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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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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