WHY I GIVE THANKS: Seeking joy and miracles in every moment

Dave Passehl

Being thankful means being grateful and finding joy every day!

Have you ever been asked what you are thankful for? It’s harder than you think; unfortunately it is far easier to talk about our problems, sadness or complaints in general. Our circumstances typically set the tone each day, but today and most days, I choose to be joyful. Many who know me know that I am an eternal optimist and try very hard to find joy in whatever situation I’m put in. I’m happy that I am able to create that perception of optimism, but you should know that I have daily struggles just like you … but I choose to dig deep and find joy.

There are so many immediate things I think about when asked what I’m thankful for. Like my beautiful wife and children and our parents who have laid a foundation of integrity for us to build on. Our health and protection which we pray for each day. A great and supportive group of friends who share similar family values and interests. For an amazing community to live in with great schools for our kids to attend and a wonderful church to worship at freely. Our home to live in, and cars that work; the freedoms we enjoy because of those who fought for them. This short list can go on and on, but I’ll simply expand on a few.

I am grateful for a family that loves and supports me and makes me feel that I matter to them. My wife, Leah, and I both have parents who care and lead by example, and we each have brothers and sisters who are not just family but are our friends, too. My wife has been my biggest fan since we met 24½ years ago, and I couldn’t imagine life without her. I’m grateful that God put Leah in my life at literally just the right time that many years ago, and she has been my partner in life since. We’ve struggled and thrived, just like everyone else, but have learned that living to honor God and each other has created a life we were destined for. We are blessed with four children who are smart, caring and talented and who certainly keep us on our toes. From age 9 to 17, I can say we seem to always have a sporting event, school event, a church event and of course another ski show to get to! But we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m proud of each of them and pray for a veil of protection over them every day. God has big plans for all of them, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’m grateful to live in Shawano for what we feel is a small community with big opportunities. Traveling around our country, we often find nice places to visit, but Leah and I always look forward to coming home. Shawano provides a safe place to live, with so many resources and opportunities to enjoy life. We love the time we spend on the Wolf River and Shawano Lake with family and friends, our vibrant downtown and walking into a restaurant and knowing most of the people in it. I love how our community rallies around the Shawano Ski Sharks, our family’s summer pastime that we can all participate in together. I’m grateful that our city leaders continue working to make our city great … including helping our ski team carry out our crazy visions of making Shawano a true water-ski destination.

I am grateful for the blessing of growing a business in our great little town. Our financial planning firm is built with an amazing team of advisers and the best administrative team anyone could hope for! Waking up every day and looking forward to working with our team, my business partner, Scott, and our incredible clients is a great feeling and makes my work not feel like work, but as a calling to serve.

As I close on the dialogue for what I’m thankful for, I wanted to share words of wisdom that my good friend Manny reminds us of all the time: “No matter how bad we think we have it, there’s a million other people that would trade their circumstances for ours in a heartbeat.” This sits well with me, and I think it is the perfect summary to why I choose to be grateful in all circumstances — as hard as it can be sometimes. If you really think about it, your days are made up of hundreds of little victories — even miracles — that if you would notice them, I suspect that joy could be found even in the struggle. So, when you ask me how I’m doing, and I respond in one of my two classic ways, “never better” or “living the dream,” please understand, not everything in my life is perfect, but I work very hard to live with joy in my life and I hope my response is encouraging to you.

Dave Passehl is president of the Shawano Ski Sharks water-ski team and a Thrivent financial representative in Shawano.