She HATED Me on Day One

“Betsy and Jinny are Alpha-Chi’s, doo-dah, doo-dah!!!” my room mate Betsy and I sang as the bid cards slid under our door, last door on the 4th floor of Collins Dorm closest to the South stair well. We sprinted with our cards to a drawing room in the Student Union Building and were embraced by some of the best people I have ever met.

Both Houstonians, (Betsy from Memorial High and me from Bellaire) we were set up to room together by our mutual friend, Ricky Fram. Our dorm room had a barnyard theme with Spiegel comforters and corresponding bulletin boards with hot-glued sheep on them for that “decorator” touch. We were self-impressed until we spied a room with fully-covered Laura Ashley-padded walls and Dallas Moms in the throes of elevating beds with cinderblocks. Bets and I may have required padded walls that year but not the floral chintz variety.

But, I digress. Back to bid day. After the new class assembled, we went out to dinner and were seated at tables with other “sisters.” To my right was Stork as she was known. Andrea Stork from St. Louis. The model. The girl who took a professional hockey player to prom. The shy, beautiful girl who wondered what 5th level of Hell she had fallen into to be seated next to me. It turned out that AXO was a second choice for both of us but I knew and adored the girls in there while Andrea knew no one. She was a shy out-of-stater which was a definite negative in those days while I was an extroverted, Baptist, Texan legacy, so I had no excuse.

None the less, I was ecstatic. And it showed as I ecstatically shared my enthusiasm with all around me. Unfortunately, Andrea was around me. I blithely soaked in all things red and green: girls who had rushed me came by with hugs and sweet words and I felt so grateful and happy. Looking back on my Freshman Fall transcript, I am inordinately blessed that any sorority would have me in its 50-member pledge class. While I took it all in, reserved Stork excused herself to come up for air in the women’s restroom.

As fate would have it, I wore Storker down. I was mainly so in awe of her 6 feet tall / size two beauty and grace that I truly never anticipated her wanting to be actual friends with me; she was The Stork. Somehow mere repeated exposure lead to acceptance and before long I was using her and St. Louis room mate Jen Paige’s window to access the deck to lay out on the Collins roof that Spring. I had to be tan to catch one of those Baylor guys.

We both settled in and learned that there was more to each other than met the eye. Under my thick layer of loud was a spiritual core and beyond her intimidating beauty there was a deep and spiritual core as well. Stork was a thoughtful note-writer, a noticer of other’s beauty. When you received a note of affirmation from her, it was pure GOLD. She was pure gold. Senior Year, we lived together: Stork and Jen in one room and sweet Arkansan Gina Rhodes and me in the other. Gina and I were bound for Seminary the next year, Stork would graduate in fashion design and Jen in Business.

After graduation we kept in close touch. Those girls were in my wedding, I in theirs. I was into my 2nd trimester with Maggie Lee as I walked down the aisle in Andrea’s wedding. We had children, saw each other and as life has a way of doing slowly drifted apart. Fast forward to July 2009. The first week at Batson Children’s Hospital with Maggie Lee. Gina R. Was coming, Gina Rhodes Carter who was en route with Colleen and Kathy Carlisle said that Jen and Stork wanted to know if they should come. I said of course. I wanted them there. Cousin Judy and Mo rounding out my girl squad.

A friend loves at all times. And kinfolk are born to share adversity (Proverbs 17:17, best original language translation.) I never would’ve imagined that the beautiful Stork would also have a spine of steel strong enough for me to lean on in my darkest hour. That same beautiful heart leads her to love kindergarteners who need a little Mother Love each week, serve in 5-year-old kindergarten and foster abandoned Lab puppies. She intently cares for those who often have messy medical prognosis and do not live. She’s the brown-eyed girl with the heart of love who lives to spread joy.

Professionally she works in admissions for TCU. Having her Whitney and Laney in from college is her favorite thing. She loves her family fiercely, serves through her church gladly and dang it if she is not aging backwards. She is one of the deeper believers I know, able to let go of the outcome when life gets brutal and terrifying: of great instruct to me. I still feel honored to be loved by this incredible friend. All of us blessed enough to move in her orbit do. She appreciates life and her people, and although she hated me on day one, somehow she loves me now. And I, her.

























Remember Past This Season

One of my closest chosen sisters is walking through a challenging spot right now. Isn’t it so odd how we follow the recipe for the good life to the letter yet come up with a cookie sheet of heartache sometimes? I hate when life is so lifey: wild, unpredictably unfair and gut-punching.

Last night I was trying to sit with her in her darkness (via text message as she lives hours away.) I felt the powerlessness to offer real help so many probablybk felt toward me in my rough patches. I sought to explain how things would look better in the morning and so much different five years from now without being trite.

The image I had as I humbly sought to imbue hope was to remember past this season. By that I meant to remember the huge bag of faithfulness God has shown you, hover above your current circumstances below and project yourself into the future where all is well.

Easier said than done when your life unravels, but at times the most vital, self- preserving thing we can do is dial our brain’s Red Bull anxiety and tragedy-predictors down a notch and remember past a situation.

Don’t panic until you have all the details. Instead of imagining horrible outcomes as we are all so great at doing, what if we forcibly wrestled our minds to think of the beautiful way that our situation might resolve? When we assume the worst and are wrong we are relieved. When we assume the best and are wrong we are livid. Since when did disappointment become the scariest emotion we could encounter? Why is disappointment so fraught with shame, revealing that we are foolish, simple and naive?

I get that life is disappointing at times but when we live in dread for weeks and months only to meet a more positive outcome than assumed why is that brilliantly desirable? What about the days and hours squandered fearing the worst? Who will stick up for them?

I would say that is a rather wasteful way to live. Today is what we are given, just the breath in our lungs. The life-robbing worry we suffer under is a bad investment in which we throw good life after bad. When we assume that life will be beautiful and our issue will resolve and it does not, we have from then forward to be obsessed with and devastated by it. And it has cost us peace of mind leading up to whatever the dreaded thing is.

Today? Remember past.

*not advocating that anyone is to blame for a racing mind or that not being anxious is a simple fix. It is not. It is a heavy burden to lift. What I have found is a few hacks to help with mine.














Live Free

If Christ has set us free we are free indeed. -John 8:36

What if today I lived free?

Free from my desperate need to be right about all things at all times.

Free from the policing role of those with whom I disagree. Waiting, just waiting for the chance for them to reveal something which offends me.

Free from the burden of unanswered questions.

Free of past entanglements I hide in my deepest heart-part.

Free of anger which it turns out is actually hurt. (Tricky, right?)

Free of comparison, blissfully ignorant of the purported perfections of others lives, spouses, alma maters, vacations and super-human, over-achieving children/ grandchildren/ pets. (Dogs expressly excluded)

Free to see what lies before me. Not tomorrow or in five years. Before my very eyes right now.

Free to simply care for those trusted to me. To guide gently, leaving the outcome to God who loves them more than we can fathom.

Free to hold my tongue.

Free to let loose of a grudge.

Free to live Heaven on earth.

Free to intervene in other’s Hell on earth without worrying about what it will cost us financially, reputationally or chronologically. (I know I’m taking poetic license here Aunt Holly, but just go w me)

Free to breathe in and out and know that the God who wove us together in our mother’s womb surrounds us with utter love, peace and joy.

I will give this a whirl today. How about you?


















MLFG this time last week a day of joy kicked off and I am still glowing! I know I look sleepily ecstatic here in this one.

Rich is the woman who lives in a community who will trudge out in a thunderstorm to donate Christmas toys by the hundreds to bless children they’ve never met.

Rich is the woman with a family, church & biological who loves remember their child who lives in Heaven now.

Rich is the woman with friends who will try to bring to life her vision of a balloon Christmas Tree from a crazy brain with zero actual instructions and only a hunch that it will work and blow up 200 balloons using a CAR INFLATOR and a butt load of tenacity.

Rich is she to be surrounded by women of every station, color, age and personality bent who love God and others as a daily course, just as naturally as they breathe.

Rich is the woman who sees far and wide the love and goodness which is still alive and well in our world. I am the wealthiest woman I know!





















Ancestry Hint

I got this hint tonight from Ancestry.com:

The crazy part is that hints are supposed to be about buxom gals like Irene here with vintage hairdos and lost love thanks to WW2. Not your child. Such a hint defies all logic and the word obituary next to her name still looks like a huge typo.

Yet Ancestry has it right. We will all one day have our names followed by the word obituary. No matter our age or buxomness or hairstyle, we are all just passing through. We all are granted a space and time here in this temporary home. While the seen is temporary….that blessed unseen, why that’s eternal.

So, what hints will you leave for others to find the truth that God loves them and has a purpose for them? What kindness can you share to restore their hope that all is not lost and they should persevere? What answer to a prayer could your listening ear be? What could our world look like if we all fiercely loved one another?

Maggie Lee Henson may certainly a name with an obituary on Ancestry.com but her spirit of kindness lives on. Maggie Lee for Good Day has already begun. October 29th. One day, one deed, one difference. Take a hint, give a hand. Leave an everlasting mark.













A Cord of Three Strands

“You cannot listen or love in a hurry.”

John Ortberg

Listening and loving is costly. Ask any of my friends blessed with the task of collaborating with God to encourage me. It has been humbling and reviving to my soul in my worst seasons.

But this day; one day which will never be repeated, you can be a strand! You have a force of kindness within you ready to bring to bear all the resources of heaven for someone today.

Perhaps nothing as splashy as a harrowing fire rescue or as obvious as making an enormous public donation is needed today. Maybe it is and if so, make it happen! But perhaps our faith is begging to be played out in a tiny way.

When faith is alive within a soul you can practically see it. All they do is accompanied by a quiet yet powerful force from heaven. This is the spiritual strand which makes ways straight and strengthens the weak arms for the task.

I have been joined by those who bring 2/3 of what I need in that moment to feel whole and it is life-changing. Have you? Will you?









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:










































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.








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!