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Month: September 2023

This Woman

She lives in the filth and pain of her past when God has invited her into His own home.

Who is this woman?

What is it about a prison with no bars that she would fight to sleep there?

She wears shame as an undergarment, a dress and a coat when God has adorned her with the beauty of salvation.

Do you know this woman?

She says, “I know the bridegroom is coming.” But will she whither like a soggy leaf? Or will she wash and dress herself in righteous deeds?

She hears her name called, yet claims no hope. She is smarter than most, but falls for the lies of her enemy.

Will this woman ever let God move her?

She eats junk and is constantly hungry, drinks from a stagnant well and then thirsts. She turns her back to the bread of life and moans at the thought of pure and cool water. Her taste buds crave only the soothing and sweet.

Her family is fatigued. Her friends won’t answer. Strangers don’t bother to speak. Her prayers are always a cry for help.

Does this woman have arms to accept grace or legs that can take her to mercy?

With so much to overcome, she sleeps. She watches and waits for her ride, not imagining how she will get anywhere.

She looks to faithful believers in worship. Pretends to be like them while the One to be praised weeps for her.

Have you seen this woman?

Some invisible roadblock continually stops her.  And the walls she has built are so steep. No human friend can climb them.

She smiles in case someone might see her, but her eyes reveal a different face. She wants us to see humility when it’s pride that exposes her insecurity.

How long does this woman think she can hide?

Her posture stiffens to exude strength, not the strength of a winner, but one who refuses to surrender. She has trained her children to agree and to speak a rigid narrative on her behalf.

She sells herself at a low price and clings to her soul when Christ has already paid. His life for hers.

Why does she laugh at Proverbs 31 and call it a fairytale?

She wishes for another identity and thinks of her purpose as rubbish. She walks middle of the road as if that is a lesser danger.

She has a compelling story, but she, herself, is not compelled . Would she trust her own advice or examples? She tells an old secret to distract from what still matters.

Who does this woman fool by giving a nod to godly council?

She frustrates those who love her. She frustrates herself. Who will look up and see her? Who will stand up for her? Who will offer the hand God might use to lift her up?

Who will walk up to her prison door, step in, and pray with her? Whose prayers will never give up on this woman?

Who, on the day she overcomes, will shout, “I know that woman! She is a friend of mine.”

Now this is the Gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 (NET.)

For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. 1 John 5: 3-4 (NET).

[This is dedicated to one of my friends who recently stepped out of her comfort zone. Way out. While not all of the statements in this poem are a reflection of her particular struggle and situation, she owns the fact that she has been living in a prison of sorts. But God . . . Yes! But God is about to do something great. Unimaginable. And I can’t wait! In less than one month, I will get to shout, “Hey. I know that woman! She is a friend of mine.”]

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Not Just Anybody’s Blanky.

This is a personal letter to one of my granddaughters, but feel free to eavesdrop.

Dear Kyla,

It’s only a baby blanket to anyone in the world, but me. Simple baby yarn, a simple pattern, neutral colors . . . and it’s worn. This baby blanket was made by a lady named Jean Walsh, a dear friend to my mother, your great-grandmother. Let me tell you about Jean Walsh.

I always called her Mrs. Walsh because that’s all I ever heard Mom call her. She went to the church where Mom and Dad were members when they first moved to Illinois from Kentucky—a single woman with a couple of teenagers.

I never met her husband. Perhaps he traveled for work and couldn’t be at church on Sundays. Perhaps he had died a tragic death. Mrs. Walsh might have been a divorcée. I don’t know. It wasn’t important to my parents, so it wasn’t important to me. She was tall and beautiful. I wanted to be like her, to walk like her, to dress like her and to speak like her. To be respected like her.

I don’t have a picture of Mrs. Walsh, except in my mind.

I don’t have the complete story either, but Dad, Mom and my older sister, Jan, lived in Mrs. Walsh’s big house before I was born. Mom was pregnant with me at the time, if I am recalling the story right. I can’t even say with certainty whether we lived with her for a week or months. I only think it was less than a year, but I can say, for sure, that Mrs. Walsh was one of the most influential women in my life.

I do have photographs of Jan and me standing by a bed of spring flowers in Mrs. Walsh’s yard. We are dressed in our Sunday best. Could have been an Easter Sunday morning. Dad had a good job by then and we had a house of our own, but Mom never had a green thumb like Mrs. Walsh.

It would be a few years after that photo when the first of my forever memories of Mrs. Walsh would happen. There was an important church meeting or training session where only adults were invited. She thought it so important for my parents to attend that she volunteered her teenaged son, J.D., to babysit.

Mom and Dad stood at the front door, telling us to behave and to “Do whatever J.D. says.” He couldn’t have been more than fifteen. Jan saw him as handsome. (I know that because she told me so.) I saw him as fun. We played games around the coffee table and ate hotdogs in the dining room. J.D. made good Kool-Aid.

Funny thing: No one told me that the J in J.D. stood for John. And why would a normal six-year-old question anything, because J.D. is a perfectly fine sounding name. Someone mentioned “John Walsh” later, when I was in my teens. I was puzzled. “I didn’t know J.D. had a brother named John.”

I remember the street and the city block where Mrs. Walsh lived, the steep hill, and the wooden staircase that went to the bedrooms. J.D. only allowed me to go half-way up, never out of his sight or too far for him to catch me. But from halfway up those stairs, I decided I wanted a house like that, with deep, rich wood and wavy glass. (Changed my mind later when I realized that older homes require so much maintenance and a ton of furniture polish!)

Years flew by. I had another sister and a brother, and our family had moved on to another church. Jean Walsh had moved on, too. I heard her name less and less often, but when I did, I could barely listen for my own memories entertaining me. Still today, I couldn’t tell you what she did for a living, but she had a job. I couldn’t tell you where her new church was, but I knew she served the Lord. I couldn’t tell you where she had traveled or what kind of car she drove, but I knew the lady.

When I followed my military husband to Germany, I often thought of people back home, but not so much of Mrs. Walsh. I hadn’t forgotten her, but it had been so long since I’d seen her or heard her name. And when I got pregnant, I had something else to occupy my thoughts.

To my surprise, among the baby gifts sent all the way to Germany, from home, was this green and yellow baby blanket. No one knew whether the baby I carried was to be your father or your mother. (But Kyla, please know that God meant, even then, for you to be mine!)

Your dad was never attached to any one of his blankets, but he dragged this one on the floor a time or two, and for sure, your daddy’s DNA is between the treads, embedded in this blanket. Mine too. No need to explain all the ways your dad deposited his. Ugggh! However, I will tell you that I’ve poured out and dried my own tears on your father’s baby blanket.

First, when I saw the tag and the words, “An Original by Jean Walsh.” Then, when I wrapped your Dad in it, preparing to bring him home from the hospital. Again, several times, when a crying baby brought me to tears, and God showed me how to love and how much He loved me. And today, after I scrubbed on an old stain, and prepared the blanket for future use. I pondered who should have it after me. Who would ever want this forty-seven-year-old blanky?

I thought of you, Kyla. If not now, maybe when you have a baby of your own?

I pray, Kyla, that the Lord has or will, place a lady like Mrs. Walsh in your life and in your corner. I never figured out her mysteries, but I knew she loved the Lord. We didn’t exchange Christmas cards or phonecalls, but she showed up in other tangible ways. At a time when I needed a godly woman’s understanding and advice . . . not my mom , my aunts or a relative, she loved me and thought me important enough to go out of her way to connect with me.

Look around when you go to church next Sunday, would you? If your “Mrs. Walsh” is there, give her a big hug. Then give her a second one, and tell her it’s from your grandma.

Love you, Kyla.

Grandma Rita

PS . . . I’ll go through another storage tub tomorrow. Who knows what I might find.


It pays to have a sister who follows your blog and has a great memory too! Mrs. Walsh did have a husband. He worked for a telephone company, and traveled all over the country. She went to Alaska to sprend the summer with him, and invited my parents to live in her house while she was gone – rent free. Nice lady!

Jan remembers a leather, drawstring purse that Mrs. Walsh brought back for her. “I Can’t remember what she brought back for you,” she says. Her husband would be home at times, but Jan doesn’t remember much about him.

Jan remembers more: Mrs, Walsh worked, until she retired, for a family who owned a grocery store. My Pekin friends might remember Vogels. She wasn’t a checker or a regular store employee. Mrs. Walsh’s office was located in the historic Herget mansion – another familiar name to long-time Pekinians. Also, Jan got by with calling her”Walshie.” Perhaps that’s because we called Janice “Jannie” back then. Now that I hear that name, I’m guessing I called her that a time or two, but that was mostly a Jan thing. One last trivial fact about Mrs Walsh. She was the one who encouraged Jan when she was sixteen and wanting a job. She tells me that Mrs Walsh helped in getting her hired, checking groceries at Vogel’s.

Yep. Mrs Walsh did more for our family than crochet a baby blanky.


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