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:

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:

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.


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…


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.)


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.


Also, I got to use a wok & now I must have one.

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.


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.



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.

All Things New

I’m trying something new this month.

I’ve moved to a new site that will, hopefully, better facilitate my blog/help this poor girl format everything without wanting to throw everything I own outside…and then stomp on it.

I will continue to post my Weekend Updates (I 100% totally came up with this completely original title myself. All rights reserved ©.) about Life in Japan, but I’ll be adding a new element on a (semi-) bi-monthly basis (I make no promises on the frequency of this because, you know…I just don’t). It will be more along the lines of a personal essay about my life & the work that Jesus is doing & I will post mid-week.

I am by no means, an expert in Jesus. As Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus…” in Philippians 3:12. If Paul hadn’t obtained it yet, this chick certainly hasn’t. The writings I will publish have one goal: To encourage you to press on. To obtain it. ‘It’ being our complete rescue by Jesus. The implications of this are infinite. If you have already experienced the initial rescue, the implications will continue to reverberate throughout your life as it becomes more complete. If you haven’t, they haven’t yet begun, but I invite you to “taste & see that the Lord is good.” See it through my writing, my imperfections, my weaknesses, my utter failures. Let them show you, by contrast, the surpassing worth of Him who loves & loves & loves me &, my friend, you too.

*This was originally written in January 2016 so some of the references are long past.

Daily Bread

         So the preacher says, “And to all you young, single girls plagued by body image issues…to all the business men who hesitate to be bold for the gospel…for the young mom feeling tired and left out…” & then he efficiently, skillfully applies this week’s sermon to their lives. Their real lives.

But he doesn’t say, “To all the young, childless couples living abroad for a short season, travelling most weekends so you can see & experience people & places, customs & traditions, religions & rituals you’ve never seen before…this is how this week’s sermon applies to you.” Because, you see, most people aren’t in that category and for the sake of time the man’s got to speak to the most people. So on this Tuesday, I’m wandering through a season of wondering what faithful living looks like here. Now.

Because, I actually am in that category.

I’m in an in-between.

A not-yet.

An almost.

I’m not a young mother…yet. I’m not a young single 20-something…anymore. I’m an army wife living in Japan for less than two years, yearning desperately to DO something; to live out the gospel.

Now, if I’m completely honest, this is a premature rambling. We’ve been here for 6-ish weeks and are still finding our sea legs (I mean, this IS an island). I’m still gasping every time I get a little too close to the left side of the road BECAUSE DRIVING HERE IS TERRIFYINGLY NEW. I understand it’s all a bit early to be dwelling on…but then I’ve never been good with timing. So instead of subduing this feeling of urgency to GET TO IT ALREADY, I am just acknowledging it.

Our lives are not ordinary. They are not typical. Yet they feel quite mundane some days. We’re settling in & getting to know our neighbors, but we’re also going on wild adventures, to places I’ve never even heard of, almost every weekend. We’re trying to build a church community, but we’re missing most Sundays because we’re “travelling” & “seeing the world.”

Do not misunderstand me. THIS IS THE DREAM. I understand that. But it does pose an odd predicament as I strive to grow in my faith. As I read books like:

Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman

& For The Love by Jen Hatmaker

& Carry On, Warrior by Glennon D. Melton,

I’m struck by how outside I feel to these normal-life-doers encouraging other normal-life-doers to continue in the good & normal work before them. Encouraging them to not miss the little moments & the small beginnings & the brave everyday of kids & school & small-town living…& I think to myself, “That couldn’t possibly be further from my reality.” So how in a world of books on normal life, do I glean wisdom for my not-so-normal life?

& then, I just sit back & allow the Lord to direct my memory.

He will, you know, if you let Him.

It’s, like, His favorite thing to do.

We’re just so darn forgetful. You give us five minutes & we’ll be up in arms about the wait in the Starbucks drive-thru right after we just raised our hand to a praise & worship song that “just really resonates with me.”

We. Forget.

We forget the goodness of the Lord.

His faithfulness.

His promises kept.

His lavish love & abundant provision.

We just forget.

& so, He helps me remember.

It was a Thursday morning. We’d been in Japan for 4 weeks. I was invited to a women’s Bible Study group by my neighbor. Just the day before I’d met a wonderful lady, whose husband was a chaplain & she had a daughter at COVENANT COLLEGE. And she was leading a book study by TIM KELLER. & the more we talked the more her eyes said to mine,

“I recognize you. We belong to each other.”

She knew my people, my places. She spoke my language & I came home & GUSHED to Oakie about the gift God had given me in her.

& on that Thursday morning, I met Chieko-san…well two actually. Chieko-san 1 & Chieko-san 2. This is about Chieko-san 2. She introduced herself & we talked & she continued to be floored that I was kind to her because she was

“so old” & I was

“so young” &

“why would you want to spend so much time talking to me?”

& I just smiled and told her that her age brought her wisdom & I’d be a fool to pass her friendship up. & so now we’re Facebook friends and she’s going to teach me the traditional Japanese tea ceremony AT HER HOUSE. (teaser alert: this weekend on the blog!)

But you haven’t even heard the magic yet. Another young Japanese woman I’d been talking to pulled me aside later to make sure I knew that although Chieko-san had been attending this bible study group for some time now, she had never become a Christian. She encouraged me to pursue this friendship with that in mind.

But I forgot. I pondered life here & finished book after book & wondered what was for me? What’s my faithful living look like, God? Where’s my work for the gospel? I’m not working & I’m not a mom & we keep missing church & my neighbor is ALREADY A CHRISTIAN &…&…&…

Be still & know that I am God. Psalm 46:10


& He reminded me.

Don’t you see, little one? I am God. I know My plans for you.

I have good works already lined up for you to walk in them.

Don’t you think I desire “faithful living” for you as much as you do?

Be still. I am already at work and you don’t even remember.

All things, child, all things are working for your joy & My glory.


So I am resting & resisting the temptation to fret & fear & flounder.

I am embracing the small that comes with not knowing the answers.

I am walking in the small, short, steps He has given me.


It is “daily” bread after all, is it not?


What are you fretting & fearing & floundering about?

Is there a chance it’s because you’ve forgotten?

Have you taken some time to let Jesus help you remember?

Remember His goodness.

Remember His past provision.

Let that dissolve your fear as it’s overtaken by His big, complete faithfulness.


Have you never met Jesus?

Have you never investigated whether or not His claims are true?

Maybe it’s time & reading this was the latest “sign.”

I am, of course, available over the internet to talk about it & if not me, I would encourage you to find someone you know to be a Christian & ask them.

“His arm is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.” -Isaiah 59:1


Valentine’s in Kanazawa!

Well, to be specific Kanazawa & Shirakawa-go & Takayama

I know, these are currently just names of places in Japan that end with an ‘a’, but they’re also incredible tourist destinations with valuable history and places on the UNESCO National Heritage Sites list.

We had the chance to spend our 4-day weekend touring these locations which meant a trip on the famed bullet trains of Japan. We loved those…

 I mean, nothing better than having a reserved seat on the train.
Kanazawa was a beautiful old castle town that we explored extensively; unfortunately it was wet & rainy the whole time & I was a *little* paranoid about my camera getting damaged, so the pictures are minimal. We did get to visit the excellently restored Kanazawa castle that offered free tours in English (which we always take FULL advantage of) and this time we were graced with a guide who loved his job. He studied English in Washington for a few years & told us that he felt he’d never been able to fully express his gratitude for the help the American friends he’d made gave him, so upon his return he started a job as an English tour guide in an effort to indirectly repay the Americans for their gift to him. We were underserving recipients of this gracious action & we couldn’t be more grateful. I was humbled to receive the benefits of this ripple effect. What a wondrous work gratitude does on the heart.

We did a little shopping (at the Gap, but MOSTLY) at the open-air market that featured lots of fresh seafood and a shop where I got to try my first cup of sake
& found the perfect hostess gift for Chieko-san’s tea ceremony (that was amazing, btw, but I’ll blog about it later…gotta have cliff hangers because strategy).

 We wandered quite a bit here & got to visit a Noh Theatre Museum where I got to dress up like a Noh actor#timelapsesforthewin

After two nights in Kanazawa, we took a bus to the remote, mountain village of Shirakawa-go, famous for its thatch-roofed farmhouses, some of which are almost 300 hundred years old. That’s older than our COUNTRY, by the way. #respect.  We got to see it in the snow and I was enchanted. 
Fortunately for us, The Last Samurai was on the Japanese-content-version of Netflix in our hotel & we watched it the night before visiting. It was very moving & will instill in you a new, fresh respect (& maybe love?) for Japanese culture. That was my experience, but I…you know…live here. 
Either way, I recommend it. 
Tom Cruise. 
So…enough said. 

 Our first glimpse…
 Magical, isn’t it?

 (please tell me you knew I was kidding…)

 ughhhhhhhhh. Doesn’t this look just like the yard of your dreams? #curbappeal
 Village view from the mountain.
 Inside one of the farmhouses.
This is on the second floor.
 Did I mention that all of these were built WITHOUT NAILS?!
ok, so now you can be REALLY impressed…

 *swoon* I think I have a house-crush…you know, the feeling you get every time you watch Fixer Upper?

This crane is my attempt at “wildlife photography.”
I think I’m ready to break into the industry.

 I mean, have you even ever SEEN enough snow to make footprints without hitting the grass beneath?
(if you’re from above the Mason-Dixon line, 
please refrain from answering this rhetorical question silently at your computer/handheld device)

 We took the time to build this little guy at the top of the mountain.
I think we named him Parson Frederick Brown.
Oakie’s convinced it was something Japanese.
(which one of us sounds more credible??)

   Either way, we loved him.
 OOOOO, can you find me??

Oakie took this photo of our quintessential Japanese lunch of udon noodles.

Next up was Takayama, another remote, mountain town where we saw a lot of the mountain. 
Meaning, we hiked.
A lot.
It was awesome.
  I have quadriceps like tree trunks now…

 & we ran into one of THESE beauties, otherwise known as the Japanese serow

As I was thinking about how I would google it so I could describe it in my blog,

 I thought, “It sorta looked like a goat deer…”
Turns out that’s EXACTLY how the Japanese describe it too…

I am, like, SUCH a native.
 & Oakie is, like, SUCH a goat-deer whisperer…He fed it our snack nuts.

& then posed in this hero position fitting for someone of his woodsy stature…
I’d follow this woodsman anywhere…

We also got to see a classic Japanese rickshaw in action!
I”m linking you to this site because who better to tell us about rickshaws then Seinfeld?
(Side note, we recently exhausted the Camp Zama library’s supply of Seinfeld DVDs 
& THEY DON’T HAVE THE 9TH SEASON! We are now accepting donations…)
Overall, this was a fantastic trip that we will remember for years to come.
Oh my gosh, I sound like I’m 85…

In other random news:
Here are some odds & ends in our life…

A piece of art I got to make with my women’s bible study group…
T, look what I found in Japanese!!!!
Katie!!! Doesn’t this just make you happy? #taylorswift
Until next time,
love from Japan