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Why I Love Being an Adventist

Special thanks to Amy for tagging me to share about why I love being a Seventh-day Adventist.  Since Israel is currently at GC in San Antonio, I’m glad to have spent needed time reflecting on God’s leading in my life.  When I think back on my experience, there were four pivotal milestones in my Christian walk:

1. Discovering the Steps to Christ when I was a student at the University of Michigan.

2.  Learning what true Education really is when I decided to become a teacher.

3.  Striving to establish an Adventist Home for the past 15 years Israel and I have been together.

4.  Praying for Child Guidance as our 3 precious boys were gifted to us to raise in His stead.

Yes, I went there.  One of the reasons why I love being an Adventist is because of the blessings that come from reading the inspired counsel and writings of Ellen G. White.  Adventists tend to shy away from mentioning her name because there is often an element of shame, insecurity, and/or fear in bringing up the fact that we believe our church has been given the gift of prophecy.  Our prophetess is not the first thing I bring up when I talk about the church I love.  But if I want to be honest and fair, it would be quite rude of me not to give props where they are (over) due.  Her writings have made me weep with conviction, pray with utter humility, and study the Bible as never before.  In all areas of my life, she reminds me that “He must increase, and I must decrease”.  In a very real way, she has helped Jesus shine brighter in my life.

The Spirit of Prophecy is just one, among many reasons why I love being a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.  I’ve come to appreciate and embrace it.  Have you?

PS:  Those 4 books are my favorites.  If you haven’t read them, you should!




From May 28-30 I participated in the My Church Summit at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Canada.

The purpose of the summit was to bring together Adventist students on non-Adventist campuses and church leadership in the North American Division.  More than 150 young people attended, including delegates representing each union.

Special guests from the church in North America included: Dan Jackson, president; Deborah Brill, vice president; James Black, youth director.  Representing the world church: Gilbert Cangy, youth director; Jiwan Moon, public campus ministries director.

The event was primarily organized by Ron Pickell, public campus ministry coordinator for the NAD.  The summit was the result of a similar one which took place last year at Union College for students attending Adventist schools.

Three questions were addressed:

1.  Why are young adults leaving the church?

2.  Why are they staying?

3.  What can the church do for young people?

Both summits, the one in Canada and the one at Union College referenced a recent study commissioned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church addressing the relationship between the Adventist Church and its millennial population (and potential population).

Delegates were broken up into groups of eight to discuss the topics.  Speakers were invited to give presentations addressing each question.  I was invited to address the topic of why Adventist young people choose to stay based on my experience with GYC and CAMPUS.

From experience with GYC, my observation is that three important components are critical when it comes to young adult retention in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Young people who stay (and dedicate their talents to the church) usually do so because:

They were empowered by leadership during critical times in their spiritual and/or academic/professional development;

A church leader or mentor placed high expectations on them, propelling them to aim and reach high standards in their professional, intellectual, and spiritual lives;

At key moments in their spiritual walk they bought into an ideology of Adventism that made the message of the Bible more important than anything else in their lives.

The truer the above statements are in the lives of young adults, the more likely it is that they will remain engaged in the church and participate in its mission.  It also seems that when high expectations, empowerment, and message are present simultaneously at critical times, the chances of retention and engagement increase in quality and quantity.

Although I have come to appreciate Barna for its research throughout the years, I feel that there are several weak points in their report that diminish its usefulness for the Adventist Church today.

1.  To define “engaged young adults” as people who come to church once/month is less than ideal.  Yet this sample group is placed at the center of the study.  If the difference between an engaged individual and a disengaged individual ultimately results in having an increase of attendance from zero to one Sabbath each month, the value of the study must be questioned.

2.  Boxing young adults into socially constructed categories also brings limitation to the study.  We have to ask the question: Are we really allowing young people to speak for themselves or is the church guilty of telling young people who they are?  Are the sample groups used in this study really representative of young adult Adventism?  I have doubts.

3.  The dramatic conclusion of the study also has a major shortcoming.  It presents the church with the choice: do we value traditions more than our children?  However, it fails to adequately show tension between the two.

Young people are not at war with what the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes and stands for.  They may be at war with how some present our truths.  They may be at war with how some use our message, portraying it to be what it is not.  But in speaking with thousands of youth around the world, I’ve seen that they are not really at war with our message.

In many cases, our “traditions” are a victim just like Jesus was a victim of misrepresentation.  Can it be that dissonance exists, not between message and young people?  But instead, perhaps, the battle that exists is between young adults and those who abuse and misuse the beautiful truths that provide everything we ever wanted?  Jesus loves His church.  He died for it.  He invested Himself in it.  He died for it because it’s beautiful.  In fact, its only flaw is me and you.

If you’re interested in the presentation, here’s the prezi.  It also shares stories of University of Michigan graduates as genuinely engaged young adults:



Today, we celebrate my son’s 9th birthday!  When he was born, he changed my life forever because he helped me understand the two statements below which caused us to give him his name.

Misrepresented as a stern judge waiting to execute judgment, God in the Old Testament is often times dismissed and ridiculed.  But when I contemplate the plan of salvation and what He and Christ have done for me and my family, I bow my head in solemn worship.  To even posses an imagination to produce the plan of salvation requires love beyond comprehension.  I admit that there are limits to the greatest acts of love that I’m capable of.

But God’s love knows no limits.  Unfortunately it’s radicalness is too-often eclipsed by what we feel Christ has done for us.

Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.

The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life’s peril. He longs to shield his dear one from Satan’s power, to hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more fearful risk, God gave His only-begotten Son, that the path of life might be made sure for our little ones. “Herein is love.” Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! — Desire of Ages, 49

This is what “Immanuel: God with us” means.  To assure us that He will provide us with help in every difficulty, God gave us His son.  He didn’t let us borrow Him for a moment, a lifetime, or even through the entire history of redemption.  He didn’t lend Christ to us momentarily as a gift to be returned.  This act of love would be enough to make any thoughtful person eternally thankful.  But God’s love is beyond human comprehension.  It cannot be understood, it can only be beheld.  “God with us” also means “us with God.”

God so loved the world that, when sin marred His purpose for mankind and justice demanded a debt of sin that seemed infinite, God literally changed His nature.  Rather than letting go of humanity, He brought humanity into the trinity through the person of His Son.  One third of the Godhead is human!  Forever!

By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the “Son of man” who shares the throne of the universe. It is the “Son of man” whose name shall be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isa. 9:6. The I Am is the Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” is not ashamed to call us brethren. Heb. 7:26; 2:11. In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love. — Desire of Ages, 26-27

Our First Day of School

Lately, things just haven’t been going as planned.

2014 has been a rough year for our family and yet, in a twisted way, it makes 2015 seem so much brighter and hopeful.  There have been lots of unexpected, but exciting changes in the Ramos household.  Last month, I was asked by the GLAS board to teach part-time in the mornings.  After prayer and weighing out the pros and cons, I accepted the position.  With that decision, came along another dream come true for Titus.  (His first dream come true was when he got to see the dentist a couple years back.)  He would finally be able to go to school with his big brothers!  We surprised him with the news on his birthday and we bought him a new backpack and school supplies.


Today was Ty’s first day of school.  He is in Pre-K and his teacher is Mrs. Robinson.  He acts shy, but he loves her and is so proud to be in her class!


In the mornings, I teach Algebra I & II and I help with a few other subjects also.  It was a great first day and I’m looking forward to getting to know my students better.  They are such great kids!  On our way home, Ty was so tuckered out he couldn’t make it more than 10 minutes in the car…


It was a memorable day for both of us!  With this part time teaching position and with GYC, I can now say that I am officially working full time, and I’m taking a reading diagnostic course on the side.  It’s a busy life!  But I cherish the fact that I’m working in the same building as my boys and I still have the joy of being Imanuel’s teacher for a couple subjects too.  🙂

So, even though this post comes several years sooner than expected, we trust it is what we’re supposed to be doing.  It is our prayer that God leads us in our every step and I’ve found freedom in trusting Him.


Ty Ty, it gave me such joy and pleasure to watch you walk into school, meet your teacher, put your coat and backpack into your very own little locker, and step into your first classroom.  May your journey of learning continue to flourish for Jesus’ sake.  You’re growing up too fast!  It is our prayer that God molds you into His likeness and that you grow to love and serve Him always.  We love you so much more than you know!  Happy First Day of School, Baby!


On October 10, my brother went to the hospital suffering from severe pain in his abdomen.  The medical staff diagnosed him with Severe Acute Pancreatitis.  Early Sabbath morning, my mom called me with the news that my brother was critically ill.

Thanks to the help of a close friend, I was able to book a flight home using his personal air miles.  Timing was crucial.  When I arrived at the ICU where my brother was being cared for, I was greeted by a doctor who informed me immediately that my brother was critically ill and that according to medical tests used to measure his condition, Juan faced a 100% chance of death.

Immediately, I was able to visit with my brother, speak to him about his walk with God, and hear what was on his heart.  Other members of our immediate family also spoke with him.  These moments have come to be some of our most cherished memories with him — moments that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.  Moments that will surely carry us through difficult times ahead.

The doctors of the Riverside County Regional Medical Center cared for my brother with diligent humanitarian care.  Dr. Benjamin Tabibian was his first attending physician and aggressively took steps to keep my brother alive.  My brother took small steps forward, but the journey ahead of him was very long.  And many times, forward progress was offset by challenging declines.

Although surgery was determined to be the last resort, the time came for Juan to undergo surgery in order to keep him alive.  His internal body pressure had become dangerously high.  At this point in Juan’s condition, it was uncertain that he would survive the procedure.  But he did.  With the pressure released from his abdomen, his lungs began to slowly work on their own.

Thanks to the thoughtful care of Dr. Walter Klein, a pulmonary specialist, Juan began to make slow, but steady progress.

The doctors were not the only ones providing the best kind of care for my brother.  Many nurses attended Juan, giving him dialysis, graciously caring for him, and cheering him on.

Every day that Juan lived during his severe illness was itself a miracle.

The time came when Juan’s progress was steady and sure.  Although a long road was expected for Juan’s recovery, he seemed to be coming out of the most critical stages of his illness.  His kidneys began to work, his blood pressure held its own, and he was beginning to respond after months of sedation.

However, in the last moments of last week, he took a turn for the worse.  Perhaps, due to an infection, Juan’s Pancreatitis returned and within a few days, ended my brother’s life.

On December 14, 2014 at 12:18 local time, my brother ended his battle with this vicious illness.

My brother did not lose the battle.  The Bible gives the assurance that death is a defeated foe.  If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even those whom also sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him (I Thessalonians 4:14).

My brother’s life ended with a fight to the very end.  Dr. Aaron DePew and others did everything humanly possible to keep him alive and together with Juan wrestled with all of their might towards this end.  But Juan’s body needed rest.  Rest from the struggles, pain, and sin in this life.  Rest from sickness and disease.  And although Juan’s life has come to an end, in the eyes of God, he is only asleep.  “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them…and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

We are assured of the blessed hope and soon return of Jesus Christ when “death is swallowed up in victory” and God’s children will declare with Him: “O Death, where is your sting?  O Death, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:54-55).  The promise of God is certain and true: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

In the meantime, we hold on to the words of Jesus Christ when He overheard the sorrowful news of the death of a young woman.  To the remaining father and to Juan’s loved ones the words of comfort and hope are: “Don’t be afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36).  Don’t be afraid because even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we can fear no evil — for He is with us.

God never promised a life without death and sorrow.  Instead he promised freedom from the fear that makes these experiences too hard to bear.  He promises that the valley of death is a valley that we pass through, not dwell in.  And he promises that He will be with us.

So I take comfort in the thought that God is with us.  The Emmanuel remembered during the Christmas season is the same God with us in times of death and loss.

I have lost my only brother.  But God gave His only Son.  The love of God is incredible!

My brother’s life was one of constant giving.  He was intuitively attuned to other people’s suffering because he deeply understood pain.  For 34 years of my life, I was a beneficiary of his constant selflessness.  And I am forever grateful for him.  He is my hero.

My brother has taught me that:
A life is never lost when it has been lived for others.

I will see him again.



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!


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.

IMG_5268The 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:



The month of September was so much fun because my sister, Julie, was here visiting from Guam.  We finished a 10k Mud Run together, our family all played in the Korean Independence Day Sports Tournament, and we bid our brother, Justin, farewell as he embarked on his new journey to dental school in Loma Linda, California.  We also spent a lot of quality time with our parents and this was one of the most memorable experiences!

Can’t wait until our next family get together!  <3


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.



IMG_4650  IMG_4651

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.

I think that Judy gets prettier with each passing year

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.

I arranged a special bouquet of flowers for her — the three lilies symbolizing Manu, Micah, and Ty. Lilies are biblical flowers and I think they are the most beautiful flowers ever.

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.

Renewing our vows

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!


Squash three ways: pickled, blossoms, and in a special foam sauce.
Frozen apricot salad with pea sauce frozen in liquid nitrogen.
Sou Vide Asparagus with chocolate (mole-type) sauce and butter which was turned into a powder using lecithin.
One of my favorite dishes: Sou Vide tomatoes with eggplant and english peas. Incredible.
Best tasting tofu — originally this dish was fish but they exchanged it with tofu in the veggie menu. Their best — wish they made more of this for us!
Potatoes and turnips. Forgot what the green sauce was but it was very deep and complex. Great balance.
Melon and Cucumber sorbet. Refreshing.
Modern strawberry shortcake — basically.
Housemade chocolate and caramel with sea salt.


Reading 1 Corinthians 13 for us.
At Grace Orchard. Wedding 2.0
If I don’t teach em how, who will?
They love their mamma


Mexican Theme Fiesta