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, 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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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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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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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.  🙂

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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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autism, family, holidays, joy, leap of faith, Love, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Family Gatherings

“I am brave. I am bruised.  I am who I’m meant to be.  This is me.” – Lettie Lutz in The Greatest Showman

Reconnecting with family can be very joyful; going over old memories, catching up on hugs, sharing what’s new,…  but for Morgan, it can also bring a lot of anxiety.  A couple of the hallmarks of autism are the difficulties with social interaction and communication.  This is partly due to the inability to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings.

Not saying family is scary, but whenever any large group of relatives come together, there are numerous opportunities for things to go awry for the best of us.  For Morgan, “too many friends” for “too long”, with no understanding of when the shindig is going to wrap up,  can make her “all done” much earlier than the rest of us.  For this reason, in the early years, I became more and more weary of family gatherings.  Little by little, I backed off, encouraging everyone else to carry on without Morgan and Mom.

Now Morgan is 25.  Her cousins are grown and married, with kids of their own.  We’ve missed a lot of years.  Since her dad and his sisters all have summer birthdays, we decided to gather to celebrate.  This time, to relieve my anxiety, we called ahead with a game plan.  We had the conversation with family, letting them know that Morgan may have to come for a short time, and then take a break.  And It wouldn’t be because anyone did anything wrong.  It would just be the best way for everyone to have a good time.

   Peggy Jackie and Rudy.JPG Rudy and his sisters

Morgan meeting her new cousin, who lives in Canada now

We booked a hotel nearby, where Morgan and I could retreat when needed.  We really enjoyed seeing family again.  When she was “all done”, we left dad to relax and continue catching up with everyone.  We went for a swim, took walks, rides, and naps, and came back ready to visit some more.  She told me twice that weekend, “I doing a good job.  I’m trying to be brave.” 🙂 She did do well.  I’m thankful for how far she’s come.  I’m thankful for learning to drop the veil, and be brave enough to have the conversation, so we can just be ourselves.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable visit.

 

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice and Family

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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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