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Fiercely Kind

-Jessie Keener in her Amy Peters Jewelers Dream, Fly, Dance, Sing ” Ring. Jessie and a few other dreamers/flyers/dancers/singers still nine years later wear their rings in memory of Maggie Lee and show fierce kindness every day, especially October 29th.

Raise your hand if you’re like me and the nightly news gives you stomach cramps. Well, Doxidan Cowboy, here’s some good news: you already have your own platform in your personal corner of this broken world to make life beautiful. To be the news cast you want to watch in the world. (Sorry, Gandhi) I am not suggesting an all-night Pinterest bender or HGTV binge but rather something longer-lasting than the latest chalk paint trend: as Bob Goff suggests, “spreading kindness like confetti.” More than just a single news cycle, your explosion of goodness is actually eternal work. (Matthew 25:40)

How exciting it is to partner with God! How thrilling that God has loaded us all with enough creativity and resources to make a improvement in our hula hoop of influence. To lift our eyes from our phones for just a moment and engage with those whom God adores. If we believe in lavish grace, may we let our kindness flow like a fire hydrant in our homes, neighborhoods, cities and across the map.

The groundswell is here my friends. There is another way through than vitriolic argument and weaponry, of turning our backs on someone for whom Christ died unless they agree with our every opinion. Only love can cast out hate is what King said. Time is passed time for this crusty narrative of negativity to get an overhaul! The soccer team is pulled from the cave and the tomb is empty!

Can you feel it? Under the all the natural disasters, national disasters and personal disasters lies something deeper than the temptation to chunk it all and be a hermit. Here echoes a God-given call to rise up with the power of love and do. The revolution of fierce kindness is here!

Kindness is the new beautiful. And not a silent, one-dimensional winsomeness but rather a beauty with teeth. Fierce kindness confronts a bully, stands up for the weak and speaks up when the circle is silent. Fierce kindness loves boldly without needing press coverage. Even when fierce kindness is anonymous, her rising tide floats all boats around her. This kindness when allowed to move through us literally changes the air in the room around us.

Many people exhibit this controlled strength of character on the sports field, in the classroom, in the office and in the courtroom. Over the nine years since Maggie Lee for Good began, I have been shocked by the creative acts of kindness I have seen you perform. En masse or individually, I believe the moment of greatest impact lies before us!

Who needs love in your hula hoop of space in this world? Who needs a bag of groceries or a tank of gas? A first bra, a hospital gown, a gas bill paid, a lock of love? Where is the need God has given you eyes to see and resources to meet? How phenomenal it is to think of your fierce kindness reverberating in Starbucks lines and school lunchrooms every day as well as on Maggie Lee for Good Day.

One day, one deed, one difference has been the MLFG battle cry since 2009 when a friend suggested we remember our deceased daughter’s kindness by encouraging others to perform a good deed in her memory. You joined in that glorious one day: October 29, and have bravely made an impeccable impact. You have done so with spunk, with sparkle, with intention and with strength.

You founded Maggie Lee’s Closet and provided school uniforms & regular clothes for the underserved children in the Northwest Louisiana Area. You cast of the Musical Wicked gathered clothes for a Broadway children’s charity. You baked cookies for the crank pot bus driver in Illinois and stirred an entire school district in Georgia to highlight the value of kindness. You became organ donors, funded African water wells and built a home in Haiti. The fervor of goodness is unflappable and love expands to fill cracks which duty could never reach. That’s why love always triumphs.

Maggie Lee for Good Day is simple. No application to fill out, no screening process to go through, no dues to pay: go out and love someone who needs something. Be kind. Remember the spirit of love which Maggie Lee had. Participants have fed homeless individuals and even BEEN homeless individuals merely sharing the meager resources they have. Experiencing kindness so often brings a chain reaction; this is the exponential explosion of excitement which changes the world.

So….who wants in? Who wants to change the narrative? Who wants to be evidence of the good which is still alive and well? If you are inspired to do something kind every day of the year, of your life, brilliant! If you want to link arms with us, woo-hoo! There is room for stinking everyone.

If you live in the continental U.S., I would love for you to rep MLFG and carry this message of revolutionary fierce kindness with you on October 29th. Let me know which state you’ll represent and if you’re the first one to claim your state, I have a T-shirt for you along with MLFG cards. Just message me here, on Facebook (Jinny Henson) Instagram (Jinnyhen) to let me know if you want to dive in.

If you live outside of the U.S., awesome! I will send you a shirt & swag as well. All I ask is that you email or post a picture / send me the story of your MLFG deed either tiny or huge on Oct.29.

Our MLFG Celebration in Shreveport, LA will be on October 29th at our La Madeline on Fern at 6pm. Each year we select a non-profit to highlight and ask others bring donations for them. The organizations for which we are collecting serve homeless Vets & Pets. Razors & socks for our countries’ heroes and cat & dog food for our local shelters.

I am tremendously thrilled to make this new way with you!

Fiercely Kind

Since 2009

Maggie Lee for Good

Love,

Jinny Henson

http://www.maggieleeforgood.org

Jinnyhenson@gmail.com

#kindness

#fiercekindness

#actsofkindness

#maggieleeforgood

#maggieleehenson

#maggieleescloset

#changethenegativenarrative

#gooddeeds

#Christianlove

#loveGodloveothers

#improvingtheworld

#payitforward

#theleastofthese

#idobelieveihavebeenchangedfortgebetterihavebeenchangedforgood

#thetodayshow

#theellenshow

#hodaandkathilee

#october29

#evidenceofgrace

#grievingparents

#survivingloss

#overcomingevilwithgood

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Why I Do Not Wonder

As I child I was filled with wonder. The future seemed as far away as the perfect Crisco Tan in December. I dreamed and as I pondered with God how my life would be, I doubted my Earthly Father’s phrase: “Jinny, you have The World by the tail, you just don’t know it yet.”

Many curiosities were solved as big pillars of the future solidified. I found my person, finished my education, had my children, began ministry. I moved through my days with the big questions answered even with the unpredictability of cancer which would steal my mother in law and Father in their 60’s, I assumed my status quo.

The surprising reality is that a foundation which appears to be Stonehenge Tuesday afternoon may really be a folded circus tent on Wednesday Morning. Not even headed anywhere great I may add.

Like a moldy Hurricane Harvey house in my childhood neighborhood, the water can instantly rise and steal your status quo. For us it was the bus accident nine years ago today which folded up our Stonehenge like a cheap Big Lots camping chair.

Yours perhaps is a failed business, a disappointing career, a sour marriage or an uncommunicative child. If only I could have appreciated when I had it all. Indeed a regretful mind could wonder “What would this look like if the devastation never happened?”

I am asked frequently if I wonder what Maggie Lee would be doing, where she would’ve gone to college and what her major may be. I usually answer with a quip to change the subject because I have found that wondering is dangerous for me.

Wondering breathes life into realities which can never be. It requires one return to yesterday, sift through the fragmented memories and construct a hypothetical future scenario of the way life would be if only.

The tempting whisper to wander What if Way comes no matter our past. If we live life long enough we will battle ourselves to steer clear of If Only Avenue. No matter if about a lost child or a lost home or an abusive past or a horrible choice. The desire to retreat and as the great Theologian, Cher, said, “Turn Back Time,” is common to all persons.

I have realized that I am too selfish to be miserable. My misery is enhanced on The Magic School Bus of time travel to recreate a narrative which is already published. It is far too late to rewrite last decade’s chapter.

Depressing, right? There is absolutely no return to fix the past. No preventing the stupid choices of ourselves or others which ended up in tragedy. There is no making the clock stand still, nothing accomplished by being miserable to try to extract penance out of others for ruining our lives.

We have no ability to amend yesterday but shockingly every capacity to fix today. To live. To breathe. To move and have our being in Christ. Only God Almighty can heal. And thank God for it, but we must be willing to sacrifice the perfect hypothetical to receive our beautiful forward-motion reality.

No friend can convince us, no cajoling can coerce us to leave what could’ve been for the incredible life which can be. Daydreaming is healthy. Wondering is fine. As long as we are always moving with our healer and helper. And that healer and helper is forever focused FORWARD.

These days I am left to wonder but only how life can be so beautiful again.

#peace

#purpose

#grief

#loss

#hope

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A Keeper

‘Reel him into the boat. If you get him in there and don’t want him, you can always throw him back.” -Bill Richardson, 1993, Ft. Worth, TX.

And…never happened. Hung onto him. With both hands. Still am.

I married someone who does things the right way. He makes the bed perfectly when I am barely out of it and actually researches appliances before we buy them rather than selecting the shiniest one.

He is fair. Once when I heard the kids’ story about an incident which happened to Jack in school and was getting upset, he calmly reassured me that he would speak with the parties that be to get a more accurate picture of what went down and try to get to the bottom of things. Which totally got my goat.

Per usual, he was right to pursue all the facts before judgment. Imagine that: thinking BEFORE acting. That’s random! This is the kind of crap I deal with being married to a keeper.

From before I was expecting, I knew that I was safe parking my soul with him. And I knew that my children would be as well.

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Art is Ageless

This is a picture of Lucy and me. I’m the one without the bow. This is the best thing I have seen in a very long time. It made my week and I am still marinating in the juicy goodness of it all three days after church where she created it.

Art, like music, gives description to the unspeakable inside of us planted by our Creator God. It oozes from our depths when we first fall in love or see a newborn baby or witness an unselfish act of heroism. It captures a feeling and expresses something truer than words can describe. Art can be a soulful medium.

I have the great honor of loving people at Garden Park Nursing and Rehab. Next Thursday, June 21, we are hosting an art exhibit of Artist Ashley Beck’s work. Hannah Lee is capturing the event on canvas for posterity and our facility will be transformed into an art gallery of our resident’s work. I. Am. Freaking. Out. I’m so excited.

To have as much participation as possible, I wheel my mobile art cart around and visit unsuspecting artists. With my lap desk of an art station, I buzz into the rooms of those who are less social or prefer more privacy. I always knock first. Some are quick to express their excitement. Others do not want to participate and that is completely fine, too.

More often than not, with brush in hand pointed toward paper, the artist nervously conveys, “I just don’t know what to paint.” I am no art teacher, but I reassure that there is no right or wrong. No way to fail. No rules, just put your brush on paper and see what happens.

I photograph the artist and their work and typically they are amazed by what they have done. “Wow- I did that?” It is beautiful, really, to be witness to it all. We may not find a Grandma Moses or uncover a latent Leonardo but when we connect with the creativity inside of us, we feel ageless.

Art is Ageless- An Art Experience for All Ages

Garden Park Nursing and Rehab

June 21. 4-6:30pm

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The Best is Always Yet to Be

Memories, if we can appreciate time as it was, and not long for what has passed, are a beautiful thing. Often as I am going about a task a funny saying of my father’s or toddler Maggie Lee’s and baby Jack’s will echo in my mind and make me laugh.

I. Love. Toddlers. So much. They are tiny little people kits coming together. Every day is a brand new world for them and spectating this is superbly entertaining. Sometimes when incorporating a new thought or word a sentence looks like a janky Mr. Potato Head with a nose where the eyes belong and an ear for an arm. And that verbal modern art is spectacular.

One Sunday many years ago when searching for a sandal in Maggie Lee’s closet floor I was beginning to get impatient. If anyone is going to throw up or lose a shoe it will be as one is trying to get to church. Because Satan. Rifling through the underbelly of the closet and mumbling rhetorical statements like “Where could it be?” Maggie Lee looked up earnestly and said, “A mystewy took it.” Oh, mystery, you thief.

I remember certain phrases which still make me laugh. We were flying to Orlando when the kids were five and three. Coming from Coach, restroom-bound, Jack and I walked through First Class as they were enjoying their bacon and eggs. He noticed the lavish breakfast trays and asked me, “How come we don’t got no eggs?”

Memories are meant to bless us. We can let them cripple us and convince us that our present will never compare. The funny thing is that once we subscribe to the narrative that life will never be as good as it was, it will not be. What we focus on grows and the past while we can appreciate it, is a finished chapter. Any farmer who reminisces instead of planting knows this. It is no sign of devotion for one to crumble because an era in life is over. It is a sign of self-pity.

We have every resource of Heaven behind us when we choose joy, even in the darkness. The decision to live life to the fullest (John 10:10) is to accept the life Christ died to provide, even in the valley. If there are lessons the cross teaches, they are that there is no length God will not go to love us and that love brings about a future hope that is better than any past we had.

It may be a beautiful mystewy but the best is yet to be!

#faith

#regret

#Christian

#Christianjoy

#toddlers

#Mom

#parent

#unconditionallove

#Godslove

#peace

#Holyweek

#Christ’slove

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Let Your Light Shine

This Little Light of Mine always sounded like Toeing the Line of Mine to me. If I had the light and love of God, I SURE as heck HAD BETTER SHOW IT. My motivation was faithfulness to God and avoidance of hypocrisy. Not bad in aim but perhaps a theology not fully congealed. I wonder if a subtle tweak might not make a world of difference?

This little tune, often mistaken for a negro spiritual, was actually written by a white guy from Michigan in the 1920’s. Harry Dixon Loes wrote a myriad of hymns while working st The Moody Institute until his death in 1965. Civil Rights Hero Hattie Lou Hamer popularized it when she sang it while in police custody. Her crime? Trying to register to vote.

Jesus’ words which inspired this hymn, Matthew 5:14, 16, always struck me as an admonition to be shiny for the benefit of others. Now I see it as an invitation to reveal the unique spark God planted inside of every creature He has made. I believe that the most effective impact an individual can offer is revealing their unique God-given glow of light to this world. I also believe that unless we get close to God and live in His light we are destined to cover our light and render ourselves useless. How easy is it to see a gorgeous light and try to replicate it. Can a strobe light be a simple night light? Certainly not. Nor should it attempt such.

It is easier to be distracted and try to fashion ourselves as the shiniest light than it is to quiet our souls, turn off our comparative minds and accept that God may just want us to be a 15 watt flicker bulb or a tiny Disney flashlight. All we need to incarnate Christ is a relationship with Him and the guts to get out of our own way.

I love a campfire. I cannot stand this wacky blue-hued LED lights. Let your beautiful, authentic light shine before others today and see if it does not brighten your own path.

#matthew5

#pathtoauthenticity

#personalimpact

#faith

#Christianity

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Heads Up!

Any baseball little sister knows this term all too well. Of the countless nights I spent at Braeburn Field watching my oldest brother, Ted, there would inevitably be several “pop flies.” A batter would slice and instead of the ball shooting toward the outfield, it would pop over the fence toward the head of the least-aware grandparent or younger sibling.

Protective Dads wanted to be the first to assess the sitch and blurt out the warning. Others would reflexively join in to emphasize the precaution. A fun way to entertain ourselves was to feign a deep grown-up voice and yell “heads up!” just to see who would stop dead in their tracks and look around like it was a nuclear attack. I like to blame our behavior on the synthetic nacho cheese preservatives.

Heads up is generally a good phrase; a quality reminder which snaps us out of our sleep-walking into awareness of our present situation. It could be a danger soaring our direction we need to be concerned about or an urgent reminder to fight the spiritual narcolepsy which quickly takes over. Life will bite us if we’re not vigilant. It will turn us into Zombies like that wholesome Hallmark Channel show The Walking Dead. Our default setting is always distraction and self-absorption. That’s my nature. And yours.

Awareness is a conscious decision, not a natural state. If not intentional about the present, we obsess about the past and worries about the future petrify our minds. We drone on from the bleachers to the snack bar to the bleachers to the bathroom on autopilot. Good thing I do not mix metaphors. So here’s the day’s call: notice the birds, notice Jesus in the distressing disguise of hurting humans (especially the most annoying ones. Yes, that guy, in adjacent cubicle with Funyon body odor and no boundaries) notice the amazing taste of your coffee.

This is exilerating: when you live heads up, life shifts. The groceries you complain about lugging in your home become sacred gifts for which to thank God. I mean we get bananas from countries far, far away. And they arrive in our neighborhood grocery store. And we don’t have to even climb a tree to hack them off with a machete. And pistachios and bacon and wine, oh MY!

Our homes (yes the one with the balding couch with the festering cheese stick in the cushion and tricky toilet) become glorious centers of refreshment and joy to the degree which we are grateful. A condo transforms into a holy place of nurturing when we bravely force ourselves to wake up and choose gratitude. Our backyard may be a Pinterest fail to everyone but feral cats but it is holy ground. If you decide it will be. The kicker: we have help in this heads up endeavor. The Holy Spirit works in us the Bible says. The Spirit moves in us and takes away the poison pity pool of comparison we love to soak in. While it is always easier to hop on the hamster wheel and sleep walk through life, it will only exhaust. You were meant for more.

Heads up!

#Springtraining

#baseball

#faith

#life

#Jesus

#seizetheday

#positivestories

#Braeburnlittleleague

#soul

#help

#overcoming

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Interesting Goes A Long Way in Marriage

When John and I were newlyweds we enjoyed a most juvenile game. We had a plastic roach which we would stage different places and the point of the game was getting a reaction. That sucker was hidden behind the shampoo, under the sink, in a newspaper or in the undie drawer. 

You never knew when Ralph would surface or how long his sabbatical would be. That was the hilarious part. Looking back it was like Elf on The Shelf for poor seminary students. I was so happy to have found my person I could hardly stand it. True bliss before life got complex and there were no inklings that life could be anything but joy. 

This morning as I was washing my hands I glanced over and saw this farmgirl magnet inside the tiny cloche with an egg. I busted out in laughter and John innocently asked, “What?”

Me: “The magnet in the windowsill”

John: “I thought you put that in there. Maybe she hatched from that egg.”

“Maybe.”

I am always made to laugh by this introverted, bookish, classical music enthusiast who never ceases to make life fun. The kindness and comraderie he brings to my life is just a gift of God. And he is still super cute. Which never hurts. 

Interesting goes a long way in marriage. 

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Aren’t We All So Devastated about Florida (and so thankful it wasn’t us?)

A few years ago a church reached out to me to do some comedy which I was totally great with doing. Some clients want straight funny, some funny & generically impactful & yet others want funny, impactful & very personal.  I can do any. I can do all. I am great with whatever. Corporate Event, Fashion Show, Hebrew Temple Fundraiser.  I’m down.  A working speaker serves the interest of the client. Period. We serve at your behest. Colleen keeps my calendar and her 15-point survey uncovers your precise desires. 

So the committee came to another gig I had where I had filled the client’s request of both funny then serious. The church wanted to bless the community with laughter as well as encourage the women in their faith through my story of surviving loss. I thankfully hit the marks and got great feedback on my humor as well as story. (Something which really matters to me) 

After seeing me in action, the requesting committee then sent Colleen an email outlining concerns which stopped me in my tracks when I read. They were concerned about me just being funny. Could you just do comedy? We love your story but can you just be upbeat? Which I had already assured them I could. 

“And we just do not want our women to think that anything like this could happen to them. We just want them to laugh.”

We do not want them to think that this is something that could happen to them? I completely get that they just wanted to laugh. Which again I have zero problem with. I can do just funny. But she would hate women’s ladies night to be ruined by the thought that something tragic could happen to them. 

It is not lost on me that I am a comic by trade who has been through some not so hysterical times. Many comedians honed humor as a defense mechanism against the world’s arrows, be they criticism, poverty, bullying or just Garden-variety pain. I always loved the gift that humor has been in my life: a true pressure valve that released stress and allowed the fresh air that proved vital to my soul’s survival. 

When George Clooney entered the ninth grade he was far from the sexiest man alive. He had a paralyzing Palsey his first semester of high school. In discussing the awkwardness of walking the halls, looking as though he were a stroke victim, he recently told David Letterman on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction that “That’s where the funny comes from.” 

If a kid is quick enough the humor will come at the moment they need it most. 

What also comes at us is life. We will all suffer. If we think that we are immune, we are in grave danger. The fact that life is random should liberate us not terrify us into a sheltered existence. As much as we seek to avoid discomfort, we were made for it. We can adapt to even the most horrible circumstances such as running out of Kuerig Pods and that awesome sugar-free creamer that makes us ecstatically happy. 

Florida has gripped us as a nation. I feel it in my bones. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn according to Ecclesiastes. The fact is that I think about those children being physically obliterated by a semi-automatic weapon and it makes me sick. This could  be your child’s school. It could be mine.  There actually was a campus lock-down this Fall at Texas Tech when a student gunman killed a police officer and fled. That chilled me. 

We are at a crossroads and have to decide if  we will bury our heads in Pinterest and all the beautiful little projects of our lives or we will confront the very ugly reality of the availability of semi-automatic weapons and fight to change that. It certainly will take so much more than that but when we consider  that our children could be next it is action which has GOT to happen. 

I keep envisioning a hostage situation with an armed perpetrator and authorities saying, “Throw down your weapon. Hand over your gun” This is what needs to happen first. There is so much work to be done with those intent on harming themselves and others but we have got to take that primary step. 

No one is asking for hunting rifles. God have mercy. No police state is going to go door to door collecting weapons. We are simply saying that as parents lets ban assault weapons used in the past mass shootings in our country. It could happen.