A snippet from After I Do: With kindness and humour

It’s been almost a year since I self-published After I Do – a look into our first year of marriage, all the change, what I learned, and the faithfulness of God through it all. I’ve shared a couple portions before, and wanted to share one very personal one, from the chapter on faith, and the importance of vulnerability and gospel change in a marriage. If you would like to get a copy of the book, you can order it in either print or eBook format here:

Blurb eBook or Print

Amazon Kindle

It can also be found on Apple eBooks by typing in After I Do, Lani Lupul.

Here is a short snippet on two things I learned in our first year of marriage that are key in communication… 

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With kindness and humour

In my alone moments around the house – be it folding laundry or curling my hair – I can catch myself overthinking something. Sometimes I worry without realizing it, and other times I pray whether it’s worth bringing up, or when is the right time to do so.

Two things I’ve picked up on in our first year that would help all of us:

     1) Practice kindness when you express and communicate

Men respond to kindness, not accusation or curtness. Because I tend to stew (I’m working on that with God’s grace!) about something, it works up my emotions, which Troy can read like an open book.

There’ve been numerous occasions where we’re driving somewhere and he’d put his strong hand on mine and ask, “Are you okay?” I can’t lie. Fine is never an optional response. Usually, my intent was to bring up whatever was on my mind later on, when we both had time to focus on the conversation and I had time to figure out how to say what I wanted to say. Well, it doesn’t always happen like that. Once Troy knows there is something on my mind, he will think on it all day, drawing conclusions of his own.

My job in this situation is to learn to pray more, and control my mind and emotions until the point when I am ready to talk about it, and I know Troy is in a headspace to listen.

It’s a learning curve, but I feel like we are further ahead in our communication than we were the day we got married, and that’s what counts – progress, not perfection.

     2) Find a sense of humour in expression

For some reason, this one was really hard for me. Fortunately, there are a few ladies in my life who have 10-40 years of marriage and life experience on me that I can learn from. One thing I picked up on this past year is that I need to learn to lighten up – not make mountains out of molehills.

One new friend of mine is a beautiful interior designer in her fifties who’s been married for about 13 years. When we read through The Power of a Praying Wife together, we’d meet every couple of weeks to discuss. On one of the days, while sipping tea together in her lovely home, I shared how I wasn’t sure how to get Troy to hang up his clothes at the end of the workday.

Again, let’s lay this out. I’d been working from home, thus had a lot more time at home to clean, nest and become a homemaker. Troy on the other hand, would work his butt off all day, come home quite exhausted, and often plan to ‘re-use’ his work clothes.

I clean while I cook. He leaves a storm of butter, spices, and unplugged appliances in his wake.

I cook with a recipe. He cooks by taste.

He wakes up making funny noises and accents. I wake up, well, I wake up.

You get my drift. We’re different. Thus the reason we actually work so well together as a team, but have also had to adjust to each other!

I know this isn’t uncommon for wives and husbands to have the debate over home and tidiness. I just wasn’t sure how to approach it without being accusing or sounding like a Mom – the last thing I wanted.

She joked that she had used the comment, “Is this your new floordrobe?” to her husband and something clicked for me; the sense of humour this New Zealand friend had was something I needed to practice more.

And since that time, I have found it easier and easier to be sarcastic or humorous with things around the house, or with our differences. Troy and I love laughing together, and laughing at ourselves. One breakfast recently we found ourselves laughing over pancakes as we started our day together. It was special, even if we were laughing at ourselves!

Communication with kindness and a sense of humour goes further to diffuse the possibility of hurt feelings when we intentionally approach it with a lighter heart. Try it out, I bet it will work some wonders for you like it did for me!

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Little things are big things: what helped me in my first year as a mamma

 

I doubt any new mom would say their first year was a breeze. Would they? If they did, they’re probably lying or in denial in some way. It’s been a greater change to adapt to than getting married, FOR SURE. Between the hormones, time not being your own anymore, trying to understand your baby’s needs when they can’t communicate, and the opinions of everyone … including random coughing Walmart shoppers who decide they can touch your baby – it’s a complete life change. One that I wouldn’t change for anything, Elizabeth is such a gift! But it’s tough work and super rewarding all at the same time. Elizabeth is almost 10 months, and as I reflect on her ‘almost one year’ of life, there have been some definite things that have helped me navigate new waters.

1) Find a tribe – When I was single, I felt like the “mom group” was one I so wanted to be a part of, but had nothing in common with. I wanted to get to know those women better, but what does one talk about? Once I got pregnant, I suddenly understood why.

When mammas get together, all they talk about is their family. What stage your kids are at. What they won’t eat, will eat, how they sleep, won’t sleep. What school to choose. How you and your husband are doing, or not. It literally is what you connect on, and I finally feel like I can relate.

People talk about what matters to them, and for mammas, family matters to us the most. Home matters.

Since we moved shortly before we got pregnant, I’ve been adopted into ‘already set-up’ tribes of mammas, and because of a mom’s group at my church, I am learning to make friends with other moms. Not to say if someone is single or not married I won’t be friends with them, but there is something necessary in being a mother, that you need to have other mom friends. You just do. I don’t know how many times I’ve texted a friend asking for advice, or felt hormones off (especially in the beginning!), wondering if it was normal. You can’t mother alone, you just can’t. It’s something I crave and am having to learn to be vulnerable with, and let the Lord guide our relationships – both for Troy and I as a couple, and for me as a new mom.

2) Healthy lifestyle – I love good food. When I got pregnant, eating healthy took on a whole new meaning! That value has continued and has actually changed my taste buds. For real. I don’t eat half a bag of chips every night (not even kidding, I could before!). I prefer a bowl of yogurt with berries over a bowl of ice cream for dessert. When I grocery shop, I try as best I can to have lots of healthy options on hand. I now prefer making soup over the canned stuff. But I do believe that has served me well as a new mom, as I needed the fuel and the habit was there to help. Don’t get me wrong – I still love my black licorice and cookies. It’s about balance 😉

I TRY to exercise about 3x a week. Now that the weather is cold, that looks like a pilates or yoga video, or jumping on the elliptical while Elizabeth bounces in her jolly jumper. Sometimes it’s simple stretches, and other days it’s a bit longer. Once the weather warms up, we will get out for walks, but for now, this works!

3) Getting out to see people – For me, I like to get out for a coffee/play date once a week, and out of the house daily, if weather will allow. In our recent -25 weather, many days have become PJ days, so I really feel the cabin fever! I count down the minutes to when Troy comes home! On the days when we can’t get out, I try to Skype my parents or talk to someone, as mothering can get very lonely. Every week I try to connect with a friend or have some ‘social outing’ for Elizabeth and I. This kind of goes with #1. Some people may need to see and socialize daily, but for me, as long as I get some friendship/connection time in weekly, I am good. Getting out in general is good for me, but I’m not one that needs fun connection time every single day. I am looking forward to spring, when E and I can take the dog out for walks/runs, have picnics with friends, and explore our community (as she’ll be walking sometime this year, yay!).

4) Quiet time/connecting with Jesus – This really should be #1. It’s staggering to me how we as Christians can think that we can live victoriously, joyfully, peacefully – whatever – without pursuing to know the One who made us and saved us.

Becoming a wife was refining, and so has becoming a mother. You realize the sin in your heart more, and your desperate need for a Savior. I’ve always valued my time with the Word and just soaking up my Father, and now it’s even more precious. Once Elizabeth was on a bit more of a routine, and I could somewhat predict her wake-up time, I started to set my alarm about an hour earlier. I know, WHAT?! Wake up BEFORE the baby even wakes up? Yep. I get my coffee and do my devo or reading, meditate on God’s goodness – whatever I am soaking up at that time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend an hour, but sometimes it’s 20 minutes or 45 of resting my heart in God’s hands before the day begins.

I think you can have your devo’s any time of day that works for you, but there is something about the mornings. Proverbs 8:17 says “…those who seek me diligently find me…” (ESV) Some versions use the word “early” (NKJV) instead of diligently. You can also find this in Psalm 63:1 – early/earnestly David seeks the Lord. Sometimes this time doesn’t happen until nap time, and weekends I find harder, but God shows up for us mothers in a sweet way. In our long hours at home, I believe that we can set the tone and welcome His presence in our seemingly menial and routine tasks. Sometimes I’ll start worshiping and Elizabeth will belt out “ahhahahahaha”, and my heart melts. I want to teach her to love God’s Word and worship Him in every season, so my heart is surrendering to God daily for help with that as the Holy Spirit shows me how.

Currently, I am using Timothy Keller’s study of the book of Galatians as a guide for my devo time. I find I need some sort of anchor to steer me in this season when time is unpredictable.

5) Time with hubby – I am ever grateful that my mother-in-law lives close, as she has enabled us go get out on date nights almost every month. Funny thing, when you do finally get away from baby, all you want to talk about is her 😉 Sometimes time with hubby is us playing a game (we recently bought Trivial Pursuit 2000’s!), snuggling up with a movie and snacks, or going to bed early because that’s what we need. Our favourite is getting out on the weekend, us three, and grabbing a Starbucks for our outing. We have the best conversations when driving, so it feels like quality time for me! Troy and I joke that my love language is all five – quality time, words, touch, service, AND gifts. Seriously, love me in any way and I will soak it up!!

6) Soak it up – People tell you it goes by quickly, and it does. So I’ve been capturing pictures, video, sitting on the floor lots with my girl, and writing down memories and cute things she does. I know that being home with my girl is a gift, heck being a mom is a gift in itself, so I don’t take it for granted. Quieting the world of to-do’s definitely helps me still my heart to what matters – loving my family well in this season with the grace God gives me.

7) Grace, lots of grace – As previously mentioned, I think one of the biggest things I’ve needed to receive and learn this year is how to receive grace from God, when I don’t know what I’m doing. Give myself grace, when I feel guilty about something or think I could or should be doing something better. And give grace to Elizabeth, when she naps 25 minutes instead of the coveted 1.5 hours. You just can’t predict every moment, and for someone who is a planner, I’ve had to learn to “let go and let God” so to speak. Well, still learning that one. 😉 Remembering that becoming a mom is likely one of the biggest life changes you’ll ever experience, will hopefully enable you to cut yourself some slack and give grace on the days you need it!

So there’s my top 7 things that have helped me as a new mamma. Hopefully some of that will ring true for you too!

The spiritual side of finances (From the book, After I Do)

After I Do Book CoverFrom Chapter Five: Money money money

After I Do, Copyright 2016

Available here (print and eBook) and here (Kindle)

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The spiritual side of finances

Have you ever walked around your house, looked in your closet, or sat online and actually listened to your heart play a song of “I wish I had this…”, “Why doesn’t mine look like that?” Or my personal favourite, “Now that we have this, I also want…” If I stop and listen, my heart plays that frequent off-key tune.

My desire for instant gratification actually steals my peace in the moment and the joy of what good gifts God has already given me. In my striving for more, be it a $30 item for home or something I think we need, as soon as I know what I want, I think about it. A lot. And it steals my present peace.

In fact just this morning, I sat down and opened my Bible to Psalms 105. This revelation had nothing to do with what I was reading, but I felt the Holy Spirit shine light on the anxiousness in my heart that I often feel about having all the answers now, in any area of life. It actually creates short-term vision and steals my present joy.

We are transitioning yet again in Troy’s work, and with a baby on the way, I have battled fear and worry.

But God, so graciously, pointed out this morning that there is something deeper in my heart that wants everything just right, just so, now. Like the Israelites, I am trying to get my manna for tomorrow, today. But faith doesn’t work that way; it requires trust.

I shared this with Troy as we had our morning coffee and it came as no surprise to him. Ah the openness we share! I realized there’s tangible evidence in how I operate around the home or in our finances of deeper issues in my heart. Oh instant gratification, you have met your match and seen the light.

A friend recently prayed for me in this transition and said that God is often working on the small things in our heart, in the seemingly big things of life. Because of the deeper understanding God has been doing in my heart regarding sanctification and the complete work of the gospel, I know that only God can change my heart; that His grace is sufficient for me in this weakness. Wholeness in that area of my life can only come by Him showing me His Father love and healing whatever it is in me that makes me want to know and have everything in order, today.

You see, finances can be very spiritual, and even show us deeper things going on in our hearts. Step-by-step on the journey, if we let the Lord in, I so believe He will graciously show us the sin in our hearts, heal us when we repent, and bring wholeness.

And in the meantime, I have a husband to partner with.

I don’t know about you, but Troy works far too hard for me to bring home whatever I want, whenever I want, or to make financial decisions without him. We both have an interest in what goes in our home and have creatively navigated much of that through DIY and restoring, like I said before. I know not every couple has the ability to work tools or loves to DIY, but any couple can be resourceful with what they have, while they save or plan for what they love.

We’ve both lived with an instant gratification mindset before, and then had to pay for it later. And now that we’re a team in this, what one decides will instantly affect the other. We need God’s continual help to make us good stewards of what He’s given us; all of His good gifts.

 

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Lani Lupul, Copyright 2016

Available here (print and eBook) and here (Kindle)

Honey Do vs. Haven (an excerpt from the book, After I Do)

For someone who has worked in marketing and communications pretty much her whole adult career, it doesn’t come natural to promote my own work! Buuuuut….In case you haven’t yet ordered a copy of my book, After I Do, that was published this spring (sheepish tooting of my own horn), I would love to share an excerpt from the chapter, Creating Home. In this chapter I talk about how Troy and I navigated setting up a home together in our first year of marriage. If you or someone you know is about to, or wants to, get married, it may be a book that would inspire you to pursue a God-given marriage, and that when conflict arises, it’s normal and able to be navigated!

You can order a print or eBook version here, or order it for Kindle here on Amazon.

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I clean while I cook. He leaves a storm of butter, spices, and unplugged appliances in his wake.

I cook with a recipe. He cooks by taste.

He wakes up making funny noises and accents. I wake up, well, I wake up.

You get my drift. We’re different. Thus the reason we actually work so well together as a team, but have also had to adjust to each other!

Honey-Do vs Haven

Since I am a more of an instant satisfaction person, my list of things I want Troy to build or complete around the house is ongoing. Especially with a baby on the way. He works so hard during the day, that I have had to learn (and let’s be honest, I am still working on this), that he needs home to be a haven, not a constant project. Our home needs to be a safe and cozy place that depicts us. I want it to be a place that Troy loves coming home to, not one where he is met with more demands or complaints.

How do I navigate this? Not so successfully many days. I tend to process and talk things out loud so that I’m not the only one thinking about something. Isn’t that kind? (note the sarcasm) On my more successful days, I try to gauge if Troy is out of work mode, or ask to set aside a time where we can talk budget or house projects. That way he knows it’s a ‘talk’ that’s coming and can give devoted time to it. I can then anticipate that the conversation will happen at some point, rather than in bits and pieces.

There was one night recently, where I was feeling hormonal and a bit bored of being at home, and Troy said, “Do you want to go room by room and talk about what we’d like to do before baby?”

Well, he spoke my love language! He knows having as much of home settled before our baby arrives is really important to me, and in a moment where I needed cheering up, he was intentional. Husband for the win! And as we speak, he is in the garage building laundry room shelving.

How has Troy navigated our home-life? Well, just like I said above, he’s had to learn to pick up on my cues as well. When I need his help or something is really a priority for me, he has learned to make it a priority as well. When he comes in and I’m still working on supper, he will ask if he can help with something. All things which we have learned to ask for and communicate.

Recently, he left me a little note in my journal that I found one morning. It said, “Good morning Beautiful! I love you so much! Thank you for all you do to make our home so beautiful and peaceful. Xoxo!” That note made my day, and was a reminder that my efforts in the home are for him as well as myself.

When we were both working full-time at the beginning of our marriage, we shared house cleaning duties and cooking. Rather sporadically, but we shared the duties. But now, since I am freelancing and have a lot more home time, I have carried the bulk of the cleaning and cooking. Troy is excellent at both and helps when I ask or need him to. I see that as a way I can serve him in this season, though I ask for his help with certain tasks (like cleaning our shower because the smell is too strong for this pregnant mamma!) With a baby on the way, we know that will change yet again, and we’ll navigate that together when the time comes.

As a woman who spent the first 33 years of her life on her own, I wondered how I’d navigate creating a home with and for someone else. I wondered if it’d be stressful, if I could handle it or would even enjoy it. In my mind, the expectations of my future husband were so lofty that I didn’t know if I could ever live up to them. But it has become one of my greatest pleasures in our marriage and a way I love serving Troy. Like I said before, I love hosting and having people in our home. I love creating a home together. And though there are things that ebb and flow and we can learn from or change, it is yet another reminder to me; that God often brings pleasure to those very things we were once hesitant about. Like a gentle reminder of the foolishness of fear, God gathers you up with a satisfying sweetness that is almost palpable.

I believe that you’ll learn to read your husband, as time goes by. You’ll learn to see when he needs downtime and appreciation, not another request. Likewise, as you express your desires, he can learn what is important to you. If you keep your communication open, you’ll learn how best to create the home that you and your husband love.

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After I Do Book Cover