To The Mom of the Little Boy in Church

By: Crissie Kirby

boy in church

I see you enter the church with him and his precious smile lights up the entire sanctuary. I see you settle him with a snack or drink or with books or coloring pages and crayons. I hear you quietly try to shush him during the service when he talks. I smile at you and think that one day I’m going to tell you how much I enjoy seeing him in service, but I fail to do so because well, most days, I’m busy watching my own boys who (most of the time) settle in quietly on their own, but still have questions or are involved in the service and are perched quietly at the front of the church waiting to light or extinguish the candles. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll get teary-eyed talking of the time, not so long ago, when my boys were doing exactly what your son is doing now. A wise woman used to tell me not to worry about the noises my boys made in church because she enjoyed seeing them there. Some days I would just smile and silently think that she had to have lost her mind when it seemed that something was being dropped every five seconds or someone was asking questions every two.

The old saying “with age comes wisdom” comes quickly to mind because now I understand what she was saying and why she told me to stop worrying so much. First off, you are doing your son a great service by bringing him to church and keeping him in “big church”. He’s learning from an early age what takes place during the entire service and how to behave during those times, even if it seems that it is taking forever for him to learn and you really question if he ever will. (Please no one get bent out of shape if you think I’m shaming you for utilizing a children’s church because I’m not – every family does what works for them.) You are exposing him to your family’s belief system and I applaud you for that. For me, though, I am grateful for those moments when I can see your precious son holding your hand as you return from communion, and remember my own two little boys who no longer hold my hand as we walk quietly down the side aisle from communion. I can glimpse my past in your little boy as one, or both, of mine participate in the church service, leaving me sitting alone in my pew.

So to the mom with the little boy in church, please just let him be little, let those of us around you soak up his innocence and laughter and questions. Allow us to quietly congratulate your decision to bring him to church, even when we fail to verbally tell you so. Allow us to remember the days when our little boys were the ones laughing and making noise and asking questions. One day, I promise, you will be in my position wondering where the days and moments went.

Why I Love Melissa McCarthy

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

I love Melissa McCarthy. I think she’s hysterical and extremely talented. I loved watching her in Gilmore Girls (albeit I didn’t watch it until it came on Netflix), in The Heat with Sandra Bullock and in Bridesmaids. Yes, she can be a bit vulgar and crass; but I still honestly think she’s a great actress and I can’t wait to see the Ghostbusters remake that is currently in production. But, this isn’t the main reason I love Melissa McCarthy.

Melissa McCarthy is not, if you haven’t noticed, built like most other Hollywood stars. She’s a full figured woman; what society has deemed as “plus sized”. Maybe I love her because I, too, am what society considers “plus sized”, and I think we “larger” woman should unite. In all actuality, I think that all women should unite because being a woman has never been an easy title to bear, much less one to bear with other titles and labels attached. I’ve never been what one would call a “little girl” and I’m not sure that I ever will be. I’ve shared those shopping trips where I am relegated to going to a different section of the store to buy my clothes, and, nine times out of ten, if I see something cute in the shopping-606993_640 2“regular” sizes, it won’t be available in the “larger” sizes. (Let me stop here and say that I completely and whole-heartedly subscribe to the idiom that just because something is made in a certain size doesn’t mean one should wear it, nor should one always think that “just because it zips, it fits.”) It would be great if clothing and department stores, along with society, would realize that “birds of a feather” don’t always flock together; women are friends with other women who may not be the exact same shape and size as themselves, and maybe, just maybe, we would like to shop together. This leads me to why I really love Melissa McCarthy . . .

As one who wanted to be a fashion designer before her acting career took off, McCarthy has now designed a line of clothing that will be available to women of almost all sizes. She has also requested that her clothing not be housed separately from other women’s clothing simply because of the size of said clothing, nor did she want it labeled “plus size”. She’s taken a very personal stand against something that many people overlook on a daily basis; that larger women are people and want to dress fashionably too. We don’t want to wear clothing that hides our size. Many of us are proud, confident, and successful women; in fact, I’d say the vast majority of us are because the average woman wears roughly a size 12-14 (14 is typically the start of the so labeled “plus sizes”). While this may seem like a very minor issue or even a non-issue, if you’ve ever been shopping and just left because your choices were pretty much limited to a muu-muu, then you understand why this is an important issue. However, every day it seems that, as a society, we talk out of both sides our mouth on the issues of size and clothing, etc. We talk about changing the perception of young girls feeling the need to be model-stick thin and to be confident in themselves, regardless of size, etc; however, on the other hand, we teach them, by simply segregating clothing sizes in stores, that being above a certain size isn’t desirable by having minuscule plus size sections with frumpy, dowdy clothing options that often tend to flow right on in to the maternity section. How can we expect our next generation of young women to feel when we send mixed signals like this? (I won’t even, right now, touch the clothing choices that are presented to our girls.)

Melissa McCarthy gets it. And that is why I love her.

Now . . . it would be great if someone could pass the word to plus size clothing manufacturers that not all plus sized women are close to six feet tall, that’d be great! Imagine being 5’ 2” and buying petite length jeans that still have to have 4-6” cut off . . . oh, but that’s a blog for another day!

Why We Need to Stop Calling for Anna Duggar to Walk Away

By: Crissie Kirby

By now there’s no point in recounting all the Duggar family has been faced with over the last few months; I have my own personal feelings and opinions about Josh Duggar and divorcethe situation, but, honestly, they have no bearing on what I feel led to say to in this post.

I cannot truly comment on the Duggar molestation scandal, other than to say that, apparently, and regardless of the public’s feelings and opinions on the matter, Anna Duggar knew about that matter before she and Josh ever married. She was not, if I understand correctly, blindsided with the information as the general population was. The more recent scandal, though, involving some type of unfaithfulness on Josh’s part is what has me heartbroken for Anna and her children.

When the whole Ashley Madison / Duggar connection came out, all I could think about was Anna and her children. Then the comments and articles came, as I knew they would, calling for her to leave Josh. Rumor has it that this has even been publicly stated by some of Anna’s own family members. Regardless of who says it, the comments that Anna should leave Josh need to stop; as a whole, our society needs to not call for Anna Duggar to walk away from her marriage. “But Crissie, you’ve walked that walk . . . why shouldn’t she leave Josh? After all that he has done . . .” Because, folks, it’s just not that easy.

Walking away from a marriage is never as simple and easy as it seems. The words roll out of our brains and out of our mouths and it seems like it’s an easy fix to a big problem. But, it’s not. No, I don’t know Anna personally and probably never will, but I know that the last thing she needs to hear is that she needs to leave her marriage. Our society has come to accept divorce as a commonplace occurrence, not much different than buying a new car or a new house. “This one just doesn’t suit me anymore, so let’s get a new one” appears to be the mentality that many have. But we need to stop encouraging that manner of thinking.

First, Anna is probably still in shock over learning about this indiscretion; she hasn’t had time to process the information. When I first learned that news in my own marriage, it took me weeks to process it and years, yes YEARS, to get over what I had been through enough to even desire leaving my marriage. Stop telling her to walk away when she probably still feels like she is in the worst dream she has ever had and cannot seem to wake up enough to fully function.

Secondly, we need to stop telling her to, essentially, cut off part of her body. When you are married and you truly take the words from your wedding to heart; you accept that “two have become one.” Her marriage to Josh is part of both her public and private identity. Imagine being in an accident, losing a limb, and then waking up to realize it’s gone. Pretty traumatic, right? I tend to think so. Stop telling her to cut off her arm.

Third, think about their children. I don’t advocate staying in a marriage just for your children; however, you have to take them into consideration before making any major life changes. How are they going to be affected mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually? Stop telling her to walk away before she has been able to give each of these facets the level of thought and consideration they truly deserve; this goes for her own personal well-being as well.

Fourth, remember that the Duggars are people of great faith and in those tenets we know that God does not advocate divorce. As a fellow Christian, I believe that even though God allows divorce on the grounds of adultery, He never says that one must divorce if that happens. Yes, adultery is a sin. There’s no getting around it. But do we always need to totally give up on sinful people?

Staying in a marriage where someone has been unfaithful is hard. Infidelity does great mental and emotional damage to the spouse who was cheated on. They are already reeling from learning that, in some sense, they have been replaced in the heart and mind of their beloved; the last thing that he or she needs to hear is that they need to immediately and completely cut their losses and move on. It was comforting to me to read this morning that Anna is seeking her own form of counsel while Josh enters some type of rehabilitation facility. She needs impartiality and comfort and guidance on what might be the best avenue for her and her children. It’s hard to hear from family and friends (who you know love and care for you deeply in truth) that you need to just walk away from a marriage that maybe you just aren’t ready to give up on yet. I know. I heard it from family and friends. It left me feeling isolated and like every decision I was making was being scrutinized by those who obviously knew better what my children and I needed. In the end, yes, I wound up divorced. However, I can confidently say that divorce was not my first option; it was the final option. For me, I needed it to be that way. I needed to know that I had done everything I could do to prevent a divorce. Four years later, I can still hold my head high and know that I made the right decision for me and my boys. Not everyone supported the decision I made to stay for 2 years; most people didn’t understand why I stayed; some probably still think I was crazy. I survived without hearing a lot of positive reinforcement for my decision, but it doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be that way for spouses dealing with the knowledge that they have been cheated upon. Encouragement and support are what Anna Duggar needs now; don’t call for her to walk away from her marriage. Call for her to be lifted up mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally in such a way that she can make the best decisions, going forward, for both herself and her children.

First Steps

By: Crissie Kirby

An old Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

And so, it would seem preparing to run a five-mile race also begins with one step.

training for a race

I was overwhelmed by the support I received after posting my initial blog post about running in the LMC Heart and Sole Five Miler. I’ll be honest, even after posting that I was going to do it, I questioned whether I could really do it. Did I really want to do it? But, as anyone who knows me, once I say I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it, or die trying. Ok, maybe that’s not the best saying for right now.

The training guide said to start the week of February 15th. So, I set my sights on 2/15 and tried to mentally prepare for battle.

The 15th dawned cold and I had started coughing a few days before. (For me this almost always is a sure sign that bronchitis is on the way.) I honestly just didn’t want to do it. But I knew that if I made an excuse one day, I’d find reasons to keep making excuses, and April 25th would come with disastrous results.

training for a race

I journeyed to Aiken for my first run. Why? Well, one of my dearest friends and supporters, Ivy Harmon, lives in Aiken and I knew that she would make me run. And she did. Fortunately, Ivy lives near beautiful and historic South Boundary, so we had a wonderful place for my inaugural training session. Fortunately, Ivy is more active than I am and she was able to really help and encourage me along the way.

training for a race

training for a race

For anyone in Aiken during my initial run, yeah, I’m sorry. I doubt it was very pretty, and I’m pretty glad that there wasn’t anyone who could hear some of the things running through my mind (yes, bad pun intended) during my initial run. But, you know what? I did it. I made it. I ran those six one-minute intervals. And I didn’t die.

So, on to the next steps.

training for a race

Me? Running?

By: Crissie Kirby

A few weeks back an email came in to my inbox that has now made me question my sanity. Would I like to train for and participate in the Lexington Medical Center Heart and Sole Five Miler in late April? Immediately and without much thought, obviously, I answered back that sure, I would love to take part.

What was I thinking?

The most running I’ve done in my life was when I was in high school and on our softball team. I was not the star player by any stretch, but I spent a good deal of time during practices running bases.

I’m the one who will post those funny e-cards that say “I don’t run. If you ever see me running, you should run too. Because something is probably chasing me.”

I know that this event supports heart disease awareness and that is something that is never far in the back of my mind. As I have shared with you before, I have immediate Crissie and Momfemale family history of heart disease as both my mom and my grandmother suffer(ed) from heart disease. Exercise has not been a top priority in my life. I’m a woman. A mom. And a single mom. I don’t take care of myself as I should because, alas, even though I try at times to “do better,” the pressures of life push exercise to the back of my mind. Yet I know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. 1 in 3 women will die as the result of heart disease.

As women, we spend so much time focusing on female cancers, which are important and do not have the attention and funding that they should. But, for me and other women like me, ignoring heart disease is the equivalent of not having annual pap smears and breast exams/mammograms.

This is why I want to run. Do I think that I will finish first? Nope. Do I think I will finish? Yes. I hope and pray that you will support me as I train for this event and attempt the impossible (for me): a five mile run.

Characterizations

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

As I sit here tonight, grading spelling tests, homework assignments, and creative writing pages, I reflect on my new position and exactly what wisdom I am trying to convey to “my kids.”

BooksWhile my official title and role is an English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school, I want to be much more than that. I want to be a champion for them. I want them to learn that education is more than a number in a grade book. While I have admitted that I, myself, was overly concerned with my numeric grades growing up, the extra lessons were not lost on me either. Little did I know that those people who taught me English and Grammar and Algebra would, in fact, be educating me on how to be a better person in the world; and, ultimately, they have taught me how to be an educator as well.

Do I set out to impart important life lessons on them? No, not exactly. Certainly they are always in the back of my mind, but I don’t structure a lesson plan around them. This week’s lessons with my oldest students, my ninth and tenth grade English I and English II classes, have offered me an opportunity to share something I feel is important as we move through our lives: how to see the good in others and how our thoughts can be used to uplift others instead of drag them down.

Our focus right now is Literature, and, in doing so, we have discussed characterizations of some of our texts’ main and secondary characters – characteristics that are both plainly stated and others that are inferred from the story and setting and actions. How has this played out into a life lesson, you ask? As we were writing, on the board, characterizations of fictitious people, one student half joked that we should do a characterization of another student. That student actually agreed and a new, better homework assignment was born in that moment. I had my students write their names twice on a piece of paper. Each name was put into a bucket and each student drew two classmates for whom they would do characterizations. I gave only one stipulation: the characterizations had to be positive. If a classmate had a seemingly negative trait, think on it. Could it be positive in some manner?

Initially, I thought that I would just have them turn their characterizations in and at first that is what I did. But, as I began to skim over them in class, I decided that this might be a perfect opportunity for these students to see themselves as others see them, and to see that, even when you don’t get the grade you thought you would get, the day your best friend is upset with you, the day you get into a fight with your parents, that you have value. You have worth, and others see positivity radiating from you.

So, this afternoon, I took some time and compiled the characterizations and have prepared a page for each of my students. And I can hardly wait to hand them out tomorrow and talk with my students about the information they see in front of them.

When was the last time you told someone about the positive characteristics you see in them? Have you ever? I know that I have not done this well. I challenge each of you to take time out of your day to think of someone who might need an encouragement boost today, write out some positive characteristics and give it to them. It may just be the encouragement that he or she needs.As I sit here tonight, grading spelling tests, homework assignments, and creative writing pages, I reflect on my new position and exactly what wisdom I am trying to convey to “my kids.”

While my official title and role is an English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school, I want to be much more than that. I want to be a champion for them. I want them to learn that education is more than a number in a grade book. While I have admitted that I, myself, was overly concerned with my numeric grades growing up, the extra lessons were not lost on me either. Little did I know that those people who taught me English and Grammar and Algebra would, in fact, be educating me on how to be a better person in the world; and, ultimately, they have taught me how to be an educator as well.

Do I set out to impart important life lessons on them? No, not exactly. Certainly they are always in the back of my mind, but I don’t structure a lesson plan around them. This week’s lessons with my oldest students, my ninth and tenth grade English I and English II classes, have offered me an opportunity to share something I feel is important as we move through our lives: how to see the good in others and how our thoughts can be used to uplift others instead of drag them down.

Our focus right now is Literature, and, in doing so, we have discussed characterizations of some of our texts’ main and secondary characters – characteristics that are both plainly stated and others that are inferred from the story and setting and actions. How has this played out into a life lesson, you ask? As we were writing, on the board, characterizations of fictitious people, one student half joked that we should do a characterization of another student. That student actually agreed and a new, better homework assignment was born in that moment. I had my students write their names twice on a piece of paper. Each name was put into a bucket and each student drew two classmates for whom they would do characterizations. I gave only one stipulation: the characterizations had to be positive. If a classmate had a seemingly negative trait, think on it. Could it be positive in some manner?

Initially, I thought that I would just have them turn their characterizations in and at first that is what I did. But, as I began to skim over them in class, I decided that this might be a perfect opportunity for these students to see themselves as others see them, and to see that, even when you don’t get the grade you thought you would get, the day your best friend is upset with you, the day you get into a fight with your parents, that you have value. You have worth, and others see positivity radiating from you.

So, this afternoon, I took some time and compiled the characterizations and have prepared a page for each of my students. And I can hardly wait to hand them out tomorrow and talk with my students about the information they see in front of them.

When was the last time you told someone about the positive characteristics you see in them? Have you ever? I know that I have not done this well. I challenge each of you to take time out of your day to think of someone who might need an encouragement boost today, write out some positive characteristics and give it to them. It may just be the encouragement that he or she needs.

As I sit here tonight, grading spelling tests, homework assignments, and creative writing pages, I reflect on my new position and exactly what wisdom I am trying to convey to “my kids.”

While my official title and role is an English Language Arts teacher for middle and high school, I want to be much more than that. I want to be a champion for them. I want them to learn that education is more than a number in a grade book. While I have admitted that I, myself, was overly concerned with my numeric grades growing up, the extra lessons were not lost on me either. Little did I know that those people who taught me English and Grammar and Algebra would, in fact, be educating me on how to be a better person in the world; and, ultimately, they have taught me how to be an educator as well.

Do I set out to impart important life lessons on them? No, not exactly. Certainly they are always in the back of my mind, but I don’t structure a lesson plan around them. This week’s lessons with my oldest students, my ninth and tenth grade English I and English II classes, have offered me an opportunity to share something I feel is important as we move through our lives: how to see the good in others and how our thoughts can be used to uplift others instead of drag them down.

Our focus right now is Literature, and, in doing so, we have discussed characterizations of some of our texts’ main and secondary characters – characteristics that are both plainly stated and others that are inferred from the story and setting and actions. How has this played out into a life lesson, you ask? As we were writing, on the board, characterizations of fictitious people, one student half joked that we should do a characterization of another student. That student actually agreed and a new, better homework assignment was born in that moment. I had my students write their names twice on a piece of paper. Each name was put into a bucket and each student drew two classmates for whom they would do characterizations. I gave only one stipulation: the characterizations had to be positive. If a classmate had a seemingly negative trait, think on it. Could it be positive in some manner?

Initially, I thought that I would just have them turn their characterizations in and at first that is what I did. But, as I began to skim over them in class, I decided that this might be a perfect opportunity for these students to see themselves as others see them, and to see that, even when you don’t get the grade you thought you would get, the day your best friend is upset with you, the day you get into a fight with your parents, that you have value. You have worth, and others see positivity radiating from you.

So, this afternoon, I took some time and compiled the characterizations and have prepared a page for each of my students. And I can hardly wait to hand them out tomorrow and talk with my students about the information they see in front of them.

When was the last time you told someone about the positive characteristics you see in them? Have you ever? I know that I have not done this well. I challenge each of you to take time out of your day to think of someone who might need an encouragement boost today, write out some positive characteristics and give it to them. It may just be the encouragement that he or she needs.

Welcome to My “New” World

By: Crissie Miller Kirby 

Classroom

By the time you read this, I will be firmly entrenched in my new routine and my “new” world. I use the term “new” loosely because while the job and position are new, the location is not new at all.

As many of you know, I have spent the better part of the last year searching for the “right” job; one where I could be challenged daily and where I could make a difference in this world. After applying for I’m not really sure how many jobs, interviewing for a few, and not being selected for them, I was beginning to become downtrodden. I was frustrated. I was beginning to get angry.

Then, shortly after the 2013-2014 school year ended for my children, I received the email that would change everything for me. In a very sad turn of events, my children’s school had two beloved, and long-time, members of the faculty pass away last year. To help fill those positions (along with a few additional ones), the school was seeking a number of new teachers for the 2014-2015 school year.

Did I really want to be a teacher?

Could I be a teacher?

I cannot explain the drive and desire that came from within me to become a member of the faculty at W. Wyman King Academy. There were the obvious benefits of being on the same holiday and vacation schedule as the boys and not having to wonder how they would get to and from school; but that was only the tip of the iceberg for me. It was more than just a random teaching position; they needed an English I and II teacher. English . . .  And what position in the world allows a person to make a difference more than being a teacher?

Hmmmm . . .

I thought about it. Constantly. I could barely think of anything else.

I’ve always admired teachers. I’ve long been grateful for teachers, professors, and other faculty/staff members I’ve had in my life during my educational career; but, I just didn’t think I could actually be a teacher. I was unsure of my abilities. I was completely sure of my desire to make a difference and my love of English and grammar.

So, I did it. I applied for the English position.

And, I interviewed.

And, I was offered the position.

And, I accepted it.

Me? Be a teacher? And I was over the moon excited about it?

Yes, I was.

I mean, I am.

Our school year officially started on August 14th, so I have been filling my days and nights and weekends with school work.

And, you know what? I love it. I love the challenge that each new day brings.

In addition to English I and II, I am also teaching three middle school grammar courses, so I have 5 different sets of students each and every day. Teaching 6th through 10th graders provides an almost hourly change of pace, as each group has their own dynamics that are special and unique. There is definitely no monotony here! Being in an independent school setting provides me with relatively small class sizes that range from a low of 11 to a high of 17; it also affords me an opportunity to really get to know my students.

We are already moving in to our 3rd week of school, and the excitement has yet to wear off for me. I love being in my classroom, books and chalk (or dry erase markers) in hand. I love to see the looks on “my” kids’ faces as we work together and those light bulbs begin to flicker on. I love reading their daily “bell work” musings. I look forward to seeing what this coming year will bring and being able to share it with you. (Some of my kids want me to put them into my Every Woman blog postings!)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I commented that the location of my new position was not new. There is something a little bit surreal (and more than a little bit funny) every time I unlock the door to room number 7 at W. Wyman King Academy; a room in which I, myself, was educated less than twenty years ago. Rooms that, in a few short years, God willing, will also hold my boys, as they each have attended WKA since 4K.

You see, my new world is only “new” in theory. My journey has led me to a place that is as much like home as any other. Life has truly come full circle.