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National Daughter’s Day

Ten years ago this Summer my 12-year-old daughter, Maggie Lee Henson, left for church camp. A tire blew, the bus flipped and she wound up in the ICU at Batson Children’s Hospital for three weeks.

The funny part is that I truly thought that God knew me well enough to prevent this tragedy from visiting MY door. Like any parent, heart and soul were obviously my children. With a minister for a husband I made peace with our treasures not ever being on Earth but rather in Heaven. I just never imagined my daughter being one of them.

And yet in the Summer of 2009 she was gone. Despite the 2 am bargaining and 3 am begging, she died. Despite the thousands of prayers of others, emails to us on how our faith could save her if we held our leg up at just the right angle and said just the right words and believed, she died. Despite our belief that God would work a miracle, to our utter shock, no miracle came.

What I in my simple intellect and speck of faith have found in a decade is that God who is in control does not always come through with a last-minute miracle. He does not always override the bad judgement of humans to correct our mistakes. And yet we are his beloved children; utterly adored and treasured even when we suffer at the hands of one another. He cannot be anything but total love sustaining us in beautiful, invisible ways despite the answers to prayers we don’t receive and the opportunities to intervene he passes upon. I don’t get it either, people. God is such an unexplainable, irreducible force.

Sometimes people will make poor choices which can wreck our lives or our children’s lives. That is another tricky aspect of life: we each have a myriad of decisions to make each day. We may be self-obsessed, overtly cruel or simply oblivious to the sufferings of others around us. We decide.

Conversely, equipped with Christ’s example and care for the least of these, we have the opportunity to bring joy into the world. Maggie Lee was a party-starter and joy- bringer. She looked out for the marginalized and chose well. She has inspired others to use their lives in unknown quantity for good and live to the fullest.

Miracles are interesting things. I still wholeheartedly believe that they happen. Every day. As much as I believe God missed an excellent opportunity to completely heal Maggie Lee, I feel that had this world been the best place for her that he would have certainly left her here. But sometimes when a miracle doesn’t come down from Heaven, God sparks one here on Earth.

In September 2009 when our little family was disoriented by grief, a friend suggested we try to get 1,300 people to do a good deed on Maggie Lee’s 13th birthday on October 29th. By the time the first Maggie Lee for Good Day rolled around there were 18,000 people injecting love and kindness into the world in her memory.

Little girls gave pony tails to Locks of Love, a house was built in Haiti, water wells dug in Africa, neighbors were fed and utility bills were paid. How absolutely miraculous is THAT? Maggie Lee for Good Day has grown. And grown. And grown. We did not get The miracle but we got a miracle none the less.

And now a decade later, MLFG continues. It has been a lesson in character education for schools, an excuse for parents to go on field trips with their kids and the impetus for some to write letters asking for long- overdue forgiveness of others.

If you feel led to join in this world wide wave of good deeds, we welcome you. We want you to be a force of redemption on October 29th. No deed is too small to change someone’s life and kindness and civility are in incredibly short supply. Join with your daughter and take on a fun hour of passing out water bottles or umbrellas or quarters in laundromats.

Who knows what God has in store this October 29th? But we want as many people as can to join! Like the MLFG Facebook page, do your good deed and share your photos through the Maggie Lee for Good FB Page:

#maggieleeforgood

#nationaldaughtersday

#nationaldaughtersday2019

#mothersanddaughters

#kindness

#kindnesscounts

#payitforward

#godsredemption

#mourningintodancing

#hope

#inspiration

#joy

#faith

#anyhumankindnessleft

#desperate

#help

#redemption

#feelingalone

#beapartofsomethingbiggerthanyourself

#fca

#goodpeople

#ellenshow

#todayshow

#700club

#jenhatmaker

#alroker

#positivevibesonly

#childrenshospitalmississippi

#circleoffriends

#grievingparents

#grief

#abcgooddeeds

#kindness

#jennifergarner

#justbekind

#abc

#cbs

#thisisus

#survivinggrief

#dylan

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Generous Girls Are Gorgeous Girls

This is St. Louis Mo. (Maureen) My beloved Baylor roomie whose laugh registered right below mine on the obnoxometer. The one with whom I would leave Collins Hall and walk around campus in my p.j.’s at midnight. Because College.

She and her daughter, Katherine, were planning to help with Khaki Fair last year when they received the news that Kat’s CT Scan revealed the need for another 10 hour surgery. She came through like a champ, dealt with a partially-shaved head and recovery.

Not to be denied, they are here this year! Mo made good on her promise and is here to experience KF in the flesh! Since all she knows of this part of the world is Duck Dynasty (and is quite a Sadie fan!) I am ecstatic for her to see my beautiful Highland people tomorrow! God is so sweet sometimes I can scarcely believe it.

#highlandcenterministries

#maggieleescloset

#maggieleeforgood

#christianfaith

#miracleseveryday

#crazyblessedwithcrazywomen

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A Chance for Hope: Khaki Fair

Back to school shopping was a beat-down. I vividly remember being inconsolable when a dump truck full of sand which my father purchased to add to our front yard (to augment the soil?) was delivered and instead of playing in it with the rest of my neighbors I had to go shopping. At Sears. For back-to-school clothes. In the chubette girls plus section no less. It was tragic.

I was uncharacteristically opinion-less about wardrobe that year. All I could think of was my friends having all the sand fun on sand hills while I was hanging out with the chunky, faceless mannequins. With bellies. And goiters. At Sears. I felt tortured. Little did I know the budgeting that went into getting my brothers and me ready for school. I learned years later that picking out the clothes was the easy part but paying for it all was as fun as getting hit in the eye with a sand chunk.

Many parents get that back-to-school anxiety. As in how can we swing it all? Shreveport, the city I call home, has a tremendous amount of children in poverty. Well above our nation and even our state’s poverty rate. That paired with with most public schools in Caddo Parish requiring school uniforms makes for a back to school panic. Maggie Lee’s Closet’s clientele are children K-8th grade whose parents working minimum-wage jobs have little wiggle room for groceries, bills and school uniforms. Khaki Fair is a big party usually around the time we lost Maggie Lee where we throw love & uniforms around like confetti.

Khaki Fair is an opportunity to welcome these children whom God adores and give them the one new set of clothes, undies and socks they will have this year. We cannot heal the deepest wounds of their souls but we sure can have the khakis and toothbrushes to back up our claim that God loves them. And He can heal them.

Many times I share Maggie Lee’s Closet’s stories of life change through the clothes and volunteer hours you give. The self-esteem which new clothes bring is an amazing thing. Pure magic and I want to share that joy because I know that God can use any tiny gesture to show himself as pure love and change the trajectory of a life. Just like God showed his love-self to me.

So, here’s the invite: if you are free from 4-6pm on August 2nd and want to volunteer, come on. Shoot me a message that you’re in. The volunteer sign-up station will be well- labeled where you absolutely cannot miss it. The needs are great and we cannot fix the whole world but we can in this little way spread joy like a pile of front yard sand!

#maggieleescloset

#highlandcenterministries

#maggieleeforgood

#khakifair2019

#shreveportschooluniforms

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I Don’t Say God is Love

I don’t say God is love to use your reaction as a litmus test to determine if you are in my camp and therefore right. I do not proclaim it because if you disagree you are a mission project in need of taking on. I share this foundational truth which I believe holds the world together because you will need it someday.

Parents who believed this truth raised me in church. I took to God’s word much like athletes to sport probably because there were no prerequisites required. I need not be brilliantly best at anything to receive this love which was the greatest truth ever. Late at night during the Summer, I would gaze at the moon and feel as though God had spun it there just to show His love for me.

The aim of my life was to know God and make God known. I felt the great cloud of witnesses from Hebrews cheering me on as I walked through my life. I always loved the encouragement that it mattered how I lived.

Like all of us if we live long enough, I arrived at a circumstance which far outstripped my strength. Devoid of easy answers, bereft of logic and deeper than any platitude could ever plumb was God’s love. Steelier than the fuzzy, Kaopectate-colored relief, this was gritty enough to fall into my deepest sadness and spring hope in due time.

I believe love is the only answer, the highest call and the timeless balm for which our charred souls long. God’s fierce, street-fighter, Mama’s love has sustained and educated me in the the wee hours of my soul’s dilapidation. I was tore up from the floor up. And was seen through.

God’s love is for the many not the few. His aim is to draw his children close and as one who is one child short, I can tell you that there is nothing you could ever do to quench that love. Nothing. If we love our children this way, just imagine how unfailing the love of our Heavenly Father is for us. All of us. You are invited to stick your toe in the stream but I know with all my being’s fibers (all the fibers) that you will want to dive deep and float in the river of grace and peace you find.

I implore you not to come over to any side of the aisle and believe exactly as I do, but rather to lean into this lavish love of God and be warmed by the relieving glow. All that is required is the will to defrost.

#godslove

#christianfaith

#peace

#hope

#adoredbygod

#encouragement

#spiritualhelp

#surrender

#brokenhearted

#grief

#cometojesus

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Proud of These People

These are the Church for The Highlands 2019 Graduates. I am proud of the people they have become. You never really know when you meet a squirrelly 6th grader exactly how it’s gonna go down. But each has matured. And done so well.

Last night in the gym our church honored these students with a great meal and gifts. The personalized decorations were as beautiful as any Pinterest spread and it was all for love.

As we watched the slideshow of each Senior, the photos told a story of service. Dre was face painting for one of our carnivals, Robert was landscaping, Jason was painting a swing set, Shameiko was serving in Lake Providence and Chase at a block party.

The unvarnished truth is that they have shared life with us and we with them. Kyle Kelley our volunteer youth minister who nearly died in the bus accident in 2009 joined forces with FBC Shreveport to take our youth to Colorado so that they could see mountains. What an absolute picture of love that is.

Life gets messy and the youth are no exception. Each one of these children of God deals with challenges I never faced. Issues like basic transportation: most have walked to church at The Highland Center for years. That in itself is a phenomenal feat: youth getting up on a Sunday Morning and walking to church?

If the students lived too far from church to travel on foot, Kyle or David have driven the church van to pick up these kids and their families. They have made the effort to reach across pesky barriers like transportation because of the love of Christ. These actions, seemingly small, (unless you have ever done them) is an extended hand which says “come join me!”

The most beautiful sentiment shared last night was the statement of one youth to another:

“Thank you for the positive impact you’ve had on my life. You helped me become a better person and choose priorities over pleasures in life and I thank you. ”

That brought the frivolous laughter to a halt as we all took in the gravity of this eloquent compliment. Perhaps God enjoys profoundly watching the church be a place for people to find their way home. And journey there with each other.

###

#2019graduates

#churchforthehighlands

#youthministry

#seniorbanquet

#proudchurch

#special seniors

#God

#faith

#raisingkids

#shreveportchurch

#shreveportlachurchforthehighlands

#preciousyouthministers

#ministerswhocare

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Preparing Your Children for The Moguls

I remember walking to my homeroom class at Fondren Middle School. I knew if Stephen was there he would have some random insult de jour. It would make me raise my defenses at least until homeroom was over. I would not deem Stephen a bully, just a middle school boy.

His power was limited to his audience and most of us were aware that his harassment was merely a thirsty attempt to elevate himself. The awkwardness of middle school drove us all to make questionable choices. Like the salmon polo / salmon jean combination I proudly wore with bright green socks and loafers. None of us of us had unimpaired judgment.

Imagine if Stephen would have had a larger audience. Say, the entire cafeteria. But instead of just having a minute to craft a creative criticism he had an entire school day. And a cache of internet references from which he could fashion hilarious memes. Say a side-by-side of an actual salmon and my salmon-on-salmon ensemble. What was an uncomfortable ten minutes could potentially expand to consume an entire day. Or two. An embarrassment limited to a homeroom class now would be granted a limitless geography.

Because this is the reality our children swim in each day we must do our best to arm them with perspective: a reality which transcends their current reality. We must strive to imbue our kids with an eternal perspective. This is an encouragement which if embraced can transform our lives and strengthen our children.

An eternal perspective has the potential to bring peace to our anxious minds because it takes the pressure off of any one moment on any one day. Did we forget a lunch or the donation to teacher appreciation week? Space out in a meeting and screw up the fundraiser? I mean, don’t dare screw up the fundraiser, handle your business, man. But seriously, will the rotting orders of cookie dough you forgot in the back of your SUV matter in ten years? No! You did not forget your toddler in the car. It will all be alright.

Eternal perspective is not the magic bullet which will remove all chaos from your household within 24 hours but it will arm you then alternately your child with a sense of security. I have viewed my role as parent as such: to raise self-sufficient humans who make a positive impact upon the world. Part of self-sufficiency is learning to soothe yourself. You may have had a night or two of baby wailing when your taught your child to soothe themself. The baby was fed and dry and just needed to learn that she could be content even without you. Some never taught that lesson because being needed is our reason to live.

The reality is that we will not always be with our offspring to dry every tear they cry. Because college. And marriage. And so the encouragement we give while we raise them will either give them a steel core of survival:

“you can do this on your own.”

“In the entire scope of eternity this day will seem less horrible.”

“It’s a bad chapter but a good book.”

Or our intervention in each situation for a favorable outcome will convince them that life will always be fair and people are here to guarantee that:

“If your third grade teacher wants to torpedo your chances at Stanford, he’s got another thing coming.”

“The online assignment did not specify a number of sources and she penalized you for that? What an idiot”

“I’m friends with his mom’s friend on Facebook. I’ll just reach out with a little heads’ up about his bullying since the principal refuses to get involved. We’re not gonna let this one slide.”

The problem with reactionary parenting is that it treats each mogul as the hill to die upon. Instead of doing the hard work of setting up our children to maneuver around the moguls we stop on each one and fight until it is smooth for our child to pass. In doing this we create fearful humans who look back for our permission to proceed each hour rather than people equipped with the confidence that they may fall but they’ve got this. It may be rough going but one bad day does not dictate one’s life.

So here’s to you in the middle school hell your child is in. Facing wack-a-doos with followers. Bullies with audiences. Should we never intervene on our child’s behalf? Absolutely not. There are times when that is completely necessary. But today, ask God to give you an eternal perspective to impart to your children. It may just be the fresh air your families’ lungs need.

#parenting

#bullies

#socialmedia

#kids

#helpingmykids

#strongkids

#whenhelpinghurts

#raisinggreatkids

#parentalexhaustion

#motherhood

#snowplowparenting

#eternalperspective

#peacefulhome

#beautifulhome

#homesweethome

#elementaryschool

#middleschool

#helpwithkids

#God's redemption, Changed for good, Christian Faith, Faith, God, Hope, Overcoming, Women

Women Transformers

 

You there, sliding out of your wedges into walking shoes for a 15-minute cardio lunch to Cardi B or however her name is spelled.

You. Going back to brunette after years of being ash blonde.

Even you, who thought you would never be a mom. Reading this on the way to give birth.

We TRANSFORM. We females. We literally change ourselves, our homes, the World. Once John came home and I had painted the outside of our house. By lunchtime. I kid you not.

We transform Dollar Tree items into insane custom party decor. We transform flour and yeast and butter into rolls which transform our thighs into more ample laps.

Transformation, creative becoming is in our nature. That we will become is a given; that which we will become is squarely upon us. We choose by the direction in which we set our spirit. We select by what we allow into our minds and hearts. Our volition determines whether we will wallow or rise up and become what God created us to be.

Come hear more this Saturday, March 16. FBC, Jennings, LA. Registration at 8:00 a.m.

#jinnyhenson

#jinnyhensonspeaker

#motivatingwomen

#changeusohgod

#letsdothisthing

#riseup

#christianwomensspeaker

#bookingnowfor2019

#funnychristiamwomenspeaker

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Topo-Keto Dreamsicle

Topo Chico (Spanish for Top Boy) is a delicious mineral water which is extremely popular in Texas. Topo Chico is even available in vending machines at Texas Tech. The bubbly kick from a beautiful glass bottle seems special and is reminiscent of drinking a real Coke. It seems fancy but at $7.88 for a case of 12, it serves as a reasonable splurge.

For my friends avoiding sugar or who will be giving the vice up for Lent, I have a sweet little recipe that came together after my radical decision to buy groceries today. I had to go to the “Pajama Brookshire’s” for obvious reasons. Best morning ever snuggling dogs and catching up with friends.

Alas, was born from my incredible bounty of actual food inside my house: the simple-to-make Topo-Keto Dreamsicle. If you want a sweet treat this is a low-carb dream.

1 Topo Chico Mineral Water (my fave)

1 shot Orange Tangerine Mio

I shot Nestlé Sugar Free Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer (15 calories/ 2 carbs)

or

1 Tbsp Whipping Cream (50 calories 0 carbs)

Combine all ingredients in a separate, larger glass to prevent a volcano. Let me know what you think!

Enjoy!

#keto

#keto-friendly

#ketorecipes

#delish

#topochico

#iwishicouldmarrytopochico

#topboy

#drink

#sugarfree