Standing at the Crossroads

I was not going to do another post until Thanksgiving or Christmas but knew I needed to do something about my summer and a possible future project.

Hopefully, everyone had a wonderful summer and got to take a vacation. I spent time with my step-brother and his wife, who came in from Arizona. Along with my Mom, we went to Amish country and visited my cousin’s cheese house. That was the extent of my vacation time.

Other than that, I am still at my virtual logistics call center job and as of this writing, I am still working Friday – Tuesday. This has been my shift for over a year. It stinks in good weather because I can not go to church or spend time with family and friends without having to take paid or unpaid time off.

It will not be so bad in a few weeks once the weather becomes cold as during winter months I am very much a homebody. At least my start time is a little later in the day and not 8 -5 during the cold and dreary Ohio weather. While I am not normally a morning person, last fall and winter was a major struggle – worse than normal.

Hey, I was not a morning person even as a baby!      😀

What I Am Reading

Roots and Sky; A Journey Home in Four Seasons – Christie Purifoy – I first read this about 3 years ago and decided it was time for a second read since Christie’s new book, Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace, will be released March 12, 2019.

The Long-Distance Leader; Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership – Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel – I have 7 years management experience in an on-site call center and want to add experience as a virtual call center team manager to my resume and LinkedIn profile.

Whisper; How to Hear the Voice of God – Mark Batterson – Because I need to hear some words of comfort and guidance from God.

Write 31 Days

Every October numerous bloggers participate in Write 31 Days where they write about a topic for 31 days. It is tough to do unless you already write every day. Last year was the first year I did not participate and I will not be participating again this year. Instead, I will be doing – 31 Days of Autumn in Ohio on my photo blog OgleOhio.



Don’t get too excited, the last time I did this all the trees were still green around town.  The color was along the freeways and I will not pull over on the freeway just to take a picture.

So you may see a lot of green on OgleOhio in October.

Facebook Group

There are 3 1/2 months left in this year and I am trying to figure out what to do to make 2018 a productive year to remember. I feel like I am at a crossroads but do not know what to do or which direction to go.

One thing I am toying with doing is starting a Facebook group for JoyReturns where you would find daily inspirational quotes and then on Tuesday and/or Wednesday nights,  I would do a chat where we could discuss what is going on in our lives and how we can pray for one another. Also, we could do a book club discussion.

Would anyone be interested in this?

If you are interested, what would you like to see from this group?

Or do you have other ideas of what I could do to make 2018 go out with a bang!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on the form below.

Thanks for your comments.

Take care and see you in October over on OgleOhio

And here in December with a Christmas card.

(Disclaimer: All links are non-affiliate)







The Invitation Is Participation – A Review of The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist

(Disclaimer#1: Any mention of  “church” in this post refers to the Big “C” church from Maine to Southern California, to Florida to Alaska…and Hawaii too. It includes all denominations and not just the Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed.)

Aaron Niequist book The Eternal Current; How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning is the latest book in my collection to fall victim to my pen, highlighter, and sticky notes.



Are you tired and weary when it comes to your faith? Feeling like something is missing but you do not know what? You just know that 3 or 4 contemporary songs and the occasional hymn leave you empty. Do you leave church on Sundays and Wednesday nights wondering “Is That All There Is?”

Well, then The Eternal Current; How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us From Drowning by Aaron Niequist is the book you need to read.

Now I know a lot of people will say that you can not work out your salvation by doing practices. That is true and Aaron makes it clear practices such as The Examine, Breath Prayer, and Centering Prayer are not how we get salvation, however, they are practices we can do to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with Jesus by doing what


Aaron shares his spiritual journey and the journey of implementing a weekly service called The Practice. His writing challenges the church to take a look at the way they are doing things and equips and empowers individuals with practices to implement that will enrich their faith and lives.

The Examen

I’ve implemented the practice of the Examen into my daily routine. At the end of the day, before bed, I reflect on God’s activity in my life that day.

The Examen involves the following steps:

  1. Invite the Holy Spirit’s Guidance
  2. Review the Day in Thanksgiving
  3. Notice the Feelings That Surface
  4. Pray from These Feelings
  5. Look Forward to Tomorrow in Hope

Doing the Examen is slowly opening my eyes to the good God does in my day. It is the perfect practice for anyone but especially those of us working in customer service call centers.

Best Description

The one-sentence description on Amazon sums up this book best:

A call for Christians to move past the shallows of idealized beliefs and into a deeper, more vibrant, beatitude-like faith rooted in sacred practices and intimate experiences with God.

So if you are seeking more then I invite you to open this book and participate in practices that will help you swim in The Eternal Current.

Thank you, Aaron for sharing your journey and providing practices to help the world swim in The Eternal Current.

Musical Soundtrack: 

Besides Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is? The following songs ran through my head as I was reading the book.

Let The River Run – Carly Simon

The River – Jordan Feliz

Proud Mary (Rolling on the River) –  Tina Turner


(DISCLAIMER#2: I am part of the launch team for The Eternal Current and received a free Kindle and hardcopy of the book. However, the thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.)



Kelly Balarie’s Battle Ready

I’ve been blessed once again to be on Kelly Balaire’s book launch team, this time for her second book Battle Ready; Train Your Mind, Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously.

It is about time someone wrote this book. It is filled with practical tips and actionable items you can do. It is boot camp for your mind.

Kelly also has an arsenal of other weapons at

The Battlefield of Your Mind

The mind is where the greatest battles are fought. Battle Ready will:

  • help you change your thoughts so you can launch a counter-attack in the battle you are enduring (because we are all in some type of battle)
  • help you be proactive so you are prepared for the next siege the enemy unleashes on you.

Kelly’s book on my physical battlefield.


Meant to be Beat Up

Battle Ready will have you dog-earing pages, using a pen, highlighter, coloring pencils and Post-It Notes. Some pages are even suitable for framing – with washi tape.


The point being, this book is meant to be used.

It is not meant to be read and put on a shelf.

The Mindsets

Kelly writes about the 12 Warrior Mindsets:

Possibility, Identity, Sensitivity, Activity, Humility, Objectivity, Bounce-Back Ability, Simplicity, Eternity, Positivity, Intensity, and Impossibility.

Every mindset has verses, lists, quotes, and prayers to help you retrain your thoughts. They also have wise words from Kelly based on her experiences.

My Warrior Mindset

Have you been dealt a major blow – such as job loss or sewer backup?


Be like me and live in Warrior Mindset number 7 – Bounce-Back Ability.

Bouncing back from sewer back up was not fun but it was easy compared to bouncing back into a full-time job that pays all the bills and lets me save for things such as a sweeper and car repairs.

My call center job feels repetitive at times and there are days I do not want to commute across the hall to work, but I keep doing it because people need my help.

I use my knowledge to tell them their package’s location, when they will be delivered and help them locate packages that went AWOL (Absent With Out Leave).

So I keep James 1:12 in mind as I march forward every day because not every call goes well. 

That is just the nature of call center work.



Developing Your Battle Plan

Kelly even created a 90 day prayer journal for use in developing your own battle plan.

Every one of us is a unique individual fighting our own battles. So my battle plan will not look like yours.



In Easy Reach

This book along with a few cherished others will be beside my Bible – I just need to figure out where I want to put this collection of books. Do they belong in my office, beside my bed, or beside the chair in the living room? That I am not sure.

The one thing I am sure of is Battle Ready is on my desk every day for easy reference.

And it belongs on your desk, next to your Bible as well so you are well equipped with the armor of God.

Thank you, Kelly, for creating a wonderful, arsenal of weapons.


The following is a list of weapons for your training, so you will live victoriously.

Battle Ready

Battle Ready Journal (90 Days)

You Version Reading Plan


(Disclaimer: As part of Kelly’s book launch team, I received a free digital and hard copy of Battle Ready. All views are my own. All links are non-affiliate.)


red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer. You can see her photographs at













My Battles

What battles am I trying to bounce back from:

working every day at a job that does not pay the bills but instead, keeps me in poverty.  Yes, it is challenging and I learn something new every day and I am blessed to be working but I want to pay my bills every month and have money left over for things such as a new sweeper, car repairs and other things that come up.

lack of desire, of motivation because I’ve been fighting the rebuilding a career battle for so long.

Fighting the societal battle of widows being crap, of being worthless, and of having cooties. The book of James gives the mandate to help widows and society says No!

Speaking of crap – here is my latest battle:


Short-lived torrential downpours are too much for the city’s sewer system, so it backs up into my basement. The last thing I needed to be doing was buying towels yesterday at Big Lots to put down on the basement floor. They were $4.00 a piece but that is $20.00 that would be better spent elsewhere.

Here is the Bounce-Back Ability verse Kelly suggests for this Warrior Mindset:


I’ve been repeating this verse while cleaning up today and will continue with all my other battles as well.

And so I will keep persevering through my trials to one day receive the crown of life the Lord has for me as it is much better than the crown of thorns this life gives me.


Battle Ready will help me persevere and it will you as well.

We are all going through a battle, so, therefore, buy this book and a Bible too if you do not already have one. Use them both. Look up the verses Kelly uses throughout the book and read the entire chapter.

Well back to the basement, as another torrential downpour has started. I am adding dam building with towels as a skill on my resume.


The Silver Anniversary: One Date – Two Meanings

I was not going to write a 25th Anniversary post, but then I found out a little piece of information that caused me to change my mind.

25 years ago today Joe and I looked like this:

Young and in love.

Then 14 3/4 years later my heart was shattered when he moved to heaven.

His passing does not change the fact that today is the anniversary of our wedding. It does change how it will be celebrated.

There will be no big shindig at our house or a fancy schmanchy party center. Instead, I will go to Dairy Queen and have a Blizzard. Joe loved Dairy Queen ice cream cakes and since it is just me, there is no need for a cake.

While today is a quiet, bittersweet celebration of a joyous event for me, for my new friend and fellow blogger Joni, today is just bitter.

Six years ago Joni and her husband were in a car crash that took his life and left her a single parent.

One day, two completely different meanings for two different women.

So in honor of Joe and me marrying 25 years ago, please:

  • Visit Joni’s blog and leave her an encouraging comment.
  • Bow your head and say a prayer for Joni and her family.
  • Go to Dairy Queen, order a Blizzard or other ice cream treat.


Thank you and God bless you.



Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

Sunday Sermon: Bianca Olthoff: From The Broken Place

I follow Q Ideas on YouTube. Bianca Olthoff is one of my favorite speakers. She hits a home run with this speech and I knew I had to share it.

I encourage you to watch and take what she says to heart.

Are you willing to speak encouraging, life-giving words to those in a broken place because as long as they are alive, God is not done and has a plan for them.

And He has a plan for you as well.



 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


John 8:32



I will share more of these videos that speak to my heart and hope that they speak to your heart as well.




Words for a Wednesday

Hello. Well, here is another post I did not intend on writing but when I got up this morning I knew I had to write a post. I feeeellllll good! today. When I get to feeling this good, look out world!

Weather Report

It is a sunny, tropical day here in Ohio.

Ummm…Michele….lying is a sin. Afterall I am sure everyone can smell the heat from the furnace.

Yes, that is right folks I said the “F” word – furnace. It is June and that means in Ohio we turn on the furnace to take the chill out of the morning air.

Instagram People You Should Follow

I am very selective about who I follow on Instagram. I have to know you or you have to be recommended by someone. If you are a man, I will NOT follow you.

These are the accounts whose words and pictures I find soothing and life-giving. – Because there is no better way to start your day after turning off your 5 a.m. alarm than to look at the beautiful flower, garden or other nature post from a cottage in rural Suffolk. I know you are not supposed to turn on your social media as soon as you get up, but Nikki’s posts soothe the soul and are a beautiful way to start your day. Wonderful words accompany her pictures. I live the gardening life through her.

Maplehurst Gardens – I also live the gardening life through maplehurstgardens, the home of author Christie Purifoy and her family. Another gorgeous Instagram feed filled with flowers, trees, meadows and free-range chickens. It was her post this morning that changed how I feel about my backyard.

My backyard is overgrown due to being sidelined with multiple sinus issues, intestinal issues and strained lower back muscles the past two weeks. Christie said she and her family call overgrown grass and weeds a meadow.

There is power in words.

So now instead of a backyard, I have a meadow – Michele’s Meadow – which is half mowed.

Thank you, Christie, for changing my perspective.

kaitylyn_bouch (Kaitlyn Bouchillon). Author Kaitlyn Bouchillon’s posts usually speak to my heart and nourish my soul. However, she is currently visiting Israel and her first post from the Valley of Elah (where David slew Goliath) had a deep impact on me.

“We don’t need to cover up who we are with someone else’s armor. We can simply kneel down, live the story we’ve been given, trust His goodness, and believe He goes with us.

Let’s remember. And then let’s dare to run.”

Those are just her closing words. The rest of the post is just as wonderful. Well done Kaitlyn, well done.

Change in Devotional Routine

I am off today. So I decided to dig deep into Kelly Balarie’s new book Battle Ready instead of my devotional book on Proverbs. I will save that for tonight as I do not believe in screen time after 6 p.m. except on Tuesday and Wednesday nights since I am off on Wednesday and Thursdays. (I have a free copy of Kelly’s book on my Kindle.)

God is speaking to me through Kelly’s book as well also. This morning I finished Warrior Mind-Set 7 Bounce-Back Ability. (Warrior Mind-Set = Chapter)

These are some of the words I highlighted this morning:

Ten Secrets of Resiliency:

#8 – The truth is you’re moving from glory to glory.

Know this: you’ve come further than you give yourself credit for.

#9 Jesus suffered too, but that didn’t stop him.

A Foundational Truth that will put you back on Safe Ground:

The only thing Jesus proved is that He ultimately trusted the Father, even during hardship.

Resiliency is knowing whose you are so you don’t fall into the “proving” trap that only leaves you tired, weary, and all busted up.

Hopefully at least some of these words will speak to you as well. You can order Kelly’s book Battle Ready here.

Old Testament Verse of the Day

These verses also come from Warrior Mind-Set #7

“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (Psalm 91:2 NLT)

New Testament Verse of the Day

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to run errands I go.

Well, that is all for today. I am off to the store and library and maybe after I get done with those errands, it will be warm enough to finish mowing Michele’s Meadow. (It is only supposed to be 66 today and is currently 54.) If not, it will wait until tomorrow, when it is supposed to be 79 degrees.

(Disclaimer: All links are non-affiliate.)


Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

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