Gratitude and Faith

Posted in General, Motivational, Spiritual

Gratitude and Faith dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator2If you are stuck in reverse and continue to live in the past, try changing how you look at things. Be grateful for the good that happens and the blessings you have experienced. Expect good things in the future and give thanks for them now. Your attitude will dictate whether you get yourself in gear, but your faith will give you the gas to move forward and a compass to guide you. A great attitude and faith will take you to a place of peace, prosperity, and purpose. Let the past be in the past and fix your eyes on where you want to be. Appreciate what you have, and stay the course. Great things await you. Enjoy the journey.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Laced Up

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Laced Up dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorOne of the things that a teacher in elementary school has to constantly do is tell kids to lace up their shoes. The little guys need help, but the older ones for some reason are just lazy about it.

I had to laugh the other day at one girl who continually leaves at least one shoe lace undone. I asked her kindly to lace up her shoes for her own safety as well as the safety of other kids. This particular day she ignored my request and would you believe it? She tripped on them!

As I was thinking about this problem, the analogy of prayer came to mind. Most people know that prayer is a good thing, but they simply get too busy or are too lazy to lace up their lives each day in prayer. I am going to encourage you just like I do my kids at school. Lace up!  Hopefully you have your shoes tied if you are reading this, but I want to encourage you to lace up in prayer.

Lacing up will provide you with:

  • Peace
  • Power
  • Protection

Who doesn’t need that, right? It is a continual process when it comes to prayer, so you need to check your laces throughout the day and lace up. Just like kid shoes can come undone throughout the day, so can your life. You will find that when you stay laced up it is a blessing to you and all those that you encounter.

I can hear someone out there saying they wear slip-ons just to throw me a curve. Well, you slipper folks need to slip into prayer as well. You are not off the hook! Another word for slip-ons is “loafers.” Hmmmm. I wonder what THAT implies?  LOL. Wrapping your life in prayer is critical to facing the daily battles we all face. Why would anyone go into battle without one of their primary weapons?

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Broken

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Broken1 dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI have been broken many times in life. Sometimes it came as a result of my own pride getting in the way and sometimes it just rolled over me for no apparent reason. Being broken is a strange phenomenon in that God created us with a strong self-will. In fact, the original sin was pride. It was pride that caused the Devil and one third of the Angels in Heaven to be cast out.

So, why would God give us this will that seems to be in constant conflict with His perfect will? It is complicated, but I think that these factors play a significant part in the process of being broken:

  • Being broken by God is not a bad thing. Part of our problem is we see brokenness as a plague instead of a path. When you are broken of your own self-will, you can get on the path that God intended. God will direct us only if we submit ourselves and seek His will above our own. He will not force us to submit, but he will continually break us to re-make us…and that is for our own good and His glory.
  • When we are broken there is a sense of clarity that becomes evident. When we realize that only God has the solution, it drives us to our knees…a place we probably should have been before everything hit the fan.
  • When we let God be God, life takes on a deeper meaning. If we walk in God’s way and we get OUT of the way, we find something that everyone on the planet is desperate for….peace and meaning. That is Shalom in its purest form.
  • Laying down our “rights” does not mean we sacrifice our dignity, our happiness, or our sanity. In fact, it is just the opposite. It does not make sense to us, but our ways are not God’s ways. When we submit, we win!

If you find yourself in a time of brokenness, don’t despair. There is hope and there is good that can come out of this. Let God show you His way and you will find peace that passes understanding.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Q Tip

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Q Tip dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorQuit Taking It Personal. Great advice when it comes to responding to people and situations. Not everything is a slam at you, your character, your gender, your appearance, your ethnicity, your intelligence, your authority, etc. Have you noticed how some people are ready to explode on anyone who crosses them? It seems as everything and everyone offends them.

Flip the script. If you find yourself being offended constantly, try this:

  • Start with empathy. Try looking at life through the eyes of those that offend you. As the lyrics of the song goes: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.” We need to learn to see people through the eyes of Jesus. It takes conscious effort, but it can dramatically change the outcomes when you learn to love those who offend you.
  • Be willing to apologize when you make a mistake. Apologies go a long way in letting people know you are human and no offence was intended. This is vitally important in maintaining healthy relationships and is particularly critical in relationships with kids.
  • Try not to drive when you are upset. Road rage incidents don’t typically start on the highway…they tend to begin at home or on the job.

There are three negative responses to a conflict:

  • Fight – verbal or physical confrontation ensues. This is dangerous and potentially fatal.
  • Flight – passive / aggressive behavior which solves nothing. Running away from a conflict never makes it go away and may in fact escalate the situation when you return. You may need to get away to calm down, but don’t let that time away be spent fuming and plotting revenge.
  • Freeze – doing nothing. The deer in the headlights syndrome is not healthy…especially for the deer.

Learn to RSVP. We would do ourselves a huge favor if we would expect conflicts and be prepared in advance on how to respond. Take the chip off your shoulder and do what Otis Redding recommended: “Try a Little Tenderness.”

Life is tough for most people. Remember to Q Tip.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Love Changes Everything

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Love Changes Everything dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorDo you want to change your life? Put a little love in your heart…as the song goes. Love is probably the most misunderstood and least utilized weapon we have at our disposal.

Love is pretty phenomenal in that it conquers evil, eliminates fears, gives meaning to life, heals broken hearts, and restores relationships. It always gives, never takes, believes the best, always hopes, encourages, never discriminates, and is always just. Love protects the defenseless, gives to those in need, and expects nothing in return. No wonder we yearn for it!

Love makes the world go around. It is like the warmth of sunshine to our soul. It soothes, heals, and revives us. It nourishes, inspires, and instructs us. Love is the ultimate teacher, the ultimate leader, and the ultimate glue that binds us all together. It never fails. Love is more than just words. Let’s face it, words are cheap. Love will cost you. Love is an action verb. If there are no actions to follow the words, your words are hollow and meaningless.

The Bible says that God is love. That is the ultimate source and evidence in the power of love. All the commandments of the Bible can be summed up in this: Love God, and love each other. If we would just do those two things, we could put an end to war, hatred, discrimination, poverty, abuse, and a host of other problems that we face throughout the world. I don’t think it is possible to know love without first knowing God intimately. If God is love, then we must truly know Him if we ever hope to know what love means.

Is it realistic to think that this can be accomplished? Well, if I do my part and you do yours, who knows what sparks will be ignited in the lives of those within our spheres of influence. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can change OUR world.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Blessed or Cursed

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Blessed or Cursed dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

As we come to the end of another year, it is a good time to reflect on all that has happened. I think if everyone is honest with themselves, it is probably a combination of both that we have experienced. It was neither all good, nor was it all bad…simply a mixture of the two.

The funny thing about life is: we do get to determine which one controls us. If we concentrate on the blessings, we become thankful people who look for the good in what happens. If you are full of hope, then you expect good to come out of circumstances…no matter if they are good or bad. If we concentrate on the curses, we become bitter and resent people, circumstances, and ultimately…even life itself.

You might be thinking, “Dan, you don’t know what kind of year I’ve had! It was AWFUL!” And you know what? You would be right. I don’t know. However, I do know that often what we think is a curse is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes you have to go through the loss of something or someone to see the blessing of the loss.

What it takes to understand this is pretty simple. It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed. It takes trusting God when nothing makes sense. It takes praising Him in the midst of the storm. It takes following Him when you can’t see the point and believing that He will be with you and guide you through it.

If you had a rough year, you can believe me when I tell you that I have had very rough years in the past and survived. So, I know a little of the pain and confusion that you are going through. Here is the good news if you had a rough year. We all have a new year ahead of us. This gives us new beginnings, new opportunities, and most of all renewed hope.

May God bless you throughout the new year. May you have a renewed sense of His presence, His power, and His peace in your life. May you find joy in the journey, and may you fulfill your purpose in His perfect will for your life. Happy New Year!

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Seek First To Understand

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Seek First To Understand dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone did that one thing? Think about the wars that would be avoided, the race relations that would be healed, and the families that would be restored.

I heard a man speak about this very thing and he was talking about why some people can’t communicate. They choose not to listen. If you really want to get to the heart of racial issues, we need to be asking people of other races what it is like for them to live in America…then shut up and just listen.

There will always be wars and rumors of wars, but what if we simply learn to listen to those who oppose us? What if we seek to understand them first rather than just write them off as an enemy?

One of the biggest raps that Christians have against them is that they are judgmental. Jesus was only harsh to one group of people in the Bible….the Pharisees. They knew the Scriptures very well, and yet they were far from the truth. He called them a brood of Vipers!

Having discussions with people who have opposing points of view has to be done differently if we expect different outcomes. Think about a controversial topic like gun control. The question is not about whether guns are good or bad. The real question is, “How do we responsibly deal with guns in this country?” That is a question that opposing sides could actually have some dialog over, right? Find some common ground and get creative with how to solve the problem rather than just believing someone is right and someone is wrong. This process could be applied to pretty much any hot topic, but it would require that both sides agree to truly listen and understand. At the end, we still may have to agree to disagree.

We all live in a world full of confusion. There are always things that surface to give people ammunition to argue their point. My hope and prayer as we get ready to enter a new year is that we all learn the art of listening.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Knock Knock

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Knock Knock dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1No joke. Are you knocking?  It is not your job to open the door. God does that. It is your job to knock and keep on knocking till you find the right door.

Many years ago my wife was married to another man. They were in the jewelry business and were constantly frustrated that the wax patterns used to design jewelry were brittle and broke easily. They had very short shelf life and were just too fragile, and yet everyone in the world used the same stuff to carve their patterns.

They got the brilliant idea of mixing plastic and wax to make it pliable and give it more versatility. The only problem is….how do you mix oil and water? Neither one of them were chemists. They just had a dream of inventing something that the world needed, so they set out to do their experiments in a crockpot.

Thousands of attempts later they were frustrated and her husband threw up his hands and gave up. My wife, however, had one last ditch effort that she thought was worth a try. They were using some DuPont chemicals. She decided to call DuPont and ask for the head chemist and solicit his help. She called, and the next thing you know she is talking to the head chemist!

She explained that they had a small jewelry business in Texas and they were trying to develop a new product using some DuPont chemicals, but they were stuck. They asked him if he would help, and he asked if he could see the latest work they had done. They sent him the experiments and he replied with three possible solutions. The first one failed. The second one failed….but the third one WORKED.

That was the birth of Plasto-wax. That invention changed forever how jewelry patterns are made around the world. That provided not just a business but a solution to a problem that every jeweler in the world faced daily.  What would have happened if they had not continued to knock?

What dream do you have? Keep knocking. Don’t give up. Dreams do come true for those that do.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

True Living

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

True Living dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator authorMay you live all your life. Think about it…too many people just exist. They are going through the motions of life but not really living. They have either lost their zest for life, or they never found it. I am not sure which one is worse.

We weren’t created to just exist. We were made to soar like eagles, be fearless as lions, and be focused as an army of ants. Each of us has been uniquely made, created in God’s image. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

If all you see looking back at yourself are eyes of despair and lines of worry and stress, then I have some important news for you. Today is a new day. Today you can have a fresh start. Today you can put your past behind you. After all…that is why they call it the past. It is time to quit letting your past dictate your future.

If you want to have peace and fulfillment, then you have to be relentless in your pursuit of life. You cannot let the problems and circumstances of life keep you down. You cannot let the hurtful words or deeds of others wound you so deep that you never heal. If you want to live all your life, here is what you have to do:

  • Forgive those who have hurt you…no matter what the offense. Forgiving is FOR GIVING. It does nobody any good if you withhold it. Forgiveness is the key to unlocking the chains of the past. Use it as often as necessary to keep yourself free and living in the present.
  • Learn to be thankful in all circumstances. Whether you have little, or you have a lot, be thankful. An attitude of gratitude will increase your altitude.
  • Put God first, and others before yourself. These two things will help you focus on what really matters in life.
  • Be authentic. There are way too many people walking this earth in the state of denial. They can’t admit their faults and failures.  I have news for you: everyone has faults and failures. Everyone else can see them too….so just admit it when you mess up. Apologize, take responsibility for it, ask for forgiveness; then move forward.

May you live ALL your life. May you be blessed coming in and going out. May God bless you in all that you put your hands to. May you find perfect peace and fulfillment as you walk in God’s grace and fulfill your destiny.  May you never let fear, guilt, or shame keep you in bondage. May God bless you so that you may be a blessing to others.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Waiting Room

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

The Waiting Room dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI was in an office this week doing some consulting work. As I walked out, I ran into an old friend. He said, “I have something for you. It will explain what my wife and I have been through.” It was called In the Waiting. His wife wrote about the stress and testing of their faith when they had twins, and one of them was severely handicapped. Just the first chapter of the book had me going, “WOW, I have no problems.”

Then I went to church on Sunday and the very first praise song has a chorus that says, “He’s in the waiting!” I literally sat there in the service and thought, “OK, God. I get it. Somebody needs to hear this message.” So, whoever you are, this message is for you.

Nobody wants to be in the waiting room. We are there expecting something but not really knowing when it is going to happen. When is the Doctor going to come out and tell us the prognosis? When is the mechanic going to tell us the bad news? Life has many waiting rooms for us, and sometimes it is years that we have been waiting for something to change for the positive. “When, God? When will you give us some relief?”

Here is the answer from God. You want to know what it is? “I will give you an answer in my time. In the meantime, I am with you.” He is in the waiting WITH us. He is there with you as you try to make sense of the craziness of life. He is there through the tears and He is there to calm your fears. Trust Him. Know that He will help you through this if you let Him. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Matthew 28:20 says: “….And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The biggest problem we seem to face is we want an answer and we want it NOW. Here is the reality. It is never just about you or me. It is always about others as well. The one takeaway I hope will help and encourage you is that God’s timing is not ours, but His timing is perfect. Believe it. It is OK to have doubts and fears, just don’t hold on to them. Give them to the Lord and leave them there. 1 Peter 5:7 says: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” He can carry all those things that are weighing you down. Give them to Him. Walk with Him. Trust Him. Praise Him in the waiting room. Your answer IS coming. The longer you have been waiting, the closer you are to your breakthrough!

There is something truly magical when people get this and receive it. It is like the lightbulb going on over their head; that “Aha” moment that we all need to come to. We wonder: “Why we did not get that before?” Let go, and let God. May God’s perfect Shalom cover you in your waiting room.

Dan Skognes