So a lot has happened since I last posted on this blog. I got to wear my Duck Dynasty “MERRY CHRISTMAS JACK!” shirt three times in December. The Fellows celebrated Christmas (which means lots of little elves giving gifts, snack, notes, and knick-knacks). It also means a good ole secret Santa and white elephant exchange. I was one of the lucky ones who snagged a succulent (that is hopefully still alive in Greensboro), and my own “lucky machete”, given to me by the famous Hayes Thielman. Christmas break brought me home to Greensboro for the couple weeks we had off, and was filled with time with family, getting back to my woodworking and wood burning, and reading. New Years was an adventure to Richmond to hang with several other Fellows and has gone down as one of the best yet. 

Instead of hitting the ground running when we arrived back to Raleigh, we headed out to Fancy Gap, Virginia to spend time in the mountains in a beautiful learning about vocation and calling, and hearing from the wise “Bruce”. Although the frozen pipes and lack of running were a highlight the brought me back to my camping days with Boy Scouts, the week was filled with insight, real conversation, and challenge. I learned a heaping about myself from the assessments we took (Highlands Ability Battery, MCORE, and E-QI). Some was reinforcing what I already knew, like how strong of an introvert and generalist I am, my strong abilities in concept organization, spatial awareness, observation, and verbal memory, my inherent desire to improve things while establish a solid plan, overcoming obstacles, and collaborating with those around me. It also brought forth realization and conviction over my weakness and areas of my life where I have been lacking. Although I am consistent and stable, can tolerate and take on stress well, and make thoughtful and considered decisions, these traits have hindered me in other aspects of life. I am in need of stronger confidence and self-regard, better awareness and expression of my emotions that I tend to bury or forget, and to welcome change. I have seen great growth in these areas already, coming from great healing and restoration from the Holy Spirit, but it is still a process that I need aid in.

A new year and the second semester of the program has brought new perspective on things. I only have a few short months left with these people in this season of life. Exhaustion is real thing in “real life” and especially in the program. You get pulled in so many directions, and you just can’t do them all (or more accurately, do them all as well as you wish). People never stopped asking about the future concerning jobs, where to live/move, and career goals. These questions, challenges, and conversations are only exacerbated these days. It is true that I still have questions, but also have more focus and answers for myself. However, I am still looking for clarity and opportunities to chase after.

I’m in the midst of training for my first half marathon (even though its actually 14 miles) in the Tar Heel 10 Miler Double Down Challenge. Luckily, several Fellows friends and family members are in this with me, and I have great motivation. After running my first full marathon last April, this new race is another “milestone” goal of mine that I hope to work towards in a manner that reflects the gospel and God’s provisions and grace. It is amazing to see how The Lord works in and through our bodies and how it is pleasing to me and to Him when we honor the gift that our bodies are.

Lastly, all of us Fellows were tasked with finishing out Genogram paper for our Family Systems class. This was a great opportunity for me to interview my family members, learn so much more about my history and formation as a person, and hear each of their perspectives on things. It was a blessing to be met with open arms by my family when approached with these interviews. Clarity, understanding, reinforcement, and recognition of the patterns, traditions, processes, and events in my family history have been wonderful. These conversations, questions, and reflection will hopefully continue in my own walk, but also among and within my family. The paper was a doozie for sure, but I am so thankful it was apart of our program and that Jason Young guided us into it and helped us to reflect on it beyond what I would have been capable of otherwise.

So as the month of January comes to an end, and we approach things like Ash Wednesday, Lent, more time in the youth group, Neighbor 2 Neighbor, my time with Brad, new classes in the New Testament, World View, Inductive Bible Study, more “guy times”, Round Tables, “PPs” (prayer partners), great times with my host family, getting to know more of the congregation at COTA, and who knows what kind of conversations and interactions with the amazing people surrounding me in Raleigh, I am hopeful, expectant, and confident. I am reminded of the verses in Ephesians 3 that say:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21

-Taylor Irvin