My family and I went to a breakfast picnic yesterday and spent some time there with my dad’s side of the family. We don’t really see his family all that often and are not exceptionally close to them, but every so often we’ll do something with them.

I remember when we used to go to these Labor Day breakfast picnics every year… We would always go to the same park, and after eating and visiting for a while, we would go walking on the trails. We’d go down by the river (I assume it was a river, but… I was really little then, so who knows if it really was…) and my dad would skip rocks. I always thought that was just the neatest thing ever and always wanted to learn, but it never worked for me.

The family breakfast picnics became less frequent over the years, and I really missed them. My grandpa passed away when I was in first grade, and my grandma’s health remained great while her mind declined quickly with Alzheimers. She eventually had to be put in a nursing home. After a while, it got past her not knowing who we were; she no longer even knew we were there. She died in 2004 early in the morning the day after Christmas.

With my grandma died much of the effort to do anything as a family, which I find really sad and discouraging. Over the past few of years, we’ve had a couple of these Labor Day breakfast picnics again though, and this one in particular was so refreshing.

I was sitting and talking with one of my uncles (he’s my dad’s brother-in-law… well, one of them… we have a huge family). I don’t remember what turn the conversation had taken, but he all of a sudden said something about my sister being in a great mood. Then he said, “Well, you are too.” And.. then he added, “It’s so nice to be around people who are happy all the time.”

Well, just to let ya know, I’m not “happy all the time,” as he put it, but I do make it a point to be joyful. God is good, and He deserves nothing but our praise. Why should I not smile and be joyful?

My uncle’s comment absolutely made my day. Very few of my relatives on my dad’s side know and follow Jesus, and to have my uncle make a comment like that encouraged me. I didn’t take it very far, because I know when to stop so as not to push him away. Even though we didn’t get terribly far with it, that was such a huge highlight of my day. It’s a step toward more of a conversation about God. I am praying for another step the next time I see him. God can do it. I’m trusting Him for it.

This side of my family has very few people who follow Jesus, but I love that I can be a window through which they can see Him. It is an amazing opportunity that I want to constantly take advantage of. To do this though, I need to make sure my life is reflecting Him and His love. Otherwise, I am nothing more than a dirty window, giving my family and others a wrong picture of Jesus. I don’t want to misrepresent Him. I want my life to speak of how great He is and how He changes our lives… how He gives us joy and makes us smile.

The choices I make and the way I live my life really have an effect on others. I want to use that effect and influence wisely. When I set apart Christ as Lord in my life, it shows. Others notice.

“But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives].” [1 Peter 3:15-16, Amplified Bible]