Tag Archives: widows

Widows: A Problem or A Calling?


My friend Ferree, from WidowsChristianPlace.com, posted One Widows Story: Widowhood Is Not A Mere Problem To Solve an article written by Lynda, one of Ferree’s Facebook friends.

The article tells the story about Lynda reading The Undistracted Widow, Living For God After Losing Your Husband by Carol W. Cornish. The book shed new light on being a widow – it is not a problem, but a calling. 

Wow! I understand that Joe’s timeline ended and mine did not, however I would have never used the word “calling” to describe being a widow. Calling is what happens to men and women who become pastors.

I was intrigued by the concept, and used my Amazon gift card from last Christmas to order the book. (Yes, it is mid-April and I still have an Amazon gift card from last Christmas.)

Appendix 2

Once it arrived I looked at the table of contents and was intrigued by Appendix 2 – The Local Church and Its Widows. Ms. Cornish nails the topic and opened my eyes to a different way of seeing churches (more on that later).

I’ve since started reading from the beginning and a full review of The Undistracted Widow will be published once I finish it.

A Nun Named Maria

Are you a nun named Maria?

Me neither.

Then we are not a problems to be solved.

For some reason we were called to be widows, called for such a time as this. Now how are we going to glorify God in this season of our lives?

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14





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




Not For Widows Only – Black Friday Book Recommendations for Holiday 2015

I wanted to get my book recommendations up early so you have time to review them and plan what one(s) you want to purchase this holiday season. I recommend these books not only for widows but anyone looking to improve their life.

These books

  • were not written for widows, but everything the author’s say apply to widows.
  • require a pen, hi-liter, and journal for note taking.

I’ve also shared some video so you can get to know the author a little better.

Enjoy and all of these book links are non-affiliate – meaning I do not get anything in return except undying love and gratitude.

“My Little Buddy”

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief Martha Whitmore Hickman – Just get this book or give it to someone grieving. It helped me tremendously. It is not geared towards any one denomination and the meditations are short, easy reads.

Northeast Ohio Authors

UnMask: Let Go of Who You’re Suppose To Be and Unleash Your True Leader.  Jeff Nischwitz – This book will challenge the way you think, which for widows is good. Now that your life circumstances have changed, you need to rethink what you are going to do with life and who you are person and professional. Jeff asks the tough questions and his question will rattle around your head until you answer them.

Chapter 7 Exponential Believing (The Possibilities Leader) is the game changer for widows. This sentence really spoke to me.

“You are defined by what you believe is possible, and most people are narrowly or exclusively focused on limits and perceptions of possibilities.” (Kindle location 2358)

You have a new life ahead of you, filled with unlimited possibilities so take the blinders of what you believe is possible.  I also liked Chapter 13 Silencing the Stories in Your Head (The Debunking Leader). We all have stories in our head that need to come out and be closely examined so we can move forward through grief.

I read this on my Kindle, but books tend to get lost on Kindles. So I will be buying the paperback and doing a re-read with pen, hiliter and a journal by my side. Highly recommend you do the same.

The one suggestion I have is not to read this book until you’ve made it through the first year of grief. Jeff is a former attorney so his style of writing is formal and professional. I know what my brain was like during the first year and doubt I could have handled reading this book during that time but that is just me.

30 Perfect Days, Finding Abundance in Ordinary LifeClaudia J Taller (Home)

Interwoven throughout Claudia’s quest to experience 30 perfect days is the story of her marriage – a marriage of ups and downs. There is nothing wrong with this, but for someone fresh in their grief it may not set well. Therefore I recommend this book for seasoned widows only. Widows who are 5 years out from the start of their adventure. Widows who remember that marriage is all about good and bad times.

Claudia does an excellent job of taking you with her through her quest and includes thought provoking question at the end of every chapter.

52 Weeks of Gratitude: Transformation by Appreciation –  Lisa Ryan (Grategy.com Home Page)

No holiday season would be complete without recommending any one of Lisa Ryan’s books on gratitude. I know it is hard to be grateful when grieving but we are called to be thankful in all circumstances. Lisa’s book will give you practical tips and show you have to be more grateful. There is video of Lisa on her home page. I also have several other books by Lisa and have enjoyed each one.

She is a nationally recognized expert on gratitude and you can sign up to receive her weekly gratitude email on her home page.

Nationally Recognized Authors 

All The Places To Go…How Will You Know? God has placed before you an open door. What will you do?  – John Ortberg

Yes, this is a book inspired by Dr. Seuss. It is about going through open doors and as a widow,you now have a lot of open doors to choose from. His book is reassuring in that no matter what door you decided to go through God will use your decision to grow you into a person who reflects His light into the world. God also does use closed doors and bad decisions because He works all things out for good.

Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life With Everything You Have Annie Downs –  You have a new life ahead of you, one you may did not ever anticipate having, but here it is. It takes being brave to move forward through grief and start a new life. Go after your dream. Don’t spend your life waiting to live – life the good life now. God supplies all your needs, now get out there and craft your new life.

When I am feeling down, weary and wiped out this is the speech I listen to because even I need a pep talk about being brave.

The Encouragement Project (EBook Shorts) 21 Heart-to-Heart ways to Show You Care Holley Gerth (Website Home Page)  – Another book I would classify as a “just get it book.” I wish I had this in a spiral bound edition to keep on my desk. It is filled with lots of ideas for what you can pray, say and do for anyone who needs encouragement.

You can not go wrong with any book written by Holley, I’ve read several of her books this year and find each one to be very caring, nurturing and uplifting.

Final Thoughts

These are my recommendations for this holiday season. I hope you will purchase at least one for yourself or a friend.

Have a blessed holiday season and I will see you for 1 more post next week before my holiday break.

Don’t forget to check the Holiday Helps 2015 page for articles and websites to get you or a grieving loved one through this season. It was updated on 11/16 and will continue to be updated as I come across more resources for you.


Normally I do not publish on Mondays because I know people are hung over from the “weekend flu” but by Tuesday people are back to normal.

However, today is a special Monday because 3 years ago I hit the publish button and JoyReturns started spanning the globe. I believe the first stop after the United States was Germany.

Start Here

For those of you stopping by for the first time this week, here is the link to my “Start Here” page.  It contains links to other posts including one about the beginning of my journey. For you see, grief is a journey. It begins here on earth but does not stop until you walk through heaven’s gate and collapse in Jesus’ arms.

‘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 (NIV)

Until it is my turn to walk though the pearly gates,  I will share my adventures through grief and widowhood with an expectant desire my blogging will:

  • encourage widows
  • educate society about grief and widowhood

And both will be done in my own unique way.

3 Lessons Learned From 3 Years Of Blogging

#3) Publishing Daily Is Easier Than Publishing Weekly

In the beginning, I published daily Monday – Friday. Then I started publishing uplifting quotes, poems and scripture on the weekends because that was a way of publishing daily without having to come up with 7 original posts per week.

Once I returned to work after unemployment, I decided to publish 1 post per week and keep “Weekend Wisdom.” This decision was made because  my brain was fried from learning a lot of new systems, policies and procedures as a loan officer at a credit union where 5 people carry out the day to day operations. (A good decision because I eventually became a teller and collector in addition to loan officer.)

Daily publishing is easier because I was constantly writing and looking for blog post ideas. Yes, daily posts meant the good ones quickly sank to the bottom of my feed.

Weekly publishing is harder because I tend to put off writing and slack on finding topics.  Unfortunately, weekly also means my worst content will be out there for 4 days before the Saturday edition of “Weekend Wisdom” starts to bury the post.

I am sticking with publishing weekly during my current unemployment stint and forcing myself to pay more attention to my writing and doing freelance research projects.

#2) You Can Help People

It is possible to help people through grief or any other nasty life event via a blog.  The testimonial from Valerie over to the right is proof.

In her first email to me she stated that she stumbled upon my blog and it was just what she needed – a cheery site that would help her through her grief journey and not drag her even further down like some “woe is me” sites she found.

That is exactly why 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) is part of my philosophy.

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as in fact you are doing.

Valerie emailed me several months ago to once again thank me for blogging and let me know her joy had returned. In addition to her joy, she also found a new job as she too dealt with unemployment after her husband’s passing. 

That is just one success story.  I have heard from others who are not grieving, that I changed their thinking about grief and taught them how to help widows.

#1) God Will Equip You

The main thing I’ve learned about blogging is God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

I heard the words “widows website” in my head one morning, even before I had opened my eyes.  Now I thought God was nuts because Joe never taught me about websites before he passed.  However, thanks to WordPress I learned how to publish a post, change the header picture (the picture underneath the words JoyReturns) and review the basic blog statistics, among other things.

God also equipped me with a conversational writing style.  Ever since my school days, I thought my writing style stunk because it was not professional. The only style I saw as legitimate was a formal style found in the writings of a lawyer or businessman.

Well would you really want to read a grief support blog written by an attorney with a very cold, formal writing style?

Me neither.

Thank you God for equipping me to write this blog. I am glad I eventually listened to your call.

Speaking of Thank You

Thank you for reading JoyReturns whether are a new or have been here since the beginning. I appreciate you spending some of your precious time here reading about my thoughts and adventures.

God bless you and…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“Drink Deep” A Musical Journey Through Grief by Steve Siler; Chris Fabry Interview

My friend and GriefShare Co-Facilitator Gina, sent me links thinking they would be good to share with you. However, the stats provided by WordPress indicate my readers do not click on links to other websites.

So I have some reservations about publishing this post but decided the information is too good not to share.

It is my prayer that you will click on the links whether or not you are grieving, and listen to Chris Fabry’s program on Moody Radio with Steve Siler of musicforthesoul.org.

Hour #1

This link will take you to hour #1 of Chris Fabry’s January 2nd show which is an interview with Steve about his album entitled “Drink Deep”.   The album chronicles a journey through grief starting with finding out about someone’s death and ending with the victory we have through Christ.

The title song is about dealing with grief by drinking deep, or as we say in “Griefshare” – leaning into grief.

Drink deep of the sorrow
Drink deep of the pain
Don’t let anybody tell you
to get out of the rain
This is your cup
and you’re the one who has to drink
Though the taste may go down bitterly
Drink deep

Experiencing a deep drink of grief, expands your capacity for joy because once you know life’s bitter taste you have a greater appreciation for it’s sweet nectar.

Hour #2

This link will take you to hour #2 of Chris’s program which is about being ambushed by grief. Chris plays “Ambush” from “Drink Deep” and take calls from listener’s dealing with ambushes.

My Favorites

I purchased Steve’s album, downloaded it and listened to it in one sitting. I did not do anything else, no writing, cooking, or playing with Rommie.  I just sat and listened, enjoying every song and the emotions so beautifully captured by Steve and the other writers and singers who were apart of the project. 

While I love every song on the album, my favorites are “Every Single Tear” which is about God comforting you.

“Your heart is what he hears
When the world just hears you crying”

What a beautiful thought.

My other favorite is “Death Has Been Conquered” which is about Christ’s victory over death.

Not Grieving?

Don’t think this CD or interview is not for you if you are not grieving. “Drink Deep” will teach you about a grief journey. You will better understand a grieving person after listening to this CD.

Thank You

Thank you to Steve Siler, for a beautiful album.

Thank you Chris Fabry for not only doing a show about grief but making it your first one of the year.

Thank you Gina Koch for sending me the links to the show and the lyrics.

Are You Willing To “Drink Deep?”

Please visit Music For The Soul and either read the lyrics, download or order the “Drink Deep” CD. Then share this site with a grieving person. After all, music is the universal language that soothes the savage beast and grief is a savage beast. 

(Disclaimer – all links are non-affiliate links so I receive no compensation.)

Message In A Grocery Cart

Yesterday I was at the grocery store getting the ingredients for the cherry cheesecake tarts and the pumpkin chiffon pie.

As I put the groceries in my car, I noticed a 4 x 6 index card in the bottom of the shopping cart.  This was the message:

“Merry Christmas! May love, peace and abundance be yours this Christmas and in the New Year.”

What a lovely way to be like Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Scatter Joy” through out the holiday season. Most people would assume it was a grocery list left by the previous shopper. When they pick up the card to throw it away, they find the message.

The cards could be tied to balloons, left on windshields, or left behind on a table in the mall’s food court. There are so many ways this message could be scattered around town.  One never knows the impact a little gesture could have on a person.

Who knows how many people saw that card yesterday.  Hopefully it brought some comfort and joy to them. I know other people saw the card, because I left it in the grocery cart.

I was not about to hog that message all for myself.

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