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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Megan Whitson Lee: "Song from the Ashes"

Siblings:  Exhaust Pipe & Sherlotta

We had a wonderful surprise today, when we got home from church!  Frank said "Isn't that Exhaust Pipe?!" And it was!  After being missing for 5 days, he was home!

We have no idea where he was.  His collar with tag was still on.  He showed no sign of injury.

But he was ravenous!  He downed 3 bowls of food in a flash.

The chickens have started running over to the porch when they hear the sound of dog food being poured in the metal bowls.  Sherlotta did a good job chasing chickens off the porch while Exhaust Pipe ate and ate and ate.

Sherlotta standing guard while Exhaust Pipe and his Mama, Dixie, eat (note the hens on the rails)
Happy dog news is the perfect segue into the subject of my post.  Books written by my dear, longtime friend, Megan Whitson Lee.  Megan loves dogs and she and her husband own two greyhounds.  :)

I met Megan in the early 1990s.  We were both working at the Virginia Employment Commission and attending George Mason University.  (She was a music major and my major was administration of justice.)  We found we had some unique things in common: a love of heavy metal music and Dracula.  We also liked Renaissance festivals and historical events.  Besides those things, Megan had a love for God which I did not have at the time.  I fondly credit her with being one of two people in my life, who's influence lead me to finally accept Christ.  (The other person was one of the survivors of the government's massacre of the Branch Davidians in Waco in 1993.  But that is another story.)

Megan and I liked to dress up and have historical themed dinners, followed by movies.  That was a lot of fun.  Here is Megan at our medieval themed dinner.  I remember we watched "Braveheart" after eating.  :)

Another dinner was a civil war meal, in which we watched "Gone with the Wind" afterwards:

Me (on the left) and Megan
After collage graduation, Megan left for London, England on a year long work permit.  Before she returned to the United States, I went and visited her and saw many wonderful placed in London, York, Bath, and in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Some photos of that trip are interspersed below.

Megan - Parliament and Big Ben in the background
In 2009, Megan published her first novel, All That is Right and Holy.  This book follows the lives of several people involved in sex trafficking - at different levels.  From pornography addicts up to sex slaves.  Though none of the people in the stories are real, they are based on real people and circumstances.  It's been about 5 years since I read this book and it continues to haunt me.  I especially can not think of the country of India without thinking of the way girls are sold - by their own parents or relatives - to be sex slaves.  My review on sums up how I feel about it:

"I read this book several years ago and I still think about it at times and often find myself praying for those involved. The story was riveting, haunting, and educational. I learned a lot about the sex trade industry and how it is truly all around us. I learned about the types of people that get involved and why. Many heartbreaking stories out there. I was thankful this book was not overly graphic. I came away from it feeling I know how to better guard my own children from being accidentally exposed to and sucked into that nightmare world. I urge everyone to read this book and learn these things for themselves. For those already involved in some way - this book offers hope and shows the way out. This book is a story that needed to be written, and it needs to be read by many."

Megan won second place in the 2009 Christian Choice Books Awards for the novel.

me in Bath, England ( I LOVE all the old architecture in Europe)
Earlier this month, eLectio Publishing published Megan's second novel, Song from the Ashes.  Here is a summary from the back cover of the book:

"A retelling of Edith Wharton's classic novel The Age of Innocence, Song from the Ashes explores the struggle with contentment in marriage and the dilemma between striving for personal happiness versus acceptance of God's perfect plan."

I do not usually read Christian fiction, so honestly, I only know the stereotypes of it.  I like that Megan writes about "messy" Christians.  Meaning she writes about struggles that real Christians have.  Though not all Christians are being tormented in a love triangle, as this book's main character  Landon is, we all have our own struggles and temptations with sin.

William Wallace (Edinburgh) - "FREEDOM!!"
Landon, a Christian man that is steady, responsible, and does the right things, is newly engaged to April when he meets her fascinating cousin Ella, a failed country musician.  He struggles with his feelings for Ella, but chooses to honor his commitment to April, and marry her.

However, since Ella has a part of his heart, his marriage to April is not easy.  His struggles with his feelings for Ella and it makes him miserable.

Me in the classic red phone booth! I wonder if they even still exist (because of cell phone use)
Towards the end of the book, April gives birth to a baby girl named Carys.  ("Carys" is Welsh for "loved one.")  Carys has Trisomy 18.  This is the part of the book I started to cry and continued to cry until the end. I'm sure I would have cried reading about any baby with Trisomy 18, but Carys is special to me because she is based on our Lilly.  How I miss our sweet Lilly ...  And just like Lilly brought amazing blessings with her during her short life to us and others, Carys blesses those around her in the book and brings healing.

On a fun note, there is a girl named "Tabitha" in the book mentioned briefly (if you don't know, Tabby's real name is "Tabitha") and there is a pastor named "Frank."  There is also a little girl named "Lilly" who is mentioned twice.  She is like a little angelic being.  :)

I will always be grateful to Megan for including the Carys character in the book.  Not just because of her similarity to Lilly, but that she helps spread awareness of what Trisomy 18 is.  On the "Author's Note" pages in the back of the book, Megan briefly describes Trisomy 18 and cites my blog for Lilly.  :)

Megan by a sign for "The Ultimate Ghost and Torture Tour" in Edinburgh.  This tour was a nighttime walk through the catacombs under the city. We had a bizarre paranormal experience at one point.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I read The Age of Innocence right before reading Song from the Ashes and it was really neat seeing the parallels.  Though I did like The Age of Innocence, I liked Megan's story better.  I really appreciated how Megan brought God into her story.  Wharton's book was not from a Christian perspective.  (If you are not a Christian and are reading this, please know that you do not need to be one in order to appreciate this book!)

Megan set her story in Kingsport, Tennessee, the town she grew up in.  In the week before her book's release, she did a series of blog posts about Kingsport.  They were so interesting, especially as I remembered them while reading this story.  Frank, Tabby, and I attended Megan's wedding, years ago, in Kingsport.  So it was neat when she wrote about places I was familiar with there.  Megan's blog, called "Life Before the Hereafter" is at: .

Hampstead Heath - beautiful open countryside, right in London
So ... I guess you can tell ... I highly recommend Megan Whitson Lee's book, Song from the Ashes!  The book is available in both paperback and Kindle.

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." - Aristotle

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:9

Me at Trafalgar Square in London (goodness - the main thing that shows up are my white hightops! How 1990s ...)


  1. LOL too funny, that last picture of your high tops!

    1. I know - I thought leather high tops were the coolest! But then I went to Europe and saw no one wore them in public there. So everyone knew immediately I was a foreigner. :P