faith, friends, Love

Not Wasting My Grace

“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent.” – Act 17:30

I made a phone call to a long time friend last week, one I haven’t spoken with in quite a while. We were able to pick up our conversation as if there’d been no lapse in time or distance between us. Sheilah has known me and stood by me through some of my worst decisions. My early twenties were not my shiniest years. 😉 Thankfully, we’ve both managed to stay alive long enough to appreciate God’s grace, and even laugh at how smart we thought we were.

A Nod to Forever Friends
Me and my Maids in Blue; Marrying Rudy was one of my best decisions. Needing a little grace for these hairdos 😉

(Paragraph disclaimer: Age does not necessarily equal wisdom. Time just offers us more opportunities to learn.)

At 62, I look back at my 20 year old self and say, “Who Was That and What Were They Thinking?!” God had so much patience with me, often overlooking my immaturity and lack of understanding then. He expects better from all of us when we know better.

Knowing this, who am I to hold back forgiveness to others when God has forgiven me so much? Whenever I forget my own humanity and reach for a gavel, God is quick to hand me a mirror. When I’m tempted to look at someone and say “Well I’d Never…!” He reminds me that I actually did, more than once. Since God clearly doesn’t need my skills in the courtroom, what do I personally have to offer that would actually be helpful?

Ah, Yes! God has given me more than my share of grace. I can always afford to reach in my pocket and pass a little on to the next guy. To my dear friend, Sheilah, Thank you for jogging those memories. “To whom much has been given, much is required.” Luke 12:48

Know the Hope,

Tammy Vice

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autism, caregivers, communication, family, Health, holidays, peace, Uncategorized

Digesting Dinosaurs

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” – Creighton Abrams

In the 1980s, I worked as an assistant to a top notch bookkeeper named Juanita.  I was so impressed at how she approached the mountain of tasks she faced.  Each day she was greeted by endless stacks of paper on her desk that she methodically sifted through, only to have them be replaced by more of the same.  In that sea of paper, she also had the ability to put her hands on whatever was requested, without breaking out in a sweat. Just witnessing a portion of her workload was overwhelming to me.  Something in me needed a finish line.  I needed to see an empty desk to feel like I was accomplishing something.  I was letting that desk full of papers eat at me.  Thankfully she was patient with my impatience.  Whenever I would hyperventilate, she’d just look at me, smile softly and say “How do you eat an elephant?”

alebrije elephant 4

Fast Forward to 2020.  Take one young adult on the autism spectrum,  who has a great affection for routines and annual calendar events.  Add one pandemic that completely shuts down life as we know it, that reschedules, then cancels, all of those events.  AND lets make a whole new set of social safety rules that really matter a lot to some people, and not so much to others.  Oh, and in the middle of all this, just for fun, let’s paint the dining room.  Surely now would be a good time to accomplish this one thing.  This needs to be filed under “What Was I Thinking?!”  Husband called with a kidney stone, that had it’s own agenda. The memory of Juanita’s desk full of papers suddenly came back to me, and I laughed at my younger self.  I realized just how small that elephant was in comparison.  I guess that’s what Juanita knew back then.  It’s all a matter of attitude.  We can Eat or Be Eaten. 😉

I’ve Got An Attitude from the Love Can Grow project – Available on Apple Music

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As I write this, I am looking at a messy desk and a half finished dining room with paint paraphernalia scattered about.  Rudy and Morgan are in the living room watching Spiderman and his adventures.  At this moment, we are all safe and well.  I Am Thankful.  It turns out dinosaurs are also digestible, one bite at a time.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, friends, leap of faith, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

Everyone is Essential

“But quite the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are [absolutely] necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, these we treat with great honor;… And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:22, 23 and 26  Amp. Bible 

When Morgan lost her ability to communicate at age 2, and was diagnosed with autism, I knew she was vulnerable.  What I didn’t know was the strength and purpose she would help me find in my life, or all the lives she would impact for the better.

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We’ve heard a lot about essential workers during the time of the pandemic.  I understand the need for those who provide vital services to continue working.  It has also been equally important for those of us who aren’t performing vital services to do the essential work of staying at home in order to avoid causing unnecessary exposure.  We all have a responsibility to do our part.

As we move to re-open things, I’ve heard reports of some who believe we should push forward and let the survival of the fittest kick in, which saddens and sickens me.  How does one go about valuing or devaluing a life?  Thankfully, in God’s economy, we are all essential.  He created each one of us on purpose, for a purpose.

My dad is 81.  He provides Meals on Wheels to folks in our area.  Our daughter, Morgan, helps him out at times.  Here’s a recent news story on the essential job he’s doing.  Homebound Meals Video

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We haven’t been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, and of love and sound judgement and personal discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I believe we should have the ability, the responsibility, to move forward lovingly, bringing along the lessons we’ve been given in humanity during this time.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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Allison, autism, caregivers, dance, faith, family, joy, Love, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Tender Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When you live in a chronic crisis, a serious sense of humor is a necessary tool.  Laugh or cry, do or die, we set our pace and continue to move forward, even when we’re not sure of our actual destination on any given day.

The isolation, the distance from the norm, has been our family’s normal for many years now.  I guess the one thing we have in common with other families is that our life is also a mix of sadness and joy, struggles and celebrations.  This walk with autism has given us a realization of what’s big and what’s “just silly”, as Morgan would say.

As our current world situation is beginning to come apart at the seams, we each have our own way of dealing with crises.  Some panic.  Some seem oblivious.  I find myself doing my usual tap dance.   It’s that dance I do to distract Morgan, hopefully make her laugh and get her back on track.  It’s that side step I do to get us out of uncomfortable situations in public, when we’ve said or done something that raises eyebrows or drops jaws.  Please forgive my missteps as I’m learning new steps during this time.  We all are.  I hope we’re all learning to be more forgiving, less critical, more supportive, less selfish, and seriously learning to lighten up on each other.   We’re all in this together, apart.  I look forward to gathering again soon.  Virtual hugs to you all!

 

Much Love,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, communication, family, Morgan, peace, Uncategorized

My Take, God’s Take, Outtakes

“And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.” Solomon  Eccl. 1:17 NKJV
You would think, by this point in my life, I would have learned everything God could possibly have to teach me. However, I am now assured He will forever be tweaking things.

I ended last year and started this one with a very strong sense that God is telling me to SLOW DOWN.  Maybe it’s because my multitasking tools are not what they used to be. 😉 Since applying this lesson, I’m enjoying meals more, realizing I ate.  I’m enjoying conversations more, taking in what others are saying.  I’m not as afraid of missing out on things.  I’m just praying God has me where He wants me. It’s giving me the peace I need to make this stretch of the race.
I do need to throw in a disclaimer to anyone who thinks I may have it more together than I do.  I DON’T.  God DOES.  And He has an excellent sense of humor.  Just when I think I am acing things there is sure to be a twinge or a goose in the ribs coming.
For example: A few weeks back, I was rhythmically going through my morning.  I was so proud (first mistake) of how well I was doing, getting things done, now that I had “mastered” this art of completing “one thing at a time”.  Not slowly, BUT SUDDENLY, I heard a loud hissing sound from the bathroom.  I opened the sink cabinet doors to reveal a fountain of water spraying in multiple directions.  I had THREE thoughts, All. At. Once. OH CRAP! SHUT OFF VALVE! CALL DAD!!! The rest is a wet blur, except to say I learned there will be times when we and our smart selves are just not enough to handle everything that needs to be handled.

Papaw under the sink

Kudos to Papaw and his skills!

A God wink, Morgan emerged from her bedroom as I was mopping up, announced that things were a mess, then landed comfortably in her recliner to wait for me to get my act together. 😉

Need is one of the best teachers of humility.  Forever learning.
Until Next Time,
Know The Hope!

Tammy

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Allison, caregivers, communication, family, holidays, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Patient Perspective

Patient (noun) an individual awaiting or under medical care and treatment

Patient (adjective) bearing pains or trials calmly, or without complaint – Merriam-Webster 

Over the holidays, my older daughter had an emergency appendectomy. Since the appendix was ruptured, she earned an extended stay in the “hospital hotel”. With the help of my parents watching Morgan, I was able to be there to assist Allison until she was ready to go home.


Following surgery, Allison spent her recovery time on a floor that was dedicated to post op patients. Soon after surgery, they had her up and walking the halls. Her husband and I took turns making laps with her. From the patients’ view, the route was two long hallways that formed the shape of a double “L”, as in H. E. …. Well you get it. Seeing the small parade of gowned patients walking the halls with loved ones, some pushing IV poles, reminded me of the Jack Nicholson Movie, “Something’s Gotta Give”. 😊

Hospital gown 2
It may sound strange to say but caring for Allison at the hospital was a little break for me. I am always caring for my younger daughter, assisting with her needs 24/7, because she cannot be left at home alone. This was not only a change of venue. Strolling through the long halls, when Allison was resting, gave me a chance to decompress. I also met some very sweet folks, gained a new respect for post op patients, AND the nurses and staff who serve them.
As I passed by each room, I heard blips of conversations; Some thankful, some not so thankful, some fearful, and some incredibly obnoxious. I heard nurses respond calmly, understanding how pain and uncertainty can wear on some folks more than others. It gave me a fresh perspective of what a blessing it is to be in my position. I’ve spoken a lot about what it’s like to be a caregiver, but I think it requires a lot more patience to be the one who’s dependent on others for their care. The waiting, the vulnerability, and for those who are unable to communicate their basic needs, the frustration of being constantly misunderstood. It was a reminder to me of why it’s so important to be a patient and compassionate caregiver.

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On a final note, it was a treat to share some slowed down time with my older daughter, and her husband. I enjoyed the heart to heart talks that don’t usually happen in the haste of the holidays. Allison and I closed out the old year and rang in the new, fading in and out of conversation, between the nurse’s visits and naps. I woke up at 5 minutes till midnight, looked over and saw her sleeping peacefully. I counted down to the ball drop and counted up the blessings of the last few days, then fell back to sleep.

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Here’s to a very Happy and Healthy 2020 to you all!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, communication, faith, family, holidays, Love, peace, Uncategorized

The Shape of Things

“We’re in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in.” –  Harlan Howard

Each month Morgan and I paint a scene on the windows to represent the season.  For December we did Christmas trees.  January will be snowmen,… Keeping things simple, breaking the scene down into shapes, helps her follow along.  For example, a few triangles make a nice little Christmas tree.  We add a small rectangle for the trunk, circles for ornaments, and a star to top it off nicely.

Mom, Dad, and Morgan, recently found out how important shapes are when we upgraded her bedroom.  She helped put together the bedframe.  It looked like a nice rectangle to the eye, but when we placed the mattress on, things were so out of skew that one rail looked about six inches longer than the other.  🙂 We scratched our heads, and even measured both rails.  It was at that point we realized we needed a square tool to get it into shape.  LOL!  We’re always learning.

In this life, as much as we try to simplify things, to better understand them, there will always be unknowns.  What I know now is I don’t need to know everything.  I just need to know the One who does.  I used to pray for understanding.  Now I pray for the peace that passes understanding.

When our world seems so upside-down and out of round, when I’m worried about the shape we’re in, I remind myself of God’s heart for us.  I know His Love is Pure and Perfect, so that means we’re in pretty good shape.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, family, friends, Morgan, Uncategorized

Messy and Beautiful

“Sometimes you’ve got to embrace the unexpected.  The things we never saw coming often take us to the places we never imagined we could go.”  Kemmy Nola

Recently, we traveled to the coast for the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival. Our family and Logan Blade‘s participate in an annual autism awareness benefit there. We also enjoy getting some rare time for our families to visit with each other. While Logan is pretty laid back, always going with the flow, Morgan requires a schedule. There is a constant juggle of what’s “too much schedule” for her, and what’s not enough.  When I think of the differences between Logan and Morgan, I’m reminded of the saying, “when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”  Truth!

Anxiety and OCD are kissing cousins to Morgan’s autism.  They are the enemies of spontaneity and joy.  They refuse to let go and trust that the day will land in a safe place without their orchestrating every moment, every breath.  I’ve watched them take my daughter down on countless occasions, robbing her of the ability to wait, to relax, to just enjoy being with friends.  Morgan knows friends are messy, and loud.  They often do the unexpected.  They are great at derailing her perfect plans.  I’m trying to help her understand friends are also Beautiful!  Even with all the chaos they create, they are really worth having around us.

We are always trying to find ways to help Morgan learn how to cope with the messy and the unexpected, so she can enjoy being with friends.  Our family is blessed to live in an area where there are several organizations providing social and recreational opportunities for young adults with disabilities.  They have regular gatherings, dinners and dances,…  Nothing makes me happier than to see Morgan bobbing up and down on the dance floor, weaving around her buddies.  She’s still in her bubble, but it’s the closest I’ve seen her get to popping it.  😉

Using the Arts and creativity has been another great way to stretch Morgan’s coping abilities.  Her “Messy Flag” is a pour painting, which required making a mess to create something beautiful.

We’ve made note cards from her painting to spread awareness of OCD, anxiety, and autism.  As we learn and grow, it’s always our hope to bring understanding and encouragement to others.  Follow us on Facebook Know the Hope to learn more about us, and how to get some of Morgan’s note cards.  We’d love to hear from you.

 

Until Next Time,

Know the Hope!

Tammy

 

 

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autism, caregivers, faith, peace, Uncategorized

Melting the Iceberg of Isolation

“… I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6

When children with disabilities become young adults with disabilities, there is a service cliff.  Families have to piece and patch together everything to keep young adults active in the community.  One of my biggest fears when Morgan left high school, was her falling off of everyone’s map, being forgotten.  Thankfully we live in an area where the disability community itself is very active.  There are always opportunities to socialize in organized activities.   You might say there’s plenty of water to bring the horse to, but my horse doesn’t always want to drink. 😉

Morgan’s autism brings with it a lot of social anxiety.  While she is very comfortable at home, where she is able to communicate her needs, hang out in her jammies and play on her iPad Way Too Much, that only adds to the iceberg of isolation.  It’s up to me to get her out the door and into social activities.  She does “want to see friends”.  She just doesn’t always know how to “be with friends”.  As much as I try to nudge her into the group, if she’s not able to relax and engage, it’s not going to happen.  This not only isolates her.  It isolates me.

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All caregivers deal with isolation to some extent.  It just goes with the territory.  Add to that caring for someone who, due to their disability, is unable to give you that pat on the back for giving it your all.  It can be extremely draining at times.  It can make you question if you’re doing it good enough, if it’s possible to do anything good enough.

Recently, I was speaking to another caregiver who was feeling very unappreciated, very alone in their circumstances.  The advice I heard come out of my mouth was, “Do everything you do, as unto the Lord.” Col 3:23.  Until that moment, in my own exhaustion, I realized I had forgotten my own advice.

I have to remind myself, as I keep reaching out for Morgan’s sake and mine, I also have to Keep Reaching Up, to keep from giving up.  I don’t even know how to explain it, but there is a very solid peace I find, knowing that God has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I don’t have to fear for Morgan, or myself, being forgotten. God still sees us, even when no one else is looking.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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communication, Love, Uncategorized

What Did You Say?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey

Recently I attended a women’s retreat in Alabama. The highlight for me was a conversation that happened because one of the speakers, Tammy Tkach, challenged us to listen to others without interrupting.  She said let someone else tell you their story, and even though you may be tempted to interject yours, don’t.  Just listen.

During a break, I looked across the table, and there sat Marguerite.  I asked where she was from.  She said, Baton Rouge.  I nodded, kept my mouth shut, and continued to listen.  She grew up south of Baton Rouge.  She met her husband, while in college there, and moved to the area.  I smiled, leaned in, and kept listening.  She had taught middle school for 30 plus years, and is now retired.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know.  But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama 

Next came the gem of her story.  She told me other teachers would always ask her why her students were so well behaved, why they followed her directions, and stayed in line.  She said it was simple.  When someone was misbehaving, she didn’t yell at them across the room.  She motioned them to come to her.  She would have a private conversation with them, asking them to tell her what they were doing wrong.  She asked them why they were doing it, to help them think about what they had done.  Then she would say,  “Now are you going to do that again?”  This gave them the opportunity to make their own decision and be responsible for their actions.  As she shared, I could hear the love and respect she had for each child, the lesson of respecting others she was passing on to them.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Bryant H. McGill

Thank you Tammy, for the challenge.  Thank you Marguerite, for your story.  A great lesson for this mom who is always learning.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

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