Everybody can do something. What will you do this week?


Maybe he’s homeless. Maybe he’s just really poor.

This 60-something-year-old gentleman (I don’t know his name) has been hanging out at our public library in Huntsville for years.

I’ve watched him mumble in the snack room upstairs. I notice his clothes don’t fit exactly right. I suspect he has a strong touch of mental illness.

Yet here’s the thing.

The last two times I’ve seen him at the library, he’s standing in the corner, right inside the door on the ground floor. By the silver button that says: Push to open.

And those last two times, as I’ve approached the door to exit—usually juggling an armful of books and my phone and car keys—-he pushes that button at just the right time for me. The door opens up magically with no effort on my part.

Both times I’ve looked at him and said, “Thank you!”

Both times he’s just grinned. Like he’s doing something big.

And isn’t he?

He’s doing the library patrons a favor. He’s making us smile each time he opens the door. He’s lighting up his circle of the world by doing what he can.

That’s big.

Maybe he’s not negotiating deals in an office or creating rockets in a factory or performing operations in an OR.

Maybe he’s not even clean or coherent or competent.

But he’s starting where he is, using what he’s got, and doing what he can.

That’s all God asks of any of us, right?

  • Where are we starting today?
  • What have we got to give?
  • Will we do with it what we can?

If so, that’s big.

Everybody can do something.


* * *

What small thing can you do this week? Please share in the comments.

50 thoughts on “Everybody can do something. What will you do this week?

  1. Karmen

    First of all, what I can do is start noticing those around me doing what they can. I just loved this! God is so good to give everyone a purpose. If I look around more, I’ll see it. Thank you for this!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Mari-Anna. Sometimes we forget that the “small” things count just as much in our lives as the “big” things. I appreciate your encouragement.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    The most important thing I can do is to act kindly and courteously toward those with whom I interact (which will be almost exclusively through email and blog comments).

    There have been times when I put my own ego, and my desire to be ‘right’ ahead of gentlemanly behaviour; they serve as a warning of the development of pride, and as a spur to better action.

    What I do this week will thereby help me, as well as (I hope) making the world a bit brighter for others.

  3. Michele Morin

    So good, Lisa, because we don’t know how much effort an act takes for the person doing it — and it is really God who decides what’s big and what’s small, because our hearts just aren’t qualified, are they?
    Thanks for the challenge to adjust my thinking!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “Our heart just aren’t qualified” – excellent point, Michele. We prove over and over again that we are pure judges of SO many things. Only God knows the motives behind our actions (and even our inactions). Glad we can leave it up to him!

  4. David

    Lovely story.

    42And a poor widow came and put in two
    small copper coins, which make a penny. 43And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”


  5. Mary

    As usual Lisa, you make me stop and think! So often I think something along the lines of “that’s nothing. what does it matter anyway?” Fact is, even the small stuff – especially the small stuff – DOES matter. I try to call people by their name at the grocery store check-out or where ever I am and the clerk has a name tag. I think calling them by name and smiling makes a difference…or not. But it does to me. Thanks for making me stop and think…again!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Calling people by their name is a BIG thing indeed, Mary. I see my husband do it all the time with waitresses and store clerks. I want to get over the awkwardness I feel about it and start doing it myself. Thanks for mentioning this.

  6. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! It’s probably not a small thing, but I can believe that God’s got it. Everything. All I need to do is live the life He’s given me, and He’ll make it count.
    I just read a reflection on the Loaves and Fishes miracle, and it said that all the people had to do to prepare for Jesus’ help and love was to ‘recline on the grass and be open to His gift.’ What a wonderful interpretation that is. I hope to live that knowledge this week, while trying to be Christ to others. Just like your man in the library.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Beautiful, Ceil. Believing that “God’s got it” is a wonderful attitude to have as we go about our daily lives. We can trust he’ll give us whatever opportunities he wants us to have (or not!) and will equip us to act accordingly in them. That’s it.

  7. Dianna

    Wow, Lisa! That is a marvelous illustration to get your point across! What have I done today? Made blueberry muffins to take to a neighbor that I just met last week when I was out for my morning walk. We chatted briefly…she was on her way somewhere, but in that brief encounter I know in my heart that she needs a friend who knows Jesus. The blueberry muffins are just a way to get going. 🙂 Baking for the cause of Christ is fun! xo

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can smell your blueberry muffins now, Dianna. What a gift of hospitality you have. You inspire me by the many ways you let God use you in your everyday encounters.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Dolly. I know I too often think those little things don’t count when *I* do them, but I definitely feel encouraged by them when others do them, so I need to get over myself. 🙂

  8. Sharon

    Such a heartwarming story!

    This week we are heading down to help my son and his wife move into a new apartment. A big thing, maybe, but not so much to me because I love them so much. May the Lord infuse me with a sense of His love for others, and teach me how to be as willing to help strangers as I am family.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ouch–there are many things I’ll do for my kids that I wouldn’t want to do for anyone else. Thanks for the encouragement to be servants to whoever needs us, regardless of relationship. I know you’re being a huge blessing to your son and wife this week! Helping someone move is definitely a big thing. 🙂

  9. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, I love this post! It really is the little things we can do for one another which bring a smile & ease to one another. Just last week, I commented to my husband how the little considerations have become lost so this was wonderful to read this morning. Maybe as we all do these little things, we can turn things around in our communities. Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Those “little considerations” definitely add up and add grace notes to our daily lives, don’t they? I know it makes my day brighter when people out in the community just say good morning or hold a door for me. Thanks for sharing, Joanne.

  10. Beth Willis miller

    Love this, Lisa! …funny…just now as I typed the words “love this” the autocorrect spelling feature changed it to “live this”…that’s really the message…to put this wonderful nugget of Truth into actions, where we are, with what we have…many blessings to you ❤️

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes autocorrect does override our original thought and give us a better one. ha. Not often, but it does happen! 🙂 “Love” this to “live” this is one I need to walk out more often. Thanks, Beth.

  11. Bill (cycleguy)

    i had stopped in to get something to drink and got in at the tail end of a conversation as I walked through. I heard the woman say something like “Some days I just want to cover my head in covers.” As I left the store, I saw a man who had been behind her give her some money. I went to my truck but then drove to where the man was parked. I told him I don’t know what transpired but wanted him to know I appreciated what he did. he told me the cabbie was going to charge her $10 for using her card. So he gave her $10. Was this man a Christ-follower? I have no clue. Was he generous? You bet. I’m sorry I missed her conversation but really glad I took the time to say something to him.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Two stories here in one, Bill. Love it. First the man who gave the money. Then you who encouraged him for doing so. Thanks for sharing that even if we’re not the one who does the original act, we can commend the person who did.

  12. Tiffany

    Love your encouragement over the weeks to step out and put our faith into action. I’m going to think on that small thing – pray over it actually – and see what God puts before me. Always blessed by your words, Lisa. #tellhisstory

  13. Debbie Putman

    Simple service. This brought joy to my heart and a smile to my face as well. My favorite simple thing to do is say thank you to people doing things like cleaning a bathroom in a restaurant or to a security guard. They are almost always surprised and these two simple words make their face light up. Joining you from Coffee for Your Heart.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Excellent, Debbie. Everyone likes to hear thank you, and even more so when it comes by surprise. That’s truly a gift you are giving to those who serve us invisibly everyday.

  14. Ginger Harrington

    We are writing in a similar lane today, my friend! I am always tickled when God does that. Thank you for the challenge to let go of the “worth” of our contributions and simply give what we have. Yes, we can all do something. Blessings today, friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Just read your post, Ginger. Yes, we are in sync today for sure. I remember a guy I volunteer with who actually did take the gloves off his own hands this winter to give to a guy who needed them. It made a deep impression on me, because I wasn’t about to take mine off. 🙁

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a beautiful ministry, Susan. I love how God doesn’t require us to go far to find good things to do and ways to love people. Your cards brighten up days for people near and far, I’m certain. I’m thankful for people like you who still send cards because we all still love receiving them! God bless you.

  15. Meg Gemelli

    What a beautiful exchange of two people who are aware of others in the “now”. Our world is fast; full of checklists, notifications, and places to be. Loving right where you are…such a simple concept, but what life’s all about! Thank you for sharing this story Lisa:)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Meg. I’m working more this year on living in the “now” because my mind is often more project-oriented than relationship-oriented, thus I drift toward planning or thinking about the future more than seeing who God puts in front of me right now. Glad he put you here for this moment for another little wake-up call for me.

  16. Sarah Donegan

    Oh my, yes! We get discouraged at the big things we think we can’t do and miss the small things we are tripping over in our lives!
    I can be kind and patient with the people around me 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Being kind and patient—sounds small, but we know it’s huge! So hard to do, sometimes hardest especially for those we are closest to. But is there a greater calling than that? I’m not sure there is. Grace to you, Sarah.

  17. sandraj

    Lisa – What beautiful thoughts – in God’s economy small is large! I believe many people feel invisible, unnoticed, and a great gift is to see people – just notice them. Thanks for the reminders!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Sandra, that there are so many people who feel invisible. 🙁 Sometimes I throw a self-pity-party and feel that way myself. But God sees all. And he puts us here so we can let others know we see them too, when we open our eyes and notice. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Beverley

    I now have a long garden that runs down the back of two small blocks of flats, 8 flats in all and in the next block over there is an old lady who if she is in the kitchen i wave and smile at and she does the same back. One of these days i will go knock on her door and find out who she is. yes, we can all do something for someone else, no matter how small it seems to be for us it may be massive for the other person.

  19. Jean Wise

    You know Lisa just being awake and aware of what and who is around us is a great first step. That man you wrote about is practicing that and so are you when you smile and tell him thank you. Great inspiring example. Thank you. Our little town is having a big festival this week so I will be out and around with a ton of people I don’t always see – great opportunities abound for me the next three days. I read this post just in time. Thanks again.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How exciting, Jean! I know you’ll be a blessing to so many over the next three days as you show up and smile and talk. A little bit of attention is all most people need from us.

  20. Lynda

    When I began reading my mind went a totally different direction, but the ending had me in tears. I work in retail and have become so accustomed to watching and waiting for a bad outcome. The world is so programmed and jaded against people we just forget to see the good. Thank you for bringing me back to God’s goodness and graciousness.

    I’ve cried cleansing tears today. Bless you and your astounding perspective in a world in need of His love.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What an awesome opportunity you have for ministry, Lynda! Working in retail puts you in touch with so many different kinds of people. I’m sure it is easy to see lots of bad out there, but it’s refreshing to know that you’re a light of God’s love out there too.

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