Grace Michaelson

Eight Things I’ve Learned From My Dogs and Cats

Oct
07

I’ve been watching my animals a lot lately, mostly because we just got two kittens and it’s been a chore to train them to be inside cats.  The things is, though, there are some lessons to be learned from watching your pets, so I thought I’d give a try at listing some of my favorite lessons I’ve learned from my pets:

  1.  Doesn’t matter how big you get, you can still be a lapdog.  Yoshi, my fifty pound Terrier Mix will still come sit on our laps and enjoy the position of being a lapdog no matter the fact that he is fifty pounds.  The lesson learned here is to be unconscious of my weight or my appearance, just get close to my loved ones.  If they don’t want to snuggle, they’ll tell you.
  2. The elbow is the best place to land a kiss.  Yoshi again.  He enters the room and the first thing he does is plant a kiss on everybody’s elbow.  This is annoying sometimes, but it teaches a great lesson.  Always greet your family with a kiss.  You never know if or when you’ll see them again.
  3. Be persistent, even if it’s painful.  Little Felix is our rescued barn cat, and as such came to us a little malnourished.  Since coming to us he has grown quite a bit, but his favorite treat is cheese, because we have given him some to help fatten his little body up.  Every time the cheese comes out he circles our feet meowing until we give him some.  If we continue to ignore him, he will jump up on our leg and sink his claws into our sensitive inner thighs.  Believe me, this is no fun when you’re wearing yoga pants!  What does this teach me?  When I’m working on a project that requires the approval of someone who may not want to give it to me, be steadily persistent.  Although I may not be as painfully persistent as my little Felix, lol.
  4. No one can resist warm hugs.  My other rescued barn cat, Oscar, loves to wrap his body around your neck and purrrrrr.  Giving you this warm hug every time he wants attention gives you the feeling that you’re the only one he really loves.  What this teaches me is that you can never have enough hugs in your life.
  5. Tummy rubs are for Kings.  My Bishon Frisée is the lover of tummy rubs.  He will lay on his back getting his tummy rubbed with his tongue sticking out with pleasure on his face and it almost looks like he is smiling.  This teaches me it is the simple pleasures of life that create satisfaction in life.
  6. Love is Unconditional.  All of my animals love me without questioning.  I am convinced I can do anything to them and they would stay loyal to me.  Unfortunately many pet owners do do horrible things to their pets and yet their pets rarely do anything against them.  If only humans could love like their pets know how to love.
  7. You are important.  There have been times when my heart has been broken and I have been crying and my dogs have come up to me full of concern.  They want to know that I’m OK.  I’m important to them.  Only God can do a better job than pets to show that kind of importance.
  8. Personal Space isn’t Necessary.  If you watch a dog or cat you will notice they are not interested in keeping a bubble around themselves.  They only want to be close to their loved ones.  So they snuggle to their loved ones, they play within each other’s bubbles, they push into your bubble.  They press in.  They are brave.  They are genuine.  They are transparent.  Authentic.  So this is the most important lesson from our pets.  Be authentic.  Be genuine.  Press in to your Loved Ones.  Be brave and communicate.

Who Owns the Bad Stuff?

Sep
14

As I was writing in my journal last night, I began to realize that what I was writing was the beginning of a good blogpost.  It is, in fact, a truth that people struggle with all. the. time.  Who takes ownership when bad things happen to good people?  Some of us take ownership ourselves.  Some of us try to make God own it.  Some of us force the ownership on other people.  Sometimes the ownership does belong to ourselves or other people.  Like if a person steals from you, then ownership belongs to the person who took from you. If you’re late too work too many times and you get yourself fired, then the ownership belongs to you.  What I’m talking about here, though, is about bad things that happen because we live in a world that is broken because Adam & Eve chose to break it when they ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Bad things that no one can own–like a natural disaster, a death of a desperately wanted baby, or; like in my case, the injury of an innocent baby that left a child scarred for life.

Let me tell you Caleb’s story:

Caleb is now 16 years old.  He is well-adjusted, smart as a whip, and dreams big dream.  He doesn’t let anything stop him.  He believes he can do anything anyone else can do.  He has a Totally Involved Left Sided Obstetrical Brachial Plexus Injury.  What that means is that he has paralysis in his left arm and part of the left side of his face (Horner’s Syndrome), and it happened during his birth (Obstetrical verses Traumatic).

I remember his birth as clearly as it was yesterday:

There came a moment when the doctor said, “Uh-oh, we have a problem!”

Michael remembers looking down at Caleb and seeing that his head and neck were out, his cord was rapped around his neck, and that the cord was white because it was pinched off and not giving Caleb the life-giving fluid he needed to get through the rest of his birth.

The nurse called, “Code Pink!”, and the room filled with more people than I could even count.

Some were up on the gurney with me, some were holding my legs.  The doctor had three minutes to get my son out before he passed away.  Nurses were pushing on my belly.  I was screaming in pain, even though I had an epidural.  My husband was bending over me trying to calm me down.

I kept screaming, “God please help Caleb.  Don’t let my Caleb die!”

Then the two and a half minutes were done.  He was out.  No sound came from my baby.  His first Apgar scores were so low.  Then came a soft cry and I knew he was alive.  The neonatal doctor came over to my bed and leaned over with Caleb in his arms.

“I have to take him, but here he is.  There is something wrong with his face and arms.  Otherwise, we think he’ll make it,” He said, then he was gone.

I turned to Michael and said, “Go!  Go with him.”

I was left wondering what had happened, shivering from loss of blood, and my body broken.  Later I found out that I would need extensive surgery to repair my pelvic floor.  So who owns this tragedy?  I could blame the doctor, and yet my son is alive because of her quick thinking.  The truth is I spent a long while after Caleb’s birth blaming God.  How could He allow such a bad thing happen to an innocent baby?  I slowly came around to the truth that God was not to blame.  The truth is that He was instrumental in delivering my son from his death, or even brain damage due to oxygen starvation, or Cerebral Palsy, or many other possibilities that could have come out of a birth like that.  God, when allowing bad things to happen to His servants, always puts boundaries around those bad things.

Then I turned my attention to myself.  I blamed my body.  It became apparent that I had never dilated to a full 10.  Doctor’s could never explain why, saying only that I must have had a “man-like” pelvis.  So I told myself that I had injured Caleb.  I told myself I somehow controlled my womb and my pelvis and it was my fault.  Do you see how silly I was?  I had no control over this situation.  Only last month I finally found out the exact truth of why Caleb was injured.  Through the advancement of the last 16 years, we have a new CT method that shows a clearer picture.  They were able to see my pelvis and womb and found that I have both a tilt and a heart shape uterus, making it impossible for me to ever be able to dilate to 10.  The truth is, that if Joshua my oldest, had been only a few ounces bigger, he too would have been injured or possibly would have died at birth.  God, instead of doing something bad to our family, did many good things.  He has allowed our children to be alive and only allowed the worst to be a disabled arm that doesn’t even stop Caleb from doing anything he wants to do.

I would love to be able to assign blame for every bad thing that happens to me.  It feels like closure.  It feels then like it has purpose.  The truth is, though, as I have worked through the realization that there is no ownership to be given to anyone in the case of Caleb’s injury, I have also come to realize that there is no less purpose in bad situations that happen to people where ownership can’t be established.  Things that happen to us find their purpose when we allow God to do His thing in us.  That’s when the tragedies of our lives start to become purposeful and have true meaning–when God makes them into something for His glory and honor.

The Bible says that our world is broken and waiting for the renewal of creation.  Romans 8:18-22 says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”  Someday God will fix His creation and there will be no more of this brokenness and sorry.  We can look forward to that day.  Until that day, we can find solace in knowing that we can trust God to give purpose to the things that don’t seem to make sense or that no one can own.  Bad things just happen to good people sometimes.  That’s just the world we live in.  That’s why we look to the future.

Revelations 21:3-4, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

 

Open Hands & Open Heart

Apr
13

My husband is at this very moment going off to Lullaby Land under the Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital Anesthesiology Team’s capable hands.  While we were waiting in the tiny pre-op room they housed us in before Michael’s surgery, it became very apparent who was nervous about the surgery- and it wasn’t my husband.  He should have been the one who was scared, having never been under a knife, or under anesthesia, in his whole life, but it was me that was a nervous wreck!  I supposed I could pull the Anxiety Disorder Card as an excuse and chalk it up as that as to why I’m so nervous.

I think it’s the fact that he and I have swapped places for the first time in our 19 almost 20 years of marriage and it is uncomfortable to both of us.  He is so used to being the one out here in the waiting room waiting for the surgeon to come out and give him the report, and I’m so used to being the one going off to Lullaby Land.  After 8 surgeries with that being the case, Michael and I have just learned how to dance our parts, so to speak.  Now the rhythm of the dance has changed, and this girl feels like she’s got two left feet.

The Strong One is now one, the one that never shows any weakness, can’t even lean down and pick up a sock without major pain.  So it is time to go in and fix that shoulder.  After 12 years of refusing to pay the piper, he’s got to give in to weakness, and Kari has to play the Caregiver’s part and dig deep and be the strong one.  Can she do it?  Of course she can.  Is she a nervous wreck?  Of course she is.  The person that has been by her side unwaveringly for 19 years is laying on the surgery table right now for the first time.  So, yeah, I’m a little nervous.

Yet, I have a secret that helps me dig deep and draw on a Strength that enables me to be there for my wonderful strong husband during this time when he needs me most.  The strength of Our Father in Heaven.

Psalm 105:4-5a, “Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him.  Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given, you children of His servants.”

Psalm 31: 14, “But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God!’  My (my husband’s) future is in your hands!”

Psalm 118:21, “I thank You for answering my prayer and giving me victory!”

Philippians 4:4, “Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say again- Rejoice!  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”

Well, well, look at the time.  Just talked to the Doc and all is well.  Michael’s shoulder is all fixed and he’ll be in less pain now that he was before the procedure.  What was I worried about again? Haha.