They’re here.

twins bornAbout a year ago, MaKenzie told me that we needed to start a blog because she thought it could make us a little extra money. At the time I didn’t really understand blogs, why people followed them, or why people would get paid for writing their opinions. Nevertheless, about 4 months after MaK begged me to give it a try, I wrote my first blog post. The only thing I wanted this blog to be was something my kids could look back on and see how God has been faithful in our family’s story. I am so thankful MaK pressed me to do this blog, the events that have taken place over the last 9 months have cemented a testimony for our family and for our three baby girls that God is in the details and He can be trusted. Monday night was the beautiful ending to a long but satisfying 36 week and 3 day identical twin pregnancy.

We walked into the hospital at 6:30 am on August 12th (just one day after Maebyn’s first Leaving the NICUbirthday) to start MaKenzie’s labor. Our team of specialists decided that given risk and circumstances with the TTTS, it was time for the girls to come out and induced labor was the route we were taking at 36 weeks 3 days pregnant. Throughout this entire pregnancy there has been countless situations where MaK & I just plain did not know what to do or what decision to make but we’ve desperately tried to seek what God was telling us to do. Sometimes it was very clear and we felt Him very near to us, and other times it felt like taking a step in the dark, completely unsure of whether we were making the right choice or not. MaKenzie labored hard all day long and at about 6 pm the pain and contractions were becoming more and more intense and it looked like we still had a long ways to go, she hadn’t progressed from the 4 cm dilation that we walked into the hospital with and I could tell her spirit was weakening.

I remember thinking maybe we made the wrong decision to have an induction, maybe we should have waited for labor to come naturally, maybe we screwed this entire thing up and made the wrong choice… MaK desperately wanted to have a vaginal birth and the longer the day carried on the more it seemed like she may have to have a c-section. She got her epidural around 6 pm and at that point we both mentally prepared to “settle in” for the long hall which could possibly lead to a c section. Around 7 pm our doctor came in and broke baby A’s water. I’m not a pro at labor stories, so here’s the gist… within 40 minutes contractions were so intense MaK assumed the epidural had not taken and was having difficulty talking through them. She asked the nurse if it was possible for the epidural to “not have worked” because of the pain she was in, this question prompted the medical staff to check her progress again. Within that short hour she had reached completion (10 cm) and Baby A was literally getting ready to make her appearance. Our nurse threw scrubs at me and 3-4 nurses rushed into the room to hurry and wheel MaK into the OR before the first baby decided to come out on her own (all multiples pregnancies are delivered in the OR because of the risk potential). They were in such a hurry they nailed MaK’s hospital bed against the door on the way out, we laugh about it now but at the time … no one was laughing đŸ™‚ Long story short, in about 2 and a half pushes the twins were here. The sound of the two cries was almost too overwhelming to handle. The girls were here. Alive. Safe. Healthy.

the twinsTruette’s skin was much paler than her sister Larkyn’s. Her umbilical cord was smaller and she weighed over a pound less than her “little” sister – True was born about 1 minute before Larkyn. The doctor reminded us that this was the effects of TTTS and not to be worried immediately, she would be checked out in the NICU as soon as possible. We were so thrilled when we found out, just three days later, Truette was ready to go home from the NICU and we could officially start our new “life” as a family of five.

When MaKenzie and I were trying to determine the names for the twins, we looked back on what this journey has meant to us and both decided we really wanted to give each girl a name that meant something and held significance, so that they both would remember and never forget what happened even before they were born. The name Larkyn means “to be crowned in victory” and the name Truette (our little “True”) we wanted to represent truth. Together, the girls names tell the story of what we believe it really means to be “crowned in true victory”… a display of God’s direct intervention and healing touch when all else around pointed to an inevitable loss. We wanted their testimony to be shared. Living in Cincinnati, I’m sure Larkyn is going to hear, “So, your parents are big Reds fans? Is that why they named you Larkyn?”  My prayer is that this is her response (MaK and I disagree slightly on the opening statement, but we won’t get into that here)…

“No. Every member of my family is a devout Detroit Tigers fan!! My name is Larkyn because before I was born, I was supposed to die. You see, I have an identical twin sister and we were diagnosed with twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome and given very little chance of survival. But, my family and I serve a God who heals. He healed my sister and I, and together our names mean to be crowned in true victory.”

This journey has been special to our family. It has not been easy but it has driven us closer to the heart of our Lord and that is more precious to us than anything. Thank you to everyone that has taken part in this story with us. We honestly cannot thank you enough for the prayers and encouragement you have given to us, you lifted our spirits and made us feel more love than we could ever have imagined. Even though this story is unique to our family, the Author of our story has plenty more stories just like this, full of His redemption and love for His children. We are thankful to be a part of the great cloud of witnesses that stand and proclaim how great is our God.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank you for loving our family, praying for our girls and for taking the time to read a portion of our story.

Ross, MaK, Maebyn, Truette & Larkyn Dykstra

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Believe in love.

believe_ring33 full weeks in just 3 days.

Sometimes I have to give myself a couple of minutes to allow this reality to sink in. How was it just 2 and a half months ago we were sitting in a conference room with pediatric specialists, maternal fetal doctors and other medical personnel explaining to us the grave diagnosis of our girls and the long, uncertain road that was ahead of us. Surgery. Heart failure. Growth abnormalities… those words were all-consuming. And now, about 75 days out from that meeting and just a few weeks away from our actual due date, instead of being on my back or coping with an immeasurable loss, I feel two healthy sisters kicking each other (and my right rib cage) as I type.

God’s goodness is unfathomable. My heart aches when I think of people Ross and I love so dearly, friends and family, who have lost a child(ren). I think of these sweet babies so often and pray for God’s goodness to be poured onto their families who are left here on earth to mourn such a deep loss. We love you. And your strength inspires us daily.

The girls’ story has been called – by doctors, nurses and others – a modern-day miracle. One of our RN case workers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital actually called me a couple weeks ago and her words have stuck with me, playing over and over in my mind. She told me she had personally been present for over 200+ TTTS surgeries and cases at the hospital and her hope was that Ross and I both understood fully that what transpired with our girls was truly… (that word again) a miracle. While I know this is true, I guess I’ve been in some denial thinking that I’m just not the sort of person a “miracle” would happen to. I mean, I read about these stories … share the ones I love… but to me? Our little family? No way. I actually looked up the word the other day to make sure I was conceptualizing its definition and meaning accurately. This is what I discovered:

Miracle: A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine. Highly improbable, an extraordinary event.

Since being pregnant for nearly two years now – yowza, that sounds intense when I type it but true nonetheless – I’ve had to switch out my wedding ring for another, looser option to fit my often-swollen hands. My ring of choice? When I turned 16, I found a ring that I knew I had to have. It’s a simple, thick, silver band with hand-scripted words across the front that spoke to me; even as an overly dramatic, hormone-drive teenager who didn’t know the first thing about love. The scripted words across the band simply say “Believe in love.” I made a promise to myself the day I bought the ring that I would give this ring to the man I would marry, the first man that I fell in love with (did you just throw up a little?). Well, my little plan actually worked. At 18, through sloppy tears and an even sloppier kiss afterwards, I handed this ring to Ross Dykstra and the rest is history. He’s worn it on his pinky since that day and before Maebyn was born last year I found it amongst his jewelry and it seemed to be the perfect solution to my fat fingers and wedding-ring-less left hand.

Tonight, I’m looking at that tarnished, scratched ring and its message carries such a different meaning in my life. The last ten years it has represented my best friend and the best guy I know, my husband and how he allowed me to become the luckiest girl on this planet by picking me as his wife. Now, though, the ring seems to have encompassed much more as it has followed me the past year or so on our family’s journey.

Believe in love.

Believing in a God who loves me more than I’m even capable of comprehending. A God that wants to perform miracles not only in big ways in my life but even in every-day circumstances. A God that operates outside of what I think is best for me and often reveals Himself through the hurt and pain this life can bring, using it to draw me closer to His heart.

Believing in a love that is surprising… A welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.

I hope He gives me the grace to increase that belief in His love throughout each circumstance our family faces. Tonight, and this 33rd week, I’m believing in love very deeply when I look at my almost one-year old little girl, think of her dad who selflessly takes care of her each day and feel her two little sisters growing and getting bigger by the minute in my belly.

– MaK

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

(Former) Addict.

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

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

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

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

Well, now you know.

Ross

30 Weeks

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

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

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

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

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

Hillsong United “Oceans”

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

Happy Friday!

Ross

Recap

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

my first entry

it’s gotta be compelling

our family is growing

two for the price of one

an unexpected journey

medically impossible

– Ross

Ever wonder what’s on Maebyn’s mind?

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

Maebyn Bathtime

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

Maebyn Swaddled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Ross