Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Act Anew

"Think Anew - Act Anew"

From now on, if it doesn't exist, we'll need to invent it.
How will you participate?
How will you 'think/act anew' in the new year?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Art with Words

Check out PIC LITS

I'm quickly becoming addicted to creating my own poetry/art


I know that, whether we like it or not, we are all on this earth as part of one human family. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, belonging to one nation or another, to one religion or another, adhering to this ideology or that, ultimately each of us are the same: we all desire happiness and do not want suffering. We are all connected.

I see the illusion in labels, and judgements, and 'you' being separate from 'me'. 

And then this current cast of characters comes to mind:

Bernie Madoff
Dick Cheney
Karl Rove
Jack Abramoff
Michael Brown
Paul Bremer
Kenneth Lay
Alberto Gonzales
Scooter Libby
Spc. Sabrina Harmon

And I have to remind myself again that we are all one. 
That the bit of light within me is the same bit of light within them. 
And, if it is true that "I am my brothers keeper", my compassion goes out to all and my judgement lands on none.

If you have a list of your own 10, see if you can find a compassionate thought for each.
Make it a new year's resolution.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Attempted Gesture of Good Will

This is Barry Goldberg. He's an out of work mortgage lending executive. 

On December 22nd, Mr. Goldberg purchased $1,300 worth of $10 gift cards at Wal-Mart. His intention was to hand out the gift cards to people entering his local Wal-Mart store "to do something nice to make the holiday brighter."

Wal-Mart accused Mr. Goldberg of "soliciting" and asked him to leave the store for "interrupting the flow of foot traffic into the store."

Mr. Goldberg left the store with 44 of his remaining gift cards. He was later contacted by Target and told he could exchange his remaining gift cards for Target Gifts Cards, and was free to pass them out there. 

I purchased $50 worth of $10 gift cards at Albertson's Grocery Store and handed them out in the parking lot. Luckily, I was never harassed, scolded, or shown the door for my efforts.

Who knew that an attempted gesture of good will could be so controversial?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Children's Book

A mathematical folktale with a wonderful moral.

Sunday is a great day to read with a child!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Better Questions

Here comes the New Year.

As 2008 comes to an end, I catch myself thinking things like: Why didn't I lose weight this year? Why did I buy high and sell low? Why didn't I get more organized? 

The answers to these questions can be pointless, circular, and exhausting.

Lucky for me, I have a wonderful and inspiring husband who has taught me that: if you don't like the answer, ask a better question. So this New Year, I am changing all my year-end  questions. Here are a few I'd like to share:
  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What did I do this year that I'm really proud of?
  • Who did I help?
  • Who do I need to thank for helping me?
  • What new people did I meet this year?
  • What made me happy and brought me joy this year?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Best Gift Bag

I received the best gift yesterday from a very thoughtful friend. The note said, "...The bag I am giving you is a 'warming kit' containing small items that might be useful to someone in need... Does it matter why someone is suffering? If the reason is economic, alcohol, bad choices, bad parenting, or just bad luck, the bottom line is that someone is suffering." 

So my job is to keep this gift bag in my car, and when I see someone asking for help I am to hand this gift to them.

In the bag is a pair of gloves, toiletries, non-perishable food items, a list of phone numbers and addresses of local shelters, and a pre-paid phone card. Fantastic!

If you are able, I suggest we all stock these 'warming kits' in our cars this winter.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Peace on Earth

May this holiday season show you peace.
 May the new year bring you a greater sense of joy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For Zia

I don't like to debate for the sake of debating. I know people who can expound on both sides of the same issue just to "stir the pot" or prove a point or be right. 

There are many issues on which I have strong opinions or beliefs:
Hand Guns
Gay Rights
Government Bailouts
Global Warming
The Middle East

But, at the same time, I appreciate the diversity of view points...the contrast found in individual opinions. Everything has more sides to it than I could ever be capable of seeing. I realize that allowing others their views, even when they are in opposition of mine, is the true beauty found in life. 

Allow others, whether they allow you or not.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

12 Days of Giving

Imagine if there was more charity and less materialism in Christmas giving.

Join and watch the video 12 Days of Giving - extended music video. If you have time, also watch Redefine Christmas 2008. Redefine how you give, so your gifts will have more meaning.


Have a great holiday!


This was a mother and son I met who are trying to get to Salt Lake.

They are staying together at the Interfaith Sanctuary.

Monday, December 22, 2008


According to Sunday's morning news, another new face of poverty in Boise is grandparents raising grandchildren.

 An increasing number of grandparents are bringing their grandchildren to the Boise Rescue Mission for meal service at the City of Light home for Women and Children.

The AARP website has a special resource guide called the GrandCare Toolkit for grandparents raising young children.

Idaho Grandparents as Parents (G.A.P.) has a resource website. The Boise group meets the first Monday of every month (6:30-8:30pm) at the First Church of the Nazarene (3852 N Eagle Road, Boise - 2nd floor fireside room).

If you know of any grandparents raising their grandchildren, please help connect them to the resources available.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Children's Book

The Giving Book is a fun way to inspire children to give back to the world. It is filled with fun, engaging activities. 
This book is the perfect gift for every child.

Sunday is a wonderful day to read with a child!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Where God Left His Shoes

Thursday night we went to a benefit showing of the movie, "Where God Left His Shoes".

All proceeds from the benefit went to C.A.T.C.H. (Charitable Assistance to Community's Homeless). CATCH is an organization designed to assist homeless families with children in Boise. It is a collaborative philanthropic effort involving the United Way, local businesses, local communities of faith, and the City of Boise. CATCH rapidly re-houses homeless families first, and then coordinates social services and case management to address the issues which contributed to the family's homelessness. Since it's launch in November of 2006, CATCH has housed and assisted almost 60 families with over 120 children. Approximately 84% of CATCH participants become self sufficient within six months.

If you, your business, or faith community would like to sponsor a homeless family with children please email

If you get the opportunity be sure to see Where God Left His Shoes . It portrays the realities of homelessness with heartbreaking clarity, while at the same time reinforcing the overwhelming power of family.

Where God Left His Shoes is available on demand through January (contact your local cable operator for more information). Gather your friends, family, and neighbors for a private showing in your home. You will be engaged and entertained...but more importantly you will be moved to action.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Donors Choose

If you are interested in supporting your local public schools, check out Donors Choose

I have the web site set to choose a classroom project in Idaho, but you can insert any state. Wish lists from teachers in your area are placed on the site. Donors are able to fund all or just a portion of any requested project.

Whether it's books, interlocking math cubes, or a carpet...It's a wonderful way to fill a local teacher's need.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Coffee Cozy

Handmade Coffee Sleeve

I received this handmade coffee sleeve from a very clever friend. It's washable, it's reusable, it's environmentally friendly. This is a fantastic way to skip taking the cardboard coffee sleeves from your favorite coffee house. I found a site that has a similar design if you are crafty and want to make your own.

I appreciate thoughtful little ideas like this. They make my day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boise's Interfaith Sanctuary

I heard an incredible story on NPR about The Interfaith Sanctuary of Boise (BSU Radio Story). The Interfaith Sanctuary is the only homeless shelter in Boise where whole families can stay together. Recently, as a direct result of the economy, there has not been enough room in the shelter for all who need it. More and more families with children who have never been homeless before are coming to the shelter for the very first time.

Interfaith Sanctuary provides shelter and supportive services for families with children from 6pm to 7am, seven days a week. The shelter is located at 1620 W River Street. Nightly averages range from 130 to 145 people, and have reached as high as 160.

The shelter has funds to last through January, but needs our community support. If you are interested in helping The Interfaith Sanctuary please visit their web site ( You can help by donating supplies to their wish list, volunteering your time, or making a financial contribution.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five Years from Today

"The greatest day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. The gift of life is yours - and you get to determine the quality of it. Live the next five years on purpose. Now is the time. Imagine the possibilities. Go places, have adventures, make a real difference, do what you love. Follow your dreams, they know the way."

I saw this book and it got me thinking... "Where will I be five years from today?" More importantly, where do I want to be? 

I especially like the note on the side bar that says, "Live the next five years on purpose."

Monday, December 15, 2008

The GOOD Sheet

What is GOOD?

"GOOD is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward. It's a weekly series breaking down an important issue to help make sense of the world around us. Exclusively available at Starbucks." 

I found this paper at Starbucks. Issue #11 is on the Holiday Economy. 

Did you know:
  • 30-35 million Christmas trees are sold in the US every year
  • Americans spent $9.3 billion in jewelry-store sales during Nov and Dec in 2007
  • The US Postal Service will deliver 20 billion cards, letters, and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Americans bought $700 million worth of candles during the 2007 holiday season (that's 350 million pounds of wax)
  • In 2006, Americans drank 131 million pounds of eggnog during the holiday season (Speaking of eggnog, have you tried Starbucks Eggnog Chai Latte?)
And, finally, in November and December of 2007, American consumers accumulated an estimated $12.8 billion in new debt! And it's worth pointing out that one third of these consumers were still paying off debt from the 2006 holiday season.

All of these interesting facts and more were in issue #11 of GOOD.

Let me just add a little bit of hope to the American consumer . We seem to be learning from our current tough-love economic lesson. The Sunday New York Times reported this weekend that, "For the first time on record, the total indeptedness of American consumers declined in the third quarter."

Are we beginning to learn to live within our means?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Children's Book

"Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy."

A tender story about the gift of giving.
Always worth a second look this time of the year.

Sunday is a great day to read with a child!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

International Rescue Committee

Could you point to Myanmar on a world map? 
Here's a hint: it was formerly known as Burma.

You might remember how the world watched with alarm, in September of 2007,  as the Myanmar government violently suppressed peaceful nationwide protests. Buddhist monks were protesting against their government whose repressive rule had driven much of the nation into poverty. 

This Friday a volunteer from the International Rescue Committee came to speak to my son's class about refugees from Burma currently living in Boise. I was amazed to see how many of the kids actually knew that Burma was in Asia, and how close they were to pinpointing its location on a world map. 

The kindergarten and first grade classes at school are collecting clothes, toys, and household supplies for the refugee families. This outreach, organized by two wonderful parent volunteers, was a fantastic opportunity for the kids to ask questions about life in Burma, and to find out what life is like as a refugee.

According to The IRC in Boise web site, "Boise, with its affordable housing, good job opportunities, and welcoming community, is an optimal city for refugee resettlement."
Because Boise appears to be ideal for refugee placement, the local need is incredible. If you would like to help a refugee family, please go the the IRC web site.  

This holiday season, please keep the IRC of Boise in mind.

Friday, December 12, 2008


My son's homework came home the other night with the following instructions: 

"This holiday season we are practicing the Kwanzaa principle of zawadi with our classmates."

He was to write a compliment letter to one of his classmates, telling three specific things about that student that he has appreciated this year at school. 

Wow.  Shouldn't we all be doing that exact thing for friends and family at every year's end?

As I looked into this zawadi (sah-WAH-dee) concept more, I found that zawadi are educational or culturally enriching gifts given as a reward for commitments made and kept. They are not given automatically. They are symbols of personal growth and achievement, beneficial to the collective.

What a fantastic concept!

All I can tell you is that each of my children and my husband will be receiving a Kwanzaa zawadi compliment letter from me in their Christmas stocking this year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas 2008

I am exhausted by Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays.

This year, rather than thinking about the height of the selling season and the days left until the 'day-after' sales, let's reflect upon this season of giving. Let's share our blessings with those who are in need. Isn't this the season to come together and help those less fortunate than ourselves? Whatever your family's religious belief, almost everyone celebrates something this month.

These are difficult times for many. Yet, this month, I encourage you and your family to count your blessings. And when you are done counting them, say a prayer for those who are less fortunate: the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, and the sick.

Do your part to make a difference. 
Celebrate with a deliberate sense of gratitude.

Check out this great video on YouTube

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The March of a New Tune

The weekend The Wall Street Journal declared, 
Job Losses Are Worst Since '74
The economy shed 533,000 jobs in November, bring the total jobs lost since September to 1.3 million. By now, if it's not you who has lost a job, it's someone you know. And if it's not someone you know, it's most definitely someone in your community.

During the Great Depression the American motto seemed to be, "We're all in this together." Then somewhere along the line we decided to get what you can while the getting is good. The truth is that most of us have been too busy with the tasks at hand and our constant accumulation to notice what is going on with our neighbors.

As we head into the Holiday Season and the New Year, perhaps with more of an awareness of a common condition and collective aspiration, we can march forward to the new tune of 
"Help, where help is needed."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Dash of Regulation

This past November 4th, on Election Day, I stood with some friends at a busy intersection and encouraged passers by to VOTE. We stood out there for a good 8 hours and experienced responses of all sorts. Many people called me a socialist...and some even shouted that I must be a communist (I was wearing an Obama 08 baseball cap).

It's these shouters of Communism that I think about this week as our economy is declared officially in recession and on the brink of depression, as we look to our government for $700 billion to bail out industry. 

Certainly we should have some vision of what our current failed economic state should be replaced with, it's apparent that we're experiencing the birth of something new ... maybe European-style social democracy... maybe Latin American-style socialism... But honestly, I still prefer and support American Capitalism and 'Entrepreneurial-ism'... just, maybe this time, with a little regulation thrown in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Spite of Everything

In spite of

Abu Ghraib,
Walter Reed,
Black Water,
Executive Power,
Preemptive War,

I still believe that people are truly good at heart.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Online Red Kettle

Doing The Most Good

Every day of the year, the Salvation Army offers help and hope to thousands of people. 
Money donated to the Salvation Army will change lives 
for the better.

Friday, December 5, 2008


In our communities it seems that we have a complicated idea of American Independence. We often seem wistful about the days where people quietly cared for one another as a matter of course. Where neighbors had a sense of communal solidarity. Yet at the same time, we celebrate and even lionize self-reliance, self-help, and self-determination.

Our lives are actually filled with the giving and receiving of help. No one ever stands alone.

I couldn't help this man get home for Christmas, but I could recognize his humanity. I could acknowledge his need and lighten his load even if only in the smallest of ways.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Samaritan Experiment

"This money was left here intentionally and specifically for your use. I know it's not much - perhaps just enough to treat yourself to a cookie, coffee, a lottery ticket, or donation to the homeless...
In any case, I hope it changes your day for the better.

I got this idea from the book An Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. If you haven't read it, it is a hilarious must read.

I plan to leave envelopes in newspaper boxes, restrooms, restaurants, parks, health club locker rooms, etc. I think it will be fun to come up with new and interesting places to leave this note and a few bucks. And, even more exciting, to think of how people will respond and what they will do with a little spare change. In all, I think I have $50 to spend...perhaps dinner and a movie I will have to forego...but, oh the fun we'll have.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Have A Good Day

Everyone wants to make a difference.

I met this couple under a highway overpass. They were there with their dog and their "Have A Good Day" sign. They were waving to the cars passing by, wishing everyone a 'Happy Holiday'. 

We wished each other well. 
I give to you and you give to me. 

We're all in this together.
We rise and fall as one nation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

World of Good

Check out Starbucks new promotion. 
Every time you buy a Peppermint Mocha Twist or a Gingersnap Latte or an Espresso Truffle hot drink this Holiday Season (until 1/02/09),  Starbucks will donate 5 cents to the Global Fund to help save lives in Africa. A nickel here, another nickel there, when we all work together it adds up to a whole world of good.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Charitable Children

How do you raise a charitable, compassionate child?

We all know that children model what their favorite adults - their parents - do and say. So, be charitable and compassionate around your children. It's never too late or too early to model good citizenship. 

As year end fundraising letters and appeals roll in this month, collect them to share with your children. Spread them out on the kitchen table and sort through them as a family. Listen to what they are interested in and why.

Thinking of others as well as ourselves can become a part of everyday life.

Two fun ideas to help begin the conversation of philanthropy with your children are:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving - In Spite of Everything

"Who are we? What really matters?

It's the man or woman in your life that you love most. It's the child or grandchild who trusts you and depends on you to love them more than you love yourself. It's the beauty of the world we've been given and the chance to love it more than the stuff we mine from it, cut down and make from it, dig up or drill for. It's the feeling we get when we do something altruistic and realize that even a small selfless act gives us more satisfaction than our striving for our 'important' careers."

By Frank Schaeffer

Friday, November 28, 2008

Helping Hands

You may have heard that the better it gets, the better it gets, Or the worse it gets, the worse it gets. It seems whatever you have given your attention to creates an energy of its own and amplifies.

The other day I was unloading bags from my cart at Target, but it wasn't my regular Target (if you can have a "regular" Target). I began looking around for a cart corral in the expansive, unfamiliar parking lot. I must have looked lost and bewildered. A woman who was heading toward the store offered to take my cart back in for me. "Really? Wow. Great. Thanks!" It was a completely small gesture yet so thoughtful and collegial. And here I am still thinking about it.

So I have decided to put my attention to finding more acts of every day altruism. It's exciting (and even fun) to catch people being kind and thoughtful toward one another. I mentally keep a tally each day as I watch people hold doors, pick up random trash, and allow traffic to merge.

I have found it to be true that the more you see, the more you see.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

At the Idaho Human Rights Education Center there was a note taped to the Anne Frank memorial statue.
The poem read: 
"gay or straight 
black or white 
christian or jewish
be who you be
 be grateful 
happy thanksgiving."

There is always much to be grateful for, even in these difficult times. This Thanksgiving, let's "be who we be" and stop pushing back against those who oppose us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Little Help

This morning I was reading about the Social Security Act of 1935. Unemployment insurance was created by the SSA  as a safety net when national unemployment was about 20 percent. Unemployment in Idaho has doubled to 5.4 percent in one year, and Idaho has endured the largest percentage increase in unemployment of any state.

It was with these statistics fresh in my mind that I went shopping for my family's Thanksgiving dinner. It was me...and everyone else who waits until the day before Thanksgiving to shop for food. The parking lot was so crowded that I had to park way, way in the back. But back by the farthest exit was a man sitting on the curb, holding a sign. I handed him a gift card to the grocery store I was shopping in. "I hope this helps." I said. "Happy Thanksgiving."

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Pledge

The Pledge of Allegiance
1954 to present
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

My children don't say the pledge of allegiance at school, and that bothers me. So we are learning it at home. I told them that it is more than just saying a pledge to a piece of fabric. It's more like making a promise to your community. You promise that you will stick together and look out for one another. And that in this community we will always treat each other fairly.

So when you see adults stand and put their hand over their heart when the flag passes in a parade or at a sport event, it is more than respect for a flag - it's that they are remembering and honoring the promise they made to their community.

Hunger in Idaho

Tonight, tens of thousands of Idaho children will go to bed hungry. That's just one statistic from a first-of-it's kind paper from the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force (  That report on hunger in Idaho will be published this month.

This holiday season more and more people are squeezed by bad mortgages, shrinking 401Ks, deflation, and job losses. Already, many of our fellow citizens who were once food donors are heading to the food bank to accept donations. It's a new kind of run on the bank...the Food Bank.

Check out

Donate cash if you are able or participate in a food drive.
Every effort helps.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Place to Begin

My friend Heather is a fantastic, up-and-coming photographic talent. She donated her skills to a family in Boise, Idaho whose home and possessions were burned in an August 25th fire. The devastating fire in the Oregon Trail Heights subdivision destroyed 10 homes and damaged 9 others. Heather spent the afternoon photographing a family who lost all their family photo albums, and together they created new memories. It's a wonderful place to begin.

Thinking of the wildfires in Southern California this month that have destroyed over 1,000 homes and burned a combined area of over 65 square miles, it's hard to imagine all that's been lost. But, as always, we can give assistance with the talents we have and offer our good wishes to those who need it. It's a wonderful place to begin.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Toys For Tots

Today, while I was driving, I saw a military vehicle with "Toys for Tots" flags flying from the windows. I could see that they had boxes in the back of the truck that were labeled:  Toys for Tots. I began thinking..."I wish I could get one of those boxes for our school...I'm sure we could collect plenty of new, unwrapped toys"...So I followed the two Marines for several miles. They finally stopped at a supermarket, where I commandeered one of the boxes. Actually, they just gave me one and explained that I could return it, before December 20th, to any fire station for pick up.

Thank You Marine Corps Reserve for this wonderful service!

Friday, November 21, 2008

America Serves

"When you choose to serve -- whether it's your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood -- you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That's why it's called the American dream."

go to
Click on America Serves and let your government (Of the People, By the People) know that you are interested in serving your community.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

First Post

"Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today."  - President-elect Barack Obama

With those words to set the tone, welcome to Samaritan Blog!