Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anyone Can be Thankful - Or Can They?

Thanksgiving is always a bittersweet time for us. It was on Thanksgiving Day 12 years ago that our son, John left to hike across the Kohala mountains on the northeastern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. It was just another Thanksgiving Day and we of course, joined with our extended family in giving thanks. Ho-hum....

John even expressed in his own words all of the things he was thankful for. This is what he wrote in his journal 6 days before Thanksgiving:
"Well, since Thanksgiving is coming up, I'm going to work on counting my blessings, which, says Mom, are many. First off, I'm living in Hawaii right near HI Volcanoes National Park. It would be hard to imagine a more unique spot on the planet. I have a job with the U.S. Geological Survey, an important organization that will be spicy on my resume. I'm working in field biology, gaining valuable experience that will help me in my decision of whether to pursue graduate studies, and if so, in what. I'm in better physical condition than I have been since I was 15 (with the possible exception of times near field day at PQQ). I have an awesome mountain bike for the first time in my life, and so far I haven't entirely killed myself on it yet. I have two wonderful, supportive parents, and an amazing sister and a cool brother. I have a set of extremely varied experiences that is broader culturally, geographically, and educationally than most people gain in a lifetime, and there is no sign that I will cease or slow down in gaining further experience. Most importantly, I'm a child of God and I know where I'm going - I just need help finding out what to do in the meanwhile."
But Thanksgiving of 1999 was the day life threw us a curve ball. And we didn't even see it coming!

So what do you do? How can you be thankful? How is it possible to fulfill the scriptural mandate to "give thanks in everything" when one of the relationships you treasured most on this earth has suddenly and ruthlessly been ripped away from you.

I must confess that it isn't easy. But it is possible!

This week I had the privilege of presenting the "counsel time" to a group of children at our church who attend AWANA club. And I posed this same question to them (ages 3 to 16) - how can you be thankful for something you aren't thankful for? As we worked through this exercise together, I asked each of them to think of something they were NOT thankful for and then to think of a way to turn that into thankfulness.

What I was trying to illustrate was that our words and attitudes have the power to change our perspective like it did in this video.

For me, Thanksgiving Day of 1999 changed my world. But on December 17, 1999 God transformed my heart by giving me His perspective. All I can say is that it was even more radical than the transformation in the video above. God turned my deep sorrow into real joy and yes, even thankfulness for the 22 years I had had with my son. Read our book, Aloha is Forever, for the rest of the story!


  1. What a powerful lesson to teach the youth. Happy Thanksgiving Sharon!

  2. I love this video! Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good gracious, the video made me cry. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. This is a tough one. I confess that today's prompt on my 30 Days of Gratitude thing was about being grateful after a loss, and I just couldn't summon the courage to do it. Not today.

    But I will post your entry there. It's important.

    Look for the 30 Days of Gratitude group on FB, your link will be there in a second.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.