Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Like little children

Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

I have had the privlidge of sharing life with my brother and his family as they transition from Los Angels to Raleigh. They have two small girls that are clueing me into to a bit of what Jesus might have been talking about.

Let me tell you a couple stories and see if you can draw the conclusions for yourself:

When they pulled up to their new house Hannah was excited. She wanted to explore the "new house in Raleigh" and didn't sleep all night. The next day was a bit challenging to say the least. She cried herself to sleep, afriad of sharks, only wanting mommy to hold her. None of us were upset with her for crying and needing her mother's comfort. We understood, but were we willing to cry out?

In the midst of the uncertainty and change she still had a sense of adventure. She wanted to go up and down the stairs "all by myself" and find all of the neat new places to explore. It appeared that she was becoming independant, but one of her family members was always caring for her from a close distance.

Yesterday they came over to my house. I wasn't sure if it was "kid friendly" or not, but I got a picture of entering the kingdom again. We have a rock path in our front yard, she wanted to touch it with her feet, she wanted to see the back yard, she wanted to see every room and take in every detail. Then she decided to play with the front door. Opening it and closing it over and over and over again.

If you have ever been to our house, you know that our front door nob is almost falling off and a bit challenging to open for even adults at times, but she was doing a great job. Every once in a while she would slam it hard and would need my help to open it again. She would try and then say, "traci help". I would loosen it just enough for her to push it the open by herself. She would continue.

I wonder if taking in each detail, if pausing long enough to take in beauty, if crying out, if running to grace and forgiveness over and over again, if clinging to our God in times of need are things that Jesus was talking about?

Monday, July 30, 2007

At the feet of Jesus

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your Kingdom come!
Your Will be done!
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom and
the power
and the glory
Forever and ever

As I was praying this morning I was praying for all of the worries and people and changes going on in life and an overwhleming sense came over me just to pause and pray what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. So many times I get caught up in asking for myself or the ovewhelming needs around me and forget to stand in awe of the creator, plead with him for his kingdom and ask for his daily provision and forgivness.

I have added some pictures of beauty from our trip that show me a piece of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. I am reading a great book right now called "This Beautiful Mess". It describes this heavenly kingdom here/not yet here phenomenon that we are a part of. It is helping me to make sense of the world and my place in it.

Isn't it amazing that in the same breath Jesus teaches us to ask for daily nourishment he teaches us to ask for forgiveness.
Thank you Lord for grace! Thank you for beauty! Thank you for peace!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Capital Brewery

While driving we listened to some NPR on the car radio. One of the stories discussed the top ten cities to live in in the US. One of the cities mentioned was Middleton, WI. We figured since we were going to be in the area we should stop by and see what was so great about it. One thing that was promising was a top rated brewery. We had directions to get there and were confidently on our way, but endedup getting to see almost the entire city because we took a left where we should have taken a right.

It was a frustrating afternoon for me because it was the first day Matt had cell phone service and he started making business calls while were trying to find our way to the brewery. There was a part of me that understood his need to catch people during office hours and his desire to touch base now that he could, and then there was the other part of me... the selfish part... the non understanding part... the impatient part... that part of me did not like that he was on the phone and was a bit tiffed that we were lost and I thought it was because we couldn't talk because he was on the phone...

We finally stopped a gas station and got directions. I got over myself and Matt put down the cell phone. We made it to Capital Brewery to realize that only the gift shop was open. We were there at 2:20PM and the bar and tours didn't open until 4PM. So, we went to the gift shop and walked around. The lady working there was extremely helpful. She asked us where were from and we told her our story about driving across the country and wanting to get a taste of all of the different places. I guess she was moved or something and asked if we could get a quick tour even though they weren't technically open yet.

So, once again Matt and I got our own personal tour threw the brewery. We have been on a beer tour before, but this one was even better. We got to actually see the beer master making the beer by boiling the water, adding the hops, cleaning the kettles, and much more. It was awesome. Then we even got to try some Autumnal Fire out of the holding tanks. It hasn't been released yet into stores or into the bar so we felt special! It was delicious as well. Its a double bock, which means it has a higher alcohol content, but you couldn't taste it. It just tasted a bit carmelly with a smooth finish. Hopefully we can order some when it comes out.

Unfortunately, they don't sell their beer in Raleigh, but I recommend anyone going to Wisconsin to take a trip here.

Cheese and Beer Tours

I am going to continue to post items from our trip although we have technically been back from vacation for an entire week, I still have tons of stories and adventures to share. Its a bit challenging to get inspired to tell the stories since we are back now and new crazy times are all around me, but I am going to do my best to finish it out in an interesting fashion.

Wisconsin has the best rest areas of any of the states that we visited. We entered Wisconsin by crossing the Mississippi River over a bridge into La Crosse. Matt wanted to find the Trane office so we could start a competition or something, but we deferred to washing up in the rest area (after sleeping in the van) and talking with the friendly helper in the visitors' center. There were two items on our agenda for this afternoon 1) cheese and 2) beer. We wanted to get an authentic taste of what Wisconsin life is all about and we did!

We drove out into the country, shared the road with some amish carriages, had to stop for a wild turkey family crossing the road, and tasted some cheese curds. We saw the cheese making process and found descriptions for over 30 types of Wisconsin cheeses (although we still aren't sure how they make the different types of cheeses). Spend some time on this website if you have any questions:Wisconsin Cheese Info.

Well, this blog is already getting extremely long, so the beer tour story is going to have to come in the next post about the trip.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Towards the East

After our hotel adventure we were off for another intense driving day. It first started with the visiting the Battle of Little Big Horn. I walked around and read the different plaques and such while Matt listened to a park ranger discuss the battle weapons from back in the day. One thing that I didn't know is that this monument is dedicated towards showing how peace can triumph over division. In 1925 representatives from the Indians and from the Settlers actually met together to literally bury a hatchet in representation of forgiveness.

When we left the battle field we needed to keep driving and driving and driving. There wasn't much in South Dakota or Minnesota, you can tell by the pictures that it was pretty flat and unpopulated. But we did stop at the Wall Drug Store to get some delicious ice cream and a souvenier or two, and then on our way again. We drove all the way to our van stop at the 24 hour grocery store. We rolled out the sleeping bags on top of the boxes and fell asleep. Only Two Days of the journey left.

Still more stories from the road

Even though we are back, I still have more stories and pictures to share.

My job during the baseball game was to find us an inexpensive place to stay. I spent about an hour calling all of the hotels in the phone book to try and make a reservation. Unfortunately, none of the hotels we found had all of the ammenties we were looking for and the cheap price...

So, we decided to keep driving for a little while. About 35 minutes down the road is Hardin, MT. We took that exit because there was a promise of a Super 8 with wireless internet. But, they had no rooms left. Hope continued with American Inn (right across the street), but the woman working there was out in the parking lot telling several other individuals like us that she had no rooms left either. She was very helpful though and asked if we would like for her to write down a couple numbers for us to try to call. As I was having this conversation with her another man pulled up in a grey car. He got out and asked if we needed a place to stay.

Matt was waiting in the car and since I will talk to anyone and am pretty trusting by nature I said, "Yes!! We do!!". Probably with more enthusiasm than is shown with the double explanation points. He then told me that he had a motel down the road with one vacancy. He had already closed up for the night, but we could follow him back a mile and he would let us in. It was only $60 and had internet access. I agreed and jumped back in the car... Matt gave me a look of confusion and asked what I had gotten us in to. I told him to just follow the nice man in the grey car...

So, we did! We stayed at the Western Inn. It was a bit sketchy and we ended up sleeping in our sleeping bags on top of the sheets and swatting little gnats away from the computer screen while attempting to blog and check email, but it was safe and clean for the most part. We can't complain, but we can tell a great story!

Back in Raleigh

We returned back home on Sunday night. I was a little nervous about returning to reality, but so far its going well. Honestly, I don't have much to adjust to. I don't start school for another month so I get to take my time getting back into the swing of life. I am praying for my husband though. He had to return to work early Monday AM and doesn't get quite the break that I do. Surprisingly he is not stressed at all and has been only working his "normal" hours. This is excellent! I even think he is playing golf a couple of times in the near future... oh wait, according to Matt golfing IS work. For some reason I keep forgetting that.

On Sunday in Roanoke we went to church service with my parents. The sermon was about priorities. The passage the pastor taught from was about when Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha. I can't even count the amount of times I have heard teachings and done activities surrounding this concept, but this time I actually feel like I have a chance to make some changes. I can choose where my priorities are and Matt and I can choose to invest in our relationship with eachother and our creator as a couple. I don't have to quickly jump into busyness and go go go.

I know that over the years my busy personality has slowed down a bit, but it takes moments (like the past two weeks) for me to separate and enjoy sitting at Jesus' feet to recognize that there is more than I am currently experiencing. Going on an extended vacation where we truly have experienced God's beauty and had forced hours in a confinded space to connect with each other has brought me to a place where I want to maintain some level of awe each day.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Driving through Yellowstone wasn't quite as awe inspiring as we thought it was going to be, but we were on a mission. We were determined to find some animals in their natural habitats. So, we took the long way out through the valley area... and guess what we saw?

On 212 we also found a mountain goat, a deer and free range cows. We thought it would be pretty exciting to have a story about having to run from a Grizzly Bear, but thankfully we can't tell that story. (I'm pretty sure that I could make a good one up though if anyone is intersted).

More details

I have a couple of details about the journey that I thought would be interesting for you to read:

I contributed to Matt almost loosing his walet. If you aren't aware, I like to keep moving and don't like to waste much time... so, as we were getting ready for our one day trip through the national parks I was slightly rushing my wonderful husband. We were living out of the car at this point, so he was standing in the opening looking for the shorts he was going to wear for the day. He was holding his pants from the day before and I wanted to put them in the dirty clothes, but he hadn't found the shorts he wanted yet...

I thought that it was quite weired that he couldn't put one pair of pants down before finding the others, but he politely told me that he wanted to transfer what was in one pair of pockets to the other ones, to which I showed my disgust in my face, and he responded by pulling the items out and placing them on the roof of the car (this was all so that I could get us on the road 30 seconds before we would have other wise)...

He finally found his other shorts and grabbed the emptied items off the roof and put them in his new pockets. He grabbed all of the items (we hope) except for his wallet. We didn't realize this until we had arrived at breakfast and he reached into his lighter than usual pockets to find his wallet had disappeared.

As he walked back to the van to look for it I immediately broke into prayer. Please Lord! Forgive me for my impatience! Let us find this wallet! When Matt walked back through the door I couldn't tell if he had found it or not, but in deed he had! What a Blessing!!!

What did I take away from this lesson? My need for patience. My need to trust my husband's processes. My need for prayer.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We made it to the game!

As some of you may know, my husband is what you may call a die hard Reds fan. He follows the stats of ALL of their teams, from the rookie league all the way through the majors.

We planned part of our trip around attending a Billings Mustangs Baseball game. Matt was in heaven! We got a cup, a pencil and made some friends.

If I can let go of control for a few minutes I may let him post few things on the blog about his perspective of the experience, but so far I have monopoly over the commentary...

We should market this.

Just ask the Rowes for the ULTIMATE ONE DAY ADVENTURE through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. add the most angelic views you could ever imagine and top it off with a baseball game and a trip to a roach motel and you have it all. Anyone up for something similar?

Step One: Get on the road by 9:30 AM (If you have someone with you who enjoys sleep and takes their sweet time getting ready, make sure they are up by 8:30AM, but ask nicely so they start the day in a good mood. I am sure learning a lot about this marriage stuff!)

Step Two: Grab a quick hearty breakfast so that will last you until dinner (but always pack snacks in the car). I recommend french toast. Try not to leave your wallet on top of the car. We made it about 15 miles down the road to breakfast and realized that Matt had left his wallet on the roof... OOPS!... Fortunately, it had only slid to the back of and hooked on to one of the ridges. We were safe and everything but a few receipts was in tact...

Step Three: Ask the Visitor Center for a quick hike recommendation. When you tell them that you need to see the Tetons and Yellowstone before a baseball game in Billings, MT take a picture of of their face, then take their advice.

Step Four: Jog part of the way around your scenice 3.2 mile hike.

Step Five: Watch out for Bears!

Step Six: Don't waste your time in the higly tourist areas.

Step Seven: Laugh Alot!

Step Eight: Stay away from Danger!

Step Nine: Drive Carefully around windy roads and take a couple seconds to throw some snowballs.

Step Ten: Take lots of pictures! Our photos here do not begin to compare to the breath taking views that we saw on Highway 212 coming out of Yellowstone. It crosses from Wyoming to Montana, goes through a "grizzly bear area" and signs post warnings for free range cows, but I would have to say that this hour and half was the most beautiful scenery I have ever laid my eyes upon!

And most importantly, have a blast!

Warning! There are many posts coming quickly!

We just returned to Raleigh and I have to catch up from an entire week of adventure. My plan is to post several small posts that keep the trip in somewhat of an order. Matt may have a couple of things to add as well along the way.

So, I am picking up from Portland. Sunday was the ultimate driving day for us. We left the city immediately after the church service and drove, and drove, and drove... We passed through Oregon, Idaho, and Made it into Wyoming.

Of course we had to stop to take pictures of waterfalls, mountains, animals, people, and other random things that suited our fancy. (yes that is me on top of hay bails). We had to cross some rail road tracks and a barbed wire fence to get some of these photos... fun times ;)

I am sorry to report that Matt picked up dysentary on the Oregon Trail. I had to continue on hunting buffalo and looking for the nearest water supply. We have erected a monument in his honor.

We stopped at a KOA campsite just south of the Grand Tetons. Matt was determined for us to set up our tent without disturbing the other campters, so no talking and no flash light. This was a bit of a challenge for myself, but we managed!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I had always heard that Portland was a cool city. I had heard correctly.

Here are some interesting facts:

All gas stations in Oregon are full service. This means that an attendant comes out to your car and pumps your gas for you. They even will clean your windshield and check the tire pressure. We weren't quite sure what to tip so we asked each time. The people serving us were very friendly and just said "It depends, so what ever you want." I hope we weren't cheap! We did have some interesting conversations with them and felt humbled to be served to graciously.

There are a lot of hitch hikers in Oregon. I'm kind of thankful that we didn't have room for them to sit because I'm sure we would have picked some up. We really wanted to. I'm sure that would have lent itself to further adventures and tales from the trip... would any of you pick up a hitch hiker?

All of the hotels in Portland were booked. We almost slept in our car, but were craving showers, so we finally found a hotel that would take us in.

We visited Imago Dei for a Sunday Service. We felt right at home. We were glad to take part in their community and to worship with them. The sermon called attention to worship and to God's beauty. It was a much needed reminder as a week into our trip Matt and I were getting a bit tired and cranky. So often we need to be reminded that the presence of God is with us right where we are. We took communion with Imago Dei's community and it was beautiful to experience the closeness of those in their church. It was evident from the circles of people hugging each other and praying for each other that they cared and loved one another. I pick up a lot of brochures and such and will welcome further conversations about this as well.