Author Archive

Motivating Children to Learn

Written by Les Dahl on November 23rd, 2014. Posted in Uncategorized

document.write(" geneva;">Boy With His Hands Over His Mouth - David Castillo Dominici


How do you motivate children to learn? For some, it's not a problem. They are born with an insatiable desire to get their hands on books. Others, well...

Three of our four children were keen, highly-motivated students. And then, along came the youngest. She was bright and very intelligent; but she did NOT like to read. Assignments were dutifully completed and high test scores maintained; but take up a book to read 'just for fun'?No thank you!”

Much of my classroom experience was devoted to marginalized students—those other teachers couldn't manage or didn't want. For these students, motivation was understandably a major issue.

Here are three key motivations—often overlooked by parents and teachers—that my students taught me. They revolutionize how I home school two of our grandchildren.

Children are highly motivated to learn as they are allowed to discover.

1. Discovery satisfies children's innate curiosity. From birth children constantly explore, looking to discover interesting and unusual things. Too often, the 'seriousness' of school allows little room for curiosity and the joy of discovery. Even rigid curriculum can be implemented in such a way that children discover what was prescribed for them to learn.

Learning occurs as children take ownership through creativity.

2. Creativity satisfies children's need of ownership. All of us have heard the excited announcement, “Look what I made!”—the joy of creating.

Lincoln was several grade levels behind because he lacked basic reading skills. Worst of all, his younger sister outshone him at school.

Lincoln began to create 3D pictures of words on his spelling list using modeling clay. Each model illustrated the word's meaning based on the dictionary definition, but redefined in his own words. As Lincoln took the test, he scored 19 out of 20. (His parents were absolutely amazed!) “Lincoln, you didn't model that word, did you?” I asked. “No sir,” he replied.

As Lincoln took ownership of words and modeled them with clay, his confidence and his learning accelerated. He went on to become a top student in his class at high school, outshining even his sister!

The simplest expressions of approval from parents is high octane motivation to learn.

3. Parents' approval is by far the strongest motivation. When it comes to school, children will do ANYTHING when they are secure in Dad and/or Mom's approval.

The mother of the two grandchildren I home school, manages 4 gift shops with a staff of 17 in a large hotel. The children are usually in bed when she returns from work in the evenings. But at breakfast every morning, these budding scholars proudly display their work to Mom who responds with dramatic astonishment: “You did this? This is amazing!” Their excitement gushes out in a flood of explanations of what this is and how they did that. Mom soaks it all up with bright smiles and huge hugs!

Are these two motivated for school? With my breakfast tea still in hand, I'm hounded with, “Grandpa, can we do school work now?” It's only 7:30 a.m., but off we go to start our school day!

Incidentally, this Mom is the little girl who refused to read any more than absolutely necessary! She has found her gift and excels in it.

Read more about motivating children to learn in my new book HOME SCHOOL: Why Bother? available in print or digital format at Amazon  


Leslie Dahl

Author: HOME SCHOOL: Why Bother?

My Son, My Daughter

Written by Les Dahl on November 17th, 2014. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll

Boy Praying by David Castillo Dominici

document.write(" geneva, sans-serif; font-size: 24px;">My son, my daughter,

The plans I have for you

are for your well-being, prosperity and peace,

not for evil.

I have prepared for you


more magnificent than you can imagine


that will pull you through

every obstacle along the way.

Call on me,


I will hear you.

Put your whole heart in it;

you will find me

and I will restore your good fortune.

Your loving Father,


Image by David Castillo Dominici /

How to Manage Anxiety & Eliminate Anxiety Attacks

Written by Les Dahl on October 29th, 2014. Posted in Health, Peace, Sage's Scroll, Uncategorized

Corporate Woman Having Headache by stockimages

document.write(" geneva; font-size: 14px;">Shalom!

How do you deal with the anxiety that creeps up on you too often?

Your day unfolds smoothly. Out of nowhere a fretful thought accompanied by a worried feeling slips in. As thoughts gather momentum and anxious feelings accumulate, you begin to sweat, your heart pounds, and you are suddenly short of breath. Anxiety attack!!!

Anxiety attacks can be serious and feel life-threatening, but they are not. With proper strategies in place, anxiety can be defused. Left unchecked, however, these ongoing attacks can lead to panic disorder, severely interrupt normal activities, or worse.

Here is an effective four-step strategy defuse anxiety attacks.

Step 1: Understand what anxiety is.

Whereas panic is much like a sudden thunder storm with ominous flashes of lightening and shattering claps of thunder, anxiety is a gathering storm fueled by stress, worry, anger, resentment and unforgiveness.

Anxiety is programmed into our internal 'hard drive' to warn us of danger (something just doesn't feel right) and to motivate us toward our best (that adrenalin rush when we're about to do something big). If we are human, anxiety is part of our experience at some time. It's part of being normal.

Although anxiety is part of normal human experience, there are indicators that point to excessive anxiety. Like warning lights on the dashboard of our car, these warn us of a fault that demands immediate attention or something serious follows.

Some warning indicators are:

  • Do you worry too much and constantly about everyday events or activities?

  • Are you anxious, worried or afraid for no obvious reason?

  • Do you check, re-check, check and re-check continually just to be 'double sure' you did everything right?

  • Are you so nervous you can't function in certain situations--e.g. trying something new, socializing with friends?

Step 2: Understand what gives anxiety debilitating power.

Anxiety is triggered when we perceive or think our safety is threatened. The thoughts and emotions we attach to our initial perception determines anxiety's power.

Step 3: Identify your anxiety.

Anxiety's assault is three-sided: physical symptoms, thoughts, behaviors. As you learn to recognize the face of anxiety, you can then challenge your anxiety.

Step 4: Challenge your anxiety--put your situation in proper perspective.

Before you jump to conclusions (which will surely result in an anxiety attack), take another good look at your situation.

  • Acknowledge the initial symptoms of anxiety.

  • Ascertain the facts that can move you beyond the initial symptoms.

  • Redirect your internal conversation from negative confessions to positive affirmations.

  • List your options.

  • Take decisive action. Do something! Anything is better than giving up or giving in!

Challenging your anxiety is like bull riding in a rodeo--you only have to hang on for eight seconds. After that, you walk away a winner. Should you fall off before the bell, pick yourself up and get ready for your next ride. It's not over until it's over.


Wishful Thinking or Faith?

Written by Les Dahl on October 25th, 2014. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll, Uncategorized

Prayer by stockimages


What is the difference between faith and wishful thinking?

The dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. Wishful thinking is “feeling or expressing strong desire or hope for something not easily attainable”.

The difference?

Complete trust and confidence vs feeling and strong desire.

But, isn't feeling and strong desire part of faith?

Most certainly!

Sadly, 'religion' conditions us to exercise faith devoid of feeling and strong desire. Jesus referred to that when He said, “You worship Me with your lips, but your heart is far from Me”. (Mark 7:6 paraphrased) Our heart is not in it! Neither feeling nor strong feeling is attached.

Another difference. Wishful thinking sees the object of desire as something not easily attainable. Faith sees the same object with complete confidence, even though, in fact, it may be not easily attainable. Faith, however, dispels limiting beliefs lurking in the inner recesses of the heart, replacing them with complete trust.

How do we transition from wishful thinking which leaves us with unfulfilled pipe dreams to faith which moves mountains?

An important key is prophetic act--a simple action that seeds our mind and heart with confidence that grows, as we nurture it, into the manifestation of the very thing for which we hope.

The following story illustrates.

A severe drought held a small town in a stranglehold. Prayers were lifted toward heaven in hope of rain, but the heavens remained brass.

At a meeting of pastors and lay leaders, an elderly saint announced, “Two things prevent the answer to our prayers, faith and unity. We must urge our congregations to believe. United and sincere, our prayers will be answered.”

The elderly pastor proposed a date at which all the believers in the community would gather for united prayer. “I assure you,” he continued, “if we come together in faith and unity, no one will leave that prayer meeting without getting drenched!”

For the next weeks, sermons, Bible studies and prayer meetings throughout the community focussed on faith and unity.

On the designated day, believers from every denomination gathered on the community field for the special prayer meeting. Anxious faces, haggard from the affects of unbearable drought, turned to the podium as the service commenced.

Anticipation mounted as the elderly pastor rose to address the crowd. His eyes slowly scanned the men, women and children standing before him. A hush settled upon the multitude.

The sage's countenance fell; he shook his head in dismay. “This will never work,” he muttered. “The rain will not come.”

The stunned crowd watched him turn and slowly leave the stage. In shock, the chairman of the meeting questioned, “But brother, don't you see all are here united in purpose?”

“No,” sighed the seasoned saint, “It is true, they have all come hoping for the rain; but as I survey the crowd, not one has even brought a raincoat.”

A simple prophetic act initiates the process whereby wishful thinking is transformed into faith. Faith is that attitude in which we are “confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 CJB)

Under The Shadow

Written by Les Dahl on October 12th, 2014. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll, Uncategorized



document.write(" geneva; font-size: 14px;">Shalom!

Psalm 91 is a signature affirmation of my faith. It aligns my spirit, soul and body with truth that sets me free. 

My morning declaration is: I live in Your shadow, Almighty, and I say, “You are refuge! My fortress! My God! I trust You!” You rescue me from the trap of the hunter and from the plague of calamities; You cover me with Your pinions, and under Your wings I find refuge.(Psalm 91:1-4 paraphrased)

My challenge is to actually believe this truth and then conduct myself as though I truly believe!

Jews around Buczacz in western Ukraine hid the forests to escape Nazi extermination. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Horowitz gives this personal account: “The tramp of the storm troopers came suddenly to our ears. I was sitting with my son Shmuel in our Sukkah in the midst of the forest. All the Jews, who were with us, hurried out and escaped to their hiding places. We two, however, could not do this, since our hideout was only a little away from the Sukkah, and if we went there we would could easily be tracked and found by our searchers. I decided that we would do best to stay in the Sukkah and leave the rest to HASHEM (Hebrew for 'God').

Circumstances had brought me to such a level of faith as I had never before experienced, and I think I never will again. I said to myself that if HASHEM wished us to be revealed to the enemy and be killed, I was prepared to accept this. I only asked that it not happen here in the Sukkah. What a (testimony) it would be if I could tell my fellow Jews that HASHEM had saved me from death while sitting in the Sukkah! 'Not for my sake, HASHEM', I prayed, 'but do it for Your sake (Psalm 115:1) that Your Name may be sanctified before everyone.' I recited Psalms in a whisper (trusting) divine protection.

Then we saw the evil ones approaching. The thud of their boots came closer and closer. They walked back and forth in front to the Sukkah three times but they did not seem to see anything. It was as if they had been struck blind. We peeked out through the cracks in the Sukkah’s walls. We saw them standing right next to us. We saw every detail of their uniforms, but they could not see the Sukkah. Suddenly one of the evil ones pointed off to the distance, indicating that he spotted something suspicious, perhaps a Jew’s hiding place. Immediately they all set off and disappeared into the forest. We took a deep breath, thanking God for taking us from death to life. Later on others were all wondering where we had been while the thugs were searching the area. When they heard that we had been in the Sukkah, they were astonished, and agreed that a miracle had occurred. Even the scoffers among them admitted that God’s hand had been at work. King David’s words had come true for us: “He will hide me in His Sukkah on the evil day.” (Psalm 27:5)

The shadow of the Almighty is my sukkah and in His Presence I find shalom.


The Sage

The Measure of Character

Written by Les Dahl on October 10th, 2014. Posted in Uncategorized

document.write(" geneva; font-size: 14px;">lou-gehrig


Character is assayed by two standards: (1) choices we make when all is well, (2) choices we make when all goes wrong.

In July of this year, the Ice Bucket Challenge--dumping a bucket of ice on someone's head--went viral in the social media. Pete Frates from Boston and his friend Pat Quinn, both diagnosed with ALS created the challenge to raise awareness of the disease and money for research.

The rare, incurable disorder affects nerve cells of the brain and  that control voluntary muscle activity. Muscles wither, followed by paralysis and death, usually within two to five years.

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. His story is one of a man whose character measured greatness on both standards.

Born to German immigrants in New York, Henry Louis Gehrig was the only one of four children to survive infancy. His father struggled with alcohol, often losing his a job. Determined that her son would have a better life, Lou's mother worked tirelessly cleaning houses and cooking meals for the wealthy. She pressed him to get a good education and encouraged his athletic pursuits.

At Columbia University, Lou studied engineering and excelled in football and baseball. A star pitcher on the baseball team, he once struck out 17 batters in a single game.

Lou's prowess with the bat, however, impressed New York Yankee scouts. In 1923, the year Yankee stadium first opened, Lou signed with the team. Included in the deal was a $1,500 signing bonus with which he purchased a house for his parents. With his salary, Lou helped lift them out of poverty and misery.

The unassuming Gehrig quietly made his mark as a professional. Overshadowed by colorful, in-the-spotlight teammates like Babe Ruth, Lou earned respect by his hard-work and ability to play through incredible pain. Over 13 consecutive seasons he scored and batted in 100 runs or more. His records include home runs in a single game and RBIs in a season. In 1934, Lou won baseball's Triple Crown by leading the league in home runs (49), batting average (.363) and RBIs (165).

In 1939, after 16 years and a record 2,130 consecutive games, 'The Iron Horse', retired. ALS caught up with him. On July 4th, a sell-out crowd gathered at Yankee Stadium to honor their quiet hero. Lou's short farewell speech reflects the measure of his character.

“For the past two weeks you've been reading about a bad break. Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Lou paid tribute to his parents, wife and teammates and then closed with, “I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Lou Gehrig left baseball but continued serving his community until the dread ALS took his life two years later. Neither success nor calamity diminished the measure of his character.