Why title a blog about my adventures since Joe’s passing JoyReturns?
While searching “widow’s website” on Google, I found websites were 3-D – dark, dreary and depressing. One site was designed with a dark look because the light had gone out of the widow’s life.
I was in extreme mental anguish when Joe passed and knew other widows were too, so how was a “woe is me” site going to help widows get through grief and rebuild a new life?
Also widows on these sites were telling all the details of their spouses passing and if I had printed their story, I would have ended up with a book thicker than Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. YUCK! I do not have time to read their TMI stories either online or on paper nor do I want to know all the details of someone’s passing.
I wanted to know how to recover from grief and move forward with life and so do other people.
Support Group’s Role
My church runs Church Initiative’s Griefshareprogram which I attended after Joe died and now co-facilitate. The program’s tagline is “From Mourning to Joy”.
It is because of that tagline and the 3D websites that I decided to incorporate joy into my blog’s title.
When people visit I want them to see a cheery, optimistic site that lets them know joy does return to the lives of those who are grieving, but you need to decide you want joy to return (there are people who prefer to stay stuck in grief) and you have to work at it.
Joy returned to my life and it will to yours or your loved one’s too. Just like the crocus’ pushing through the winter-hardened ground. You too will push through grief and experience joy once again.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 New Living Translation (NLT)
Author’s Note: I quit co-facilitating my church’s GriefShare program in January 2015 due to a conflict with my call center work schedule. I now work from home for a different call center company but my schedule (8-5) can change with only a 2-week notice. So I am not comfortable volunteering my time when I may have to leave again.
Then I hit the shower and went to an evening seminar. I was excited to hand out business cards that included something other than my name, phone number, LinkedIn profile and areas of expertise. I had an accomplishment, something tangible to prove I was doing more besides job searching and volunteer work.
When I started JoyReturns, so many websites were 3D – dark, dreary and depressing. Those sites keep a person stuck in grief, stuck in a “woe is me” attitude. I wanted to inspire, encourage, motivate widows to move forward through grief and build a new life because life is too short and precious to spend it stuck in grief’s muck.
I believed JoyReturns would not only help widows but would educate society about grief and life after a spouse’s passing. The best way to accomplish my goals was to share the story of my life after Joe, including the good, the bad, and the ugly as well as the joyful.
About two years ago, I lost the desire to blog when putting together the “10 Years A Widow” series. It felt like someone stuck a straw in me and sucked all the life out. That is when I started publishing only a few times a year.
Then a few months ago two things happened to reignite my blogging. First I noticed I would finish this year a few posts shy of 1,550 and knew I could not let that happen. Secondly, either in November/December of last year Rush Limbaugh was talking about how he does not do social media as his radio show is what he does best. I told myself to listen and learn from Rush. Focus on what you do best – blogging.
God whispered “widow’s website” in my ear in mid to late 2010 so He called me to blog. He will equip me to do it and since this blog has been read in 161 countries according to WordPress’s map, He’s spread my words far and wide.
What type of posts and how often will I publish now that I am back? Starting this weekend you will find the return of Weekend Wisdom which will be uplifting poems, quotes, and scripture. There are about 6 weeks worth of wisdom already put to bed.
On Wednesdays, there will be a blog post about various topics. The general theme of the Wednesday posts was 52 ways to have a joy-filled life. I do have topics for the first quarter written, but not the blog posts.
I am working on a series that will hopefully provide joy and encouragement to get you through the election season. This series would start after the Democrat convention (losing party gets to have their convention first). Not sure how this series will work out if it will work out.
Finally, there will be spontaneous posts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and/or Friday. These posts will be topics that unexpectedly pop into my brain and would make a good blog post. While I will be writing them in advance, you probably will not see them until April.
The first 9 years would not have been possible without continued support for you my dear readers. So I humbly and gratefully say thank you. You are a blessing to me.
A Blessing To All
And so the journey begins through the next 9 adventurous years with a renewed interest in blogging and the desire to make JoyReturns the best it can be so that it is the salt of the earth and a blessing to all. (reading of the prayer “Regeneration” read below.)
Ever since Joe’s passing I’ve been rediscovering and/or reinventing who I am. The first step was upgrading from film to a DSLR camera, the next step was reading books, then came unemployment followed by LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogging. That is what widowhood is all about – moving forward with creating a new life while not forgetting the old one.
History always fascinated me and was my best subject in school. Once I got out in the working world, my love of history did not occupy much of my time. My interest was slowly been rekindled over the past few years but has intensified this summer. History brings me joy.
However, in school I do not recall getting much of an education about Christianity’s role in our founding. My teachers may have casually mentioned it. So I did some research on Amazon about Christianity and our founding. Dr. Stackhouse Jr’s book was one of the search results and I found the title intriguing.
His book is packed or should I say stacked with quotes from and information about the founding fathers and their faith. There is so much information I found this post hard to write because I want to include everything.
Here is my best shot at a general overview with some quotes scattered through out.
The title of the book comes from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson proposed seal for the United States, which is on page 98 and the book’s cover.
They Had A Dream
The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of a country where man was not under the rule of tyrannical leaders imposing taxes on it’s citizens. A country of the people, by the people and for the people where man was free to choose and create his own destiny.
They Had Faith
But bringing this dream to life was in going to be what most would say is an impossible dream. However our founders had the faith to know that nothing is impossible with God.
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 King James Version (KJV)
Their faith in God is the one thing that I quickly noticed when reading in the book. It was a strong faith, a passionate faith, a faith unlike what we see and experience today. These men KNEW their Bible and applied it to everyday life.
Our faith today is sterile, sanitized and bleached out. It’s too formal, to routine, to bland in fact it is down right too establishment-like. But that is a subject for another post.
The Apostle Paul talks about submission to those in authority in Romans 13 as God put them there. It is generally interpreted as blind obedience to whoever is in authority.
However, Puritan minister Johnathan Mayhew (1720-1766) of the West Church in Boston gave a sermon on Romans 13 where he stated obedience to whoever is the ruler applies ONLY when the leader is being kind to his people. If he is imposing things, like taxes on tea, he is not being kind. Since he is not doing God’s will, we have a duty to rebel against the tyrant.
If it be our duty, for example, to obey our king, merely for this reason, that he rules for the public welfare, (which is the only argument the apostle makes use of) it follows, by a parity of reason, that when the turns tyrant, and makes his subjects his prey to devour and to destroy, instead of his charge to defend and cherish, we are bound to throw off our allegiance to him and to resist.
Johnathan Mayhew Rebellion To Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH. D. pg. 13
Mayhew’s sermon was given on the 51st anniversary of King Charles I’s execution after the English Civil war of the 1840’s.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (emphasis mine)
Matthew 22:37-39 King James Version (KJV)
Obviously imposing taxes or other nasty things on people is not loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Therefore we the people have the right to rebel against tyrannical rulers.
There were even sermons about politics preached from the pulpit in the pre-revolutionary war years. Sermons about God being almighty, powerful and the ultimate ruler. Understanding this puts into the power of kings and queens into perspective as they are mere mortals like the rest of us.
Knowing God is the almighty gave them courage to boldly proceed with the fighting for our right to be free from England and the tyrannical rule of King George III.
The Country’s One Foundation
American historian Henry F. May best explains the answer as to why Christianity played a role in our founding:
A great many people believed throughout the period that the religion of the Bible, understood best by simple people, was the safest foundation for all essential truths.
On the whole, various forms of Protestant Christianity served the emotional needs of most Americans better.
Henry F. May American Historian and Margaret Byrne Professor Of History University of California, Berkeley Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D. pg. 43
Christianity is about a loving God who wants a relationship with all of us because we are his children. However, we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He sent Jesus down to rescue us because God knew we would never be able to work our way up to heaven. Our good deeds towards others prove we are saved by God’s grace.
It is that simple. And that is how I like my religion – simple. No fancy, foo-foo, frilly religion for me. Foo-foo belongs on evening and wedding gowns. Life was hard back in the 1700’s and is still hard now, therefore religion needs to be simple.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…
The Declaration of Independence Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D. pg. 60
The words were discussed and discussed until everyone could agree upon them because:
The Declaration had to be acceptable to all of the American People “if Congress expected them to live by it and die for it.” wrote Rod Gragg.
Forged in Faith – How Faith Shaped the Birth of the Nation 1607 – 1776 by Rod Gragg Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D. pg. 60
Dr. Stackhouse, Jr. points out that while Thomas Jefferson (writer of The Declaration) did not acknowledge a personal salvation experience, he agreed with Jesus’s teaching. He was also suspicious of religious institution and their leaders.
[Christ’s] system of morality was the most benevolent and sublime probably that ha sever been taught, and consequently more perfect than those of any of the antient philosophers.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D pg 62
Guess it is a good thing you are not alive today, Thomas. There are a lot of preachers and religious leaders that you would cause you to raise an eyebrow. (By the way, antient is an archaic variation of the world ancient per Merriam Webster.)
“But Wait, There’s More!”
There is more information in this book than I can cover in this blog post – freedom of speech, the Great Awakening, and separation of church and state (spoiler: it does not mean what you think it means) are just a few topics I did not cover.