Playing with Purpose Picture of white piano

Meet the Musical Randalls

     Outside the air was chilly, but in the Randall living room, the sunshine glittered over the piano where Ruby was seated. She ran her fingers lightly over the keys. Any moment now and the rest of her family would come in to practice. Their family was going to do a song for special music at church tomorrow.

     Ruby opened the hymnbook to The King of Love My Shepherd Is. It had taken her a while to learn to play the song because she hadn’t even known how to sing it. But, the pastor had requested it because it went so well with his sermon topic.

     Now Ruby’s family was starting to gather. Amber was the first one to come into the living room. Ruby’s only sister, twelve years old, was carrying her flute case. She sat on a chair, opened the case, and began assembling her flute.  The youngest member of the family, Mica, came running in, slowing to a walk when his eyes met Ruby’s. He plopped down on the couch. His hands were in his pockets; he didn’t appear to have any musical instrument.

     Ruby played through the song one more time, wanting to be sure she had it down. By the time she reached the end, the soft notes of the flute were blending in. Whistling along with them, Sterling came in, going over to the stand by the piano to retrieve his guitar.

     “What song are we playing again?” he asked in a teasing voice.

     Ruby frowned at her older brother and pretended to be upset. “You’d better have been practicing it already,” she scolded playfully. Sterling was strumming his guitar and only grinned at her.  The last three members of the Randall family came in together. Mr. and Mrs. Randall were holding hands; Jasper was just holding his fiddle.

     Mr. Randall looked around the room at his family and smiled contentedly. “Are y’all ready to make some music?” he asked.

     For an answer, Ruby softly played an introduction to the song. As the first verse began, the family blended their voices in song. All of them except Jasper and Amber that is, since their instruments were not conducive to singing. Amber’s mouth was formed into the correct “o” shape, blowing in the flute, and Jasper’s chin rest kept him from singing.

     On the second verse, Mica importantly pulled a harmonica from his pants pocket and played along. After that verse and chorus were over, he returned it to his pocket. Mrs. Randall couldn’t help but smile at her youngest child’s enthusiasm and joy in being part of the family’s activity.  The family ran through the song a few more times, discussing improvements and suggestions between each round.

     “Well, I think that’s as good as it’s going to get,” commented Ruby. Her heart thumped a little faster with nervousness at the thought of doing it in front of people tomorrow.

Watercolor of Ruby with her long red hair, and she is wearing a lavender dress


     “What if I mess up?” Amber voiced Ruby’s fear.

     “Yeah,” chimed in Jasper. “My hands shake when I’m nervous, and I start squeaking the strings.

     Mr. Randall thought for a moment before answering. “I think it’s a little like us as a family practicing music. We all have our part to do in playing, and nobody cares if someone else misses a note. We’re just enjoying the opportunity of worshiping God together as a family,” he explained.

     The children had often heard their dad talk about only playing for God’s glory and not worrying about being perfect since God can get glory even through mistakes. But, this was a different approach. They listened closely.

     “That’s the way it should be at church too,” Mr. Randall went on. “We are a family joining together to worship God. We each have a part to do that should be done to the best of our ability. But after that, we shouldn’t worry but leave the results in God’s hands.

     Ruby nodded. This really made sense. She knew that she would still get nervous the next day, but these thoughts had helped put things in perspective.

     “Thanks, Dad,” Amber said, giving her dad a hug.

     Mom headed to the kitchen to finish supper, the children staying and putting away instruments and stacking hymnbooks to take to church for singing their special from. It didn’t take more than a jiffy for Ruby to close the piano lid and scoot the bench into its nook underneath. She was softly singing the fourth verse to herself. The boys and Dad were already gone, but Amber joined in.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

     “I feel better, don’t you?” Amber asked after the singing stopped.

     “Yes, I do,” Ruby agreed with relief in her voice. “We may still make mistakes tomorrow, but that won’t keep us from being used by God while we worship with our church family.”

     “Supper,” came a call from the kitchen.

     The girls hurried from the living room to join the rest of their family. 


     If you want to read a new story about Ruby and her family every month or so, feel free to join the blog!

Let’s Chat! 

Do you get nervous playing music or singing in front of other people?  I sure do!  What is something that helps give you the courage to do things that make you nervous?

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  1. I really enjoyed this story, Bethany! I get nervous playing in front of others, but what helps is knowing the people I’m playing for are encouraging and don’t mind if I make mistakes, which I do!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Hannah! That’s a great thought to help with nervousness. I also know that it helps me feel better when others make mistakes, so it’s encouraging to know that I may be helping someone else feel better when I make a mistake. 🙂 It helps to know that you aren’t the only one!

  2. I seldom get nervous singing before people, since I have done it with my family nearly all my life, but we DO make mistakes. We have learned along the way that musicians smile the biggest when they make mistakes. 😀

    One comforting thought is that even professional musicians make mistakes (lots of them). They are just professional enough to not make the mistakes show, and they keep playing/singing! If you make a mistake, the best thing to do is act as if that is just the way it was supposed to be, smile, and KEEP GOING. 🙂

    Most importantly, do ALL for the glory of God! Your music can be perfect by certain standards, but if it doesn’t come from the heart then it’s worthless in God’s sight. The condition and attitude of your heart is what matters most. ENJOY and MEAN what you sing!

    1. This was a great comment! It’s really nice hearing advice from some who has had a lot of experience ministering in song. I like what you pointed out about how even professionals make mistakes, so you just need to learn how to handle them when they come – as they will! 🙂 And yes, our heart attitude is so much more important than our skill.

      Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

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