these are a couple of our favourite relatives. above is baby s, the latest addition to the pratzner clan (m's sister and brother-in-law). below is big sister l (known in our family as chocolate before she was officially named because "everybody loves chocolate!"), who joined the family a couple of years ago. too cute for words, aren't they?
imagine how their mom and dad must feel about them. it took a lot of waiting and praying for these two to become a part of their new family; literally years of longing and hoping, of pain and disappointment, of hard work and great cost and even suffering are wrapped up in these two tiny packages.
those first photos they received from china must've thrilled mom and dad, setting into motion a thousand dreams about what it would be like to hold their babies for the first time, about nurturing them into toddlerhood, about the day when each precious bundle in their arms would understand that these weren't just kind people, but their own dad and mom — the ones who love them more than anyone in the whole world, who knew them before they ever knew their parents, who loved them before they even had a relationship with them. l and s are special, in part, because they were pre-loved (a term i first heard used by pastor ken fong at urbana 2003).
and the dreaming won't stop. as the years go by, the dreams will grow in scope and complexity. think of all that these two might be, might do some day — partly because of what dad and mom are giving them. yes, all of their parents' resources will be utilized for their benefit. but the real gift is more than a house to live in or clothes to wear or fun toys or the chance to receive an education, as important as all of those things might be. the real gift is everything that comes with belonging to someone, sharing their name, and receiving their nurture and discipline and encouragement and guidance. it's an on-going relationship of love.
if all of this sounds vaguely familiar, it should. it's the echo of a deeper story that undergirds all of history, of a voice that is still calling to you and me.
so also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his son… that we might receive the adoption as sons. because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, “abba! father!” therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. galatians 4:3-7