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

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