Monday, October 17, 2011

Writing for God

Okay, I need to get some thoughts off my chest. I've learned to pay attention when an idea won't leave me alone.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was 13 and learned to type, my thoughts have flowed through my fingertips much more easily than they flow through my lips. I always seemed to have stories going through my head which could only be silenced by putting them on paper. But as with so many other interests in life, writing got shoved to the wayside while I concentrated on college, then career, then marriage, then family.

From the first, Don has cheered me on in my attempts to write. I’ve squeezed writing in between swing shifts at various jobs. I’ve squeezed writing in with newborn babies asleep in a sling on my chest. I've squeezed in writing while mucking out the barn. I’ve squeezed writing in just about everywhere you can imagine.

But I never got published.

Oh, not from lack of trying. I’ve submitted to about every publishing house and magazine you can think of. I’ve queried hundreds of agents over the years. I could, quite literally, wallpaper an entire room with my rejection notices. I spent fifteen years as a frustrated wanna-be writer, spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

Well, not exactly nowhere. Those fifteen years taught me the ropes of the industry. It showed me the good, the bad, and the ugly. It disillusioned me through some bitter experiences, and it allowed me the privilege of meeting (in person or via email/snail mail) some extraordinary writers, editors, and agents. In short, those fifteen unpublished years weren’t a total waste of time. But it sure didn’t garner me much by way of writing credits. And all the while, something vague and unspecified and unclear was nagging at me. Something was preventing me from being published, at least with any regularity. What was it?

And then a funny thing happened.

I was visiting some friends in Oregon, John and Krista. These are old and dear friends whose children grew up with mine. In fact, Krista is a labor and delivery nurse, and she was 7½ months pregnant with her own first daughter when she helped bring our first daughter into this world. (That's how we met -- she helped deliver my baby!) John and Krista’s two older girls are just about the same age as my girls and, oddly, bear the same names as our girls (which made for fun play dates when we lived in Oregon!).

Anyway, about five years ago we visited our old stomping grounds in Oregon and spent a few days trespassing on John and Krista’s hospitality. During an idle moment while Krista was busy with the kids, I flipped open her Bible which was lying on a living room coffee table, closed my eyes, and placed my finger on a random verse.

It was Romans 12:6 – “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Criminey. I’d just been pole-axed.

I realized what it was that had been nagging at me all these years. I knew my interest in writing was God-given (why else would I be so driven to keep writing even after fifteen years of failure?), but I hadn’t written was what pleasing to God. In other words, I wasn’t using my gift for the glory of God.

I won’t say my life changed in that moment. On the contrary, I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to write what **I** wanted to write, darn it. I didn’t want to be dictated to. I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t doing what I should be doing.

So I fought. Thought. Continued down the same beaten path of failure. Cried. Raged.

And finally submitted. God was right. I was wrong. Well phooey.

Okay, time to make some changes. First I changed the emphasis of what I wrote. I started doing a lot more magazine articles and short non-fiction pieces. Some wonderful doorways opened up during this transition period, and some bitterly hard doors closed. But I started getting published on a regular basis, and my publishing credits began building up.

I have endless numbers of people to thank for these publishing opportunities – not only Don and my kids, but also the wonderful editors at Countryside Magazine, The Crafts Report Magazine, Backwoods Home Magazine,, and of course the phenomenal folks at WorldNetDaily. And I am endlessly grateful to you, my blog readers. But above all, the credit goes to the Almighty. How could it not?

By the standards of a lot of writers, I’m puny – a mighty small fish in a mighty big pond. But you know what? That’s okay. I’m using my gift appropriately now. I’m not so cocky as to think I’ll never face any more professional setbacks, challenges, or failures (that’s the way we grow, after all). But now my writing brings me peace instead of frustration.

The nice thing about gifts from God is they keep on giving. A few years ago when I was trying to find an agent for The Simplicity Primer, I queried dozens and dozens of agents – possibly close to a hundred. Some expressed interest in seeing the proposal, then dropped it. Getting an agent to pay attention to me was like pulling teeth.

This summer some writing friends convinced me I needed an agent for future books. Armed with a couple of recommendations, I queried two agents. That’s right: TWO agents. Not dozens, TWO. One didn’t get back to me for weeks, and then it was a decline. But the other agent accepted me. [Update: We've since parted ways amiably because I didn't have any manuscripts to send him. I now have a different agent.]

I don’t want to read too much into this, but the inarguable fact remains that once I gave my writing over to God, I started getting published. Once I learned to subdue my rebellious spirit and direct my gift they way it was supposed to go, things started becoming easier for me.

Which begs the question, in what other areas of my life am I being rebellious? I can think of a few right off the bat, but since it’s always embarrassing to list my faults, I’ll keep them to myself and just work on them in private.

Gifts are funny things. I sometimes regret I don’t have the gifts some of my friends have. I have limited abilities or interests in many of the domestic arts in which others of my acquaintance excel and which make their homes serene and beautiful places to visit. My skills in sewing or hospitality or decorating or cooking or even teaching pale in comparison to the wonderful talents of these other women.

But God made us all different. We all have gifts. Some we know about, some are waiting to be discovered. I can admire the gifts these other women have. I can admire the seemingly effortless ways in which they bring beauty to their homes and families. I try not to get jealous because I don’t possess the same set of gifts. I try to be thankful to the gifts I DO have.

God is a pretty smart guy. He knows what’s in our hearts. More important, He knows how to draw the BEST out of us if only we would listen and pay attention to what He has to say.

It ain’t always easy to submit to His will. But it sure is worth it.


  1. Patrice,

    This is probably the most thought provoking, encouraging and inspiring post I have ever read on your blog.

    If I could only figure out what my gift truly is, I'm pretty darn sure it isn't writing.


  2. Thank you for this post. Today was a day of despair for me, struggling with the loss of my Mother and other problems in my life. After reading your post, I realized that I needed to release that pain,confusion and questioning. To realize that I needed to relax into my life and acceptance instead of raging against things I cannot control. Having been given many blessings, I had blinded myself to them with the sorrow and despair I felt. "Listening" to you articulate so clearly and concisely your own struggle and the realization of acceptance of God's will in directing your "talent" gives me hope and joy. Thank you for sharing and thank you for helping me come to a greater understanding of my relationship with God.

  3. What you wrote brings to mind a song we used to sing in church when I was much younger. "We are blessed to be a blessing." While God is blessing you in your writing, He is also blessing us through your writing. Keep honoring God. I know I sure enjoy what you have to write.

  4. i believe it was the short run show "Millenium" where i first heard these words and was horribly humbled -

    "to whom much is given - much is expected"

    you have been given much. you write in a clearly, amazingly and beautiful voice. your Simplicity Primer is one of the best-written and most-needed books in the world today - all kidding aside.

    let Him lead you and you will follow His Way. as you are already doing. remember that when He created you - He also designed your purpose. just breathe and Believe. what am i saying - you are already doing it! i can't wait for your next book!

    Jane - you are also a beautiful and perfect creation of HIS - He designed you with a purpose. you know what it is. you are just too humble to accept how skilled you are. listen to your heart and He will tell you what and how!

    Patrice - get writing that next book! and it better be as good as the Simplicity Primer or i will have to come down there and kick you in the butt! bahahahahah!

    your friend,

  5. Teri, words can't express how sorry I am to hear about the loss of your mom. Everyone has different kinds of mothers in this world, and it sounds like you were blessed with one of the best. I'm sure she was just as grateful to have you as you were to have her. Be comforted.

    - Patrice

  6. I love you so much, Patrice! This is a great article... so very encouraging. Your writing is always encouraging yet honest, which is why I always come back to read your blog! (P.S. Guess what? I'm state-side now! Getting ready to do our cross-country trip. =P)


  7. Well, this post certainly hits home for me. It took a lot of dead-ends before I realized God was in control, whether I wanted to admit it or not. Once I let go and decided to follow His lead, I was much happier and much more successful.

    The best poem I ever wrote was not written by me, and I know it. No, I didn't plagarize it. He wrote it, using my hand. I got the credit, but that poem was absolutely devinely inspired. God does work in mysterious ways.

    Keep on using God's gift to you, Patrice. You have no idea how many lives you're changing.

    Anonymous Patriot

  8. Thanks from a reader in Maryland. I've been struggling with an issue of call similar to yours for a while now. (My gift isn't writing, but the struggle is the same.) It really is time for me to let go and let God... I just wish it was as easy to do as it is to say.

    And to Teri- I send prayers of peace and comfort your way.

  9. We all struggle with the fleshly side. It's so hard for us to give control over to God, but as many see, once they do He works his wonders.

    Thanks for your great article and helpful articles.

  10. Thank you for this story of witness.

  11. Wow. I think you knew that I needed to hear this. God has really been tapping me on the shoulder and saying the very same thing about my artwork and some other things. Thank you so much for having the courage to write this. It has come as an affirmation I needed to hear.

  12. Thank you, kymber.:)


  13. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)October 17, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Dear Patrice,

    I don't think you will ever know how many lives you have enriched. Funny, you really don't have to meet someone in person to know that you've found someone special. Reading your book and blogs are like enjoying that friend stopping by every day. That, my dear, is your true gift from God. Thank you!

  14. I love to read books but I'm convinced I was a terrible writer. I still can't diagram a sentence to save my life.
    I started blogging on my own brand of preparing about a year ago because I thought the information was important to get out. I still don't think I'm a great writer, but I'm better than I was a year ago. God will handle the stuff I suck at, if folks need what I write God will direct them to my site and help them understand what I'm trying to say. Or help me be more clear and concise in my writing.
    I don't think this is all God wants me to do. I think I'm supposed to serve as an example in a very small, local way for my family and friends. I also need to step it up and show folks if I can do it they can too!
    I walk at the local strip mall with my walker. I know when I started I was the only one with a walker. But several folks with canes and walkers, heck even folks from local rehab started showing up to walk and are not embarrassed but encouraged to walk. We have handicapped of all sorts come to the mall and walk, play some video games, have a snack in the food court and the Mall manager encourages this by measuring walking routes.
    I'm only 45 years old and disabled, but I was in the Army, played all sports as a female I was the first girl to play football in Idaho as a girl and the 2nd in N.Idaho to play little league baseball. I didn't do it for Feminists or the ERA. I just like to play sports. (1978)
    I also grew up having handicapped friends I was younger. So I never focused on what you couldn't do but what you could do in life.

  15. Thank you for this. Wow did I need to hear a word from God! I've been dealing with grief from a death as well. A friend of mine died a year ago from breast cancer at the age of 37. I've been trying to be at peace with it, but there are a lot of unanswered questions, and they will remain unanswered because my friend was intensely private. Letting go, and letting God..sounds so simple and pretty, but it's very hard.

  16. I make my living in the arts.

    I've learned that when two colors "accidentally" appear next to each other and are stunning together, that I'm being guided.

    I've learned that when I "drop" something on the floor, I probably don't really need it, and I'm being guided.

    I've never been happier in my work. And I love seeing a smile creep across the face of a customer when they pick up one of my pieces.

    I knew I couldn't be the only one who has a divine partner. But I've never heard anyone else talk about it before.

    I'm so touched by this post.

    Just Me

  17. Oh, my goodness! I've been struggling more and more lately. My head says I need to keep the job in the city in order to help make ends meet, but my gut is saying that I need to have more time to do more improvements to the pastures and grow more food, plant more fruit trees, and work on my spinning and weaving. That gut feeling is quite insistent....I've been having bad dreams about not being prepared.

    Maybe I'm getting a message.

  18. Glory be to God, Patrice. Glory be to God. I love to read and I've read thousands of books since I read my first novel when I was about 11 years old. (That was 55 years ago.) However, none of those books, as excellent as they were and as much as they swept me away to other lands and other lives, ever gave me as much satisfaction as I get when reading YOUR words, dear girl. You're the best. Keep listening to God!
    --A really BIG fan, Fred

  19. Patrice,
    Thank you for your words of comfort. Your blog has become a nice touchstone for me, I don't always agree with you but I feel the strength of your character through your words. Again thank you for your kindness.

  20. Hey, go find that there redundant feller an ast 'im ta give ya a hug fer me.

    I'm glad you'uns kin write right an' you'uns ain't bothered if'n we ain't got no good grammar an' we post here.

    An' God bless Joe Farrah!

    A. McSp


    An' yeah! what Anonymous Patriot said!

  21. Jane - you are very welcome. my pleasure!

  22. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I start my day with a prayer and turn my day over to Him. I have done this for years. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm taking the right path, but it seems to always work out. I am a firm believer that He always answers our prayers. Not just in the way we want them answered. It is His will.

  23. Praising God with you and other readers. His glory shines when we are obedient to His call. Like yourself, Patrice, I have been writing since a child. I have not yet written anything that can be published, not even a magazine article. But I know that the journals full of thoughts and ideas will become something beautiful in God's time. However, right now I am working on getting a college degree to become a high school Social Studies teacher at 50 years old. Many of my friends and I believe the philosophy that God doesn't call the equipped, but equips the called. You were called to be a writer and your work is beautiful. Thanks for the reminder of why we follow our calling.

    Rebekah, IN

  24. Patrice,
    You give so much of yourself in your writings, to others.

    I just knew when I read your book that these insightful instructions you chose to share with us all on every single page, were enlightened from your trust in God.

    When you partner with God's directions in all you do, you become a Ray Of Light for others!

    Keep shining that beacon Patrice!


  25. Maybe talent is like a giant flywheel-difficult to get it spinning, but once you figure out how,it becomes a real force..

  26. Hey Patrice,
    So many of us relate to this! What is our purpose? Do I have one? Finding it AND doing it is a great challenge.
    Have you read lately Deut 6? Read through all and 3 verse 9!...write it on your doorposts...
    -K in OK<><

  27. "Simplicity Purpose: Beer Steins with a Message"
    What about Husband of the Boss? Can he impress them (Deut 6) on the base of the beer steins? If Chick-Fil-A can put a Bible Verse on the base of their cups, why can't he?
    Phil 4:13, Romans 8:28, Deut 6, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 121:1, Psalm 23, 2 Tim 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 26:3, 1 Peter 5:7, James 1:2-3...just for examples.
    I want one for Christmas! Address below!
    --K in OK <><

  28. I think I need most of all to listen and pay attention. Spend time with Him. Then maybe I'll be able to really hear.


  29. Yes! I learned this a while back with my singing - when I sing for the glory of God, it is beautiful. Not so much when I'm singing secular music in bars...

    Xa Lynn

  30. Thanks so much for this post, Patrice. You write so clearly of the reality of the Christian life. You encourage us! Jennifer in western NC