WRITTEN BY YAASHA HEPPERLE
I'm a life-long writer and first-time mom coming out of some pretty heavy burnout.
This writer-mom life is real. I wrote that first sentence 15 minutes ago. Then my 10-month-old had a melt-down, so I changed her diaper and nursed her back into a happy mood. I haven't finished my coffee yet and it's already 9:30 a.m.
I only have one kid (so far).
I'm a stay-at-home mom.
I've had 10 months to figure it out.
I should have plenty of "free time."
Yet this whole thing is still a challenge that I haven't wrapped my head around. This glorious, crazy, sleep-deprived, joy-bursting story that God is helping me write, chapter by chapter, in the book of our family.
So let me introduce myself a bit and give a super brief overview of my writer-mom journey
Three things have been unwavering constants in my life: I always wanted a family, I always wanted to write, and I always wanted to live my life for Jesus. I was literally born to be a Christian writer mom and I've never questioned that purpose. (Not seriously, anyway.) In the best of lives, the purpose of being a Christian writer mom is challenging. In my life, I've had a few extra challenges.
First, I couldn't find a good man with whom to have a family. My sisters and my friends married, had babies, and I waited and prayed and worked three jobs. So I just kept trying to write, even though my creativity was slowly shriveling and my inexperience in publishing led to discouraging sales.
Then God shook my world. Due to various events, my life changed overnight. My family life radically altered, some of us moved to a new state, and we started our life over from scratch, living off the generosity of friends and our new church as we prayed about the next steps. It was the most stressful time of my life.
It was also the catalyst that thrust me into the church where my future husband, Paul, was in training to become a pastor. Within eleven months of meeting, we got married and started our new life together, building ministries to singles and young couples within our beloved church.
Then I got sick. I lost count of the doctors and specialists we went to, and much of our first year of marriage was a blur. It was strange when we visited a local park about two years into our marriage and I said exuberantly, "This is a gorgeous park! Why haven't you taken me here before?"
Paul gazed at me quietly for a moment and replied, "I did. When you were really sick. You don't remember it, do you?"
We eventually learned that I had Functional Neurological Disorder. In other words, there's nothing wrong me physically, but the connection between my brain and my body sometimes goes awry, and I have seizures, weakness, paralysis, and extreme sensory overload. Medicine can't cure FND outright, but persistent management, therapy, and stress reduction can improve my quality of life.
Did I mention stress reduction? And here I wanted to be a mom.
Eventually, my condition calmed enough for Paul and I to consider a family After a miscarriage, we conceived my daughter Keziah. Her high-risk birth occurred at the height of the 2020 civil unrest and pandemic.
I had made it! I was a wife, a mom, a Jesus-lover, and a... Oh wait. Wasn't I supposed to be writing somewhere in there?
The stories hadn't died but something in me had changed substantially. It wasn't just that I no longer had time to sit at my computer and type 5000 words in a day, because now I was caring for an infant. It wasn't just that I was exhausted between caring for myself (to avoid the worst of my FND) and caring for my husband and daughter. It wasn't even just that I was still processing all the emotions and memories related to the family situation that had altered the direction of my life. (Much of it for the better; remember that I got a husband out of it?)
All these reasons aside, writing exhausted me like it had never exhausted me before.
Why did I feel so burnt out?
I felt burnt out because I hadn't tuned into what really makes a Christian writer mom a Christian. Writer. Mom.
In the busyness of life and the demands of tasks requiring immediacy, I had let my relationship with the Lord become a casual dating relationship, not a thriving marriage. The "Christian" part was still there, but not as radiant as it should be.
In trying to keep up with the ever-changing industry standards and enact endless rules about how to be a successful author, I had lost the spark that made me, Yaasha, the unique writer that I am. I had even suppressed the very things that best served my stories, because expert writers had said those were the "wrong things."
In trying to rekindle time with God, keep a growing romance alive with my husband, give my body the tools it needed to weather FND, and give voice to my weak-but-still-insistent creative self, I felt that I was failing my daughter as her mom. How could I love her well when my attention was so divided?
(As I type this, she is mouthing my knee and repeating, "Mama, mama," which warms my heart and makes this topic more acutely real to me.)
Is it a wonder that I hit severe burn-out?
The good news is that this isn't the end of the story. If you are a struggling Christian writer mom, let me assure you that there is hope. You can still be the most healthy, balanced version of a CWM that you can be. The best part is still to come.
How do I know this? Because as I reconnect the parts of this powerful triad to one another (Christian. Writer. Mother.), those dammed-up, brackish words are beginning to flow again. The spark is reviving. The stories are breathing. In my always-winter-and-never-Christmas, Aslan is on the move again.
I reached out to Laura Frances because her book, among other resources, was part of God's timely plan to draw my writing gift back into alignment with the new and beautiful Now of motherhood in His name. As I have the opportunity, I want to share with you the powerful insights that I'm learning as my burn-out reignites to burning passion!
Yaasha Hepperle is a Christian writer mom with a mission to share the unexpected good—that is, those gifts from God that are different than the desires we’ve prayed for and yet so, so much better. She writes general-market YA/adult speculative fiction as Yaasha Moriah (YaashaMoriah.com) and Christian encouragement for women as Yaasha Hepperle (theunexpectedgood.com). She lives in Virginia with her husband Paul and her daughter Keziah, and loves good coffee, all things purple, and outdoor adventures.