Smile! You're Being Observed Wherever You Are

Relax, that's not a warning, just a reminder


Like the day I stood in line at a large discount store behind a woman and her eight or nine year old daughter. 


Blog. Mother. checkout clerk. 2.14Picture the rush-hour scene. The girl waited patiently while her mother wrote a check.


As she started to pick up her bag, the mom paused and said to the checker. "Wait a minute. I bought five things, but I think you only charged me for four. Would you please look over my bill and find what I owe you?"

The twentyish clerk glanced down our long line of fidgety shoppers and replied, "But, Ma'am, you already wrote out your check. You'd have to tear it up and we would have to start over. I think, really you paid for all five."

Although it appeared money might be tight for this woman and her family she quietly refused the offer. "I can't take something home if I haven't paid for it. Please figure out which one got missed, and I'll pay cash for that one item."

By now I sensed the people behind me had stopped talking and must be watching, too. The clerk sighed, then compared price tags and the cash register receipt. Finally she said, "It's the most expensive one: $12.99." 

The mom said, "Okay," and dug out some wrinkled bills to pay for the child-size top, all the while explaining to her daughter what was going on. Soon the two were on their way out of the store.

Judging by the clerk's look of disbelief I suspect she later recounted that exchange to others. I'm guessing those shoppers who overheard the exchange may have speculated on what made this mom tick. 

That shopper so easily could have taken the freebie and run

This mom, however, judged something more important than dollars and cents and I'm betting this was not a one-time thing. She won't need to lecture her daughter about honesty because she lived it out while her daughter watched and listened. She also set an example for those of us who were waiting our turn.

Isn't that the best kind of teaching--and parenting?

Later I thought of an Albert Einstein quote I heard years before and never forgot: 


"Example isn't another way to teach,

it is the only way to teach."

We are not who we say we are. We are what we live

All the rest of that day a question played in the back of my mind: If I were this woman and I was given the same opportunity, what would I do? 


Even though I consider myself an honest person, this thought made me squirm. I had to face the fact that I couldn't be positive I would have insisted that clerk check my bill.  

That unknown woman gifted her daughter with a lifelong lesson about how to live. Any of us who are parents know very well that children keep track of any disconnect between what their parents say and what they do. (Even as adults.)  

Especially in rearing our children, words matter, but actions count even more. Ralph Waldo Emerson captured that principle for all of us:   

"Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying."

But hey, I'm only human . . .

True, but the good news for all us is that those of us who are Christians have an edge. We're not forced to cope with only the strength we have within us--all because Jesus lives within us.

He told his followers they were "grafted" into him by faith, so they could draw strength for right living and used an example from nature.  

(Jesus said) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."               John 15:5 NIV

This still is true for every one of us who believes in Jesus. All it costs us is trusting in him.

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?    1 John 5:5

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.                 Isaiah 41:10

Dear reader, may this lift your heart. Life's challenges shake us up, but we are not left to cope with the hard stuff on our own. Knowing that gives us courage to see clearly and to live authentically. 

I'm praying that you know and feel this strength for yourself. 

With love,


November 16, 2023

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