Learning Moments

Security Breech: #SelfieStatus! {Lois Ormsby}

Recently I have been preparing for a July Bible study with my older church girls.  The theme of the lessons will be “Securely Woman”, based on a book I found from Striving Together Publications.  In pondering how this theme affects every aspect of our lives as women, something really clicked for me that I wanted to share with you!

 

Selfies are more than “all the rage” in our culture.  These days, they are perfectly normal…so normal that even toddlers attempt them!  There is nothing inherently wrong with selfies.  It’s fun to try to get the right angle when taking a picture with someone (though it was more of a challenge back in the day when we didn’t have reversible cameras on our phones!).  Selfies can make for great laughs and capture special memories.

 

But Satan has cleverly captured an angle on our selfies, too.  Think about it: so many selfies today are of one person, taking a picture of himself/herself.  Such selfies are usually taken seconds before they’re posted; the person might have taken the selfie just to have something to post.  Then, he/she posts and subconsciously checks his/her social media a dozen times in the next 30 minutes to see who liked their picture.  Come on, we’ve probably all been guilty of this – you know what I’m talking about!

 

“She got 42 likes on her selfie, but I only got 12.  My smile is way prettier though.”

 

 

“His selfie with that pro athlete got 116 likes!  Why did mine only get 24?”

 

 

“Nobody liked my selfie for 2 hours.  I must not be as cool as ____________.”

 

See how easily selfies feed the wrong kind of security?  As Christians we are supposed to be secure in Christ, in Him alone.  And yet, we easily fall prey to the world’s means of finding security — focusing on ourselves.

 

The point here is not to say that all selfies are wrong and and that any selfie will cause a “security breech” in our lives.  If you go on my social media profiles, you’ll see selfies sprinkled throughout my pictures (but not a whole bunch, because I am really bad at taking selfies, haha!).  My exhortation is that we need to consider why we post selfies in the first place.  The why behind our selfies is where a security breech might be lurking!

 

Are we posting to get someone’s attention?  Are we posting to show off our gorgeous hair?  Are we posting because “everyone else always posts a selfie when they drive through Chick-Fil-A”?  Are we posting because we are feeling insecure and want to make sure people still like us?

 

“See then that ye walk circumspectly…” ~ Ephesians 5:15a

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Lessons at the Drive Thru {Lois Ormsby}

Lately Dunkin Donuts has had $2 Medium Lattes from 2-6 pm every day. I made this dangerous discovery a few weeks ago…and let’s just say they’ve seen more of me than usual. 🙂 On my way to my Thursday piano lessons this last week, I decided to run through the drive thru and take advantage of this deal for me and Josh.

You know when you get the feeling that you’re annoying someone? Talking to the drive thru lady through the intercom made me feel exactly like that. She was rude, didn’t acknowledge anything I said, and then when I repeated my order she curtly said “drive to the window”. Oh boy…her attitude was quickly souring mine!

But, as I pulled around I held my cool and acted like nothing was wrong. I attempted smiling at her but to no avail. She was obviously not happy and didn’t say more than two or three words to my face. I paid, took my drinks, and quietly left instead of saying anything (because inwardly I was pretty irritated).

As I drove away I stewed a little about the situation. I even briefly thought “wow, I should report her to Dunkin Donuts headquarters.” I mean, come on, I was there as her customer, so the least she could have done was be polite, right?

But then I was reminded of a story that impacted my view on the world around me, a story that I’ve never forgotten (I just sometimes forget it momentarily in such situations as this drive thru experience!). A few years ago, Dr. David Gibbs, Jr, was preaching about loving others. During his sermon he shared an experience he and his wife had one time at a McDonalds’ drive thru. The way he tells the story is so much more engaging and interesting than I tell it – but, suffice it to say that his experience involved a very short-tempered drive thru lady, him having to repeat his order at least 5 times, and his wife having to remind him not to lose his testimony as a Christian! As they pulled up to the window to get their food, they were greeted by a manager rather than by the grumpy employee. The manager received their payment and started talking to them. “Thank you for your kindness and patience with her. She just lost her boyfriend and kids today and is working to try to make money for the funerals.” Dr. Gibbs and his wife drove away in stunned silence. They were grateful that they had not lashed out in “righteous indignation” at this poor drive thru lady.

So, after remembering this story, I talked to the LORD and asked Him to help the grumpy girl I had just encountered at Dunkin Donuts. What if she had just found out she failed a huge exam at school? What if she was at odds with her family? What if she found out that day of a grim health diagnosis? There was no way for me to know why she was taking out her hurt on me…and there was no reason for me to add more to her obviously heavy burden by snapping back at her over a couple of $2 drinks.

The next time you feel snubbed by someone, whether it be a stranger in public or a fellow church member, remember that you never know what they might be going through that day. Instead of letting your pride rise up, lashing back out at them, and putting them in their place, be slow to speak and quick to consider that this might be the worst day of their lives for some reason that they obviously do not care to share. Your kindness – whether or not they notice it – could very well be the thing that keeps them going another hour, another day, another week. Choose to pray for that grumpy person and ask God to intervene on his or her behalf. He can do a much better job of improving their spirit than we ever could.

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Tips for Church Pianists {Lois Ormsby}

Congregational piano playing is something I’ve been doing for about 16 years now (wow, reality check right there about how old I’m getting!).  It is one of my favorite ways to minister during the services at church.  Currently I am one of three regular pianists at our church, and I play every Sunday morning.  Being a church pianist is an extreme privilege that I do not take for granted.  It is also something I strive to better myself in continually, whether it be by having new offertories ready each Sunday, mastering a new improvisation technique, or spiritually preparing for each service and remembering to ask God for His help as well as for His glory to be evident.

If you are a church pianist or aspire to be one someday, here are some things I’ve learned:

  • You have an important role in the overall spirit of the service. Remember that the way you play can either inspire people to sing or make them wish the song service were over!

  • You are not the song leader – you are supporting the song leader. Though I might feel a song should be sung a certain speed or a certain way, I always defer to my song leader’s decision on how to sing a song.  If I begin a congregational song with a lively introduction but halfway through the first verse realize that he is resisting the speed, I quickly adjust and slow down accordingly.

  • Anticipate your song leader’s plan for the service. At my church I am blessed with a spiritually mindful song leader that takes into consideration how the music affects the service.  I know that towards the beginning of a service he wants to make sure everyone is focusing and participating; towards the sermon time he wants to ensure people are thinking towards the preaching; and during the invitation he wants the attention to be on the altar and not on the singing.

  • For many parts of the service, you are the “cue”! If you are not sure when something is supposed to happen during the service, clarify that with your song leader before the service starts to avoid as many awkward fumbles as possible!

  • Learn to play hymns in keys that are comfortable for singing. Some hymnbooks have songs written in keys that make for some very high notes in a song.

  • Don’t be too proud to ask for help with your role! It is really nice how that right now, I am usually able to sit through two out of three weekly services thanks to the other pianists in our church.  This gives me a chance to do things like utilize the altar during invitation or reach out to visitors before church starts.  Side note: if you desire to implement other pianists in the service rotation for congregational singing, always clear this with both your pastor and your song leader first.

  • Congregational playing is not the time to implement a new technique unless you are 100% comfortable with it. You don’t want to throw your song leader off track and cause him embarrassment due to a mistake that YOU made!

  • If you make a mistake, accept the fact and move on with your life! Be able to laugh at yourself.  I remember one time when I was a teen, out of habit, I played the introduction in a key different than what was written.  Then when I looked to the music to continue with the congregation, all at once I both realized I was in the wrong key AND made the bad decision to switch to the correct key!  Obviously that sounded terrible; the song leader paused, graciously made some quick joke about it, and let me re-start the introduction.  Things like that happen – we are human!

  • It is incredibly helpful and almost essential for you to be able to see the song leader out of your peripheral vision as you play. Even though I don’t watch him the whole time I play (I am not skilled enough to complete such a feat), I glance at him often throughout a song to make sure I’m following his timing and spirit – especially at the beginning and end of each verse and chorus, at fermatas, or during songs that include things like handshaking time.  This is also a necessary thing when my sound system monitor is failed to be turned on.  If at your church your piano is positioned in a way that you cannot see the song leader during the congregational singing, talk to him (and your pastor) about repositioning the piano to eliminate this problem.

  • Though your role as a church pianist is very important, it is not supposed to stick out and distract from the song leader, singing, etc. Your role is supposed to blend in – kind of like glue that supports and holds everything together!

There are probably a dozen more things I could say, but this blogpost is getting long 🙂  If you are a pianist but have never deemed yourself “worthy” to play for the church service, think again!  Congregational playing is an excellent way to improve overall as a musician!  When I started out I didn’t really know what I was doing…I was 12 years old, had very little formal musical training, and made a lot of mistakes.  But, I also had a desire to improve my skills and learn to play “like my friends who do that” because I was so amazed at how they were able to participate in the services like that.  India and I always say that the Holy Spirit was our chief music Teacher, because God really broadened my abilities and insight about congregational playing through the years.  To this day, I am kind of obsessed with watching other church pianists play so that I can learn new techniques and styles of playing.  My desire is to continue to improve as a pianist my entire life!

Perhaps something I’ve said today sparked a question or two in your mind.  I’d love to hear from you and I would do my best to answer more about being a church pianist!

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Letting Out the Hurt {Lois Ormsby}

In my first post of 2018, I mentioned how I’m learning to avoid venting unnecessary words to my husband.  This is something that is easy to do…but sometimes, it IS necessary to “vent”.  I wanted to clarify that with some Biblical examples of people who let their hurt out:

 

  • Hannah, when she poured her heart’s burden upon the LORD
  • Elijah, when he complained to the LORD that he was the only one who had not bowed to Baal
  • David, throughout the Psalms, wrote very real and raw outpourings of his heart
  • Jesus: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

 

God does not want us influencing others to think ill of people.  However, He also does not want us to keep hurt inside of us and pretend like nothing has happened.  That very quickly leads to bitterness and a superficial way of living.  Constantly trying to cover hurt is exhausting, not to mention dishonest.

 

If your heart is burdened, go first to the LORD about it.  He wants you to come to Him and pour your heart out to Him!

 

 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

 

“Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.  Seals.” Psalm 62:8

 

Next, remember that you are not the only one who has gone through whatever trial you find yourself in.  There are people around you – especially in your church – that have been through similar trials and can relate to you in a way that others cannot.  This is one reason that being involved in church is so important…God says in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that “…we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.”  One way He uses our trials for good is letting us encourage someone else going through the same trial!  That human recognition and understanding, that feeling of “I get you” is God-ordained.  He knows that connection means a lot to us.

 

You must be willing to talk about your hurts with a mind willing to finding comfort God’s way.  If you aren’t, the times you do open up to someone will simply be venting.  Venting doesn’t solve any problems; but real, raw, heart to heart conversations lead toward solutions.  Now, I am not advocating being someone who constantly complains to others about their personal struggles.  What I am advocating is that if you feel torn up inside, you need to go to someone for help.  Don’t be too proud to ask someone to help you through the floodwaters of confused, hurt, difficult emotions.  Hurt is a real thing in our world – and God has real ways to help us through those emotions.  But, He doesn’t force those ways upon us; He leaves it up to us to seek His ways, whereby our hurts may be soothed and our problems may be remedied.

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Life With Food Allergies {Lois and India}

 

Lois: “January 1st, 2017: We were enjoying a nice meal out on New Year’s Day after Sunday morning church.  Malachi was nearly 1 year old, and he was happily chowing down on various tidbits from our meals.  We gave him a raw tomato and he took a few bites of that; but, it wasn’t long until he stopped eating and began fussing.  We could not console him, so we finished up our meal and headed back to church where we had planned to hang out for the afternoon.

 

On the ride to church, Malachi’s fussing got worse and worse.  It was pitiful.  Upon arriving at church I tried to nurse him because this always calmed him down.  He would not nurse at all, though, so I went to change his diaper, thinking that might do the trick.  It was then that I discovered the cause for his miserable fussing: he was having an allergic reaction to something he ate.  I quickly surmised that he was not nursing because his throat was swelling shut, and he was covered in huge welts from head to toe.  Praise God that the best children’s hospital in our area is 5 minutes from our church!  We rushed him there, and when the nurses saw him, they admitted us immediately to the emergency department.

 

That was a pretty scary day for me as a mom…especially when I realized that Malachi was having trouble breathing.  I had always heard about kids who have severe food allergies but never imagined I would have one of my own.  Learning the ins and outs of caring for his dietary needs has given me a whole new respect for the parents who battle food allergies.  It is a daily, sometimes hourly struggle that you can only understand if you are dealing with it yourself.  Thus, I wanted to share some things that might deepen your understanding towards families who have to deal with food allergies.  When you are temped to think “they’re making a really big deal about this”, remember these things about those parents:

 

  • They are vigilant about what goes in their child’s mouth because they’ve watched that child struggle to breathe or pass out due to a simple, overlooked ingredient.
  • Leaving their child in the care of others for any length of time brings with it a sense of panic, knowing what could happen if their child eats something they are allergic to.
  • They do not give you specific instructions because they think you are stupid; they do that because they want the severity of what could happen to be on your mind as much as it is on theirs.
  • They know that it’s easy to hand a kid a piece of candy or a bite of your food before you realize what you’re doing. But, that one bite could cost their child another severe reaction.
  • Going out to eat is always extra mental work: “Does this restaurant have food my child can eat? Do I have enough snacks packed if it does not?”
  • They are grateful when you are mindful of their child’s allergies in times of food and fellowship. They don’t expect you to accommodate those allergies (especially when the allergies are as numerous as Malachi’s are), yet they are touched when you go the extra mile to remember what their child can and cannot eat.
  • They do everything they can to not be a bother to people. They feel bad when special arrangements have to be made due to their child’s food allergies.

 

Perhaps this insight will help you be more sympathetic towards families with food allergies!  Going through it firsthand has certainly opened my eyes to all the work and mental stress a  “food allergy parent” endures day in and day out.  I can only pray that Malachi will outgrow his allergies.  If he doesn’t, though, I will continue to cheerfully care for his needs, for that is simply part of my role as his mom!”

India comments: “This article that my sister wrote is meaningful to me because one of my daughters has food allergies as well.  I think anyone who has a food allergy or has a child with a food allergy can agree that it is hard.  It is hard to say no to your kids when they want the good stuff.  It is hard because most people don’t get it.

 

If you personally deal with food allergies or dietary restrictions due to health problems, you probably have struggles of your own.  On the other hand, if you are blessed to be able to eat whatever you want, here are a few ways that you can be understanding with those who cannot:

 

  • Something that was frustrating for me when I had to avoid certain foods was when people kind of laughed about it, almost patronizingly, as if they thought that I was paranoid. Those people didn’t mean any harm, but at that time I was internally hemorrhaging, and I had to be very careful what I ate.  Please be careful what you to say to people, because you never know what they are struggling with.
  • Don’t make a big deal about how “gross” you think gluten-free (or fill in the blank) food is. I had people tell me “I would die if I had to eat that way!”  And all I could think was “I would die if I didn’t eat this way.”  People with food allergies are trying to learn a new way of eating and do not need that kind of negativity.  If you think their food is gross, keep your thoughts to yourself or just don’t taste it!
  • If someone you love has a food allergy, learn to make things that they can eat. My mom is such a good example of this.  She is always trying to make new recipes that are allergy-friendly for her grandkids.  My daughter, Sakshi, is old enough to understand and appreciate that “LaLa” made her something special so that she could have a treat like everyone else.

 

In this day and age, food allergies are a common-place thing.  Health problems affect both the young and the old in ways that they rarely used to.  It’s good to try to see things from one another’s perspectives, because like I said before, you never know what someone is dealing with.”

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What I Learned in 2017 {Lois Ormsby}

What I learned in 2017  {Lois Ormsby}

For some reason my entire year has been on my mind a lot this December.  I have been thinking a lot about what God was able to teach me, what I need to work on in 2018, and where our family is emotionally and spiritually as we enter a brand new year.  Here are a few things that I’ve learned in 2017.  They are in no particular order, and this list certainly does not include everything I learned!  I hope that theses things might inspire you to look back on your own 2017 and consider what lessons God has been able to teach you.

  • I need to be ok with God telling me to rest. As a teenager and into my college years, I was the type of person who thrived on being busy and involved.  I knew how to maximize a day and could stay busy doing a long list of various activities.  Fast forward to 2017: this year marked five years since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.  Until this year, I’ve always despised and loathed the way UC makes me feel.  Most of the time I have next to no energy and tire easily.  Adding pregnancy, nursing, and pregnancy again to that mix has only made my chronic illness harder to live with.  This year, though, God finally got through to me about my spirit concerning this weakness He has allowed in my life.  At 6 weeks pregnant with baby #2, the morning (all day) sickness hit me really hard.  I was so incredibly discouraged, because I literally was doing nothing.  I couldn’t even make it to church and ended up in the ER for a few hours one time, too.  During this time of severe baby sickness, God was able to speak to me despite the low feelings I felt.  He reminded me that I needed to stop comparing my pregnant self with that of my friends, and that He didn’t expect me to keep up “normal life” like so many of them seemed to.  In 2017 God has shown me over and over that I simply need to accept the days that I wake up feeling wiped out instead of being frustrated the entire day that my to-do list is sitting untouched.
  • The importance of reaching out and touching those that God puts on my heart will only be fully realized in Heaven. I cannot tell you how many times in 2017 God put certain people on my heart.  Heeding God’s prompting to do something for them – a card, a prayer, a gift, a few minutes’ chat, some flowers, a song – showed me over and over just how important it is to look out for each other.  Usually when reaching out to these people, I had no idea that they had gone through something horrible that very day or week, and how desperately they needed reminded that God loved them.  Doing things for others is something I’ve always loved to do, but this year God gave me even more insight to how those promptings of someone being on my mind is His Spirit directly communicating with my heart.
  • Margin in everyday life is of utmost value, a very essential application of wisdom. Some of you have perhaps read Pastor Paul Chappell’s book, Stewarding Life.  I read this several years back and highly recommend it!  One of the things that stuck out the most to me from this book is that of margin in life.  Simply put, having margin in life is having time that is unscheduled in our calendars on purpose.  Our American culture has driven us to a life with no margin – it’s so easy to live that way, because we feel the pressure of being busy every day and filling every free time slot with some fun family activity, church commitment, school event, work opportunity…the list goes on.  Watching other families’ lack of margin, I’ve realized that I do not want my family to be the same way.  Thankfully, my husband shares this value with me.  And so, as we worked our way through 2017, I always made sure we had margin scheduled in our life.  If I had one or two busy days in a row, I tried very hard for the next couple days to be more free and quiet.  If we already had a commitment for a particular day, we usually did not schedule anything else for the same day to avoid the day becoming too packed.  Looking back on 2017, I’m pleased to say that our year was much less stressful because of the margin we planned on.  The margin in our life also helped unexpected situations become easier to fit in and deal with.
  • What I say about people and situations really impacts my husband’s view of people and situations. In 2017 God taught me to talk less than ever before. It is easy for me to count my husband as my avenue for “venting” – but, what is the venting going to do in the long run?  Is what I’m about to tell him going to drive him to protector mode and cause him to think unkind thoughts about the person who frustrated me?  Is what I’m venting about going to change his good opinion of someone we both love?  Josh and I talk about a lot of things, and oftentimes I do still “vent” to him…but I have been striving to avoid telling him things simply with the subconscious reason of getting him to be “on my side” of the scenario.  I don’t want to stand before God someday and be told that I was a malicious woman full of guile.
  • Making the most of moments with Malachi now (he’s almost 2) conditions me towards a habit of doing the same when he’s old enough to realize whether or not I’m really present in his life. In today’s society it’s so easy to be involved in our kids’ lives just long enough that they’re fed, changed, and happy entertaining themselves (or so we think) while we go back to our to-do lists, work, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, and so on. But, choosing the better way of prioritizing life will render such better rewards in the long run.  When I’m spending time with Malachi, I leave my phone alone.  I try to be completely present in whatever it is we’re doing together, be it eating lunch, playing with balls, or having a tickle war on the couch.  Sure, there are times when I slip up and become engrossed in other things – but, I try really hard to remember that my life IS Malachi.  My life IS my home.  If I make a habit of multitasking now, when he’s little and “doesn’t realize it”, I’ll still be doing that when he’s bigger and trying to engage me in real conversation.  At 10, he’ll clearly see that my to-do list is apparently more important than my desire to be fully present in his world.  Or, perhaps at nearly 2, he is already beginning to discern where my priorities lie.  I want to have good habits now so that by the time he is 10, he knows that he is a huge priority of my life and not just a necessary part of my every day that is to be checked off my to-do list.
  • Saving money is not always the most important thing. My time is more valuable than my money.  I’m a girl who LOVES a good deal and gets excited over saving more than I spent on a purchase.  Yet, between the busy schedule American society calls for and the fatigue my chronic illness burdens me with, I have come to realize that my time is much more valuable than my money.  Don’t worry – I still do what I can to stretch our paychecks and spend less where I can.  But…at the end of the day, what is more important: that I have $15 left in my purse after spending 2 extra hours scouring the stores, or that I am well-rested before my husband comes home from work, whereby we might enjoy some time quality together as a family?  Sometimes that extra $4.28 spent at Chick-Fil-A while running errands is exactly what your child needs to get through the ordeal of grocery shopping cheerfully (I mean, really, who wants to be strapped in a carseat for 3 hours?!).  Instead of worrying about the money to the point that I’m always thinking or saying “we can’t afford that”, I think first of how this purchase – or the lack thereof – may affect my time and thus affect the spirit of my home.

Looking back on my year has both encouraged me and exhorted me.  It’s sobering to think of how much my outlook on life impacts my husband and children.  I already have a small list of things I want to work on in 2018 – not exactly New Year’s resolutions, but more like things I want personally improve in whereby I may be a better woman, wife, and mom by the end of 2018 than I am right now.  Perhaps throughout this new phase of blogging with my sister, I will share some of those things with you.  Until then, I pray that this blogpost has encouraged you towards considering your own life as God instructs us to in Ephesians 5:15 and 16: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

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