When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan: Guest Post with Debut Author Melissa Tagg

My novel, Catch a Falling Star, asks the question: Is life about accomplishing plans … or wishes coming true … or something more? 

Today’s post is the fourth in the “When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan” Wednesday blog series, 11 guest posts by authors and writers, including Deborah Raney, Rachel Hauck, and  Susan May Warren,  who explore the question: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? Today’s post is by my friend, debut author Melissa Tagg.

One of the approximately one bazillion things I love about Beth Vogt is a line I’ve heard her say many a time: “God’s best often waits behind the doors marked ‘Never.’”

Ain’t that the truth. Some of my biggest “uh, life really isn’t going according to my plan” experiences have included those very doors.

I never want to give up campus life and study abroad, she says to a professor. (She would be me. I guess we’re going third-person for a couple seconds here.)

I never want to work at a small-town newspaper, she tells her friends.

I never want to leave small-town life for a bigger city, she decides post-college.

Well she had a blast in London, swears newspaper reporting is the best-ever job for a wannabe author, and moved to the big ol’ metropolis of Des Moines a few years ago.

I’m so convinced my “nevers” are triggers for God’s LOLs I’ve taken to saying things like:

I’ll never need endless free time to write and read and watch old movies.

I hope I never marry someone who will be okay with all my quirks—love of flannel and peanut butter and Coldplay included.

I never want to time-travel to interesting points in history.

Reverse psychology on God. I’m sure he gets a kick out of that. (I’m particularly hopeful He pays attention to that last one. Hello, Gilded Age!)

All joking aside, every time God has taken one of my “nevers” and turned it into a “been there-done that” situation, I end up awed. Every. Time.

And yet—let me get painfully honest for a minute—I’m a still a little scared of some of my lingering “nevers.” No, not the silly things I listed above. But actual nevers like:

I never want to live far away from my family.

I never want to receive bad book reviews.

I never want to spend another Valentine’s Day unattached. (ouch)

I never want…to fail. (double ouch)

I could go on. Why? Because I’m a planner. Because I tend to think I know what I want and don’t want. But hasn’t life taught me over…and over…and over that my plans, most of which include this or that never, tend to be pretty short-sighted compared to God’s?

And hasn’t He proven over and over again, that I can trust Him?

That even if every never I’ve ever dreamed up turns into a reality, He’s on my side.

That He is good. And faithful. And in fabulously good control.

 And isn’t it true that when life doesn’t go according to my plan, it’s probably a good thing? Because my plan A may feel awesome…but God’s plan B is always, always better.

What “nevers” have turned into realities in your life? When you look back, how have those experiences shaped you and/or your faith?

What “nevers” have turned into realities in your life? Click to Tweet

Do you believe God’s best is behind the door marked “Never”? Click to Tweet 

Rafflecopter Giveaway for When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan Goodie Basket Click to Tweet 

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter turned author who loves all things funny and romancey. Her debut novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her nonprofit day job, she’s also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Connect with Melissa at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Twitter(@Melissa_Tagg).

When Life Doesn’t Go According To Plan Goodie Basket Rafflecopter Giveaway: I’m putting together a collection of goodies — including books by Rachel Hauck, Deb Raney, and Cynthia Ruchti — & the reader-suggested chocolates, a journal, a Starbucks card … and more. Click on the Rafflecopter link to enter.

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  1. May 1, 2013, 5:40 am   /  Reply

    Melissa, I loved this post today. The honesty. The truth. And you’re so right about saying “never” to God. I try not to do or think that. lol Not that He won’t read my heart, but it makes me feel a little better. Ha!

    • May 1, 2013, 8:25 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Jess. Yep, I’m learning more and more that “never” tends to translate into “probably will” in most cases. Haha!

  2. May 1, 2013, 6:44 am   /  Reply

    What a funny post. And soooooo MTAGG. You are a joy to know. Thanks for making me laugh!

    • May 1, 2013, 8:25 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Reebs. And YOU are a joy to ME. 🙂

  3. May 1, 2013, 7:01 am   /  Reply

    MTagg, you are delightful and funny, in fiction and in real life. You go, girl.
    Beth, she was a great fit here.
    As a Pacific Northwester kid for some dumb reason I’d been given stereotype opinions of Texans, the British, and people living east of the Mississippi River. Now I live on the west bank of the Mississippi and cross it lots–the people are just like the ones on west coast, and some Texans and Brits are among my dearest friends. Lesson learned? Don’t accept stereotypes. Constantly stay open to new experiences and to the good things we learn in them.

    • May 1, 2013, 8:26 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Dee! “Constantly stay open to new experiences and to the good things we learn in them.” AMEN!

  4. May 1, 2013, 7:33 am   /  Reply

    Melissa, I love your post, and I can hardly wait (and only because I HAVE to) to read your book! I love your reverse psychology with God, too. 😉

    I learned not to say “I’d never do ______________.” Because good or bad, I’ve done most of those. My motto became, “Never say never.”

    There was a time when I wondered if I’d ever be a wife, and then a mother. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever be published. (Notice, I’m not saying NEVER). 🙂 But, I keep reminding myself that God’s plan is perfect–He didn’t make a mistake in giving me stories to write. His timing is perfect. If He wants me to be published, He’ll bring that about in HIS good time. I’m learning to trust Him more and more on this writing journey. 🙂

    • May 1, 2013, 8:26 am   /  Reply

      I can’t wait until the day you’re published, Jeanne. You’re so right…we can trust God’s timing and his awesome plan ALWAYS. 🙂

  5. May 1, 2013, 7:42 am   /  Reply

    Funny, delightful and I so get the part about trying reverse psychology on God. Let me know if you figure out what DOES work with him, I mean, besides listening. 🙂 I’m also a planner and a doer, while most of my lessons have been wait and see.

    Thanks for writing a post that makes me rethink (once again) how I respond to God’s will.

    • May 1, 2013, 8:27 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Kim. Glad to know I’m not the only who attempts reverse psychology on God. I have a feeling he laughs at our attempts to trick him and says, “Oh, just wait, kiddo, for what I’ve got in store…” 🙂

  6. May 1, 2013, 7:47 am   /  Reply

    Funny, M-Tagg! Right now I’m watching one of my nevers. Suzy, the rambunctious kitty that I adopted at the shelter in February who is running all over the house this morning and trying to climb my window. I think there’s a squirrel outside the window lol. (Remember the.cat.I’m.not.keeping?) I’m like Jeanne now–never say never…especially to God.

    • May 1, 2013, 8:28 am   /  Reply

      Yes, yes! I remember the cat you’re not keeping. Oh Mazie…I’m glad you’ve got rambunctious Suzy now.

  7. May 1, 2013, 8:27 am   /  Reply

    Not only was your post inspiring, Melissa, but Beth’s quote is a keeper, and all these comments have inspired me, too! Loved the line the.cat.I’m.not.keeping!

    I thought spring would NEVER come, but what do you know? There are buds on the bush outside my window right now. Spring always comes. Eventually. His answers always come…eventually. I too avoid the feet-planted, arms-crossed, scowling “I’ll never!” in favor of what often becomes a Gethsemane-like prayer: “NEVERtheless, not my will but Thine be done.”

    • May 1, 2013, 8:29 am   /  Reply

      Ooh, I like how you pulled the Gethsemane prayer in. It’s that “eventually” part that can sometimes trip me up. I tend to want all the answers and God’s reasoning now. But time and again He reminds me (most often in hindsight) that he’s got it ALL planned out…and I can trust him…and there’s beauty, joy and peace in that trust. All of which I’d miss out on if I DID know all his plans in advance!

  8. May 1, 2013, 8:56 am   /  Reply

    What a beautiful post today. I loved your quote! “God’s best often waits behind a door marked never.” It made me think. He’s not the one that labeled it “never” if those dreams or plans come to fruition. I’ve labeled many doors as “never” only for God to change the label forever. But if my dreams/plans never come to pass, then they were just that – mine. Then I realize that He is one who marked the door “never.”

    • May 1, 2013, 9:22 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Donna. And Beth’s quote is fabulous, isn’t it? Every time I hear her say it or read it in her bio, I think, amen, sister.

  9. May 1, 2013, 9:17 am   /  Reply

    Love!! But then, I love you, Mel, so it’s no surprise… 🙂

    It’s funny. I can plan and plan and plan. But the two biggest things to happen for me so far in my publishing career have not been anything I planned for. So I think God takes joy in surprising me. I’m trying to be better about patiently waiting for those surprises, though. 😉

    • May 1, 2013, 9:23 am   /  Reply

      I think you and I are on a similar journey of learning to be flexible and loose-holding with our plans, Lindsay. 🙂 And I think you’re right–God does take joy in surprising us. I was just reading “Between the Lines” this morning…about Jacob and his twenty-two year wait to find out his son Joseph was still alive. Talk about a surprise!

  10. May 1, 2013, 9:19 am   /  Reply

    Fabulous post, Melissa! (Thanks, Beth, for introducing her to us.)

    I’m not so sure God’s plan would be considered plan B, as that insinuates settling for something second-best. God always has the BEST plans for us. I think our plan A is probably more like God’s plan B, but He nudges us in the direction of plan A all along.

    I’m glad the cover of your debut novel was included in the post, Melissa. It looks interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading it! Best wishes for your writing career!



    • May 1, 2013, 9:24 am   /  Reply

      Ooh, good point, Andrea. Yeah, God’s plan is definitely the best…it might seem like plan B to me when I’ve had my heart set on plan A. But it was his plan A all along.

      And thanks for the well wishes. I’m excited (okay, and nervous!) for Made to Last to get into the hands of readers!

      • May 3, 2013, 9:26 am   /  Reply

        You’re welcome, Melissa! As a reader, I’m definitely looking forward to Made to Last. After reading your post and seeing your vibrant personality, I figure it’ll be a book that will get me giggling. And I love that in a story.

        • May 3, 2013, 10:15 am   /  Reply

          Oh thank you, Andrea. Your words are wonderfully encouraging to hear. I hope it does make you laugh. 🙂

          • Andrea Cox
            May 4, 2013, 5:26 pm   / 


  11. May 1, 2013, 9:52 am   /  Reply

    And…here goes another time God is throwing this whole “Plan B” business up in my face. Yes, Lord, I get the picture! My Plan B is really your Plan A in disguise!

    What a great, honest post. I’m trying to be more careful with my “nevers” – guess I can’t say I’ll “never” learn!

    • May 1, 2013, 11:41 am   /  Reply

      You know, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has to reconcile what seemed like MY perfect plan with what is instead HIS perfect plan. He always knows best… 🙂

  12. May 1, 2013, 10:22 am   /  Reply

    So happy to have Melissa here today — and I love her one-of-a-kind perspective on the word “never”!

    • May 1, 2013, 11:41 am   /  Reply

      And I’m happy to be here, Beth. Thanks for inspiring the post with your great quote. 🙂

  13. May 1, 2013, 10:46 am   /  Reply

    Let’s bullet these, shall we? And yes, they ALL came true.

    I am NEVER:
    -having more than 3 kids
    -going back to South America
    -moving to New Brunswick
    -liking rejection letters
    -gonna see Spring!
    -going to be obsessed with gardening
    -visiting New Mexico
    -getting a full body pat down in a foreign airport
    -see a llama in it’s natural environment

    Okay, that last one? That’s debatable.

    • May 1, 2013, 11:42 am   /  Reply

      Ooh, like rejection letters? I’d love to hear how that came about. It’s fun to see your list of nevers-turned-realities!

  14. Teri Smith
    May 1, 2013, 2:36 pm   /  Reply

    Oh, the reverses, God pulls on us! He takes Plan B, and makes it into Plan A until we finally fall on our knees in awe and admit our Plan A was really Plan B after all. Our Bible study group has been studying Joseph, so God has been at this switching plans for a long time!

    • May 1, 2013, 3:18 pm   /  Reply

      OH Joseph…yes, now there’s a guy who led an interesting life! I love the whole “God meant it for good” angle of his story. I’ve actually been reading a book that has several chapters on Jacob…I’ve never really thought that much about Jacob, and especially about what it must have been like for him in those years when he thought Joseph was dead…and then to find out he was alive…

  15. May 1, 2013, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

    I haven’t met you, Melissa, but your personality really comes out in your writing, so it kind of feels like I have. I enjoyed reading your thoughts expressed in your unique and entertaining style. And thanks for reminding me that God is infinitely more qualified to make plans for me than I am. My near-sighted view and limited perspective combine to generate short-sighted plans that God–mercifully–does not fulfill. Thanks for a fun and meaningful post!

    • May 2, 2013, 7:25 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Dave! I’ve heard good things about you from Beth. I’m thankful God’s plans always win out in the end over our, as you said “near-sighted view and limited perspective.” 🙂

  16. Susan Tuttle
    May 1, 2013, 7:04 pm   /  Reply

    I’ve slapped my hand over my mouth when that word ‘never’ comes out b/c I so know he’s going to prove to me He CAN accomplish those ‘nevers’ through me:) And yeah, some of my “nevers” have been the best thing ever–like marrying my Hubby:)

    • May 2, 2013, 7:26 am   /  Reply

      Haha, yes, “never” has become one of those “um, Melissa, be careful what you say” words. And yay for one of your nevers turning into a wonderful marriage!

  17. May 2, 2013, 5:18 am   /  Reply

    One of the books that helped us so much when we were going through our “Plan B” was Pete Wilson’s book titled…wait for it…PLAN B. What a fantastic book. Spoke to us big-time and helped us see some of God’s purposes behind what we thought was one of the worst things that could happen. (Which, of course, has turned out to be one of the BEST things that ever happened.)

    Great post, Melissa! And hey, I still remember you amazing devotion at ACFW.

    • May 2, 2013, 7:27 am   /  Reply

      Oh thank you, Deb. It was both fun and slightly nerve-wracking giving that devo, but I loved the chance to share what God has been doing in my heart. He’s so good!

      Ooh, that book sounds like one I definitely need to check out. The title should be easy to remember. 🙂 Heading over to amazon…

      • May 2, 2013, 8:56 am   /  Reply

        You’ll love the book. And of course, I meant youR devotion, not “you devotion”…sheesh! 😉

        • May 2, 2013, 8:58 am   /  Reply

          Um, I mean: youR amazing devotion, not “you amazing devotion”…though you R amazing. #proofreadbeforeposting

  18. May 2, 2013, 8:14 am   /  Reply

    I enjoyed this post immensely yesterday but somehow never got back to commenting! I’m with you– I’ve had lots of nevers… and guess how many have come true? Almost all of them. I can’t wait to read your debut novel, and give you a hug in person this fall at ACFW. Thanks for giving me a smile two days in a row!

    • May 2, 2013, 8:57 am   /  Reply

      So excited to get to see you in person, too, Carla! I’m already counting the weeks until ACFW. 🙂

  19. May 2, 2013, 8:39 am   /  Reply

    Beth and Melissa, enjoyed this post and I, too, love that God is there with just one more surprise when we don’t expect it. Blessings.

    • May 2, 2013, 8:58 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Jude. God is wonderfully surprising, isn’t He? 🙂

  20. May 2, 2013, 11:48 am   /  Reply

    I read your post yesterday but sorry I didn’t get back to comment until today, Melissa! You are so funny and heartwarming in your posts that I’m sure I’ll love your upcoming book! Never say never indeed. I had to smile at many of the things you listed here in the blog post. As far as some of the more “hard core reality” nevers, well, sometimes (in the long run and you can’t see at the start), those things CAN turn out to be a blessing you never expected. I’m sure you’ll embrace them with the same grace as you do everything else. Many blessings to you! I look forward to hearing more of your story as it unfolds. 😉

    • May 2, 2013, 2:58 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, JoAnn…this was a fun and thought-provoking post to write. 🙂

  21. May 2, 2013, 5:19 pm   /  Reply

    Life according to plan is a complete irony! I guess it is all about WHOSE plan, LOL! Love this post. Can’t wait to read your book Melissa!

    • May 3, 2013, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      So agree, Michelle…all depends on Whose plan it is. 🙂

  22. May 2, 2013, 11:50 pm   /  Reply

    Love seeing Melissa here! I have quite a few “nevers,” too. I said I would never put my child in school (I had planned on homeschooling) and yet, I felt God pushing (okay, shoving) us in that direction three years ago. I said I would never leave the first home Dave and I bought, because I hated moving as a child, and yet, here we are in our new home! I have a few more “nevers” on my list, but I don’t like to say them out loud…just in case Someone is listening… 🙂

    • May 3, 2013, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      Can’t wait til I get to see your new home, Gabe. 🙂 Haha, and good job not jinxing your nevers…lol!

  23. June 4, 2013, 8:00 pm   /  Reply

    I can totally relate to this post and topic. One of my “never” moments was about 4 years ago when I was looking at pictures of a ministry in Uganda, East Africa. I thought, I could never do that, or go there. I remember saying to God, “Lord, can I go on my first mission trip somewhere close like Mexico or something?” Now, 4 years later, I have been to Uganda twice and the last time I lived there for 5 months. Both times are truly moments I look back on and am in awe of God and His goodness towards me. It’s an adventure with Him! I’m glad this never of mine has now turned into a home away from home.

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