Tag Archives: grief

How Are You?

(Author’s Note: I am late in getting this inaugural Wellness category post published but life, death, job search and a giraffe named April interrupted my plans. This week there will be posts about how I am doing in each area of my life. Hopefully my posts will encourage you to work on the areas of your life. Or after you find out about my life, maybe you will gain a new appreciation for your life. This series will end on March 29th.) 

Just Trying To Be Nice? 

One of life’s most over used and insincere greetings is

“How are you?”

People ask that question but really do not want to know the answer. All they want to hear is “fine.” They usually are asking the question just to be nice.

8 Key Areas Of Life


However, today we need to get serious about the question “How are you?”

How is your physical health? Physical health is one of the 8 key areas of life according to J.T. O’Donnell

Here is the full list:

  • Mental Self
  • Physical Self
  • Finances
  • Family, Friends & Children
  • Career
  • Hobbies/Recreation
  • Physical Environment/Surroundings
  • Romance/Significant Other

I put them in the order of importance for me as of today. The bottom six fluctuate but Mental and Physical self are always the top two.

Physical Self

Darren Rowse spoke about his physical self in episode #38 of his ProBlogger Podcast. He talks about changes he made and how they impacted his life and blog.

What he has to say applies to everyone and not to just us bloggers. I’ve made a change as a result (there are times my laptop sits on an empty milk crate, so I have to stand).

Must Do This

The condition of your physical self becomes more important after losing a spouse. You need to see your doctor as soon as possible so you have a starting point from which to improve or maintain depending upon your results. When making your appointment inform them your spouse passed away, odds are they will get you in quickly.

One Of The Best Uses Of Your Time

Aside from reading  your Bible and doing a daily devotion, the best use of your time today is to listen to Episode 38 of Problogger Podcast. 

Once  you are done ask yourself


“How Am I – Really?” 


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 OgleOhio.com because one blog is not enough




Is Valentine’s Day Cheesy?



A lot of people either don’t or reluctantly celebrate Valentine’s Day because to them it is a cheesy made up Hallmark day. It’s just another excuse for companies to get their grubby hands on your hard earned money.

Do I think Valentine’s Day is cheesy? No.


Life get’s busy and while we should celebrate Valentine’s Day every day, we don’t. So once a year we get a reminder to express love to our family and friends. Cherish Valentine’s Day because next year, some of the people you love may not be here.

You will wish they were here even on a day you consider cheesy.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Love Always, 





Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie – A Review


One of my highlights in 2016 was being chosen for the launch team for Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, awakening courage to OVERCOME your fears.  The book released today.

Kelly shares personal stories and actionable tips for over coming various fears-inducers including:

  • The Devil
  • Control
  • People Pleasing
  • Worrying
  • Comparison and Competition
  • Waiting While Trembling
  • Rejection and Opposition
  • The Past

which all happen to be fears widows deal with at some point in time.

Not a Rosy Story

It was the chapter on comparison and competition that sucker punched me.  Kelly writes about comparing herself to Rosie and the story was anything but rosy.

I too compare myself to others, wanting what they have so I can be like them and fit in. Whether it was fitting in with the in-crowd in school or fitting in with society after being widowed. Widows do not fit in with society, we are chewed up and spit out on the outside of the palace gates. We are the true deplorables. (but that is a subject for another post.)

Grief and Comparison

I found myself even doing it while grieving. Everyone else got back to normal or in some cases, their lives took off in unexpected and very pleasing circumstances. Me – I was grieving. The only moving I did was to the unemployment line a year after Joe’s passing.

There is no room for comparison while you are grieving. Do not compare yourself to another widow, she make look like she has it altogether but you do not know what goes on behind closed doors.

Once you do discover the details of another widow’s grief, you will most likely decide you are blessed to be experiencing the grief hand you were dealt.

Grief and Competition

Getting through grief is NOT a competition. There is no race to see who can come out of grief the soonest, who has the easiest grief, or who comes out of it looking the most beautiful.

There was not another woman who was widowed at the same time as me, so I did not compete with anyone to see who could finish grieving first or who looked better while grieving. (fyi – you are finished grieving when you walk through the gates of heaven. Revelation 21:4)

Behold His Radiance

In the chapter Kelly also writes:

What we see as our hindrance, God sees as admittance to behold His radiance.

pg 117

Grief is your hindrance, but you will see God in all his radiant glory through the help and support friends and family provide.

And once you see His radiance, it is up to you to emit God’s radiance to others. You do not do emit radiance by comparison and competition – you do that by serving others, even while you are grieving. 

Something To Chew On

Kelly closes each chapter with a section titled Something to Chew On. These are additional thoughts for you to meditate on. My favorite from the Comparison and Competition chapter is:

“Remind me of all the bad, and I will say, “The downpours are just precursors to rainbows.”

pg 121

Group Bible Study

Included in the book is a 12-week group Bible study, or you can do it alone. I am starting the Bible study this week. It will be a great way to kick off 2017.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always said grief is life’s greatest self-improvement course. Fear Fighting is an excellent book to read and  learn how to sucker-punch any fears that arise, whether or not you are grieving.

In Excellent Company

This book is in my stack of favorite books by author’s such as Ann Voskamp, J.T. O’Donnell, Mark Batterson, and Heather Burch. As  you can see it is also one where I used a lot of sticky notes. There are also a lot of highlights and notes in the margins.


Well done Kelly, well done good and faithful servant! 

Matthew 25:21

Disclaimer: I am part of the Fear Fighting book launch team and received a free copy in exchange for my honest review. The links provided are not affiliate links and I receive no compensation when  you buy  Kelly’s book.

(Special Thank You to the Brunswick Library and the Adult Reference staff for the use of their fireplace and resources. The library served as my office for the past 4 months.)


Five Minute Friday – Weary

Once again, I am hooking up with Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday.

I was going to write this post next week but Kate forced my hand to write it sooner with her word prompt selection.

Since August I was rear-ended, let go from my job the following week, survived 2 months of therapy, and wrote through the month of October while conducting a job search.

I am weary. 

All those things have taken a toll on me but mostly it’s been the job searching that’s broken my back (figuratively). I should be sharing articles on LinkedIn more, I should be publishing blog posts on LinkedIn but I have no desire to do those things to increase my visibility.

I want to get out more but where?

Where does the weary widow go from here?

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Jeremiah 31:25

I do not know, so I am taking a break from blogging starting this coming week. Hopefully during this holiday break I will be able to figure out some things and God will restore my soul.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.

Psalm 23: 2-3

I have one more post to publish and that is a recommended list of books for your holiday gift list (either for yourself or someone else).

There is a Holiday Help page, in the wine colored menu bar, where I’ve listed some resources and when I come across more, I will add to that page.

But other than that, I am done till sometime next year.

This means even Facebook is going dark. Will only be using it to correspond with my Faithful Finish Lines members, but even that will not be as often.

You can always reach me at the email listed in the sidebar, as I have to keep up with any job search emails.

So Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year my friends and family.

Wishing you a safe, healthy, prosperous and joyous holiday season.

God Bless You.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

I’m coming Lord Jesus, I am coming.

Don’t worry folks, God will make lemonade out of this lemon period of my life. He’s done it before and will do it again.


Thoughts and Stories About Life – Part 4 – Bad Things

Bad Things

Does God cause bad things to happen?  No. He is Love and

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1st Corinthians 13:4-8

2 Forces

I believe there are 2 forces at work in the world

  • Good vs Evil
  • God vs Satan / The Devil
  • Light vs Dark
  • Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader

Whatever names you want to apply, but there are 2 forces at work in our world. God takes what Satan does and turns it into good. God does not cause evil.

He is with us when evil strikes and comforts those who grieve the passing of a loved one, a job, a home, a marriage etc… but He does not cause these things to happen.

Do bad things such as brain cancer and heart issues have to happen to us? No. Not those things specifically. However, Jesus said:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

“If You’re Looking For Trouble, You Came To The Right Place”

Now I know you are not looking for trouble but bad things will happen – Jesus said so but it was not predestined that your loved one would get brain cancer. It was just one of a many options that could have happened to him or her.

Jesus told us we would have trouble but He has overcome the world.

In the end God wins. Death will be put in a casket. We will attend his funeral.

One day

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

Thoughts and Stories About Life – Part 3 – The Dash

The Dash

I believe God is with us in between the time of our birth and death – the “dash” phase of life. Only He knows the length of the “dash.”

During our life He lets us make choices because that is how we learn and grow. He is with us when we make the bad choices and when we do He lets us suffer the consequences of our actions.

He also celebrates with us in the good times and He is with us as we go through our day. Even doing the mundane tasks of laundry, dishes, and scrubbing the toilet bowl. Where do you think the reminder to get more toilet cleaner comes from?

We Are Not Puppets

He will not force us to do his will day in and day out as that would mean we are His puppets. If we were his puppets, life would be perfect because God would be pulling the strings.

His will for all of us is to become a person who shines His light into this dark, dreary and depressing world. A person whom other people want to emulate because they see us living like Jesus and serving others. God’s will for us is not tied to specific job, house or person.

He will grow us into the person He wants us to be no matter what decisions we make regarding our lives.

The Only Words I’ve Heard

I’ve only heard His voice once and that was the morning the Holy Spirit whispered “widow’s website” into my ear just as I was starting to wake up.

That’s it folks. That is the only time I heard directly from God via the Holy Spirit.

And don’t tell me to be still, listen and pray – because I did and still do.

I did not have to follow through on those words, that decision was up to me. It still took me awhile to create this site but I eventually did it. If I did not create JoyReturns, God would have that decision to grow me.

However, both He and I are glad I did create this blog.

Other Decisions

These are just 3 of the many, many decisions I’ve made in life.

  • I made the decision to move to Texas because Penney’s wanted nothing to do with me and only gave me 4 hours work for one week. Then they had the nerve to get mad because I decided not to come back to Ohio. If God was a puppet master, He would have forced them to hire me.
  • I made the decision to move back to Ohio because the Fed’s were closing savings and loans every Friday, EDS had a huge layoff and Frito Lay had a huge layoff all of which flooded the Texas job market. If God was a puppet master, I would have easily found a new job.
  • I made the decision to date and marry Joe. When  I did, God knew when I would become a widow. If he was a puppet master He would have stopped the wedding, or He would have prevented Joe from moving to heaven.

But He never interferred.

Was He with me during those times – yes. He was there to comfort me, to guide me but never to manipulate me.

You Too

He will be there for you as well no matter what circumstances are happening in your life. Make no mistake, He will not manipulate you or the people in your life.

The only thing that can grow when you are a puppet is your nose, your character can not.

God is in the character building business.

So make those decisions in this “dash” phase of life with all the confidence in knowing that God is with you and will use those decisions to make you more like Him.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Matthew 1:23



Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She encourages widows and educates society about grief and life as a widow by sharing her widowhood adventures. A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications, she has used her skills in the banking, collections, outdoor products and social media industries. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com.

Thoughts and A Story About Life – Part 1 – Foretelling the Future?

My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.

Billy Graham

New, Grander Home

It is funny (strange) how life works out. Joe and I started house hunting in March of 1999 and did not sign the contract on our house until the first weekend in July.

Every Saturday we went out with our realtor and every Sunday Joe and I went to open houses. There were plenty of houses I saw that would have made a nice home but Joe felt we would be settling if we bought any of them.

When we moved into this house, he asked if someday I would like to move to a bigger, newer, nicer house. I told him no. If he wanted a bigger, grander new house then he was moving in with another Mrs. Kearns, because this one was staying put right here.

Well, on March 29th, 2008 he moved into a grand and glorious new house in heaven with his Mom, Grandmother Kearns, Great-Grandmother Kearns etc…

and here I sit, staying put in my 1100 sq ft ranch like I said I was going to do.

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
John 14:2
100_0422 - Copy

10-10-2011_3by5Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She encourages widows and educates society about grief and life as a widow by sharing her widowhood adventures. A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications, she has used her skills in the banking, collections, outdoor products and social media industries. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com, her photography blog because one blog is not enough.

Coming tomorrow: Predestination
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