About rossdykstra

Ramblings & stories from a stay at home dad. Our non-conventional life story wrapped into God's bigger story.

the mom who works.

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mak and girlsWhen we started this venture as family it looked a whole lot different than it does today. Ross was home, full-time with the kids, while I was working 50+ hours a week at my full time ecommerce gig and (trying to) balance an independent design firm on the side. I will never forget my first drive back to the office after having the twins. We had three little girls at home, our oldest a fresh-faced one year old and two tiny three month olds, with a more-than-capable dad taking care of them. I made my trek on the highway to my cubicle space to begin my role as full-time working mom. I got off the highway for the office exit and was getting ready to turn right onto the side street into our office complex, extra strong coffee in hand. Clear as day I heard in my mind (and heart) “Yeah, do this and this only. Work is what you’re good at. Being mom is not.” I wish I could explain exactly where this lie was coming from – probably a mixture of insecurities and lies I believed about myself, but it was so direct that it started a stirring in my heart. I told Ross about it when I got home and thus began our adventure to finding this “balance” we call family/work life. I find myself in this struggle even today. Spoiler alert: I haven’t found the answer yet.

What does it mean to surrender your life to loving and training your children fully, working to provide for basic needs and keeping a healthy environment that offers love, stability and nurturing in each parent role? I am learning more and more that this unique balance is just that… unique to each family. I remember distinctly just three years ago making the decision with my husband that I would be going back to work full time after the birth of our second/and third child(ren) and he would be working as full-time dad because that is exactly what our life demanded in that season. Or, in our belief, what God has asked of us for that time. A season that was just as much necessary and a part of our story as any other and one that we desperately needed to forge this path we find ourselves on today. What I didn’t realize at the beginning of that season was how incapable I actually believed myself to be at being mom. Those words I heard on my drive back to the office that day ended up being a lifesaver rather than a label. They stuck with me and forced me to decide if I agreed or disagreed with that stigma.

The stories and choices that accumulated to lead us to today are really innumerable. There are moments, days, weeks where I hear that lie so clearly and choose to believe it… you’re not capable, go back to what you know, what you’re good at. And still other days, where I choose to believe a much different story. One thing I am sure of, I will never be fully capable or sufficient in my pursuit of both work and family life on my own strength. I attend a women’s Bible study every Wednesday morning and an older woman said something a few weeks back that has stuck with me almost daily. She said she felt like the Lord challenged her to examine her life and find the “good” she did. After she accumulated her tallied list, He reminded her that any and all good that was produced out of her was a direct result of the Spirit of God working through her. Not on her own strength – accomplishment – ability- sufficiency… the list goes on, but because she chose to trust a Sovereign God who was working in her weakness and teaching her to trust. I cling to that hope. Not because I am weak and believe I need a scapegoat to define who I am as “mom” or “working mom” but because I know my identity as a daughter of the King. That might sound trite but I’ve never fully understood exactly what that entails until the last few years of my twenties and man, was it a game changer.

So… I’m mom. I’m wife. I’m daughter, sister, friend. Entrepreneur, artist and designer. Lover of style, music and family. And the umbrella that holds these extensions of who I am and defines each role uniquely different in each season of my life is this – a daughter of a King Who knows me better than I could ever know myself and calls out each unique part to strengthen, discipline, love and direct me.

Working moms – keep hustling. Your strength and commitment is beautiful. I know it’s not easy and the battle rages inside of you each day, whether your 150% convinced you should be at the office/working or longing to be at home. I feel like I’ve been in both places – and each are unique. There’s purpose in each season, walk faithfully where you find yourself today.

Stay-at-home-moms – dang. I always judged you and here I am with you. Do not, for one second, neglect the value or purpose of where you find yourself today. My friend Elizabeth just challenged me today to recognize the responsibility and purpose of THIS moment, not neglecting the value of the mundane, self-sacrifice but rejoicing in the opportunity to serve our children in the here and now (I’m repeating that to myself right now, definitely not my mantra for today).

The in-betweeners – I’m with ya. I don’t know what the balance is for each of us, it’s so different but it’s exciting. Praise God for being able to treasure these baby years and also work together with our husbands to provide for the family we’ve been blessed with, and/or pursue passions that bring more life to our everyday. Who needs sleep, right? 🙂

– MaK

 

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I thought raising kids would be easier…

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As I think about starting to write again I’ve taken sometime to read through old posts. The thing I’ve really enjoyed about this blog is the tangible reminder of how I felt in the moment, in each season as we are/were walking through this life together. MaK and I have a vision for our family but honestly that vision gets lost most days in the struggle of taking care of four little girls. Building a family is freaking hard work.

Some days it feels like all we do as parents is say… No, don’t do that. Don’t pinch your sister. Don’t stick that peanut up your nose again. Please show her kindness. Please stop screaming. No, we don’t say we are going to ‘cut one another’ (I have no idea where this came from but it’s incredibly hard not to laugh when Larkyn says “I’m going to cut you Maebyn” like she’s straight outta the slammer). This drags into the night where we wake up several times meeting requests, putting paci’s in, feeding bottles and then try to get a couple hours of sleep before hitting the repeat button. MaK and I always say 3 am to 6 am is our “sweet spot” where we (usually) get to sleep uninterrupted until our four little alarm clocks wake up. Surviving sometimes feels like thriving and a successful day sometimes means we didn’t fly off the handle and scream at one of our kids in a moment of complete weakness. It’s hard to remember that every day we are laying a foundation for our family through these difficult days. The discipline is not futile, teaching is worthwhile even though their attention spans are little and our rhythms are not worthless even if they seem chaotic or make no sense to anyone else on the outside looking in.

We have to continuously remind one another that things worth having aren’t built in a day, week, month, or year. It takes the consistency of disciplined hard work to build something of value, not perfection. I was probably one of the weakest, most undisciplined person out there… until I had kids. I liked things I could have immediately and see the fruit of quickly.  I cannot classify myself as being all that much better now but my kids have changed me into a more focused, driven, and disciplined person, not to mention opening my eyes to that extremely undisciplined person I was/am. MaK and I are building a foundation for our family. Right now the work kind of sucks (just being honest). There’s not a lot of encouragement, it can get a little lonely, the tension gets pretty high over here, and there is just so much freaking whining going on (not just from those 3 and under, MaK and I contribute heavily in that department too). We have to be reminded though that we are building something of great value and even if others don’t understand, each brick that is laid is important and has tremendous value in the foundation that is being built in our family.

We love our little girls more each day and hope and pray that through raising our children  the Lord will continually sharpen us through the struggles of parenthood. It’s kind of cool that the Lord teaches us about himself through the blessing of raising children even if they/we are little poop faces (cue video). Gotta love potty talk – we have no shortage of it over here.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been awhile.

Dykstra_MaKenzie-66

Thinking about resurrecting the old blog and stumbled on this final post that I wrote and never published back in September of 2014. MaK and I found out we were pregnant with Salem Christian when I wrote this… although, at the time, we were just a few weeks pregnant with her and didn’t know her name or face just yet (I was still holding out for a boy)…

**Unpublished Post from September, 2014**

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENT, JUST A LEGIT OLD POST FROM 2014. SERIOUSLY.

I haven’t written a post in almost a year. Why? Well, a lot of things have changed over the last year and although there has been much to document, I just haven’t been able or wanting to sort through it all. When I started blogging I wanted to do it so my kids had something to look back on, to see how God has been faithful in our families life. I hope this post is a testament to Gods faithfulness over the past year. So this is what’s been going on over the last year in the Dykstra household.

At the start of 2014 we decided as a family that it would be best if MaKenzie came home from providing for the family and spent her time providing in a different way. That’s right.. Full on, full out, full-time mothering. MaKenzie left her job at Housh Inc, and the plan was for me to start working. Now all I had to do was find a job. We felt strongly that The Lord was leading us to make this change for our family. The reasons were many, but I won’t get into the details. The main thing that I want to document is that we felt The Lord asking us to make this change, so we did. As January and February passed I could not find a job. It was scary, confusing, and a little frustrating as we watched our savings dwindle and no certainty of income in site.

As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months God provided for us in unique and creative ways neither one of us could have seen. I got side jobs, we got a huge tax refund (a benefit to having 3 kids in a year), people have given us money for no reason, we moved into another families house and rented our house out, bought an apartment building, and I have finally found a job.

This year we have lived In a state of unknown. We’ve been down to almost zero in our bank account several times but God has always been faithful, He has always provided, and He has never let us become over taken by our circumstances.

There’s been moment this year where I’ve questioned everything. Why did we do this? Was this from The Lord or was this from Ross? Am I leading our family into destruction? Are we going to be over taken, and although all of these things play through my mind daily, I believe we are living the story God wants for our family.

We have had one of the best years of our lives. Although the of money has been great, the joy of provision has been greater. Even though parenting three kids under two has been difficult, the joy of our children is greater. Even though this is not the story I would write , the testimony that God is forming in our life is so much better. We have learned that trying to live a life surrendered to Gods ways is HARD!!! But it is indescribably better than anything else.

As you well know if you’ve read any of my previous blogs, MaKenzie and I have decided to let God decide how many children we will have. So, it should come to no surprise that we are expecting our 4th child in February of 2015. 4 kids in 30 months:) I don’t know how everything will work out. Our days are long, hard, demanding, and sometimes overwhelming but as I look back on this last year I can see how faithful God is and no matter what comes our way, He is working for our good. I would rather live His story for our lives than be trying to come up with it myself.

– Ross

dad life part 2.

Larkyn SmileIn my last post I was really honest with what we are going through as a family but I feel like I made it sound like our lives are nothing but struggle and we have no fun around here. Let me just say, the days can be long and hard but our family still is having fun. Not the same kind of fun we had when it was just MaK and I, or just MaK, Maebyn, and I, but it’s still been a great time of life. So, with that said, I thought I’d share the brighter side of what three kids just one year a part is like.

After we got the diagnoses that the twins had TTTS our lives shifted in a dramatic way and it hasn’t been the same since. MaK and I really relished the time we had before the twins got here because we knew we’d be confined to our house for an unforeseen amount of time after they arrived. With having 2-4 doctors appointments a week and a one year old, our time was still limited in what we could do but we decided we were going to go out to eat while we still had the opportunity. We frequent Mexican restaurants and one time while walking into one of our favorite Mexican joints a woman stopped us (as was the usual with MaK’s huge belly and a not-quite-one-year-old). She asked us what we were having, how old was Maebyn, are you guys nuts, and this that and the other. Upon finding out that we were having twin girls, the elderly woman stopped talking leaned into me and said “Ya know, it takes a real man to blast the balls off.” I was honored by the comment but thought if she only knew I actually wanted to keep the balls on.

Mom and GirlsAnother thing that has been fun to see is how Maebyn has assumed her role as the second mother in the family. If one of the twins is crying, she’s right there with a paci, blanket, or bottle. She may not know how to use them or where exactly they should go but she knows one of those three things usually stops the crying. She already loves her sisters very much. Any time she can get to them, she wants to kiss them and hold them.  She does most things in series of two. Someone’s crying? Two paci’s are needed. If we’re blessed with another child and only one shows up next time, we’re gonna have some serious explaining to do. Also, she got two baby dolls for her birthday and all day long she carries one or both of her babies around saying “baby, baby” all the while rocking, burping, and pushing them around in her shopping cart. We love seeing how Maebyn has adjusted to the craziness of our life and how she already loves her sisters at such a young age.

cousinsAnother perk to being outnumbered by babies is the response we get when we’re out and about as a family. We went to Chipotle last week and not only did the cashier insist on carrying our food to the table but when we looked around the restaurant for a high chair and all were conveniently being used, a sweet family immediately lifted their little boy out of the high chair and brought it to me. The husband gave me a pat on the back and said “you guys need this way more than we do”. It sometimes feels like there must be a huge “HELP!” sign on my back when I take the girls out judging by the response I get.

We are finally starting to enjoy being a family of five. Yes, our lives are much different and mostly about our kids, but the joy that has come from having children and being parents is unmatched to the struggle. It’s taken 2 months to get out of the haze of bringing home 2 tiny babies but seeing them smile, snuggle each other, and get kisses from her sister have started to ease the daily frustrations. MaK and I both want a big family and are thankful for the three kids that the Lord has blessed our family with.

– Ross

dad life.

Dad_DaughterI haven’t written a blog post in awhile and that’s mostly due to the fact that every day is the same. Wake up around 4, hold a baby until 6, feed the twins at 6, Maebyn wakes up at 8:30, feed Maebyn breakfast, feed the twins again, feed Maebyn lunch, put Maebyn down for a nap, feed the twins again, Maebyn wakes up from her nap, feed Maebyn a snack, feed twins again, MaK gets home from work, feed Maebyn dinner, feed twins again, put Maebyn to bed, feed twins again, space out on couch, feed twins and hope to go to bed for a couple hours…. And repeat.

Ross and MaebynThe day to day adjustments have been hard and taking care of three kids is not easy but by far the hardest thing that I’ve learned through these last couple of weeks is I no longer have a life outside of my family. I know this is a season of time but the complete surrender of anything going on in my life has been the hardest part. I know it’s because I have a lot of selfishness inside of me but one thing is for sure, selfishness is getting rooted out of me day by day. All I am is dad. Caretaker of our three kids. Before the twins, it was difficult, but I had time and energy to do things that I wanted to do. I had energy and time to work out, spend time with friends, do Bible studies, and run errands. Now, the sheer task of keeping everyone fed takes up most of the day. God has been slowly stripping me of things I’ve tried to find identity in other than Him. In fact, this has really been going on my whole life. I want to be attractive, a person people consider wise, interesting, influential, a good dad, a good husband, and every time I’ve tried to build identity in those areas on my own accord, the Lord has graciously stripped me of my striving. I know my true identity lies in being a son of the King, my heart just has a tough time deeply believing it. I’m constantly pulled the way of the world.

twins 10 weeks oldWith the birth of the twins, I’m constantly being asked “how do you do it?” Amongst many other comment of astonishment about our circumstances. Every time I hear one of these comments I cringe, because of my insecurities and because of a lot of the undertones that come along with them. “Don’t you want to work?”, “Why doesn’t your wife want to take care of the kids?”. Even though people may not be saying or even thinking these things, I do. Being a stay at home dad is isolating. I don’t have much to talk about with other guys because our day to day lives are a lot different. People may think I’m doing the right thing but ultimately, I don’t feel respected. And we all know that it’s too easy sometimes to fall into the trap of making our “feelings” our reality.

At the end of the day, I’m exhausted, MaK’s exhausted, Maebyn is exhausted, and the twins are wide awake. Hah, funny how that works out. I don’t know how long this season will last and to be honest, the biggest blessing in all of this is that each day is hard enough on its own so looking to the future isn’t even on my radar. The Lord is teaching us many things through this season. I wish I could say we are walking through it better, but sometimes frustration with our kids, each other, and ourselves seems to be the theme of our day to day routine.

I guess at this point of the post there is supposed to be some sort of culmination into how all this corresponds to a bigger, better purpose… well, it does. Right now it’s hard to make sense of it or even understand, for that matter, how it all “works together for good” but I know that it does. I think that is one of the biggest issues our family is facing with this new normal – recognizing that feelings and beliefs can often be very contradictory and we meet at a crossroads of letting one or the other win. Insecurities, mundane routines, exhaustion… all fight with me to trust my feelings. But I’m trying to rest in the confidence of my beliefs and what I know to be true.

Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

– Ross

Living on the other side of a miracle

The Dykstra TwinsI haven’t written a blog post since the twins were born and that’s due mostly to the fact that I’ve been trying to sort out my thoughts, change in daily routine, and the many emotions that go along with living on the other side of a miracle. The night the twins were born MaKenzie and I were so happy, we were so thankful, and our hearts were overwhelmed with gratitude towards the Lord for the miracle that was the twins healthy birth. However, three days after being home the only emotion I was feeling was frustration. Lack of sleep, change in routine, and living in complete chaos has been overwhelming at times and I’ve felt my heart lean more towards frustration than towards gratitude. I’ve been ashamed of how quickly I’ve forgotten about the miracle that has happened and how quickly my circumstances effect my feelings. I desperately want to be grateful for what the Lord has done but I would be lying if I said on a day-to-day basis the frustration doesn’t win out most of the time.

Dad and The TwinsLast week I started reading through Exodus again and one thing began to stick out to me very plainly. As I began to read, I noticed that the Lord was directing the steps of the Israelites to the very last detail. It says in Exodus 14 that God led the Israelites to the Red Sea when He could have taken them around it instead. He did this so His glory could be shown through parting the Red Sea. After the Israelites walked through the parted Red Sea, they sang songs of praise to the Lord for His protection, guidance, His glory, and unmatched power. He delivered them with an unforeseen miracle and the only response was praise. However, three days later the Israelites come to a place without water. They instantly began to question Gods leading because they were thirsty. Really? God just parted the Red Sea and killed their enemies and they think He’s going to let them die of thirst?

SistersIt seems ridiculous but as I read through these stories I began to relate more and more to the Israelites condition. They just witnessed a great miracle three days ago but still their life circumstances were uncertain, scary, and led them to a place of wondering if God was really going to provide for them. I couldn’t help but feel like I’m living in somewhat of a similar state. I’ve seen the mighty hand of God at work, I believe that He is going to see us through, and I know that He is going to provide. However our life circumstances are real, they are overwhelming, and I wonder if they are going to overtake us sometimes. As I read through Exodus I was reminded that God never left His people. He was there before the Red Sea. He was there as He parted it for them. He was there when they were thirsty. He provided time and time again. He didn’t take away the tough circumstances but always provided in the midst of them. As MaK and I move forward our hope is that we don’t miss the provision in the midst of our circumstances.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And those who hope in the Lord will not be put to shame.”

Romans 5: 4-5

I hate not sleeping. It’s hard not to have a routine, and it doesn’t seem like this phase of life has an end in sight, but as we walk through this season of life our hope is that the more uncertain life becomes the more room there is to hope in the Lord. We aren’t walking through this season perfectly… at all. In fact a couple weeks ago I think I told each girl, including Maebyn, to shut up at the peak of my frustration one night. Not exactly a high point but we keep moving forward hoping in the Lord. He is here. He parted our Red Sea and He’s here in our thirst as well. Hopefully tomorrow I don’t forget that again.

Ross

A Day in the Life.

Dykstra FamilyIt’s been four weeks since the twins were born. Some days it feels like time has flown by and other days it feels like it’s been a year in this “new normal”. We thought we knew what sleep deprivation looked like after experiencing the newborn stage with Maebyn but with two in the mix and a one year old, we’re learning a new side of tired that we never knew existed. 🙂 Thanks to some great advice from other twin parents, we’ve been trying our hardest to keep the girls on the same schedule but lately they seem to have a plan of their own, which includes eating at the same time everyday and rotating who is awake and asleep throughout the night time.

Twin LifeWe’ve been learning (read that as trying to learn) so much these past few weeks. The value of teamwork. The golden opportunity and moment of bliss: nap time. Taking on new roles as the “Need Meeters”, that’s what Ross and I call each other throughout the day, between the three girls and our pit bull, Beazy, we’ve adopted new identities of recognizing and meeting a need pretty much 24/7. Appreciating and loving dear friends and family who have helped out in so many ways from making and bringing us meals to helping us balance watching the girls and adjusting to our new life (THANK YOU!). Receiving unexpected gifts and support is so humbling and appreciated, another thank you to the generous, anonymous person who sent us a huge box of diapers two weeks ago and the countless loved ones who’ve mailed cards and sent supplies over the past month. We truly can’t say thank you adequately.

The_GirlsAnd overall, we’ve been recognizing how wild, crazy, fun and chaotic this new world is for us. We got brave this week and took the whole clan out to an outdoor mall just to walk around and spend some time enjoying the last few days of warm weather here in Cinci. Two baby Bjorns, one stroller, and one giant diaper bag later, we made it to the mall – with an eager, Frankenstein-walking one year old and two newborns. It wasn’t until this trip that we realized just how our situation must appear from the outside looking in. We were greeted by a comment or disbelieving stare from literally each and EVERY passerby and have had some fun conversations with complete strangers sharing stories about their “family of nine”, or their first few years of parenting twins. We definitely welcome these conversations, it’s nice to know we’re not the only crazies out their who long for a big family and welcome the challenging blessing.

Dykstra SistersWhat else are Ross and I trying to learn? That these moments, minutes, days and hours are so fleeting. That feeling overwhelmed might not be such a bad thing and conversations at 3 am shouldn’t be held against one another. That the house will not be clean, probably ever again and laundry, bottle washing, breastfeeding, burping and diaper-changing are all never-ending tasks that show these girls that we love them and are here to serve. That Mountain Dew is fuel. That toys, burp rags, blankies and pacifiers are the new scenery. That making games out of routines helps pass the time (who knew you could get a leg work-out in by balancing your one-year-old while simultaneously breastfeeding?). That dance parties and blaring music is a MUST at 2 pm when everyone is hitting an all-time energy low.

That this stage will pass soon and they really are only little once. That cuddles, baby coos and dreaming smiles are the rewards and should not be taken for granted.

– Ross, MaK, Maebyn, Truette & Larkyn Dykstra