Friday, February 29, 2008

the ironic day

...or the day that shouldn't even be.

I mean, why, of all the times? When I want the days to go by as quickly as possible...and when I'm counting every minute... Why does this have to be leap year?

retiring an old friend

This is my semi-trusty old phone. I've had to replace it once during this deployment, just a trade-in for another of the same...(musta wore it clean out!)...

This phone holds a crazy place in my heart! It's the first phone Andrew bought me when we were courting. He made a huge move back in February of '06 and "put me on his plan." Gave me a Georgia number and everything! Now wouldn't you call that a bit presumptuous? Or maybe confident. Yeah, we'll go with that. Startled me at first. I mean, didn't it seem fast?

It's today's version of "going steady," I'm pretty sure. See, I didn't need to wear his class ring or letterman's jacket as a promise. Instead, I carried his dog tags and accepted a cell phone on his plan.

This is the phone that hasn't left my side during this entire deployment. It's ring has always been loud to be sure I won't miss it, whether it's in my purse, my pocket, or plugged in on my nightstand. I've come to know its quirks and issues. I've come to love it and hate it. But it's not the phone's fault, entirely.

Separation makes you love the thing that connects you all the while hating it because it's all you can have and it's never enough.

Just the other day, my phone was eligible for the "new in two years" Verizon deal. I needed a new one and I'd been drooling over this!

Yes, I'm the proud owner of a "PinkBerry" that has more features than I've had time to figure out yet!

I'm not quite used to the ringtone, either. My brain must be reprogrammed to hear it even in my sleep, like I could the other one. I would "hear" it even when it wasn't ringing. I can't tell you how many times I've quickly shut off the hair dryer because I thought I heard my phone, but didn't! And those phantom leg vibrations when the phone isn't even in my pocket? Or those weird "my phone's about to ring" thoughts right before it would? I know things about this phone that I logically can't even know!

As the rep was working on my purchase, some grandparents next to me were being so confused by what their particular rep was or wasn't saying. I mean, really. If they needed a new phone, why would they have to start a new contract just to get the phone on a good price? They are already paying on a contract. Their grandchild dropped their phone in the toilet. Same contract, can't you replace my phone? Yes, it is very confusing.

Soon, the grandma left in utter despair and the grandpa looked at my old phone and asked me, "Hey, are you done with that phone? Could I buy it from you?"

The reps (both mine and his) looked incredulously on, wondering how this would go down. I simply responded with, "I don't know about that, cause I was really hoping to make a big deal about smashing this one against a wall when my husband comes back from Iraq."

He didn't push the issue after that. I may have shocked him.

What I didn't tell him was that even if I don't destroy it like we've seriously threatened...I am a little sentimental about it and I won't sell it to a stranger who has no earthly idea what we've gone through together.

Monday, February 25, 2008

so i called

Woman With Heavy Accent: Haylo an tank you for calling Target.comb, owcanIelpyoutoday?

Me: (great.) Hi, there. I'm calling about an order I placed in December. By January, I received it, but it was the wrong item. I returned it and received the same wrong item, again.

WWHA: I can put you on hold for 1 or 2 meenutes, zatokaywityou?

Me: Sure. (long 2-minute musical interlude)

WWHA: Haylo?

Me: (okay, now we're getting somewhere)

WWHA: Can you geeb me yur name?

Me: (So I do.)

WWHA: And can you comfeerm yur mailingaddress?

Me: (That, too. Did you know that was one word?)

WWHA: An yur email?

Me: (Okay, we should be through with the preliminaries for now...)

WWHA: I can put you on hold for 1 or 2 meenutes, zatokaywityou?

Me: Sure. (again??)

WWHA: Okey. The system won allow me to re-order, so I can give you refund, zatokaywityou?

Me: Did I purchase that on my Target card?

WWHA: I can put you on hold for 1 or 2 meenutes, zatokaywityou?

Me: Okay. (Did I ask a hard question?)

WWHA: Heylo?

Me: Yes, I'm here. Okay, I need to tell you that the bracelet I received is labeled as a necklace. But it's not; it's a bracelet. I ordered the necklace.

WWHA: Can I have yur oder number?

Me: *number given*

WWHA: Okey, you order "fox" pearl beaded necklayce.

Me: Yes, but I received a faux pearl beaded bracelet.

WWHA: I can put you on hold for 1 or 2 meenutes, zatokaywityou?

Me: (Are you serious??) Um, sure.

WWHA: Haylo and tank you for waiteen. I hab geeben you a refund and ordered the necklayce for you.

Me: What necklace did you order?

WWHA: The fox pearl beaded necklayce. (Why did I even ask?)

Me: Okay, but I think I will receive the bracelet again because it is labeled wrong. Can I give you the item number of this bracelet? 1-0-6-6-8-0-6-9.

WWHA: No, I poot a note that you want necklayce.

Me: What is the item number of the faux pearl beaded necklace?

WWHA: 2-3-4-0-6-2-7-4-5. The catalog number ees 1-0-6-6-8-0-6-9.

Me: But wait. THAT is the item number of the bracelet.

WWHA: Jes.

Me: (!) But I don't want the bracelet. I want the necklace.

WWHA: Jes, as I said, I poot note that you want necklayce.

Me: Okay, but what item number did you just re-order for me?

WWHA: Jus poot V-0-0

Me: Wait, what is this number?

WWHA: A-S-I-N number.

Me: For what?

WWHA: Es for the necklayce. Jus poot it in.

Me: Okay, V-0-0...?

WWHA: B as in Bravo.

Me: Oh.

WWHA: B as in Bravo-tree zeyroes: zeyro-zeyro-zeyro.

Me: Okay.

WWHA: V as in Victory-seben-four-C as in Charlie-D as in Delta-I as in Indigo.

Me: All right. This item number 1-0-6-6-8-0-6-9 is the same for the bracelet AND the necklace? Are they in the same family?

WWHA: Jes.

Me: (I must move on or go absolutely insane.) Okay, what should I do with the bracelet that I have?

WWHA: Jus geeb it.

Me: (Give it? Does she mean "return"? Maybe if I ask another way.) Should I return this bracelet to Target?

WWHA: Jus geeb it.

Me: (Give it... Last ditch effort, here.) I'm sorry. I wish I could understand you! I have the bracelet in my hand, what should I do with it? Should I return it in the box to Target?

WWHA: Jus geeP it. Es up to you. Return it or geeP it.

Me: Oh, I can keep it?

WWHA: Es up to you.

Me: So it doesn't matter what I do with the bracelet?

WWHA: Jes. It doesn't matter. CanIelpyouwitanytingelse?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the sweetest boy at 8 months old

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just like uncle andrew!

"Watch me, Uncle Andrew! I've been working on my push-ups!"


"2...! This is so much work!"

"Whew, that was enough. Oh, and have I ever shown you this pretty dresser?"

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Time, Love, and Tenderness

This is not a tribute to Michael Bolton, although he's got a couple things going for him.

There's a lot I could say about time. First of all, it's been a long time since I've written. It's been a long time since I was home. I love spending time "with" Cassidy, and I am so glad that my time in Iraq is coming to a close.

Time is a funny scale. With the passing of Valentine's Day and her birthday approaching, Cassidy and I have been comparing notes and memories on our early days together. In so many ways it feels as if time is going to make us start over when I am finally home. We've spent nearly two years married factually, psychologically, mentally, and spiritually. We've spent a mere six months of that time in daily life together.

God has used this time to deepen the emotional, mental, and spiritual ties between us in a powerful way. I guess it would be something like braiding small strands of a precious metal (we'll say white gold) together and then putting them in an oven so hot it melts the strands together, but not so hotly that the strands lose their identity. That is what this separation has done in the spiritual realm for Cassidy and me.

We're so ready, so looking forward to the precious jewel of "time together" being set in the framework and back-drop of these 15 months.

We may have forgotten how the other one brushes their teeth, we may be surprised again at just how deep the other one's eyes are, I know I will lose my breath when I see the beautiful picture that I have looked at all year finally come to life.

Yes, time is a funny scale. It's made us seem farther apart and yet closer together. While we know the shared experience we've had, we also know the separate experiences that have run concurrent on separate sides of the world.

I tease Cassidy sometimes that there is more than one of her, and she KNOWS about my three distinct personalities. In this context of time, however, I'd have to say that our experience is even multi-faceted... There's "her daily life", "his daily life", and "our daily life"... and as God gives us grace, in time, those three will melt into one. Sometime after, and probably long after, the first of April.

It all has taken, and it all will take - time.

I love Cassidy with all my heart. She loves me. I know Cassidy better than I have ever known anyone, and sometimes better than I know myself. She knows me just as well.

The thing that I know about love, is that it flows from God. We've reminded each other of that multiple times over the course of this deployment. I know that my grace to be loving, tender, and giving as a husband stems directly from walking with my God. It's funny, but it's like God put us in circumstances where I was forced to learn that only as I surrender to and seek God first, only then, can I give Cassidy the love she needs. The reverse is true, but the responsibility is primarily mine.

Cassidy's last post was an excellent reminder that this "God as our love-source" concept is not just true of the marriage relationship. Our experience has been so exceptional that I sometimes get narrowly focused on the two of us and what God is doing with us... (read: Andrew gets stubborn and selfish sometimes... and wishes that God would do things in a way that was easier to handle).

The truth is, I know when I am walking close with the Lord and when loving is just too hard. "When loving is just too hard"... that's the choice isn't it? Walk with God, or walk without love.

This has been the week to think about love, to think about going home, to think about Cassidy's upcoming birthday, and to think about where we are in our relationship. We can't wait to be together and spend some time, love and tenderness melding, mending and building. Something tells me the order has GOT to be the same then as it has become here in the desert: 1. I surrender to God, 2. There is abundant love.

Friday, February 15, 2008

how God loves us

This Wednesday morning at our women's Bible study, I was struck by the insight of a friend when she shared that most often, she feels God's love to her through the love of others.

What a great and timely reminder of something I know, but so easily forget. Unfortunately, my life's busy-ness, my brain's constant and somewhat irritating need to over-think things, and my personality's desire for consistent productivity can blind me to the obvious expressions of God's love for me and my hourly need of it!

Since Wednesday, my eyes have been re-opened to God's love and I see it everywhere! Yes, there are those special times when I have "a moment" just between me and the Lord and I clearly feel His presence and overwhelming love. But when I stop to look for it, God loves me every single day through the love He's given to others...not for me, but for Him. When Christians love God, He gives them a love for others that's meant to come from Him, not them! Confusing! But so beautiful.

So when an unknown (to us) youth pastor from Canada writes one of the most encouraging comments we've received on our blog, we were able to see it and receive it as an outpouring of God's love to us through the writer. He encouraged us because of his love for the Lord and God used him as a channel of that love. Straight from the Father to us.

Thank You, Lord! And thank you, Darren, for your uplifting words that came at such a perfect time. You'll never know just how grateful we are for your thoughts and prayers! Our God is so faithful. May He bless you and your church with more and more love and may He continue to pour out blessings that cannot be contained!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

on this day in recent history...

On February 14, 2006, I opened the front door of my parents' house to receive a gorgeous Valentine's bouquet from a certain soldier and long-time friend named Andrew Harper who was far away at Ft. Stewart, GA. Our relationship was so new that he had barely received permission from my dad to send me flowers in time for the special day!

On February 14, 2007, I was still in a relationship with this guy. In fact, we'd been married for 7 months and he'd so far been in Iraq for 1 of those months. On that bittersweet day, he also sent me flowers. But it seems that I was so overwrought after he left that I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of anything for a couple months. I kept the card from the flowers, though. It reads:

My Cass,
You are my
greatest joy and
only love.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Love, Me

He'd found and sent a Valentine's card at a PX somewhere before he'd even reached Iraq. Not even a month into the deployment and his words were already hopeful (by faith!) about what God was going to do in us and through us this year. Mostly IN us.

Today, February 14, 2008. A mere 46+ days til April. We've made it an awfully long ways when at times we didn't think we could! My Valentine's card this year reads,

The card says it all, (I leave that to your imagination, reader)
but I cannot wait to show you in person
just how much you mean to me.
I'm coming home, Babe!
Happy Valentine's Day
I love you!

He surprised me by telling me in a separate e-card that he bought us tickets to a play in Atlanta for later in April and that the date includes a weekend on the town. Just us. Hand in hand so soon. Then the flower delivery guy brought me a sweet spring mix from my baby - full of daisies and hydrangeas, just like I like! ... Not to mention the amazing early Valentines he sent me from when he was in Qatar! That's a post all it's own. I promise.

Sigh. Andrew's been such a wonderful, thoughtful, and creative long-distance Valentine! I can't imagine what 2009 and beyond might be like...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

friends forever & the ensuing chaos

Back in the NW

Well, I'm back! Just got in last night from a wonderful long weekend in San Antonio with some of the world's best friends. It was so relaxing to hang out with Abby & Alyssa & their families. We had a great time that involved nothing, really...but it always seemed like a lot! Hmm...could that have been the 10 kids between them?

I didn't take my camera when I went (for the same reason that they don't bring theirs when they come visit me!), so I'll have to just grab a few from them to post here in a bit.

My pale Oregon skin hardly knew what to do with the ... what do you call it? ... SUNSHINE that it was soaking up during a few 70-80 degree Texas days!

Lots of love to my dear friends/sisters/nieces/nephews in SA. Miss you already! Thanks for the change of pace. You helped me to eat up almost a whole week of waiting! Thanks for the encouragement. Thanks for the fun and laughter and special brand of silliness that we only see when we're together.

And thanks to your dear husbands for giving you so much "time off" this weekend. We needed it!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

photo uploading grievances

In the limited time that I have on here tonight, I cut the great photo post down to just the 4 pics that could be seen, anyway. (seems reasonable, right?) I still want to show the others, but they'll have to wait in line for next time. Many apologies!

Until then...


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Really Big Picture Post

Crazy brothers and Jordan ushering in the new year with very small fireworks.

Not sure if Dad and I were laughing at the boys, here, or possibly just a nervous giggle as we hoped against hope that our happy Irish neighbor, Joe, wouldn't be mad about said fireworks.

Late Christmas celebration with Wes, Jenny, and Chandler after they returned from spending the holiday with Jenny's family.

Chandler opening his first big Christmas present from Grandpa and Nana...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Homecoming 2008

It's been an exciting week on the homefront. I received official word of the projected range of dates that Andrew will be arriving at Ft. Stewart! I can expect him anywhere from April 2-7. (Just for fun I added a poll to the margin of this blog...pick a day, any day! We'll see who's closest.)

My arrival date is much more certain. I have a one-way ticket on a southbound plane to take me "back among the magnolias, again" on March 27th. (Why I just quoted part of a Tim McGraw song and a line from Red Skelton in the same run-on sentence, I'll never know. Truly.) I'm so thrilled to be planning my return and reunion with my brave husband. Finally! We have an apartment already locked in for us - off post, near Savannah - and are just chomping at the bit to start our next wonderful phase of married life.

I could very possibly be falling into his arms in 2 months from today! However, I have learned to hold dates very loosely. It will probably be later than they say. By some miracle, it may even be sooner! This is why I created the poll. Your guess is as good as mine! I wouldn't even know which date to pick.

...But it's already my favorite day of 2008.
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