autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

The Elephant in the Room

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

Years ago, I worked as an assistant to a bookkeeper.  She was top notch. Although the top of her desk was covered with endless stacks of tasks to be addressed, she could easily reach in and find whatever was requested.  Still, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t put things that weren’t urgent in a drawer.  She said, “Out of sight, out of mind.”  Keeping it all on her desk, kept her conscious of what was next.

It was mindboggling to me how Mrs. Juanita could work on the task at hand, while so much was staring back at her.  Just seeing her desk made me hyperventilate.  Yet, each day she approached it all, calmly and systematically.  She was always pleasant, and had a great sense of humor.  I had to know her secret.  When I asked how she did it, she smiled and said “How do you eat an elephant?”  She saw my puzzled look, and answered her own question, “One bite at a time.”  My youth and impatience just couldn’t swallow it at the time, but today I’m thankful for the living example of peace she offered me.

Dumbo Rider

As the parent of a young adult with disabilities, I’m aware of “The Elephant” of needs, now and in the future, that I cannot possibly address in their entirety today.  I can’t act as if they don’t exist.  But the reality is, there is a daily limit to my mental digestion.  Knowing my appetite is better on some days than others, and Morgan is invariably going to throw in a squirrel or two, I hang on tightly to my sense of humor.  I’m learning to address each day with joy and purpose, as it comes.  I start with a prayer, a fresh breath, and accomplish what I can, when I can.

Elephant Cup

With the right perspective, even an elephant can be digested in bite sized pieces.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

 

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan

Keeping Life Meaningful

Atrophy – A wasting away, a gradual decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.

Every now and then, I need to revisit WHY we do all we do.  It’s not about being busy.  It’s about staying engaged in community, giving and receiving joy.  It’s about living our lives with purpose.  Just as a muscle will atrophy from lack of exercise, a person’s spark for life will decline and waste away if meaning cannot be found.  There is a human need to be recognized and relevant.  The more I include Morgan, the more Light I see in her.

morgan-mom-program

Since Morgan exited school last May, my biggest concern has been how to keep life meaningful for her.  Knowing that college, marriage, and the other norms of life are not in her future (short of a miracle), I continually pray to be able to provide things that bring quality and enrichment.  Having a schedule is imperative to keep down her anxiety, but having “Too Much Schedule” can be equally stressful.  We’ve been on and off the treadmill of activities, and we’re learning, it’s all about striking a healthy balance.

Once upon a time, in the Hundred Acre Wood, when asked whether it was time to WORK or PLAY, Winnie the Pooh replied, “YES!”.  Following the wisdom of Winnie, we do a little of both, and Morgan has no problem letting me know when she’s “Busy Relaxing”. 😉

job-small    raptors-bowlingbusy-relaxing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Morgan works a couple of hours each week at a local sandwich shop, and has her list of chores at home.  She volunteers once a week, helping her Papaw with Meals on Wheels, and her Sunday school teacher put lesson plans together.  She enjoys piano lessons, special needs sports, social activities, and Sunday school.  Together, we enjoy music, art, and baking on occasion.  Recently, we’ve both become part of an Adult Friends Choir at church that performs for assisted living centers in our community. And we have one day a week that NOTHING is planned, except “Staying Right Here” at home.  Image result for winnie the pooh quotes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

 

 

 

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faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Letter to Morgan’s Maker

Dear Lord,

I say this with the deepest respect.  Well, you did it!  You put someone in my life who can absolutely bring out the worst in me and, when I choose it, the best in me.

Morgan is my joy, and she makes me nuts!  At HER worst, she reminds me of me without You, the me before I knew Your perfect love.  Her worries, anxieties, and “all about me” moments, brought on by her version of autism and OCD, break my heart for her.  In my brokenness, I now find myself more merciful to people, more forgiving of the things I don’t understand.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         quilt heart

Oh, and when Morgan is At Her Best;  When she knows she’s done a good job and says “I’m so proud of me!”, when her joy is bubbling over the top at the simplest things,…When she pauses to speak to You about a need, no matter where she is or what she’s doing.  THIS brings me back to that child like faith that KNOWS, no matter what life throws at me, You’ve got it.

morning-prayer

I’m just not sure I know how to say thank you for that,… for her.

Love,

Her Mom

P.S.  I appreciate Your sense of humor.  On that note, I have a few things I want to discuss with You, and her, when we finally all get to sit down together.

 

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan

Puzzle Peace

“Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
Don’t consider yourself to be wise; …” Proverbs 3:6,7

Although the puzzle piece is often used as a symbol for autism awareness, I wear it as a reminder to me that we are all different for a reason.  Just like the pieces of a puzzle, each one of us is uniquely created on purpose, for a purpose.  Regardless of a person’s disability, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  We all have needs.  We all have something to offer.  A community is best served when everyone is a part of the picture.

For me, the battle happens when I start looking too hard at what others are doing, and begin longing to fit into the same places they do.  Contentment only comes when we stop competing and comparing ourselves with others,  when we are operating in the gifts we were given, filling the space that only we were meant to fill.

For now, I believe my main purpose is helping Morgan find hers.  I am currently her part time job coach and full time personal assistant.  I admit I feel very unqualified at times.  The truth is, I don’t even feel qualified to figure out my own life without looking up constantly to the One who is. 😉

Morgan First Paycheck

Above is a picture of Morgan with Mr. Steve and Mrs Leslie, picking up her first paycheck!  We are very thankful to have this piece in place for her.

Each day, before my feet hit the floor, I ask  God for guidance to help me make decisions that will lead Morgan & Mom to the places He has appointed specifically for each of us.  There lies my trust and my peace.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

“Choose Life”

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

A few years ago, I was in the hospital with a cut back, thanks to a large kidney stone.  Allison brought me a small rose bush.  I planted it in our rock garden, and although it’s had its struggles, it has managed to come back each year.

That rose bush has been tended to and “cut back” several times, and I thought it had seen it’s last Spring.  I have an affection for it, I guess, because I’ve felt pruned down to the ground myself at times.  That said, I now know sometimes a good pruning is our only chance for survival.  I cut it down to near nothing, and the rest was up to that little bush and its tenacity.  So sweet to see it bloom once again.

Pruned Rose

Since Morgan, our sweet “Blue Rose”, transitioned from school services this May, we have been vigilantly searching for new opportunities  for her to bloom.  Although there are struggles for individuals with disabilities who want to work and be engaged in their community, we choose to keep tending that garden, because we choose a life of quality for our daughter.

We’re thankful for our fellow gardeners.  One of Morgan’s jobs will be helping her Papaw deliver Meals on Wheels once a week.  She calls it “trick or treating” in reverse. 😉

Papw and Morgan Meals on Wheels

Until next time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Come Passion!

I was searching for a word, or phrase, for what happens to us when we can’t face a trauma that has occurred.  Whether it’s an injury, or an event, like the tragic situations we’ve seen in the news recently, or a chronic life circumstance.   In my search, I found the words “numb” and “disconnected”.  They hit home.  Healthguide.org

It’s been a particularly tough week in the world, shouldered on a summer of some major personal changes.  Morgan and I are facing more than a few “last times” as she grows older.  We are prayerfully continuing our search for “what’s next” in this new season.

Yesterday, after the storms, Morgan said “I want to see more rainbows.”  I smiled and said, “Me too, Morgan.  Me too!”  She had put into words what I’d been feeling lately, or rather, NOT feeling.  When we are in the middle of that gray numbness, there may be a disconnection from pain, but there is also a disconnect from passion and joy.  A good reminder to mom that it’s time to plug in again, and do a little rainbow hunting.

Mailbox Flowers

I pointed to our mailbox, where we had planted a spring mix on another gray day.  A couple of weeks ago, they still looked like weeds.  Now they are showing off a few sweet hues of promise.   Sometimes it is so hard to find rainbows on dreary days.  But if we don’t give in to the gray, if we keep searching, rainbows are waiting in new places, to be seen and enjoyed.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

Foot note: Click on the link to Healthguide.org for some tips to chase away the gray.

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autism

“When You’ve Seen One,…”

Morgan is 21 years old.  She is a young adult on the autism spectrum.  It took years for us to build relationships with our pediatric providers.  Now, as we transition to this new world of adult care, we are finding that there is a severe lack of access to physicians/specialists who are trained to treat patients on the autism spectrum.  We think we have finally found a provider who is ready to build a relationship with us, helping us build new bridges to meet her adult needs.  I am sharing one very unexpected experience we had, as we began our search last year, in hopes of seeing positive change and additional training for more adult providers.

After preparing, and filling out intake forms months ahead at a specialist’s office to have Morgan’s records forwarded, I returned with her for her first appointment.  We walked into his office.  I tried to introduce Morgan.  The doctor spoke all around her, never addressed her.  He had not seen her past records.  He said they didn’t really matter. (Later, I found out the request I filled out for records had never been sent out from his office).  When I attempted to give him a brief history of her diagnoses, and tell him a little about her, he said, and I quote, “It’s just autism.  They all rock like that.”  I was floored!  He glanced over at Morgan, not seeing her at all.  With no knowledge of her, and a very apparent lack of knowledge of autism, he had made a singular summation of her.

In the book, Fully Alive, Timothy Shriver referred to this as “singularity”.  I’m paraphrasing here; When the identity of a person, or group of people, is narrowed down to one label, it diminishes them to an object.  It separates us.  We no longer see the things we have in common and we loose our empathy.  Simon Baron-Cohen defines empathy as “Our ability to identify what someone else is thinking and feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.”  Now I understand that this doctor saw Morgan as an object, not a person.

Morgan n Dad lazyboy Howdown Mamaw. Papaw, and Morgan Allison and Morgan momentMom Morgan Frank Brown Owl Painting feb 2013

Yes, Morgan has autism.  Someone once said, “When you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen ONE person with autism.”  And THAT is just ONE part of her identity.  She is a young woman.  She’s a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, an opinionated, remarkable, creative person.  A person, who needs to have access to competent medical care.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy and Morgan Vice

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