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.
We marked 54 years of marriage. We send congrats to any being with the one you love. We sold our condo in Bonita Springs, FL. We did the sale and shipping long distance. Travel there was impossible under the Covid complications. We are sorting through boxes filled with items we bought to make time on a beach property livable. There were items left when it was owned by Betty and Chuck Bomar, Irvana’s half-sister and half-brother. Since moving to Mount Prospect in 1969 after Alan got his PhD at the University of Iowa, this has been home. We are blessed with family who visit. We have good friends and neighbors, a wonderful church, and a house filled with memories. At our ages, we also have good doctors, plus honest people who help with repairs and other services.
About Alan – he is retired. When he worked for UOP in Des Plaines, he received patents on inventions used in your car’s catalytic converter. He also invented software, and we get an annual royalty check from General Electric. During his career Alan also did work for the DoE which required him to have security clearance. Unfortunately, the Federal database with all the extensive personal information required for clearance was hacked and placed on the dark web. Consequently, his identity is under constant attack by thieves and for our protection he has blocked both Facebook and our credit reports. He enjoys serving as financial secretary for our church.
About Irvana – After being super healthy, I’ve realized I have my mother’s and father’s DNA. Alan also has his mom and dad’s health issues. Because of their illnesses, we are making our home more handicapped accessible. We got our shots against Covid and they’ve worked. I believe in hand washing. We use Zoom Tech to access services, book club and worship at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights.
I still write and use Zoom to connect to a writer’s workshop’s lectures. Because of election laws and my time as Mayor, I had my own web site. I’ve kept it and blog on it. It is: www.irvanawilks.com. I now use it to tell family stories that need telling. I realize school assignments are questions about a child’s heritage. No family’s story is a straight line, I have family Bibles with names, births, marriages recorded. I put it on-line for answers to those questions. We send Blessings to all – Irvana and Alan Wilks —— —– ——
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.
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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.
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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.
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 —
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. ♥ ♥ ♥
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.
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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 –
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.
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.
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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.
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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 –
We stand at attention as the flags are posted.
Fire and Police with Civilians and elected officials participate.
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.
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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” 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 — https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bastille-Day?utm_medium=mendel-homepage&utm_source=4up&utm_campaign=4up-1&utm_term=20200714
With Sévres, a suburb of Paris as a Sister City, we toured Versailles each visit-
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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.
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.
“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 –
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.
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.
October 2019 Post – Welcome 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 —
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 –
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.
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.
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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 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.
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As Christians we celebrate Holy Week, beginning Palm Sunday and return to Church on Sunday, wearing our Easter smiles.
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.
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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 meditate. It 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.
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
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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.
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.
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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.
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.