Love Letter to Maggie Lee

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 jinnyhenson@gmail.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

#christianfaith, #holyspirit, Broadmoor Neighborhood, Butterflies, Christian Faith, God, home renovation, Hope, miracle


It is time I came clean. It seems that no matter how hard I try to beat this on my own I just cannot. I. Love. Rehab. Adore it. Addicted to it. In each dilapidated space I see potential. I imagine that each ramshackle residence I pass could be beautiful with just a few gallons of paint and a new screened door. Or a new roof and a bulldozer for a precious few but I see original glory in those little places with overgrown grass and lazy gutters.

We have owned seven homes and our sixth was the newest we had ever purchased. The floors were pristine, the backsplash up to date, the deck wasn’t a demo. It was truly awful. It was perfect and did not need me. At all. In fact, I could only serve to mess it UP. It was a beautiful reno hiatus but I did not feel like it would be our forever home. It was an awesome address with incredible neighbors but then again we couldn’t park the bass boat out in the driveway like the true classless people we are.

I called Andy our realtor eighteen months ago because he knows my flair for the nomadic. I told him that we wanted something a little older with a few projects to keep me busy. I then threw the full force of my intermittent Adderall-Infused attention to realtor.com. I found a perfect looking house with serious internal issues so we walked away.  Then I saw The Patton House. The first time I did a drive-by was Halloween night and the scene of costumed children and neighborhood parties was something so HGTV, it confirmed that we needed to try for this one.

The grey brick  house had a large window which was circular at the top and I was in love. As I perused our honeymoon pictures months later, I realized why. My favorite photos from that week is in front of the main entrance to The Cloister on Sea Island which had an identical window, just grander.  I assume that is why it spoke to me. We got in to see the home the next day and to my great joy there was a dilapidated Butler’s quarters in the back yard. HOT DOG! A project! We made an offer and were moved in before Christmas. You know, the slowest time of the year.

We have moved a wall or two, gutted the kitchen and painted everything inside but patiently waiting in the backyard was the Butler, a perpetual burr under my saddle. So I began to tackle Rhett this week. My renovation is mainly cosmetic: ship-lapping walls, patching floors and opening him up a little. I’d love a light & airy she-shed. I guess that would make her a Rhetta. Yesterday as I was removing the solid wood front door, I had unscrewed seven of the eight screws on the door jam and the eighth wasn’t budging so I took a hammer to it. The solid door fell hard and brought with it part of the door frame. It was stuck.

I tried to lift the girthy door to no avail. At least it was angled so that I could slide down out the front. After the initial thud and numerous attempts to move the front door I noticed a petite, beautiful butterfly floating around the scene. I then began to laugh. Butterflies find me wherever I go. I think of the thin veil between heaven and earth and since Maggie Lee’s  passing I think of her whenever a butterfly comes around. Their whimsy comforts me and I feel visited by these little beauties in an intentional way.

“Ok, little doodle. I guess you are here to help me lift this door? I am SURE that we can do this together. Maybe you could fly under here and give it a good push?” I just grinned and tried to hoist the wooden beast again and could not. I slid down the plank and approached the door from the left side. To my shock, with a modicum of effort, I raised the door.  Then I really started to laugh. “Thank you for the help little butterfly. Who knew you were so strong?”

The orange and black visitor never came particularly close. I cleared the front doorway and instantly the butterfly was gone. Do I think my daughter was reincarnated as a butterfly to help me lift a heavy door? Do I think the butterfly’s presence brought with it insane strength? No and no. Other than owning four dogs I am not crazy. But I am aware of the whisperings of God in my still, small moments and invite those moments with open spirit.

I love to see the dilapidated be reclaimed. Especially when that structure is me.





Beatitudes Reimagined

Blessed are the found but even greater those lost inside God’s love; bereft of a Plan B, agenda-free and obsessed with God for God’s self alone.

Blessed are those with phenomenal rhythm but even more blessed are those who tune their lives to the eternal goodness of God and hum that other-worldly tune to such holy acts as taking out the trash.

Blessed are the full but how deeply blessed are those who willingly pull the plug on their pride reservoir and kneel before The Maker completely  aware of their soul’s insufficiency.

Blessed are the followed but far greater those who stalk Jesus like paparazzi, knowing that a glimpse of the Savior is worth more than a thousand follows.

Blessed are the beautiful but still more so those who have traded the ashes of broken dreams, failures and humiliations for the beauty God stands patiently ready to exchange.

Blessed are the rigid for their desk tops are organized but more blessed are those rigidly devoted to Christ who are more concerned with the logs in their own eyes than splinters in the eyes of another.

Blessed are the debate victors but far happier those who value their opponent as God’s own child rather than a foe to be eliminated. One open ear is more valuable than a hundred judgemental eyes.

Blessed are the recognized but still more vital are those with the uncanny knack to recognize potential in someone who has written off their own future. A week of encouragement beats a life of imprisonment.

Blessed are those deemed important but more blessed are those who see the importance of God’s redemption in this life. Just as one renovated home can bring change to an entire street so one redeemed parent can change the trajectory of generations.

Blessed are the powerful but, hear me, far greater the blessing of those who use power to help and heal the broken for that is to their eternal credit.

-Jinny Henson   January 2017


Altered Punctuation

In reading Shane Claiborn’s Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (a daily prayer and Bible Study guide), something struck me. Losing a child has altered the way I see everything, even punctuation.

Common Prayer has daily readings and liturgy, great stories from the annuls of Christendom and song suggestions for each day. For January 21, the hymn choice is, “O Mary, Don’t You Weep.”  I stared at the title and wondered, “Where is the question mark?” The role of Mary as a grieving mother never registered with me until I lost a child of my own.  This day, I read the title empathetically with a sense of anguish for a mother who lost her son.

In hindsight, we know the brutal death of Jesus is quickly followed by the good news of the resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Although I heard about the disciple’s issues and  problems, I frankly stopped worrying about Jesus’ Mother when He returned to Heaven. The horror of loss was made more palatable by resurrection and Jesus’ rightful restoration to Heavenly realms.

Now that I am one child short in my home, there’s no question to me that Mary missed her son until the day that she died. Now, I read the song title as, “O Mary, Don’t You Weep?” As a question rather than the command of consolation. More like, Oh, Mary, how much you must weep rather than an admonition for her to stifle her tears because it all works out in the end.

I relate to Jesus’ mother for no other reason than I am separated from my child. My 12-year-old daughter  was not the Savior, nor perfect, but still, she was mine.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Mary, a human being like me, grieved her loss. She was a mother who watched her innocent child die in a brutal way. Even if she knew all along that Jesus was only loaned to her, how could she have predicted the events of passion week and beyond?

I have to imagine that, like many of us, Mary had to reconstruct the shaken 500-piece-puzzle-box of her life  and adjust to the radical loss she encountered. And, I just bet she wept.