Blair and Shai Linne: Jesus for the Next Generation
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Blair And Shai LinneBlair Linne is a Christian spoken word artist, actress, and Bible teacher. Blair is recognized as one of the originators of the Christian spoken word genre. At 13, she was one of the youngest contributors to the Anansi Writers Workshop at L.A.’s prestigious art forum, The World Stage. Since then, she has toured globally, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through spoken word.
What could your legacy be to your family? Artists Blair and Shai Linne offer you-can-do-this ways hand Jesus to the next generation.
Blair and Shai Linne: Jesus for the Next Generation
Shai: It’s incalculable: the impact that one godly couple can have on generations to come. It was my desire, and it was Blair’s desire—that though we both came from broken homes—the Lord brought us together, in His sovereignty, so that we might leave a godly legacy.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: Growing up in Fendley, Ohio, this little town, I was always jealous of this one family, the Barons.
Ann: Were you?!—that’s my family.
Dave: She’s sitting right there.
Dave: Yes; I mean, they were known in our town as this really close-knit family. Now, I knew it wasn’t as great as we thought, from the outside; but I always was jealous of your dad.
Dave: You know, he coached me—and I knew your brothers—I played sports with your brothers. Every time I was near your family—it felt full of joy; it felt fun—a lot of laughter. You guys were addicted to sports, so that was awesome. [Laughter] But I think a lot of people in that town felt that about the Barons.
Why do you have tears in your eyes?
Ann: I don’t know; but it makes me teary, just because I just lost both of my parents. They did create that—they were fun—people wanted to be at our house, not so much because of us kids, but because [of] my dad. People would sit down; and he would say, “Tell me your story. Tell me who you are. How did you get so great?” He was great at complimenting other people; wasn’t he?
Dave: Yes; I mean, as a guy—
Ann: And he loved you! It helped that you were a good athlete too. [Laughter]
Dave: Well, it was the kind of family—you never wanted to leave their house—you wanted to stay there: it felt warm; it felt inviting.
I would leave—and I remember getting on my bike and pedaling over; then later, going home to an empty house—with just my mom, who was drinking to hide her pain. Now, we’re bringing all that up!
Ann: I’ve already been crying.
Ann: We just started!
Dave: We just started this thing!
Ann: I feel sad for you too.
Dave: You’re hearing, on the other side of the room, we’ve got Shai and Blair Linne in here. This is Day Two, talking about your family. Blair, you wrote a book called Finding My Father.
Dave: So obviously, you’ve had a similar experience.
But again, let me just first say, welcome back to FamilyLife Today. We’re so glad to have you back!
Blair: Thank you; it’s good to be back with you guys.
Ann: And Shai, it’s really good to have both of you here: to hear both of your stories—and the similarities, too—and the struggle of wanting to have that relationship and, also, forgiving our fathers. I think our listeners—even me, having a great dad—there were still things that I had to forgive. I think this relates to all of us.
Dave: Yes; and so obviously, we’ve heard a little bit of your story; but even as you hear us talk about that, did you ever feel that in your life? Because you both had—you lived in homes that were fatherless, in a sense, like mine—did you feel a similar desire?—“I want to be around a family, where there’s a dad. There’s something there that I don’t have.”
Blair: I remember praying—actually, my grandmother, who was a source of strength/kind of the backbone of our family on my mom’s side, and a strong believer—she would pray for us, and she would pray that we would have a godly family. I remember, at 13 years old, praying, “I want to have a godly family.” Now, I had no idea what that even meant! [Laughter]
Blair: But that was in my mind; that was in my heart—
Ann: That’s what you wanted.
Blair: —kind of planted—that’s what I wanted.
Blair: It’s so sad, because there weren’t many models where I lived; you know? I would look out at the different families that lived around us—or you know, when we lived in an apartment building, below us or to the side of us—and really, wasn’t anything that I saw that I wanted to model, sadly.
It’s crazy—when I was a child—I would actually have an imaginary family,—
Blair: —which is really sad—with a dad; you know? Most of what I saw, when I thought of a family, was something on television: The Cosby Show,—
Shai: The Huxtables, yes.
Ann: Yes, the Huxtables.
Blair: —Family Matters;you know?
Ann: And Shai, you’re [nodding] your head.
Shai: Yes; very similar for me. I didn’t know that there was anything other than single-parent homes—because all of my friends: it was just their mom—the idea of a dad even being in the home was foreign to me.
Ann: And yet, look at you two now! I mean, I wonder if your grandmother, praying that for you: did that give you a sense of: “This is what I want as well”?
Blair: Yes, absolutely.
Ann: And then, God answered that prayer.
Dave: Yes; so as you guys get married, was there a desire—I mean, you’ve got three kids—right?
Blair: Yes; well, not before we got married.
Dave: Right, right. [Laughter] You didn’t have any kids before.
Dave: You’ve had them since.
Dave: But I know, when Ann and I got married, there were two things going on in my mind. She, again, came from this great family—and again, we’re not saying “perfect”—because, even as I got in there,—
Ann: —and there was no faith going on.
Dave: —I saw all the dysfunction.
Ann: Yes, there’s a lot.
Dave: I could tell you stories.
Dave: But anyway, it was just sort of a typical family; but there was a dad.
Dave: And I didn’t have that; so when we got married, I had two things in my mind. One was: I was scared to death to be a dad. I wanted to be one, but I was afraid I didn’t know how.
Ann: I just—yes, let me share this, Dave—on our honeymoon, we go out east to the East Coast, and we spend two nights in Boston at this great hotel. We were all excited; and we were kind of adventurous, like: “Let’s take the subway!” “Let’s explore the city!” We were exploring; and on the way back, we got lost on the subway. I love adventure! I’m like, “Who cares if we’re lost? We’re together; this is amazing.”
Dave starts getting mad. We get back to the hotel room; he totally shuts down. We’ve been married three days at this point. I was like, “What’s wrong?!” And he—
Dave: You just had to bring that up; huh? [Laughter] I didn’t know we were going there!
Ann: We haven’t talked about this in a long time!
Dave: —a long time.
Ann: He starts crying—the hardest that I’ve ever seen him cry—I’m thinking, “What’s wrong?”
Dave: Yes, I can remember it like it was yesterday—and it’s 40-some years ago—I was sobbing very strongly. I remember trying to understand what I was feeling. I was overwhelmed.
Dave: You know, two weeks before our wedding, we went to the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember,®—that now, for 30-plus years, we’re speakers at—but we sat there, as an engaged couple. It was the first time in my life I had ever heard a talk from the Word of God about what a husband looks like, and a dad.
Dave: And it was great! It was awesome! I’ve given that talk thousands of times now.
Ann: And you had never heard anything like that before?
Dave: No, nothing! I’d never—I didn’t grow up in a Christian home—I was probably a year-and-a-half old as a follower of Christ. The good thing was: I, for the first time, heard what a man of God, and a husband, and dad should look like.
Dave: The bad thing is: I remember walking out, going, “I’ll never be able to do that!” You know, partly because I didn’t have any model—that’s sort of a victim mentality—but I was like, “I’ll never be able to do it.”
That’s what happened in that moment: we got lost; I’m supposed to be able to navigate our way through Boston—I’d never been there—but I just/I think what happened was I felt overwhelmed that night. I think I said, “I’ll never be the man you need.”
Ann: Yes! You said, “I can’t do this; you don’t get it! I don’t know how to do this.”
Dave: And the good thing is, now when I teach that, I say to the guys: “If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, that’s where God wants you.”
Shai: That’s right.
Shai: That’s right.
Dave: Because He wants you to say, “You’re right; you won’t be this man, but I can [guide you] if you let Me.”
Dave: I say all that to say—you know, there was this fear—but there’s also this excitement, like, “I get to change a legacy.”
Shai: Yes, yes.
Dave: How did you guys walk into it? Was any of that going on in your life?
Shai: Yes; so when we got engaged, I proposed to Blair at the Lincoln Memorial in DC, a few feet away from where Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Ann: That’s cool!
Shai: And the—
Dave: Did you know what was going to happen?
Blair: I didn’t; no.
Blair: But the whole church knew [Laughter]; because when we came back, everyone was clapping; [Laughter] like, “Oh, okay! I see how this is; okay.”
Shai: And the thing that I communicated on that day—and which we had already talked about before—was that it’s incalculable: the impact that one godly couple can have on generations to come. It was my desire, and I knew it was Blair’s desire, to have a godly legacy and that—though we both came from broken homes—the Lord brought us together, in His sovereignty, so that we might leave a godly legacy.
Ann: As I hear your story, I can’t help but think of all the fathers you have in your church, in a way—and all the couples—would you say/what would you be like without that community?
Shai: There are tangible examples of men that I can point to, over the years, who have—you know, it’s been a community thing; it hasn’t just been getting everything from one person—but just kind of, again, gleaning from different people over the years. You know, I think about things like family worship, which is something that I had no concept of. We didn’t even eat dinner at the table when I was growing up; you know what I mean?
Ann: Yes; what did that look like when somebody told you about that?
Shai: Well, it wasn’t him telling me about it; it was him showing me.
Shai: He was inviting us over for dinner.
Shai: And then, after dinner, taking time to open up the Scriptures and—
Ann: —with his kids?—were there?
Shai: —with his kids, yes. It was modeled; and I was like, “Wow! This is great. I’ve never…”; I didn’t have a category for this. That’s something that we’ve instilled in our home, and that we’ve been able to invite others in, the same way that we were invited in.
Ann: So do you do a family worship?
Shai: We do, yes.
Dave: What does that look like?
Blair: Yes, what does it look like?
Shai: After dinner, we’ll open the Bible. You know, we’re going through the book of Mark now; so I’ll read the passage.
Blair: —usually, the previous text.
Shai: Yes; we’ll do a recap of what we did before, asking the kids questions about it.
Dave: Every day?—every week?
Shai: As much as we can.
Shai: Yes, as much as we can.
Dave: You bring the kids in; you’re asking them questions.
Shai: —asking them questions about what we just read.
Dave: And you go forward?
Ann: So you read.
Blair: It’s just after dinner, so we’re all gathered at the table.
Shai: Yes, I’ll read; we’re already there.
Shai: And then we’ll read the next passage. I’ll ask them questions about it, so we’ll have a discussion. Sometimes, it goes for ten minutes; sometimes it goes for thirty minutes, just depending on how the discussion goes. And then, I’ll connect it to the gospel: “How does this relate to Christ?”—wherever we are in the Bible—and then, we’ll sing and pray—and that’s it—we’re done.
Blair: And then we, also/we like sing right before bed too.
Ann: You do?
Shai: We love to sing.
Ann: —every night.
Dave: Let’s hear you sing something.
Dave: What do you sing? [Laughter]
Ann: Can you do that? Would you sing one of your songs?
Blair: We sing different songs every night.
Shai: Different songs.
Ann: Will they sing with you?
Shai: Oh, yes! They sing with us.
Blair: Yes, we sing together.
Shai: Yes, yes.
Blair: And then we pray.
Shai: One of the things we did, very early on—I mean, we’ve been singing since, you know, Sage was a toddler—
Shai: —so even, I mean, they just kind of/that’s all they know.
Shai: Yes; I have recordings of our oldest, Sage, singing Holy, Holy, Holy at six months.
Dave: —at six months?!
Shai: —at six months.
Dave: You have genius kids; that’s what you have.
Shai: No, no!
Blair: Well, Sage is a genius.
Ann: I was at our middle son, Austin’s, house; and they were putting their kids to bed. They do the same thing—they sing over them—I got teary when he was doing it, like, “This is the best!” We didn’t do this, but we prayed every night together.
Dave: Well, that’s what I was thinking. If there’s a family listening, and they’re like, “Okay, I can’t imagine us singing with our kids at night,”—
Dave: —which, in one sense—I’m like, “Well, take a risk.
Dave: “You could end up going there.”
Ann: Yes; kids usually love it!
Dave: But what would you say to a family, that’s like, “We’re not church planters; we’re not pastors. We don’t know the Word like you guys do.
Dave: “But we want to do a family worship/devotional. We want that to be part of our family.” What would you tell them? Where would they start?
Shai: Yes; I mean, all families are different; but at the same time, I mean, we are commanded in Scripture. Certain things are commanded; right? We’re called to: “Sing to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” That doesn’t have to be limited to the corporate gathering on Sundays. In fact, I believe we should see what we do on Sundays as an outgrowth, or an overflow, of what’s already happening during the week.
Ann: Yes, yes.
Shai: So that the kids don’t have this sharp dichotomy between Sunday and everything else; but it’s just like: “No, we’ve been worshiping God throughout the week; and now, we get to worship Him with the corporate body of God’s people.”
To that person, I would say, “You don’t have to be a pastor. You don’t have to be a scholar. If you have a Bible, you can open it; you can read it. You don’t even have to have the gift of teaching; you can just read the passage. Even if it’s just ten minutes of opening the Bible, reading the passage, discussing it, praying; you can call it a day.” Even if it’s just that—that small step of faithfulness—God will honor that.
Blair: Yes, there’s no law; you know? It’s not like: “This is the way we do it, and you have to do it that way.”
Blair: The Lord can be praised in so many different ways; and if it is just taking two minutes to read one verse every day, or every other day—
Shai: His Word won’t return void.
Blair: Yes, it won’t! Or you know, just stopping to pray with your children/to pray for your children.
I just think about my grandmother, who prayed for me so often—just about every day, she prayed for me—I was sharing recently, as she got older, she had dementia. My aunt would say she would still pray for her children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren every day. It was so a part of who she was—
Blair: —that intercession. And you know, we need to be interceding for our children. I think it’s beautiful for them to hear our prayers, if possible. So just trust the Lord—even, again, if it’s a two-minute prayer and reading one verse—the Lord can use that.
Ann: And I would say, too, we have this—especially, before our kids are driving—we have time with them in the car.
Ann: Like car time is amazing for, not just catching up with them, but praying. I just got into that habit, when they were infants—buckling them in—I would just pray out loud. That became so normal—that we’re praying before school, praying after school—“How’d your day go?”—we’d pray about the things that went on: the good or the hard things. We always say: “Mealtime, bedtime, drive time—
Ann: —“those are great times of—
Dave: —“those are moments to seize.”
Ann: Yes, yes.
Dave: You know, earlier, I thought you were going to sing. [Laughter]
Ann: What happened to that, Dave? I think they were kind of weaseled out of that.
Shai: Yes, yes.
Blair: Are you still going to sing?
Dave: You got one? You got like a chorus?
Blair: What’s that one?
Shelby: You’re listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Blair and Shai Linne on FamilyLife Today. Will Shai break down and sing? Or will he leave his wife hanging? We’ll find out in just a minute; plus, we’ll hear a story that’s going to encourage you if you’ve ever felt like your family devotion time is just going nowhere. That’s coming up in just a minute.
But first, have you ever found yourself doom scrolling?—you know, like where you just keep seeing post after post of a world losing its mind? It’s frustrating; isn’t it? You start to feel like: “Someone needs to do something!”
Well, when you partner, financially, with FamilyLife, you’re doing something. You’re heroically helping parents and families grow in God’s Word and His plan for their lives. You’re doing something by making a difference, one home at a time. Today, when you give to FamilyLife, as our thanks, we’ll send you a copy of Jennie Allen’s book, Find Your People. It’s our gift to you when you give at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Alright; now, will Shai leave his wife hanging?—or will he join her in song?
Blair and Shai: [Singing] “For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things; To Him be glory forevermore; To Him be glory forever, Amen, Amen, Amen.”
Ann: Picture this: I’m thinking of being in my bed and my parents singing over me. Imagine that, growing up! Can you imagine what you would feel? But your kids don’t know any different,—
Ann: —because they’ve had it their whole lives; but the power of the gospel being sung over them every night—amazing.
Dave: Yes; I hope you keep doing it when they’re teenagers.
Dave: Because I can imagine it would be like, “Mom! Dad!”—you know, maybe not—but you get to the age, where it’s like—but I think they love it so much.
Ann: Me too; don’t stop.
Dave: They may say, “Hey, not tonight”; but they’re going to love it.
Shai: There’s a pastor-friend of mine, who was sharing how they had Bible time/family worship every day. The youngest son, when he [turned] 18, was about to go off to college. This was the most kind of unruly child of all—so when they had the time—he was always the one who had to be disciplined: he was loud; he was kind of running all over the place. [Laughter] At times, the dad wondered, “Is he even paying attention?” And so, when it was time for him to go to college at 18, the son was standing in the living room. He started to tear up, as he was staring at the couch.
The dad was like, “What’s going on?” And he said, “You know, Dad, for my entire life, I sat there on that couch as you faithfully opened God’s Word, and now that I’m about to leave, I’m really going to miss it.” He [the dad] just broke down; it was so encouraging to hear that it was small steps of faithfulness, over time, that God honored/God honored that.
Blair: Sometimes, you’re not sure: “Is this making an impact?”; you know?
Ann: Oh, yes!
Ann: —because they’re running around. They’re not saying, “Dad, Mom, thank you! That was incredible!”
Shai: Yes, yes.
Shai: I mean, especially when the kids are young; there’s vomit all over the place. [Laughing]
Blair: I forgot about that.
Shai: You know what I mean? They’re tickling each other; it’s like: “What’s happening right now?”
Blair: They’re laughing, yes.
Shai: So that was really encouraging to him to hear.
Dave: And yet, you have a real passion for teaching children, not just your own. You’ve written a book on how parents can help transfer their faith to their kids.
Shai: Yes; so there’s a book, which is God Made Me and You. It’s basically how parents can disciple their kids in appreciating God’s diversity in creation. And then, there’s an album called Jesus Kids.
Ann: Yes, he only wrote an album. [Laughter]
Dave: Yes, that’s all. [Laughing]
Shai: Yes; there’s an album called Jesus Kids.
Dave: He’s the guy who almost didn’t want to sing! [Laughter]
Blair: I know!
Shai: Jesus Kids is a children’s album. It’s basically a tool for parents to encourage their children in the gospel. I have a song called Gotta Know the Books, which is basically the books of the Bible in rap form, which is a way to teach the books of the Bible.
Ann: You may not know this, but I play that all the time.
Shai: Oh, really?
Ann: And one of our granddaughters—our middle son, Austin’s—his kids can do all the books.
Ann: They played it; and I’m like, “Who is this guy!? He’s amazing!” [Laughter]
Dave: He’s sitting right here in the studio!
Ann: I know! [Laughter]
Shai: Praise the Lord. So it’s—
Dave: We’re not going to get you to do it; are we?
Shai: You’re not; that’s not going to happen.
Ann: But I’m going to tell our listeners.
Blair: [Singing] “You gotta know the”—now, if I start, maybe; no. [Laughter]
Ann: I’m telling you, as listeners: “If you have kids, you need to play this. Put it in your car; play it, because your kids are going to start singing this. I love it, because it’s also, as I’m listening—because I’ve listened to the whole thing—it’s incredibly theological.
Shai: That’s right; that’s right.
Ann: You have these pockets of teaching in there: of catechism. It’s so good.
Shai: That’s right; that’s right.
Dave: Where did that passion come from? Where did the idea come from?
Shai: Which idea?
Dave: You know: “I’m going to do a book,” “I’m going to write music for kids to learn theology.”
Shai: I think part of it is my love for C.S. Lewis, and just seeing the power of stories for children that are theologically grounded; and just how that can live for generations to come. Again, we’re talking about legacy.
Shai: And music is such a powerful tool/such a powerful gift from God. It enables a person to hear something and be able to recall it, because it’s memorable. It’s a singable melody. Having worked as a Christian hip-hop artist for some time, and then having kids of our own, it was like it was a no brainer: “Let’s do something that can help, you know, by God’s grace, to shape and disciple children.”
[Portion of Jesus Kids playing in background]
Shelby: You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Blair and Shai Linne on FamilyLife Today. Their book is called Finding My Father: How the Gospel Heals the Pain of Fatherlessness. You can get a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also find links to Shai’s album, Jesus Kids, and his book for kids, called God Made Me and You. Again, that’s at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Maybe this summer, you’ve glimpsed some character in your kids that really just kind of needs some help. Hey, I know I have! But how do you tackle that kind of stuff? And what does it look like to locate and address your own blind spots? I love this quote about FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting®small group study; it says this: “We had a very diverse study group from six different countries. It was an amazing experience of evaluating how culture and upbringing impacts our parenting styles, sometimes in opposition to the truth of God’s Word. We all agreed that this course was instrumental in reorienting our beliefs and practices toward Christ-centered parenting.” That’s amazing.
Maybe the Art of Parenting could sharpen your awareness and tactics too. Even better, right now, you can save on all our small group studies with the code, “25OFF”; that’s 2-5-O-F-F. It’s exactly what we need in parenting and life right now. Learn more at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, why does God give men and women different roles? And what does headship in the home look like? It’s a touchy subject. Tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson will be talking with Joe Rigney about just that. We hope you’ll join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time
for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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Artist: Shai Linne
©Album: Jesus Kids, (p) 2018 SDGFella Music
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