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writer: M. Leslie Snyder Eaves works with schools and educators across the country on developing STEM and Project Based Learning experiences for kids. She is recently widowed with one pre-teen daughter who keeps her humble. Between work and parenting, she loves to read, paint, embroidery, and whatever kind of craft that flips her fancy.

Drawing by Leslie Eaves
Drawing by Leslie Eaves

On Dec 31, 2019, I walked into my husband’s office to find him slumped over, cold to the touch, blue lips, not breathing. In that moment, my life exploded. There will forever be a before and an after.


He died.


I have only just begun using other euphemisms for death. Partly because I don’t want to trigger other people’s emotions. But the simple truth is one minute my husband, my life partner, the father to my daughter was there, and the next he wasn’t. Euphemisms can’t capture that reality quite as succinctly as “he died.”

Since that moment, I have walked the sacred journey of grief. Sure, I have lost loved ones before, but there is something so shocking and life changing about not only losing a life partner, but also losing one so early in life.

51, he was 51.


There are days when it feels like a dream, and others when it seems so real it hurts all over again. Prior to his death I would have classified grief as an emotion; what I am learning is that grief is a complexity… an intertwining of emotions, swirling around you in chaotic patterns within patterns. It is being fine and laughing one minute, then crying the next wondering how you will find the strength to ever move again. It is numbness and exhaustion and gratitude and anxiety and self-doubt and pride and sadness all rolled into this mixed blanket that covers how you interact with the world. As I have walked this current path, I carry with me two core values: Authenticity and Curiosity.


As an instructional coach and after reading Elena Aguilar’s book, The Art of Coaching, I have taken time each year to consider what are my top three core values. I always land on Authenticity and Curiosity. As I continue to reflect, I saw that not only have these values served me in my profession, they guide me through this grief process.


Authenticity calls me to be me, to share my thoughts and feelings, and invite others into my reality.

Through this grief journey I feel so many things so deeply. If I were to hide them or try to bury them, I fear they will fester and linger and become an impenetrable dragon. So, I feel them, sometimes I may need to wait until I am alone (because no one needs to see the true rawness of grief); sometimes I am so grateful to the friend who allows me space to break down. Authenticity helps me to come back to my core and allow myself to feel all the feels, to not apologize for the emotion, to feel and process. As I walk this journey, I am becoming somebody different. Authenticity allows me to control and temper this process so I may can purposefully pick up the pieces, examine them, and determine how and if they fit into my new Self.


Curiosity asks the questions. Who am I right now? Who do I want to be? Why am I feeling this emotion? What is triggering me? How will I get through? How the *bleep* did I get through that?! Grief dredges up so many thoughts and questions and regrets, Curiosity allows me to pull those things out like an engineer and scrutinize them. It gives me the mental space to examine and seek to understand.


Curiosity doesn’t demand answers, only questions and exploration.

With these two values intertwined together I find my breath to step from moment to moment, thought to feeling to action and back again. I can authentically feel what I need to feel and be who I need to be so I can move through this journey on the wings of a question.


One final thought, as I write this blog, I find another value is close at hand, Imagination. Imagination allows me to talk and process with my late husband. It allows me to see a new future where I will be whole once again.

Prayer

Heavenly Spirit we have so many questions

And doubts

And truths

Guide us to continuously seek Your Truth.


Heavenly Spirit we are asked to be so many people

In different aspects

In different directions

Help us to be who You have meant for us to be.

Heavenly Spirit are energies are blocked

From exhaustion

From fighting the good fight

Give us a vision to work towards so Your Peace on Earth may be realized.


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  • Allison Pelyhes


writer: Allison Pelyhes is a wife, a daughter, a true Michigander, and passionate follower of Christ who is so happy to have found Storied Church in her new community.


Recently in a conversation with a Black professor at Elon University, I was struck by a wisdom which I now seek to permanently etch on my heart. It arose out of an email chain of schedules and administrative tasks. Amidst the necessary everyday work was a pattern in which we shared our “Christian-ness”. Having never met in person, we communicated our collective belief in our signatures: “peace and blessings”, “in Christ”, and other “Christianese” terms. We began to talk more and more about the present moment in our country and what it means for our commitment as Christians. At one moment in chatting about activism, I applauded her for her tremendous courage. I was struck silent by her next faithful, honest words. She shared that to suggest she has courage is to suggest fear, “and I have none about the work or mission,” she said, “which in itself makes me dangerous.”


Dangerous?


This was the first time someone in the church suggested to me that we as Christians be dangerous. Loving with all we have, yes. Radically serving God and others, yes. Actively seeking Justice in peaceful protest, yes. Dangerous? Did I like the assertion that Christians are dangerous when it comes to the Kingdom and what it offers? Strangely and slowly as I pondered, I came to understand the answer was: yes. So, I answered my friend back:


“Praise God! God gives us the strength to do what is asked of us, to surrender, repent, and push forward. I never considered myself dangerous, but I know Jesus was a radical man of color! So, I know it makes sense for us to live dangerously as Christians. The Kingdom is worth the fight.”


Then, I was sent on a mission to find what values in my faith could not only make me courageous, but also make me dangerous. Through prayer, God laid something on my heart:


HOPE can be the most dangerous thing we have.

Hope can be defined as, “to expect with confidence”, “to yearn for something with optimistic expectation”, or perhaps my favorite, “to cherish a desire with anticipation”. Having faith embodies this value of hope. Not only desiring for the Kingdom to come, but to expect it to come through the assurance of faith.


But what about when faith fails? Rachel Held Evans, celebrated author who passed away last May, used to preface parts of her story or sermon by saying, “on the days when I believe it’s true…” referring to the resurrection. I feel that. I feel her wanting to have faith in the resurrection which is core to our Christian belief. In those times when we don’t fully think we believe or what to believe, hope steps in.


Hope yearns for a Kingdom in which there are numerous blessings for the earth and for the nations (Genesis 12:2-3), a Kingdom which resides in us (Luke 17:21). The Kingdom promises shalom, a flourishing peace which theologian Walter Bruggeman says, “is known only by the inclusive, caring community”. We cannot see the Kingdom or know it so much so as we believe it was promised. Yet, the virtue of hope readies us for the anticipation of its coming. We cherish our desire to be reunited with God in unity with the Spirit. We hold on to Hope so that we can continue to mold our world to be “on earth as it is in heaven”.


For our present moment, hope in our spirit makes us dangerous to those who would prevent the justice of God’s kingdom from coming alive in us here and now. Hope gives us wings to wrap around us amidst oppression, racism, and heartbreak. Hope gives us strength to continue to soar dangerously instead of fearfully. In hope, we begin our climb toward and continue to actively seek kingdom justice.

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  • David Gaddy


writer David Gaddy Covenant Team member

Pastor Jason and I (Gaddy) get coffee every so often at Reed’s in Mebane. Over the last few weeks, we have both participated in the unity walks in Haw River, Graham, and Mebane. Many of you have participated with us and we are elated by that. Some of our conversations today surrounded these walks, their necessity, their effect, and the need for continuing conversations.


There was one particular item we agreed on as we talked about these walks. We noticed some of the religious, insider language used is only leading to easy answers to complex problems. Most notably of this language is the phrase “What we have is not a race issue, but a sin issue.”

While it does fall short of the walk with Jesus to hate someone, simply calling racism sin would seems to point to Jesus alone being the answer. I used to joke with students when they would come to me with questions and just say “Jesus.” You have likely heard someone say, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Very quick, simple, answers to what are likely complex problems, including systematic racism. If some of these quick answers were true, the Church would have been on the front lines of many issues and we would have been much further in the fight for equity and equality. Maybe the short answers people tend to give are easier than confronting the person we see in the mirror and the biases we may have within. It is difficult and it is scary.


The start of combating systematic racism is realizing none of us are colorblind, none of us “don’t see color.” We must realize that the race issue is an "us" issue. All of us need to grin and bear and struggle with this issue and do it together.


I am a Math Teacher by trade. Jason made an analogy that fit so perfectly, it was worth quoting him on it. Back in the day, we used textbooks! Y’all remember those? In the back were answer keys to the odd questions only. The teacher would call you out for your answer. Jason said, “You could argue that you had all the right answers. However, inevitably, the teacher would ask you ‘Where is the work for the answer you gave?’”


We have used simple answers for a long time and look where we are now. Doing the same thing over and over, saying the same thing over and over, and expecting the same result is the definition of insanity.


Our simplistic answers will never mature, cover, and heal unless they are backed up by hard work and dedication for real, long-term solutions on multiple fronts.

I have been blessed to be part of the services at Storied Church. One of the prayers Jason has shared with me to use is typically our dismissal. May this dismissal motivate us to seek more than simplistic answers to the complex issues of our day.


May this dismissal reveal within us the capability to put in the hard work to heal the hurt that exists around us. And may this dismissal remind us that we are not just dealing with a sin issue, but the real calling on our lives to the way of Christ “do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the cause of orphans and fight for the right of widows” (Isaiah 1:17)


“May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers,

half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth

boldly and love deep within your heart.


May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.


May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer

from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so

that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform

their pain into joy.


May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really

CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s

grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.


And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus

Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Savior, and the Holy

Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this

day and forevermore.



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