Book News

The Little Liar – Mitch Albom

Book Club of Christian Church of Arlington Heights will read “The Little Liars”, by Mitch Albom.  Meeting will be on May 17, 2024.  Contact Kay Belt to be added to the discussion.  Zoom meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m.  It is important to read the book. 

The Christian Church of Arlington Heights is open for Book Club discussion, using Zoom technology. We also have worship and other On-line activities. There is also hybrid church for those who can attend in person. Contact our minister, Rev. Allison Lundblad with her e-mail at to be placed on the distribution e-mails for zoom links, worship, bible study, book club and other church events. Also check out the church’s website for announcements and worship. The website is:

April 2024 Book Club read “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride.  Novel took place in a small town in Pennsylvania. The Heaven and Earth Grocery was run by a Jewish couple in a community which catered to African Americans who had moved to the “Hill.” It tracked the lives of the Jewish community and blacks, even the community’s chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.  Debbie Eidle had grown up on a farm near the setting of the novel. She mentioned that the author invented some of the characters, but the setting was accurate.  The author, James McBride was mixed race and wanted to portray a bit of his life — son of a Jewish mother and African American father.  Joining the discussion was Joan Froelich who chose the book, John Herron, Colleen Schumm, Debbie, and me. Kay Belt moderated Zoom meeting.


March 2024 Book Club read “The Personal Librarian”, by Marie Bennedict and Victoria Murray.  

Because of a power outage some members, including me, could not zoom into discussion. It was a good read.


The Bookbinder


February 2024 CCAH Book Club met, using Zoom tech having read “The Bookbinder” by Pip Williams.

Discussion members were Debbie Eidle, Colleen Schumm, John Herron, and I joined briefly; discussion leader was Kay Belt.  Debbie demonstrated her book-binding hobby with tools she uses.

The novel took place during WWI and English women took jobs of men who had gone to war.  The women worked in a book-binding factory.


Book Club of Christian Church of Arlington Heights met, using Zoom tech on January 19, 2024, at 12:30 pm.  Book read was “Hello Beautiful”, a novel by Ann Napolitano.  

Those attending were discussion leader, Kay Belt, club members Joan Froelich, Colleen Schumm, John Herron, Peg Zimmerman, and me. Everyone loved the novel.  The novel was about families, dysfunctional members, sports, basketball, very tall people, with a Chicago setting.

December’s book club meeting was cancelled.

November 2023 Book was “The First Ladies” by Maria Benedict and Victoria Murray.  Book was suggested by administrative assistant Sue Minarik, prior to her retirement.  Those attending felt it a book worthy of discussion. It tracked the friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McCloud Bethune. The authors took liberties with the plot to cover not knowing much about their partnership politically.  Those attending thought it a good read, but long. The book used a fictional-historical point of view.

Book Club of Christian Church of Arlington Heights met, using Zoom tech on October 20, 2023, at 12:30 pm.  The club read “The Great Believers,” by Rebeca Makki. The novel spanned lives of Chicago-land people whose lives were touched by the AIDS epidemic.


Book Club of Christian Church of Arlington Heights will meet, using Zoom tech on September 15, 2023, at 12:30 pm.  The Club read “Her Hidden Genius,” a biographical novel by Marie Benedict. Discussion leader was Kay Belt. Everyone gave a thumbs up for the story, not having known about the science done by her. Those joining were Peg Zimmerman, Colleen Schumm, and John Herron. It was about a British DNA scientist.


Book Club members logged on using Zoom tech on August 18, 2023, at 12:30 pm.  The book being read was, “Parable of the Sower”, by Octavia Butler.  Kay Belt lead the discussion. Members joining were John Herron, Peg Zimmerman, Colleen Schumm, and me, Irvana Wilks.

The author wrote of dystopian times in the near future.  We felt the author captured the essence of the times. We thought the novel readable even with its dystopian plot.

Book Club met at 12:30 pm using Zoom Tech on July 21, 2023. The book was, “The Girl with Seven Names,” by Hyeonseo Lee. It tracks a girl’s escape from North Korea.

The discussion was good with a true book about a family, trapped in North Korea which escapes to China, Laos, Cambodia. Members of the family, especially the daughter navigate corrupt, bribe-taking jailers, soldiers, and officials. They eventually live in South Korea.

Book Club met using Zoom on June 16, 2023.  Members submitted cards for Kay Belt to keep with suggested titles to read.  Peg Zimmerman chose the book, “The Magnificent Lives of Margorie Post,” by Allison Pataki.

Members thought the book was a page-turner. It portrayed the life of the wealthy and famous Margorie Post, daughter of the inventor of Post cereal.



Book Club for May 2023 read “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron.  Club members met by Zoom using a link in Updates for CCAH provided by Sue Minarik, church’s administrative assistant. Members found the book interesting, but a little confusing because movies about dogs complicated different understandings.


Book Club for April 2023 read “The Violin Conspiracy” by Brendan Slocumb.  Kay Belt served as discussion leader. Members used a Zoom link provided in CCAH Updates for the discussion. All thought the novel a page turner.

“The Violin Conspiracy” tracks the real-life experiences of a gifted African American violinist who inherited a Stradivarius violin from his grandparents who were slaves in the South.  The author who he himself is a gifted violinist wrote the story of a musician living in Charlotte, NC. The musician’s family and former slave owners lay claim to the Stradivarius, worth Millions.  The story begins as the violin is stolen and held for ransom.

Book Club met using Zoom Tech on March 17, 2023, also St. Patrick’s Day, having read, “Beneath the Scarlet Sky”, by Mark Sullivan.  Kay Belt served as discussion leader.  Members liked the book, although a long read.  It was about WW II from Italian’s point of view during Nazy. Germany’s occupation.

Book Club for February read, “The Same Sky,” by Amanda Woods.  The book told the story of immigrants. to the United States. The plot spoke to choices made by individuals immigrating.


Book Club for January 20, 2023, read a book about a Communist spy:  “Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Daring Russian Spy,” by Ben Macintyre.  Kay Belt led the discussion.  Most were surprised that she escaped detection and the tools of spy craft used by the Communist Spy.




Book Club met in December 2022, having read The Borrower, by Rebecca Makki.  Club used Zoom Tech to discuss. Interested persons should contact Kay Belt and use the Zoom link published in CCAH’s Updates.


Book Club met in November 2022, having read “The Reading list” by Sara Nisha Adams.  Club used Zoom tech and the Link provided with the weekly updates and church bulletins and sent out by Church Secretary, Sue Minarik. Any wishing to join the discussion should contact Kay Belt.

Between different voices this work tracks lives and books read, as the patrons of a library in India.


Book Club for October read “What Alice forgot” by Liane Moriarity.  The Church Club will meet using Zoom Technology.  Kay Belt served as discussion leader.  All attending thought the novel was good.  Those joining the discussion were Joan Froelich, Colleen Schumm, Peg Zimmerman and me, Irvana Wilks. Kay Belt served as leader and asked questions about the plot and characters.


Book club for August and September read “Wonder Boys”, by Michael Chabon.   Kay Belt led the discussion using Zoom technology. Attending were Peg Zimmerman, Colleen Schumm and Irvana Wilks. Each person discussing the novel had a unique observation.  Some loved the plot twists, one not so much.



July 2022 Book club met using Zoom, having read “The Lincoln Highway,” by Amor Towles.

The book was suggested by the CCAH’s administrative assistant, Sue Minarik. Sue was unable to attend, but missed a wonderful discussion of a page-turner, long novel with multiple twists. The characters were memorable.



The Book selection for June 2022 was “The Vanishing Half”, by Brit Bennett.  The book was suggested by Ed Belt.  His mom Kay will serve as discussion leader.

Attending the zoom discussion was a selection of church book readers.


Book Club met in May 2022, discussing “White Houses” by Amy Bloom.  The novel depicts the life-long friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock (or as her friends called her “Hick”.)  Their friendship was depicted in letters between Eleanor, Franklin and Hick. Hick was a reporter who became a member of the press office in the Roosevelt White House.

April 2022 Book Club met having read “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Book club discussed the by zoom.  Members who attended were Kay Belt, leader, John Herron, Colleen Schumm, Peg Zimmerman and me.

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes

Book Club for March 2022 read “The Giver of Stars” by JoJo Moyes. It was a suggestion of our church’s administrative assistant, Sue Minarik. Discussion was about the surprising plot twists. The novel tracked early librarians who took books to hill people in Kentucky.  The library was begun as a WPA program with funds and books coming from Washington, DC, during the Depression. Attending the discussion was leader Kay Belt, John Herron, Peg Zimmerman and me.



Book Club for February read “An American Marriage,” by Tayari Jones. It is an Oprah book club pick. The plot of the novel tracks a marriage of an African American Couple. On the honeymoon, the husband is wrongly accused of rape. He spends five years in prison while his wife tries to go on with her life as an artist. He is released after he is exonerated to a world much changed from the relationships he left.

The strange in the lifeboat, by Mitch Albom

Book club for the Christian Church of Arlington Heights will meet in January 2022, having read, “the stranger in the lifeboat,” by Mitch Albom.

The book was suggested by Joan Froelich. Meeting will be on January 21, 2022. at 12:30 pm. Any who wish to attend must use Zoom technology and must contact Discussion Leader Kay Belt.




December 2021 Book Club read “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek,” by Kim Richardson. 

This will be the final Book Club of 2021.  We are blessed in our church to have a minister and leaders who use zoom technology for Advent worshiping.

Mothers and Sons by Coln Toilbin

Church Book Club met November 19 having read “Mother and Sons” by Colm Toibin.  It is a collection of short stories by an award-winning Irish writer and a suggestion from me, Irvana Wilks.  Discussion leader was Kay Belt.  Those who attended used the CCAH Zoom Book Club link.  Those attending were John Herron, Colleen Schumm, Joan Froelich and me.




Book Club met in October 2021 using Zoom tech. Book was an old favorite, “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving.  It was also the book for September 17, but not enough members had finished the book and it was carried over for a 2-month read.

Discussion leader was Kay Belt with club members Colleen Schumm, Joan Froelich and Peg Zimmerman attending.

The Last Flight

Book Club for August 2021 read “The Last Flight” by Julie Clark. Suggested by Joan Froelich, it linked two women, desperate for different reasons into each other’s lives.

This page turner had one character, Clare, escaping a bad marriage to a monied, famous man running for political office. Another character was, Eva, escaping her life of being a drug dealer. “The Last Flight” follows a plane which crashes on its way to Porto Rico. It has a chapter in Clare’s point of view and the next in Eva’s. It was a book hard to put down because of the drama and plot.

A Good Neighborhood

July 2021, Book club read “A Good Neighborhood,” by Teresa Anne Fowler.  Club met using Zoom technology on July 16, 2021.  The Book was suggested by Colleen Schumm.

The discussion, led by Kay Belt, asked if the novel accurately identified issues between neighbors and the choice the characters made. It was noted that the author had wanted to portray an ideal neighborhood with few flaws. Therese Anne Fowler usually wrote about historical people, but was trying her talents at writing fictional characters as are in “A Good Neighborhood”.

Biography of Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever

Book Club met by Zoom in June 2021.  I suggested the book, “Louisa May Alcott,”, a biography by Susan Cheever. Cheever is a professor of writing programs and the work brings attention to Louisa May Alcott’s life as a writer, but also as a daughter, friend of thinkers in Concord, including Emerson and Waldon.

The discussion forgave me for recommending a book unlike the fiction we generally choose. This biography noted the thinkers at the time of Alcott’s life in mostly Concord, MA.


Nineteen Minutes

Book Club met by Zoom in May 2021.  Book was “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult. Book was chosen by Peg Zimmerman, but it was also on Colleen Schumm’s reader list. There were twists and turns to the plot, even until the last.

It was a book about a school shooting taken from the point of view of each person in a small town. We met the shooter at the time of his birth, his mother and father, his brother who bullied him. We learn when he took guns to school and why. His time in jail and being famous. There is his best friend, a girl being tormented by some of the same students bullying the shooter; and the girl’s mother who is a judge. There are the policeman, the shooter’s defense attorney and many in the town touched by the shooting.  The discussion was a good one, including that the author did a good job of capturing that it’s not a straight line that finds those guilty in a small town.

The Possibilities by Kaui Hemmings

In April 2021, club read “The Possibilities”, the long-awaited novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.  Book was suggested by me. I had started the book because I loved Hemmings other book “The Descendants.” It is about a woman who discovers a number of secrets at the time of her son’s unexpected death.

“The Possibilities” mirror’s Hemming’s book The Descendants in the way one of the main characters is unconscious and many secrets are discovered about her as she lies dying.


The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Book club for March 2021 read “The Book of Longing,” by Sue Monk Kid. The book was chosen by Peg Zimmerman. It was a powerful book to read as Christians trying to honor Lent and Holy Week with Easter pending.

Discussion led by Kay Belt involved participants, Stephanie and John Herron, Colleen Schumm, Joan Froelich, Peg Zimmerman and me. We felt the author had done a good job of writing about Jesus’ life, his ministry and relationships with others in the holy lands at the time of Jesus’ life and crucifixion. Kidd wrote with authenticity.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Book Club for February 2021 read any version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas.  Joan Froelich chose the book because she wished to read one of the classics.  The club met using Zoom technology.

Most who reread the novel knew it from school literature but appreciated revisiting it.  Compared to today’s literature it was long but held most of our attentions.  John Herron was not as captivated with the version he had downloaded.


Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson


Book Club for January 2021 read “Red at the Bone” by Jacqueline Woodson, a book chosen by Colleen Schumm, an all Arlington Heights read. Discussion was led by Kay Belt using zoom technology.  The book follows a family through its many generations. All felt it was a good read. This is the beginning of a new year, but we discussed like we had not been separated by the Covid.

If any wish to join the discussion who are not regular attendees, let someone in the group know. and you will be “zoomed” in.


The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian


Book Club for December Read “The Red Locus”, by Chris Bohajalian.  Using Zoom Tech, the discussion was that it was a good, page turner.  The plot is about a pandemic beginning in Vietnam named the Red Lotus by the virologists.  Novel begin with the murder of a bicyclist murdered on a trip to Vietnam with his girl friend. His girl friend is a doctor at an emergency room at a teaching hospital doing research on rats and how to poison them.


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead


Book Club for November 2020 read “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead.  Zoom meeting led by Kay Belt discussed the book named after the boys sent to a reform school.  It tracked the lives of the African American “students” who survived or were killed at the school located near Tallahassee, FL.  The prologue establishes that there are unidentified graves behind the school, leading to the stories of some who lived there. Discussion was about how little we know about other peoples lives.  The Nickel Boys were so named because they were interred there.

The club had read Whitehead’s book on the underground railroad and sensed it would be a good read.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Book Club for October 2020 was “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger.  Leading the discussion was Kay Belt.  Joining the meeting was Peg Zimmerman, John and Stephanie Herron, Joan Froelich, Colleen Schumm, Sue Minarik (who recommended the book) and me. The book tells of a minister’s family from the point of view of one of the sons, a nine-year old who’s sister is murdered at a July 4th celebration.  It was a summer of death that shook a small town.

The book speaks to the many kinds of faith and of Grace at both a Christian level and during life in the world at large.

Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown

Book Club for September 2020 read “Flight of the Sparrow” by Amy Belding Brown.  Book Club met using Zoom Technology. The novel was about a Puritan woman kidnapped by Indians, enslaved and ransomed back to her family in the 1600’s. It was set during the English settlement of  Massachusetts as Puritans met  Indian opposition to their arrival.

The woman reentered her life following her living with an Indian tribe which kidnapped her because she was wife to a church leader.  Discussion centered on her imprisonment to the strict Puritan rules. As an Indian, she felt freer.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Book Club for August 2020 read “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead.  Leading the discussion was Kay Belt; joining in was Peg Zimmerman, John and Stephany Herron, Colleen Schumm, Joan Froelich and me.  The novel fictionalized having an actual underground railroad for slaves to escape from masters.  Of course, there really was not such a railroad. It means actually escaping, going into the danger of escaping enslavement. There are the slave hunters, the rugged terrain, and perils of having no maps to follow.  Discussion was positive and we wished there really had been such a railroad.

Recommended by Irvana
Beach Music by Pat Conroy

Book Club for July 2020 read “Beach Music” by Pat Conroy.  I became a fan of Pat Conroy’s writing when Dan Webster was our pastor and he loved anything written by Conroy. I recommend it and remind readers not to skip the Prologue – probably the best writing of Conroy.  He also dedicates the book to his brothers, including one who committed suicide.

Book discussion was by Zoom – Each person saw a unique value in the very long book.  Kay Belt served as leader. Joining the group was Stephanie and John Herron, Joan Froelich, Colleen and Mike Schumm, Peg Zimmerman and me.

Everything I Never Told You – by Celeste Ng

Book Club for June 2020 read “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng.  Discussion of the book was by Zoom; Kay Belt, leader, and participating was John and Stephanie Herron, Joan Froelich, Colleen Schumm and me. It was a book we didn’t want to stop discussing. Has clues for life, friendships and parenting.

During time of separation, we pray for those ill and those working to keep us safe. We thank our church leaders.  If you are in need of prayers, let us know.  You may call the CCAH office at 847-259-0059 or leave a message in the posting technology below at the end of this page.


May 2020 Book Club
Little Fires Everywhere

Book Club for May was “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng.  Book was chosen by Kay Belt who served as Zoom discussion leader.

This Book Club is 11 years old. Our former pastor, Rev. Steven Welker, asked members to start small groups.  Kay Belt came to me and asked about having a book discussion group. We would read mostly non-religious books. All are welcome whether we’ve read the book or not, we would take lunches to church and argue over literature.

The Alchemist – by Paulo


April 2020, Book Club read, “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho.  Book Club met using Zoom.  We downloaded the Zoom technology and passwords.  Attending were the following: Kay Belt (Leader), John Herron (his wife Stephanie chose the book but didn’t share her thoughts), Joan Froelich, Coleen Schumm (and Michael) who knew the book as a book read by their children as students, and me (Irvana).  I used Audible to listen to the book, because I had not read “The Alchemist”.  It was a story of a young man on a trek to find himself, his treasures and loves.

March 2020 book
American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

March Book was “American Dirt,” by Jeanine Cummins.  Due to the contagious nature of the Coronavirus, Christian Church of Arlington Heights is holding all meetings virtually, using a “Zoom” appointment app.  This includes Book Club.  Those attending included Kay Belt, our fearless leader, Sue Minarik, who suggested the book, John Herron, Peg Zimmerman, Colleen and Mike Schumm, and Allie Lundblad who got us looking at the correct Zoom link. Readers thought is a good book.

Book for February 2020
Picking Cotton

February book was “Picking Cotton”, a memoir by three contributors. The book begins with a rape and how a wrong man is accused. Man’s name is Cotton.  It accounts the horrible consequences of “bias” as fallible human brains wrongly accuse individuals.  Our jails are filled with such wrongly accused.  In cases of trauma for rape or murder, our human brains can identify innocent people.

January book about escaping from North Korea
A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Ensum Kim

January 2020 Book — “A Thousand Miles to Freedom” by Ensun Kim. It is a story about a young woman’s escape from North Korea.  The author uses fake names to hide the identity of those in her memoir.  Discussion was that it identified the horrors of living in Communist North Korea with its dictators, famines and cruelty.

No meeting in December 2019.  Kay Belt and family hosted the Church Christmas Open House.  THANK YOU Kay, Ed and Molly Belt!!!

November’s 2019 book was “The Glass Castle”, a memoir by Jeannette Walls.  People who attended had a great discussion.  At the meeting it was decided not to have a December meeting. Church folks are busy during Advent.

Also, an all-church read is tackling “Silence can Kill”.  If interested in participating in the discussions which are determined by the participants, please contact the church office or Rev. Allison Lundblad.

A Gentleman In Moscow, by Armor Towles


Book Club for October 2019 was “A Gentleman in Moscow,” by Amor Towles, a novel chosen by Kay Belt.  The book weaves a story of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov who was under house arrest at a Moscow Hotel.  He was accused in the 1920’s by the Russian Revolutionary Court and sent to live in the hotel.  If the Count left the hotel, he would be shot.  He observes the revolution from his hotel balcony’s view of life.  He is tortured by his imprisonment for being an aristocrat and being a son of Royalty.  His sister was murdered as well as many in this family.  Family properties were taken by the Russian Revolutionaries.  He had only a few possessions to take with him.  He can read.  He became a fixture at the hotel’s restaurants, but the revolution removed flowers, labels from wine bottles and things not needed for everyday comforts.

This author also wrote “Rules of Civility,” a novel about New York society in the 1920s.

The Source, a historical novel by James Mitchner

Book Club for September 2019 read “The Source” by James Michener.  The novel parallels an archeological dig in Israel to the history of humans on earth and belief in God.  I suggested the novel.  It is one of the first historical novels made successful by Michener.  It tracks the origins of cave men, how humans moved out of the caves, their religious sacrifices, Judaism and Christianity.  It was first written decades ago.  Because of it relevance for today’s reader, it has been reprinted into paperback with a forward by Dave Barry.


Water for Elephants

Book Club for August 2019 read “Water for Elephants,” a best-selling novel by Sara Gruen. I was not able to attend, but I understand the discussion was great.

Book Club Rules — Club will meet at 12:30 p.m. on the third Friday of the month at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights. Kay Belt serves as discussion leader. All are welcome whether we’ve read the book or not. We take lunches to the discussions in the Conference Room at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights, 333 W. Thomas, Arlington Heights, IL – 847-259-0059. Each person attending writes book suggestions on slips of paper, which are drawn from a basket at the end of each meeting. 


July’s 2019 Book Club was “this is how it always is,” a novel by Laurie Frankel.  The book chronicled a family with five sons, one of whom loved pink and wearing dresses and playing with dolls.  The mother is a doctor and the father a stay-at-home writer.  They move across the United States and to other countries to find a home with acceptance for their son.



For June, Book Club read “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George. The book was chosen by John Herron who drew the selection placed on “suggestion slips”. The book generated much discussion about the many kinds of love.  It is a beautiful and complicated novel set in present day France.  The Bookshop is on a floating barge and is operated by an eccentric book seller and taken from Paris to the Loire Valley.



Book for May 2019

Book Club for May 2019 read, “Just Mercy: a Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson.  Stevenson is an attorney trying to defend men sentenced to death row.  He identifies the wrongs done by authorities wanting a quick win, especially if the man has little or no money.  It is a powerful book.  We were joined by John Herron who added depth to the discussion.  There is an ability to financially support the work of the attorneys for mostly men on death row.

Book Club met on April 2019’s Good Friday — and discussed “The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared,” a novel by Jonas Jonasson, a Swedish writer.  Kay Belt led the discussion; others attending included Coleen Schumm, Peg Zimmerman, Sue Minarik (who recommended the book) and me.

“the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” by Mark Haddon


March 2019’s Book Club read “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”, a novel by Mark Haddon, suggested by me. Discussion was lively because it was written to better understand someone with autism. It tells of a British family and how each person in the novel relates to the autistic boy. This is the second time I read the novel, because I didn’t understand it the first time I read it.




Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

February 2019 we read “Skeletons at the Feast,” a novel by Chris Bohjalain.  Book was suggested by Judi Frost, past member at our Christian Church of Arlington Heights.

Kay Belt, a friend and long-time member and elder of the Christian Church, began Book Club a few years ago. Kay’s mission — read good books, discuss them over lunch, and learn insights about literature and each other. Kay serves as discussion leader.


Educated by Tara Westover

January’s first book for 2019 was “Educated”, a memoir by Tara Westover.  Over lunches we discussed how a woman raised in a survivalist family survived illnesses, car crashes and never going to a doctor to become a professor.

Book Club skipped December’s 2018 meeting —

in November 2018 we read “The Tea Girl from Humming Bird Lane,” by Lisa See, novel about a girl and her family growing up in China.  It tracks experiences in a closed Chinese society with spies and ruthless leaders.

Book Club skipped October 2018’s meeting —

The Kitchen House – Book Club for August

For September 2018 we read “Glory Over Everything,” a sequel to our August book, “The Kitchen House,” both novels are by Kathleen Grissom and show the lives of plantation slaves and owners.

Book Club for August 2018 read “The Kitchen House,” a novel by Kathleen Grissom.

Book Club for July 2018 read “A Man Called Ove,” by Fredrik Backman.  We were joined by Carol Nelson who is on summer break from her job at school. This was a book recommended by our church’s administrative assistant, Sue Minarik.

About the murders of the Osage Indians and beginning of the FBI
Killers of the Flower Moon – by David Grann

We met in June 2018 to discuss “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann. It tells about the murders of the Osage Indians in Oklahoma and the birth of the FBI.   It was my choice for this month, and a real page turner.  It cornicles how the Federal government with its treaties worked to rid fertile farmland of Indians. It brought in homesteaders and white settlers to replace tribes. The Osage tribe was given “worthless” land in Oklahoma, but deposits of oil were eventually discovered, making them wealthy. Then the Osage Indians living where oil was found began to be murdered. 

This book is important to my family because my father’s first wife Beulah LaRue Earlywine was from a Plaines Indian tribe and a French trader father.  They had a daughter Betty and son Donald, my half-sister and half-brother who would have gone to Indian School, but my father objected and wouldn’t send them away. He insisted they attend white school.

The Maximum Security Book Club – by Mikita Brottman

May 2018’s book was “Maximum Security Book Club”, by Mikita Brottman. It tells about the time the author taught a literature class at a maximum security prison. The group felt some of the literary choices the author chose were advanced in terms of being too literary for the men she taught.  But it also told of the lives of men locked away for serious crimes and their knowledge they would not get released soon. 

April 2018’s Book Club read “Books for Living,” by Will Schwalbe.  This is a continuation of his previous work, “End of life Book Club,” which had given the group lots to discuss.

March 2018’s book club was skipped because of Lent – 

February 2018’s book was “Suffragette: My Own Story,” by Emmeline Pankhurst, an English suffragette who demonstrated to get laws passed allowing women the vote in England.  United Stated suffragettes were also ridiculed and imprisoned.  Voting rights for US women had to be an Amendment to the Constitution, which is approved by a majority of voters in each state in the union.  US suffragettes knew laws could be overturned, but not Amendments to the Constitution.  US is a representative democracy where laws of self governance differ from England.  England has a parliament, prime minister and king or queen.  The US is a true democracy where every office is elected, up and down the ballot.

Book Club met on January 19, 2018, having read “Grace Without God” by Katherine Ozment.  Joan Froelich recommended the book.  Ozment does not believe in God.  She names herself God and like Moses invents her own 10 Commandments.  She then gives herself and her children Grace.  She could just attend CCAH – we seek God with abundant love, but she only went to witch covens and alternative gatherings.

Book Group choice for October 2017
Expecting Adam by Martha Beck

December 2017’s group was skipped due to members being busy during Advent –

November 2017’s Book was “Expecting Adam” by Martha Beck.  It is about a difficult pregnancy and the unique son who was born with Downs Syndrome.  She was a professor and debated having and abortion but decided to deliver her son, Adam, who became a blessing to people he met.

Book Club for October 2017 got a jump on Advent by reading “Wishin’ & Hopin’,” by Wally Lamb – a Christmas Best Seller.  During the discussion it was a trip down memory lane for us and the family Lamb wrote about.

September 2017’s book was “Small, Great Things” – by Jodi Picoult.  “Small, Great Things” tells the story of a hospital delivery nurse accused of murdering a newborn in her care.  She is African American and the father of the newborn is a member of a white-supremacist group.

Book Club for August 2017 meeting was skipped – 

Book Club for July 2017 read – “Trials of the Earth: The true Story of a Pioneer Woman” by Mary Hamilton.

Inside the O’Briens

Book for June 2017 was “Inside the O’Briens” by Lisa Genova.   The novel was recommended by Lisa Edwards and Coleen Schumm.  It tells the story of a family of a police officer as they face the illness of the officer.   This is the second Genova book read this year. 

May 2017’s book was “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Christina Henriquez. This was an All-Arlington-Heights-reads-it book; and was recommended by Jack Sturgeon.

In April 2017 we read, “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova about a woman with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  The book was suggested by me and Coleen Schumm for its portrayal of a college professor with early onset Alzheimer’s.

In March 2017 we read “The Paris Architect” by Charles Belfoure. It was recommended as a “can’t put it down” by Sue Minarik, Christian Church’s Administrative Assistant.

February 2017 book was “Run” by Ann Patchett, a novel about a Boston family, its members, both adopted and born to the Boston Royalty.

January 2017 – We welcomed new pastor, Rev. Allison Lundblad who chose “Dreamers of the Day”, by Mary Doria Russell for January 20, 2017, the first Book Club choice for the new year.  It was a fictional depiction of historical events in the Middle East.

Christian Church of Arlington Heights read Jim Wallis’ book, “America’s Original Sin”.   We joined other Disciple churches in the Region to use the Wallis book to discuss issues for unity in a beloved, but fractured country.  Book discussion was led by Rev. Allison Lundblad and Ken Nelson.  Beginning February 26 and every 2 weeks we met in the Church Conference Room after church.  All were welcome to attend this on-going discussion.

I post this blog to help us remember great books we’ve read and to get comments from any who also have read them.  The following is a list – from recent to older – of most of books read by the Christian Church Book Group.  The Club was started in 2010.

“The Invention of Wings” – by Sue Monk Kidd.  All the light We Cannot See – by Anthony Doerr   The Aviator’s Wife – by Melanie Benjamin The Nightingale – by Kristen Hannah The Piano Teacher – by Y. K. Lee

Orphan Train – by Christina Baker Kline  •  Behind the Beautiful Forevers – by Katherine Boo   • The Midwives – by Chris Bohjalian   •  Same Kind of Different as Me – by Ron Hall  •  Nine Parts of Desire – by Geraldine Brooks •  The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak  •  The Red Thread – by Ann Hood  •  An Invisible Thread – by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski  •   Now You See Her – by James Patterson  •  Of Gods and Men   •  The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow – by Joyce Magnin

All Other Nights – by Dara Horn  •  Little Bee – by Chris Cleave  •  The Descendants – by Kaui Hart Hemmings  •  The Nineteenth Wife  •  Complications •  Gilead – by Marilynne Robinson  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – by Tom Franklin  • Cutting for Stone – by Abraham Verhgese  •  The Light Between Ocean’s – by M.  L. Stedman  • Gone Girl – by Gillian Flynn

Bel Canto – by Ann Patchett  • The Stone Diaries – by Carol Shields •  The Language of Flowers– by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  • Loving Frank – by Nancy Horan  •  The Beginner’s Goodbye – by Anne Tyler  •  Zeitown  •  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles  • Infidel -by Ayaan Hirsi Ali •  Farewell My Queen by Chantal Thomas  •  The Fourth Turning – by William Strauss and Neil Howe

Interpreter of Maladies  •  The Year of Living Biblically  • A fine Balance – by Rohinton Mistry  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows • The Known World   •  Professor and the Mad Man  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – by Stieg Larsson 

Writing & Mystery of Faith Blog

April post — Snow is forecast. Weather is a dynamic effort in the Illinois springtime. We live with a faith that future temps will be more livable. Daughters ask for yellow-summer dresses and worthlessly thin white shoes.  Memories were made as Spring-Break time off sent us to an art museum.   Inside the museum we could not know a record snowstorm had dumped snow, making it hard to get home without lying to the girl about ow much further???      ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥   

Today February 23, 2024, would have been my sister, Jennefer Keagy Cochran’s 77th birthday, but she is not here to receive a card or flowers. When she was born, her soul was broken.  Those responsible for her thought meds and therapy might fix her, but nothing did.   

Women who are beautiful should not lie, should not hate, should not commit suicide with a dog leash. My sister Jennefer was born needing to be held. She realized I — a first born – was in her way from sucking attention from our parents.  This was an important matter for my parents, because gifts given to us were different colors. My sister lied that dolls and stuffed animals were hers.

We grew up on a farm in Kansas, near Wichita. To escape an arguing house, I climbed a mulberry tree. Taking a tiny, ancient book of poetry with flowers on the cover, I climbed to a branch worn with my bottom.  My eyesight was bad, it was hard to read the book, so I snacked on the ripe purple mulberries. A school classmate told me the fruit had bugs. The berries, wonderfully juicy, became like Santa Clause to believe in. As a child my world should be small, but history could not be denied.

For my parents it was a hard marriage, each of them having been married before. What they argued about was my mother not being accepted by the other farmers and wives. My father who had Swiss heritage, owned land obtained through a newly enacted US Homestead Act.  Kansas and the other Plaines States removed the Plaines Indians in a treaty that Indian elders were forced to accept. Land was given to immigrant farmers willing to farm the rich Kansas soil.

My father Irvin Keagy who looked like a movie star, was married first to Beulah LaRue Earlywine, whose heritage was French and Plaines Indian. They had a daughter Betty and a son Donald. Laws required Indian children to be sent away to Indian schools run by Catholic groups to remove any Indian traces. My father refused, enrolling them in a school in the nearby town of Valley Center.

My mother, Anna LaVern Guthrie Bomar, a widower, with two sons Charles and Norman, wanted a fresh life, but married into warfare where gossip and lies fueled each day. She had worked during WWII at Wichita’s Boing, making aircraft for the war.  With peace declared she was fired and chose to marry my father. She thought her life would improve, but it was complicated.

My mother was born to her parents James and Alie Guthrie. Her mother had been a teacher who died of tuberculosis when my mom was 8 years old. Her father remarried whose new wife made him take her to a Catholic orphanage. My mother was rescued by her grandmother who lived on a farm. All happened in or near Arkansas City, KS.

I was named after my father with the Irv, Anna was tacked on as ana, and not correctly pronounced.  I was punished and ostracized, not knowing what I had done. For instance, I have no birth certificate. The doctor who was to register me did not. I had to prove my birthday with a certification of birth obtained from the Commerce Department in the State of Kansas. My half-sister, Betty was there to verify the date which is written in the Family Bible as May 27th, 1945.

I was pleased when my sister Jennefer was born to share a family in need of rescuing, but something in her was broken.  The name for what broke her:  paranoid schizophrenia.

The End


January 2024 Post  – During the recent cold spell our home’s basement flooded a couple of inches. No carpeting. We tried to be minimal with items.  All are important.  Some items were saved, some, especially books, were ruined.    ♦  ♦  ♦    

Advent – December post — We Christians wait for the birth of a baby of hope. We read special books, decorate trees, light candles and pray.

taken with cell phone
Irvana’s reading table with book, “Christmas at the Art Institute of Chicago”, telling the story of a baby’s birth.

September 4, 2023 — Alan Wilks turns 80 years old today — Happy Birthday Alan. You gave a great speech at my Mayoral retirement party —

Alan Wilks (who nicknamed himself ‘Him’) jokes about Mayor Wilks

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥ 

A Mission for Christian Churches is to Ordain Qualified clergy.  Christian Church of Arlington Heights put forward our seminarian.  Clayton Summers satisfied the qualifications and was ordained May 6, 2023. I was asked to write a blessing to use for Worship the next Sunday. that blessing follows.

My name is Irvana Wilks – Our daughter, the Reverend Jolin Wilks McElroy was also ordained by the Christian Church of Arlington Heights, giving me insight into a blessing.

Reverend Clayton Summers – God calls you to be ordained.
This church serves as a Disciple of Christ corporation putting you forward as a symbol of faith in our mission to shape servants to serve the greater churches which will call you.

Reverend Summers – your partner is God.
Trust in God to inform your preaching and your faith-filled leadership goals. Answers can be found reading the Scriptures. But read the Bible sitting with your wife Alix at a McDonalds where God invites all to an everyday Holy Communion.

Reverend Summers – your partner in faith is this congregation with its doors welcoming you back for visits, preaching and fellowship.

Blessings to you In the Christ we all serve –
The Christian Church (Disciple of Christ) of Arlington Heights


Easter Post — Our daughter, the Rev. Jolin Wilks McElroy serves the First Church of Charlotte and uses her being an artist to fill in blanks as she preaches. One Easter she searched for a painting of a joyful Mary leaving an empty tomb. finding none she drew her own.

March Post — We find prayer and Bible study comforting us as we move through Lent.

I use this gardenia in vase picture to center my thoughts.

It was from a collection by Kate Spade who was hounded by mental demons and took her life.



In January we honor the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life meant amazing things to the United States — We are able to remember where we were when an assassin’s bullet took King’s life, and the country’s cities burned. 

December 2022 post — We WAIT during Advent for the birth of a Babe of Peace. We float towards a salvation none of us bought with our lives.  In this post is a photo of the Village of Mount Prospect Christmas tree. It lights the way for baby’s birth.

November 2022 post — I’m getting a new computer next week and may be otherwise occupied with a member of the Best Buy Geek Squad. We should still be able to have this web site.

October 2022 post — The changing temps and weather brings fall colors into our lives. We wear favorite coats, scarves and gloves to survive the coming of winter.

July 2022 post — We survive going from July temps hotter than hot to winter polar vortex temps.

June post — Congratulations to those running in the June 28, 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election — We are blessed to have people willing to put their lives on hold to become candidates for Illinois’ congressional districts, Senate district, state representative, judicial subcircuit, board of review, county commissioner, and other open offices.   😊😊😊😊

May Post — My Birthday is in May and this year I was given flowers, cake, clothes and an amazing jelly made of flowers by a friend, Sherry Grobe.  Mount Prospect honored Sherry with a special award of being the best Butterfly Lady. This is a picture of us at the award Banquet.

Sherry Grobe and Irvana Wilks at dinner presenting Sherry with “Butterfly Lady” award

March Post — March finds us watching basketball tournaments with the University of Kansas ranked number 1. Congrats to the team who won hard matches, even at Chicago’s United Center. I was a sport’s reporter and attended KU. The game of basketball was played as a sport with rules at KU early in the history of the game. Today’s KU team players have the “rules” imprinted on their uniforms. — ♦  ♦  ♦

January finds us getting ready for really cold weather — In past years we were hit with a polar vortex. Whether a vortex or cold slamming into us, we will not care which — ♥   ♥   ♥

Christmas Letter   —–    Christmas 2021 —–    New Year 2022    —–   Dear Ones — Alan and I hope this letter finds you with time to light candles and reflect on the beauty of this season. In a society opting for Christmas greetings on Facebook, it’s a blessing to get some in the mail.  We love pictures of families — trips to celebrate anniversaries and births, and the notes about loved ones lost. Alan and I are Christians, but we also commend our Jewish friends who marked Hanukkah.  Merry Christmas and Blessings to all from Alan and Irvana

Fall Posting — We honor autumn with temps that shift and moods that must drift towards winter.  We celebrate Thanksgiving and move into Advent with Christmas in view.

                                                             ♠     ♠      ♠    ♠      ♠

Honor guard brings flags at 9/11 ceremony – 2010

September 11 Remembered – Written for the September 11, 2010 – Village of Mount Prospect Ceremony ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  I rewrote the poem to honor the 20-year-Anniversary – 

Twenty Years — by Irvana K. Wilks —

Twenty years of mourning the dead. Twenty years remembering the living.  Twenty years yearning to understand.  Twenty years of scars upon our land.

Twenty years sifting bones from ash.  Twenty years of reading names at the towers.  At the Pentagon.  In a Pennsylvania field.  Twenty years of scars upon our hearts.

Twenty years defining our enemies.  Twenty years of camouflage and desert boots.  Twenty years of sons and daughters fighting an amorphous, but necessary war.

Twenty years returning heroes.  Twenty years of caskets.  Twenty years of winning.  Twenty years of weeping.

Twenty years of rabbis and ministers prayers.  Twenty years of veterans who bring the flag.  Twenty years of airline attendants and pilots grieving the loss of their innocence.

Twenty years of white-gloved firemen ringing a bell for the brave who fell.  Twenty years of policemen standing as a bagpiper plays “Amazing Grace”.

Twenty years of Presidential proclamations.  Twenty years of mayor’s meager words.  Twenty years as writers and photographers record our progress of healing.

Twenty years of rebuilding the towers.  Twenty years of sifting through ashes of fear.  We seek that fragment of courage, forged in fire and left by God for us to find.


August 2021 post – Most Augusts Alan and I would travel on vacation. Now we stay home and hire helpers. We are lucky to know people we trust to help us in this year that finds us using technology and the mail to reach out.

Photo by Alan Wilks

Happy July 4th — Happy July 4th  — We live in the best country in the world!!! We watched the Mount Prospect fireworks from our driveway.  We used to help put on the July 4th Lion’s Festival, working to sell tickets, eat the great food in the “taste of Mount Prospect” tent.  It was fun watching those going to the watch the fireworks. Our neighborhood is a good place to park , because we are close to Melas Park where the festival and fireworks happen.  Photo above was taken by Alan Wilks on a previous July 4th —

Happy Anniversary Alan —

Photo by Mike Zarnek
Irvana and Alan Wilks

June Post:  Tomorrow, June 11 is Alan’s and my wedding anniversary.  We’ve been married 54 years. Today would be beautiful if it were not too hot.  We were married in Wichita, KS by a minister of the Unity Church.  We had a reception at our farm house near Valley Center, KS. ♥   ♥   ♥

Pink Poppy

May 2021 post — Spring brings flowers.  What an amazing spring where the weather remains cold. The blooms above were from a Hazel, who brought bulbs from to Lincoln, NE to Mount Prospect, IL. She gave me a bulb from her cultivation.     ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

April 2021 posts — Congratulations to those serving in elected office. We celebrate that we live in the United States of America.  We are blessed to live in a Village with its professional administration and trustees and mayor elected by voters.

♦♦♦    ♦♦♦    ♦♦♦    ♦♦♦   ♦♦♦   ♦♦♦

Alan cleared snow after 2 ft. snow in February 2021

February Post — We had heavy snows and are now being blasted with polar vortex temps — Thanks to Alan for clearing the snow, even last night running the snow blower. These are pics of the snow —

January 2021 Posting – Blessings On This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.   —  In Dr. King’s Book, “A Testament of Hope”, he has a chapter named: The Strength of Love.  In addition to being leader for the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King was a preacher who called on the Gospel of Matthew to instruct his followers on love.  That Chapter tracked a sermon about Jesus’ all – consuming love for us.

Today, as we have this day to pray for our world, we remember the important voice that was silenced too soon.  It is fitting to recall Dr. King’s profound life and death and mourn the passing of generations who did not witness this preacher’s preaching.                                              

Christmas at the Wilks’ home for 2020 –

Take by my cell phone
Christmas Tree with Stereo playing Christmas music.

Merry Christmas to all Christians. We wish you blessings at this time. We worship a baby of peace being born to the world.

November 2020 Posting — Wilderness Stories of Faith were shared by members of Christian Church of Arlington Heights. People’s journeys were witnessed during Worship using Zoom Tech.  Rev.  Allison Lundblad and the Worship Team called them Wilderness Stories.  I volunteered to tell my Wilderness Story and how I came to join Christian Church of Arlington Heights.

My faith journey involves my family, a church next to our Kansas farm and Alan, Jolin and I moving to Mount Prospect.  No Family’s story is a straight line or has patterns making sense. As the Mom-Aunt-Grandmother with the family Bibles, when schools assign homework on filling in blanks on “family trees”, I get those calls. I tell them it is complicated.

We are six siblings. Using the link “Family Inheritance”  below to learn our stories.  I can use a web page to tell our family stories to those interested.

Family Inheritance

When we moved to Mount Prospect in 1969, we began attending the Christian Church of Arlington Heights. Alan’s faith history is strongly Disciple. The Rev. William Robertson was pastor and asked about my baptism. I told him it was not with water, but with prayers from the Unity congregation, he said that would satisfy requirements to join a Disciples church.

 ♥    ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

September 11 Remembered – Written for the September 11, 2010 – Village of Mount Prospect Ceremony ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Ten Years — by Irvana K. Wilks —   Ten years of mourning the dead.  Ten years remembering the living.  Ten years yearning to understand.  Ten years of scars upon our land.

Ten years sifting bones from ash.  Ten years of reading names at the towers.  At the Pentagon.  In a Pennsylvania field.  Ten years of scars upon our hearts.

Ten years defining our enemies.  Ten years of camouflage and desert boots.  Ten years of sons and daughters fighting an amorphous, but necessary war.

Ten years returning heroes.  Ten years of caskets.  Ten years of winning.  Ten years of weeping.

Ten years of rabbis and ministers prayers.  Ten years of veterans who bring the flag.  Ten years of airline attendants and pilots grieving the loss of their innocence.

Ten years of white-gloved firemen ringing a bell for the brave who fell.  Ten years of policemen standing as a bagpiper plays “Amazing Grace”.

Ten years of Presidential proclamations.  Ten years of mayor’s meager words.  Ten years as writers and photographers record our progress of healing.

Ten years of rebuilding the towers.  Ten years of sifting through ashes of fear.  We seek that fragment of courage, forged in fire and left by God for us to find. 

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Since the 9 /11 Terror Attack the Village of Mount Prospect has held a ceremony to remember the fallen. Downtown Fire Station hosted Bell Ringing service.  Upon learning of the attack in 2001, Mount Prospect gathered for a candlelight prayer service at the Memorial Band Shell.  In subsequent years commemorations were held with Fire Fighters, Police, clergy, elected officials and citizens coming together for fire-fighter-bell ringing at the times the towers fell.

Some Ceremonies were held inside as those pictured below in the downtown Fire Station –

Honor Guard brings flags

We stand at attention as the flags are posted.

Fire and Police with Civilians and elected officials participate.


As Mayor, I thanked those serving as firemen and police



Deputy Chief Robert Rzepecki speaks


Fire Chief Mike Figola made remarks









This ceremony also invites participation from airline attendants, pilots and clergy.  United Airlines is a Mount Prospect company and with its location near O’Hare, attendants were affected because they lost their innocence during the 9/11 attack.


August 2020 post — For worship we and many in our country use zoom tech to have church and check on each other.  Rev. Allison Lundblad juggles the technology to allow all of us to participate.  Go to CCAH.ORG where the worship services are posted.

We have been asked to tell our wilderness stories about our faith.  I was asked to share my faith journey which included my family and churches and how I joined Christian Church of Arlington Heights with Rev. William Robertson as pastor.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

July Post – We are lucky not to have leaders like the French had for their revolution.  France celebrates Bastille Day – July 14 — Storming the Bastille prison signaled the beginning of the French Revolution.  The dates, July 14, 15, 16 of 1789 signify a turn away from the opulence of the Versailles, a Chateau built of gold and mirrors.  Marie-Antoinette was brought from Vienna to marry a man who would become King Louis XVI.  Marie-Antoinette’s extravagant dress and parties soured the French people against her.

Farewell My Queen – Chantal Thomas

“Farewell, My Queen” by Chantal Thomas tells the story of the last days of French royalty at Versailles. The narrator was a young woman named by Marie-Antoinette to be her “reader”.

The Queen’s reader, Madme Agathe-Sidonic Laborde wrote the story years later from her apartment in Vienna. She lives with other French emigrants.  The account in Versailles takes place on July 14 & 15, 1789. Those days begin a violent, bloody French Revolution.

Both Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI were tried and then beheaded in 1793 in Paris.

To quell the bloodshed, the masses allowed Napoleon Bonaparte to wage wars, to pillage Europe and to name himself Emperor for life.

We in the United States had George Washington and early revolutionaries to set our destiny.  Ours is a Representative Democracy which allows anyone to run for any office.  France has a Parliamentary government which changes leaders with each election.

At Britannica is a history of Bastille Day —

Versailles – next to Sévres speaks to France’s rich history

With Sévres, a suburb of Paris as a Sister City, we toured Versailles each visit- 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

July 4, 2020 Post — Happy July 4th – Wilks flag is flying – July 4th events have been cancelled. We now must recall past Mount Prospect July 4th parades, Lion’s festivals, individual celebrations at homes.  Alan cooked for the Lions breakfast, then came home to get ready to be in the parade.  We ate and worked at the Festival at Melas Park. Photos remind us of fun we had.

Daughter Jolin Wilks McElroy and Mayor Wilks in July 4th parade



Irvana rides in convertible with Niece Kirsten Cochran, Alan Wilks and driver Fred Steinmiller

Fireworks photos taken by Alan Wilks –












June 2020 Post — Constitutional Powers & Arresting People Who Assemble – The Bill of Rights gives those of us living in the United States ten basic freedoms.  Ten amendments were added to the Constitution before being ratified by all of the States in the Union.

Bill of RightsAmendment 1 pertains to several freedoms:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,  or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of press; or of the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  (See Britannica for other freedoms)

April 2020 Posts — Holy Week Post – We live in historic times.  Our nation has not stayed home from school or not gone to church during Holy Week. Christian Church of Arlington Heights wall gives hope. Mankind survived plagues, famines but now have stay at home pleas.

We joined millions of Christians worshiping on the Internet alone or as couples during this pandemic. We wish to hug but are discouraged. We did individual preparation for Lenten worship. Below is a prayer for Good Friday.

On Good Friday I wrote a prayer for the World – Dearest Lord – who sees into our hearts – be with those of us saddened and alone whether through depression or isolation.  Send your angels to protect us from mourning those missing from our lives.  Lead us away from anger or giving up.  Lord, send your angels to be with those facing surgery alone, mourning alone, or facing loss of jobs or loss of loved ones. We pray these things – Amen –

Christian Church of Arlington Heights - All Holy Week events by Zoom
You are NOT alone – Words on wall of Christian Church of Arlington Heights
Heading for the Art Institue of Chicago
Tiffany Stained Glass Window – 23 feet tall.

February 2020 Post –  Living in the Chicago area allows us to boast about the amenities we have.  The Art Institute of Chicago, our many museums and libraries encourage us to never stop learning.  The Art Institute announced it will acquire Tiffany’s Stained Glass Window.  Note its bottom quote from Psalm 121, “My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

Not sure of the date of its arrival.

January 2020 Post – As frigid weather descends from the north, we should remove ornaments and light strings and clear away the real tree we bought.  Bringing greenery indoors honors old traditions that celebrates the birth of Jesus and allows us to give gifts.  We will regret not getting the undressed tree to the curb for garbage days.  We will have a pile of snow to scale to get the tree for pick up from our  parkway.

Cards and Envelopes add festive touch –

December 2019 Post – We wait during Advent for the birth of a child.  Christians believe in a Child of Peace who comes to escort us through life.  During Advent the liturgical colors on pulpits and clergy stoles are royal purple.  At Christmas they are white, pure and unmarred.  We busy ourselves with decorating, sending cards and gifts.  We seek the magic of love to transform our lives.

Sugar Maple in the Wilks Back Yard. Sunlight beneath it feels like being trapped in amber. Photo by Mike Zarnek

October 2019 PostWelcome Autumn – I married a man who loves autumn. Because of Alan’s love of fall, I also see this season’s special beauty. Fall inspires stories and poems. The novel I’m writing also begins in the Fall of the year.

September 2019 Post — Waiting to be attacked by a turtle.  We just spent time in Bonita Springs, Florida, at our condo on the Gulf Coast.  Hurricane Dorian churned up the east coast and really hit the Bahamas.  Those with coastal properties were ordered to evacuate if in danger.  We delay our leaving if we think we might have trouble getting gas or lodging.  Once we were being chased by Hurricane Irma when the Governor declared an all-Florida evacuation.  The bazaar ordeal meant we were on one of two main highways traveling with other families in rental cars.  Every rest area had cars parked outside it waiting to pull in.  We travelled for 40 hours until we found hotel space in Tennessee.   Only things open were McDonald restaurants.  This time we got water and snacks to wait for the storm to pass.  A Florida Friend has a saying — waiting for a hurricane is like being stalked by a turtle.

August 2019 Post — Every time I sit still I feel I’ve missed doing something important.  Can we just write and read, believing the improvement of our minds is adequate?  If I just sit and think, is my body loitering?

May 2019 Post

Just Mercy is about defending the poor on death row -
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

The Church Book Club read “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson. It is a movie that a group from the Christian Church of Arlington Heights attended. What an amazing work!  It is written by an attorney who graduated Harvard Law and became attorney for Legal Defense Fund, defending men, women and children on death row in Georgia and many other states.  Those he wrote about were condemned to death row and none had legal representation until he visited with them in prison.  This was one the best books written about those on Death Row.

A January 31, 2019 Polar Vortex Post — At 23 below zero, wind pounds the house breaking off icicles.  Frost around windows painfully reminds us not to go outside.  We wear silk underwear to survive the chill inside.  All of our windows are covered with blinds to cut down drafts.  We sip hot coffee, warm TV room by lighting gas logs in the fireplace, and  watch favorite movies from our DVD collection.  We record the news to tell us about closures, suspended services and deaths.  We are reminded to stay inside.

December 2018 Post – We Christians waited for the birth of a baby of peace, a lamb of god, to show us love.  I give thanks for all we have – gifts given and received.  We are blessed to live in a nation where we can pursue what makes us happy.

General Post about suicide and drug abuse –

Photo of Kate Spade’s Vase with Gardenia taken by Jolin Wilks McElroy.

I’m praying for the loved ones of those who cannot be saved from self-destruction. 

Suicide or drugs entice their vulnerable minds as solutions to pain.  This photo is of a vase designed by Kate Spade who could no longer create new things and committed suicide.  It is a mystery how some can cope while others cannot.  As a writer I can see how fragile creative minds might be lost if goals are or are not accomplished.  Also there is a dulling of life pain with drug abuse.  I pray for the lost souls and their loved ones.


Summer 2018 post:  What does “HOME” mean to a Christian?  Christian Church of Arlington Heights, with Rev Allison Lundblad asks this as a summer-series question.  We are invited to send pictures and stories of home.  Alan and I submitted this one with our home after a snow storm.

Alan and Irvana Wilks cleared the snow

As an elected official for many years, it was important for Alan and I to work on our own home chores, including clearing snow.  We hired others for tasks we couldn’t do.  In the Chicago area, with a reputation for corruption, the Wilks family prides itself on not having Village employees work for us.

* * * * *

Spring 2018 posts: 

In Spring of 1968 we lived in Iowa City, Iowa. I was women’s editor for the newspaper there while Alan attended grad school. I was pregnant with our daughter Jolin when Dr. King was assignation on April 4, 1968. It is burned into my memory.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. 

On Sunday, April 8, 2018, in recognition of 50th anniversary of the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Christian Church of Arlington Heights (Disciples of Christ) held a special MLK Remembrance Worship. 

Worship included special music, a video of civil rights events leading up to Dr. King’s death and reflections by members of the congregation.  Included was a reading of excerpts from an unpublished King address delivered at the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), Dallas, TX, Sunday, September 25, 1966.  As worship ended, we recommitted ourselves to continue the hard but important work for racial equality and justice.

I had attended the University of Kansas, William Allen White School of Journalism, because White was a brave Kansas newspaper editor who worked to abolish slavery.  This year marks White’s 150th birthday with events at the University – KU honors William Allen White.

* * * * *

As Christians we celebrate Holy Week, beginning Palm Sunday and return to Church on Sunday, wearing our Easter smiles.

La Pietà – Sculpture by Michelangelo in Saint Peter’s, Rome, Italy

When I saw Michelangelo’s La Pietà at the Vatican , I understood salvation.  Mary offers her dead son Jesus in her lap as a sacrifice for us.  Pietà means pity.   Michelangelo sculpted the Pietà from Carrara marble in 1499 for a French cardinal.

The sculpture glows with faith.  Faith of the artist and faith of all of us who see this unforgettably powerful work of art.   Our daughter Jolin and I visited Italy on a birthday trip.  La Pietà speaks to me of salvation across the centuries.

* * * * *

A Lenten meditation I visit is “He was a Lamb,” by John and Anne Killinger — He was a lamb born in a world of wolves,  and the wolves began to snarl when he was born.  What makes us hate the innocent?  What makes us restless till its heart is torn? A little lamb, a gift from God.  And they hated him for even being born.

During Lent, Rev. Allison Lundblad asked for others to give the Worship Benediction. I volunteered for last Sunday and recited a poem that has become meaningful for me.  It is in “An Inner Journey to Easter, A Lenten Devotional,” by Anne Kathryn Killinger, published by Chalice Press, a Disciple of Christ press.

December 2017 posts:  During Advent I meditateIt is a month of waiting for the Lord of Peace to come as a baby and remake our fractured lives, our worried  world.  I light candles, and ask art and Bible readings to center my thoughts. 

Dove of Peace by LoriAnne Nelson

Some artwork I love was created for Advent Church bulletins by LoriAnne Nelson, an artist and member of Arlington Heights Christian Church.

At a recent Elder’s Meeting, I was asked to provide a meditation.  I spoke about my meditating.  Then we shared a joint meditation which ended in prayer.  Meditating is more than a brief prayer hung out for God.  It is a way of guiding the inner spirit to listen to ourselves and to understand what God wants for us and the people in our lives.

Prepare to Meditate – I light candles and place in safe place.  I may read scripture, a poem, look out of a window.  My mind shifts gears. 

Get comfortable – Sit on a chair, floor, couch or at desk or table.  Sit with legs in comfortable positions.  Place hands in lap or table, or at sides.  It doesn’t matter.

Bow heads or find something to look at – Look at candles or out of the window.  Listen to your breathing, to your hearts, to your worries.  Thoughts and worries wash onto you in torrents.  Let them in – it is your mind assigning value to things you must deal with.  It might be someone from work or a family member who has problems.  Let the faces come.

Take deep breaths – Deep breathing allows us to listen to our bodies, to our lungs, our hearts, our arms, our legs and that act quiets our minds.  It is easy to forget to breathe, but is important.

Meditation is a spiritual practice of listening to our hearts and to God.  God wants the best for us.  To understand our place in the world, we meditate and listen. There are no judgements, just thoughts we speak silently to ourselves.

Practice of mediation –
Listen to your thoughts.  Invite images of God.  Invite the faces of those you care about.

Think of a person you care about.  God loves you.  God loves that person.  God wishes health for that person.  God wishes health for you.  Gods loves health.  God releases us from pain.  God releases that person from pain.  Repeat.  Repeat as many times as you need.

Prayer – Lord we pray for those in trouble and in pain.  We pray as elders of your church.  But God, do not let us neglect our own spiritual health as we serve your church and your people.  Give us a spiritual renewal and live with us as we go about your work. — Amen

* * * * *

June 11, 2017 marked our 50-Year Wedding Anniversary.  All year we will be joining family to celebrate Alan’s continued work as a chemist and my life as a writer and as Mayor of Mount Prospect.    

Goodbye to Mayor Wilks
Irvana and Alan at party for Irvana Wilk’s retirement as Mayor of Mount Prospect

Alan and I met as students at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.  I got my BS in journalism. Alan graduated in chemistry and continued at the University of Iowa for his PhD.

I worked at newspapers and Alan was hired at a laboratory at UOP in Des Plaines, IL.  We moved to Mount Prospect, following a job, but finding life-long friends. 

We became active in the Christian Church, YMCA, and volunteered for Mount Prospect civic events.  I was first elected as a Village Trustee in 1991 and then as Mayor from 2005 to 2013. 

This Blog allows me to share, but also to ask you what you think.  Use the Comments feature at the end of the blog to tell about your faith and love stories. 

February 2017’s Post – Happy Valentines Day – This is a time before lent arrives to tell our special loves how much they mean to us.   This time 2 years ago, I needed Alan to be mine and he was a champ.

* * * * * * *

At Christmas 2016 I wrote…Merry Christmas – Sisters and Brothers in Faith –   Winter is a favorite time of year for Christians.  We love the liturgical seasons in Spring, Summer and Fall.  But winter meets us bundled and ready for Advent and the birth of Jesus.

On September 1, 2016  – I wrote– Fall is for hot coffee and reading on rainy days.  From a poet friend, Toni Diol, I learned to keep a journal near for ideas.

Reading Lincoln Biograph

First blogged by Irvana in January 2016 —

As I enter my second half of life, I’m struck by the challenges God has waiting for me.  In my writing or reading, I’m amazed by God’s gifts to me of intellect and discernment. 

Mine are prayers requesting God to make it easier.   But God has his own mysterious plan.  Alan and I are blessed to be good friends, still in love, as we enter this dynamic, unpredictable older years together.  God is journeying with us. 

If you have thoughts on faith, the mystery of love or writing please let me know.