Me First, Please

Maebyn's been working on her selfishness this week too. Starting with her obsessive headband collection.

Maebyn’s been working on her selfishness this week too. Starting with her obsessive headband collection.

Staying at home with my daughter and just being a parent in general has brought a lot of things to light in my life. I think I’ve mentioned it before but I’m still coming to terms with how selfish I can be. I can blame some of my selfishness on our culture, some to human nature, but most just falls on the fact that most of us at the core of who we are believe we are the most important. We believe a story that focuses around us and our needs. My dad use to remind me of the profound idea that “the universe doesn’t center around me” or, my personal favorite, “it must be a burden knowing everything.” Although I didn’t appreciate it then, I actually see that on some level during some circumstances, I actually believed these ideas and I still do even today. Hey, I’m working on it.

I’ve seen these things play out in my marriage with uncomfortable regularity. My wife is very a very diligent hard worker. She’s worked for everything and is careful with our money. I have repeatedly given her a hard time when she wants to buy things and have heaped burdens onto her for wanting certain things that I may not deem necessary. I, on the other hand, have no trouble spending money on myself, it’s actually quite easy. And I’m fairly good at it. I’ve found it’s so much easier to worry about my needs rather than elevating someone else’s above my own. I see this tendency revealed even in doing simple chores. Most of the things I do, I expect something in return. Even if its a simple thank you (or a national parade, letter from the President – I’m not picky), I’m still looking for my own self to be recognized for the things I do for others and when that’s not the outcome, I feel wronged.

What I want to strive for is doing for others just because that is what I feel the Lord leading me to do. No expectations, no need for repayment, and definitely no national parade in celebration of my feats. I’ve bought into the lie that relationships are entered into when there is something that can benefit me. I want to be someone that freely enters into relationships with people where I may not gain or receive anything and be OK with it. We all need each other and if we are only interested in our own personal gains than how can we can truly be a blessing to anyone?

The reason for this post is that ever since I started this blog random people have been asking me to mention, promote, or partner with their businesses. Obviously, my audience is pretty limited and not really that focused so I haven’t known how to respond to them. I haven’t even concocted a plan on how I could benefit from doing it, so I’m not sure how they will either. Regardless of all that, I’ve felt compelled to at least try and help those who ask for my little assistance. Paul Serra, the owner of the domain CustomOnIt.com, asked if I would mention his new website in the hopes of driving more traffic. They’re a young company, trying to gain some interest, with some pretty cool products (personalized sweatbands, anyone?). My first thought was, embarrassingly enough, what can I get out of this? I desperately don’t want this to be my mindset when someone asks for my help and that is why I’m asking you guys to check out his website. Paul is not giving me anything to write this post and I do not want anything in return. My hope is that some of you check out his site and maybe even use his services.

My wife and I had a long talk last night about what it really means to change the course of your life/lifestyle/family and how (pretty much always) these tasks seem way too big to undertake. We overwhelm ourselves with the “how”, “when” and “what” questions – thinking that we need to come to some epiphany that will propel us into endless action of “right doings”. False. At least that’s how we feel. More often then not, it’s making one right decision in hopes that it propels a bigger goal or purpose. My father-in-law always says “Just do the next right thing”.

Conquering selfishness isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but today a new friend gets a free plug. Best of luck, Paul. I wish I would have found CustomOnIt.com back in my competitive intramural dodgeball days. We totally would have had custom “Man Candy” sweat headbands.

Till next time,

Ross

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Long week…

It was a long week for the family last week. This stay at home dad is feeling the effects of it today. I’m tired, my body is sore, and I stink. Makenzie was sick with the flu and I had the pleasure of taking care of her and Maebyn all week. I have a tough enough time taking care of myself much less 2 other people. Let me run you through what last week was like.

Monday MaK started feeling sick. It wasn’t too bad yet but the storm was coming. It was a nice day though so I decided to take Beazy for a run. I put on my tight spandex running pants and we did a brisk 2 miles. It was nice to be outside and Beazy desperately needed to expel some energy. I didn’t bother to shower or change my clothes for that fact. By the time I got home MaK was feeling worse and Maebyn needed my full attention.

I woke up the next morning wearing the same thing I went to bed in and thought, hey, I may as well go to the gym. After the gym, Maebyn and I came home and she didn’t want to be put down all day. When MaK got home from work she went right to bed. She was feeling awful at this point and all I was trying to do was get Maebyn to bed so I could rest as well. Needless to say I went to bed again wearing the same clothes.

I woke up Wednesday and realized I was still wearing my work out clothes. Again, I headed to the gym and got a nice little work out in. I then spent the rest of the day taking care of MaK and the baby. Later that night I went and played a basketball game and luckily for me I didn’t have to change because I was still in the same thing. So I went and played a terrible excuse for a basketball game. When I got home, I was tired and MaK was about to go to bed, so I got in bed with her, still wearing the same clothes I went for a run in on Monday.

I woke up Thursday morning feeling like a sweaty stinky mess. I hadn’t showered or changed my clothes in three straight days. I finally mustered up the gumption that morning to shower, shave, and put on big boy clothes. What a relief. I was finally clean and somewhat put back together.

Being a full time care taker is hard. Thank goodness MaK is feeling better this week. I’ve already showered & its only Monday so I feel like I’m already ahead of the game.

Clean and accomplished

Ross

Oh Sparty…

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Today was a day all geared around getting Maebyn tired so this “stay at home dad” could peacefully enjoy the Michigan State vs. Indiana game. I planned out the whole day so she would be well rested , fed and ready for bed by around tip off. I had planned to let her watch the first ten minuets with me just so I could start prepping her for where her allegiances will fall. She only made it about five minuets in though.I thought, no biggie, cause she went down wearing Spartan green.

Needless to say, the game didn’t end up the way I wanted it to(make your free throws MSU and we win the gam).Maebyn woke up with about 3 minuets left in the game so I spent the better half of the last two minuets trying to calm a crying baby and control my ever increasing emotions all at the same time. Thank goodness she can’t understand what I say yet because controlling my emotions when MSU should have won by 5 but ended up losing by 4 didn’t come easy, actually at all. I didn’t see the entire debacle though because I was making a bottle, changing a diaper, and looking for a passi. Oh, the joys of parenting… And being an MSU fan.

Although we didn’t win it was fun watching the game with her. It will be fun passing down my love of MSU, The Tigers, and the ever embarrassing Lions to her. We may live in Ohio but one thing is for sure, she will be a MSU, Tigers, and Lions fan. She has no choice in the matter. I love the fact that as a parent you get to pass things on to your kids. I love sports and I can’t wait to share them with my kids. Whether they love sports or not we will be making memories for years to come in cheering on these teams, just because they are dads teams.

Thank goodness Maebyn is to young to remember this game. I take solace in the fact that neither will MSU fans come March. So here’s to a deep tournament run in March and to passing on my love of Sparty to my kids. Maebyn’s fast asleep now, proudly clad in the Green and White, after watching the game with dad and that’s more important to me than a win.

To Sparty,

Ross

It’s gotta be compelling

20130218-202043.jpgMy mind is constantly turning, thinking, analyzing, and dreaming. Sometimes when I’m watching Maebyn I find myself off in la-la land while she rolls circles around the floor, just thinking about life and its many mysteries (yikes, I need to be more careful sometimes, she is getting mobile). Today is no different and I feel like I’ve been kind of off the grid, not in reality but lost in thought. I don’t know if this post will make sense or if anyone will relate but this is what has been looming on my mind today.

Just last week we started another session of Story Formed Life. I’m not going to get into what SFL is but essentially it tells the “story” of the gospel in a way that has transformed my way of thinking. Has it been a lot of new information? Not really, but it has allowed me to view life from a whole different perspective. It has highlighted the power of stories and the profound effect that they have on our lives/beliefs. So what’s been on my mind all day? Well, I’ve been wondering what the story of my life is telling people and more importantly, how is it shaping my family.

You can tell a lot about priorities, values, beliefs, and what we hold to be important by the way we live our lives. Our decisions and actions don’t define who we are but they give a pretty accurate picture of where our hearts are. Everyday our lives are telling a story. So I ask myself, what story is my life telling, is my story compelling, and is it one that when I’m gone, my kids want to tell because it’s strengthened and encouraged them? These are the things I want to strive for. A faith and reliance on God that is compelling and life changing.

One of my good friends, Jordan Stone, is leading his family through something that comprises just what I explained above. Click Here to read his families blog. They are currently in the middle of a “sabbath year”. What’s a sabbath year? Well, read the blog and you’ll better understand but essentially what they are doing is taking a year off from work every six years and allowing the Lord to provide in that 7th year. Crazy, I know, but God is working in their lives and there is something so compelling about their “story”. Think of their kids and the excitement and faith that 7th year will bring to them, his wife and the joy she is experiencing having a full-time helpmate, and friends and family with more quality time being able to be spent. They will be the first to tell you that a “sabbath year” isn’t for everyone. It’s something The Lord put on their hearts and in faith they stepped into. To me, living by this kind of faith is compelling, it’s challenging, and it points straight to God. It looks different for each of us and that’s the exciting part. Where will God lead you? Me?

One of the hardest things I’m realizing as a parent is you cannot pass down your faith to your kids. You really have no control over what they chose in life. You can diligently teach, instruct, and discipline, but the only real thing you can do is allow the Lord to tell His story through you, by living a live submitted by faith and trust in Jesus. What’s more compelling than that?

An ever pondering mind…

Ross

No thanks, hot yoga

Downward-Facing Dog

Couch- Friendly Downward-Facing Dog

So yesterday one of my friends asked me if I wanted to accompany him to his hot yoga class. I thought sure, why not, I’ve never done yoga before and it seemed like a welcomed break to my routine. MaKenzie had done hot yoga once before and had gotten a great work out, so I was excited to try it out. Needless to say, it was an interesting experience to say the least.

The first site to greet us when we walked in the doors for the class was a middle-aged man doing bridges (think: ultimate hip thrust) in a much-too-tight speedo. If you don’t know what a bridge is click here. I can’t think of a way to explain it and I think the picture is worth a thousand words (especially when you picture some guy doing this pose in a speedo). The awkwardness was like a Thigh Master commercial times one hundred. I tried hard not to judge him, but I couldn’t help but wonder why he was completely OK with elevating his penis so that it was the center of focus for the entire room.

After I settled down and got my head centered around something besides the speedo, the class began. I enjoyed the first 20 minutes as I could do most of the poses and although it was hard I seemed to be doing alright. Then it seemed like the instructor really amped up the heat and the difficulty of the session. I started finding myself not being able to do most of the poses, which I was fine with, until I looked directly in front of me and saw a 50 year old woman doing every single pose to perfection. Sweet. Ironically enough, this got me feeling a little competitive… I thought I may not be as flexible but, hey, I can at least try and complete each exercise. Well, the joke was on me. With over 30 minutes left I found myself laying on my back. Giving up is an understatement. My muscles were tired and I felt like at any moment I was going to freak out because of how hot I was. At the end of the session, I basically sprinted out and drank as much water as I could with out throwing up. Before hot yoga I thought I was in pretty good shape but it turns out flexibility isn’t a strong point of mine.

Later that night I had to go play in my rec league basketball game. I won’t go into details about the game but al-in-all I sucked… bad. I was basically just trying to make it through the game. My whole body felt like a limp noodle. Top five things I learned from yesterday’s experiences:

  1. I will never do hot yoga again if I have to do ANYTHING else that day. (This includes anything that doesn’t involve sitting on the couch)
  2. I’m getting older and my body doesn’t like to be abused in a flexible fashion.
  3. If I ever do hot yoga again, I will bring 7 jugs of water.
  4. I use to be OK at basketball but now I just get by on the fact that I’m 6’5″. Where did all my skills go? Seriously. I’m old.
  5. I’m not flexible at all. I don’t want to be flexible. I don’t want to put in any work to become more flexible. I hate flexible-ness.

Small plus side, I burned enough calories yesterday to last me a few months. I think I’m done working out for the week.

Spent,
Ross

To my baby momma

galsBeing a stay at home dad or parent has its perks. My days are wide open and there is not much you can’t do with just one kid. Maebyn and I go to Lowes, the gym, the grocery store, and install closet doors together. She’s my little helpmate and wherever I go there she is also. I’m never alone anymore if MaKenzie is gone, and although it has its challenges, I’ve really enjoyed spending the days with her. She’s enthralled with me and everything I do now, I can tell she’s watching. Plus, who doesn’t love having their personal little smile-machine along for the ride everyday?

In the past few weeks something has been weighing on my mind. Is Maebyn getting the best of me? I’d say for the most part, she is. I’m not perfect but the majority of my day is spent serving her needs… but is that really the best of me? I first realized how selfish I inherently was when I got married. Putting someone else’s needs before mine… now that’s a struggle. I’m sorry MaK, you know as well as I do, this isn’t something that came naturally to me. My wife MaKenzie is my best friend but I can still so easily chose myself before her. Then I became a parent and I really realized that deep down inside I am very selfish. My desires, my wantings, and some of my needs have been forced to come second to the little one’s. As any parent knows, this is not always easy. You want to sleep more, have a quiet meal, and go on dates at the drop of a hat. However, my days are spent trying to give Maebyn the best that I have. It’s my responsibility not only as her father but as her primary caretaker everyday.

My wife however, is forced to expel most of her energy at work. She is a hard worker and has a great job but as any parent that works 40+ hours a week knows.. it’s exhausting. It’s especially hard to come home and have to parent, be a friend, daughter, entrepreneur, sister and wife on top of it all. She is an amazing selfless wife and without her our family would be lost. She is a rock solid woman and I am so lucky to be her husband. Not a day goes by that I am not so thankful for her. I may not always show it but I feel blessed to be married to her. I am proud of her and the mother that she is. Although many may not realize the sacrifices that she makes for our family, I do. So I say thank you, MaKenzie. You are an amazing wife, mother, daughter and friend. Anyone who knows you is blessed.

Your husband and best pal,

Ross

My side job

Last summer MaKenzie and I flipped a house. Ok, more me than her but She does deserve some credit(she did the backsplash in the kitchen after all). The experience was fun and educational. We didn’t make a ton of mony but it was a blessing and allowed us to finally retire the remaining balance on our college debt WOO HOO!! Here are some before and after pictures of the project….

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We put a lot of work into the house. We re-did the bathroom, kitchen, new roof, heat and ac, finished the basement, and put down new carpet and painted the entire house. The whole process took about 6 months. Hopefully we can do another one in the next couple months but its been tough to find a good buy these days. We’ve also been slowly rehabbing our own house over the past couple of years. It’s been a long process though and I’m not ready to post any of those pictures yet.

Ross

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