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Lists, Lists, Lists

December 2009: Deck the Halls With Boughs Of Holly, Fa, La, La, La, BLAH.
Name your favorite Christmas carol:

3 Harps for Christmas (volumes I & II), by Sylvia Woods
ingle Bells
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
It’s Beginning to Feel a lot Like Christmas
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas sung by Judy Garland in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis
While You Were Sleeping
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Mary Did You Know
Amy Grant’s rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem, or Point of Grace, or Manheim Steamroller
Two Steppin’ ‘Round the Christmas Tree
Winter Wonderland
Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming
I Wonder As I Wander
O’ Come All Ye Faithful
Handel’s Messiah
One Small Child
Still Her Little Child
the Garmin Nuvi Christmas commercials
O Holy Night
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Faith Hill’s A Baby Changes Everything
Joy to the World
Angels From the Realms of Glory
Silent Night
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Celine Dion's Ave Maria
Merry Christmas Strait to You
Merry Christmas, Darling by the Carpenters
Carol of the Bells
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Amy Grant’s Emmanuel, God with Us
Sleighride by either the Ronnettes or the Brian Setzer
All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
Christmastime is Here by Vince Guaraldi and the Charlie Brown kids
Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
Have A Holly Jolly Christmas’
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy
The Hallelujah Chorus
Take a Walk Through Bethlehem sung by Trisha Yearwood

November 2009: Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart.
I'm thankful for:

New friends
My family (There were sooo many entries re family!)
A job during hard times
The surprises God brings
A new baby!!!
The fact that we are not behind on house payments when so many are!
An overall-wearing congregation that God has allowed us to serve (Read more soon!)
Thirty-one years of marriage--to the same man!
The doctor discovering a health problem despite no warning signs
Another year without cancer
The fact that my family has reconciled after years of hard feelings
Money for a relative's gift JUST when I needed it!
People to serve
My church, where I feel so welcome
The B-i-b-l-e. It's just the book for me
Music. I love the music this time of year.
My large, multicultural family gathering around the table, saying grace, and stuffing ourselves (Read more soon!)
My readers!!!!!

October 2009: Rah Rah Mascot Month

Freeport Pretzels--WINNER!!!
Delta State's Fighting Okra
Ohio State Brutus Buckeye
Sammy the Banana Slug, University of Santa Cruz
Traverse City Beach Bums
Baylor Bears 
Dallas Cowboys
Denver Nuggets
Miami Hurricanes
Kennesaw State University Fighting Hoot Owls
Purdue Boilermakers
Minnesota Golden Gopher
Alabama Crimson Tide
University of Kentucky Wildcats
Portland Christian Eagles
Southeastern Christian Torches
Gainesville, Missouri, Bulldogs
Oostburg Flying Dutchmen (a clog shoe with wings)
The American Bald Eagle
San Diego Chicken
Frankfort Hot Dogs 
Scottsdale Community College's Arty the Fighting Artichoke
Mary Baldwin College's Gladys the Fighting Squirrel
Corny, Heartland Community College
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Wheaton Wheaties
Arkansas Monticello Boll Wievels (The only thing that ever stopped the South!!????)

September 2009: Wedding Memories
Dear Readers, please forgive me, but I could not condense your wonderful stories into a list and do them any justice!!! 
After we receive our baby's wedding album, I will list MY favorite wedding memories. Unfair! It's life!!!!!!

August 2009: For where your treasure is...

Water, Inc.
Ministry & More
Doctors Without Borders
Samaritan's Purse
American Kidney Fund
Campus Crusade for Christ
Harbor House in Australia
Brandon House Ministry in Wallhalla, South Carolina
Foundation for Cancer Research
DIGS, Inc. (Developing Independence, Growth, and Security)
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Pregnancy Center in Lebanon, Missouri
Focus on the Family
Rahab Ministries (Rahab Bazaar)
Rainforest Alliance
Bany Trading Company
My local church (way too many to list!!)
Reading is Fundamental
Operation Mobilization
Guide Dog for the Blind
The Salvation Army
Habitat for Humanity
Farm Aid
Mercy Ships
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Pearl Buck International
Greenpeace Fund, Inc.
National Foundation for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression
National Military Family Association 

July 2009: 4th of July favorites: 

Playing Jimmy Buffett's "The Night I Painted the Sky"
Fireworks at the beach
Fireworks behind the old armory
Fireworks in the park
A huge carry-in with all my friends and family
A neighborhood parade where all the kiddos hang streamers from their bikes and trikes
No work
A day at the lake and skiing
Time at Green Lake Family Camp
Just a day set aside to remember our Founding Fathers
Teaching the little kids of our family how to do sparklers
Putting cheap plastic flags up and down our driveway
Hanging red, white, and blue streamers in all our trees
Putting out the flag and leaving it there for like a week
Watching Born on the 4th of July
Praying for our soldiers, who are all over the world
Making a flag cake outta strawberries and blueberries. It's in The Barefoot Contessa cookbook
Wearing red, white and blue t-shirts
Eating strawberries. Better if they're dipped in chocolate


June 2009: Gotta Get Away?

Michigan, or somewhere, anywhere, cool!
Hana, Maui
The Oregon coast
New York City
The breathtaking hiking trails of the Grand Canyon
The Four Seasons Hotel on Wailea Beach in Maui! Maui-Maui and snorkeling included!
Dublin, Ireland
A deserted sandy beach
A bedbug-free hotel--LOL. Something REALLY nice!
The Holy Land
A sailboat in the Caribbean
The Scottish highlands, especially Dunvegan Castle (home of the McLeods, my ancestors)
Ireland, especially places visited in An Irishwoman's Tale, and Counties Cork and Mayo
London and places mentioned in Elizabeth Goudge's beloved books
Michoacan, Mexico, refuge of the Monarch butterflies
The turquoise and blue waters of a Destin beach are calling my name!!
Machu Picchu
The big sky country of Montana
Exploring all seven continents, including an Anarctic winter and time in an Amazon rain forest
Outer space!
A beautiful park in St. Louis that we visited when I was a kid
Trips to visit beloved relatives in Illinois and Indiana
Honolulu, Hawaii
Glacier National Park
Acadia National Park in Maine
Charleston, South Carolina
San Diego AND Coronado Island
Cinque de Terra, Italy
Anywhere with my grown-up children. How I long to spend time with them!
Santa Fe's art galleries and the beautiful sculpture garden outside of town
Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods--before they get bulldozed 

May 2009: Favorite colognes (my readers love to smell good!):
Youth Dew
White Linen
Japanese Cherry Blossom
Jessica McClintock
ANY Bond perfume, particularly Chinatown, Harlem, and Central Park
L'Air De Temps
Chanel No. 5
White Diamonds
Vanilla Fields
Wind Song
Burberry Brit
An old bottle of musk oil I got in college (?!*)
Amor Amor
Cool Water
Aqua de Gio

April 2009: Favorite Easter Memories

Sunrise service on the beach
Getting new clothes for Easter. My brother got the cutest little white suit and bow tie.
Easter baptism in a cold river!
Dad giving Mama Easter lilies
Placing flowers on the graves of my grandpa
The smell of boiling eggs
Dying the eggs crazy colors, then gluing glitter and rick-rack on them
The first date with my husband of thirty years
Easter egg hunts with my cousins
Throwing Easter eggs at cars
Grandma buying us new Easter clothes
My grandparents hiding Easter eggs with money in them
A hard-boiled egg breakfast
Mama making a special Easter casserole before sunrise service. Bacon and eggs and cheese--yum!
My pastor dad riding a donkey down the aisle on Easter morning
My youngest son and his friends getting baptized on Easter morning
A beautiful white "Easter bunny" sitting on our porch
A yummy chocolate bunny sitting on my breakfast plate
Getting dyed chicks in my Easter basket. I have no idea how they stayed put!
Gathering eggs, then dyeing them pink and blue
Hiding eggs for my little cousins
Mother making me starch and iron everyone's Easter best 
Our church performing a skit with the women gathered around the tomb
Singing, "He is Not Here, But Risen!"
Wearing an Easter bonnet with plastic fruits and berries glued onto it

  March 2009: My Hero

  • My father
  • Any honest politician 
  • My mother 
  • My college lit. teacher 
  • My artist grandmother
  • My 21-year-old son, stationed in Iraq
  • My husband the cop 
  • My friend Becky, who raises her grandkids
  • The lady who delivers our papers. She works a full-time job, has sent three kids to college, and gets our news on time EVERY DAY (and has done so for years!)
  • Modern-day martyrs 


  • My son, who keeps a positive attitude despite a disability
  • My dad, who conquered fear to become a minister
  • My father, who did the best he could to provide for five kids despite a disability
  • My boss, who fights for us
  • My pastor, who dares to be a real shepherd 
  • Those who work hard all day, then come home and honor God by doing pursuing their passion into the wee hours
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness' sake 


February 2009: Valentine Memories (besides top five)

  • a homemade card with doilies 
  • melted M&Ms in a card 
  • heart-shaped red hots 
  • my wedding day!
  • Mom's Valentine cutout cake 
  • making dinner for my hubbie 


  • a chocolate pancake
  • getting a red gown
  • just saying "I Love You"
  • making cards with my kids
  • a candlelit dinner 

January 2009: Favorite Snow Memories

  • miraculous snow in South Africa (and a four-foot snowman!)
  • snow forts 
  • snowmen with raisin eyes 
  • snow women with bosoms!
  • frosted evergreens
  • sledding down Killer Hill
  • no school!
  • hot chocolate after snow play
  • snow angels
  • stepping from a snow drift onto the roof!  


  • snowball fights 
  • shoveling snow for a neighbor
  • poor kids' sleds: trash can lids and cardboard boxes 
  • bon fires
  • making snow ice cream 
  • being shut off from the world 
  • the "Hallmark" look of our house
  • skating on ice-slicked roads
  • my mother letting my hubby-to-be stay with us if he promised to shovel!

December 2008: Special Christmas Memories

Making a completely furnished dollhouse for our daughter, including pictures on the wall!

Getting our first bicycles, thanks to a sacrificially giving mom

Attending movies with the whole family

Attending Midnight Mass or a late church service

Our first Christmas with our adopted sons

A Christmas present vacation to Puerto Rico from my husband

For once, a peaceful household without conflict and tension

A Christmas of yesteryear when my husband proposed on a bridge in Central Park

A picture-perfect image of Nana's and Poppa's house, complete with mountains and waterfalls

A real Christmas tree

Gifts from Sam, the secret Santa

Precious time with loved ones who have passed from this earth (especially Grandma)

Staying up to "catch" Santa Claus in action

Our first white Christmas

The look on my children's faces when they got special gifts

When my nephew got a guitar and "taught" us all how to play it!

Leaving cookies out for Santa Claus

Participating in a Christmas play when I was a youngster at our little country church

Carrying on Dad's tradition of making Christmas cookies

Getting caught snooping around for Christmas presents

Getting a special memory ornament from Mother

Making Christmas treats with my children and a good friend

Singing Christmas carols

Having babies born right around the Christmas season--the best gifts ever!

Watching my kids' faces as they open their presents

Catching Dad eating Santa's fudge

Getting dominoes and playing with Mom

Reading the Christmas story from the Bible and letting the family's youngest child be Baby Jesus

Our family's annual day to volunteer--especially that one poignant visit with Mary, a 92-year-old woman with no family and a need to talk!

 November 2008: Favorite Thanksgiving Entrees

  • jalapeno corn dressing
  • turkey leg shaped fried tofu 
  • cranberry sauce 
  • mashed potatoes with gravy
  • chocolate/peanut butter pie
  • Grammy's buttermilk pie
  • chicken and dumplings
  • oven-roasted root vegetables
  • bourbon pecan pie 


  • allergen-free whole grain birthday cake 
  • cherry cheesecake salad
  • pumpkin tiramisu
  • Pad Thai made with turkey!
  • Twinkie/Cool Whip casserole (?) 
  • candied yams 
  • shredded pork enchiladas
  • green bean/onion ring casserole
  • wild rice and mushroom casserole


October 2008: Lord, I need revival in:

  • my gratitude to You
  • my prayer life
  • taking care of my body, Your temple
  • Bible study
  • hope
  • quiet time with the Lord
  • my marriage--it's the pits
  • my willingness to work out 


  • my attitude toward my sister 
  • my feelings toward church members
  • not needing others' approval
  • treating my husband with respect
  • my value in God 
  • getting over the past 
  • my job--it just seems hopeless
  • treating myself 


September 2008: School Days Memories

  • wearing dresses lovingly sewn by Mother
  • always getting pickekd last for kickball
  • winning the district spelling bee
  • field trips that released me from stuffy classrooms
  • being ridiculed because of homemade clothes
  • sitting on the "dunce seat" for talking
  • marking off the days till summer vacation
  • reading a special Bible verse after the Pledge of Allegiance
  • a 10-page rendition of Cinderella on Kindergarten-rule paper
  • misspelling an easy word and losing the Bee


  • being a tetherball champion
  • tons of stars in my "Round the World" math crown
  • a team-effort kickball game
  • seeing a streaking meteor
  • "Running Buffalo" learning to do a forward flip
  • that special English teacher who fostered a love of writing
  • having my story read by the teacher!
  • being caught reading a Stephen King book during class
  • having the teacher read Matthew 25:40
  • having a crush on a red-haired boy

August 2008: Deathbed Memories

  • cradling each of my babies for the first time
  • meeting my husband
  • having a student say, "Thank you"
  • the freedom of running through a field of flowers
  • not marrying the right man for me
  • saving the life of my drowning baby
  • attending my child's wedding


  • saying "I do" at the altar
  • riding a horse in the Rocky Mountains
  • asking Jesus into my heart
  • seeing a streaking meteor
  • holding Mama's hand when I was young
  • all the things I should have done
  • getting a "sister" when I was 50

July 2008: Poignant First Memories
(Finalists in July contest

  • the loving arms of a maternal grandmother
  • a birthday cake, yellow with one pink candle
  • being stubborn during daycare exercises
  • a mother's brave smile in the midst of cervical cancer
  • playing with the "turkey wattle" under Grandma's neck & arms while being rocked
  • watching the Pittsburgh Pirates with dad (Bob Prince emcee)
  • attending Rotary Sunshine Camp with parent volunteers
  • snuggling up with pipe-smoking Pep's, a beloved grandpa
  • school bus ride to kindergarten and the Hawaiian luau
  • jumping on the bed, then swallowing an ice cube
  • Grammy singing the "Sigh Know" song (Jesus Loves Me, This I Know)
  • being rescued from drowning by Dad
  • poking my hand in a tree and finding a fluffy white owl
  • putting Tippy's hook chain in my mouth as I walked him
  • seeing the moon landing on TV
  • being rejected by relatives, which led to the book "Mara's Choice"
  • failing to tie my shoes
  • asking Daddy where babies came from
  • being carried, in my stroller, upstairs into church
  • seeing snow for the first time
  • going to Tree Top Restaurant in Jamaica
  • playing with a yo-yo and tangling the string

June 2008: Oh, The Places We'll Go!
(Readers' Dream Destinations

    • Hawaii, particularly the island of Kauai
    • Austria
    • New Zealand
    • remote Caribbean beaches
    • Denali Park in Alaska
    • Wyoming and Montana parks
    • an Alaskan cruise
    • Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens in Washington State
    • Italy, Greece and France
    • Backpacking across Ireland
    • Jamaica
    • an untouched tropical island
    • mission trips (particularly in Africa)
    • Puerto Rico
    • A train trip anywhere!
    • A geneological trip across Ireland, Scotland, England
    • Israel
    • Helping family in Illinois and Indiana
    • Cinque Terre in Italy
    • Switzerland's carless villages
    • Wisconsin's bike trails, particularly Sparta with its cool railroad tunnels
    • Santa Fe and the art scene
    • Maine with its lighthouses and loons
    • Grand Canyon
    • Okefenokee Swamp
    • The sea islands off the Georgia coast

May 2008: Get Inspired! (Twenty-six Contest Entries)

  • Isaiah 40:31: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
    They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be
    weary, and they shall walk and not faint.
  • Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.
  • The secret of not to mourn the past, worry about the future or
    anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
  • Romans 8:31: If God is for you, who can be against you?
  • You can't change others; you can only change yourself.
  • We are more in need of a vision or a destination and less in need of
    a map...
  • The Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I
    cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom
    to know the difference.
  • Zechariah 9:12: If you will be a prisoner of hope, God will restore back to you double everything that was stolen.
  • Oh, that a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a
    heaven for? Robert Browning
  • Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.
    St. Francis of Assisi
  • This too shall pass.
  • Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ, who
    strengthens me.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind."
  • This too shall pass.
  • Let go and let God.
  • Character is how you live your life when no one else is looking!
  • Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no
    happiness without action. Disraeli
  • Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Each ending is a new beginning.
  • I do not think of all the misery but of all the beauty that
    still remains. Anne Frank
  • John 1:12: Yet to all who received Him, to those who
    believed in His name, He gave the right to become
    children of God.
  • Do the thing you are afraid to do, and the death of fear
    is certain. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Psalm 119:130. The unfolding of your words gives light.
  • The Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have
    them do unto you.
  • Courage is just a willingness to make a mistake.
  • Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty
    spirit before a fall.

April 2008: Let's Go to the Movies
(Twenty-Five Must-See American Films
Will devote another list to foreign films)

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Gone With the Wind
  • The Godfather
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • The Sound of Music
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Casablanca
  • Some Like it Hot
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Ben Hur
  • Mildred Pierce
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • East of Eden
  • Citizen Kane
  • All About Eve
  • Schlinder's List
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Star Wars
  • Dr. Zhivago
  • The English Patient
  • Raisin in the Sun
  • Body Heat

March 2008: Here's to you, Ireland!
(Places to Visit on Lovely Erin)

The majestic Cliffs of Mohr
The City of Galway, with its whimsical shops
The Burren, a vast limestone stretch dotted with exotic wildflowers
The Burren Perfumery and Tea Room
The wild, wonderful climb to Croagh Patrick
Skellig Michael, the "most impossible rock in the world"
Strangford Lough
The romantic Aran Islands
A pub in just about any Irish town. Good food and Guinness
The Connemara, including Killary Fjord and Kylemore Abbey
Traditional Irish music pub (different from above. Ask the locals)

February 2008: Valentine's Day Memories

Toblerone candy bars arriving from my Swiss brother
Cooking a gourmet meal for our young married small group
Watching our teenaged son serve the gourmet meal!
Homemade Valentines from my babies
Yearly phone calls from both my parents (before Dad died)
Our annual ritual--ordering Chinese takeout
Eating above on our china by candlelight
Taking an elderly friend to tea
Flowers delivered from an anonymous admirer
Stuffing white paper sacks with store-bought Valentines

January 2008: New Year's Resolutions Which Rocked My Socks Off

Quit manipulating my teenagers
Lose eight pounds
Eat dark chocolate daily
Drink coffee with every meal
Train for and complete a marathon
Run a 5K, a 10K, and a half-marathon on the same weekend
Clean my husband's closet
Read the Bible daily
Take up jogging...and enjoy it!
Daily work the newspaper's crossword puzzle
Do quality research to determine the best presidential candidate
Laugh more and frown less
Quit being snippy to my in-laws
Read every classic title in my local library
Find the mind of God (winning entry)
Expect God to work miracles in ME
Lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol

December 2007: Most Popular Christmas Reads
Readers' Choice

(Listed in order of votes received)

Christmas Carol, Dickens
A Christmas Memory, Capote
Twas the Night, Moore & Birmingham
How the Grinch Stole Christmas , Seuss
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever , Robinson
Christmas Day in the Morning, Buck and Buehner
Gift of the Magi, Henry and Zwerger
The Christmas Box, Evans
The Polar Express, Van Allsburg
The Candymaker's Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane, Haidel
The Crippled Lamb, Lucado
Away in a Manger, Kinkade
Unwrapping Christmas, Copeland
Jacob's Gift, Lucado
The Christmas Shoes, VanLiere
Alabaster's Song: Christmas Through the Eyes of an Angel, Lucado
An Unexpected Christmas: The Story of Johnny Cornflakes, George
The Mitford novels

October/November 2007: Favorite Fall Memories

    Crunching through fall leaves
    Buying new school supplies
    Starting a new Bible study
    Bundling up for a high school or college football game
    Making potato and tortilla soups by scratch
    Hearing the rattle of seed pods on native grass plants
    Watching the geese return to our very underrated Midwestern blue skies

September 2007: Places Which Inspire You

    Turkey Run State Park, Indiana
    San Juan Island, Washington State
    The Empire Builder route, Amtrak, U.S.A.
    Kiawah Island, South Carolina
    Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
    Kalupapa Peninsula, Molokai, Hawaii
    Grindelwald, Switzerland
    Custer State Park, South Dakota
    Okefenokee Swamp, Florida
    Green Lake Conference Center, Green Lake, Wisconsin
    Maxwell Park, Normal, Illinois
    Acadia National Park, Maine
    Crested Butte, Colorado, and a fifty-mile circle around it
    The Old Taos Highway, New Mexico
    Clare County, Ireland

August 2007: Old friends

The Children's Bible, Golden Press
Little Women, Alcott
Fairy Tales of the Orient, Buck
Cowboy Andy, Chandler
The Nancy Drew series, Keene
Pippi Longstocking, Lindgren
Beautiful Joe, Saunders
Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, Sidney
Booker T. Washington, Stevenson
A Child's Garden of Verses, Stevenson

July 2007: Summer loves!
Scour your favorite bookstores! Poll your friends!
Come up with at least five scintillating summer reads!
Winner receives a $15 gift certificate to Borders Books & Music!
Please e-mail your selections to or
select "Contact Me" on this website and enter your list in the "Message" box.

Patti's Summer Loves 2007
(*Reviewed on the site button entitled Reviews )

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Kingsolver
Confessions of an Amateur Believer , Kirk
Confessions of St. Augustine (Ryan, translator)
*Dispatches From the Edge , Cooper
*My Father's Secret War , Franks
Suite Francaise , Nemirovsky
*The Big House, Colt
*The Invisible Wall, Bernstein
The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, Mendelsohn
*The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Edwards
*The Oak Leaves, Lang
The Road, McCarthy
*Watching the Tree Limbs, DeMuth
West With The Night, Markham
* When Crickets Cry, Martin

Mine was an odd childhood, living in an athletic dormitory with two hundred sometime brothers, my father, the dorm director, and Mother. In May, after the sometimes brothers had ripped sheets from their bed, stuffed satchels and trunks with smelly clothes, and headed home for another summer, loneliness swept in like a Texas thunderstorm.

That first summer they all left, I was four years old, and Mother somehow knew how hard it would be for me to tell my sometime brothers good-bye. After all, there were no kids to play with on a college campus, and my full-time brothers hadn't been born yet.

"Let's find some summer loves!" Mother exclaimed, wiping my tears away as we waved to the last sometime brother.

"What are summer loves?" I asked.

"The best kind!" When she lifted her eyebrows in that funny way she had, her face took on the look of a circus clown's, and I knew fun was on its way. "They take you around the world, then bring you back. They never mess with your stuff, and they don't cost a dime!"

I didn't understand what was going on until we walked across campus, climbed the library steps, and tiptoed into the lobby, which back then was hush-hush even when all the students were around. That day, it was empty as Christ's tomb.

"Books?" I asked Mother, more than slightly disappointed. They child of two educators, I'd been knee deep in books for my whole life. They'd propped up the gimpy leg on my baby bed, been jerryrigged into a coffee table of sorts, preserved and pressed Mother's favorite flowers...but most of all, we read them, talked about them...lived them.

"Special ones. The ones that aren't assigned in school." She patted my head. "Of course, you don't know about that yet." Mother lowered her voice when the crabby librarian eyed her. "The ones you'd pay money for."

My breath caught in my throat. While my parents coveted books like others coveted gold, they'd sworn off buying them until Daddy's dissertation was finished. Our books were borrowed, gifted, traded, and perhaps even obtained under less admirable circumstances. "For real?" I asked.

Another look from Mrs. Crab didn't faze Mother. "For real," she insisted. She took my arm and led me to the study carrel under which I'd played solitaire while Daddy did research. "If they're yours, you can memorize your favorite parts, write in the margins, and read them over and over. They'll make you laugh...and cry, when you realize you're on the last chapter."

As the years went by, I learned just what Mother meant. I sampled Green Eggs and Ham with Seuss, survived a dreadful house fire with Beautiful Joe, solved mysteries with the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew, and visited London and Paris and Narnia, which was such a wonderful place, I never wanted to come home...

Now I'm fifty-two, and I still eagerly reenact the summertime ritual my mother began back in Martin Hall even though now I go to Borders or Barnes & Noble or Berean and buy books instead of checking them out of the library, mainly so I can write in the margins of my summer friends' pages, like my parents loved to do. For weeks, sometimes months, I query my friends and read online reviews, compiling a semifinalist list. To choose the finalists, I scour the bookstores, scooping up an armful of the top ten or twenty, and let them spill onto one of those minuscule tables in the quietest corner of the bookstore's coffee bar, or in the case of Berean, the back corner of the store, by the bathrooms. Some are pretty young things, hot off the presses; others are so old, their authors are cold in their graves and have been for centuries. Be forewarned: just like in real-life relationships, some summer loves just don't work out. But I'll follow my Grandmother Hazel's advice on this type of matter: I won't talk about them if they won't talk about me. And if one summer love doesn't work out, I'll carefully replace it on the store's bookshelf and pull down another and another and another.

June's genre: Christian fiction!

Up, Up, and Away--Twenty-Three Fiction Reads

Deadline, Alcorn
Dominion , Alcorn
All She Ever Wanted (Austin)
A Light to My Path (Refiner's Fire series) , Austin
Candle in the Darkness (RF series), Austin
Fire by Night (RF series) , Austin
Eve's Daughters, Austin
Blink , Dekker
When Heaven Weeps, Dekker
They Shall See God, Dickson
Joshua, Girzone
The Note, Hunt
The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Jackson
Sisterchicks on the Loose, Jones
The Mitford series, Karon
Saving Alice, Lewis
The Atonement Child, Rivers
Leota's Garden, Rivers
When the Shofar Blew, Rivers
God Made Little Apples, Sheridan
The Amber Photograph, Stokes
The Galway Chronicles, Thoene & Thoene
Brigid of Ireland, Thomson

May's Genre: Christian Nonfiction
Tried and Trusted Old Friends: 20 Favorite Books of Christian Nonfiction

The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer
My Utmost for His Highest , Chambers
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Cymbala
These Strange Ashes , Elliot
Passion and Purity, Elliot
The Savage, My Kinsman , Elliot
Mere Christianity, Lewis
Blue Like Jazz , Miller
Absolute Surrender, Murray
The Cloister Walk, Norris
Bruchko, Olsen
101 Hymn Stories, Osbeck
Knowing God, Packer
Desiring God, Piper
Following Christ, Stowell
The Case for Christ, Strobel
The Best of A.W. Tozer, Tozer
The Purpose-Driven Life, Warren
The Jesus I Never Knew, Yancy
What's So Amazing About Grace? Yancy