31 Days of Joy: Day 9 – Another Blogging Milestone!

Wow! 2 blogging milestones in one week. Wahoo!

First there was Monday’s 1,000th post on this blog and today WordPress notifies me that my “31 Days of Autumn in Ohio: Day 9 – Blood Moon”, is my 100th post on Ogleohio (my photography blog).

It’s the perfect pick me up for a Thursday of a 48 hour work week. Now there will be an extra spring in my step today.

Of course the “Blood Moon” photo would not be possible if it were not for God, as He created it.

He created me with the eye to see pictures everywhere I look.  My mind frames numerous pictures whenever and wherever I drive. It’s how my brain is wired – to look at things from different angles and viewpoints.

A former supervisor recognized that skill in me. She knew whatever problem I brought to her, I had a developed a solution based on my considering the different angles of the situation.

Thank you God for my “eye” for photography, for seeing situations from multiple viewpoints and for the milestones reached this week on both JoyReturns and OgleOhio.

Soli Deo gloria – glory to God alone!




31 Days of Joy: Day 6 – In Celebration of My 1,000th Post

It’s party time as today is post # 1,000!  Here is a brief history of JoyReturns and it takes more than 5 minutes to write.

Early One Morning

“Widow’s Website.”  Those are the words I heard whispered in my ear as I was waking up one morning. I had not even opened my eyes yet. Now I have not been a morning person every since the moment of conception. (Mom will testify to this fact.) There is no way I could put an intelligent thought like “widows website” together early in the morning.

Once I heard those words, I opened my eyes and said “Huh? Are you crazy God? I do not know anything about websites. Joe did not teach me that before he passed.”  Then I did what any good Christian does – I blew God off.

Oh, but God does not stand for being blown off. He will accomplish His will even if He has to drag you kicking and screaming through the muck and mire. He kept after me. Till one day I decided to Google “widow’s website.” I was disgusted by what I found.  The sites were 3D – dark, dreary and depressing. One person purposely made the site dark as the light had gone out of this person’s life. Most sites were very “woe is me.” I wondered how these sites could lift people up. I knew I had to do something.

To The Rescue

At the time I was co-facilitating a GriefShare support group and their tagline is “From Mourning To Joy”, which is based on Psalm 30:5

“Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.”

I knew my site had to be cheery looking, my posts had to encourage other widows and educate those not grieving about grief and what widowhood is like, so JoyReturns seemed like a good name, after all my joy returned.

But I still hesitated launching a blog because I had no confidence in my writing skills .I have always written like I talk and thought that was a sucky way to write. The only acceptable way to write was with a formal and business tone like my friend Jeff Nischwitz. But he is a former attorney so you would expect him to be formal in his writing. (f.y.i. I toyed with the idea of law school but banging my head against my dorm room wall one quarter while attempting to write a non-legal brief, killed that idea.)

Launch Date: January 13th, 2011

That was the day I was attending a job search seminar and knew I needed something on my business card besides my name, phone number and title. So I ordered business cards from Vistaprint a week before the seminar and listed my blog JoyReturns.

Now I HAD to go live.

I signed up for my site on WordPress and my first post went live at 3:15 p.m. on January 13th, 2011. I have not looked back since. After the first post went live, I got ready to go to the seminar. My adrenaline was through the roof. At the seminar I gladly passed out those business cards and a lot of people were impressed but the topic freaked out people as well.

Oh well, too bad.

That night I told Jeff I had launched the blog and he asked me if I was outside my comfort zone. Now I wanted to say “Well duh!, I’ve been outside my comfort zone since March 29th, 2008 when Joe passed.”  But I did not. I simply said “Yes.” Jeff said “Good!”

He is right, you can not learn and grow unless you are outside your comfort zone.

My Blogging Experience

I have met many wonderful people through blogging. Some of whom have become near and dear friends.

My blog has opened the eyes of people who had little or no experience with grief or widows. Then one day I got an email from a woman in the mid-west who not only became a widow at a young age but then became unemployed just like me. And just like me she searched the web for help and found nothing but 3D websites. However, in among those 3D sites was a little one called JoyReturns and she fell in love with it. There were days she got out of bed just to read what I had written.

I am happy to report that her joy returned and so did a new job.

Where My Blogging Help Came From

It was the Holy Spirit that whispered “widows website” in my ear that morning. This site would not exist without God’s help. He was true to his word and equipped me to blog and put good people in my path that helped me – J.T. O’Donnell, and Chris Brogan, plus wonderful blogs such as Copyblogger and Problogger. I’ve learned a lot but know I have a lot more to learn.

One Blog Is Not Enough

I had so much fun blogging I decided to launch another one, this one would be my photography and the focus would be Ohio. On January 13th, 2013 OgleOhio was born. Publishing consistently on OgleOhio has been my greatest weakness but I am upping the game this month as it too is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Freewrite challenge. Only it is 31 days of Autumn in Ohio pictures.

To The Next 1,000!

So here’s to the next 1,000 posts.  May people learn about joy, grief and widowhood through my me and my adventures.

I do have plans for this site but would like to get my income stabilized first. My seasonal job should be ending this month if the past is any indication.

I leave you with a link to my second most popular post – a story about how God used a little book to get me out of my grief funk after Dad #1 passed – Garlic, Grief and Hemorrhoids. 




The Future of JoyReturns & OgleOhio

For most of Lent, I have toyed with the idea of pressing the delete key on both JoyReturns and OgleOhio (my photo-blog).  I simply did not have the words, nor pictures,  for blog posts.

Why did I not have the words?

Since January I have been working as a loan officer at a small local credit union.  I love this job.  However,  it is over-whelming the amount of systems, policies and procedures I must learn.  Most days I am mentally and physically beat.  The brain is so tired I am unable to think of anything to say.

It is not only my blogging suffering but the freelance writing I was doing for Jennasis and Associates  has gone away.  There are no words for my friend Jennifer.   I submitted a list of ideas at the beginning of the year for her website but lack the words to give those articles life.


Also I submitted my resignation as a GriefShare Co-Facilitator when this 13-week cycle ends and no longer participate in the church’s weekly prayer group.

My Calling

I feel called to somehow, some way keep JoyReturns going because by ceasing to blog I quit:

  • Providing support and encouragement to widows.
  • Educating those not grieving about grief.
  • Working on changing society’s perception of widows (we are worthless).

So this blog will stay in existence.


Here is what I am going to do:

  • OgleOhio will be a bi-weekly blog (every other Tuesday) starting today.  A new category will debut on 4/16 entitled “Steeple Chase.”  It will be pictures of different steeples through out Ohio.  I got the idea after attending my great-aunt’s funeral in January.  Debuting at a later date will be “Gizzy-boo’s”  which will be pictures of different Gazebo’s through out Ohio.   (Gizzy-boo’s are what my nephew’s called them when they were growing up.)
  • JoyReturns will be a 3 times a week blog. You will find a new article every Tuesday (God willing) and Weekend Wisdom on Saturday and Sunday.  Worse case scenario, JoyReturns will become a weekend only blog.  It is easy to find uplifting scripture, quotes, sayings and poems for publication.

Thank You

Thank you to my new and long-time readers for your continued support during my hiatus.  Having new people following JoyReturns helped me decided this blog needs to carry on.

I pray God will bless all my readers with abundant joy.