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Quotes, Doodles & 2x2 Matrices

By Carter Rief

One of the first things that we are given as fellows is not an in-depth examination of our emotional intelligence, nor is it a copy of the much-famed, yet hardly circulated, book “How to Get a Job in 10 Days” by John Kyle. Instead, one of the first things we receive is a little black journal: one of those cool Moleskine ones that pairs well with a leather bound ESV Bible. We are handed this notebook without any instruction other than an encouragement to write things down during this Capital Fellows journey. There’s no playbook or rules for keeping up the notebook, so it simply becomes what its writer wants.

Based on what I’ve got in my Fellows journal, I’d be willing to bet that each one of these little black journals probably has some combination of emotions, one-liners, doodles and scratch-outs. It’s a personalized Fellows history, in a way. Each of us has likely written down lines from the pastors and professors who have heaped wisdom and truth into our lives. There’s got to be a mix of praise and lament, some intimate conversations with God, lines of deep pain and pure joy, all scribbled on page after page after page.

I bet most of these Fellows notebooks have some “system” for journaling, whether that system is absolutely anarchic and without control or order, or whether that system, like mine, follows a strict regimen of dating each page (in MM.DD.YY format) on the top right hand side, drawing a line to indicate a new days’ entry, and prayers written strictly in cursive and all other thoughts written in script. Oh, and usually titles for entries from certain events are in all-caps.

That said, each Fellow has a certain way that we have chronicled this year. Collectively, our class has stockpiled pictures, curated a pretty good collaborative playlist on Spotify, kept up with a ROFL-inducing quote-book, taken an iconic Christmas Card picture, and even attached our faces to the side of a mug (HUGE thanks to Sarah Frances Smith for leading the effort on this!), so that we can always enjoy coffee or tea with the Fellows.

Individually, we have memories that are distinct from our perspective, and yet much more full from the collective perspective and shared memory of our class. We have unique relationships with co-workers and bosses and particular students at Cornerstone and McLean Pres. And of course, we each have these journals to help jog our memories.

We have the opening lines of journals like mine where I wrote, Today was my first day as a Fellow. I felt a lot of things before arriving: nervous to interact with new friends, timid about being my own person, afraid of sharing my testimony. I think a lack of control/preparation got to me. And yet, it was a seamless entry.

And there are lines from people along the way, like this one: Immanuel changes everything. That one is from my great friend and famed Season 12 Fellow, Joe Palekas.

Or there are notes like this one from March 13th that simply read, Zoom calls for Bill Clark’s and Bill Fullilove’s classes today, which marked the beginning of tele-Fellows.

Or there are pages covered with 2x2 matrices from John Kyle at Roundtable, x-y axes from James Forsyth and David Stephenson at our Life & Leadership class, and many many other comically mimicked illustrations from this year.

As we near the close of a jam-packed year, I am grateful for the sometimes-illegible, discombobulated and yet perfectly recorded Fellows journal that I’ll have to carry with me. It will serve as a reminder of the challenges presented to Fellows this year, the truth set before us, the growth that we longed for, the frustrations, the smiles, the laughs and best of all, a whole year’s worth of reminders of the eternal Hope that we have in Christ for this entire journey of life.

In Christ,


I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints … For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Philemon 1:4-5, 7


Pictures from the Week

Capital Fellows Season 13 Mug


Benefits of The Fellows Initiative

You probably already know that Capital Fellows is one of 31 fellows programs in The Fellows Initiative network. But, did you know that the sponsors of TFI offer great benefits to Capital Fellows alumni? For example, Reformed Theological Seminary offers a 33% tuition discount for 5 years, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary offers a 40% tuition discount! You can learn more about TFI's sponsors by clicking here.

If you know of a graduate school, seminary, employer, or other organization that would be interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact TFI by clicking here. Thanks!


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