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Simple Truths

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Our friends at Autism Tennessee asked parents how we are explaining all of the chaos in the news to our children. I told them I break it down as simply as I can for our daughter’s developmental level.

Morgan has a lot of anxiety, so I always try to present things in a positive solution mode. We approach everything from a faith perspective, because it is the center of our peace. With Covid, she knows we are waiting for friends to get well so we can get together again. We pray for them. We wear our masks because we care about our friends. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

As for the unspeakable events that unfolded on January 6th, I prayed to God to give me the appropriate words to say before I spoke to Morgan about it, because it left me feeling incredibly sad and empty.

The Bible tells us to love our neighbor, even if we don’t agree with them. Doing things out of anger and fear doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s not ok to harm others. If we really trust that God is in charge, then as far as possible, we need to try and get along with everyone. God will separate the good guys from the bad ones.

Morgan’s Messy Flag Painting (c) 2019

When Morgan created this piece of art above. I remember talking her through it. She’s always worried about making a mess, getting her fingers sticky, when she’s painting. I told her sometimes we have to make a mess to create something beautiful.

Democracy can be messy. Praying for our country, that we learn from our mistakes. Now that we know better, we can do better. May we become America The Beautiful again, One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice For ALL.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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January Time Songwriting Fun

Morgan and I were noodling around, writing a song yesterday about some of the things she wants. Songwriting is a great tool for engaging Morgan in conversation, and having a little fun. There is a link below to let you hear the process.

January Time Song

We’ve had to get really creative while we wait to get back into our monthly routines, we’ve lost in 2020. We’ll get there, one day, one song, at a time. 🙂♥️🎼

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Morgan & Mom

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autism, faith, Health, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Fresh Start

“Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:25‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I am a big fan of do-overs when they’re needed. They allow us to fix what we can, and move forward. 2020 has been filled with cancellations, disappointments, frustrations, insane political incorrectness, and overwhelming loss. As Morgan would say, “We’re not doing that again.” Although I don’t know anyone who wants a do-over on this year, we have to admit, it has taught us some things about ourselves.

In this blog, I usually share a lot about the joy and blessings of autism. In the interest of fair reporting, I’m realizing it’s equally important to share our struggles. We are learning we can live without some things we thought we couldn’t. We’ve had some personal bests, and unfortunately some personal worsts this year. We have definitely felt our humanity.

2020 has tested us all. The disappointments just kept stacking up. Morgan had a major meltdown recently, because she was having to wait on something once again. We had to bring out a forgotten tool, one we haven’t used in quite a while, reminding me it’s one of the best tools in our behavior box.

Social Stories, written in first person, have always been helpful for Morgan. I had to remind myself, when she’s really upset, she can’t hear anything we’re saying. She needs to SEE the story. One of the things Morgan says, when she’s been upset, is “I was just trying to fix it”. After reading this, she was able to calm down and take a breath, so we could “fix it” together.

Although I wrote this for Morgan, it’s as if God was writing it to me. I’ve been exhausted from waiting on some sanity to kick in from those who are supposed to be leading us. I’ve been sad and angry over those who seem to have no concern for the vulnerable. I may not have said unkind things out loud, but I’ve certainly screamed them inside my heart. As I look up toward heaven and take a breath, I remember God is in control. I remember to be more patient and kind with myself and everyone else. I can forgive others, as He has forgiven me. I can let go of the things I can’t fix, knowing that God can. I can move forward, knowing we should know better now, knowing we should be able to do better together now. Here’s to hearts healing in 2021.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

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Everything I’m Not

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient in you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” Paul. II Corinthians 12:9

Recently, my daughter Allison and I attended a baby shower. It was a Harry Potter theme. I don’t know much about Harry Potter, but I was so impressed, from the food to the decorations, how they weaved everything into their theme. What a creative gift they had. ❤️ As I sat my present on the table, I realized how my simple wrapping paled in comparison to the other gifts. When I mentioned it to Allison, she giggled and agreed with me, noting these kinds of things weren’t my best skill. 😂

Here’s the thing. There’s a whole lot of things I’m not good at. I can cook enough to keep my family fed, but no one chases me down for recipe ideas. I dress appropriately for the weather, but have no idea whether or not I’m in style. I can stand on a stage, sing, and speak to countless people about subjects I’m familiar with, but making one on one small talk can be a bit uncomfortable for me. Truth – I am a little quirky and socially awkward.

Teaching a session on autism awareness for Chattanooga’s 2020 Autism Conference

I could go on and on about the things I’m not able to do well. But I know God made me like He made me for reason. I believe God equips each of us specifically for what He’s called us to. Knowing this keeps me looking up, because I want to accomplish everything He’s called me to and nothing He hasn’t. Knowing this helps me celebrate what others are able to accomplish, without feeling less. No one is meant to do everything well. We need each other. We need each other’s gifts.

I’m not saying I don’t get disappointed at times, especially when I feel like I’ve been on the shelf for quite a while or I’ve missed the mark. But I do believe in a God’s timing and His perfect love. He has delighted me on numerous occasions with the accomplishments He’s allowed me to be a part of.

I will to continue to boast about everything I’m not, because I am amazed and grateful for all our God is.

Until next time,

Know the Hope! Really!! 🙂

Tammy Vice

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Joy Is A Choice

“… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The other day, I asked Morgan what she wanted for lunch. Her answer was “How about food?”. 😉 This was not sarcasm. This is her autism. Where many of us are grateful to be given choices, it causes her a great deal of anxiety. Why? The answers to some questions are infinite. I believe she’s actually afraid of giving the wrong answer. Morgan still doesn’t understand that her choice is just that, Her Choice. If I can ever get her to understand that, I believe it will free her from a lot of the anxiety choices cause her.

As I’ve worked with Morgan for several years on this life skill, I’ve come to realize just how important choices are for all of us. They give us independence and freedom. At the same time, they come with responsibility and consequences. Good ones build us up and bad ones tear us down. Hopefully, as we mature, we learn to make choices that are not only good for us, but respectful of others. When others respect us, they allow us to make choices too.

Everyone deserves the right to make choices to the extent they are able. Often times, the choices of individuals with disabilities are overlooked. Whenever we assume we know what’s best for anyone without offering them a voice, we may not realize it, but we’re being dismissive of that person. On several occasions, when I thought I knew exactly what Morgan wanted, but gave her the option, I found out I was wrong. 😉

God loves us so much that Even He Allows us to CHOOSE Him. If that decision was forced, it would mean nothing. As much as I want others to believe as I do, I have to remember that every person has the right to make their own decisions. My Individual Joy and Confidence in what I believe comes from knowing I’ve been given a choice, and I choose Him.

I will continue to offer Morgan every choice I can, working with her through the anxiety and OCD, because more than anything, I want her to find her own voice, her own joy.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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Creating a Little Peace

‬‬”Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups.”

Morgan and I looked up the word PEACE for an art project she was asked to do for Borderless Arts TN. The word she picked up on in our reading was “Friendship”.

There are so many things I want to teach Morgan, so many things I want her to understand about the world around her. At the same time, I’m thankful for her people perspective. Regardless of race, religion or politics, she refers to all people as “friends”.

Until Next Time,

Peace,

Mom & Morgan

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Mockingbird Mamas

“A good intention, with a bad approach, often leads to a poor result.” – Thomas Edision

My mom has a very vivid memory from when she was five or six years old. She and a mama mockingbird had a serious misunderstanding. She saw a nest up in a tree and she felt she needed to get a closer look. She meant no harm to the baby birds, but their mama wasn’t taking any chances. That mama bird squawked and swooped down on her, showing no mercy. The next thing my mom knew, she was laying on the ground, flat on her back, with the wind knocked out of her. Lesson learned. Don’t get between a mockingbird and her babies. 😉

Mockingbird Attack floridamuseum.ufl/edu

Sometimes I can be like that Mockingbird Mama.

My daughter, Morgan, is on the autism spectrum. She doesn’t always pick up on social cues. If someone doesn’t give her an extra nudge to help her join the group, she gets left behind and left alone. She can also be a little grumpy when “too many friends” make her anxious, causing others to back away. My heart has been shredded from seeing Morgan left out on numerous occasions over the years. For that reason, it’s hard for me to leave her on her own at gatherings. And, due to all my heart scars, I can misread others’ intentions sometimes.

This was the scene. We were at a gathering with a few moms and daughters. There were two tables. Most of the girls were at a larger table. I seated Morgan with two friends at a smaller table. The moms decided to go outside to eat and visit. I turned around to see the two girls jump up to go to the big table, without a word, leaving Morgan behind. One of the girls looked back at me. I stood there for a moment, not knowing what to do, because I didn’t know if they had left Morgan without thinking, or on purpose. I took a deep breath and decided to leave her there to figure it out. I admit I said something to the moms outside, hoping someone would look in on things. It turned out, when they checked, Morgan was at the table with all the girls. I realized they were probably waiting to see if I was leaving before they asked her to join them.

As much as I want to help Morgan navigate every situation from the safety of “my nest”, I know she needs her father, her sister, her grandparents, friends and community in order to fly. I can only be her mother. Once again, I’m having to remind myself to give her and others a little more space, a lot more grace. Hugs of understanding to all the other Mockingbird Mamas out there.

As for my mom, she’s still bird watching, with a better understanding of the importance of social distancing. 😉

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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caregivers, faith, Health, healthcare, Love

Heroes Are Human Too

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down their life for his friends.” John 15:13 HCSB

It’s one thing to give of ourselves to family or friends, but to put our life on the line for someone we don’t even know,… THAT’S A HERO. We’ve all witnessed the scenes, heard the stories, of healthcare workers who’ve gone above and beyond to care for Our families, Our friends.

One picture that brought reality home for me was the 164 pairs of nurses shoes placed on The White House Lawn, representing those who have given their lives caring for our loved ones.

Bringing empty shoes to honor the dead, nurses descend on Capitol
National Nurses United installed a memorial to honor the more than 160 nurses who have died from COVID-19. Nurses are demanding the Senate act now to pass the HEROES Act and ensure optimal PPE for frontline health care workers. | Rick Reinhard / NNU

Recently, I was asked by my friend Melanie Walker to help her write a song for an annual program for healthcare workers called Blessing of the Hands. We thought about the length of time they’ve been tirelessly giving of themselves. When it all started there was lots of gratitude shown. Now it has somehow become what we expect of heroes. Melanie wanted this to be a song of prayer, as it should be. To the only One who truly knows their hearts, their needs, their humanity. To the only One who can heal them everywhere they hurt, this is our plea.

Here is the link to the video, Heroes Are Human Too. Below are the lyrics, If you know a hero who needs this, Please share.

Heroes are Human Too by Melanie Walker and Tammy Vice © May ‘20

They take the lead when others fear

Brave our battles, wipe our tears

You see each struggle they go through

You know heroes are human too

Bless the labor of their hands

She’s just a woman.  He’s just a man

Bless the labor of their hands

She’s just a woman, Lord.  He’s just a man

Your arms are always open wide

Shelter them and be their guide

When they feel they are not enough

Remind them just how much they’re loved

Bless the labor of their hands

She’s just a woman.  He’s just a man

Bless the labor of their hands

She’s just a woman, Lord.  He’s just a man

Give them wisdom.  Give them strength

We pray that they may know Your peace

Bless the labor of their hands

She’s just a woman.  He’s just a man

Bless the labor of their hands

She’s just a woman, Lord.  He’s just a man

You see each struggle they go through. 

You know heroes are human too

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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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

IMG-2154

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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