I love it when life knocks you over the head. That happened to me this week. I was struggling to write this column. I have a few other things going on in my life ... my husband was out of town, I took my kids to Minneapolis for the weekend, my husband came home, I ended up sick in bed, I felt guilty for ignoring my kids while I was sick in bed, and the laundry just kept piling up.

You know the story. It's life. It happens to all of us.

So here I am mustering up the energy to write when a total stranger gives me the greatest gift of kindness. She sent me a letter.

LaVerne, from north Fargo, sent me the letter in response to my column last week. She was specifically referring to this comment I wrote in the Letter of Love to my daughter, Jordan: "Even when I'm acting ugly, running around the house throwing a tantrum because something didn't get done fast enough, you show me kindness."

Here's LaVerne's Letter of Love that had me sitting in front of my computer crying.

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Dear Nicole,

I can't wait for Saturday mornings to get the paper and read your article. Today, I laughed and shed tears as I read. You ugly? I doubt it. Maybe mismatched for the day, but not ugly. Do I ever remember those days when I had two very bright, well-adjusted teenagers, an adopted child with multiple needs, an insane dog, and a husband on the road.

Forget the jam on the floor, the unmade beds, the crumbs in the sheets. The kids will not remember those "unacceptable" situations, but they will remember when you listened to them, understood their fears and anxieties, hugged them, accepted them for who and what they were striving to be. When they grow up they will remember and thank God for the best mom in the whole universe.

I send your articles to my cousin in California for a day brightener as she struggles with Parkinsons.

Come quick, Saturday morning.


Thank you so much, LaVerne, for making me feel like what I do, in all areas of my life, has value. And thank you life for knocking me over the head and reminding me there are so many ways to show kindness.

You can make an incredible impact on someone's life with just a few words. Give the greatest gift you can give someone this holiday season - for no cost. Write them a Letter of Love. We're going to publish some of them in the paper on Christmas Eve and the rest will be shared online.

Write your Letter of Love on the special form we've created at http://kindness.areavoices.com.by Dec. 15. Please try to keep your letter to less than 200 words. If you choose to send a handwritten letter, please have it postmarked by Dec. 13 and send it to Nicole Phillips, c/o The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three children and the wife of Bison men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.