Faith, grief, Joy, Joyful Life

In The Beginning

Welcome to the Bloganuary challenge where WordPress bloggers are encouraged and challenged to post every day. Doing so gets us off to a good start in developing a writing habit, something my regular readers know I need.

Also, check out my photo blog OgleOhio, as I will also be publishing there too.

Since there are a lot of new readers, it is best to recap what happened and why my blog exists.

JoyReturns was never intended to be telling of the gory details of Joe’s final months, but an acknowledgement that the man I love, moved to heaven. While he is gone, I am still here. Therefore, my story has not ended. If you are a widow, neither does your story.

JoyReturns is where I share my adventures moving forward with life, so what I do or don’t do inspires other widows as they rebuild their life.

While this blog is written for widows, any grieving person can be inspired to move forward with life after loss. It is the best way to honor your loved one – take their love with you as you rebuild your life.


This post is a mashup (with some tweaks) of Why JoyReturns? and How My Journey Began, both of which can be found on my Start Here page.

It was March 2008 when my husband Joe died after suffering a stroke at the base of the brain.  It was totally unexpected.  He was in great spirits upon visiting him after work the night before. Then early the next morning the stroke occurred on both sides of the brain.

Thus began my journey through grief.

It was not a planned journey but once it began, I decided to do the work necessary to make it through to the end.

My Journey Ended…Or Did It?

About October or November 2009, it dawned on me I was maybe about 98 – 99% through my grief.  Now the grief might have left sooner, it just took me until late 2009 to realize it.

My moment of realization was wonderful.  It felt like the sun had burned off most of the fog in my head, leaving me feeling more alert, alive and ready to take on life. 

I will never make it completely through grief because it will re-surface, like a sea creature from the deep, to participate in special family moments.  But moments are all they will be and they will be successfully managed.  Joy and pain do co-exist and those moments are bittersweet.

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.

Xtreme mental anguish overcame me when Joe passed and common sense told me other widows were experiencing the same anguish, so how was a “woe is me” site going to help widows?

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 Griefshare program which I attended after Joe died and co-facilitated for several years. 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)

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her adventures hoping to inspire widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. Michele is the amateur photographer behind the blog

Faith, Joyful Life

Growing Your Faith

Over the years people have emailed or commented that they wish they had my faith. Well, my faith has been pretty weak. Oh I’ve understood John 3:16 since I was a kid.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 (KJV)

But it wasn’t until after Joe passed that I started working on growing my faith. The path has been long with many twists and turns, ups and downs and darkness along the way.

Sure I went to church before he passed but you can’t grow your faith just by going to church and hearing a sermon. You have to do the work.

This article list seven New Year’s Resolutions for growing your faith. While they are all good resolutions, there are 7 of them. That is a lot to keep. So I recommend working on just two – read the Bible and pray.


There are many different versions of the Bible the New Living Translation (NLT) and the New International Version (NIV) are good ones to start with if you are new. If you’ve been a long time Christian, you may want to read the King James Version (KJV).


Don’t know what to pray? Pray the Psalms. A lot of them are filled with anguish (Psalm 77) but by the end, the Psalmist is filled with hope. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance and Psalm 23 is comfort and reassurance for soothing your soul. Here is one list of prayers.

Serving and Giving

Now if you already have daily prayer and Bible reading habit, then work on the remaining five resolutions. Just remember that serving does not mean serving only at church but in your daily life. How do you serve your co-workers, your customers, and your family?

Giving does not mean only money. It also means giving of your time and your talents. You can give a homemade quit to an engaged couple or crochet a throw for someone in a nursing home. There are many ways to live out a giving life.

May you find a time of day that works for both daily Bible reading and praying so that your faith maybe built up.

Related Reading:

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her adventures hoping to inspire widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. Michele is the amateur photographer behind the blog

Project 3:16

Project 3:16 – Proverbs

Well fooey! We have to skip Psalms as chapter 3 ends with verse 8.

From the Lord comes deliverance.

    May your blessing be on your people.

Psalm 3:8

So hi ho, hi ho, it’s on to Proverbs we go.

Chapter 3 is about the Further Benefits of Wisdom (notice how Wisdom is referred to as a “she”). Here are the verses that are grouped together with 3:16 in my NIV Bible.

Blessed are those who find wisdom,

    those who gain understanding,

14 for she is more profitable than silver

    and yields better returns than gold.

15 She is more precious than rubies;

    nothing you desire can compare with her.

Proverbs 3:13-15

Long life is in her right hand;

    in her left hand are riches and honor.

Proverbs 3:16

Her ways are pleasant ways,

    and all her paths are peace.

18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;

    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Proverbs 3:17-18

As you bloom wherever you live and in whatever circumstances, may your roots be sunk deep in God’s wisdom – for that will surely bring you joy.

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