Monday, September 26, 2016

UPDATE Year 1 Week 5

Getting smooshed by Dave Dave and Bunny-eared by Anna Rose...could life get any better?


We read this together on Monday: "When you are aware that you are the beloved, and when you have friends with whom you live in community, you can do anything." Henry Nouwen from his article Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry. 

Friends, I have witnessed this quote up close and personal this year through you. Across every sector: from business to the academy, to government, to the church - your support of the Fellows has been fantastic. We wouldn't be here without it. 

In a similar way, these Fellows have demonstrated community to me so beautifully in both the way they care for each other and the way that have so willingly volunteered to serve this city. 

This week was no exception. (If only I had the pictures to show it). 


On Thursday morning, the Fellows woke up bright and early to serve at Samaritan Ministries' annual SAM and Eggs breakfast. As you can see by my amazing drawing, there was Will Troxler in the upper left pouring coffee for guests, Rahel Tafese sitting with attendees around the table, and Alex Loy in the lower corner showing latecomers to their tables.

It was an honor to be there. You know - most young people don't get the opportunity to attend things like this. Why? Because they have no money. Which is true. But I can tell you that because Samaritan Ministries opened their arms to us, we have eleven inspired men and women who are going to volunteer and support this ministry for years to come. Thanks Samaritan!

The President was in town

We had the special pleasure of welcoming Morna Comeau, the Director of the Fellows Initiative, into town this week. She was here for less than twenty-four hours, but we certainly made the most of it. 

Wednesday afternoon, she pulled into Summit School parking lot and met the Fellows for a fireside chat up on the third floor. Thanks Fellows for making me look good! From there, she and I went for a walk around Reynolda and Wake Forest before gathering the kids from school and heading home for dinner. It was leftover buffet night (my favorite), and Morna got to see the family in all its glory as Anna Rose let out the loudest belch in history and Dave Dave recounted stories from his day. 

Morna then got to meet our bunny and turtle and hamster and chickens and fish before freshening up for a Board Meeting. 

We had an abbreviated meeting in order to allow time for Morna to share and ask questions. Before we knew it, it was past ten! So it was off to bed for an early morning at SAM and Eggs. From there, Morna and I went to visit with Richard Geiger of Visit Winston-Salem. I introduced her as the President of the Fellows (to give her clout - not that she needs it). It was a fabulous meeting and a great new friendship was born. 

Afterward, we headed to meet with the five churches that are partnering with us this year. 

Ben Milner (Salem Pres), Morna (The Fellows Initiative), Clyde Godwin (Hope), Giorgio Hiatt (Redeemer), David Speakman (Hope), and Susan Gladd (River Oaks) - Andrew Wild and David Beaty were out of town so Susan, one of our mentors, stepped in.
It was a great time of sharing vision and prayer. I couldn't have been more proud of the team. I wish I had gotten a real picture...

From there Morna and I went our separate ways to separate lunches. 

Then she was off to the National Board meeting in Charlotte. 

Thanks Morna for visiting us!

Speaking of visits: We had another special visit that night from Madison Perry, the Executive Director of the Christian Study Center at Chapel Hill. Love that guy. Go heels.


Rahel, Christina, Alex, Reese, Julia, Camille, Chris Jordan, SaraBeth, Jessica, and Will at New Winston

Friday morning, we paid a visit to the New Winston Museum for an animated history lesson and discussion with Chris Jordan, the Interim Executive Director. 

Kevin Frack, the living History Book, had gotten us from John Huss to Count Zinzendorf to the Wachovia Tract and the founding of Salem. Chris took us from 1800 to about 1940 in ninety minutes which went by in what felt like ninety seconds. 

It became clear that we are going to have to come back for Part 2! 

Thanks Chris!

Y'all need to visit the New Winston Museum!


After several weeks of weekends away, we were finally able to have a nice, quiet weekend. 

Hobo other favorite!

Several Fellows went downtown for the Latino Festival. 

As Rahel put it: "These nachos and queso taste so much better in 90 degree weather."

While another set of Fellows headed to Raleigh to meet up with the Greensboro and Raleigh Fellows at the Ben Rector concert. 

A great finish to another great week. 


Tonight for Round Table, perhaps because I'm a glutton for punishment or feel the need to upset the apple cart, we are going to watch the Presidential Debate. What am I thinking?

Tuesday, I'll be heading down to Davidson for my first recruiting trip of the year!!! 
Are you kidding? It's still September!

Wednesday, we will be visiting Senior Services for a Leader Lunch with Richard Gottlieb (who just announced his retirement - so glad we got him in this fall!)

Thursday, we will be attending the Tim Keller lecture at Wake Forest. 

Friday, I'll be heading to Raleigh and hopefully crashing on Scott Steele's couch. 

Saturday, I'm flying to Colorado for a quick two day visit with my dear friend Doug who is battling cancer.

If you all could focus your prayers on him this week, I'd appreciate it.

Thank you for your support!

We couldn't, wouldn't do this without you. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

UPDATE Year 1 Week 4

Walking it off after getting shot in the back by Anna Rose

A Wonderful Week To Be A Fellow...


Love Out Loud

The Fellows jumped in and served at Love Out Loud's Non-Profit Open House last Monday night. They did a great job greeting, networking, and working behind the scenes. 

The highlight for me was at the end of the portion when each non-profit shared about what they do and what they need, I had the opportunity to say, "We are the Winston-Salem Fellows, and we are not looking for volunteers, we are looking TO volunteer!" 

A truly great night. 

Thanks Chuck Spong for inviting us to work with you!

Unannounced spot check to Fleet Feet to find Sean Henderson hard at work!

Back Row: Shannon Rainey, Sean Henderson, Rahel Tafese, Reese Schaffner, Ned Erickson
Front Row: Will Troxler, Dakota Lee, Campbell Andershon, Alex Loy, Christina Sandstedt, Camille Stogner, Jessica Kok, and Sara Beth Abbey
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we met alongside the Greensboro Fellows at the Center for Creative Leadership for a three day Leadership Intensive to kick off the program long course of study we will be undergoing over there.

The Greensboro Fellows
 It was three days full of tests and analysis: everything from good old Myers Briggs to the Fibor-B to StrengthsFinders, to SBI, and DAK, and a bunch of other acronyms.

The plan was for each Fellow to develop a Personal Growth Goal and Action Plan for the year. We got there eventually...

But the process was  enjoyable, and it is really exciting to think we will continue to build on what we learned. Thank you CCL and Tripp Graziano (Director of the Greensboro Fellows) for inviting us! It was a rich time.


How about this for it being good to be a Fellow? On Thursday, The Fellows were given tickets to see one of my favorite bands, the Lumineers, in concert.

Unfortunately, the Fellows director had other responsibilities and was not able to chaperone. Insert tear.


The Fellows were understandably a little groggy Friday morning for class.

Good thing we had Ben Milner who always brings the heat. And on Friday, the man was on FIRE!

Two hours of class went by in a wink.

It was then off to Old Salem for a Field Trip with Kevin Frack. Kevin walked us (literally) through history from the founding of Old Salem to the merging with Winston to the establishment of St. Phillips (Winston's first black church). It was truly amazing to listen to this master weaver of story, weave history for us.

Afterward, we stayed for another hour debriefing all that we had absorbed that day.

A truly amazing day. Thanks Ben and Kevin...and Murf! who surprised us with his presence!


Thanks to Mentor Coordinators Holly Heath and Charley Donohoe, we had an incredible evening event on Friday, when for the first time Mentors and Fellows met to exchange contact information and set a time to meet.

We decided to set the event as a Friday Happy Hour. I told Holly a couple bags of chips and a couple bottles would be fine - but she turned it into a feast!

Thanks Holly!

Holly and Charley
Good times were had by all...

Pre-Happy Hour Introductions
 Speaking of introductions:

Here are our Mentors!

Julia LovettErin Pfeiffer
Campbell AndersonJohn Gerstmeyer
Camille StognerGinny Evans
Reese ShaffnerJason Whitener
Jessica KokScott Sewell
Alex LoyBeverly Bradstock
Dakota LeeCooper Carter
Rahel TafeseSusan Gladd
Will TroxlerHardt Bing
Sean HendersonPaul Allen
Christina SanstedtMichelle Schapira

What a gift!

I wish I could get mentored by these guys!


The theme this year was Color Wars. We got ten points if we let our Princess shoot us with a paintball. Guess which dad got shot first?

You got it, Slippery Fish.


It's for the kids.

A great and exhausting weekend. 

Lauren, Anna Rose, Georgia and Vivian beneath Sauratown Mountain
I sped home on Saturday morning to coach Dave Dave in his first soccer game.

A win! (not that we keep score or anything)

I'm looking forward to a quiet(er) weekend upcoming...


Monday - Round Table
Wednesday - A Visit By Executive Director of the Fellows Initiative, Morna Comeau. She will be meeting with the Fellows, the Board, and our Churches while she is here.
Thursday - The Fellows are volunteering at SAM and Eggs for Samaritan Ministries and later at Speas Elementary for their uniform drive. Thursday night, my friend Madison Perry is heading into town to share about the Christian Study Center - PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU WISH TO ATTEND!

Prayer - Peace in the storm as the Ericksons head into another busy week.

THANKS ALL - Keep spreading the love and sharing the story!!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Update Year 1 Week 3


Dakota Lee and Julia Lovett wearing apple glasses

I'm going to try something different with these updates since Gmail keeps rejecting my emails for being too big. Can you believe it?

What can I do? There's simply too much good stuff to share. 

So we are going to shift these updates to my blog, which will also link to the website. 

I'll still send an email reminder. So when you get it, trust the link and click on it. 

Sound good?

Christina, Jessica, Camille, Dakota, Alex, Sean, Julia, Will, Reese, Campbell (left to right in back)
Ned, Nigel and Rahel (in front)

Nigel gives it too thumbs up. 


This week at Round Table we discussed two thoughts from St. Francis.

What does living in an "Economy of Grace" mean?

And this thought: "If your only goal is to love, then there is no such thing as failure."

It was really helpful (I wrote a short piece on in it for the My Big Jesus blog. I also put it on this blog. See next.) A sweet time, which bled into stories around the fire at the Denlingers, which bled into making homemade hot pockets. 

Which goes to show you that you never know what might happen at Round Table.


Easily one of the highlights of the week was Leader Lunch with Nigel Alston. We could have listened to his stories all afternoon. 

According to Nigel, When it all comes down to it - it is all about relationships. And to use his words, "Relationships are simply the result of contact and time." "Show up, do a half decent job, and say yes to the opportunities placed before you." Everything happens from there.

It worked for Nigel. 

SaraBeth, Christina, Jessica, Camille, Alex, Sean, Julia, Will, Reese, and Campbell with Ned, Nigel and Rahel in front

Now, I'm trying to come up with more excuses to have contact and time with this man. 



A few hours later, The Fellows and some friends met up at Wake for a little night time Ultimate Frisbee. 

Might not have been the smartest move for me, as I was about to head to the mountains for the 209 mile Blue Ridge Relay - but man was it fun. 


Friday, class began. Special Assistant to the Director (S.A.D. we need to come up with a better acronym) Shannon Rainey helped get everyone where they needed to be. 

First off - Bible Journey with Dr. Cathy McDowell. 

Then - History of Winston-Salem with Kevin Frack.

Then - Story time with Clyde Godwin. 

How about that for a line up?

I hated to miss it. I heard good reports. 


The Fellows weren't done. 

From there, they went to help set up Flywheel's big community gala at the Biotech Place. For some reason they didn't send me photos from the party...

Christina taking care each one is lined up right

Reese, Dakota and Will getting instructions

After the party, Reese hosted game night with his host family...

Maggie and Reese looking natural

And while we are at it, The Fellows helped host Redeemer Church's community party, dubbed "The Feast" on Sunday. 

Anna Rose and I won the sack race. I'll be honest. I haven't won anything in a long time, and it felt really good to hoist the imaginary trophy over my head. (So what if I was the only one who took it seriously.)


Team #DashStrong put in a great performance. 

On Thursday, David's cold caught up to me - but I pushed through and finished all three of my legs under prediction AND according to Lia's FitBit, I managed 1.5 hours of real sleep!

So proud of the team. All did fantastic. 

Here is one special moment caught on camera...including the encouraging butt slap from yours truly!

All in all another memorable week in The Fellows Life.

Looking Ahead and Prayer

This week we are helping to host the Love Out Loud Non Profit Open House. When? TONIGHT!

for details

Tuesday - Thursday we will be living at the Center for Creative Leadership for a three day leadership symposium.

Friday we have class and a FIELD TRIP with Kevin Frack! Woo Hoo!

Pray for us
- Stamina for the Ericksons as Lia also is leading a three day conference this week!
- Deep Learning at the Center for Creative Leadership
- Open doors at the Love Out Loud Open House
- More Opportunities to say YES to!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Could It Really By That Simple?

I read this the other day… “If your only goal is to love, there is no such thing as failure.”

Wait. What? Really?

Yes. Yes really.

Love is a gift, given freely. No strings. No agenda. No pre- or post- requisites.

It’s free.

Real love that is.

Real love is free.

The love I give so often looks more like a down payment. I offer this; you owe me that.

It sounds more like an “if/then” sentence. I add conjunctions like and, but, and or. There are complexities that compound the phrase.

Real love is simple.

It ends with a period.

No ands, ifs or buts.

That is the love Jesus offers us.

Even in losing – He won.

You cannot fail when you love that way.

You cannot fail when love is the goal.

It is that simple.

I didn’t say it was easy.