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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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, caregivers, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Real-ity Estate

“You are the light of the world.  A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

This June will mark two years of Morgan and mom being full time buddies.  That’s when Morgan’s schedule became our schedule.  For the most part, we’ve adapted well.  There has been lots of unexpected joy.  I never know what that girl’s going to get me into.  😉 But truthfully, I’ve had my struggles.  There was that moment of realization in this new normal, when I finally conceded, that my personal wants and needs would have to be placed on the back of life’s shelf indefinitely.  It was, and still is, quite humbling.  I remind myself often that God doesn’t waste anything, or anyone.   He can use us in whatever situation we are in, if we make ourselves available.

I’m not just Morgan’s mom.  I’m Allison’s mom.  I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, a friend, a community member,…  More importantly, I’m God’s child.  I do have a little plot of influence.  I believe I am still able to do whatever He calls me to.  It’s not a lot of acreage, but it’s my little piece of the planet.  I want to stake out the property lines wisely.  I want to take the best care of what He’s deeded to me.

Rocky Rose

I have been so blessed, that frankly, when He’s done with me here, I’m more than ready to go home.  In the meantime, I’m thankful for every opportunity, every “hill”, He gives me and Morgan.  I want us to be an encouragement to others who might feel forgotten on the back of life’s shelf.  If that’s you, I want you to know God sees you there.  Every morning Morgan and I say a prayer together, to be a light that leads others to Him, and his perfect love.  Some days we shine a little brighter than others.  He’s still working on our wicks. 😉

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

PS Please check out The Identity Theft of Caregivers, a teaching moment from Peter Rosenberger.  Also visit Peter’s Radio Show, Hope For The Caregiver

 

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autism, dance, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

A Soul’s Tale of Soles

“Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes.  Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes.”  Joe South

I share our family’s walk through the world of autism, in an effort to create awareness, and understanding.  You might say my writing shoes were inherited from my dad, so I thought I’d share one of his writings with you in this post, along with some soul to sole picture moments.

Pictured below; Mine and my sister’s baby shoes

Little Crochet Booties by Winston Burkett (Papaw)

Little crochet booties, two feet in just one hand
I held you up and out to God, for I was one proud man
Then came little walking shoes, and alone you learned to stand
But I stood there ready, to offer you a hand
O dear child tread gently, as your walk through life you start
O dear child tread gently, you’re walking through my heart

Mistakes I’ve made a plenty, as I watched you grow
But have no doubt my love is strong, I wanted you to know
I always stood there ready when you took your first steps,
I stood there, as I do now, to offer you my help

Shoes of patent leather were awkward at their best
But they sure were pretty with your first Easter dress
Then there were the barefoot days with bruises and bandaids
When it came to childhood pranks, you sure made the grade
O dear child tread gently, as you walk through life, you stroll
O dear child tread gently, for you’re walking with my soul

Pictured below; Princess Morgan in her prom sneakers for Night To Shine.  It’s how “Cinderella” was able to stay and dance at the ball all night. 😉

Morgan Prom Shoes

Then there were the sneakers, and even baseball cleats
And tennis shoes with bobby socks, sure made you look neat
The ballet shoes that you did dance and wore the toe clear through
I stood and watched your graceful steps, o so proud of you
O dear child tread gently, as through life you stride
O dear child tread gently, for I’m watching you with pride

Pictured below; Allison and her soulmate

Allison Wedding Shoe

How about those high heels, you wore to your school prom
They sure made you look so nice, you borrowed them from mom
One day there came a wedding, your shoes I couldn’t see
The lovely dress and long white train had hidden them from me
O dear child tread gently, as you make life your own
O dear child tread gently, and you’ll never be alone

Now what is this with slippers, a child does grow within
Yes, it is my grandchild, whose love I’ll surely win
Little crochet booties, both feet in just one hand
I hold you up and out to God, for I am one proud man

Pictured below; Morgan and Allison’s baby shoes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

P.S. And just for a smile, here’s a picture of the shoes I wore recently, on a busy mom day. 😉

Mom Shoes

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Quilts and Comforters

“But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. 27 Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] John 16:26-27 AMP

snow quilt

I remember reading a story in one of Morgan’s devotionals about a little boy who was afraid of the dark.  As his dad turned out the light, he said “Don’t worry.  God is with you.”  The child replied “But I need something with skin on it!” 😉  When we are seeking comfort, we are tempted to look for “something with skin on it”.  And that’s how addiction can happen.  Whether it is alcohol, opioids, shopping, overeating,… You name the skin.  It’s a temporary comforter that will never offer the peace we are seeking.

The thing about addiction, is it takes away your choice.  There’s an old Japanese proverb, “First the man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man.”  Our family, like countless others, has a history of alcohol addiction.  I’ve seen it destroy the lives of family members and friends, first hand.

Some say it’s not the gun that kills, but the one who holds it.  NOT my argument.  But if that’s the case, it’s not the alcohol that destroys, but the one who drinks it.  Once we make the choice to pick it up, naturally, consequences follow.  Knowing my family’s history, I have to choose my weapons WISELY.  The people I love are counting on it, counting on me.  When seeking peace and comfort, I have to choose my weapon DAILY. “…the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.  Ephesians 6:17

This Truth is the only thing I’ve found that covers my every need.  That’s why I know I’m obligated to share MY truth with you.  If you’ve tried almost everything “with skin on it”, like I have, why not try God.

“God does not comfort us that we may be comforted, but that we may be comforters.” – Alexander Nowell

P.S.  Finding our passion, and pursuing it, is a good tool to keep us motivated, and on the right track.  I’ve always had a love for songwriting.  You might say it’s my therapy.  ;-)Here’s one I wrote a while back.  Hope you enjoy Sound of Sanity.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

 

 

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

ParENTchuting

Definition of parachuting – 1. dropping from an aircraft by parachute  2. being appointed in an emergency, or from outside the existing hierarchy

Recently, I had the opportunity to do a tandem jump to celebrate my 60th birthday.  To answer a few of the questions I’ve been asked;

“What’s it like?” – It’s a lot like being a parent.  “How does it feel?” – It’s incredibly exhilarating, and a little nauseating, when you’re in a spin.  “Would you do it again?”…

YES, ABSOLUTELY.  🙂

DCIM100GOPROG0048558. Link to Mom Skydiving

LABOR – Harnessing up.  Tightening the harness, while the airplane is in a steep ascent to 14,000 feet.  Experts are giving instructions.  I’m hearing – “Wonk, Wonk, Wonk”, while taking deep breaths.

BIRTH – Tumbling out of the plane, into a freefall, realizing I have no idea how to do this.  I can’t breathe.  SCREAM.  That’s better.  Finding my focal point – the photographer.  Yay! I’m not out here alone.  Others have done this.  It must be doable.

CRADLING – My favorite part.  When the chute opens, all of a sudden, complete quiet.  I’m looking down at this beautiful creation.  I’m still not sure how, or where, we’re going to land, but I remember I’m in tandem with The One who does know.  He has given me the measure of faith I need to do this.

PARENTING – The instructor let me steer, with him at first, and then on my own, with his direction.  A hard downward pull with one hand would put us in a dizzying spiral.  A more gentle pull would turn us slowly, allowing us to enjoy viewing more of the landscape.  After all these years of parenting, there are days when I’m floating, thinking I’ve got this.  Still, there are others, when I’m in that dizzying spiral.  On those days, I whisper a prayer that allows me to let go of the ropes, passing them back to the Master.  Together, we’ve got this.

When it comes to parenting, or any other adventure, I do believe we are each given what we need, to be as brave as we need to be.  So thankful God appointed Rudy and I to care for Allison and Morgan, two sweet little pieces of His creation.  So far, they’ve been quite a ride!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

 

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