October

October is my favorite month of the year!

When I was a kid, October was my favorite month because my birthday is in October (5th), and it meant I’d be getting gifts and having cake and ice cream. What’s not to like?

As I grew older, the whole birthday thing became less and less important to me; especially after ALS took away my ability to eat the delicious carrot cake that Mary made me for my birthday. No ice cream needed with her carrot cake, just a good cup of coffee.

ALS has also made it difficult for people to buy me gifts for my birthday. Golf balls? No. ALS has taken away my ability to golf. Neckties? No. ALS has taken away my ability to work. A weekend away? No. ALS has taken away my ability to travel. On and on the list goes. ALS has turned me into a reclusive minimalist.

A year ago, on September, 23rd, I came down with a horrible case of pneumonia. I went downhill rapidly. A few days later, even taking heavy doses of antibiotics, I continued the downward spiral. When my kidneys shut down, my palliative doctor handed me off to hospice.

After a week in bed taking heavy antibiotics, to everyone’s surprise, including Mary’s, she’d later confess, I began to improve. I improved enough to celebrate my birthday with our family. My breathing is weaker, I usually have to use my ventilator most of the day, and I battle extreme fatigue, but I am here to celebrate yet another birthday.

I’m thankful to God that He’s allowed me to be here for yet another birthday. But, as I said, birthdays are no longer a big part of why October is my favorite month, and I why fall is my favorite season.

It’s the weather!

When I was growing up in Chicagoland, October was great weather for riding bikes, playing basketball in the driveway, foursquare in the street, or football on the field behind us. This was before computer games, cellphones, cable TV, and so many other time wasters. The colorful leaves were falling all around us as we played; a constant reminder that the long and frigid Chicago winter would soon be here. We had to full advantage of the October sunshine.

Today, so many years later, I live in Texas, over eleven hundred miles away from Chicago. I have been stuck in the house all summer because it is too hot to go outside! Seriously, I don’t even remember the last time I’ve been outside. I’m thankful for air conditioning. I was so happy to see that the weather forecast said we’re going to get our first “cool front.” The daytime high is only going to be around 80 degrees. Brrrrr.

Over two decades ago, ALS robbed me of the ability to play sports or enjoy other outdoor activities. But I still enjoy sitting outside and listening to audiobooks or watching our three grandkids play. God has truly blessed us.

Get outside and enjoy October!

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 October 5, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 164 Comments.

  1. Like you, I am so grateful for what I do have. A big amen for another encouraging blog post, Bill.

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  2. Jennifer Stepanski

    I Love you Bill. Happy Birthday Month! Blessings for a wonderful October and many days of outside! Thank you for your post and your friendship! Your love and support are blessings! Jesus is working a miracle in you daily. May His healing power be all over you, working in you right now! Praises for your wellness. Standing on His Promises. Jennifer S

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  3. Thanks for your testimony of God’s faithfulness at every step of the way, even through 20 years of ALS.

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  4. I’m an October guy, too, Bill. And happy birthday, btw, rather selfishly, simply because I’m glad you were born and are still here to bless us with your wise words and godly spirit. See you in the golden fields of eternity one of these days, my friend.

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  5. Lynda Kay Verity

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL!!! and HAPPY FALL! So glad to get this new installment of your blog. I feel my spirits had lifted this morning just feeling the air down in the 60s, brrrr. I opened up the windows (which have been on lock-down and covered up with sun blocker curtains) all summer. How refreshing it is. I do hope you get outside this week. It is supposed to be gorgeous here in East Texas. Fall has always been my favorite too. I grew up in Minnesota and the fall was fantastic for collecting different shapes and colors of leaves. We had this urgency to our play because we knew fall was short and soon the winter and early darkness was close by. Harvest was done and all the farmers had their pumpkins on display and hay bales for hayrides. It was always so cold at Halloween we had to wear coats over our (homemade) costumes, nothing store bought. I bet it was the same for you in Chicago. Football games got more enjoyable because you had to get hot chocolate and sit in the stands to watch, who cares who was playing, it was all about the concession stand. Nice to think of old memories. Love and Hugs to you and Mary!!! Have a fantastic fall. ~♥~

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  6. Happy belated birthday, Bill! I pray you enjoyed a day of blessings–much deserved if you ask me! I too relish every day I can sit outside on our deck to read, work on my current Bible study, watch the birds, squirrels, and the occasional deer, etc. Your comment about the heat rang true for me, since we lived in South Florida for 23 years. I do NOT miss that steamy weather! Years ago while visiting my brother in Austin, TX, the temperature at sunrise was going to be 68 degrees. He asked me if I brought a coat! (Need I explain he has a highly-developed sense of humor?!)

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  7. Happy Birthday 🙂

    Fall arrived exactly on your birthday for us here in Virginia. The temperatures stayed constantly in the high 90s week after week and then suddenly October 5th brought us a high of the 70s.

    Thanks for your willingness to share and inspire so many!

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  8. Happy Belated Birthday! Fall for me growing up was simply the excitement of Halloween and the days drawing nearer to the Christmas season. Growing up in Southern California, you don’t really get a fall. Now, living in Washington state, there’s no denying the change. This year it hit in September for a record-breaking low temperature of 45°F for a high. Up here, fall crosses an abrupt line, which is mostly indicated by the lows (mid 30°F-40°F). The fall colors are certainly beautiful, but it’s a bittersweet goodbye to the temperatures that allow for outdoor activities and wearing shorts. There’s maybe a month of having the windows open off and on to the heater coming back on 24/7. It may be April before we enjoy that again, winters are long here. But every day is a gift from God. Every season brings something new.

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  9. Birthday Blessings, Bill! God knows where you are and He will help you fulfill a specific plan He has for you.

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  10. Happy birthday! Fall is my very favorite too! Right now I’m sitting by my very large front window watching 100 hot air balloons fly by. It’s balloon Fiesta right now in New Mexico. The largest in the country. It’s not uncommon for them to land on our street. Which turns our homeschool day into an adventure! I love everything about fall! I pray that this fall brings you new blessings!

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  11. Happy Birthday Bill. 🎈 To be able to celebrate life and its seasons, as you do, are a grace and gift from God, that we should all aspire to. Blessings to you and Mary 😊

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  12. Happy birthday 🥳.
    Down under in Australia I enjoy October as it brings in warmer weather and sunshine as we come out of winter in September.

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  13. Happy Birthday Bill! I hope you are able to go outside and enjoy some October weather. You are such an inspiration to so many people, and you are also such a great writer. I look forward to seeing an email letting me know there is a new Unshakable Hope article. Keep being you!

    Marsha Kuzmanoff

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  14. I love the fall too. Even though the daylight hours grow shorter, the cooler weather allows more enjoyment outdoors. Your post are always inspirational.

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  15. Happy October to you Bill, I love it too! Growing up in the LA area I was never aware of the seasons and actually felt sorry for folks who had to battle snow. Then the Lord saw fit to move us to Delaware with the US military, where we discovered we enjoy the changing seasons so much that we stayed! Thirty-five years later, I still love watching the dramatic changes that come with fall and look forward to the contrast between barren trees reaching toward gray-blue winter skies. Giving thanks for you, Bill . . . for the blessing of a perspective that points to God’s goodness despite limitations. Celebrating God’s goodness with you–Happy Birthday!

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  16. Oh, Bill, I grew up in the Chicago area and absolutely LOVED autumn. The crisp weather, incredibly beautiful leaves (we had a whole street of maple trees that canopied an entire mile of the road–breathtaking). This season was the reminder of ends with the onset of winter, the anticipation of new beginnings come spring. Autumn always made me think of the full circle of God’s love–our beginnings with such beauty, death entering the world with sin, new life in Jesus with growth in summer that marked maturing. I hope your birthday was a reminder of how well you’re celebrated–God has you in such a unique role, one I can never begin to understand but one I know He’s fully engaged in. Thanks so much for the reminder of enjoying the moment with the change of seasons–even in Texas and Florida!

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    • Thank you for your poetic message, Dayle. Wow. Florida and Texas are not as beautiful in fall as it is back home, but I don’t miss the Chicago winters. I had a red maple planted out front years ago so we’d have some fall color 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Happy Belated Birthday Bill!
    May our Father continue to snuggle you close to His bosom and remind you just how special you are to both Him, and us here in blogosphere. I’m thankful for fall too, just having a chance to turn the air either all the way up or off and enjoy the stillness of the transition in seasons is so encouraging to my soul. The significance of another year coming to a close which will yield the blessing of another year 🙌🏽.
    My love to you and Mary. You both remain faithfully in my prayers. ❤️

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  18. Happy Birthday, Bill! You grow dearer to us as time goes by. May God bless and keep you w/ us another year. Like you, I love October. It seems to me bursting w/ color and filled with light. Your friend, Anna ❤

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  19. Happy birthday! I agree with you about the October weather. Do kids even jump in leaf piles any more?

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  20. Happy birthday! I am thankful to God for you🙏♥️

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  21. Happy birthday Bill. Carrot cake one of my favourites. You remind me to slow down the eating and taste as one day I may not be able to. I have not sent you a gift and cannot visit you but right now I have stopped. …. Thanked God for you and Mary, asked the Holy Spirit to give you supernatural, unexplainable, incomprehensible; peace, joy and strength. My birthday is 23rd, wedding anniversary 20th both October. I turn 60 and married for 40. October is a wonderful month.

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    • Thank you for your comments and prayers, Phil. You have some milestones coming up this month. You are a year older than me. Mary turns 60 in April so she’s six months older than me. We will celebrate our 34th anniversary on November 2nd. You guys got married young.
      Your San Francisco 49ers are doing much better this year.

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  22. Happy Birthday Bill! ☺️ I live in Texas too! East Texas and like you and Mary, I’m looking forward to the cool front in the 80’s. 🙃 It’s been so hot for so long. I’m with you on October, a true blessing of a month. You and Mary are in my prayers. Take care, suzanne 🌷

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  23. Happy Birthday Bill. So very glad you are still with us. You are a light in the darkness, and truly God’s gift to this world.
    Love and hugs
    ann

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  24. Happy Birthday Bill! May you receive blessing after blessing today and every day! I live in Texas too, and am thankful that cooler weather is looming 🙂 I love being outside, though yesterday we found a young copperhead snake at our back door – yikes! Thank you for the great hope and good thoughts you always bring to your words. They are a true blessing to all of us who read them!

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  25. Have a wonderful day celebrating YOU, dear friend. I so enjoy your writings and sharing with us your thought. Praying for you daily…….

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  26. Happy Birthday, Bill, mighty man of God! Hope you have a blessed day in the Lord 🙂

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  27. Edward W Sweeney

    Happy birthday Bill, and thanks for celebrating it with another thoughtful and inspiring message! I too recall all those great fall-days growing up — we were NEVER inside! That street was our whole world, and it was all we thought we’d ever need. Now, so many fond memories still take us back and that’s a blessing. Speaking of blessings, can’t wait to see ya’ll next week to celebrate yet another ‘milestone’ birthday (I know it’s not technically a ‘milestone’ one, but as we get older, we’ll take any milestone we can get ha ha! 😉 Anyway, keep being the blessing you and Mary are for all of us! Ed

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  28. Happy Birthday Bill! My late husbands birthday is this month too! I just lost him this past April. He was taken far too early in life…only 58. Your writing is has been an inspiration to us as we battled pancreatic cancer for 19 months. I am always taken by the words you share and I know that it is very time consuming for you to communitcate…so thankful you do! I hope your birthday is filled with a heart full of gratefulness!

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    • Thank you for your kind message, Jana. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your message has made me even more grateful to be here for my birthday. I am praying that the Holy Spirit brings you comfort and peace.

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  29. Count me in as another “October” person Bill! This has always been my favorite month. Like you, when I was a kid you couldn’t get me inside during October. When I grew older I learned to appreciate the beauty of God’s handiwork as the seasons changed, and I will never grow tired of the leaves turning into so many vibrant colors.

    Now that I live in Florida, I don’t get to see the leaves change colors. I miss the Fall in Ohio something awful. It’s still in the 90’s here but at least the humidity has dropped off a bit. It’s pretty comfortable sitting outside in the evening now so that’s where you’ll find me from now till January, and even then we have many warm days and nights.

    Always keeping you in our prayers Bill. I was just thinking of you the other day and how influential your life is to so many. Keep on the firing line my friend!

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  30. Happy Birthday Bill!!!! What a blessing you are to so many!

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  31. Happy birthday, Bill. As always, you encourage us to focus on whatsoever good gifts are still around us. This is a habit I’m trying to grow stronger at. You rock at it, dear brother.
    Blessings to you & Mary ~ Wendy Mac

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  32. Dear Bill, Birthday greetings from UK. I’ve been reading your blog for about about 6 or 7 years now and I’m so blessed by the way you and Mary are so faithful and thankful in your lives when facing so much challenge, Ephesians 3 v14 to 19 my prayer for you.
    Bless you, Jane.

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  33. Nothing beats October skies. 😊

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  34. Happy birthday brother Bill. 80 degrees….brrrrr….lol! I love your sense of humor!😆😂 Always keeping you in my prayers Bill. 🙏

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  35. Happy birthday to you 🙂 I, too, have always loved October. The mosquitoes are gone, the humidity is gone. The sky is heart-break blue, and the fall flowers glow richly in the sun. Fall can last well into lat November, and December sometimes. God is so good to gift us with this glorious season!

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  36. Happy birthday Bill!! I am so glad you celebrate another year today and I am so grateful to have met you just months ago. You have been an encouragement and blessing to me. It’s a pleasure to know you.
    I used to love fall in Oregon. I enjoy it in Texas too, it’s just different. You live not too far from me so I feel ya on our hot sweaty weather. It’s unbearable at times.
    Happy birthday and happy fall! Eventually Houston realizes it’s fall, in like December. 🤣

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  37. Happy Birthday Bill! Thanks for another inspiring message! Happy Fall!

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  38. Happy Birthday Bill!
    Sounds beautiful – fall in the USA.
    It’s Springtime here in Australia. Daylight savings has just begun now, and the days are warming up. There is talk of swimming and my daughter, whose birthday was 3rd October swam as I walked with her, her brother and our dogs on the local bayside beach on a particularly warm birthday day on Thursday.
    My son has just started taking to the streets to meet friends on his bike and ride the neighbourhood (far better than the screen) and there is a sense of hope in the warm northerly winds. Our garden is waking up which always brings me a sense of joy (note: our garden is quite European as compared to the evergreen plantings of a traditional Australian garden, so I have a sense of the seasons).
    That being said, we can get cold fronts blast through from the Antarctic winds right into December January just to mix it up. The joke about Melbourne Australia is that you can often count on four seasons in one day – the winter woolies never quite get packed away).
    I’m glad it’s a season you enjoy, and I pray that you may continue to be well enough to sit in the October sunshine and listen to audiobooks, watch the grand children play, grow, and that you and Mary have many many quiet moments of peace, joy and love both in your home and in the Fall sunshine.
    I still think of you and pray regardless of your posts, although I must say I am always delighted to see you pop into my emails with another post.
    Many blessings
    Beth

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    • Thank you, Beth. Happy birthday to your ballerina.
      Melbourne sounds beautiful. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. I’ll find a good tour of Melbourne on YouTube 🙂
      Thank you so much for your prayers!

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      • Thank you Bill.
        Victoria is famous for many things including The Great Ocean Road, which is a beautiful roadway built after WWI. If you’re looking – this is a beautiful landscape to look to. We holiday in a small town called Lorne and as you make your way down the coastline you come to the 12 Apostles (only 6 or 7 left) and a remarkable landscape.
        Melbourne our main city is beautiful – we live Bayside (south east of the city, a 3 minute walk to the water … we are blessed!)

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  39. 🎈Happy 🎊Birthday!🎈

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  40. Good to see you post again. In prayer. Love in Christ.

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  41. Outside play for children is not very prevalent these days…… so many electronic gadgets to play with instead. I haven’t been outside as much this summer either because of the extreme heat… really weakens me having M.S.
    Anyway Bill, the Lord has not only blessed you with another year, but others because of you….. and by the way ‘Happy Blessed Birthday’… Diane

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  42. Happy belated birthday, Bill. I need to get back to you on something, I just remembered. Sorry for delaying. I’m also an October baby 😁

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  43. Bill I am blessed just knowing you still enjoy life. My Dad passed a couple of weeks ago. He was 96 years old but he had been wanting to leave for several years. He had reached a point where he just didn’t want to be here and that made things difficult for us. He had lost his hearing and had trouble getting around and just gave up on life. Thank you for knowing God has a purpose for your life even in the difficult circumstance under which you live.
    You and your family bless us by being faithful to our Lord.

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  44. Thank you for being such a blessing to all of us:-) Happy birthday!!! My birthday is also in October…and October is my favorite month. I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, and loved EVERYTHING about October/fall. The crispness in the air, the warm sun with a chilly breeze…sweatshirt weather, the smells, foods…and especially THE COLORS! Now we live in Central CA, which has a beauty of its own…however, I miss everything “fall.”

    Thanks for keeping things in perspective for me. Much love sent to you, your wife, and family:-)

    Love in Christ,
    Bernadette

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  45. Dear Bill, so glad to know what you’re thinking and experiencing. It is good that you are able to take a break from the special projects you are working on and for everybody to hear from you. We continue to pray for your writing for your book and praise the Lord for giving you this gift to share with all of us. You are a blessing and a ministry to Jerry and me.
    Much love and blessings for the most wonderful October birthday.

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  46. I’m with you brother, so happy for October and the fall. 🍁🍁🍁Through your life Bill, Jesus’ exhortation rings true, “the flesh counts for nothing”. The fruitful life of Christ within you so testifies. Sending you and lovely Mary love across the miles. ❤🤗

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  47. My sister suffered from ALS, I am so sorry for the debilitating loss this disease caused you but am so very inspired by your outlook. May God continue to bless you and Happy Bill Day. God always has a purpose with our afflictions as hard as that may seem but the blessing your attitude give others shows how His infinite love and gracious peace never leaves us. Enjoy the colors and cooler temperatures of fall…80 is so much better than 90.

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  48. Thanks Bill, for an uplifting message, and Happy Birthday! I also live in Texas and look forward to October because it means the end of (eventually, sorta kinda, at some point) 150 degree temperatures. It looks like Monday will give us a serious break! Yes! I would greatly appreciate an actual autumn as you describe but temps below 90, if that’s all we get in October, are a giant blessing.

    I nominate you, no, I NAME you, since this is my own award I just made up, the 2019 GREAT CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE AWARD. Sorry, but there’s no gifts or money or trophies to go along with it, but the Lord will figure something out. But seriously, in your own words, Bill, you are truly blessed. You have a loving wife, children, and extended family, and so many friends including the internet variety who are proud of you and blessed by your witness. Most of all, I believe the Lord Jesus is the most proud of you.

    Enjoy your day!

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  49. Cordelia Lovelady

    Happy Birthday Bill! Your faith, spirit and love for one another is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey and God Bless you and your family. Happy Fall and enjoy the cooler temperatures that are arriving soon to Texas! I’m ready for them also.

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  50. Happy Birthday Bill! I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately and as always, you and your family are in my prayers daily. I’m grateful and thankful for your friendship and the example you set for many of us. God’s grace, peace and joy to you and yours.

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  51. They say Texas only has 3 seasons, rainy, hot, off the charts hot. If you are in the hill country though it gets some open windows refreshing. And west Texas gets downright cold!

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  52. Happy Birthday. My birthday is also in October. You are a source of encouragement. May the Lord meet your heart’s desire this October and may healing be extended to you. In Uganda, we do not over discuss the weather. It is either sunny or rainy. Extreme weather is rare; although it occurs. Today it was cloudy, but it did not rain.

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  53. YES! October … my favorite, too. Though the temps here have dipped into the forties at night … and next week thirties 😨… glad for a roof over our head 😂
    Happy Birthday, friend … sending ONE MORE hug (did you see that, Mary?) 🤗

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  54. Jean Ure Besserud

    Happy Birthday Billy!

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  55. Happy birthday!! 🎉 It is all about perspective.. Thank you for walking in thankfulness and being an example.

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  56. Happy birthday Bill! 🎈🎉

    And we live in the same part of Texas as ya’ll. (Although we recently moved to Beaumont).
    And it stays way too hot around here for way too long for us, and we are from here.

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  57. Continued blessings upon you, Bill, just as your posts continue to bless us!

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  58. Happy birthday Bill, and God bless you and Mary!

    Liked by 1 person

  59. I’m always glad to have your blog notice pop up in my email. You have helped me more than you know. God bless you!

    Liked by 2 people

  60. I’m so glad you’re able to enjoy the beautiful weather and the nice time of the year!!!!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  61. It’s the perfect fall day in Chicagoland, just as you describe – sunny. A little chilly but just what you’d expect for Homecoming parades.
    Happy Birthday….and many more.
    Love
    Janet & Charlie

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  62. And God has truly blessed us with YOU. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. And Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Happy Birthday to a brother who continues to amaze us with his determination, humor and the joy you share with us. Can’t wait to celebrate 60 with you! Hope you get out to enjoy October and 80 degrees (it is about 51 here ) Love to you

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  64. Well Bill, I think of you often (and pray for you). Oddly enough my birthday is a day off yours. Tomorrow for me. I will take some autumn pictures from Wisconsin and post (after the rains quit and the wind dies down today). Yes, October is the best month of the year.

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  65. Happy Birthday Bill. You are a blessing, as you give gifts to all on your birthday, through your cheerful spirit, as you do with every post. God Bless you. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  66. So glad you’re still able to get outside! Fall, here is Vermont, is gorgeous and full of wonderful scents and flavors. Although I love summer, which rarely gets above 94, I like switching up the wardrobe to long-sleeved shirts and jackets. I’m looking forward to moving into our new place where we can play in a pile of maple leaves with the grandkids!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rene. October in New England is beautiful. One year, Mary I spent the first week of October driving around Maine. It was the most relaxing vacation we’ve ever had – beautiful scenery and lobster every day. Life doesn’t get much better than that 🙂 Congratulations on your new place.

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  67. Bill, your words and yours and Mary’s faith walk constantly amaze me! Thank you for sharing and for being so transparent in your journey. You and your family are a source of inspiration. You are loved!

    Liked by 2 people

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