The Kruithof’s and Naranjo’s

MaKenzie and I have a lot going on in our lives right now but so do a lot of our friends. It’s been nice to share in the chaos, stress, fear, and uncertainty of life together. At least its nice to feel like we are not alone. It seems like a lot of our friends are either pregnant and due around the same time as us, or just recently added to their families. What’s been awesome to see lately is that most of our friends have also taken huge leaps of faith in order to try and pursue what the Lord is doing in their lives… all in scary, challenging yet exciting new ways. I know I’ve talked before about what our friends The Stone’s are doing this year (Sabbath year) but we actually have a few others doing equally inspiring and challenging things. Their stories and journeys have really encouraged us and my hope is that they encourage you as well. It’s nice to be surrounded by families who are not content with what the American Dream has to offer.Brent and Katie

 

We met Brent and Katie Kruithof last year at our first Story Formed Life group. It wasn’t long until Brent and I were lifting together every Tuesday and quickly becoming great  friends. After spending some time with Brent, it became obvious to me that he and Katie had a couple screws loose just like me and MaK – what a relief! You see, Brent used to be a very successful accountant in the Cayman Islands and he quit his great job (yeah, you read that right), left the amazing beach life and moved back to the United States to pursue a dream. He and his wife are beginning a start-up business off of the ground, called Fly Up Fitness, all the while expecting their first child. Why take the risk? Well, it’s a long story but the simple answer is because Brent and Katie both felt like the Lord was calling them to do this. They wanted to increase their family’s faith more than they wanted to increase their bank account. The business that they have started is an amazing concept and something I truly believe will be a great success for their family. Right now Brent is working on pitching to investors and trying to line up funds to launch his genius fitness product the Fly Up. They are actually currently competing in a local contest to help raise funds and are sitting in second place. If you have about 30 seconds (and love to support new business ideas and families following God’s calling), will you please vote for his company? Click here to cast your vote. It should take less than a minute and will hopefully help push him into first place. After you vote, I would greatly appreciate you passing this along and encourage others to vote as well.Naranjos

Another one of our friends, Anthony and Dawn Naranjo are getting ready to go on staff at Athletes in Action (AIA) later this summer. We met them almost five years ago and they’ve been a big part of our life ever since, encouraging and supporting us through every life event since MaK and I have been married. Anthony is taking a position with the baseball division at AIA and I believe he will have a great impact for the kingdom there. Over the last couple months Anthony has been trying to raise support in order to pursue what He believes the Lord to be calling him to do. I cannot imagine having to raise my own support and have to ask others for money, it is a very humbling process to undertake and I have been so impressed with Anthony’s humility and submission to God’s call on his life while leading his family. Anthony has a powerful testimony of coming to know the Lord and AIA was a big part of his story. They are doing a great job raising support but they still have a little bit to go. If you are interested at all in learning more about AIA, the Naranjo’s story, or supporting them financially in their mission you can email them HERE.

If you feel a leading, please join us in supporting some of our friends.

We love you guys,

Ross and MaK

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(Former) Addict.

After spending some time reading over previous blogs I’ve written, several things have become apparent to me. One of those things is, God is telling an awesome story through our family and it’s been such a blessing to witness His hand at work and the other is, I paint myself and our family in a very good light. Even though it’s not my intention (maybe it is… I mean who wants to look bad on their own blog) I can see how someone could read this blog and think to themselves Who is this spiritual weirdo who thinks He has all the answers to life’s many mysteries and problems? God has taught me many things over the past 28 years but one thing is for certain, I’m just as messed up as everyone else. Here’s just one example out of the many…

When I was a fresh-faced 18 year old I tried chewing tobacco. I was playing college baseball at the time and honestly it wasn’t much different to me than spitting seeds, chewing gum, or sucking on candy. It seemed to go hand in hand with being a baseball player. The first time I tried it, everyone said “you’ll get sick” or “you’ll throw up” but I never did. In fact, I didn’t feel a single thing. I don’t know why but I immediately fell in love with it. I think I would have called chewing tobacco my best friend freshman year at college. It was great. We did everything together. We sat in class, played baseball, video games, watched movies, surfed the Internet, homework, TV, road trips… You get the picture?

I know it kind of sounds like, whats the big deal? This sounds like great times and you’re right, it was. I really did/do love chewing tobacco. Grizzly Wintergreen was my brand and if I had my way, I don’t think I would ever quit. However, I came to the realization that I was undoubtedly addicted to nicotine. Realizing this didn’t make me want to quit though… it just made me feel shameful of the fact that I was addicted to something. When I transferred to Taylor University there was a no-tobacco policy. I quit for a little bit every year but to be honest the sheer game of doing it when your not supposed to was alluring. When I met MaKenzie, I did not disclose the fact that I was an avid dipper so when she found out about it I lied, and then I lied again and again (and again) to try and protect myself. I quickly learned that deception in a relationship (no matter the cause) creates nothing but mistrust, hurt and division.

To this day, I don’t think chewing tobacco is wrong, but what it caused in my life wasn’t good. I wasn’t living in the light and I probably told more lies to friends and family when it came to chew than I care to recall. If I could go back to 18 year old Ross I would say Don’t have that. It’s very good and you’ll love it but its not a good decision. I want my kids to know from a young age that dad is not perfect and they can come to me with anything. I don’t want them to feel shamed by their sin because at the end of the day, there’s no difference in what they are struggling with vs. what I’ve struggled with my whole life. The Gods-honest-truth is, I hadn’t fully quit until we got the news of the babies having TTTS. I don’t know why but this scared me straight and I haven’t had one since. For something that has remained hidden in my life for so long, it’s just another way I feel like God is using this situation to draw out a lot in MaK and I’s lives… even in areas we might have preferred to ignore. He’s a good God and He can be trusted, even with the messy parts of our lives.

Well, now you know.

Ross

30 Weeks

MaK Twins PregnancyWeek 30 starts tomorrow. The girls are near 3 pounds a piece and by the looks of MaK’s belly, growing pretty tall & strong like their older sister Maebyn. Wow… MaK and I can’t stop smiling today, especially when we look back on the past 2 months and think of the journey we’ve been a part of.

When we found out we were expecting twins, we immediately thought (read that as immediately worried about) a few really important “events” that we had coming up in the next couple months. Given the prognosis and the severity of the situation, we didn’t know if we would be able to make them all and MaK and I were having a tough time deciding what to do and what not to do. The first decision we had to make was whether or not we were still going to go to Mexico on our missions trip with MaK’s company, Housh Inc. it wasn’t an easy decision for us. We had a very good reason to back out but we felt like The Lord wanted us to go. Looking back I’m not exactly sure what the reason for us going was, or if we might have been crazy in doing so but I am so thankful that we went. It’s something we will never forget and a huge part of this story for our family.

After the diagnosis of TTTS, we weren’t sure if we would be able to go to my little brother’s wedding at the beginning of June. About a week before the wedding, we received the news that the twins fluid levels had evened out completely (to us, that meant complete healing and an answer to prayer!) and we got the OK to travel up to Michigan. Well, sortof, we kind of didn’t mention it to the doctor. Either way, this was a major blessing. MaK and I would have been devastated to have had to missed Ryan and Taylor’s wedding but the Lord made a way.

The last thing we had on our to-do list was go to Indianapolis for a Hillsong United concert. MaK and I love Hillsong and thankfully we were able to go this Wednesday night. The beauty of this last event was it was the perfect way to come before the Lord, worship and celebrate everything that He has done in our lives over the past couple months. It wasn’t a mountain-top worship experience and neither one of us had an over abundance of energy (MaK worked all day and we headed straight there afterwards) but it was a beautiful night. We were together on a date night and worshiping The Lord. What more could you ask for.

Although our journey is far from over, to start the 30th week (woo hoo!) without having any medical procedures is such a blessing. Since the beginning of this pregnancy, Hillsong United’s newest album Zion has been playing in our house pretty much on repeat. Our favorite song right now and for the last couple months has been “Oceans”. This song has been our family song/prayer. The story of the song is about Peter stepping out in faith onto the water to follow Jesus. It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful story. If you happen to be in one of those situations in life where you really feel like the only option is to trust blindly or run and hide, this is a great song to listen to…

Hillsong United “Oceans”

Hope that song encourages you today as much as it has us over the last several months.

Happy Friday!

Ross

Recap

When MaKenzie and I started this blog, our main goal was to journal our family story so we could show our kids one day how God is in the details and that He can be trusted. A couple days ago I went through most of the entries over the last several months and I am just blown away by the story of it all and how intricately He works through each event. The story speaks for itself, and one thing’s for certain… it doesn’t point to MaKenzie and I whatsoever. We have been praying for increased faith and a story that points our family towards God, I am amazed as I look back only 6 months at how much God has answered those requests. We are so excited to see what else God has in store for our family but as for today we stand amazed at the story He is already writing through our families lives. I know this story may not mean as much to you as it does to us, but my hope is that you can see clearly the hand of God. He moves in every life, whether we recognize it or not and when we start paying attention, it’s a humbling process. As I was reading through my older posts these 5 stuck out to me and really highlighted what these last 6 months have been about for us. We’re thankful today for 3 healthy, growing girls and a God who is in control in the midst of what often looks like chaos to us.

my first entry

it’s gotta be compelling

our family is growing

two for the price of one

an unexpected journey

medically impossible

– Ross

Ever wonder what’s on Maebyn’s mind?

One of MaKenzie and I’s most favorite things to do is to talk for Maebyn. We used to laugh at each other for entertainment and now we’ve found that coming up with “what Maebyn is thinking” is much more entertaining. Need examples? Well I’m glad you asked because that is all this post is gonna be.

Maebyn Bathtime

So I says to the guy, hey buddy, lemme make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Maebyn Swaddled

Left hand… check. One more and this jokester’s gonna get it.

Oh hey, me & dad just hit up the gym... he's mixin us a protein shake right now.

Oh hey, me & dad just hit up the gym… he’s mixin us a protein shake right now, we start cardio in 5.

Sure, I'll wear this crazy get-up for a free bag of candy any day.

Sure, I’ll wear this crazy get-up for a free bag of candy any day.

Hey, look, I'm just as shocked as you guys are.

Hey look, I’m just as shocked as you guys are.

See Ellery, I tried to tell ya, the dogs ARE allowed to poop outside.

See Ellery, I tried to tell ya, the dogs ARE allowed to poop outside.

Uhhhh... this doesn't seem safe, guys, she's like 3 days old.

Uhhhh… this doesn’t seem safe, guys, she’s like 3 days old.

Mom, I tried to tell ya... neither one of us are ready for bikini season this year.

Mom, seriously though… neither one of us are ready for bikini season this year.

 

Hope at least one of those made you laugh. Till next time,

Ross

An inadequate thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

While we were in Mexico we worked in a squatters village during our last day there. This part of town in Monterrey was a place of extreme poverty. While we were serving with the church in the squatters community the pastor said something to us that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It wasn’t anything super profound or insightful and at the time I thought it was simply just a nice way to say thank you. However, what he said stuck with MaKenzie and I and we have experienced the reality of what he spoke of on a deeper level over the last several weeks.

The pastor said this, through the broken English of a translator, “Thank you for coming to help us today. I feel like Moses when the Israelites were battling the Amalekites. As long as Moses kept his hands raised to the Lord, the Israelites were winning the battle. Moses’ arms grew tired and he could not keep his arms raised, so Aaron and Hur stood with Moses and helped him keep his arms lifted to The Lord. You guys coming to help is like Arron and Hur helping us keep our arms lifted to The Lord.” I thought I understood what he was saying but to be honest it sounded like a really spiritual way of saying “thank you” and I was impressed (and slightly confused). Over the last month or so I think The Lord has revealed to me what it was this pastor was speaking of and it has been a deeply humbling experience.

Ever since we received the news that our girls have TTTS we have seen an outpouring of love from family, friends, acquaintances, blog followers, and most surprisingly, people we don’t even know or have any connection to. From receiving emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, dinners and letters, one thing has been so clear to us… we weren’t the only ones on our knees for our girls. It was deeply humbling to have people thinking of us and praying for us on a daily basis. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such an outpouring of support in my life. MaK and I would often talk in awe about how shocked we were that so many people felt called to pray for us, geesh. It seemed like every single day we were being encouraged by one person or another. I don’t know why but this deeply confused me. How could people care so much for our little girls and for us, even some who were complete strangers? I don’t have a great answer for this question but I do know that God used everyone of your cards, emails, gestures and calls to speak encouragement into our lives in a time where we desperately needed it.

I guess the real point of this blog post is that MaKenzie and I want to say thank you. Thank you so much, we truly do not have words to explain how much your kindness and prayers have meant. You were our Arron and Hur during this battle in our lives. You helped us keep our arms lifted to the Lord and we hope you also celebrate with us in the Lord’s victory. There were many times where our arms were tired but your encouragement and prayer helped us keep them up. We can not say thank you enough for the support. I know I’ve said it before but it was so humbling to hear over and over again how many of you took us to the Lord in prayer. Those prayers were priceless to us and appreciate them more than you will ever know. Thank you for joining in on this story God is writing in our lives. This was a great reminder to MaK and I of what the church is suppose to look like, many parts of the body, working together to encourage one another and glorify the Father.

All glory be to God.

Ross and MaK

My brother’s wedding

Ryans WeddingThis past weekend my little brother got married to a wonderful woman (formally known as Taylor Timmer, now the newest Mrs. Dykstra). It was so special to me for many reasons. Reason #1… a month ago we weren’t sure we’d even be able to attend but by God’s mercy and healing power, He allowed us to make the trip as a family. Reason #2… I got to be the best man in my little brother’s wedding, what an honor. Reason #3… I had such a fun time this weekend getting to be around all of my family. Sometimes it just feels so good to be home and this weekend was one of those times.

Below is my best man speech from the wedding. It’s not exactly what I said, because I basically cried through the entire thing and lost my place several times and then freestyled at the end, but you get the drift. The opening line/ joke was compliments of Brent Kruithof (thanks buddy, everyone seemed to like it). I wanted to post this just to honor my brother Ryan and remind him of how much getting to be his best man meant to me.

I’m not very comfortable speaking in front of large crowds, so this is probably going to be the most awkward five minutes of my life. Of course, the most awkward five minutes of Ryan’s life will come later tonight.

Ryan, We’ve been brothers now for almost 23 years. I remember the day you were born. I was so excited to have a brother. At 6, I wasn’t really sure what all that entailed but I remember vividly being so excited you were a boy. When we were younger the fondest memories I have of us is how much we use to play together. I think I spent most of my childhood throwing things at you and you spent most of yours dodging them. Whether it was dodgeball in the dark, running from room to room not trying to get hit with a ball, dodge ball off of the diving board, or playing pickle, one thing is for certain and that is we spent a lot of time playing together. I was so proud to be your big brother.

As we grew up together you began to copy just about everything I did. If you don’t know me and you only know Ryan… Basically, every phase ryan has gone through in his life, I’ve also gone through, whether its shoes, big earrings, hats, baseball, or whatever… I’m not sure why but this always seemed to annoy me and at the same time I wanted you to copy me and I liked it. Over the past couple years I feel like I’m actually just starting to get to know you. It’s funny to me to see how much alike we are, and even funnier how much like dad we both are. The more I get to know you the more alike I see that we are. You have quickly become my best friend. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to realize that. The first thing that came to my mind when you asked me to be your best man, was I wish you had been mine. I’m so honored that you asked me to be your best man on this day. I’m very proud of who you are, who you’ve chosen to marry, and the way you live your life. I am so thankful to have a brother like you. You are marrying a great girl that I know will only encourage you to walk deeper with The Lord. Taylor you have a beautiful heart and I am so thankful Ryan has you to walk through life with.

One thing that The Lord has taught me over the last year is that one of the biggest ways He disciples our hearts to look more like His is through marriage/family. You will learn more about yourselves, each other, and most importantly God through these two things. The only peace of advice that I would give to you is, be ever mindful of what The Lord is teaching you. Everything you go through is for his good purposes and He is guiding you every step of the way.

Love your big brother,

Ross