Hockey, Slurpees, and Jesus: Everyday faith adventures with our kids

Written by Patrick Linnell
Published on May 14, 2021

Ice-level hockey in face masks. That was this season. 

With use of distancing on benches, strict rink regulations, juggling gearing up outdoors in freezing parking lots, staggering in single file, team by team, and yes, wearing a mask underneath helmets—the 12U Bowie, Maryland, Ice Hockey Club still managed to have a season. 

It would be an unforgettable one for me because this year my son Jackson learned how to play, and I got to help the team as the assistant coach. I was able to cheer him on from the ice as he first learned how to skate, and then grew into his role at right wing. 

After practices on Wednesday nights, we made a habit of stopping into 7-Eleven down the street from the rink for Slurpees and Sour Gummy Snakes, and every Wednesday night we were checked out by the same super-friendly cashier. 

It wasn’t too long before Jackson took note of his demeanor and was prompted to whisper to me at the register, “Dad, we should Grace Bomb him.” 

A Grace Bomb? 

If you are hearing this term for the first time, a Grace Bomb is a surprising gift that is meant to brighten someone’s day. But unlike a random act of kindness, Grace Bombs are intentional acts of love motivated by Jesus. 

We have these little Grace Bomb cards that get passed along with each Spirit-led blast of love that help to directly implicate Jesus, who is, after all, the very source of kindness. 

It’s a little tool that helps pull us out of our comfort zones and point others to him. My family has grown very fond of Grace Bombing people regularly because it’s something we can all experience together, and, while it can be faith stretching, it is also flat-out fun

We all know Jesus told us to love our neighbors, but putting that into practice beyond Sundays can be one of the hardest things to do. 

But, oh man, there is joy that follows those steps of obedience! 

Taking our time 

So, of course I wanted to help fan the flame of Jackson loving his cashier neighbor. 

But we didn’t bless him right away. I saw an opportunity that night to take Jackson a little deeper. Instead of leaving a big tip, or something along those lines, we got back into the minivan, and I suggested that first we should pray for him and learn his name. 

The next week we learned his name: Olu. We still waited on dropping a Grace Bomb and prayed instead that we’d find a special way to surprise him. 

The following Wednesday Olu was outside with a friend who was trying to pull some tricks on a skateboard. We took note of that and asked him about this hobby. He told us he was just getting into the sport.

Now with this new intel, we were ready to prepare a more personal and fun Grace Bomb. Jackson and I drove out to a local skateboard shop after school but before practice and picked up a gift card to that store, along with some stickers. We were now properly loaded with a more endearing gift, had been prayerfully listening for direction, and were ready to let ’er go! 

The drop 

That next Wednesday night, pulling into the parking lot of the 7-Eleven, we front-loaded our prayer that Olu would simply be working. It was a relief to look up and see him inside as we were both so excited to surprise him. 

It was all downhill from there. While we were pouring our Slurpees, playing it cool, Olu actually approached us to ask about hockey. This was the first time that he had struck up a conversation with us. 

It led to the perfect time to say, “Olu, we were actually thinking about you today!” And then we dropped our Grace Bomb. 

He was surprised and thankful, and we were able to talk about God’s grace—right there after a sports practice in the middle of 7-Eleven. My prayer now is that this would just be the beginning of our relationship with Olu and that our conversations would become even more gospel-centered in time. 

I can’t control that outcome, but as a parent what I can control is showing my kids how we can be intentional about loving our neighbors. 

Taking Jesus seriously 

If you are like me, you so deeply desire your children to grow up and walk with the Lord. In fact, outside of my relationship with Jesus, this is my greatest desire in life—to see my kids rooted in Christ and loving every second of walking with him. 

Loving our neighbors is one way to grow in taking Jesus seriously and to strengthen those core faith muscles in our kids, which will certainly be tested as they grow up. 

So to all my fellow Christian Parents out there, never underestimate the power of the ordinary routines of life with sports practices and Slurpees when you allow Jesus to invade them. 

Look for ways to live out your faith and take your kids along for the ride. Even better, let them explore ways to share the love of Jesus and guide them in their pursuit of being the light of the world—right there on the ice level with them as they learn to skate and grow into who they were created to be.


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Patrick Linnell

Pastor Patrick Linnell is the author of Grace Bomb: The Surprising Impact of Loving Your Neighbors 2021, David C. Cook, and founder of Grace Bomb, a movement and ministry that equips churches around the country. Pat and his wife Kristen live in Maryland where they are raising their four children. Find out more at www.gracebomb.org 

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