Friday, August 18, 2017

Finding Time to Write When You're A Caregiver

Edie here. Today I'm excited to introduce you to my long-time writing friend, Emme Gannon. Emme has been in my life for many years and her gentle encouragement has always been a breath of fresh air. I've finally convinced her to share her insight with you as a regular columnist. Her insight as she manages full-time caregiving with full-time writing is an invaluable resource. Please give her a warm TWC welcome!


Finding Time 
to Write When
You're a Caregiver
by Emme Gannon 
@GannonEmme


One more hour before I had to be home to relieve my husband’s caregiver and I’d not met my writing goal. I’d driven to the park and found a vacant bench where I tried to relax to the sound of the Reedy River as it gushed over boulders and tumbled to rocks below. I inhaled the scent of the nectar-sweet flowers edging the river and silently asked God to de-clutter my mind so that words would come. Today was to be one of those days where thoughts of duties at home would march across my mind and snag my words.

My husband’s dementia had not only imprisoned him but had the potential to wreak havoc on my writing. In the early stages of the disease, the scope of his needs overwhelmed me. I took no time for myself, knowing that caring for him was my calling.

But God had also called me to be a writer—to weave words together that had the potential to encourage and inspire the hearts of my readers. By voluntarily sacrificing my writing, I’d blasted a hole in my soul that couldn’t be filled by anything else. The lesson I’d tried to teach my children and grandchildren had been lost to me: when you are doing what God has called you to, you are energized. Exhaustion occurs when you add or take away from God’s program.

I reasoned that surely with all of my husband’s needs God desired that I sacrifice everything to care for this kind man who had loved and dedicated himself to me and our family for so many years. I was wrong on one point. The only sacrifice God was asking of me was to yield my life totally to Him and let Him decide who or what I serve in His name. Yes, the bitter cup of caregiving was indeed God’s calling, which I willingly accepted. 

However, He was not asking me to give up my writing as I’d supposed. He knew that when I write, I release my pain as well as encourage those caring for loved ones trapped in a place where they must struggle to live in a world that doesn’t speak their language. A world that isn’t safe to them. We are their lifeline and their reminder that God loves them and still has meaning for their lives. We who are called to serve these precious children of God are allowed to peek into their world and see God. As we glimpse this vision, we write, and allow others a peak also. Not to see darkness, but light—God’s light at work in a life that many see as irrelevant.

Even though I am yielded to the call of God, there are times when my heart bleeds with sadness and my tense muscles cause my body to ache with what I call soul sickness. I forget that I was not meant to bear the emotional pain of it all. It’s then that I get my husband settled with a book or a puzzle and go into my prayer closet. The bathroom is the only closed door my husband respects. So I go there and cry out to God and give back to Him the burden that He has already taken on the cross. It is there that He reminds me that I am not in control. He is. I can’t change things. He can. The end of the book has already been written by Him. It will all be good. Now go, faithful servant and love Agape—let Me love through you. Go infused by My strength. Go guided by My Spirit. It works each time. Because God is faithful.

As I gathered by things and walked to my car, I didn’t chastise myself because I didn’t achieve my word count. Instead of words for the page, God had whispered reminders of His faithfulness. Armed with that, the words would eventually come—just when I needed them.

For you writers who are also caregivers, I offer the following reminders that I use to help me get through my day:
  • Don’t let guilt rob you of the joy and energy your craft gives you. The Lord is faithful and will gift you with time. Just today a neighbor blessed me with several hours to write when he took my husband for a ride and lunch.
  • Don’t get caught up in the drama of your day. Go to a quiet place and listen for God’s whisper. Then go, empowered by the Spirit of the Living God. And write.
  • Strive or yield? What will it be? We who often think we need hold our world together are strivers, which is a counterfeit of yielding. Striving produces stress. Yielding gives peace.
  • Journal. Journaling not only helps you reach your goal of writing each day, but by exposing your true feelings, you give God the opportunity to bring His perspective and truth.

Surrender. Relax. Live out your call. Then write with passion.

TWEETABLES
Finding time to write when you're a caregiver - @GannonEmme on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

"Exhaustion occurs when you add or take away from God’s program." wisdom from @GannonEmme (Click to Tweet)


Emme Gannon is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to write stories that stir the heart. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Focus on the Family magazine, several anthologies, and numerous newsletters. She just completed her first novel.

18 comments:

  1. Wow! I needed this message. I'm not a caregiver but I feel like one in my work situation. Many of your points apply to my journey at work. Striving or yielding? Great question. I'm a stressed striver trying to hold the department together. I need to get in a quiet place and reflect on your words.

    Welcome to The Write Conversation. Looking forward to more of your encouragement.

    Blessings and hope for today.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Sharron, as well as your warm welcome. Knowing that my experience has encouraged you is a blessing.

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  2. "The only sacrifice God was asking of me was to yield my life totally to Him and let Him decide who or what I serve in His name." Great wisdom!

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    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, Debbie.

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  3. Welcome to TWC, Emme. I am so thankful Edie convinced you to become a regular columnist. Your post was a beautiful blend of honesty and practical wisdom.

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    1. Thank you Beth. To be one of Edie's regular columnist is a great honor. Thank you for your encouragement.

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  4. Timely words, Emme. And welcome to TWC! I pray for strength and rest for you on this journey with your husband.

    Thank you for penning your words and sharing them with us. We are blessed because you did.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Sarah as well as your prayers.

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  5. Thank you Emme for the encouragement. I am the caregiver for my son a me it can quickly become overwhelming. It is important to remember to take time for yourself. Can't wait to see what you write next.

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    1. Tim, I'm happy that my words encouraged you as you care for your son. I pray peace, wisdom, and strength to you.

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  6. What an incredible message that I needed to hear. I often try to strive thinking that God is stretching me. Rather, God is asking me to yield (quite a stretch for this goal oriented soul!) Thank you for sharing. God bless you and your husband and all the caregivers.

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    1. Thank you Loretta. We're all on this journey together. Yielding isn't in our nature but oh the peace when we do. Blessings to you.

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  7. Rev. Dr. John H.KrahnAugust 18, 2017 at 5:17 PM

    Here is a woman who is not only an excellent writer but also a beautiful person of faith. Emme is able to share her faith during a difficult life's circumstance and not fall into a familiar lament of "Why me God?" Then she does do it so eloquently. She demonstrates that she is a person whom God has gifted to her husband as well as to all of us. Keep writing Emme ...we want more from you.

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement! Of course they made me cry. We praise God that He sees fit to use each of us to glorify His name by encouraging one another.

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  8. Oh, Emme. I had no idea that you and your family were going through this trial. Praying for you both, and for your writing time too. God bless you, my friend.

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  9. Thank you for your prayers dear Cathy. We each have our trials. Victory comes when, on bad days, we allow Jesus into the pit with us. All of a sudden we have Light. I know your sweet spirit can relate.

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  10. Thank you for those beautiful words of encouragement and hope! I'm so proud to call you Mom💗

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  11. Oh, Emme! I missed this in the chaos of my week, but I'm so excited you'll be sharing here on a regular basis. I read this and just let it soak in and soothe my frazzled soul. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey!

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