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

Medically impossible?

Fight TTTSIt has been a good week… a very good week to say the least. Our Monday ultrasound got moved to Tuesday due to the holiday weekend and we were anxious to find out what was going on with the girls. We had received good reports the week prior and MaK and I were curious to find out if the pessimistic doctors’ negativity was actually the reality of the TTTS diagnosis. I guess in order to accurately describe what happened today I’ll have to start at the beginning of our diagnosis and go from there.

On May 6, we spent about ten hours at Cincinnati Children’s hospital having an MRI, high level ultrasound, and echocardiogram performed on MaK and the girls. After the MRI and ultrasound, we got a call from our nurse informing MaK that she should not eat anything until our final consultation. Based on the results from the testing thus far – they expected us to be in the operating room by end of day. At the time, the nurse didn’t explain anything further and just reiterated that we would have a consultation with the specialist(s)/surgeons after our last test. We had no idea what was going on. We had no idea why we might need surgery at the end of the day. And we had no idea what the results of the tests were. Going into this day, MaKenzie and I prayed that we would not hope or despair in anything the doctors told us. We would not worry and we would walk through this hoping in the Lord and resting in the fact that He is in control.

Around 4 in the afternoon we finally got to meet with our team of specialists. All our tests were completed and we had just been sitting around for about an hour or so waiting for our consultation. Our hearts were heavy and we were pretty sure that MaK would have surgery that night. We met with a maternal fetal specialist, another doctor (I don’t remember his fancy title), our nurse and a liaison for the hospital. It was a pretty intimidating meeting. They had all of our tests pulled up on a projection screen and through a series of detailed reports and images, they began to give us the prognosis. In Twin-to-Twin (TTTS), there is a “donor” and “recipient” – the donor baby is the smaller of the two who is essentially sharing too much with the “recipient” baby, who is larger and receiving much more blood and nutrients. They told us that the donor baby had less than 2 cm of amniotic fluid and the recipient had around 17 cm (average is around 5-6 per baby with identicals, but can range some). With that knowledge, it was obvious that one twin was working extra, extra hard to process the extreme excess fluid in her sac and her heart was showing signs of being overworked. In turn, the smaller twin wasn’t getting what she needed in the process. The specialists’ diagnosis was that our girls had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion, a very serious (and extremely rare) condition that happens only with identical twins. Without any treatment, the mortality rate of TTTS is 80-100%. At the end of our consultation I asked the doctors if they ever saw this condition right itself, or if the fluid levels could ever even out “on their own”. His response was, if they diagnose it as true Twin-to-Twin (which they had), the fluid levels never equal out and medical intervention is necessary for the best chance of survival for the babies. He said they found enough evidence that suggested that our girls were currently in Stage 1, with a forecast of progression on the horizon. The TTTS can progress quickly or remain at a plateau at any moments notice. The good news from that day was MaK did not need to have any immediate procedures and we could go home and continue to pray for God to heal.

The following Monday we had another ultrasound to see if the symptoms were still progressing. The tests showed that the twins still had fluid levels of 17 and 2. Our doctor came in after the ultrasound and basically explained to us that we should do an amniotic reduction because it is the first step in battling this disease and that we were on a time crunch for a number of different reasons. We asked for a couple minutes to talk over what we wanted to do. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to do medical procedure, it was the fact that if we did a medical procedure it felt like our hope would transfer from God to the procedure and we were desperately trying to hope in the Lords healing. MaK and I said a quick prayer and asked God to not let us step outside of His will for this situation and that He would be clear on what we should do. After a couple minutes the doctor came back in and we told him we would do the amniotic reduction. He looked at us like we were crazy and said “why?” We were flabbergasted he reacted this way. Just 5 minutes ago he was telling us we needed to have the procedure done. His response surprised us, “Even though I’d get paid for this procedure and it’s no sweat off my back, I know you both are uncomfortable with doing this right now, so why don’t we just wait a few days?”. WOW… answered prayer!!! Later that week we found out that even though the fluid levels had not changed it looked like we were progressing into stage three of Twin-to-Twin but still no procedures were necessary.

All of this leads me to yesterday. We had our ultrasound Tuesday morning and the girls fluid levels were at 5.5 and 5.6… an almost identical measurement, something all the specialists had ruled out as impossible to happen naturally. Ever since we received the diagnosis just one week ago that it looked like we were entering into Stage three, our girls’ have been slowly but surely sharing with one another (that’s what MaK and I keep saying). Literally, one is decreasing so that the other might increase – so that both can grow. This trend has been so obvious that every time we go in for our bi-weekly test the medical teams that perform our ultrasound keep asking if we’ve had any procedures and when we tell them no… they can’t believe it. Our medical team can’t explain what is going on, in fact at the last appointment one of the doctors kept shaking his head and saying “I don’t know, I just.. I don’t know… this is not medically possible”.

There’s no “out of the woods” with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. It is a battle that carries a lingering unknown with each new day. Progression can occur at any moment in the pregnancy. Today, though, and this week, we are recognizing that our Healer is on the move and we are thankful for the three, healthy growing Dykstra girls that God has entrusted to MaK and I. Maebyn and her sisters have a story to tell and we pray that we are able to lead them and love them the way our God is so deeply loving us through this journey. It’s His story after all, not ours.

Ross & MaKenzie

Back from Mexico

Ross_and_TueyWe got back from the Back2Back campus in Monterrey, Mexico, early Sunday morning and I’ve been wanting to post about how our trip went but hadn’t been able to pin point exactly what I wanted to say. It was great to be able to go on this trip with MaKenzie but we both sure did miss our little baby Maebyn. Funny how your life changes from checking facebook or email in your free time to watching (and re-watching) the same videos over and over of your kids when you’re away from them. Even though MaKenzie and I were together on this trip, our family still felt separated. Although we greatly missed our daughter the trip was great and we experienced a lot in the 5 days we were in Mexico. I couldn’t help but see her face in the faces of the kids at the orphanages we visited and my heart broke over and over, thinking that they did not have a parent somewhere out there who was missing them like I was her.

While we were in Mexico our days were pretty planned out for us. Some days we worked, some days we played with kids, and some days we did both. Our main work project consisted of laying a concrete floor in a new building that was being constructed as a new MaK_Ross_Mexicoorphan home. We worked tirelessly and managed to lay 50 yards of concrete in 115 degree heat (yes, you read that right… 115 heat index one day). It was tough work to say the least but it felt good to be working and working with a purpose. It was also fun to spend some time with MaKenzie’s co-workers and get to know the people she is around everyday in the office. She’s lucky, they are a great bunch and tons of fun. All in all, it was just fun for us to serve. Isn’t there something about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty with hard work that makes the end of the day that much sweeter? MaK had a big impact on the children and the adults there. She did not do or say anything that made that impact, it was merely the fact that she was pregnant, in a vulnerable state, and still willing to serve and work alongside of us. She did everything we did and did not sit out of anything – despite my asking millions of times for her to slow down. The Lord greatly used this act of servant-hood to speak to the people there. Everyone we came in contact with couldn’t believe that a woman, pregnant, much less pregnant with twins, would come and help serve them. I think her act of merely “going” really showed the people of Monterrey love and that was really humbling to see. She’s got a pretty cool testimony from the whole experience too, God worked in some powerful ways in her own life.

Work_Team_AngleAfter having several days to think about our experience there was one point I felt like God kept impressing on my heart in a different way each day and that was the reality of poverty – in many different facets – that exists in our world today. In the places we personally visited throughout Monterrey, physical poverty was obvious and all around, yet that wasn’t what struck me. Beth Guckenberger, the woman who started Back2Back Ministries with her husband Todd, talked about different kinds of poverty; financial poverty, relational poverty, spiritual poverty, and emotional poverty. All I could see was the physical poverty that was all around me but as the week went on, I started to see that the physical/ financial poverty was not having the biggest impact on the children and the other areas of poverty (relational, spiritual, emotional, etc.) was really making an impact on them individually. Don’t get me wrong, we are called to serve the poor and needy and there is a big need there but I began to see how we all live in a state of literal poverty in so many areas of our life and just because it might not be as obvious to the naked eye as financial poverty, we ignore it.

As we went from one orphanage to the next and met different kids from different areas it became more and more obvious what a significant impact Back2Back was having. Children who were a part of the Hope Program and in the Back2Back sponsored MaKenzieorphanages seemed to be more spiritually, emotionally, and relationally rich. The impact of being in a family setting where there was a father and mother figure teaching these things made a huge difference into the whole development of the children. I was impressed by the development of children who have had to deal with abandonment, abuse, and neglect from the moment they were born. Was there still financial poverty there? Yes, but what stuck out to me the most was that the kids that were in the most danger where the ones stricken with emotional, spiritual, and relational poverty. These areas of poverty were all directly correlated to events that have taken place in these kids lives – events that warrant feeling angry, hurt and confused about relationships, especially their relationship with God. Whether it was abuse, abandonment, no provision, or not feeling loved they all lead to a place of poverty in their lives.

Ross DykstraI couldn’t help but feel like we all live in poverty in one or more of these areas. We live in an affluent culture where we rarely come in contact with physical poverty like in Mexico but the other forms of poverty are alive and well within every society and culture. No parent wants to pass along the burden of financial poverty to their children. This is eminent in almost every culture and especially America. We all want better lives for our kids and for most of us that means trying to pass down more opportunities for provision than what we had – or continuing the trend of tirelessly working at the cost of our family. Whether knowingly or unknowingly we pass down our emotional, spiritual, and relational poverty to our kids without a second thought. These are things that we can not always see, they aren’t valued by our culture, and it’s hard to measure so they get shoved aside in our pursuit for “a better life”. I’ve been wondering how often I excuse my own decisions and motivations to obtain something that is here and now, while making my family and children sacrifice in the process. Makes me think of 1 Corinthians 9: 25 – “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

The lasting impression from Monterrey that I pray stays with me always is that I want my family to be spiritually, relationally, and emotionally rich. I don’t want my family to live in financial poverty but the thing that I most long for our family to be wealthy in is loving one another and others from a holistic, healthy heart. To love as we have been so greatly loved.

Happy to back in America but thankful to have had the opportunity to serve,

Ross

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

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

Two for the price of one

girlsControl? Ha. I guess when you talk about ultimate surrender to God, you should expect a curveball, right? Today was just that (and then some more).

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
— Isaiah 55:8-9

This morning we went to have our first ultrasound for Baby Dykstra #2. We were so excited to find out if we were going to have a girl or a boy. My mind set going into this ultrasound was much different than the last one with Maebyn. When we found out we were having a girl last year I think I almost cried, and not from excitement. It’s embarrassing… but it’s the truth. I wanted a boy so bad and I was somewhat heartbroken that Maebyn was a girl when the technician let the cat out of the bag. I’m not proud of my response but like I said, that’s where I was and it took me a while to get over it. I don’t think I truly got over it until she was born. The day I met Maebyn I realized it didn’t matter if she was a boy or a girl, but that she was mine. I was in love and that love has only increased each and every day. Me and MaK say all the time that we can’t even imagine having a boy first – we’re thankful God knew what He was doing in our family and it was better than what we wanted to “plan” ourselves.

So this morning we went to the same ultra sound place, sat in the same room and looked at the same screen. I was determined to be excited no matter if it was a boy or a girl. Deep down inside though, I knew I still wanted a boy. But, in all honesty, I was OK with a girl because then Maebyn would have an almost twin sister. I put Maebyn on my lap as we eagerly awaited the big screen to light up and show us our new family member. The technician rubbed the warm jelly over Mak’s over inflated belly (I could tell Maeby was excited because she was bouncing up and down on my legs) – the tension was mounting! I was trying my best not to drop her because I was shaking so bad with all the nerves that were racing through my body.

As the ultrasound started, the technician paused, looked at us and said “Is this your first ultra sound?” We said yes and then she asked, “And how far along are you?”. MaK looked a bit nervous but calmly replied “17 weeks”. The technician moved the device to get a better look, then stuttered through the next phrase, “Well… there are two babies in here, guys…” Say what!? Can you count again, please? Trust the Lord, give Him control of how many children we will have, trust that He will provide. These are all things I posted in my blog when we announced we were pregnant and today these statements have started to be truly tested. The technician continued, “And, guess what… these two little ones are sharing a placenta and appear to be identical… yep, identical twin girls!

I don’t know how to accurately describe my emotions. I’m mostly excited, somewhat nervous, and just in awe of what is going on. Needless to say, I was so in shock from the news that the sex of the babies really seemed unimportant (still can’t believe I just typed “babies“). It hit me a couple minutes later that I would be the father of 3 baby girls. Not to mention, because MaK will probably deliver earlier with the twins – three baby girls under one years old. I’m proud of my reaction this time. I was disappointed we aren’t having a boy, but this time I am elated at the opportunity just to be blessed with another child, and then another one again.

We’ve always wanted twins but I’m not sure we would have picked to have three under one. If the goal for our family was to live comfortably and have kids but still have time for ourselves this would be a difficult situation to undertake. This season will be difficult, exhausting, scary, and filled with unknowns. However, if increasing our families faith is the ultimate goal, this situation will be one that will force our faith to grow as we watch where the Lord leads. There are many unknowns right now. We’ll need a new car to fit three car seats, we’ll need more strollers and whatever else you need for babies times three and most importantly… we’ll need renewed faith each day that God has us in this season for a purpose. God is on the move and we can feel it in a deep, deep way today. Our hope is that as the unknowns continue to grow so will our faith. We have no idea what we are about to enter into but there is an intense excitement that is welling up in MaKenzie and I both as we get the opportunity to trust in the Lord on a deeper level.

Praise the Lord for 2 for the price of 1.

The Dykstra Family

The Dad-Friendly Drinking Game

Dad and MaebynIf you’re a stay-at-home parent, do you ever have weeks/months that feel like you’ve been doing the same thing non-stop? With or without a set “routine”, you still feel like you end up doing the exact same thing, every… single… day. Today was no different for me. It was dark, rainy and cold and I could tell from the moment I woke up, I needed something to help the day be more exciting. Being a stay at home dad is fun but sometimes you have to find ways of entertaining yourself, just as much as you do the little one. So before I went to work out at 9 am, I came up with a little game I would play throughout the day. It was called “see how much water I could drink” – aka The Dad-Friendly Drinking Game (my, how times have changed). I usually try to drink a lot of water throughout the day but today I was even more determined to really go after it.

 

I got to the gym a little after nine and immediately had to pee. I had already consumed 24 oz of water prior to my work out and my system was already processing at a high level. Let the games begin! Throughout my work-out I probably consumed 32 oz more and was really starting to feel hydrated. Upon my arrival home, I mixed a bottle for the little one and mixed a little protein shake for myself. I always tell Maebyn that if she’s drinking a supplement shake then I might as well be joining her. It’s kind of odd how our two lives are really becoming identical – I mix a powdery substance into some purified water for her, shake it up… and then do the same thing for myself. After my protein shake, I stared back at the water to measure the ounces. It wasn’t even 11 a.m. and I was over 100 oz. I was definitely winning my self-made game and it was giving me a sense of accomplishment. #dadproblems

 

However, with all of this water drinking I was literally having to use the restroom every 15 minutes. We went to Kroger to get a couple groceries and I found myself in the bathroom twice within that time frame. The game was spicing up the day but it was also causing me to spent a decent amount of time in the restroom. It seemed like the game was getting the best of me but I wasn’t going to have that. I decided to amp up the water drinking. All in all I think I’m up to a little over 200 oz today. I’d have to say I think I won. In fact, that’s an affirmative, I definitely won. I’ve never drank this much water in a day and I’ve also never peed this much in a day either. If that’s not a solid victory, I’m not sure what is.

 

Monday Fun-day, folks.

 

Ross

My Stay-at-Home Journey

MaebynStay at home dad… that’s my current title but that’s not what I set out to be. I always wanted to be a husband and father but I just saw these things as a part of my life and not the driving force that influenced my every decision. What I really wanted after I graduated from college was a JOB.  A good job, a well paying job, and an occupation that was fulfilling. With out really realizing it, I began my quest to form my identity in a job. Thankfully, The Lord has never allowed me to and here I am as a stay at home dad, more fulfilled and purpose driven than I could ever imagine.I started my professional career as a car salesman. Not exactly the break-out profession I had in mind once I received my diploma. I was barely making minimum wage and i spent most of my time surfing the internet and trying to overcome boredom rather than honing in on any type of skill. No big deal, I knew I was going to quit in a year, move down to Cincinnati, and start my career after I got married. After I got married I started a promising new career in insurance. My father in law owns a Nationwide agency and I thought that this would be the opportunity I was looking for. It was a good job and I learned a lot from those two plus years. Unfortunately, one of the things I learned was insurance sales was not for me.

While still working at Nationwide, MaKenzie and I started rehabbing the house we bought. It was a lot of work but I learned a lot through the process. When I quit Nationwide I started the search for a new job. When nothing turned up I decided to work at Lowes while I continued to look for a new career. I thought I’d at least be able to get some discounts on supplies as we worked to finish our house. Needless to say, I was still a long ways off from where I’d thought I’d be after graduating from college. It was 4 years down the road and I was making less than what I did during the summers in college. MaKenzie and I spent many a nights talking about my dissatisfaction with where life seemed to be taking me. What was I doing? Why couldn’t I find a job? With a kid on the way I decided to take a crack at flipping a house in hopes of turning it into a business. We started the house while I was still working at Lowes and sold it shortly after Maebyn was born. It was a blessing and something we hope to continue to do but, for right now, it’s not something that I could turn into a career.

After all this, I somewhat begrudgingly accepted my responsibility to stay home with our daughter. I wanted my daughter to have a parent around at all times I just didn’t want it to be me. I was thankful that our daughter did not have to go to daycare, I just didn’t want to be the one staying home. I wanted to be the provider, I wanted the satisfaction of providing, and I was jealous of all the success MaKenzie has had in her career. Why the hell were our roles so reversed?

Through this whole process God has deeply humbled my heart. I spent the vast majority of our first 4 years of marriage complaining, whining, and being ungrateful for what was going on in our lives. When I look back now, I think to myself, Wow, what a waste of precious time! I did not believe that God was working for my good. I thought, He is screwing me and I don’t deserve this. Does He not see how hurt I am? I’ve been good, tried to live a good life, I deserve a good job. Thankfully, in His time, He has humbled me, crushed what I deemed as important, and had enough grace to reveal to me what He deems as important. My identity is found in being His son, and He is teaching me everyday through being a husband and a father more and more about life.

I still want to work and I still want to provide for our family but I am now thankful for my previous failures because it has opened my eyes to God’s grace and understanding of what it actually means to be a father. These are all insecurities that are still alive and well inside of me, but my hope rests not in my failures but in the provision of The Lord. There’s freedom in releasing yourself from the constraints of what our culture/society deem the norm. It can be scary to be different than what you’ve always thought you’d be, or find yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be in but the center of God’s will is the place I pray I always find myself and my family in, no matter how different or non-conventional it might look to the world. He is guiding my heart and aligning it with His so that I can be the leader our family needs. I’m seven months in and I can not believe how in love I am with being a dad.

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