Super Heroes

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

I admit I have had a thing for Super Heroes ever since I saw the first episode of Superman, staring George Reeves when I was just a little kid. Looking back at those old episodes it was pretty comical. Bullets would bounce off his chest, but he would duck when someone threw the gun at him! LOL. Regardless, I tied a towel around my neck and flew through the house!

Today, Super Heroes look different to me. Now I see that the REAL Super Heroes are masquerading as normal everyday people! They work in all types of jobs from people in healthcare, teachers, policemen, firemen, public servants, people who serve or have served in the military, close friends, family, and even moms and dads. They come in every color and vary greatly in their beliefs.

The common thread I see is that they are willing to do what others are unwilling or even afraid to do. They step up, work the extra hours needed, take the time to listen to others, find solutions where there are none apparent, and they don’t let being defeated destroy them. They are resilient, every hopeful, optimistic about the future, and determined to do the right thing regardless of peer pressure, what other people think, or even public opinion.

These are the true Super Heroes and they do exist in my world. I am proud to have several of them in my life. They have my back and always are there to help me, encourage me, and give me the hope I might need to face the trials of life.

Everybody needs a few Super Heroes in their life in my opinion. I hope that the people I am close to know that I may be old, but I have never taken off my cape. My eyes are not what they used to be, but I do see some things much more clearly now than when I was younger. I see people all around me who are wounded, hurting, or angry.

We all can put on our capes when we see someone in need. It does not have to be costly. Sometimes just giving a word of encouragement or a simple act of kindness is just what that person needs to help them through the day. Ask God to help you see people through HIS eyes. He does not look at skin color or job titles. He looks at the heart. He sees people not just for who they are, but who they can become! He is the ultimate Super Hero, and He loves us in ways that are too wonderful to comprehend. That is our real example. Dust off your cape. You are needed to help change the world. :o) Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

July 4th

Posted in Motivational

The New Dilemma in 2020

Posted in Funny, General

3 Keys to Learning

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

There are many keys to learning, but this is about three keys that you might not think of immediately when it comes to the learning process and how to unlock the door to learning.

The first key is imagination. I heard a parent talking about his discussion with his young son and he asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said, “A doctor or an astronaut.” The father was thinking how that would be good because the boy could at least feed HIM when he got older, but then the son added, “Or a dinosaur!” LOL. Now he went from being fed to being food! Be careful what you wish for.

Imagination is a wonderful thing that small kids in particular love to use. For some reason, as we get older, many of us lose this beautiful tool or just forget to use it. When I teach kids, I use imagination to take them places they would not normally go. That is why I tell kids I am Superman. :o) Being that I am pretty old and bald, I don’t exactly fit the description. What it does is get their wheels turning and thinking, “What if…?” I really throw them for a loop when I tell them I am married to Wonder Woman! LOL. Then I grin and give them two big thumbs up! LOL. To help sell the deal, I actually called my wife from home one day and she just played along. It was wonderful and hilarious at the same time.

The second key is laughter. A smile is a universal language, and laughter is the byproduct. I use humor regularly with kids to break the ice, help them refocus, and liven up an otherwise dull subject. Smiling and laughing is a great relief when used appropriately.

The third key is love. When you love what you do and love the kids you teach, it comes through in ways that are almost hypnotic. You add to that the imagination and laughter keys and you have some very powerful tools that satisfy the soul, but leave them wanting more…and THAT is a good thing! That is when a deeper level of learning truly unfolds. Imagine that!

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Good to Grate

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Many people were expecting 2020 to be the year that went from good to great, but it has not turned out to be quite what we expected. This year has grated on the nerves of everyone! Imagine yourself ten years in the future and you are having a conversation with someone about going back in time to any year that you could choose. How many would choose 2020? Hmmmm. I am not a betting man, but I bet not many if any would choose 2020…at least to this point in the year. Of course, we CAN have a different second half of the year. We have to learn to move from grate to great.

How do we do that? Listening is a key to moving forward, but listening alone will not solve the problems we face. If you listen to lies long enough, you move from being fooled to being a fool, and the Bible says a lot about that, and none of it is kind:

Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man holds it back.”

Proverbs 18:6 says, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.”

Proverbs 29:9 says, “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”

Proverbs 28:26 says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

Proverbs 18:7 says, “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”

Proverbs 26:3-12 says, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. Like a man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.”

Wow, does any of that resonate with things you have seen or heard recently? The world seems to be filled with people like that. So, how do we “fix” this? The problem is not just a matter of listening better, but the real question is who are we listening to?

There are three types of truth: 1. Your truth. 2. My truth. 3. God’s truth. Only one of these is pure and untainted. Sadly, your truth and my truth are often tainted by politics, religion, race, media, family, and friends. The only way our truth has any validity is when it lines up completely with the Word of God. That is our benchmark.

Recently a friend of mine and I reconnected on the phone and he was sharing with me a funny experience he had when his liberal nephew came to visit him in Atlanta. My friend is a conservative both politically and spiritually. What could possibly go wrong? LOL. They did get into some deep discussions during the week and broached the taboo subjects of religion and politics. When it became apparent that neither one of them was going to budge on what they believed, my friend said to his nephew, “It is OK that you don’t believe like I do. I can respect that, but you will be here two more days and by the end of the week I will have you loving Jesus and wearing a Make America Great Again cap! They both broke out laughing at THAT visual. Laughter is indeed good medicine.

Sometimes we have to agree to disagree on volatile issues; I get that. However, there needs to be more open discussions of differences politically, spiritually, and racially, but more importantly, there needs to be an alignment to God’s Word in what we say and what be believe. Some people have been in a rut all their lives and they think that is normal because that is all they have known. We ALL need a spiritual alignment. Just some food for thought, but I believe we can move from grate to great this year if we do this.

P.S. You know the only time everyone seems intent on listening? When there is some juicy gossip to hear!

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

The Road Ahead

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Where do we go from here? 2020 has been a tough road for most of us. We have been devastated economically and physically from the Corona Pandemic, and that is not over yet. We are now reeling from the George Floyd death, and that has brought much anger and disillusionment under the magnifying glass for all to see. This year has been a mess for all of us!

So, where do we go from here? Things have to change…and they will. Change is inevitable. The question is, will it be for the better or the worse? I think the most profound change I have seen is in me! I never thought in a million years that we would be pummelled the way we have as a country. We have been brought to the realization that this country is not quite as united and impervious as we once imagined. We are fragile in many respects.

The Corona Pandemic exposed our fear, and the tragic death of George Floyd exposed our deep-seated divide racially. We need some hope, and we need some clarity as to what to do next. I do feel that in many respects we are at a tipping point. We can reunite as a county or we will fall apart if we continue to succumb to fear and anger.

I wish that common sense would kick in faster for us as a country, but it seems that we are victims of the press and social media far too often. There is so much misinformation out there in regards to the virus and the death of Mr. Floyd that I sometimes just want to turn it all off.

Here is what I know to be true for me going forward:

  • I can’t allow fear to dictate what I do or don’t do. I have to rely upon common sense and solid information that has not been distorted for political or personal agendas.
  • I have to be a better listener to hear the hearts of those who look different from me. I need to understand better how they feel and why they feel the way they do.
  • I have to draw closer to God, trust His Word, and pray more.

I am tired, like most of America, with the misinformation and outright lies from the news and social media sources. It seems that the truth has been sacrificed for the sake of ratings in far too many instances. Even sources that I thought I could trust have now become suspect.

I hate what is going on in cities all over America. Yes, the police involved in this death are guilty and they will have to pay for their crime. Yes, we have to come together as a country or we will not make it as a nation in the future. If we allow the anarchists to dictate how we are to respond to tragedy, then we will reap what is sown and have nothing left of our great nation but ashes and tyranny.

This is a time for healing…but the healing will not take place as long as we keep picking at the wounds. Forgiveness has to take place on all sides. Love and acceptance have to be our primary goals. We have several roads ahead, but only one on which we can walk together. Let the healing begin.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Perception

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

How we view life is formed by many things: our past, our present, and what we hope is our future. World events and the media also play a big part in what we think and how we feel. So, the question today is: How do you view life right now?

I realize that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year so far, and we are just half way through it. What do you want to see in the second half of this year? The Corona Virus pandemic has devastated the world economy. We are not even fully out of danger with this problem when we get hit with the George Floyd murder. Unbelievable what has happened and tragic on every level. When I turn on the news, I am almost afraid to hear what else has happened. But, even though tragedy surrounds us, I am hopeful.

I try my best not to believe everything the media puts out. I think we can all agree that they pander to our fears and seem to take great joy in spreading that virus. Secondly, my heart breaks for those who are suffering from the pandemic and the fallout of the George Floyd murder. We live in a fallen world, no doubt. Evil abounds and it seems that it controls a LOT of people right now.

Having said all that, I still believe that life is beautiful. If you have never seen the film, Life is Beautiful, this might be a good time to watch it with your family. It is an incredible story about having hope in spite of all the hatred, racism, and discouragement that this family faced in WW2 at the hands of the Nazis.

I put my faith and trust in God despite what I see, what I hear, and how I feel. I know God still has a plan and He is ultimately in control. I pray for our world and our country in particular that God heal our land. The thing is…in many ways we have tied God’s hands. We took God out of our schools, out of our Government, and out of many of our homes. This is a time for those that believe in God to turn to Him, trust Him, and be an example to a world that is desperately crying out for help.

Yes, we need change in our police departments. Yes, we need change in our government. We need change in our own hearts! I truly believe that God will do a miraculous healing in our collective hearts if we will just let Him! We are all cut from the same cloth. We may look different, sound different, and have different customs, but we are still one race….the human race. I think our diversity is a beautiful thing. I don’t hate those who are different from me. I enjoy their companionship, their thoughts, feelings, and hopes.

I am encouraging you and anyone that reads this to first examine yourself. Are you free from hatred? Do you judge those that are different from you? Do you have anyone or any race that you need to forgive? Until we learn to love and forgive one another freely, we will have a hard time moving forward as a country. It begins with God and our relationship with Him, then it has to take root in the heart of all believers. Life is still a beautiful thing. We just have to live it. Let’s pray for revival in the heart of mankind. This could be an awakening that will change our lives and the lives for generations to come. Isn’t that what every parent wants for their kids and grandchildren? Our world may be upside down right now, but it does not have to stay that way.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

George Floyd

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Last night riots broke out in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd. I don’t claim to understand the frustration that drives people over the edge like that. I don’t condone in any way what the officers did to Mr. Floyd. Nobody deserves to be brutalized like that. This is a tragedy on multiple levels. It is another reminder that we as a country have not learned the lesson, and thus have to repeat the test. Do you remember Rodney King? His words call out to us today as a country, “Can’t we all just get along?” That is a good question!

Why can’t police identify officers who have a record of brutality and get rid of them? They have no business keeping the peace by overstepping their authority. Their job is to serve and protect. How can a man who has had a dozen complaints against him still be on the force? I don’t know what has to be done to clean this up, but the police chiefs and commissioners need to pay attention to who is on their staff. Perhaps the problem goes to the top. Who knows? The people at the top ultimately have to take responsibility for the people they employ. If they turn a blind eye to brutality, then the frustration will continue to build.

On the other hand, why does his death merit burning down businesses and setting cars on fire? How does that accomplish anything positive? Here again, I don’t pretend to understand the level of frustration, but I don’t see that destroying your city is the answer to the problem.

My hope and prayer is that police officers around the country take this as a wake up call, and that people in the community learn to respond to injustice through legal means. Racism is as old as creation and the seeds of injustice have deep roots, but that does not mean we have to accept that as how it has to be. We have to learn to love and respect one another regardless of how we look, and regardless of what our job is. If we don’t learn the lesson, we WILL repeat the test and the outcome will not be good. Violence is not the answer…love is.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

Respect

Posted in Business, General, Motivational, Relationships

Yesterday was the last day of school. One of the last tasks I was assigned was to help a couple of our employees put up new flags outside of our school. The old ones were pretty beat up and needed to be replaced. One of my teammates was telling me that he got detained for three hours one time when he was on a military base and failed to stop when the flag was being raised. I did not know there was such a rule, but I love the fact that our military sets an example for showing proper respect for our flag.

Right after he told us this story, we were in the process of changing out the flags (without letting them touch the ground). We noticed a person standing out by the highway at attention…with his hand over his heart as we raised the flags. It was a beautiful confirmation of what my friend had just shared with us. I would be willing to bet he was a veteran.

We live in a time where respect has been forgotten by some. Many don’t honor our flag and some have outright contempt for it. For those that don’t love our country, I wonder why they choose to live here. It can’t be for any honorable reason. I know there are many enemies we have who would like nothing less than to see us lose our freedom and succumb to their ideologies.

One thing I know about respect: it has to be earned. Recently I watched The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan. I was touched by his raw behind the scenes story and how he continually had to gain the respect of those who opposed him. Obviously it is somewhat different in sports with all the trash talking that goes on between competitors, but is it really all that different?

Think about the trash talking that goes on in politics. I hate election year because of all the mud that is slung between the candidates on both sides. It seems to be a battle of words and it does not matter if there is any truth to the accusation or not. I realize that politics and religion are two topics which draw the most heated debates, so I try not to grandstand on those subjects because of the potential dog-piling that often ensues online. It does not mean I don’t have strong opinions about both, because I do. I just choose my battles wisely.

Why do people take the liberty to bash other people’s opinions just because they are different from theirs? I don’t mind healthy debates, but I detest bashing and bullying. If you think about it, it is reverting to a very childish behavior.

One thing I picked up from Michael Jordan that I really appreciated about his mindset was that he used the negativity of others to fuel his desire to win. And win he did. He had numerous failures and setbacks along the way, but look at what he accomplished! Wow. He was not perfect by any means. None of us are.

My advice is pretty simple: allow people to have their own opinions. If you choose to debate a point, do so with respect. If not, you may be fueling a fire that could consume you. I have the image of Michael Jordan walking off the court after one of those memorable comeback moments with the song in the background echoing: “How you like me now?” Be willing to earn the respect you desire and understand that it comes at a cost. Respect and freedom have this in common: neither one is free.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes

TGIF

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

Do you appreciate the freedom you have? With the recent onset of the world-wide pandemic, you may feel like you have lost your freedom…and to a degree, you have.

However, freedom is something we can have regardless of the restrictions placed upon us by the government. How is that possible?

There is freedom found in Christ. I think of the story in the Bible in Philippians chapter 1 where Paul was being held in prison. He said that what had happened to him was to advance the gospel. He claimed that he was in chains for Christ! His imprisonment gave his fellow Christian brothers and sisters confidence to share the gospel. Talk about a different perspective!

In the 16th chapter of Acts, Paul and Silas were both in jail. They were anything but despondent. They were singing praise songs to God. In the middle of their praise there was a violent earthquake. All of the jail doors came open and everyone’s chains came off. The jailer woke up and when he realized all the doors in the jail were open, he assumed that the prisoners had escaped. He started to take his own life but before he could, Paul called out to him to let him know that all the prisoners were still there! The jailer had a come to Jesus moment right then and there! His simple question to Paul was, “What must I do to be saved?” How cool is that? The jailer came to realize that HE was the one being held captive, and true freedom is found in Christ.

We all have to face our fears, and we have to adapt to the “new normal,” whatever that might look like. The question is, are you free or are you a prisoner of your fears? Don’t let the storms of life hold you down. You have a choice to make: freedom or fear. Choose wisely.

Shalom!

Daniel Skognes