Even though I cannot eat (by mouth) anymore, I still love the Thanksgiving Holiday. (I no longer have to worry about that gluttony thing).

Over my 21 year journey with this horrible disease called ALS, I’ve become a more grateful person. I also seem to notice ingratitude in myself and in others more than I did before ALS entered my life.

Through my observations, I’ve concluded that ungratefulness and unhappiness go hand-in-hand. Think about it, have you ever known a happy ingrate? Yeah, neither have I.

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” – Henry Ward Beecher

The Bible doesn’t tell us to be happy, which leads me to believe that not even God could teach happiness. However, the Bible repeatedly tells us to be thankful:

“...let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:15-17)

I know some people believe that happiness is a choice, but I’m not one of those people. As the above passage shows, we can be intentional about being thankful, and if we succeed in this area, I am convinced that true and lasting joy will follow.

This Thanksgiving Holiday, I will renew my commitment to be more thankful to God for His many blessings and to the family and friends that He’s used to bless us.

I’m especially thankful this Thanksgiving because I’ll get to meet our beautiful new granddaughter, Claire Elizabeth.

Since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on November 21, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 103 Comments.

  1. Beautiful! I pray you miraculous healing and joy in the name of Jesus Christ! ✝️

  2. Bill, you never cease to bless and challenge me. I’ve been one who believed (and advised others) that happiness is a choice. But you are so right. The Bible doesn’t tell us to be happy. It tells us to be thankful in everything. It occurs to me that striving for happiness puts the emphasis on myself. Being thankful, puts the emphasis where it deserves. Well, Bill, today I am thankful for you! (Congratulations on your new little grandchild. Blessed!) I pray that I will go about my day thanks-living. Connie

  3. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we can easily lose sight of the “reason for the season”. It is Christ’s birth we’re celebrating…a gift beyond price.

    You are an inspiration to me all year round, Bill. You have a profound understanding both of suffering and faith. I am truly grateful for your friendship.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas!


  4. I love that term Thanks-Living! And congratulations on your beautiful new grand baby. What a cute pie!

    Best to you Bill and your family this holiday season.

  5. Congratulations, Bill and Mary, on the birth of your new granddaughter. What a beautiful picture of your daughter and Claire. I couldn’t agree more about the benefits of being thankful. Melody Beattie quotes rank up there with C.S. Lewis ones–don’t they? 🙂
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  6. Beautiful, Bill. I have to agree with you – a thankful heart is a content heart. It is especially important for me to be thankful when things are really bad. That’s when I see the true power of God.

  7. You teach us to transcend through your own necessary transcendence, Bill, and, as always, I’m grateful for the lesson. Oh, look, you made me thankful. Wishing you all the happiness life can surprise you with, my friend.

  8. Lovely words of encouragement and wisdom! May we all choose gratitude and praise each day, the only path to true happiness. It’s wonderful to see you in my reader, Bill. Blessings to you and your family…congrats on that beautiful grandbaby!

  9. As always Bill, the love of Jesus shines through in your posts. I am so thankful this Thanksgiving season for your wonderful testimony of hope and faith. May your family have a blessed Thanksgiving, and enjoy that new grand baby!!

  10. A happy, holy Thanksgiving to you Bill! Your words encourage us all to be thankful for the big and the small, the messy and the beautiful. And I suppose how we define each depends on the attitude of our heart. ❤️ Please know I am most grateful to have met you. Hugs & Blessings!

  11. I always find your posts encouraging. May the Lord bless you richly this season.

    Enjoy the grandbabies. I look forward with hope to someday having my own grandchildren.

  12. Amen! Excellent point concerning happiness not being a choice, while gratitude is and leads to joy/happiness!

    I am thankful for you and for your love of God! Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. You continue to be an inspiration, Brother Bill. More the Lord bless you richly as you continue your journey in joyful thanks-living! Mac

  14. Bill,
    So grateful for you and the hope that you share ~ Enjoy a memorable day !
    So very precious is your granddaughter! Love to you and your family. Wynema

  15. Great Post! Thank you for sharing such wise words! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! You are truly an inspiration.

  16. Bill,

    Your message is so encouraging! Thank you for being faithful to allow God to speak through you. You can hear His still small voice in your blog with such gentle and kind words that strengthen and encourage all who are blessed to read them. I would love to share this with the ladies I minister to in the county jail.

    Your daughter looks so adorable holding her precious gift from God! So sweet! Congratulations!

    This year I’m so very thankful for the new friendships God has blessed us with!

    Love y’all bunches!


    • Thank you for your encouraging words, Theresa. In a way I can relate to the prisoners you minister to; sometimes I feel imprisoned in my own body.
      Mary and I are thankful for you and Don. Happy Thanksgiving.

  17. Reblogged this on praise2worshipdotnet and commented:
    Happy Thanksgiving. This writer expresses far better than I could the true heart of Thankfulness!

  18. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one step closer to happiness and contentment.
    Thankfulness is such a pleasant thing. Thanks for the reminder. And congratulations on your new little grand daughter. Happiness to you and your family at this season of thanksgiving.

  19. You inspire us all to pursue lives of greater gratitude! Thank you for this wonderful post!

  20. As always, a wonderful message, Bill. I loved the line that not even God could teach happiness. Your newest grandbaby is a beauty. May God bless and all yours.

    Your friend,

    Anna <3

  21. Thank you for the visit today—and that it meant yet another encouraging, timely post from you. Your daughter and new granddaughter are beautiful. I agree with everyone above—you don’t just practice what you preach, you show us how it’s done. From a grateful heart.

  22. There is nothing like a baby to increase our joy! Just watching them learn, develop, and grow through the milestones is a delight–especially as a grandparent! I love that name, Claire Elizabeth. Thank you for your insight that gratitude leads to happiness. You are in a unique position to “preach that sermon,” because you know of what you speak! Happy Thanksgiving, Bill, to you and your precious family.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I agree with you about the joy of a new baby, especially as a grandparent, no having to get up in the middle of the night 🙂
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  23. Thank you for this incredible devotion. May God bless you and your family deeply this Thanksgiving!

  24. Hello Bill,
    Or should I say Grandpa! May your Spirit you commune with engulf your family and Grand children in a inexpiable way this Thanksgiving! May the Joy you share in your good fight, give courage to all who visit you Bill.

    The Joy of the Lord is your strength, Not a easy lesson for us mortals to grasp in our current condition. Help me in this rich lesson to learn and humble myself to its teaching Lord Jesus. Thank you Bill for the hope. My friend continue to taravel the way of the everlasting ONE.
    With Thanks,

  25. Karen Suttle Sanchez

    Bill, I am sooooooo thankful for you and the friendship I have with you and your sweet family!!!! You are an inspiration to so many and your insight and words are what this world needs.

    Thank you for being faithful! Congratulations on “our” new grandbaby!

    Love you!

    • Thank you, Karen. God has blessed Mary and I with good friends like you and Adam. I’m looking forward to meeting Claire tomorrow morning. Lauren and James closed on their home this morning.

  26. Thank you for a thoughtful reminder. Enjoy the visit of your granddaughter. I saw mine last week (early Thanksgiving celebration). Our young grandchildren remind us there is hope for the future.

  27. Hey Bill,
    I am so grateful for you and Mary! I think a grateful heart (like yours) spills many great things into other people’s lives. Contentment, joy, peace, trust, and a deep sense of knowing God all come from a heart fulled with gratefulness. You are a wonderful example of that. Thanks for always sharing the lessons God has been teaching you. God has blessed us all through you (and Mary). Happy Thanksgiving, dear friend!

  28. Thank you for this inspiring message. So good to see you posting again. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Bill.

  29. jacquelinegwallace

    Reblogged this on Brokenness to Beauty.

  30. Bill, your blog is so aptly named. It amazes me that with all you struggle with, you are still able to be thankful. You are 100% right. We can’t choose happiness. It only comes when we are grateful. Thanks for embodying this message for us all! Many, many Thanksgiving blessings to you!

  31. Thank you Bill, i love you brother.

  32. This is true. I have not found happiness in all circumstances, but when I am grateful, even when I realize only God knows why I should be, I am at peace. I have a splintered family, a strong-willed sister-in-law who must control everything and everyone. That gives her comfort. So I am staying home this year. I pray your Thanksgiving is blessed with gratitude!

    • Thank you for your comments. It’s sad that you have a splintered family. I have 9 siblings and, even though we differ on hot button issue, politics, religion…, thankfully we’ve been able to put our love for one another ahead of our differences.
      I hope you have a good Thanksgiving.

  33. Thank you for this encouraging post, Bill. I want to be a Thanks-living person! And congratulations, Grandpa! I’m so glad you get to meet your precious little granddaughter. Each one is so priceless. Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family!

  34. I so value your heart of thanksgiving because it comes from experiencing true pain, discomfort and inconvenience. It’s made you a rich man–and when you share with us, you don’t do so from a place of “getting it”, but from one of humility and genuine gratitude for what you have in Jesus. It really is about perspective, isn’t it? Lincoln, declaring a day of thanksgiving during the midst of a brutal civil war, helped our country focus on what was good about what we had, what the Lord had done and was doing. I appreciate your insights here. It’s helping me see the bigger picture. And congratulations on your beautiful new grandchild. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Bill.

  35. Great post! Thank you!!

  36. No such thing as a happy ingrate. Gotta love that. So good to hear from you. May your Thanksgiving be blessed.

  37. I agree, Bill. Happiness and joy are very different. I believe joy is deep seated and comes from our life’s perspective. Happiness is temporary and dependent on circumstances. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!

    • That’s exactly right, Denise. Happiness is merely an emotion that is tied directly to our circumstances. But, laughter is really good medicine 🙂
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Denise.

  38. Bill, you have shared powerful truths in this post. I’m asking God to carve them in my heart and mind. I think we so easily get caught up in the things of the world and forget to be grateful for what the Lord has blessed us with.
    Thank you for reminding us.

    I’m praying a blessed Thanksgiving for you and yours!
    And congrats on that beautiful grandbaby!

  39. What a blessing to have a new grandchild…. I agree so much that if one can hold on to all that we have to be grateful for, it is a wonderful base for living our lives facing whatever challenges we have, and to appreciate the blessings and joy that we have!…. Happy Thanksgiving Bill to you and your family… Diane

  40. Such a great reminder of how blessed we are. Can’t wait to see you next week. Happy Thanksgiving to all in Texas!

  41. YOU my friend are God’s willing vessel, carrying HIS messages.
    I’m so thankful for your heart. Every wisdom filled post you write is ALWAYS better than any sermon I’ve ever heard and the timing of each one are like divine appointments from God.

  42. Very concrete, Bill. My daughter-in-law observed the epitome of irony on a recent Disney cruise with her family. A small boy, face stuffed and smeared with soft-serve ice cream lamenting over and over, “I’m not happy! I’m not happy!” Gratitude is something worth practicing. You have a beautiful daughter. Congratulations on the arrival of a new life to your family. What a legacy this child will enjoy, a grandpa like you!

    • Thank you, Maria. I suspect that boy’s parents were trying hard to make him happy – that’s the problem. When his kids were little, our Pastor would make them write down five things they were thankful for when they would gripe and complain. Eventually they learned not to gripe and complain to their parents 🙂
      Happy Thanksgiving.

  43. Thank you, Bill for this wonderful reminder! I’m so happy for you & Mary as you welcome a new granddaughter into your family! Brent & I are so thankful for your friendship, and we wish your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Thank you, Debbie. We’re thankful for you and Brent. Lauren and James close on their house tomorrow; they have a new daughter and now they’ll have a home of their own. God is good.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  44. Hi Bill, thank you for your insights and the reminder to always be thankful. So often we fix out eyes on that which is temporary and it can be difficult at times because what is temporary is all around us but if we look up, to that which is beyond this globe, to that which Jesus told us of and is eternal, God’s love can lift the saddest soul. And you have a new sunbeam to enjoy!. A new grand daughter is definitely a joy to behold. Congratulations to the proud parents and I’m sure, just as proud grandparents! God’s rich Blessings on you and yours my friend. – Bruce

    • Thank you, Bruce. There’s so much to be thankful for if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.
      You have Thanksgiving in Canada, right? I think your Thanksgiving is earlier than ours. Happy Thanksgiving anyway 🙂

  45. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  46. Amen! So thankful you get to meet your little granddaughter! My prayer partners and I have recently been thanking God that He has never allowed us to be so comfortable in this life that we forget our desperate need for Him. I, too, want to renew my commitment to perpetually “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4)!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  47. Great and timely devotion. Considering what others endure, shame on those of us who have things relatively easy to NOT be thankful. Thanks for this much-need reminder, have a great Thanksgiving, and I wish you much joy from that new and precious addition to your family!

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