Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Catching Up

Well, as you can see from our last post, it's been a long time since I've blogged!! A year and a half! A lot has happened since then...let me catch you up. :)

First of all, we added another member to our family! Caleb Ryan LaRovere was born on December 8, 2011!! Sweet precious boy! He'll be ONE in a few days!!

This little guy has changed our little family in so many wonderful ways. We can't really remember much before him.  We needed a third little boy...we can see that now. He is the sweetest little brother and Jacob and Isaac are obsessed with him! :)

In other news, we have moved across the ocean to Luanda, Angola, AFRICA!! We moved here in July of this year.  Jacob was almost 5 years old, Isaac was close to 4 years old and Caleb was 8 months old. 

I haven't really sat down and blogged, FB'd, emailed, journaled, whatever you want to call it since we've been here because it's so hard to describe.  We've really had an amazing first couple of months here. We've met some wonderful people at the boy's school and at church. Our neighbors are really nice too. We live in a small compound with about 30 houses.  All the families in our compound work at Mark's company. Life inside of the compound is very similar to life back home.

But, outside of the compound is a different story. 

It's very difficult to put into words what you see when you are out around town. I've never seen such poverty in my life. It's really a beautiful city situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. But, because of several different factors, including 30 years of civil war, the city is basically in ruins. Most of the city doesn't have access to running water or electricity.  Many people are unemployed or selling goods on the side of the road.

I don't feel scared when I'm out in the city...there is some crime here don't get me wrong. But, I don't live in fear and we're cautious when we're out...just as we would be at home.  The local people here in Luanda are, for the most, warm and welcoming towards us. 

Here are a some pictures from our first few months:

Jacob and Isaac at their school

A small group of houses at the top of a hill...trash all along the side the hill.

A church that we attend in the city

People selling things on the side of the road

These women are amazing, they can balance pretty much anything on their heads! 

Driving to a beach south of Luanda...gorgeous

Beautiful baby at the beach! :) 

More posts to come soon!  Lots of love from Luanda!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Jacob and Isaac!!

We were able to spend almost an entire week in Fort Worth visiting family at Easter. We loved every single minute of it! We were able to see my parents, brother, sister-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

What a blessing our time there was. We love that we were also there to celebrate my mom's birthday on Easter Sunday. Such a special day!! :)

We hope you were able to spend time with family and friends and reflect on what the holiday is really about. There really aren't any words to truly express how thankful I am that Christ died for me.  It's overwhelming...it's almost like I want to thank him in person. I know he hears me and someday I'll be with him. :)

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Some recent pictures :)

The boys have discovered the Photo Booth on our computer. They LOVE it! These pictures crack me up. We take the computer on some of our airplane flights and it's actually good entertainment for them for at least a little while. :)

Our Sweet, Sweet Boys:

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Love as Christ Did

I want to love as Christ did.

I want to be Christ's hands and feet on earth.

I want to be humble.

So whether or not I should post this entry has been on my mind some...but I decided that this is a place for me to journal my thoughts and feelings and I feel strongly about this subject.

Houston is filled with so many homeless people and people deep in poverty. I live out in the suburbs so I don't see it all around me. But, homeless people are all still on my mind much of the time. It's something I can't ignore any more.

When we lived in Houston before (2005-2007ish) we lived closer in to the city and regularly saw homeless/poverty stricken people. I was very good at ignoring them. For safety reasons, I justified. I didn't want to get hurt or thrown in my car by someone at a gas station as they were asking for money. So, needless to say, I wasn't really rude to them, basically just didn't pay them much attention.

Well, now we're back in Houston and Mark and I both feel quite differently about a number of things since we lived here before. We both read the book Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. To say that it changed our hearts and attitudes is an understatement.  After reading the book, we have a whole new perspective on homeless people. How they got there, why they are still there, how they are treated, etc.

God has been working on our hearts for years now in a number of areas...this is one that I can see his hand in immensely.

As Christians, we can not act like homeless people aren't God's Children.  "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" James 2:15-16

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think I should give every homeless person I see a $20 bill. But, I do think that I can try and make them feel a little more human. Numerous times now, I've pulled over to the side of the road and prayed with several homeless people.  Asked them their name.  Listened to their story. I've tried to bless a few of them with a little cash...one man named Brian wouldn't accept it. He was the first homeless man in Houston I prayed with. He said that money wasn't what he was about...he was just making his way across the US and asked if I would pray with him. We held hands and prayed for each other. He said that we should ask God once a month(on the first of the month) to bless the other person. WOW. I was speechless. I drove away from him thanking God for letting me meet Brian and for his boldness to ask ME to pray with him...

Another woman that I prayed with a few days ago...really struck a cord with me. Her name was Honey and she had her two sons with her...Roger and Isaac. I don't know if we connected b/c we both have 2 boys and both of our youngest sons are named Isaac...but she seemed so sweet to me. We talked about how Isaac means "laughter" in the bible.

Just because someone is homeless doesn't mean we shouldn't treat them just like everyone else. "As Believers, in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism." James 2:1

I want to be Christ's hands and feet on Earth...

I made the mistake before and was afraid of homeless people...I'm not saying to not be cautious. Of course, we should all exercise caution in our everyday lives. But, we shouldn't use that as an excuse to ignore another one of God's children.

I want to love as Christ did...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Scripture Memory

Wanted to catch up with my scripture memory challenge:

Feb. 15 "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." James 1:26

March 1 "Religion that God Our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from becoming polluted by the world." James 1:27

March 15 "For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

April 1 "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer to everyone." Colossians 4:6

Each of these verses speaks to me in different ways. I'm so thankful the Lord put it on my heart to really dive into this scripture memory challenge head first. Having God's word readily available in my mind and heart has proven to be a blessing time and time again.

Every two weeks I pick a new verse to memorize...if anyone would like to share their favorite verse...I'd love to read it!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Beautiful Day!

Do you ever have those days where you feel God all around you and experience how awesome He is all day long?? Today was one of those days for me. The weather was so wonderful in Houston, absolutely beautiful!  So the boys and I spent most of the day outside. We stayed in our pajamas for the better part of the day. Ate lunch outside, played in front of the house, in the backyard, played with playdoe outside. Such a good day!

I don't usually read when the boys are awake...but it was just so gorgeous outside and the boys were having fun playing with each other, so I started reading the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan. I highly recommend this book. He touches on so many aspects of the Holy Spirit that I have never even considered before. I was able to finish the book tonight after the boys went to bed...and really can't stop thinking about the Holy Spirit and how I want him to permeate every inch of my being and my life.  Powerful, powerful stuff. If you have time, you should check out this book.
I mentioned a while ago that I'm doing a scripture memory challenge through Living Proof Ministries. Today is the 15th of the month, so it was time to choose another verse today. I was really searching the bible for the perfect verse for me and I came across this one:

Feb. 15: If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26 

I want to keep up with my verses here on the blog...so I'll fill in the verses I've memorized since Jan. 1.

Jan. 1: Be kind an compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Jan. 15: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? and Who will go for us?" and I said, "Here am I! Send me!" Isaiah 6:8

Feb. 1:  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, for you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Ok, I think I'm caught up now. I keep playing these verses over and over in my head and I know that they were chosen for a reason. It's amazing how memorizing a few verses can have such an impact on me already. I find myself saying them out loud in front of my boys....they probably think I'm crazy! :) I keep saying "Be Kind and Compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you." ha! I guess it doesn't hurt! Maybe that's better than "Stop fighting!!!" lol 

Have a Blessed Day Sweet Friends...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Christmas Miracle

On the night of December 23, 2010, we were involved in a scary incident. Mark and I were held at gunpoint in a nice neighborhood here in Houston. It's taken me a little over a month to write about it, for two reasons. One, we've been very busy and two, it's taken me a little time to put the experience into words.

The night before Christmas Eve, Mark, the boys and I had gone to College Station to look at Christmas lights. We decided to try a new route home and go through Magnolia. Our closest friends, Wendi and Nick, were in town visiting from Doha. They were staying at Nick's mom's house in Tomball. We had a little Christmas outfit for their daughter, Georgia, that we wanted to give her before Christmas. It was late, but I just decided that we would just drop the gift off on the front porch. 

I called Wendi and she said that she and her sister-in-law, Amanda, were almost home from the mall. So we waited out in front of the house for them. They pulled into the driveway and we said hi and Wendi ran inside to get Nick. (We couldn't go inside because Jacob and Isaac were sleeping in the car) As soon as Wendi was inside, five men wearing masks and holding guns ran towards us from behind the neighbor's car.

We thought they were teenagers playing a prank at first...but we quickly realized it wasn't a joke. Amanda was on her way inside when they came running and luckily she made it in the house. The men had Mark and I on the ground and were yelling for us to give them our money. Needless to say, I was hysterical...screaming saying that I didn't have any money...and to please not hurt my kids, who were in the car(and the windows were down and the car was running!) Mark ended up giving them his wallet(that didn't have any cash in it or personal credit cards...only his work credit card, a few health cards,etc)

But, come to find out they weren't after our money, while three men were holding us on the ground with guns, one other guy was looking for Apple computers that were in Wendi's car. They had followed Wendi and Amanda home from Willowbrook mall where they had seen them with Apple Computer bags. One other man was watching the front door of the house with a gun. When Nick opened the door to come see what was going on, the man pointed the gun at him and yelled at him to get back and get down.

They all five ran off to their car with Mark's wallet and Wendi's computer...which was actually a used computer that she had had repaired. 

With ALL that to say, we are so thankful that no one was hurt. Wendi said that it was complete chaos inside the house. As soon as she found out what was going on, she hit her knees and started praying. I know for a fact that there were angels all around us and our boys...because of her prayers. God protected everyone involved that night.

Of course, when we got home that night, we didn't sleep at all.  Mark and I got on our knees and prayed to God thanking him for his protection and asking him to give us peace and help us to not be fearful everywhere we go and in our new home. We love our new home, neighborhood and city...we don't want to live in constant fear. 

Well, God has answered our prayers because we have slept beautifully every night since then(well, except for a few nights when Mr. Isaac didn't feel well and wanted some 3am mommy and daddy time!)

We are a little more jumpy than we used to be, but that's expected. The first time we heard firecrackers in our neighborhood around the holidays, we almost hit the ground!

We are also more cautious than we used to be. We look behind us when we're driving home, which is good. We try not to go out to the stores at night as much as we used to. But, the good thing is that we AREN'T scared, we're just more cautious.

Mark and I both believe we witnessed a Christmas miracle that night...our children were sleeping in the car, with the windows down and the car running and were unharmed. We were both safe and all of the people in the house were unharmed. Thank you Jesus.

It's also miracle that all of us are doing ok now. We are all giving it to Jesus and trusting that he'll provide the peace that we need. I'm so thankful that I have him and that he has me.

My prayer is that anyone that reads this post will be a little more careful and cautious. And please take time to pray over your families for their protection. Prayer is powerful!

Wendi posted about this night on her blog also:

Thank you for taking time to read this LONG post...we're just so overwhelmed by the power of prayer and are in awe of the fact that God really does perform miracles. 

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock."  Isaiah 26 3-4 NLT