I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Picked Up Any Snakes Lately?


by Pat Trainum

Have you ever put your heart’s desires on God’s altar? Given them to Him in order to pick them up His way? Like Moses...The LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it (the staff that had become a snake) by its tail.”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. Exodus 4:4

God didn’t put something new in Moses’ hand—He created something better out of what Moses already had. But it was no longer an ordinary staff. This is the staff that brought plagues down on Pharaoh and parted the Red Sea. It struck the rock at Horeb and gave water, and gave victory to the Israelites over Amelek. It was God's amazing staff.

God can do the same thing with us, if we’re willing to give him our desires.

Several years ago, I had decided to take a year off to write my murder mystery. I was cruising along, totally loving this writing time, when I felt God leading me to write an abstinence curriculum.

“God, are you sure? I mean…I don’t like to write non-fiction. I want to write about romance and murder and suspense..You know, scary stuff.”

Did I mention I didn’t want to do it? But I had recently put my writing on God's altar, and if that's what He wanted...

For the next ten years, I worked in the abstinence program, co-writing a curriculum and then teaching it. Lives were absolutely changed. Mine included. He didn’t give me something new. He took what I had and made it powerful.

Then, one day during my prayer time, a fragment for a new scene in my old manuscript popped into my mind. Then another. It was like God giving me permission to go back to writing suspense and romance. Again not something new, He just made the old better, giving me really great mentors like Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. And He blessed me with the best critique partners in the world.

I’m going to leave you with Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. I believe when you delight yourself in Him, His desires become your desires.

Leave a comment, and tell me the kind of snakes God has asked you to pick up.

Pat Trainum
www.lovefaithandmurder.com
www.ptbradley.com
http://mbtponderers.blogspot.com/
@PTBradley1

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write.

32 comments:

  1. My story is a mirror image to yours, Pat. During a season of burnout, God led me away from nonfiction -- what I knew, what I loved -- and into writing fiction. Such an uncomfortable time in my life as I traversed new territory along the writing road. But, like you, God provided wonderful mentors (Susie May and Rachel) and this group of women ... and interestingly, I'm here to stay and loving the new direction God gave me.

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  2. When I quit my job back in August to have a more flexible schedule to freelance write/edit, teach, and write, I loved it. But then debt came knocking on our door (my husband has bills from law school, and me from grad school), and we decided it would be best for me to return to working full time. I did it because I knew it meant a lot to my husband, but I thought I wouldn't have any time to write. Surprisingly, I've been fairly productive still, probably because I know my time is more limited. So I haven't really had to sacrifice my writing dream, just had to work a little harder for it.

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  3. Wonderful, wonderful post and reminder of just how much He is supposed to be in charge of it all. I, too, have lain the writing on His altar, and like you, Pat, He called for a lengthy season of non-fiction writing after having started a fiction ms.

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  4. Pat, I love this post! Your story and the thought of laying your dreams down on God's altar blessed my heart. :) I'm betting that He's ing the abstinence curriculum youSo glad He's given you the go-ahead to return to your story. I can't wait to read it!

    This may not answer your question exactly, but my dream on the altar isn't writing-related. I had to lay down my desire for children on his altar. This hope, which filled my being, turned into a reality of two children given to us via adoption. I wouldn't change the ways He's worked in my heart and enriched our lives through these two kiddos!

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  5. I've had to lay writing dreams aside just to survive life but now God has blessed me with a life that supports writing. I am so thankful!

    I've claimed Psalm 37:4 for several years. I totally agree with you: "I believe when you delight yourself in Him, His desires become your desires."

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  6. Yay, one of my favorite verses! I'm learning more and more, though, that the key is that first part - delighting in Him. :)

    I don't know if God has called me to lay down a dream yet...but I do know I become awfully out of balance at the end of 2011 and into the beginning of this year, actually. And in just the past few weeks, I think I've finally hit break-through mode as I've felt God calling me to lay down "striving." I know, it's not the same as surrendering a dream for a time...but I'm a goal-oriented person. I feel happy when I'm making lists and checking off items. But I've started to realize, perhaps my goals and lists are my ways of holding on to control. And I think that's what God is calling me to give up. It's easy to say I've surrendered control to Him, but my actions need to back it up.

    I guess I got slightly off topic...sorry! :)

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  7. Beth, I'm so glad He called you to fiction! Can't wait to read your book. But it is scary sometimes to step out of our comfort zone.

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  8. Lindsay, isn't it amazing what we can accomplish when we think we're limited in time? I think when we have lots of time, sometimes we squander it. And I think too, when we walk in obedience, God honors that and multiplies blessings.

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  9. God always blesses when we honor Him. I know you cherish these two children He's given you.

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  10. Roxanne, love your fairy tale romance and look forward to seeing it in your stories! I'm so thankful for your writing time now and how God put all that together.

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  11. Paula, can't wait to read your story! I'm so glad you have time to write again.

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  12. It doesn't have to be a dream that you lay on the altar, Melissa...we really should lay our lives on his altar and give Him control. Very hard and very scary to do sometimes. I'm proud of you for laying your goals on His altar!

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  13. I love this blog, Pat--I just had to complete some early morn. appts. before I could get back to computer. And that's what I love about all Ponderer blogs and lives--we do care about putting God first and letting him direct our days and writing to honor and reflect Him most of all. Keep it up. I know I'll be pre-ordering you soon.

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  14. Pat, my story is also similar to yours -- I felt God telling me to quit my job so I could write, but I waited another year before I took that scary step. God is so faithful; He blessed my delayed obedience in such a tremendous way. Thanks so much for this post.

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  15. Oh, Johnnie and what a blessing your writing is! I love Sparrow and Where Treasure Hides! Can't wait to see them published!

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  16. Pat, this has happened to me on several occassions, most dealing with my children. Time spent with your family is never time wasted but I always wanted to write. Many times I've wondered how far along I could be on my writing career now, if I'd only written sooner. But nothing can ever take away the time I gave to my family. God kept the desire to write in my heart and He knew there would be time for me to emerge from my coccoon when my babies were ready to go off on their own.

    God wants what's best for us. If we take the time to listen, we can hear his generous advice. When we take that advice, we can see his miraculous promise.

    Your blogs are always so inspirational!

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  17. Pat, I love that you included romance in with "scary stuff"! haha This was a great post. I never looked at Moses' (God's ) staff that way. Thanks so much for sharing. And I am SO proud of you for the work you have done in abstinence. I've only known you since then and can't imagine you without a heart for it. So glad God has blessed you so much and blessed us all through you!

    Jenny Gregory

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  18. My snakes? Hmm...homeschooling my children came several years ago. Teaching the elementary children at our homeschool co-op followed this year. Now He has given me the charge/opportunity to continue teaching elementary children at the co-op AND beginning this fall, to teach English grammar and writing to the middle school children. And yet He is somehow providing me with the time to write and edit in the midst. My flesh wants to feel overwhelmed at the thought, but I know He is in control. Right now I'm trying to figure out which end is the tail.

    Oh, and I am SO thankful to be one of your critique partners, Pat. You have been a major contributor to my growth on this writing journey, and I feel privileged to share this path with you, my friend.

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  19. Oh, Dee, I hope so, I truly hope so! Thanks for your encouragement.

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  20. Kathy, thank you so much for the encouragement you've given me over the years. I value your friendship.

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  21. Thank you, Jennie. You encourage me so much. And I so admire that you're going to seminary! Oh, and Bryan says, "Boo."

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  22. Wow! Renee, just know what all you do amazes me. And I love your story. Thank you for being such a good critique partner. I've gained so much from you and the rest of Crit89!

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  23. Okay, the title alone was enough to give me pause about reading this post, so with one eye closed and the other half-open, I clicked on the post, then breathed a sigh of relief when the image wasn't of a snake. :)

    When I was in college a few years ago, I worked full-time, went to school part-time, cared for my family, and tried to write. God asked me to stop writing for six months. It was so hard, but that time allowed me to finish my degree. I did take time to enter the Genesis that year and finaled. That was God's whisper that it was my time to begin writing again. Since then He has thrown those doors open.

    Laying down my writing gave me time to focus on my degree and finish with top honors. God's timing is always impeccable.

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  24. I also had to lay down my desire for children...until God opened the door for us to adopt 3 children. Believe me, I couldn't be happier with God's plan for us. My 3 children are awesome!!

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  25. Lisa, isn't it a-ma-zing that God's timing is always perfect. Never early, but never late. And now look at the doors He's thrown wide open!

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  26. I love how God answers our prayers. Teri I know the children He blessed you with bring joy to your heart.

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  27. Hi Pat,

    Thanks for the post! I enjoyed reading your comments. Psalm 37:4 is my favorite scripture. Yes, I totally agree my desire is HIS desire. That's my prayer anyway! :)Blessings!
    Alena T.

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  28. I have Psalm 37:4 over my computer, Alena to remind me that when I yield to Him, it allows God to put His desires in me!

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  29. Great post, Pat. I have a dream right now I'm trying to decide whether He's telling me to lay it down or run with it. :-) We'll see what happens! Love that verse.

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  30. Oh, Jenness, I'll be praying for your decision.

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  31. The irony of your well written, thoughtful post, Pat, is that I actually DID pick up a real LIVE snake once at a re-enactment at Shiloh National Military Park. It was about five years ago and my Ladies group had been invited to camp on park grounds for the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. The poor reptile was minding his own business, having just dined on a field mouse, (judging by the bulge in his midsection), reclining majestically, if a bit lethargically, in the cold, clear air of an early April morning near the cabin by the Bloody Pond; when he was discovered and almost trampled by a bunch of men in gray wool uniforms and ladies in hoop skirts. One can only imagine what HIS thoughts must have been, but my concern for him wasn't so much for HIM per se, as it was for one of the men deciding that having a four-foot long rat snake hanging around would call for some macho reaction that would have brought harm to said reptile, and gotten US kicked out of the park as a result. Messing with either flora OR fauna on Park Service land is most frowned upon, so as a result, my inner childhood tom-boy rose to the fore, and almost without a thought, I stooped and picked him up! Holding him head to tail in arms spread a yard wide, I started toward the tree line to release him into the wild, where he could finish digesting his dinner undisturbed by these silly humans dressed in funny clothes. The most amusing thing about it wasn't the girls that mostly stood and gaped at me, as I turned to the woods, but several of the "soldiers" who took off running in the opposite direction from me and my new friend; one of whom actually shrieked like a little girl! I honestly had no intention of causing such a commotion, but merely to use the most direct route to solve a problem! In short order, I did manage to free my scaly charge, but not before one of the girls made me wait until she could grab her camera and bid me pose for a picture with my reptilian buddy. Somewhere out there floating through the either of the internet (because I have seen it posted a time or two on a couple of chat boards) is a picture of me holding a snake at arm's length, and looking slightly askance, no doubt at some of the men who were located a fair distance away from me, the big sissies! So, snakes quite often can be metaphorical, as many of y'all have so aptly related, BUT sometimes they really CAN be SNAKES!
    And because most of the snake-handling you've had to do has been literary in nature, I suppose I should share my news that my frequent absence from pilates this summer, and beyond, has at last born fruit, because Arcadia Press has set the release date for "Corinth", as April 16! I always said that having graduated from MUW with a degree in History, but without certificate to teach, made me fit only for government work! However, when I least expected it and wasn't even looking, God finally made a way for me to put that knowledge acquired so long ago to the best possible use as a way to honor my little mama by telling the story of her beloved hometown! I just KNOW she would have been so proud, and God
    humbles me daily when I think of all the ways He has blessed me...

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  32. The same thing happened to me. I was writing a romance when I realized that if it got published, one day I would be embarrassed by it. My heart was to write for God but I didn't know of any Christian Fiction at the time. So I laid it down and told the Lord I would never write another word until I could bring Him glory. FF several years later and a snipit of a story came into my head and I began to write realizing, God this is still in me. So I picked it up again for awhile than laid it back down. Shorter version: when I picked it up again, it was with God's permission and His blessing :)

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