Tag Archives: parenting


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:


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!

The Making of Little Church Members

Recently, the Adventist Review put out an article called “Help!  My Child Can’t Sit Still in Church.  What’s a Parent to Do?”  After reading it, it got me thinking about the evolution of my experience sitting through church with my babies. 

When Israel got a call to pastor in the U. P, our firstborn, Imanuel was 6 months old.  Prior to that, both Israel and I would sit with the baby (if he wasn’t preaching).  Now, Israel was preaching every Sabbath…and 3 times at that.  It was fine with one baby.  Newborns are actually pretty easy.  It’s when they become toddler age and are incapable of reasoning (and whispering), and when you’re in your last trimester with another one, when things get difficult.  There were some difficult times, especially since Israel left to preach at the first church before 8am.  I not only had to worry about getting the boys ready to go to church, but I knew Israel would be unavailable for pretty much the whole rest of the day.  After church, he had prison ministry and sometimes more visits. 

But my overall church experience has always been so positive because of Grandma Karen.  I’m so thankful that she decided to invest so much in my 3 boys.  And that’s where I had an epiphany.  I realized that in order to help our kids love the church and to be active participants, it takes investment.  To be honest, at first, I thought it was a little over the top that Karen would switch out books and toys every single Sabbath from the Sabbath bag – for a 6 month old.  I mean, she even switched Sabbath bags from time to time because she thought maybe the boys would like the pockets on them.  She put in countless time, money, and thought, not only into teaching them for Sabbath School, but also into ensuring that the boys sat quietly and were engaged and happy during church.  Even when the boys were babies, she observed them and knew what each of the boys preferred to play with and what they struggled with.  But Israel and I truly appreciate what that was worth.  They responded to her.  With calm, loving-kindness, she taught them to not only be quiet, but to be reverent, which is essential to church.  Over time, she taught them how to participate in all of the preliminaries before the actual message.  She taught them to be active worshipers and most importantly, to love church.

It got even crazier when she would give a friendly reminder to the pastor when sermons would just go too long.  She would say, “Pastor, you need to think about the children…your children!”  I would just laugh.  Why should the pastor modify the message just for the children?  He should think about the other church members.  But it’s true.  I realized that church should be just as much for the young mother and her children as it is for the middle-aged members whose children are out of the house.  Church is a place for members of all ages and it should consider the growing families as well.   

While we are nowhere near perfect, I thought I’d share where we’re at in our family’s church experience.  I definitely feel blessed, and I’m thankful that my boys are at a place that allows me to actually hear the message too.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to look back on these days with fond memories of when our boys learned how to give and gain the most in the Church.

Here’s the weekly grind:

–  Friday night, I gather everything I need to bring to church for me and for the kids:  Bibles & SS lessons, tithe & offering, diaper bags, quiet activities/books, water/snack etc. 
–  Upon arrival to church, distribute Bibles & offering and give pep talk about reverence – even in Sabbath School.  When they behave, I try to make it a point to affirm them for making Jesus happy.
–  Sometimes we pray before church starts if they need extra reinforcement.
–  Boys and I go to the bathroom before church starts.
–  The babies always sat on a lap during church until they were ready to sit on the pew by themselves. 
–  We’ve always had them sit on the pew and face the front.  No playing on the floor or walking around.
–  Church is always a quiet time with only whispers when necessary, even when waiting for church to start.
–  Sabbath bag had only quiet toys and books and were different each Sabbath.  (I included a list of the boys’ favs below.)
–  To encourage participation in service, Sabbath bag doesn’t come out until after children’s story and when sermon starts.  They never know what’s in the bag, so they look forward to the surprise. 
–  We encourage them to stand/kneel/sing when the church does.  No exceptions, even with pregnancy or with a newborn.  Karen had a mini-hymnal for the boys that she would always bring.  They loved using the hymnal when it was time to sing.  Once they got the hang of it, they knew when to stand, what to sing, and when to kneel.  After time, they were able to sing along with all of the doxology/call to worship songs.  Sometimes we practiced the songs at home. 
–  No playing with any toys during prayer.
–  As the boys got older, they bring their Bibles to church and I help them find passages in the Bible at least for Scripture Reading. 
–  If Israel is preaching, it’s nice when we know what he will be preaching about and which songs will be chosen for opening and closing song so the boys can know ahead of time.  That makes church more engaging. 
–  The boys didn’t do it often, but there were a couple times when they participated in special music with a children’s group.  Manu has been practicing a song on the ukulele for over a year now and he hopes to play and sing for church. 

Ramos Boys’ Fav Sabbath Bag Items (through the years):
– lift-the-flap books
– little flashlights
– connecting toys with magnets (when they stopped putting everything in their mouth)
– stickers/markers and notepad – they like making cards for someone
– silly putty with plastic animals or stamps – by far their favorite. 
– Bible activity notepads:  dot-to-dots, puzzles, coloring pages

Imanuel is slowly weaning off of the Sabbath bag activities.  I find him listening to the sermon more and more as he gets older.  When I see this, I try to talk to him about the message and get an idea of what he is hearing.  Sometimes he likes to fill in the blanks if there is a sermon worksheet.  And when Israel isn’t on the road preaching, he is sitting right there with us.  Added blessing is his lap makes Ty narcoleptic.  Before, Sabbath was such a stressful, tiring day.  Now, it is our happiest day.  If any of you have any of your own Sabbath tips, please feel free to share.  Sabbath can never be too happy. 

A New Day

Sometimes, by the end of the day, I have many regrets:

I wish I had spent more time with Ty…
I wish I didn’t get upset with Micah when he was acting silly…
I wish I spoke more kindly with Manu when I was reprimanding him…
I wish I had spent more time in prayer…
I wish I would have played with the boys when they begged me to…
I wish I didn’t get so frustrated about such a little thing…
I wish I was more patient. and loving. and happy…

Then I remember…

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is thy faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22-24 NRS

I have every reason to be down on myself today, but though so unworthy, God gives us the privilege to start fresh in the morning.  He knows how to bring out the best in us.  He takes chances on us.  He loves us, and loves us, and loves us until a miracle takes place.  We change.  And we begin to love Him back.  Sometimes words can’t express how lucky I feel to be His child. 

I want tomorrow to be a better day, do you? 

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!    

Playing Mother Goose

Last weekend, we went to Camp Sagola for UP Spring Retreat.  After church and potluck, Jeanette and I went for a relaxing walk by the lake that’s there.  We had a nice time chatting without the interruption of any kids or babies…until one came running straight towards us in the middle of the trail.  It was an adorable, fluffy, yellow baby bird of some sort.  We weren’t sure if it was a duckling or a gosling, but the webbed feet made it very clear that it was one of the above.  Jeanette and I weren’t sure what to do, but the baby bird just plopped right down next to us and wouldn’t leave.  We looked around for an irate mama goose or any other babies that naturally should be in the vicinity, but with no luck.  This baby was alone, shivering, and wouldn’t leave us.  To make matters worse, I knew that there was an eagle that lived right on that little lake.  We both knew this baby wouldn’t survive much longer without its mama.

We decided it would be best to take it with us and then find a wildlife expert to seek their counsel.  Immediately, I thought of Pastor Jim Nephew.  On our way to find him, we ran into our husbands.  They were not very supportive of our compassionate gesture.  Nethaniah’s response to our story was, “Haven’t you heard of the circle of life?”  Israel looked into my eyes and declared with conviction, “His eye is on the sparrow, Judy.”  They obviously weren’t there to see the desperation of this baby.  We didn’t choose the baby, the baby had chosen us!

We found Pastor Nephew and pulled him out of the afternoon meeting to tell him the story.  We learned it was a gosling and he told us that we should put it back where we found it.  He seemed quite sure that the mother goose would find it and he told us that the goslings often run around the beach area by the pond.  Even though we were still unsure, we trusted him and so we drove back to the site where we first encountered the gosling.  By this time, it had fallen asleep in Jeanette’s receiving blanket that we used to pick it up.  We found a nice spot in the area where the gosling would have a clear path into the water.  I got out of the car and placed the blanket with the gosling in it on the ground.  I opened up the blanket and nudged the baby, but it wouldn’t move.  I picked it up and place it on the grass.  It sat there for a while and then started shivering.  It was so hard to leave it there, but I knew that’s what we had to do.  I headed towards the car.  But then it began following me.  It sat right next to the tire of the car.  I picked it up and placed it back on the side of the trail but then right when I put it down and walked away, it immediately got up and tried to frantically follow me to the car.  Finally, I picked it up, placed it back on the grass, and just made a run for the car.  I jumped in and we drove off.  Jeanette watched from her rear-view mirror as the poor gosling ran as hard as it could, flapped its little wings, to try to follow us.  After a while, probably when it realized that it couldn’t keep up with the car, it stopped running.  We had left our baby in the dust.

This was such a heart-breaking experience.  I felt so misunderstood.  There was no way I could communicate with this baby that it was because we cared that we let it go.  A life in the wild being raised by its parents would be the best life possible.  It just had to endure this scary and lonely time for a while.  And likewise, God is often misunderstood.  When we feel abandoned and alone, when we wonder why He doesn’t wrap us up in safety and giving us the comfortable life we long for, and when the odds are against us, God longs to tell us that if we just endure for a while, it will be for the best.  He longs for us to trust Him.  He isn’t apathetic or too busy to intervene.  Every single circumstance in our lives has been weighed in the balance.  The amazing news is that God is never wrong.  He knows the end from the beginning.  He loves us with an undying love.

This baby has been in my prayers.  I do hope that it was reunited with its parents.  I’m not sure if we did the right thing, but I find comfort that God does care about our little gosling. 

So, Jeanette and I were mother geese for a day…and one day was much too long.

Love 146: My Triathlon Mission

Dear Mamas & Grandmamas,

Hope you had an amazing Mother’s Day.  You all deserve it!  I’m writing to you because as a mother, what I’m about to share will hit close to home.  But I know, like me, you will want to do something to make a difference.

We have been blessed to experience the miracle of having children.  We also have been so blessed to be able to provide for them a safe and loving home.  It is only by the grace of God that we find ourselves where we are – and yet so many are not so fortunate.  Last weekend as we celebrated motherhood, many mothers around the world were unable to do so because their greatest joys were stripped from them.  Their children were taken from them and they may never see them again.

As I prepare for my first triathlon that will be coming up in June, I wanted to dedicate this major milestone to the many mothers out there whose greatest joys were turned to their darkest nightmares.  I want my training and my inaugural race to raise money to end the sickening $32 billion industry of child trafficking. 

The non-profit organization, Love 146, works towards the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through prevention and after-care.  After looking through their website, I felt compelled to support this cause and I know all of you will too.  We have the opportunity to defend and protect these kids whose mothers are unable to.  They deserve to be loved and they deserve to know that they are worth so much more.

Here is a link to the page I created to help raise money towards this cause.  Please watch the video that you’ll find at the link below. 


If you feel impressed to give, please do so generously.  Help spread awareness to your family and friends.  The least we can do is to help these young children have a safe place to sleep at night.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Click HERE to watch the moving account about how this organization got started.

With Love,


Finding a Real Identity

I can’t seem to fall back asleep, so I decided to write down some thoughts that have been floating around in my mind.

Somehow, my life has seemed to take an unexpected turn.  Perhaps it stemmed from that magical time in Guam where all I had to do was live for myself.  But somehow, the bubble that I had been living in for the past few years of stay-at-home-mothering has ruptured, leaving me a bit dazzled to say the least. 

I’ve always prided myself in being Israel’s wife and we are so happily married.  Yet, there was something that bothered me when we began to be identified as the “marriage seminar” couple.  True, I believe we are living as close to a fairy tale as you can get in this world:  interracial couple falls in love despite cultural taboos, miraculously parents and family approve, they push through obstacles, God clearly works through it all….  Flattering though it was – young people wanting to hear what we had to say about our thriving marriage, despite our odds – that’s not the only thing I wanted to be known for.  I began wanting to believe that there is more to our life…to my life.

My boys are my life.  From the time when I was pregnant with Imanuel, our firstborn, there was nothing more that I wanted to be than an amazing mother.  This new chapter in my life could very well have been the last chapter and the epilogue at that.  Being a mother has been my proudest accomplishment and the entries that I’ve blogged here on pregnancy and parenting express but the tip of my emotional iceberg.  There is no greater gift that God could have given to mankind than the ability to create and raise a child.  So smitten was I, that my life became consumed. 

But eventually, there came those lonely moments when you realize that as grand as being a wife and mother is, something is lacking.  That is because of this:  your identity cannot be solely wrapped up in your relationship to someone else.  Winning the best girlfriend/wife award can never be your life calling, though during those initial years of dating/marital bliss it may seem like it.  Mother of the century is very much a coveted title, but can we really believe that if our kids, by God’s grace, turned out perfectly, we can find complete contentment in our own souls?  How about if we completely fail and disappoint our family? What good can we be?  This is where I was.

We, too, were made for another world.  In that World, the focus won’t be on marriages and parenting.  I am beginning to see why now.  Our life consists of different chapters that continue to develop who we are and who we become.  Marriage and motherhood are large chapters and will continue to be strong, reoccurring themes.  They will perhaps have the most significant influence on our characters.  They are an enormous responsibility.  But in the end, that is not who we are.  They are still a means to an end.  It is easy to lose sight of this.

Now that Ty is older, I am learning how to get back in touch with who I am as an individual.  Time for myself has become paramount in cultivating this.  In addition to our joint efforts as a family, impacting lives on my own, having my own role in ministry, and having my own life is what I have been missing for the past few years.  Even if it means waking up earlier, having a crazier schedule, or sleeping later at night, it is well worth it.  It is proving to bring such contentment and self-worth for me and is, not surprisingly, benefiting my family. 

It brings a peace knowing that when all is said and done, God still values me and loves me.  This is the Gospel.  Sometimes it’s hard for us women to truly believe it because we tend to live our lives for others.  But I often need a constant reminder that even if no one else in the world existed, this fact wouldn’t be altered in the slightest. 

We’ve Been Infected

So~ I should be at church right now.  Instead, I’m at home sitting here at my desk trying to wrap my brain around what has happened to my boys.  To say that they are sick is an understatement.  It all started with Micah (-which seems to be the trend around here-) when he came down with a fever.  In addition, his symptoms included niagara nose and watery eyes.  The very next day, Titus fell victim.  He had fever, loss of appetite, stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, loss of voice, and darth vader breathing.  We could hear the poor thing all night.  He definitely has had it the worst.  And just when I thought I had kept it contained, Manu came into our room in the middle of the night and he was burning hot with fever.  Apart from a miracle, going anywhere today was not an option.

I have obviously been trying to nurse them back to health for a few days now, but this morning I kicked things into high gear.  After Israel left for Marquette church, I took turns giving each of them a hot-half bath, warm lemon-honey water, their vitamin, and a nice slather of the cure-all for any sickness or disease, vicks.  I made sure their fevers were under control, their room was warm, and I tucked them into bed again.  Now, the house is quiet. 

It sounds easy since I crammed all of that information into two swift sentences, but it definitely was a battle.  The process which in my mind would produce the best odds of them getting better was in fact a torturous ordeal for them.  They didn’t want to take an uncomfortably hot bath.  They didn’t want to get doused with cold water.  They didn’t want to blow their nose.  They didn’t want to get into bed.  They didn’t want to drink all of the tea.  And of course, they didn’t want to go right back to sleep.  Trust me, the list could continue…

But I totally had an ace up my sleeve. 

Although the boys weren’t thrilled to comply, they ultimately did because they trusted that if they just endured the things I was putting them through, they would get what they really wanted.  At least this is what I kept reminding them over and over again.  And what they’ve wanted, and have been wanting for the past 3 weeks, was to be alive and kicking on Sunday, March 27, 2011 from 11am-3pm for Kaelan’s birthday pool-party.  This, folks, is why the house is actually quiet.  Some would call this a miracle in its own right.     

It made me think of those things that I’ve been really wanting in life and where I am right now.  It sometimes seems that trials and set-backs seem to threaten those very things.  But I’m reminded over and over again to see the bigger picture and to remember that overcoming these things will actually strengthen me to get me there. 

And I’m hoping and praying that this will help get them there too.  Tomorrow is gonna be their first pool party and it would be an absolute shame if they had to miss it.  Prayers welcome.

There is a Fountain

The first communion I partook in after Imanuel was born, our close friend, Sikhu, sang for special music.  The song she chose to sing was the famous hymn, “There is a Fountain”.  I had heard this song many times, but for the first time this song came alive to me.  She sang these powerful lyrics:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The first time I ever saw my child’s blood was soon after I gave birth to Imanuel.  It was from the infamous heel poke that they do to draw blood for newborn tests.  I will never forget that experience.  The initial poke made him cry a little, but it was when the nurse(s) would squeeeeze his tiny foot to collect the full vial of blood that just made him scream.  I remember just staring at one nurse in disbelief because it seemed like she was totally oblivious to our child’s pain.  Initially we were in shock because she even had the nerve to get frustrated with him because he kept squirming around.  By the end, our feelings evolved into anger.  But Israel and I held our peace and as soon as the nurse put the band aid on, we grabbed Imanuel to hold and comfort him. 

As Sikhu sang this first verse, an overwhelming image flooded my mind.  Contrary to the few droplets of blood from a heel poke, I saw a literal fountain flowing with blood, but I saw that it was pouring from Imanuel’s, my son’s, veins.  It made my heart break, and as much as I wanted to erase that image, I knew that this was a reality for One infinitely greater and purer and holier.  His Father held His peace, and had the strength to even turn His back on His dying Son.  Not only was this done because His love for our fallen world is so amazing.  He also did this because His love for His Son was so great that He knew this was what Jesus ultimately wanted – to commune once again with His beloved creation.  It was then I understood, that while the Father chose to hide His face from His dying Son, His heart was breaking too.  Here at the cross, we see two different, but powerfully equal demonstrations of God’s great love for us and for Each Other. 

As we begin this new year, I am reminded of our desperate need to love God and each other more.  What a great sacrifice that was given so freely from God!  What incomprehensible love towards no good sinners like me!   Who wouldn’t want to serve Him? 

Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains!

Time to Hit the Books

“If there is any post of duty above another which requires a cultivation of the mind, where the intellectual and physical powers require healthy tone and vigor, it is the training of children.”  CG 67

I went to school at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) where I studied to be an elementary school teacher.  I taught for 3 years at Ann Arbor Adventist Elementary School before having our first son, Imanuel.  After he came into our lives, we made the decision that I would stay at home and not teach anymore.  I believe God honored our decision because right after that, Israel received his first call into pastoral ministry here in the UP.  I had been making more money than him (-he being on a meager stipend) and our health insurance was under me.  We weren’t sure how we would manage financially nor how we would get health insurance.  But God took care of our needs in a most unexpected way.  Israel became a pastor and we became yoopers.

I was excited to be starting a new chapter in our lives.  It was a slower-paced life.  I didn’t have to wake up as early to get to school.  I didn’t have to write up lesson plans for nearly every subject for up to 5 different grades every day.  No correcting papers and no lesson prep.  Staying at home has lots of responsibilities as I mentioned before.  It is busy…perhaps even busier than an elementary school teacher.  But I can get away doing many things without much preparation.  As a mother, accomplishment comes to me in many forms.  If the kitchen is clean, the laundry folded and put away, if the boys have eaten and are playing together nicely, when I’ve responded to every GYC email/call…these things seem little, but they soon become the world of a stay-at-home mom.  It is easy to go from day to day just maintaining the happenings at home.  But it’s a vicious, never-ending cycle.  No substantial progress or visible achievements.

There is one enormous danger to living this lifestyle.  Our brain goes dormant and we forget how to think.  It seems we can no longer read through an entire book.  In fact, we might have a stack of books by our bedside because we started each of them, but didn’t have the discipline to finish any of them.  We may resort to Facebook to get the latest news.  I am totally guilty as charged.  Particularly in this day and age where most of us women have been blessed with higher education, we really have no excuse.  I’m more convinced than ever that Satan wants our brains to die.  I believe he particularly targets us women because this will not only disable us from society and in our marriages, but it will unquestionably disadvantage our children.  This will kill the Church.  There is a necessary need to guard our brains and sharpen our minds.

When I was a teacher, there was no way I could “wing it” in the classroom…at least with a clear conscience.  Teaching involved studying the lessons, doing extra research, searching for the best hand-outs, creating new hand-outs, incorporating different styles of learning, and figuring out the best form of assessment for each.  On top of that were all of the in-services, professional development, and staff meetings.  And I wasn’t satisfied until all of my students were successful at learning and growing.  In other words, I was constantly growing and developing as a teacher gaining new ideas and learning new things in order to benefit my students and because my job required it.  What does God require of me now? 

Four years of college prepared me to be a teacher.  God spent my entire life preparing me to be a mother, but there is still plenty of professional development credits that I need to take care of.  I want to take my job seriously.  Whether it be thoughtfully studying and researching for worships/activities or reading books to enhance my knowledge of the world, I want to be mentally strong so I can effectively train and teach my kids.  If I was willing to spend hours prepping for my students as a teacher, it would only be expected that I step it up to the next level as a mother.  I need to remember that I’m not just working part-time or full-time.  I’m working for an eternal life-time.  And I want job security that lasts forever.  Who wouldn’t?