the mom who works.

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mak and girlsWhen we started this venture as family it looked a whole lot different than it does today. Ross was home, full-time with the kids, while I was working 50+ hours a week at my full time ecommerce gig and (trying to) balance an independent design firm on the side. I will never forget my first drive back to the office after having the twins. We had three little girls at home, our oldest a fresh-faced one year old and two tiny three month olds, with a more-than-capable dad taking care of them. I made my trek on the highway to my cubicle space to begin my role as full-time working mom. I got off the highway for the office exit and was getting ready to turn right onto the side street into our office complex, extra strong coffee in hand. Clear as day I heard in my mind (and heart) “Yeah, do this and this only. Work is what you’re good at. Being mom is not.” I wish I could explain exactly where this lie was coming from – probably a mixture of insecurities and lies I believed about myself, but it was so direct that it started a stirring in my heart. I told Ross about it when I got home and thus began our adventure to finding this “balance” we call family/work life. I find myself in this struggle even today. Spoiler alert: I haven’t found the answer yet.

What does it mean to surrender your life to loving and training your children fully, working to provide for basic needs and keeping a healthy environment that offers love, stability and nurturing in each parent role? I am learning more and more that this unique balance is just that… unique to each family. I remember distinctly just three years ago making the decision with my husband that I would be going back to work full time after the birth of our second/and third child(ren) and he would be working as full-time dad because that is exactly what our life demanded in that season. Or, in our belief, what God has asked of us for that time. A season that was just as much necessary and a part of our story as any other and one that we desperately needed to forge this path we find ourselves on today. What I didn’t realize at the beginning of that season was how incapable I actually believed myself to be at being mom. Those words I heard on my drive back to the office that day ended up being a lifesaver rather than a label. They stuck with me and forced me to decide if I agreed or disagreed with that stigma.

The stories and choices that accumulated to lead us to today are really innumerable. There are moments, days, weeks where I hear that lie so clearly and choose to believe it… you’re not capable, go back to what you know, what you’re good at. And still other days, where I choose to believe a much different story. One thing I am sure of, I will never be fully capable or sufficient in my pursuit of both work and family life on my own strength. I attend a women’s Bible study every Wednesday morning and an older woman said something a few weeks back that has stuck with me almost daily. She said she felt like the Lord challenged her to examine her life and find the “good” she did. After she accumulated her tallied list, He reminded her that any and all good that was produced out of her was a direct result of the Spirit of God working through her. Not on her own strength – accomplishment – ability- sufficiency… the list goes on, but because she chose to trust a Sovereign God who was working in her weakness and teaching her to trust. I cling to that hope. Not because I am weak and believe I need a scapegoat to define who I am as “mom” or “working mom” but because I know my identity as a daughter of the King. That might sound trite but I’ve never fully understood exactly what that entails until the last few years of my twenties and man, was it a game changer.

So… I’m mom. I’m wife. I’m daughter, sister, friend. Entrepreneur, artist and designer. Lover of style, music and family. And the umbrella that holds these extensions of who I am and defines each role uniquely different in each season of my life is this – a daughter of a King Who knows me better than I could ever know myself and calls out each unique part to strengthen, discipline, love and direct me.

Working moms – keep hustling. Your strength and commitment is beautiful. I know it’s not easy and the battle rages inside of you each day, whether your 150% convinced you should be at the office/working or longing to be at home. I feel like I’ve been in both places – and each are unique. There’s purpose in each season, walk faithfully where you find yourself today.

Stay-at-home-moms – dang. I always judged you and here I am with you. Do not, for one second, neglect the value or purpose of where you find yourself today. My friend Elizabeth just challenged me today to recognize the responsibility and purpose of THIS moment, not neglecting the value of the mundane, self-sacrifice but rejoicing in the opportunity to serve our children in the here and now (I’m repeating that to myself right now, definitely not my mantra for today).

The in-betweeners – I’m with ya. I don’t know what the balance is for each of us, it’s so different but it’s exciting. Praise God for being able to treasure these baby years and also work together with our husbands to provide for the family we’ve been blessed with, and/or pursue passions that bring more life to our everyday. Who needs sleep, right? 🙂

– MaK

 

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I thought raising kids would be easier…

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As I think about starting to write again I’ve taken sometime to read through old posts. The thing I’ve really enjoyed about this blog is the tangible reminder of how I felt in the moment, in each season as we are/were walking through this life together. MaK and I have a vision for our family but honestly that vision gets lost most days in the struggle of taking care of four little girls. Building a family is freaking hard work.

Some days it feels like all we do as parents is say… No, don’t do that. Don’t pinch your sister. Don’t stick that peanut up your nose again. Please show her kindness. Please stop screaming. No, we don’t say we are going to ‘cut one another’ (I have no idea where this came from but it’s incredibly hard not to laugh when Larkyn says “I’m going to cut you Maebyn” like she’s straight outta the slammer). This drags into the night where we wake up several times meeting requests, putting paci’s in, feeding bottles and then try to get a couple hours of sleep before hitting the repeat button. MaK and I always say 3 am to 6 am is our “sweet spot” where we (usually) get to sleep uninterrupted until our four little alarm clocks wake up. Surviving sometimes feels like thriving and a successful day sometimes means we didn’t fly off the handle and scream at one of our kids in a moment of complete weakness. It’s hard to remember that every day we are laying a foundation for our family through these difficult days. The discipline is not futile, teaching is worthwhile even though their attention spans are little and our rhythms are not worthless even if they seem chaotic or make no sense to anyone else on the outside looking in.

We have to continuously remind one another that things worth having aren’t built in a day, week, month, or year. It takes the consistency of disciplined hard work to build something of value, not perfection. I was probably one of the weakest, most undisciplined person out there… until I had kids. I liked things I could have immediately and see the fruit of quickly.  I cannot classify myself as being all that much better now but my kids have changed me into a more focused, driven, and disciplined person, not to mention opening my eyes to that extremely undisciplined person I was/am. MaK and I are building a foundation for our family. Right now the work kind of sucks (just being honest). There’s not a lot of encouragement, it can get a little lonely, the tension gets pretty high over here, and there is just so much freaking whining going on (not just from those 3 and under, MaK and I contribute heavily in that department too). We have to be reminded though that we are building something of great value and even if others don’t understand, each brick that is laid is important and has tremendous value in the foundation that is being built in our family.

We love our little girls more each day and hope and pray that through raising our children  the Lord will continually sharpen us through the struggles of parenthood. It’s kind of cool that the Lord teaches us about himself through the blessing of raising children even if they/we are little poop faces (cue video). Gotta love potty talk – we have no shortage of it over here.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been awhile.

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Thinking about resurrecting the old blog and stumbled on this final post that I wrote and never published back in September of 2014. MaK and I found out we were pregnant with Salem Christian when I wrote this… although, at the time, we were just a few weeks pregnant with her and didn’t know her name or face just yet (I was still holding out for a boy)…

**Unpublished Post from September, 2014**

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENT, JUST A LEGIT OLD POST FROM 2014. SERIOUSLY.

I haven’t written a post in almost a year. Why? Well, a lot of things have changed over the last year and although there has been much to document, I just haven’t been able or wanting to sort through it all. When I started blogging I wanted to do it so my kids had something to look back on, to see how God has been faithful in our families life. I hope this post is a testament to Gods faithfulness over the past year. So this is what’s been going on over the last year in the Dykstra household.

At the start of 2014 we decided as a family that it would be best if MaKenzie came home from providing for the family and spent her time providing in a different way. That’s right.. Full on, full out, full-time mothering. MaKenzie left her job at Housh Inc, and the plan was for me to start working. Now all I had to do was find a job. We felt strongly that The Lord was leading us to make this change for our family. The reasons were many, but I won’t get into the details. The main thing that I want to document is that we felt The Lord asking us to make this change, so we did. As January and February passed I could not find a job. It was scary, confusing, and a little frustrating as we watched our savings dwindle and no certainty of income in site.

As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months God provided for us in unique and creative ways neither one of us could have seen. I got side jobs, we got a huge tax refund (a benefit to having 3 kids in a year), people have given us money for no reason, we moved into another families house and rented our house out, bought an apartment building, and I have finally found a job.

This year we have lived In a state of unknown. We’ve been down to almost zero in our bank account several times but God has always been faithful, He has always provided, and He has never let us become over taken by our circumstances.

There’s been moment this year where I’ve questioned everything. Why did we do this? Was this from The Lord or was this from Ross? Am I leading our family into destruction? Are we going to be over taken, and although all of these things play through my mind daily, I believe we are living the story God wants for our family.

We have had one of the best years of our lives. Although the of money has been great, the joy of provision has been greater. Even though parenting three kids under two has been difficult, the joy of our children is greater. Even though this is not the story I would write , the testimony that God is forming in our life is so much better. We have learned that trying to live a life surrendered to Gods ways is HARD!!! But it is indescribably better than anything else.

As you well know if you’ve read any of my previous blogs, MaKenzie and I have decided to let God decide how many children we will have. So, it should come to no surprise that we are expecting our 4th child in February of 2015. 4 kids in 30 months:) I don’t know how everything will work out. Our days are long, hard, demanding, and sometimes overwhelming but as I look back on this last year I can see how faithful God is and no matter what comes our way, He is working for our good. I would rather live His story for our lives than be trying to come up with it myself.

– Ross

dad life part 2.

Larkyn SmileIn my last post I was really honest with what we are going through as a family but I feel like I made it sound like our lives are nothing but struggle and we have no fun around here. Let me just say, the days can be long and hard but our family still is having fun. Not the same kind of fun we had when it was just MaK and I, or just MaK, Maebyn, and I, but it’s still been a great time of life. So, with that said, I thought I’d share the brighter side of what three kids just one year a part is like.

After we got the diagnoses that the twins had TTTS our lives shifted in a dramatic way and it hasn’t been the same since. MaK and I really relished the time we had before the twins got here because we knew we’d be confined to our house for an unforeseen amount of time after they arrived. With having 2-4 doctors appointments a week and a one year old, our time was still limited in what we could do but we decided we were going to go out to eat while we still had the opportunity. We frequent Mexican restaurants and one time while walking into one of our favorite Mexican joints a woman stopped us (as was the usual with MaK’s huge belly and a not-quite-one-year-old). She asked us what we were having, how old was Maebyn, are you guys nuts, and this that and the other. Upon finding out that we were having twin girls, the elderly woman stopped talking leaned into me and said “Ya know, it takes a real man to blast the balls off.” I was honored by the comment but thought if she only knew I actually wanted to keep the balls on.

Mom and GirlsAnother thing that has been fun to see is how Maebyn has assumed her role as the second mother in the family. If one of the twins is crying, she’s right there with a paci, blanket, or bottle. She may not know how to use them or where exactly they should go but she knows one of those three things usually stops the crying. She already loves her sisters very much. Any time she can get to them, she wants to kiss them and hold them.  She does most things in series of two. Someone’s crying? Two paci’s are needed. If we’re blessed with another child and only one shows up next time, we’re gonna have some serious explaining to do. Also, she got two baby dolls for her birthday and all day long she carries one or both of her babies around saying “baby, baby” all the while rocking, burping, and pushing them around in her shopping cart. We love seeing how Maebyn has adjusted to the craziness of our life and how she already loves her sisters at such a young age.

cousinsAnother perk to being outnumbered by babies is the response we get when we’re out and about as a family. We went to Chipotle last week and not only did the cashier insist on carrying our food to the table but when we looked around the restaurant for a high chair and all were conveniently being used, a sweet family immediately lifted their little boy out of the high chair and brought it to me. The husband gave me a pat on the back and said “you guys need this way more than we do”. It sometimes feels like there must be a huge “HELP!” sign on my back when I take the girls out judging by the response I get.

We are finally starting to enjoy being a family of five. Yes, our lives are much different and mostly about our kids, but the joy that has come from having children and being parents is unmatched to the struggle. It’s taken 2 months to get out of the haze of bringing home 2 tiny babies but seeing them smile, snuggle each other, and get kisses from her sister have started to ease the daily frustrations. MaK and I both want a big family and are thankful for the three kids that the Lord has blessed our family with.

– Ross

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

Thoughts on faith

Ross_Maebyn_8monthsI’ve talked a lot about trying to increase our family’s faith in the last couple of posts and since I can’t think of anything else to write about I’m going to ramble on more about faith. Why? Well, the reason I started this blog was to record in some way our families story. My hope is that over the next couple days, weeks, months I can look back on this post and see areas where our faith has grown and areas where we still need to have more faith. It’s a good way to remember along the journey.

Even now, it’s funny to look back 5 months when I first started writing and see where a seemingly simple decision to trust God with conception has landed us in a place where we will have three girls in less than a year. I’m still amazed by this and if children are a blessing, we have been richly blessed this year. Although I have been humbled by this blessing, I’m tempted everyday to stare into the details of life and become overwhelmed. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times… I hate not being in control. If I look back on my life, I have some pretty strong examples that I’ve never really been in control in the first place but feeling out of control starts to grip me with fear. If I’m really honest, the root of my fear rests in the fact that at the core of me I don’t want to trust God. It’s too scary. Too risky. I don’t trust that He is good and that He is trying to train me up in His ways. I’ve had the tendency to look upon my circumstances with fear and that has downward spiraled me into some of the hardest years of my life.

I’ve always viewed faith like this – Sure, God, I’ll take a leap of faith, now God please lead me into a place of comfort and security. I see how God has honored my steps of faith but it hasn’t always led me into a place of comfort. Actually, the opposite has often been the case. I’ve often taken the lack of comfort not as an opportunity to walk in increased faith but more as a punishment for something good I was trying to do. It’s caused me to doubt and question my decisions that I knew where right and wish I had chosen the latter. And interestingly enough, years (sometimes months) down the road I can look back and see why the landing place that seemed comfort-free was exactly what my heart needed. Need examples? OK, here we go…

When I got married about five years ago, MaKenzie and I decided to live in Cincinnati. I took a job as an insurance provider and she found a job at a publishing company. Long story short, she’s found nothing but success in her career thereafter and I found nothing but failure.  For years I was mad at God. I walked in faith moving down to Cincinnati. I knew this is where He wanted us to live, so why was this happening? I started to doubt Gods plan for me in Cincinnati. I thought to myself, our family should have moved to Michigan where my dad could have helped me find a job and then things would have been better for ME. This lasted for about 3 years. It was not fun and I was not the best husband I could have been. The story revolved around me and since I hadn’t found “my calling” just yet, I was unhappy. Not a fun way to live.

A lot has changed in me over the past couple of months and a lot of that has to do with my new found title of Stay at Home Dad. However, the biggest change has been one of perspective. If I’m the center of the story then all these things I’ve discussed previously in this blog culminate into me being one gigantic failure and that’s tough to live with. However, if God is the center of the story then all these circumstances are ones in which He was trying to train, teach, and disciple me for His good purposes. This has brought me and my family so much freedom. What I’ve learned about faith is its not about taking huge leaps into the unknown hoping to come out into a place of comfort but rather willingly walking in the unknown and trusting that the Lord will train, teach, and disciple your hearts so that you can dive deeper into knowing He’s in control.

Ross

The Aftermath

ross_maebynThe faith journey has started. With the events of Saturday still fresh in our minds the battle of Who is actually in control has already started. We are not the first to go through a multiples pregnancy and we won’t be the last but just like a lot of “new” things go, the unknown can be scary.
We’ve begun to read more about what goes into actually carrying 2 instead of 1 and the information, reality, and struggles have become more real with every passing minute.

 

When we first found out we were pregnant again, we thought the biggest trying of our faith would come from the increased responsibility, lack of time, and drained resources. Although these will still be ever-present, the immediate call to faith has been in MaK’s new found state of carrying not just one but two babies.

 

As any mother knows, going through your first pregnancy or any pregnancy for that matter… is all consuming. When MaK was first pregnant, it was such a new and wonderful experience. It seemed like we were learning something new everyday about what goes on inside the woman’s body that allows it to make a new life. MaK was always reading new things, gathering information, and trying to take care of her body in the best way possible. It was exciting but at the same time scary. There was another life inside of her and she was responsible for literally carrying for that child 24/7. Seriously, to all the mom’s out there – I applaud you. It is no easy task. This is not something I can even begin to understand but the constant concern for your child while its inside of you I’m sure can be so overwhelming at times. After Maebyn was born, and we decided to try and have another kid, pregnancy wasn’t nearly as daunting to MaK as the first go-around. She had been there and done that and although she would never take the responsibility lightly it was something that was more comfortable the second time around.

 

All that to say, carrying twins is completely different than carrying just one baby. It’s considered a high risk pregnancy so there will be more time spent in the doctors office, more attention to her health, and a greater responsibility placed on her. It’s like being pregnant again for the first time. All of the fear, uncertainty, and newness of pregnancy is back and the battle of trusting the Lord through this time has started.
I feel like with any and every pregnancy there is an element of faith involved. A successful birth, baby, and mom are not promised. Even through a healthy pregnancy, there are waiting periods – times of unknown – and many opportunities to simply rely on God. For some reason, probably because of a healthy last pregnancy, it never crossed my mind that these next 9 (or less) months would be one of the biggest leaps of faith throughout this journey. I thought this was the easy part. My eyes were solely on what was to come after the babies were born, however, God has elevated our desire for increased faith and is forcing us to trust Him through this unknown circumstance.

 

I desperately want to trust The Lord more and have a deep faith in Him but to be perfectly honest, over the past couple of days, I just want to have a little bit of the control back. I want to somehow shoulder the weight that rests on MaK’s shoulders, I’m scared for the health and safety of the babies, and I’m overwhelmed by all the changes that need to occur before these babies arrive. The only thing that brings me peace is the fact that I have very little control (or, none at all) over many of these things… which leads me to believe that the Lord is trying to deepen our families faith in Him. As we continue on through this journey I am ever aware of the fear that is trying to grip us both. Our hope lies not in the little control that we have but in our faith that we have a good Dad who is telling a very good story and we are overjoyed to be a part of it.

 

Ross