Alexandra Kuykendall

Live in Denver.
Raise daughters.
Make lunches.
Recent Tweets @alex_kuykendall

It’s Friday…but Sunday’s Coming!
There are some weeks when life goes according to plan. No one in the family is sick, there aren’t any snow cancellations and we move forward with all of the things we use to fill our days. And then there’s the opposite. The weeks when life is derailed, We’re not in control of how our days will look and we resign ourselves to the circumstances and figure survival is really the end goal. But then we go back to normal as we’ve known it.
And then there are weeks like this one. When I am reminded that the world is not simply measured by how convenient or inconvenient it is for me. Where broken seems a tame word to describe the state of humanity. This week three families I love have been pushing through their own pain and questions as they surround families they love experiencing loss. Walking through grief that doesn’t make sense. In the last seven days a father of young kids died of cancer, a teenager lay in a hospital bed suffering from a brain tumor, a father shot and killed his wife in front of their three young boys. All this week in my circle of friends one step removed.
We are not talking small misfortunes or bad decisions. These aren’t things that can be reversed tomorrow with a do-over day. They are DEVASTATING. Gut wrenching. Life altering. They go against our every sensibility of how life should play out. Where our responses are guttural sobs of “No” or “Why?” Because they feel so wrong, so against what we cling to as good: life. 
And that’s the thing about Good Friday, part of this life is wrong. Very wrong. Apart from how life was intended. These are symptoms of what shouldn’t be but is. And it all started back in that Garden of Eden story. A turning away from God that spun things out of control. We call this turning away sin. A loaded word these days because it’s associated with behaviors and judging others, but its essence is not of God. And those things out of our control are branches from the sin tree. Those decisions we make as humans that destroy and hurt, more branches. Behaviors sometimes yes. But also the very state of the world, its fractured core, goes back to that original sin.
And then Jesus enters the scene on Good Friday. That stepping on the cross was a way to turn the world back to God, to reconcile the broken with the one who created them. But how it played out in the moment was devastating to those who loved him. A dead savior, hanging with thieves. Where their only response was “No…Why?” This was the opposite of how things were supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking much lately on living in the middle of one’s story. That the characters in the Bible, well the purely human ones at least, had no idea how their stories would end. They were stumblers, just like us, stumbling through everyday decisions, trying to find their way. And those Jesus followers on Good Friday, thought it anything but good that the day turned out like it did. They couldn’t wrap their minds around what had happened because they didn’t know in three days Jesus would overcome death.
And here we are in the middle of our own stories where our heart-altering circumstances are too murky to see beyond. Where we refer to life as before the cancer and after. Before the shooting and after. And the darkness takes over. We are in the essence of Good Friday. The death without the hope.
There is a famous sermon from pastor Tony Campolo titled, “It’s Friday… but Sunday’s Coming”. To fully embrace the good news of Easter we must wrestle with this dark place of a broken world still waiting to be saved. Not really what I want to write about. But we must sit for a moment and acknowledge that our world is not simply inconvenient, it is broken in ways our human limitations cannot repair. But Jesus is the light bringer. The grace giver. The prince of peace.
As we live in the middle of our stories we are pushing to the ultimate end of a Savior. Like the Jesus people of his time, we don’t know what our own stories hold tomorrow. But we do have the benefit of knowing why Jesus stepped on the cross and how that worked out. And that’s why we can call today good.
It’s Friday… but Sunday’s Coming!

It’s Friday…but Sunday’s Coming!

There are some weeks when life goes according to plan. No one in the family is sick, there aren’t any snow cancellations and we move forward with all of the things we use to fill our days. And then there’s the opposite. The weeks when life is derailed, We’re not in control of how our days will look and we resign ourselves to the circumstances and figure survival is really the end goal. But then we go back to normal as we’ve known it.

And then there are weeks like this one. When I am reminded that the world is not simply measured by how convenient or inconvenient it is for me. Where broken seems a tame word to describe the state of humanity. This week three families I love have been pushing through their own pain and questions as they surround families they love experiencing loss. Walking through grief that doesn’t make sense. In the last seven days a father of young kids died of cancer, a teenager lay in a hospital bed suffering from a brain tumor, a father shot and killed his wife in front of their three young boys. All this week in my circle of friends one step removed.

We are not talking small misfortunes or bad decisions. These aren’t things that can be reversed tomorrow with a do-over day. They are DEVASTATING. Gut wrenching. Life altering. They go against our every sensibility of how life should play out. Where our responses are guttural sobs of “No” or “Why?” Because they feel so wrong, so against what we cling to as good: life. 

And that’s the thing about Good Friday, part of this life is wrong. Very wrong. Apart from how life was intended. These are symptoms of what shouldn’t be but is. And it all started back in that Garden of Eden story. A turning away from God that spun things out of control. We call this turning away sin. A loaded word these days because it’s associated with behaviors and judging others, but its essence is not of God. And those things out of our control are branches from the sin tree. Those decisions we make as humans that destroy and hurt, more branches. Behaviors sometimes yes. But also the very state of the world, its fractured core, goes back to that original sin.

And then Jesus enters the scene on Good Friday. That stepping on the cross was a way to turn the world back to God, to reconcile the broken with the one who created them. But how it played out in the moment was devastating to those who loved him. A dead savior, hanging with thieves. Where their only response was “No…Why?” This was the opposite of how things were supposed to be.

I’ve been thinking much lately on living in the middle of one’s story. That the characters in the Bible, well the purely human ones at least, had no idea how their stories would end. They were stumblers, just like us, stumbling through everyday decisions, trying to find their way. And those Jesus followers on Good Friday, thought it anything but good that the day turned out like it did. They couldn’t wrap their minds around what had happened because they didn’t know in three days Jesus would overcome death.

And here we are in the middle of our own stories where our heart-altering circumstances are too murky to see beyond. Where we refer to life as before the cancer and after. Before the shooting and after. And the darkness takes over. We are in the essence of Good Friday. The death without the hope.

There is a famous sermon from pastor Tony Campolo titled, “It’s Friday… but Sunday’s Coming”. To fully embrace the good news of Easter we must wrestle with this dark place of a broken world still waiting to be saved. Not really what I want to write about. But we must sit for a moment and acknowledge that our world is not simply inconvenient, it is broken in ways our human limitations cannot repair. But Jesus is the light bringer. The grace giver. The prince of peace.

As we live in the middle of our stories we are pushing to the ultimate end of a Savior. Like the Jesus people of his time, we don’t know what our own stories hold tomorrow. But we do have the benefit of knowing why Jesus stepped on the cross and how that worked out. And that’s why we can call today good.

It’s Friday… but Sunday’s Coming!

Happy National Siblings Day: A Prayer for Sisters

It’s National Siblings Day, at least that’s what Honest Toddler tweeted and Google just confirmed. And today like almost every day I, an only child, consider what it means to raise a houseful of siblings. Do I let them fight it out? Push for apologies? Demand sharing? Do they sleep together? Pass down toys? Get the same number of gifts at Christmas? There doesn’t seem to be a formula that guarantees a tight sibling bond, so I do my best at making educated guesses in the area of sibling rivalry, I mean relationships.  

Four girls, all so different. Each one on her own holds my heart in her hands. So when they love each other well I can feel that four-parts-torn heart beat with an intensity and unity that rivals all joy.

On this National Siblings Day (a pseudo-holiday I’ve never before heard of) here are a few hopes for the brood of sisters I am raising.

My four girls, I pray you:

…always find each other at the end of a fight.

…know your differences are treasures.

…trust each other in all circumstances.

…are confident in the love your Dad and I will ALWAYS have for you.

…experience joy, comfort, acceptance through this thing called sisterhood.

…believe God made you sisters for good purposes.

…understand that giving you each other was the very best gift I could give you as your Mom.

Writing over at MOPS about what we say when we say we’re bad moms.

A Prayer for the Day After Valentine’s Day

It’s a red and pink hangover

With expectations met, but mostly not              

Where we confess we want more love – more perfect love.

Instead we got boxes of sugar marketed as chocolate, stuffed animals that serve no purpose and lots of questions about why one day is marked as the day of love.

When you said you ARE love. All the time. Every. Day.

There is no day to feel more connected or more lonely – just a day to wear red and hearts and buy last minute over priced gifts at the drug store.

Thank you Jesus that today is NOT Valentine’s Day.

Because it is one more day lived.

And it is one more day to know that perfect love is not found in Russell Stover or Hallmark or FTD.

It’s not cheap like that.

We talk of “cheap grace” and your love is the opposite.

It is expensive grace, the kind that costs.

It cost you dearly.

And sometimes, when I let it, it costs me too.

But I confess I tune it out, that true gift, and wait for the cheap tokens to be delivered.

Because though I want a note passed to me that says Be My Valentine,

I have to trust your love in nudges of the spirit, of inspiration in the clouds, in echoes of my children’s eyelashes hitting their cheeks.

Because this is where your love screams, but I need to listen with different ears in order to hear.

So I repent.

For not listening to those clamoring eyelashes that with every blink gong of your miracles.

Forgive me.

Help me to close the heart-shaped box of chocolate and open the heart you gave me.

The one that beats in my chest.

That rhythms my soul.

Help me to hear the batting eyelashes,

The love language of you, the creator.

Help me to appreciate the real gifts offered on February 15th.

The PURE Escape

Tarrytown, New York

March 8 and 9

A retreat for women.

I will be there. I’d love for you to be there with me.

But you must register TODAY. Just click above to make it happen.

One of those days.
Ever have one? One of those days where your insecurities are flaring and you feel like a flag flapping in the wind, every gust snapping you back and forth with a crack that hurts? Yeah, me too. Today is one.
And I’m not sure what to do about it. I know all of the things I should do: go outside, exercise, avoid the bag of Cheetos I am eating by the handful, pray, check something off of my to-do list, read my Bible to remember who God says I am. But, BLAH! I’m in a funk and I’m stubborn and those all sound like the right thing to do and I try to be good and right so much of the time.
I’m not feeling it. And now I’m supposed to tell you that feelings shouldn’t dictate us, we must push past them with actions. Fake it ‘til you make it, right? Again, still not feeling it.
So that’s all, a hard day. We’re all allowed to have one. I want permission to be in mine. As long as I don’t spew on others, but am maybe just quiet for a bit. It’s okay to have one of those days.
And it’s right here stuck in my own misery that I am indeed able to push through it like the bitter cold outside. That’s right, I woke up this morning to eleven degrees below zero. Bitter, biting cold that hurt when I took Gab to school. My nose stung, my toes with their wool socks and waterproof, fleece-lined boots lost feeling and I thought about all of the people in our city who have no choice but to take the bus. One painfully cold, somewhat dangerous kind of day for them. And then an email from a friend who wasn’t having one of those days, she’s having one of those years, well decades actually.
And my perspective shifts a bit.
Not because I’m doing the formula for feeling better about life, but I pause enough to recognize someone else’s circumstances. It’s those darn other humans who aren’t trying to cheer me up, but are living their humble everyday lives that push me toward gratitude. And I remember it’s a pretty good life to have one of those days only once in a while.

One of those days.

Ever have one? One of those days where your insecurities are flaring and you feel like a flag flapping in the wind, every gust snapping you back and forth with a crack that hurts? Yeah, me too. Today is one.

And I’m not sure what to do about it. I know all of the things I should do: go outside, exercise, avoid the bag of Cheetos I am eating by the handful, pray, check something off of my to-do list, read my Bible to remember who God says I am. But, BLAH! I’m in a funk and I’m stubborn and those all sound like the right thing to do and I try to be good and right so much of the time.

I’m not feeling it. And now I’m supposed to tell you that feelings shouldn’t dictate us, we must push past them with actions. Fake it ‘til you make it, right? Again, still not feeling it.

So that’s all, a hard day. We’re all allowed to have one. I want permission to be in mine. As long as I don’t spew on others, but am maybe just quiet for a bit. It’s okay to have one of those days.

And it’s right here stuck in my own misery that I am indeed able to push through it like the bitter cold outside. That’s right, I woke up this morning to eleven degrees below zero. Bitter, biting cold that hurt when I took Gab to school. My nose stung, my toes with their wool socks and waterproof, fleece-lined boots lost feeling and I thought about all of the people in our city who have no choice but to take the bus. One painfully cold, somewhat dangerous kind of day for them. And then an email from a friend who wasn’t having one of those days, she’s having one of those years, well decades actually.

And my perspective shifts a bit.

Not because I’m doing the formula for feeling better about life, but I pause enough to recognize someone else’s circumstances. It’s those darn other humans who aren’t trying to cheer me up, but are living their humble everyday lives that push me toward gratitude. And I remember it’s a pretty good life to have one of those days only once in a while.

A Christmas Pageant for a Broken World

Last night I stood in the wings, the kind created in a living room with a sheet held up by a cord as curtains delineating where the stage ended and the audience began. I watched kids in costumes with halos and crowns and robes and ropes play out the story of all time. I looked at Gabi’s face, as she mustered up courage to sit and speak in front of a room full of grown-ups she mostly didn’t know, moving up this year from the chorus of angels her sisters and cousins still stood in to the place of honor as Mary. And I thought she is only a few years younger than her character was when she became a mother. And the timeless story gave me chills right there, even though I know the outcome, the miracle always makes me stop and consider that it really happened this way, God entering the world in bones and hair.

And there in those wings, Derek held up his phone, the same one he was using to take video, and he showed me the headline that had just come across. Claire had died. Claire, as we parents in Denver have all come to know her, the girl standing in her school a week ago, shot by a schoolmate who then took his own life. Claire, who we’d prayed for over and over again. In church, through Facebook posts, emails and blogs. A community of prayer lifted this soul to heaven where last night she finally stepped.

Later I lay in my littlest angel’s bed with her as she fell asleep. I wondered if Claire’s mother ever considered today would happen. I pictured the teenage girl with the long hair standing next to her horse and imagined her with pudgy two-year old legs and fingers and her mother tucking her into bed. It’s not what we dream for our children, tragedy. And I prayed a prayer that is more common than I’d like it to be, “Lord help me when tragedy strikes my child. And Lord protect her….please.” These are the questions of not understanding. Why one child killed and so many others spared? A world that is turned upside down. That is simply broken.

And there in the pageant living room, the final scene when Jesus the star of the story makes his appearance (or in last night’s case her appearance). Gabi holding her baby cousin who starts to cry. And I see in Gabi’s face she is not sure what she should do about the crying in front of all of these people, but she is trying to be brave. Oh so like that barely a teenager mother of two thousand years ago. So unsure of what to do when a crying baby was handed to her. And trying to be brave.

My children acting out this story that is timeless. We tell it to each other every year. Because we still need a savior. This last week of Advent that celebrates the coming of the promised Messiah. We are waiting again. Ready for the One to save us all.

Today while I’m visiting the Great White North, my friend Annie Rim is visiting here again with some reflections on today’s Advent readings. You can find more of her writing at http://annierim.wordpress.com/.

Today’s reading is John 3:16-21.

The Denver Botanic Gardens hold a special place in the story of our young family. Frank and I used to meet there every week the summer we began dating; I would pack a picnic lunch and we would walk the paths, getting to know each other. Bea has been going since she was just a few weeks old. She now races through the paths, exploring and pointing out the variety of plants. Every December, the Gardens transform into a wonderland glowing with thousands of Christmas lights. We have been going to the Blossoms of Light for years together. Last year, Bea was bundled snug in the Ergo, wrapped in a muslin blanket, small face peaking out between the folds of Frank’s jacket. This year, she ran the entire route by herself, marveling at the colors and twinkling lights, exclaiming, “Light! Tree! Light!” at every bend.

 

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Many Lights
Today’s reading from 1 John 1:4-7
And we are writing this that our joy may be complete. 
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth;
7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
The light coming together. Through each one of us, his light. Together we light up the dark. So much better than a solitary pinpoint. A solitary source yes, but many pairs of feet walking, trying to not step too far away from the light. Thank you friends for walking with me as I try not to veer too far into the darkness.
I’m off today to Toronto trying my best to reveal light in this dark world.

Many Lights

Today’s reading from 1 John 1:4-7

And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth;

7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The light coming together. Through each one of us, his light. Together we light up the dark. So much better than a solitary pinpoint. A solitary source yes, but many pairs of feet walking, trying to not step too far away from the light. Thank you friends for walking with me as I try not to veer too far into the darkness.

I’m off today to Toronto trying my best to reveal light in this dark world.

A Totally Imperfect Advent Part 2

So I set out to write every day about the daily readings for Advent that I’m following. And this weekend I failed. Last week’s theme for the readings centered on preparation. And this weekend I was preparing for Christmas in the tangible sense. Cutting down a tree, decorating it, shopping for girls and with girls (that can get tricky, trying to hide what you’re buying from your shopping companions).

And preparing to leave tomorrow for two days on a work trip. Confirming babysitters, grocery shopping, and promising girls they will survive a few days without me.

All of that preparing has kept me from taking a few minutes to reflect on the readings. And I told myself from the start that skipping some days would be okay.

We are now in the week of a light in the darkness. And this is what I found on my living room floor this morning. Everyone in our house coming to see the Baby Jesus (including a fellow Baby Jesus). So onward with the preparation of the heart, that feeling that Christmas is only days away and Jesus is near.