by Carryl Tinsley

As I begin to reflect on our first month as Raleigh Fellows, I am drawn to our very first moments together.  In an attempt to be aware of the ways the Lord is working in my life, I often write gratitude lists in my journal.  Here is my list from the very first morning on our beach retreat, September 8, 2016:

I’m grateful for...

  1. The Fellows village that we saw in action at the Welcome families, mentors, past fellows, the committee, teachers, etc.

  2. The BEACH and the beauty of creation and the way I see God so clearly in it.

  3. My fellow Fellows...the way they make me laugh and are already investing in me and setting the foundation for such strong community.

  4. The way Mckenzie listened on the drive down, how she encouraged and loved me so well. She cared.

  5. The Troxlers for letting us stay at their house where we will now have such sweet memories.

  6. Vulnerability and a chance to begin to open up. I feel loved and accepted and understood by this new family.

  7. The Lord’s faithfulness and goodness in bringing each one of the Fellows here.

  8. Ashley--her grace and her laugh and the way she connects with anyone and everyone and makes them feel so deeply cared for.

And that all happened in the first 24 hours!!  The Lord has certainly continued to work in my life this past month in some big ways.  Last week, as I shared my story--my unabridged, messy, not-so-put-together, story--with the other Fellows, I felt deeply loved.  I have already seen the Lord bring healing by bringing my brokenness into the light, so I couldn’t hide in the darkness alone.  I see how the Lord is weaving our stories together so that we begin to know each other’s hearts and learn how to love each other well.

He is weaving together the stories of Zach, who somehow got me to go to a State game (which is a BIG deal), and Jessie, who encourages me in the most intentional way.  Stephen  brought me PF Changs lettuce wraps at work, simply because he knows they are my favorite food.  Then there is Gebbie, who is filled with a pure kind of joy that refreshes my soul, and Richie, who I get to see and learn from every day at StepUp.  The Lord chose to include Mckenzie, whose heart is bigger than most, and Matty Chen, who is so filled with the spirit that it can’t help but bubble over.  He allowed Mariah and I to renew a friendship from high school in a beautiful way, and He knew that I would need Ashley’s wisdom in my life.

This is a group of broken people, a group of people with very different perspectives and gifts and outlooks on life.  But above all, this is a group that loves well.  So yes, I am grateful.  I am also scared and encouraged and expectant and you name it, I’ve probably felt it in the last 23 days.  But my heart is at peace because my God is so big.