Monday, August 27, 2018

UPDATE Week of August 27


Tim Spangler, Mathu Gibson, and Christian McConnon look off into the future


Meet the Fellows: 
Back row: Bryan Pardue, Kelly Martin, Mathu Gibson, Tim Spangler
Front Row: Ned Erickson, Aly Hall, Chanice Withers, Abby Holdsworth, Laura Johnson, Andrew Miller and Trent Hancock

The 2018-19 Fellows year began at the WS Fellows office at 11am Wednesday August 22nd. 

We introduced ourselves to each other and took care of a couple administrative things. Then, we started to walk to the old GMAC Building for a luncheon and decided it was too sweaty so we jumped in cars. 

The view

I like starting off the year with the big picture. There isn't a much better picture than the 17th floor!

Aly, Shannon, Kelly

Steve Lineberger gave our official welcome this year. As the President of Winston Starts, I couldn't think of a more appropriate person to help this program Start Well!

We continued our tradition of Board Members going around and giving a charge to the Fellows. I wish I recorded it - they were awesome. 


Trent, Ned, Bryan, Andrew, Tim, Mathu, and Christian

Aly, Chanice, Abby, Laura, and Kelly

The guys showing off their guns

Thanks to the Ickes family, we were able to jump into the year at one of my favorite places in the world. 

It truly is. I love Lake Norman. But also, this lake house is the place that Lia and I first became friends (see Chapter 1 of my book Falling Into Love). It is also the place I asked her out a year later. 

It is now the place where these 11 Fellows and I became lifelong friends. 

We had a mix of community building, singing, giving talks, discussing, going over details, getting to know each other and having fun. I learned a new game called Spicy Uno. 


One of the things I love best about North Carolina is that we have beaches, lakes, AND mountains. 

So after cleaning up after ourselves, we headed up to the Sparta area for a few days in higher altitude. 

The weather was unreal. 

The crowd

The first night we had breakfast for dinner or "Brinner" as they like to say. 

We had a time of worship. I gave another talk, and then we headed out for a surprise night hike to the top of Bluff Mountain. The moon was almost full so we hardly needed our flashlights. Unfortunately, the stars weren't as bright also because of it. But we did see a few shooting stars and had a heated debate on who would win: a trillion lions or the sun. 

I'll let you decide. 

My attempt of a night picture

The next day after morning prayer and devotions we packed lunches and headed up the road to Grayson Highlands State Park to look for wild ponies an climb some rocks. 

It is so nice to have Mathu's selfie stick wingspan

This littler fella was only a few days old


We came home and worked through our third session of going over the handbook. Then, we cooked a Mexican fiesta. After worship and a great discussion about community, we settled in for family game night. 

I haven't cried laughing like that in a long time. 

Saturday was Christian's Birthday. 

Christian is wearing his sunglasses here

We continued a tradition that we started last year where we go around and share things we love and admire about the person whose birthday it is. 

You would think that after three days we wouldn't be able to each come up with something. But we did. 

If that's not a sign of good community, I don't know what it is. 

Arriving back in Winston, the Fellows moved into their host family homes and met up at the Winston-Salem Open for the Finals. 


We were glistening

After the match, the Fellows had their first shot at networking...

They did good. 


The Fellows headed off to their respective churches. I did not rush to each church as I have in the past. A good move.

That evening, we had a Welcome Celebration to officially end Orientation. Host families, church partners, friends, and former Fellows were all in attendance. 

Mathu and Ashley

Todd and Judy Smith with Chanice

Kate, JP and Aly

What a night!


Well, the Fellows are off to their first day of work. 

Tonight, they will be heading to my house for Round Table. 

Wednesday, we have our first Leader Lunch with John Bost and then mentor training with Bill McClain. How about that for a double bill!

Friday, I am giving us a break and we are going to have a chill day at Hanging Rock State Park. 


We would love for you to partner with us this year by supporting the Fellows financially. 

Mail checks to 

Winston-Salem Fellows
851 W. 5th St. 
WSNC 27101

or give online at

I can't tell you enough how thankful and honored I am to be your Fellows Director. I truly have one of the best jobs in the world. 

The Fellows enjoy a CookOut break


Trent and I (yes - that's Yasser's office!)

Keep sharing the story and spreading the love!

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