The Life-Changing Power of Kindness and a Smile

Last Thursday my 79-year-old mother finally agreed to conquer her iPad fear. She’s had an iPhone for almost two years. An iPad would mean a larger screen. More user-friendly.

But she was eaten up by what-ifs. 

I’ve wrestled with what-ifs a bazillion times. Mother’s always been the one to encourage me.

On the way to Best Buy, we stopped for lunch. I said a quick blessing. “Thank You for our food. Please help us shop.”

And give Mother courage. 

“And Lord,” she added. “Will You please send us a nice salesperson? Someone who’s kind and smiles a lot.”

After I said “amen” she started backpedaling.

“Really, Julie. We don’t have to do this today. I know you’re busy.”

“You’re going to have an iPad. Today.”

“What if I can’t do it? What if I’m not smart enough? What if–”

“Baby steps.” I patted her hand. “Take a deep breath. You can do this.”

Inside Best Buy, a friendly-looking salesman approached us. “Hi. My name is Jeremy. How can I help you?”

I have a brother named Jeremy. Mother and I looked at each other. 

See. It’s gonna be fine. His name is Jeremy. And he’s smiling.

Jeremy helped us choose a gold iPad with a cute little stand. He didn’t act like Mother was a bother. Or stupid. He answered all her questions.

“Well, you ’bout ready?” I said. “Time to check out.”

She looked at me, big-eyed.

“What if I can’t–?”

“What if you can?”

“Mother, you’ve come this far by faith. No turning back.”

Jeremy, bless his sweet heart. 

He acted like it was perfectly normal for customers to talk about fear and faith at the check-out counter. 

He surprised her and downloaded three free apps — Kindle, YouVersion Bible, and AccuWeather.

Aren’t people like Jeremy at Best Buy THE BEST!

On the way home, we stopped by Starbucks for a quick lesson.”Look at you! Sitting in Starbucks with your iPad!”

“I’m faking it. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“Pretty soon, it’ll make sense.”

Her dark brown eyes met mine. “Okay. I think I can do this.”

She called the next day. “Guess what? I’m listening to Patsy Cline, The Plattersand Jim Reeves. They’re singing whatever songs I ask them to.”

Mother wants you to hear her favorite song, “Only You” by the Platters. Click “The Platters” above if you can’t see the video.

So many people have helped me do scary stuff–including YOU! 🙂 

What have you been afraid of? Was there a kind person like Jeremy who led the way? 

Fear shrinks our worlds. Faith does the opposite. Click to Tweet. 

Speak the words, “I can do this.” Faith soars and fear flees. Click to Tweet




  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, Julie. The more I discover how much alike we are, the happier I get. Interestingly, as I get older, I find myself being less afraid. I drove home in snow, drove thru Charlotte at lunch and to downtown Nashville by myself. Heck, I even find myself going out with no makeup, which may be scary to others ha ha. It’s wonderful to let go of fears, particularly those that have the power to cripple. I remember Marion writing a Guideposts story years ago about getting a new car. Rick was in the story and she tackled a fear of change. That stuck with me. Love to you all. Anna

    • I just love this comment, Anna. And you!

      Isn’t it, thought–to let go of fears and realize There’s Another Way to Live! Hallelujah!

      What a memory you have. I’ll tell her. Actually, she’ll be reading this post on her new iPad and will actually SEE your comment!

      • Anna Haney says:

        Oh, I am so tickled to know that Marion Bond West is going to read my comments. I hope she is enjoying her IPad. Wonder if she has discovered Pinterest yet.

        • Anna, Pinterest will have to come after Facebook. She starts her iPad classes on Sat. I’ll be teaching her how to read and respond to blog comments soon!

  2. Holli Clark says:

    I loved this mornings blog! I really loved the picture of your mom leaning on the check-out counter. Haha!
    She is something and she looks great. Please tell her I said hello and i still make my chocolate chip cookies the way she showed me-pinched as soon as they come out of the oven.

    Holli Clark

    • Ohhh, yes, the pinching of chocolate chip cookies. I do too–because she told me too.

      I’ll pass along the love, Holli. And I think she’ll be reading the comments–not sure if she can figure out how to respond yet, but I bet she will soon. 🙂


  3. Carolyn says:

    Love this! And need to know about pinching chocolate chip cookies! Still coming to Watkinsville to have lunch and hope Marion will join us. My fear is she will say she doesn’t want to meet me!!!! And she will love her iPad!!! I do.

    • Hey, Carolyn!!

      Pick a date and we’ll invite her! I have a feeling she’ll come, and probably even bring her new toy. She can tell you all about pinching chocolate chips cookies. It’s fascinating!


  4. Mary says:

    Pinching chocolate chip cookies? Somebody spill the beans! I have to know what that means!

    I loved this post. Julie, you know how I struggle with the fear monster. Lately, it has been hard, and some days, I don’t feel like I’m making any progress. I have been thinking a lot about fear, though — how dark it is, and how brooding. That is not God’s place! God is in the light! I often feel alone, but as I read your post, I starting to reflect on the kind people who God places in my path every day. There’s my husband and family, my church friends, my colleagues, and so many other people. When I’m standing in that fear cloud, I can’t see them. But they reach in and help me step into the light. It helps me to remember that I need to pass that kindness along to others, too. Thanking God when we’re in the middle of the cloud is one way to pull ourselves into that light.

    But I still really want to know about those cookies. : – )


    • Hey Mary,

      The Cookies–when Mother makes chocolate chip cookies, she pinches them after the plops them onto the cookie sheet. She says they fluff up better. She told me this little secret years ago, and I’ve been pinches my cookies ever since.

      Fear. It’s a boog-a-boo, isn’t it. Mother and I have had so many discussions about it. She says that being afraid of something is worse than it actually happening.

      I’m seeing you (in my mind) with Light shining on you–God’s Light.

      And passing kindness along is so healthy, isn’t it?

      Thank you, my friend. Let me know if you pinch your cookies next time. 🙂

  5. Julie Gilleand says:

    So are you and your sweet Mother going to facetime now that she has the tablet?! I’ve never done that myself but have watched my sons do it.

    You know, there’s a dear elderly lady named Mary who moved into our apartment building recently. I don’t know much about her except her name but she seems very sweet and looks like you picture someone’s grandma to look, as if she’s wearing an apron and in the kitchen baking cookies. That sort of thing. Her apartment faces the front where we all park and one night as I arrived home from work and walking toward our front entrance I could see into Mary’s apartment because I had to walk right by it and her curtains were wide open. There she was sitting in an easy chair and it looked to me as if she must be knitting or crocheting. Just the way you think of a little old grandma doing, and as mine did. But as I came closer, it was not knitting or anything of the sort — she had an Ipad!! LoL. I thought, well I’ll be — that little old grandma is face-timing with someone or surfing the net or maybe reading a book! I’m almost certain were my grandma still alive, she’d be game to give it a try too!

    So glad your mom is feeling better about venturing into that mysterious world and that she had your support and the wonderful salesman named Jeremy, too! The perfect start to something new!

    By the way, I thought of your mother yesterday while on my drive home. I saw a pickup truck, the most wonderful shade of beige pass by me and remembered her GP article about buying a beige car because she loved everything beige and how God led her to just the right car. Just like with the Ipad, finding a friendly salesman with a name that meant so much to her helped her venture into something she’d felt so unsure of, finding that beige car had been the one thing she’d needed from God to feel good about buying a car by herself for the very first time. Isn’t it something how God meets us where we are and knows just what we need, even things that might seem insignificant to others, but He knows what it means to us!

    Thank you for sharing this story and I wish your mom many fun and interesting times spent on her new “toy” 🙂

    God bless, Other Julie G 🙂

    — Leafy Julie

    • Hey Leafy,

      That’s a good idea. Actually, we could be doing it with our phones–I just haven’t taught her how yet. Probably should.

      I can’t wait for Mother to start reading comments. She’ll LOVE it that the grandmother is on the iPad instead of knitting…which Mother would never do!! She refuses to become the typical “little old lady.”

      Beautiful point, Leafy. God meets us right where we are. Mother’s beige car. I’ll never forget that. I was sorta sad when she had to let that car go. It always had such a safe feeling inside it.

      I can tell–you’re so excited for her. I am too. She’s amazed with the simplest things about it. Can’t wait ’til she gets on FB and can meet new people and connect with old friends. Pretty soon, all my bloggy-friends will be her friend too!


    • Leafy, be sure to scroll down to Marci’a’s comments. 🙂


  6. Carm Russell says:

    What – learning to live without my husband.
    Who – Laurie Anderson
    Advice – Baby steps

    • Hugging you from here, Carm. You came to my heart this morning, your word for 2016. Change.

      Baby steps. Baby steps.

      All my love and prayers. Wish we were having a cup of coffee together.

      • Carm Russell says:

        In spirit we are! As I read your reply I had just stopped at a nearby convenience store to get a cup while waiting for the office to open to pay my house taxes!

        • And Carm, I’m sitting here drinking mind. Which has gotten cold. I need to go zap it again.

          Fun…paying taxes.

          Hugging you in my heart, asking Him to cover you with His Grace and Peace today, and even to surprise you….something special meant just for you.


          • Typo, Carm. Drinking MINE. Not MIND. But we’re not supposed to worry about typos on this sight! 🙂 xo

          • Carm Russell says:

            Thank you Julie. Your words warm my heart…⚓️

          • Carm Russell says:

            Thank you Julie. Your words warm my heart…⚓️

  7. Lynne Gentry says:

    Glad to see your mother “dancing” as well. No more fear!

  8. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, I bet you both felt like dancing!(: I am just trying to keep my head above water right now in school. How are Thomas and Brittany doing doing in their classes?

    • Patricia, hey!!

      I asked Thomas how his classes are going last night. You know, he doesn’t talk much. Here’s what we said:

      “So, how were your classes tonight?”
      “Which one was the hardest?”
      “Oh, well would you ever want to be a CPA?”
      “Oh, well, what’d you have for lunch?”
      “Do you always get the same kind of sandwich?”

      That about sums it up with him. Whenever Brittany and I see each other, we talk a hundred miles an hour. 🙂

      I’m praying for you. One day, you’ll graduate! And we can celebrate!!!! We can dance for sure!

  9. Mary says:

    I came back to see if there was an update on those cookies!

    I have pinched pennies, plump cheeks and pleats, but never chocolate chip cookies!
    It sounds quite exciting. LOL!!!!

    • Mary, you gotta let us know what happens the next time you make choc chip cookies.

      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Isn’t it funny the little things we remember over the years–the friend at the top and my mother pinching cookies.

      Much love to you this morning. xo Bake some cookies! Looks like it’s going to be another dark cool day in GA. Cookie weather here!

  10. marci says:

    Oh, dear Julie, How I needed this today. I have had a bad case of the what to do, and what if… dealing with my Dad’s stuff, and What if I do something wrong?.. but I was also helped by remembering what you told me once. What ever I decide, what ever I do, it is going to be OK. and I relaxed, and then this blog today– getting outside the box and dealing wtih things we are not familiar with. Baby steps! and that is so true. Also I was sent pictures of my dad’s place, — and, well, I know some will understand the emotions of that. Ever want to crawl into a picture? .

    . My daughter is talking about getting me a tablet, and showing me how it works. I can see myself being like your mom– as it would all be new to me. I am thankful for the ones that are kind, and hold me up, like you, like others here, like Leafy Julie, with her wonderful writing, and stories.

    I admit, this was so close to home for me today and just what I needed, I stopped and laughed. Of course I know God is looking out for me– he shows me all the time, and takes me places I would have not dreamed of at one time.

    And when I read Leafy’s writing for today, … I loved that story! And is’t that just like life?

    I am held up in so many ways by so many dear people, some that surprise me, that I would not have expected. Dealing with my dad’s stuff, I have been blessed by a woman who knew my father, and also had had to deal with the same things, her experience has been very helpful and I have apprecated her kindness.
    God’s gifts. God putting the right person in our lives at the perfect time.

    And your blog is always perfect timing!

    God Bless you!

    • Love how you said, “Do you ever want to crawl into a picture?” That’s just beautiful and yes. Yes. Yes. Oh, I wish I could send you a hug. I’ve done what you’re doing, the legal stuff after my grandparents died. It will come to an end. You’ll get through it. I promise. I remember thinking, Okay, this is all I can do for today. It’ll still be here tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to let my mind rest.

      Leafy?? Are you reading this??? I’ll go up and comment in a minute to make sure she sees it.

      I can’t tell y’all what it means that we’re all in this together, making friends, lifting each other up. Forming a community.

      You’re exactly. God’s perfect timing. And it seems sometimes He allows us to wait. To reach for Him. To hang onto Him.

      Praying right now for you, Marci’a. “Lord, give her peace and grace as she handles what’s in front of her. Let her feel Your gentle Presence. Let her know it’s going to be okay.”


      • marci says:

        So glad you understand about the pictures. (wanting to crawl right into them) Thank you so much for your caring prayer for me. It helps. I am glad for your understanding about dealing with Dad’s legal stuff. I guess I never thought of having so much to deal with — good thing for me(not to know in advance)! How I feel the prayers wrapping around me like a soft warm blanket. And the hug from you!

        Our Sunday scripture at church was 1 Corinthians 12:12-31….. I so like this whole scripture… What stood out to some at church, (and also here)– “If one member suffers, we all suffer, and if one member is honored, all rejoice.” And isn’t that so wonderful?

        When / if, Miranda takes me to a place to pick out a tablet,(as she has been saying she plans to do) I feel like I would be just like your mom! I am so glad she can see the blogs, and hope soon she can also comment. And I think she may be surprised at how often she has been mentioned here- so fondly and with so much love being sent her way. But of course, you probably shared that with her even if she could not see it for herself.

        ~ Blessings!

  11. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Hello, Julie and friends! I’m late responding to this blog because of spending two days with our pregnant daughter helping her clean and prepare for our grandson’s birth! Just one week from today to her due date! Can you tell I’m excited?!?!?! 🙂

    I only have one thing to say today, and it’s compliments of a Daily Guideposts’ writer! I think it may have been Carol Kuykendall, but I’m not sure. Obviously, the writer talked of fear and how she handled it. The phrase which stood out then and still rings in my head now and then: “Do it afraid!” If you’re afraid of something, physical or mental, just “Do it afraid!”

    Good advice, huh?

    • Cathy, you were right where you needed to be! Wo-hooooooooo! So happy for you!!! Can’t wait to see your new grandbaby!!

      Beautiful advice, Cathy. Yesterday Mother said, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing it afraid.”…Or something like that.


  12. Stories of kindness always make me smile and makes me hopeful.

    • Me too, Lux. And it’s such a simple-HUGE thing…just to smile and kind. But it can change lives.

      My mother is a writer, and I believe soon she’ll be able to learn to use a laptop. She’s still sending her articles the old fashioned way–with a typewriter. She’s having a hard time finding typewriter ribbon. :/

  13. Troy Mitchell says:

    This Jeremy is my nieces boyfriend and I can assure you it was from the heart. He’s just that kind of person. Glad he helped your mother feel comfortable.

    • Oh, please, please thank him for us, Troy! I called BB to tell him the blog went live a couple of days ago, and he wasn’t working. I need to call him again. I gave him my card with my website on it.

      He is the nicest guy. Your niece is dating a winner!!

      And I’m telling you, my mother went in there scared to death. She almost backed out. If he’d been rude, she would have. She’s signed up to take 3 one-hour iPad classes at the Apple Store. That’s a miracle!

      Thanks so much for letting me know. 🙂 🙂

      • Troy Mitchell says:

        My sister has posted this on Facebook so I’m pretty sure he is already aware! Tell mom to hang in there, I’m sure she’ll love it!

        • Ohhhh, how neat is that, Troy!!!! Tell her thank you–so much! This just made my day.

          Next, maybe a laptop. 🙂 We’ll have to pay Jeremy another visit soon…I hope.

  14. Excellent! Along the way I’ve discovered something about that “What if I can’t?” Unless there are lives at stake, I suppose, the “What if” doesn’t really matter. There are many things I don’t know, quite a few that I’ll never truly get a handle on, but God leads me through the experience anyway. Sometimes it’s to learn something new. Sometimes to work on my humility. Sometime to put things in proper perspective. And often it’s to encourage someone I meet on the journey…which was the more important point of it all. “What if I can’t do this?” becomes “What will I get to see God do in this?” Great blog.

  15. I always love reading your posts, Julie. I always got inspired. As I watched the movie, “The Good Dinosaur”, I learned that we cannot get rid of fear but we can always overcome it.

  16. This is the part I love most about your post:

    “Peace doesn’t mean the absence of problems. Peace means believing God’s in control. No matter what.”

    Thank you for that reminder, which I just so happen to need almost every single day!

    • Me too, B.J.

      Just knelt down in den and prayed…reminded myself of this Truth.

      Hugs right back–


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