My precious Maggie Lee,
Your 24th birthday is next Thursday and it is still an outlandish thought that you are in Heaven and not here with us. Time marches on and even the movie Legally Blonde turned twenty this year! Speaking of which, Elle Woods Henson was particularly excited by her prominent placement in this year’s T-shirt graphic. She’s so extra, just like her mommy.
It is always so amazing to see the kindness people perform in your name by many who knew you and even more who never did. I cannot wait to see you again and watch you watch the video roll of all of the good deeds your spirit inspired in people. Who knows but that the box of groceries in Detroit or the simple hand-written note in Phoenix was just the touch God used to restore someone’s broken soul. As you know, kindness is not wimpy and sentimental but rather a force both fierce and transformative.
What began as a simple seed to carry on your legacy of love has grown and next Thursday photos will pour in from different parts of the country where your spirit has spread. Four West Point Grads are having a golf scramble in Las Vegas to raise money for Wounded Warriors, crossing guards in Frisco are being assaulted with showers of Little Debbie’s and children in Jackson, MS are being treated at Batson Hospital because of donations someone made in your name. How wonderful is that?
Amid the celebration, however, there will always be an empty seat at our table. Time forever demarcated before 2009 and after. I suppose this is the frightening risk of loving a soul; the possibility that one day it will be gone. Our insides swell at the thought of love, enlarged by the fulfilled presence of another, but desperately deflated should it be taken away. How miraculous to feel the flat disappointment of grief eventually give way to the infilling of God’s grace? Life can almost kill us and then we least expect, catch it being beautiful once more.
I treasure what we had in you, Maggie Lee. Your sparkle remains like glitter found in the baseboards of an old house years after the craft project has wrapped. Your essence is both impossible to remove and ever present. You will always be the undercurrent in my soul when I react out of love and patience when I have the choice to be selfish. You will always be my inspiration to pull up a chair at the lunch table to make room for one more. You will always be one-half of the best things I ever did in my life on Earth and I cannot wait to celebrate you next week!!!
To join the world wide wave of kindness on October 29, simply go to fb group
Maggie Lee for Good
or email email@example.com
#maggieleeforgood #onedayonedeedonedifference #godsgrace #kindnessmatters #grief #daughter #hope #brokenhearted #mourningintodancing #butgod #parenting #parentingtoday #dylandreyer #grievingparents #love #lifelessons #god #help #why? #encouragement #overcoming #thebestisyettobe #motherslove #busaccident #seatbelts
It was Disney World, so what could possibly go wrong? I had visions of our youth group at the resort hotel with kids from all over the country uniting for a weekend of challenging speakers and park fun. What’s not to love? Since John went to New York with Maggie Lee on her school’s trip in October, I got to be a youth sponsor on the Faith in 3D Conference that MLK weekend.
Because our destination was sunny Florida, I only packed light jackets for us. Despite the fact that it was winter, ShreveVegas was a balmy 80 with 1300% humidity. The flight from Dallas to Orlando was routine enough but as I deplaned I could not help but feel like something was going down. That would be the temperature. Turns out it was not only a small world but a cold world after all. With suitcases collected, the actual adults reached into their bags for heavier jackets, while my mother guilt reached an all new high. It rose in my spirit quicker than Tinkerbell’s concluding firework shot across the Midnight Magic Kingdom sky.
We arrived at the Disney Resort and thankfully they had a gift shop full of Jackets and hats. I reached into my wallet for my debit card and to my horror realized that it was gone! What? Was it stolen? Left at the DFW Airport Cinnabon? Then it dawned on me: I organized my purse. The ticker tape receipt parade had gotten terrifically out of control so I organized then downsized to a smaller purse for travel. Alas, amid receipts of Hobby Lobby, Kroger, Starbucks and Target (the big four) my debit card must have been left. (passive voice) Except for the $100.00 cash that John gave me for incidentals, I had no access to money.
This was such a victoriously brilliant Mom moment for me. I explained to ML that I was a moron and that we had the $100.00 to live on for the next few days. Which is easy because food at Disney is so totally cheap. She did have her allowance saved but as the Mother I was supposed to be ready for any catastrophe not the source of the catastrophe. Even if it was a First-World one. I did bite the bullet and spend a third of our sustenance on a brown track jacket for my mini-me.
The Conference was great. There were engaging speakers, lots of emphasis on being the hands and feet of Christ in the world and fun break-out sessions. Maggie Lee met a new friend, Jessie, from North Carolina and exchanged email addresses. The weekend struck a great balance between spiritual challenge and time with The Mouse. My guilt was beginning to simmah down when I committed the fairy god mother of all blunders in my hasty attempt to help.
With only three hours left in the park, our small group gathered to discuss which rides we did not want to miss. The group determined that we would do one of the biggies: Space Mountain. But we would need our conference park tickets to get fast passes. Eager to help, I offered to run to get the passes for all of us while everyone made the most of their time left. I collected the passes and ran like the wind, Bullseye. Like Cinderella at 11:59 I was hauling.
Breathlessly I arrived at the fast-pass machine, fed all twelve of our passes and collected the golden tickets. I sprinted back to the pre-appointed spot and handed back the park tickets and fast passes. All eleven? What? I searched frantically in my micro-purse, sweeping the pockets both inside and out. Nothing. I checked my pockets repeatedly with the vigor of a Viking rowing. Nothing. I began hyperventilating, so ashamed that I had caused trouble when all I wanted to do was help.
The youth whose ticket I lost was sweet and her mom took their credentials to the info booth to get a replacement which I offered to do. Not sure why they didn’t take me up on that one. So the we all dispersed and I followed Sarah and Maggie Lee to be the purse holder. They boarded the ride and I called John. The tears flowed as I explained how badly I felt for my failure. I will never forget his his advice comprised of just two little words: “Grace yourself.”
“It is really ok honey, it is not that big a deal.” He soothed.
I protested, “But they all trusted ME with their Disney Tickets and now Kelley has to spend her time replacing a ticket that I lost. It’s nowhere. It must be on the ground, near the turkey leg stand or blowing around the parade. I’m so ashamed.”
Sensing my slight overreaction, he once more admonished me, “Grace yourself. It will all work out.” And it did. It was not the end of the world that I so meladramatically assumed it would be. I had not ruined anyone’s weekend like I was fearful I had done. Even now as I consider my shortcomings as a Mom, I relive the Fast Pass Debaucle of 2009.
I could have been more organized. When the kids started forging permission slips rather than taking the chance on my losing it, this was obvious. I could have valued the beauty of a completed load of laundry. I could have assembled the $3,000 worth of scrapbook supplies into actual scrapbooks rather than cramming the photos into random containers. I could have taken that Khan Academy trigonomatry course to help more with the kids’ 5th grade Math.
I mean why be The Pinterest Mom when you can be the Pinterest fail Mom? Way more of you reading this know the smell of Febreeze is no match for Taco Bell nacho cheese and know the panic of seeing four teenage boys bounding toward your home before you’ve showered. The struggle is real. And so are we. And in real life with the real constrains of time, energy and mental bandwidth something will occasionally fall through the cracks. At those moments, it behooves you to grace yourself.
Happy Mother’s Day,
I asked Colleen Gibbs Doucet to share what her family has done for Maggie Lee for Good Day (10/29) These girls have crazy-fun enthusiasm and I LOVE IT!
Our daughters were so impacted and inspired by Maggie Lee’s life that for the past 5 years we have done a MLFG project. Several years ago we started a Hot Chocolate Drive Through to raise money for Maggie Lee’s Closet ( a free children’s clothes closet in Shreveport serving the community’s most under-resourced). At one point last year we had 18 children helping us.
Each year it has grown and grown and the neighbors and community members come out to support by driving through our Hot Chocolate drive through. The kids plan an execute the entire effort with posters, flyers, plans all their own. The day of the event, the kids are all here dark early to prepare and to pray. They rotate through serving in different areas (promotion on the corner, taking orders, filling cups and the all important marshmallow station). The children are FULLY engaged and have such joy each year as what we have raised has grown.
This year we are looking for companies to match what we raise. We always stop and pray before and after the event that the children and families who ultimately receive clothing or school uniforms through Maggie Lee’s closet will be blessed. Maggie Lee inspired all of us and our daughters and their young friends are reminded that regardless of their age, they can impact the world through doing good. The Hot Chocolate Stand we do each year IS doing good …. and not just for Maggie Lee’s Closet. It brings neighbors, strangers and families together while helping a charity that is near and dear to us too and we are humbled and honored to be a part of carrying on Maggie Lee’s legacy!
Click here for video of Maggie Lee
Our daughter Maggie Lee has been gone for five years now. Life-changing acts of kindness have been done in her memory on every October 29th, Maggie Lee for Good Day, since 2009. To our astonishment, people in Germany, Venezuela, Haiti, Africa, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Chicago, Seattle, LA, Houston, Shreveport, Dallas, Jackson, Birmingham, Atlanta, San Antonio, St. Louis, New Orleans, Tifton,GA, San Diego, Austin, Denver, New York and hundreds of other places have participated.
I have met many new friends along this journey. Most people who celebrate MLFG Day have never even met Maggie Lee but were somehow impacted by her story, changed for good. In compiling a new video for Maggie Lee for Good Day I came across this video linked above which I wanted to share with you. She looks pretty sleepy as she was sick a lot of her 6th grade year, but her spirit clearly shines though.
May we always keep in mind the beautiful gift we are given in each other and continue to share God’s love in ways that people can see and feel. As Maggie Lee said, “I really love The Lord and I want to put His work into my work. And I think with Him I can do all things.” Maggie Lee for Good.