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Irreplaceability vs. Replacing Ourselves

I’ll never forget when Richie Rojas texted me asking for my “fun facts” for fellows. I was elbows deep, head spinning, about what I could say that would make me sound unique from this sea of seemingly similar people - all college graduates seeking discernment in vocation and in this community. I wanted to differentiate myself with something other than “hiking” or “coffee shops,” manipulating and overanalyzing what response would most make me stand out.

I’ve been conditioned to speak like a broken record on what MY strengths are, what I (and only I) can bring to the table, and heck, what enneagram number I identify with. I think we all strive to be - or atleast to present ourselves as - irreplaceable. Our culture and our internal narratives tell this that irreplaceability that this is the peak of success and height of security. To work our way to the top at any cost, even if it means exploiting others in order to keep our irreplaceable knowledge and power.

The Fellows recently got to hear from Josh Hancock, Cafe Manager at A Place at the Table, a nonprofit in Raleigh providing community and healthy food for all regardless of means, who spoke to the fear we all have that if we teach someone everything we know, they will replace us, and not need us anymore. In our pride, we hold power over others. We like to be needed. I am learning that this sense of irreplaceability is hurtful - breeding a sense of pride within ourselves, damaging growth in community, and destroying human flourishing.

Our own strength and power will always fail. Fellows recently read Joshua 24 in Old Testament Class, reminding us of the strength and power coming from the presence of God. In our world, we are ritualized to blindness, overstimulated to to the point that we fail to see reality clearly. In the Old Testament, the Israelites faced this competing reality with Baal, who presented his own narrative that was mutually exclusive and territorial. Like the Israelites,  we also have counter narratives. In class, we pointed to success and busyness as temptations we feel acutely today. We project busyness because it gives us worth, value and productivity. Yet busyness, drives us into despair, loneliness, isolation. Our pursuit of irreplaceability - to stand out - can lead us to ultimately stand in isolation.

We aren’t irreplaceable, and if we are honest, we don’t want to be. We are simply a mist, a vapor, and our time is not guaranteed. Being irreplaceable is a huge burden to bare, a constant source of worry and stress. If we are irreplaceable, failure isn’t an option, and we wouldn’t dare to admit we are overworked, overwhelmed, or ever ask for help. The weight on our shoulders will take us one of two ways- either crush us, or inflate our ego to create a suffocating, competitive ladder within our community.

Irreplaceability can’t outlive itself. As fellows, we recently wrote eulogies for Mary Vandel Young’s spiritual formations class, the concept being to “begin with the end in mind.” But, if we live with a mindset that we are the only fit for our role in our vocations, communities, or ministries, then those very eulogies truly are the culmination of our lives. Upon our death, that moment will, at best, proclaim truth ever about us, and at worst, depict an inaccurate picture of what we did or who we were. In order to truly leave a legacy, we need to learn to replace ourselves, to cultivate a movement beyond this mist of a lifetime we have. Irreplaceability takes no care to the enduring quality of the places we care most about, because it dies, relocates, or moves on with us.

As much as I want to believe the opposite- I am not the only girl for the job. I am not the only fellow who could sleep in my upstairs bedroom at the Dotson’s house, I am not the “best fit” to tutor my friend Jay at Neighbor to Neighbor or lead eighth grade girls small group. Nothing stands out about the work I contribute during the week in class or at my internship. But, I am passionate about empowering these people and giving them dignity so that they may flourish with life and vitality. And, most of all, to make room for someone to come after me. My hope for this year, and for this community, is that we are paving a way for a legacy filled with grace, peace, and love to go behind us. If we believe we are the only fit for the job- we will be. But in a few months, the year will end, and so will our influence here. What this community needs is not more of me, or another person just like me to come after, but, for me to pave the way today for flourishing long beyond my time here.  To care deeply these people and this place beyond the nine-month timeline I’ve been given in this space. Who will I equip and empower in this season? Who will I be proud to take my place when Fellows Graduation rolls around?

What a beautiful thing to strive for - to replace ourselves.

Laura Merten



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Adulting lol

This past month (month and a half haha whoops) I have been wrestling with this idea of how short this life is. Thank you Mary Young for reminding me of this fact as we were assigned to write our own eulogy for her class. Despite this assignment making me sad and slightly anxious, it made me realize a couple of things. The first is that, my internal life has just felt like an indie coming of age movie similar to Ladybird or Perks of Being A Wallflower, 10/10 would highly recommend. This feeling has spurred me to ask myself what does it look like to an adult? The next thing that I have thought about is what do I want my life to look like at the very end of my life. Will I have accomplished my dreams and hopes that I wrote in my eulogy? Every time I try to reflect and come up with a solution or some kind of 10 year plan, my thoughts end up becoming incredibly long drawn and convoluted to the point where I end up becoming more anxious than when I first began reflecting.

But then, I got to be reminded of a simple yet profound truth a couple weeks ago. We went through what it looks like to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD during the Micah 6:8 retreat. As we broke up into pieces, the speaker dove into what it looks like to walk humbly. In the 45 minutes, in which he shared amazing stories of redemption and beautiful reminders of who Jesus is to us, the one statement that I kept coming back to was this idea that our lives are simply not about us. We are but a vapor. We are potsherds among potsherds which fun fact are just broken useless shards of pottery. The Bible even says that we are surely just grass lol. What’s wild is that the guy who was saying this was the Ambassador-At-Large of Monitoring and Combatting Human Trafficking, and he was saying this about himself to us.

I say all this because it helped me put words to a lot of my thoughts in regards to what I want my life to look like. What if I leaned into this truth of my life not being about me and applied it to my everyday life and decisions? The pressure of me finding the perfect job would be relieved as I will learn to trust that the job I choose won’t be about advancing myself but rather about something much bigger. The difficulties in loving certain people will be hopefully made a little easier as I am reminded that loving people is supposed to be strenuous and hard at times as we give ourselves away. When conflicts arise, I’ll be able to actually listen to the hurt behind the argument rather than coming up with a logical rebuttal. This truth helps our pride to be in a constant check and in turn, giving more room for compassion to grow in our lives. What if looking like an adult is to be constantly living in this truth?

Life is not about me and that’s hard to swallow at times, but the reality is, we were designed to give ourselves away as Jesus did when He was on Earth. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That’s a pretty stark difference to what a lot of people want to say for their life purpose. Rather than asking what I want my legacy to be when I die, I should be asking what will the LORD do and what will His legacy be in my short lifetime.

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Sweet Joy

Hey y’all! It’s mid-November, and I am still Google-mapping my way everywhere. One of the only drives that I can confidently make is the 5 minute one between my house and church. But, on a positive note, the traffic is making me much less mad than it used to - I’ve just been accepting being 5 minutes late rather than raging against the red lights and dumb drivers who change my ETAs. Sanctification?

More seriously, I really am loving being in Raleigh. The first month was really hard, and I did feel like I was living in a haze of sadness borne out of the grief of leaving people and place and memories when I moved here. The hovering darkness, however, has been lifting bit by bit and radiant joy has been illuminating the goodness here. I’ve had such sweet time with my Fellow friends, with my mentor, with my host family, with Ashley, and with so many others. The Lord is here with me and He has been my Comforter and my Safe One. He is at work here in Raleigh.

Some sweet tidbits from my time here: my host mom makes my coffee every morning. My host dog makes me more excited to go on runs, because she grabs the leash in her mouth and runs with wild abandon, reminding me of “that joy in existence without which the universe would fall apart and collapse.” I ADORE my 7th grade youth group girls that I lead - they are thoughtful and authentic and full of questions. I’m feeling more certain about wanting to go to medical school, and this has been influenced by my work placement and by having to write my own eulogy and meditate on the end of my life for our Spiritual Formations class (heavy stuff yep). Feel free to ask me more about it if you’re curious!

It’s been so fun to watch my love for my fellow Fellows swell and expand as the days go by. It’s wild to me that I didn’t know most of them two and a half months ago. This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to love them well. It’s really easy for me think only about myself and my own relationship with God, but our faith is one that transforms people and the world. I’ve been praying the Prayer of St. Francis every night, and this is what I’ll leave you with:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy;  

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.  

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  

Sarah


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Trying to find the words to say

Talking has never been a problem of mine. I have always loved speaking with others and being around them. So finding the words to say has never been too hard for me either. Since being in Raleigh, I have found myself sitting back more and listening—at a loss of words sometimes. Especially in settings like class and Roundtable because listening and absorbing has been so much more helpful to me than speaking at times. As fellows, we digest so much information. I often need to sit in stillness and silence to take it all in. (Now, sitting in silence and stillness has been something difficult for me recently, so maybe I will write my next blog post on what I’m learning about that—stay tuned for next month.) Writing my eulogy for Mary Young’s class was about the hardest thing for me to do. I just couldn’t put my words together. All of this to say, finding the words to say for this blog post has also been on my mind. So, I decided I will share a couple of photos from October. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Raleigh, you’re still great. I love these people and this place a lot. It’s not all easy, but I know I am in the right place.

November, I’m ready for you. Maybe you’ll bring me more words to say.

xo Lauren

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a stream of consciousness

               In complete honesty, I normally don’t struggle for words for when I write, but articulating what I am learning in Fellows is presenting itself as much more of a challenge than I thought it would be. I think a lot of that comes from learning so much that it is difficult to properly process everything, but an even bigger part is probably my refusal to take the time to process those things. When it gets down to it, I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned about myself in the past 2 months is that as much as I love deep and intentional conversations, I also avoid processing my own junk as much as I can. I prefer to fill my day with so many things that I don’t have to process anything, and instead talk around it or about it rather than actually IT and how I’m feeling about it. I am inherently an external processer, which is awesome except when I allow people to replace my need for Jesus. And I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing that a lot.

               In Fellows, we talk about Jesus a ton. Which is really great. But the thing is, my brain often associates talking about Jesus as talking TO Jesus, which are obviously not the same thing. So, what happens is I spend no quality time with the Lord because I feel like I am through classes and conversations and blah blah blah, whatever my brain uses as an excuse for me to not be still. But what would it look like for me to be actually still? What would it take for me STOP, to rest in the Lord, and genuinely give Him my worries and my strife? Why can’t I seem to let go of the excuses I use to not be alone and with Him?

               Fellows is pushing me to ask questions like that of myself, and to actually spend time answering them rather than avoiding them like I normally do. Fellows has taught me a frik ton about myself already, and basically I am just inherently a selfish and pride filled human being, who wants everything for herself and nothing for anyone else. BUT (and it’s a big but) I am also a daughter of the Creator, our Father, who claims me and makes me whole, and whose Spirit resides within me to guide me towards a path away from destruction and towards life. And in the end, it is He who defines me rather than my sin.

               I’m not sure if that made any sense at all, but essentially I am learning way more than I think I can even process right now, but I’m loving it even though there are a lot of challenges. To conclude, here is a poem I wrote during our Christian Spiritual Formation class that pretty accurately reflects how I have felt.

How often I say I want to see,

And yet I refuse to see what’s in front of me.

I call out in anguish, “Oh Father, where have You gone?”

Before I even stop and realize I’m the one who’s been on the run.

I run and I run, trying to hide,

From the only one who truly knows what’s inside.

I run in fear of being known,

For oh so many weeds have already grown,

Inside my heart and within my soul,

Threatening to extinguish the fire You started; burning coal.

But though I run, You do pursue,

Promising that what You have done You will never undo.

Promising to me You will never hold back,

Promising that in You I will never lack,

Promising to always walk alongside,

Promising that from us You will never hide.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

For though I know these promises and know they will be,

Far too often my soul doesn’t truly believe.

Push my heart to believe though I don’t fully understand,

Push my heart to release everything into Your hands.

Push me, Lord Jesus, for through that my love for You can only grow.

Push me, Father, so I may have the strength to battle our greatest foe.

Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!

Open my stubborn eyes to Your ways that I cannot yet see.

- Rach

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So, I've been doing it wrong all this time?

If you knew me, even at a young age, you would know that I am constantly on the move. Constantly moving towards the next thing, the next sport, the next show, the next college, the next (insert other things here). Staying busy and productive led to being noticed and being wanted by friends, family, and superiors. Recently though, I was recommended this podcast by the first lady of the fellows' program (Sam Crutchfield). The Tim Ferris Show with Sebastian Junger as his guest. They speak through many different topics from war journalism, PTSD, their thoughts on how veterans day should be celebrated, to what you would right on a billboard if you had the opportunity (for reference Sebastian’s billboard was, “Read.” And Tim’s was, “You’re the average of the 5 people you most associate with.”). But toward the end, Tim ask Sebastian a question of, “If your 70-year-old self could tell your current self anything what would it be?” Sebastian answered with this:

“The world is this continually unfolding set of possibilities and opportunities. And the tricky thing about life is, on the one hand, having the courage to enter into things that are unfamiliar, but to also have the wisdom to stop exploring when you have found something worth sticking around for. That’s true of a place, a person, a vocation and balancing those two things, the courage of exploring and the commitment of staying. It’s very hard to get the ratio of those two things right. Just really be careful that you don’t air on one side or the other because you have an ill-conceived notion of who you are.”

-Sebastian Junger

This stuck has stuck with me.

I have been on this journey called life for a little over 23 years now and I have been living in the first option without haste, “The courage of exploring.” I have explored all across the nation from California to New York, and many places in between. I have lived the life of what some of my friends have called nomadic; living in 3 states in a four-month period, going to 4 different colleges, and making room and space for here and there friendships. I encapsulated what it meant to keep people at arm’s reach only calling on people enough that when I needed something that they would be there (let me pause here and say thank you for all the patient people out there who lived in this territory of my life and stuck around. Y’all are rock stars). My life was full of the unfolding set of possibilities and opportunities. Different camps, internships, colleges, etc. I refused to stick around places that could have been a room worth sticking around for. My life, my walk with Christ, my thought process was just, “change this, change that, do this, do that. Don’t get complacent being where you are. Go do something new, go try new food.” This list goes on and on. I missed out on numerous relationships that could have been worthwhile and threw away opportunities that could have led to something wonderful.

Now, all this to say I don’t regret any of it. I don’t regret the places I’ve been, the people I have met, the mistakes I’ve made, and the ways Christ has pulled me out of the mire that I put myself in. What it is to say is the Lord has whispered the second option in my life, “The courage to stick around for something that is worth it.” The courage to stay in communion with Jesus and sit quietly with what the Holy Spirit whispers to me. To be complacent for once, and not have to be constantly moving to reach the outlandish goals I set for myself. I have always wondered what it would be like to find someplace that I could sit and be still. I even made a comment in front of some of the Fellow’s Committee members saying, “I don’t think the Fellows is busy enough. I feel like I have too much free time.” Side note, I may be the only person in fellows history to have made this comment, still waiting on my fact checker to get back to me on that one. I digress, my life has been this perpetual movement, this nonstop journey from place to place, thing to thing, meeting to meeting, and I have refused to stop. I kept running from what the Lord was teaching me in the suffering. Sprinting from what was right in front of me. The wisdom to sit in things that were worth sticking around for was very apparently lacking in my life.

But hey, isn’t that what God is there for?

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is revealed to us.”

Romans 8:18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer-self is wasting away, our inner-self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2nd Corinthians 4:16-18

Paul captures, through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, this idea of considering suffering but also realizing that the glory revealed to us in that suffering is worth sticking around for. Sticking around when you’re wronged because that person, place, or thing is worth more to you than a mistake. Sticking around for when you make a mistake and embracing the hurt that is caused because of it. Sticking around for giving up on an opportunity that could be better to sit where you are because what you have now is worth it. Discerning and having the wisdom to realize that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, and chasing waterfalls can lead to jagged rocks.

The Lord calls us to sit and be still and then walk. Not go, go, go, and then go some more.

“Sitting reveals the secrets of Heavenly life. Christianity doesn’t begin with walking; it begins with sitting… Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is the reversal of the true order (and here is where it hit me). Our natural reason says, If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? How can we ever get anywhere if we do not move?... If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with a big do, but with a big done.”

-Ni Tuosheng

(Thank you Host mom Pauline for the book)

I ended my last blog with, “Until then, I will be listening, living, absorbing, and cherishing every sweet moment that I get to spend here.” That’s how I will end this one as well because God has begun to settle my heart to listen, live, absorb and most importantly cherish every sweet moment that I get to spend here, with God, friends, and a place that is worth sticking around for.

Until next time,

-Daylon Shaw

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Wait I Like These People

2 months into a 9 month program. 2nd blog post out of 9 blog posts. Wait I’m already sad, let’s go back to 1. Which is wacky because this time last month I was still trying to decide if I liked these people and this place. There is so much traffic, everything is 25 minutes away from everything, it was mid October and there was still no fall (I moved from florida to north carolina- i didn’t move up to have no fall again), and i still miss my friends back home. But hang on.. these people are funny. They’re always laughing. We do fun things like go to the fair at 11am on a Monday, randomly go to a WWE fight and sit in box seats and eat free wings and cupcakes, spend entirely too much money on coffee and food just to be together all the time.

This month was a turning point in my outlook on the Fellows Program. Once apathetic and kind of into it but mostly not really emotionally present, now house hunting with the girls and sad about it already being the end of October. I’m here for this. These people are teaching me a lot about what being a human is — having grace and kindness and joy and discernment, cultivating thoughts about the world beyond what i see on instagram and facebook, having feelings and not denying those feelings, understanding why you feel and what to feel and what to hold onto emotionally and what to let go of, realizing that we are not going to be everything for everybody but that we do have the freedom and the opportunity to reach further into relationships even if that means making yourself uncomfortable.

Everyone finds growth in where they are. And the growth that I’m finding here in Raleigh is something that I am so happy that I’m not missing out on. I’m so glad that my apathy towards coming to Raleigh didn't stop me from actually coming. And I pray that I would not get lost in pure socialization- as I tend to do- but that I would use this time to see God and get to know His person and character in ways I’ve never known- through these people who I now love.

Hey Raleigh, I’m here for this.

Amy

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House Hunting

I’ve been in Raleigh for approximately 53 days and I have already had my eyes peeled on the tiny homes with twinkly lights in sweet little neighborhoods. I’ll drive to destinations and point my fingers to porches that feel like they could be my own next year. I envision what it will be like to have a yard for bonfires and porches that facilitate conversation. It’s like I am slightly trying to fulfill this dream of being Joanna Gaines and HGTV needs to hire me for Fixer Upper, even though I have no architectural qualifications.

 

There are so many clichés around homes. We like to exclaim that “home is where the heart is” and geek out around the concept of a “house becoming a home.” But aside from the aesthetic appeal of marble countertops, big comfy reclining chairs and king beds- we all have this innate desire to create spaces that feel like home.

 

It’s not the foundation of the four walls that draw us close, but the safety fostered within. The blueprint extends beyond logistics and into pillars that protect us, shelter us and invite us in. I’m sure we all have different connotations of home. Some of us grew up in cold spaces where families were divided and love was withheld. Others of us grew up in kitchens where we danced and sung and felt freedom. Maybe the rest of us land somewhere in the middle.

 

But I can’t get over the fact that home might not be solely in geographical locations. Maybe a home isn’t just an address we plug into Google Maps, but found in community and people. It’s the people who have the ability to unmask your theatric side that yearns to perform and allows you to walk into doors of authenticity. Homes are areas where our identities are formed and our belonging is reinforced.

 

These homes aren’t created and bought in one day. We have realtors that help us weed out the unsturdy foundations and deconstruct the lies. We have days and months of building that involve time and patience. We have inspectors that check for mold and other harmful factors lying beneath our surfaces. We have interior designers that create warmth and fill in the emptiness. We have family and friends that make the space unique, lived in, and our own.

 

I guess I am turning into a poet-loving-fanatic on the side of my house-hunting-career because I can’t leave these thoughts without another John O’Donohue excerpt about homes. (This is not a paid ad, but everyone should go purchase a copy of To Bless the Space Between Us. Or maybe you don’t enjoy poetry, in that case stick to Harry Potter or something.)  

 

“May this home be a lucky place,

Where the graces your life desires

Always find the pathway to your door.

 

May nothing destructive

Ever cross your threshold.

 

May this be a safe place

Full of understanding and acceptance,

Where you can be as you are,

Without the need of any mask

Of pretense or image.

 

May it be a house of courage,

Where healing and growth are loved,

Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;

A home where patience of spirit is prized,

And the sight of the destination is never lost

Though the journey be difficult and slow.

May there be a great delight around this hearth.

May it be a house of welcome

For the broken and diminished.

 

May you have the eyes to see

That no visitor arrives without a gift

And no guest leaves without a blessing.”

 

What if we invited people into our homes and life? What if we welcomed and dwelled and loved without pretense? What if our doors were never locked? What if we tossed our masks at the doorstep? What if our lives became windows that were open and honest and our faith became brick that was sturdy and True?

all the LOVE! -Emily Magnus

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Pilot Episode

If you know me, then you know that procrastination is a theme in my life. If you don’t know me, then look at the date this blog was posted because it was due yesterday (whoops...sorry Ashley haha). I don’t procrastinate out of spite; however, more often than not, it’s because of my forgetfulness and my slow-and-steady-wins-the-race nature. I tend to move especially slower when it comes to things that require more thought. It takes me a while to process and organize ideas in my mind. However, I do have a couple of thoughts that I’ve come up with this past month that I’ve laid out for y’all :)

This past week, aka yesterday during the 8:30am service, I heard a sermon in which the pastor touched on ways marketing relates to our walks with Jesus. He said that there’s a marketing technique used called FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Truly I don’t really remember what he said afterwards, but I know that those three words sums up how I feel going in to this year. My biggest hope for this year is that those words shift to something different.

I’ve realized that I have all of this “stuff” to unpack and uncover from college. I thought I was going into this year completely free of any burden or weight. But the reality is, my experiences in college have shaped me in a lot of different ways, many good and many not so good . It took me all four years of college to unpack my experiences from high school. During my time in college, I figured out more of who I was and where the LORD was in the midst of my high school season. I am afraid unpacking college to some degree because unpacking can painful and hard. I mean some of us, myself included, hate unpacking so much we would hire people to do it for us if we could (which we can do but apparently it’s irresponsible to pay someone to unpack your belongings..idk) However, it’s the only way to make a house a home, so I’m ready to be like Chip and Joana, unpack, and decorate the house I’m living in this season. Speaking of the house i’m living in, HUGE shoutout to the Whited’s by the way for their graciousness and hospitality. This next year is going to be a year of growth, but also a year of healing, as I reflect on my time in college.

To conclude, I told the Fellows a story which I think was very formative to who I am today. About a month ago, I was frustrated at a lot of things, I won’t go in to detail because this blog post will never end lol, and I was angry at the LORD. It felt like He had abandoned me and wasn’t hearing me. One day, as I was on my way to work, my car ran out of gas at a left turn at an intersection with the nearest gas station being about 0.25 miles away. Embarrassingly, I got out of my car and started pushing this heavy car on a protected left turn. I was fuming, furious at God because He was truly the only person I could blame for my idiocy. Just then, magically, the car got lighter and I thought that the LORD put some gas in my car… but then I shortly realized two Mormon men had gotten off their bikes and were pushing my car with me.

I tell that story for two reasons. First, the LORD is faithful and He will show up regardless of how I feel about Him. Because that is just who He is. If that’s not the Gospel, I don’t what is *weeps. Just like how He showed up when I needed him to, I am positive that the LORD will show up this year as well, and I am excited to meet Him where He’s at this time. Second, the LORD showed up in the form of two Mormons helping me push this heavy car. Community is something I dread yet I know that God can and will do amazing things through other people. I’m nervous but also excited to go into this year with ten other guys and girls trying to figure out adulthood. We can be each other’s car pushing Mormons as we learn to love one another deeper, in turn learn to love others and most importantly learn to love God deeper.

Join me on the next episode! Tune in a month haha!

Jun.

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First month in Raleigh

September 30, 2018

Its crazy for me to think that nearly a month has already gone by in this new journey. It still feels like yesterday when I left Illinois to drive all the way to Raleigh. When I first arrived, I was most definitely a little nervous. How could I not be, I was going to a new place where I knew hardly anyone. In a way, it felt like the first day of college all over again. It was definitely an adjustment, but it took very little time for me to start to see Raleigh as a second home. I feel extremely blessed to be apart of the program with such wonderful godly people. It has most definitely been a lot of bonding packed into very little time, and I have enjoyed every second of it. As we near our first month together as Fellows, I feel like I have had time to adjust to my new schedule. This has allowed to to take time and think about what it is that I truly hope to accomplish with my time here. I truly believe that God has put me here for a reason, but I am not fully certain what that reason might be. However, I know that I want to make the most of my time here by investing in the relationships that God has put in front of me. I'm very excited for the coming months, and I am excited to be doing this program with 10 incredible people!


Josiah Lindquist

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Raleigh Part 2

Four years ago I moved to Raleigh, NC to begin my time as an undergraduate at NC State (Go Pack!). I was nervous about leaving VA, but so excited for this next chapter in my life. I expected to make great friends, learn lots of things, and grow as a person. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with this city! Raleigh has become a second home to me and I don’t want to leave.

Just under a month ago, I began the next chapter in my Raleigh adventures. Myself along with 10 other recent grads strapped into this wild ride called the Raleigh Fellows program. Who knows what the full ride will look like, but I can tell you the first month seemed to jump from 0 to 100 real fast… and I have loved all of it!

I am not a writer by any means. This little intro is about the fullest extent of my creative writing skills. So rather than sit on the couch of my amazing host family’s house for hours pondering the different pronouns and verbs I can use to describe my first month accurately, I am going to step into my comfort zone and formulate a list. A list that will hopefully offer a brief glimpse into my emotions and experiences thus far as part of the Raleigh Fellows Class of 2019.

  1. 11 recent college graduates + 1 energetic Fellows director = random dance parties, spontaneous singing, and good times

  2. There are some amazing people in the world and I just happen to be doing a program with 10 of them!

  3. Real life is busy. Time management is important. Sleep is magical.

  4. I am going to learn a lot over the remaining eight months of this program. About myself, about others, and about Jesus.

  5. My procrastination habits still haven’t changed since graduating college. It is 11:44pm on a Sunday. I just finished my homework due tomorrow morning and this blog post is “due” in 16 minutes :)

These five things in no way represent the entirety of my first month as a Fellow. However, I am tired and don’t feel like thinking of more things to write. Who knows what my next blog post will look like, but I hope you enjoyed this one.

Philip Greco

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Moving to Raleigh

I’ve been in Raleigh for 27 days. 27 days ago, I was saying my see-you-laters to my dearest friends and to Charlottesville, VA, a city that had become a home to me after four years of college there. The idea of leaving Charlottesville was incredibly intimidating; I’ve said a lot of goodbyes throughout my life, since I spent most of my childhood moving around, and I didn’t want to leave the people and city that I love. At the same time, I was looking forward to starting Raleigh Fellows, and I know so very clearly that the Lord called me to Raleigh for this year.

While adjusting to this new place and new group of people has been really hard, and I’ve felt sad, insecure, and afraid quite often, there has been so much goodness here. I’ve had lots of sweet time with the other fellows. I have cheered on the hoos at the UVA vs NC State football game and then gone “birding” (electric scooters!) through the NC State campus with Philip and Daylon. I have enjoyed many a game night at host family houses and spent hours talking on the Crutchfield’s patio. We have celebrated Emily’s birthday at Watts & Ward and watched “This is Us” at the Boultons.

How special it was to walk into a community of people that wanted to know and love and support me. My mentor Meg is so very kind and thoughtful (and a very speedy walker!! If y’all plan on walking, expect a workout!), and my host family the Wileys are wonderful and welcoming (and had four puppies when I got there, although they have sadly all flown the coop). Ashley Crutchfield loves Jesus dearly and cares deeply for all of us.

Moving to Raleigh has been hard, but the Lord has also provided goodness here. The sweet moments don’t erase the sadness, and the sadness doesn’t negate the sweetness. I’m living in the tension between gratitude and grief, trusting that God is with me and is working in our dear Fellows community. I can’t wait to see how He moves in and through us this year!

~ Sarah

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Letting beginnings begin

Hi! We are so glad you decided to take a gander at all of our scattered thoughts and fun feelings! The last 3 weeks have been a whirlwind but it’s been so fun to start to get to know everyone and jump into community. We all come to you from different places, families, friend groups, and seasons of life. We are all still a little unsure of why we’re here and what we want out of this year. But for some reason, the Lord wanted this beginning for each of us. He saw an inner light within each of us that was waiting to be seen and fueled. So here we are. All 11 of us. With different purposes and different lights. John O’Donohue in one of his poems says “shelter and energy come alive when a beginning is embraced,” and my prayer for each of us is that we would embrace this beginning so that the possibilities and excitement can have room to grow and flourish and ultimately provide us a shelter and energy in our new home of Raleigh. It’s a little hard to end our college stage because of how many memories and friendships were made and nourished. But walking into this new home was like walking into a hug. I am so thankful for the community of Apostles and our host families for welcoming us with endless hello’s and meals and laughs. Stay tuned for how this beginning turns into chapter 2 and so on until the fruition of this year is revealed!

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It is a Blessing

         I am not really good at small talk.  I think it is one of my least favorite things in the world.  It is funny that I say that because this past month I have engaged in more conversations about the weather than I can count.  For some reason, the LORD has placed me in a new city that is filled with opportunities for small talk.  It is interesting I feel this way because God listens to my small talk all the time.  I don’t know if he likes it or not but he definitely listens when I ramble on to him about little things bothering me throughout the day.  This past month he has listened to me complain about how bad the traffic is, the amount of sleep I should have gotten, and how hot the weather has been.  While it is comical how minute these complaints are they usually lead to conversations that are deeper than I ever expected.  That is how I would explain this first month in Raleigh.  I have had meetings with new friends, old friends, mentors, and pastors.  Most of the meetings start out small, but then lead to deep fulfilling conversations about life, love, and salvation.

 I don’t know why I am here or what I am doing really but I know it is a blessing.  I look around at times and smile because there is a peace knowing that God is in control.  There is little room to stress or worry when what you are doing is not for yourself.  I have been able to engage in small talk that has laid foundations for life-long relationships.  I definitely miss my old friends, family, and life I had in the mountains.  But there is a peace that is beyond compare knowing that the plan you are a part of is not your own. 

So, I’ll I try and get better at small talk and see what the Lord makes of it.

  • Alex

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Almost a monthaversary

Next week marks one month since the Fellows program started, and my goodness it’s been quite the month! We went to the beach for 3 days, had a dance party, went to the White Water Center in Charlotte, made some music videos, started class, started jobs, laughed a ton, and started to see what it looked like to be vulnerable with one another. So much has happened that it’s hard to know where to start, but here’s a few things that I’ve learned thus far:

1.      Every group of friends has different dynamics that you have to figure out. Joining a new group of people means learning how each other work, and it’s possible to have a much different role in one group of friends than another.

2.      Getting to share an in-depth testimony (~45 minutes to an hours worth of talking) is one of the craziest, strangest, most FREEING things I have ever done. Vulnerability is tough, but I have seen the Holy Spirit work so clearly through it that I cannot deny its power any longer. Community and true, deep friendship/community requires truth and vulnerability.

3.      Being new at a job is tough and weird. It’s easy to feel out of place, and it also requires getting to know another set of people and the personalities they bring along with the dynamics they cast.

4.      Busyness requires that I take advantage of times of quiet to rest in the Lord, and I am really bad at taking advantage of those times. I want to grow in that this year.

5.      Racquetball is FUN.

6.      Living with a host family is the best, and it demonstrates to me the service-oriented and loving heart that Jesus has, and how He chooses to show that through other people.

7.      Any life transition brings difficulties, no matter how many good and beautiful things may be a part of it as well.

8.      Living in the present is essential to learning and growing the most, but it is also one of the most difficult things to do. Living in the past or future is often so much easier for my mind to take hold of.

I’ve learned and am still learning so much more than that, but I hope that can give a glimpse into what this past month has been like. I’m so excited to continue developing friendships with the 10 others in my program, and to continue growing in community together – keep praying for us!

 

Rachel

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New City, Same Me

During my college career, I worked a part-time job at JMU’s student union—go dukes. One shift a week, I would sit in a small booth on the basement floor facilitating the renting of pool balls and board games to any college kid that wanted to play. While the job was great, it offered a lot of down time to browse the internet. Naturally, my senior year shifts often entailed googling what I should do with my life post-grad. It was in these shifts that I stumbled upon reading more on the Fellows program, which I had heard of from friends of friends. In that semi-stinky booth I distinctly remember reading this very Raleigh Fellows blog, intrigued on what many past fellows had to say about the program. So, if you’re a senior in college wondering what you should do with your life while sitting at your part-time student union job—welcome! I’ve been there. Who knows, maybe this is a sign that you will be writing one of these posts in a year.

I really did not know what to expect coming to Raleigh. I found it difficult to articulate what I would be doing in the Fellows program when people asked me questions about post-grad. At the end summer I felt an odd tension of being ready and eager to move to North Carolina and experience the Raleigh Fellows, but also becoming more and more nervous as the date drew near. The evening I arrived in Raleigh, I pulled up to the Daniel’s home and as I walked up the drive, they opened the door and immediately welcomed me in. After they so graciously helped me move in, Spencer asked if pizza was okay for dinner. I knew I was in the right place (pizza is a love language, right?). The past 3ish weeks in Raleigh have just offered more comforting moments of knowing I am in the right place. It’s moments like when the Daniel’s continually invite me into their lives and make me feel right at home. When the Fellows went on our beach orientation retreat and “Yeah!” by Usher came on and we (well okay, maybe mostly me) came alive in dancing and singing together. Eating dinner with my mentor, Laura and having such easy, fun conversation over some dank grilled cheese. Going on mom walks with the Fellows ladies (thankfully, walking is an agreed upon fave hobby) and having meaningful conversation with each of them. Making weekly Triller music videos at Roundtable (even though we missed last week, sorry to the fans). How the Crutchfield’s have invited us not only into their home, but their lives as well. Playing games at the Byron’s, especially the most intense game of spoons I have maybe ever been a part of. It’s moments like these and many more that make me so excited to see what the rest of these 9 months will hold.

Our book for Family Systems Theory, To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue says it quite well, “There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning. More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could.” I am thankful we trust a God that knows our journey ahead better than we ever could. Here’s to a great year! 

Xoxo

Lauren Brawley

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How Did This Turn Into A Memoir, I Just Moved Here?

Alternative Title: Why Ice Cream Makes Everything Better

The first day I came to Raleigh I ate ice cream three times. Despite the risk of becoming known as The Girl Who Is Overly Obsessed With Ice Cream too early in my fellows career, I am here to share with you all of my favorite ice cream experiences in Raleigh. I am quickly becoming an expert- by which I mean self proclaimed expert as no one else has called me that - on the best ice cream places in town.  

By the end of the summer, it was definitely time me to move to Raleigh. I had started declaring every day “take your daughter to work day” and showing up to my mom’s office unannounced. Most days I tried to convince her to leave work to either take me to get my nails done or, you guessed it, eat ice cream with me, despite the fact that my mom is a vegan. Also, I had visited Raleigh this summer on a trip where my boss took me to The Howling Cow Creamery, so I was pretty sure I was going to like Raleigh.

But, the day I moved down I was a freaking mess. Thankfully, Grandma Dot and Granddaddy Bob (who has quickly become a local legend)  live close to Raleigh and took me in when I showed up at their doorstep the night before the program started. They played a few rounds of monopoly deal with me, which was great until my grandma told me that I had unleashed a monster in her. One piece of advice: when your grandma becomes a monster, it’s really time to get your act together and get on the road.

When I pulled up to the Dotson’s house, they warmly welcomed me into their home, they helped me move in, provided truly everything I needed and understood that I was likely to burst into tears at any given moment. They even offered me ice cream - twice.

On our orientation retreat, while writing our fellows covenant, my fellow fellow Alex Gilleland called me out on using one too many bank references as analogies for our relationship with the Lord. That was when I decided it was really time to stop reliving my undergrad economics days, stop listening to “Old Friends” and “Stop this Train” (both of which are worth the listen) on repeat and embrace what this new season has to offer.

For all the people that knew me at UVA, they knew it was always a mystery where my next meal was going to come from. That is 100% still true but as I’ve done some reflecting, I have some people to thank that I haven’t gone hungry yet. One of my first impressions of the program was how many people from Church of the Apostles invest so much into the fellows, and how overwhelmed with gratitude I was that they would do it for me. So here’s to the people and places that have fed me (honestly both physically and spiritually), made Raleigh feel like home in only twenty-one days and have made the Fellows Program come alive for me.

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The Dotsons

Aselya has quickly become my partner in crime in all things ice cream eating and Enneagram “nine”-ing, I mean just look, the girl is so innovative, she eats her ice cream with a straw when it starts to melt so none of it goes to waste. She’s gonna save the world some day. Ann has prepared almost every meal for me, nurtured me, cared for me as her own. Jim has understood me, has engaged with me and asked me good questions, has made me feel like a part of the family. Hunter and I have about eight more months to start acknowledging each other at the gym. And the Dotsons introduced me to Black List which is now a Monday tradition- so they have certainly changed me for the better. I am grateful for the months I get to live with them, it is truly a gift.

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Ashley Crutchfield

The first thing I heard about the Raleigh Fellows Program was that Ashley Crutchfield is awesome. And it’s impossible to overstate. I’ve already started taking Ashley’s open door policy liberally (my apologies to Mr. & Mrs. Butler to whom I have shown up unannounced maybe more than once). I told my friends this summer that the Crutchfield’s had ALREADY made me so welcomed in their house, that it was so exciting to have an older mentor whose life and ministry is centered around opening their family - the beauty and even the brokenness. The Crutchfields are an example to us all of love and grace and a freaking good time.

The McGinity’s

Megan is my mentor, and when I read her description of what she likes to do, I truly thought I was reading my own. The first time I showed up at her door she fed me and I poured out my life to her and now I think she knows me better than I know myself. I think I am the luckiest fellow in the world that I get to hang out with Megan this year AND her three daughters Lillie, Mary Hardin and Cate who make me melt every time I see them.

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The Byrons

Chris Byron interviewed me for the program and I knew I was talking to the coolest person ever. But little did I know I was talking to someone who would take spoons as seriously as I did, would invite me to zumba with him as his mid-life crisis hobby, who I would share ice cream and croquet with. Chris’ wife Pauline might also just be tied with Chris for Coolest Person Ever, so it’s a good thing they are married. She is someone who will go on five (!) mile walks with me and kick my butt, who will go deep and hold nothing back. Who will challenge me to learn more about prayer and about the Spirit, who can make everyone who walks into a room feel welcome. I am thankful for the Byrons and that they have opened their home and their lives to us.

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MAMAs

The group of girls in this fellows year is incredible. Thank you to the committee that hand picked Rachel, Sarah, Lauren, Amy, and Emily to be my friends (boys, you’ll be featured next month if you keep letting us watch This Is Us in the Boulton’s movie room #thank #you). Emily has introduced me to my new favorite band, Lauren has taken me through the hardest circuit workouts of my life (#still #sore), Rachel is teaching me new strumming patterns on guitar, Sarah is asking me hard questions as I go through my EnneaCrisis of figuring out which number I am on the enneagram, and Amy offers to go to Madewell with me at least once per week, which should definitely be listed as the sixth love language.

Point of Clarification: No Mom, having kids is NOT in my five year plan.

The BIRDs

My rational brain fully understands that the bird scooters are a boom and bust phenomenon and are quickly going out of style as they dont actually solve any issues of microtransportation. I get it. But BOY are they fun to ride through town. And through the cemetery. And the church parking lot. And literally everywhere. And for a year that is supposed to have very little expenses, your money sure goes quick when you spend $0.15 per minute on these things.

The Morgan Street Food Hall

S/O to my girls at Carolls Kitchen who already know my name. That is friendship my dudes. I think I have walked over here during work more days than I haven’t. Make Your Own Lunch Break.

And, last but not least, the embarrassingly long list of ice cream places I have already ventured to, most of which I have been to multiple times: Two Roosters, Goodberry’s, Raleigh Rolls, Howling Cow, and lots and lots of Double Dunker. Thank you to all of my Double Dunker kindred spirits and supporters in the journey this has been.


Raleigh, you might be stuck with me for a while.

-Laura Merten



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For a New Beginning

“In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

 

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

 

It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

 

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plentitude opening before you.

 

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening:

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

 

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”

 

-John O’Donohue

 

You better believe I underlined, circled, and wrote out the word AMEN next to just about every word in this poem. Appropriately titled, “For A New Beginning”, Johnny here seems to perfectly package what every Fellow is feeling into pretty words and good phrases. I think a common theme amongst every Fellow and human that walks the planet is the desire of comfort and yearning to be known. So we choose to cling to the kingdoms and life plans we have perfectly curated for ourselves, but somewhere along the way we are forced out of the places that have sheltered us. For most of us, we outgrew our four years at perspective universities where we could escape the impending doom of adulthood and cling to fun, adventure, and year-long sleepovers with roommates that became best friends. After four years of learning what it looks like to settle into a place and build up a community, we packed up our cars for Raleigh and had to courageously enter into something new and unknown.

 

So here is to a year of new beginnings, to trusting that He who promised is faithful, and that we would all learn to delight in the process of stepping onto new ground and into new seasons.

peace and blessings,

Emily Magnus

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What are you doing again?

Hey friends, family, potential future fellows, or really anyone else that stumbled upon this website on a random Google search for, “Things I should do when I graduate college.” WELCOME. We as a fellow class (hopefully everyone else agrees) are stoked to be here and have been welcomed, loved, and treated as rock stars since we started this past Wednesday. The welcoming week and orientation stellar to the max. Very much Oui, Chef. I am grateful for each hand that went into making this Fellows Program come to life. Thank you. 

I wasn’t really sure what I wasn’t getting into when I started applying for this program and to be frank with all of you I’m still not sure what I am getting myself into with all of this.  We just returned from our orientation retreat and it was full of laughter, karaoke, food, fellowship, late nights, early mornings, and bliss.  I would say the Lord has already begun to chip away at some misconceptions I’ve had about the program and has been molding me to hopefully what this year will have in store.

Why are you doing that? I had this question posed to me many times this summer when I would tell people about the program. People with genuine desires to want to know why and people who were wondering why I wasn’t going to find a job in my field and trying to move up the career ladder. To answer this question, I’m not sure why I am here. I did not want to live in North Carolina, I didn’t want to move to Raleigh, I didn’t pursue the dreams that I wanted to do. I didn't really decide to do to the Fellows program or even care about other options until Jesus pruned the vine and began to chip away at my (keyword, my) life plans. It's hard for me to even fathom being in Raleigh, much less a fellow. So, I still don’t know how to answer the question, “Why are you doing the Fellows?” Ask me again in 9 months and maybe I will have an answer. Until then, I will be listening, living, absorbing, and cherishing every sweet moment that I get to spend here.

Talk to you all soon, 

-Daylon Shaw

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