To Cope

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

To Cope dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorEverywhere I look I see people trying to cope, yet so many seem to be going under despite their best efforts to stay afloat. Life for them is a roller coaster ride that they can’t escape.

To cope, you have to have hope. To have hope, you have to have something to believe in beyond your own capabilities. Hope is the anchor we have in the storms of life. It is what gives us a reason to go on despite how dark the horizon appears or how fearful we may feel inside.

People turn to many things to help them cope. Substance abuse masks the pain, but it always returns when the medication wears off. People turn to affairs or casual sex to fill the void of loneliness. Unfortunately, that does not cure the underlying problem. Compulsive buying or binge eating are also common problems that people use to try and cope. The problem is that you can’t buy peace and lasting happiness. Binge eating will just make you overweight and shorten your life.

Coping in a healthy way requires two things:

  • Faith your fears. Holding on to fear will kill your hope.

            Face Everything And Rise or Forget Everything And Run. It is your choice!

  • Quit worrying about things that are out of your control. What good does worrying do? None!

You may be familiar with the first stanza of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, but did you know there is a second stanza? Here is the full prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

That is how I cope and that is my hope.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Gut Check

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Gut Check dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachThere are few things in life that frustrate me more than having car problems. They always seem to happen at the worst possible time. Recently my check engine light came on and I took it over to a garage that I had dealt with before. I thought I could trust them…but learned otherwise. I did not ask them what they would charge to look at my car and tell me what the problem was. Big mistake!  When he gave me the bill, I was both shocked and dismayed. The bill was $108 just to diagnose the problem. I knew other garages that would have checked it out for $65, so this sent up a red flag to me. Then he handed me the suggested repairs. I nearly fainted as he told me that two O2 sensors were out and my car should not be driven further until they were replaced.

Wow. What a pickle! The tab was over $800, and I did not have that to spend as I had just shelled out $1,200 to fix our air conditioner at home. I did not stress out about it. Instead…I prayed for discernment and made several calls to other garages to see what they would charge me. Of course, they wanted to run their own diagnostics before giving me a quote…which I can understand, but I did not want to go broke on getting estimates either. So, I parked my car and borrowed my wife’s “Granny Van” till I could save up the money for further diagnostics and repairs.

I normally go to a men’s Bible study group on Saturdays, and this particular Saturday I almost did not go because my lawn was needing to be mowed and it was very hot. The earlier in the day I mow the better…but something told me I needed to go to the Bible study anyway so I went.

I had not told anyone at the group about my dilemma, but one close friend of mine came over and asked me how things were going…and I told him about my car and the gigantic bill that I had to somehow come up with. He said, “I had that very same problem on my car recently and it turned out to be a hose that cost me $40. Let me look at it and see if that is the case.” So, after the Bible study he came over to my house, popped the hood and sure enough there was a big crack in the hose that goes to the air filter! I bought the hose and a new air filter and he put them on for me. He had both the tools and the know-how which I lacked. Auto repair is NOT one of my gifts.

We were literally getting all the parts back together when I get a call from my wife. She was at Walmart and HER car would not start! LOL. I just looked up in the sky and said, “Really God?”  LOL. We finished putting all the screws back into the engine and I was off to Walmart to help my wife. It was a bad battery and as soon as we gave it a jump it started right up. I swapped cars with her and took hers around the back of Walmart to the auto repair shop and got a new battery put in for her.

What a day! I thought back on all the circumstances that happened and how my friend was there for me when I needed him. I know God will bless him for his servant’s heart…as will I. The really sad part about this day was that the mechanics I thought I could trust were just smiling crooks. They had no morals or ethics and only cared about the dollar. Little did they know that I had planned on doing some major work on both vehicles with them in the near future, but that business will never be done with them at this point. The moral to the story:

  • When you have a gut check about something that someone is telling you…LISTEN. Don’t ignore that little voice telling you that something is not right. If you don’t have peace about it, there is a good reason and you need to find out what is wrong.
  • Don’t make rash decisions just because there is an apparent emergency. Slow down, pray about it…and seek advice from trusted advisors.
  • Wait on God. That is probably one of the hardest things for me to do, and yet when I do, He does things for me that only He can do…and He makes no mistakes! I just have to trust Him and HIS timing.
  • It was not an accident that I was compelled to go to the Bible study even when I had other things I needed to do. It was not an accident that my friend was there and had the perfect solution for me at a price I could afford. It was not an accident that my wife was at Walmart when her car broke down. I literally had to just drive it around the corner of the building to get it fixed.

Did I like doing all of this on a hot August day in Texas? No. I would much rather be indoors watching a movie and munching on some popcorn, but that is life. We have our days to watch movies and our days in the sun. We can expect to have them both; just don’t stress out when things get a little crazy. Take a deep breath, pray, trust God, and wait. You will endure the heat much better if you learn the secret of chilling.

P.S. I still mowed my lawn while I was waiting for my friend to come over.

P.S.S. I do know that you can take your car to Auto Zone or O’Reilly’s and get a free diagnostic on the check engine light, but that does not tell the whole story. A qualified mechanic has to look at it to see what is really going on. This is a perfect example. The free diagnostic said I had two O2 sensors not working, but what I needed was to replace a cracked hose! Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Teacher’s Prayer

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERALord, give me wisdom as I teach the children today. Give me strength to endure the challenges that I know I must face. Help me to be patient and kind to them regardless of how they treat me or how I feel. Help me love them unconditionally. Help me know when to speak and when to listen, when to praise and when to correct. Help me to observe closely the expressions on their faces so I know if they really understand the lesson, and if they don’t, help me explain it in words that they will comprehend. I pray that I will inspire them to do things that they never dreamed possible, and that I help them unlock their greatest potential. Help me to be an encourager and treat them all with respect. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this great honor. I am humbled by the great responsibility you have given me: to help shape the hearts and minds of future generations. Help me never forget that teaching is a calling, and this calling is as sacred as any job on earth. May I be worthy of my calling. Lastly, help me always remember to be a servant leader and support my teachers and staff whenever possible. I pray that we as a team will make a positive difference in the lives of every child entrusted to us. Amen.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Forgiveness

Posted in Poetry, Relationships, Spiritual

Forgiveness

Love

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Love dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI was very troubled at a video clip being aired this week on the news. A man was riding the DART train in Dallas, and got viciously attacked by a gang. Why? He asked them not to smoke a joint on the train. Wow. He was beaten to the point of unconsciousness and then hit in the head with a skateboard. When the news interviewed him he asked, “Where is our humanity?” It made me think of the beating that Rodney King took many years ago and his response was, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

This is a prime example of what happens to a society that has lost its way. The absence of love is evil. I have heard people debate what the opposite of love is. Some say it is hate, some say fear, but I suggest it is darkness. Where there is no love there is no light and the people stumble around in wickedness.

Here is one of the predicaments we have. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what love is. I like the definition below:

“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Next time you wonder about what love is, read that again. It puts things in perspective. Pure love is giving, not taking. When someone says, “I love you,” but the actions above are missing…you best beware. Love that has no action is lust disguising itself as love.

Dionne Warwick had a song that went like this: “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing…that there’s just too little of.” Isn’t that the truth? Love seems to be in short supply in this crazy world. How about we show some humanity and all just get along? “Put a little love in your heart.”

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Mudslinging

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Mud Slinging dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorTwo things will get people red-faced and cursing quickly: politics and religion. Both of these careers are like living in a fishbowl.  It is like being read your Miranda rights which reads in part: “Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” How would you like everything you say and do to be broadcast on the nightly news or put on YouTube? Getting elected or appointed is like saying, “Let the mudslinging begin.” It is one reason why most people are just glad an election is over so the avalanche of mud will at least be reduced to an occasional mud pie. The difference between politics and religion is that the mudslinging typically is heavier before an election and for someone in ministry the slinging begins after they are hired, although neither one is immune to the post-appointment slinging.

Here is what I have observed about mudslingers:

  • They tend to speak first, and then think about the consequences of their words.
  • They tend to feel justified in throwing mud at someone else. I don’t know if this is from a feeling of inferiority or if it somehow makes them feel better about themselves; but either way it is sick and ignorant.
  • They don’t seem to realize that they have mud on themselves. There is none so blind as he who will not see.
  • They love to gossip, backbite, and slander. It gives them something to talk about. How sad is that? They have to talk about other people in order to carry on a conversation or create news.
  • You can’t reason with them. They have their mind made up. They are not interested in the truth, just their own opinion.

Mudslingers are alive and well, unfortunately. Be aware that not all who call you friend are your friend. Not all who say they love you actually love you. Not all who say they follow you are loyal. Be wise and discerning of what you believe, what you accept, and who you are willing to associate with. Be willing to set boundaries when people are exposed to be mudslingers. You can and should forgive them if and when they cross the line, but don’t allow them to continue abusing you. That serves only them and promises you a mudslide.

If you are the object of a mudslinger, here are two things you might consider doing:

  1. Confront them about what they are saying. Funny how so many people back down when confronted…especially if you are armed with the facts. Calling them into the light makes them scurry like a cockroach to the dark.
  2. Sometimes the best thing to do is to ignore them. One thing for sure is that the truth eventually comes out. If they are lying about you, it will come out and they will be the ones to look foolish, not you.

If you are in politics or ministry, you are in my prayers!

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

The Tongue

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Tongue dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorLet’s face it: our tongue gets us in trouble more often than we like to admit. There is a verse in the Bible that says: “No human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Wow, it is almost like the tongue is a snake getting ready to strike.

Why do you think people have such trouble thinking before they speak? I heard a man the other day trying to be funny and inadvertently insulted a lady he did not know. He meant it to be a joke but you could tell she was not amused.

The times when the tongue gets us in trouble:

  • Boasting about ourselves, our plans, accomplishments, or our possessions.
  • Using humor inappropriately.
  • Talking down to other people.
  • Cursing.
  • Lying.
  • Slandering.
  • Gossiping.
  • Speaking in anger or rage.

Our tongues get us in trouble when we forget who God is, who we are, and the value of other people. The moment we elevate ourselves above God or others, we do terrible things with the tongue…terrible things that cannot be taken back, and tragically we can “justify” every word we spoke.

Speaking harshly to someone is like driving nails into a board. You may be able to remove the nails, but the scars remain. Next time you are tempted to give someone a tongue-lashing, ask yourself:

  • Is what I am about to say true about the person or situation?
  • Is this going to help or hurt my relationship with them?
  • Am I speaking out of anger or jealousy?
  • Am I speaking in love?

We need to rethink what we are doing and count the cost of “getting it off our chest.” Spewing vile things may feel good at the moment, but the devastation that occurs is sometimes fatal to a relationship. You can ask for forgiveness, but the words will continue to haunt you both and it will never quite be the same.

Remember that everyone has their breaking point. Don’t be the one that pushes someone so far that they break. You will regret that for the rest of your life and be left to lament what could have been.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Never and Always

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Never  and Always dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

  • Never discourage someone from learning. Always encourage their curiosity. True learning occurs when there is interest and engagement.
  • Never ignore a child who needs your attention. Always acknowledge them respectfully. Even kids need to be respected. Besides, you might be missing the best hug of the day.
  • Never take those you love for granted. Always express your love in word and deed…and express it often.
  • Never go to bed angry. Always be resolved to resolve discord. It does not go away magically.
  • Never stew about who is right and who is wrong. Always seek to understand first.
  • Never withhold forgiveness. Always forgive. You may have to set boundaries for the future, but remember to forgive them no matter what. It is for your benefit, not theirs.
  • Never withhold paying back a debt if it is within your means to do so. Always be truthful with the lender and seek to work out an amicable agreement for both.
  • Never forget the widows, orphans, and those in prison. When you minister to them, it is like ministering to the Lord. Always minister to those in need.
  • Never make a major decision when you are too tired, too angry, or too hungry. Always seek wise counsel, consider the consequences, and go with your gut feelings.
  • Never be cruel to animals or people. Always show kindness and love regardless of how they act.
  • Never brag about yourself. Always praise others and let them be the ones to brag on you.
  • Never live in the past, nor boast about tomorrow. Always remember you only have today. Yesterday is gone. Let it go. Tomorrow may never come. Don’t count on it.
  • Never live beyond your means. Always spend less than you earn and save something from your paycheck. Life happens. Be prepared not surprised or overwhelmed.
  • Never judge others. Always show respect for differences of opinions, beliefs, and cultures. You don’t have to compromise your core beliefs to show respect to others.
  • Never disrespect your country, your flag, or your President / leader. Always show respect. You don’t have to agree with the laws or the leader to be respectful and abide by the laws. If you don’t like how things are going, use peaceable means to change it. Work to elect people that share your views. If you just can’t stand it, then consider another country to live in. After all, it is a big world with lots of options.
  • Never say “Never.” You will be surprised at how often you will end up doing the things you said you would never do. Always consider the possibilities regardless of how absurd it may seem at the moment. Time and clear thinking have a way of changing our minds.
  • Never take your health for granted. Always take care of yourself. You only have one body and one life to live.
  • Never waste time. Always remember that once a moment is gone you can never recover it. Time is one of our most precious commodities. Use it wisely.
  • Never make promises you can’t keep. Always be a man or woman of your word.
  • Never compromise your morals or your integrity. Always guard your mind and your heart.
  • Never neglect having balance in your life. Always find the balance between your faith, family, finances, friends, and career. If you allow one of those to get out of balance, the others will suffer.
  • Never let anyone steal your joy or your dream. Always dream and dream big, and learn the power of being at peace in the storm.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Search for Significance

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Search for Significance dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

What are you worth? How can you put a price on something that is one of a kind? It is an age old question for which people seek to find the answer. Does my life matter? Why am I here? Does what I think and feel really mean anything in the scheme of life?

It is a deep subject and not easily answered in a brief blog, but here are a few thoughts to consider if you have ever had those questions or know someone who is struggling with their identity:

  • First and foremost, you have to realize that how you think and feel about yourself may be accurate, but it also could be distorted depending on your life circumstances and your own mental health. Nobody on this planet has had your life. They may have had similar circumstances and can “relate” to how you think and feel, but nobody has truly walked in your shoes. You are unique. Even identical twins are unique because of genetics and circumstances they each experience differently. So my point here is to value the fact that you are unique. There is a reason you are here. You have something to do that nobody else can do like you would.
  • When you question what your purpose is, that is both simple and complex. It is simple in that everyone has a purpose. It is complex in that you and only you can really determine what that purpose is. I, being a Christian, believe that God has created each of us for a “divine” purpose. When my will aligns with God’s will, the pieces start to fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle. It may take a while to see the big picture, but eventually you understand the “what.” You may never understand the “why” of life, but the “what” CAN and needs to be found.

I use the Bible and God’s Holy Spirit to guide me in what I do. I realize not everyone shares my faith, but I am simply sharing with you what I have found. I believe God created me with various gifts. I have been told that I am outgoing and creative. I do love to be around people. I love to laugh and I find pleasure in the simple things of life. I discovered my passion for writing in 10th grade and have not stopped writing since. This is definitely part of my purpose…to instill salt and light in a world that is perishing by encouraging and inspiring people with my words. I just try to do my part and let God use my gifts as He sees fit.

Everyone has a purpose. It is up to each of us to discover what that is, then pursue it with all that we have. It is when we walk in our purpose that our steps have true significance. I hope and pray that you take the first step in discovering who you are and why you are here.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Storms

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Storms danskognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI think the only people who like storms are storm chasers and weather men because it pays them, but I am not really talking about the weather here. I am talking about the storms of life, and nobody likes those! For one thing, the only people who get paid are psychotherapists, emergency rooms, drug dealers, and funeral homes!

A few things I have learned about the storms we go through:

  • Going through a storm is like looking in a mirror and really seeing who you are inside and out. It will reveal your fears, your faith, and who your real friends are.
  • Storms come when you least expect them and they often come in multiples. So, expect the unexpected.
  • It is probably a good thing to have a storm shelter. It might be your spouse, you Mom and Dad, a trusted friend, but don’t forget God. He is our ultimate shelter. Have someone you can turn to for advice and encouragement.
  • There are storms that we sometimes create for ourselves. When you do create one, don’t complain when it rains and you get caught in a flood.
  • There is good that can come out of a storm. People will come to your aid in incredible ways, God will answer prayers and build your faith, and you will see life through different eyes. Once you have been through a few storms, you will be able to encourage those who are in the midst of their own storm because you have been through the same thing yourself. You may be the rainbow after the rain for someone.
  • Like the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Learn to navigate and endure, but also learn to avoid storms.

I realize that life is tough for most people. We all have our storms to endure. It might be a failed relationship, a lost job, death of a loved one or dear pet. The list is endless. When you are facing a storm, just remember you are not alone. Seek your storm shelter…and by all means ask God to calm the storm and help you through it. He is often the only one who truly CAN.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes