Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Maggie Lee for Good': The Book

If you'll excuse an off-topic indulgence, long-time readers may recall that my niece Maggie Lee Henson died along with another boy nearly three years ago in a tragic church bus accident, lingering three excruciating weeks in intensive care before finally giving up the ghost. My brother and sister-in-law have jointly authored a book about their extraordinary personal and spiritual journey in the aftermath of that family cataclysm titled "Maggie Lee for Good," which is also the name of an annual memorial on Maggie's birthday which began in 2009 and has taken on quite a life of its own. The mostly online campaign encouraged people to perform one good deed or act of kindness in Maggie Lee's memory on her birthday, October 29. Tapping into religious communities not just in Louisiana, Texas and the South but worldwide (my brother is a preacher in Shreveport), the effort far surpassed anyone's expectations, with more than 18,000 people participating in the first year. This book documents both stories of goodness that resulted from the ML4G campaign and their family's personal struggles and crises of faith during that dark hour in their lives. From the publisher, here's the set-up:
On July 12, 2009, a bus carrying a youth group from Shreveport, Louisiana, to a youth camp in Georgia overturned when two tires failed near Meridian, Mississippi. Most of the twenty-three passengers were injured. Maggie Lee Henson, age twelve, died three weeks later from traumatic brain injuries sustained in the accident. 
This story, Maggie Lee for Good, is one part worst-case scenario and three parts God’s creative redemption. In it, her parents describe the overwhelming grief of losing a child, their struggle with faith, and the unexpected acts of love and generosity that result from their loss. John and Jinny Henson’s story captures the essence of Maggie Lee’s boundless faith and will inspire readers who are facing loss, searching for evidence of God’s sustaining grace, or looking for ways to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. It is a powerful reminder that there is no tragedy so profound that God cannot bring good from it.
Further, continues the publisher's blurb:
The life and death of Maggie Lee Henson began a movement of kindness that is still reverberating. More than just a feel-good story, her story is proof that the human spirit will triumph even when the body fails, that people do want good to win, and that God is very much at work redeeming the world and even our worst-case scenarios. The best way to join Maggie Lee for Good is to click the “Like” button at this Facebook page: facebook.com/MaggieLeeforGood. If you would like to present “Maggie Lee for Good” to your school or service organization, visit www.maggieleeforgood.org  to access free tools, graphics and printables.
Jinny Henson is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband, John, launched the Maggie Lee for Good movement. She has traveled the country performing stand-up comedy and attributes God’s gift of laughter as one of the secrets to her family’s survival of tragic loss. Jinny’s blog is  jinnyhenson.wordpress.com.
John Henson is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is founding pastor of Church for the Highlands in Shreveport, Louisiana. John also serves as Chaplain for Volunteers of America, North Louisiana and maintains a blog at www.revjohnhenson.com.
As mentioned, in the first year of the "Maggie Lee for Good" effort, more than 18,000 people performed at least one act of kindness in her honor on October 29, 2009, which would have been her 13th birthday. A big reason for Jinny and John writing the book (mostly Jinny, John insists) was to share a sampling of the many remarkable, feel-good stories from that day, from grand gestures to small acts of kindness.

So join Grits in pre-purchasing the book and participating this year in the Maggie Lee for Good effort, and congratulations to Jinny, John and my nephew Jack, not just on the book but on their success at transforming this unspeakable tragedy into something positive for many, many people. I'm proud of y'all. :)


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to their daughter! Thank you for sharing this touching story about how your family has dealt with unimaginable loss.

Shelly C said...

What an amazing legacy that they ate leaving for a really messed up world! Showing God's grace with each special kindness!!! Amazing people and journey!!! Thank you so much for sharing this!! Going to check it all out now! And I will be reading the book!

Kevin Stouwie said...

Just bought the book. looking forward to reading it!

JJ said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing story - a powerful reminder of what this crazy thing called life is really all about.