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



Friendship, Faith, and Feeling Fifteen Again

photo from Meghan Davidson 

“What’s wrong with us?” Robin, my BFF of 40 years said last week on the phone. “Why don’t we ever see each other?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Friends do things together, don’t they? Like on the Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies-they’re always drinking coffee and laughing and window shopping.”

Robin and I spend our days in the virtual world on computers. We’re bloggers/writers. Her amazing site is All Things Heart and Home.

“Let’s make a lunch date,” she said. “Have some Christmas cheer.”

“I’d love to! We could just meet at Starbucks if you’re–”

“Nope. Let’s go to Maggiano’s. They have an incredible gluten-free menu.” (Here’s a Maggiano’s restaurant review by Pretty Little Celiac.)

I was so excited, I nearly cried. “We can sit and talk!”

“Like real friends!”

Using a Christmas-red marker, I wrote the date on my calendar. 

Thursday morning, we spotted each other in the parking lot, and ran and hugged like they do in the movies. She glanced at the crinkly lines near my eyes. “You haven’t aged a bit,” she said.

“Neither have you.”

Chatting nonstop, we felt fifteen again. We were so busy talking, we forgot to take pictures. Two bloggers forgetting to take pictures!

After lunch, we  weren’t ready to say goodbye, so we shopped. We bought the same kind of jeans. Same size. Not the same size as when we were 15. 🙂

At the counter, I pulled out my zippered pouch to pay.

“Where’s your wallet?” Robin said.

“It’s right here.”

“Julie, that’s not a wallet.” She showed me hers. Neatly organized. Butterscotch-colored leather. A hand-me-down from one of her daughters. “You need a real wallet.”

We laughed. “Why? I like keeping my credit cards in rubber-bands.”

At Starbucks, she handed me her cup of extra hot soy latte. “Here. Taste. It’s creamy-dreamy.”

“This is terrible. It’s so blah. Try my Sumatra.”

She took a tiny sip and made a face. “Tastes like an ashtray.”

“Today’s been so much fun,” I said. “We didn’t talk about our problems, did we?”

Which we could have.

Because we have problems.

“We’ve been too busy laughing,” she said.

We paused.

Watched shoppers stroll by.

“Maybe this is what faith means. Letting go of problems and living in the moment,” I said.  

“I think so, Jewels.”

I smiled all the way home, so very thankful for faith and friendship.

(photo from

Do you have friends like Robin? Oh, I hope so.

Have you discovered living in the moment faith? 

P.S. I don’t understand all the Facebook changes coming in January, but I’m not sure if I’ll still be able to share my blog links through FB. If you haven’t signed up to receive my posts through email, just insert your email address in the box at the top right corner and my blog posts will be delivered every Wednesday morning. Thank you!





Three Sweet Lessons from a Cup of Starbucks Coffee

Last week, my doctor suggested I start giving myself B-12 shots. My blood work revealed a low B-12 level. I’m a medical assistant and have given injections, but never to myself. I knew I could do it, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. That morning, I got a peculiar idea. The thought felt gentle. Warm. And utterly ridiculous.

A certain nurse would be teaching me to give the injections. I have CELIAC DISEASE and whenever I call the doctor with a question, this nurse helps me.

Take her a cup of coffee.

That’s silly. I don’t even know if she likes coffee.

Do it anyway.

What about sugar and cream? I’m not pestering her to find out…

Take the coffee.

I drove past the doctor’s office and turned into STARBUCKS.

This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Even if she likes coffee, I don’t know what kind to get her. Maybe she doesn’t do caffeine. Maybe I should get her hot tea.

Get her your favorite kind.

I ordered two cups of Sumatra.

Signing in at the doctor’s office, I started rambling to the girl behind the counter. “This is for my nurse. She’s been so sweet to me, but I’m not sure if she likes–”

“Are you kidding? She loves Starbucks.”

“What about sugar and cream?”

“She has her own concoction she adds.”

Handing my nurse the coffee, three unexpected things happened:

1. I forgot about myself. My health. My concerns.

2. My nurse became a real person to me. We talked a little about her world. And she loves Sumatra!

3. Learning to give myself shots, I felt no fear–only a big dose of gratitude.

Thank You, God. So many blessings from a cup of coffee.

Can you relate?



All You Ever Needed to Know about Hospital Waiting Rooms

We’ve made lots of trips to the hospital recently to visit family members. We spent time in ICU waiting rooms not knowing. Praying. Everybody’s okay, or will be soon.

Mother called this morning. “Remember when somebody brought us a watermelon? It was July 1983. Right before your daddy died. The woman almost dropped it coming in the front door. We got so tickled, we doubled over laughing. It felt wonderful. I thought I’d never laugh again.”

“Yeah, I’ll never forget. I took one sweet bite and my mind left our circumstances. At least for a few minutes. I thought about childhood. Barefooted summers. Sprinklers in the backyard.”

“That was the moment I began to believe everything was going to be okay,” Mother said. “And somehow, life would go on.”

We chatted some more about how to help a family through sickness. About what matters most…

1. If you can laugh about anything, laugh. Difficult situations don’t always have to be somber and serious.

2. Bring someone a really good cup of coffee or a fountain drink with crunchy ice and a straw. Don’t ask first. Just do it. I love Starbucks Sumatra, real sugar, and half & half. 🙂 A bag of Hershey’s kisses is wonderful too, or a few pieces of fruit. Something small with lots of love.

3. My friend Robin from All Things Heart and Home suggests toothbrushes, toothpaste, pretty wash clothes and face wash for those who spent the night in the waiting room.

4. Share a happy memory–something you both remember.

5. Smile with your heart. The nurses who helped us never stopped smiling–genuine smiles from way down deep inside. The kind that lingers.

6. It’s not about what you say, but how you listen.

7. The tiniest things matter most. I promise. A four dollar watermelon brought hope.

Any other ideas?