Made to Last

New_Made to Last2

Today we welcome the funny, talented, and kind debut author Melissa Tagg! This girl will make you laugh, she’s real, and she works at a non-profit. I know, it doesn’t get better than that! Well, except that she writes thoughtful, funny romantic fiction.


You work at a non-profit, can you share about that and what role that work plays in your fiction? 

Sure! I work at a Christian homeless ministry in Des Moines. We’re actually the largest, privately-funded provider of programs and services for those who are homeless and hungry in Iowa. I’m the grant-writer and communications coordinator—which means in addition to writing grants, I also work with our newsletters, direct mail appeals, eblasts, social media, videos, etc.

I really feel strongly that caring for our hurting neighbors is something God feels strongly about. In the Old Testament, you see Him telling people not to harvest the edges of their fields—to leave that grain for the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus says whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for him. In James we’re told true religion is caring for the widows and orphans. We all have a role to play in helping the hurting among us.

More than anything, my role at Hope Ministries has taught me about compassion, hurting when others are hurting, learning to see people through Christ’s eyes. Those are lessons I know I’ll continue learning for the rest of my life…so those themes definitely show up in my fiction. My first book, for instance, includes a shelter for orphans with special medical needs. My second book includes an adult with Down syndrome who finds herself homeless for a short time. In both books, the main characters step up to the plate to help out. I would love to inspire people to do the same.


Made to Last is a romantic comedy, in movies what is your favorite romantic comedy? In life, what things make you laugh?

Oh boy, that movie question is like asking someone to walk into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and pick out just one thing to eat.  I LOVE classic romantic comedies like It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, really anything with Cary Grant or Katherine Hepburn. I’m on record call The Philadelphia Story the best rom-com of all time, so if I had to pick one, it might be that.

I’m not a huge fan of too many current rom-coms, but I did adore Dan in Real Life. It was such a perfect picture of family life, and who knew Steve Carell could be so heart-tugging?

As for what makes me laugh in real life: Without question, my family. They are a hilarious bunch.


An element of Made to Last includes being real vs. the person we hope for people to see. Why do you feel its important as woman of faith to be transparent about who we are including our struggles?

It’s funny because about halfway through writing Made to Last, it suddenly hit me: God had me writing this story for…me. I tend to be very tempted to find my worth in accomplishments or goals achieved—like how my character, Miranda, finds her value in her career success. But often it’s when those things are stripped away that we figure out who we really are—loved by an amazing God.

And here’s the thing: If I really, truly believe that I’m created, valued and cherished by a loving God, then why would I want to present any other picture of myself to the world around me than that person…the person He made me to be? For me, that’s what it comes down to. If I’m spending time and effort trying to display some other persona, then that says something about where I’m finding my worth.

But when I’m secure in who I am in Christ, then it’s easier to be transparent. Not necessarily easy—especially when it comes to my struggles—but easier. And we’re so much freer to really make a difference in the lives of the people around us when we’re not so busy trying to be people we aren’t.

Thank you SO much for having me on your blog, Lisa!

Tagg6Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her work as a grant writer and communications coordinator at Iowa’s largest homeless ministry, she also serves as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Melissa blogs regularly at Melissa Tagg  and loves connecting with readers on Facebook , Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg), Youtube and Goodreads.

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of Made to Last!

How do you feel about keeping it real? Why is it so hard?

40 thoughts on “Made to Last

  1. I stopped caring about what other people saw, when I realized that they weren’t looking!

    It’s an exaggeration, but it’s one that addresses the interactive nature of what we are versus what we want others to see. If we really don’t think we’re noticed…we aren’t, and that is incredibly liberating.

    Marilyn Monroe set a standard in this area. She could go out onto the streets in New York, and not be noticed, because – she claimed – no one was looking, and she didn’t expect to be seen. he was one of the few mega-celebrities who could live aspects of a normal life.

    If she went out expecting to be seen, she was.

    The lesson here might be that we can become small, and free, in the temporal…a mustard seed, if you will, with all of its latent potential.

    • Haha, that first line is very true…so often we think people are watching us when really, they aren’t. I remember my mom telling me that people are too busy worrying about what people think of THEM than paying attention to my bad hair day or wrinkled clothes or whatever worry about myself I happened to be having at the time. 🙂

  2. @yAFor me, it’s hardest to keep things real when I fall I into the trap of comparing myself to others or worrying what other people think of me. When I rest in God’s grace I am able to let that go. When I am secure in our Father’s love for me I am able to be transparent with others. How do I find that security? By the truth in His Word and knowing the loving character of God. I cannot live free for a minute without knowing His grace.

    • Yup…agreed. I have to remind myself a lot that I DO look good to God. He created me in His image, He called me good, He has redeemed me. So no matter what I might look like to others, I look good to God.

  3. I keep it real my teaching my girls to always look to God and be what he wants them to be and not to give into the world’s ideal.

  4. I try to keep it real in front of others, It is the Lord’s strength that enables me to do so. Although I hope a genuine smile will disguise when I am not feeling well and struggling physically because I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. the Lord is good

  5. It ca be hard. You think everyone’s watching. They expect you to live up to what you’ve been before. If you have a reputation of being “good & perfect & polite”, you feel the pressure not to fail. If you have a reputation of being funny and witty, you feel the pressure of being entertaining at a party. Expectations are hard. But we have to realize that we need to live to please God Himself and no one else. Sometimes we feel like we can’t move out of what we ordinarily are. That can cause us to miss something extraordinary. It’s so important to be ourselves in Christ and not worry about what everyone else thinks. We should care a little, but not to the point where we let it dictate what we do, how we dress, how we talk, what we like etc. God created us uniquely for a reason.

    Thanks so much for hosting the interview and giveaway! And thank you, Melissa Tagg for coming by! It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Oh my goodness, yes, expectations ARE hard, especially, like you said, when you’ve sort of obtained a reputation as being a certain way. I feel that way with writing sometimes…that I have to constantly be funny or entertaining and if I’m not, then I’ve let someone down or something. But just like you said, we just have to be ourselves in Christ…and in my case, write what’s on my heart, whether it’s funny or serious or whatever. 🙂

  6. I think you need to be your true self. I have tried changing to be what someone else wanted me to be and was miserable.
    I can’t wait to read your book it sounds awesome.

    • Yes, I would agree, Chris, that trying to be what someone else wants instead of who God created us to be can be miserable.

  7. Keeping it real can be hard when you are meeting new people who are outside of your normal social group. You want them to like and accept you but you can’t change who you are just to try to be included in a group.

  8. Keeping it real means living your beliefs and principles for all to see. This can be extremely hard as people can be cruel in their judgement of your beliefs and principles, and therefore yourself. Stand up and be proud of who you are. Have courage to be real.

  9. Loved this line: “…We’re so much freer to really make a difference in the lives of the people around us when we’re not so busy trying to be people we aren’t.” So true.

    I’ve heard so many great things about your book, Melissa. Can’t wait to read it.

  10. I struggle almost daily with “keeping it real.” It’s hard for me because I have this unfortunate tendency to try to be who I think other people want me to be, instead of just being myself. Mostly, I think I just want everyone to like me. I want to be accepted, but I keep reminding myself that God says that I am chosen. I am accepted in His eyes. He knows exactly who I am, He made me, and He still loves me regardless of whether I have a slew of friends or just a couple. I love Mandisa’s song “What If We Were Real,” as it explores a little bit how life might be different if we would let people see the real us. 🙂
    P.S. I’d love to win your book Melissa! It sounds great! 🙂

  11. I think that sometimes, as Christians, we are reluctant to admit that we have struggles, & maybe, assume the mentality that if we were as dedicated as we needed to be in our Christian walk – we wouldn’t struggle. But – EVERYONE has struggles, & it is not only through the struggles, that we grow the most – but admitting our failures, opens us up to the receiving of God’s blessings, & is an inspiration to others.

    Thanks, Melissa – for what you do, & for being who you are!

    Would love to read your wonderful book!

  12. I think being real reminds me of concentrating on inner beauty. Way more important than what we look like, is how our heart condition is. That’s what I always told my girls.

  13. Thank you for being so honest about the struggle we all have as individuals to accept ourselves for who we were created to be And not be so afraid to be who we really are. Honestly I really struggle with this because I have always felt less than I am. I know who I am in Christ but it is still hard for me. Thank you for the work you do with the homeless. Looking forward to reading your book.

  14. Thanks for hosting Melissa here, Lisa. I love to hear about new Iowa writers. Can’t wait to read this book. Tell Melissa that she’s got a friend not far away in Pella who will be spreading the word about her debut novel!

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