Today, I am going to let you in on a secret. One of my greatest insecurities is this: I often struggle to feel qualified as a singer and pianist. I shy away from singing in front of skilled and trained musicians because I simply do not feel “good enough”. Yes, I love to sing, and God has blessed Lois and I with a music ministry. However, I have neither formal training nor a music degree. My mind tells me that this fact makes me inferior as a musician.
Last year, I was lamenting to my husband that I had been asked to sing in a large church that was rich in trained musicians. Those professionals would immediately spot my lack of skill. There would be no fooling anyone! Why couldn’t that church have asked someone else to sing instead of me?
My husband told me the truth that I needed to hear. That church did not ask me to sing because of my skill level. They asked me to sing because God uses it when I do. It is not about my musical talent; it is about glorifying God. It is not about my lack of credentials; it is about a willingness to serve.
My focus was far too much on myself and not enough on God. Many times, insecurity is just pride masked in modesty. It is important to strive for excellence in music, but it is God’s gift to me for His glory and the edifying of His people. I must practice and improve my techniques more for the intent of being a better servant rather than being a better musician.
Have you ever battled with feeling underqualified? Do you have a hobby or skill for your own enjoyment that you try not to tell people about just because you’re not “good enough”? Remember this: all we do should be for God’s glory. It is not about being the best or the most talented. I challenge you to look around your church and note the people who are always serving. They are not usually the people with the most time, money, or even the best health. They are the people who are willing to say, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:17)
I’ve heard them. You’ve heard them. They cry out on social media, “Your silence enables wrong! Your silence shows which side you’re on!”
My heart tells me to comment on that soapbox rant, my heart tells me to type out my opinion on the matter. I have a lot of good points, don’t I? Not only that, but I also want them to know that I do indeed have an opinion. I care. I am aware. I am not unloving.
The problem is that my heart is often wrong. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
(Jeremiah 17:9) Just because my heart compels me to let my fingers fly across that keyboard, letting the world know where I stand on today’s issues, does not mean that I ought to.
There was a time when I was much more active on Facebook. I shared posts and I chatted on comment threads. I liked to be right and I liked having a voice. However, I began to notice how it affected me. I dwelled on it far too long, even when I wasn’t at my computer or on my phone. I began to wonder if it was affecting the person that I was, the person that my friends and family spent time with from day to day.
Eventually I realized that there was a greater need for my voice in every day life, every day situations. As a Christian, I could be much more influential on the people around me by living a Spirit-filled life. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that social media has an influence on our thinking. Ha, I wouldn’t be typing this if I didn’t hope it would help someone today! It encourages me when I see the internet filled with good, factual information, presented in an orderly way. I enjoy reading the passionate opinions of my friends when they present them in a loving way. I’ve learned a lot through online research. The trouble comes when our contempt for any opinion but our own drives us to contention and consumes our precious time.
It’s okay if your Facebook friends don’t know whether or not you like wearing a mask. It’s okay if you don’t post about your political stance. What’s not okay is when we just blow up the internet, and never touch the lives of those around us in a truly tangible way. It’s sad when the people who are a part of our physical life begin to view us as that person who is always going on a virtual tirade. Are they afraid that we’ll bring up those hot topics during an in-person conversation? Is that all we talk about? Is that becoming our identity?
Oh, that our identity may be “children of light”! “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”
Maybe it’s time to unplug, to look around, to spend real time with the people you love. If you’re physically able, get involved in your local church ministries or a community service. When you pray for opportunities to make a difference, you will find that God is faithful to provide those opportunities. This is not silence. This is Christianity. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Watching everything transpire before my eyes is interesting to say the least. How unusual that truly the entire world is going through the same thing in some capacity. My thoughts about it all are many – but I am trying to be like Mary, who “…kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
A glaring result of this crisis is the way it affects the 2019-2020 school year. On every side, uncertainty is found. The fear of the time your child, no matter their age, is losing with their education is alarming. Today I wanted to share something from my life that God reminded me of; maybe it will encourage you in this time.
India and I were homeschooled our entire lives. I even did my first two years of college at home. In the years I was 8 and 9 years old, my mother became very ill with malaria. She was very, very sick…sometimes close to death. During that time, our education was inevitably put on hold. We went months without doing any schoolwork. In a way, we lost an entire year of school time.
I don’t really remember much of what my mom said about our school then, because she was so sick that we girls did not get to see her very often. We spent most of our time with different church families who cared for us while my dad was with my mom at the hospital. I was young enough that I didn’t always understand how sick she was. As young as I was, though, I also remember the strength of my mother’s faith as well as the encouragement from our pastor to trust God in that confusing time. Mommy recovered, praise the Lord, and life carried on. Guess what? I graduated high school right on time. India did, too. Many might say, “oh, well, your mother caught you up and it worked out since you were homeschooled anyways”. But, don’t forget that making up an entire year of missed time is a pretty big deal academically.
What is impossible with man is always possible with God. Somehow, God helped make up for the time we lost in that year. I honestly do not even remember how. That was over 20 years ago. The way technology has advanced in 20 years is astounding and to our great advantage. If God was able to help us way back then, could He not do the same for our world today?
I see many trying to carry on in this crisis as close to normal as possible, almost as if this crisis is not happening. May I encourage you to consider that it is ok not to have it all figured out. It is ok for everything to be awry because sometimes that is how life goes. Please let God take up for where you are lacking. I am not belittling the importance of anything good; no, I am seeking to make much of what God is capable
of. He wants to be the One glorified in our weakness. How sad it would be if when we come out on the other side of this crisis, that we look back and tell others, “This is what I did to power through.”
You’ve been on my heart lately. I guess with my dad’s recent death, I’ve thought about you more than ever before. I’ve been thinking about how it is for my mom right now…and what so many of you might be feeling, too.
Years ago on your wedding day, you never thought about what you would do in life’s chapter of widowhood. All you knew was that your husband’s life was now yours. This many years later, you find yourself in a chapter of life that you never gave much thought to – I mean, who would really want to?
The pressure hit after your husband died – pressure you did not even anticipate. “What are you going to do now?” For some reason, everyone thinks it is their business to press you for the answer to this question mere days after your husband’s death. While having a plan will be on your mind someday, it’s not on your mind today. You might even think, “What is wrong with me? I don’t seem to know what to do with myself like all the other widows do.”
I’ve noticed that not many people do this to widowers. Now, bear with me…I don’t want any of us to be bitter. But, after my dad died, it dawned on me that if the tables were turned, no one would have been asking him what he is going to do now — because his life’s plan would not have changed. Men can keep right on going with their life (albeit missing the hugest part) and nobody questions them. It is different for men because very rarely did they give up their own life to marry you. But, for some reason, with ladies, the expectations are different. Widows are immediately faced with the challenges of “what should I do? How do I start over? Who am I now that I’m not his wife?”
Maybe that is why God mentions widows so many times in His Word. He has a special place in His heart for you…and by His example, I think we all should, too. I hope that just reading this will encourage your heart today. I hope it will remind you that someone does see you, someone does think about where you are in life, someone does care how you feel. I don’t pretend to know what you’re going through or how you’re feeling…but I’ve been asking God to touch those places of your heart that perhaps only He sees.
Perhaps someone will read this that is not a widow. I hope those of us who aren’t widows will remember those who are – that we will pray, and then that we will make the effort to be there for those ladies who feel so alone.
I am praying for you, widows everywhere!
With the love of Christ,
“Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
Has someone ever asked you this before? This question is usually unspoken; one that can almost be felt. Or, perhaps someone has said this in a statement about you: “I don’t know how she does it.” Whatever your “it” is, people make comments like this because they are amazed at what you accomplishing.
The Joshua Ormsby household accomplishes a lot. I have been an organized planner for as long as I can remember, and it is something that I am constantly working on becoming better at. (Yes, enter nerd-status.) This summer more than one person made the “how does she do it” compliment about me, and hearing it sparked this blogpost. Granted, I am writing this in a time that I’ve actually had to cut a few things out of life due to some health struggles…nonetheless, maybe this will help someone realize how they can better do their “it”.
Accomplishing much well is largely about perspective. Without God, nothing happens. The fact that I am able to do so much is not to my glory, but to His. Without Him, I would be a huge mess. The fact that certain things aren’t optional – like church and family time – are also stamped deep within my person. By having safeguards like this around my life, I automatically block out things that would take away from the most important thing: to glorify God in all I do.
I don’t focus on me – my hobbies or my dreams…I often deny myself. This is not a point to be pitied – this is a point to be pondered. As a Christian, wife, and mom, my life is not my own. My priority is always others. This perspective also helps me pause to enjoy the spontaneous moments of life, especially those my sweet babies bring about. Going “off schedule” for a few minutes is actually a good way to stay on track with the life God has called you to.
Organization is key…organization of time, belongings, schedule, money, commitments, etc. Lack of organization always leaves me feeling frazzled. The important thing with organizing is to find what works for you. There are hundreds of “how to organize” blogposts out there, and I enjoy reading other people’s ways of organizing…but in the end, I’ve learned not to feel down about myself because I can’t make so-and-so’s way of life work for me. God simply wants me to be the best Lois Ormsby that I can be, and nothing more than that!
Daily time with God is essential for a successful day. That should be common sense for a Christian – but common sense isn’t so common in our world anymore! I also write EVERYTHING down. If not, I will forget it. They say that you remember things much better when you physically write them down (typing it on your phone doesn’t count 😉 ). All of my little notes to self are kept in one place…for me, this is in my planner. Everything that has to do with our family and our schedule is in that planner. I even have random lists in it like “Pending Gifts” or “Specific 2018 Prayers”. Multiple books don’t work well for me, but maybe it does for you!
Keeping my word is a huge part of “how does she do it”. If I commit to something, I am going to do it (unless something like health demands I cancel). Canceling on people for my own convenience is not an option. To do so is lazy and speaks of a lack of integrity. Sometimes, though, I put too much on my plate (though this doesn’t happen very often anymore! God has taught me so much!), and I am willing to ask for help. Sometimes it is overwhelming to know the right time to ask for help…but this is something I am growing in.
Doing a little every day of many things helps me accomplish much more in the long-run. Instead of waiting until the deadline to complete a task, I try very hard to keep it in mind weeks beforehand and chip away at whatever it is. I don’t cram a day, if we can help it. Planning to use every last minute in a day only leaves me feeling defeated, annoyed with my husband who unknowingly cramps my to-do list, and makes me a miserable person who is always feeling behind. Unscheduled time in life is essential to make the scheduled times go smoothly.
Let the tears of frustration out. When hurricane Irma came through our area last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant and sick as a dog. Quite literally. The day after Irma I knew I needed to go to the ER, but I didn’t want to. I was so tired of everything being such an ordeal. Letting the tears flow helped me feel better about the right decision to go to the ER.
Remembering that routines are for a reason keeps me focused. The older Malachi gets, the more I realize that he thrives on routine, and really – we all do. Routine provides an emotional stability and security that is healthy for the home. I see that all four of us function way better when we have a relatively routine week as opposed to a week that is overcrowded.
Today’s society is going to tell you that you can do it; that you can keep up a crazy schedule because everyone does, that you don’t need to keep spiritual things a priority because God understands, and that what you want is the most important thing and should be chased after with whatever sacrifice necessary. I encourage you to step back, however, and look at your life. What is going to matter for eternity? This one question will help you organize your life into a schedule that glorifies God, exhorts others, and satisfies your soul.
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14
“Just let me know!”
…we’ve all said it. I have, too. Yet, did you know there is a big but simple myth about it that too many of us believe? A few years ago I came across a blogpost that talked about this very thing. I wish I remembered who wrote it so I could give the author proper credit – but, suffice it to say that this is something God taught me through that blogpost.
Life happens; illness comes along, hurricanes take place, marital problems arise, deaths occur…we all face difficult days at some point. Imagine with me that you’re in one of those difficult days right now. Then, think of how many people will probably say to you, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that…if there’s anything I can do, just let me know.”
They mean well, right? And, most of them truly mean what they said. They would give the shirt off their back for you. But most of them (us) say this without considering how it only adds to the burden of the distressed. By saying “just let me know”, we leave the ball in the court of the hurting.
I’ve learned to shift my mentality and resist saying “just let me know” almost entirely. Instead, when I learn of a situation where someone is hurting or perhaps in need, I begin praying immediately for that person. I also ask God to show me very specifically what I can do to help them in their time of need. Then, to the best of my means, I reach out and offer whatever He lays on my heart.
You see, most people are never going to “let you know”. In times of trouble the needs are endless, and they feel like they’ve already been a burden to too many people. (There are those exceptions of people who take advantage of their perilous trials…but we aren’t talking about them today.)
Do you know how much it warms the heart when someone figures out a way, completely on their own, to minister to you? It speaks of their sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading, and provides the breath of fresh air you need to push through whatever trial you are in that day.
Perhaps it’s time for you to begin your own mentality-shift. Maintaining a mentality of ministry is very healthy, yea, essential, for spiritual well-being. Remember that ministering is all about the recipient and nothing about you – you are simply providing yourself as a vessel through which God can touch their hurting heart.
I recently celebrated my twenty-seventh birthday. Each year I reflect on all that the Lord has taught me. Sometimes I cringe when I think of the way I used to act in certain areas (LOL), but I know that I’ll probably do the same thing in a few years when I look back to this year. That’s the beautiful thing about the Christian life: God is constantly growing and molding us into the people He wants us to be!
So here are the twenty-seven life lessons that came to my mind first. I am still “working on” many of these areas in my life, but I’m thankful that the Lord has shown them to me. They are not listed in any particular order.
(Photo at left is a candid shot from this past year by Abigail Werner Photography 🙂 )
27 Things I’ve Learned from 27 Years of Life
1) God is always faithful.
2) Jesus Christ died for my sins.
3) Being right isn’t worth the energy spent on an argument.
4) There is great danger and damage in comparing my life to someone else’s.
5) True love persists even when the object of love does not reciprocate.
6) If no one asked for my opinion, they probably don’t care to hear it.
7) Sometimes the hardest decisions in life are the best ones I will ever make.
8) A negative attitude makes life hard.
9) My greatest joys are often found in the little things.
10) A bad cup of tea is not worth drinking. Same with coffee.
11) If God allows something difficult in my life, He will provide the peace I need to continue.
12) My children have had a way of teaching me to love others as God loves me.
13) When I am living in obedience to my Heavenly Father, I need not worry about what others think or say of me.
14) Being seriously ill taught me a lot about friendship. True friends are the ones who stick with you even when they don’t understand or know what to say. They just pray for you.
15) Getting married isn’t about the exciting wedding preparations or the wedding day; it’s about every day afterward.
16) If there is someone or something precious in my life that isn’t helping me draw closer to God, it may be time to reevaluate that relationship or habit.
17) The type of man you marry does matter, but the type of wife that you choose to be matters as well.
18) Waiting on God’s timing in any situation is always worth the wait.
19) There is beauty in feminine mystique. A meek and quiet spirit is not only pleasing to God, but it is a very attractive characteristic to develop.
20) Kindness is a wonderful thing.
21) If I’m upset that no one thanked me for something I did, then maybe I’m doing it for the wrong reasons.
22) True happiness comes only from God.
23) The devil pushes us, whereas the Lord leads us. I always try to remember that when I am faced with a perplexing decision.
24) It is important to truly listen when someone is talking to me.
25) “God time” is far more valuable than “me time”. In this “love yourself” society today, what if I choose to be the girl who loves God instead?
26) I am responsible for my own actions.
27) There is no reason to be afraid of what might go wrong when God holds my future in His hand.
Seasons of life come and go. Some of these seasons flow in and out of our lives as gently and naturally as spring, summer, fall, and winter. We expect them; we know they’ll be coming. If they are seasons that we enjoy, we savor each moment. We do our best to get through the less desirable life seasons, but we are not shaken by them because we knew they were coming.
However, there are seasons that are thrust upon us by circumstance. As a Christian, I believe that God has a plan for everything that He allows into our lives. Each day is based on more than just fate or chance. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”
I have realized that identifying my priorities is vital to thriving during the unexpected seasons of life. If I know what I MUST give my attention to during the day, I can focus my energy on those things first. Below is how my priorities look. I have simplified and generalized them for my personal standard and rule of practice. However, from day to day, I make a lot of more detailed lists.
1) Spend time on those I love
– Those who are around me each day
2) Daily tasks/responsibilities
3) Everything else
When I keep my focus on doing what is necessary first, I typically end my days feeling more accomplished. On the flip side, when I let myself get distracted by the things that I WANT to do before I have fulfilled my important duties, I find that the day gets away from me. Before I know it, I’m ending the day feeling frustrated and like I haven’t done my best.
I’m thankful that God’s mercies are new each morning, because obviously every day doesn’t go as smoothly as I want it to. Sometimes things come up that are beyond my control. That’s when I have to remember to just keep doing my best. Colossians 3:23 – “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
Let’s face it: many of us have this fantasy that one day, when things are “just so”, we will feel unpressured and organized all the time.
If we just get this perfect planner, if we just had a better cooking space, if we just had more time…
But it’s a fantasy.
Slowly but surely, I am learning to “own” the seasons of life that God has given to me. If I’m always thinking about what would make life better, I will always be living in a dream land. So, priorities. Recognize them and work on them.
I’m a work in progress but prioritizing definitely helps me. I hope that this reminder helps you, too! Have a blessed day and get on that to-do list! 😊
Confession: road rage is something I struggle with! No, I don’t swear or use rude hand signals or anything like that. What I do is verbally blow up at the person who cuts me off – yep, out loud, as if they could hear me. I go on and on about how dangerous their move was and how they don’t care about my “BABY ON BOARD” sign in the window. Thankfully the LORD showed me within the last year how wrong of an attitude this is for me, even if it could be justified. You see, Malachi and Joash will pick up on the way I talk to people, and I want to set a better example for them…even in such a situation – especially because crazy drivers are something we see every time we get in the car! So, I am trying to get better about simply saying nothing, and also not craning my neck to glare at the crazy person that just barely missed hitting me. You can laugh – I know you’ve done it, too!
Upon leaving the post office today, I checked behind me to back up the car safely. I noticed two cars already backing up, however, it was safe for me to back up, too, because they were quite a ways behind me down the one-way parking strip. I was moving my car as quickly as was safe, but apparently it wasn’t quick enough for the car farthest back. She had the audacity to speed up past me and the car between us (who was still backing up!) and zoom to the front of the line! I guess she was annoyed about how the whole twenty seconds was going down.
At first, I was super annoyed myself at her arrogance. But almost as soon as the irritation hit, the understanding did, too. “It is really childish and immature for adults to drive like that.” Any time I choose to make some snide driving move (somehow trying to gain revenge, maybe), it is no different than a child who insists on being first in the ice cream line. Whizzing past someone or cutting someone off on the road is just as silly as it is to whine about not getting the blue gummy worm.
Thus, instead of making sure the offending driver knows I’m ticked off at them, I am striving to drive with the love of Christ in mind. Returning evil for evil is childish…and it is disobedient to our Father to do so. Plus, what if by chance I see that person again sometime? Who’s to say they won’t remember my car or me? What if my lack of maturity in a heated moment on the road later causes them to disdain Christ when they find out I am a Christian?
God asks us to walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15). He wants us to be conscious of how our actions affect others (Matthew 5:16). There are enough grumpy drivers on the roads; I should be different, and instead become a cheerful driver, and “recompense to no man evil for evil” (Romans 12:17).
Being the recipient of a helping hand is not always easy – especially when you are the type of person who loves to be the helping hand for someone else. I’ve had to accept help (of so many forms) more times in the past few years than I care to admit. Through the repeated process of needing help and having to accept help, God has humbled me and taught me more about how this life works.
During times of illness is when I most need a helping hand. It used to really bother me when people helped me out during such times, even though I knew they meant well, I needed it, and was incredibly grateful. God showed me during Joash’s pregnancy that my resistance to help was prideful. Prideful! Can you believe that? Me not wanting to be a burden to those around me was [for me] a pride issue!
I didn’t want people to realize that I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t want people to realize how difficult it is for me to do anything when I am fatigued to tears. I didn’t want people to know that Malachi basically survived on Cheerios and cookies during my sick weeks of Joash’s pregnancy. I didn’t want people to pity the fact that I rarely made it to the kitchen to cook the first three weeks following Joash’s birth.
Did you know that God doesn’t ask any of us to do this life on our own? Besides the help of His Spirit, He specifically placed our lives right where we are so we can help specific people and be helped by specific people. I’ve found this to be true in many seasons of life, not just in illness. It is no mistake that there are people around you who are able, ready, and willing to lend a helping hand when the need arises.
This being said – there is an extreme of accepting help that we never want to visit: taking advantage of those around us. God placed us around each other to bear one another’s burdens, but He still instructs each of us to work for our food, to keep our own home, and to serve our own families. Even though I’ve learned to ask for help when I need it, I am careful not to voice every need the Joshua Ormsby family has, lest I fall prey to a temptation to use people. The very thought of being that kind of person horrifies me – yet, I still am diligent to guard against using people…because only a foolish person assumes “I would never do that”.
Josh and I delight in serving others and we do whatever we can for others anytime we are able. However, I am learning to accept the seasons where I am the needy recipient instead of the giver as simply part of God’s way, part of His plan of sowing and reaping. I also proactively teach Malachi (and soon enough, Joash) to serve others, even if it’s starting with something small like helping his daddy throw the trash away. Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38), and such a life is what we strive after.
Today, as I have done, consider your own attitude towards accepting help. Let people minister to you. Let people be a blessing to you in times of need. And, in turn, look for ways to bear someone else’s burden. The fruit of living this way is something we can look forward to in Heaven!