Number 99

One Grateful Little Boy

One Grateful Little Boy

In those first days in the hospital after breaking my neck my parents kept my spirits up by creating a list of my blessings and reading it to me every day. Some time after that on a day when I was feeling a little down I decided to pull out a piece of paper and write down 100 things I had to be grateful for.

I had no idea how difficult a task I had set before myself. The first 25 were easy. There were things like family and friends, a good home with good food. The second 25 took a little more energy and a little more thought. The third 25 made me really think. To complete my list the final 25 consisted of any little thing I could think of. I was thankful for ketchup, light bulbs, socks, etc. If I could see it it went down on my paper. Number 99 on that list was the fact that I could pick my nose.

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t pick my nose. When you have to ask someone to help you pick your nose you find out who your friends are. This is not something a lot of people want to talk about, but definitely something you’re grateful you can do when you need to.

I learned to be grateful for this small blessing from a great man who visited my home in my youth. We had been told a few months before that a man of some importance in my church named Robert Harbertson was going to come and stay with us for the weekend. My father went to pick him up at the airport and we all waited in our Sunday best for them to return.

We knew that he was important not only from his reputation, but from the fact that since the day we learned he was going to be in our home my mom began the etiquette lessons. All of a sudden we were eating our SpaghettiOs with three forks, a couple spoons and a cloth napkin.

Finally they arrived. As they got out of the car and walked up the steps to our front door every member of my family wondered what words of wisdom this great man would have to share with us. Robert Harbertson came in our home, looked at me, brandished his signature smile, and walked straight over to where I was sitting.

I couldn’t wait. I wondered what spiritual nugget or life lesson he would have to impart to me. He stood in front of me, looked me in the eye and said, “Jason, I want to see you pick your nose.”

Of all of the wisdom that I thought that he might impart, of all of the words that I would have guessed he might have used, asking me to pick my nose never entered my mind.   But, my parents had taught me to respect my elders and to do as they asked. So I attempted to pick my nose.

I will tell you—there is only one thing more embarrassing than picking your nose in front of someone you have a high regard for, and it is being unable to pick your nose in front of someone you have a high regard for.

He knew about my recent spinal cord injury and that at the time picking my nose would be a struggle for my weakened arms. He looked at me, smiled again and told me that the next time he saw me he wanted me to be able to pick my nose.

Not wanting to disappoint him I spent the following weeks and months working to pick my nose. This is something you do alone. This is not a tag team event, not something you want to get lot of people involved in. But nearly every day I worked to pick my nose. I would sit in my room by myself working to get my hand to my face to accomplish this goal. I wanted to make sure the next time he saw me that I had done what he asked.

Almost six months later, in Salt Lake City, I saw Robert Harbertson again.  The minute he saw me, he walked over to me, looked me in the eye, smiled that same smile, and said, “Jason, I want to see it.”  I will tell you this;  never before, and never again has a nose been picked with the vigor and excitement that was that day. I mean I really  picked my nose. I wanted to make sure that there was no question that I had completed my assignment as asked.

He laughed, and as he did I realized that he didn’t really care whether I could pick my nose, but he did care that I was working to improve the strength in my arms. Even still, every time I think of this experience with my friend Robert Harbertson I think about how grateful I am to pick my nose. I think about all the other “little things” that are a of my everyday life that I so easily forget to count as blessings.

Counting our blessings brings with it an amazing power. Gratitude for one blessing allows you to be grateful for others. Once I learned to be grateful that I could pick my nose my eyes were opened. and I was grateful that I could wash my face, brush my teeth, and feed myself.

Bringing this kind of gratitude into your life will chase away depression. For, there’s not enough room in the human heart for depression and gratitude at the same time. They are oil and water. They cannot exist in the same place at the same time. In fact, the one repels the other.

The wonderful thing about Thanksgiving is that it gives us each and opportunity to count our blessings–to chase the Depression from our lives. During this Thanksgiving I issue a each of you a challenge. Pull out a piece of paper (Kolette has a great one ready to download), number it as far as you like (at least to 10) and fill it with things you have to be grateful for. Then, take the time to share one of those things as a comment on this blog.

If we really get behind this idea, we will marvel at the things we find on our own lists, and have the ability to grow those lists as we see the comments others leave. If you read this post during this season, just take one moment and make note here of something you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. It can be simply one word. But, if we will all do it then we will all be better for it. I’ll leave the first one, the fact that I can pick my nose.

The more comments that are left, the more thankful we will all be. If you don’t usually comment, do so–just this time. Encourage your spouse to leave a comment, ask your children to do so as well. Forward the post to a friend and invite them to put down what they are grateful for. Let’s grow this comment list as a Thanksgiving gift to ourselves.

For, I have learned that by writing down the things I am grateful for, I have a better chance of keeping the depression out, and the gratitude in.



20 Responses to Number 99

  1. Jh- says:

    I can pick my nose

  2. First you having laughing my a** off, and now I am crying!!!
    I have a son who I always have to tell – quit picking your nose!
    Perhaps I should lay off.. and be grateful that he also can pick his cute
    little button nose! (A nine year old)….

    I’ll be back with my grateful list –
    Jason I am so grateful for this blog!

  3. Linda Miller says:

    I would have never thought of putting nosepicking and Thanksgiving in the same talk, but you have managed to pull it off very well!

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m grateful to be a woman in the United States of America where I can contribute and be valued as an equal to and with everyone else.

  5. Michelle says:

    I am thankful for HOPE today.

    Thanks for this post — and sharing your heart

  6. Karen Smith says:

    I’m thankful we caught my husband’s cancer early and have good doctors. Plus since I am disabled and in a wheelchair, I’m thankful we have two grown children really close and are anxious to help us.

  7. Chris Flynn says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Jason….
    I love your humor! and I’m a new reader to your blog.

    I am thankful that for the first time EVER, my two sons (37&38yrs) are getting along and actually sharing a home for a few months.

    I am thankful that my Cousin Michael S recovered from a month’s coma, 3 brain surgeries, and is actually home, walking, joking, ready to get back into life!

    I am also thankful that another Cousin Michael C, has recovered from stage 4 brain cancer and could drive the to the hospital to visit Mike S, and lead the family in an email prayer chain.

    I am also thankful for rereading letters my parents wrote each other the day I was born (long long ago), both professing their deep love and excitement about bringing home baby Christine.

    Your blog brings joy, hope and sweetness. Thanks for offering yourself to us.
    With love and best wishes, Chris, Boulder Creek, CA

  8. Lyn Meeker says:

    I’m thankful that they caught the medication “mistake” … for my dad … he was on a drug (prescribed by a new .. see ya for 5 minutes .. doctor) that he had had an adverse reaction to when they tried it about 5 years ago… it causes really bad .. REALLY BAD mood swings (among other things) … Unfortunately .. he was on it for a week (we thought at first only three days..) so it’s going to take some time for it to get completely out of his system and he can get back to being “DAD” … I just talked to my mom and found out that he is beginning to have some “clear” times …

    I’m thankful that we have the internet and can research all this stuff that Doctors prescribe so we know it’s the medication and not something else!

  9. Kolette says:

    I’m grateful that all of you are getting to know Jason – I’m sure it’s not hard to understand why I fell in love with him 16 years ago. Even though our road has had many twists and turns and ups and downs, we have emerged on the other side of it all still intact – and I like to think we’re better than ever! This year I am so grateful for that and for the evidence of overcoming our circumstances in our little guy coming to join our family. Hooray!

    XOXO, Jas


  10. Anne Gaal says:

    Hi there! My friend Andi recommended your blog and I love the story you shared. I am grateful for the laughter it brought into my life. And I’m grateful for other blessings it reminded me of. Number one would be that I am grateful I can walk. And I’m grateful my husband is alive and that he is my best friend. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. LisaW says:

    I am grateful for another day in which to be grateful. Thank you Jason.

  12. lisa d says:

    Great post Jason!
    I am grateful that my sons surprised me by decorating my entire house for Christmas (complete with Christmas music playing when I walked in the house), because I had said I’d felt overwhelmed at doing all the decorating this year. I am so blessed with 3 wonderful sons and I am so grateful for each of them every day of my life.

  13. DawnS says:

    I am grateful for the beautiful sunrises that greet me each morning!

  14. KristiG says:

    I’m thankful for Christmas music! I love it, and love the day after Thanksgiving when it’s finally “ok” to listen to it!

  15. carol kolakowski says:

    I am grateful for the inspiring words I have found out there in cyberspace via the scrapbooking community…what an amazing, inspirational group of people!

  16. Betty says:


    I am grateful to have found such inspiration here. I recall just going about life doing what needs to be done, not really thinking much of it. I’ve heard u talk b4 but after hearing you at CE this yr…something’s changed. You’ve got me to opened my eyes, smell the coffee, see what’s around me and feel what’s important. I can honestly say in just a few short months I have been fills with such gratitude, & that I am thankful. I appreciate so much more. Thank you Jason! You are a true inspiration!

  17. Brenda Herndon says:

    I am thankful for “My best day so far”.
    I am thankful that I found your blog. Your words have reminded me of all my many blessings my heavenly father has given me.

    You are such an inspiration!!!
    Thank you,

  18. kabin says:

    great thanks \o/

  19. I wonder how many other people would agree with you on this?

  20. Cassidy says:

    I see a lot of interesting articles on your blog.
    You have to spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work,
    there is a tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in couple of seconds, just search in google – laranita’s free content source

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