Fall as a Season of Life by Megan Whitson Lee

Fall is my favorite time of year.
First of all, ten years ago this month my husband and I got married. It was 65 degrees that day and it was an outdoor wedding, but we were surrounded by changing leaves, Tennessee mountain sunsets, and warmth of family and friends.
A second reason I love the fall is the weather. I really do love the foggy, gloomy atmosphere created by damp, cooler temperatures. It’s my favorite time of year in which to write. There’s something about the setting that increases inspiration.
Finally, fall correlates to the timeline of life. I am in the autumn of my years—middle age, seasoned. There’s something refreshing about the acceptance and embrace of that fact. Although there may be times when I long for the taut, fresh
complexion of youth, I understand that the wisdom I have now comes from my current season. I could not go back to the spring of my years and have the understanding of hardships, trials, and grief that I have now—nor would I wish to relive those times.
God made our years to reflect the changing leaves on the trees. He made each season to be fleeting, lest we take anything for granted. I am thankful for the pains that came in the summer and spring of my life, so that I might truly appreciate the autumn and look forward to the winter. I see no reason to mourn the flowers and leaves, for even the winter is a time of expectation—just as the winter of our lives should be lived in anticipation of our rebirth after death. Soon the snow and ice will melt away revealing new earth and new life.
How do you feel about your current season?

MeganLeeMegan Whitson Lee is passionate about tough, relevant topics that leave room for the redemptive power of God. Her self-published novel, Captives, was the winner of the 2016 Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference Director’s Choice Award and a Selah Award finalist. Her most recent women’s contemporary novel, Suburban Dangers, has been contracted by Pelican Book Group. Currently, she is an editor for Pelican and teaches high school English in Virginia where she lives with her husband and two greyhounds.

Good Fathers Allow Their Children to Fail by Megan Lee

I have a teacher friend who has been plagued all year by a parent who will not let his kid fail. I don’t say that in a good way, either. I mean that the man sends lengthy e-mails questioning every grade, continuously referencing his son’s attention deficit disorder, making excuses, and insisting his son be allowed to turn in every assignment late (ones which he usually does for him, as they return with different handwriting from the student’s).

Of course earthly fathers want their children to succeed. It’s completely natural and an attribute of a father’s love for his son or daughter. But a good father also allows his child to fail.

Our heavenly father wants us to succeed even more than our earthly father, but there are times when He lets us fall flat on our face (especially if we’re doing something outside of His will for us). He knows it’s for own good. When we fail, we learn, grow, and transform.

God allowed horrible things to happen to faithful Job (Job 1:12), and Jonah was left to reap the whirlwind of his rebellious decisions (Jonah 1:3). Moses struggled continually with his charge, the Israelites, who gave him nothing but trouble in the desert, and then he was not allowed to enter the promised land due to God’s displeasure with his actions (Numbers 1:12).

Perhaps the best illustration of God’s love and His willingness to discipline us is The Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11-32). A father, willing to let his selfish, rebellious son fail in the cold, hard world, is overjoyed when the boy returns, humbled and repentant. Without allowing him that sense of failure and defeat, the son’s character would not have changed, and he would never have returned to realize how much his father loved When I was growing up, many of the stories my own father told me were ones of his failure. Often they were funny and sometimes they weren’t, but they always came with a lesson learned at the end of them. My dad also had to make the hard decision to let one of his daughters go her own way out into the world, not knowing what would happen to her. It was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. But at the end of her season of rebellion, she transformed and returned (she now says it was the best thing my dad ever did for her).

Hebrews 12:5-7 tells us,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.
For what children are not disciplined by their father?”

If the Lord God allows His children to fail and suffer, shouldn’t we allow that of our own children?”


MeganLeeMegan Whitson Lee is passionate about tough, relevant topics that leave room for the redemptive power of God. Her self-published novel, Captives, was the winner of the 2016 Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference Director’s Choice Award and a Selah Award finalist. Her most recent women’s contemporary novel, Suburban Dangers, has been contracted by Pelican Book Group. Currently, she is an editor for Pelican and teaches high school English in Virginia where she lives with her husband and two greyhounds.

Infertility Is Not A Curse by Megan Lee

When my husband and I struggled with infertility, I clung to Jeremiah 29:11 like a lifeline. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I was sure that part of the Lord’s plan for me and my husband was to give us children. After all, the Bible says that God wants to give us the desires of our heart; it also says that children are a blessing. We were asking for something good and of the Lord, so it seemed fair to assume God would answer with a resounding “yes!”

After the first miscarriage, family and friends assured me this was common and no big deal. “Nearly every woman has at least one miscarriage, especially after thirty.” When a second pregnancy also ended in a pregnancy, well-meaning friends and family told us, “It will happen. Just relax and don’t think about it. Lots of people have two miscarriages followed by two healthy babies.”

Time passed and no more pregnancies occurred, which drove us to seek medical help. Assisted reproduction gave us three more pregnancies and three more miscarriages along with a lot of heartache and anger. I was angry at all those people who told me(and in some cases were still telling me) that everything would be fine. It wasn’t fine and would never be fine again as far as I was concerned. More than anything, I was angry at God. How could He deny me the one thing I was created to do? Wasn’t His plan
supposed to be for my welfare and not for my calamity? In my mind, infertility was calamity. It meant I was broken and inferior. Surely I was being punished for something.

Six years of praying, crying, and losing took a toll on our emotions and on our marriage. I couldn’t bear to see pregnant women; I hated going to church where every Sunday I had to witness women with their children lined up behind them like ducklings. We left Bible studies because members were constantly pregnant and having children. Emotionally, I was at the lowest point of my life. I couldn’t pray anymore and God seemed like a distant entity withholding all things good.

One day my husband said to me, “Let’s do something we couldn’t do if we had children. You keep saying you want to go to England, so let’s go.” And we did. That summer, we took two weeks and we traveled around England, Scotland, and Wales. And something inside me shifted.

Miraculously, from the moment the plane lifted from the tarmac, I stopped thinking about having children. And I never looked back. It was as though God transported us through an invisible heart-changing machine that erased all of my bitterness, anger, and envy. I no longer stood before God with clenched fists. I knelt before Him with open hands. “Forgive my sense of entitlement; forgive my idolatry. You are God. I am your servant. Whatever your plans are for me, I know they are for my welfare and not for my calamity.”

When I humbled myself and laid down the shattered pieces of my desires before Him, God reached down and swept them away along with my tears. He had not been withholding His blessings from us. He simply had different blessings in mind. They were blessings that didn’t involve children, but that no longer mattered. God miraculously removed that desire from our hearts and gave us new ones.

Over the past three years, He has shown us that our lives need not be filled with children in order to have great meaning and purpose. As a result of walking through infertility together, my husband and I have grown closer to each other, and more importantly, we’ve grown closer to Him. It might seem like our faith should have broken; instead, it increased. As I let go of the idol I had clutched so tightly, my depression lifted, my productivity and creativity increased, and blessings upon our life began to flow.

We are now several years removed from that dark time. Looking back on it I harbor many regrets, and sometimes I wish things had gone differently, but ultimately, I know that God has his fingerprints all over our struggle with infertility (which was really a struggle to believe Him). Sometimes God says yes; sometimes He says later; and sometimes He says no. Even when He says no, it’s still for our welfare. In our case, God’s no reminded us that He is sovereign, the God from whom all blessings flow, and the redeemer of our hearts and lives.

Infertility is not necessarily a curse.


MeganLee

Megan Whitson Lee grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, before moving to Northern Virginia at the age of thirteen. She studied music and vocal performance and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music before hearing ancestral voices calling her to England. In London, Megan interned as a literary assistant for Soho Theatre Company and worked odd jobs through a temp agency before returning to America where she received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Her self-published novel, All That is Right and Holy won second place in the 2009 Christian Choice Book Awards.

Megan now teaches high school English in Fairfax County where she lives with her husband, retired racing greyhound (Chase) and rescued Italian greyhound (Trinity).

The Value of Singleness by Megan Whitson Lee

“I would just encourage Christian single people to ask, ‘For this chapter in my life, while I am single, what is it about my singleness that could make me especially fruitful for Christ?’ And then I would encourage them to give themselves to that.” – John Piper

I always wanted to be married. As a young girl, I was sure I’d be married by the time I was eighteen. While my friends in high school were planning for their careers, I was planning for my wedding and my future as a wife and mother. The only problem? There wasn’t a guy in sight.

When I was still unmarried at the age of twenty-seven, I joined a singles’ group at my church in the hopes of meeting Mr. Right. When I didn’t meet him there, I switched churches and attended another singles’ group. I didn’t meet anyone there either. By the time I was thirty, church evolved into a painful Sunday experience as I watched all the married folks file into the sanctuary with their children. How had this happened? I felt like an outcast—like I was trying to get into “the club” and wondering how the others had managed it.

Obviously, my heart condition was not right; I was far too focused on what I lacked and not on the advantage of my unencumbered status. There were a great many things I could have been doing to further the Kingdom—missions, volunteering, etc., but I chose to idolize the marriage state instead. That’s a story for another time and another blog spot.

Now married (I finally met my husband at thirty-four), I regularly encounter singles going through many of the same problems I did. These are men and women who feel singled out of the main population—especially at church. In a culture where having a relationship is touted as the key to happiness, the way to completion, the path to salvation from singleness, it can be difficult for someone called to singleness or someone waiting on God’s best to feel valued and valuable.

Since being married, it is always heartbreaking to hear the conversations of family and friends as they talk about single people with tones of pity.

“Bless her heart. She just hasn’t been lucky in love.”
“You think she’ll ever find anyone?”
“I just feel so sorry for him. He looks so unhappy.”

In the 2001 movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary, based off of the 1997 novel by Helen Fielding, there is a wonderful scene in which Bridget is interrogated about her “love life” by a table of married couples. After enduring a slew of humiliating commentary about the need for young women to hurry up and find a partner because time is ticking by, Bridget obviously feels like the leprous outcast. When one of the “smug married people” (as she calls them) asks, “Why is it that there are so many unmarried women in their thirties these days, Bridget?” Bridget responds, “Oh, I don’t know. I suppose it doesn’t help that underneath
our clothes our bodies are completely covered in scales.”

The fact of the matter is, singles often do feel a little like a leper in the midst of perfect, whole-bodied people. This skewed perception is exacerbated when the single person is talked about as if something is wrong with them. Even though people are usually well-meaning in their questions and advice, by insisting that the single person’s status must change in order for their life to begin, the person inadvertently denigrates the single’s immediate value.

Singles are just as needed as anyone else—especially within the body of Christ. Paul makes it clear that singles have a special role in the Kingdom:

“An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” –1 Corinthians 7:32-34

Marriage is not the end-goal for the Christian. Whether we marry or not has nothing to do with our salvation in Christ (and praise the Lord for that!). And this is certainly not to downgrade the importance, sanctity, and beauty of marriage. It is God-created and wondrous. God bestows upon us a healthy desire to experience this union so that we might serve Him and sacrifice for one another. But many churches are geared around those who are married and have children, sadly excluding the single. On
the other hand, singles’ groups too often devolve into spousal hunting grounds, rather than a place of encouragement and preparation for serving God (whether in marriage or in singleness). It’s a delicate balance. It’s a fallen world in which there are no perfect churches and no perfect people. Marriage is hard…so is being single. Both states require the sinner to look up and look to the Lord for peace, guidance, and opportunities.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have remained single into their forties. Some of them have gone on to do great things for the Lord. One of them is Vice-President of an anti-human trafficking, anti-sexual exploitation organization. She has traveled all over the world teaching about the evils of the industry, delivering speeches at the U.S. State Department and even the Vatican. Her specific service to the Lord would prove difficult with a husband, home, and family to tend.

Singles are prized, necessary members of the body of Christ. Statistically speaking, most people will marry at some point in their lives, so how much more valuable and precious are those who do not, but instead serve God in the special calling of singleness. Let us not undervalue their worth.


MeganLeeMegan Whitson Lee writes inspirational fiction dealing with loss and love and involving characters standing at the crossroads of major life decisions, crises of faith, and moral dilemmas. Her novels depict characters confronted with real-life problems, address universal spiritual and moral struggles, and offer messages of hope, recovery, and redemption through God’s saving grace.

Megan lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired racing greyhound, and a rescued Italian greyhound. She is passionate about animal rescue and adoption as well as social issues involving human trafficking. You can find her online at http://www.meganwhitsonlee.net/