Day 914 – Thankful for the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Again)

Just over three years ago I blogged about being thankful for the Parable of the Prodigal Son (you can read it here:  Day 161 – Thankful for the Parable of the Prodigal son ).  This evening at church the story was told again.  I find it interesting how the same story can have so many levels and how it seems as if I start to “get” different levels at different times.  Today I saw it through a different perspective and I’m thankful for it.


Sometimes it seems like The Big Guy Upstairs knows when there’s something I need to learn.  Fortunately He also knows that I can be a little slow on the uptake so some messages get repeated over and over in various ways for me to finally “get.”  Over the past couple of months there’s been a message that I’ve gotten through several different sources…  forgiveness.

What really struck me today was just how forgiving the father was.  As I mentioned a few years ago, there was no judgement, no anger, no bitterness, or anything like that.  The father welcomed the son back with open arms and celebrated his return.  He didn’t ask why the son did what he did.  He didn’t ask what the son did.  He asked no questions, he immediately forgave and took his son back in.  The father shows how we should forgive.

Tonight our priest mixed in a very personal story I’d never heard before.  The story was focused on forgiveness in a truly remarkable way.  As awe inspiring as the story was it still took him 20 years to finally forgive the individual.  I give him serious credit for forgiving the person in that short of a timespan.  While I’d like to think I could forgive quickly I know myself better than that and know it is something I need to work on.

And that’s what I am most thankful for today.  The Parable of the Prodigal Son coupled with the personal story from our priest push me to look at the gap between who I currently am versus the ideal version of me.  I’m also thankful for both stories helping me see ways to work on closing that gap.  Over the past couple of hours I’ve already had time thinking about those I hold grudges against of some sort or another.  Tonight as I lay in bed I’ll spend time praying to the Big Guy for their happiness and success.  In some cases it might be difficult and I’ll have to remember how the father so openly forgave without question, judgement or anger.  It won’t fix things, but it should help me start to get myself on the right track.


Day 913 – Thankful for an Awesome Start to My Day – The Strumbellas New Album and Running with the Best Running Partner Ever

What a day it’s been!  So many great things to be thankful for, I’ve been in a great mood all day long.  It’s been busy, complete, full of purpose, and an awesome day.

The start of the day really got it all on the right track.  Sure, the alarm went off at 4:15am for me, but when I picked up my phone I had something waiting for me.  Like a kid at Christmas I was giddy – the new Strumbellas album dropped this morning and it was already downloaded on my phone waiting for me.  As I got ready for our long run I gave it a quick listen.  I love that band!


The reason the alarm went off so early was for Becky and I to knock out our long training run in preparation for our half marathon.  Today was a nine miler and I wasn’t super pumped to run that far this morning.  Luckily for me I have the best running partner ever and she motivated me to get off my butt and get going.  Throughout the run it was so nice having time to the two of us to shoot the bull and enjoy time with no calls or work.  It’s always nice to have great company and motivation while running, my running partner does an excellent job of both on our runs.  I’m thankful to have Becky as a running partner!


Day 912 – Thankful for a Short Bike Ride & Remembering How I Rode a Few Decades Ago

The boys and I went for a short ride down Fisherman’s Rd to see just how high the river had been creeping up.  It was a little more chilly than expected, but it felt like summer regardless.

While we were riding I saw Dominic start moving around on his bike and within a couple of seconds he was pretty much looking like Superman and parallel to the ground while letting his momentum pull him along.  Gavin hollered “Go kart!” and there he was with both feet up on the handlebars.  From there they kept getting more daring and creative and I just get smiling and laughing.


Seeing those two goofballs reminded me of exactly how I used to ride when I was their age.  From riding with no handlebars to moving my feet and legs into all types of unsafe positions I’d be swerving all over the road and enjoying life.  The boys were in the exact same mindset and it was awesome.  This old dog has learned a thing or two and opted out of the craziness this time…  but who knows in the future 😉

The boys also thought it was pretty interesting to ride their bikes in the Black River.  It looks like it’s continued to rise over the past 24 hours – yikes!

All in all it was a great end to the day, chilling with my boys.


Day 911 – Thankful for Unplanned Furniture Repair & Cosmic Justice

Oh boy, cosmic justice, you got me good today!

Way back in the day, pretty sure somewhere in the college years, I had a few of my friends over while my parents and brother weren’t home.  Nothing nefarious or anything, just chilling in the basement watching TV.  For some reason we started goofing off and one of us hurtled through the air and right into the love seat.  With a sickening SNAP we knew we had our work cut out for us.  Sure enough, the leg of the love seat was snapped right off. 

Thankfully a couple of us are relatively handy and we went to town on fixing it.  In no time it was good as new and I crossed my fingers that I’d never have to tell my parents about it.

A few years later I got a very random phone call form my dad and he sounds pretty frustrated.  “Is there something you’d like to tell me about the love seat Mikey?”  I groaned and the incident poured out with full honesty.  After I mentioned how proud we were of the work we’d done on it he got a little weird…  was that a hint of a chuckle in voice or was it just cracking with more anger?  “Mike, it looks like a damn pin cushion with nails sticking out of it everywhere!!!”

With that comment I started laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face.  “Dad, did say ‘nails’?” I asked.  When he confirmed it I laughed again and he started to get angry with me while I composed myself.  “Dad, do you see the two screws in the side that were hidden away and do you see the thin line of glue we used?  We didn’t use a single nail.  I’m pretty sure you’re talking to the wrong son.  You should talk with the one who’s a little less handy.”  At that point I was again overcome with laughter as Dad paused…  “Okay, love you Bud,” and he was gone.  Dad and I would still joke about that incident every so often right up until the day he passed. 

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with that story…

After a couple of brief seconds of my blood pressure spiking that story popped back into my head this evening…  right after Gavin filled me in on how he’d broken one of the dining room table chairs today.  In a flash I could hear Dad’s voice, “just you wait Mikey, just you wait” in my head just like every time I did something that that frustrated him.  He always told me to just wait until one day when I had sons and they would pull the stuff I pulled or break things like I’d broken things.  He was totally right!  The cosmos doesn’t necessarily strike back swiftly, but it certainly exacted justice tonight. 

Quite honestly, it is frustrating that the chair broke, but there’s more to the story.  Gavin and I spent some quality time walking through the plan of how to fix it and we went right to town gluing it back up.  Time will tell if we can completely fix it, but regardless of the result I had great memories of my dad come back into my stream of consciousness, Gavin got to see me take a deep breath and not blow a gasket, and we got some great father son time together…  oh, and I know justice will be done on Gavin one day.  Just you wait Gavers, just you wait.  😉


Day 910 – Thankful for a Reminder of One of My Faults

Tonight’s kind of a weird one.  The day has been fantastic all around.  Great progress on things at work, a strong feeling of living towards my purpose, progress on some personal goals, a wonderful walk up the bluffs over lunch, and an amazing yoga class.  All good stuff, all day.  How weird is it then that I’m most thankful for a reminder of one of my faults?  

Yesterday I finally did something I’d been meaning to do for almost two weeks.  I send an email of appreciation to the boss and boss’ boss of someone who helped me out tremendously.  The purpose of the email was to thank them for a great hire and share an example of what a great impact this person has had on my teams and on me.  Essentially, a pumped up thank you going to her leaders instead of just her.  

When I spoke with her today she shared that her boss had shared it with her and how appreciative she was for the email.  I could hear the emotion in her voice as she thanked me for taking the time to appreciate her and thanked me for “finding the time in my busy schedule to write an email like that.”  My initial thought was joy in hearing the joy in her voice.  The second thought was a little disappointment in myself.

I’d meant to send that email weeks ago.  I could’ve sent a handwritten thank you card to her as well to accentuate how much I appreciate her.  The funny thing is that this person has sent me more thank you notes in less than a year than I’ve sent in total to everyone in the past year.  She is a living example of gratitude and I didn’t take action right away like I should have.

So while we talked I had this wave of disappointment rush over me and I took time to soak it in for a few minutes after the call.  After thinking I realized just how much I appreciated this reminder of one of my faults, my lack of follow through on showing appreciation to others.  Crazy, right?  The gratitude guy doesn’t spend as much time writing thank you notes as he should…  Argh!!!  Cue and apply facepalm.

This slap upside the head was something I was very grateful for today.  In this case my fault still led to her seeing my appreciation while reminding me of the gap I have to close between who I am and who I am called to be.  I can either wallow in my disappointment or I can get off my butt and do something about it.  How wonderful to have a reminder of my faults to remind me to push myself to be the best version of me.

The funny thing is that I’m pretty sure I owe her another thank you…  and this one I’ll be writing shortly.


Day 909 – Thankful for a Book that Has My Mind Heading In Several Directions at Once, and Taking Action

The most recent business related book I read was kind of a dud.  There wasn’t as much depth as I was hoping for and it didn’t seem to apply nearly as much as I thought it would.  Here’s the interesting thing though…  I am still very thankful for reading it.  At one point it references a different book, one that sounded very interesting.  I hopped online, read the description, and it’s not the audiobook I’m currently reading.

I’m not super far into it yet (less than 30%) so I’m not ready to give it as a recommendation, but it’s already causing my mind to go on a rollercoaster ride of ideas.  Some thoughts have me learning the topics the book intended while others have kind of tracked off to the side, gathered up speed, and are now an avalanche of their own.  I love books like this when there are so many different depths to take in.

Rejection Proof

One other thing I’m thankful for is taking action.  Yup, I’m going to sound totally cryptic, I but I took action today to push me closer to achieving one of my dreams.  It was a very simple little step, but it suddenly made it feel more real.  I am so thankful I finally took this step.


Day 908 – Thankful for a Visit From My Mom and Our Last Pinewood Derby

While talking with my mom late in the week I mentioned Gavin’s Pinewood Derby this weekend and invited her to come down to hang out and watch it with us.  Everything worked out and she headed to La Crosse today.

It was a blur of action while she was here, but it was great to spend time with her.  We were able to spend some time shooting the bull over lunch, drove to see the bald eagles migrating through, and then headed over for the race.  It felt great spending time with Mom and sharing our life with her.  There were many times I just smiled as I saw the memories of raising two boys flash across her brain as she observed our family interactions.  We also had fun trading stories of past Pinewood Derby experiences with each other!  I’m always thankful for time with my mom and I’m very appreciative of her making the drive here today.

Today was the 8th and final Pinewood Derby for the boys.  Sure, the results may not have been quite as storybook-ish as Peyton Manning’s farewell, but it ended on a high note.  Gavin and I had time together in the workshop as he made his car this year.  He had the opportunity to learn and grow from adversity, and, most importantly, he had fun.


We’ve made many cars together as a family, and now it’s time to close the door on that chapter of our lives.  I’m looking forward to making cars with them and their kids somewhere down the road, but for now I’m thankful for all of the memories we’ve made in this great event.


Day 907 – Thankful for Biking Grandad Bluff with Becky and Time with Dominic

Becky and I opted out of our normal cycling and yoga classes in favor of a slight change of pace this morning.  We bundled up, hopped on our bikes, and headed to the bluffs.  After taking cycling classes this winter we’ve been chomping at the bit to get outside and ride.  Sure, it was a little chilly (24-ish degrees), but we figured it’d be okay.

Once we cut across town we headed up Bliss Rd and up Grandad Bluff.  Holy crap is that a crazy climb!  The cool part was that we were able to make it all the way up and enjoy the beautiful view from atop the bluffs.  Whether hiking, running, or biking the view seems a little better each time it’s earned.


The way down was amazing, but also a little chilly.  Without really thinking through everything I never thought about low 20’s temps and the windchill of going 25+ mph while going down (crazy to think our top speed was over 30!  I’m sure many of you have gone faster, but that was crazy to see).  Regardless, starting the day with a nice long bike ride outside was a great start to the day.  Throw in the sense of accomplishment of reaching the top of the bluffs and I felt great.

Gavin headed out to Hunter Safety classes and Becky was babysitting for a friend, so it was just Dominic and I.  We went out to breakfast and had a wonderful time shooting the bull with each other.  Feeling inspired we then did a little shopping (mmm…  Holmen Meat Locker…) and had a lot of fun hanging out for the better part of a couple of hours.  What an awesome time for us to hang out and just talk while spending time talking about values.  Once we got home he got some homework done until lunch and then we fired up some games with the two of us until everyone else came home.

It’s not often we have extended periods of one on one time like that and I’m thankful for every moment we had today.  Connecting and bonding with him fills my heart with joy.



Day 906 – Thankful for a Day Bookended By the Moon

What a full day it’s been! As a cool added bonus it began and ended with brilliant views of the moon.

This morning the moon totally lit up the sky when we went for our run. The light was so bright we ran with our moon shadows as additional company.

This evening we set out with the family, dogs included, on a quest to see the Northern Lights. We headed north past Holmen and turned east before Galesville. We followed the twists and turns of country roads that gradually transformed from two lane roads into almost one lane dirt roads on top of the bluffs. When we found the optimal spot I got out and was thwarted by the brilliance of the moon. The light reflecting off it was so intense it drowned out any possibility of seeing the green lights dancing in the sky. When we decided to head back home we plugged in our GPS and realized we’d driven all the way to Ettrick! Sure, it would’ve been awesome to see the lights, but the moon provided some pretty scenic views as we drove through the driftless area’s country roads.

Today started with an appreciation of the moon’s beauty and ended with the same. How cool is that?


Day 905 – Thankful for Family Workouts and Fitness Coach Rufus (Gavin)

Last night Dominic asked Becky if he could go to the Y to workout after supper tonight. Without hesitation the answer was yes. Tonight as we were figuring out who was going to take him Becky also talked me into going. As we started getting ready we helped talk Gavin into going along with also.

Once we got to the Y Dominic split off for some weightlifting while Fitness Coach Rufus (aka Gavin) took Becky and I to the track. Coach Rufus decided to hit the intervals pretty hard as we went from sprints to jogs to sprints to walking and everything in between. After a while he proceeded to take us to the cycling room and led us on a great workout including ladders, hills, and the whole gamut.

It was pretty awesome to get out as a family. I’m so glad the boys are loving the feel of exercise and are open to doing it regularly. What a great way to help them stay healthy AND get some excellent family time.

Seeing Gavin in the role of Coach Rufus put a huge smile on my face. Not only does he crack me up with his larger than life personality, I’m pretty sure Becky and I got a glimpse into the future. He’d be an excellent coach and it’s easy to see him doing some type of a role like that in the future.