I’ve heard of making deals with the devil, but I wonder, have you ever tried to strike a deal with God?

Maybe you told him that if you could just have that promotion at work you would start volunteering to help the homeless. Or if he would just help you lose those last 10 pounds you would donate to the food pantry every month.

I don’t remember exactly what I’ve promised God, but I do know that I have made some pretty bold statements about how I intended to change my behavior if only he would intervene on some particular issue.

The key word there for me is “intended.” Somehow, when I get what I want I often forget my end of the bargain.

People who say what they’re going to do and then do it are special. They are people we can count on. They are people we can trust. And in the case of this next letter, they are people we are proud to call our friends:

“My name is Joan Strandlien, and I want to tell you the story of a very dear friend.

“Elaine Pierce had a passion for sewing, and at one time, had her own drapery business. She decided to take this gifted talent to a much higher level after surviving a brain tumor 17 years ago.

“Elaine made a promise to God that if she survived the brain tumor she would do something special to help people in need.

“She celebrated life by sewing more than 5,000 jackets for children and adults in need.

“Her husband Lyle had a big part in this act of kindness by helping Elaine load 25 or 30 jackets for each nursing home and then delivering them to places all over North Dakota and Minnesota.

“When they went south to Arizona for the winter, Lyle would hook up a trailer to his SUV for her sewing machine and sewing materials, so Elaine could continue to make jackets and blankets for nursing home residents in the Mesa area.

“Elaine was truly a talented and gifted seamstress with a heart of gold! No matter what time of day or evening, you could always find Elaine sitting at her sewing machine.

On June 26, 2012, Elaine passed away at her sewing machine doing what she loved.

“I wanted to share this story so as many people as possible could know this beautiful woman who gave so much!”

Thank you for taking the time to write about your friend, Joan. Elaine touched the lives of thousands of people simply because she kept her promise. Maybe our acts of kindness just have to start there.

I hope you will continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.


Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.