This past weekend, we took a little road trip to Chicago for Campus Catalyst, a training conference for public campus ministry sponsored by the NAD and hosted by North Shore Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was great to spend time with old friends and to make new ones too. It is such a blessing to be involved in ministry.
During most of the meetings, I hung out with the kids and Bentley. It was Bentley’s first time in Chicago. He loved the squirrels the best. We walked to a park nearby to help the kids release some energy. On Saturday, we wanted to do something special for the kids so we ordered Chicago pizza from Pequods while they swam in the hotel pool. No joke people – it was the most disgusting pizza I’ve ever had in my life. The crust was thick, dry, crumbly, and stale. There was hardly any cheese. The tomato sauce was watery and bland. And the edges of the crust were burned black. It made Pizza Hut taste like a Michelin 3 starred restaurant. Worse yet, each pie cost over $20! We each managed to scrap off the top layer of one piece, but we couldn’t do much more than that. We called to get our money back. We’re going to have to give Chicago pizza another go next time…definitely at a different pizza place. Pequods, you let us down!
We were able to spend time with Jukes & Aileen and the kids while we were there. It was nice that they were only a few miles away from the conference! We enjoyed talking and catching up. On Sunday, we ate at Native Foods, an amazing vegan restaurant. Here, Chicago redeemed itself after our Pequods incident. I had the best vegan sandwich I’ve ever eaten. It was the crispy chicken, bacon and avocado sandwich. Amazing! Then we spent our final hours there at the Shedd Aquarium.
Making fishy faces with cousins in front of the fishes!
We had a great weekend and hope we can come back again soon!
With our boys getting older, we’ve become veterans when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of baby tooth losing…or pulling…or falling out. To date, Imanuel has lost 8 teeth and Micah has lost 2. Ty is still dreaming of the day he discovers his first wiggly tooth. Israel and I both had our share of doing the honors of making that final yank and seeing the joy on the boys’ faces. This last time, Micah had a very unique situation. His bottom adult tooth grew in behind his baby tooth so it didn’t push the baby tooth out. So, when the baby tooth got quite wiggly, we were excited to know that he wouldn’t grow up with layers of teeth like that of a shark.
The day Micah’s tooth was quite shaky and almost ready, Israel was out of town and over the phone, he entrusted Imanuel to do the honors of pulling out Micah’s loose tooth. I wasn’t sure if that was a good idea, but he did it! And he did it in his own creative way:
Over the course of the last several months, we prayerfully made the decision to send the two older boys, Imanuel and Micah, to our local Adventist junior academy. It is called Greater Lansing Adventist School. We are very pleased with our decision and the boys are loving it. Imanuel’s teacher is Heidi Hunt and Micah’s teacher is Julia Robinson. The principal is an excellent educator and Christian, Judy Shull. We praise God for this school and for their dedication to Adventism and education.
Their first day of school was August 19, 2014. Here are some pics from that day and also some pics of what Ty did that day.
Meanwhile back at home with Mama…
And Ty gets his first golf lesson from Grandpa on the green. 😉
I don’t do as much as I should for Judy. She never misses an important day, anniversary, special moment. She plans ahead with incredible detail for weeks and months in advance when people are coming over or when we are hosting a special event.
When it comes to family, she’s even more meticulous in her preparation.
I knew that when our tenth-year anniversary rolled around, I wanted to do something special. It had to be more meaningful than spending a lot of money to show how much I appreciate her and all that she’s done for our relationship.
At first, the plan I had was to take a trip to Tahiti–where we had our honeymoon and fell in love all over again. I saved up years of air miles to ensure free tickets. However, in the fall of last year, we were surprised to find out that another baby boy was joining the Ramos Family! Unfortunately, to our dismay, we lost him.
We were devastated and this proved to be one of the most difficult journeys we’ve traveled together. But God is faithful.
Already committed to staying in the US during our anniversary, I had to plan something different for the girl who has been the biggest blessing in my life. Since we’d been married for 10 years, I decided on preparing 10 meaningful moments together. Here are a few of them (the rest are none of your business):
Torino was voted as the 2014 Detroit restaurant of the year by the Detroit Free Press. Calling them ahead of time, they agreed to prepare a nine-course vegetarian meal for me and my special date while Auntie Kimmy took care of the boys for the evening.
The meal included a non-alcoholic beverage service. The whole experience was great and the food bordered between delicious and sometimes, incredible.
The staff made the night extra special by providing a menu for us that wished us a happy anniversary. Their customer service was very good!
After enjoying a great meal, we drove to Judy’s old stomping grounds — the home where she grew up. We drove through her neighborhood and checked out places where she played and made a lot of childhood memories.
The next day was the day of our actual anniversary — 7/11. Since we’ve been married for 10 years, I thought it’d be great to renew our vows. What better place to recommit our lives to each other than Grace Orchard — our home.
In our backyard, we have a lovely little gazebo that I thought was perfect for this kind of event. So the boys and I planned out a service together. Manu was my best man and Micah and Ty walked their mom down the aisle.
For the ceremony, the boys got new dress gear from Gap.
They were able to serve as witnesses to their parents’ commitment to each other. Following the wedding ceremony, we all participated in a wedding reception. The highlights of our reception included a wedding cake from Meijer, fruit-by-the-foot favors from Judy, chocolate, and old pictures and items from our wedding ten years back.
We looked at old pictures and letters and told the boys stories of way back. Their constant giggles were a strong indication of how much they enjoyed listening to them.
They came prepared to be guests of honor, bringing loads of gifts. Each gift was more valuable. First they gave us an envelop full of pennies. By the end, they gave us their treasured 2-dollar bills!
The last ten years have brought many experiences. To have a partner that genuinely loves and accepts me for who I am even though they are thoroughly aware of my weaknesses and insufficiencies is as incredible as grace itself. The one person who has every reason not to love me is also my best friend — what a thought. It reminds me of Someone else — a Person she points me to and teaches me about every day of our lives together. Thanks, Judy!
Life over the last ten years has been full of ups and downs. We have experienced life’s most joyous events, we have encountered our most toughest challenges, and we have struggled together to weather our roughest storms. Our journey has taken us to the Upper Peninsula and back. For three of those years, air travel around the world reached beyond 300,000 air miles. Simultaneously, more than 150,000 miles were driven on our faithful Freestyle. Manu enjoyed the luxuries of first class travel while visiting different parts of Europe and America. And the three boys became men hitting a record 9 hours of driving without potty breaks! Our kids are growing too fast before our eyes. Soon, they will be making memories outside of our tightly knit family circle. For now, we have enjoyed every minute with them. Well, almost every minute. If there is one lesson that 10 years has taught us, it is this: with all the ups and downs, and side-to-side adventures; we’d choose for ourselves the life that God has given us together. We’d choose it a million times over.
With the help of Judy’s parents, we upgraded our garden. For two days straight, we worked until we literally couldn’t move anymore. We then took Sabbath off and worked again on Sunday. We cleared trees, tilled some land, made dirt mounds, put up a fence, transplanted Judy’s mom’s plants, and helped the boys plant their own gardens.
Several things motivated us to expand our garden. First we wanted to the kids to have the experience for themselves. That is why Judy assigned them each a lot to work. Additionally, home-grown food tastes so much better. Lastly, a cook is not worthy of the name unless they are able to restrict their culinary creations within the limits of what they grow. Menu items include several variations korean dishes, especially a traditional soup that’s eaten in a cold broth.
The action first started by expanding the garden we already had. After delineating our boundaries, Judy’s dad began tilling the land by shovel! Luckily, we were able to later borrow a tiller from the Boyce Family. We tilled the lot with our friend Daniel about three times until the soil was super soft.
Then, we ran a work bee with the Namm Family. Dad and I put up the fence, cut down trees, and transported hay, mulch, and manure. Mom transplanted lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers. And Judy arranged the garden by heaping mounds of soil for the boys to plant. She also mowed the grounds for the first time this season.
I was staring up at the drop ceiling lights for some time. “Don’t worry,” she reassured me, “sometimes it takes a while to find it”. I knew that wasn’t true. At least it wasn’t true for me. I had gone through this exact same routine at least 20 times over the years. It doesn’t take this long to find a baby’s heartbeat. I lay there on my back for several minutes as the nurse slowly and systematically moved the doppler across my lower abdomen a few times. Then she called in another nurse who did the exact same thing. I continued staring up at the outdated ceiling tiles as the thought kept going through my head, “This can’t be happening. This isn’t happening.” I tried to hold on to any glimmer of hope that was within me.
I was ushered to the dark ultrasound room. I laid down and immediately fixed my eyes on the screen. My neck was craned in an awkward position but I couldn’t take my eyes off my baby. I just remember the tech honing in the baby’s heart and clicking on it. A flat line ran across the screen and no sound of the heart beat. She repositioned the doppler and tried again. Nothing. She did it one last time. She took the final measurements and she was done. She wiped off the gel and helped me sit up. The frantic part of me wanted her to try one more time. The rational part of me slapped myself across the face and I was overcome with emotion. My baby was dead, all hope was gone, and my heart broke in pieces.
You can never be prepared for sudden tragedy. It was supposed to be a routine OB visit. One that I’m usually in and out within 20 minutes. As I sat there in the little side room, I went into emotional shock. My body turned numb and my vision was foggy. I felt like I was going in and out of a dream. As my mind came back to focus, we were still there and the doctor was still talking to us and explaining our options. This was really happening. I held my belly that carried our lifeless son and wept.
That was Friday, February 21, 2014. We decided to have our son delivered on the following Monday. We could have scheduled it earlier, but we decided to wait. I needed time. I wanted these last few days, this last Sabbath, this last weekend with him. I wanted to carry him a little longer as I sorted through everything that was happening. I spent a lot of time in prayer and claiming promises in God’s Word. That dark weekend, I found renewed hope and courage in God. I knew He understood my heart and He gave me hope that this wouldn’t be the last time I’d be near my son. As I carried him for the final time, I asked our Almighty God to carry me. He drew very close. In my moment of deepest despair, I put my trust in Him and I found peace.
Our fourth son, Seth Aaron Ramos, was born on Monday, February 24, 2014. I carried him 19 weeks and he quietly passed away a few weeks prior. As a memorial, we made a small memory book for baby Seth. We included his ultrasound pictures from when he was alive among other things. Each of the boys made a special card for him. It is a little book that we, as a family, treasure.
By faith, I know I will get to hold our youngest son again. However, I recognize that getting there won’t be an easy road. It hasn’t been easy. Grief comes and goes. This life is filled with a myriad of trials and temptations. As we are nearing the end of time, Satan is attacking with full force and he will use anyone and anything to bring us down. But through this experience, I get a taste of God’s undying love, because He created us and we are His own. I understand a glimpse His desire to carry and protect us until we are made whole. And by faith I know Christ longs to be reunited with His children. It is a Love worth trading our selfish, sin-sickened lives for.
So, as I go on life’s sometimes difficult journey, it is my desire to ask God to carry me each step of the way. No matter what I lay at His feet, I know I will never be a burden to Him and I am confident He will never let me go. I believe His love is enough to take each of us through even the roughest, most painful trials of this life. In the end, it will be worth the wait.
“…I have made you and I will carry you: I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4
On July 14, 2013 in Muncie, Indiana, Manu and Micah ran their first Team Revolution Mission Race of the season. A Mission Race is one that is specifically designated to raising funds for team members to go to the Amazon mission trip by our Mission Sponsor: Amazon Lifesavers.
More than 75 kids participated in Manu and Micah’s age division of the Muncie ToughKids Triathlon. Mom and Dad drove the athletes three hours from Lansing to Muncie accompanied by Auntie Sikhu and Bentley! We arrived to the hotel on Saturday night and work up early the nextmorning to register for the event. After being misdirected by the GPS, we finally found the event’s location.
Micah was assigned lucky #7 and Manu was given #102. After picking up their packets, getting their body markings, and setting up transitions, the boys got a brief rundown of agood race strategy: Micah was going to do it all by himself even though his age category allowed for parental assistance, and Manu was going to push hard on the difficult swim, recover on the bike’s second of three laps (the bike is his strongest element), and go all out on the run.
Micah was first. Even though most of the kids were assisted in some capacity by the parents, Micah completed the whole race by himself. He was as happy as ever. At the end of therace, he caught up to the girl in front of him, but refused to pass her – I was a proud parent! In the end, Micah completed the 25-meter swim (2:06), ½ Mile bike ride (3:02), and 100yd run(0:50) with a 2:04 Transition 1 and a 0:27 Transition 2. His total race time was 8:27.
By far, Manu’s greatest accomplishment was his ability to swim 100 meters – that’s like swimming back and forth on a pool at the Olympics! After finishing the swim, Manu rode his bike averaging nearly 10 mph, finishing his race by running well under a 10-minute mile pace. Unfortunately,the race directors misjudged the running portion of his race and led him to finish the run before completing the necessary distance. After discovering that the race directors had made a mistake, Manu ran the course again, but without the timing chip. We were thus unable to get an accurate finish time, but suspect that he finished in about 19:25. His split times were as follow:
Run: Finished, time unknown
The boys showed true sportsmanship and bravery. Although Manu was fairly nervous about swimming such a long distance, he pressed through with mental toughness and determination. He also ran more than the necessary distance due to someone else’s error. Micah was able to do the entire race all by himself with Dad encouraging him as he raced.
We could not be prouder of our boys! They sported the best kits in the race and proudly represented Team Revolution – racing for a cause greater than themselves. We especially want to give a big “thank you” to all the sponsors who supported these boys. You are making their dreams come true and we could not be more excited to know that our sons desire to be missionaries. Thank you for your love and support!
If you would like to learn more about their mission and how you can support, here is a LINK to their TR website.
Now that the weather is warmer and The Ramos School for Boys is officially out for the summer (- big congrats to Manu for graduating from the first grade with honors!), we’ve had more time to work on yard projects. My parents have also been coming on Sundays to help us. None of this would be possible without them! They are the most hardest working people I know! Plus, they find anything/everything we need for the yard on Craigslist for cheap or free. It’s so crazy!
Of course, our blueberries were/are our major priority. Once the weather got warmer, we aggressively pruned and made clear rows on both acres. The flowers bloomed, the bees came to pollinate, and now the blueberries are growing. We’re looking forward to opening Grace’s Blueberries U-Pick towards the end of July. We are also pleased to announce that Grace’s Blueberries has decided to be a Team Revolution race sponsor! A portion of our proceeds will go to help the people living along the Amazon river. We are praying for a plentiful harvest.
We also decided to expand our vegetable and herb garden. This year, we’re growing tomatoes, Korean corn, Korean pepper, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, beets, and different herbs. We tried planting Korean pumpkins, but some animal came and ate every last one. Not cool. We planted them out in front so the small plants had no defense. Anyhow, the boys plan to set up a vegetable stand to sell our produce to raise money for a mission offering. This is how Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories impact lives. We’ll see how that turns out.
The newly added garden (-we expanded the old strawberry patch).
A smaller project that Israel and the boys worked on was to give our fire pit an upgrade. We bought bags of pea gravel and used old concrete pieces that we got from a friend to create a “mow-free zone”. As you will see in a little bit, that has become the theme of all our yard work.
The before…kinda. The real “before” had green grass growing ridiculously everywhere.
I sprayed grass killer so you can see the grass was turning yellow in that area.
The after! No more super-long extension cords to trim with the weed-whacker!
And finally, we’ve been working on an on-going project that we hope to complete on Sunday. Our backyard patio area has been such a pain to maintain since our mower can’t fit in the narrower spaces. So, to avoid so much technical mowing and trimming, we decided to mulch a large portion of the area around the patio and herb garden. Israel is also working on a space where he hopes to have an outdoor kitchen area. With all of the mulching we’ve been doing, we bought a used John Deere tractor with a front loader. It’s been a huge help. Manu knows how to run it better than me.
Even when we got married, I never, EVER, imagined I’d be the type of girl who lets her kids run around the yard barefoot and shirtless, who runs a blueberry U-pick (-what in the world?!?), and who dreams of owning a $10,000 John Deere. Yet that has become a very real part of my life. God is using it to add a new dimension to who I am and I cannot help but count it a blessing.
We’ve been surviving this winter. It’s been much more severe than last year and we’ve been utilizing our new fireplace blower and the wood that we made. As usual, we had an awesome time with our family over the Christmas holidays. Most of the highlights are shown in this slideshow. We have so much fun together! My sister was able to spend a month with us and as usual, we were super-productive. We cleaned out, organized, and rearranged our parents’ house and eliminated literally heaps of boxes/bags of trash and truckloads of stuff to donate. It was so awesome! We had such a fun time together and we were so sad to see her go. Since she left, Ty has been mentioning her everyday at worship during prayer request time. His request is that “Imo can come here safely”.
Israel took the boys to the Father/Son Retreat at Camp Au Sable the weekend of January 25-27. It was their first time going and they loved it! My brother Jukes also came with Ian. I enjoyed a restful and quiet weekend with the pets.
In early February, my parents participated in the Michigan Senior Olympics for pickleball. We were able to watch some of their games and we are happy to report that Mom won gold medals in singles and women’s doubles, and a silver in mixed doubles. Dad won silver medals in singles and men’s doubles. I am so proud of them! I’m also so thankful that they are in good health and staying active. I hope to be as active as them if I become their age!
We had a nice Valentine’s Day. The boys made Valentines and mailed them to some of their favorite people. I really want to instill in them that it is better to give than to receive. I am always so humbled by how much love our boys receive from their uncles, aunties, grandparents, and friends. It was a good opportunity to express how much the boys love them back.
The snow has been on and off throughout the winter. It has been quite chilly lately, but we are keeping warm. Bentley has been sleeping underneath our covers at night and sometimes even during the day! Chance’s winter coat is very thick so he has been fine, but Aroe doesn’t grow a winter coat, so he has been spending a lot of time in our room that is kept extra warm with a space heater. But overall, we are all doing well. We are thankful for God’s watch care over us and we trust that He will continue to lead us closer to Him!