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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A New Adventure Starts

famThere are a lot of changes going on in our life right now and they just seem to keep on coming, one right after another. MaKenzie and I have spent a lot of time talking about the many things that we have to consider in raising 3 kids under 1. We’ve had many discussions over the past couple weeks like, what should we do for schooling, how the hell do you fit 3 car seats in one car, where should we live, should I go back to work? They’ve been good discussions but we’ve had a difficult time landing on many concrete answers. We have, however, determined one major decision that we hope has a profound impact on our families future. It’s a big one and we’ve received lots of opposition already but bare with me as I explain…

MaKenzie and I have decided to move into a local Amish community just outside of the Cincinnati area. We have not worked out all the details yet but we are thinking about moving after we are able to sell our house. We’ve spoken with the community and visited a few times to get acquainted with this “new” and somewhat daunting lifestyle we will be embracing in the coming months. MaK and I both have decided we desire to live a more simple life and raise our children free from distractions and we know we won’t be able to do this with all of the modern conveniences we now live with. This has not been an easy decision for our family and especially for MaKenzie. We are going to miss our TV (so long, New Girl and Revenge), computers and outside world connections dearly. We are not exactly sure what this season of life will look like but we are excited for a new adventure. We are accustomed to our lifestyle and it is uncomfortable to think about stepping into a new one. Our hope is that it is only something that helps our family continue to grow. I mean, geesh, at the rate going now – we could be having twins again in a year and push our number up to 5. We know there will be people who disagree with this decision and to them we say………….

 

 

 

APRIL FOOLS!

Bahahahaha, sorry, I had to. Was I convincing at all??

Please continue the April Fools tradition and let me know how you got someone today,

Ross

The Ah-nold, baby

Some say Arnold and I look alike... you be the judge.

Some say Arnold and I look alike… you be the judge.

Last week Friday, I had the pleasure of having one of the funnest (not a word… still using it) days I’ve had in a long time (I should clarify…. with friends. MaK, every day with you, I have fun). Myself, Brent Kruithof, the genius behind Fly Up Fitness and a great friend of mine and another good friend, Jordan Stone went to the Arnold Classic and Fitness Expo in Columbus, OH. To give a little background on the event, there are just as many competitors in The Arnold that compete in the Olympics (18,000)… crazy, huh? Body building, weightlifting, gymnastic, table tennis, and a host of other events are put on at the event and it is quite a spectacle. Also, every fitness company known to man is there promoting their products and thus the reason we were so intrigued with attending. Lets just say the Arnold did not disappoint.

Actually, not disappointing is an understatement. The Arnold brought tears of joy and laughter in many unexpected ways. I’ve never seen THAT amount of fake tan on one person (times a million), decorative work-out thong apparel and muscle-clad men who could barely walk their thighs were so huge. It was like endless entertainment everywhere we looked.

Besides the awesome people watching, I was first and foremost there to help my friend Brent who is in the middle of trying to market, produce, and sell a fitness product that he has designed. Check out the Fly Up here. We thought The Arnold would help give some insight, possible encouragement and a feel for the industry. I will admit though, as soon as we entered the expo I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So many supplements for free!!! It was like ultimate trick-or-treating for weight lifters. I found myself wanting to bag as much free stuff as I could and actually a little embarrassed about how giddy I was each time I acquired a new supplement for free. They probably could have given me a bag of rocks and I would have been just as thrilled putting it into my newly acquired (also free), something-fitness-branded, cheap drawstring bag. I didn’t even care what they were handing out, I wanted them all.

After a couple hours of pillaging the expo I started to think about the cost that each company assumes to give all of this stuff away in the hopes that the consumer will pick their product over another. This type of marketing has worked on me. I use supplements that have been given to me for free, I’ve tried them out, liked them, and continued using them because they worked and I was satisfied with the results. I still couldn’t help but be overwhelmed though with the amount of money these companies were spending to give things away in hopes of acquiring new customers. Someone was shelling out a lot of money to put this free stuff in my bag but I didn’t care as long as I got my free supplements.

This experience stuck with me over the weekend and into Sunday. Our Bible study on Sunday focused around the cost or debt for our salvation. Yes, we are forgiven and yes we have been saved from our sin but the cost for the debt to be paid was high. So often I view the forgiveness for my sins as something that was free. It is freely given by God but the cost of my sins bore a heavy price. I don’t usually take into consideration the payment for my forgiveness, I just freely except that I am forgiven. For one reason or another, being at the Arnold reminded me that someone is bearing the cost for me to receive these free supplements. The Lord has taken my punishment of sin onto himself and even though I am forgiven it came at an ultimate cost. I like the thought of being freely forgiven but when I look at what it cost my Lord it gives me a new sense of purpose and wanting to worship.

“Jesus paid it all, so all to him I owe.”

Ross

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

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

Friends helping friends, helping friends….

Being a stay at home dad has a few perks, I guess. One being that every day seems to look completely different than the day before, seems like that’s the life of a stay at home parent in general. The crazy chaos has a way of surprising you in unexpected ways, a nice twist to the mundane 9-5. I spent the majority of the day Friday with one of my best friends and mentor Mike Zimmermann. He had an apartment that he needed to get ready for a prospective renter and I tried my best to act like I enjoyed painting. I love working on home repairs and miscellaneous things around the house but I always try and push the painting off on my wife. I’m sorry, it’s just the truth. Although I was painting all day, I had a great day. I love spending time with my friends. MaKenzie and I don’t have a ton of friends together as a couple, but the few families that are in our lives we love very deeply and feel like God has very intentionally put them in our path.

I wish you could get paid for being a professional friend. Money, time, and overall responsibilities get in the way of one of the things we are called to do… LIVE IN COMMUNITY. I feel like if one of my friends families succeeds then I succeed, and if one of them hurts then I hurt. Jordan Stone, another one of my close friends, has said that friends/ families showing this kind of love for one another is what The Lord intended the church to look like. This has always seemed like an insurmountable task to me, to love everyone in my church family with this kind of love. However, if I start with my friends and family it seems like a much more achievable task.

All in all, I think I came out of the day with an incredible appreciation and thankfulness for the family and friends MaKenzie and I have been blessed with. Hopefully through our relationships the world will see something that is compelling and different. To all our friends and family, we love you very much. Thank you for all you do for us!!

To wrap this post up I think I’ll part again with the wise words of Clark Griswald… “The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin.”

With love,

Ross