Freedom and Traditions

Flag cakes and a houseful of cousins at my sister’s in Lake Tahoe. I LOVE that Dzintars has now experienced this family tradition for the second year with us!
Last year:
And this year:
(That sweet hidden face is another L@tvi@n cutie whose picture I can’t share. He is being hosted again by my sister’s family. Can you all please pray for “D”?!)
In past years we have hiked from my sister’s home, across the meadow…
and onto the crowded beach where we watch the incredible fireworks display over the lake. This year the long walk was not possible for me. (Hip surgery in the near future. I’ll share more some other time.) So my sweet family accommodated me, and we were beyond blessed to watch the event from a friend’s secluded back yard overlooking the whole lake.
Beautiful!
I think our kids had the best seat ever!…
Our tradition continues the following day with a visit to Nana and Papa’s in the high desert of Nevada, beyond Lake Tahoe, where the kids spend their time catching lizards and riding go-carts…
While the adults relax under beautiful sunsets.
Breathing in the beauty of God’s creation!

With the persecution that so many Christians are enduring in the world today, I don’t take such freedom for granted. I’m very thankful for this great country of ours! We are blessed!

The One Where I (Finally) Share Photos…

Dzintars Michael is finally and forever our son…
It felt impossible to narrow down which photos to share. But now that his adoption is final, I have the entire future to keep adding more, so here is just a small sample for now…
First hosting trip Winter 2012/13
With his Dad and 5 brothers in San Francisco

 

Second hosting trip Summer 2013
Fourth of July with cousins at Lake Tahoe
Smores on the beach in Northern California
And he loved summer fishing…
Ocean fishing was by far his favorite day!
You all know how long and emotionally turbulent the wait was, but Adam and I finally got to go to L@tvi@ to bring him home in October. A picture of each of us with Dzintars…
in his childhood home-country…
And in his childhood home…
(The bed behind us was his)
A few pictures since he’s been home with us…
New Year’s Eve with four of his brothers, Indy, Teddy, Nate, and Nick…
 Family game night with Nana and Papa too

 

Watching his brother’s lacrosse game
But even with all the fun family time, he still held on to a bit of anxiety over the fact that his adoption was not yet final. Our second and third trips to L@tvi@ were not until April for our formal adoption court date, and June for our Embassy interview. He kept asking… “What if they say no?”
But they didn’t! This is a picture I like to call exhausted elation, taken right after our court hearing where the judge said YES!
 Officially his Dad…

 

Officially his Mom…
FOREVER!
And this one was taken today…
Do you see the peace in that smile?
Thank you to each and every one of you who continued to uphold us in prayer! God is faithful!

Guess How Much I Love You

It’s good to be home. It’s SO good to have Dz home with us! Our time in L@tvi@ was a blessed-struggle, and a difficult-joy. I haven’t been able to find the words.

Later perhaps.

But today I want to share… today… a moment now tucked into my heart forever.

A few weeks ago…
We celebrated Dz’s 16th birthday with him in L@tvi@. In my mind our day was simple, but it started with a birthday banner hung near his bed and a candle in his breakfast cinnamon roll brought to him as we sang. And even before the gifts were given, he told me, “I’ve never had such a good birthday”. (Yes, that kind of difficult joy.)

We gave him this book as a gift. When he held the book in his hand he just looked at me with a smile and said “English”. Yes. But I assured him he would understand it soon and I would read it to him. “Thank you”. Now don’t worry friends, this simple book was also appropriately balanced with a technological teenage boy kind of gift, which got a much more exuberant thank you… As I expected. I have 3 more teenage sons after all. 😉 But he did recognize the words “I Love You”, and that was my hope.

 

Then today…

The birthday book was brought out again. His understanding of English is growing quickly and he’s determined to know it upside down and backwards before we can blink. So at one week home, I read to him, this favorite story that I’ve read time and again to all of my kids…

 

Using simple synonyms and familiar explanations, pointing to pictures and motioning with my hands, he understood the whole story. Even more, he understood the message… that he could never guess high enough.
As we finished the book, with his sweet smile he pointed to himself, then to me, saying “I love you. To moon. And back.” The sweetest words. Praising God for another precious moment.

And praising God for the blessing of your prayers. Thank you friends! His faithfulness to answer is far beyond my ability to write of it.

Together

It is 3 am in L@tvi@ and I can’t get back to sleep. A good time for a blog update. We’re snuggled into a little apartment with extra blankets. It’s cold here. And we’re sick. A 14 hour plane trip is miserable when you have a cold. But we’re glad to be here nonetheless. L@tvi@ is quite beautiful. There were many many trees and meadows, with splashes of fall colors as we travelled 2 and a half hours by car from northern L@tvi@, to Dz’s home town, and the location of our orphan court, in southern L@tvi@.

 
Yesterday was our first court date. Dz met us there, came up behind me and surprised me in the parking lot as we arrived. It was so good to hug him again, and see his smile. Orphan court was very small. Nothing like the courtroom I anticipated. There were 9 of us sitting at small tables in a room of an office building. We met his orphanage director and it was good to see how much she truly loves him. She cried as she said good-bye to him. I know it was an emotional day for Dz as well, but as we sat on the couch talking together last night he said “I am very happy”. Me too Dz! Very very happy. 

Life seems very casual here, moving at a slower pace. I like it. There are many beautiful time-worn buildings, cobblestone streets, and dirt roads. But the best part of L@tvi@ is spending this time with Dz in his childhood home. Colds or not, we’re hoping to make the most of our time here and see as much as we can!