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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Allison, autism, faith, family, Love, Morgan, Uncategorized

The Student is The Best Teacher

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born of one’s youth.” Psalm 127: 3, 4

As I write this, my older daughter, Allison, is preparing to teach her first college course in behavior.  She’s had years under her belt as a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst), and countless observation hours as a sibling.  I have no doubt she will have valuable lessons to share with her students.  I’m grateful for passionate teachers, and I’m especially proud of this one.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When it comes to Allison’s sister, Morgan, I wonder who’s teaching who.  I am forever learning.  I’m learning not to compare her to anyone else, because it’s a precious waste of time and mental energy.  I’m learning not to limit her to what I know she can do now.  I’m looking at the rest as “things she can’t do yet”.  Together, we are working on our personal bests.  As I continue to challenge her, I’m learning she is very skilled at challenging me. 😉

There is a line I struggle to define all the time;  What behaviors are due to her disability, and what behaviors are within her ability to correct.  And That Line is Drawn in Shifting Sands, because Every New Person, Place, or Thing can change the equation.

Lines get blurred and meltdowns happen.  When Morgan is coming back down from a meltdown, she will often say “I was just trying to fix it”.  😦 Me too, Morgan. Me too.  When I see her stressing and I don’t see the reason, I’ve learned to ask, “What are you trying to fix?”.  Using her language helps her find her words.

For Morgan’s sake, for her independence and quality of life, we have to keep pushing that line.  We have to continue to do the hard things until they become the no big deal things.  When we come to an impasse, I remind her (and myself) to take a deep breath.  I remind her that I love her, and we can always try again.  Each time we succeed, it’s worth all the lessons we’ve both learned.

Back to Allison.  It was clear from the beginning that she was going to keep me on my toes.  I can still see her at four years old, with her hands on her hips, explaining her point of view.  We definitely bumped heads and hearts along the way.  Despite my first time parent blunders, she’s become a pretty amazing young woman.

And all this time I thought I was their teacher.  Turns out, they are mine.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

 

 

 

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caregivers, faith, family, joy, Love, Uncategorized

Nothing Up Her Sleeve

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” 1 John 4:16

When I was young, some of my favorite memories were spending time at my grandma’s house.  There was nothing extraordinary about the visits.  Every day was pretty much the same. She was either cooking, washing, cleaning, chasing my cousins and me, tending to my aunt Laura Mae, or ironing clothes for “customers”.

Grandma Edmonds was a “One Woman Show”.  She kept one of those big old family bibles open on her kitchen table.  I’d see her sit down from time to time to sift through it quietly.  Come to think of it, that was the only time I remember seeing her pause from her labor.  Day in and day out, that was her life.  Even with all the busyness, there was a peace in her house.  I loved thumbing through the pages of that old bible, looking at all the pictures, hearing her whistle old hymns from the kitchen, while she baked.   I felt safe.  I felt loved.  The song below was written about those memories.

Grandma Edmonds’ Daily Bread

    Grandma Edmonds' BibleFamily Bible 1 John 4

Pictured above – Grandma Edmonds’ Family Bible

Before all of us grandkids came along, Grandma Edmonds had raised my mom, and four other children, on her own.  Her daughter, Laura Mae, had physical and intellectual disabilities, due to spinal meningitis.  It was clear to see that caring for Laura Mae was a labor of love for my grandma.  I remember her speaking softly and sweetly to her, while she fed her.  She’d tell her how pretty she was when she combed her hair.  She’d gently rub her arms and legs to relax her muscles.  Laura Mae was safe.  Laura Mae was loved.

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, … We love God because He first loved us.”    1 John 4:18,19

Laura Mae ChairLaura Mae and Mamaw

My Aunt Laura Mae

Laura Mae Bed

From my grandma, I learned the value of every life.  I learned that I can do whatever I need to do, with joy.  I understand that nothing is accomplished by wishing, but prayer and little elbow grease can bring about some amazing outcomes.  There are no fairies, but there are plenty of angels among us.  The stories in that old bible are not fairytales.  They are practical, factual, powerful words of life.  There was no magic up my grandma’s sleeve.  Although, Love IS a miracle.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, caregivers, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Pinning Down the Practice of Living Unrehearsed

“Hope for the best.  Expect the worst.  Life is a play.  We’re unrehearsed.” – Mel Brooks

While looking through old jewelry to find Morgan some hat pins, I came across this.  It’s my old Girl Scouts pin.

Girl Scout Pin

“Always Be Prepared”.  I took that motto seriously.  To this day, I am forever over planning, over thinking, and running over everything that threatens to get in the way of my plans.  But no matter how I attempt to cover all the bases, life with autism continues to throw me curves.  As much as I’d love to see Morgan’s ducks line up my way, she has a production of her own in mind.  In God’s sovereignty and sense of humor, I believe He has enlisted Morgan’s assistance to keep me on my heels, and my knees. 😉 I am slowly beginning to realize He does His best work when I’m off balance, and unable to be “too much” help.

So how do I do this?  How do I find His balance for me, that red line, of where my responsibility ends, and trusting begins?  Life is a LIVE performance.  We don’t get an encore, so I desperately want to get it right.  As the parent of a forever child, the struggle is REAL.  My older daughter, Allison, texted me this photo yesterday of some wall art she purchased for her living room.  God’s timing, a good reminder of where to begin again.
Be Still and Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to my nature, I am making a conscious effort to once again be still.  I will halt my mind’s endless rehearsal of all of life’s possible outcomes.   Instead, I will sit quietly, earnestly turning my focus back to The Director, on Whom my hope relies.

PS – I had to smile when I saw this other tiny treasure.  It’s a skating pin I received for winning a race at Hall’s Skating Rink, more than half a century ago.  Even then, slowing down was not my specialty.  😉 Always learning.

Skating Pin

Until Next Time,

Be Still and Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Uncategorized

I’m Gonna Tell It All

“Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises.” – Janette Oak

This month’s blog comes from a dear friend, Darlene Blade.  I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with her son, Logan, and seeing first hand some of the lives he’s touched.  I’ve asked her to share their family’s story:

I had heard of miracles, and even witnessed some, growing up in a Pentecostal Church.  Did not know then that I would be right in the middle of one in my married life.  Well God sent me a great man to share this life with, and at the age of 16 we started our life together.  God had a plan all the time for us.  We just celebrated 43 years of marriage.  When we were on our 16th year, we talked about having a child.  See, we were so young and had a lot of growing up to do ourselves.

Darlene and Terry 2018

After two devastating miscarriages, God gave us a beautiful 8 lbs. 2 oz. baby boy.  His name would be Logan.  We were elated to say the least.  Just what we had always wanted.  I asked God for only one healthy child and I would never ask him for another.  Oh what a joy he was!  Like any child, Logan began to babble and say Mama, Dada, yes, no,…  learned to play Itsy Bitsy Spider, and do all the things babies do before he was two years old.
When he turned two, it was like someone had flipped a switch.  He lost all of his words, and stopped making eye contact.  It was like he was a stranger, and not with us anymore. After many doctor visits and therapy sessions, Logan was diagnosed with autism.  What we thought was a curse back then has turned out to be one of God’s greatest blessings.
You see, Logan hums for self stimulation.  A very special teacher named Kim Sutton found the gift that God had blessed him with.  Logan is a music savant.  He was humming in perfect pitch.  He could pick out songs on the piano, read music, and even do music notation.  And the biggest miracle to us,… He Could Sing.  Yes, he had no verbal language, but God had put a song in his heart, and it had to come out.

Logan in the Studio
Logan has been blessed to sing with Josh Turner on the Grand ole Opry, and sing with The Nashville Symphony .
Logan has just finished his 4th CD, “I’m Gonna Tell it All”, title song written by Tammy Vice and Jerry Salley.
We travel, and share God’s blessings, all over the southern states.  So in closing, I would like to say, all things in your life that you may think are a curse, might just turn out to be a special blessing of your own.

Darlene Blade
Logan’s Mom
Autism is a way of life for us.

Visit Logan Blade’s Facebook page, and watch for his upcoming CD!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Magical and Practical Places

“Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

We are born into a family.  We play and learn and grow.  And as we do, so does our world, and our circle of friends.  We gather at schools and churches and ballparks and businesses.  When we become adults, we take on grownup roles.  We work, play, worship, grieve, and celebrate TOGETHER.  We are a community.

Children with intellectual and physical disabilities become adults, just like everyone else.  Once they grow up and leave school, they have the same need to continue to belong, and play active roles in communities.  Being intentional, working together, we can ALL break down the barriers that separate us.

Mary's Music

I’m so thankful we live in a community that gets it.  From employers who open their doors, hiring our young adults for their strengths, to organizations that offer special needs sports, recreation, creative arts, and adult ministries, You Get It!  We are truly blessed.  As Morgan would say, “I LOVE This Place!”

Recently our community has added a couple of places that are Extra Inviting and Super Exciting!  The first,  Mary’s Magical Place, is a park that is accessible to ALL abilities and ages.  Their mantra is “Make It Happen!” And Boy did they! 🙂

 

And PEER Place , a community based program, where our young adults can continue learning job, life, and social skills, empowering them to achieve their highest potential.  We think these places ROCK! 🙂

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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faith, family, Uncategorized

A Break in the Weather

“There is something to be said for sitting still and letting things come clear, the way morning fog burns off the lake.” – George Witte

OJ and sunshine

Sitting here, with a glass of orange juice, nursing a summer cold. There’s a beautiful blue sky today. Hoping a little sunshine, and sunny thoughts, will clear this head fog. 😉

Bristol viewIn early August, Allison treated her dad to a getaway to celebrate his 60th birthday. They took a trip to Bristol, or as Morgan puts it, “Around the circle, ready to race!” They had been planning this for a few months. Allison found a little place, with a peaceful view, not far from the race track.

A friend gifted Rudy with some great tickets on the start-finish line. The week before, weather forecasts were not looking so good.  I could tell dad was getting in the dumps, thinking the race might not happen. Morgan and mom were sending up lots of weather prayers.  Thankfully the clouds broke just in time for the race.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  That’s how God works.

Rudy and Allison have always had a special bond.  They’re both hard workers, loyal to a fault.  They give their best on the job, and that gives them precious little time for times like these.  It was a gift for me to see them enjoying this time together; a long drive with time to catch up, a low-tech getaway above the clouds, good food for their bellies and their souls, and of course Bristol Baby!

When any of us get too caught up, for too long, in the day to day duties, we can find ourselves in a fog.  So thankful for this break in the weather for Rudy and Allison.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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