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).


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


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.

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

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.


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


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!




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


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!


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)


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.


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 🙂


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?


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.



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.


Until then,
love from Japan!

9 Months!

9 Months!


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!


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


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:


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!!

Dimples & Hiccups

Life these days has pretty much been about those two things.
& it’s so good.

Skye is 6 months into stealing our hearts & shows no signs of slowing. We’re willing victims…obviously.

We went glam a few days ago & got a photo shoot from our sweet friend, Rachele.
(Japan friends, if you are here, get her to take your family’s photos. You won’t regret it. Just do it.)

Wanna see? I thought you might…

That little pink dress was mine as a baby. Seeing the full circle like that makes me happy in a way I couldn’t possibly describe with this mortal language.

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

We also got into the Christmas spirit & this child looked like a fairy-elf from the Christmasland of my dreams…

The white dress was a gift from her birth parents that she wore at her dedication when she was way too small for it, but now it’s perfect. Another full circle that fills me with a joy indescribable. This baby y’all…

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

This kid is too glam for me…

& now that I have you all here…lured in by cute pictures of Skye, I have something to tell you. It’s not a big deal (that’s why I’m tacking it to the end of the REAL big deal–see above image), but I figured if you’re reading this, you would want to know.

As of Jan. 1st, I will be leaving Facebook. My account will be deactivated & due to the fact that Oakie is not even on FB at all, the Osborne family will be off social media entirely. My Instagram still exists, but I haven’t used it in over a year & don’t plan to in the future. Now, wipe those beads of stress-sweat off your forehead brought on by the thought that Skye will have disappeared from the internet because I will be updating my blog (admittedly, a form of social media…sue me) with MUCH more regularity (similar to before we got her) & I have this old relic called an email address (caroline.ceg@gmail.com) that I will be checking, ya know, like every day. I also have an actual geographical address & ask my friends that like to write (looking at you, Emma), I’m a corresponder. WE CAN SO BE PEN-PALS.

PSC 704 Box 3638
APO, AP 96338-0017

Anyone who would like to drop us a note will be informed of our new addresses as we move around!

There’s just so many more wonderful things I could share, but suffice it to say, we are enjoying our 2nd Christmas in Japan & our 1st Christmas with Skye chan. Life is good & we are revelling in the joy of Jesus this year.

When Family Comes To Town…

When Family Comes To Town…

This is me not apologising for taking two weeks off from blogging.
Mostly because, turns out, this big ol’ world keeps right on spinning without my weekly internet contributions and that’s a good reality check for me.
So live it, we have. With gusto, joy & a lot of travelling. And now, back home in my beloved sitting/setting/sewing/only room with our tiny box tv where I can hook up our iPhone to play Blacklist on Netflix while I sort through 1,000 photos, I’m back to the keyboard. It’s nice to see the world…and it’s also nice to sleep past 6am. OAKIE DON’T PLAN NO RELAXING VACAYS Y’ALL.

Ahem. Anyway, as the title alludes, my mother-in-love, Jill, came to visit April 2nd-11th & it did this heart good. Homesickness is a funny thing. I very much feel like we are home here, but I do so miss the comfort of familiarity, family & friends. Seeing Mama Jill took the edge off that pain and for that I am eternally grateful!
Mostly, we caught up and chatted about life and drank coffee together in the mornings. It was amazing. But per Oakie’s MO, we also planned some fun things to go see & do. Amazingly, she kicked the jet-lag like a pro & we were ready to hit the town just two days after she landed!

First off, a City-rama Tour of Tokyo (isn’t that a fun name? I want to use that suffix for so many things now: Dinner-rama, coffee-rama, puppy-rama, sleeping-rama. Don’t you?).
We went to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo, a Shinto shrine with beautiful grounds right in the middle of a huge city.

That large Tori gate in the top photo was made out of two humongous trees brought to Japan from Taiwan. Wowzers.

Pro-tip: If you ever want a closer look at any photos I post, simply clicking on them will bring up a slideshow version in a larger size & show any captions I might have attached.

Next up, we got to see the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. The Emperor was otherwise engaged, but his gardens were simply lovely.


And lastly, we went to the Sensō-ji Buddhist Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo; the oldest of the Buddhist temples in Tokyo. We were there at the height of cherry blossom season, so it was a treat to experience the festivities and scenery.

We covered a lot of Tokyo ground; I mean, we City-rama-ed that place.

The last weekend Mama Jill was visiting, Oakie planned a bullet train trip to Hiroshima! We had never been before so it was an exciting destination for all of us.
Also, bullet trains are the best. Better than planes as far as leg-room, open lavatories, and seeing the sites. Downside: No in-seat entertainment, but this girl was asleep the whole way there so whatevs.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel, the New Hiroden, in downtown Hiroshima, just a streetcar (named Desire, as Oakie kept saying) ride away from the Peace Memorial and A-Bomb Dome & Museum. It was charming and roomy. I especially loved how the in-house restaurant constantly had string instruments playing classic ’40s music. I felt like I should be wearing a dressing gown and commenting on the morning news to my husband. #moviestardreamsofthe1940s

Our first day we roamed a massive department store with shops like Chanel, Tiffany’s & Lacoste inside. It felt like you had to have a minimum $100 tag to get a spot in this place. Needless to say, this was mostly a window-shopping excursion, but I’m a window-shopper at heart so it was all good. I later found out, this was the department store in front of which Sadako Sasaki’s friends fund-raised for the present-day Children’s Peace Memorial at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

After that, we caught a ferry out to the famous Tori gate in the water on Miyajima Island. We explored the area, hiking the whole mountain (it felt like) & watched the sunset over the water. Probably my favourite part of the trip. Spring was in the air & being on that mountain was life-giving in a way nature hasn’t been for me before. Winter feels long in Japan. I heard that GA has already seen 80 degree weather, but here, we’re still waking up to 40 degree mornings IN APRIL. I know this is called “spring” in other places, but it is hard on this southern girl. Winter blues got me this year, but being in the sunshine with cherry blossoms & wild deer that let you feed them & warm air & wilderness was therapeutic.


We spent most of Saturday exploring the Peace Park area, but we started with a walk through the Shukkei-en Garden. This was originally a castle garden in the 1600s, but was destroyed in the A-bomb. It was reconstructed and donated to the city. It is an oasis in this city and we easily spent two hours just roaming the grounds and breathing in the peace & beauty we found there.

We then headed to the Peace Park area. We had been advised to save this for last & I’m glad we did.
We started with the A-bomb Dome, one of the only remaining structures after the explosion because it was detonated almost directly overhead. This caused all the force outward leaving what was directly underneath standing.
When I was about 11, I was cast in a production called A Thousand Cranes. It is the story of Sadako Sasaki who was 2 when the A-bomb decimated Hiroshima. She & her family survived and everyone seemed healthy afterwards, but by the time she was about 11, she was showing symptoms that led a doctor to diagnose her with Leukaemia. She was a brave, strong-spirited girl & she fought with hope and joy, folding 1000 cranes in the hopes that the old tale was true: That if one could fold 1000 paper cranes, their wish would be granted. She folded well over 1000 & by the end of her life was folding them so small she needed a needle to complete them. She died at 12 having folded about 1400 cranes. We told this story as children, for children & it has forever impacted my life.
On this day, I travelled to her town. I saw the damage. I saw the cranes she folded and the notebooks in which her doctors tracked her decline. But I also saw the hope & regrowth she inspired in an entire country & today people from around the world come to read her story and remember. This was a sobering day; the museum made me nauseous. But I read something I will never forget: Scientists thought nothing could ever grow from that shattered earth again, but within a few months new life was growing where old life was gone. It was considered a miracle. It gave the people of Hiroshima hope.
Sadako’s story has circled the world. It made its way into mine. It humbled me and chastised my selfish heart. The atrocity of war must never be forgotten. For that reason I am grateful for places like this that remain to remind.

On Sunday, we had a free day so we rented electric bicycles and rode around the city, stopping at a park for a hike, eating dinner at a riverside cafe & seeing parts of Hiroshima most tourists don’t see…ok we got lost, but it was so worth it! I mean, if you haven’t tried biking with a motor to help you, you haven’t biked the best. It was awesome.

Our last task was one I needed to do, so we found some origami paper and we biked back to the Peace Park and we each folded a paper crane for peace. The skill fell back into my hands more easily than I had imagined it could after so many years laying dormant & I taught my husband & mother-in-law and we put our cranes in the memorial basket where they collect them. IMG_2970We folded them for Sadako. We folded them for peace. We folded them in hope.
This side of heaven is broken and falling under the crushing weight of something gone wrong. It is awakening in us a homesickness for something we’ve never known, for a peace & wholeness that can’t be found here. But it exists. God tells us it’s written on our hearts. It’s the reason we don’t feel quite right here. Home is coming for us. His name is Jesus. He came once to show us the way & He is coming again to make everything right. 1000 cranes won’t fix your life, but the idea of striving daily, hourly, minutely to see the ground-roots of His kingdom on earth, the small foretastes of what is coming, the hope that gets us up in the morning? That’s a life I want to live & through it I hope others see the substance behind this shadow, the sun that causes these rays, the God-man that gives me life: Jesus.

He is coming to fulfil the hope these memorials speak.
The hope of peace, harmony, loving-kindness.
He is coming to make all things right.


Fuji Safari Park & Easter in Japan

Fuji Safari Park & Easter in Japan

Thanks to a society that prioritizes obeying the rules, there are places like the Fuji Safari Park in Japan where you can actually hand-feed lion & tigers & bears (say it with me now: OH MY!). There used to be places like this in American zoos but kids these days…this is why we can’t have nice things, AMERICA.

ANYWAY, I digress. We got to feed fruit to bears & meat to lions & thanks to my current re-reading  of The Chronicles of Narnia, the feeling of the lion’s breath on my face when it ROARED SIX INCHES AWAY FROM ME was accompanied by equal amounts terror/screaming & awe/wonder. And by equal parts, I mean all the terror/screaming & a dash of awe/wonder once we were far, far away.

Easter is not a holiday that most Japanese celebrate, which in a way is really nice because CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THE CRAZINESS THAT IS PUBLIX THE WEEK BEFORE EASTER?!
I shopped for Easter dinner ingredients on SATURDAY and all 12 of us at the commissary & Japanese grocery stores had plenty of room for our carts. #winning

This Easter was necessarily different for us because we’re, ya know, six thousand nine hundred & sixty two miles away from Columbus, GA & seven thousand two hundred & eighty seven from Winter Haven, FL making the trek impossible on a two-day weekend. So it was our first Easter just the two of us. Our pioneer Easter. But you know about pioneers, right? They simply never travel alone. And we didn’t either.

Our Easter was full of other pioneers, some of whom are home in Japan & some of whom are in the same transitory boat as us & it was beautiful.

First, my friend Ms. Judy (who has told me to just call her Judy, BUT I CANNOT DO IT), invited me to a cookie decorating class. I’d never done this before, but oh my goodness I’m now saving up to open up my own cookie bakery. It was the most fun I’ve had where food colouring was involved.



*all photos of me with the cookies were taken by Oakie who would hereby like his photography to be known as PhotOAKraphy.

*this is not true. He is not even home right now. I made this up. But he did do a stellar job on those photos.

Secondly, every year on Easter, our church has their service in Kinuta Park, Tokyo, but this was the first year that it’s lined up perfectly with the cherry blossoms bloom, so we praised Jesus in Japanese & English under the blossoms and the blue sky.

And then we had a picnic. I don’t know if some of you had ever had an Osborne picnic, but we PIC.NIC. Mostly this is especially thanks to one of my all-time favourite Christmas gifts ever: Our Picnic Backpack. This is exactly what it sounds like. A backpack with everything you need for a picnic: pretty plates, silverware, cups & cloth napkins, salt & pepper shakers, a cutting board & cheese knife and of course a blanket. Hannah & Cody, three years in & we’re STILL loving it.



We ended the day with an Easter dinner at our friends, the Thitte’s, home; complete with ham, asparagus, squash casserole, a killer asian salad, mac & cheese with Easter noodles, a chocolate cake (with homemade icing-GO ALLIE!) and lemon meringue pie. It was more then we deserved and better than I could have imagined.IMG_4999

Plus, I cracked the second twin-egg I’ve seen since we moved to Japan…so there’s that.IMG_6136

Jesus died to give us something of so much greater value than all the things I’ve written about: A restored relationship with the God of the universe, victory over death, hope for the future, adoption into the family of the Most High King.

& then He gave us all these things beside.
He is a good, good Father.
Happy Easter! He is Risen!
Bonus Video: The Unexpected Letter



“There Is Only One Encounter”

“There Is Only One Encounter”

Oh Japan. How thou hast sweetly wooed this western heart…
(little too shakespeare-y? note taken. moving on.)

In my time in Japan, I’ve had my ideas of beauty radically shifted. I mean, I’ve always had a deep-seated wanderlust & I’ve intentionally set out to let seeing the world change me, but MAN. I just didn’t see this fool coming!
From the first day when 3 men helped us roll our bags to a waiting-on-us bus & we drove into a Tokyo sunset, I was awestruck. & it hasn’t stopped.

“Send me the sunset I love the most…when I’m in Tokyo”

It’d probably be silly to make a List Of All The Japanese Things I Love The Most…
[1. little kids in matching caps
2. tiny coffee shops
3. vending machines with cold coffee
4. Starbucks on every corner & in every train station
5. coffee (too obvious?)
6. best everyday fashion I’ve ever seen (& I spent 5 weeks in Italy. Sorry, Japan wins.)
7. ALL THE RESTAURANTS: indian, ramen, yakiniku…ALL OF THEM.
8. walking & train-ing everywhere (thanks to Allie, for the verb-age)
9. mountain sunsets every day!
10. overwhelming societal kindness]
…right? Ok, good. Then I definitely won’t do THAT.

Recently, I’ve had what I deem to be more than my fair share of beauty in distinctly Japanese packaging. There is a saying at Japanese tea ceremonies, “There is only one encounter.” The meaning behind it is essentially that you should be motivated to serve your guest tea as if they were the only person you would ever serve tea, thus giving it your all every time. (& we thought we were being clever with our YOLO. HA. Japan’s had that on lock for CENTURIES.)

Isn’t that beautiful?
This day.
This moment.
There is only one encounter.
What about my life would change if I served others as if they were the only person I would get to serve?
There is only one encounter.
Would I go slower?
There is only one encounter.
Would I be so preoccupied with what’s coming next?
There is only one encounter.

The traditional tea ceremony takes over an hour.
An HOUR just to drink tea.
To take time to serve and be served.
To revel in the goodness of that warm cup & the kindness of your friend.
To demonstrate, in a tangible way, how much your guest means to you.
There is only one encounter.

Enjoying this day with Chieko-san & Mieko-san warmed my heart in a way that only lavish hospitality can. This welcome, this invitation, this lingering spoke of something we are all longing for: to belong to each other; to be welcomed into something greater than ourselves; to be given a place at the table.

At what table are you sitting today?
To what table can you invite the one who doesn’t belong?
To lavish on them the grace of hospitality? The welcome of a friend? The invitation?
I created another iMovie of our tea ceremony. It’s 6 hours long. SIKE! Less than 5 minutes. Please enjoy if you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like & let the simplicity encourage you to offer what you have to another.
It need not be elaborate; only enough.

Tea Ceremony Video

The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival:
(WARNING: I’m about to bomBARD you with cherry blossom pictures. If these are not your thing or might incline you to say, “I mean REHLLY, there are simply TOO many photographs!” in a British accent, please scroll.) (I would also like to point out that the spell check gave me the option of changing ‘British’ to ‘brutish’ and DAHLING, that REHLLY set me to LAUGHING!)


There was a geyser that went off several times a day and we made it! #winning
I. Love. Rainbows.
when all the work trucks are matchy, but not TOO matchy…


This tree hadn’t turned all the way and I liked it the best. The Almost Tree.


Pinecones anyone? 3 for $10!
I put a cherry blossom in my cherry blossom ice cream and was the talk of the town…I assume that’s what they were pointing and talking about…
This is a 1,000 year old tree…
let that sink in…
It’s customary at temples to leave all the trees untouched.
Sections might die, but the tree grows around them & all the dead & broken parts become part of its beauty. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.
More hina dolls!!!
Oakie wanted this picture included because it has a tire in it & that reads redneck to him.
Also, this hotel bus we passed as we stopped along the coast…


Oh Captain, my Captain!

This day was as close to perfection as it maybe gets this side of heaven:
Perfect weather.
Beautiful cherry blossoms.
Ice cream that TASTED like cherry blossoms.
A walk by the sea.
1,000 year old trees.

…and I thought I’d seen beauty already.
It’s everywhere y’all.
Look for it today & if you don’t see it, create it.
Invite that friend or that almost-friend.
Watch their face light up when you ask them to tell you their story, their favorites, their bests.

There is only one encounter.