Life is often made in the margins.

Those are the little segments of time on our calendars we don’t have planned. They are the 15 minutes before we need to be out the door to our kid’s soccer practice, the 30 minutes before our next meeting or, in the case of the woman who sent in the following story, the hour before we pick up a friend.

If we use those gaps of time well, the life we create can be filled with joy we could never map out.

“Hello Nicole,

“A few weeks ago, I had an hour to kill before picking up a friend. It seemed like just enough time to do an act of kindness, but not enough time to cook a meal. I remembered your story of the boy who gave the rotisserie chicken to a family and thought this was a great idea to copy!

“Earlier that week, someone I didn’t know very well shared on Facebook that she had gone through a miscarriage. I wanted to offer support because we had been through this, too.

“I went to the local grocery store, picked up a hot chicken, watermelon, bread, carrots and a card and looked up her address. She lived about 10 minutes away, so I filled out the card and drove over to her house. Guess what? She wasn’t home!

“I left the card in her front door and wondered what I was going to do with this hot chicken meal in my car.

“With 20 minutes left before I had to pick up my friend, I drove to four other homes: my favorite teacher, not home; a family where the dad was in a motorcycle accident, not home; our old neighbors, not home; and a local firefighter, not home.

“Well, who was this hot chicken dinner supposed to go to?

“The person across the street from the firefighter was outside working on his yard. His name is Chad and his wife was inside napping with their 1-year-old daughter. I don’t know them very well, but I walked over to him with the big brown bag of food and said, ‘Hi Chad! Here’s dinner.’ He looked at me puzzled and I said, ‘I know you are supposed to have it.’

“Chad’s wife called to say thank you. It makes my whole heart smile to think she didn’t have to cook that night and they could share a nice hot meal. Little do they know they were ‘Try No. 6,’ but I’m certain they were the ones who were meant to have it all along.”

May I encourage you to pay attention to your margins?

Use the 15 minutes before heading to your child’s next event to sit on the couch and listen. Use the 30 minutes before the next meeting to phone a hurting friend. And if you happen to find yourself with an hour to spare, grab a hot meal from the deli and see where the adventure takes you.

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