girl is searching for her prince. I am reminded God says He is our Bridegroom. “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb (Christ) has come… ” (Revelation 19:7-9 ESV-parenthesis mine).


In the story the couple become partners. I am reminded God allows us to partner with Him to accomplish big things according to His will. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).


In a Hallmark movie the business is saved. I am reminded God allows us to experience victory, according to His will. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV). “For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4 ESV).


In the film when the villain appears, the woman’s true love must fight for her. I am reminded God is my hero and sacrificed all for me. “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14 ESV). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV).


In our fairytale the beautiful girl is all dressed up and waiting for her love to arrive. I am reminded God tells us we are His bride, and He will come for us one day. “‘…and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure…’ And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” (Revelation 19:7-9 ESV).


In the movie narrative the young woman must make a choice by following a new way of life or returning to her past. I am reminded God tells us to follow Him. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12 ESV).


Caz and Cecelia at their covenant ceremony


When you look at the romantic formula for every fairy tale, it becomes clear it is the same pattern God uses to call us to Him. God designed earthly marriage to represent the coming marriage of the Lamb when the bridegroom (Christ) will come for His bride (the church). Our yearning for love is real because God is love. Our desire for a prince is real because the bride of Christ eagerly awaits her groom. Do not brush these feelings away as foolish school-girl dreams. These are real desires because they have been placed in our hearts by a real God. When you read the Bible in its entirety, you realize the pages are a love story about God calling us Home.


The next time we watch a Hallmark movie, and the title says something like Family for Christmas or Romance in Spring, maybe we will understand why we feel that internal tug. St. Augustine said it so poignantly when speaking to God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Our soul searches for our one true love, but once we find Him, our spirit rests, finally confident we will one day reach Home.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou