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

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

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

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