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, #God's redemption, #grief, Grief, Hope, School Principal, Uncategorized

Wisdom from a Principal

I have not the foggiest idea why the story of Maggie Lee’s life and death has touched the souls it has. Truly, it makes absolutely no sense other than God’s eye toward and passion for redemption. Stories like those of Principal Smith’s helped me intuit that there were greater realities at play in all of this than I could begin to realize. In hindsight, it is easier to see God as a maker who will eventually take all of our broken crayons and melt them together into something amazingly beautiful like the cake I produced in my Easy Bake Oven 40 years ago… except cosmically better.

I am inspired by grace I cannot see bubbling up in those I can see. May you be moved as I certainly was. Here is an email exchange between my Baylor Room mate, Betsy Sone Jones and her former Principal, Alan Smith, as he contemplates retirement:

(used by permission)

FYI – I am preparing a list of things to do in my next life. One of those is to drive and actually visit Maggie Lee’s Closet in order to make a donation (a very small one since my income is going to take a hit).

I am so thankful that you brought Maggie Lee into my life and that she has stayed with me all of this time. Amazingly, I cannot imagine Maggie Lee being any more alive than she is right now.

You did a GREAT thing by helping to push this out to others and in convincing me that this was something we needed to do as a school. Truthfully – it was what I needed to do for me as it allowed me to realize that developing perfect schedules, preparing for state tests, etc. was not all we needed to accomplish with our boys and girls. We needed to foster compassion, care, giving, and love and Maggie Lee, more than anyone else, allowed me to see this. I have worked to compile a list of the people that truly impacted my life in education. Maggie Lee, even though we never officially met, is on my list.

I am proud of all that you have done for ABC. Maggie Lee would have loved your music class and would have been a great Dancing Drum student! Keep doing what you do.



Grieving Parents, Sharing God's Love, Uncategorized

Above and Beyond Expectation

Sometimes life is surreal in awful ways and sometimes life is surreal in just plain wonderful ones.

Maggie Lee for Good the movement turned paperback is proof of that.

Last Wednesday Night was one of those surreal moments. As I sat and listened to Lauri tell the story of losing her 12-day-old daughter and quote words from the book back to me, it was a wonderfully odd sensation. I was burdened by her great loss yet thankful that she found comfort this book.

It seems my main ministry bent in life has been reminding people how deeply God is in love with them. I felt in High School that God really just got a bad rap; like I had this secret which drew me into seeing God in a little different way. Not that I had earned that intimacy but that somehow God gave me this profound knowledge that He was real and actively loving me as well as those around me each day.

Like an inside joke almost was this relationship I excitedly shared, not to win people over to my way of thinking but just to express the profound truth that God is crazy about each of us. Mainly that if God could love someone like me then you are totally in like Flynn.

Jaimie, a friend I met through Maggie Lee’s Caringbridge site three years ago has been longing to express God’s love to a coworker of hers. She wrote this to me this week;

“I have a coworker who always makes sarcastic comments about Christianity. I’ve been praying for her and looking for ways to reach out to her with God’s love.  Last night after work, she made a remark and I felt prompted to take out my Maggie Lee for Good book as the best way to start the conversation. I started reading and she immediately asked what I was reading. I began telling her about Maggie Lee and offered to let her borrow it. She started crying by page 3. I know that God will use His word to plant a seed in her. Maggie Lee for Good.”

Honestly there are millions who are sullied about Christianity and probably some valid reasons why they are. But, as the story we have unfortunately been entrusted with explains, God still loves us. Yes, God allows horrible tragedy. He doesn’t intervene to compensate for the poor choices we make as human beings but even that free will is a loving gift which in his generous restraint he gives.

Maggie Lee for Good was a labor of love for us. I felt an obligation to put down on paper the agony of losing part of my soul and the ecstacy of watching thousands of friends and strangers do a good deed on her birthday. Whether 100 or 1000 people wanted to read the book really didn’t matter to me as it was the only item on my bucket list when I began over 18 months ago.

To our amazement within a week, Maggie Lee for Good cracked the Amazon top 50 for Christian Living Hot New Releases. People like Jaimie have reached out to us to tell us how God has reminded them of his love through this little blue book.

Completely above and beyond expectation.


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.