grief, Joy

10th Birthday!

When my first blog post went live 10 years ago today, I was not sure JoyReturns would be around to celebrate 1 year let alone ten. In fact, I was skeptical it would last six months.

Well, here we are 10 years later. Pretty good for someone who always thought her writing stunk because of it’s casual tone. God gifted me with the ability to write informally because He knew I would become a blogger. Writing about grief does not need to be done in a formal, stuffy manner like CEO’s, lawyers and other business professionals.

JoyReturns started as a way to provide encouragement to widows that their joy would return and to support them as they journeyed through grief. The best way for me to do help them was to share my adventures as I worked through grief, unemployment and whatever else came my way. Hopefully, not only would my readers be encouraged by my journey but they would get a laugh or two.

Also, I hoped sharing my adventures would show society widows do move forward with life and that we are not scary creatures with cooties.

God used my words to reach people in 165 countries and I was privileged to hear from widows about how they found the inspiration to move forward with building a new life. Other people reached out about how I gave them a better understanding of widowhood and how to help their friends and/or family members that were suddenly widowed.

So thank you God for how you have used JoyReturns so I could accomplish my vision

 “…That henceforth I may be the salt of the earth and a blessing to all.”

Regeneration – prayer from The Valley Of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions – edited by Arthur Bennett

In 10 years the world has drastically changed. I do not understand the world and will not try to figure it out but simply turn it over to God. He is still on His throne and still in charge – Hallelujah!

Last year, I was planning on a big blowout of a party. However, with all the insanity of 2020 carrying over into 2021, it will just be a quiet night with a Dairy Queen Blizzard.

What does the future hold for JoyReturns, that remains to be seen. God whispered in my year “widow’s website” early one morning, so I am praying for God’s guidance. Nothing I thought of last year, newsletter, podcast, printables etc seemed right.

I will republish older posts in addition to Weekend Wisdom and new content.

Whatever comes our way this year, God willing I will still be pursuing my vision of being both the salt of the earth and a blessing to all.

Thank you my dear friends for coming on this journey with me. Your friendship these past 10 years means more than you know.

Have a joy-filled day and remember:

For his anger lasts only a moment,

    but his favor lasts a lifetime;

Rainbow Over Woods Behind House – June 2008 (photo by Michele Kearns)

weeping may stay for the night,

    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 (New International Version)

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. 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


Happy 9th Birthday JoyReturns!

Most headings are song titles or words from songs. Click on them to be taken to YouTube videos.

Nine years ago today I published my first post.

Then I hit the shower and went to an evening seminar. I was excited to hand out business cards that included something other than my name, phone number, LinkedIn profile and areas of expertise. I had an accomplishment, something tangible to prove I was doing more besides job searching and volunteer work.

Let’s Start At The Very Beginning

When I started JoyReturns, so many websites were 3D – dark, dreary and depressing. Those sites keep a person stuck in grief, stuck in a “woe is me” attitude. I wanted to inspire, encourage, motivate widows to move forward through grief and build a new life because life is too short and precious to spend it stuck in grief’s muck.

I believed JoyReturns would not only help widows but would educate society about grief and life after a spouse’s passing. The best way to accomplish my goals was to share the story of my life after Joe, including the good, the bad, and the ugly as well as the joyful.

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling

About two years ago, I lost the desire to blog when putting together the “10 Years A Widow” series. It felt like someone stuck a straw in me and sucked all the life out. That is when I started publishing only a few times a year.

Then a few months ago two things happened to reignite my blogging. First I noticed I would finish this year a few posts shy of 1,550 and knew I could not let that happen. Secondly, either in November/December of last year Rush Limbaugh was talking about how he does not do social media as his radio show is what he does best. I told myself to listen and learn from Rush. Focus on what you do best – blogging.

God whispered “widow’s website” in my ear in mid to late 2010 so He called me to blog. He will equip me to do it and since this blog has been read in 161 countries according to WordPress’s map, He’s spread my words far and wide.

Headed For The Future

What type of posts and how often will I publish now that I am back? Starting this weekend you will find the return of Weekend Wisdom which will be uplifting poems, quotes, and scripture. There are about 6 weeks worth of wisdom already put to bed.

On Wednesdays, there will be a blog post about various topics. The general theme of the Wednesday posts was 52 ways to have a joy-filled life. I do have topics for the first quarter written, but not the blog posts.

I am working on a series that will hopefully provide joy and encouragement to get you through the election season. This series would start after the Democrat convention (losing party gets to have their convention first). Not sure how this series will work out if it will work out.

Finally, there will be spontaneous posts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and/or Friday. These posts will be topics that unexpectedly pop into my brain and would make a good blog post. While I will be writing them in advance, you probably will not see them until April.

Thank You

The first 9 years would not have been possible without continued support for you my dear readers. So I humbly and gratefully say thank you. You are a blessing to me.

A Blessing To All

And so the journey begins through the next 9 adventurous years with a renewed interest in blogging and the desire to make JoyReturns the best it can be so that it is the salt of the earth and a blessing to all. (reading of the prayer “Regeneration” read below.)

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


{ Day 3 } 31 Tricks to Scare Away the Grief Monster – Pray

Scripture Meditation

pray without ceasing 

1 Thessalonians 5:17


The grief monster (a.k.a Griefy) does not want you praying, for prayer is another sign of forward motion. How can he keep you stuck when you are doing something and doing is moving forward.

“In the beginning”

You will do a lot of praying once you become a widow. Yes, there will be times when you pray without ceasing and there will be times when words fail you, even the word “Help” will be too difficult to pray.


Find comfort in knowing:

  • God knows what you are going through and what is on your heart because He is near to the broken hearted.
  • the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf when praying is too hard. He knows the words when you do not as He does not suffer from prayer’s block.

Here is a video from Jeremy Camp that says it better than what I can.

Quickie Prayers

Quickie prayers are one that you do throughout the day.

God please help me:

  • clean out my husband’s closet
  • speak the right words to my grieving child
  • feel your comfort through today’s devotion
  • hold it together through this departmental meeting

You can also turn the prayers in to quickie praises:

Thank you God for helping me:

  • clean out my husband’s closet
  • say the right words to my grieving child
  • comforting me through Your word in this morning’s devotion
  • not only hold it together through the departmental meeting but voice my opinion about the project

What you pray will depend upon your life and circumstances. Remember prayer is the original wireless connection and is available 24 hours a day, everyday.

Quote Meditation

In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’ Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’ What I’ve discovered is that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.

Iyanla Vanzant
One of my favorite books is The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions; edited by Arthur C Bennett. My copy has lots of pen, hi-liter and sticky notes. Two prayers are marked for reading at my funeral, Regeneration and The Valley of Vision. I need to order a good copy because the spine on the one I have is so bent the book could fall out. You will find part of the Regeneration prayer about 3/4 down the side bar in the “My Why” section.
10-10-2011_3by5Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of 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 see more of her photography at