Happy Birthday, Little Bear!

Happy Birthday, Little Bear!

Today, this growly, grinning girl turns one! Sometimes, I actually think someone formed a conspiracy to skip a month or two in there somewhere because it can’t literally have been an entire calendar year since this baby came into the world. But they assure me it has & all mamas feel this way. I guess I’m a card-carrying member of the Time Flies Club now (our mascot is a fly; I’m campaigning to get it at least to be animated, but they said I’m new here so just hush).

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Yes, we let her stand on the chair. She has killer balance. & it’s her birthday.

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We celebrated with this family. The Todds.
The family that made it all happen.
The family that made the phonecall & made us parents.
We wouldn’t be here without this family. God bless them. We love y’all.

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Doesn’t she looks just SO happy about her birthday? I promise she was…

Although the delays have caused more waiting then my heart was prepared for, I feel it’s appropriate that she celebrate her first year here in Japan. How many birthdays will she get to have just a few miles down the road from where she was born? (For all I know, it could be tons, but just let me have this…)

As we approach this milestone, my heart is rent in two as I try to hold all of the feelings inside; feelings of joy & accomplishment, excitement & pride in all that she has become & will grow to be, but also the weight of what this day means for another sweet couple who remember this day a little differently…a lot differently. This is the other side of adoption. The side we don’t show to the cameras. The side we don’t talk about. Even now, I hesitate to relate the thoughts that take up space in my mind as I work through the complex emotions of this anniversary. There’s another family who is processing the reverse of these complex emotions; grief at the loss their family has experienced; joy at the outcome of their love-led decision: the best thing for this baby girl. The weight of their sacrifice will be borne through their years, just as it will through ours. We will always be commemorating this day in tandem. A parental parallel held loosely in life, but bound by the strongest cords of love.

How does one even begin to behold such magnitude? I find myself saying with Paul, “And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14) When he penned those words, he was talking about a different kind of love…or maybe the same kind of love?  He was saying that our lives spent spreading the knowledge of Jesus are a Christ-like aroma fragrant to those who are being saved, but quite a different aroma to those who are being lost. To some, the way we live Christ-like lives will seem attractive & full of light, but to others it will seem senseless, naïve or worse.

I’ve seen a little of what he means just in this past year. Some reactions are full of delight & wonder at the story of God’s providence in our family’s lives. Others are critical, skeptical, insensitive; unmoved by the weight of the decision made by both families. And who is sufficient for such things? The answer, as you might have already guessed, is: Not me. Not Oakie. Not us. We stand here by the grace of God alone.  He has softened my heart with an empathy I’ve never before known; He has worked out in us a patience we could never have manufactured; He has led us graciously & slowly, giving us only each day as it comes, requiring of us a soul-deep trust in His goodness & faithfulness. And I feel certain, He has been walking another family through a similar faith-journey.

In the end, I see in our story an echo of The Story. Another Father who lost His child so that we could experience a love we had never known. Another Child who lost His Father so we would never be Fatherless. Another heart-wrenching sacrifice so the ones He loved best could live in the fullness of life.

I pray that within our lives, you sense the aroma of Christ that brings with it true Life. I pray that our cracks will allow His light to shine through all the more; that as the psalmist says, we will be like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day (Proverbs 4:18). We are the jars of clay; we are the moon reflecting the sun. It will never be us, but the One who is in us that will be worthy of your praise & adoration. May we only ever be the shadow that points to the substance.

love from Japan,
the Osbornes

P.S. For Skye’s first birthday, we’re asking friends & family to write Skye a letter or note that we will keep for her 18th birthday. Include anything you like; funny stories, advice, wisdom from your life, good knock-knock jokes, examples of handwriting/paper/stamps as those will be obsolete in the next two decades, really anything you’d want her to have as she launches into the world 18 years from now. (There are no degrees of separation here; if you know us, write us! And for the three people reading who don’t know us, but stumbled on this blog in cyberspace, I don’t want you to feel left out. You have good knock-knock jokes too! Write us!)

Mail them all to the following address:

Skye Elizabeth Osborne
c/o Dr. Paul M. Garcia
3612 Edgewood Road
Columbus, GA 31906

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11 Months!

11 Months!

Well, of all the reasons for being late to post, this has got to be the best one: We spent all of Saturday on a much needed hike in the woods & the early parts of this week chasing down the final paperwork for Skye’s passport to return to the US with us!

We are now all set to apply for the Japanese passport as soon as Golden Week is over & expect to be ready to move to the visa phase in the following couple of weeks. This means there’s a really high likelihood that we’ll make our June report date! Praise the Lord from whom comes every good gift.

For all you Amazing Race fans, we would’ve made you proud. On Tuesday we got our first clue: Meet your attorney’s assistant at her office @ 4:10pm to get what you need for the next challenge.

Challenge: Make it from your attorney’s office on one side of Tokyo to the Minato-ku City Hall on the other side of Tokyo by closing time (5pm).

Our victory: Take a number at the appropriate window 2 minutes before they stop taking requests, have a wonderful bi-lingual friend to translate (thank you, Kaori!!) & get everything you need to apply for Skye’s passport.

Reward: A Travelocity sponsored dinner at an amazing Hawaiian restaurant. JK, it wasn’t sponsored by Travelocity…but it should’ve been.

Phil, WE ARE READY.

And so are you. For Skye’s 11 Month photos:

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#sass
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This is her kiss-blowing pose…

After all that, a hike might seem commonplace, but for us, it was exactly what we needed. I’ve been reading about the effects of nature deprivation & I self-diagnosed. The prescription? A 3 hour, 8-mile hike around Lake Miyagase in the Mount Tanzawa range. Just what the doctor ordered!

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Lastly, guys: This photo. Her hair is terrible. The face is…just…everything. & I don’t even know. I just flipping love it.

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Love from Japan,
the osbornes

Easter In Japan

Easter In Japan

WARNING: THERE ARE GOING TO BE WAY TOO MANY PHOTOS IN THIS POST. you have been warned. (Moms of the 70s-90s with buckets of photos prints & no where to put them, I GET IT. Oakie is lucky we married in a digital age…)

This Easter has brought us to such a different place than last Easter, but we still went to the same park to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead with our church family here in Japan.IMG_6047

We saw many of the same smiling faces that we saw a year ago, but this year they were nearer & dearer to us; true friends. We sat under the same tree, but this year it was warm & sunny. (I forgot sweaters for Skye & myself & didn’t once need them.) We heard the same glorious story, but this time hearing about how God did all of this to adopt us into His family moved me in a completely new way. We even had similar picnic food, but this time we shared it with a teething ten-month-old.IMG_6127

Easter in Kinuta Park with Tokyo Horizon Chapel for the second year was everything I expected a year ago & nothing I could’ve dreamed.
We even had something a little extra to celebrate because on April 13th, Skye officially became an Osborne!

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This moves us one step closer to concluding the adoption, but in the moment, I can’t express how little that seemed to matter. We had given her our name, like Oakie gave me his, like Christ gave us His. Her identity was transformed, like mine was when I married Oakie, like each of ours was when Christ rescued us. What’s in a name? Maybe not much, but also…maybe everything. One day, she will say, “I am Skye Elizabeth Osborne” & with that she’ll be saying she belongs with us. It’s bittersweet & it’s beautiful & it’s big. One of the biggest things I’ve ever been a part of. There’s not much else more central to who we are than the name we call ourselves & now, this little girl, our daughter, will call herself an Osborne. Just like me. Just like Oakie.

Currently, she is sitting in the screened patio door watching Oakie mow the yard while she plays with her toys. Every once in a while, she spies him & yells DADA & squeals while waving her squeaking squid toy like a maniac. The truth is that she already knows who she is. No name change could tell her more than the grin on that man’s face when he silently waves like a maniac right back at her above the roar of the lawn mower; but as she grows into that identity as his daughter, it’ll be helpful for her to have something to call it. & for us, it’s called being an Osborne. For you, it’s Smith or Jones or Garcia or Hancock. It’s the name we give our legacy; our section of the story. I pray that we tell it well; that one day the echoes of the angels will reverberate with the sound of the chapters we added to The Story. & I can’t tell you how happy I am that we got Skye.

(Like all good things do, this made me think of a musical number that you should take a pause in your day to watch if you want to know what the inside of my heart looks like today)

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Just when it feels like we’re saying goodbye to Japan, we find out we may have another few weeks here. So, a secondary announcement, for all those awaiting our return: We’ll be here through May, most likely. As my sister Lou said, “Waiting is hard.” She’s right. It’s also #worthit. We know what’s on the other side & we’re leaning forward while at the same time, keeping our feet grounded in the roots we’ve cultivated here.
Here’s a glimpse at some of those roots:
Top photos: The owner at our all time favorite Japanese Café, Fukurouza, near Sagami Depot where Oakie works. It’s the cutest, most hipster-ly adorable place ever & they often play The Sound of Music soundtrack & that is just fine with me.

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Bottom photo: Me sharing the Easter story while my friend Nozomi translates to a group of her English students. She & I met through PWOC (Protestant Women Of the Chapel–a fancy name for the women’s Bible study on post) & she asked me to come & give a little gospel presentation last Christmas & again this Easter. Delays have their upsides 🙂

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Lastly, one of the greatest gifts of this sojourn to Japan is the adventurer that I get to do it all with. Isn’t that photo on the right SMOKIN’? This man is everything I could ask for & more. Kind, selfless, hilarious, confident, fearless & so full of energy that he can keep going when I want to quit. I could wax poetic, but I’ll spare you. I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words & all that. I may have married him for his looks, but I really lucked out, didn’t I?

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Love from Japan,
the Osborne family.

P.S. Feel free to share our news on your preferred social media! ❤

10 Months!

It’s that time again & Skye was super not ready for her photo shoot. There may or may not have been tears & 47 deleted images including a mix of blurred smiles, almost falling off the chair & a fair amount of breaks to wipe a running nose. Apparently “sit still” is not in her growing vocabulary. However, “dada,” “mama,” & a handful of sign language signs are! She also high fives, waves “bye bye” & smiles on command.

*One of those is not true.

Skye’s fifth tooth is breaking through on the bottom & she’s hover-standing, but she’s still certain that crawling is the fastest way to get where she wants to go so walking seems to be on hold for now.

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Things are moving right along over here. The cherry blossoms still haven’t made their highly anticipated appearance, but who better to be fashionably late than them? We’re expecting them next week!

Our adoption process is coming to a close & we are so excited to see the day every little thing is completed! We’re hoping to hit the states sometime in late April & as our time here ends, we find ourselves overcome with the bittersweet emotions indicative of a blessed experience. We have made friends, met more of the family of God & seen some of the most beautiful things on earth in our year-&-a-half-long sojourn in the Far East. What a true gift it has been to live in Japan.

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Until then,
love from Japan!

9 Months!

9 Months!

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Well, she’s done it again. She’s gotten older & cuter at the same time.
She has two bottom teeth & the top two are breaking through!

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Do y’all need a flashback? Because I kinda do…

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Is this even the same BABY?!

And yes, busted, navy blue is a theme here AND I AM NOT ASHAMED. My children will wear fun & festive colors, but they will also wear a lot of navy blue. This will not make them sad. This will make them aware of the value of accent colors. This is science.

Things are getting ever so slightly warmer on this side of the world & those little cherry blossom buds are teasing me on my morning jogs. Come on, little guys! Make like Nike & just do it.

*Nike is a sponsored affiliate of this blog.
** No it isn’t.

Our adoption process is moving, but we have been informed that there are some unexpected delays which have pushed our re-entry timeline back. We hope to spend the majority of the spring/early summer in the states, but we really won’t know till we’re there. The good news is spring in Japan is glorious & I am SO excited that we get another one.

To all the concerned parties, I am tripping Skye every time she looks like she’s about to start walking so DON’T WORRY.

To all the parties that weren’t concerned until they read the last sentence, I’m kidding…basically.

God is good & we are grateful.
Love from Japan.

8 Months!

I’m awfully glad I don’t get grades on these blogs, because I believe I’d get quite a few points deducted for failing to post Skye’s 8 month photos until almost her 9th month. But HAHAHAHA, I’m an ADULT & I don’t GET grades anymore. Muahahahahaha. THE POWER!

That being said, thank you to the few of you who took on the professor role & reminded me that these were, in fact, due a few weeks ago. I could give you all the details about how the printer malfunctioned so I didn’t have my cute sign or how we had a friend in town for a couple of weeks & we travelled a lot, but that would sound a lot like excuses & I’m an ADULT & I don’t USE excuses anymore. Muahahahahaha. THE POWER.

Without further excuses ado, here are Skye’s 8 month snapshots:

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I mean, the child is cute.
& she’s into topknots lately.
Totally her.
She insists.
She also wears shoes now, pulls up on everything, loves pulling books off the shelves (to read, obvs), hates that I use “obvs” ironically because “it isn’t ironic if you mean it”, eats rice crackers like it’s her job, babbles da-da & ma-ma with enough consistency that neither of us feels gypped (full-discloser: I’ve never spelled that word before, but I looked it up & that is correct. Not gipped or jipped…I checked), & grins a lot more readily for photos than she used to (for example, this photo shoot took a full 20 minutes less than previous ones).
She’s pretty much great & we adore her.

& for no reason at all & CERTAINLY not to offer up proof of our visitor, Meghan, &  our travels, here are some COMPLETELY RANDOM PHOTOS from the past few weeks:

 

For those in the states, Happy Valentine’s Day & for those elsewhere: Happy 15th of February!!

Today is the day…play responsibly!

Today is the day…play responsibly!

For those of you that get that reference, lay off on the lottery playing, fools.

MOVING ON: I just downloaded approximately 47 million photos off of Facebook in my year-end harvest of anything valuable I wanted to take with me. Part of me cringed at the photos I chose to post to the world–however small I thought it was when Facebook first started–but part of me thanked Past Caroline for diligently documenting her little life because seeing those old pictures of Theresa, Sarah Ann, Mary Lou, Jess, Joe, Katie & Ben was priceless. & now they’re all downloaded to my computer.

(prime blackmailing material available, fair price, inquire within)

The boxes are packed & we’re moving to Analog Land where you can best reach us by phone, email or smoke signal. Or letters…seriously. & of course this little corner of the web.

Where, by the way, I’ll be sharing monthly photos like THESE from now on:


You can always join by entering your email in the Follow box or keeping in touch in more interactive ways.

For what is a world without friends with whom to share it?

If you’re far away, share it with us here.
& if you’re ever close enough, come share it over dinner & a game of Yahtzee; we play every night.