A Tribute to brother Bill

A few years ago, I had the priveledge of getting to know Bill Sweeney here on WordPress. Little did I know then, that our brief time here on this blog would bring life-changing comfort at a most challenging time for me personally. I looked forward each month to what Bill had to say and always cherished his words.

Bill was on hospice due to decades of living with ALS. He defied the odds. Decades……catch that? Most people who have that horrible disease die within 2-5 years. But not Bill. He was a fighter, a warrior and persevered until the day he went home to Jesus, Dec. 30, 2020.

Bill made the world a better place. His attitude in the face of extreme suffering was something only few of us could ever have. Not being able to talk, walk, move, eat, and being hooked up to a breathing machine yet maintaining his faith and sense of humor, was a God thing. I loved the way he always seemed to have a chuckle within that he wrote on his blog for us to enjoy. Bill used an eye tracking computer to write his posts which was absolutely amazing! His blogging mission was to a preach the gospel which he always wrote committedly in each blog post while leading others to Christ and helping believers in Jesus who also were suffering. He never mentioned his disease in a sorrowful way, he simply wrote about his life with ALS and the hope he knew in Jesus. His determination to never give up and keep on fighting was personally contagious and I strongly suspect many could confirm the same. Many times I felt as long as Bill was fighting and breathing….. then I could fight too.

Summer of 2020, I reached out to Bill in a message hoping for his address so I could send him and Mary a card. His response to me blew me away. In his email he took the opportunity to encourage me in a way no one ever had. Here’s what Bill wrote…..

Hello, Vivian, 
I hope this email finds you well, relatively speaking, of course. 
I will give you our address, but let me tell you something that relates to you. 
I told you about my friend Les and his horrible TBI. As a result, he has mental, emotional, and physical problems. One of his physical problems is blurred vision and double vision. 
We know that the Apostle Paul had bad vision and other physical problems. We also know that he had been stoned and beaten several times. I think his blurred vision and other physical problems were likely the result of a TBI. Some scholars believe that his bad vision was his “thorn in the flesh.” We can’t be sure, but… Little sister, His grace will be sufficient for you until you get your healing. Don’t give up on believing for your healing. Let’s agree in prayer, Father, Your daughter Vivian and I come together to ask for you to heal her brain injury. We stand together in believing that You heal her. We ask You this in the name of Jesus. 
I am praying with you! 
Bless you, my friend, 
Bill 

This note meant the world to me at a time I was very low physically. I was so humbled that he took the time and used his eyes to write this encouragement. He didn’t have to, but he did. The words he used came at a time I was feeling rather defeated. God knew exactly how to use Bill to help me. And that was Bill. He lived to help others. He prayed with others and supported others. Bill was a global missionary with profound purpose: furthering the Kingdom of God.

I strongly believe that was why God brought Bill into my life and countless others. Bill was God’s tool to grow, encourage, and support His church. Bill was a gifted man who loved God like no one in his condition could. God gave him supernatural grace to push through and finish the race that was set before him. Bill was a miracle.

As I think back on all the interactions I had with Bill, I feel deep gratitude. He understood my TBI and even went as far as to equate my suffering with the apostle Paul’s! No one’s ever done that. He would also check on my posts from time to time telling me he was praying for me which meant the world… I’m honored to have known dear brother Bill and as new tears flow down writing out this post I’ve gained a bit of healing as I have had to say goodbye to a dear friend. It may be sooner or later but one of these days I’ll get to meet dear brother Bill as we worship our Saviour forever in glory.

Much love,

Viv

Brother Bill with grandbaby.
Love this picture

A time to speak

The following post is my story in a nutshell which a dear friend has strongly encouraged me to share. We all have a story. We all need to share. There is healing in sharing. There is healing in reaching others with our brokenness and pointing up to Jesus who heals and restores. Thank you for reading and blessings on your 2021!❤


I have often heard it said that brain injury comes in all different shapes and sizes. Whether it’s mild, moderate or severe brain injury, they all hold a very similar characteristic; they are all traumatic.

My traumatic brain injury occured as a child of barely thirteen years old. On the summer of 1991, the minivan full of us five church youths rolled down a steep embankment after missing the guard rail by just a few feet. The seventeen year old driver spaced out at the wheel. Tragically, two beautiful girls went up to heaven that day due to massive head injuries. The investigators of the accident guessed that the 1980s van didn’t explode due to a malfunction in the van’s interworkings, but I know it was God who spared us passengers and it was a miracle any of us survived.

My vague recollection of that frightening day remembers passing out when we finally came to a stop but how long I remained unconscious I do not know. Being the last person to be pulled out of the wreckage and the first to be put on an ambulance, I was taken to a small hospital in the middle of nowhere to be looked over. Surprisingly, I could walk, talk and though suffering a few bumps and cuts appeared to be relatively normal. However, the discovery of my brain injury came many years later.

Fast forward to a mother of four in her mid-thirties who was starting to fall apart physically but had no idea why. Sure there were plenty of signs that something serious was going on but where do you start to get to the bottom of so many crazy symptoms?

I went to the Dr. who ran a plethora of tests and said it’s hypothyroidism. Okay, that’s easy enough to deal with, just take a small white pill and there, no biggy right? Nope. While hypothyroidism is a very serious condition in and of itself, for me it was just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2016 I went completely numb from the waist down. My husband dragged me to a chiropractor who after tests and taking imagining discovered the root cause: head and multiple spine injury. She told me my condition was progressing and we began the journey towards healing through cranial and spinal treatments. These gentle care adjustments for accident survivors are designed to restore healing to the central nervous system while drawing out the injury so the body can heal and gain strength, mobility, and function.

Nothing can fully prepare a person for the emotional, physical, and spiritual impact a broken brain and body brings into one’s life. The hard months of physical pain, exhaustion, and frustration are not the only challenges but also how a TBI effects a person socially. Therefore arriving at the discovery of my head trauma in 2016, I had no idea then that the overall response from others would be……indifference. Thinking maybe it was because in my case my injury went undiscovered for so long, that people just didn’t or couldn’t understand that yes, there are cases in which trauma shows up years later. Yet, upon further reading and researching I’ve learned that sadly the majority of TBI survivors live socially in solitude. This is because friends vanish, relatives are distant, and acquaintances judge which is heartbreaking.

Taking all my emotional and physical pain and sadness, I decided to begin blogging my thoughts in order to speak out in the hope that it would help people understand and offer support. This did not work either because then I couldn’t get anyone to read or follow my blog except for my best friend and parents who always supported me anyway. After a few posts my mom, being my number one fan, told me that reading about my faith was an encouragement to her and gave her hope. It was at that point my mom’s words spoke to my heart whispering gently that my writing endeavour wasn’t about me anymore. It was about bringing hope and encouragement to others and that was when my blogging purpose changed.

Writing words of encouragement in a blog to others who battle brain injury, MS, Chiari, and other chronic illnesses or injuries has been a amazing way to help others which in turn has brought the same to me. While old friends vanished like soap bubbles, I found a few amazing new friends through the blog who have been overwhelmingly supportive of me and a huge blessing to my life.

I don’t know why God allowed me to survive the accident that tragic day when my two friends died, yet I do know God is good and wise and has a plan for my life. I thank Him every day for a chance to grow up, marry, and have my four beautiful kids who bring so much joy. While there is no known cure for a TBI, I have heard that there can be improvements with proper therapies and treatments which gives this brain injured mama a whole lot of hope.

Written December 27, 2020 by vivjoywriter