Greetings to our cherished friends and family members! This has been an extraordinary year of “firsts” for Patrick and me. I had originally wanted to share these stories in a Christmas newsletter, but time got away from me over the holidays. In just two months, Patrick and I will be leaving San Angelo and embarking on our new journey in California. Reminiscing about the past year gives me an overwhelming feeling of joy and peace – the past year has been filled with many blessings and wonderful new experiences and friends, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share it with friends and family who read my blog.
Starting 2014 as a newly engaged couple was very exciting for both of us. Wedding planning dominated our conversations with friends and family (I’m sure, to Patrick’s delight), as well as talk of our future together. The following months were abuzz with activity and somewhat stressful, full of checklists and deadlines and decisions to be made (I’m great at those). I have to thank every person who came into contact with me during those months, whether you offered me encouragement, help, advice, love, or simply tolerated me when I was short tempered and rude, I couldn’t have survived without your support. In February, I made my last visit to Colorado before Patrick’s graduation. We had engagement photos taken on Valentine’s Day at the Academy and Garden of the Gods, and then we went to the mountains for the weekend. Colorado will always hold a special place in my heart. I immediately fell in love with the great open skies, the pine and aspen trees, the mountains, and the great, rugged wilderness that makes you feel small and inferior, but at the same time on top of the world, a conqueror. Patrick and I fell in love during those trips to Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Frisco. It was extra special going back to make memories as his fiancé, memories that we will lovingly remember for the rest of our lives.
On March 1st, I performed at the Q Cafe in Seattle with family friend and talented singer-song writer, Jessi McNeal and her band. It was a pretty momentous occasion for me, as I had seen some of my favorite local artists perform on the same stage in years past. Patrick came home for spring break later in March, which was busy with buying our wedding rings, picking out tuxes, and going to a Seattle Sounders game while Shannon (his sister) and her now husband, Scott, were also in town. We said our last goodbye of our long distance relationship when he went back to the Academy for his final few months of school. In May, Patrick’s parents and younger brother, grandparents, and my parents all made the trek out to Colorado for his graduation from the Air Force Academy. We are all so proud of his accomplishments, and I know my folks were very excited to finally see the Academy and experience the area where Patrick lived the past four years. We all stayed in a house in Manitou Springs and enjoyed the bonding time before the wedding. There were many activities leading up to graduation, including Pat’s birthday, but nothing compared to the excitement and incredible sense of relief as he completed such a monumental chapter of his life, symbolized by the caps being throw into the air and the Thunderbirds flashing overhead. Patrick and I drove home together, from Colorado to Washington, in the Jeep and visited his aunt and uncle on the way back.
With only a couple weeks until the wedding, we were all very busy, but I was grateful to finally have my sweetheart close to home. There were two bridal showers hosted for me, one at church, and one at Warren and Mary Lubben’s. I have never felt so blessed, humbled, and overcome with love. Being showered with gifts, advice, wisdom, and encouragement was an amazing experience, one that I will never forget. Those last couple days leading up to the wedding were a whirlwind of frenzied activity, finishing last minute projects and coordinating the final few details. We couldn’t have pulled it off without my mom and dad’s hard work, help from Patrick’s family, the teamwork of my wonderful bridesmaids, all the assistance we received from my Aunt Annie and Aunt Marcia, Warren and Mary Lubben, and so many other people that I might not even been aware of since the whole weekend was such a busy blur. Thank you everyone who was involved behind the scenes in order to make our wedding such a fun and special occasion. Thank you everyone who traveled long distances to be a part of our day, and thank you everyone who so generously gave us a head start on life by helping us set up our home.
For our honeymoon, we travelled to the Big Island of Hawaii and had a wonderful time. We stayed in vacation rentals, one near Hilo, and the other in Kailua-Kona. It was a wonderful adventure, full of sight-seeing and fun. We visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, went zip-lining, snorkeling, ate dinner at Kona Brewing, and we both experienced our first Luau! One day, we hiked across a lava field to get to one of the island’s most beautiful white sand beaches. We had a wonderful time swimming in the ocean and bathing in the sun… until the clouds rolled in and unleashed what seemed like a sea of rain. When we returned from paradise, we stayed with my family for the remaining couple weeks we had at home for Patrick’s “60 days” of leave. We cherished the remaining time with friends and family, and hiked Mt. St. Helens with my parents and younger brother, Nick. Movers came out to the house to box up all the stuff we weren’t taking on our drive down to Texas, and a few days later we said some very tearful goodbyes. Leaving home felt like climbing a mountain. The journey ahead seemed overwhelming, especially since I had never lived more than 15 minutes from home. It was almost a relief to finally get on the road because I had been worrying about it for so long. We left home on a Thursday, and stayed in Sandpoint with my Aunt Annie and Uncle Roy. We had a good visit with Papa and Nanny, played games and had so much fun with all the cousins, and John and Christa Finney invited us out to their lake house for a get-together. It was so amazing to start our challenging journey with love from family near and dear to my heart. From Sandpoint we traveled to Bozeman, Montana where we stayed the night. We then camped in Yellowstone for four days and saw a lot of the park. It was incredibly beautiful, and I still haven’t even gone through all of the photos I took from our voyage! We then drove to Cody, Wyoming, where we visited the Buffalo Bill Museum and firearm museum. Our next destination was Ft. Collins, Colorado, and from there we drove to the Air Force Academy. We then pushed on through New Mexico and into Texas. The last leg of our journey was spent in Amarillo, Texas, and the day after we arrived in San Angelo.
We stayed in hotels our first week in San Angelo and after spending so much time on the road, eating out was getting really old. We finally moved into our apartment after ten days, but our belongings didn’t arrive until the following week. To cook, we bought cheap pans and utensils from Goodwill and Wal-Mart, and we ate off of paper plates using plastic cutlery. Since we had no furniture, we slept on an air mattress and ate meals from the kitchen counter sitting in patio chairs. It was a joyous day when we got the internet turned on and the movers came to deliver our belongings. It was almost like Christmas, opening up and finally being able to use all of the gifts from our wedding. Patrick started his Intel training in the beginning of September and has enjoyed his class. They do a lot of presentations, or “briefings,” about specific topics, which is one of Patrick’s strengths.
For my birthday, Patrick bought me plane tickets to go home for a long weekend in October. It was such a kind, thoughtful gift, and I really enjoyed seeing my parents and brothers, going to church to see all of our family friends, and spending some time catching up with my best friend, Michelle. I was able to get my best girl friends, Cassandra, Michelle, and Haley, together again for a visit before I went back to Texas, and we had a lot of fun laughing and talking about everything that had happened since the Big Move. November 21st was “drop night,” where everyone in Pat’s class found out their next assignment. To our excitement, Patrick got his first choice of Beale Air Force Base. We couldn’t be happier to be so close to home, yet somewhere new and different with plenty of things to see and do. After living in West Texas, a very flat area with nothing interesting about the area, we are really looking forward to living somewhere rich with natural beauty and outdoor expeditions. We hope to have friends and family come visit us this coming spring and summer.
Our first Thanksgiving was definitely one for the history books! I made pumpkin, blackberry, and pecan pies for our dinner with Pat’s classmates, and on Friday, Pat and I celebrated Thanksgiving together, just the two of us. It was my first time making ANY of my mom’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes on my own, let alone the whole meal. I was proud and thrilled that everything came out nearly perfect and absolutely delicious. Two days of working in the kitchen really paid off. The following Monday, we had our good friends, Alex and Frances (Alex was in Pat’s squad at the Academy, and is in his class now here at Goodfellow), come over to share our leftovers. We had already put our Christmas tree up, and our little apartment felt very festive. We are so lucky to have such good friends in Alex and Frances. Patrick and Alex carpool to class every day, and Frances and I often do meal planning, crafts, and grocery shopping together. We have a lot in common, and have bonded over being in the same situation; feeling like we’re in the Twilight Zone here in San Angelo. We also took a tennis class together on base in October.
We both flew home to Washington for Christmas, Patrick a few days after me, and spent two weeks with family. It was so fun being together again and really the perfect way to spend our first Christmas as a married couple. Patrick’s sister, Shannon and her new husband, Scott, drove over from Montana and had their wedding reception before Christmas. It was lovely to see so many members of the Murphy family again – some I didn’t get the chance to visit with at our own wedding! We flew back to Texas December 30th. We left Seattle around 11:50pm (PST) and arrived in Dallas early in the morning. Neither of us slept well on the flight, and it was freezing cold at our gate for San Angelo. We waited for our flight for around two hours and they eventually cancelled it due to weather. It had rained and froze in San Angelo, so all the streets and runways in town were completely iced over. We were already exhausted and flights were cancelled for a few days, so we ended up renting a car and driving from Dallas to San Angelo – about a three to four hour drive. Patrick pulled over after an hour and we took a nap in the car at a gas station. When we finally made it back to the airport in SA, of course our bags were nowhere to be found, and we didn’t even get them for four or so days after. Alex picked us up at the airport and took us home. The apartment was freezing cold because we turned off the heat when we left, so we bundled up and snuggled in bed together and took a nap. Our New Year celebration consisted of mediocre Chinese food and Netflix, snuggled up on the couch next to our dead Christmas tree. We survived the San Angelo Snowpocalypse and lived to tell the tale – which is pretty funny after the fact. I’m so glad I had Patrick with me to figure out how to get us home and to be my strong man, driving us home when I couldn’t even keep my eyes open.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks so much for reading! I’m planning to post more photos from our trips to Hawaii and Yellowstone – I still have to pick my favorites and get them retouched. Time has been flying by at an impossible rate. As I have been writing this, it feels like a lifetime’s worth of events have transpired, though I have to remind myself that it’s only been (almost) eight months since Patrick and I were married. Each day I am so thankful for all the blessings God has poured out into our lives. We are bonded not only to each other, but to so many incredible people – Patrick’s parents and siblings, as well as my own, his friends from the Academy and the fine young men he has met here in San Angelo, our church family back home, the people we have met at our church here, our extended families, and the list goes on and on. We are both growing so much in this adventure, both individually and as a newly married couple. I cherish every new memory we are able to make, and I am so happy there are so many people invested in our life together with which I am able to share our victories and struggles. Thank you for loving us, in all our faults and failures, and for sharing in the incredible joy the Lord has given to us.