Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." -Gal. 6:2

I have been so touched at the power of service. I talk of this not because I am great at giving service. I'm striving to be better. But because I have been the recipient of great service. The feelings of love that are gained for those you serve and those who serve you are irreplaceable.

So many have served our family throughout this past year and to you all I am so grateful. One man, however, one man has taught me more about true Christlike service than any other. I have such a special place in my heart for him because he was one of the few who became so intimately involved with Clark as few others, and it wasn't because he was family, it was by choice. He cared for and loved Clark as if he were his own son. He gave and sacrificed and served constantly. I could not begin to count the ways by which our family benefited from his good works. (As it is with true selfless service, I know he would not want to be named.)

He taught me to serve others because you want to serve them. See a need fill a need. We often ask "Is there anything I can do to help?" or "Let me know if you need anything." How often are we actually taken up on those offers. Most of the time the response will be, "No, I'm OK." This man is too stubborn to let it be at that. He would see a need and fill a need, without waiting for us to ask him or give our permission. When called out on this one time his response was, "I can help too. Let me serve you."

On many occasions his service, or that of those in his "flock", has brought tears to my eyes. Just to name a few - a schedule was set up for help with rides for Clark's appointments, meals were brought over, money and donations and money and money, fundraisers organized, blood drives hosted, a few days before Christmas a box big enough for me to climb into showed up on our doorstep filled . . . FILLED with food and gifts, Christmas lights were hung, our car fixed several times and each time we went to settle up the response was, "There's no charge." (I've tried to argue this one but there's no budging a stubborn man.), even the visits and phone calls or texts to check in go a long way. His service has been endless! Clark passed away over three months ago and to this day he is serving us. Not one of these times did I pick up the phone and ask for help. It was all greatly needed and appreciated and done on his own account. See a need fill a need.

I have a book called "The Dog Poop Initiative." Basically the story goes that there is a man who takes his dog for a walk, lets him poop in the grass, and doesn't pick it up. Later, a soccer team arrives and many point out the stinky poo. "With luck and great effort, they avoid the pile." Two more teams come to play. The parents, coaches, and refs point out and warn the others about the poop. "So far all we've seen are a lot of pointers and a pooper. But what about initiative? Where are the leaders and the scoopers?" Then another arrives, and as the pointers pointed, he went over and cleaned up the poop. His son watched and later his team played without worrying about the poop. "The example of our initiative may help others more clearly see, the kind of person and even hero, that they too can choose to be." We've talked a lot about heroes, Clark being one of the greatest. This man has also earned himself the title of hero to me.

Clark's singles ward came over one family night and put up Christmas lights for us. We didn't own a ladder, all our family was coming here, and Christmas is Clark's favorite holiday. I felt their love every time I saw the twinkling lights and so enjoyed having them up. If the singles hadn't done that service for us, it would not have gotten done. A couple months after Christmas, they were still hanging. I knew they needed to come down but we still didn't have a ladder, and frankly it was the least of my priorities. Besides, I still liked their reminder and even though they were off, they often put a little bit of light in me.
Our last family picture, taken Christmas 2009

If you've been with us all along you know this but a little about my day in and day out during the time Clark was here. Not to complain, just to preface my story that relates to dog poop. Clark was on two different antibiotics that needed to be hooked up three times a day, each running for one hour. Doing the math, that's literally around the clock, hooking and unhooking, alarms set to get up in the middle of the night and early in the morning. I'm no nurse so it was nerve racking for me, as well as hard to administer a substance that says "FATAL" and is double wrapped and sealed so you don't get any on your skin, and I'm pumping this through my brother's veins. He had several appointments each week, 45 minute drive each way in good traffic. While there, I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms because I couldn't go back with Clark because of the kids. The hospitals had the ban on kids because of illnesses and extremely immune suppressed patients. I was equally worried about my kids and what they might come across spending so much time in hospitals with people that are so sick. I also felt bad sending Clark back to these appointments alone, never knowing what confusing or heavy news he may be getting. Also, a few times a week were infusions, lasting a couple hours each. Sometimes we knew about them in advance, sometimes it was at moments notice. A nurse would come to the house in the morning, draw blood for labs, and call back results. Sometimes things looked good and sometimes it was "URGENT, critically low, don't shave or brush your teeth or trim your nails or stub your toe." We'd be out the door for the rest of the day. Sometimes we'd leave at 7:30AM and not get home until 8:00PM, when I would START making supper. I was also babysitting, not because I want to but because I have to. It's one of the few things I can do to earn a little extra money and still do everything else. So several days a week I would have three kids ages 2 and under. So, there's the duties of wife, mother, housekeeper, work, and caregiver. (WOW it seems like so much more writing it out and remembering than it was when we were in the middle of it all. Again, not to complain.) Yet my biggest stress and weight was of worry and helplessness. Watching Clark suffer and go through his daily struggles was so hard emotionally. I wanted to help him in anyway I could but I just couldn't.

Then there came a day when I didn't have to babysit, Clark didn't have appointments, and the sun was shining. I determined to set the day aside to be with my babies. They needed to be kids, have fun, be in the sun and get fresh air, crawl and run without being told they couldn't do that and getting a smearing of hand sanitizer every time they touch something. We went outside, they played, and as I listened to their giggles, I let everything else go. I was gaining so much perspective on life and what's really important and these were the moments that matter. It felt so good.

A neighbor that I don't regularly talk with came walking over so I knew something was up.
"Hey, how are ya doin?"
"Oh, life's crazy but we're alright."
"I was wondering if you could take your Christmas lights down. If you don't take them down, I will talk to HOA. They will serve you a notice so I thought I would just come talk to you first so you can get them down before that happens."
"Uh, (forced fake smile) sure!"
- Exit sunshine, laughter, and lack of worries.

Only hours later, the phone rings and we are again urgently out the door for an infusion. On my way out I see this neighbor talking to some of our other beloved neighbors. I don't know if the disgrace of our Christmas lights came up as I drove by or not. This is my only guess because when we got home, the lights were tied in a neat bundle sitting on our front step. How simple an act of service on their part, maybe taking 20 minutes of their time, how huge it was to us not to be burdened by Christmas lights right then.

So, we see poopers and scoopers, pointers and heroes. See a need fill a need. I only share these stories because I have been so touched by the service I have received from others. I want to be better and help meet others needs or lift their burdens, if only a little. I've noticed that when we do something without being asked, that we actually were asked, but it was by the spirit. When we serve someone else because the spirit asked us to, it is usually exactly what they needed. I hope and pray that I can be this person in someone else's life.

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." -Mosiah 2:17


Tasha said...

I have no words! WOW! You really need to write a book. Your words are amazing.
Thank you for sharing him with us!

Elliot said...

Thank you Kristin.

I understand your "not to complain" sharing all the things you and your family did helping Clark.

I just want to tell you that even if you were complaining, which I know you were not, I appreciate hearing all that you did. You've been a great example to so many of us during this battle. This is a great post. Thank you!

Lots of love,

Rhonda Kimble said...

Kristin, your words are so filled with truth, love, and emotion. I’m soaked with tears as I read and recall all that happened. I feel so bad, I feel so selfish as I read and remember all you, Clark, and your family went through. How I could have been the ONE to lighten your burdens, to be company to Clark, or to hang those Christmas lights, or at least could have shewed that nasty neighbor away, who complained. In your blindness, you haven’t been able to see the service you were to me. Even though I spent as much time in Utah with Clark as I could, I regret not having been there more. As the mother, I had two kids in Utah that needed me, I had other children back in South Dakota that needed me, I had a home left unattended, and a job I needed to get back to. With 1200 miles between those needs, and being a single parent, I didn’t know what to do but I chose to go back home. I needed my job, the boys were back in school, and I felt I needed to be back in SD after already being 3 months in Utah. Hoping the outcome would have been different, but now knowing what it was, I SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN UTAH. Perhaps it would have cost me my job? Someone else could have watched the boys and home. I should have chose to serve you and Clark more. I’m so sorry. I appreciate all you, the man in service you so perfectly wrote about, the medical staff and facility, the Church, family and friends, others not mentioned, and to say the least I appreciate Clark for his endurance and patience. Of course I praise our Heavenly Father for helping me understand and accept, that all things have come about as planned and agreed to in the pre-existence. You are a servant Kristin! The Lord is mindful of you and has put you in the presence of many you have already saw the need, and helped. I’m so proud of you. You are the ROCK in our family. I often wish I were more like YOU!

McKell Sampson Powell said...

The last blog post made me cry! I don't think a week or day goes by that our family still doesn't talk and cry about Clark! He was like our big brother and he taught us so much about having courage and faith. You were right, that man in the post wouldn't want to be named and he is very stubborn! Clark and my Dad are my Heroes and I want to be just like them some day! I hope your family is doing well!