Tag Archives: life stories


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.

IMG_5320During 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. IMG_5319IMG_5308IMG_5317On 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!

IMG_5304We 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.

IMG_5321IMG_4794Making fishy faces with cousins in front of the fishes!


We had a great weekend and hope we can come back again soon!

Our First Special Music

A few months ago, we were blessed to be able to sing a song together for special music at church.  We hadn’t thought anyone recorded it, but someone did!  Thank you, James, for the video!

We practiced a song that was particularly meaningful for us and we sang it together as a prayer.  As you will see, we don’t have much talent (or ability to sing in tune ), but we just hoped the words would be a blessing to someone out there who needed to hear them!

Here are the lyrics:

Less of Me

Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder,
to the faults of those around, let me praise a little more…

Let me dream when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.

Let me be a little braver, when temptation bids me waver,
Let me strive a little harder, to be all that I should be…

Let me be a little meeker, with a brother that is weaker,
Let me think more of my neighbor, and a little less of me.

Let me dream when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Let me serve a little better, those that I am striving for…

Let me be a little meeker, with a brother that is weaker,
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.

Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.

May the words of this song be the prayer of your heart also!

Birthday Boys’ Report

The crazy thing about my family is that all of our birthdays fall in consecutive months:

October – Me (Judy)
November – Micah
December – Ty
January – Bentley
February – Israel
March – Manu
(The cats were adopted and we’re unsure of their exact birthdays.)

We got this pin a few years ago and we use it for all the boys’ birthdays. 
They get to wear it all day. 
Best investment ever.

The crazier thing is that EVERYONE in the entire Namm family was also born within these months!  For almost 6 months, it seems like we have a birthday every week!  There is a lot to celebrate.  Now, we are nearing the end of the birthday blitz and I finally have time write about our latest birthdays. 

December 12, 2012:  Ty turned 3.
Ty had a quiet birthday right before all of the Christmas festivities.  We took him to Chuck E. Cheese for games and cake.  I can’t believe his is already 3 years old.  He is such a happy and sweet boy.  He is getting sillier each day and loves to make us laugh.  He’s at the age where I wish he would never grow up.  We’re trying to make sure we take videos of how he talks and the songs he likes to sing.  He is a total mama’s boy and yes, he still totes around my shirt everywhere he goes.  My favorite line that he always says is, “That’s the biggest ________ that ever I seen!”  On Ty’s birthday, we also took our family Christmas pictures, wearing the matching love shirts that Justin & Rachel gave us (as seen on our new profile pic).


February 26, 2013:  Israel turned 33.
We celebrated with our family, which is what Israel likes best.  The boys and I made him breakfast in the bedroom.  After he came home from work, we surprised him with another little party for dinner.  We ended the fun day with a family movie night.

March 4, 2013:  Imanuel turned 7.
I can’t believe I have a 7 year old child.  And I can’t believe how blessed I am to have him.  Imanuel has been one of the greatest motivation factors for me to be a better person.  His sweet and sensitive disposition forces me to be more gentle and patient.  He is such a caring brother and will often plead on behalf of his brother’s mistakes.  It is my sincere prayer that he will continue to grow to be more like Christ and that I will never get in the way of that.

Manu’s birthday was exactly how a teacher’s kid would celebrate his birthday.  On Sunday, we went to Impression 5 with some friends.  Then on his actual birthday, we did some experiments from a kitchen science kit that John bought them.  It was a fun & educational birthday. 


Now we have a 7 month gap to recover from all of the extra calories!  🙂

2013 Winter Tales

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 slideshowWe 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!

The Ramos Reunion

On Monday morning, October 8th, it was life as usual.  After a series of phone calls, Israel came into our bedroom and asked, “What do you think about all of us driving to California?”  After about 30 minutes of deliberation, I said, “Okay.”  It was the craziest, most impulsive decision of my life.  I immediately started the 2 loads of laundry, packed up our clothes and belongings, packed up Bentley’s things, made phone calls to cancel or reschedule appointments, asked Alanna to watch our cats every few days, gathered DVDs/CDs and toys to keep the boys occupied in the car, packed food and snacks, cleaned up the house, and prayed that we weren’t forgetting something important.  Within a few hours, we were saying good-bye to our cats and our home and we wouldn’t be back for 3 and a half weeks. 

It had been much too long since we were able to spend time with Israel’s family.  While my brain was shooting out a million reasons why this would be a ridiculous and even irresponsible decision, my heart was telling me to go…that it would be well worth it.  After all, there aren’t many things in life that are more important than family.  My heart was right.  It was such a wonderful trip.  God really blessed us.

I tend to be a doer, especially on vacations.  But this trip has taught me to appreciate just being, and finding value in just living out our lives together.  I will treasure all of the authentic conversations and hearing so many life stories and experiences.  It was a time of refreshing and happiness for us.   

Here is a slideshow that I pulled together from our trip.  It is especially dedicated to Israel’s mom who has been and continues to be the rock of this family.  Lala, we are so blessed to have such a beautiful, strong, and Christ-like woman in our lives.  Your 7 boys love and respect you so much and so do I! 



A Little Catch Up

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about our family happenings, so I thought I’d play a little catch up.  We’ve lived through all four seasons here in DeWitt, MI and now we’re on round two.  I like where we’re at now.  I no longer feel like we’re getting used to our lives here.  We’re trying to conquer it.  Here’s the latest:

We had a great first season for our U-Pick Blueberry business.  When we first decided to buy the house, we had no idea about the blueberry bushes.  It wasn’t mentioned in the property description.  It did say there were “fruit orchards”, but we thought they were referring to the apple & pear trees.  After moving in, we got a good look at what we were up against.  The property had been overgrown for over a decade!  My parents began coming every weekend to help us clear the yard and we came across some amazing treasures.  The best was discovering the 10+ cherry trees in the northeast corner of our property!  The biggest project was the 2 acres of blueberry bushes.  My parents dedicated countless hours to pruning and tending them – especially my mom…which is why we named the business, “Grace’s Blueberries” and the land, “Grace Orchard”.  The business took off with the one Craigslist posting that I put up.  I posted that we have all-natural u-pick blueberries and if anyone was interested, email dewittblueberries@gmail.com to be added to a list.  Within the week, we had nearly 50 responses.  I then started a public Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/GracesBlueberries.  We had lots of people stop by and pick our all-natural blueberries.  We gave away free Balance magazines to our customers which we hope were a blessing to them.  We were able to eat blueberries to our hearts’ content, but hope for a bigger and better harvest next year. 


We are done with our season training and are now in our off-season training.  This year Israel raced in one sprint triathlon (Hawk-i), one intermediate triathlon (Lansing Legislator), and finished his season with a century ride (Tour de Witt).  I raced in one sprint triathlon (Hawk-i), one olympic distance triathlon (Tri2Finish Holly), and ended my season with a half-marathon run.  Manu and Micah raced in their first triathlon, the Muncie ToughKids.  We’re planning our End of Season Bash for Team Revolution which will be on Sunday, November 18.  Endurance athletes can still sign up to be a part of the team for next season here.  We hope to stay in shape by going to the gym and getting on our bike trainer throughout the off-season until we get back into race mode in the spring! 

This fall, Manu started first grade and Micah is in Pre-K.  Ty is trying to learn how to color.  It’s been different, but going well.  Last year, school wasn’t as structured and we did more projects and unit studies.  This year, I am following a curriculum for Manu so it is more structured.  I decided to go with a few different programs to try them out.  I’m using Christian Light for Math, Social Studies & Reading, and A Reason For Handwriting & Spelling.  Bible & Science are still on our own.  I’m enjoying it and it actually brings more independent learning which can be nice.  We also have taken advantage of being on the road.  This past trip, we were able to stop by Fruita, Colorado and visit a Dinosaur museum.  They were able to see many different dinosaur & “prehistoric” skeletons and also see real paleontologists at work in their lab!  The kids had a blast.


A couple months back, the boys signed their first official contract to be a part of the Lansing Lightning Bugs Adventurers program.  We had to miss their induction (since we were in California), but they are now legit.  Micah is a Little Lamb and Manu is an Adventurer Busy Bee.  Ty is a wannabe Little Lamb and every time it is time for a meeting, he has a pout on his face because he doesn’t have a uniform to wear.  The Little Lamb teacher is so sweet and she lets Ty participate in basically everything for that class.


It is with great satisfaction that I am able to announce the promotion of Ty from being a baby to a Big Kid!  I decided to do a one-week intensive potty training session with Ty while Israel was in Austria.  That meant the diaper came off and we lived in our bedroom with wood (aka washable) floors where we ate all our meals, munched on salty snacks, and drank water like it was going out of style.  #1 was taken care of by day 3, but #2 took some time.  We went on a crazy, last-minute road trip to Cali soon after Israel came back and Ty successfully completed his training during our vacay.  Go Ty!  Diapers, I will miss you…said definitely not me!


I already mentioned our random hiatus to Cali and a post will definitely be coming soon.  But something special about that cross-country trip was that we were able to bring Bentley.  He has never left the great state of Michigan, save the greater state of the U.P.    At first he was a little nervous during the drive.  He was a little shaky and didn’t eat much.  But by the time we drove back, he was hanging in the back with the rest of the boys begging for food and looking forward to each stop.  He was able to see Weimar, CA and chase some of their infamous deer, hike at Lake Tahoe, relax at the Im resort where he received his new favorite dog toy, meet his 3 cousins: Scooby, Sunny, & Brownie for the first time, and stay in the many pet-friendly hotels along the way.  He left a piece of himself (literally) in nearly every state we passed.  Just another way he is building his legacy.  He did miss his cat-brothers Aroe & Chance, though.  When we got home and he was reunited with them for the first time, he gave them licks and carried them off the ground as he ran under both of their legs.  They didn’t seem to mind it at all.


As a family, we have traveled from coast to coast in the past few months.  We also spent a wonderful weekend out in Camp Akita in Illinois.  The boys rode horses for the first time and ever since, to ride horses in Camp Akita has been a reoccurring prayer request!  We had a relaxing time at the CAMPUS vision retreat out in Williamsburg, VA.  The boys were able to swim in the Atlantic ocean at Virginia Beach for the first time.  We also took a tour of the historic Berkeley Plantation on the James River.  We have spent many Sabbaths traveling around to different churches in Michigan for Israel’s speaking engagements.  He and Sebastien preached an evangelistic series on the campus of Western Michigan University.  Israel also was asked to be the Pathfinder Pastor so he led out in his first Pathfinder Investiture.  And of course, most recently, we drove to the west coast and spent time in Sacramento for the Waterbrook wedding and then to SoCal to spend much needed time with Israel’s family.  It had been too long!  When we weren’t traveling, we were watering & harvesting my parents’ numerous tomato and Korean pumpkin plants!


This past year has required a lot of adjusting to new scenery, a new job, a new schedule, and the changes that come with a growing family.  We are so thankful to God for leading the way.  Challenges come and go, but one thing is certain: our family and friends make the journey so much more worth it.  We are praying that we can be more faithful, more loving, and one more step closer to Eternity.   

Baby Robins are Born!

About a week and a half ago, I was outside pruning the blueberry bushes when Imanuel and Micah started yelling excitedly.  Imanuel ran over first and told me that they had found a birds’ nest.  Then Micah caught up and was crying, “Look Mama!  An egg!”  He was holding a perfect little blue egg in his hand.  He was so overwhelmed with excitement that when I realized that it was a real egg, I had to do all in my power to not panic, show excitement, but then explain the importance of leaving the egg in possession of its mama…in its nest.  They showed me the nest and I had Micah gently put the egg back.  I said a little prayer asking for restoration of the egg, in the event that Micah had shaken it too much as he ran to me. 

From that day, we’ve checked on the eggs, briefly, every day.  Mr. & Mrs. Robin are on vigilant watch and we have been trying not to cause too much stress on them.  But nonetheless, we are thankful that Mrs. Robin decided to nest in our backyard – and so low to the ground so we could be a part of this miracle.  (Even Ty can walk up to it and see inside.)  And we thank Jesus that He has kept our robin family safe thus far.

The nest is securely situated in a little wedge of the apple tree, just a couple feet from the ground. 

This is when the boys first discovered the nest and the beautiful eggs.

Watching Mama & Daddy Robin take turns sitting on their eggs with binoculars.

A few days ago, I sent Manu to go check on the nest and he brought word to us that the eggs were starting to hatch!

This past Friday, two of the three baby robins had hatched!

I was a little nervous as to whether the third egg would make it.  Couldn’t help but think that maybe this was the egg that Micah had picked up.  After church yesterday, we went to check on the nest and the third chick had hatched!  I was thankful.   

You can hear Mama Robin going nuts as I came close to her babies.  But just couldn’t resist taking a short video!  What a blessing to be a witness to God’s power and love.

Sabbath Afternoon Musings

Up until recently, Micah had been riding the trike, since the tiny white bike broke. After Manu learned to ride on a two-wheeler, we decided to buy Micah a real bike with training wheels. We also bought the boys new bike helmets since Micah’s cracked and we decided to give Manu’s helmet to Ty. (Ty refuses to ride his colorful plastic truck without his helmet.) And that’s when we realized just how large Micah’s head is. At first the issue was what type of design they wanted to choose. After trying a few on, it came down to which one would actually fit Micah’s head! We ended up buying a size 5yr+ for Manu and we had to buy Micah a 8yr+ helmet! His shoe size has officially surpassed Manu’s as well. I am deviating. Anyhow, since we bought the new bike/helmets, the boys just love going outside together to ride on our long driveway.

Yesterday after church and potluck, and after the boys took their nap, and after Israel came back from prison, we loaded their bikes into the car and drove to the canal. We had a great time enjoying nature and spending time together as a family. It was one of those afternoons where I found myself overwhelmingly thankful for the many undeserved blessings He has given me. In recent times, I have often felt overcome with bouts of anxiety and bitterness…as if a great injustice has been done to me. But I have been reminded that those few french fries are His. How selfish of me to have taken so many things for granted! And to doubt His infinite wisdom and love! Seriously, why would He turn on me now? The serene lake, the magnificent setting sun, and the crisp clean air all pointed to the One who wants to lift my burdens and free my mind from worry and fear – to allow Him to be responsible for the outcomes. To simply trust Him…

It wouldn’t have been a perfect ride were it not for the fact that Israel experienced bike drama…again. His left pedal broke off. Yes, it busted off with no hope of repair. (Kimmy/John, remember our conversation about bad luck? His story continues…) But that’s okay. The boys were able to ride the full two miles with ease and we enjoyed the view at a slower (walking) pace together. That’s yet another reason why I love him. He’s so consistent and predictable. So, it was a perfect outing.

I’ve decided to live a renewed life of faith. No matter what God takes away from me, I feel blessed He gave it to me in the first place. Even if it was just for a moment. He is always taking us steps forward, never back. And I like to remind myself that if we could only see the end from the beginning, everything would make perfect sense.



Team Revolution Represents at the Koop!

What an amazing experience.  Having so many close friends under one roof for nearly a week was such a blast.  There is something so sweet about Christian fellowship, that no matter where you’ve come from or what you look like, you’re drawn together like family.  But then adding to that the most physically-challenging race any of us had ever endeavored brought yet another dimension of oneness between us. 

Although I met my goals that I had set for my bike ride, it seemed to pale in significance when I realized how our success involuntarily became corporate.  We raced as a true team and that brought so much more satisfaction (and at times heartache) than racing alone.  But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  So, I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation to each of you who were a part of this race with me!  Know that in so many ways, I raced it for you.  You are AWESOME!    Seriously.   

With great coaching from Northwoods Endurance and the best mobile cheering/support crew EVER, we came out with winners of the Women’s Relay, a valiant effort by our Mixed Relay Team, and two Ironmen 70.3 – John Yoon & Israel Ramos!!!  We are all so proud of each other.

Below is the link to a video of the race that Israel and I pulled together along with David and Tennille after everyone left us on Monday.  This is a memory that we will cherish and I hope it will be the same for each of you who were a part of this journey too.  What will our next mission race be?!  This Revolution is going to be unstoppable!

Playing Outdoors

The summers up here are amazing.  Save maybe a week or two of extreme heat (- where it may reach 90 degree weather), the U.P. really comes alive.  We survive, like many other yoopers, without AC, so the outdoors easily becomes an enormous playground.  The temperatures inside and out are often comparable.

The other day I was trying to think about why in all of the previous summers we didn’t spend as much time outside.  For the past couple of months, I can’t think of a day where we didn’t go outside to play or a week where we didn’t go swimming at the lake.  Then I calculated that for 2 of the 5 summers I was uncomfortably pregnant and the other 2 summers I was nursing an infant.  This was my first summer where I could be out and play.  The baby, Ty, is now running around and wreaking havoc so it is actually quite efficient to have the boys playing outdoors while the house gets a break and remains (somewhat) clean.

Manu and Micah have nearly completed their two weeks of swimming lessons over at Michigan Tech.  Tomorrow is their last day.  Manu has learned how to swim and can go quite a ways all by himself.  Today, Manu jumped off the diving board in the deep end without a life jacket and was able to then swim over to Israel.  Micah can also swim a few strokes on his own.  He is more dense than Manu so he can only swim underwater.  He can swim for as long as he can hold one breath.  Israel plays a game with Micah where he pushes him gently underwater and Micah touches the bottom of the pool and comes back up.  They have improved so much in such little time!  They are both well on their way to becoming triathletes…which is their ultimate motivation to learn how to swim.  In true yooper form, the boys (including Ty) enjoy going to the beach and swimming in the lake (Superior), even though the general population would consider it to be too cold.

The other day we headed over to Prince’s Point which is a beach area by Tech where Israel does his open water swims.  Chris came with us and the both of them suited up and swam the 1.2 mi swim to the flag pole and back while I played with the boys at the beach.  Chris made it back before Israel and we were watching Israel swim when we noticed that he stopped swimming for a while.  At that moment, we saw a fairly large bald eagle soaring over the lake.  It was so beautiful and we could clearly see the white on his head and tail.  It started circling around the lake and I was thinking to myself how neat it would be if we could watch it swoop down and catch a fish.  Israel by this time was kind of flailing his arms and really appeared to be struggling with something.  Come to find out, he was suffering from a bad cramp in his leg.  We immediately connected the two and realized that the bald eagle was actually circling Israel!  We found that quite humorous until Israel started calling for help and Chris had to go back in and swim to his rescue.

Eagle bait.

My “garden”, if you can even call it that, has really been a sore matter from the very first year I planted.  That first year, I had tomato plants, lettuce, green onions, Korean sesame plants (“keh-neep”), leeks (“boo-choo”), and roots (“doh-rah-gee”).  It wasn’t that bad.  The sesame plants took over, which is normally what happens – I equate them to weeds, but everything grew well.  But that was also the year where the self-same day we had planned to pick all of the tomatoes, the deer came over while we made a trip to town and ate them ALL.  You can imagine my shock when, after coming back from Walmart, I headed to the backyard with my basket to harvest all of the tomatoes and I found nothing but stubs.  They even ate the tomato leaves.  The year after that, I never planted anything.  I just let the garden go wild.  I ended up with green onions, “keh-neep”, and “boo-choo”.  The following year, I transported a few wild strawberry plants and raspberry plants into my garden.  The next year we were able to eat a handful of berries, mainly strawberries.  But this year the raspberry plants decided it was their turn to take over the garden.  They were able to withstand all of the weeds (-I had stopped weeding after the first  year), and much to my surprise, they flourished!  I consider it quite a miracle that my sorry garden was able to produce anything.

And finally, last but not least, we have spent many hours outdoors training for the Kuparisaari Triathlon that is coming up in less than two weeks.  The boys enjoy riding their bikes and running on our long driveway for their “workouts”.  Israel has been training to do the half-iron by himself and I have been doing mainly bike rides since I’m just doing the bike leg of the race.  Despite putting on ample sunblock, we are getting quite dark from long rides and runs. 

We also enjoyed a special visit from the Shins last weekend as they were passing through!  We had such a great time catching up and training together.  Tennille is doing the swim leg of our half-iron relay team and David is training for the Detroit marathon in October.  On Sunday, between the four of us, we biked 56.2 miles, ran 26 miles, and swam 2.4 miles!  This was the day after we stayed up until 3am talking.  Tennille and I then topped that off by doing a trail run the next morning (on Monday) through Hungarian Falls.  Good times!  True friends never let friends miss an important training workout…even on vacation. 

From all this working out, my thighs are getting ridiculously large.  But then again, I knew this is what I agreed to when I accepted this challenge.  So far I’ve done two 56 mile rides and I was able to do them sub-3:30 which was my race goal.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to go even faster on race day.  I’m not about to let my thighs get huge for nothing!  Totally looking forward for our friends to come up for race weekend!!   

Here are some memorable pics from the past month:
Fourth of July

Camp Sagola

Uncle Chris’s race in Wisconsin

And finally, cool animals in our big backyard…