The Dog that Saves the Day

Rover The Dog that Saves the Day …

I’m a cat person. Dogs are okay, but I’ve always been a bit afraid of them. That is, all but one dog. He was special. We adopted him when I was eight years old. He was a stray who followed my three older sisters home from the city swimming pool in our small town of Bartlett, Texas.

My mom fed him the scraps from our table, and the poor thing was so hungry he would lick up tomatoes off the front porch.

I liked him from the beginning. He was ugly but docile and had a sweet personality. His brown fur had black strands mixed through his coat that looked like coarse horse’s hair.

Daddy called him “Rover.” Not a very original name, but we loved him. Humble, lazy Rover didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

One day, after we’d move to Clifton, Texas, my brother, a neighbor friend, and I were riding our scooters outside when two boys we had never met before approached us with three German shepherds walking beside them. The dogs looked lean and fit.

For some reason, the boys took an instant dislike to my brother, John, and one told him he was going to sic their dogs on him.

We froze, not sure what to do.

John stared at the boys but remain silent, looking small in comparison to the bullies the tension mounted.

One of the boys mumbled under his breath, “Attack.” One of the German shepherds started a slow, menacing walk toward John. The front dog bared his teeth, and a low growl came deep from his throat.

Clearly, the dogs intended to attack. What should we do?

It was then that I heard a dog’s low growl from behind me. Rover raced out from between John and me at top speed.

He charged the three dogs like he would fight to the death. His hair stuck up on his back, his teeth showed full force, and he growled like a ferocious mother bear protecting her cubs.

Rover was far from docile—he transformed from a mild-mannered mongrel into Super Dog. Amazing and fantastic.

The three other dogs knew Rover meant business, because they turned and ran the other way. Not far behind, the two bullies followed. Rover pursued them with all his might—I’d never seen him run that fast.

He chased them about half a block, than turned around and loped back to us. His fat belly swayed as he trotted. I never knew a dog could smile, but Rover was smiling broadly—he was so proud of himself, and we were thrilled.

I knelt down and let him run into my arms. I gave him a hug and kept telling him what a wonderful thing he’d done, and he seemed to understand.

Rover remained part of our family for many years and never lost his charm or intelligent insight into being a great friend to our whole family.

~ Karen Gaus ~

Here I am with Rover (right) and our neighbor's dog.

Here I am with Rover (right) and our neighbor’s dog when I was about ten years old. (o:

An Embarassing Moment

An Embarrassing Moment … One of the most embarrassing moments in my life happened in fourth grade. The experience even defied the law of physics…At recess one day I was sitting on a railing ledge in the front entryway to the elementary school I attended. The area had a porch-like area, concrete railing, lined with benches next to it. I was talking to a couple of friends who were also perched on the ledge, and we decided to go ask another friend a question. Everyone took the leap to the bench below, but something strange happened when I tried the same move. Instead of landing deftly on the bench feet first, my foot took an unexplained slip, and in a split second, I found myself upside down, face down, clinging to the ledge. Fortunately, my reflexes worked just fine, and I caught myself from hitting the concrete head first. My body turned into a seesaw—my nose hit the edge of the seat below. I tried to right myself, but my body seesawed again, causing my nose to bang up against the bench once more. The next attempt to right myself worked. I finally stood gawking at my friends wondering why they hadn’t helped me out of my predicament.

“That was weird,” one friend said.

“Yeah. It was,” I agreed. It was bizarre. And don’t you think…it defies the law of physics?

The photo in this blog is the school I attended. Behind the scrubs where the railings, and on the other side of that were the benches.

I dare you to tell about an embarrassing moment you have had.

Karen

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

 

Six Parenting Tips Every Parent Should Know

Six Parenting Tips Every Parent Should Know … Good parenting has become a lost art. Like many parents I learned the hard way what worked or didn’t work with my children. I hate to think I used my children as a trial run at parenting, but they somehow lived through it. (o: Here is some advice I hope keeps you from making unnecessary mistakes:

  1. Never make a threat you’re not willing to enforce. A threat starts something like, “We’re turning off this TV program if you don’t straighten up”, or “We’re leaving this toy store right now, if you don’t stop hitting your brother.” Sometimes I really wanted those McDonald’s fries or whatever the activity we were doing.  If that was the case, I never used the threat strategy because I wanted it too.
  2. When telling a child “no”, give him some alternative activity to do. For instance, I remember my son and his friend were climbing under tables at the mall and, in general, being out of control. The typical reaction on my part was to yell, “Stop. Don’t do that.” That’s a correct but incomplete response. I needed to tell them what I expected as well. For instance, “Stop climbing under that table, and stand right here in this square,” while pointing to a tile on the floor. It worked!
  3. Don’t overcorrect.  Fit the punishment with the infraction. Kids can be too loud and/or too hyperactive sometimes. That just being a kid. Sometimes just calmly saying, “Kids, you aren’t doing anything wrong, but this is hard on my adult nervous system. Please quiet down.” You’d be amazed. I did this with my children, and they laughed and did what I asked.
  4. Unnecessary discipline is out. This is a trap that easy to fall into. It goes something like this…several adults are standing together talking. Next to them are their children who are also talking.  A movement from the kiddos gets an adult’s attention. A common reaction from one of adults is to start shouting, “Stop, children! Quit. Behave right now!” Wait. They hadn’t talked any louder than the grownups. The question is, are they in danger, or they irritating anyone? It may fall into “don’t overcorrect” category. A calm “be-quieter-and-stand-over-there-so-that-you-aren’t-blocking-anyone” will do.
  5. Don’t give a child something when they are crying. I’m not talking about a hungry baby or helping a child with basic needs. That is okay. Try to discern if this is selfish crying or not. Give a child something just because they cried can get out of control.
  6. Let your no be no. If I told my kids something, I tried hard to stick with my answer. For example, at the grocery store my child asks for candy and I say, “No, you can’t have candy.” The child continues the request until it turns into a full-blown tantrum. If I give in, then it just reinforces to the child. She thinks, “Wow, if I just throw a tantrum, mom gives me what I want.” Giving in a child’s demands only reinforces bad behavior and teaching a child that if I bug Mom long enough, I will get what I want.

I hope this helps. (o:

Leave a comment on a good parenting tip you have.

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Karen Gaus

Myths, Space Aliens, and the Battle of the Sexes

Myths, Space Aliens, and the Battle of the Sexes … Since Adam and Eve, the differences between men and women are what make our existence fascinating. Otherwise, life would be boring. Here are some myths I’ve come up with regarding male/female stereotypes.

Myth one: Women make the worst drivers. Whoever said this, didn’t know my brother-in-law, Walter. I remember one time after he gave me a ride somewhere…we had so many close calls when I got out of the car, I considered kissing the ground. I had survived!

Myth two: When instructed, men know how to buy the right gift for their wife. What is the thing with men who don’t appreciate beautiful things? I have several funny stories I could tell on my husband, but I’ll just tell one. At Christmas one year, I asked for stationery. I thought that would be easy and fun to have some with flowers on it or some interesting design. The request came with some suggestions on how to select something remarkable or at least nice. At gift-exchange time, I did received stationery from him, but guess what? It was plain, white stationery! That’s right…totally blank. Even my mother-in-law was baffled. (o: That’s okay though, my husband is a sweetheart. He tried. Ha!

I have to give some men credit though. At Christmas at Bath and Body Works, the men look about as comfort as a space alien who just beamed into area 51, but they are there working at buying something their wives or girlfriends would appreciate.

Myth three: Men make the scariest bosses. The person who said that didn’t know the female boss I had when I was twenty. When she found an error, she would start shouting then stomp through the office waving the paperwork in her hand, drawing attention from everyone including the customers. There must be a better way to point out a mistake. (o:

Did you know that according to Dennis Rainey, author and speaker, men usually speak about 20,000 words a day and women speak 30,000 to 50,000 words a day with gusts up to 125,000 words? Is that why men don’t want to talk at the end of their day? Have they run out of words?

Inspirational Story: Fire!

Flames

Flames (Photo credit: Velo Steve)

Fire! … Every night my prayer was the same. God, place a hedge of protection around my family. In the past my family had experienced some setbacks, so I prayed daily. One night in middle of the summer, I prayed as usual then fell asleep, not realizing my family was in danger.

Two hours later something woke me. Darkness surrounded me except for the moonlight that peeked through the top of the curtains.

My husband, Evan, stirred in the bed next to me.

“What is that smell?” I said, exhaling a breath.

Evan touched my arm. “Let’s check the house.”

We walked through the house turning on lights and checked computer equipment, careful not to wake our then 20-year-old daughter who was home from college and our 16-year-old son. I stood at my daughter’s doorway. Only the scent of her perfume wafted to my nose. I stepped over to my son’s door and inhaled. No burning smell came from there either, and nothing in the whole house explained the odor.

Going back into the master bedroom, we climbed back under the covers, ready to go back to sleep.

Evan slipped his feet out of the bed. “Maybe we should check outside.”

“Okay. I’m wide awake now anyway.” We searched the house again. My husband stopped at the front door, while I walked into the kitchen and opened the door from the kitchen to the garage.

A haze of smoke hovered in the air. Shock jolted through me. “Evan, come look.” My voice vibrated with panic. I stared, knowing we must find the source.

Evan opened the garage door and pulled the van out. The smoke dispersed, and we found no trace of a fire in the garage. We had to find the cause.

I moved from my frozen position in the doorway and walked outside, looking along the wall. To my astonishment, a flame leaped out from behind the electrical meter. The wall glowed orange with fire an arm’s length in all directions.

“Evan, get the fire extinguisher!” I stared at the fire and willed the blaze to remain dormant. If the flame continued to gain momentum and reach the roof, it would take over our house. Helplessness weighed at me.

Evan came running out of the house with the fire extinguisher in his hand. Rushing to my side, he pointed the extinguisher at the flame, but no spray came out. He knocked at the nozzle. “It’s not working. Call 9-1-1! It’s an electrical fire. We can’t use water on it.”

I ran into the kitchen to find the house pitch black. I wasn’t sure if the power was off because of damage from the fire or what. I picked up the telephone. No dial tone. My mind whirled. I couldn’t think straight. Not wanting to take time to figure out which telephones worked and which ones didn’t, I retrieved my cell phone from my purse in the dining room and dialed 9-1-1.

The 9-1-1 operator answered.

“Our house… our house is on fire.” I struggled to form coherent words. Finally, I gave her our address. My hands shook. I hurried to my son and daughter’s doorways and took a deep breath. I forced my voice to sound calm and unhurried, not wanting to alarm them. “Jessica. Wesley. I need you to come outside. We’ve discovered a fire in the back wall of the house. I need you to wait outside until its safe.” I pushed down the sense of panic and danger that ran wild through my senses and threatened to take over my emotions. I found no need to traumatize them.

Seconds ticked off as my husband and I paced the front yard while Jessica and Wesley sat wrapped in their blankets on the grass. I pictured the flame running along the wall of our house and ran back to look at the fire’s progress. I sucked in a breath of relief that it had not changed. The stench of the fire filled my senses, reminding me that the danger wasn’t over. A feeling of urgency had me clenching my hands into a fist at my side. Soon we heard sirens draw close. The first person to arrive in response to the 9-1-1 call was a female police officer.

“We have a fire on the back wall of our house, and our fire extinguisher is broken.”  My voice quivered in distress.

“I have one.” She ran to her police cruiser and pulled out an extinguisher.

“Follow me.” Evan sprinted to the back of the house. The officer and I followed close behind. The fire radiated bright orange but cutting the electricity had slowed the progress and provided us time. The officer lifted the extinguisher and sprayed. Smoke billowed from the wall. Relief whooshed through me. Moments later, firemen leaped from their truck and accessed if any fire remained. Soon the sound of axes hacking the wall reached me. I walked away unable to bear the thought of someone hacking away at the wall of my home. They put out more embers hidden from our view. “How can I be sure all the fire is out?” I asked one of the firemen.

“Don’t worry, ma’am. We got it all,” the lead fireman said. Then he listened to our story and said he needed to find the cause of the fire before leaving.

Within a few minutes, an electrician arrived and inspected the results of the fire. “Good save! The fire started due to loose wiring. This sometimes happens in old houses.”

The next day, a carpenter friend of ours from church was amazed when he saw the charred wall of our home. “You could all have been killed.” He stood, gaping at the wall.

Regardless of the close call of that night, in two days we had a new wall rebuilt and electricity back. The incident was so minor our local newspaper didn’t mention it. But for me it was huge. In my heart I had seen how close our safety and security had been threatened. A small flame could have become a large one. We were literally seconds from a serious catastrophe. I saw how fragile life is as well. We could have easily lost everything, including our lives. For days I felt God’s presence with a love that was personal—like that of a parent or spouse who loves in a special way, yet closer and deeper. Joy and comfort filled me at the thought of His nearness. God had heard my prayer.

For me, what is most special in the whole experience is the realization that if the fire had gone out of control and caused our family great loss, God would still be with me, comforting me with His love. He is greater than all that happens to me. If I have troubles and heartache, I will look for Him because I will find Him right there beside me.

Serious Reflection: The Last Day of High School

Serious Reflection: The Last Day of High School … On the last day of high school for my son, I woke up from a dream that remained vividly etched in my mind. The dream transported me back to a time when he was still light enough to carry. Exhaustion had taken over my little one, so I held him in my arms. As my son rested his head on my shoulder, his adorable hand reached out toward my face, so I held his hand in mine. At that moment I woke. That image of his small hand lingered in my heart and mind. The sweet reflection followed me as I went about my day, bringing tears to my eyes.

This segment of our lives has ended. My son will soon leave for college and go to make his own way in life. With that thought, a prayer forms on my lips. God, bless and keep my son. May each step he takes be ordered by You. Make a place for him in this world that he might thrive and grow in you. Give him laughter and joy. May he be ever before You and in Your care, God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Leave a comment—I’d love to hear from you.

Inspirational Thought: Always Pray

Inspirational Thought—Always Pray When I was eleven years old, I remember my parents praying for my oldest sister, Barbara, who at the time was twenty-six years old. She had strayed from her Christian upbringing. In fact, she was so far from a Christian lifestyle that when a preacher friend came to visit her, she prayed, “Lord, please don’t let him find out about my sinful way of life.” Wow, interesting prayer!

My parents began to pray two hours a day for her, one hour each. Soon, her boyfriend who would later become her husband was included in their prayers.

Nine years later, God answered their prayers. What my brother-in-law called the “longest altar call in history” occurred. He drove 150 miles to pray with my parents and asked Jesus into his heart. Shortly after that, Barbara returned to her faith in God.

When I’m discouraged about unanswered prayer, I remember my parents’ faithful persistence, and it helps me. I remind myself to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

Light-hearted anecdote: Church Potato

Light-hearted anecdote: Church Potato…

Most kids don’t seem to understand schedules and time tables. For instance, why is it when they need cookies for a school activity, they invariably wait until bedtime the night before to tell mom.

I remember one particularly exhausting weekend when my son was small—he came to me and said, “I need a potato for Sunday school tomorrow.”  Or at least, I thought that’s what he said. I decided that the potato must be for a craft activity during Sunday school—you know one of those deals where you cut the potato into shapes, dip them in ink, and use them for stamps. My imagination filled in the blanks logically, right? Okay, maybe my conclusion was a stretch.

So I went to the pantry and selected a small, shriveled up potato I thought would make a great stamp. Later at church, I assumed everything went well with the craft activity. No one said anything to the contrary. After the service I heard there was a special dinner. And guess what? It was a baked potato meal given by the parents of the children.

Oh, dear. You guessed it. The potato should have been plural potatoes, and we were to bring them to contribute to a children’s department fund-raising dinner! I was so embarrassed I didn’t have the nerve to confess to anyone for several years. No telling what the other parents thought, and it was a long time before anyone asked me to contribute toward a meal. Ha! Later I told a friend about the incident, and she wondered if they thought they should take an offering the Gaus family because they couldn’t afford to purchase potatoes.

Pretty sad, huh? But I say, it’s just plain embarrassing! (o:

Karen Gaus, Author & Speaker

Karen Gaus

It’s a Tornado!

It’s a Tornado!

I wish something exciting would happen.” It was a childhood mantra for my sister and me when we were bored. Don’t get the wrong idea. We never wanted anyone to get hurt. Our hope for a sensational adventure didn’t include trauma for anyone.

One day during a drive to my mother’s house, I received my wish. The clouds had turned an angry blackish-green color. The rain came down hard. Each second that ticked by, the driving conditions became more and more hazardous.

Then I saw it. To my left, it started high in the clouds and extended down to the ground, a whirl of black destruction. The tornado spun like an expanding drill bit. It whirled and then transformed into a tool of destruction preparing to extinguish everything in its path. My guess was the twister was about a mile from us, but I had no idea which direction it would turn next.

I looked over at my mother. “Should I pull over? We could lie flat in the ditch.”

“No, I’m going to pray,” my mother said. She proceeded to say a short simple prayer, and as she prayed, the mean-looking coil changed to a black, misty substance and pulled back up into the clouds above it.

I have received both my desires—I experienced something exciting and no one was hurt. I saw a breathtaking power of nature disperse before my eyes that day.

Now if I feel that strange desire for the dramatic, I think about the way the tornado touched down to the ground: large, magnificent, overpowering, bent-on-destruction. I say, no, thank you. Too dangerous. I’ll settle on boring. (o:

Karen Gaus

Author / Speaker : Karen Gaus

A light-hearted note: Do you resemble your car?

A light-hearted note: Do you resemble your car?

Someone asked me recently if I was like the cars I’ve owned. Whether they meant, did I look like my car, or was my personality like my car, I’m not sure.

Either way, my answer is, “I hope not!” Because you see…throughout my life, most of my cars have been pitiful.

It started with one of my first cars, an old 1963 Mercury Monterrey. My parents paid an exorbitant $100 for it. The thing was like a tank—a huge ugly Cadillac gone wrong. It literally had clothes pins and rope that held the steering wheel together. The thing rumbled so loud it announced my arrival to every event I attended. One particularly memorable reaction to my car was…a friend and I arrived at school one day,  climbed out of my car only to have a guy laugh so hard I thought he was going to fall on the ground.

I kept the car my freshmen year in college where I attended Central Texas College for one year. The commute to campus required me to drive six miles to class. Unfortunately, the car would only go about 45 miles an hour, so I pushed the gas petal to the floor and drove on the side of the road to get out of people’s way. I risked my life every time I pulled out into traffic from a side road. (Not really, but almost.)

When I married, I hoped things would improve in the area of cars. But low and behold, I married someone who doesn’t know when a car is legally dead. If the contraption can roll down a hill, then it must be okay. Don’t feel too sorry for me. I didn’t have to use the Mercury Monterrey. (o:

This is what a 1963 Mercury Monterrey looks like…

1963 Mercury Monterey

…keep in mind—this is in better shape than my car. (o:

In high school, did you have a car as “fun” as mine?

Karen Gaus

~ Inspiring Dreams ~