one small thing now

We have the day off school, and I spent most of it writing (an editing job + my next ebook). And I thought a lot about Ann’s post (and Shawn’s response) and all the people who are asking me, “So what can I DO??” I shared a few ideas in yesterday’s post, but it’s not really enough.

And, at first, I was thinking, “We should all just talk to God for awhile and ask him what he has in mind.”

But, if I’m honest with myself, a lot of my good intentions when it comes to prayer? Never really amount to much. “Hey, I’ll pray for you!” (yeah, no I won’t)

So, I’m taking back my advice to pray and ask God what we should do.

No, I actually think that is BRILLIANT advice, but in the MEANTIME, I think we’d better make a move. NOW. Any move. Anything at all. As long as it’s doing something, helping someone.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest. One in motion is apt to stay in motion. (Hey, I remembered something I learned in school!)

I know doing, doing, doing isn’t the answer. I know being is important. I know we can never do enough anyway. I know all that.

But a willing heart + a butt in a chair = not gonna cut it. In this case (in most cases), it’s not the thought that counts. It’s what you actually do that counts.

We’ve all heard stories about all the people assuming everyone else was going to do something, so none of them did it, and it didn’t get done. Or of people thinking their one little offering wouldn’t make a dent. Or their five loaves & two fishes couldn’t feed a crowd. And so on.

Well. This afternoon as I was sitting out here on our balcony (not praying), clouds rolled in, and we thought it was going to rain and the whole family was out here observing the sky and waving to the construction workers across the street. Holy cow, these guys are doing dangerous work. I am so afraid we’re going to watch one of them die. They are so high up AND NOT TIED TO ANYTHING and some of them are walking across beams four stories high.

And I felt a little nudge. Go buy them all a drink and take it to them.

That’s silly. And awkward. A very dumb idea.

Go buy them all a drink and take it to them.

Um, maybe another day. It’s not 100 degrees anymore. The coming rain has cooled it off to a lovely 90.

Go buy them all a drink and take it to them.

So I say to my family, “I think I want to buy them all drinks.”

“Go ahead,” Gabe said.

“By myself??”

Yeah, he wasn’t going to come with me. I sat back down to my computer. It was a dumb idea. I’ll just keep working on my ebook until the nudge goes away.

Go buy them all a drink and take it to them.


I went inside to slip on something a little more appropriate than Oscar the Grouch boxers and a spaghetti strap tank top. And Gabe and Nina offered to go with me.

We hopped on Gabe’s moto, rode to Angkor Market, Gabe chatted with his guard friends outside while Nina and I picked out 15 cold drinks (Coke, 7Up, Mirinda, Aquarius) for like $7. Hopped back on the moto, Gabe’s friend said his back tire was low, pulled up to the air guy right by our house, filled ‘er up, and drove to the construction workers.

I handed the-guy-who-looked-like-the-foreman the bags of drinks and said they were for everyone (using my limited Khmer and my hand motioning skills). I pointed up to our balcony where Livi and Ava were waving. He smiled and said thank you and asked me when we would go back to America (in English). I said we will always live here.

He thanked me again, and we went inside. And we watched from the balcony as they tied the bag to a rope and the guys up high pulled it up and got drinks out.

And I thought, that wasn’t really much, and it was ALL KINDS OF FUN (seriously), and it’s hard to explain but it really felt like an act of kindness as opposed to an act of charity or pity, and there’s a big difference there and who knows how much of an impact it made, but it was SOMETHING.

And tomorrow I’m going to do something again. And the next day. And the next day.

And I’m going to try hard to remember to pray and ask God if there’s something bigger than random kindnesses and ask him if he’ll please show me what that looks like.

And I’m going to walk out on my balcony and out my front door, and I’m going to really see people. And I’m going to assign them the worth that’s rightfully theirs as people created by God. And if they need something I have, I’m going to share it with them and trust God to provide for my needs. Goodness knows how many people have helped us in the last three years (and still are).

And I’m going to open my eyes to the plight of the oppressed. Here, in Iraq, in Africa, in refugee camps, all over. And I’m going to spend myself on behalf of the hungry, the hurting, the tortured, the dying, the lonely.

And I’m going to start by doing one small thing now.

Will you join me? It’s evening in Cambodia, but it’s morning where you are (most likely). Will you walk outside today and do one small thing for someone and report back here? I would love to share in your joy.

(And, if you’re like me, and while you’re doing great deeds like sharing 7Up with construction workers, your children are yelling at each other and leaving scratch marks on each other, just take a deep breath and say, “It’s gonna be okay.”)

(And if you want a very real, tangible way to give to the people in Iraq right this minute, click here.)

Thank you, friends. Like I’ve said so many times, loving people is so much more fun when you’re not doing it alone.

6 thoughts on “one small thing now

  1. Melinda

    Loved your comment Brooke – that the legalistic part of our hearts can shut this down and discount it. Yep. Groan.
    Marla – thanks for making this so much more accessible. Do something today. And the next day. And the next.

  2. Brooke

    My one small thing was to return someone else’s grocery cart. The legalist in me questions whether that really counts. SiGh. Eventually I’ll get it.

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      It counts, friend. Because, here’s the thing. It’s a mindset. It’s getting our minds off ourselves and onto someone else. And you start small, and it builds, and pretty soon, you realize that a full, purposeful life is one where you care more about others than you do yourself. <3

  3. Sharon

    Was at a buffet type restaurant today and there was a woman walking with one crutch, but filling up two trays (one for a small child with her). There was no way she could get them both back to her table in one trip. So, I helped her get the trays to her table. She was so grateful and said how kind I was and thank you over and over again.

  4. Bethany

    That’s interesting what you said about praying and asking God what we should do. I have found in my own life that only thinking about praying is the problem, but when I sit down and actually pray (usually by writing in my prayer journal), that’s when God answers me. Sometimes while I’m still writing!

    I think your story about the guys outside your back door is so great because there are seriously needy people EVERYWHERE. We can feel helpless in our desire to help others in dire circumstances (apart from our prayers and money gifts) and then not do anything else or do nothing at all. But we can ask God to open our eyes to opportunities right where we are and He will show us! I had a friend text me last night while I was reading your post and Ann’s post and writing in my journal and she said she needed me to come over and offer her encouragement. I just love how God makes it SO obvious sometimes what He wants us to do! There are opportunities all the time–I’m just not always seeking God and asking Him to show them to me.

  5. Sharon


    I love this story. So many aspects of it, but specifically how the guy you spoke to, spoke English and your response to when you will go back to America. Haven’t left my house yet today, but will report back later when my small act is completed.

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