Friday, December 28, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

On Tuesday we started a family Christmas Tradition. We took a long walk through Holly Springs with Baily. It was great fun to get out of the house and explore nature for a while.

A true family bonding experience, we had to cross multiple creeks and worked together to miss too much muddiness.

Oh yes, the football came with us too! Can't have boys outside with balls to play with.

Questions about Happiness and Suffering

Over Christmas there was a special on 60 minutes that featured Joel Osteen, check out his website for more info about his ministry.

There is some controversy about his message, and I cannot pretend to have read any of his books or even to know exactly what he teaches, but the TV commentary got me thinking. They labeled his core message "The Prosperity Gospel", basically if you follow these steps... God will bless you.

I am also reading another book that sends a similar message about delighting in the Lord and a lot of it talks about how God wants us to be happy. I was starting to get a little uncomfortable, until the author pointed out that earthly happiness is different than heavenly happiness... I can buy that.

Another book I am reading talks about the life of Paul, the apostle, let me fill you in on a few things that happened to this champion of the Christian faith: shipwrecked, homeless, depressed, jailed, beaten...

To me, teaching that God wants us to be happy and will "bless" us can be really confusing, especially if you follow the teachings of Jesus, who said, "In this world you will have trouble..."

But, for me the struggle comes with how the troubles and the blessings work themselves out here and now. For a while I thought, "If I'm not suffering, I'm not living for God." So I inflicted suffering upon myself and looked for difficult situations to put myself in... I don't think this is what Paul or Jesus taught...

And, I have a wonderfully blessed life, a wonderful husband, plenty to eat, a great house, friends, family, health, lots of fun... all these things are great! But, I don't think they are the point...

The question is, where do I find my joy? what if I had no earthly blessings? Would I be content in any circumstance? Why or Why not?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Last one for Today

I realize that I am post happy today, but I have so many pictures to share and thoughts in my head to get out. So, this is the final post for today. I promise to share my Christmas adventure photos tomorrow!

This post is a bit more reflective... The book I was reading this morning was talking about trusting God and the author points out that she has no trouble trusting God for the big things, like her salvation or eternal significance, but its the day to day choices and anxieties that she has a hard time trusting in...

How true is this for you? I get this. I get that its easy to believe in my head and heart that God is powerful, forgiving, mighty to save, etc... but its harder to believe that he cares about the daily struggle, has experienced the internal struggles about weather to do a puzzle or go to the gym, about what to make for dinner, about how to sow a button, about which job to choose, about how much to donate to charity this time, about how to decorate my house, about what to say to a group of people who are looking to me for advice, about sharing parts of my life with new friends, about being vulnerable, and so much more...

The cool thing about Christmas time is that when I thinking of Jesus... he came as baby, he tasted lemon's for the first time, he was dependent on Mary to feed him, he experienced abandonment by friends, he was angry at times, his feet got dirty and cracked walking through the dirt, he had friends, he told stories...

We have a God that not only is huge and infinite, but is small and human, that connects with the deep places and the shallow places...

Along with the author of this book, I get into trouble when I try to take on my daily lists and desires all by myself, when I make things manageable... For ME... The truth is, I need to trust in Jesus for EVERYTHING! My hope for everything is in him. When I think this way, the little choices loose power, create less anxiety and I experience more peace...

Christmas: Christ with us!

My husband

Too bad, but this Christmas my handsome husband was a bit sick... I think something has been going around. Having an upset stomach didn't keep him from having a great time though...

Isn't he good looking?

He gave me a spice rack that I am getting ready to go put together.

We are also going to take a trip to Wilmington. When we were dating we spent the weekend there for Valentine's day and discovered a delicious restaurant that we have been dying to go back to. This is where we discovered one of our favorite wine's.

This was the Christmas for giving weekend get aways... for my parents, for his parents, dinner for Corey and Danielle. I think its essential to continue to date and have romance while you are married. Hopefully these experiences will provide an opportunity for all to do that!

A few pics

Sunday afternoon all of us gathered together to have a delicious meal at Ginny and Tom's house. Its fun to see all of our brothers together.

It took several tries to get a good shot of Baily, but she is a pretty doggy! Did I mention that Baily had 3 stockings?

I worked on Christmas Eve day at NoFo and my fam came to say hello. Shiloah decided to try eating lemons for the first time. Her face was precious. Shiloah is one of the happiest babies I have ever seen. She has such a wonderful smile and a joyous presence. I have heard that she is a lot like me :)

So much to share

I am going to have to do several posts to capture the past few days... they have been absolutely fabulous! I have thoroughly enjoyed being around family and friends to celebrate Jesus' birth.

Several things to celebrate:

1) Sleeping past 9 three days in a row (for me this a huge accomplishment)!
2) Cleaning under our bed (first time in two years)
3) Cranium Championships with Matt's family (we rock at this game)
4) Getting countless packs of Orbit in my stocking (thanks mom)
5) Delicious meals (Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie is my favorite)
6) Puzzle time!
7) Singing songs to our King
8) Playing with kids
9) Starting a new family tradition (walking in the woods with Baily)
10) Learning about Matt and his family (pictures to come)

And so much more...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reflection for the Day

For Paul, "grace" is shorthand for "what God has done in Christ Jesus"

I am reading a book by N.T. Wright that my brother gave me, and took this quote from day 16 while reflecting on what Christmas is all about.

What did God do through Jesus?
What does God continue do to through Jesus?

I don't profess to have all of the answers, but here a few of my thoughts at this time of year...

When Jesus came to earth he made God accessible to everyone. Before this individuals could not approach God without the fear of death or having to be perfectly ceremonially clean.... Jesus walked among people, Jesus broke all the rules of who to hang out with and what was most important, Jesus was a friend to the average... Grace through Jesus...

As a baby Jesus was vulnerable, God made a sacrifice to come here and be a part of the world, Jesus was a baby, he probably had colds, he probably got dirty, he wore sandels, he went through the Jewish school system... His birthday... Christmas... Grace coming "down"...

Jesus knows what its like to be betrayed, lonely, hurting, abandoned, disappointed, loved, cared for, cherished, angry, and more... God identifies with us... grace through Jesus...

I could go on and on, but I won't here... please post your thoughts on what God is doing through Jesus... Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Songs of the 90's


I love the end of the year because TV stations do special count downs that help me to reminisce about the past.

I grew up in the 90s and pride myself on knowing most lyrics to songs that came on the radio while I was at gymnastics practice, high school dances, driving in my first car, hanging out with friends, making up dances, and just being silly.

I typically can't hold attention to shows that well, but this one kept me glued to the couch because I couldn't wait to see what else they were going to bring out.

Do you agree with #1? What memories do any of these songs bring for you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My gum addiction

As you may know, I have an addiction... chewing gum! Orbit dark blue to be exact... on bad weeks I will chew an entire pack in one day. I'm not sure if its stress, or bad tastes in my mouth or the need to be doing something... but, sometimes I swallow it, sometimes I spit it out, sometimes I take one piece out to only replace it with the next one.

I have tried to quit several times over the past year... still chewing away :(

But, today I found this article. It's verdict... gum is not bad for you :)

Updates on Life

These last few weeks have been full and fun with weddings, parties, friends, and getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I haven't posted pictures in a while, so here are a few from our recent adventures.

Mandy and Kim did an excellent job directing Melissa's wedding! We all had fun playing with your kidos! Way to go Bernie!

Melissa was absolutely beautiful. I'm excited for you and Brandon's adventure!!!

In the Christmas spirit, I took part in my first craft party... several others were very productive (way to go Ladies).

I on the other hand, got it in my head that I would do something with wine corks... Jonathan tried to help me out, but I was unsuccessful.

Its alright because I got to finish making our video from our cross country trip . I tried posting the video here, but it didn't work. I'll have to save that for a future blog post.

The annual Smith Family Christmas celebration was a blast as well. Its a bit different this year, last year Shannon and Kim announced Palmer was in Kim's belly, and now he is actually here!

Matt and I got caught under the mistletoe...

We had lots of laughs with friends and even made it to round 8 in Catch Phrase. Way to go team!

Well, this post is amazingly long so I'm done for now.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Check this out :


The Hathaways sent one to us... they don't take long to make!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just call me Master

At 5:45PM last night I finished the last of my PhD work (at least for the moment). I still have a bit of grading to do for the courses I am assisting, but as for my stress level... no more performance requirements! :)

It is a bitter sweet feeling for a couple reasons:

1) The exam I took last night was very difficult. I usually feel confident and good about myself when leaving tests... like I knew what I was talking about and must be better than everyone else... (have I ever mentioned that I am competitive and struggle with pride?) But, last night I felt like... I hope I did alright... what ever I did was the best I could do... and I have no opinions about how others are doing in comparison to me...

2) I'm excited about the next steps in my journey, but will miss the people that I have been around for the past 5 months. I have learned a lot, not only about Public Administration, but also about myself and the world around me this semester and am thankful for that.

So, please just call me Master Traci! Dr. Rowe may happen at some point in the future, but for now I am excited to be a master communicator and a more humble individual (I hope).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fun Fun Fun

Why do we take ourselves so seriously?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Honey on my lips

Over the weekend I had two conversations with friends that pushed me in my relationship with God.

1) One friend said like it was nothing, so I read John over Thanksgiving and then Mark last week... we then talked about questions we were struggling with and how the Spirit of God transforms our lives from the inside out.

2) Another friend reminded me what its like to desire so deeply to understand who God is and what his word is telling us. She compared reading the Bible to reading a good novel, not able to get enough.

These two instances helped me to reconnect with the power of the Word to transform our lives, with the desire to know God, to seek, to ask questions, to be renewed everyday.

I say this because in conversation #2, I had the Bible with me that I have had since I was 16. There are highlights, underlines, folded pages, handouts from bible studies and conferences, etc. My friend said she couldn't wait for the day that her Bible looked like mine... I am thankful for the richness of growing up in a relationship with God, but I also need to be reminded that I there are many more highlighting and page bending opportunities ahead of me...

Sunday, December 2, 2007


So, the papers that I have been so excited about finishing are not performing as well as my typical "traci standards"... see the title for my grade on the psych paper...

I have to say that I have mixed feelings. There is a part of me that is just glad to be done and thinks it doesn't matter and I'm glad that I'm not stressed, but then there is the part of me that has woken up at night thinking about all of the ways that I could make the next paper better.

I think to myself, I still have time...
I could add in this thing, or that thing...
what about this idea...
what do my professors think?
I am letting people down?
Does it matter?
Should I be upset?