Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pretty Christmas-y Things

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100 Days To Go...

"How are y'all doing?" You may ask...

We're losing our freakin' minds.

(Post clarification: Andrew blogged this a couple days ago, but I must explain that he doesn't mean "losing our minds" from happiness. He's concisely expressing how difficult it has continued to be...still!...even on the downhill side and so near the end. We thought it would get easier. But even in the happiness of seeing time pass, we just find ourselves so sick and tired of the same old separation, the same old pain, the same old constraints, the same old struggles, the same old limited forms of communication, the same old helpless feeling. Patience wears thin and then thinner. Grace eludes us. It's about to make us crazy... Even now, almost a year after he first deployed and with a mere 3 or so months left. We truly feel as though we may be losing our minds.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas 2007

Dear All,

“Merry Christmas!” from a very frigid land and “Saeed Ayid Al Milad” from a particularly arid one! We hope this letter finds you well and drawing ever closer to the Savior.

Looking back on 2007, we see God's faithfulness and love at every turn. Each month, our Father has drawn us closer to Himself and each other despite our physical separation. We can confidently say that were it not for this year with its trials and turbulence, our relationship would not be as deep with each other and with our God.

Cassidy has been tough as nails, encouraging as a snappy tune, and sweet as chocolate (fudge, not special dark or semi-sweet). Seriously, without her love and support Andrew doesn't know what he would have done!

Trying to sanely fill the time between "now" and "when we see each other again" has been uppermost in both our minds this year. Cassidy loved performing with her brother, Seth, in a local production of Disney's Beauty and The Beast* (*not a reference to Andrew). First the auditions, then practices for months before-hand, and the two weeks of performances helped us mark time as the beginning of this year melted away.

In the midst of play rehearsals, the arrival of a very special person provided another excellent distraction and a favorite pastime. Chandler Thomas Brock graced this world with his presence in early June and, using a special combination of phone texting and Gmail, Aunt Cassidy kept Uncle Andrew informed of developments as the entire family (including the deployed uncle) stayed up through the night and waited to greet Weston (Cassidy's brother) and Jenny's beautiful little bundle.

At the time of the play and Chandler's arrival, Andrew was living in an outer post on the Eastern side of the city of Ramadi. His basic duties were to safeguard sensitive intelligence equipment. Since the schedule was pretty open, Andrew took advantage of the extra time to workout a ton and to study for and renew his certification as a paralegal. He also made the best use of his wireless internet connection to catch up on important things like Season 3 of LOST and to watch some American Idol with Cassidy via webcam.

Andrew moved back to Camp Ramadi (on the West side of the city) at the end of July and resumed regular shift work at a signals intelligence facility. Andrew has worked the night shift most of the deployment, and it has been such a blessing to be on almost the same sleep/awake schedule. Even though internet is somewhat less than predictable, Andrew has still been able to keep up with nearly everything happening at home on a daily basis.

In August, Cassidy traveled to Arkansas for a superb vacation with Andrew's parents, enjoying a relaxed pace while packing in several football games, fun gatherings with church friends, and lots and lots of good talks and great food! (Mammaw even taught Cassidy the secrets of fried okra!) Being where he grew up helped Cassidy feel closer to Andrew and she loved getting to know friends and family who love him.

The beginning of September brought two of Cassidy's best friends for a great "girl-time" visit. All the laughing, talking and building each other up in the Lord helped get her through the last long days before Andrew's leave time, thanks Abby and Alyssa!

For 18 days at the end of September through the beginning of October, Andrew was home on R&R! Our meeting at the Portland airport for the first time in 8 months was THE highlight of the year. It was hard to know whether to cry, laugh, or just hold on for dear life. The first week of leave seemed to move slowly and we had time to do and catch up on everything we’d planned.

We were so grateful that Mom and Dad Harper could fly out to Oregon to visit with us and Cassidy’s side of the family during that time. One of the Sunday afternoons during leave, Mom and Dad Brock hosted a fun open house for Andrew's return. We are so thankful for both of our marvelous families! The absolute best memories of 2007 happened in that 18 day window for us and we couldn’t have been happier.

Thanksgiving in Arkansas with Andrew's side of the family was fun as Cassidy got to visit again with Mom and Dad Harper, uncles, aunts, cousins, church friends, and make more fun memories. Dad Harper provided lessons on driving a stick shift and Cassidy had fun maneuvering the jeep around the farm and neighborhood. Andrew was proud. Dad was brave.

And Cassidy lived to return to Oregon in time for Chandler's first six-day trip to Disneyland! It was wonderful to watch the little guy's face as he reacted to the bright colors, Christmas-y sounds, and happy faces of the Disney characters. He’ll remember nothing, but his parents, grandparents, aunt, and uncles will remember for him!

Cassidy has moved four times in the last 18 months and is hopeful that someday all of her household items WILL be in one region.

Andrew & Cassidy are both in awe and wonder that normal life can mean two married people living and loving together…and they are blissfully anticipating that life by April of 2008, Lord willing!

We are celebrating this Christmas Season with a beautiful mixture of faith, hope, and love. Faith that we are right where God has us, hope for the days to come, and a love that has supernaturally grown across a distance that boggles the mind. We truly serve a God of miracles!

We love you, and we thank you for your loving thoughts and prayers. God bless you and yours and have a Merry Christmas!

Andrew & Cassidy
Christmas 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Irony & Truth

As seen on t-shirts for Army wives. Some funny, some ironic, and all true.

~ She who waits also serves.

~ Army Wife...and you think your life is stressed?

~ I'd rather be kissing my Soldier.

~ You might be a military wife if...

  • the postal clerk knows you.
  • you've seriously contemplated flying around the world to yell at his superiors to let him come home.
  • you use an entire bottle of his cologne just so you can smell him around you.
  • you don't see your man for 99% of the year, but still stay commited to him.
  • you have enough flat rate boxes, packing tape, and customs forms for his entire unit.
  • you begin to hyperventilate when your cell phone battery gets low.
  • you've started putting together the perfect outfit for when you see him and it's still months away.

~ My husband is kicking tail in Iraq...what does yours do?

~ My Husband. My Soldier. My Hero.

~ Whoever said long distance relationships could never work never met an Army wife.

~ DANGER: Wife going through deployment. Proceed with extreme caution.

~ Imagine 12 months without a hug. Now imagine 15. See why I'm crabby?

~ You can't scare me. I'm an Army wife!

~ Land of the free, courtesy of the brave.

~ Warning: The man that keeps me sane is currently out of the country.

~ All I want for Christmas is my Soldier.

~ He swore to protect our country. I swore to protect his heart.

~ Proud Military Intelligence Wife (my personal favorite)

~ Welcome home, Baby! I missed you more than words can say.

Some days, sayings like these make me sad. Some days, they make me nearly burst with pride. Some days I wish I could hide behind one of these 100% cotton shields of excuses for my stressed attitude.

But all days, I need to remember that my life is not my own. Jesus Christ bought me with a price and I belong to Him. My life is His to do with whatever would best serve His Kingdom. I live a life of surrender to my God and faithfulness and love to my husband.

God didn't promise that it would go easy for me as I choose to follow Him. I am told to pick up my cross daily. As in every day! Some days I just let it lie there while I try to control my life with both hands. But His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He knows what I need before I do. And He knows how to take care of my deployed Soldier.

Lord, if you can be more glorified in me through life's trials, then please give me the grace to endure them and the strength to thrive joyfully in the midst of them!

I just can't find a t-shirt that says all that...

The Birth of Elisa Marie Brock

My cousin, Greg, and his wife, Carolyn, had their precious baby girl late last night. We are so thrilled for them and completely concur that she is sooooo beautiful!

Congratulations and lots of love to Mommy and Daddy and their brand new reason to smile!

(Greg's Blog & Carolyn's Blog)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Disneyland Fun For the Family

Here are a few of the favorites from our Disneyland trip the week after Thanksgiving! (Yeah, Chandler's in all of them...he was pretty much the star of the show. Pretty much? What am I saying??)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Thank Our Troops!

Hey, I just found out about this site. Seems that Xerox is printing Christmas postcards to send to individual soldiers. You can't choose the soldier, but it only takes a minute to choose a greeting and click "submit" to brighten a hero's day!
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