Category: Wellness

Wrap up Of My Draw The Circle 40 Day Prayer Challenge

It’s mind-boggling what can happen in 40 days.

When I embarked on this prayer journey that is (April 30,2020) based on Mark Batterson’s book, Draw the Circle, A 40 Day Prayer Challenge, it was for the leaders and my fellow residents here in Ohio. It was to pray for our Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Director of Health to get rid of their fear, draw close to God through a relationship with Jesus, and to have the Holy Spirit work mightily and powerfully in their lives as they work to jump start Ohio’s economy.

All was going well. I would get up early to read my devotion, write notes in my spiral notebook, and write a prayer for reopening based on that day’s devotion.

Then George Floyd was murdered.

The protests began and turned into riots and looting.

Now I pray not only for excellent leadership in regards to the reopening but also leadership regarding controlling and eliminating the riots and looting.

This prayer challenge has had the greatest impact on me of all the ones I’ve done because it has caused me to think and ponder the most. Praying for leaders who are using fear to control and destroy people’s lives and businesses is not easy. Although I will admit Ohio could be like New York, Washington, or California and still be shut down. At least we have been slowly opening up our economy during my prayer challenge.

A lot of sentences jumped out at me this time that never did before. Here are just a few:

  • When we pray, we are building a monument to God, a memorial to Him. And those prayers never go unanswered. (Day 19; pg 109
  • Goliath held an entire army captive through fear. (Day 14; pg 84)
  • Going back to places of spiritual significance should be part of our spiritual rhythm. Day 38, pg 210
  • Love isn’t repetitive; love is creative. Day 29; pg 161

May you ponder one of more of these today.

While doing this challenge I got a 5 Subject spiral notebook and took notes while reading the devotions. The I wrote out my prayers for our Governor, Lt. Governor and Health Director based on that day’s devotion. I also got creative with using highlighter, watercolor pens, and stickers both in my notebook and in my book because that’s just who I am.

A new Draw the Circle book is necessary as I have marked this copy up so much, I am not sure anything new would jump out at me if I use it again.

And use it again I will because I will be praying through this book starting on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 – 40 days before the November 3rd election. An election that will determine the fate of this country. An election between keeping this country as founded or rioting and looting the Constitution and become more of what you see now – government control of our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be praying for this country in the meantime but will use this book as a guide for my prayers starting in September. I will pray circles around this country because it is exceptional and pray it is God’s will to keep it that way.


Prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you.

Mark Batterson
Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge
pg 89

And we need Him fighting for us.

Will you join me starting September 24th?

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, and a lover of history, chocolate, red roses, and golden retrievers. She is also the amateur photographer behind the blog

How The Lock Down Has Messed With My Brain

I am going to get real, I am going to get messy and I am going to get real messy.

JoyReturns was never intended to be a rose-colored glasses, Don’t Worry, Be Happy website. Yes, I hope that my adventures through widowhood will provide some joy, hope, and roll on the floor laughing moments as you learn what to do and not to do while building a new life.

However, sometimes life gets in your face. Jesus dealt with issues head-on and so will I.

This pandemic has me missing Joe more than normal. There is nobody to snuggle with on the couch watching Sci-fi or John Wayne movies and no one with whom to discuss this mess. If he were here, his head would have exploded along time ago over what has happened to this country. In a way, it is good he is not here.

March 28th was the 12th anniversary of a blood vessel bursting at the bottom of Joe’s brain. That is the night I had a nightmare about rape, murder, grocery delivery and running to a neighbor’s house. I woke feeling very afraid for my life. The feeling penetrated all the to my core.

I’ve had 4 more nights of dreaming, but not remembering my dreams, and waking up with fear, dread, and anxiety. I’ve had to take a couple of 1/2 days off work to regroup.

Not sure why the brain is doing this because I know:

  • Jesus walked out of the tomb.
  • God is still on His throne and always will be.
  • The Holy Spirit is at work in people.
  • This closure will not last forever.

The virus does not scare me as I know Psalm 139:16 is true, our days were numbered before the world began.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16
English Standard Version

I will go live with Jesus at the appropriate time and not a second before or a second later.

My concern is the slow destruction of this country. The founding fathers saw a country run by citizens and not big government. I understand President Trump has put together a committee to oversee the reopening. At least it is a start. There is an end in sight.

If I who am employed in logistics is feeling this mental anguish I can’t even begin to imagine what the unemployed are feeling. Yes, I have experienced unemployment but not under these circumstances. To all the unemployed may God bless you in unbelievable ways.

Just so you don’t think I am unable to see joy in this day, here is what I found:

  • Great conversation with my friend – via telephone.
  • Being able to take time off.
  • The wren’s returning to their home in my gutter after hunting worms all day
  • The maple tree on my tree lawn still standing after high winds. (20-40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph).
  • The golden lining in the silver clouds as the sun sets.

Now it is time for pizza, Pepsi, and McArthur Park (Donna Summer’s version) because what pizza, Pepsi don’t cure – disco will. 😀

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to inspire widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s currently using those skills as a virtual logistics contact center representative for a Fortune 100 company. She’s also managed call center teams, co-facilitated a grief support group, and helped small businesses with various writing assignments. Michele is a bookworm, and a lover of history, music, chocolate, red roses, and golden retrievers. She is also the amateur photographer behind the blog

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth

Let’s be the HEROINES in our own wild, imperfect, glorious stories. Never the understudy for someone else’s. 

Holley Gerth
Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely is a collection of stories from Holley Gerth’s life packed with encouragement. This is Holley’s best book yet because of how vulnerable she is in sharing personal stories.

Every chapter beings with a powerful quote from other author’s such as Madeline L’Engle, Ann Voskamp, Kaitlyn Bouchillon and the late Kara Tippetts. Then Holley tells a story about a certain time in her life. Events from childhood to college to marriage through the present are told in a conversational tone with faith,  wisdom, and encouragement being woven throughout.

You will read stories about, a paddleboat, bone in a chicken, infertility, and depression among others.

Time Machine

Her stories transported me back in time to my childhood and while I didn’t have a paddleboat,  I had a saucer sled. My friends and I had plenty of fun with that saucer sled during the summer when using it with a piece of rope and a chestnut tree.

Holley’s words show you how you have already lived fully and love bravely, what you need to do now is figure out how to get back the fierceness you had that got lost in the business of everyday life.

Never Too Late

While all the quotes Holley chose to begin the chapters are excellent and contain their own wisdom, it is the quote at the beginning of the epilogue that spoke to me the most:

It’s never too late for a happily ever after.

Lovelle Gerth-Myers

Holley’s daughter

Lovelle is right. It really is never too late for a new beginning. The story Holley shares about Lovelle’s adoption proves it.

Holley’s book gives you the support and encouragement to get out there and live fully and love bravely. Whether you are widowed, divorced, or just feeling lost, this book is for you. Because you are already a fiercehearted woman, a heroine of your own God-ordained story,  you just don’t realize it yet.

Remember, your happily ever after is waiting.

Fiercehearted Manifesto

Here is what Holley wrote about fiercehearted women on a plane one day that became the inspiration for her book.


Disclosure: It is a blessing to be on Holley’s book launch team and be a part of a wonderful team of women. You too will be blessed by reading Fiercehearted. After you do, go out and fully and bravely live and love so you too can say “it’s never too late for a happily ever after.”

FYI: I had a hard time writing this review because of all the words and phrases running through my head. I finally decided the words belong to several posts and not just one. So there will be more posts based on the subjects in Fiercehearted.