Category Archives: Career

Joy To The World!

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

Psalm 47:1
New International Version (NIV)

You are invited to join me in the clapping and shouting that I’ve done the past few days.

About 5 years ago, JoyReturns had been read in 115 countries according to the map in my WordPress analytics.

If someone in a country read this blog, then the country was light blue. The more people in a country that read a blog, the darker the blue. If no one has read the blog, then the country was white.

Just for grins, I decided to access my stats and get an updated count on the countries JoyReturns has reached. I expected the number to be between 115 -125.

Well God pulled a fast one on me.

JoyReturns has reached 161 countries.

The ideas, opinions, thoughts, and adventures of this unexpected widow have been read by people in 161 countries. Not bad for someone who always thought her conversational writing stunk.

I have not promoted JoyReturns on any social media platform for years. The fact that this blog has reached an additional 46 countries is the work of God.

Where JoyReturns Is Not

According to the WordPress map, these are the places where JoyReturns has NOT been read (click on the links to learn more about them):

Thank You

First, I would like to thank God for whispering the words “Widow’s Website” in my ear early one morning in late 2010. I wrote the words to blog posts and you saw that they were read in countries where they needed to be read.

Second, my humble thanks to J.T. O’Donnell of Work It Daily for her guidance and coaching on how to start a blog and for being my first subscriber.

Third, Thank you to my readers for your support over the years. Many wonderful relationship were made here and I cherish everyone of them. It is a pleasure to read blogs about other people’s adventures whether they be the good, the bad or the ugly because we all have something to learn from one another’s lives.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I thank you Joe. Every moment, from the first time I dispatched a service call to you to our last moment as man and wife, was an integral part of making me the woman I am today.

I thank you for loving me, for your kindness, for your faith in me and for the joy you brought to my life. It was an honor and a privilege being your wife for 14 3/4 years.

You still and always will have a piece of my heart. But I have done what you wished and moved forward with life.

I look forward to the day when we will see each other in heaven.

Future of JoyReturns

JoyReturns future is in God’s loving and capable hands. Only He knows the plan for this blog. However, my goal today is the same as when I started blogging:

 “…That henceforth I may be the salt of the earth and a blessing to all.”

(Regeneration prayer from The Valley Of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers )

I hope by sharing my adventures as I rebuild my life they provide support and encouragement for widows and educate society about grief, joy, and the realities of widowhood. If so, then with God’s help I am accomplishing my goal.

Time to Celebrate

Now I am off to celebrate reaching 161 countries and my Dad’s birthday at Dairy Queen. Dad, Joe, Rommie and numerous other relatives are celebrating his birthday with him in heaven.

Final Thought

Remember –

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5 NLT

No matter what country you live in. 😀

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, co-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. She is also the amateur photographer behind the blog

What I Would Tell My Younger Self


This post is inspired by Holley Gerth’s Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely for which I was blessed to be a member of her book launch team.

In chapter 5 Holley talks about if she could go back to her elementary school, she would look into her younger self’s eyes and tell her

“You’re going to be okay. Actually, you’re going to be quite wonderful.”

That got me to thinking what would I tell my younger self if I could go back to elementary school.

Now you have to be very, very, very careful what you tell young children as they are very, very, very, impressionable. I know. I was very impressionable and had words said to me that should not be said to anyone of any age.

I am going to put a different twist on Holley’s idea and say what I would tell myself at the following turning points in life:

  • elementary school self
  • 18-year-old self the night before graduation
  • 22-year-old self the night before college graduation
  • the night before my wedding self
  • the returning to work self the first day back after Joe’s passing.

My Elementary School Self

What I would tell myself the night before I start first grade. This is the most difficult because I would not want to freak my young self out, but there is an important life-changing, life-shaping event that will happen in a year. I need to instill confidence in her and not destroy her self-esteem.

  • Never forget Jesus loves you.
  • Love everyone
  • Be Kind to everyone
  • Pray


“Honky Tonk Woman”

Oh, and 1 + 1 = 2 not 11.

My 18-Year-Old Self 

The night before my high school graduation I would say:

  • Don’t give up the flute. Take lessons in college. Start a hobby career as a flute player for weddings, cocktail parties, and other social events. Keep track of your clients and stay in touch with them during the holiday season. This is called networking and you will be ahead of the rest of society if you develop good networking skills now.
  • Change Your Major. Instead of setting your sites on being a teacher, major in Library Science with a minor in creative writing. Make sure you do not lose your conversational writing tone.
  • Stop being a people pleaser. Instead, live to please God.


My 22-Year-Old Self

The night before my college graduation I would tell myself:

  • Stay grounded in the Bible. It will always be your manual for living fully and loving bravely.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. You need to be grounded in gratitude as it will help you get through life.
  • Learn how to apply makeup and keep up with the trends. Teaching people how to apply makeup is a vital skill now and in the future. If you work in retail, push to get into the makeup department.



The Night Before My Wedding Self

I would say:

Love, Live, Laugh, Dance, Hold Hands, Snuggle, Kiss A Lot


You waited a long time for marriage – cherish it.

  • Keep doing small things for him. It’s the small things that matter, like making Tuna Casserole.
  • Live by Elizabeth Barret Browning’s How Do I l Love Thee poem:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.


My Newly Widowed Self

Here is what you need to do to thrive:

  • Write, write, and write. No one but you has to see what you write – not yet anyway. Hone your writing skills but keep the conversational tone.
  • Get some career counseling. Start and figure out what you would do if you were laid off.
  • Go back to school. I know the thought of term papers makes you want to puke but go back to school anyway.
  • Trust God. I know it is easier said and done, especially when times are tough but you have to do it.  He really IS your shepherd.
  • Keep praying and keep writing in a gratitude journal. This will help keep your mind focused on God and what is right in your life.
  • Get Back to photography, and reading. You enjoyed these hobbies before you got married, now get back to doing them again.
  • Eliminate the word “survive” and “okay” from your vocabulary. Focus on thriving instead. Surviving means treading water and okay means mediocre. You need to thrive and not survive.
  • But most of all:


Life is not going to get any easier. As a kid, you always knew life would be a struggle and your gut instinct was right. So no matter how hard life gets be kind to others as you are not walking in their shoes and don’t know what battle they are facing. Being kind will help keep your heart from hardening.

Remember no matter how hard the rest of your life will get:

Life is beautiful2


Now It’s Your Turn

That’s the advice I would give myself throughout different turning points in my life.

What advice would you give yourself?


Hands Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash

All other photos by Michele Kearns

My Virtual Call Center Representative Career

In mid-May, I started working a seasonal virtual call center job. It is rewarding and yet frustrating. It is a community and yet it is aloneness. I started out working with customers and then got trained to work in the logistics department. After training, I jumped at the opportunity to work in logistics.


My Rules 

Once I got this position, I instituted a few rules:

  • Do not work from bed
  • Shower
  • Wash Hair
  • Put Makeup on
  • Style Hair
  • Jeans, Capri’s, Shorts are allowed
  • Sandals, Slippers and Bare Feet are allowed.
  • Must put on a blouse, top that I would wear to an office job. How you are dressed comes across on the phone.
  • Be ready 1/2 hour before start time.
  • Eat small meals
  • Drink small amounts – break and lunch is strictly regulated and there is not a lot of “potty break” time
  • Pray upon awakening and as I sit down to my desk (which is a 6ft long table)
  • Stand up during meetings. (sitting 8 hours a day is not healthy)
  • Walk away from the computer during breaks and lunch – get outside. This way the neighbors know I am still alive.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks – mozzarella sticks, turkey pepperoni, fruit etc…

There are 2 rules I have not broken –

  • Do not work from bed
  • Jeans, Capri’s and shorts

The rest I have broken on occasion.

My Challenges

Working from home does not come without its challenges.

Right now my work schedule is Friday – Tuesday but that can change any given second. It is Wednesday night as I write this and when I go back on Friday I could find out I’m working a different schedule, that I am on a new team, or that I will be in a different department.

Another challenge is isolation. Working Friday -Tuesday makes the challenge of isolation harder because I miss out on church, community, and family events. Being off Wednesday and Thursday means whatever I do, I will probably be doing it alone (with the exception of Bible Study and lunch with the gang afterward).

My office is also a challenge. I had to move my office from the small bedroom with 2 outside walls to the bigger middle room with only one outside wall. My environment must be distraction free. It needs to be painted and rearranged, however, that is not going to happen until next spring. I had hoped it would happen before fall but alas, more plans went astray.

The final challenge is housework. I attempt to get it done on lunches, or before and after work as I do not want to spend my days off in the house (unless it is snowing out). Like everything else, I’ve had some success with this plan.

Final Thoughts

While the pay is not what I need to keep my covenant promises to my creditors, it is consistent work with no commute in a car with 115,000 miles on it. So I will keep my job and hopefully build a career managing a team of logistics specialists.

P.S. I am on schedule to convert to a regular employee in November.




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 by seizing new opportunities. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used her skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.


A Job Is A Banquet

Today is the 3rd and final installment of the series Parables for 21st Century Job Seekers.


As an employer you have an obligation to hire someone who is unemployed, as long as they are mostly qualified. Hiring unqualified people for a position is irresponsible. However, is there another position in your company they can perform?


Working for you is being invited to the banquet. The job will help them pay the bills, put food on the table, improve their self-esteem, strengthen their skills and develop new skills.

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Matthew 25:40


As Ann Voskamp mentioned in The Broken Way, A Daring Path Into Abundant Life, Jesus does not care about your bucket list.

He cares about what you did to help the least – the poor, lame, widowed, unemployed, homeless and others society marginalizes. How did you serve them?

How you served them is how you served Jesus.

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14


Being paid back at the resurrection of the righteous is more important than being paid back now.

Job Seekers

Remember, when someone invites you to the banquet you are required to mind your manners. This means you need to perform your duties better than what you manager expects. By doing your new job well, it will encourage your manager to take a chance on inviting other unemployed people to the jobs banquet.

Be open to feedback from your manager but work as though you are working for God.


To all you hiring managers –

Who will you invite to the banquet today?


Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows as they move through grief and seize opportunities to rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at because one blog is not enough.


Parables for 21st Century Job Seekers – Camels and Needles

Welcome to the second post in the series Parables for 21st Century Job Seekers. Today’s parable is about the rich man.  This is a lesson for the job seeker on how to behave now and when they are no longer a job seeker. However, this is mostly a lesson for the rest of us who are not job seekers. Disclaimer: I did not attend seminary and do not have a Master of Divinity degree.

I was a 21st Century job seeker, trying to rebuild a career that allows me to thrive financially and pay all the bills. Yesterday I started training for a work from home call center job.

Now on to today’s parable.


The Rich and the Kingdom of God

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his kneesbefore him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[d]

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[e] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”


April? (left) & Oliver? (right)

This parable is one that got reinforced and the point driven home more and more since I started rebuilding my career.

Now Jesus does not indicate what amount of money makes a person rich. The Bible states “great wealth.”

While rebuilding my career, I have found rich people are too busy working at staying rich and/or powerful to reach out a hand to help someone up on their feet or even help them put one foot up on the next rung of a ladder. They are not even willing to listen to and/or stand in solidarity with those in career transition.

Not all rich people are like this, there are those who are willing to reach out their hand into another person’s darkness and turn on the light for them. But those rich people are rare. Yes, I know some and I thank God for them being involved in my life. 

I am not the only one who has noticed rich people not being willing to help out even in the smallest way. There are lots of conversations about this a various networking events.

The tough part is to find ways you can help another one while you are poor yourself. Listening to someone about their problems and sending encouraging emails or cards are two ways to help.

If you find ways to help other poor people during your poor time, that makes you richer than a person with great wealth. 

5 Ideas To Help A Job Seeker

  • Spend 5 minutes calling H.R. and let them know someone you casually has applied for a position at the company and would they please pull your acquaintances resume from the black hole, review it and at least call the applicant. It is up to the applicant to do well enough on the phone call to get an in person interview and do well enough in the interview to get the job. 


  • When you know that your friend started a new job at a company and you have connections at that company. Offer to connect your friend to your connections. Your friend may not be aware that you have connections there. It helps to have an ally when starting at a new company.


  • Gift cards are a great way to help a struggling person. Whether gas, food or clothing they will be appreciated. My brother in law and his wife usually get me a calendar and attach one gift card for each month. Last year instead of a calendar, they gave me a new wallet with several gift cards in them. They are how I eat and get gas during financially troubled times.


  • When you have a barbecue, invite your friend going through a job searcht. The diversion will be treasured. Perhaps your friend will make a new friend at your barbecue. The principle also applies during holiday parties.


  • If you say you will keep a job seeker in your prayers – do it. I have heard that phrase numerous times but it is usually said in a way that makes me doubt whether the person is praying for me. Now there are a few close friends who I trust to pray for me and their prayers are much appreciated. 


  • Then there is also the ever popular meeting for coffee. This way you can find out how the person is doing and it gives them someone to vent to if necessary. When you are in the midst of a job search, time to vent is important. A coffee meeting that lasts 30 minutes will be the bright spot in a job seekers day and let’s them know they are not alone.

One Second

If you are rich, remember it only takes a second for you to suddenly become the job seeker in need of help. So remember to stop using all your time to stay rich and powerful and spend some of your time humbling yourself in service to others.

If you are struggling now, do your best to give with a cheerful heart however you can and you will be richer than the richest man on earth. Remember, it only takes one second for you to be employed again. When you do, never forget your recent experience and help other job seekers.

Definition Of Rich

Oh and by the way, I define rich as $30,000 and up.

(Coming next week: Banquet)

Photos courtesy of Unsplash; Verse courtesy of Biblegateway .

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 by seizing new opportunities. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at because one blog is not enough

21st Century Parables – Introduction

Good Morning.

Starting tomorrow = I will be writing about some of the parables Jesus taught and explain how they apply to job searching in the 21st Century.

Job searching is one of my adventures since becoming a widow (it is worse than grief).

Lately Jesus’ parables have crossed my mind and I’ve been able to see how they apply to today’s job search. This is a subject I’ve been thinking about for some time and finally decided to do it.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication (college speak for public speaking) and not a Master of Divinity so I’m not an expert in theology. What I am an expert in is grief, job search, and society’s treatment of those in transition.

The Parable of the Sower is coming tomorrow. Other parables are:

  • The Rich Man
  • The Banquet

as well as any other ones I can apply to job search.

Now off to put paint chips on my spare bedroom walls as I am converting it into an office.

Enjoy your day and I will see you tomorrow.

God bless you.


A Golden Message From Heaven

Rommie stopped by last night to deliver a message to those of us who are struggling with various adversities. Rommie embraced life every day. She lived out Psalm 118:24

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

She rejoiced and was glad every day, despite having hip issues. Every day was a beautiful day to play ball, chase squirrels off her fence and bite skunks on the rear end.

So wherever you are and what ever skunk (grief, divorce, unemployment) is spraying you remember

Life is beautiful2

Rommie Kearns (8/5/2002 – 7/31/2015) 

May your day be filled with lots of love, hugs and sloppy wet kisses.

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