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


The Power of Encouragement

Three encouragers overhear, fly to Peter, and implore him to keep trying
Three encouragers overhear, fly to Peter, and implore him to keep trying

“Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.” –The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Upon re-reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit, I was struck by a new revelation about this beloved, disobedient icon: Peter was really kind of wuss. It didn’t take very much for this bunny to throw in the towel.  You’ve heard the story: Mrs. Rabbit needed to run errands, left the sisters in charge and forbade the children to go to Mr. McGregor’s Garden (where her husband was caught and cooked into a pie.) While his sisters were distracted on their blackberries Peter snuck out and ran straight to the forbidden garden. Once there, he ate too much, lost his loafers and got stuck in a net. Hope vanished and Peter gave himself up for lost. Loudly. With the big rabbit tears apparently.

As I glanced at the image of Peter’s corpse-like body which looked hot-glued to the net I recognized something: myself. I recalled times in my not-so-distant past when I was the one helplessly horizontal and utterly discouraged. While the girl in those Baylor pictures with the big bad hair would have singularly identified with the sparrow, now I know what it feels like to be on the needy end of the encouragement equation. What also took me no time to recognize was that while I have logged time in the net, I have never done so without the company of someone who was quick to listen and share in my distress.

Although I have been falsely accused of reading too much into things (You’ve seen the cartoon where God, watching a preacher sermonize on Sunday morning leans over to St. Peter and says, “Can you believe how much this guy is getting out of that one verse? I never meant any of that!”) there are some notable cues we can take from the birds in this story. First of all, the sparrows were first responders, they heard Peter’s cry and rushed to investigate. These friendly guys “flew to him in great excitement” when they heard his sobs rather than ignoring his very loudly-vocalized needs.

Also, the birds “Implored him to exert himself. ” I imagine that there was little in the way of opposable thumbs the sparrows had to offer. I mean, really, what tools did these birds have to help Peter? Nothing save intentional encouragement. Only Peter could free himself but he would never be free if he quit. Sometimes the stuck among us have simply lost heart to try. But if someone cared enough to arrive on the scene without condemnation but rather with a few words of earnest encouragement, change could surely take place. God can take our concern and liberate the lonely and stuck.

Just as the sparrows found Peter in his hour of need perhaps this will sentiment will find you. Even in a ridiculous over-interpretation of 32 words written 100 some odd years ago about a fully clothed rabbit whose mother uses and umbrella and buys currant buns. Really? Perhaps.

Conversely, if you are the strong one out there today don’t forget to lend an ear. Listen and if you do hear that sob today, fly swiftly and implore. Don’t think too much about it or you will talk yourself out of it. Perhaps all the hopeless struggler needs is the simple message that they will not become a pot pie today.

“He comforts us in all our troubles , so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2 Cor. 1:4