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: