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Friday, June 28, 2013

Thankful in Hard Times

It’s funny how the same event can be viewed differently from two opposing perspectives. Getting a job as a janitor in an American school for the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company might be unacceptable, but the same job to a former wealthy business owner from a third-world country could be seen as thejanitor start of a new and better life.

You thought I was going to use a poor man for the second example, didn’t you? But the truth is, I have known families who’ve experienced the latter and been grateful for it!

Are we?

The idea of being grateful in hard times had been pressed on my mind last Fall as my daughter battled the effects of Lyme’s Disease and its treatment. Why? Because though this experience had been very difficult on her, we were astounded at how God put things in place so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We thank Him for His mercies.

This summer we were informed by my daughter’s new school that at the beginning of the year they would have a “field trip” overnight for five days. Given that we did not have any time to get to know the teachers chaperoning this trip and I couldn’t be there because I homeschool my special-needs son, this raised a few red flags. Sorry, but when you work in the mental health field, as I do, you sometimes know too much about what CAN happen.

Yes, I know, sometimes I need to let go and trust God to protect my child, and believe me, I had friends arguing that fact. But something in my heart kept saying NO. So I prayed that both my husband and I would have the discernment to make the right decision. Both of us felt a clear calling to keep her home.

She was diagnosed with Lyme’s the week before the trip. She could not have gone even if we’d allowed her. The treatment made her sick each morning and she Sun and Cirrus Clouds --- Image by  Royalty-Free/Corbiswould not have been able to be in direct sunlight due to the meds the whole week. Not possible for a field trip labeled “Outdoor Ed.” Whatever our reasons for keeping her home no longer mattered. God knew she wouldn’t be going and He was preparing us for that fact. No money lost. No expectations dashed. And best of all, no schoolwork was missed because there wasn’t much given to the kids who stayed behind.

Unbelievable! The timing couldn’t have been better.

Then, after finishing the first round of antibiotics, the symptoms came back. Momma-worry set in and more antibiotics were ordered, but THANK GOD the next two days of school were closed due to a professional day and the election. We had time to adjust to a new round of antibiotics and its effects on her every morning. We had to change her eating schedule to see if it would lessen the nausea and allow her to get to school on time. It worked!

So, yes, rather than shaking my fist at God’s allowing Lyme’s Disease into my daughter’s life, I Praise Him for His Mercies! I trust that if Lyme is part of His plan, it is the start of a new and better life. Maybe a challenge that would stretch and strengthen us. Maybe a means of gaining knowledge we'll need later.

Who knows? All I know is He will use it.Jesus on cross

This reminded us that God has the whole story already written and He alone knows how it will play out. I suspect, given He is a good and holy God, though it may be rife with drama and suspense, He favors Happy Endings.

I trust in that.

I trust in Him.

Other posts you might like:

When It Rains, He’s There

I Need a Miracle

But God, What If … ?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Praying for a Smile: An Ollie Story

Sometimes the greatest gifts come in the smallest packages. When I first read about Ollie, I knew he was one of those great gifts, so I begged Ollie’s Auntie, Melissa Tagg, to come to LBOC and tell my readers a little something about him.

Given Ollie is one of her favorite topics to talk about, she said yes … with one stipulation—I post it on his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Ollie!!!

Ollie and MelissaToday one of my favorite kids in the whoooole world turns three—my nephew, Oliver (Ollie) Reece.

Ollie was born in 2010 with multiple heart defects and Down syndrome. He spent the bulk of that first year at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, enduring a slew of open heart surgeries and other operations.

Now I will admit something here: I’m not a big crier. At least, not in public. If I’m going to go all red-eyed and snotty-nosed, I’d prefer to do it in the privacy of my own home, thank you very much.

But when it comes to Ollie, I’ve been known to tear up at, um, everything. Usually happy things: a surgeon announcing an operation was a success, seeing a video of Ollie sitting up for the first time, just watching him sleep and realizing I’m looking at a miracle in the flesh.

Sometimes harder things, though, too: like the first time I saw my sister and brother-in-law (Amy and Chip) work together to change Ollie’s trach. I honestly couldn’t handle watching Ollie’s silent cries and had to leave the room. (Although, these days he handles trach changes amazingly—as he does everything else, it seems!)

But my most poignant memory of, well, pretty much losing it in tears was just after Ollie’s first birthday. Health-wise, he’d been doing pretty great for a few months. But about a week after his first birthday, he went downhill quickly and was flown back to Children’s Mercy in preparation for another critical heart surgery. This is the one he’d needed since birth and his other surgeries were mainly “band-aids” to give him time to get strong enough for this big one.

The day after he was flown back to K.C., I drove down to spend time withOllie in swing my sister and brother-in-law at the hospital. Because only two people were allowed in the NICU at a time, first I visited Ollie with Amy. So many tubes. So many machines. My heart ached seeing him so sick again. But as we stood over his bed, holding his fingers and whispering encouragement, his eyes fluttered open…and he smiled.

That’s not the part where I lost it, though. :)

Later on, my sister and brother-in-law switched places. So this time I stood over Ollie’s bed with Chip. We’d told Chip about Ollie smiling. And I’m telling you, in those stretched-out minutes, there was nothing I wanted more in the world than for Ollie to smile again…this time at his dad. In fact, I think I turned a little toddler-ish with my mental prayers in those moments. I can still hear myself: “God, with everything Ollie needs right now, this might sound dumb. But pleasepleasepleaseplease let Chip see Ollie smile.”

And Ollie opened his eyes.

And smiled.

And I lost it. (And confession: might be close to losing it again as I type this.)

Praying for a smile. Maybe it’s a silly thing. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of those few minutes since—and about the people around me who need to see a smile. Or feel a touch. Or hear a word of encouragement.

And about Ollie. His grins. The amazing amounts of joy he’s brought to Amy and Chip and our whole family and probably every person who’s ever met him. His infectious happiness in the midst of heart and health challenges.

And I think, man, I just want to be Ollie to the people around me.

I want to be God’s answer to someone else’s prayer for a smile.

For a laugh.

For a reminder of God’s amazing goodness and faithfulness.

Like Ollie.

Has God shown Himself to you through a little one? Share it with us below.


Melissa TaggMelissa Tagg is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. Her debut novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers.  When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about her next book. She's passionate about humor, grace and happy endings. Melissa loves connecting at melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg).

You can also find her here:

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/MelissaTagg

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/MelissaTagg

Other posts you might like:

A No-Matter-What Kind of Joy

How to Treat a Child with Autism

Am I an Autism Mom or the Mother of a Boy with Autism?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Our Daily Bread

One of the problems with learning to memorize Bible verses from an early age is that sometimes the words become so commonplace we forget to delve into the depths of their meaning, or we are too immature to understand the importance of the them. When I was a little girl, I loved the story of Joseph. Not because it was about God’s plan for Israel or about a brother who forgave, submitting his poor treatment by his siblings to the work of the Lord. I liked it because the youngerstick out tongue brother got one over on the older ones. I almost wanted to stick my tongue out and tell my sisters I’d be ruling over them one day—like Joseph. (Yes, I am the youngest).

Oh, the simplicity of youth.

Of course I see the story differently now as I pray with my sisters in time of need or rejoice at how God is using them. But when I was younger, I didn’t understand.

There are many things in the Bible that plagued me because of this lack of maturity. One had always been the word “daily” in The Lord’s Prayer. Why would we only pray for our daily bread when there is a lifetime of bread to be had?


It always seemed a little short-sighted to me. Did God want us to eat other foods on other days? I’m guessing not, since we’re expected to pray the prayer on a regular basis.

In fact, that’s the reason for the daily bread prayer in the first place. Think about it. If God gave us all we wanted on that first day, or if we only needed to pray for a lifetime of bread in one sitting, would we go back to Him tomorrow? I’m sorry to say I don’t think I would. And as a result, I’d miss out on a daily relationship with Him.

five loavesSo, I pray for my bread (whether literal or figurative) every morning, and expect He will provide it. Then, tomorrow, I drop to my knees, hang out with the Lord for a while, and ask for it again. I’m beginning to like these visits with the King, requesting what only He can give, because I find, in the time I spend with Him, I receive so much more.

Other posts you might like:

You Are Holy

Is God Teaching You Patience or Praise?

Do You Have a Get-in-the-Chair Kind of Faith?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Let Him Steal Your Show

If you can’t see the imbed below, click here for Toby Mac’s Steal My Show.

We are all given gifts by God. It’s an awesome thing.

I once knew a highly intelligent woman who, whenever anyone reminded her of her intelligence would raise a brow and proclaim with a haughty, wicked voice, “I can use my power for good or for evil.” She was joking, of course, but what she said was true.

However, God didn’t give us these gifts for evil. He didn’t even give them to be used for ourselves, though I think the correct usage of them does benefit in us in the end. He gave us these gifts to serve and honor Him.

Have you ever had an empty-vessel moment? One of those times where, whether you asked Him to or not, God came in and took over your work and turned it into something extraordinary? Something that couldn’t have been you because you’d been going in a completely different direction?

If you haven’t, I pray that for you today. It’s astounding when it happens, even when it’s for small things. It’s like witnessing a miracle in your own body.

So, with that in mind, my recommendation for you today is to ask God to “steal your show.” Go ahead. Give it a try. You won’t be sorry.

Other posts you might like:

An Empty Vessel

How Many Talents Do You Get?

When A Christian Music Artist Loses His Voice