Kukla Christmas Letter 2016
Dear Friends and Family,
Last week I preached about the four women listed in The Gospel of Matthew’s lineage of Jesus. I called them badass women. Because they were, they had the deck stacked against them and didn’t let that hold them back. With equal parts faith, tenacity, and a what-do-I-have-to-lose-life-has-to-be-stronger-than-death-because-I-do-not-like-the-alternative desperation Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah wrestled out hope and continued a line we attest to as messianic. A pretend prostitute and real one. Grieving widows…. Refugees that are our mortal enemies… pawns in political games of abusive power. These are the women who birthed the legacy that would become Jesus.
Now I’m not supposed to be re-preaching my sermon… this was supposed to be a feel-good family Christmas letter. So, where am I going with this? Well I started to think that my hope for my children is that each of them has this kind of tenacious spirit. I hope I nurture a lot of badass women!
Warren is my Rahab. He will be quick to tell you he is the only boy. He has also had an interesting year of being consistently mistaken as a girl. His long hair, and his mother’s good looks I guess. He is a phenomenal older brother (Rahab too was a caretaker of her family) with a strong protective instinct to his sisters – he cuddled E the other day when she got scarred during a movie we were watching. (This instinct is strong in him as long as he gets to annoy them to no end…) He also gets really annoyed when he gets called a girl – and I think he gets extra joy on the soccer field when he dumps a player on the ground (somehow my loving and very sensitive son is quite the physical beast on the field). My hope is that he sees being called a girl as something that is just fine: because he is born in the stripe of badass women. His honors math teacher, in a conference about some of his academic struggles, describes Warren as all force and no vector (guess we know why he is a math teacher). I used to say something similar. The day he develops long obedience in the same direction he will change the world. My frustratingly wonderful son is gritty and talented guy waiting to find his purpose. And when that happens? Walls will sure go a tumbling down (can’t help it with the Biblical references, vocational hazard).
Elizabeth is my Ruth. She is steady, a homemaker, and has a creative flair that tells you she will always find an unexpected way to bring hope into the world. She isn’t so much badass in the way that word normally inspires visions of brute strength or hard-edged attitude. She is that one you never see working and helping and imagining and somehow has done all the work to make it happen. She is up making breakfast with me every morning. She has an insightful view of the world. And she loves to create. She is probably the one I worry about the most, because I don’t want that bright light in her be extinguished. But she is resourceful that one, and she doesn’t need me or anyone else to protect her. She’s badass – just with matching clothes, a spatula, and the latest musical play she has written. Sword-wielding folk are easy to deal with… it’s the poets you have to watch out for – and this poet ready.
Meredith is Tamar to the T. You do not worry about Meredith… you worry about the people in her way. (That includes Caroline and me). She will likely cause us more grey hair than the other three combined. I collect more mere-mere (that’s her nickname) stories than all the rest. My favorite was the day at Arches National Park when I lost track of her at one of the massive arches. I found her because I noticed a large group of people pointing way up on the rocks… they weren’t watching wild animals. They were all watching Mere climb a sheer cliff. She looked like a little dot. I wanted to run up there and get her but knew that I couldn’t. I already can’t go the places she can with graceful ease. I simply called out to her that it was time to come down and she scampered (literally) down to us. Mere is the one kid who hasn’t chosen to do any sports or outside activities and we let her – its her life not ours. But the day the need arises, there is no doubt in my mind that she is the strongest of us: and she will move heaven and earth to get them out of her way. Like I said… Tamar.
Danielle gets the wife of Uriah because that’s the structure I chose and I have to play the game now. It is fitting in a way because we don’t know much of Bathsheba’s story. Her story is more of what happens to her than anything else and Danielle is still young enough to be an open book whose story is barely started. But one other similarity strikes me. They both were people you wanted in your life. Danielle’s gift is her ability to light up a room. She is the most joyous and smiley kid I have ever met. Even her temper tantrums are joyful and cause a giggle. She walks in her world with an air of magic that adds sparkles to everything. And the hope for me as her parent is that her magical joy is something I do not fall prey to thinking can be harnessed and held close – but is a gift to be left free and shared.
Those are my badass “women” whose stories are yet to be written but who have, each in their own way, entered more fully into this year through sporting field, classroom, play, and family fights. Recently someone asked me if with all that is happening in our world and in our country if I am scared for my children. That’s an easy one for me – and no jesting – I don’t fear for them at all. I do fear for anyone who tries to hold them back or stand in their way. The world is at once always horrible and wonderful. Its not more so now than before. As it has been said (bonus points if you know who and where) “There is nothing new under the sun.” But I’m generally one who feels called to see the hopeful, the be open to the magical, and to aspire for the best. Its not that there isn’t horrible stuff out there: there is plenty to fear and plenty to lament and plenty frustrate… but I refuse to allow that to color my world dim. And if anyone teaches me that bitterness is not a name worth taking its those badass women of the Bible and the children of our world – for me, my children in particular.
So one more note, a tip of the hat and huge hug to the badass woman leader of the Kukla clan. Caroline celebrated year ten at Allstate this year – cleaning up a mess of mixed up money which she does so well. She kept us all in clean clothes and eating relatively balanced meals and she does all that with amazing ability. This was a gritty year. Our basement sewer break left the house under construction all summer, and a simultaneous lice outbreak left us emotionally exhausted. I’m not sure we are really “back to normal” if such a thing even exists (it doesn’t). Seriously at one point I wasn’t sure our marriage was going to survive lice. But it did. And it does. Mostly because we are folks that call it like it is, don’t pretend it must be pretty, but keep hope as our fall back, go to move. And in such a mode? Most things can be either overcome, or traveled through. I read this a couple weeks ago: “Its healthier to eat Twinkies together than broccoli alone.” The science may be a bit sketchy but the point is well taken: travel together friends.
So as I wrap up this weird Christmas letter / sermon / I don’t know what this is, I will combine these two thoughts as my words to share and aim for in 2017. For me and you both:
Be Badass with/for each other!
Stay thirsty (for righteousness) my friends. Grace and Peace to you all this season.