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Greeting cards wow woman with intentional kindness

This stack of greeting cards from a friend encouraged and supported Jackie Riepma. Special to The Forum

Have you ever leaned into someone during a challenging season in that person’s life?

Did you deliver a casserole or a plate of fresh-baked cookies? As the recipient of both casseroles and cookies, I can tell you they hit their mark and remind us we’re not alone in our suffering.

Kindness is healing, because when we need a friend, we are usually too stubborn to actually ask for one. At least I am.

Besides, it seems like an imposition. Everybody’s got problems, right?

People who can see a friend’s unspoken need and immediately roll up their sleeves to help are the best kind of friends. That’s the kind of friend I want to be when I grow up.

Jackie Riepma, from Boyden, Iowa, shared this story of someone who leaned into friendship for an entire year.

“Kindness, especially unexpected kindness shown to me can take my breath away. A few years back, I was in charge of planning a women’s Christian retreat. I jokingly told a friend that I only had 50 weeks to prepare. She knew I felt unworthy and inadequate to pull this off.

"This precious friend sent me 70 cards that year. She sent funny cards, sparkly cards, cards that sang when you opened them, cards for all the holidays, cards of all kinds. She was steadfast and such an encourager to me as she sent cards every week.

"Her life was full-speed ahead as she had two children getting married, a family member who had a major accident and just the hustle of everyday stuff. She sent those cards on purpose and with commitment. Regardless of what was going on in her life, it never failed. The cards kept arriving in the mail.

"Sometimes she shared what was going on in her life, and other times she shared how God had put me on her heart. They always included handwritten words of encouragement and Scripture that was on point. God used her and her kindness to calm me, buoy me, cheer me on and wipe away my tears.

"Those cards and our friendship are precious to me. Her kindness that year will forever be in my heart.”

Seventy cards and 70 stamps can add up quickly, but there are ways you can be a supportive friend without spending a dime.

For example, every Tuesday, I have someone’s name in my calendar. Right now, it’s my niece who is a freshman in college. An alert pops up on my phone to remind me to text her an inspiring quote or ask how she’s doing or give her a call. Her name will stay in my calendar until I feel like it’s time to lean into someone else.

Having that “appointment” in my calendar means that life won’t move so quickly that kindness becomes something I meant to do, but didn’t quite get around to. We can’t give that kind of support to everyone, but we can give it to someone.

Who is your someone?

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

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