New Home, Same Me

To all my readers,

You are awesome. You lift me up when I’m down, you celebrate when I’m joyous, you faithfully listen to all these jumbled up thoughts about life. I love being a blogger, not just because I like to write, but because I have people who join with me in this story. I hope the relationship continues.

I am switching over to a self-hosted blog. I will still be blogging about the same topics (and all my old posts from here will transfer there), but as I continue to try to put my writing out there in literary journals and places online, I’ve decided I want a more professional looking blog in my own name.

My new blog is http://www.karissaknoxsorrell.com

It’s not live yet, but it will be soon. Hopefully within a week. To my subscribers, your subscription should make the move, also, but if it doesn’t, I hope you will look me up in my new place. If you read this via Facebook links, I’ll be posting from the new site to FB so you’re good. If you have this page bookmarked, this URL should redirect to the new site.

Feel free to email me with any other questions at karissa.k.sorrell@gmail.com

Thanks to you all! See you soon at my new home!

– Karissa

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Life With Lexapro – Or Without It?

I’m taking a risk on the blog today – this post, to me, is even more vulnerable than this one.

I was on Lexapro (a mild anti-depressant) for around three years. And now I’m off it. Which is the good news, and which is the bad? Most would say the latter is good – you’re off it! You’re better! I’m not so sure.

I have plenty of friends who are on antidepressants. A few of them are truly, clinically depressed. Others take it for anxiety or nerves. I’m not sure how anxiety or nerves look in real-time. Excessive worry? Daily fear? Either way, the term “anxiety” doesn’t have a bad connotation to me. People get anxious. People take medicine. People get less anxious. No judgement there.

I don’t use the word anxiety to describe me. The real, Lexapro-free me. I am angry. I am pissed off at the world. I am super irritable. It was eating me – and my family – alive. I could hold it together okay at work most of the time, which meant that when I came home I just let it all out. I yelled at my kids and my husband. I was mean. Then I felt guilty for being mean, and I said sorry. Then the cycle would start over. Almost like the abuser cycle, you know? I mean, I wasn’t physically abusing my family, but I noticed the pattern.

And I finally went to my doctor and, bawling and blubbering, told him I needed help. Strangely, he acted like he’d seen this before. “Do you feel like you’re just pissed off at the world?” he asked. I nodded. “Well, let’s try this medicine – think of it as your anti-pissed-off pill. Maybe it will help.”

So I tried it. It did help. It took the edge off my almost-out-of-control emotions. I also started going to therapy. It helped, too. Sometimes you just need somebody to talk to, somebody outside of your circle of family and friends, somebody who can say, “Why don’t you try doing it this way?” Somebody who doesn’t judge you.

There have always been a couple of things that bothered me about Lexapro, though. First, it does numb your feelings somewhat. My grandmother died, and I couldn’t cry. I felt so bad about that. Second, the old person that I used to be kept nagging at me. When I was a kid and a teenager, I was happy. I was perky. I was bubbly and outgoing. What happened to me? Sure, I’d have my down times. I’d have a good cry now and then. But overall, I was nothing like the bitter, impatient woman I’d become. I still don’t have an answer for that. Maybe it’s the stress of being a grown-up. Maybe it’s difficult events that my family has gone through in recent years. Maybe it’s hormones, or brain chemicals, or something else physiological that’s out of my control. I don’t know. But even though Lexapro was helping me, I always knew that someday I’d want to get off of it.

So now I’m done with my weeks of taking half a pill a day, then half a pill every other day, and now nothing. No pill. I can tell a difference. I’ve cried a lot more lately. My emotions are much closer to the surface now. The numbing effect is gone. There have been a few days where I’ve felt sad and useless (acedia is a good word for it). Other days, I’ve felt happy and thankful. The irritability has come back a bit, but not as strong as it used to be. In some moments, I have to remind myself to be calm and kind. (I keep thinking of that verse in – oh, Philippians, maybe? – “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”)

Yesterday I met with my doctor, and I’m going to continue without Lexapro for a couple of months and then check back. He actually suggested exercise. He told me that it will probably be as effective or even more effective than anti-depressants in my case. We talked about how neither of us have ever been great at exercising consistently – but he told me to aim for 30 minutes a day, and that’s it.

I want to lose weight, anyway, so I guess I’ll try to kill two birds with one stone. It will be a bit of an experiment, I suppose. On days when I’m down – or irritated – will exercise help?

In the end, I may have to get back on the meds. If I do, that’s okay. But for now, I’m on my own, emotions raw and real.

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Avengers: 5 Stars

 

I guess this post is going to be a movie review. Of sorts.

I’m always a little hesitant when going into a comic movie. Will it be too violent? Will there be a love story? Will it be cheesy? Sometimes in the comic-to-movie process, something seems off to me. Like the lines are cheese ball or the action is more POW! BAM! BOOM! than authentic.

Not Avengers. I’ve gotta say, I LOVED this movie. Joss Whedon, thank you! This proves that the mastermind behind Firefly just can’t go wrong. The balance of action hero vs. real life characters was just right. You get the full-on superheroish soundtrack to montages of all the Avengers fighting off alien invaders. But you also get petty arguments between cocky Tony Stark and level-headed Steve Rogers and you get a glimpse into Black Widow’s true emotions.

I was really nervous about the Incredible Hulk . . . I have kinda kept my childhood fear of him – did not see the Hulk movie, as much as I love Edward Norton. But I’ve gotta say that Dr. Bruce Banner was my favorite character. Nerdy, quiet scientist type. Smart but silent. Humble. Throws out a quick-witted line every now and then. Mark Ruffalo shined.

The movie was funny. There were so many great one-liners that made me laugh. Along with the rest of the audience, which is always a sign that you’re watching a good movie.

I just love coming out of the theater feeling satisfied, happy, and hopeful. Feeling like the world’s gonna be okay. This movie did that for me. Go see it. It will lift your spirits. It might even make you believe that Captain America and IronMan are out there in a city somewhere, fighting bad guys and protecting us.

 

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Tales from a Bookworm: I’m Socially Awkward

Being a bookworm is really NOT good for one’s social life. I’ve loved to read since I was in second grade (that’s when I remember reading my first chapter book on my own – I think it was one of the Ramona Quimby books). But having your nose in a book all the time does not make you popular.

Exhibit A: I am 10 years old. My family is on vacation in Tennessee, driving through the Smoky Mountains. I, of course, am reading a book. Out of the blue, my dad says, “Karissa! We’re driving through these beautiful mountains! You don’t get to see this view often! Put your book down and look out the window.” Even though my feelings are a teeny bit hurt, I oblige. After about a minute of taking in the view, I really want to go back to my book.

Exhibit B: I am 19 years old. My church college group is on a mission/fun trip to Los Angeles. We have rented a 12-passenger van and are driving to some church to paint and clean. I have a book to keep me occupied while we inch through traffic. I spend the rest of the trip getting made fun of for reading. Even when it’s my turn to sit shotgun and pick the radio station, I can’t decide and keep flipping through stations. I’m pretty sure the entire group shouts in unison, “Read, Karissa! Read!” As in, get the heck away from the radio dial and go back to your book, you nerd! (Lesson learned: Cool college kids don’t like books . . . or at least they don’t admit it.)

Exhibit C: I am  . . . my age right now . . . we’ll say 29 (wink wink) and I’m sitting at a birthday party for my son’s classmate, thinking that kids’ birthday parties really make me feel like a socially awkward teenager again. Two parents near me are discussing this big production the school put on the week before. I was not able to attend it because I had to work, but I figure this might be my chance to edge into the conversation. “So did you like the K4 presentation?” I ask. The mom turns to me and said, “Oh, yeah, I thought they did such a great job and were so cute in their Chinese costumes. What did you think?”

Crap. Busted. “Well, actually, I wasn’t there. I had to work,” I admit.

Look of judgment from super-I’m-at-every-single-school-function-and-so-I’m-better-than-you mom.

My last attempt at saving myself: “So, have you read The Hunger Games?”

“Um, no.”

Epic Fail. I guess I’ll never be part of the “in crowd.”

But I’ll still love books.

*Thanks to my daughter for posing for a bookworm picture. 

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This is Me, Trying to Be the Cool Mom

Oh, how I envy those moms that can decorate and craft and make gorgeous cakes! Sadly, I cannot perfect any of those arts. Let me show you what I mean . . .

Rock Star Birthday 

Pinterest Decor:

My Decor:

Note: Those blow-up guitars and microphones from Oriental Trading were crappy!

Pinterest Microphone Cupcakes:

My Microphone Cupcakes:

Spy Birthday

Pinterest Spy Sign and Nametags

My Sign and Nametags:

Pinterest cupcakes:

My cupcakes:

Obviously, I can’t decorate cupcakes (though this was the first time I’d tried to pipe the icing on instead of spreading it with a knife)! I was so worried about what people would think that I made another batch:

(Toppers are from More Than a Cupcake.)

Pinterest Decor:

My Decor:

See what I’m talking about? I do wish I could be better at such things. But what I want more is to be comfortable enough with myself that I stop comparing myself to other moms all the time. ‘Cause in the end, my kids don’t care much about the presentation. They just want to have fun.

Mad’s the one in pink smiling at the camera.

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Catching Up

Wow! It’s been over two weeks since a post! That’s a record for me.

While all of you were lamenting over not being able to read The Iris Chronicles 😉 , life around here has been keeping me hopping. Ephraim turned 5 last Friday! We ate out at McDonalds (his choice) for supper that night, and had a fun party for him on Sunday (pics to come).

Also, Madeleine ran in the Music City kids marathon on Friday night! In Nashville they do this kids version where the kids run all their miles except one at school over the course of a few months. Then they get to run their last mile downtown near the Titans’ arena! I was so proud to see my girl cross that finish line! She ran the entire mile, too (better than Mommy can do!).

Softball and baseball season are in full swing, so Madeleine has a couple of games a week, and Steven (HS baseball coach) is not home much. We’ve been able to go watch some of his home games. The main baseball coach has two kids that play with mine. It’s a new experience for me to be at the ball field till 6 PM, (see this post) but we are all having fun.

Work has been busy but fulfilling. I really enjoy my job. As I look back over this year, I am amazed at all the relationships I have developed and all the skills I have learned. Though I wish it could be a tiny bit more flexible – I missed going to school on Ephraim’s birthday to take cupcakes (but Steven took them) and I missed a school day performance that both kids were in – I am going to get to take off 2 days next week to go on a field trip to St. Louis with Madeleine! So exciting!

I have been channeling a lot of writing energy into things I can submit to journals. When I get an idea for a blog post, I ask myself if it could be turned into a non-fiction piece to submit. Don’t worry; I still have lots of good ideas for The Iris Chronicles! But I also want to get more serious about becoming a “real” writer. 🙂

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I Really Hope My Kids Don’t End Up In Therapy One Day

Mistakes. I make them all the time. In the parenting area especially.

Example 1: My  7 year old daughter has to do a timed addition test every night. She usually gets to the end of the page with plenty of time left. The other night, for some reason she had four problems left when the timer went off. She cried. And cried.

I am an oldest child, too. I know what it’s like to be driven. And be a people-pleaser. And be expected to do everything right.

I always thought I’d try hard not to pressure my kids too much. I mean, I believe in high expectations for sure. But I don’t believe that kids should be (or can be) perfect.

So my initial thought was to come down hard on her and tell her to quit pouting. But I decided to try something else. I pulled my daughter into my lap and told her: “You don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. You are wonderful and smart and I am proud of you no matter how many problems you get or don’t get.”

She finally settled down, but I’ve reminded her several times that you don’t have to be perfect.

Example 2: My almost 5 year old son has recently taken a interest in digital games. He will go from the iPhone to the iPod touch to the iPad to a computer if we let him. I’ve been thinking that I need to start limiting his screen time (we already limit TV time).

The problem: I’ve shared this with a few other moms in front of my son. You know how moms are – we get together and talk about our kids. I never meant to hurt his feelings.

But the other day he asked if he could play on my iPhone. Then he said, “I won’t go from the iPhone to the iPad to the computer, I promise!” Uh-oh. He knows I’ve been talking about him. I asked, “Did Mommy hurt your feelings when I said that to my friend?” He nodded yes. Crap. “I’m sorry, Ephraim. I won’t do that again. I’m not mad at you.” And I handed him my phone.

 

 

 

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Lenten Reflections: Celebrating Lent and Pascha Together . . . Apart

Today is Orthodox Easter, which we call Pascha. Christ is risen! Today’s guest bloggers are my Orthodox friends David and Roseanna Commini, who have spent this Lent/Pascha apart as David is overseas.

David: My name is David, I am married to a wonderful woman and father to a very beautiful girl. I am currently deployed to Kuwait (my second deployment) serving in the National Guard. Oh, I am also an Orthodox Christian. My wife and daughter were brought in to the Church a few months ago, but I have been Orthodox for almost two years. This is my family’s first Great Lent together… apart. (You can read David’s blog here.)

Roseanna: My name is Roseanna. I am an Army wife, a Navy Veteran (yes, our house is divided), mother to a beautiful little girl, a full time Psychology student, and I work two jobs. This is my first Lent as an Orthodox Christian. Our family has spent the last six weeks trying our best to celebrate lent together…apart. The answers to frequently asked questions are as follows; I don’t sleep, I don’t know when he is coming home, yes it is hard, and finally yes you could do all this to if you had to. I think that covers the necessities.

1) How in the world do we have Lent together – apart? 

 D: Well… It’s complicated. While I am technically in a different country there is a person who stole half of my genes currently terrorizing her mother so I guess half of me is home? But in all seriousness as a family we are one unit; what I do affects everybody in my family and vice versa. The same can be said about the Church – we are all part of the same family. So even though I am separated physically from my family, I am still with them spiritually… And through a thing called the internet.

The internet has been great in that I was able to celebrate the Nativity with my wife and daughter via Skype video calling. The most special thing I love to hear about is my daughter actually wanting to do prayers with her mother, and my wife in turn telling me how praying is helping her.

But the internet only goes so far. If I am struggling it is not like I can just call my wife on her lunch break or talk to her about it before we hit the sack – no, I am pretty much left on my own deserted in a dessert (oh, the irony). So I do what any person should do; I pray, a lot. Now, I am not trying to sound overly pious (because, well, I’m not), but I am telling the truth. Prayer helps. In fact I believe that is one of the key things to Lent; relying more on God instead of our own selfish desires.

R: Over the near decade of our relationship which includes six years of marriage, we have managed to get a grasp on how to maintain a long distance relationship. Letters, care packages, emails, texts, chats, web cams, and more are things we are so very thankful for. Even since his last deployment three years ago our ability to stay connected has greatly improved. The days of scratchy Skype calls about some crazy church that was “Orthodox” but not Jewish (that is how I first found out about my husband’s spiritual journey- no joke) are gone, and they are now replaced with on the go web cam ability through any number of apps on our devices. That being said, technology can’t replace the emotion that keeps a relationship going. Gizmos and gadgets also don’t make for an easy breezy family Lenten experience while half a world away from each other.

Our solution included constant use of our Google apps, cameras, and web cams. If one of us absolutely had to be sleeping then whatever was happening ended up on film to be emailed or Facebooked moments after. The days’ and nights’ accounts are rattled off like minutes sometimes while we pray that no sandstorms or three year olds terminate the fragile call. I’ve taken up prayers with my daughter – no matter how much I just want to toss her in bed and run at the end of the day. She later, via web cam, will instruct daddy on how to squish his face in the floor and talk to God.  We do special things like talk about the church services and Bible stories. We try to do it together and if we can’t then we try to include one another in some way for every activity we do.

2) Where do we find support during this spiritual journey since we are physically separated during our moments of trials? 

D: As far as support from me to my wife goes… is there an app for that? I really do what I can, but I feel more like a listening ear that anything else, but sometimes I guess that is enough. I know that if things get truly exasperating for my love that her friends will be there for her, even if I have to message them on Facebook to convince her to use a certain friend’s husband who is good with computers to remove a virus instead of calling me (right now the equivalent of calling Dell customer service and getting “Steve” from “Ohio”). “Have you tired turning it off and on again?”

R: Sometimes I find myself a bit jealous that my husband is surrounded by people all day. This is somewhat amazing since I’m not a people person. During these weeks though I’ve taken on a lot of things for the first time all the while spending most of my time taking care of a sick child, a cat, and six kittens. None of them offer much support. Neither does a screen or a phone. Prayers sometimes are nerve racking while I try to save my over excited child from singeing all the hair on her head. During these times though I have friends who have stories much worse than mine and they remind me that this too shall pass. A few people offer a hug or an hour of babysitting while I finish a paper. My husband offers humor to make me smile. Through these people I find support even when I’m starting to wonder if Lent is actually getting longer.

3) How has the distance made Lent harder for us, and how has it benefited our experience? 

D: Of course, being the family man that I am, I hate being away from the two loveliest ladies I know. I think it makes Lent doubly hard when you have to deal with separation anxiety on a daily basis, mixed with a little military life. But it teaches my wife and me important life lessons – such as to rely more on God (I think I’m seeing a pattern here…), and that starving yourself is a great way to lose weight (with exercise program; consult your doctor before starting any diets). It has also taught us that distance is no excuse for not being there (unless I forgot to pay for a new internet card this month…).

R: For my daughter and I Lent is not about what food we eat since she is always on a “fasting diet” due to her medical conditions. Even though it is my first official Lent I have been tossed into the deeper more meaningful side of it. Being away from my husband means that I have to relay how I feel or how my child feels instead of experiencing life together. These last few weeks have been extra hard on us due to my daughter’s health and other obstacles. There has been a lot of relaying which is never really able to catch the essence of any given moment. It takes a lot of patience and meaningful attempts to understand for us to grow together and in God. It reminds me that love is about doing and not just feeling.

When people ask about how hard it is to be an Army wife and how they just don’t know how I do it. Frankly, there are benefits to being apart. I always remind them that you can’t miss someone if they won’t go away. Yes, this is cruel humor but it is true. We know the other can handle just about anything and that means we have great respect for each other. We both rely on God to get us through and so we both grow spiritually through our tough times. I know that my husband can handle explaining bedtime Bible stories from a world away. He knows I can manage leading prayer with minimal fire damage. If we were never apart we wouldn’t step into each other’s roles and thus never know that we both knew how our family worked as a whole.

4) What is the biggest “little” moment that our family has had that has encouraged us these last few weeks? 

D: These last few weeks have been gut wrenching for me, and I am sure my family. In case some of you may not know, the Army is changing some standards. One of those standards is that if a soldier fails three Army Physical Fitness Tests (APFT) in a row then they can be demoted, and if a soldier has been the same rank for a number of years they can be kicked out. Why does this matter? Well, I have been the same rank for almost six years… due to my poor physical fitness scores. Yeah, double whammy. However, through the help of some of my buddies getting me to the gym, and lots of prayer, I passed my APFT with no options of failure. During Lent (read “a time of great sorrow and hunger”). Little victory? Yes. Why? Because without the military I would lose most of my bread and butter (well, soy butter for Lent). Not to mention all the healthcare benefits my daughter would lose if I were kicked out (she needs them, like she has so many complications that Bill Gates would be in debt without insurance).

Did my wife help me with my physical fitness? Yes, because she sat thousands of miles away and encouraged me through Google technology (thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the internet). I love how confident she is in me; just as I am confident in her schooling where she is in some prestigious honor society ( yeah, deployed husband, special needs child, 4.0 GPA, in an honor society, veteran of the Navy,starving… NBD). She really has worked hard to get there. How did I help? By hanging up the phone and letting her do her homework (baby steps).

R: For me the biggest little moment was a full circle kind of moment. On Orthodox Sunday my daughter picked out her icon and put it in the bag for church. The next thing I know is she is scaling the step ladder and wall to get to daddy’s icon. She said she would bring it to church because her daddy couldn’t be there. Yes, I cried, but it didn’t stop there. When she walked around the church, I watched from the side (because I’m so uncool and can’t walk with her anymore). She walked with her godfather which was such a sweet sight. I knew that just like she was content to take daddy’s icon since he couldn’t be there she was content to walk with the man her dad chose to help raise her up in the Church. Yes, I cried more.

5) Wild Card. Personal topic that speaks to the heart of Lent & “our” Lent this year. 

D: That is what Lent is all about to me – sacrificing of ourselves and still overcoming adversity, especially by relying on God (sounds familiar). I have learned during this Lent how to put away my ego and better myself because my family needs me to, instead of just trying to get by in life. I have learned that even though I am half a world away from my family they still support me and love me and are eagerly waiting for me to return (which at this point will be some time after the end of the world…). I have also learned to rely on God, just give Him everything and He will do amazing things in your life. The last thing I have learned is that Burger King and Taco Bell are Satan incarnate during Lent – especially when the chow hall food is probably less than edible and you have to pass by both of those accursed places to a from work.

R:  During Lent this year, just as I mentioned before, I have really spent some time figuring “life” out, especially my spiritual life. I really felt like maybe the time of sacrifice before the great celebration meant my life needed to be the same. I have always taken that to mean I need to do more, give more, be more but I’ve never done it for the right reasons. This year when I want my family together the most we are apart. I worry about every aspect our lives and try to compensate and counter attack it. Surprisingly, it is to no avail other than the fact that all that I worry about never happens. So what then did I need to sacrifice? Well, due to things out of my control I had to sit down and figure it out. I actually had to stop, sit, be still and quiet. Never have I put those things on a to-do list because, well, I just don’t do them. Oh, maybe that was the point. In the end I put in a resignation at one of my jobs, took a two week break from school, and tried to do the “be still” stuff. I let stopped worrying and let God handle it. I know He always does anyway, but this time I wasn’t on the verge of an early heart attack. Less is more. My child will not be little long. My husband will not be gone forever. School will get done. Life goes on. Prayer and joy happen now. Lent has been my time to be thankful for those I love and make sure I take the time to let them know that.

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Bridegroom Matins

Bridegroom Matins is an Orthodox prayer service that occurs the first three days of Orthodox Holy Week. Though each day has a particular focus, all three days relate to the parable of the ten virgins. As the virgins wait for the bridegroom who comes in the middle of the night, Orthodox Christians ready themselves for the coming of Christ later in the week – indeed, during 11 PM Pascha Liturgy “in the middle of the night” on Saturday/Sunday. Below are just a few of the lines from tonight’s Bridegroom Matins, which focuses on the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with spices and tears. 

I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. (from Psalm 17)

I stretch forth my hands unto thee; my soul thirsts after thee, as a thirsty land. (from Psalm 142)

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom he shall find awake.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Though shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones which thou has broken shall rejoice. (from Psalm 50).

I have sinned against thee, O Good One, more than the adulterous woman, and have not even offered thee a flood of tears. But silently and calmly I kneel asking, kissing thy pure feet with longing, that thou mayest grant me, O Savior, since thou art Master, remission of my sins, who cry: Deliver me from the mire of my deeds.

Make radiant the garment of my soul, O Giver of Light, and save me.

Thou hast accomplished redemption for her who, with pent emotions of salvation and fountains of tears, in which, confessing she had been washed, was of grateful mind, not being ashamed, but crying: Praise the Lord, all his works, and exalt him more and more unto the ages.

Raise me from the depths, I who am dead, O thou who didst raise Lazarus from the tomb after four days, and accept me, the wretched one, and save me.

O thou who draweth the waters of the sea by the clouds. Incline, O incline thou to the sigh of my heart. (from the Hymn of St. Kassiane)

O Lord and Master of my life, take from the me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power and idle talk. But give  rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen. (Prayer of St. Ephraim)

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Lenten Reflections: Excruciating Joy

Today’s guest blogger is my mom, Jean Roberts Knox. It’s hard to write a “bio” for her since she raised me, but I’ll try! Mom has taught piano, been a file clerk, been a missionary, and currently is an administrative assistant/office administrator at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. She rocks at her job. She is also a great mom! She has always been a pillar of love and support in my life, and she is an amazing grandmother to my two kids. Evidently Mom has been hiding her writing talents from me – today she has written a poem. A poem to Mary.

Excruciating Joy

Mary, remember with me.

When my son was born, I also pondered many things in my heart.

I remember how soft he was when I first cradled him in my arms.

His beautiful little head was covered with dark hair.

He was my seven pound, one-and-a-half-ounce precious baby boy.

 

 

Mary, listen to me.

When my son was six-and-a-half years old, I took him across the world.

He started first grade in a home school cooperative with other American children.

My skinny little boy wore glasses.

My brilliant little boy read on fifth grade level when he started kindergarten.

 

 

Mary, laugh with me.

My little boy was picked up by an elephant!

My little boy’s glasses were stolen by a monkey!

My little boy’s foot was bitten by a little green snake!

After each new adventure, my son had another unbelievably true story to tell!

 

 

Mary, pray for me.

When my son was seventeen years old, he wore size 13 Nike tennis shoes and played basketball.

He loved drama, speech and journalism and was the school’s yearbook editor.

Girls called him “Sir Lancelot” and lined up to dance with him during social dance classes.

My son believed in God.

 

 

Mary, wail with me.

After my son graduated from high school, he went to the beach with his friends.

There was a motorcycle accident, and I lost my son.

A sword pierced my heart and my mind and my soul.

My sweet baby boy’s spirit was no longer in his body.

 

 

Mary, weep with me.

I can’t live without my son Will.

The pain is unbearable, and I need to find an escape.

My counselor says the depth of the pain equals the depth of the love.

Why, God, why? Why couldn’t it have been me?

 

 

Mary, walk with me.

Each Sunday after church, I go to Will’s grave.

I clean the marker above his body that records what I believe happened on June 8, 2000:

“I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

The precious body that I once carried inside my body is now at rest.

 

 

Mary, mother of my Lord,

My Will has been in Heaven for almost twelve years.

Did you witness his spirit leaving earth for Heaven?

Did you behold your Son greeting my son when Will came home?

Does my child feel that love is stronger than death?

 

 

Mary, bearer of the One who has the power of eternal life over death,

Pray for me, a sinner, as I choose to walk in faith, believing in what I have not yet seen.

Pray for me, a mother, as I seek to follow the path my only son has laid out before me

In his writing about encountering the Risen Christ

In his first grade school journal:

 

 

“I go to church and I am sitting in the sanctuary alone.

And suddenly Jesus comes!

He says come with me! And I do!

He says we will go to heaven! I say I will go with you!

And he takes me by the hand and leads me to heaven. The End.”

Mom and Will at his high school graduation in June of 2000.

My kids at Will's grave marker

Will as a teenager

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Filed under Family, Motherhood, Parenting, Poetry, Spirituality