Wednesday, December 27, 2017

UPDATE - Merry Christmas One and All


Thank you for joining us on this wild adventure.

We hope your Christmas holiday was and will continue to be pure joy.

In lieu of an update, here is a recent blog I wrote for

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
There was no room.
No room for Mary and Joseph, not in the inn, not anywhere. So they made room in a manger for Jesus and that was where Jesus was born.
I’ve been thinking about that word.
The word room.
I came across it the other day when I was reading through John 8. It’s the chapter when Jesus has to deal with the scheming men and the woman caught in adultery. Later in that chapter, Jesus says one of my very favorite things that Jesus ever says: “If the son sets you free, you are free indeed.”
Well, right after those two things is where I was reading the other day and this verse stuck out to me. I’m not sure why it stuck out other than verses tend to do that to me every once and awhile.
It was verse 37. It says: “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” There it was, the word room.
I don’t know, maybe it was because of Christmas, and Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no roomfor him in the inn, and now here was Jesus dealing with these Pharisees who were out to kill him because they didn’t have any room for him either.
All I know is it got me thinking about how much room have I given this man?
I thought about all the stuff in my life – the schedule and the people and the actual stuff that clutters my mind and my heart and my house. It clutters it up so full there is hardly any room for me, let alone the savior!
How much room have I given him? Not much if I’m honest.
And yet what if that is the one thing Jesus wants? Not our stuff, not our doing, not more of this or less of that – what if he simply wants room?
Some space in your life for him to occupy.
What if you gave Jesus room this Christmas?
What would that even look like?
I’ve been thinking about that.
Creating space
Showing up
With unplanned time
And a moment of quiet
With some resources unaccounted for
And energy unused
And a little brain power left in the tank
With wait and see expectancy.
That is making room.
And resting.
Resting, too, is making room.
There are lots of ways to make room.
Like hope.
Like awareness.
And a smile.
And a hello.
And a can I help you?
And silence.
Making room ain’t easy…
But remember this:
Jesus makes room for us, too. Did you know that? Did you forget it? That His Father’s house has many rooms! And Jesus has gone to prepare one for you!
How cool is that?
Jesus is making room for you! So why don’t we, this Christmas, amidst all the crazy and the family and the presents and the stuff, make a little room for him, too?

Monday, December 18, 2017

UPDATE Week of December 18

JP had a birthday this week


I was sharing with our Life Group last Sunday during prayer requests that pretty much life was good with the Ericksons and to perhaps for the time being we should focus our prayer energy toward folks who need it more than us. 

Ha! Then the wheels came off!

Monday: My key mysteriously disappeared somewhere on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. It is still there somewhere. Fortunately, Grace works about thirty seconds from campus and I was able to borrow her car to get the kids in time from school! Also, fortunately, I possess a spare key (I should say I used to possess a spare key. I now have one key.)

Still on Monday, our heater broke! Good times. Karl (aka the best electrician in the city) was on it. The only problem was that the nearest part - the one that we needed - was in Wilmington! Karl next day got it shipped to us and we were in business by Thursday!

What did we do in the meantime? Tuesday - we had a camp out by the wood burning stove. Wednesday - we had a sleepover with with Robinsons (thank you Ellen, Nic, Luke and Reece!)

I love this photo
Pure joy
Tell you the truth - it was one of my favorite weeks all year. 

We are SO thankful for all of you who checked in with us to make sure we were OK. 

MONDAY ROUND TABLE: We had our Second Fellows Christmas Party of the Three we are having at Tripp and Patricia Wilson's (this is the third time they have hosted Round Table. I think they like us!) Patricia has over 90 nativity scenes set up around her house. She should sell tickets!

Thank you guys!

We needed to get our teeth looked at after eating so many Christmas cookies

WEDNESDAY LEADER LUNCH was hosted by Dr. Nathan Hatch at Wake Forest University

Thank you Wake Forest for being so hospitable to us
Dr. Hatch fielded questions of all types: from Early American Christianity, to the intersection of Faith and Politics, to Faith in a Pluralistic Institution, to Strategic Planning, to Leadership Development, to Cultivating Character, to the Journey of Finding Ones Vocation, to the Art of Building Good Teams. 

He shared several funny anecdotes that I'm not sure I can share with you all. 

All in all - a wonderful time was had. We are privileged to have such a person here in Winston-Salem. 


River Oaks Community Church produced a Christmas video for their advent season, and Grace Mezzy is the star of it!

Every week we get to see this!
Watch the video here!

Grace's portion begins at 2:27. 

(Abbey Sams reads Scripture at 1:17!)


One of the major value adds that we offer the Fellows is the Highlands Ability Battery. It really is the Cadillac of Assessments. And I am SO GLAD to be able to administer it. The challenge is that it takes two hours to review - per person!

I did ten this week! Two more to go!


This week was my college administration week. On Tuesday, I met with Chancellor Elwood Robinson at Winston-Salem State. I also had lunch that day with Dean Susan Calovini from Salem College. I already told you about lunch with Dr. Nathan Hatch. Oh! And we went to our next door neighbors Christmas Party - Penny Rue! She's the VP of Campus Life at Wake! Ha! 

Time to celebrate Educators! Thank you all! Take a break!

David had a recorder recital on Tuesday. Woo hoo!

Ashley Trewhella had a staff retreat at the Grove Park - Poor Ashley

Sarah went domestic on us!

JP's Biological Family and Host Family and the Fellows Celebrated JP's Biological Birthday!
Celebrating JP on Saturday with his family was one of the best moments of December. Thanks!

Ashley's sister Valerie came into town to visit

We celebrated John Brower's achievement of attaining his Green Belt.

The Fellows babysat David on Saturday. SEVEN Babysitters to ONE Child! That's quite a ratio!


As always thank you for giving to the Winston-Salem Fellows!

Couple things:

If you plan to make a year end gift, make sure it is postmarked prior to January 1. 

Mail to 

Winston-Salem Fellows
851 W. 5th Street
Winston-Salem NC 27101

Or give online

We can also do matching gifts. Contact our Finance Director Rob Alexander at


Monday: Fellows Christmas Party Part 3
Tuesday-Thursday: Finishing up Highlands Ability Battery Consultations
Wednesday: End of Semester Lunch
Thursday: last day of work and CHRISTMAS FOR THE CITY!

If you have never been to Christmas for the City - GO! It's the 10th anniversary! 4-9pm in the newly refurbished Benton Convention Center.


Sarah and the Meyers wish you a Merry Christmas

Our Christmas Tree Wishes you a Merry Christmas

Grace and the River Oaks Youth wish you a Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Grace and John wish you Happy St. Patricks Day

Tate wishes you a Merry Christmas

Ashley, Lilly and Malorie with you a White Christmas


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

UPDATE - Week of December 11

Natalie and host family brother, Hank, wishing you Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays

Apologies not getting this out yesterday. My day got away from me...I will explain farther down this blog post. 


That was sure unexpected. 

What wasn't was another exciting week in Fellows world, which is a lot like regular world but with Fellows in it. 


Julie Bell went solo host for Round Table. 

Julie didn't wear a tacky sweater but she did make the world's greatest pot of chili
We were sad to miss dinner with Dudley, but we did the best we could without him. 

I love long tables with friends all around
We learned about Bell family traditions like the candle of togetherness and the ornament shrapnel baggie.

Ashley was pretty fired up about her Tacky Sweater at Round Table

So was Sarah

There was lots of love going on the couch

Like I said. Lots of Love
Of all the Fellows, Tucker was probably the most excited about the White Elephant portion of the night. He ended up with a poop emoji hair band. 

So excited about the poop emoji

Abbey was pretty fired up about her bacon ornament

Morgan gave the night a sideways two


Melissa Perrell and the Fellows

Melissa Perrell, Patient Advocacy Officer with Novant Health, provided us with one of the best Leader Lunches yet.

Abbey Sams works with her and it was an added bonus for Abbey to show us around her workplace. Melissa, for her part, was everything I have come to expect from her: strong, passionate, wise, vulnerable, and inspirational.

THANK YOU MELISSA!!! You rock!!!


Thanks to Wake Forest's Eudaimonia Institute (eudaimonia means "human flourishing") the Fellows had the opportunity to hear from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. 

Yunus is the man
Our professor, Dr Jack Wilkerson, had taught us about him a few weeks ago. Little did we know at the time we were going to meet the man!!!

Grace making friends prior to the lecture

Muhammad Yunus has such a beautiful way of observation and simple problem solving that blows me away.

All of us left inspired!


Speaking of Dr. Jack Wilkerson.

Friday we finished up both Jack's class and Clay's class.

(Picture fail)

We did write our professors letters...

This was Jack's beautiful response: "Okay, if your goal was to make this old man cry with what you wrote, then I’d say, “Mission well and truly accomplished!”

In all seriousness (as if what I just wrote wasn’t serious), thanks so much for the kind words each of you wrote. I hope you could tell that I enjoyed our time together this semester every bit as much as you did.

I wish you an excellent holiday and a thoroughly enjoyable and productive spring semester." 

Clay wrote me: "Hey man thanks so much for organizing all the Fellows to write me thank you messages [by the way - the Fellows organized this - I did nothing except turn my portion in late]. Very kind. Too kind. And loved your Augustine quote."

Thank you Jack and Clay! I'm sure other Fellows programs have great professors - but they aren't better than you two!

Looking forward:

I just sat down (actually we walked) with our first professor of the Spring.

Joe Moore, Director of Spiritual Formation for Intervarsity International, will be teaching us Spiritual Formation. If his class is half as good as what we talked about on our walk - we are in for a treat!

Rob Alexander, author of Gospel Centered Life at Work, will be our other professor kicking off the Spring. He will be teaching us about the Theology of Work.

As you can see, we will not be hurting for quality learning.


JANUARY 27 - Redeemer Presbyterian Church 9-1pm

ENNEAGRAM SYMPOSIUM hosted by the Winston-Salem Fellows, featuring Fil Anderson. 

Have you been hearing all the chatter about the Enneagram lately? Have you been wondering what it is all about? Have you been told what your number is but left confused not knowing exactly what to do with it?

Well, Fil is coming to help.

The Enneagram is one of the most insightful avenues into self-awareness out there. It is also one of the most unhelpful when you don't understand its purpose and context.

If that is you - this symposium will help you.

Details to come! Can't wait!

a few more items:


Thank you for supporting the Fellows! We can't do any of this without your generosity.

If you were waiting for the right time to give - this is it!

write checks to: Winston-Salem Fellows

send to: 851 W. 5th St. Winston-Salem, NC 27101

or go online:

It's easy and you can even set up monthly donations!

Also, if your company offers matching gifts - let us know and we will fill out the paper work!!! Woo-Hoo!


The Ericksons need prayer.

I had a great marathon. Thanks for praying. I was hacking up phlegm throughout but managed to reach my goal of qualifying for Boston with a 3:06:16 time. Praise the Lord!

I was running really well until about mile 20 and then the wheels started coming off. My calves started cramping and I had to tone it down or they were going to lock up.

It was a good metaphor for life back home.

Please pray for the Ericksons:
- Ned's car key fell off his key chain somewhere on Winston-Salem State's campus yesterday!!! Yikes!
- Wilbur the guinea pig has some jacked up teeth that will prevent him from eating if not dealt with!!! Yikes!
- Then, the HEAT STOPPED WORKING last night. Lia texted me during Round Table. All I could do is write "That Stinks"

We have a guy coming to fix it this evening. I was planning on going to Samaritan Inn tonight anyway to spend the night. I guess if he can't fix it, I'll just bring everybody!!!


Ashley was there somewhere. Do you think they covered her in snow?

The female Fellows had a sleepover Friday night.

The making of a snowman

Grace had never made a gingerbread house before

Putting on the final touches

There's Ashley!

The kids played too

There he is

Anna Rose makes snowman building an artform

I got home on Sunday in time to drive up to the mountains to cut down a tree. It was pure Griswald with the snow. We cut down a nice 20 footer then brought 11.5 feet of it back home.

Little Full. Lots sap.

This is so hilarious to me

We cut it down to size and now it only takes up a quarter of the living room.

Fortunately, our house is so cold, the tree feels right at home.

David thought that last joke was only mildly amusing.


Looking Forward:

Round Table - Christmas Party 2 of 3 at the Wilsons. 
Leader Lunch with Dr. Nathan Hatch. 

Meeting today with Chancellor Elwood Robinson. This is important. Pray!


Monday, December 04, 2017

UPDATE December 4


the Fellows are celebrating at their homes away from home!

Sarah Wilkins and Host Mom Lisa Meyer trying on some festive gear

Abby and Sarah Kent guard the Trollingers tree (Kate Donahoo's host fam)

More Christmas Tree Shopping - The Browers now smile like Grace!
more Christmas cheer to come!!!

(also scroll to the end of this blog for a save the date announcement)

MONDAY ROUND TABLE @ Bill and Myrtie Davis

You always feel at home at the Davis home

It takes an energetic super-couple to volunteer to host Round Table the day after Thanksgiving Break - good thing we have Bill and Myrtie! 

The only hard thing about being with Bill and Myrtie is leaving!

Chapel Hill alums right there

Myrtie and Sarah have a special connection

The Fellows love the Davis'

EXTRA SPECIAL LEADER LUNCH @ Kim and Crick Watkins with Lia Erickson!

It works out well when you need a Leader to speak at Leader Lunch and you happen to be married to one of the most incredible women in Winston-Salem!

Lia's story is beyond inspirational. 

And I can't remember crying at a Leader Lunch but I can now!

Thank you Kim and Crick Watkins for opening up your home to us. I love you!!!!

Grace and JP helped me pick up food

Mortimer really wanted to eat Tate's tacos
Later that afternoon I showed up early to 14th Community Center to dance with these leaders (and gentlemen). I had promised to show up and they had been reminding me about my promise for about a month! Ha!

Gerry was my personal instructor

Line Dancing


After class the Fellows enjoyed some warm December sunshine

Outdoor eating

Barefoot Tree Climbing

Can you believe there are still leaves on the tree!

then it was time to go to the Black Nativity!!!

the Fellows and some cast members

Pregame at the purple Christmas Tree

Caleb was wearing a purple tie

Ned was wearing the suit John Barber bequeathed to him. Nigel had the same one in 1974
Nigel forced me into an impromptu interview about the show at Starbucks earlier in the week.

I'd do anything for Nigel. It's true. 


You're welcome.


Mistletoe Half-Marathon

met some fun people on the road - this is me down the home stretch
Barn Party

Our band was missing half our members, but with the help of Kate Donahoo we managed to put on quite a show. Thanks Kate!

Good Golly Miss Molly!
thank you Lia for getting us this sweet gig. Teenage girls galore! Hahahhahahahaahaahahha!


the Fellows went to Wake Forest for the Annual Love Feast. Having been asked to lead worship at David Speakman's installation service, I bowed out of joining them

They seemed to be doing fine without me
Except that Tate did not heed my instructions to put the bun on top of the coffee to keep the bun warm

This is what happens Tate!


We have been so blessed this year. Thank you! 

Here is the information if you would like to donate to the mission! 

or send checks to 

Winston-Salem Fellows
851 W. 5th St. 
Winston-Salem, NC 27101




The Fellows Present - A Community Event on the ENNEAGRAM - with Special Presenter Fil Anderson, President of Journey Resources and author of Running on Empty and Breaking the Rules. 

More info to come


Monday - Round Table at Dudley and Julie Bells 
We will be decorating their tree and then having a white elephant gift exchange

Wednesday - Leader Lunch with Melissa Phipps, Vice President of Patient Services Novant Health

Later - Going to see Muhammad Yunnus - Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Friday - Last Class with Jack Wilkerson and Clay Cooke - what a semester it has been!

then Ned is off to run the Kiawah Marathon! Pray for me!!!

Setting the mood for Will Troxler's proposal a week ago! Way to go Will!

What a week!