Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our many blessings. Mary and I have so much to be thankful for. You might be thinking, “but you have ALS, you can’t eat turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes with gravy. You can’t even eat pumpkin pie with a good cup of coffee for dessert…” Yeah, I think the same thing every year, it’s a real bummer sitting there watching family and friends eat Thanksgiving dinner while the “food” pump next to my wheelchair delivers formula into my feeding tube.

More frustrating than not being able to eat is not being able to speak when family and friends are gathered around our tble. I try to chime in using my computer’s Text-to-Speech app, but it takes me so long to type my thoughts that usually the group has changed subjects two or three times by the time I finish typing a sentence or two. Before ALS robbed me of my voice, when I was taking part in the table’s conversations, I never noticed how quickly even a small group changes subjects.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The above verse doesn’t tell followers of Christ to be thankful for our difficult circumstances; God doesn’t call us to live in a state of denial. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can remain thankful in the midst of even the most difficult circumstances.

I am a more thankful person today than I was twenty-two years ago before being diagnosed with this dreadful disease. Way back in 1996, I was able to work, walk, speak, eat, and do all the other things that “normal people” do (I really miss being able to operate the television remote control). Like others living the so-called American dream, I took so many blessings for granted.

“If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8).

We have a home, clothing and, even though it’s not the food I’d like, this manufactured formula has sustained me for the last twelve years that I’ve been unable to eat by mouth. But, Mary and I have so much more than “food and covering.” We have air conditioning for the hot Texas summers, a heater for the cold Texas winters; we even have a water heater for hot showers. These are just a few of the many blessings I took for granted before ALS. Now, I thank God every day for so many blessings, including my wheelchair, my faux food, and my breathing machine. I am especially thankful for this eye-tracking computer that allows me to communicate and form relationships with followers of this blog.

More than the luxuries that God has given us, we’re so thankful for the family and friends He’s surrounded us with – including the friends I’ve connected with over the last six years that I’ve been posting on this blog.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)

If you are going through one life’s many difficulties, even if you don’t feel like doing so, try thanking God and those in your life that are trying to help you. Give it a whirl, I know first-hand that it will change your outlook for the better.

In my post from November 2nd titled, “Do ‘All Things’ Really Work For Good,” I wrote about Mary losing her job. She’s had this job working from home for twenty-nine years. At the suggestion of a few friends, my brother set up a Go Fund Me Account for us. I included a link to the account on my last post (“The Depth Of My Pride”). And, WOW, the response from family and friends, and so many of my fellow bloggers, my blogging family, was overwhelming!

The Go Fund Me Account has been such a blessing to us. Mary has worked that full-time job from home the whole time I’ve had ALS. As I’ve become more dependent on her, especially after my having pneumonia in September, it became like she was working two full-time jobs. All day long she was running back and forth between her office and our bedroom. It was becoming more and more stressful on her.

Through the GFM account, God blessed us through all of you that gave. We are so thankful to God and to those of you who gave to GFM. We are also very grateful for those of you who have been praying for us. We know that prayer works and is so powerful. In fact, we are convinced that it was prayer that led to the GFM account.

However, as much as a blessing your gifts and prayers have been to us, nothing compares to the greatest gift that God has given to man. This is what we’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving day, and every day of the year:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

God is good!

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 22, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 77 Comments.

  1. A wonderful post, Bill. Thank you again for opening your life to us. Your comments about food brought back a funny memory from Diane’s ALS life. Our adult son was there to visit with her (as were David and I). Our son had just opened a can of Coca Cola when Diane communicated her desire to have some! Of course we were flabbergasted–but, knowing she always meant what she said, our son cooperated by giving her some via her feeding tube! Sometimes the worst of times can produce moments like this that stand out as bright lights. Not to detract from the rest, but to remind us of our common humanity. I hope you and your family have moments like this during the coming year.

  2. Wonderful article! Very inspiring! You’re reliance on God is admirable and commendable. As humans we can never truly be happy or feel fulfilled in life until we are “conscious of our spiritual need,” (Matthew 5:3). I also enjoy Psalms 20:7. It says, “Some rely on chariots and others on horses, But we call on the name of Jehovah our God.” ❤

  3. Wow this is the best Thanksgiving post I’ve read on WordPress

  4. I am so thankful for you, Bill Sweeney, and for all the marvels that allow you to communicate through this blog to people like me.

    Two days before Thanksgiving, on November 20, I saw a surgeon and he confirmed what I suspected, that I have skin cancer. I am scheduled for surgery on December 6.

    I really hate the word “cancer”. This makes the third time in the past 39 years that a doctor has told me I had cancer. Each time, it was a different cancer in a different part of my body. I am thankful that I was healed of the first two cancers, along with a precancerous polyp that was surgically removed from yet another body part, 20 years ago. But now I have cancer again. Although this type of skin cancer rarely spreads or kills a person, even so, I don’t like it. Especially considering that I have almost died twice in the past, from an anaphylactic shock reaction to anesthesia. In just a little over a week, I will go under anesthesia again.

    But even so, I have so much to be thankful for. So many things, that my gratitude list is very long, way too long to write here.

    Like I said at the beginning of this comment, I am so very grateful for you, Bill, and for your inspirational, motivational blog.

    Thank you!

    • Thank you for your encouraging comments, Linda. I just finished reading your post about cancer – after reading your About page. You are one tough lady, especially now that you have Christ with you.
      I’ve had my own battles with skin cancer, but only basal cell, thankfully. Earlier this year I had to have a basel cell removed from my lower eyelid. The plastic surgeon didn’t get it all the first time so he had to go deeper. Ouch.

  5. If anyone had a reason to grumble it would be your family, yet you remind us how blessed we all are. Another, inspiring, gracious and sincere post. Thank you!

  6. Your posts are always so very inspiring! As I read through this one, I was moved to stop and thank God for so many of the blessings I too take for granted. Praying for you and Mary! Pressing on, God bless!

  7. I’m so inspired by you. My life has been a series of losses and great challenges, but nothing like ALS. The last person I knew with the disease was an incredible young lady who had the same courage and perseverance which you have. She was a patient of mine in a long term care facility. I’ve had physical problems more related to aging than anything else. I often wondered when I was caring for her if I could have had the positive outlook she had. Reading your posts are more than encouragement. They are testimonies to Grace and Hope provided by our Lord. Thank you for the hard work it must take to provide us a window into your soul. God bless.

  8. Your grateful attitude uplifts us all, Bill. Thank you for the steady inspiration. And thank you for your friendship. Blessings, A. <3

  9. Bill, your words are conveying more blessings than you know. The Lord takes them and works them in the hearts of your readers. You and Mary are blessings to me as I care for Jerry. Much love and blessings as you continue to focus on our Lord, His life in you and through you for others. 🙂

  10. Such good news, Bill. Praise God! With Heidi Viars above and many others, I thank God for you and Mary and the strong testimony you live out, demonstrating that with God all things ARE possible.

  11. Your perspective on life and hope and gratitude are so thoroughly God-honoring and encouraging to others. You know first-hand what challenges can do. What hard times mean. What pain is like long-term. And yet you have genuine gratitude for what God is continuing to do in your life. My friend who developed ALS less than a year ago recently died. I was thinking of how we’ve no guarantees on time or who we’ll get to see and when. Taking the time to be grateful is a gift and a necessity. Thanks for your encouragement, my friend. Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with hope.

    • Thank you, Dayle. I’m sorry about your friend passing away, this darn disease… You’re right, we have no guarantees in this life. I also agree that being grateful is a necessity, if we want to have joy, peace and hope. Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. God bless you and your family my friend.

  13. Bill, I have read your posts since the beginning. Just heard from another ALS patient in CA diagnosis in 1995. Caring for those with this hideous disease since 1982, no one knows except The Almighty how long the journey will be. Bless you and Mary. Stay strong.

    • Thank you, Mary Beth. Those who are caregivers for people with ALS, are the best! You must be a very patient person 🙂 The patient you mentioned was diagnosed with ALS in 1995, wow, a year longer than me. I wonder if this patient is on a vent? I don’t want to go that route.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Blessings from Australia.
    I am so glad to have found your blog.
    You and Mary are such an encouragement of faith and trust in God. 💟

  15. My heart is glad for your many blessings.
    I am human, so of course your illness makes me sad,
    but your courageous response is a source of joy and
    awe. I thought of you and your family today and included
    you in my prayers, and will continue to do so. Thank you
    for keeping this blog. It makes every day Thanksgiving.

  16. Thank you 🙂

  17. Great message!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  18. Happy Thanksgiving Bill, to you and your entire beautiful family! I count meeting you in this cyber-space as a true blessing. Your posts are always a reminder that a thankful heart is a happy heart. And to be glad for what we have, rather than focusing on what we may be lacking. Hugs & Blessings dear friend!

  19. Happy Thanksgiving Bill to you and Mary and your family! 🌷

  20. Bernadette Pfeiffenberger

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mary and family.

    I had a dear friend who struggled with the effects of diabetes. Kidney failure, a kidney transplant, amputation of limbs, along with numerous infections did not stop him from praising the Lord and giving thanks for all the Lord had given him, including his failing health. He dug the well for others to drink from the refreshing waters of our Lord. He was a witness and my faith grew through his struggles. Did not seem fair that his struggles brought me humble blessings.

    However, to walk with someone such as my friend and to witness your faith, it allows the Lord to replace the heart of stone within and give us a heart of flesh to love more.

    You and your family are expressions of the Love that is understood beyond knowledge. Nothing, nothing separates those in Christ from the Love of God.

    Thank you and God’s peace – your are a blessing.

    • Happy Thanksgiving, Bernadette!
      I wish I would have known your friend. He was the type of person we need to surround ourselves with, especially when going through difficulties. God will bless us with peace, Joy and Unshakable Hope if we rely on Him in the midst of a trial.

  21. I am thanking God for the blessing you and your family are. There is a reason for every thing and yes we must give thanks for it all.

    • I agree with you, if we’re walking in the Spirit, there is a good reason for even the bad things that come our way. The reason might not be revealed (to us) in this life, but, eternally speaking, all things will work for good. Happy Thanksgiving!

  22. This is such a lovely post. I’ve just been to my brother’s in Houston. I am so close to him but his wife and I have not, in their 18-years of marriage become close as I’d hoped. I traveled here from NC and won’t go into the heartbreak here but suffice to say no matter how hard I keep trying I am rebuffed over and over. My dad told me before he died to never give up, but I wonder sometimes. I just know how much I would miss my brother.

    Anyway, sorry for the whine. Thank you for your good wishes and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • I’m sorry your relationship with your sister-in-law isn’t what you hoped it would be 18 years ago. I like your dad’s advice, don’t give up. Welcome to Texas. Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. Bill, you have been a heaven-sent mentor to me. Beside the word “Christian” in the dictionary is your picture. Your life, or more specifically the way you’ve handled what life has thrown your way, is so humbling, Christ-centered, and beautiful. Surely there is a crown waiting to be placed upon your head one day. I can’t help but wonder about how many lives have been positively impacted by your exemplary attitude.
    May God bless you and Mary beyond your wildest dreams Bill.

    • Thank you, Ron. You got me thinking about what word in the dictionary my picture would be next to, “Christian” didn’t come to mind 🙂 When you’re physically and spiritually helpless, relying on God and Mary was/is my best choice. Maybe my picture would be next to the word “helpless.” I’m okay with that – God’s grace.

  24. Happy Thanksgiving Bill! I didn’t know about your GFM. I’m sorry that I missed it because while I could not have donated much, I could have sent something to my fellow PALS! It is not Thanksgiving here in Canada, ours is in October. I know all too well how missing the meal feels. I have thought about creating a turkey flavoured ice cream, I can still manage ice cream – against doctor’s orders, but didn’t think that would taste very good! lol
    I am thankful for my life now. I am thankful that I found you and I am thankful that you are feeling better. Prayers and love! xo

    • Happy Thanksgiving, Lisa! I’m glad we connected, too.
      This sounds gross, but when I was still trying to eat by mouth, on Thanksgiving, Mary would blend turkey, dressing and gravy until it had the consistency of ice cream – delicious! For dessert, she would blend vanilla ice cream and pumpkin pie – also delicious. I’m tempted to try it today, but Mary probably not agree to do it 🙂

      • I don’t think it sounds gross and I’m tempted to try the turkey, gravy and dressing one. Alas, it would not melt and that is the only reason I can still manage ice cream! Oh, how I do miss the dressing! Fortunately I have created a pumpkin pie ice cream recipe that doesn’t require an ice cream maker! Yay! lol
        I do have trouble opening my mouth to get the ice cream in. That may be a blessing because if I could open up wider, I might eat too much at a time. As it is now, I get just enough in that it’s not much different than me swallowing my saliva. Now, what do you think about an ice cream flavoured like dressing? I miss bread… xo

  25. Hi Bill and Mary, happy Thanksgiving to you two and your wonderful family! There will come a day when we’re all together for the wedding feast of the Lamb. Now that will be a feast to end all feasts! Love, grace and blessings as always.

  26. Thank you God, for Bill and Mary. Bless them Lord, with so much more of your love every single moment.

  27. God is good… We (I) sometimes forget that He knows and feels everything we are going through. This past week we have realized that even when we’re not aware.. He is watching over us and offering protection. I don’t usually give links to my posts but instead of explaining it here, if you want to read it this is what happened… anyway Happy and a Blessed Thanksgiving Bill… take care Diane

  28. Everything you write moves my heart and encourages me to continue running the race marked out for me. Thank you for having the patience and endurance to use the eye gaze technology to inspire us all. I’m so thankful I found you. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Thank you, Terri. I am so glad that I found your blog, you inspire me. The eye-tracking computer will make you patient – or make you crazy! It works okay in my darkened room, but right now I’m in the kitchen watching Mary cook. Way too much glare. Happy Thanksgiving!

  29. AMEN!
    Happy Thanksgiving my friend. May God bless you Mary, and family!

  30. Thank you. Blessing from Uganda. You encourage me every time.

  31. What a blessing you are Bill!

  32. I give thanks for you and Mary and the way God has used you in so many lives. I am grateful you two show us the way toward loving Jesus. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 2:9 “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
    I know one day we will get to see and experience that reality. Thanks for helping us to keep our eyes on Jesus while we struggle our way to Heaven.

  33. Happy Thanksgiving and such a heartwarming post about what it means to be truly thankful! Blessings to you and your family!

  34. Amen sir! I have a real bad attitude about my Celiac Disease sometimes and I repent. What you said hit home for me and I say Amen! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and God bless you all!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: