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


Anonymous said...

Well, guys...it's been quite a year, and you two are amazing. Here's wishing you an amazing Christmas! Love you..Mom B.

Anonymous said...

wow - can't believe all that wonderment could happen in just one year of your life Cass... so much has transpired and God has been faithful and so good to you and to Andrew in bringing you together. It was so neat to read your year by the month ~ great Christmas posting girl. I'm amazed at all you've done in 5 months of marriage! You both have kept on the go for sure!

So glad you are enjoying your Christmas there together and making memories. EPCOT is fun and pretty and I'll pray you in some awesome weather for those special days together.

I'd hoped to have your gift shipped out by now, but you know me and time tables... never hanging out together and so your gift will come when it comes... maybe that's why I've really always sent you a card and gift in Jan. - ya know, somewhere between Christmas and your birthday! ;)

Baby is showing just a bit, tiny bit, but a bit... and I was to find out this week whether #5 boy was on his way (or just perchance a girl) through sonogram - but I've put it off for a few weeks still. I've feeling a bit better as well, though won't feel normal til I get this babe delivered.

love you so much and this is an email not a comment... sorry! I got carried away.

hello to Andrew of course too!!! what a fine guy you have. I'm so happy for you!


Sarah said...

"God's plan in His time is the sweetest gift of all." Beautiful, Cass! I love keeping up with you and Andrew here. It is precious to see and read the lovely story that God is authoring! May you be blessed truly above all that you could ask or think! ~ Sarah

Anonymous said...

This is a great post! It's long, but then I guess the year was, too! We've covered a lot of ground, shared a few laughs... Quite the year, I'd say. So what is the new year going to bring? Well, maybe Free Peter Young will release their first EP! Maybe the Telos office will blow up! Oh! And the THIRD Bourne Identity film is going to come out! And I might be going to Italy with my choir! Or even Romania with Jacob! And oh yeah, lest we forget, I GET TO BE CLOSE TO MY SISTER AGAIN! AAAAAAHHH!!! I can't WAIT!!! *gains composure* So anyway, there are obviously some things to look forward too. Before we get to all of that, of course, there is still Christmas! Have you got the package me and Darren sent you yet? We were pretty happy with ourselves. Hope you and Andrew like it! And the Bridgway Retreat thingy is coming up soon, too! Did you hear that FOUR Matchaks are going to be able to come? AND Bekah and JJ will be there, so that should be fun. I can't wait. Am I writing the world's longest comment? I probably am. So anyways, I love you SO MUCH, Cass! I can't wait to see you soon! We'll take lots of Christmas pictures for you, k? Miss you! Miss you again! Love love love!!!


wamaboo said...

Loved your Christmas letter. Time is amazing, how so much happens in a day and you think Wait! I haven't gotten the sleepies out of my eyes yet! Bless you both these wonderous days your sharing. G& C are here so lots going on too. Think and pray for you "Harpers" often. Love ya, Aunt Wan

Abs said...

Aww. sweetness to read such a sweet letter and see all the sweet gifts God has blessed you two with this year! And may you be reminded this Christmas just how amazing and awesome and unbelievably sweet (not sure why I'm into that word with this comment :-) it was that God sent His Son, our Savior, JESUS in human form down to earth. wow. Never ceases to amaze me. And to know that HE HAD 2006 for Andrew and Cass all planned out before time, and that 2007 and the trials and challenges and separation you face, HE is overseeing it, and our Savior reigns even in that!
Praise Jesus this Christmas!
Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Cass Lene-It was nice to read your first Christmas letter. I've decided not to "root" for a White Christmas this year, we will wait until next year. Wouldn't want you to miss it. Haven't watched "White Christmas" this year yet.. Better do that so I can practice my "Sisters" song. I have been singing my favorite carol. Here's a little taste for you....."Merry Christmas from Payless, Merry Christmas"...love you...Aunt Becky

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Guys! You both are SO blessed, just keep remembering that this coming year when it gets tough. And know that I'll be praying for you both. It'll be great to have you "closer" for a while next year Cass... I've missed you! :o) The west coast has missed you! Let us know when exactly Andrew leaves so we can up the amp on our prayers! I love you both... Sarah M and all the extra brothers.

Jess said...

Wow, what a year, huh?

Rosanna said...

Hey dearest, what a year! Engagement, engagement, marriage, marriage! For both of us, of course. Rob and I got your card yesterday... thanks! It's crazy sending/receiving Christmas cards to each other with these different last names, huh? I've been thinking about you a ton lately... call me or something sometime, okay? Or maybe I could call you. :) Love you much! ~R

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