Miss Kay with all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be
hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the
house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they
may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matt
My parents are from New Mexico and Texas, so they have always
been fans of the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Texas
Longhorns. Growing up I heard a joke repeated over and over in my
grandpa’s house that went like this:
“How many Aggies does it take to change a light bulb?”
Answer: “Ten. One to hold the light bulb and nine to turn the
And the place would always erupt in laughter. I wondered for so
long who these poor Aggies were (sorry if you’re a Texas A&M fan,
but you understand the rivalry!), and why were people laughing at
their inability to simply change a light bulb. Couldn’t someone just
teach them how to do it?
How do we know when a light bulb needs changing? Do we count
the hours listed on the box to see when we might need start thinking
about changing it? Do we worry every time we flip on a light bulb
that this might be the moment it will go out? I would presume the
answer to be “no” on both of these questions. We don’t really think
about light bulbs at all until they stop working. We rely on their light
every time we need it. We assume without even thinking that the
light bulb is going to turn on when we flip the switch or turn the
knob. And when it doesn’t, bummer! We’ve got to stop everything
and go get another bulb from the closet (or the store if we weren’t
A few weeks ago, on the night before the first day of school, I texted
all of my sisters-in-law (who all live on the same street as me) and
told them that I wanted to do a short back-to-school devotional with
all of the younger kids if they could come. About 30 minutes later,
they all showed up, most with wet hair from baths and in their
pajamas, all fresh and ready for the first day of school. I asked all 9
of them, ages ranging from 6-13, who was nervous about the next
day and who was excited. Most were a little nervous while just a few
were excited. (Since Mia hadn’t been back to school since her March
surgery, she was about to jump out of her skin she was so excited!)
We read the above passage of scripture, and I asked them what it
meant to let your light shine. Blank stares. Let’s back up.
“What IS this light that we’re supposed to shine?”
The answers I got at first were “good attitudes”, “being kind”,
“having a positive spirit”. I explained that all of these were good
things but that they were a result of the light. What exactly IS the
After a few seconds of silence, Bailey Kay (Alan’s granddaughter)
blurted out, “Jesus!” Yes! Jesus is ALWAYS the right answer. Jesus
is our light. How we shine that light is by what the kids listed earlier.
We talked about how sometimes it is difficult to let your light shine
when you forgot your homework at home that morning or the
cafeteria is serving something you don’t particularly like. It’s
especially difficult when you feel someone is being unkind to you.
But the scripture doesn’t say we should shine our light when we are
having a good day or when we feel good about ourselves. The
reason we shine our light is to show people by our good deeds that
we are glorifying our Father in Heaven. With nine kids sitting on my
couch, the odds of all of them having a good day every day during
the school year were low. So, we talked about how we can help
each other stay on track with our lights. Maybe a code phrase?
They loved this idea! After many funny and quite goofy suggestions,
they all decided on the same one.
If anyone saw another sibling or cousin who looked down in the
dumps or was heard griping or being negative, they would ask them,
“Do you need to change your bulb?”
They all began to get excited for the new year ahead of them, even
those who were nervous. As they scurried out the door headed to
their perspective homes, they were all laughing and talking about
their light bulbs. I even got a “That was good, Aunt Missy,” from 13-
year-old Will. Mission accomplished!
Do you need a code phrase? You are welcome to steal ours. You
may not have the problem of forgotten homework or bad cafeteria
food, but sometimes it still doesn’t take much for our bulbs to go out.
A hectic morning might have included stepping in puppy pee (like
mine) or realizing you never got gas the night before and how you’re
running even later to work today. Satan LOVES to throw things in
our path that may make us stumble and break our bulb all together.
Keep your eyes on Jesus today and every day. Remember, He IS the
light. Now go turn those bulbs on!