Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Believe. — It will be enough.

Here’s how I remember this story from Sunday School many years ago.  I can’t guarantee its correctness.

But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, so here is the MommyVerbs version, complete with some pop culture references and my recent lesson learned. 


Jesus headed out into the woods to be by himself for a little while.

I mean, come on. He deserves a little down time. Right? Here he is,  doing the work of being Jesus and that can’t be easy. So he’s definitely earned some quiet. Just saying.

But he can’t catch a break. Because everybody followed him. They just can’t help themselves. They want and need to be with him. Even if they can’t be close. Even just around him.

And I don’t think Jesus really minded. He seemed to get it, you know.

But the disciples around Jesus started  flipping out because the crowd seemed to be getting hungry and it was getting late.

In their defense,  there were more than 5,000 people hanging around that were starting to get grumblies in their tummies.

And we all know that hungry people can quickly turn into cranky people.

And a cranky crowd could turn bad … in a heartbeat.

So, the disciples started telling people to leave, to head out…move along. Nothing to see here.

And of course, Jesus said, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Hold on now. If they are hungry. Let’s feed them.”

I love that.

Jesus does logic well, right?

There’s a need. Meet the need. Done.

So, Jesus basically says, “Go. Do that.” Feed them.

But it seems hard. Feed them? But there are so many of them!

So the disciples start with the whining…but we don’t have eeeeeeeeEEEEEENNnnnnnoooooouuuGGGGGGHHHHHH!”

(Imagine a three year old who is really, really good at being three, who has mastered the fine art of whining.)

And they started to worry. And fret. And look to each other for the “what to dos”. 

I think Jesus had to have sighed here. Like a tired parent after bedtime sighs.

(I like to think that Jesus, who was the epitome of patient with all things … us, …still sighed.)

And he must have looked at them and said, “Well, what do you have?” (See, this is a total Parenting with Love and Logic move here.)

The whining continued, “We only have five loaves of bread and two fish. It won’t be enough.”

So Jesus does what he does.

A miracle. And he tells them to bring what they have. He blesses it. He breaks it and starts passing it around to people.

And here’s where I am going to seem a little bit irreverent. Trust me, I’m not.

But this makes me think of the cake scene in the movie, Office Space.

Poor Milton. He just wants a piece of cake. And he passes it like he’s told, the whole time, worried that he won’t get a piece. That there won’t be enough.

And there’s not. There’s not enough and he doesn’t get any cake. 

But this is not what happens in this story.

Because in this story, I imagine this little boy in the very back of the crowd. He’s hungry. He can’t see what is happening. But he is hearing the rumors that there is food coming his way. And he hears all of the doubters saying things like, “Will there be enough? Will the food run out before it gets to everyone?  What if someone takes more than they need?”

But he waits. He sits. He is still.

And he believes.

Because he has no other choice,but to believe.

Because to doubt and to worry, won’t make it come true.

And he’s hungry. And everyone around him is hungry. So, food must be coming. It just must be.

Soon, it does and he is eating until he is full.

There are even leftovers.

This is what this Giving Tree Angel Tree experience has been for me.

Being worried. Choosing to believe. Waiting. Being still.

And then watching it be …. enough.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Choose to believe. Be Still.

Believe it will be…enough.

The Giving Tree Angel Tree


Present. — Needs and Wants and Fishes and Loaves.

The Giving Tree Angel Tree

This morning, I asked the girl child what presents she wanted from Santa.

She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, “You know. I don’t really need anything.”

Heart. Warmed.

Tears. Brimming.

Blessings … being counted.

This time of year I do a lot of thinking about wants and needs and giving.

There are many things we want to do. There are even more things we need to do.

And the line between can sometimes become blurry when we think about this season of giving.

From giving thanks to giving gifts; there are lots of needs and lots of wants.

Last year, I wrote about a leap of faith that I became involved with at our little church, called our Giving Tree Angel Tree. To this day, I am still overwhelmed and amazed by the power of saying YES. How so many said YES:  I will help. I will give. I will meet a need and fill a want.

Whenever people come into this little church that I have talked about before…this little church in this little town doing big things, they always remark that the building is so much bigger than they thought it was; so much bigger than it appears on the outside.

Well, just like the building, this church is doing bigger things than most people realize. Bigger things that might seem…impossible even.

Bigger things that make me a little nervous sometimes. Bigger things that challenge me. Bigger things that push my faith.

Bigger things that make me walk around mumbling my new mantra….”Fishes and loaves. Fishes and loaves.”

I’ll be honest. Sometimes the mission of helping others, of meeting needs and filling wants seems so huge to me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that need help. Sometimes I feel like we can’t take on more, even though the phones are still ringing with requests for help. Sometimes I worry that we won’t be able to make a gift appear for every child.

‘Fishes and Loaves. Fishes and Loaves.”

This is what this little church in this little town doing big things…does. It meets needs. It fills wants. It does bigger things.

So during this season of giving, this is the challenge that we all need to try to accomplish. We, as we are able,  have to try to meet needs and fill wants.

So again, this year, I said, “Yes.”

There are angels on a tree.  Angels of families that come to the local Food Pantry on Friday nights.

If you are willing and able to help others this season, then I challenge you to…

Take action. Help others.

Do bigger things in giving this year.

If you would like to help our Angel Tree efforts, here is an online link for donations:

100% of donations will go toward Angel Tree gifts.  I will do the shopping for you … for them.

As of right now, there are still 49 kiddos on the tree.

Which makes me walk around,  mumbling and praying and believing…

“Fishes and loaves. Fishes and loaves.”


Mark. — How will you remember?

As a social studies educator, I have always been fascinated by the intricacies and complexities of public memory.

It is the art and science of remembering.

Remembering and honoring a place. Or a person. Or an event.

Our land is full of monuments and statues and signs. All of these are a mark.

A mark that is thoughtful and intentional and sometimes even political. But ultimately it serves as a way of remembering.

A unique way of marking time. A way of memorializing for now. And for future generations.

This morning, the awesome preacher in the little church in the little town doing big things shared a story of Samuel.  Specifically, I Samuel 7:12 “Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”

(Semi-related, he also threw a shout out to MommyVerbs and the pilgrimage to the 40th birthday tattoo as well, as he played around with a tattoo machine as a prop this morning. Have I mentioned that I love this little church in this little town doing big things?  Well, I do.) 

In MommyVerb’s lingo: Samuel took a large stone and created a memorial. He marked this place as a way to honor a monumental event in order to always remember what happened … here…then.

Which makes me wonder…how do we leave our mark?

What do we leave behind as a momento that something important happened here? That we did something that matters. Something that needs to be remembered? That we loved and were loved. That we helped and were helped.  That we created and were created. That we forgave and were forgiven.

We are surrounded by these. By these marks. It might be a gravestone. It might be a tree planted as a memorial. It might even be a road sign or a historical placard. 

Or it might even be a scrapbook of pictures.

Or a book …or maybe even a little ol’ blog.

All of these things say, … I was here. I helped here. I was helped here. I hope I made a difference.

Why do these marks matter? Once something has happened, once someone has been there…and then it is over or they are gone…why does it matter? Why does it need to be carved in stone? Why does it need to be remembered?

Because. Because it does.

Because what we do and what we believe and how we live and how we act…it all matters.

And it needs to be remembered.

So. Write it down. Take the pictures. Plant the trees. Pile up the rocks or get the tattoo.

As a way to remember.

Because where we have been and what we have done with the people that are important to us…

it all matters.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: What is your mark? How do you want to be remembered? What is your memorial to your life’s work and passions? Design it yourself. What does it look like? Is it a sign? Is it a park? Is it a living flame? What is the experience of remembering all of the awesome that is you?

Let’s all, Go. Do that.


Does. — Act like a helping verb.

The minister of the little church in the little town doing big things has recently asked this question:

What’s in your tackle box?  What do you use to help others?

Since I probably haven’t carried a tackle box since I was eight and going fishing with my grandpa on the Little River, I had to look elsewhere.  So, I’ve checked my pockets, dug through my purse, looked around my rooms.

And everywhere I look, I see them.

My proverbial tackle box is full of action words. Yep. Verbs.

Eight years ago, when I was busy nesting and being all creative and artsy, (read before I had any kiddos!) designing a theme for my daughter’s nursery, I had no idea that I was beginning a theme that would define my purpose.

Verbs. Action words.

I decorated her room with canvas kites, painted by me in different colors, each with a different verb. (See, before I had kids!)

Learn. Sing. Dance. Play. Read. Believe. Imagine. Dream.

Action words. Wishes for her. Challenges for her life.

Since her room is now all pink and full of horses and … other stuff… These now decorate the rest of my house. Play hangs above the toy box in the living room. Read holds the books in place on the bookshelves. Dream lives above my desk where I say I do my work. Sing and Dance hang out with my record collection.

Sometimes I don’t see these words. These literal calls to action. Sometimes they are just a part of the background.

Other times, they are screaming directions at me, telling me, reminding me what I should be doing.

When I forget.

And they remind me of all of my little mantras that I like to toss around casually and often:

“Eat well. Play more. Choose happy.” Or,

“Whoever does the most work, learns the most.” As an educator, I try to apply that concept daily, helping everyone actively engage in the work of learning. More of them, less of me. Or,

“A little less conversation, a little more action.” Ok, I stole this one from Elvis obviously and then turned it into my own:

“Either do it, or stop talking about it.”

That is what I love about this little church in this little town doing big things.

We’ve talked all summer about what Love Does. I’ve been trying to use this phrase around my house when my kiddos ask me things like, “Why do I have to pick up these toys or carry these dishes to the sink?” Instead of saying the good ol’ standard of “Because I said so”, I’ve been trying to replace it with “Because that is what love does. Love picks up the toys and helps a Momma out!”

And since I like to play it fast and loose with punctuation and words,  I changed the verbs and turned it into all of the actions that Love looks like, sounds like, feels like, moves like.  What love actually does. Love reaches. Love helps. Love lifts. Love carries. Love holds. Love shows. Love goes on and on.

But we need to remember, that “Does” is really its own verb. It is one of those cool little helping verbs. Helping us do the work of ___________________. (fill in the blank)

Family does. Church does. School does. Community does. Work does. Mission does.

Yesterday, Mommas and Daddies and Grandmas and Neighbors and Kiddos of all ages flocked to this little church to pick up backpacks full of supplies for school. Backpacks that had been filled by many hands who acted, who listened to the call, who purchased supplies, who stacked and sorted and counted, who unzipped and zipped, who organized and ‘spread-sheeted’ and color-coded, who greeted and welcomed and shared with some folks who needed a little help.

While Mr. Sauter, my 11th grade English teacher would tell me that sentence is grammatically incorrect due to the overabundance of commas and verbs,

It really is what this little church is about to me: A whole lotta action words.

(You know, I was curious and I have to admit that I didn’t go and actually count, instead I asked Google, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy. But it feels like it could be right, so I’ll share it.)

The word, “Go” is in the bible 1,542 times. In comparison, “Stay” is only there 62 times.

God tells us to go. He tells us to move.

Go. Do that. Go. Love. Go. Help. Go. Do.
Take your talents. You gifts. Your tools. And act.
What do you love to do? Do it. Help others as you can. Show up. Be kind. Help someone.
Do something.
With love. With intention.
Make it happen.
Go. Do what love does.
Be awesome.
helping verb

Satisfy. — The Rolling Stones Had It Right.


You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes,

Well, you just might find.

You get what you need.

Which then begs the question(s):

Why isn’t that enough for most folks? To get what we need?

Why do we want more?

Why do  we always think we need more?

Why can’t we sit and be still?

Why can’t we enjoy the moment we are in?

Why can’t we stop waiting for the next moment to begin?

Why can’t we be … satisfied?

…Which is probably why The Stones followed up with these prolific words:

Hey hey hey, that’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction

And if we are walking around, feeling satisfied, is that a bad thing?

Does that mean we are being complacent?

Does that mean we are not pursuing more, doing more, achieving more?

So many are blessed beyond imagination.

And yet, many are still not… satisfied.

Many look around and see plenty who have things that they think they want.

Different jobs. Bigger houses. More opportunities.

And each one of those things come with other…things.

Different responsibilities. Bigger payments. More risks.

Instead, maybe we should all seek to have our souls satisfied.

We should pursue a dream.

We should spend time in prayer and meditation.

We should love and hug and hold those dear to us.

We should laugh and surround ourselves with people who make us laugh, often.

We should ask and really listen to the answers.

We should eat well and play more and choose happy.

We should rest and reflect and notice more.

We should actively care for others and ourselves.

We should forgive and welcome and invite.

We should find time, make time and take time.

We should … be.

And maybe we will all find that…

we do indeed, get what we need.

Satisfaction. Guaranteed.


Love. Does. — Love Does What?!

You know that little church in the little town that is doing big things?

Come on, now. I’ve told you about it…

here, here, and here.

Click on the links to get caught up.

So, this summer, the people of the little church in the little town doing big things are exploring the idea of Love Does.

Based on a book by Bob Goff, called Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.

Yes. Love Does.

Which I love.

For many reasons, … but MommyVerbs is always going to be a fan of a verb that is also a noun.

And I am in love with the idea of using a verb and a helping verb together.

And bonus, because I love to play fast and loose with punctuation and grammar around here…

you know I’m going to love that the helping verb is now the verb, being helped by a verb pretending to be a noun.

MommyVerbs Trifecta!

But I digress, as they say.

So. Love Does. Huh? Love Does What?

Let me show you a little about what I think Love Does….

Love Reaches. Love Helps. Love Lifts. Love Carries. Love Shows. Love Holds. Love Stands. Love Delivers. Love Laughs. Love Cries. Love Hopes. Love Prays. Love Comforts. Love Feeds. Love Listens. Love Watches. Love Hears. Love Learns. Love Saves. Love Connects. Love Cares. Love Shares. Love Teaches. Love Knows. Love Thinks. Love Sings. Love Plays. Love Forgives. Love Restores. Love Includes. Love Invites. Love Opens. Love Offers. Love Attends. Love Friends. Love Cheers. Love Champions. Love Encourages.  Love Lends. Love Nurtures.  Love Rescues.  Love Serves. Love Sponsors. Love Challenges. Love Sustains. Love Works. Love Breathes. Love Lives. Love Calls. Love Displays. Love Discovers. Love Delights. Love Attaches. Love Enjoys. Love Commits. Love Feels. Love Smiles. Love Leans. Love Wishes. Love Gives. Love Loves.

See. It is true. And … Secretly Incredible. 

Love. Does.


Storm. — May the Calm Find You Quickly.


I’m not sure when the tornadoes happened today. Or the others yesterday. Or last night.

I might have been tucking in kids or in a meeting or finishing up at work. Or maybe I was on the t-ball field this afternoon taking batting helmets on and off of 5 year olds, managing minor dugout chaos.

I’m not sure what I was doing. And it seems like I should know.

I should know what I was doing in my life when the lives of so many were changing forever.

But that is not how it works, is it?

Storms like this happen. Storms of all kinds. Natural or not. There are disastersthere, while life continues semi-calmly on without notice…here.

But…Just yesterday, we were reminded of our call. Our charge. To be on Fire. To be on fire in the world.

So, today, this fire. This fire needs to start with some kindling. A spark that starts with prayer. Mighty Prayer.

For the lost. For the missing. For the rescuers. For the helpers. For the searchers. For the hurt. For the injured. For the survivors. For the changed. For the hopeless. For the helpless. For the heartbroken. For the broken.

I will try to be on fire. On fire, for you right now. And I will pray.

A mighty prayer. For the calm.

For God’s calm and comfort after the storm to find you all.


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Fire. — Balloons. Iron Man 3 and Birthday Cake. It Must Be Pentecost.

Happy Birthday, Church.

I love my little church in a little town doing big things.

I have to admit that I am not in attendance every given Sunday. Sometimes we are out of town. Sometimes my people are under the weather. Sometimes life gets in the way. Other sometimes I don’t have a good excuse for missing.

But then…when I am there, I always wonder why I ever miss at all.

First of all, my kids love this place. Which makes me happy. I loved going to church when I was a kid. Fellowship Baptist Church was like a second home to me we were there so often.

My kids also love that there are yummy things to eat there that they don’t get at home any more. Things like Bagels, muffins, and apple juice. (And we know that X has strong feelings about communion.) And there is an indoor playground. But more than that, they have made friends there. They love to play and hang out with some buddies that they only see when in this little church.

Then the service begins with some announcements and then three songs. Three songs that lift my spirit. Played by a rocking band of amateur musicians who volunteer their time and talent whenever they can. The players change, but the songs always inspire. I am not sure I can completely describe how I feel during these 12 minutes. But it is healing, refreshing, stress-reducing, energizing, soul-lifting, and more. I feel … better. No matter what my week was like, no matter my worries, my stresses, my fears or concerns…I feel better. The music is loud, so loud that I can sing loud and not hear my off-key notes. They display the words so I can sing along at the top of my lungs. Those words are moving, powerful, and somehow seem always meant for me. I don’t know how they do it, but it is always a playlist meant for me.

Then a little rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” brings the kiddos to the front for a children’s message. This is both sweet and chaotic. There is a microphone that is passed around and the kiddos get a chance to share things  they are excited about. My kiddos used to be so shy that they never spoke up. Now I hold my breath just a little to see if they share some random story. Today, X revealed that his Daddy is taking him to see Iron Man 3. Poor Kid, doesn’t know that we’ve screened it already and have deemed it just a tad bit violent for his little 5 year old eyes.  Looks like it will be a Redbox Rental with Mommy’s finger on the fast forward button for you, kid.

Then there is the message. If you are looking for fire and brimstone and squished toes, this may not be the right place for you.  I’m not sure, but some of us might just be deemed a bit liberal, non-traditional bunch. Because today our Minister managed to work in balloons, Iron Man 3, the chorus from Fall Out Boy’s “I Know What You Did in the Dark” and birthday cake into the sermon.

Because today was Pentecost. The birthday of the church.

The Day when the Holy Spirit came down. 50 days after Easter. The day we are supposed to renew ourselves to sharing, to being a community, to being called.  The day we are supposed to wear red as a symbol of a commitment to be on fire. To promise to go into the world and light ’em up, so to speak. To inspire others as we can. To share as we can. To do our best and be the best we can be.

The Day we are supposed to show we are on fire in our lives. And invite others to come and watch us burn.

Believe. Share. Inspire.

Let’s All, Go. Do That.

(Show Up. On Any Given Sunday. And Everyday After.)


Motivate. — Who knew the power of a MommyVerbs post!?

When I started this blog last year, I began on a journey to turn some daydreams into realities.  I wanted to inspire and motivate others to engage in the ‘verbs’ of their every day.

In short…. a little less conversation, a little more action. (Cue Elvis.)

Last night, MommyVerbs achieved just that.

A colleague and friend casually shared in passing conversation that she had been wanting to get a tattoo. I responded, “Why don’t you?”

All of her answers sounded so familiar, I felt like I could have been saying those words right along with her:

What if it hurts? What if I don’t like it? What if people judge me? My family doesn’t want me to do it. It is so … permanent!

And there it was. I told her that I said the exact same things before I got my 40th birthday, been talking about doing it since my 3oth birthday, tattoo last fall. But, I learned a lot from Carl…nothing is permanent.

Later that evening, I discovered a message from her, waiting for me:

“I have been wanting to get a Jesus fish for a longggg time and all the “what if’s?” stop me. It stops me in most of my big decisions. I love this and your story! You may have just given me the courage to go get “tatted up!” hee hee :-)

I replied in classic MommyVerbs style: “Go. Do what scares you just a little.”

And then…the very next day, another message:

“I did it! Just got home. I’m so excited! I did “what scares me…permanent”

Now there’s something I didn’t see coming when I started this blog. MommyVerbs is now an official encourager of folks to get their first tattoos! … Who’s next?!

A little less conversation. A little more action.

Mission accomplished I would say. And it only took her one day…took me 10 whole years.

Well done, you. Well done.

lauren tattoo

Isn’t it awesome?! Love it, Lauren!


Fool. — From Prayers to Practical Jokes

Yesterday, there were–

sunrise services of reflection, celebrating resurrection;

shiny new shoes that pinch toes and dresses that are much too light and sleeveless for the still too cool weather;

baskets full of plastic pastel grass and chocolate bunnies full of sugar;

family dinners with deviled eggs;

or long car rides with (hopefully) napping children;

maybe March winds that were perfect for flying kites with friends;

Yesterday, we celebrated Easter on Sunday, March 31st.

Making today….April Fool’s Day.

That is just how the 2013 calendar rolls.

Seems a hard transition from prayers to practical jokes overnight.

But maybe not.

With April 1st, comes the promise of Spring.

The time to come out of hibernation and greet the neighbors once again.

Go for walks. Get out the ball and glove.

Wear short sleeves. Unpack the capri pants and flip flops.

Plan your garden. Plant some flowers.

Open the windows and let the breeze erase the Winter germs.

Sit on the porch with the ones you love and turn your face to the warmth of a later sunset.

Happy April 1st.

Enjoy the pranks and silliness of the day.

It is time to lighten up.


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