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

The madness begins at the Dykstra’s

Thanks Aunt Amy for my State shirt

Thanks Aunt Amy for my State shirt, dad makes me wear it no matter how old or big I get.

When I thought about being a stay at home dad, one of the most alluring advantages that first popped into my mind was MARCH MADNESS. Having the time to sit and watch all the basketball in March… I mean, come on, that’s just too good to be true. As I’m typing I’m already thinking about tomorrow and it’s slightly embarrassing how giddy I am. I can’t stop smiling. Thursday and Friday are already mapped out in my head, I’m in for a really good end of the week. I almost feel bad because I am going to have so much fun and MaKenzie will be at work. Undoubtedly, my sheer joy for Thursday and Friday will be coupled with a twinge of guilt as I wish MaK could share in the excitement.  Although Kentucky is out already, so she might not be the best companion to have around the house during game time.

Maebyn has already informed me that she wants to nap from 3-5 on both Thursday and Friday (she’s so thoughtful, right?). She expressed to me that she wants to watch some of the games with me but she can’t watch basketball all day for 4 days straight. I wasn’t thrilled to hear that but being a supportive dad, I told her that I understood and we both felt it would be good for her to get her nap in the late afternoon. That means dad gets two hours of uninterrupted basketball bliss. Unless of course the dog sees someone or something walking outside. Then plan A turns into plan B. Beazy is always the wild card in this family but we all just kind of accept that. The most important thing is that we watch Michigan State start their road to the final 4 Thursday at 12:15. We will both be clad in green and white and ready to kick off the tournament with a much needed W.
Thinking about my day tomorrow and the plans for Friday, I’m reminded that this stay at home dad gig isn’t so bad. There are many more important reasons that I value this responsibility but for this week I’m thankful for the fun part of it. I love basketball and I hope to pass that love onto my kids. Whether I go back to work one day or not, this year I’m starting a Dykstra family tradition. Every year, as a family, we will watch the games. Traditions are important and it allows us to look forward to spending time with one another and that’s what it’s really about anyways.


Here’s to Sparty winning it all!! If not my bracket is probably busted…

Ross

Our family is growing… literally

Big SisterSo… here I am, a stay at home dad. My responsibilities are great but Maebyn has been an easy baby. It’s made my transition into full-time parenting pretty seamless but that is all about to change. Coming September 6 (MaK & my bother Ryan’s birthday) – or before, if it’s like last time – we are adding another member to the family. Yes, MaKenzie is pregnant. Yes, we know they will only be about 12 months apart. Yes, we were trying to have another baby (what do you think we do all day when MaK works from home?). There has been a lot of different responses to our announcement and even more opinions about this “Irish Twin”… as for us, we couldn’t be more excited that God has blessed our family with another member.

Why have kids so close together? Well, we battled with this question after Maebyn was born. Go back on birth control, don’t go back on birth control, that was the question. We began to wrestle with what it looked like to trust God with the amount of children He wanted us to have. We both have a great desire to have a big family but we still had/ have doubts, issues and just a plain lack of faith in what really trusting God in this area looks like. I mean come on, most of us carefully plan, prepare, and make sure the situation is right before we consider having children, right? We were no different. We waited to try and have Maebyn until the time felt “right” – money, job situations, and enough time to have fun just the two of us. To us, the careful planning felt like a lack of trust, so after Maebyn was born we decided that we would surrender control and stay off of birth control (Please read that as a conviction for our family – not a blanket statement we believe everyone should live by. MaK and I both believe families are called in many different directions, if there’s anyone who embraces the “not normal” to what our culture suggests, it’s us). A little more than 3 months later, MaK was pregnant again. Uh oh, I want the control back. Like, now…. It seemed like a good idea at the time but two babies only a year apart? Yeah, I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

Now you know where all these stories about MaK being sick stem from. The first nearly four months have been rough on her, to say the least. She’s been sick, working, and parenting all the while carrying another baby. Trusting the Lord is a nice thing to talk about but it’s difficult to walk through when you seem to be in over your head. Most of this has fallen on the shoulders of MaKenzie and I am proud of the faith that she has lived out each day through this time of life. It would be easy to abandon our vision for a big family and say this is too much right now. She didn’t. And I’m so proud of her.

So, why have a big family and why subject ourselves to the stress of having children so close together? These are questions we have been wrestling with for the last couple months. Our resolution has been this… our culture tends to view children as a burden. They drain our time, energy, and finances. In fact, I remember talking with some co-workers at Lowes when MaK was pregnant with Maebyn when one suggested (in all seriousness) to go ahead and name our first born “Financial Burden”, since at the end of the day “that’s exactly what kids are”. We are trying to believe that a child is the greatest asset that our family could be blessed with. We are not in control of the womb (yes, we are aware of what causes a baby to be made) but pregnancy is not guaranteed. Each and every conception, whether it turns into a “take home” baby or not, is a blessing beyond measure. The gift of new life, entrusted to us from God. So why do we try and prevent something the Lord is trying to bless us with? Are we nervous about our time, energy, and finances… Umm… is the new Pope Catholic? In a word, YES, but if The Lord will bless us with children, will He not also make a way to provide? Our hope says yes but as we walk through this season of life everyday is a challenge to believe that this is true.

As we continue to walk through this adventure of life MaKenzie and I are trying to strengthen our families faith. Walking in obedience to what The Lord has placed on our hearts whether or not it coincides with what we feel in our day to day life. Our hope is that through this one area of surrender we will have compelling examples, not of our own strength, but how The Lord was faithful and that He can be trusted. It’s with this hope we pray that He will also begin to take control of the other areas in our life we are still scared to surrender. This could be the last biological child we have, or just the second of many more to come. All we know is the Lord is telling a story in and through our family and our goal is to trust He knows how to tell the story much better than we do.

Ross

Chef R.A.D.

FEED ME. Seriously... like now, dad.

FEED ME. Seriously… like… now, dad.

A new responsibility that I have assumed as a stay at home dad is making the babies food. This task is usually reserved for Mondays. Maebyn and I go to Kroger, I talk to her in The Grocery Voice, a fan-favorite that sounds something like Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Count Dracula. I’m not sure how it got started but the grocery voice is a ritual that neither of us are willing to give up (I’m sure she’ll feel the same way when she’s twelve). We peruse the aisles together, she smiles at me and tells me what kinds of food she wants – I mainly buy fruit because that’s my personal favorite. We actually got in a fight today cuz she was hell-bent on sushi but it just wasn’t happening, Kroger’s supply was less than impressive. I’m trying to incorporate vegetables but it’s hard, because I HATE vegetables and for some reason it makes me think she does too. MaKenzie laughs at me because I truly feel guilty feeding her veggies, just the other day I tried to throw out some asparagus I made because the guilt was almost unbearable. As for Maebyn, her favorite foods (to-date) are avocado, mangos, apples, pears, bananas, and basically anything sweet. She gets this from her mothers insane obsession with candy I think.

When I first started making food for Maebyn it was fun. Now it’s more of a necessary task than fun. I like feeding her food, it just takes so much time and to be honest I’m excited for the day I can set food down and she can feed herself. I have a tough enough time eating balanced meals for myself, and feeding her a nice balanced nutritious meal can be overwhelming. She’s not a fussy eater and eats everything I’ve given her so far so I really have no complaints. The only problem is – man is the girl needy. I have to scoop every bite of food into her mouth, clean her face after every bite, and repeat the process until she’s full. I mean come on, learn to do some things on your own, Maebyn, you’re seven months old for cryin’ out loud.

Today, we made mangos, mixed with apples and carrots. I thought the concoction tasted quite good and so did she. She polished off about a jar and a half of the stuff and didn’t spit out any of it. This is an accomplishment too because she recently discovered that she can spit the food all over her face and that it’s quite fun to make messes. She’s also discovered that the dog is standing by at all times, willing and ready to take any food off her hands (or face, toes, neck…).

Maebyn is seven months old today and seeing her growth and development over the past couple months has been our joy. Simple things like learning to eat has been fun to witness. She changes everyday and the only thing I keep thinking is, time is going by too fast.

I’m in the market for new recipes so if you have a favorite, leave a comment below and let me know about it. I’m always down for trying new things and I think my baby-food-creativity has hit a wall.

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

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