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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Story formed

As I sit down to blog today my heart is heavy and encouraged at the same time. Being a stay at home dad has opened up my life to a lot of open space and free time. I’m starting to see the benefits in this. My time is not spread thin and it’s given me time to reflect on what The Lord is trying to uproot in my heart. The main thing that I feel The Lord is teaching me right now is that I’m not in control. This is not a revolutionary discovery or something that was unknown to me but its something that as a parent I am ever more aware of. God is shaping my families story and it is my choice to be faithful where He has me and not try to control my circumstances.

Up until now I’ve been operating out of a narrative that has been so eloquently passed down to me from the culture we live in. Get a good education, find a good wife, buy a house, and have kids. All achievable tasks that I could map out and set out to achieve. The problem in all of this is the education I received hasn’t helped me get the job I wanted, my wife is great but she doesn’t make me happy… all the time, our house is a blessing but its a constant stress, and having a kid is awesome but as many parents know…. it’s hard.

The truth is life IS hard and it is ultimately filled with things we can’t control. I’ve spent a large majority of the past couple of years being frustrated with God for not carrying my plans out as I had mapped them out in my head. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve realized that God is mapping out my story in a way that is far better for me and my family. It has been in surrender to His story and His will that I have finally been ok with being a “stay at home dad”. I want so desperately to have control over our families circumstances because there are things that I want to be different. However, I’ve realized the importance of surrendering the control to The Lord. His plans and His will are better than mine and in this surrender I’ve begun to experience true joy.

My education led me to my wife, my wife to our new baby girl and our house… well that is something The Lord will keep teaching us through. The Lord is telling a story in and through our lives and the only response that seems appropriate is trying to live faithfully and trust Him in our circumstances. He is a good Dad after all.

Ross

Call me Maebyn.

photo(25)Today has been a good day. MaKenzie worked from home, Maebyn slept through the night, and I went to bed with the satisfaction of knowing that Ohio State lost in over time to Michigan. My allegiances fall to Michigan State when it comes to college sports, but living in Ohio has perpetuated my distaste for Ohio State and I cheer vehemently for whoever they are playing against. However, that is neither here nor there or the reason for this blog post.

Maebyn is 5 days away from being 6 months old. It’s crazy how time flies when you’re having fun (shout out to Alex Vogelzang – he said this all day the first time we played together in pre-school and that phrase hasn’t been the same to me since). It also becomes even better when you’re sleep deprived. I thought I would take the time today to explain how we came up with the name Maebyn. It’s a fun story, not a lot of depth but one that I enjoy telling.

When we found out that MaKenzie was with child, we immediately began to compile a list of names that we loved for boys and girls. Most of my names were very creative like Bob, Sam, or Bill. MaKenzie is more of the creative one so she came up with names like Electricity, Pillow, and Flowing Wind. Ok, I’m being a little bit facetious but it seemed at times that this wasn’t far off. At 16 weeks we found out that we were having a baby girl and thus our search had been narrowed.

Come February, with no names that really stuck out to either one of us we continued down our path of me coming up with ridiculously conservative names and MaKenzie coming up with names only crazy celebrities name their dogs. At the end of April, we headed down to Florida for family vacation with my side of the family. We had 18 hours together in the car so we decided to try and come up with a name once and for all. We had kicked around the name Maybe but we were concerned our child would be uncertain her whole life. Through talking about the name Maybe, we landed on Maebyn. I actually thought of it (I know, I was shocked too) because one of my favorite baseball players names is Cameron Maybin. We both liked the name but we weren’t sold. It wasn’t until hour 12 of 18 in the car that we finally decided on Maebyn.

I was driving at the time and it was somewhere between the hours of 3-5 a.m. I love driving at night but with MaKenzie fast asleep and nothing to keep my interest I began to fade fast. I wasn’t going to stop though and risk losing a couple hours of family vacation. So I did the only logical thing I could think of, I downloaded Carley Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe”. I have to admit, I love this song. It makes you happy and at 4 a.m. in the morning I needed something. As I listened to the song on repeat I kept getting butterflies in my stomach thinking about naming my daughter Maebyn. MaKenzie woke up about a half hour into my jam session and she felt much of the same way. Carley Rae had sealed the deal on the name Maebyn.

So what’s the meaning behind the name? Well, embarrassingly enough we chose the name because 1.) we had never heard it before 2.) we liked it and 3.) we kind of wanted a name with a “y” in it. Not exactly a strong case for a name right? Well, after we had Maebyn I began to look into the meaning of her name. Bear with me because the meaning is something that I came up with but I pray that it has set the course for her life. “Mae” means “bitter” or “bitter pursuit” and “Byn” or “Ben” means the “right hand of God.” Maebyn – the bitter pursuit of the right hand of God. I know this translation may be a stretch but when my little girl asks me what her name means, this is the response she will get.

So there you have it, the origin and meaning for my baby girl Maebyn.
Feel free to call her Maeby.

Ross

I’ve been working on my fitness

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Ready to pump some iron, Dad

Being a stay at home dad is fantastic but I’ve noticed the need for a constant routine in my life in order to stay productive. Without a routine I think I might go crazy. The one thing that has been consistent in my day to day life (aside from diaper changing and endless bottles) has been my trip to the gym to get my fitness on. Although, this is not the reason I started working out, it has helped me in my transition to being a stay at home dad. Since Maebyn still needs a year or two before she can spot me during my lifts, the $2 daycare at our local rec is quite the commodity.

Athletics, fitness, and working out have always been a big part of my life. God has made me fairly athletic and throughout my life I’ve always enjoyed being active. I’ve learned many life-lessons through playing sports (teamwork, leadership, submission to authority) but it wasn’t until I started weight-lifting that some seriously obvious and important things started to be revealed to me. These things aren’t revolutionary but for me they’ve had some significant impact on my life. The best way I know to explain this is by telling my story….

Like I said, I’ve always been a decent athlete. The sports I played in high school I put little time into getting better, stronger, or smarter. I got by on my natural ability. I went to camps, practiced hard, and gave every sport my focus, because I loved to play, but the truth is when it came to putting in the hard, extra work, I didn’t do it. As I look back, I can see how this mindset really infiltrated most areas of my life. Was I a good athlete? Yes. Was I a decent student? Yes. Was I a good Christian? Sure. However, all these things were easy. I didn’t really work at it, they just came naturally and even worse, I received a lot of affirmation in these areas of my life which led me to believe that I was doing special things. The truth was though that God had blessed me with abilities that I was more than happy to take the praise for but unwilling to put in the hard work to be better.

When I finished my competitive sports career in college I decided to take a break from things like running, lifting weights, and really anything other than pick-up basketball. Needless to say, my body transformed into something I had never seen before. Yikes. Keeping in track with my life, I had never needed to work out in order to be in shape, I just was in shape. After about 2 years of marriage and 25lbs of extra weight (and many double cheeseburgers later) I decided to start working out again. I started working out and quickly lost the weight I had put on in about three months. That seemed easy, so I stopped working out again for about 9 months. Much to my demise, I promptly put back on the weight. So I started back up again in January. I was almost through March and I had the urge to just stop again. I had lost the weight and that was really all I wanted to do. However, I decided to stick with it. Over the next couple months my body transformed. I started putting on a lot of muscle. If you don’t know me, I’ve always been pretty skinny, so having muscle on my body was something new. I fell in love with working out and have been consistently doing it 4-6 times a week for a little over 2 years now.

Through this process The Lord revealed things about my heart to me. I wanted quick fixes to my life problems just like I wanted to go to the gym once a week and transform my body. Can it happen for some people. Yeah, I guess it can, we all have a different story. For me, however, I think the Lord has been teaching me about discipline and the importance of setting out to do a task and grinding at it day after day, especially when things got tough. I’ve also come to realize that you always get a better work out when you work out with somebody. I can work out by myself and see good results but the times I’ve seen the most successes in my work outs have been when I consistently work out with someone else, someone who pushes me to go farther. I’ve noticed the same to be true about my life. Relationships have brought great growth to our lives and marriage, without them we would not be able to go as far as we would on our own.

Hopefully this wasn’t too long winded but hey you needed a mental work out, right?

Ross

It ain’t easy bein’ Beazy.

Happy Monday.

Who has two thumbs, is a stay at home dad and didn’t sleep last night? This guy.  No, I didn’t drink too much caffeine during the Super Bowl and Maebyn actually slept through the night. So why didn’t we sleep? Well, we have an over protective, too Beazyalert, and even more determined pit bull named Beazy, who thinks its her job to protect the house at night. Last night was one of those nights that she was not going to let us down.

Sometime around 4 a.m. Beazy noticed there was some living thing on our property and this was just unacceptable. She proceeded to scan the perimeter of the house sniffing loudly, growling, and barking. My favorite part in particular was when she decided to scream-bark directly in front of Maebyn’s room. Honestly, this is nothing new for us. We are used to Beazy getting a wild hair up her ass and being weird, but at 4 am when you have a 6 month old baby, that has been struggling to sleep, it’s enough to make you want to euthanize your own dog (I know this is extreme but at 4 in the morning you can’t be held accountable for your thoughts). It turns out a small bunny had wondered on to our property and had gotten too close to the house for Beazy’s liking.

Was I frustrated with Beazy when she woke the house up to let us know there was a measly bunny outside? In a word… YES. However, there was a break-in at a neighbors house a couple weeks ago, and it does give me some peace of mind knowing that if someone were to enter our house at night, they would have to meet our pitbull Beatrice first. She would undoubtedly greet the stranger in vicious defense of her family (at least this is what I think would happen, although we have no proof since her usual greeting to strangers is constant licking). As crazy as she is, it’s really nice having a friend around to help with my SAHD duties. We’re still working on the diaper-changing but she’s getting close. Beazy loves us and brings our family a lot of joy. It’s great having such a loyal dog and 4 a.m. barking sessions are easily overlooked when you consider she is only trying to do her job as protector of the house. (This may not be entirely true but it helps ease my frustration from lack of sleep).

Here’s to the worlds best dog who has to be on a leash at all times while out side because she’s too crazy and adventurous to handle herself like a normal dog,

Ross

Working hard or hardly working…

To all my fellow stay at home parents,

Today was a day that I wished that I had a 9-5. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want one, and I don’t desire to have to go back to that, but I was missing structure, accomplishing a task, and being told what to do… Ok I was missing 2 out of those 3, I’m still lucky enough to be told what to do on a daily bases by my loving wife. I have many great things going on in my life right now, things that I would not trade for anything, however, my days sometimes lack structure and I feel like I accomplish very little. I’m sure this is something many people can relate to.

As a father, there is a lot riding on my role in the family, and It is hard to see concrete proof that I’m accomplishing things I’ve set out for the family, or even for that matter, if I’m even on the right path. In all my other roles in life… Student, athlete, friend, worker, ect… I could tell if I was succeeding or failing but now as a parent it’s hard to tell if the day was a success. All that to say, today I was thankful I’m not working a job at Lowes anymore.

A bad day at home is better than a good day at Lowes.

Ross

Help! … I’m Helpless!

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The two sickies at the Dykstra household.

On Mondays MaKenzie works from home. They are generally pretty good days because I get to see her most of the day, I can run an errand or two, and we usually eat breakfast and lunch together. If she didn’t have to work all day, Mondays would be perfect. Today however, was a different story and it all started when the clock struck midnight.

Maebyn’s been a great sleeper ever since she was born (12 hours a night since 6 weeks Woo Woo!!) but the last couple weeks have been terrible and last night was much of the same. It’s not her fault. She just figured out she can roll to her belly and discoveries this monumental are enough to keep anyone up at night. All that to say, Maebyn has her first cold and she’s just not feeling well today. On top of this, MaKenzie has felt sick the entire day but has needed to work, thus adding to the frustration level in the house. I also may or may not have added to this stress by taking 2 hours to work out, a couple more to look at potential rehab houses, and generally just being out of the house longer than I should have on a day like today.

When I got home, MaKenzie and I calmly and quietly discussed a couple things that she thought I could do differently when she is working from home, particularly when she and Maebyn are sick. I politely agreed and thanked her for her correction and keeping me accountable to my responsibilities. I then led our family in a prayer where I repented for all my wrong doings and finally we all joined hands and began singing in perfect harmony. Pretty much the exact opposite of all these things is what actually happened. Use your imagination. It’s probably not far off.

I so badly wanted to take away MaKenzie and Maebyn’s sickness today but I couldn’t. I think it was my first experience as a helpless parent. There’s been plenty of times over the past 4 years where I’ve felt like a helpless husband but today was the first time I’ve felt it as a parent. Maebyn has a cold, so I know this is a very small scale to feel this on but none the less it sucks. I want to have control and on days like today I was reminded that I, actually, I have very little control over the day to day happenings of our life.

All in all it wasn’t that great of a day but a day spent with my wife and daughter can’t be categorized as a bad day. Till next time…

The only healthy one in the fam,

Ross

My first entry…

Hi, my name is Ross Dykstra and I am a stay at home dad. I am married to a smoking hott, brilliant, genius woman (MaKenzie Noelle) and together we have a daughter (Maebyn) who is a fresh 5 months old. The purpose for this blog is tell our family story and how it is intrinsically intertwined into the larger story of our Creator God.

Being how this is our first post, I think it’s only right to give a little background into our story. MaKenzie and I met at the one and only Taylor University, as two fresh-faced 18 & 19 year old kids. We got married the summer after she graduated, on August 23, 2008. We both entered marriage with the common American dream of career, house, dog, kids. These things were all I ever wanted and I had found the girl that was perfect to accomplish this with. Next up? Get a job, have two and a half kids and let the wife stay home. To make a long story short, this isn’t our story. Or at least our story isn’t the version I had dreamed of my whole life. It’s taken me 4 years to get to a place where I am no longer angry, frustrated, and upset about my failed dreams.

Like I said earlier, my wife (MaKenzie) is the cats pajama’s. She currently works full time to pay our bills and does countless other things for our family as well, like maintaining a side business she started (shout out). With out her I would be in a bad place. For now our roles are reversed, I’m the care taker and she’s the provider. Our goal is not to stay in these roles forever but for now we see how this is exactly where we need to be. God is discipling us through our unconventional lives right now and we can see him at work. This has probably been the toughest season we have had in our marriage but also the most rewarding. We see that God is on the move and we are excited to see where he leads us.

This blog is meant to show that God is a God of details. We hope that through the story of our family, one that looks much different than the American dream, we can illustrate how there’s more to each of us than what our culture and society defines.

So when you feel like culture around you demands you to be something you’re not, in the words of the beloved family man Clark Griswold, “Kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass.”

Happy Reading,

Ross