Six years of Maggie Lee for Good. And you people are still out there being fabulous on her birthday? What gives?
John and I scratch our heads when asked, “How does one start a movement in a child’s name?” Since Maggie Lee for Good was not even our idea we truly cannot answer that very well. I have learned that most parents prove excellent stewards of their loss. Countless projects, scholarships and foundations exist because people funnel their dire devastation into positive action. And usually friends and family gladly lend support.
What support we have felt. When Maggie Lee died her Caring Bridge Site had over 250,000 visits. All of that interest and good will really had no where to go when we lost her. People just truly wanted a happier ending for Maggie Lee. There is something beautiful in the human spirit that rallies to bring good out of bad and so many of you have. It’s phenomenal.
As most of you know the song, “For Good,” from Broadway’s Wicked was sung at Maggie Lee’s Celebration Service. She and John had seen Wicked the Fall before on her school’s New York trip. This year, the Wizard from Wicked (actor Tom McGowan) is actually on board with MLFG and I cried when I learned that their 11th anniversary of being on Broadway was none other that October 29th. Like so many others he has given generously of his support for the cause.
Another wonderful aspect of this year’s MLFG day next Wednesday is the MLFG Donation Celebration. Since local school and church groups commonly ask for ideas for Maggie Lee for Good Day, we finally just created some. Four local charities will be highlighted along with Maggie Lee’s Closet. The party will be on October 29th from four to six p.m. Groups will bring in their precious donations to thankful agencies and we’ll all celebrate. Wouldn’t Maggie Lee love other people get great presents on her birthday?
You remember the feeling. Whether from a cheap shot on the football field, a sweaty-handed monkey bar slip or an unfortunate double dog dare involving a roof and flying, most know the sensation of getting the wind knocked out of us. A forceful blow to the solar plexus brings the dome-shaped diaphragm muscle to a halt while simultaneously emptying our lungs of air. We cannot breathe and that is terrifying.
It has been a season of sucker-punches for those I call friends. A freak jet ski accident claimed the life of my friend, Lynne’s son-in-law. Another friend, Kevin, lost a custody battle which leaves his youngest in a neglectful situation and him in tremendous debt. Even more grave is the report from a McAfee classmate of John’s, Jessy, in Liberia where the Ebola virus is rampant. He writes, “People are dying day by day. Please pray for the people of Liberia.”
Because of instances like these and hundreds more, hope seems in short supply. Who can begin to forge an answer for the unexplainable tragedy, life-loss and just plain struggle to survive so many face? Not me. In fact, anyone who claims to have life completely and confidently figured out scares the fool out of me. While I cannot claim to begin to have the answers,what I do know is that Christ is my best example of how to do life, my survival of any trial is a gift meant to be given to other people and there is always room for hope.
1. Guess what? Jesus was o.k. with not knowing everything so I should be, too
In Mark 13:32 with the cross not far in the distance, Jesus admonishes his disciples to be alert for his return and claims that no one but the Father knows the day or hour that will be, not angels in heaven, nor even the son. Did you catch that? Jesus, who is headed to lay down his life out of obedience to his father in utter selflessness acknowledges that even he does not need to know when his return is scheduled. You may think he’d be curious about such things, right? This boldly exemplifies Jesus’ trust in God. If Jesus did not demand answers before he obeyed perhaps we can learn something here.
2. We are not responsible for what befalls us but we are responsible for what we make of it
Dallas Cowboy’s Jason Witten, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, grew up with an abusive father. At 11, his mom and brothers fled and moved in with his Grandfather. The Boys and Girls Clubs in Elizabethtown, Tenn., helped him, “It was a challenging childhood for me and that was a place where it seemed like you go in those doors and there were people who truly cared about me.”
In turn, Jason has taken his experience and reached out to encourage others. The polar opposite of some NFL players, he created a mentoring program for the children of women in domestic abuse shelters called The SCORE Foundation. Jason Witten is inspiring because instead of hiding the abusive past he survived, he seeks to give a hand up to those in the midst of their pain.
Whatever you have survived, there is someone in your life who needs to know that they can make it, too.
3. There is always, always, always room for hope
In the Summer of 2009, we had the wind knocked out of us. An accident left Maggie Lee in the Pediatric ICU. Sweet Dr. Travis Stork (Host of The Doctors,) sent a simple phrase through a friend of mine: there is always room for hope. Though our hope of her miraculous recovery was not meant to be, God has used that truth in my life to fill the expansive chasm of grief and lift me in a way which only he could.
When tragedy hits hard, dare to hope that despite all appearances your life is not over, your prayers are still heard and that one day you will feel normal again. Even if doing so makes you feel as deluded as The Black Knight in The Holy Grail, dare to hope. There is always room for it.
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!
Both my children and my parents are October babies. My father who was born on this day passed away in 2002. Graciously he left behind a life time of sentiments to ponder. Most were eh..ahem…borrowed from other sources but still impactful none the less. Here are just a few of his pithy sayings:
-You have the seeds of greatness within you.
-I have three kids. One of each.
-I will pay for any college you can get into. (Little threat of Harvard tuition here)
-Life will hand you many daggers. You can take them by the handle or take them by the blade and be cut to shreds.
-A boy chases a girl until she catches him.
-Birth control with your mother was easy. Whenever she laid an egg we didn’t want I stepped on it.
-If some guy doesn’t like you, you don’t like him back twice as much.
-Don’t sweat the small stuff.
-You, you, you, I’m in love with you, you, you. No one else can make me feel like you do. I’m in love with you, you, you.
Who can you tell today that they have the seeds of greatness within? How can you be an encouraging father? How did your father encourage you? #beingagreatdadmatters