Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prison & Jail Ministry Thank You

Prison & Jail Ministry members. Do you ever wonder if you make a difference in the lives of the men and women you serve?

This Christmas Card was given to me by a member of Joyful Souls Aftercare.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful season!
Angel girls sing and play music

There is so much goodness there  for the asking and I'm grateful to be involved with people that are on purpose doing God's will - joyfully.

  • providing a safety net
  • serving their fellow man
  • showing us how to be" in the world not of the world"
  • unconditionally loving and non-judgmental
  • supportive of the most wretched souls needing a shoulder to cry on
  • listening
  • trying to understand and counsel
  • giving us hope
  • teaching by living
  • walking the walk

You all make the journey less painful and a lot more fun!

Thank God I found you,
Consider yourself hugged and kissed.

Thank you, Bea, for sharing. You are truly a blessing to our group!
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For more information about Prison & Jail Ministry visit:

Sunday, December 9, 2012


The Women of Block 12
Chapter 9
Religion defines evil and gives people the moral strength to resist."
Phillip Yancey

Prayer was never one of my strengths (maybe it's a Lutheran thing), but I've always admired a women who could stand in front of a group with just the right-sounding words rolling off her tongue as if she got up that morning and God handed her a new Psalm.

Not me. My prayers sounded more like begging with an occasional "thank you" thrown in to make sure I could return later with more requests. I rarely prayed out loud and never in front of others . . . until I met the women of Block 12.

They prayed about everything . . .
  • "God, let there be peace in the block."
  • "Protect my family while I am away."
  • "I'm afraid I will die in prison."
  • "Lord let the judge see that I' m serious about changing."
  • "Help my mother to forgive me."
  • "Jesus, take away my desire to use drugs and alcohol."
  • "Father God, care for all inmates, everywhere."
  • "Bless the guards and give them kind hearts."
  • "Thank you for sending Jean and Linda."

I, on the other hand, relied heavily on the Lord's Prayer, confident in my ability to say it out loud and with a group. So, at the end of each class, we joined hands and prayed. "Our Father, who art in heaven . . ."

It sounded so 'religious' when spoken in unison. It covered all the bases - praise, requests, thanksgiving, forgiveness. Jesus hadn't left anything out, and there was no need for me to come up with original material.I figured the praying part of class was covered. Then I discovered a person could get lost in a crowd of voices by mumbling to fit in.

I first noticed this one evening when we finished praying. Lana whispered to the woman next to her, "Don't worry, I'll teach you the words this week."

I went home that night grieved by my lack of sensitivity. Lord, what kind of Christian thinks everyone knows about Jesus and his famous prayer? I typed up cards with words to the Lord's Prayer and added the Twenty-third Psalm for good measure. It was a start, but it wasn't enough. I knew the women needed more than memorized words at the end of the group. The truth was they needed more than I could teach them.

Read more excerpts from The Women of Block 12: Voices from a Jail Ministry at:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Interview with Linda Pischke

Project RETURN Newsletter, Winter 2012
by Kathleen Congleton

Q: Linda, how did you get involved in a ministry to women in prison?
A: It was one of those situations where God told me to do something like "go visit the jail" and I ignored Him. Then he used a friend to tell me the same thing and I thought He was probably joking. I said, "Who me? No way! You've go the wrong person, God. I don't even like those people. They're thieves and murderers."

But I went anyway because I knew Jonah and a few others didn't have much luck running away from their assignments. For a couple of years, He let me work at a distance, writing the jail newsletter. Then one day, He plunked me down, right in the middle of a women's Bible Study group in Block 12. When the doors locked behind us, I figured He meant business.

Q: How did you know that God was blessing your next journey of writing your book, "The Women of Block 12", which told your story and those of numerous other women?

A:  Funny how things work out when you do it God's way. On my very first visit to Block 12, He changed my heart. I believe those who minister in jail or prison walk on 'Holy Gournd.' I aways thought I should take my shoes off, but they don't allow that.

Anyway, I was completely at home with the women and I felt God's presence in that room. There was an immediate connection, and that never changed in the ten years I worked with them. Hundereds of women shared their most personal and intimate thoughts with me.

I came to believe God called me to tell their stories, to give them a voice. I wrote the book to help others understand these are women - mothers, daughters, granddaughters - who have the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us, and they are longing for a relationship with their Creator.

I want people to understand the circumstances that contribute to the poor choices offenders make and, more importantly, to explore the possibilities of how we can all help them return to our communities and make better decisions.

Q:  You have finished the book and have surrounded yourself with women who have been released from prison. What are you doing now?

A: I visit church groups and other organizations (anyone who will listen) to talk about the needs of offenders and how we can help them. Every Friday evening, we have a women's aftercare programs that meets at the St. Vincent DePaul Store in Waukesha. The women named it Joyful Souls. The purpose is to provide learning opportunities and helathy friendships for women coming out of prison. We have an equal number of clients and mentors, but we're never quite sure who gets the most out of the group.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Escaping The Cauldron

Escaping the Cauldron: Exposing occult influences in everyday life

Escaping the Cauldron: Exposing Cult Influences in Everyday Life
 by Kristine McGuire

In 2011, Kristine McGuire was kind enough to post a review of my book The Women of Block 12: Voices from a Jail Ministry on her blog -  Kristine Remixed -  a Christian resource for those who have questions about the occult.

In turn, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of her book Escaping the Cauldron and just finished reading it on Kindle. I definitely recommend this as a 'must read.'

I have personally never been interested in the occult, because I believe it is an area that Christians should avoid, at all costs. But I do have a few friends that like to dabble in things like checking horoscopes, having their fortunes read, and an outright fascination with TV shows featuring mediums. My cautions to them have been vague statements about the Bible saying 'thou shalt not indulge in such practices'. And my advice has been ignored - probably because I didn't sound too convincing!

If you, like me, have only a surface understanding of the occult, it's dangers, and why the Bible forbids these practices, Kristine will set you straight. Her book is written from personal experience - she once called herself a Christian Witch -  and she has first-hand knowledge of the many subtle and not-so-subtle practices that cross the line and open the door to evil.

Well written, informative, and practical.
 Buy Escaping the Cauldron on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


August 4, 2012
Christ The Servant Lutheran Church
Waukesha, WI

Reverend Loretta Mendoza 

Our guest speaker, Reverand Mendoza gave us a brief overview of the Psalms and shared examples of how the ancient writers spoke to God. She encouraged us to pray openly to Him expressing our praise, struggles, fears, confessions, hopes and dreams.

Time for silence and writing our own Psalms

Relaxation with Saritta
Pot Luck - the best kind of lunch!
Door Prizes!!!
Thank you, Joyful Souls for a wonderful day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This verse was shared at our recent St. Dismas Jail Ministry meeting:

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

births,caring,conservation,cropped images,cropped pictures,environmental issues,environments,greens,growths,hands,leaves,nature,nurturing,plants,PNG,protections,sprouts,symbols,transparent backgrounds,web elements
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Joyful Souls aftercare poster


Theresa Bauer from SC wrote to me about her jail ministry. She read "The Women of Block 12" on Kindle and said it was like reading about her own experiences. She also asked about mentoring ex-offenders. Thank you, Theresa for your encouragement and questions. 

Our Joyful Souls Aftercare group has just hit the one-year anniversaary mark!  I personally never thought we'd make it (oh woman of little faith!) 

We started out kind of slow. There were only two clients and a couple of mentors. For a while there were more mentors than clients! I got pretty discouraged. Our ministry thought our idea was too far out there and that we'd never have enought to do. Boy, were they ever wrong! As for me, I had one of my bright ideas (or maybe it was the Holy Spirit nudging me) and not much faith to go along with the idea. Talking about being wrong, I needed an attitude adjustment - which my friends gladly gave me!

God has truly blessed our efforts. We meet on Friday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00. I picked that night because it is a time when women offenders are looking for something fun to do, and while their old choices may be fun, they are often not such a good idea.
How to get started:
  1. Find a free meeting place  that is on a bus line for easy access. Your church, or a community center. We meet at the St. Vincent dePaul Thrift Store.
  2. Design a poster - pass out to churches, women's shelters, probation and parole officers, meal sites and food pantries. Our poster emphasizes, FAITH, FUN, FRIENDS, FOOD.
  3. Make business cards for you ministry to hand out during jail visits - if permitted.
  4. Tell everyone you know about this new group - people may be willing to help
  5. Ask friends, church members, etc. to come and speak to the group about various topics (i.e. job readiness, women's health, community volunteer opportrunities, hobbies, make-up (Mary Kay distributors will give free classes), photography, yoga, essential oils, line dancing, cardmaking, favorite Bible stories, personal testimonies of faith - the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and the number of people you know..
  6. Make a list of ideas and start putting speakers on your calendar.
  7. Ask church members to be mentors or provide treats for the meetings - some of our friends have brought a whole meal!
  8. Start with a get-to-know-you fun night. Use name tags. Play Bingo with yard sale prizes.
  9. Make sure you get names and phone numbers of guests. Call them the following week to invite again.
  10. Provide a list of community resources - clothing, health care, meals etc. for the women to take with them. Your local health and human services will have this information.
Your questions and suggestions are welcome!

For more information on women offenders, please visit:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


It all started at a horse farm in Campbellsport, WI

A cold and rainy day

The Loft - a peaceful place to  gather

Getting to know our new best friends

What's in if for me if I step over that board?

The labrinth -time for reflection

Sharing our authentic selves through art

Joyful Souls

Thank you Traci & Kathy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sleeping Mats for the Homeless

Here's a great way to recycle plastic bags and help the homeless.

These sleeping mats are made from PLARN - that's a made-up word meaning plastic yarn. They are waterproof, cushioned, easy to carry, AND easys to make. Mats measure 3 ft. by 6ft. and take about 500 bags to make. You just cut the bags, knot them together and crochet the mat. Here's a video showing how. ENJOY.


Please visit my website:


Thursday, April 5, 2012


A 2012 public opinion study on Sentencing and Corrections Policies in America shows:

1.      American voters believe too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on imprisonment.

2.      Voters overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives.

3.      Support for sentencing and corrections reforms (including reduced prison terms) is strong across political parties, regions, age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.

Read the whole study here: 

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For more information on women in the prison system visit:

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Friday, March 23, 2012


Wednesday, March 21 -Lenten Service featured a panel discussion on the St. Dismas Jail Ministry in Waukesha, WI.
Kay Styza and Linda Pischke preparing for the panel.

Panel speakers: Kay Styza, Linda Pischke, Rob Wright, Vicki Downs, John Quaal

John Quaal, from St. Dismas answeres questions about Jail Ministry

For more information about the St. Dismas Jail Ministry visit:

Thursday, February 23, 2012



My name is Romaine and I'm training at St. Bartholomew's for the COMMUNITY OF HOPE as a lay chaplain. I mentioned to one of the members that I've always had a deep longing to get involved with "Prison Ministry" because that is where I turned my life around. Yesterday before class, he gave me your book to read and I put it in my bag to read sometime when I had time.

     Needless to say, it was burning a hole in my backpack when I got home and I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to read the preface. That was all she wrote! It took me back 23 years ago to when I was incarcerated in Coldwater Women's Facility in Coldwater, Michigan. I read every woman's story and kept nodding my head, remembering the women I had shared time with and the struggles we went through, learning how to live, how to adjust to a "racial" culture, how to give up your total identity until you feel that you have nothing left to give.....
And the strip searches..... I will remember those until the day I die, TAKE ALL OF YOUR CLOTHING OFF, BE PATTED DOWN OVER YOUR BODY -- AND THEN TOLD TO BEND DOWN, TOUCH YOUR KNEES, AND DEEP COUGH.....
     I only had a few visits during those 5 years but that was fine with me because I felt so degraded every time I had to "submit to the search" before I was allowed to return to my housing unit.
     It was as if a well opened inside of me and I kept saying this is what I need to do. I'm not some "fire and brimstone" kind of person. This isn't something I want to do because I have a "whim" for it. This is something I want to do with all of my being because I know I would have never become the person I am today if a volunteer wouldn't have stepped in to ask me to join a Bible Study group-- or a chaplain at the facility wouldn't have taken the time to help me-- or a teacher wouldn't have taken the time to teach me that I was still a human being--or the psychologist who helped me find out who I was and where I was going....
     I'm sorry if I sound like I'm on a soapbox but your book moved me in ways that I haven't felt in years. The thought of those lost souls housed in over-crowded gymnasiums where no one was looking for them but a few good people like the ones I met who helped me along the way.  Thank you for telling your story and the stories of all of the women of Block 12.

Thank you, Romaine!
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For more about "The Women of Block 12" visit"

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012


WISDOM’s new 11x15 Campaign was announced yesterday at a Press Conference in Milwaukee.  SOPHIA was well-represented at the event. 

11x15 is a WISDOM–wide campaign to decrease, by half, the number of incarcerated people in Wisconsin by 2015 and promote alternatives to incarceration in order to make our communities safer and healthier.

Other kick-off events were held around the state: MICAH (Milwaukee), RIC (Racine) and CUSH (Kenosha) .
 For more information see: for details of the campaign, press coverage, photos, etc.


Sunday, February 12, 2012


Kay & Pat add the toppings

Make Pizza Like a Pro
was the topic for Friday, February 10th.

Using a crust recipe that Linda got from her sister, who got it from her best friend, who got it from her father, who owned a pizzaria in Milwauke 40 years ago, we made the best pizza ever!
Bea, Ann, & Joy cutting onions

We learned how to properly proof yeast, knead the dough, and roll it out. No one tried tossing it in the air, however. Too risky - we might have had to start over!

We had a delicious dinner of pizza, salad, popcorn, & soda.
Everyone took their pizza creation home to bake.
Rosemary shows off her creation
A gift from Karolyn. Everyone got these beautiful handmade mittens.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


's review
Jan 24, 12

         5 of 5 stars
bookshelves: christian, inspirational
Read in January, 2012                 
Before reading this book, I don’t really feel any compassion to those who are in jails. I keep thinking that they deserve it…but after made me see a whole new side of these people, whether they are criminals or offenders, they’re still like us,--humans…

I never would have imagined listening to these women’s tales..but I find myself laughing and crying with every bump in their way. The book was well written, that it made you shiver just like they’re in front of you talking. Ms. Pischke made the words come alive. It’s not just about the dreadful things they’ve done once, but the little good things they always do.

This book made me realize, feel and sympathize with the horror, sadness, loss, unforgettable and tragic experiences of the women. And at the same time, it made me see their own tales of endurance, strength, faith and forgiveness.

It made me feel blessed of the little things I have and where I am now. It made me see how we can all be so judgmental when in fact, we don’t have the right to be..

Linda Pischke did a good job in presenting readers a story that would forever stay in their minds, and would persuade them to be of help and made a difference in every life they encounter.

Thank you Ms. Pischke! Thanks for answering God’s call, this book truly touched me….and everyone who’ll put a hand in this..:) and more than anything, no one could have write this better than you.

Women of Block 12, is a compelling story of women who suffered and continually hope for good. A mind-opening reality will seep in to anyone who had read this book.

An inspiring story! Highly recommended!