Shining Sisters

(Photo courtesy of ShinyHead)

Shining Sisters
How the Ladies of ShinyHead Found Freedom to Overcome Fear

By Sarah Komisky

Sibling groups have always have always been cool. There’s The Shangri-La’s, Heart, The Bangles, The Dixie Chicks, Tegan & Sara. Need I say more? Sister groups rock not only for their music but also for their unique family ties and newcomer sister duo Riley Armenta and Kalya Ormonde (collectively known as ShinyHead) are no exception. However ShinyHead has chosen to up their game by coming together to not only create good music but to proclaim a message of freedom over fear. Working through their own insecurities (battling alopecia and people pleasing), these girls have united in their sisterhood to inspire others to be themselves which we at Marked Ministry deem truly cool. Here is what they had to share.

So for those who don’t know, how did you guys get your start in a band and why is music important to you?

Riley: We basically started by singing and jamming together since we were young, its a lot easier when you’re sharing a room with your sister.  Music is important to us because it has been a crucial part of our lives since we were young.

Kayla: Yeah our home was full of instruments; our parents played, we played, our brothers played, there was always someone playing something. And then songwriting became a natural way to express life around us.

Riley: We knew God had a plan from the beginning but we just had to be patient to see where He wanted to lead us.

What has the experience been like being able to do ministry together as sisters?

Riley: Its fun! Of course you are a lot more honest when dealing with family… but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kayla: Haha my answer isn’t that far off: it’s both incredible and at times trying. Like she said, we’re family but also complete opposites, so naturally we’re more upfront and vulnerable with each other then say with another band member. But getting to impact others for Christ’s kingdom alongside my little sis has been pretty cool. Its especially fun when we are so in sync and the Holy Spirit moves one of us to do or say something and the other sister just moves right along in to compliment or support that. For me as the slightly older sis, it’s also been inspiring to see how the Lord has brought Ry [Riley] out of her comfort zone. She used to be terribly shy and developed in leading worship – I’m real proud of her.

I know your band name is apart of your story dealing with alopecia. You noted on your website: “Bald is Beautiful” and what I love about you Kayla is your confidence. How did you begin to walk in that confidence?

Kayla: The band name actually started out as a joke. The members have changed over the years, but Riley and I have always been the front. So when we were forming a new band seven years ago and trying to figure out a name, our mentor at the time (worship leader and Pastor Holland Davis), kept calling us “ShinyHead.” We thought it was silly but everyone remembered it…so it stuck.

Alopecia is autoimmune disease that attacks my hair randomly and initially we didn’t know if I would go bald or not. Eight-years-old at the time, the first six months I became insecure and depressed as I constantly worried about what other people would think of me. I started to feel like a mistake. In a conversation with my mom, I discovered God had a plan and a purpose for my life despite the alopecia. That was incredible news! Later on I thought through it and realized if I truly believed what I heard about Jesus being God, dying for my sins, rising from the dead – if He could truly be trusted with my salvation, surely I can trust Him with loosing my hair too. Surrendering that control and insecurity was so liberating! My focus shifted on knowing Him more and being the woman He wanted me to be. Jesus is a gentlemen and doesn’t force us to come to Him, but when finally I did, He began to work in me and change me. Before I would have never been in public with a shaved head and now I’m in a band called ShinyHead. A verse to sum it up is Proverbs 29:25 reads “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

Riley, you too seem really comfortable in your own skin and I love your unique style! How have you taken those steps to accepting how you are in Christ?

Riley: Well, I never really cared about what people thought of me. Not in a mean way – I just was more of a tomboy growing up. I skated, swam, loved being competitive but as I got a little older, I still have a specific kinda style but I feel I’ve become a lot more strict in how I view women’s clothing – especially short shorts. You have no idea the struggle it was to find shorts that fully covered my butt. It’s sad but true! I believe you can have whatever style you want but believe that it’s very important to also be appropriate. We are daughters of the King so there’s no need to be flashy with our bodies.

So many of us struggle with insecurity. What is a word you would share with our readers on the subject and how can they begin to embrace their own uniqueness as individuals?

Kayla: Yes of course. As girls we wanna be pretty, and can always find things to nit-pick about ourselves, and I still do at times. But that’s neither healthy nor productive. Discovering that my identity is in my Maker has been a game changer. We put our identity into so many things; looks, relationships, skills, careers, styles – but all these things are temporary or unreliable. The only way to truly know who we are is too first know who our Maker is. Like how we all know an iPhone is an Apple iPhone and they’re great because Apple made it that way. Through knowing my Maker and cultivating my relationship with Him first, I have become more and more comfortable in my own skin. Also studying the Bible has helped guard my heart when tempted to indulge in insecurity. One of my favorites is Philippians 4:6-7 which says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Riley: Insecurity doesn’t only have to do with the outward appearance, for me I became very insecure about the personal things and tragedies that were going on when I was a young adult. For me it was a deep insecurity of my mind – what people would think if they knew the things I was going through or that had happened in my life. I recently wrote a song called “Fear” and basically it’s all about living for Christ regardless of our baggage, our fears, our insecurities.  Isaiah 41:10 is one of the verses I based this song off of.

Kayla: That song “Fear” captures it pretty well. Although she wrote it recently, I feel like it describes my battle with fear from 16 years ago perfectly and illustrates that Philippians verse about being honest with God in our prayers, but also leaving our anxieties with Him in exchange for His peace.

Our current issue is dedicated to “underdog” stories and being an overcomer in Christ. What have been some of your personal underdog stories and how did you become a victor?

Kayla: Ry alluded to some personal tragedies and events that all seemed to climax at the same time a few years back. That summer on one of the worst days of my life, we were supposed to sing at a night of prayer and worship the following day. A month later during one of the worst weeks of my life, I had just come home from leading worship to heartbreaking news that turned my world upside down. During those months and the year that followed, getting up to sing – especially worship – was very difficult because I just wanted to cry. Looking at me, people may not have noticed, but I didn’t feel adequate to be leading worship when my heart was so broken. The Lord used those times to teach me that He is always worthy of worship despite our circumstances. Since worship songs focus on the character and provision of God, singing at that time forced me to fixate on the words I sung more then ever before. This helped strengthen my faith instead of loosing hope in the chaos. My faith was anchored through the storm.

I know that you partner with Ryan Ries (the Whosoevers) reaching out to youth counterculture, A21 to help end human trafficking and The Breaking Through Conference tackling tough issues girls struggle with like cutting and eating disorders. Why are these partnerships so important to you?

Riley: They’re important to us because we truly believe in the cause and see Gods hand in these organizations. This new generation of young people are very gnarly and were trying to reach as many as possible. Trying to bring hope no matter what they have been through because, as least in my experience, there’s nothing more amazing than being able to have the full peace in your life that God gives. So, I think it’s important to reach as many people as possible with that truth.

Recently, you sang at the Wake Up Tour with Ryan Ries. Tell me a little about the tour and what the experience was like?

Kayla: The Wake Up Tour specifically is to encourage and exhort the church and Christians in general to be alert, be willing and ready to be used by God at all times. Not to get distracted or “lazy” as it were with the “cares of this world.” It also presents the Gospel to anyone who will listen to encourage them to get right with God through a relationship with Jesus. The times we are living in are dramatic and life is short, so we want to be living life fully as we were created to live it in Christ and be ready to go whenever it’s our time to go. It’s a fun event, but more importantly, it’s exciting to be a part of, to witness the Gospel being proclaimed boldly and responded to boldly.

As young women of faith, how do you want to be like Jesus and reach out to the underdogs? What are some ways you would encourage our readers to do the same?

Riley: I’d say, no matter what our plans may be, God will always more likely change them. We most of the time have no clue what the end result will be, but I guarantee if you let go and allow God to direct your life, you will be far far better off than if you try to direct your own paths. Music hasn’t always been easy for us, there have been many times we’ve gotten fed up and tired and wanted to quit but we know wholeheartedly this is where God has us and being able to be apart of what Gods doing is far better than anything I could have ever paved for myself.  So allow God to lead you and no matter what, don’t ever quit until He decides to lead you somewhere new.

What’s up next for you ladies as a band?

Riley: We are going to be recording ‘Fear” pretty soon, its become one of our most requested songs, so were excited to see where God takes us next and hopefully get these new songs out as soon as possible.

Kayla: Pretty excited about it. After recording “Fear” we would like to do a full-length album next. We have two 5-6 song EPs out right now: Can You See the Light which is comprised of our originals from when we first started songwriting, and Victory which is specifically worship songs. Lord willing an album will be next. Recording is a whole different ball game – it’ll be fun to get back in.

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