Merry Christmas 2019

Yes, I know I should have picked a serious picture for my Christmas card. However, I was looking through old pictures this morning and stumbled upon this gem.

Rommie Kearns

Wishing you and your friends and family a very blessed and Merry Christmas as you gather to celebrate Jesus’s birthday

because Jesus is the reason for the season,

now and forever more.

Hallelujah and Amen!

Love Always,

Michele

JoyReturns on WCTV in Wadsworth

My friend Katherine Miracle has a show on WCTV which serves Wadsworth, Ohio. It is called Your Miracle Resource. She is the founder and CEO of Miracle Resources, a marketing firm in Akron, Ohio.

In a recent episode of Your Miracle Resource she was seeking information about what not to say to grieving people during the holiday.

I reached out to her with some advice. She wanted me to appear on her show. Since my job is Virtual Logistics, I was already scheduled for overtime the day of filming.

Instead, I wrote this post to go into more detail about the holiday grief tips I shared with Katherine. Here is the link to her show.

Your Miracle Resource – Dealing With Grief

My Holiday Tips

Take a plate of cookies to a widow along with the recipe.

Easy Heath Bar Cookies – BEFORE I Took A Bite!

I rarely bake anymore. However, if someone was kind enough to bring me a few cookies they baked along with the recipe it might inspire me to get out the cookie sheet. Plus it would warm my heart that during this busy time of year someone thought of me.

It might only be baking but it gets you trying something new and life after the loss of a spouse is filled with doing new things, so you might as well start somewhere.

Currently, this will be the only thing I bake to take on Christmas Day. It’s quick and easy and was given to me by a dear friend.

Send a grieving person a Christmas card so they know you are thinking about them.

Christmas can be a lonely time for widows and other grieving people. The focus is on kids and their toys. There are lots of lonely, grieving people who feel invisible and getting a simple card in the snail mail will brighten their day.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Bah Humbug!

Keep the Christmas music low when a grieving person is around. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas takes on a whole new meaning after the passing of a loved one.

My first Christmas after Joe’s passing, I was in a locally owned grocery store and heard this song as I went down the chip aisle. Then as I am walking down the baking aisle, it came over the loud speaker again. Finally as I walked up the dish soap aisle and headed for the check out line, yet another dead singer was crooning it over the loudspeaker. Three times in the 30 – 45 minutes from the time I entered the store until I left. After barely making it home, I laid down on the couch and had a meltdown.

Let my heart be light? Nope! Troubles miles away? Nope!

So lower the music and let the grieving person and other guests can focus on and enjoy conversation.

Invite A Grieving Person To Your Holiday Party

But do not expect them to stay the whole time. There comes a point during the festivities where it is just too much merriment for the widow. The length of time they can handle the merriment will vary because each widow is unique. It is alright for the widow to leave early. Just appreciate the time and effort it took for her to step outside her comfort zone and attend.

Speak about their deceased loved one.

My favorite picture of Rommie and Joe

It is alright to speak about the deceased loved one. We want to know they are not forgotten. It comforts us to know that people remember him. Society wants widows and other grieving people to put there loved in the ground, walk away from the grave, and act like the deceased never even existed.

So think and speak fondly of the deceased.

Do Not Quote Any Bible Verse or Get Theological

This is simple. If you look in the mirror and see Billy Graham staring back at you, then go ahead and use Bible verses and theology to comfort someone. However, when you look in the mirror you will not see Billy or even Franklin Graham staring back at you -so zip it.

Do Not Say “If you need anything, let me know.”

Raking the bottom of the River Kearns in my backyard.

By saying this you are placing the burden on the widow or other grieving person to wrack there brain about how you can help them. They have enough on their plate.

You have a house and know what tasks need done everyday and the tasks associated with the different seasons so just call a grieving person up and ask “Who is shoveling your driveway this winter?” or “Who is raking your leaves this fall?”

Go to GriefShare.org

The GriefShare program helped me immensely after Joe’s passing. It is Christ-centered, Biblically based program by Church Initiative. I looked forward to Monday nights. Those nights were more important to me than church on Sunday. Those Monday meetings became my rock, my foundation for the week because I was with other people who were grieving.

While we all lost different loved ones and the causes of their passing were different, we all knew the pain of grief and supported one another. The conversations we had after viewing a different video every week for 13 weeks left us uplifted and encouraged that grief was survivable and our joy would return.

Final Thoughts

This is not the entire list of advice for helping grieving people but it is a good starting point. Below are links to additional blog pages where you will find links to books, websites, articles, music and recipes.

May all this information help you this Christmas season whether someone you know is grieving or you yourself are grieving.

Merry Christmas and God Bless you.

Additional Resources:

Holiday Helps

Joy-Filled Recipes

Contact: michele.kearns@joyreturns.com

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 OgleOhio.com

My Duet With Frank Sinatra And A Few Thousand Others

Author’s Note: Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday’s Extraordinary Women post from my friend Gabriana Marks. The series continues through out the month on Nosy Parker.

Once Upon A Time

Come Fly With Me not to the moon but back in time to 1987 as It Was A Very Good Year. The place is Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. You are not only joining me but my date for the night, James.

He owned a limo company and chauffeured a couple to Reunion Arena for the Frank Sinatra concert. They had two extra tickets and would James like them? He called and told me of this opportunity and I said: “I’m changing clothes right now.”

No way was I about to turn down a chance to see Sinatra perform. My dad taught me about Jazz and Big Band music when I was young so I realized that Luck was being a Lady to James and me.

Frank and those of us in the audience were not Strangers In The Night just exchanging glances but we were sharing love the whole night through. Both James and I savored Sinatra’s singing and the overall experience as we knew this was a once in a life time event for us.

Throughout the concert people would shout “My Way” from various parts of the arena. The request came from our side, then after the next song a voice would shout “My Way” from the left end of the area, then another voice would shout from the right end of the arena and so on through out Frank’s concert.

Then came a time when a gentleman sitting down front said “My Way” Frank said “We had something else.” and “Your wish is my command.” The band started playing My Way….and the crowd went wild.

I never forgot Frank saying “We had something else.” and “Your wish is my command.” because I knew he hated singing My Way. However, he was there to give us a remarkable evening and that meant once again singing My Way.

As Time Goes By

Fast forward to November 2019. Every day I get up and stumble groggily through out the house preparing coffee and oatmeal and then get ready for work. Most days are very mundane and routine. They are indistinguishable from all the rest. Just another day getting yelled at by customers and delivery drivers. My way of life is not exciting.

However, on November 8th, 2019 I happen to find out it is the 50th anniversary of My Way, the 1969 album that forever changed Frank’s career. I about fell out of my chair when reviewing the tracks on the MP3 version as the last bonus track was My Way – Live at Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, October 24th, 1987. After recovering from the shock of that magical night being recorded, I purchased the MP3 version of the 50th anniversary album.

Listening to that track brought back fabulous memories of that extraordinary night.

Grazie

As with anything else in life there are some thank you’s (grazie) that need to be said.

Thank you:

  • Paul Anka for writing the song
  • Frank for recording it and singing it that night
  • Don Costa for the wonderful arrangement
  • to whoever decided to record the concert at Reunion Arena

Finally, thank you God for orchestrating all the events in my life that lead up to James and me experiencing that wonderful night. Please give James a hug and a kiss from me as I know he resides in heaven with you.

Finale

Now I can say my clapping was recorded on a Frank Sinatra album. It is the little things that unexpectedly make you feel so young and bring joy to life.

If you want to hear my clapping – and some exceptional singing, please click here. You must get the MP3 version as the CD does not have the Reunion Arena concert on it.

May your life always be blessed with Doobee, Doobee Doo (Strangers In The Night) moments and remember The Best Is Yet To Come.

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 OgleOhio.com

Raise Up Extraordinary Women: Alyssa Cohen

I wanted to do something special for the start of the next 1,550 blog posts but could not decide what would be appropriate. This morning while checking my Facebook feed to see if someone responded to my comment, I came across this post from long-time friend Gabriana Marks.

For the month of December she is highlighting 31 extraordinary women who have touched her life. Join me in reading about the different women and sharing on social media Gabriana’s posts.

Then go tell the women in your life why they are extraordinary.

Oh and by the way, these posts are written by one extraordinary woman as Gabriana is a full-time caregiver to her mother while dealing with her own health issues.

God bless you, Gabriana.

Nosy Parker Blog

Alyssa Cohen

For the month of December, I’ll be shining light each day on some extraordinary women I know. They represent various fields and backgrounds, and I admire each for their passion and strength. These are bold, beautiful, brave women — artists, businesswomen, union organizers, nurses, writers, teachers, movie makers, designers, reporters, and all-around badasses.

Alyssa Cohen is a clinical psychologist who hails from New York. She now lives in Southern California with her husband and an adorable rescue dog, Yofi! She loves spending time with family and friends, baking, scrapbooking, and reading. She currently works for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

1. What did you want to be “when you grew up?” There are many things I “wanted to be” from environmental lawyer (I like to talk and advocate), a sign language interpreter (I was fascinated by the beauty of the culture and language)

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Post #1,550 – Seeing God’s Gift In 2 Voicemails

I sit here on a cold, dark Ohio morning (25 degrees) drinking hot coffee and watching the first video in the One Thousand Gifts Bible Study by Ann Voskamp. Faithgateway is hosting this online bible study.

You might question if counting gifts from God works, but Ann is living proof. In Session One’s video she talked about how good she felt after the first day.

And I am here to tell you, it works even after writing down just one gift.

It was a gift I wrote down this morning – gift #1,197. Just a plain old random number. But I did not see this gift until I read the first sentence in the Video Discussion and Bible Study section for session one:

Tell about a moment in your life that was hard and painful and looked nothing like a gift, until later you began to discover that a gift was wrapped up in the pain of that moment.

Video Discussion and Bible Study
one thousand gifts, a dare to live fully right where you are
Study Guide -pg 15

I was thinking of the voicemails on March 28, 2008 and said “Well there was no gift in those voicemails.” No sooner than I said that then I realized I was wrong and smacked my forehead for being so blind to God’s gift.

Here is the story of seeing a gift from God the day my nightmare of widowhood began. But first, I need you send you down the time tunnel to generic, a non-specific night in either January, February or early March of 2008 and then to March 28th, 2008 – my Day of Infamy, my personal 9/11.

Some Generic Night

Joe suffered from intense back pain in early 2008. So intense that he would wake up screaming during the night. I would get up and help position him so he was no longer in pain. We would go to bed together but because of his pain, I usually ended up moving to the spare bedroom after helping him get in a more comfortable position.

One night I was up three times with him. After the third time, I belly-flopped on the spare bed and had a heart to heart with God. No, wait. It was a one-sided conversation. I did not wait for an answer nor did we engage in a dialogue as I had no time for chit-chat about Joe’s pain.

I said “What are you doing? I’ve been praying for relief, healing for Joe’s pain and there is NO sign of it. I need you to heal him, even if it means he goes and lives with you. I will muddle through some how.”

Then I fell asleep.

March 28, 2008

Fast forward to March 28, 2008. Joe was in the rehabilitation department of a local hospital. Back surgery was successful and he made it though a couple of rough days in medical intensive care.

March 28th was Friday morning. I got out of bed and took care of Rommie and our foster golden retriever. Then I got ready for work as on Friday’s I had to be there at 8 a.m. instead of my normal 11 a.m. start time.

Joe knew my work schedule so I did not think much of it when he did not call and start barking like a dog, which was what he did every morning that week.

I arrived at work and went about my day resolving issues customers had with making their mortgage payments. Lunch came and went and I did not get a call from Joe’s brother with a report on how Joe was doing. Joe’s brother visited at lunch and I visited after work. Not receiving a call did not raise any red flags as I just figured he got busy at the fire station. No big deal.

I left work at 4 p.m. and stopped at Kohl’s department store on the way home to find a new vinyl tablecloth. The house needed fresh spring color as our foster golden had a meet and greet with her potential new parents the next day. However, the line at Kohl’s was long. Huh?! What?! This is not Christmas, even Easter had passed.

So I left. I thought about stopping at the mall but decided to go home and clean up the backyard while it was still light outside.

Upon arriving home the girls were excited and happy to see me. I let them outside. Then I noticed the blinking yellowish light on the cordless handset that meant I had messages.

I went to the office in our third bedroom and pressed the button on the main unit. The first message was from the doctor on the rehab floor. Joe was sick and I needed to get in there right away. Huh? The second message was from his primary care doctor stating Joe was sick and the doctor had to drive across town from his office and admit Joe back to the medical unit. He left a number where I could page him as Joe was in grave condition.

I was startled and jumped back about 3 feet and said “What the _________?” (You know what word to insert in that blank.)

That is how my widowhood nightmare began.

No gift in those messages.

But wait…

There’s more…

Eleven years and 7 months later I see the gift.

Those message confirmed God was in the process of healing Joe.

He was answering my prayer – just not in the way I preferred. After all Joe moving to heaven was not my plan A, but it was God’s plan A because God heals people by taking them to heaven. It is a tool for healing that only He can use.

Healing people by taking them to heaven causes a hole in our soul that brings about pain and anguish. A hole that only God can heal.

And so #1,197 in my red, hard covered journal reads:

The messages from Joe’s rehab and primary care doctor’s confirming God was answering my prayer for Joe’s healing.

What did I feel after writing this in my gratitude journal?

Charis (Greek) = Joy

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

Holiday Helps

It is 2:43 a.m. this morning as I write this post. I woke up and could not get back to sleep so I decided to get out of bed, light a virtual fireplace, and do some work on this blog.

There is a new page on the menu – “Holiday Helps.” It is filled with various articles, websites, music and book recommendations to help you get through the holiday season. There is something on this page for everyone, whether you are grieving or just stressed out from all the chaos.

There is also a sub-page, “Joy Filled Recipes” that contains links to unhealthy but extremely delicious recipes.

I will add to the pages as I find more resources or recipes that you will enjoy.

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 OgleOhio.com

Honoring and Remembering Family on Veteran’s Day 2019

Even though none of you are no longer here, I thank you for doing your part and serving this country. Thank God every one of you made it back safe and sound.

I cherish every moment we had together. You are loved and missed.

  • Dad – Navy – Korea
  • Great Uncle – Navy – WW II
  • Great Uncle – Army – WW II
  • Step-Dad – Army – WW II

Thank you for your service.

Either Chiniak or Kodiak, AK 1952
Taken by my Father while in the Navy

My Father’s flag. Received August 2011.
“Good Time For Clam Digging In Chiniak, AK”
Taken by my Father while in the Navy.

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 OgleOhio.com

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