It’s As Easy as 1, 2…4!

It’s As Easy as 1, 2…4!

Welcome to the Blue Chair Series, Pt. 2!

Here you will find adorable monthly progress photos of little Cinco’s life…except for month 3 because we are fighting the hard battles over here & WE’RE NOT ALWAYS WINNING. Sometimes napping & toddlers are winning & that’s just fine because falling off the self-imposed Monthly Progress Photos in the Blue Chair Series wagon at month 3 with your second child IS NOT AN OVERALL INDICATOR OF HOW WELL YOU’RE PARENTING, OK?! Sometimes, keeping the faith & keeping calm just means keeping them alive and stuff. Sometimes, you had it all planned out & the laundry just LIVES in the basket now…ahem, I mean, the photo session just doesn’t happen.

The good news is, month 4 is here to prove to us all that he’s still actually growing & changing & breaking my HEART with how big he’s getting & how cute he is. & while we’re at it, I decided to create side by sides of he & Skye BECAUSE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO REMEMBER THAT SWEETNESS?? (if you just replied, “Uh, me.” I lovingly invite you to leave this cyberspace because there’s literally no other reason to be here that I can tell so far.)

Another thing that I feel should be pointed out at this juncture is that this amazing, beautiful, darling, vintage blue chair was a wedding gift from the one & only Geege/Theresa & little did either of us know that it would be home to my favorite tradition. (I know you advised against taking it on the boat to Japan, but aren’t we both glad I didn’t listen to you??) THANK YOU!


M  O  N  T  H    O  N  E
may first, two-thousand eighteen

The whole first month with this boy was a dream that I relive over & over in my mind. What a sweet time. Our whole birth experience meeting this little guy was nothing short of amazing. Is there any interest in a Birth Story post? Comment below if so. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m happy to share if enough people are interested. Otherwise, make sure to ask me if you see me (or email me!) because it’s one I love to tell.

This month’s photo was taken around 10pm when I remembered “today is the day!”, but we were in the car about to head to Florida so Cinco could meet his paternal granddaddy & the man I married said, “NOPE. We’re turning around. It’s worth it.” AND HE DROVE US BACK TO THE HOUSE. (granted, we had just pulled out of the driveway & made the first turn, BUT STILL.) Tradition saved. Mama happy. Sign missing. Baby grumpy. #worthit


M  O  N  T  H    T  W  O
june first, two-thousand eighteen

If you’re like me, you’re looking at the these two photos & are floored at the difference between these two. I NEVER would’ve called Skye a roly poly baby, but Cinco is taking tiny to a whole new level. Also, the difference between his month one & month two… WHAT??!! It’s also about this time that I realized the lighting in our two houses is SUPER different & the color of the chair is washed out. Mental note to work on my camera settings. Second mental note to not overshare what’s in my head when I’m writing this blog. Moving on…


M  O  N  T  H    T  H  R  E  E
july first, two-thousand eighteen

Ah yes, the moment that solidified Cinco’s second child status; aka, the month I completely forgot to take the 3 month photo. One day he’ll look back through these & say, “So that was it, huh? It only took 3 months for the newness to wear off & for MY monthly photos to get the boot on the priority list?” And I’ll look into his young, innocent, beautiful, blue eyes & say, “100%. Yes.”


M  O  N  T  H    F  O  U  R
august first, two-thousand eighteen

These four-month-old babies make me so so happy. Look at those grins! These past four months have been magical…and also messy & sleepless, so it could be the delirium causing the hazy glow in my memories, but I’m pretty sure this is what all the older moms are talking about when they recall the good ol’ days, diapers, dimples, tantrums, teething, snuggles, smiles & all.


If you came here for the cute babes & nothing more, feel free to move on from here, but if you came with the understanding that I OBSERVE NO RULES in the blogging department, then feel free to stick around for this next segment entitled:

SIX BOOKISH QUESTIONS FROM HANNAH
(who has a fabulous blog for all things books/reading
10 outta 10; would recommend to a friend)

Hannah is my dear sister-in-LOVE & she recently (if you call over a month ago “recent.” I’m sorry, Hannah!) tagged me in a post on her blog asking questions about my reading habits (which are seriously lacking these days), but it served to inspire me to dig back in to prioritizing some good reading & I’m soaking up the afternoon nap-time quiet.

1. Do you re-read books? What was the last book you re-read?

Usually, the answer to this is a hard no for me. I just…get bored? I don’t know. Other than the Bible, I don’t find a good deal of books worth it, with the notable exception of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. I LOVE these books & Anne Shirley is a forever friend. Every stage of life brings me back to that sacred ground in Prince Edward Island (which Oakie & I visited on our first anniversary).

2. What book are you most proud of finishing?

100% Les Misérables. It was long & laborious, but also remarkable & worth every bit of its literary stature.

3. What are some of your hobbies aside from reading?

Writing this blog, baking & anything crafty. From watercolor to sewing, I love a good project that I can then give away or display in my own home!

4. What is your favorite read (so far) of 2018? Least favorite?

Favorite read so far is Sally Clarkson’s Mission of Motherhood. Both of her books that I’ve read so far are phenomenal & she has so many more that I want to read. Definitely recommend to anyone looking for solid spiritual wisdom on living your life to the fullest.

Least favorite: Swamplandia. I know, I know. A lot of people love this book, but it just…didn’t do it for me. I’m willing to say that it could’ve been the stage of life I was in when I read it (36 weeks pregnant), buuuutttt, I just honestly didn’t enjoy it.

5. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Bookmarks all the way. I have bookmarks that I’ve had for YEARS. They always remind me of a season of life I was in when I got them. That being said, not all my bookmarks are made for that purpose. One of my faves is a receipt from Hiro’s Pie Factory–our favorite bakery in Japan. I’m getting it laminated next week so I don’t destroy it with all the shuffling from book to book.

6. Who are your read-everything-they-ever-wrote favorite authors?

Ummmm…this is going to be disappointing. No one. I don’t have an author that I follow that closely. I mean…I like Dan Brown (sue me). I’ve read almost all of his books with the exception of three (that I know of). If you were to ask me that question about any entertainment celeb, my answer would be no one EXCEPT Taylor Swift about whom I can confidently say that I’ve heard every single thing she’s ever put out there. Otherwise, woof. I’m not dedicated enough. There, I said it. *shrugs shoulders*


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And that concludes our little update on Baby Oz turned Cinco. I’m so glad you stopped in. I often wish this were happening over a hot cup of coffee or tea with a candle lit on the table so I could then ask you for YOUR life update. I definitely will, next time I see you.

Until then…

love,
the osbornes

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Welcome Home, Baby Oz!

This title is a double entendre (I have never typed that word, but I now feel VERY accomplished as a writer) because we welcomed Baby Oz earth-side & into his actual home very recently!

Allow me to elaborate (aka the most succinct title if I had to give my blog a new, more honest name):
Nathan Oakley Osborne, V was born April 1st, 2018 at 5:50am, weighing in at 7lbs, 8oz & was 21.5 inches long.

Yes, you are remembering correctly, that WAS Easter Sunday AND April Fools’ Day! I announced this birth on IG (that’s what all the cool kids are calling Instagram. Go & do likewise.) in a rather nonchalant way. The following are all the of not-so-nonchalant birth announcements that didn’t make the cut:

In the category of Most Obnoxious:
We had Baby Oz!
It’s a boy!
His name is Nathan Oakley Osborne, V & we’re calling him Cinco!
He weighed 7lbs 8oz & was 21.5in long!
APRIL FOOLS’!
It’s actually a girl whom we’re calling APRIL FOOLS’ DAY OSBORNE!
It really is a boy & the above information is correct.
Happy Easter! #heisrisen #bestaprilfoolsinhistory

In the category of Most Clever If We Could Have Pulled It Off:
[insert photo of me holding two babies]
Oakie was right! It WAS twins!!!
Introducing Axel Rose & Axel Rod Osborne born April FOOLS’ DAY!!!!
[insert correct information about Cinco]
*all credit for this idea goes to Theresa Garcia Robertson
*all blame for this not happening goes to all the pregnant women who did NOT have their babies on the same day as me at St. Francis

In the category of My Personal Favorite:
Friends, colleagues, fellow countrymen, I just wanted to inform you that our only begotten son was born on April 1st, 2018–this Lord’s Day that we are celebrating Easter Sunday. As our Saviour went to the cross on Good Friday, so I went into labor on Good Friday & as He rose again from the dead to new life on Easter morning, so I brought new life into the world on Easter morning. And we say together with the saints, “Behold, the Womb is empty!” #heisrisen #bestaprilfoolsinhistory
[insert correct information about Cinco]
*all credit for the punchline goes to Randy Robertson

Now without further ado:

This newborn session was with one of my new favorite people, Jennifer Corcoran, who perfectly captured our crazy, beautiful family just as it is right now. It will change, grow, and look different in the future, but these images will forever have captured how I see us right now. Thank God for gorgeous photography & the artists who do it well.

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Right after this shoot, Oakie left for SERE school for 3 weeks. This sweet boy did him the favor of not changing all that much while he was gone & today he turns one month old. Fear not, for those who enjoyed the Blue Chair Series of Skye’s first year will love the continuation of the Series with Cinco. Stay tuned for his very first Blue Chair photo!

Cinco, we’re so glad you’re here.

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Until next time!

love,
the osbornes

Welcome back…to myself (Part 1)

GUYS. I’m here. I’ve been MIA since this kid turned one & looked like this…IMG_4940

Now, she’s ALMOST 2 & looks like this:

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THAT HAIRRRRRR. As you might’ve guessed she’s only gotten more delightful, hilarious & quirky (three of my favorite human attributes). When we left Japan, she was juuuust learning to walk, but within two weeks of being stateside, she was basically running. I credit all the family support & the carpeting at Auntie Hannah’s house.

In the way of an update, this post will be a quick rundown of Osborne life from leaving Japan to making our home in Sweet Home Alabama (insert guitar riff you’ll be humming for the next hour. YAWELCOME.) I’ll be taking a chapter from Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life and giving seasonal updates because, let’s be honest: it’s the only chapter we need to be taking from that tack-on series. Yeah, I said it. And I know you’re thinking, “Caroline, there are so many other seasonally themed things you could use like Hobby Lobby’s entryway displays or Starbucks’ rotating coffee syrups!” But as author of this blog, I get to make the choices. #sorrynotsorryIMG_6626

We spent the last few weeks in Japan soaking up our sweet routine, which OF COURSE involved Jeopardy & Wheel of Fortune each evening with Daddy. This routine continued in Alabama once we figured out the local broadcasting schedule & set up our whale skeleton antennae. (That’s what it’s called, right, honey? Honey?) I’ve fallen in love with local news–looking at you Allison & Dillon. Those updates on the happenings in the Wiregrass keep me GOING from 6-7pm CST. AND THE FADE OUT BANTER? Don’t even get me started…

In our final week, we also spent a lot of time saying goodbye to friends; true heart friends that made this the hardest place to leave that I’ve ever left.

 

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How do you put into words the love you’ve built for 19 months? How do you say goodbye to friends you’ve done life with for all that time? How do you solve a problem like Maria?  Whoops. Joke. Coping mechanism for deep emotion. Just call me Chandler.
In short, we love you guys. We miss you. We’ll always look forward to the next time. lovelovelove.

We also took some time to say goodbye to Fuji san…the morning of our flight…because I’M NOT CRAZY. *YOU’RE* CRAZY. I felt like leaving without a family picture in front of the most iconic symbol for Japan would be akin to visiting Paris & saying, “I’ll see the Eiffel Tower next time…” As my good friend Riley once said in the greatest film of all time (National Treasure): “It’s not that it shouldn’t be done, Ben. It can’t be done.” I feel confident my family will thank me for the 5am, hour plus long drive and camera-tripod-self-timer-mania later. Maybe MUCH later, but I’ll never stop waiting. I feel a little like I channeled some Jill Osborne on this & for that, I couldn’t be more proud.

 

Sayonara, Fuji san. Sayonara, Nihon. Goodbye, Japan.

The home where I became a mama, we became a family of three
& we made some of the best memories & friends I never knew I needed.

A   N   D      H   E   L   L   O      A   M   E   R   I   C   A   !   !   !

Home of my childhood, home of the brave
& new home to our growing family.

(SPOILER ALERT: I’M PREGNANT & DUE ANY MINUTE!).

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s    u    m    m    e    r
(the one where you can tell Rory has never waved a tiny American flag IN HER LIFE.)

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Our summer was spent transitioning to American and Alabamian life with pool days galore & lots of moving in. We spent some time in our mountain haven & lots of time with family & friends we hadn’t seen in a while. It looked a little like this:

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Oh, and we got a new pup because we just couldn’t wait any longer! He & Skye are best buddies & have been since day one. We needed this guy in our lives & we’re so happy he’s here. Hello Remus, successor to Romulus, aka Remy!

Who now looks like THIS…

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…because YES I KNOW I haven’t blogged in months & kids & puppies grow leaps & bounds in that time. This particular blog post is for people who really love those HGTV Before & After reveals.
The rest of the summer was a blur of morning sickness, backyard pool days, crazy good tans & grilling out. It looked a little bit like this:

Uncle Reagan met Skye, we celebrated the 4th of July in America for the first time with our new American citizen & we visited the Biltmore Estate. It was a summer for the books.

For those who don’t know, our move to Alabama was spurred by Oakie’s branch switch from Infantry to Aviation so he could fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a pilot! We’ve gotten to see him fly a helicopter, make all the Top Gun references, call him an Ace Pilot from Day One & thoroughly enjoy helping him study to pass all his exams with flying colors (pun ABSOLUTELY intended) which he did, graduating number 1 in his class & I’m so proud of him, I could die.


a    u    t    u    m    n
(the one where I know they call it fall, but autumn is a magical word & I’ll never understand the poor substitution that “fall” is)

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Autumn in Alabama is a lot like summer in Alabama. In fact, for most of the summer pictures, I’m not even 100% sure they were taken in that season, but IT HONESTLY DOESN’T EVEN MATTER because heat + pool + eventual coolness + insanely rapid digression into sweaters & hot beverages = just fine with me. #southernborn

During this sweetest of seasons, we announced our pregnancy to the world, got to know our new town in southern Alabama & enjoyed every last drop of summer weather. I also performed in a dinner theatre production in an adorable downtown theatre called Southern Broadway. It was a legal thriller called Juror #7 about a recent law school grad, Lindsey Walker, (me) who becomes embroiled in revealing & solving the scandal of the century for that small, southern town. For some fun photos of me making ridiculous faces (acting) & also looking like I know my way around a courtroom (extra acting), make your way over to the website with the above link. It was a true pleasure to return to the stage & we met the kind of friends that you know you’ll keep for a lifetime. I am just absolutely the most blessed to have found it & been invited to the table for a little theatre & some seriously amazing food.

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(and yes, I WAS 5 months pregnant by the end of the run.
Yay for flexible costumers & baggy shirts!)

We completed the autumn season with another trip to our mountain haven just in time to see all the leaves change, fall & make room for new life. It was magical.

This seems like quite enough for one post, so check in later for Part 2: Winter & Spring as we count down to the blog post about Baby Oz being born (turns out the prerequisite for that IS Baby Oz being born).

 

love from Alabama,

the osbornes

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.

His name is Mr. Ron…

His name is Mr. Ron…

I’m not sure I can do this.
I’m not sure I want to.

Putting words to these thoughts & emotions & mental processes seems limiting & endless at the same time. But I think it’s time…

I lost someone two days ago. He was a mentor, a second dad, a friend. He was all of those things & a thousand more. He was the reason I chose to do theatre professionally. He gave me my first teaching job. He was a living legend who, unlike so many, was appreciated in his hometown…well, home-state anyway. His name is Mr. Ron.

He was a normal-looking guy, about 6’2″ with dark hair & prominent ears. But when he smiled, with that little head shake, he was a hero. He wasn’t perfect…I mean, he was missing a little piece of his middle finger on his right hand because he stuck it in a snowblower. What kind of moron sticks his hand in a SNOWBLOWER?! The best kind. His name is Mr. Ron.

I always thought I’d grow out of calling him Mr. Ron, but I never seemed to be able to. First of all, my mother would have written me out of the will, but secondly, when you’re little & you learn someone’s name, it’s hard to learn it another way. And he told me one day, that really, he kinda liked that I kept calling him that. You see, his name is Mr. Ron.

He had a whole history before he ever stepped into mine, but for me, it started when I was 9. I was enrolled in the Springer Theatre Academy summer camp against my will & I was doing my best to avoid eye contact with every human I encountered that first day. I was walking out of the Saloon, down the big ramp by the green room, when my ground-gazing eyes stopped on these giant tennis shoes. I looked up & he said, “Hi!” & waved with just one hand, fingers closed. I’m sure there was other conversation in there about how my first day was going & if I liked “chicken thangs,” but mostly I just remember not being able to believe that the big guy who ran everything had noticed me. And for the next 17 years, he just kept noticing me. His name is Mr. Ron.

I could keep writing. I could try to pen a tribute that fits him, but I know I will never be able to & that, in & of itself, is a testament to his magnitude in my life.

So, instead, I will just do what 12-year-old Caroline learned from Mr. Ron:
Do my job well & treat people nicely.

I love you, Mr. Ron.

Forecast: Sunny With A Clear Blue Skye

Forecast: Sunny With A Clear Blue Skye

Two weeks ago we got a phone call.
Phone calls have a way don’t they?
A way of changing your life forever.
You never know what you’re saying hello to.
We certainly didn’t.

We were asked one question:
If time weren’t an issue, if everything could be wrapped up by the end of year, would the two of you be open to adopting right now?

It was asked this way, because we’d thought about it; we’d prayed about it. The timing had been an issue before. We just didn’t have two years post-adoption to spend in Japan. We had seen the door close & we had made peace with the sweet window-view we got of others’ adoptions.

But then, you see, we got this phone call. We had 48 hours to decide what our answer would be. 48 hours to make a call on a re-opened door.
We said, “Yes.”
We walked right through.

Guys, I’m introducing you to our daughter, Skye Elizabeth Osborne.
I doing this because we are adopting her.
We heard about her 2 weeks ago.
We met her & her birth parents 3 days ago.
We brought her home with us today.

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

Every adoption story is unique & in that way they’re all alike.
Ours is no exception.
There are many details to this story that we’ll be happy to share in a more intimate forum than this blog that reaches MILLIONS a large number of people we know & a smaller number of people we don’t.

Suffice it to say that this baby was a crisis pregnancy that, save some intentional intervention, was going to end. We had no idea she even existed until two weeks before she was born. Her birth-parents loved her enough to know they could not provide her with everything they wanted for their child so they made the gut-wrenching, but incredibly selfless decision to give her up. By God’s grace & the obedience of His people, she came straight to our door. She couldn’t knock for herself, but by the grace of God, someone knocked for her. We never opened our door to a cuter person. Sorry to all the cute people we’ve opened our door for…but come on:

We’ll never be able to fully explain how all of this happened this fast & in this way, but we know the One who can & we are just happy to be included in part of His plan. We are full of joy to give Skye Elizabeth Osborne a forever home & absolutely humbled that we get to be the ones to do that.

Praise to the One from Whom comes “every good gift and every perfect gift […], coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

He knew it all along, but we never saw her coming out of the clear blue Skye.

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

P.S. All amazing photo creds go to our sweet friend, Rachele Huonker-Frickey! Thank you so much!!

Thailand is for Tigers

As many of you got a chance to see, tigers were unleashed into our story not too long ago in a little place called Thailand. But allow me to back up a bit…
We chose Thailand for our Spring Break trip after Cambodia fell through. We’ll get there one day, but today: Thailand.
We were there for one week & packed a lot in…our suitcases. jk. our trip.

To be honest, my knowledge of Thailand only extended to their food. I love me some good Thai food. This was enough to make me REALLY happy we were going, but what I found when we got there was so much more. I mean, THE FOOD. But also, EVERYTHING ELSE.

(& yes I’m talking about the tigers, but just HOLD YOUR HORSES…AND YOUR TIGERS!)

First off, we left 30 degree Japan & landed in 95 degree Thailand. It was glorious.IMG_2972

We landed right in the middle of Chiang Mai…& Thailand’s New Year celebration, called Songkran Festival. Translated directly to English, this means “nationwide water fight”. I’m not kidding. I mean I AM kidding about the translation, but NOT about the very serious business of hosting a water fight for THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. It was mayhem. And hilarious. And sopping, soaking, dripping wet with the barrels of canal water being sloshed on you at every street corner…& every street…& every tuk tuk ride. We purchased SuperSoakers at our earliest convenience & joined right in. I would love to say I got epic action shots of this water fight situation, but camera + water = insurance plan. No thanks. It will live on in my water-logged memory though.

CALM DOWN. WE’RE GETTING TO THE TIGERS.

Other than the water fight, Chiang Mai offered a host of enormously fun activities.
Like riding enormous elephants on a jungle trek, for one. This I have pictures of…

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We also got to bamboo raft down a river and sunbathe, something the Thai people laughed at me for.
Beauty standards truly are arbitrary.
Tans are not desired in sunny Thailand & I was asked multiple times why I didn’t have an umbrella & did I want one to maintain my perfectly pale skin?
This (half) Mexican got a tan.
& a coconut with a straw in it.

We travelled for most of the trip with Jesse & Donnie, two friends we met in Japan who have cameo-ed on the blog before… Jesse’s the one squatting on the rock. Donnie was our raft-pole-user for a hot minute. (Does anyone say “hot minute” anymore?)

I feel like there was one other thing we did in Chiang Mai…what was it again?
Ugh, I’m totally blanking…
Oh yeah!
A cooking class! I know y’all wouldn’t want me to leave THAT out! My heart is pumping just REMEMBERING. Talk about thrills, ammirite? (alternate spellings include ammiright, am I right, & am I rite. I obviously chose the hippest. go & do likewise.)

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We got to cook in an open air kitchen at the Baan Hongnual Cookery School. Our guide, Kuan, was so friendly & kitchen-savvy. She took us to the market & we got to buy all of our ingredients fresh from the vendors. That was a unique experience on its own, but chopping it up & cooking it was straight off of the Food Channel. I was living my Chopped dream.

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Also, I got to use a wok & now I must have one.
#7monthsuntilchristmas
#andmybirthday
#wokwishes

Later that day we visited some ruins that have been discovered in Chiang Mai within the last decade! Some are over 700 years old! Plus Oakie tried on all the hats at the handmade goods & wares markets we went to…

We then moved on to Bangkok & got to visit an Elephant Park & the floating market. There were baby elephants so this chick was loving every second.

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And on our last day in Bangkok, we made a special trip to see the largest reclining Buddha in the world, located at Wat Pho. “Wat Pho holds the distinction of having both Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha image and the largest number of Buddha images in Thailand.” We also found the original “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” monkeys at the Temple of the Dawn.

Definitely a highlight. And yes, we went to the Temple of the Dawn at dawn.
You should feel silly for asking.

Also, full disclosure, I just listened to Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean while I typed because my sister, Sarah Ann, just planted a garden & now she thinks she’s a farmer & it seemed like the right thing to do.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M STALLING THE TIGER PHOTO REVEAL?!
*YOU’RE* STALLING THE TIGER PHOTO REVEAL!!

fine.

Yes, there are 40 pictures here.
Yes, you can click on them to look at them all up close.
Yes, those are real tigers.
No, they were not drugged. Just hand-reared & well-fed.
Yes, 60% of my smiles have a hammering heart behind them & are masking real live fear.

In all seriousness, this was the most intense experience of my life.
And I’ve been sky-diving.
These animals are massive.
You think you can imagine the size of their heads, but you can’t imagine how you will feel when you’re sitting next to those heads and reaching out to pet them.
They were majestic, glorious, imposing.
They were precious in an over-sized kitty way, but entirely demanding of every ounce of respect you’ve ever had for nature.

They aren’t as soft as you might think.
Every second in their enclosure, their turf, was like borrowed time.
It felt like I was giving them access to my life & hoping they’d let me walk back out with it.
I would apologize for being slightly dramatic, but have YOU ever sat down next to a 200 hundred pound tiger & processed how that made you feel?

As we were standing outside the cages looking in at the next group we’d get to pet, Donnie said to me, “It’s like a small glimpse of how we should feel about God.”
C.S. Lewis was on to something when he made Aslan a lion.
I was terrified, awestruck & giving my absolute attention & respect to that creature when we were encountering each other.
It had the ability to crush me, to maul me, to utterly change my entire life in half a second. If it had really wanted to harm me, no guide with a 12-inch bamboo stick could’ve stopped it.

It reminds me of a story about Jesus in Mark 7:24-30. It’s the story of a Gentile woman, a Syrophoenician woman, approaching Jesus to be specific. Reminder: from the Old Testament we know that God chose a specific group of people through which to show the world who He was & His plan to rescue us all. They were the Israelites. The Jews. When Jesus shows up, He wants to give them an opportunity to be a part of the grand rescue of the world first; not exclusively, but first. Any Gentile would know this. The long-awaited Messiah was of the Jews & for the Jews, as far as they knew.
Ah, but that Syrophoeneician woman had a problem. Her daughter was ill. Her daughter was possessed by a demon & she needed help now. So when she hears that Jesus, that crazy Jewish guy who can heal anyone, is in town, she goes.
She walks straight into the cage with the tiger.
And she asks Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
And He tells her what might appear to be an insult on the outside, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread & throw it to the dogs.”
And she says right back to Him, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”

What is happening here? Tim Keller puts it this way:

“One key to understanding it is the very unusual word Jesus uses for “dogs” here. He uses a diminutive form, a word that really means “puppies.” […] Jesus is saying to her, ‘You know how families eat: First the children eat at the table, and afterward their pets eat too. It is not right to violate that order. The puppies must not eat food from the table before the children do. […] I was sent only to the lost lambs of Israel.’ […] He was sent to show Israel that He was the fulfillment of all Scripture’s promises […]. But after He was resurrected, He immediately said to the disciples, ‘Go to all the nations.’ His words, then, are not the insult they appear to be. What he’s saying […] is, ‘Please understand, there’s an order here. I’m going to Israel first, then the Gentiles (the other nations) later.’ However, she comes back with an astounding reply: […] ‘Okay, I understand. I am not from Israel, I do not worship the God that the Israelites worship. Therefore, I don’t have a place at the table. I accept that. […] But there’s more than enough on that table for everyone in the world, and I need mine now.’ She is wrestling with Jesus in the most respectful way and she will not take no for an answer.

In western culture, we don’t have anything like this kind of assertiveness. We only have assertion of our rights. […] But this woman is not doing that at all. This is rightless assertiveness, something we know nothing about. She’s not saying, ‘Lord, give me what I deserve on the basis of my goodness.’ She’s saying, ‘Give me what I DON’T deserve on the basis of YOUR goodness–and I need it now.'”

She walks right up to the tiger & asks Him to use His power to help her & not hurt her.
He is majestic, glorious, imposing.
He is precious in His gentleness, but entirely demanding of every ounce of respect she’d ever had for authority.
Every second in His presence is like borrowed time.
She gave Him access to her life & hoped He’d let her walk back out with her daughter’s.

He had the ability to crush her, to maul her, but instead He chose to utterly change her entire life in half a second.

Being beside those animals was the closest I’ve ever come to the kind of awestruck fear that the Bible talks about.
Real talk, there was a minute there where I had to walk out with tears in my eyes because it was all just a little too scary.
It was amazing.

And I get to know that the God who came up with the idea for tigers is on my side, a lion to my enemies: Fear, guilt, anxiety.
And a lamb to me.

I get to pet the Tiger.