Good Morrow, dears!

Good morning, all!  Or afternoon, depending on where you are in this world.  :]

I do hope you and your family enjoyed a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday this past week!  I know my family did.  We had a great time with family and friends, and consumed much good food.  
If you've experienced the loss of a loved-one, you know that as we get into the holidays it becomes rather difficult in the sense that the absence is felt all the sharper.  But that's the joy of the bond of family, it draws you closer together and strengthens your faith.  We'll make it through.  Mayhaps with many tears, but we'll press on!  Our God is good.  And we must learn to praise Him not only through the trials, but also in the good.  He has gifted my family and I with so many blessings, I wish to never take a single one for granted.

With all that said, how was your Thanksgiving fellowship?  Eat too much?  What's your absolute favorite meal and/or dessert that usually only makes it's appearance on or around Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Mine would probably have to be honey-glazed spiral ham and turkey dressing (or stuffing, depending on your Northern or Southern heritage. . . ;D ), sausage balls and homemade fudge.  Mmmmmm.

Thanksgiving has passed, bring out the Christmas music!!!

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I realize I've been altogether absent in the blogging community, and it pains me, because this is what I love!  I enjoy creating posts, commenting, chatting, and catching up on your own blogs and overall, just interacting with you dears.  I'm so behind in my tags; I've forgotten the past three (or four) weeks of my A+A posts, not to mention the Name posts and book reviews I'd like to keep up; and I've neglected my photography and writing.  :,(

Life happens, I know.  But if I can't take at least ten minutes to sit and just write, and maybe another thirty minutes to blog--both things I truly love--then I can't do anything.  This, I hope to change.  Perhaps you dearies can help to keep me accountable?  :]  

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of December??  And then comes Christmas, and then the New Year!  WHOA.  This next year is going to be grand, I just know it.  

So. . . have you heard?
Evan and I have set a date!

October 8th, 2016

Mark your calendars!  
And PLEASE keep us in your prayers.  There still seems to be so many things that need to happen before that big day.  Not just details for the ceremony, reception, dresses, and all, but in planning for the days afterward.  It can be overwhelming, I admit, but so worth it in the end of the beginning.  :]

I thank you in advance for your prayers!  They mean so much, for I know we can't do anything on our own strength.  We need our Lord and His guidance.  We need courage and patience.  
May He grant us such.

Blessings to you this Monday!

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To You & Yours. . .


May this day be filled to the brim 
with the blessings of family and friends.


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Sundee Proverb

Pinterest

"And whatever you do, in words or in deeds, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through Him."
- Colossians 3:17, HCSB -

"Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way."
- Native American proverb -



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Book Review | Whispers in the Reading Room

Whispers in the Reading Room
Chicago World's Fair Mystery #3
Shelley Gray
Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  Christian Fiction, Mysteries, Romance
Released:  November 10th, 2015
{Goodreads}
Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
The third in the Chicago World's Fair mystery series, and, perhaps, my favorite!  I have LOVED this entire trilogy and it's mysteries.  But I do believe that Lydia's story is my personal favorite.  I suppose it's because I feel I can relate to her the most out of all the other heroines.  She loves books and she loves food (but not so much that she's greedy and grubby).  :]

Lydia Bancroft is your typical introvert.  With the death of her father a few years prior, she and her mother were left with many financial issues and forced to live rather modestly.  Hence, Lydia manages the lending library.  But she loves her job and the books she works with.  Her life consists of books and caring for her mother, making sure they have just enough to live on.

Sebastian Marks is one of the wealthiest men in the city of Chicago.  He owns the Silver Grotto, the up-town, well-known club, which specializes in drinks and gambling.  However, although his career as a businessman has proved profitable over the years, he longs for a quiet, more respectable life.  And so, for the past year, he visits Lydia's lending library, losing himself among the shelves and stories.  They eventually speak and strike up an unlikely friendship.

{Positives}
Lydia seems content with her life.  She works faithfully and, though she must pawn off many of their possessions, makes sure her mother lives as comfortably as possible.  She loves working at the library and one can tell she's very intelligent.  

{Negatives}
The rougher streets of Chicago are filled with many things.  And one in a desperate situation is willing to do most anything to survive.  Even if that includes giving up one's purity for pay.  
Gambling.  A man owes a club many thousands of dollars, with apparently no intention of repaying.
  
{Spiritual Content}
Several of the characters realize that their faith has fallen and they seek to strengthen it.

{Violence}
Murder mystery!  There are many cases of murders and attacks, as reported by a journalist at the beginning of the chapters.

A man bruises a women's wrist in anger.  A pot of tea spills onto a woman's hand, causing some minor burns.  Fistfights.  Beatings.  

A man is stabbed and a woman is shot in the arm.  Both survive, just minor injuries. 
 
{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
"Whore" is mentioned, I believe. . . 

Mr Marks owns a club, so it's safe to say drinks are served there.  

{Love-y-ness}
An engagement is broken off due to the lady finding out the man is abusive.  Bit of romance and attraction between Sebastian and Lydia.

{Conclusion}
You're probably thinking this review is not near as long as my others.  I simply don't want to give anything away as this is a MYSTERY! 

Overall, it's highly likely that this is my favorite of the trilogy.  I enjoyed the story, the plot was gripping, and the characters relate-able.  While it is rather clean regarding language, there are many references to prostitutes and the lives they live.  But if you enjoy the era of the 1890s, you'll definitely enjoy this one!

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Recommended ages:  16+
My rating:

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I was provided a copy of this novel thanks to BookLookBloggers, in exchange for my honest review.

Sundee Proverb


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"Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.  Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established."
- Proverbs 4:25-26 (HCSB) -
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A + A Friday!

This A+A is about three to four weeks in the making. . . Heheheh, sorry, guys.  I tried! But it'll serve to give y'all a sort of update of what's been going on, I suppose.  :]

Happy Friday!

Enjoy!

AWKWARD
  • When your assistant manager asks if you can drive, and you get the impression that he's not sure you're old enough to drive. . .  O_O  Hahaha! I mean, I know several people upon first appearance think I'm younger than I am, but it was funny to me.  At least in my mind. . .
  • EYELINER.  I LOATHE eyeliner. >:[ Grrrr. 
  • Hugging someone after they've just enjoyed a fish dinner.  "You smell like fish," you say, and you both burst out laughing.
  • When your fiance brings you a surprise Chai Tea latte. 
  • FREE-RANGE GROUNDHOGS.  (Don't ask.  It was one of those things where you are talking and you spot something and the subject runs right into what you were talking about.  Ahaha! Did that make any sense?)
  • When your thoughts go from "Far Longer than Forever" to "In the Belly of a Whale". . . O_o
  • When your six-year-old cousin hugs you and says, "You're squishy inside!"

AWESOME
  • When you fill up your Walmart gas card with $20, then get to the pump and !!BOOM!! it has $28.34 on it!  YES.  Full tank o' gas, baby.
  • Waking up to turkey gobbles through your open windows.
  • Answered prayers.
  • When the drive-through lady approves of your front license plate "I'd rather be in NARNIA."
  • AVENGERS: Age of Ultron came to DVD! (FINALLY)
  • When you are ringing up a lady's purchases and she asks you randomly if there is anything she could pray for you for.  How sweet!
  • Going through your great-grandmother's attic and finding all sorts of treasures! In this case, a HUGE record-player/stereo. 
  • I'm engaged! And to the best-est man in the world: Evan.  We have a date set!  (More info soon!!!)
  • Enjoying picnics and beautiful November weather.  
  • New part-time job opportunities.  
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Book Review | Amongst the Flames

Amongst the Flames
T.K. Chapin

Publisher:  Branch Publishing
Genre:  Christian Fiction, Romance
Released:  August 16, 2015

{Goodreads}
“A burning building doesn’t scare me at all compared to the thought of losing you.” 

Firefighter Cole Taylor is the man everyone looks up to at Firehouse 9 in downtown Spokane. He’s been at the department for ten years and has no fear when it comes to dangerous situations. 

Megan Taylor, Cole’s wife, is a stay-at-home mother of their two boys. She was everything Cole ever wanted in a woman and the perfect wife any man could ask for until one day when she decides to leave Cole. 

Cole has fought hundreds of fires in his lifetime, but he had never tasted fear until he came to fighting a fire in his own home. Amongst The Flamesis a Christian firefighter romance that tackles real-life situations and problems that exist in Christian marriages today. It brings with it passion, love and spiritual depth that will leave you feeling inspired. ThisContemporary Christian Romance novel is one book that you’ll want to read over and over again. 

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I was provided a copy of this novel by the author, in exchange for my honest review.
WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
It's not often one gets to read a story of real life without too much of the inappropriate language and other unnecessary content.  And T.K. Chapin succeeded in sharing the trials, and joys, in the real world.

In Amongst the Flames, we follow the life of Cole, a well-known firefighter hero, who seems to have life figured out and is seemingly content with how it is.  He loves his job and his family.  But it isn't until his wife,Megan, decides to take an unexpected trip to visit her sister--with their two sons--that he realizes he's taken everything for granted and neglected the family he's been given.  He's thrown among an entirely different set of flames than what he's used to fighting and he finds it far worse than those that burn.

{Positives}
Once Cole is given the wake-up call that his life and marriage isn't what it should be, he actively seeks to change it.  

Eventually, he and his wife realize that they can't make this marriage work without God in it first.
Cole's good friend, Micah, serves as a good, godly example.  He uses his own experience to help Cole.  "Don't get discouraged, Cole.  The Christian walk is a lifelong journey and every day is new. . ." 

Cole comes to see just how much he needs his wife and boys and actively seeks to win them back.  At one time, when putting his sons to bed, and after giving them baths himself (to give his wife a much-needed break, though she wasn't being too kind in the first place), he reads to them and just before leaving the room, one of his sons call out for a hug with the other asking for one shortly after.  He complies, of   It was so sweet!

{Negatives}
Cole and Megan argue quite a bit.  It's obvious at times their marriage has gone cold, and Cole is late in finding out.  Megan and her father are very secretive regarding a certain issue.  And he and Cole have a rocky relationship at best--obvious dislike of each other.

An older man "accosts" Cole and his fellow firefighters as they are grocery shopping, saying something like, "So this is where all my tax dollars are going?"

Poker games are a fun treat for Cole and his buddies.  They do gamble, but send the profit to a local charity.  Cole cares more for his job than his family, and neglects his wife and sons.  At one point, Megan says, "You did nothing, you do nothing.  That's the entire problem, Cole!"  Without his consent or agreement of any kind, she leaves to go visit her sister, taking their sons with her.  [SPOILER] Cole soon realizes, via his parents-in-law, that she left him.  He becomes depressed after her departure and he's left home alone on leave from work, due to an injury.  His house becomes a mess and it takes a visit from Micah to bring him back around.  

Megan avoids discussing their problems and outright lied to both her parents and Cole.  She's very moody and swings from one feeling to the next.  

We learn later, that Megan and her sister went bar-hopping till 3am one night.  And Megan was seen bringing a guy to her bedroom. . . Megan's sister, Amanda, is very selfish and bitter on account of her own failing marriage and divorce.  She invites a guy to a gathering on behalf of Megan and it's obvious her dislike of Cole.  She doesn't want Megan to leave Seattle.

{Spiritual Content}
A passage in James 1 is quoted, as well as Ephesians 2:4-5.  Cole eventually recommits his life back to Christ and delves deep into the Scriptures, praying that God will give him another chance with Megan and his boys.

{Violence}
He's a firefighter, so this story deals with house/apartment fires and lives at risk.  In one instance, Cole rescues a little girl, but is seriously injured in the arm and nearly left to bleed out in the middle of a burning apartment ([SPOILER] One of his buddies comes back to get him!)

A man dies in a fire, saving a 12-year-old girl, when a large beam collapses on him.

{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
One "dang," one "heck."  A use of "friggin'." 

Man smokes a cigar.  The fellows go to a golf club bar, but only order soda and orange juice. 

{Love-y-ness}
Some husband-wife flirting and kissing.  Cole and Megan eventually come to realize how much they truly love each other and are willing to do whatever is necessary to make their marriage work.  

{Conclusion}
Overall, a good story, a good lesson.  It features the day-to-day struggles that husbands, wives, and parents face every day.  No fantasy ever after.  Life is work, but you can always choose to have joy.  And if the couple keeps Christ first and foremost in their marriage and family, anything is possible and love abides all the more.

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Recommended ages:  18+
My rating:

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What's in a Name?

Got a couple names for you today.  Hope you had a great weekend!
Don't forget to check back soon.  I have a couple book reviews coming and some photos from our Grand Autumn Festival Tournament that my family put on for Halloween.  :]
Garrett
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation:  GER-it, GAR-it
Meaning & History
From an English surname that is derived from the given name Gerald, meaning "rule of the spear," or Gerard, a combination of elements meaning "spear" and "brave, hardy."   A famous bearer of this name was Pat Garrett (1850-1908), the sheriff who shot Billy the Kid.  
Georgina
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English, Dutch, German, Spanish
Pronunciation:  jor-JEE-ne (English)

Meaning & History
Feminine form of George, meaning "farmer, earthworker."

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Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.