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

My brother’s wedding

Ryans WeddingThis past weekend my little brother got married to a wonderful woman (formally known as Taylor Timmer, now the newest Mrs. Dykstra). It was so special to me for many reasons. Reason #1… a month ago we weren’t sure we’d even be able to attend but by God’s mercy and healing power, He allowed us to make the trip as a family. Reason #2… I got to be the best man in my little brother’s wedding, what an honor. Reason #3… I had such a fun time this weekend getting to be around all of my family. Sometimes it just feels so good to be home and this weekend was one of those times.

Below is my best man speech from the wedding. It’s not exactly what I said, because I basically cried through the entire thing and lost my place several times and then freestyled at the end, but you get the drift. The opening line/ joke was compliments of Brent Kruithof (thanks buddy, everyone seemed to like it). I wanted to post this just to honor my brother Ryan and remind him of how much getting to be his best man meant to me.

I’m not very comfortable speaking in front of large crowds, so this is probably going to be the most awkward five minutes of my life. Of course, the most awkward five minutes of Ryan’s life will come later tonight.

Ryan, We’ve been brothers now for almost 23 years. I remember the day you were born. I was so excited to have a brother. At 6, I wasn’t really sure what all that entailed but I remember vividly being so excited you were a boy. When we were younger the fondest memories I have of us is how much we use to play together. I think I spent most of my childhood throwing things at you and you spent most of yours dodging them. Whether it was dodgeball in the dark, running from room to room not trying to get hit with a ball, dodge ball off of the diving board, or playing pickle, one thing is for certain and that is we spent a lot of time playing together. I was so proud to be your big brother.

As we grew up together you began to copy just about everything I did. If you don’t know me and you only know Ryan… Basically, every phase ryan has gone through in his life, I’ve also gone through, whether its shoes, big earrings, hats, baseball, or whatever… I’m not sure why but this always seemed to annoy me and at the same time I wanted you to copy me and I liked it. Over the past couple years I feel like I’m actually just starting to get to know you. It’s funny to me to see how much alike we are, and even funnier how much like dad we both are. The more I get to know you the more alike I see that we are. You have quickly become my best friend. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to realize that. The first thing that came to my mind when you asked me to be your best man, was I wish you had been mine. I’m so honored that you asked me to be your best man on this day. I’m very proud of who you are, who you’ve chosen to marry, and the way you live your life. I am so thankful to have a brother like you. You are marrying a great girl that I know will only encourage you to walk deeper with The Lord. Taylor you have a beautiful heart and I am so thankful Ryan has you to walk through life with.

One thing that The Lord has taught me over the last year is that one of the biggest ways He disciples our hearts to look more like His is through marriage/family. You will learn more about yourselves, each other, and most importantly God through these two things. The only peace of advice that I would give to you is, be ever mindful of what The Lord is teaching you. Everything you go through is for his good purposes and He is guiding you every step of the way.

Love your big brother,

Ross

 

A New Adventure Starts

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

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

 

 

 

APRIL FOOLS!

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

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

Ross

The 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

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

To my baby momma

galsBeing a stay at home dad or parent has its perks. My days are wide open and there is not much you can’t do with just one kid. Maebyn and I go to Lowes, the gym, the grocery store, and install closet doors together. She’s my little helpmate and wherever I go there she is also. I’m never alone anymore if MaKenzie is gone, and although it has its challenges, I’ve really enjoyed spending the days with her. She’s enthralled with me and everything I do now, I can tell she’s watching. Plus, who doesn’t love having their personal little smile-machine along for the ride everyday?

In the past few weeks something has been weighing on my mind. Is Maebyn getting the best of me? I’d say for the most part, she is. I’m not perfect but the majority of my day is spent serving her needs… but is that really the best of me? I first realized how selfish I inherently was when I got married. Putting someone else’s needs before mine… now that’s a struggle. I’m sorry MaK, you know as well as I do, this isn’t something that came naturally to me. My wife MaKenzie is my best friend but I can still so easily chose myself before her. Then I became a parent and I really realized that deep down inside I am very selfish. My desires, my wantings, and some of my needs have been forced to come second to the little one’s. As any parent knows, this is not always easy. You want to sleep more, have a quiet meal, and go on dates at the drop of a hat. However, my days are spent trying to give Maebyn the best that I have. It’s my responsibility not only as her father but as her primary caretaker everyday.

My wife however, is forced to expel most of her energy at work. She is a hard worker and has a great job but as any parent that works 40+ hours a week knows.. it’s exhausting. It’s especially hard to come home and have to parent, be a friend, daughter, entrepreneur, sister and wife on top of it all. She is an amazing selfless wife and without her our family would be lost. She is a rock solid woman and I am so lucky to be her husband. Not a day goes by that I am not so thankful for her. I may not always show it but I feel blessed to be married to her. I am proud of her and the mother that she is. Although many may not realize the sacrifices that she makes for our family, I do. So I say thank you, MaKenzie. You are an amazing wife, mother, daughter and friend. Anyone who knows you is blessed.

Your husband and best pal,

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

Help! … I’m Helpless!

sick mom and baby

The two sickies at the Dykstra household.

On Mondays MaKenzie works from home. They are generally pretty good days because I get to see her most of the day, I can run an errand or two, and we usually eat breakfast and lunch together. If she didn’t have to work all day, Mondays would be perfect. Today however, was a different story and it all started when the clock struck midnight.

Maebyn’s been a great sleeper ever since she was born (12 hours a night since 6 weeks Woo Woo!!) but the last couple weeks have been terrible and last night was much of the same. It’s not her fault. She just figured out she can roll to her belly and discoveries this monumental are enough to keep anyone up at night. All that to say, Maebyn has her first cold and she’s just not feeling well today. On top of this, MaKenzie has felt sick the entire day but has needed to work, thus adding to the frustration level in the house. I also may or may not have added to this stress by taking 2 hours to work out, a couple more to look at potential rehab houses, and generally just being out of the house longer than I should have on a day like today.

When I got home, MaKenzie and I calmly and quietly discussed a couple things that she thought I could do differently when she is working from home, particularly when she and Maebyn are sick. I politely agreed and thanked her for her correction and keeping me accountable to my responsibilities. I then led our family in a prayer where I repented for all my wrong doings and finally we all joined hands and began singing in perfect harmony. Pretty much the exact opposite of all these things is what actually happened. Use your imagination. It’s probably not far off.

I so badly wanted to take away MaKenzie and Maebyn’s sickness today but I couldn’t. I think it was my first experience as a helpless parent. There’s been plenty of times over the past 4 years where I’ve felt like a helpless husband but today was the first time I’ve felt it as a parent. Maebyn has a cold, so I know this is a very small scale to feel this on but none the less it sucks. I want to have control and on days like today I was reminded that I, actually, I have very little control over the day to day happenings of our life.

All in all it wasn’t that great of a day but a day spent with my wife and daughter can’t be categorized as a bad day. Till next time…

The only healthy one in the fam,

Ross