36 Hope Expands: Little White Lights


Little white lights make everything better. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break for those who celebrate. I know I am so very thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, especially all of you. We had turkey and cheesecake. I scored a few presents on Black Friday with the spectacular team of my Dad, Mom and Ellie. Kris and I saw Mockingjay, and we finished up with some Sunday puking, because what’s a holiday without someone barfing? Best of all the little white lights are up.

givingThe new expanding hope ideas:

  • Have you heard of AmazonSmile? Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Just log into your regular account and they take you through the simple steps. I was so excited to find World Renew the organization Kris works for. Our percentage will go to support their work!
  • I’ve seen Better World Books donation sites in parking lots around my area. When this business was featured in A Path AppearsI definitely wanted to learn more. You donate books which are then bought from the Better World Books on-line store. A portion of every sale goes to world literacy. Over 15 million books have been donated to non-profits, they support grants, and also recycle the books unable to be sold. Read more about their impact here. I’ll be going through our stacks this season!
  • Elf on the Shelf kind of creeped us out last year and I’m really bad at remembering to do it. I also saw on Pinterest an idea for giving elves, or something really beautiful and perfect like that. Our family variation: the kids like the concept of finding the elf. So I have a plan of what to do with him each day, but he will also have a note sharing with us an act of kindness we need to complete. (Will we succeed everyday, or will I remember? No because we are not a pinteresty sort, but we are going to try!)
  • Try this one: go to GreaterGood. On the top toolbar they have nine sections like autism, literacy, and hunger. As you click the cause, a button will appear to support the cause, just click again and you’re set. The advertisers fund the causes. Click nine times and you’ve contributed to nine causes for free. You can give back every calendar day.
  • Rice 2.0 offers 10 grains of rice to the World Good Bank for every correct answer. They offer a number of subjects. I’m loving the spanish vocabulary section right now.

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite free ways to give back on-line? 

The Gift of Reading


silly billy

A guest post by Brenda Petersen (my Mom!): 

When I was five years old, in the year of 1962, I was given a precious gift of a hard covered book: a 59 cent Easy Reader.  My elderly great aunt, who was a Mennonite, was a practical kind of gal, and she did her shopping via mail order catalogs.

She did not drive, so to visit, we would need to come in from our farm to her small unassuming home, built with her own hands, in the small village in which she lived. Great Aunt Alice was a bit stern on the surface with a trace of a German accent, a small little lady in stature, who also happened to be the village tailor.  She ran the downtown tailor shop single-handedly during World War Two and later had a shop in the walkout basement of her home.  This gave her enough income to live a simple life.  She never married. Over the years her nieces and nephews as well as caring for her elderly father filled her life. Buying gifts for her great nieces and nephews was a joy for her, an equivalent of sorts to grandchildren, and that is how it felt in my heart.

The Christmas of 1962, I was thrilled to open The Adventures of Silly Billy, by Tamara Kitt.  The opening page of the now yellowed and fragile book, I still own and cherish, proclaimed that only 187 different words had been used in the 61 page Easy Reader, with plurals and root words counted once. 104 words – more than half the total vocabulary had been used at least three times.  65 words- one third of the total vocabulary had been used at least ten times.  Some words were used 43 times! None of this mattered to me upon opening this present.  In fact I am quite sure I never read that page until I was an adult. All I knew was that I was able to read it by myself with no parental help and I was thrilled!

I loved the cover picture, the story, and the illustrations by Jill Elgin! I was totally captivated by these adventures Silly Billy was having in this tale.  It seemed he was always thinking up very silly things such as feeding hens very hot, hot, hot water so they would lay hard boiled eggs. His parents said he was silly, and silly he would always be, Silly Billy!

That is until Silly Billy decides to show them he is not so silly, and he goes in search of someone sillier than himself.  He walks and walks and encounters a cast of characters along the way that are indeed sillier!  He helps them out with their silly problems and is repaid with treasures along the way, which in turn he gives to his mother and father upon his return.  However, he keeps the gold crown and proceeds to wear it at all times, including when he takes a bath.  He also instructs his parents never to call him Silly Billy; they should address him now as Wise William.  The book closes with Wise William pondering a way to make cows give chocolate milk.

I sincerely doubt that my dear aunt could have ever guessed when she sent out that mail order with her 59 cents, that this gift of a book containing a mere 187 words, would make such a lasting impression on her small, shy niece, and that fifty years later I would write of the gift.  Many times over the years this book has popped into my head, as I wonder if I am being a Silly Billy, or a Wise William!


One of the great joys of my job as a family advocate was being able to give books to children whose families who could not afford them.  I am quite certain this gift given to me as a little girl made me realize the importance of reading and imagination…and gave me the sincere desire to pass that gift along to others.

March is Reading Month…how can you make a difference in the life of a child with a gift of a book? 

Check out a new film Girls with Books: A New Global Power

Read an online book and one is donated to an organization all for free at We Give Books! 

Donate to your local school, women’s shelter, or through Better World Books. 

BrendaBrenda Petersen worked as a Family Advocate with Shelby Public Schools for 22 years. She now resides in Holland, MI with her husband Philip. Four kids call her Grandma B.