Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Our First Christmas Letter...in blog form

...possibly more appropriately entitled Year in Review. And yet that just somehow feels overused...

Oh, the joys of technology! I can write our first ever Christmas letter for all to see without addressing and stamping one envelope! (Confession: I can't allow myself to mail out Christmas cards/letters to people I still owe wedding thank yous to! First things first. And since I'm behind on that by 40 or 50 notes, I'm opting for the blog letter. Now you know.)

I've never really done a yearly letter. My mom has, sometimes. But my life has always been about the same. Interesting, crazy, and very full...but each year's Christmas letter would have been much like the last. Except for maybe the cities I traveled to and/or how many weeks were spent in Mexico this year, as opposed to last!

But I find myself looking back on 2006 in great awe and wonder. Awed at what has happened and in wonderment at how this year has profoundly and permanently changed my life as I knew it. As you knew it. As it pretty much always was.

January found me working at Starbucks and bringing in the New Year with my family in Warren, Oregon. My dad had planned a little Bridgeway Ministries staff retreat (really just the Brock family) to the beach that first weekend over Mom's birthday. The drive home from that retreat began the year's journey, for as I rode in the truck with my parents, they revealed to me that Andrew Harper, soldier and friend, had contacted Dad for permission to get to know me better. Me!

February came, and with it, a trip for Dad to Georgia. He spent a weekend of recon, talking with Andrew, man-to-man, about a possible relationship and future plans. Dad returned home from said trip singing Andrew's praises and easily convincing me that this guy was worth looking into! We had our first "online date" on SuperBowl Sunday, and I laid eyes on Andrew for the first time in over 2 years when he came out over President's Day weekend. He picked me up from work for what was essentially a blind date, and after that, we spent those 2 days getting to know each other. He asked me to be his girlfriend, and gave me a set of his dog tags. I guess we were going steady...

March brought my 28th birthday, a beautiful box of gifts from my boyfriend (with whom I was in daily, almost hourly communication, and with whom I was falling more and more in love), and a joint visit to his parents home in Warren, Arkansas.

April was truly enchanting. I spent the weeks before and after Easter in Hinesville, Georgia. (Where is that? I still hardly know.) I "moved in" with Andrew's brother and sister-in-law for the week and saw Andrew as much as the Army would allow. He took me to old-town Savannah on the day before Easter and asked me to marry him. I said "Yes!" Both sets of parents then met us in Hinesville to finally meet each other, and to celebrate our newly-engaged state.

saw close of my illustrious 6-month career as a Starbucks barista. I now had a wedding on July 16th to plan! Andrew visited over Mother's Day and was introduced as my fiance to my whole family for the first time. My family and I also planned and led a Bridgeway trip to Mexico this month, and one for next month, too!

June was filled with wedding plans, budget stress, packing, two more weeks in Mexico, lots of communication, learning, growth, and understanding between me and Andrew. Not an easy month because I wasn't going to see him at all. His work schedule and my Mexico schedule just didn't allow for it. So we were patient and we waited. Did what we could and trusted God for the rest. Came home from Mexico with only 2 weeks until W-Day and not nearly enough done!

July. Ready? We got married. It was the best and most beautiful month of my life. Jenny (my sister-in-law, matron of honor, and life-saver!) was by my side for the fun and the stress of the last 2 weeks before the wedding. A week before, company began to arrive! My groom flew in on the 10th, my bridesmaids mostly came the next day, and we all spent the most wonderful week together, celebrating old friendships, having loads of fun, and working on the final details (which wouldn't have been accomplished except for my lovely friends). Never have I been so surrounded by love and friendship as that week. Instead of being nerve-wracking, it was a peaceful and fun time with bridal luncheons, bed and breakfast fun, serenades, dinners out, bowling, bbq at my parents' home, ribbon-tying, and picture-taking! Jenny directed our wedding rehearsal on her birthday. The girls sang "Goin' to the Chapel" and Seth, Jarrod, and I performed "Rejoicing in His Love". Weston, the best man, em-ceed the affair hosted by my new parents-in-law which included a relaxing southern-style picnic lunch. The wedding day went off without a major hitch and was the most gorgeous wedding I'd ever seen. And I'm not just saying that. Okay, maybe I am. We honeymooned in Seattle, drove back down to spend a day with my family, then I up and moved to Georgia with my new husband!

August found us settling into our home life, married life, and Army life. Andrew had to spend a night or two away from home during the first couple weeks. Welcome to the Army! My Mom and Dad came out for a visit, too. It was so good to see my Mommy and Daddy. It really was. I'm convinced that there's a little part of us that never quite grows up, or outgrows the need for parents. We spent one of the weekends this month in finding and exploring St. Augustine, Florida.

September brought the wedding of one of my bridesmaids, and dearest friends, Rosanna. I was privileged to be one of her bridesmaids, as well. So the new Mr. & Mrs. Harper flew to Portland to meet up with my family and drive down to the wedding in Nevada together. It was a fun reunion with my family, as I had already lived across the country for 6 or 7 weeks and had been missing them like crazy! Andrew and I returned home to Hinesville only to have Andrew spend the next 3 weeks in training exercises in the field and away from home. I escaped the loneliness by making a quick trip up to Portland again, this time to celebrate Weston's birthday with family, friends, fun, food, and football! My Granny also celebrated a milestone birthday this same week. It was so nice to be able to be there for both! It's also so nice to have William & Amanda close by. It's been so much fun to get to know the three of them better! And so good to have a sister near...

October was October. Andrew came home from his FTX and I was there to meet him! We happily spent the month learning, practicing, and settling into at least some of the facets of our new roles as husband and wife. We learned this month that Andrew's brigade will, indeed, ship out for Iraq in January. We had fun exploring the lovely city of Charleston, South Carolina one crisp October weekend, too!

November was peaceful. Until the 3rd when Andrew was in a car wreck that totaled our minivan. He walked away unhurt, praise the Lord! And we realized firsthand that in actuality, Iraq will be the safest place for Andrew next year. (Partly because of the horrid driving in Hinesville!) Which is always the case when we are in God's will. No matter where it is, that place becomes the new best place to be! The week before Thanksgiving week, we hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for a few couples, and a couple single soldiers. That was lots of fun! Then Mom and Dad Harper and Mammaw Smith came out for a visit and to bring us a car to borrow. So sweet! Thanksgiving week we took a road trip up to Warren, Arkansas, by way of Atlanta, Birmingham, Tupelo, and Memphis. (It still gets me how close everything seems in the south!) Spent Thanksgiving with the Harpers/Smiths (what fun to have a "new" family!) and had a wonderful time despite sickness...right? We then flew to Portland for the week after Thanksgiving to ring in the Christmas season with our family in the NW.

December is here! We hung stockings and put up a tree, baked cookies and strung lights, and headed full-swing into our first Christmas together! Andrew has "making memories" as his pre-deployment priority, and we really have been doing just that. We went to a church Christmas play in Savannah. We've laughed and planned and had so much fun shopping for gifts and getting them ready to ship! Now, shipping is another story that we don't like so much... It's been so great to start new traditions and to spend this season together. We've been married for 5 months and it seems that the last few weeks have been the sweetest. God gave me all I needed when He blessed me with Andrew.

On Christmas Day we'll drive down to Jacksonville to spend it with Andrew's family. Then we're taking a few of his last leave days before deployment to just spend together. We're planning to drive to Orlando and enjoy the Christmas magic of Epcot Center. And to make even more memories to keep with us during the coming separation.

In 2005 I had no clue what 2006 would look like. Now I see that it's been so wonderful. God's plan in His time is the sweetest gift of all. Thank you to all of you who love us, pray for us, and have supported us through our lives...and especially through this special and eventful year!

Please continue to pray for us next year and we'll keep you posted!

With love and happy wishes for a beautiful Christmas time,

Andrew & Cassidy

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Our first Christmas together means our first Christmas Tree together, too! We had fun picking it out with all the new decorations and putting it all up the same night. It's amazing what a holiday feeling those little white lights create! Add a couple candles, stockings on the wall, a cozy red throw on the couch, and a cup of coffee with egg nog... Merry Christmas to us! What a wonderful time of the year!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Spill, Free Peter Young, and Seth Phillips Brock

All seemingly odd and unrelated mutterings, and yet it is my brother, Seth, who brings them all together with his brilliant writing, genius composing, and just being himself.

The Spill: Seth's Blog. Allow his "About Me" from The Spill to speak for itself.

Name:Seth Brock

Thanks for reading The Spill! When I'm not writing, I'm busy with school. When I'm not busy with school, I'm busy with my music. When I'm not busy with my music, I sit staring blankly at the wall as precious moments of life slip through my fingers. This only lasts for a short while, after which I suck on a lemon, maybe do a few push-ups, and get back to writing...

Free Peter Young: The name of his band. He's recently recorded his first single, Autumn Waltz. Critics agree it's "...an instant classic!" Go to his music MySpace, listen to his songs, and add them to your site! Or just go to mine to hear it. (But you gotta add me as a friend...)

Can't tell I'm proud, can you? I know you'll agree.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanksgiving With Domino

The last Domino Magazine had an amazing article on creating Thanksgiving dinner in about an hour! The recipe for the turkey was fast and easy and made the best tasting turkey I've ever had. Seriously.

Try it!

Thyme-Roasted Turkey
serves: 8

2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on, 2.25 lbs each

2 turkey drumsticks, about .75 lbs each

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tbsp. coarsely ground salt

2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 500. Place the turkey pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil, then sprinkle on all sides with thyme, salt, and pepper. Make sure breasts are skin side up and spread out as much as possible, without touching any of the other pieces. Cook in middle rack of oven for 50 minutes.

Cassidy's Tips:

1. Turkey breast halves were not available. We used 2 whole turkey breasts, instead, and no drumsticks. They sat high on the baking pan, so Andrew had to make them shorter and spread them out. It was all too gross for me.

2. With 2 whole breasts, we added 20 minutes to the cooking time which worked perfectly!

3. Warning: the house will likely fill with smoke as the oil and spices that fall to the baking sheet burn quickly at such high temperatures.

4. Warning: your baking sheet will never be the same.

5. We had 8 for dinner and still had plenty of leftover turkey! So it makes lots.

6. Best of all, no disgusting turkey innards to deal with. Yeah, my favorite part!

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends! Love to all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

6-day Weekend??

Yeah, it is possible.

Andrew's been in a dialect class for the last couple weeks. It's supposed to end tomorrow, but the instructors let them be done early this morning! Which means that they just won't go in tomorrow, only for PT early in the morning. So he's been home most all of today (napping on the couch, now!), and then after PT tomorrow, he's off until next Tuesday cause of the Veteran's Day 4-day weekend.

And we have big plans, too! A little pre-Thanksgiving dinner at our house on Friday with William & Amanda, and another Christian couple new to the area. Then Friday night, Andrew's parents and grandma will arrive from Arkansas and stay til Sunday. (They're bringing us a car to borrow for the next couple months! -- We are surely blessed in the "great parents" category!)

I'm so glad Andrew has a little time off before the weekend. It's always more fun to prepare for company together!

Time is going to fly by as we have a fun and busy weekend coming up, then 4 days back at work before we take 2 weeks' leave for the Thanksgiving holiday. We get to see both sides of our family beginning in Arkansas, and then traveling out to Oregon the week after Thanksgiving.

Can't wait to see everyone!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Very First Traffic Citation

Ya know, I am afraid Hinesville is a BONA FIDE vortex. It’s a fact that when you pull onto a roadway, random strangers controlling large cylinders of metal filled with gasoline, speed up as they hurtle toward you on precariously balanced strips of rubber. Once you do safely make it onto the roadway, there will be a minimum of three idiots between your current location and your destination. We know they are idiots because of the way they pull out in front of you and stop, leaving you a choice between plowing into their backside and sideswiping the car next to you.

It’s quite shocking, really, the speed with which an accident can occur. One minute you think an easy left hand turn onto a four lane road is within your grasp. The next minute you sit completely stunned in the middle of the roadway, a useless steering wheel gripped stupidly in your hands as spilled radiator fluid makes your silenced engine hiss and whine.

At about two thirty, yesterday afternoon, I released my stupid grip on the steering wheel and opened the door to our mini-van. I stepped out and, pulling out my cell phone, walked past the non-existent front of my vehicle to check on the driver of the car I hadn’t seen. The other driver was ok, but in some slight pain.


“Hey Baby,” I said, “I hit someone.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I hit someone.”

“Where are you?” Cass asked.

“I hit someone, I’m right here.”

When I finally got it out that “right here” was in front of our subdivision, Cassidy came and found me. It’s easier to make me make sense in person.

In the meantime an off duty fire fighter and his partner stopped and started directing traffic… I guess someone had told them about dangerous Hinesville drivers. The paramedics and police arrived and checked everything out. The other driver was packaged up in white sheets on a stretcher and taken to the medical center to get her neck and back checked out. She checked out fine. We know she was fine because in about twenty minutes she called the fiancĂ© she’d been talking to when the accident happened.

Automobile accidents are a scary phenomenon. This was the worst I’d ever experienced. I’d looked to the left before turning, but never saw the vehicle that hit me. That moment keeps replaying in my mind. The sudden impact, the feeling of shock, the random thoughts: “I just stopped moving forward,” “Oops,” “Where’d the front end of this van go?”

Apparently, the vehicle I’d collided with had been following another vehicle which was turning on the side road I was turning from. Whipping around the turning vehicle, the black Suzuki launched on a collision course with me as I made my left hand turn. Her speed and possible recklessness aside, I failed to yield the roadway to oncoming traffic. At least that was the dutiful way Officer H explained the situation to me as he signed and handed me my very first traffic citation. Nice.

We watched in consternation as the van was pulled by chain up onto the back of the wrecking truck. What was left of the front bumper fell off and the tires couldn’t quite bring themselves to roll over it. It was just as the van was reaching this lofty perch that we realized that in the first two attempts to retrieve personal items we’d forgotten the new uniforms I’d been issued and a huge box that had to be packed for Monday. After retrieving those final items and getting a card from the wrecker service, we walked away with our belongings and my very first traffic citation.

The cost of an accident is normally calculated in monetary terms: new insurance premiums, rental car fees, towing and storage fees, wrecking fees, repair fees, and the fee from a very first traffic citation.

For those of us in the Army, however, one must also consider the loss of time. After we were through with most of the normal issues (police, wreckers, witnesses, etc), but not quite through with the insurance, we received a call letting us know that my first sergeant wanted me to come to the company and help him fill out an incident report on me. My wife has pointed out that in the normal world you are only accountable to God and your insurance company… unfortunately we live in a fairy-tale land of make-believe notions like: “The Army knows best”, “Soldiers can’t be trusted”, and “your personal life is the entire chain of command’s business”. For these reasons, I found myself participating in two formations and waiting through three meetings, while Cassidy stood on the sideline, waiting to have our audience with the first sergeant.

Finally, at about five o’clock (the accident had occurred around two thirty) we were able to make our way home. Yes, I drove.

Today was uneventful, possibly because we didn’t go anywhere. Eating a late breakfast and watching episode after episode of 24 is a preferred method to deal with the stress of coming close to death, losing large amounts of time and money, and receiving one’s very first traffic citation.

Thinking we were in the clear, Cassidy and I had moved dinner plans from last night to this evening. There’s a new Christian couple in the company and we really wanted to get to know them a little over dinner at Chili’s. In fact, it was while we were in the process of getting ready for dinner that I noticed there were a couple new voice mails on my phone.

“Harper, give me a call when you get this,” never a good sign.

The second message was no better, “Harper, when you get this give me a call.”

Evidently I had been on the sergeant major’s mind. “Yeah, sergeant major wants you to go to the emergency room tonight to get checked out,” said the voice on the other end.

“Tonight? Just go up to the emergency room and get checked out tonight?” I was sure my tone reflected my opinion that the ER would be about as much fun as getting my very first traffic citation.

“Yes, and you need to let First Sergeant know when you get through.”

So, because I live in a world of fairies… um, I mean a fairy-tale land, Cassidy and I forewent our dinner plans and went on a date to the emergency room at Winn Army Hospital. Never mind the fact that we are two perfectly rational adults and that I can tell when I am seriously injured.

After receiving a clean bill of health I dutifully reported in.

“Yeah, we are just leaving the ER and I am fine… would you mind calling First Sergeant for me? K, thanks.”

I don’t know HOW I knew the darn phone would ring again, but it was on vibrate and I set it on the dash so I could see the light when it rang. Sure enough, about five minutes later, the face of my phone lit up.

“Yeah, uh, I told First Sergeant and he wanted to know if it would be possible to get some pictures of the van as an example that you can survive the totaling of a vehicle and come through it without problems.”

“Um, I don’t think that’s going to be possible,” I said, “Pretty sure the van’s already gone, nope, it’s already been taken to the chop shop… nope, we definitely can NOT get a picture for him.”

I don’t feel like being a poster child for the “You Too Can Survive An Accident!” ad campaign. Not in the same week that I got my very first traffic citation!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Not long ago I was sitting in a training session and someone was explaining a method for organizing information. MILO, he said, was the way to go. There was one hiccup, however. True to Beaureaucratic Form, it was necessary to gather the information in the format IOLM, not MILO. The acronym MILO, was for memorization purposes only. Hmm.

Lest we get mired in the details of which way an acronym is to be remembered or how to properly use it to gather information... here's what the darn thing stands for:





…and in it's proper priority form:





Well, all of this may be Greek, Geek, or Eek to you (it very narrowly was to myself as well), but take a closer look. My personal epiphany came as the man was explaining that this informational process can be applied to anything in the world.

Case in point...

Identification: My wife's computer

Organization: one screen, one keypad, one external drive, one mouse, etc.

Location: corner of my living room, EG Miles Parkway, Hinesville GA, United States

Mission: facilitate flow of information between family and friends, manage the budget, etc.

It was in the middle of just such an acronymal application to an inanimate piece of equipment that I realized I have a personal MILO. In fact, I suddenly envisioned MILO as a personal assessment tool to verify where I am and where I am going:

Identification: Child of God, Andrew Harper, Cassidy's husband; Corporal Harper USA; David and Charlotte's son; William's brother; Amanda's brother-in-law; Benj's Uncle; Butch and Karen's son-in-law; Weston, Jenny, Jarrod, Seth, and Darren's brother-in-law; friend to many. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9

Organization: healthy body, sanctified soul, spirit, mind, strong will, moody emotions, sin nature, desire to spend time with and build my family, fear of being replaced. “Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

Location: In my home; A Co., 1-3 BTB, 1st Brigade, 3rd ID, Fort Stewart, GA; Right where God called me to be for this time. “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

Mission: To be surrendered to what God is currently teaching me; to be the best husband i can be; to be the best soldier i can be; to reach out to other soldiers who do not know Christ as Savior; to prepare for the step God wants us to take after the Army. “…For obedience to Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:2

As you can see, there are nearly limitless applications for MILO to daily life. I find that it clarifies priorities, gives perspective in current circumstances and helps to provide a framework for future planning. All of these things coupled with a renewed image of who one is makes this acronym a quick, healthy mental and spiritual checkup.

“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” Psalm 25:10

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Quote from Andrew

(as quoted to me yesterday)

"Don't hate the system, Babe. Trust the One Who controls it - and then get out as soon as possible."

As Promised...

Some random self-portraits during our Charleston trip. We were camera-happy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Charleston, SC

Not last weekend, but the weekend before... We decided to take off to Charleston! It's about 2.5 hours away from here. Same distance approx. as Jacksonville, just north instead of south.

We arrived too late for the last ferry boat ride to Ft. Sumter. Ho-hum. That's why we came, so we decided to spend the night and try again tomorrow. (Andrew had that Monday off!)

That night we explored downtown Charleston a bit, and found a great place to eat called 82 Queen. The weather and atmosphere and all was just so gorgeous!

We woke early the next morning so as not to miss the boat again! It was neat to see the Fort where the first shot of the Civil War was fired.

We did our research on places to eat, mostly. Found that Rachael Ray had done one of her "$40 a Day" specials in Charleston. So we scoped out her favorite places and picked one to eat at: Hominy Grill. Excellent local home cookin'. And Rachael Ray ate here!!

We even drove through a couple plantations before we headed home.

We took pictures and made memories and that's what we're all about these days! (More of those to come later.)

A view from our ferry of the beautiful row of mansions on East Bay Street (I think they call this "The Battery")

Friday, October 20, 2006

New Cutest Movie Ever: Curious George

Okay, so I was tired of watching Madagascar - the only semi-kids movie we owned - every time Benji came over for a visit. There's only so much of "I like to move it, move it" that a person can handle!

Andrew and I were browsing through WalMart's DVD section a couple weeks ago when I spied the yellow box! So the big movie we bought that night was, indeed, Curious George.

I remember having all the Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat books around our house all the time when we were younger. I always loved them. And I was so pleased to see that the movie did the books justice! George is the cutest animated monkey, ever.

But, yeah, I waited til the next time Benji was here to watch it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Meet Corporal Harper

This morning, Andrew was promoted from "Specialist-Promotable Harper, Andrew K." to "Corporal Harper, Andrew K."

To make it even better, I was not only invited to attend the brief formation "ceremony," but as his wife, I was the one to promote him. That meant that I stood in front of the company next to him as his orders were read, then at the right time, I turned to face him, took off his Specialist rank, and replaced it with the new Corporal patch.

Then it's tradition to haze the promoted Soldier by punching him in the rank. Whether it be shoulders, collar, sternum, whatever. So I playfully punched him in the chest (cause everyone was expecting it), then gave him a kiss on the lips to make it better.

Later he was surrounded by his fellow Soldiers as they congratulated him. One or two hit him pretty hard. Nice. At least it's not like it was even recently when the ranks were metal pins. Punching those drew blood and that seemed to be the cool thing to do.

Remember back when he passed the board? That made him promotable and his lateral promotion was to Corporal. It finally happened this morning because all his paperwork went through. The next thing is to build up his promotion points until he's eligible for a forward promotion to Sergeant.

I'm so proud of him! The Army is not an easy job.

I handed my camera to Andrew's Sergeant and she took pictures for us. Here are a few.

Me getting quick instructions from the 1st Sergeant.

Andrew at attention as his orders are being read.

My turn to pin my Soldier!

Capt. Pressley gives a charge to the new Army Corporal of A Company, 1st Brigade, 3rd ID.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

He's Home

I got the last text before Andrew's phone died. He wrote, "We're leaving now and will be at the company in an hour and a half." Along with some xoxoxo's. Determined to see him as soon as possible, I decided to get to the company in about an hour, just in case. Plus I'd been ready to hear from him for hours and was out of things to do, clean, cook, and had no patience to read or watch anything any longer.

I parked at the company and waited, not quite sure from which direction he would be coming, nor if he'd be able to contact me.

Facing a couple of the motorpools, where the troop carriers were returning, I was witness to several home-comings, and scores of Soldiers chucking their gear in the backs of cars and trucks and driving off. I was getting so hopeful! Andrew had mentioned the possibility of their company staying late to finish up some things. But these guys were all jumping right in their own cars and driving off. Whew.

I had been sitting in the van for nearly 2 hours when, suddenly, my phone rings from Sergeant Gragg's number. It was Andrew saying that they had just pulled into their motorpool (down the road, not one I could see) and then that they were driving to the company. So I sat there in the company parking lot under a streetlight with a good view of the entrance, practically holding my breath with every headlight I saw. (Now, lest you are led to believe that Andrew had previously lied about their arrival time, let me just say that in the end, his convoy had to wait for the last people from the battalion, and then proceeded to take the longest way home, ever. This must have been by way of Florida and back. Or something just as far.)

Finally, two humvees turned in. I wasn't sure if they were Andrew's, I couldn't see him in the windows. So I just sat there and waited some more. He knew where I was, so he would come and find me.

He did.

It was so dark, I didn't see him until he was in the light from the streetlamp. Even then, I didn't know it was him at first, he was so laden with gear and duffels and ruck sacks. I quick unlocked the back and he dropped everything in. Then we just stood there in a long embrace under the canopy of the back hatch door. I was not in a parking lot. I heard no cars drive by and saw no headlights. I was with Andrew. And that's when I began to breathe again, for the first time in weeks.

Though I would love to say that he drove me home then and there...the night's adventure was far from over. He had more gear to bring out. And then had to do weapons and gear accountability. Turn them in and sign off and all. We drove back and forth to the motorpool several times. Usually with "hitchhikers." If you hadn't noticed, I wasn't about to leave him. So I just tagged along, content to finally be wherever he was.

All the Soldiers were finished and gathered in the company...and suddenly everything was on lock-down. Another company seemed to have misplaced a piece of sensitive equipment, and so no one was allowed to leave until further notice.

One of the frustrations of the Army. All get punished for the shortcomings of a few. Or one.

By now, it's around 10:30. We're all sitting in the company and no one seems to know what's going on. Some Soldiers are sleeping with their heads down on the table, some are sitting on the cold concrete against the wall, still others are storming around acting like they would do something if they could. All are trying to deal with the fact that they can't go home yet, for some reason. So close...

Once we heard it was on lock-down because of lost equipment, which would need to be found before anyone could go home...and which could be anywhere between the garrison and the field... We took orders and I did a Sonic run. Yep. The company's hero for the night.

Andrew couldn't come, of course, so I talked to him on the phone the whole way and back. I nearly suffered from a little separation anxiety. Between that and not really believing that he was there...I just wanted to be with him.

He and a couple others met me at the van to carry in the food. And then he and I just sat in the van together. And ate our cheeseburgers and fries together. And talked together. Together.

Finally, at just before 1am, they were gathered into formation, given a few orders and directives for the next day, and then were released to go home.

We have no idea if that offending company found the missing pieces.

Or if they were ever lost at all.

Or if there was really a reason to keep us there so late.

Some things just never quite resolve.

But Andrew drove me home in the early morning hours. And all I care about is that he's back. And he's already gone today, at the company for a full day of work. We're just pretty much lucky (according to the 1st Sergeant) that they're still not "in the field" and can come home nights during this after-training-recovery process.

And so, I'm going to take my baby some lunch on this fine Sunday afternoon.

Household Miracle II

Check out this new Dirt Devil! It's called The Kone. Yes, I'm into vacuums. I like the dirt to go away. This is stylish enough to have out and handy for quick clean ups. Just grab and twist off the handle. Replace it, and it recharges for next time. Not shown here, but there's a white one available, too. Only it lights up, if you want.

I don't have one.


I like the champagne color.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's the Day!

I can't believe the day is finally here. And I can't believe it took so long to come!

My Soldier that I love is coming home tonight for the first night in 3 weeks. I have missed him so much!

I'm willing to concede that it's just my state of mind, but I have never seen Georgia so beautiful as it is today. At a gorgeous 62 degrees with a crisp breeze...it feels more like a late summer day in Oregon!

My sister-in-law, Amanda, just left here. She and Benj visited for the morning and it was so good to catch up after my trip! We are both so happy today (William's coming home, too) that I do believe we're giddy.

Life is beautiful. The whole world is beautiful.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More PIX Messages

Here's one Andrew sent me today. Waiting in the tent to be picked up by a convoy with his team.

Doesn't he look good?? He makes me so proud.

Here's me and my OSU Beavers sticker at the game with my family and the Matchaks for Wes's 27th birthday!

Quite a difference in our daily activities, isn't it? I can't wait to live with him again!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Marching Orders

The phrase has a whole new meaning.

So does an email I received last week entitled Official Deployment Notification. Dang. That's hard news to hear while my Soldier is away from me and I'm missing him more than ever.

You may have seen the headlines last week about the U.S. Army sending more troops to Iraq. Yes, we've seen it a hundred times. This time, however, that headline hurts. It means my husband is going. That part at the end about the Georgia-based 3rd Infantry Division...that's us.

The official news is that Andrew's brigade (1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division) will be deployed in January for a 12-month tour of duty in Iraq. I already miss him.

We have been dealing with the ominous news pretty well for being separated. My family has been such a support to us both, and I've been trying to communicate that to Andrew in spite of mostly impossible cell phone service and frustrating circumstances.

We're so grateful for the 5 1/2 or maybe 6 months of marriage that God is granting us before he has to go! Except for this 3 weeks of training, and another night or 2 earlier, we've been together every single day and loving life together.

I'm still in Oregon, but I leave on Wednesday. And I'm counting the days until I can see my Baby again... Sunday or Monday, last we heard. I can't wait!

Then we count the days until he leaves for a year. Then we'll count the days til his return. Lots of counting. Every day I'm with him I just wish time would stop. Every day we're apart, I pray it will hurry. So many new feelings. So many new lessons.

Christ in us. The hope of glory! It's what we can cling to as we take each new step He lays before us. Our hands in His, He guides us. Through mountaintops and valleys, He will not forsake us, no matter what comes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

PIX Messages

We can keep in touch through text messages while Andrew's in the field. And even pictures! I sent this one to him yesterday. I'm in Warren with my family!

And this is one he sent to me the other day while he was on a training combat mission.

Monday, September 25, 2006

September 25th, 3 years

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of Andrew's enlistment. He's made it through three years in the US Army. I'm so proud of him!

He knew three years ago that God was calling him to be a Soldier, and not only is he "sticking with the plan," but he is doing so victoriously! He has two years left in his initial contract, and after that, who knows where God will take us? It looks like it will get harder before it gets any easier, but our Savior is in control. And until He calls us out, this is the safest and best place for us to be.

In the center of God's will.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Life in the Army Update

For the last week, Andrew has been in "the field" for training. It's the big battalion FTX and is going to last two more weeks. He wasn't supposed to be able to come home, but I've seen him every 2 or 3 days for this past week, for 2-3 hours at a time. An extra blessing! And a good way to "get my feet wet" with some of the more unpleasant realities of Army life.

So, I won't see Andrew for two more weeks. Yesterday was his last opportunity to come home until around October 7th. Or maybe 12th. Nothing is ever sure until after it happens, I'm learning...

The next weeks will be broken up, though, for me, and full of distractions. On Tuesday I get to fly to Portland. Wes has a birthday - for which we're going to a Beaver's Football game - and also my Granny's birthday - for which we are not going to a Beaver's Football game.

After I get back home October 4th, I'll only have a few days until Andrew comes home for good!

That is... until the next unpleasant reality...

But God is and has been faithful. He hasn't given us more than His grace can take us through. God is building our marriage on a firm foundation. He is further strengthening our communication skills and you know that whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing?

Well. It turns out to be painfully true.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The First Wedding Picture

The best day of my life.

This is the first photo from our wedding that I will have put up on our blog! I chose this one because the photographer liked it so much, he put it in their online "bragging" gallery. We had some awesome photographers and they got some great shots! The DVD should be done fairly soon. And we'll be getting our first prints as soon as we can choose 200 from over 1,000 options!

By the way, Rosanna & Rob's wedding date marked our 2-month anniversary!

Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses

Look at this cutest new movie! They never had this cool of stuff when I was a little girl. But it's just exactly the type of thing that I would love. All the pretty girls all dressed up pretty. Wish I had little girls to watch it with. Me & Hal need to watch it sometime...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Trip Home & Rosanna's Wedding!

Okay, so it was also Rob's...

We had a great time on our vacation/wedding trip last week! Andrew and I flew to Portland where we were met by the whole fam. I hadn't seen my brothers or Jenny since we left after the wedding, so I was so excited to get back with them!

We proceeded to troop to the mall for a family photo appointment. THAT was fun! We all wore black and jeans and got some GREAT shots. Can't wait to get them chosen and ordered.

The next day we spent in Warren with the family and had lots of visitors and a BBQ that night. It was so great to see everyone!

On Thursday, we all piled in Dad's truck and the Explorer (we even convinced Wes and Jenny to go ahead and come at the last minute!) and we drove down to Carson City, Nevada....by way of the greatest outlet mall in Oregon...

Friday and Saturday were all wedding days and full of scrambling around and getting ready and then being amazed that "the day" for Rob & Rosanna was actually here! The wedding was in Carson, but the reception was at beautiful Lake Tahoe. Kinda windy and cold, but it was so great.

Here are some random pictures of the weekend!

Have you ever heard of Cheerwine?

I found something that's old-school South! Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soda that was created back in 1917 and which the west coast has yet to discover. I picked up a Diet Cheerwine today just to try it. It's pretty good! I still prefer the Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, or even Cherry Coke tastes, but Cheerwine is definitely worth a try.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Lady & Sons, Savannah

For those of you who watch Food Network, you may be shocked and appalled that I had no idea we had a famous restaurant right here in Savannah! Well, I'd never heard of it until we moved here. And then once I heard of it, I never saw or read anything much about it.

Until... Andrew and I stopped in for a Sunday lunch at Paula Deen's own The Lady & Sons.

Come to find out, this is fine southern country cookin' at it's absolute best! Sundays are buffet-only, and everything we ate was incredible. Andrew says that the lima beans themselves were good enough to be the main dish! We enjoyed southern-fried chicken, roast and vegetables, sweet potatoes, green beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, fried cornbread, and luscious cheese biscuits. Dessert was a choice of brownie pie, banana pudding topped with real whipped cream, or Georgia peach cobbler. The waiter let us try all three.

And now I suddenly see Paula Deen everywhere! She has her shows on the Food Network, her cookbooks lining the shelves of every self-respecting bookstore or WalMart, and even a new magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen. In addition to all this, she still holds cooking classes at her restaurant when she's in town.

Well, so I bought the cookbook. It has most all the recipes for the dishes we ate that Sunday.

Even the Peach Cobbler.

Come to Savannah sometime, and we'll take you there!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Organization Day

Imagine, if you will, a day in which two to three hundred people are coerced into participating in such "sports" as "Dunk Boothing"...

...Tug O' War....

... and Flag Football.

Such "Mandatory Fun" lasted about six hours yesterday, from roughly 9:00 am to about 3:00 pm. My Battalion celebrated an "Organization Day" as a much needed break in our preparations to go out to the field for about a month.

A good time was had by all, despite scary, ill-fitting clown and bunny costumes. In fact, the entire day would have been much like a carnival, complete with jumping house for the kids... the only difference between "O-Day" and a regular carnival being that those in attendance were there because it was their place of duty and were not allowed to leave until the event was completely finished.

I had attended one other such event this year, after the battalion returned from Iraq. That "O-Day" happened to fall on March 8th, actually. I know this because March 8th is my Beautiful Bride's birthday... I sat on the bank of a man-made lake and talked her through opening the presents I sent... but that's another story.

Yesterday's festivities were much more enjoyable... everything is when one is a whole person. My other half attended yesterday's "O-Day" with me and stayed through the entire thing. It was the first time she'd spent six straight hours in the Georgia sun. I love Cass so much, and I am so grateful that she supports me 100% in everything I'm tasked with. She made yesterday a good day for me, just by being by my side.

I mean, heck, how could any day be bad when I am married to this Beautiful Sweetheart?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Passing the Board

Well, he did it! Andrew went before the Sergeant Major and the Promotion Board yesterday. Had to answer questions, quote creeds, demonstrate tasks (which included giving an IV!), assemble weapons, etc. He passed! And is now considered promotable. The paperwork will start going through today and he'll be pinned as a Corporal soon. When he earns enough promotion points (through tests, classes, achievements, time in service) he'll be promoted to Sergeant. That should happen next year sometime. But this is the only board he needed to pass for all that. I'm so proud of him!

That's my soldier.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mom and Dad Visit - Part II

Now it was time for MY parents to come see us at our first home. They were here for a few days, and had to head back to Portland on Sunday. We loved having them here! Not seeing them since right after our wedding ... that seems like a long time ago, now... Okay, it had only been 6 or so weeks since I'd seen my Dad and Mom, but I missed them like crazy!

I felt so much better (as I know they did) to have them actually see where we are living and where Andrew works and where we go shopping in Hinesville, on post, off post, and Savannah, and what we do, etc. That way they can picture what I mean when I'm telling them about things. Somehow it just helps. I start to feel, sometimes, as though the entire expanse of the United States is between me and my family!

Andrew was off work for Labor Day weekend, so we four hung around the house and "talked our heads off." We had lots to catch up on! Play-by-play of the wedding, how everyone is doing, new plans for the fall and winter... I got to fiddle with their new little Canon PowerShot. Very nice little camera and more megapixels than my huge one! That's what's killing me! The pictures on this post are all from the camera. It even takes video! Notice the self-timer mode in action...

The first night they were here, they got to get in on a Family Readiness Group (FRG) meeting at Andrew's company. The Captain was letting all the families know what to expect in the next few months. Deployment possibilities, more FTXs, and such.

The day we were in Savannah, we showed Mom and Dad the restaurant on River Street, - Dockside - where Andrew took me just before he proposed to me back in April.

We went out to dinner and then to see Invincible. One afternoon, we even took Mom and Dad by the Commissary and the PX on post. We went over to William and Amanda's for dessert, too. Amanda's sister, Ginger, was still in town, so that was a fun visit.

It was hard to say goodbye to them. And hard to get over the fact that my parents had to travel somewhere just to see me where I was living...and it wasn't just the upstairs hallway! We get to see them again so soon, though!

Next Tuesday, Andrew is on leave and we both get to fly out to Portland for a day before we join the family on a road trip down to Carson City for Rosanna Storey's wedding. Fun times! Can't wait to see my brothers and Jenny. Love you guys!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fantasy Football

Football. Must confess I've never quite acquired a full appreciation for this bone-cracking, flesh-bruising, testosterone-pumping sport. Not that I have any strong aversion to the game... more of a healthy disinterest. Never played, therefore never mastered the rules... never followed a team long enough to be considered a "fan".

My ambiguity toward football being firmly established... my bride and I have decided to join the family league this year. Gone are the days of disinterested "Harrumphs" as yet another gladiatorial bout blares from the television. This year it's all about the yardage, the fumbles, the sacks, the tackles, the touchdowns, the touchbacks, the field goals, and the Gatorade commercials! THIS is a year of learning. THIS is a year of striving, of effort, of following closely our favorite players and defensive line-ups. THIS is a year of, "Lord, please don't let the uncle's fantasy team beat ours too bad."


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mom and Dad Visit - Part I

Mom and Dad Harper arrived at our place late on Friday night. They had driven 14 hours to come and see us for the weekend! We had a wonderful time talking and discussing and eating and playing games... (They got the hang of High Five!)

We had the pleasure of William and Amanda and Benji's company on Saturday night, along with their guests, Amanda's parents, and Ginger, her sister. Benji was surrounded by all of his grandparents and aunts and uncles in one place...and he has no idea how rare that may be. It was a great gathering, lots of fun. Andrew and I discovered that we love to be hosts!

We had to say "goodbye" on Sunday, but not for long! We got a call from Dad Harper after they'd been on the road for a couple hours. The car had broken down and so Andrew and I picked up a radiator hose and drove out to meet them. They fixed the hose in no time and then we were treated to dinner before we drove back home Sunday night. It was an unexpected road trip!

I'm sorry to report that we have no pictures from their visit. It's so unfortunate! I wish we could've recorded the fun of their first visit to us as a married couple. We'll just have to remember...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...