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Divorce Prevention: Questions To Ask Before Getting Married

Marriage can be one of the most incredible experiences of your life…or it can truly drain and destroy your heart every. single. day.

When starting my grief ministry, I was surprised by the amount of people who sought help for marriage, family, in-law, and dating relationship related grief issues. All of these types of relationships – especially in this day and age – can be stressful and cause an extreme amount of grief and conflict.

Yet few consider the huge impact these relationships can have before taking the plunge.

My adult son once told me a marriage joke: “There are three rings in marriage…the engagement ring…the wedding ring…then the suffering.”

This was funny when I heard it..but it is an all-too-true reality for so many.

My husband and I have been marriage coaches at our church the last several years. We also have many couples contact us now due to word-of-mouth and recommendations from couples who we have helped. With God’s grace, we have an over 90% success rate with helping couples to turn their relationship around, and it’s not because my husband and I have a perfect marriage. It’s because we experienced years of marital turmoil, and we also experienced many life, family, and grief experiences throughout our marriage – so we have gained priceless practical insight on how to help couples. We are also very real, authentic, honest, and transparent when we help others.

When rebuilding our marriage, we found what worked…and what did not…and we are very open about what we learned.

My husband and I have been together for almost three decades. During the first 14 years, our marriage was horrible…absolutely terrible. There were ten years we genuinely despised each other. We only stayed together because we didn’t want to ruin family members’ birthdays…or divorce around a holiday…or we had a vacation or special occasion coming up that we didn’t want to ruin for anyone. For me, it was also because I didn’t want all of our photo albums and home videos to turn from being a source of joyful memories for our family to being a visual source of pain – evidence of what “once was.”

At our lowest point…I sought to improve myself and our marriage, as I deeply pondered how things got so bad.

Nobody plans on things going bad, but it does happen…frequently. Too frequently. In fact, around 50% of marriages fail.

Most people (my husband and myself included) get it backwards: we wear rose-colored glasses before we get married and then we wear magnifying glasses after saying, “I do.”

It is much wiser to wear magnifying glasses while dating so you can truly make a solid decision about who you will be spending the rest of your life with…then wear rose-colored glasses after you get married.

When someone gets married, it literally can affect everything in, and about, that person’s life…who they are, their joy, their relationship with God and others, their family, their health, their present or future children, finances, goals, dreams, job/education/career, beliefs, their self-esteem…everything. Since they are willingly placing their self…and their life…in a position of extreme vulnerability, it’s important to be very thorough in making sure they’re giving their heart and life to someone who truly deserves it.

Nobody is perfect…that’s for sure. We all are a work in progress. We all have room for improvement. We all have a bad day here and there. Always. But there is a huge difference between being with a partner who is willing to work at figuring things out vs. a partner who will simply wear you out.

Many people — like I stated earlier, one out of every two people — will either file for divorce or be served divorce papers…so it makes sense to ask a few very important questions before getting engaged or tying the knot.

Consider these statistics:

  • The average marriage lasts 8.2 years
  • 45-50% of first marriages end in divorce
  • 67% of second marriages end in divorce
  • 74% of third marriages end in divorce
  • Nearly 60% of spouses admit to cheating…45% will go on to cheat again
  • The average divorce costs $15,000 to $30,000
  • BUT you can beat these odds with prayer, and a lil preparation and prevention.
  • A good marriage can be an incredible joy and blessing…but a bad marriage can negatively impact both spouses, their children, and both spouse’s families – and each person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health…sometimes for years!

    Contrary to popular belief, a gold band or diamond ring doesn’t have magical abilities. It doesn’t sprinkle pixie dust on the wearer’s finger and make them a magically better version of their self. Brides and grooms come “as is” – no warranty.

    Some go into marriage not only thinking they can change someone…they try to make the marriage or potential spouse “fit” their expectations.

    If a person has to force their foot into a glass slipper (marriage) to make it fit, they will, no doubt, have a very uncomfortable walk throughout their marriage…or worse, the glass slipper will eventually shatter and they’ll carry the scars for a very long time. And if someone is made to feel they never measure up, they, in turn, will resent their mate.

    So now that I’ve been a much needed Negative Nancy so far in this post, how about some positive statistics?😍

    • Married women are 30% more likely to rate their health as excellent or very good compared to single women
    • Married people report lower levels of depression and distress
    • Married people (over 50 years old) are more likely to maintain daily health routines like exercise, eating right, not smoking, and routinely receive annual health physicals
    • Married people are twice as likely to go to church as unmarried people
    • Marriage does more to promote life satisfaction than money, sex, or sometimes even children (source: Wake Forest University psychologists)

    Okay, so what if you’re already married and you believe you made a huge mistake or you think you married the “wrong” person? Please consider a few statistics:

    • 50% of those who divorce regret ending their marriage, and 80% of those who divorce during an affair regret the decision…so it is vital to talk to a trusted pastor or qualified marriage therapist before making the painful decision to separate or divorce
    • 86% of those who rated their marriage as “unhappy” reported having “improved” or even “great” marriages five years later after choosing to stay married
    • once you get married, your spouse becomes the “right” person. God has the incredible ability to heal your marriage

    At some point, I’ll write specifically about each of these questions, but for now, I’ll leave these questions without answers so each reader can come up with their own individual answers. As you read each question, be sure to also answer how your partner would answer or rate you if they were the one reading these questions.

    With any and every relationship, you must keep perspective and look at all viewpoints and sides!😊 It is an absolute must for both people to reflect on not just their partner, or their own individual wants and desires, but it is also important to reflect – and be real about – what both people are personally bringing to the relationship. It most likely will be a mixture of good strengths along with some flaws.

    Each person needs to do their own self-work to ensure they are continually becoming a skilled “master” of their relationship, instead of being the “disaster” of the relationship.

    We’re truly either an asset or a liability to our partner’s heart and wellbeing.

    There are also a few issues many do not consider before marriage that my husband and I frequently hear while coaching:

    • a spouse influences their partner to “write off” or limit their spouse’s time with their spouse’s parents, siblings, or family…then a family member dies…then the spouse who was influenced becomes extremely bitter towards their spouse.
    • a spouse makes more money than one spouse and holds it over the lesser paid spouse’s head.
    • when children are born, a spouse compares their spouse to their own parents.
    • a spouse changes direction in their life without considering how it will affect their spouse (moving, going into missions, etc.)

    There are many reasons – too many reasons to count – why a marriage can fail. These questions are designed to eliminate possibilities for divorce.

    While reading this list, you may be tempted to point fingers, argue with your partner, or dish out blame. That is not the goal of this blog post. The questions are a great opportunity to reflect on what self-work needs to be done by each individual, and it may reveal deficits so you can make an overall decision to either work toward a happier, healthier, and much more fulfilling relationship – or discover that you (or they) may need to upgrade your/their value…or if you choose to stay together, upgrade the value of your relationship together.

    In any bad or challenged relationship, it is rare if it is just one partner’s fault. Both people need to take responsibility for their part and work toward creating a “team” mentality together. When my husband and I were repairing our marriage, I shared with him, “Well, we’ve already found out what doesn’t work for our marriage…let’s now focus on finding out what will work.”

    The truth is: marriage – just like all relationships – are work…sprinkled with love, times of joy, memories and purpose.

    If you’re experiencing a bad time in your relationship or marriage, or you’re in need of good, solid, unbiased advice, there’s no shame in seeking out a qualified and trusted pastor or marriage therapist. My husband and I went to several before we found one who we both liked who could genuinely help us. To this day, we still go to this therapist when we run into issues we can’t easily resolve. The best advice he’s given is, “Treat one another how you would want to be treated and seek to improve yourself!”

    When tempted to think that it’s all one partner’s fault, it’s best to consider the impact – both the good and the bad – both are contributing. As my husband’s and my marriage therapist always says, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

    When my husband and I coach couples, usually one partner will initially drag their feet and truly dread it…until they realize they can custom create a marriage where they and their spouse both feel treasured and fulfilled.

    Your relationship and marriage is yours. You do not have to have a perfect marriage to be happy. You don’t even have to resolve every problem to get along and feel fulfilled. You are not required to pattern your marriage after anyone else’s marriage. You get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make your marriage exactly what you both want it to be!

    Before reading this list, take a few minutes to pray. Ask God to speak to your heart and to guide and direct your life and relationship.

    Realize there are probably some of these that your partner and you are not favorably doing, and one or both of you may not be up to par. This list simply reveals what needs to be worked on.

    Some of these may be high priorities for you both as a couple…some may not be. Each relationship – especially a marriage – needs to be custom created by the couple. Parents, siblings, friends, etc. certainly care…and a couple should prayerfully consider and contemplate the advice and wise counsel of anyone who cares about them…but at the end of the day, both people need to take ownership of their relationship and do what works for them.

    My husband and I wouldn’t have suffered as much turmoil in our marriage had we discussed a list of questions like this before we got married. We pray this list truly helps others to avoid the heartache and grief we experienced for so long.

    Marriage is definitely a huge decision and commitment. And lifetime love, joy, purpose, and commitment are the goals — for both you and your partner!

    Things To Ask Yourself Before Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level:

    1. Is your partner into you…really into you? (Are you truly into them?)

    2. Do you both love, honor, & fear God? Is your relationship with God the top priority…individually and as a couple? Are you comfortable praying together and encouraging each other spiritually?

    3. How do you both treat your own family? How do you treat each other’s family? How does their family treat you…how does your family treat them? Do you both respect and love your families? Are you both under authority…or are you rebellious? Are you both capable of leaving and cleaving (even though you will still love and respect your parents and families)? Will you (and your partner) be able to set solid boundaries after the wedding so your spouse and marriage truly come first?

    4. Are they mature, responsible, compassionate, caring, and kind? Are they bent towards mercy in how they deal with others? (Are you?)

    5. Do they – and will they – handle hardship, grief, and stress well? (How do you think you handle these things?) If either of you were to prematurely die, can you trust and depend on them to be compassionate to your family and treat them well (and if there are children, will they be fair to your parents/family)…or would there be conflict? 80% of couples will divorce after the death of a child. How people handle grief and tough situations is more important than most realize.

    6. Do they protect, respect, and honor you? (Do you seek to protect, respect, and honor your partner?)

    7. Are they loyal, faithful, and will they truly put you first? (Are you truly wiling to do and be these, too?) Are they prone to cheating? Has a parent cheated? If a parent has cheated, there is a greater likelihood a child will cheat if they’ve failed to forgive their parent.

    8. Do they have a solid ability to communicate, process, and work out problems/issues and restore harmony in the relationship? Are they good at taking the initiative to work problems out? Will you truly have a partner who invests in the relationship to prevent issues? (Do you communicate and work problems out well? Do you invest in the relationship and do your part to prevent issues?) Are you both willing to learn new communication and relationship skills?

    9. How do they consistently treat their parents/family, waiters/waitresses, store clerks, pets, children, and others? (How do you treat others?) How a person treats their parents/family/others is a solid indicator of how they’ll eventually treat you.

    10. Will they be a good parent…and will you want your kiddos to be just like them once they’re grown? (Will you…and would you…want your future children to emulate your life/actions/habits?)

    11. Are they forgiving or do they hold grudges? Are they a peacemaker? Are they vindictive? Are they mature and work issues out…or do they resort to immature tactics such as throwing fits, cussing, sweeping issues under the rug, ignoring problems, or doing the silent treatment? (How do you handle forgiveness issues?)

    12. Do they have their finances in order and have a stable job/work history – do they quit easy? (How about you?)

    13. Are you (or they) controlled by any addiction or toxic behaviors? Will either of you have a hard life due to these issues?

    14. Do they have anger, bitterness, or attitude issues? Do they “make people pay”? (Do you?) Are they humble or prideful?

    15. Have they unpacked their “baggage” in life – the unprocessed baggage their parents (knowingly or unknowingly) passed down to them, as well as their own – and do they continually seek ways to grow and improve their self? (Have you taken – and do you continually take – the steps to do this?)

    16. Have you or they ever cheated in a relationship…and if either has a history of infidelity, did you/they learn from it? If someone has cheated and failed to self-reflect to figure out why, they have an overwhelming chance of cheating again.

    17. Do they respect sex and are they respectful towards you in this area? Do they respect boundaries on social media? Do they make inappropriate comments about the opposite sex? Do they use premarital sex to entice you so you overlook issues or fail to see their personal flaws? (Are you respectful in these areas? Do you do these things?)

    18. If you were ever disabled or diagnosed with a serious illness, how would they accept and handle that? (If your spouse became disabled or seriously ill, would you leave…or love them enough to stay?)

    19. Are they continually self-centered? (Are you?) Do they frequently talk about what they can get from you and others…or do they seek to give to others?

    20. How does your partner make you feel…and if nothing ever changes or improves, can you genuinely live with how things currently are? (How do you make your partner feel…and are you willing to do whatever is necessary to improve your relationship?)

    21. Do you have a good education, a trade, or skill set to provide for yourself – and any children – if the marriage ends or your spouse dies? (Are you committed to ensuring both you and your partner have this important ability?)

    22. Are you/they in love or in need? Getting married for financial purposes will bring problems and deep heartache – for both people.

    23. How do your parents/family feel about your partner? (How do your partner’s parents/family feel about you?) Are any of their concerns justified? Will your parents welcome your spouse after the wedding…will your spouse treat your parents/family fairly? Will you ensure that your parents/family loves and respects your spouse…and will you ensure that your spouse loves and respects your parents/family? You’d be surprised how many marriages end due to not ensuring basic love and respect by all parties.

    24. Is your partner genuinely good to you and are you genuinely good to them…and are you genuinely good for each other?

    25. Do you genuinely like them as a person? (Do they genuinely like you?)

    26. Do you have similar values, life goals, and beliefs? Are there any deal breakers?

    27. Do you have compatible ideas on the hot topics of marriage: religion, money, parenting, family, sex, chores/jobs/responsibilities?

    28. Do you have fun together, have a strong friendship, and genuinely enjoy each other? Do you value and celebrate each other on important “couple” holidays (anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc)?

    29. Are you attracted to your partner – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.? (Is your partner attracted to you in these areas?)

    30. Do you and your partner make gratefulness and valuing each other a priority? Are you (they) more grateful or ungrateful? More valuing or demeaning?

    Hope these questions are helpful! Keep in mind these questions are not the gospel…they’re simply a tool for self-reflection and self-improvement.

    Rome wasn’t built in one day and neither are relationships. Marriages take a lifetime to grow and perfect!

    So, what if you read this list and are now discouraged?

    Here are a few resources I have personally found to be very helpful. Some are websites and some are videos. All are helpful for building relationships and self-improvement:

    http://www.familylife.com/weekend-to-remember

    https://saddleback.com/watch/how-to-build-a-love-that-lasts-a-lifetime/growing-a-love-that-lasts

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com

    http://www.life.church/media/from-this-day-forward/

    https://saddleback.com/watch/the-purpose-driven-family

    https://www.drphil.com/advice_categories/relationships-sex/

    https://www.celebraterecovery.com

    http://www.life.church/media/the-vow/

    http://www.purposedriven.com

    http://www.life.church/media/samson/

    http://www.chazown.com

    http://www.rickwarren.org/devotional

    http://www.rejoicemarriageministries.com

    http://www.familylife.com

    https://www.gottman.com

    Marriage can truly last a lifetime and be one of the best experiences of your life!

    Your heart is one of the highest, most prized treasures you can give to someone. Give it to someone who will take good care of it!❤️

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to help and encourage others by sharing our personal experiences we have gone through with our own personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or pastor for guidance andadvice.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Websites are not necessarily an endorsement. They are included for encouragement and informational purposes only.

    For Every Person…

    For every person who hates their life…there is someone else who was told by their doctor that they only have a short time to live.

    For every person who is mad at or irritated with their spouse…there is someone else who would give anything to bring their spouse back from heaven (or go back in time before their divorce) to kiss them one more time and say sorry for the last argument they had with them.

    For every person complaining about their child(ren)…there is a mom and dad who would literally give up everything they own just to be able to hug their child who died (or child who they’re estranged from) and talk to them for 30 seconds.

    For every person who is critical of their parents…there is someone else who would give anything to ask their parents for advice one last time.

    For every person who is annoyed by their sibling(s)…there is someone else who would love to call their sibling in heaven just to tell them they love them once again.

    For every person complaining about their job…there’s another person who is fearful of losing their home and car due to being laid off.

    For every person who complains about going to the gym…there’s someone else with an illness or disability who would love to walk just a quarter of a mile.

    For every person complaining about the government or politics…there’s someone in the military who is missing their anniversary, holidays, the birth of their child, or their children’s birthdays fighting for your freedoms.

    For every person who complains about how hectic their life is…there is someone in a nursing home with all the time in the world, yet can’t do anything they want – and they have no phone or visitors.

    Life has many ups and downs! Our loved ones and life bring us great joys … and occasionally irritations. There are numerous things to complain about, but it is so very important to look at the overall picture – the bigger picture – when it comes to life, loved ones, and experiences.

    If you are blessed enough to have a spouse, child(ren), parents, siblings, and other loved ones…then do your best to look at the 90% of ALL that is right about them instead of the 10% that is wrong with them. (If there is legitimate abuse or addictions, don’t overlook that. In that case, seek out professional help and wise counsel. Safety should always be a top priority).

    Be grateful for all of the great people and good things you have in life…before life makes you look back and be sorry for wasted time, unspoken love, and wasted experiences.

    Today, and the rest of your life, you will either look back and say one of two things:
    If only I would have ________”
    or
    I’m sure glad I did ________.”

    Definitely not making light of any life challenge anyone is going through…because life and grief are excruciatingly tough. Just encouraging everyone to live the best life they possibly can live – even if it’s baby steps – to prevent future guilt, regrets, and additional grief. 

    You and your loved ones are only given one life…and you’re never guaranteed what tomorrow will hold.

    So love God and your loved ones with all of your heart…be beyond grateful for all you have…pick your battles wisely…make health and wellness a priority…and always seek to look at the bigger picture – the eternal perspective.

    God, family, health, and life are such amazing, treasured gifts. 

    How will you choose to unwrap these precious gifts starting today?❤️

    Wishing everybody a blessed weekend full of encouragement, joy, and God’s favor!

    Gratitude & blessings,
    ❤️Kim 

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    The Uniqueness of You & Your Goals 

    Everybody has had at least one goal.

    It may have been big or small…you may have created your goal when you were younger or older.

    The best thing about goals is how each goal is unique — and how each goal was created through unique circumstances. Even if two people have a similar dream, both goals are unique and will be accomplished differently. Each individual crafted their dreams and goals – and each goal or dream will contribute and positively effect each person’s family, friends, and sphere of influence.

    Since goals and dreams originate from each person’s individual life purpose, life experiences, influence, and perspective, it truly is uniquely wonderful and sweet when a person finally reaches their goal. It can greatly inspire everyone around them.

    I know of someone who was disappointed in life, so they made a goal to lose 100 lbs and to further their education. By the end of this year, they’ll have met their entire goal after years of hard work.

    Another person I know had a goal in their 20’s of owning a dance studio. Marriage and parenting took over – and even though they sure have enjoyed the last 20 years – they are now finally pursuing their forgotten dream.

    While growing up, I had some very strong goals and dreams. I had long forgotten about them…until I had a major health crisis last year.

    Some of the goals, I am incredibly happy I chose not to pursue them. They wouldn’t have been a good fit now. Other goals, I figured out that it’s not too late to accomplish them.

    Whether you’re a teenager, young adult, middle-aged, or elderly, we all have had dreams and goals. Some have met their dreams and goals head-on…others have neatly tucked them away in a closet of their heart.

    But did you know it’s never too late to pursue your goals and dreams? No matter what age you are, your goals and dreams – from the past or present – can be crafted, created, drafted, pursued, adjusted, improved, or completely changed so you can accomplish them…even if you already failed while trying to accomplish them.

    One of my friends had a dream and goal of getting married and having a large family. Growing up in a very small, and very chaotic dysfunctional family, she would dream of how awesome it would be to have a warm, happy home and family filled with love. Looking forward to the big holidays she would eventually have and enjoy…especially the whole family celebrating together…brought a smile to her heart. It was all she ever wanted.

    She eventually got married, and two months after the wedding, she had to have an emergency hysterectomy. With her hopes and dreams of a large family destroyed, her husband left her. Her dreams seemed to be forever crushed.

    She could have chosen to be deeply bitter…instead she chose to reconstruct her dream and is now helping children just like her. She is now a foster parent and has hosted dozens of children, who – like her – have lived in chaotic dysfunctional homes. She said she loves holidays and celebrations because she knows she is making a greater impact and difference.

    When we refuse to allow life to get the best of us during trials and challenges, new goals and dreams can be created and accomplished — some goals and dreams…when placed in God’s hands…will actually serve a bigger purpose, too.

    Earlier last year, I went through a major health scare. The radiologist suspected I had a very rare cancer…a cancer that only 5-15% survive. The odds didn’t look favorable.

    After thoroughly reading my medical reports, my very first thoughts were of how an illness would affect my family and my grief ministry. My next thoughts were about everything I wanted to experience and do in life…especially in my marriage, parenting, and family goals, spiritual/ministry goals, life-purpose goals, writing goals, health goals, travel opportunities, etc.

    After thinking about everything for a long while, I asked myself what lifelong goals I held in my heart that I never accomplished.

    When I thought about my loved ones, my life, and my goals…both childhood and current…life was greatly clarified for me. Crazy how when you’re faced with a major obstacle, loss, or illness, that’s when life, relationships, and choices become black and white…crystal clear.

    I also could clearly see how short life truly is…and how much of life is wasted.

    I couldn’t clearly tell what all was a waste or a foolish misuse of time…until I thought my time was about to run out.

    For me, God, family, friends, and my grief ministry was all that mattered ultimately. I also thought about future memories I might not get to be a part of and all of the experiences on earth I’d miss.

    Seriously think about the following and ask yourself which of these need pruning, improved, or prioritized in your life:

    • time
    • activities
    • relationships
    • money
    • opportunities
    • social media
    • computer/phone time

    I thought I was living a good, productive life, but when I was faced with potentially having 18 months to five years left on earth, it fiercely sifted my entire life — and everything in it. Being faced with a major illness showed me extreme truths about my life.

    I’m thankful the radiologist was wrong, but I will forever be grateful for the wake up call I was provided. While going through infusions, I used the time to truly think about life, as well as my relationships, goals, dreams, purpose, everything. It was an extremely eye opening, clarifying, and sometimes tough experience.

    Are you satisfied with life? Are there goals or dreams you regret not fulfilling? Are you wanting to make the world a better place for your loved ones and future generations?

    Think about your life.

    Think about your relationships.

    Think about your life purpose.

    Think about your goals.

    Think about your time.

    Think about your dreams.

    Deeply consider your legacy.

    At the end of your life, what will you want to look back on — and know you gave it your all? What is most important to you? Who is most important to you? What memories do you want your loved ones to have? How can you bless or inspire others?

    You have to ask these questions so you’ll better know how to live your life so you won’t waste it.

    For me, the answers were easy.

    When you’re faced with health issues or the end of your life, most will not care about how much money they have (or don’t have) in the bank, what kind of house they lived in or what kind of car they drove. You don’t care about past hurts. You don’t care about bills…schedules…calendars…or anything mundane or replaceable.

    You care about meeting God with a clear conscience, and you care about your loved ones, your legacy, and the difference you made. You care about the goals and dreams you accomplished that inspired others.

    Whether you are 13, 23, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73, 83, or 93, please consider all of your goals…your spiritual goals, your serious goals, your goals of helping others or making a difference, your relationship goals, and even your fun goals.

    You were created by God to fulfill a very specific purpose. Your influence, and all you bring to the table, is not replaceable. Whether you are healthy or sick, young or old, no matter the circumstances, if you have a heartbeat, then you have the powerful ability to create, pursue, reconstruct, or fulfill your goals and dreams.

    Your goals and dreams may be scary big or seemingly small…all can make a huge impact and difference. Especially to your loved ones.

    It’s never too late.

    Whatever goals or dreams you have, you truly can accomplish them with God’s help. I hope you choose to make a difference in others lives through your goals and dreams…and when you meet your goals, I hope you will celebrate with your loved ones.

    Here’s to the uniqueness of YOU & your individual goals and dreams. May God richly bless you and your goals!

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    The Challenge of Unspoken or Hidden Grief

    Some of the most difficult grief experiences to heal from are those that are unspoken.

    The reason unspoken grief experiences are so difficult to heal from, is because of the nature of the grief – and the choice to isolate oneself.

    As I was helping an anonymous young lady on an online grief forum last week, my heart sure did go out to her. She – unknown to her parents, family, church family, and friends – had gotten pregnant and miscarried her first child 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Fearing judgment, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone except for the father of her child. For three years, she’s walked the road of grief all on her own.

    Isolated. Heartbroken. Alone.

    With unspoken grief, some grief events have happened recently, while some happened decades ago.

    Some may have believed that time would heal their wounds, only to find that time hasn’t healed anything.

    There are many grief experiences that are “unspoken” or “unknown”…experiences someone may not feel comfortable sharing with others:

    • Unplanned pregnancies that end in miscarriage, secret adoptions, or abortion
    • A sexual assault
    • Medical diagnosis such as HIV
    • Mental health diagnosis
    • Adultery
    • Family or marital issues
    • Abuse
    • Conflict with adult children or other family members
    • Addictions
    • Mistreatment of others or conflict that you never had the chance to make right
    • Church conflict/church abuse
    • Suicide issues that remaining loved ones have to go through
    • Suicide attempt survivors

    There are many life challenges people go through. With unspoken grief, they’re just not at a place they feel comfortable sharing with others the tremendous heartache they’ve been through.

    Unspoken grief presents a big challenge for the person going through it: if they keep their grief concealed, they may never find the help or healing their heart needs.

    So how do you heal from unspoken grief experiences?

    Please realize God never intended for us to walk through grief alone. Community, as well as the many resources available, are very powerful gifts when going through heartache, challenges, and grief.

    There are many confidential options for finding help and healing when going through an unspoken grief experience:

    • Seek out confidential help with a trusted pastor, grief counselor, or therapist
    • Find encouragement through a local grief group (GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, local funeral homes who offer grief seminars, Grief Bites conferences, etc.). Many grievers do not realize their grief situations can remain completely anonymous at these meetings, conferences, and seminars. Outside of introducing yourself, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t wish.
    • Utilize online grief resources (blogs, YouVersion’s grief related reading plans, grief related Facebook pages, GriefShare daily emails, The Compassionate Friends private groups, Grief Bites blog, etc.)
    • Talk to a trusted family member or friend…keyword: trusted. When choosing who to confide in, always realize that two listening ears are also attached to a talking mouth – meaning, they can share what you confide in them, so be very selective in who you choose to trust!
    • Go to your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller and purchase books on grief. 
    • The best place to go with your broken heart is to God. He is always there 24/7, He cares deeply for you, and He has the power to heal your heart and spirit.

    If you are going through an unspoken grief experience, please know there is hope. You can find relief and healing. Seek out the help you need today so your heart has the opportunity to truly heal.

    May God bless and encourage your heart!

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus:

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print. 

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance and advice.

    What To Do When Life Gets You Down

    Life can get you down.

    We each go through hardships. Some are spoken; others are too painful to speak of.

    Grief. Marriage issues. Failure. Family issues. Betrayal. Illness. Financial difficulties. Disappointments. Loss. Rejection. Painful memories. Church conflict. Job irritants. Worry. Depression. Anxiety. Rebellious or prodigal loved ones.

    The list of heartaches and tough challenges we each go through in life can go on and on and on.

    I saw a quote this week:

    “When life gives you lemons, freeze them and throw them as hard as possible at the things or people who are making your life so difficult.”

    I’m sure many of you can relate.

    As I was driving to meet my parents for ice cream tonight, the Lord brought something to mind. And it is far better of a strategy to get through tough seasons in life without resorting to fruit throwing.

    When going through grief, life challenges, loss, trials, or hardships, we have three choices we can make:

    1. We can grow bitter
    2. We can grow better
    3. We can grow braver

    I will be completely honest and share that I have, at different times, chosen each of these three strategies.

    Growing bitter led me to experiencing much more hardship and grief. Growing better led me to writing my book and YouVersion plans. Growing braver led to me pouring into the grief community by sharing my life stories to help others.

    At times, yes, it sure would’ve felt very fulfilling to throw back the sour frozen lemons at the difficult situations and people who originally threw sourness my way…for sure…but when you choose bitterness, and throw lemons back, you can’t take life’s lemons and eventually have the ability to make lemonade out of them instead. And God always helps us to make lemonade out of the bitter fruit we have been pegged by in life.

    What will you choose today?

    I do not know what heartbreaking challenges you are facing, but I hope you will wholeheartedly choose to rise high above your circumstances and press forward to become braver and better.

    What if you’re currently entrapped in bitterness? 

    It’s easy to become bitter. Life is filled with opportunities to hang onto hurts and every unfair thing that has happened. Truly.

    Becoming better and braver is a choice…and anyone can choose to become braver and better starting today.

    It may take a lot of time, help, and a whole lot of work, but it will be worth it.

    May God richly bless you as you choose to handle your grief, heartaches, and challenges in an honorable, braver, and better way.

    Taking your circumstances (and life’s lemons) to the Lord and placing them in His hands, continually praying, and reading God’s Word for wisdom, discernment, and instruction are what I have found to be the best ways to handle all life will throw.

    God truly has the best way of blessing us when we choose to do that.

    He takes the sour oldness and creates a sweet newness in a way we never could have dreamed of. He has the power to bring great purpose out of our heartaches. And He has the power to overcome, restore, and better any situation.

    I truly pray your very best days are ahead of you.

    And in the future, when you reflect back on the hardest seasons of your life, I hope you will share with others…over a glass of lemonade…how God helped you to become better and more brave.

    Lamentations‬ ‭3:20-25‬,I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”

    Proverbs 3:5-6, ‭‭‬”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

    Psalm 91:14-16,Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.”

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays💕

    Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 2

    Experiencing a pet’s death can be very painful. It can also be painful to physically lose a pet through a divorce or if the pet wanders away.

    When I talk to those who have experienced losing a much loved pet, they share how tough their experience has been. Some have been offered love, encouragement, and support, while others have not.

    Perhaps, people are not quite sure what to say or do after a pet dies, because they’ve never lost a special pet. They just don’t “get it” or understand the heartache that transpires. They may have never experienced a close relationship with a pet — even if they have had a pet.

    People are also extremely busy these days. We live in a microwave society…everything is instant. And if something isn’t quick and easy, some people will choose to not get involved. Life seems to always be in one mode: fast forward.

    Personally, until our recent puppy’s death, I never thought to call family or friends to see how they were doing during their grief after they experienced pet loss. I was clueless how painful losing a pet could be. I previously thought you cried for a few days and then carried on.

    Boy, was I wrong.

    But once you know better, you then are able to do better.

    This blog post is Part 2 of a 4-part series on pet loss. After the death of our much loved and treasured Titan, my heart certainly goes out to anyone who has experienced losing a pet. To read our family’s story about the life and death of our son’s two-year old puppy, check out Part 1 of this series on pet loss.

    We were very blessed to have support from our loved ones, which certainly helped our grieving process.

    Others are not so lucky. Not everyone receives support…and, like me previously, not everyone knows what to say or do.

    After talking to others who have been through pet loss, I want to offer some ideas of how to encourage those who have experienced a pet’s death – that way people can better know how to be there for their family and friends through their grief.

    Anyone who reads this will have the ability to encourage their family and friends who have experienced pet loss…and it will mean so very much to them.

    Disclaimer: Like I said in my first post about pet loss, I know by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief in the exact same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is an absolute truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love — and the greater the love, the greater the grief. I sincerely hope this series on pet loss is a great comfort to anyone who is mourning – or who will be mourning – their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️As with any grief experience, I look at it as an opportunity to share what I’m learning through my experiences, in hopes it can help encourage whoever needs it. I count it a privilege to help others through all grief and loss issues. 

    Here are a few ideas of how to help a loved one through the death or loss of their pet.

    How To Help & Encourage Someone Through Pet Loss~

    •Seek to understand– Many people think of their pet(s) as family…their baby. They’re continually around them every second they’re home. They snuggle with them most nights, and many people’s pets even share the same bed with them. So when the pet dies, their presence is terribly missed. Since their home holds many memories of their pet, too, a person’s couch, bed, and every room in their house may feel empty. Memories are everywhere. When they get home, their pet is no longer there to greet them. It can be very tough the first few weeks or months.

    •If the pet helped them through a tough time or a grief experience, the loss of the pet is going to be much more devastating- When a pet is “there” for their human during grief or loss, the pet and human develop a very strong bond. Some people may even become closer to their pets than their human relationships if the pet has helped them through grief. I know of a man whose grandchild was lost during the pregnancy. A few months later, when a new “grand-dog” entered the picture, he said his heart was greatly comforted every time he was around the new puppy. Sometimes, he’d puppy-sit for his daughter and take the dog fishing with him each weekend. The new dog truly helped him through that tough time. When a dog dies during or after a grief circumstance, please realize the pet’s death is profoundly sad to the pet owner.

    •Call your family member or friend whose pet died and realize they’ll grieve for awhile due to triggers– Check up on them periodically. Just like all grief experiences, the grief comes in layers when someone loses a pet. There are ups and downs just like traditional grief. I cried horribly, multiple times each day, the first few weeks after my son’s puppy died. Then I seemed to be doing better (crying just a few times each day)…until I was driving and saw the Starbucks where I used to get Pupuccinos for him. It brought all of the sadness back up. Grief, whether it’s a human loss or a pet loss, comes in waves…and you never know when a wave will hit you without warning.

    Offer to bring your family member or friend dinner, or offer to take them out for coffee…and just be there to care- Not many people will offer compassion to those who have experienced a pet’s death. It’s not that they’re heartless…like I said, they may just not “get” how painful it can be. You can offer to bring coffee or dinner to your family or friends when they lose a pet. A few weeks after our puppy’s death, some of my friends lost their dog. To offer comfort some friends who just went through pet loss, I ordered and paid for dinner and had it delivered to them. I know how hard the first several days were after our dog’s death…I wanted to let them know that somebody cared. This special family was the first to offer to help us with our puppy when we first got him…they helped us so much. I know their hearts were heartbroken after their sweet dog’s death.

    Actively show your condolences- Don’t only call or text your loved one, buy a card…send flowers…make a donation to a local shelter in memory/honor of their precious fur angel…offer to help them plant a memorial tree…if you have photos, make a mini scrapbook of their beloved pet to give as a thoughtful gift. The ways to show you care are endless. As with any loss, take the time to actively care.

    •When you do something kind, it will always be remembered- Right after my son and I euthanized his puppy, my mom and sister came to the veterinarian’s office. I didn’t even know they were coming, but it truly meant so much to me. As my son held his puppy and cried, right after putting him to sleep, I wanted to give him and his puppy some time alone. As I walked out of the room, it was a nice surprise to see my mom and sister…and so good to have a shoulder to cry on. I underestimated how tough the euthanasia would be on us. After the euthanasia, later that night, one of my nieces called to check on us and another niece brought a dog over to play with our other dogs, too. Our family received cards and phone calls as well. I will always be grateful to those who actively cared by showing up and those who offered us compassion. It truly meant so much to us!

    NEVER say anything to minimize a pet owner’s grief such as, “It’s just a dog” or “You can always get a new pet”- And please do not get them a new pet as a gift unless you talk to them first- They can’t replace the feelings they shared with their pet or duplicate the relationship they built. Most likely, it took years to build it. The reason they’re hurting so badly is because they are grieving the years they “did life” with their pet. Plus, another pet may not have similar personality traits. It’s also not fair to a new pet to place such high expectations on them; any new pet needs to be loved for the unique individual they are. When in doubt, just be there and simply say, “I’m really sorry. Please know I am here. Anytime you’d like to talk, call me.” Your loved one will know when it’s the right time to get a new furry friend….and they’ll appreciate any kind words you can offer them.

    If you’re close enough to the person who lost a pet, and you know they cremated their pet or have fur clippings, consider doing something meaningful- I’d suggest inviting them to go somewhere meaningful to sprinkle some of their pet’s ashes at a special place. If the pet had a favorite blanket, you could ask the owner if they’d like for you to have it made into a pillow. You can also buy a necklace or bracelet for the pet owner that they can wear in honor and memory of their pet. We had our vet clip some of our puppy’s fur off after he passed away and I’m taking the fur to Build-A-Bear to be built into stuffed animals that have a clear, see-through heart…one for our son and one for me…so we can “hug” a part of our puppy when we miss him. If your loved one feels up to it, consider inviting them to do something meaningful like this, too.

    Realize the inner turmoil your loved one may be going through– When a person has to make the painful decision to euthanize their pet, they’re responsible for ensuring the best interests of their furry best friend. Often times, there is a lot of second guessing…”did we do it at the right time…did we do it prematurely?” If the pet loss was sudden, they may wonder, “did I do all I could do to comfort, help, and save them?” A pet owner may feel deep feelings of guilt, depression, or intense sadness after a pet’s death. They may even blame themselves for not realizing an illness sooner or not having the ability to save their pet’s life. Please take the time to see where your loved one is in their grief process.

    These are just a few suggestions of how to help and encourage a loved one who goes through a pet’s death.

    Even if you’re not an animal lover or a “pet person,” these ideas will most likely be very meaningful to your loved ones after they experience losing their furry friend.

    Compassion, love, and empathy are what’s important. Always be the compassion today that you hope to receive in the future.

    My next blog post in this series will share ideas of how to carefully plan and create the prefect last day for your pet, and also how to create a peaceful experience with your pet’s euthanasia. If you have a pet, you will not want to miss these very important tips and safeguards. There are some lessons we learned the hard way. The next post will help to alleviate future regrets.

    Gratitude, healing, & many blessings,
    🐾❤️Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️🐾If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    🐾❤️For more encouragement:

    ❤️🐾Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    🐾❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️🐾Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    🐾❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️🐾FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 1

    Have you ever had a pet you greatly treasured? Pets are amazing! They are so much fun – and so very rewarding!

    As the months and years go by, a very close bond develops with our pets. They brighten our days and make life richer…better.

    I always say that pets, especially dogs, are God’s way of making up for all of the bad events we go through in life. Dogs unconditionally love us, fiercely protect us, and provide sweet companionship. They are truly “man’s best friend.”

    There are two days a pet owner will never forget. The day we met our precious furry friend…and the day our much-loved pet passes away.

    I’ll be writing a series of blog posts over pet loss the next few days because I think it’s a topic that can help others. Life offers so many rich lessons. I always love learning from others and I hope the lessons I share will help someone who is going through a similar situation.

    Someone sent me a great quote about pet loss. I’d like to start this post by sharing it:

    “To me, he was a person in a dog suit, a special being who opened my heart as it has never been opened before. Because of him, I know I am forever changed for the better.” ~Lisa Plummer Savas

    Today, I’ll be sharing about our family’s recent death of our two year-old puppy, Titan. The next blog post, I’ll be sharing tips of how to help a loved one after their pet dies. The third post in this series will be about creating a peaceful experience with your pet’s euthanasia…and very important pitfalls to watch out for and prevent. And the fourth post will be about pet health, which will also include prevention, treatment, and breakthroughs of cancer in pets.

    I know by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it totally truly may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief in the same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is absolute truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love…and the greater the love, the greater the grief.

    I sincerely hope this series on pet loss is a great comfort to anyone who is mourning their much-loved pet, and it is my prayer these posts are not offensive to anyone in the grief community.❤️

    Here’s a little background of how we met and fell in love with our sweet puppy…and the heartbreak we recently went through. This will be a longer blog post than normal, but I know my animal-loving readers will appreciate the background for my upcoming posts.

    In 2014, my son asked if we’d buy him a dog for Christmas. After being deeply betrayed – and experiencing deep grief – he wanted the companionship of a pet to help him through those heartbreaking losses. Our family also was going through an excruciatingly painful grief experience at the time, as well.

    My husband and I initially bulked at the idea, but after our son explained how much this special gift would mean to him, we warmed up to the idea – and we gave him a puppy for Christmas.

    The puppy was a rescue and we were told he was a Great Dane. Later, through DNA testing, we found out he was actually half German Shepherd and half American Staffordshire Terrier.

    This sweet puppy also had been severely abused. When we got him, he had scar lines under the fur on top of his head and on one of his paws. We were told he was eight weeks-old, but our vet told us he was most likely just three to four weeks-old after looking at his forming teeth.

    My son, husband, and I frequently woke up in the middle of the night to bottle feed our son’s new puppy and eventually helped crate train him so he’d feel safe. He was a very high needs puppy who needed a lot of care.

    When my son first got his new puppy, as he would go to work each day, my husband and I would puppy-sit for 40 hours every week…sometimes on weekends, too.

    I fell so in love with this precious puppy!

    Being a person who previously wasn’t very fond of dogs, I ended up becoming a major dog lover and advocate. I now love all dogs since I finally “get it.” The bond I formed with our new puppy is simply indescribable!

    As I saw this exceptional puppy love my son “back to life,” I truly respected Titan just as much as I loved him. This very special puppy ended up being very important to each of us, each in different ways.

    Our son, my husband, our entire family, and I all grew very attached to Titan and loved him so very much! He’s literally the best dog we’ve ever known!

    Right after Christmas, after Titan had just turned two years-old, he developed a limp while he was at his dog training classes (he had to take weekly specialized classes since he was so aggressive to anyone who wasn’t family). After a few weeks, his limp wasn’t healing or improving so we made an appointment with his vet. The vet told us she had bad news…I thought she was going to suggest surgery. Instead, she told us he had a very aggressive form of cancer (osteosarcoma) and only had a few months to live. We would need to immediately amputate his leg. If we chose treatment, it’d cost about $1400-$3500 for the initial surgery and then several thousand dollars for additional chemo and radiation.

    We took him to a pet oncologist for a second opinion. We were told the same thing: that treatment would do very little for him and that we’d have to drive several hours each weekend and spend these weekends in another city so he could do his cancer treatments. The heartbreaking truth was this would only extend his life for possibly 4-12 additional months – and he’d suffer…a lot.

    We contacted another veterinarian for a third opinion. She knew Titan from the time we got him. I trusted her completely because she loved him like we did. In fact, outside of family and one other vet tech, she was the only other person he liked. She recommended pain pills and to keep him as comfortable as possible for as long as we could…and to give him the very best life in his ending days.

    We were absolutely devastated! Our hearts broke into a million pieces and the pain was excruciating.

    Titan helped us through some of the worst days of our lives and he loved our family back to life. I always thought to myself, “who rescued who?” whenever I would recall the day we rescued him. His great love for us helped us…even saved us. It was sickeningly and devastatingly unfair that we couldn’t do the same for him. We were powerless to do anything. If love alone could’ve healed our sweet Titan, he would’ve lived to be 100.

    I decided to do everything we could to save him…it wasn’t enough, though.

    Titan died three months after diagnosis and I was surprised just how deep my grief was in the days and weeks after his death. The grief was thick and incredibly intense. I am thankful we chose to lovingly end his suffering close to the weekend so we’d have all weekend to try to come to terms with our heartache.

    I knew I’d be incredibly sad. I just didn’t expect my grief to be as strong and overwhelming as it was. I didn’t think pain like this was possible with losing a pet. To my shame, I had said at a grief conference I spoke at a few years ago that losing a pet wasn’t the end of the world compared to other grief events. I just didn’t “get it” at the time. After all, all of my pets growing up were mostly outdoor pets. There’s a big difference when they’re indoors with you 24/7…and an even bigger difference when you get a pet during a time of grief. I think when you get a pet during a time of grief, and they help you through a super sad time, I believe their death is much harder to get through.

    I certainly have learned so much through this entire experience. After experiencing Titan’s daily struggles with cancer, my heart immediately went out to my loved ones who had experienced their pet’s illness and/or death.

    After we found out about our puppy’s cancer, I invited one particular friend out for coffee – this was a friend who had been through her beloved dog’s death a few years ago. I needed to apologize for not being there more for her.

    When you know better, you’re able to do better.

    The new knowledge of how painful it is to lose a beloved, precious pet allowed me to understand the devastation my family and friends had previously been through.

    Pet loss is hard.

    Our family had a lot of love and support. Others aren’t as fortunate though. I think something that compounds pet loss for so many is there is very little concern or compassion from family and friends. Many (like me previously) think, “It’s just a dog….you can get a new one,” not understanding how untrue that is. Yes, you can get a new dog, but a person intensely misses the unique, wonderful dog – and the amazing relationship and love they shared with the specific dog (or pet) they lost.

    Before our precious puppy’s diagnosis and death, my son had made arrangements to get another sweet puppy. We were scheduled to put our 2 year-old puppy down on a Friday, and we were scheduled to pick up the new puppy on the Sunday after. We were shocked when Titan’s cancer treatments started working so we called off the euthanasia. (More about this on an upcoming blog).

    I can’t tell you how many people told us, “Just pour yourself into the new puppy. Be grateful you have the new puppy and your other dog.” Of course, they were only trying to help us, but so many of our extended family and friends just didn’t understand how great of a loss we were going through. We are still hurting from the loss. Titan just isn’t replaceable. The relationship each of us built with him the whole two years we had him can’t be replicated. Our circumstances just aren’t the same as when we got Titan…and I’d never want to go through a major grief experience to duplicate how that special bond was formed.

    We absolutely love our new puppy and other dog … each of our dogs are beyond precious to us … but none of the three are the same. Each brings their special brand of love and doggy magic to the table of life!

    The loss of Titan was super hard not only because he was a completely indoor dog, but that he also had a very well developed larger-than-life personality. He had a high level of emotional intelligence and intuitively knew how to read our family’s emotions. He was also very smart. When he’d get thirsty, he’d go to our kitchen and bring us a water bottle. He was so personable and intelligent…almost like a mini human. Anytime the songs “Penny Lane” by The Beatles or “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers came on, he would stop what he was doing and “sing” by howling to the entire song. Christmas music would instantly calm him since he would lay on my shoulder as a baby while I was working by the Christmas tree the first month we got him. Anytime Christmas music was played, he’d quietly lay down by me and be perfectly still.

    Titan’s larger-than-life personality lit up the entire room once he entered it. Although he weighed over 90 lbs, he considered himself a lap dog…our “little” baby. He always snuggled into our laps as soon as we sat down. He also fiercely protected us. Like I said, we had to put him in specialized dog training classes to calm down his aggression towards anyone who wasn’t family.

    He was a huge, perfect, lovable, sweet teddy bear to us. We’ll always miss his love and all of his many emotions…even the pouting and audible “sighing” he’d do. When he’d get upset about something, he’d let out a big, loud sigh and massively pout. It was a theatrical, broadway-style experience. The whole house would know about it…he’d make sure of it.

    One time, he was so upset that our son went out on a date that he dramatically laid down and pouted on the floor after our son left the house…then this poor puppy took the pouting to a recliner…then to another recliner…then he pouted on the couch…then over to his dog bed…then over to his crate…then to everyone else that was home. He was so mad that he refused his favorite treat – squeeze cheese in a can. It was so funny when he’d behave so dramatically.

    Just as quickly as he’d pout, he’d use that same intense energy to love my son and all of our family. When any of us would get home, he’d come running up and wiggle his entire big body. He’d miss us so much that he’d literally cry with joy when he saw us walk in the door or into the room. He’d then gently take our hand by lightly clamping his teeth down so he could lead us to a chair to hold him.

    Had I never met my son’s puppy, I never would’ve known…or believed…how incredibly close and rewarding a relationship with a pet could be. I used to think people were crazy – absolutely nuts – to love, adore, and spoil their pets….and then I met this sweet furry baby. Now, we are the people who love, adore, and spoil our pets. Titan truly opened up a part of my heart I didn’t even know existed, and he taught me so many lessons.

    I will forever be grateful to God for perfectly coordinating us finding that precious puppy!

    Nothing can never take the place of my lil baby. My relationship with him was simply extra special. He was a huge comfort to me as my heart was breaking for my son while he was going through major grief. This sweet puppy also helped our family and me after my dad was diagnosed with cancer. During his first year of life, he helped our family through some very hard days. I will forever be grateful to him for loving our family so well!

    Our sweet Titan will always be loved, treasured and remembered.

    If you’ve ever experienced the death of a precious, much-loved pet, my heart sure goes out to you. If you are in the midst of  taking care of a pet who is terminally ill, I am so very sorry.

    A few ways I have found paths for healing are:

    •choosing to be so grateful for our time with Titan – I am SO glad we met him and we had the privilege of loving him so very well!

    •going to his favorite park to walk our dogs around and remember how much Titan loved it there.

    •making a photo album of our favorite pics of Titan.

    •warmly remembering our fun times and watching videos of Titan.

    •going to our favorite coffee shop and getting my favorite coffee drink in his honor (that we would share…he’d eat the whipped cream in a separate bowl and I’d enjoy the coffee).

    •taking time each day to talk to God about the heartache I’m experiencing and knowing God will one day perfectly heal my heart.

    •Enjoy our favorite Christmas songs that bonded us together that first Christmas.

    •loving our other two dogs through their grief because they were really sad too. Our newest little puppy was so upset that he lost fur from missing Titan.

    There are no right or wrong ways of grieving your sweet fur baby! Do what comforts and heals your broken heart!💗

    I invite you to read my upcoming blog posts for encouragement.

    To all who have a pet they love, take some time today to hug and cuddle them. Take them for a walk and give them an extra treat or two.

    Enjoy and treasure each day with all of your loved ones. No matter if they wear a suit of fur or not.

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim🐾❤️🐾

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

    An Important Question To Periodically Ask

    With Grief Bites, I hear the worst of the worst of life stories and grief experiences every week.

    There are so many who are hurting.

    Anytime someone shares a tough life story or grief experience with me, I always ask if they have a trusted family member or friend who encourages them.

    So many times, the answer is, “I could never share what I’m going through with my family or friends”…they usually then add, “what would they think?”

    I want to encourage anyone reading this to make sure their family and friends are okay…because most of the time, when a loved one struggles, it just doesn’t always show up.

    I’ve recently began randomly asking family and friends a very important question — a question I’ve found to be much more important than I realized: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love and enjoy life right now?

    I tell them they don’t need to explain their answer (unless they want to)…and the answers fluctuate between 2 all the way up to 9. I’ll tell you this though: anyone who has said a low number are those who I thought would say a much higher number.

    One friend, who was smiling and enjoying coffee with me before I asked the question, looked startled and broke down in quiet tears and replied, “2.” She then added, “I’m barely hanging on by a thread. I have a date written in my calendar to end my life if things aren’t better.”

    I realize now how important it is to make sure my family and friends are doing okay.

    (By the way, I thank my friend for allowing me to write about her answer and I’m thankful she’s receiving help).

    People go through a lot in everyday life…majority unseen:

  • •the spouse who is silently unhappily married. Their heart isn’t taken care of by their spouse and they feel like they lose another piece of who they are every single day.
  • •the parent who is at their wits end. Maybe they spend their days with toddlers who are headstrong…perhaps with teenagers who are rebelling and making life difficult…or maybe an adult child who lacks compassion, love, or respect. In-law issues can be hard. It may have gotten so bad that the parent/child relationship is seriously compromised or even completely estranged.
  • •the parents, spouse, or family who are going through a loved one’s addiction to alcohol, drugs, or other addictions. They desperately try to reach them…and can’t always do so.
  • •someone feels like they’re in a dead end career or job. Their earning power seems to have been maximized with no hope for financial improvement in the future. Maybe their boss makes their days miserable. Perhaps their company has the threat of going under and they don’t see potential anywhere else. They feel stuck.
  • •the person who had high goals, dreams, and worked hard to have a bright future…but as time has gone on, they see their dreams sifting through their hands like sand.
  • •someone is frustrated because it seems they do nothing except for work. Barely any downtime, rarely time to breathe, relax, or enjoy life or loved ones…they continually feel spent and exhausted. If they’re the primary breadwinner, they may even resent their spouse.
  • •the person who just received a poor medical diagnosis. They weren’t prepared to hear such bad news. They feel frustrated, fearful, heartbroken, perhaps even angry. Life feels totally unfair.
  • •someone suspects their spouse is being unfaithful, or they’re trying to keep their marriage and family together in the midst of a known affair. They feel all alone, like they are having to wear a mask for the sake of their family. Perhaps someone had an affair in the past, left their spouse and family, and they now have major regrets.
  • •the person who is dealing with issues of past abuse, past grief, or silent grief situations. It affects them to this day.
  • •the child who has a challenging relationship with a parent or stepparent. There just never seems to be any true improvement, disappointments are frequent, or the closure of a heartbreaking issue just doesn’t seem possible.
  • People just don’t like to air their hurts – the very contents of their heart – or their dirty laundry. People are intensely loyal to family members and they don’t want to appear like they don’t have it all together…so they suffer in silence. There are many around us who aren’t doing so hot, and they really don’t care to disclose what’s happening in their life or behind closed doors…even to their closest loved ones.

    The above scenarios are topics I hear frequently …and my heart sure does go out to anyone who is experiencing a tough life event.

    If you’re going through a hard time right now, please know there’s hope. Seek out the hope and help you need so you can experience better days. Your best days may not have even happened yet.

    Consider what your number is and consider periodically asking your family and friends the important question I shared earlier in this post:

    “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love and enjoy life right now?”

    It’s a good scale to ask ourselves and our loved ones … and it helps us know how we can encourage those we love best.

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2019 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas: http://bible.com/r/3V5

    6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv

    7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    ⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is copyright protected material. Please ask for permission to copy, use, or print.

    ⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.

    Christians: Are We Taking The Easy Way Out?

    This weekend, I watched a movie that was very good – gut-wrenching, actually.

    Movie clips of this particular movie were shown here as well https://www.life.church/watch/ during Pastor Craig Groeschel’s annual teaching of At The Movies (every year at Life.Church, they teach on a different movie each week during the month of July).

    If you haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, you truly need to.

    As I was watching one particular scene, my heart broke in excruciating pain…tears just rolled down my face.

    As Life.Church showed this clip, it was used to show the importance of saving the unsaved…which is very important. My mind went beyond that to each person who has ever went through grief – especially those who felt abandoned, betrayed, or wounded by the Church. My heart immediately thought about those who nobody went to check on or those who nobody “went back” to help save them. I hear more stories than I can count of how nobody took the time to love hurting people back to life.

    As a grief specialist and grief group leader, I hear the most heart wrenching stories people have experienced. For almost 10 years now, helping people for 20-50 hours each week, these stories have caused my heart to truly go out to those who hurt…stories about death of loved ones, grief over wrong personal decisions or a loved one’s hurtful decisions, adultery, abuse, military grief, PTSD, abandonment, extreme hurt and conflict in families and churches, church abuse, suffering, heavy guilt and regrets, illnesses, addictions…I literally hear every story that has wounded a human heart.

    Before a person comes to me for help, many times, they’ve already sought out help from church leaders, family members, and friends. The hardest – and most taboo – situations of grief (suicide/suicide attempts, the after effects of rape or murder, all situations of abuse, death of a child or young person, church/spiritual abuse, etc.) are the most challenging to help.

    Something that has happened time and time again, and has been said numerous times, is this:

    “I went to my pastor (or fellow church staff or church member) for help, and they never got back to me…I felt I wasn’t important.”

    Or worse….

    “My pastor, church staff, and/or fellow Christians knew about my situation…and they ignored me. They never even called to see how I was after I reached out for help.”

    Watching Hacksaw Ridge, when the main character is courageously sacrificing himself and bravely doing everything in his power to save as many as he can…and pleads, “Lord, help me get (save) one more”…my heart sank.

    Just like a physical war, when someone goes through heartache, grief, or pain and they are wounded, if someone does not go and help them…the alternative is to leave them for the enemy to devour. This is beyond true spiritually, too. When a Christian is wounded, and the Church doesn’t take the time to care, the enemy is more than happy to delightfully devour them, too.

    Watching that scene of Hacksaw Ridge, all I could think of were the several people I know who have quit going to church, and the ones who have turned to atheism – or even other religions – because they went through a harsh life challenge and felt like nobody cared.

    We as Christians have got to demand higher of ourselves. 

    Yes, everybody is busy.

    Yes, it may not be someone’s specific responsibility because, after all, they did not cause the pain.

    Yes, it is totally time-consuming.

    Yes, it truly is messy.

    And there will always be people in the church or on staff who will make excuses by saying things like, “hurting people hurt people”…”we won’t help others who aren’t taking responsibility by taking the first steps to help themselves”….”nobody is perfect.”

    But, the example of Jesus Christ is to deny yourself and pick up your cross…and part of picking up your cross is to actively love people back to life – especially those who are unsaved or those who have been hurt or who have left the church.

    And it’s not just church members who have been hurt by the church. There are many who are (or who were) on church staff (or their spouses/families) who have been deeply wounded by either fellow church staff members or members of their congregations, too.

    Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

    1. Hurting people do not hurt people. Hurting people help heal people because they understand what being hurt feels like. Jerks hurt people and then refuse to make it right.
    2. The attitude of “I’ll help people once they help themselves…” is very flawed. I am so very thankful that God doesn’t treat people that way. He loves…He gives grace…He initiates healing…He lifts us up and carries our burdens for us.
    3. The argument of “Nobody is perfect…” fails what God commands in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, nobody is perfect, but God certainly gives us some very sobering and serious responsibilities as believers on how to treat others – especially reconciling with those we hurt or those who may have something against us. He even instructs us in Matthew 5:23-24 to leave our gifts at the altar until we actively go make things right with those we have hurt or offended…and says to not come back until this is done first.

    God doesn’t give us these responsibilities of how to treat others – or how not to treat others – to be difficult; He gives us these precious responsibilities so we will be careful with each other’s heart and spirit. He understands the potential terrible cost if we are not careful with His instructions.

    I heard the most profound statement this week from a young person who had been deeply wounded and wronged by their church:

    “People always knock certain shady TV evangelists, but all they do is steal money. What about the pastors at churches who hurt people in their congregations? They steal peoples emotions and spirit. Money is readily replaceable…trust is not.”

    To hear someone young be so wounded and jaded by the Church really concerned my heart. Hearing their story…and then hearing how the leaders at their church knew about the hurt they inflicted — yet didn’t show good character by going to them and working things out…there just are no words.

    Satan loves taking people out. The enemy knows if he can get Christians or church leadership to wound someone, the likelihood of additional generations being spiritually destroyed will ensue:

    Proverbs‬ ‭27:23-24,Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”‬ ‭

    When someone is deeply wounded, it doesn’t just affect the individual who was hurt. It affects everyone they’ll ever come in contact with…and future generations.

    •You may be reading this, and you may be one who has been deeply wounded. On behalf of every Christian, I apologize profusely to you for your pain. You should never have been left alone in your time of hurt, somebody should have cared enough to reach out to you and loved you back to life. Please, please, please know that God wanted for you to be treated with love, kindness and respect…it’s not His fault – or His Will – when people disobey scripture by mistreating others or not helping them. I humbly ask you to please forgive the Church. God loves you and has not forgotten you!

    Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬,Why would you ever complain, O Jacob or Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. Butthose who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

    Isaiah‬ ‭49:15-16‬, “Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are always in My presence.”

    •You may be reading this right now and you know for a fact you’ve wounded a fellow believer, but you never made it right. I strongly plead with you to go to that person (or persons) and courageously apologize for your wrongdoing…Most importantly, for them. Secondarily, for the judgment that can fall onto you:

    Matthew‬ ‭5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”‬ 

    Colossians 3:25, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

    Proverbs‬ ‭17:13, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.” ‭

    •You may be reading this right now and you personally know of someone who was wounded by another believer. If you know of someone who is wounded, please consider being the one to make a difference.

    Matthew‬ ‭25:40, 45‬, ““The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’…and…“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’” 

    I don’t think most people drop the ball purposely, but it does happen unfortunately. An apology, or genuinely caring for others from the heart, goes a long way.

    My heart is for the hurting, the grief stricken, and those who have been spiritually wounded. I know of many Christians who this is so very important to their heart, too.

    Majority of the Christians I know are really amazing people who genuinely care about others. They actively love people and truly enjoy serving others. When others hurt, they genuinely hurt for them, too!

    We all (totally including myself) need to do better and become more mindful of others.

    When we’re tempted not to make things right with those who we have hurt or offended…or we are tempted to leave it up to someone else to do our part…or we believe the lie that we are too busy or things are too awkward or messy to get involved…I really pray that we each will consider how we can make these situations better for everyone we know.

    I know I can do better.

    The rest of this year, let us prayerfully consider reaching out to those who used to attend our churches or those who were once in our LifeGroups, Sunday School class, or Small Groups – those who we never see anymore. I pray we consider the people we know who quit going to church because they were hurt, deeply offended, or wounded.

    Consider calling one person a week to check on them to see how they’re doing and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. May we each choose to love people back to life.

    As a Christian, we never want to be known as someone who took the easy way out… Especially since Christ never did.

    Be the example of Jesus to others that you would hope someone will be to you and your family.

    Jesus’ example is very, very clear:

    Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬, ““Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

    I love how God used sheep in this passage of scripture. I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the above scripture and the following verses deal with sheep and lions. Think about this:

    1 Samuel‬ ‭17:34-36‬, “David replied to Saul, “I am a shepherd for my father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it attacked me, I took hold of its mane, struck it, and killed it. I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.””

    1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

    The above verses speak of sheep and lions. Just as David vigilantly looked out for his earthly father’s sheep, how much more should we as Christians look out for, and help and defend, our Heavenly Father’s sheep? The enemy’s goal is to challenge and hurt God. If we don’t actively care for those in the Church…yes, even those who have left it…then we are part of the problem.

    When people waver in their faith or leave the church, or when we know of people who are hurting or who have been deeply wounded, or when there are leaders (or church members) in the church who have hurt people and not made it right – yet no one corrects them or holds them accountable – we really need to start addressing that in our churches. When no one seems to care during these situations, we must ask God to soften our hearts and also for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to those who have been wounded.

    We have got to stop taking the easy way out…..we have got to expect more of ourselves and do better.

    If a family member of ours stopped attending family functions and quit communications, would we simply shrug our shoulders and have an apathetic attitude of, “oh well?” Would we merely accept it and just move on? Would we think that it wasn’t our problem or responsibility? Absolutely not! We would call them and we would fight for that precious family member and our relationship with them.

    God considers Church family relationships to be of utmost importance…they’re a reflection of His relationship to us, His Bride. That is something we all need to deeply consider.

    The only response a Christian should have to those who are struggling is this: Snatch them from the flames…help and encourage them…be the best version of “Jesus” to them…meet needs wherever possible…and love them back to life!

    We have got to do a better job of focusing on helping people in their spiritual walk, being deeply concerned with their eternal destination, as well as care about peoples hearts, their hurts, and what truly matters.

    Galatians 6:1-2, ““Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

    John‬ ‭13:34-35‬, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Never discount a person’s hurt…or their potential. There are some people in life who have been deeply wounded, but they will blossom greatly when the right people genuinely take the time to care about them. There may be weeds, but please understand that underneath the hurt and weeds is good soil. All they need is for someone to take the time to rinse the mud off of their heart, and water them with compassion, so the Sonshine can work miracles.

    Luke 10:2….“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

    Tell God you’re willing to be a worker for Him in building people back to life. Ask God to grant you the gift of seeing people how He sees people, and to love people how He loves people. Ask God to impress on your heart, and every believer’s heart, to deeply care about saving both the lost and the hurting.

    I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who had a deep burden for the harvest. They saw an ugly, dying weed, but decided to care about me and love me back to life.💕

    Please take a moment and soberly watch this video and listen to this song. Then pray and ask God to show you who you can love back to life. We each need to make a strong commitment as Christians to stop taking the easy way out.❤️

    Movie clip from Hacksaw Ridge: https://youtu.be/Oy6kwogmhRY

    Song by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7k

    Who can you love back to life today?

    If you have been hurt or wounded by the church, I highly recommend Saddleback Church in California. If you don’t live in California, they offer online services, too. Life.Church also offers online experiences.

    http://www.saddleback.com

    http://www.life.church

    You are so very valuable and loved!

    Gratitude & many blessings,

    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️YouVersion offers FREE Grief Bites reading plans- http://www.youversion.com

    One Of The Most Important Gifts You Can Give To A Loved One During Grief

    When you go through a major grief experience, it changes you to your very core.

    And it takes time to sort your life out.

    Anyone who has been through grief is reading this and wholeheartedly agreeing. They understand exactly what I mean when I say a person needs time to sort their life, emotions, and grief out.

    Someone who has never experienced a heart wrenching loss just seems not to get it. They can feel sympathetic towards a loved one…but they don’t understand the major disruption grief can truly bring.

    Every few weeks, a person who has a loved one who is experiencing deep grief will contact me and ask me to meet them for coffee.

    When I first started receiving these requests, I assumed their grieving loved one knew I’d be showing up. Instead, I found that these “coffee meetings” were an intervention of sorts. They thought I’d talk to their grieving loved one, sort them out, share some sort of miraculous words that would instantly change their grief-stricken loved one…so everyone could return to their happy, normal, pre-grief lives.

    If only it were that easy…sigh…and apparently they don’t know me very well.

    Each person who attempts this, quickly finds out a few things about me:

    1. If someone didn’t know I was coming, I’d apologize and give the griever the option of talking with me or not. I don’t believe in forced interventions, controlling conversations, or tricking people – even if the original intention was good or thoughtful…which majority of the time it is. They truly want to help.
    1. They found out new ways of being there for their grieving loved one…and that their grieving loved one is just as frustrated as they are. Nobody likes going through grief and experiencing deep heartache and the sudden changes it brings. Absolutely nobody.
    1. They found out I’m a huge grief advocate…I don’t believe in telling anyone to “suck it up,” “get back to being your ‘old self,'” “get over it,” or “act normal.” The only exception is if a person has children still in the home, a person will have to balance out grief with providing a stable environment for their kiddos…but that never entails hiding emotions, being their old self, or being fake. It just means a person may need to gain more outside help from loved ones, gain wisdom and counsel of how best to navigate the new grief experience, so they don’t end up experiencing greater loss down the road. I always encourage grievers to balance their grief while cherishing their remaining loved ones, too. It prevents many potential relationship issues.

    What do you do when family or friends don’t “get” or understand your grief? 

    How do you handle family and friends who say unthoughtful things such as, “you need to get over it, “you need to move on,” or “I just want you to be your ‘old self'”?

    When I went through my sister’s and other loved ones’ deaths, I majorly reacted in my heart to people who said comparable things to me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized when people say these things, it is really annoying, but they usually really do mean well. They’re frustrated with the situation, and hurting from the loss of their normal relationship they’ve previously enjoyed pre-grief.

    Granted, there are some who are selfish and find the grief of a loved one intrusive, but most genuinely do care…some just haven’t learned how to help their grieving loved one or learned how to communicate what they’re feeling in a beneficial or non-insulting way.

    I have found one of the greatest things needed during times of grief – for both the griever and the family and friends of the griever – is grace.

    Grace is compassion on steroids.

    Grace doesn’t take away the grief, but it sure does help tremendously when people offer each other this priceless, special gift. 

    What about when a grief event totally changes a relationship? A grief event took place and your family and friends treat you differently than they did before?

    I’ve had multiple grievers share with me that they’d had a best friend for decades…but then after a grief event, the friend was nowhere to be found. Couples who had hung out for years – even vacationed each year together – suddenly disappear without warning. Family relationships, who were previously very close, end up blowing up, disintegrating, or become almost irreparable.

    Grace is so very important during times of grief!

    When people are going through grief, they may say or do things that are very uncharacteristic of them. Sometimes people are in so much pain, they may say some really ugly things … things they truly don’t mean.

    Again, grace is very much needed during times of grief.

    Who can you offer grace to today? Do you know someone who you greatly hurt or offended during their time of grief who you need to apologize to? Is there someone who hurt or offended you that you need to call to work through an issue?

    Grief changes everything. And it genuinely changes everyone who experiences it.

    Be kind to the grievers you know. Seek to be the grace-filled rainbow through all of your loved ones’ storms in life. And give grace to those who may have offended you during your time of grief.

    There will come a day when we all will need grace. Choose to be a grace-filled person starting today.

    May each of you always give and find grace, compassion, encouragement, and love in your relationships with family and friends.❤️

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    Jesus Can Relate To Your Grief

    Life seems to have a theme of loss. Majority of us will go through a series of deep losses throughout our lifetime. Some are spread out over a long period of time, while some losses happen one right after the other, deeply threatening to bury our hope. 

    Whatever situation you find yourself in today, please know this: God deeply cares about your pain. He sincerely hurts for you. In fact, we serve a very personal God…He hurts not just for you but with you. 

    Jesus was a man of sorrows, He was deeply and well aquatinted with loss and grief. 

    If you are going through trauma, loss, or disappointment today, Jesus truly can relate: 

    Have you felt the sting of betrayal? He has too. Sharply.

    Have you lost your home? He didn’t even have a place to lay His head. 

    Have you been abused or treated as though you had zero value? He was too. 

    Have you watched a loved one go through illness, rebellion, mental illness, or death? He did too. 

    Have you felt rejected or looked down on? He has too. 

    Have you had your reputation tarnished or been unfairly treated? He was too. 

    Have you been through the death of a major relationship? He has too. 

    Have you ever loved another person, poured yourself into them, and treated them extremely well…and then was repaid with ungratefulness, unkindness, and a lack of love? He definitely has experienced that too! He still does. 

    On the cross, He willingly felt every sin, illness, and heartache. He did it for one reason: LOVE! 

    He truly can relate. He loves you so very much! He does care about your life and heart!

    He also cares about every injustice you have faced. 

    Since Jesus can truly relate to our hurts, disappointments, frustrations, and heartaches at such a deep level, and cares about each of us so much, we genuinely can trust Him to help us through each and every circumstance in life! 

    Yes, we all will experience loss in life. It’s so good to know we serve a God who truly can relate and who genuinely cares!

    Honoring Jesus this Easter weekend and thanking Him for His incredible sacrifice! God’s plan goes beyond love and comprehension. 

    John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    Gratitude & Easter blessings,
    Kim

    *Photo by YouVersion. You can sign up to read the Bible as well as many reading plans by visiting http://www.youversion.com or downloading the FREE YouVersion Bible App.

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    Where Are You God?

    “Where Are You God?”
    Anyone who has been through a heart wrenching situation — a situation that desperately needed God’s help, intervention, and redemption — has more than likely went through a season where God seemingly wasn’t answering your prayers.

    You most likely cried out to Him, begged, pleaded with Him, appealed to Him, maybe fasted, and even claimed scripture…yet nothing seemed to happen.

    I’ve been through seasons such as this during my lifetime. To be completely honest, I’m currently in the midst of the most desperate season I’ve ever been in and have been in it the last few years.

    At the beginning of 2016, I asked God to give me a specific word to learn from and also for two things: one being, “Please give me a brand new season. A season filled with joy and goodness.” And the second being, “Where are you? Please intervene in and change this situation.”

    There will be seasons in life with absolutely no let up. We each may go through trial after trial, and grief experience after grief experience, with no relief in sight. Life can be ridiculous or heartbreaking at times…sometimes for a very long time.

    Anyone who seeks after God with their whole heart…and refuses to give up…will find that God has a purpose and plan for each circumstance though. I have found that God is very, very good – even through the toughest events in life! Even the tough situation I’m currently going through…I know God has an incredible plan.  

    Back to asking God for a specific word…

    The word God gave me for 2016 was Perseverance. When He gave me this word, I was not a happy camper. I had hoped for a word like “Joy” or “Healing” or another word that would give me hope that a new season was about to begin. 

    With the word Perseverance, I knew I would be going through tougher circumstances. And I was right…I have.

    During these trials, God woke me up to a powerful truth: it’s never been me waiting on Him…it’s been I haven’t learned a particular lesson He has been trying to teach me for several years. And for the greater overall picture, it is very important I take the time to learn it.

    God isn’t trying to punish or cause/allow hardship…He’s trying to take His people to a greater level in life!

    Earth isn’t where we’re supposed to find our greatest comfort or ease…that’s the promise of Heaven. Earth is an accelerated, fierce training ground to fully prepare us for Heaven. 

    It doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy life and have great times of goodness…it simply means that if we could truly understand and see the eternal perspective – the “big picture” – of all God’s plans, we’d stop kicking and screaming and cooperate. We’d fully trust and submit. Hard to do during times of great hardship, though, since we each are human. That’s why we need God’s help and grace.

    Think about this:

    Sometimes God isn’t near as silent as we accuse Him of being…sometimes, we just aren’t grasping what He is trying to teach us. And sometimes, God will not instantly or quickly redeem our situation because He doesn’t want us to have to go through a more heartbreaking or tougher situation later on due to not learning a lesson or character quality He is trying to build in our lives. 

    We need to ask ourselves if we are wanting our comfort more than we are willing to persevere and trust His perfect will and perfect timing. Do we truly believe He’s faithful and knows what He’s doing…or do we attempt to twist the arm of God to get what we want in our own time?

    If you’ve experienced major hurt and you’re respectfully questioning God or asking Him to remove the situation, you’re in good company. Even Jesus had questions.

    Matthew 27:46, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”

    Matthew 26:39, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

    God successfully created the whole world and has kept it going since Day one…He knows what He’s doing. He is God and we are not. So why is it so hard to rest in Him and trust His plans or His timing?

    Several years ago, my sweet husband offered to make dinner. He decided to make some fried chicken strips in a deep fryer, but he didn’t set a timer or read the directions on the package of how long to fry them. He chose to take the chicken out whenever he thought they looked done.

    The chicken strips were fried to a light golden brown and looked delicious…until our son and I took our first bite and discovered the chicken was still raw in the middle.

    How many times do we do the same with God? We choose not to read His instructions (the Bible), do things our own way and in our own time, and do not wait for His correct timing? Or we make hasty decisions? And then we become upset and surprised when whatever He is trying to accomplish in our lives seems to take forever…or something bad happens?

    My husband ended up having to refry each chicken strip. And so is the same thing with God…sometimes we have to go through a same or similar situation since we weren’t patient, or the learning process has to restart since we didn’t learn or accomplish what God intended.

    If you are going through a fiery trial today, my heart truly hurts for you. It is not fun to go through a situation where you have zero control. It truly stinks to go through deep grief or a heart wrenching trial and have to wait for God to accomplish His best.

    It’s worth it when God redeems a situation or you can finally see what He was lovingly trying to accomplish, prevent, or teach…but it is sometimes super painful before you get to that place!

    I can tell you this important truth – after going through multiple heartbreaking situations and trials: God is very faithful! He would never allow (not cause, but allow) a challenging trial to enter your life unless He had a specific purpose or plan to see you through. He NEVER wastes a hurt!

    It is always best to learn as much as we can in every situation we go through so we don’t have to go through another same or similar situation due to not learning what God was trying to teach us. 

    Whatever you do, don’t quit. You have great value and your breakthrough may be just around the corner.

    In what area of your life do you need to stop asking “where are you God” and instead completely submit to God and seek Him with your whole heart?

    He’s there. 

    When you fully seek Him, you will find Him. 

    He WILL be making up for all of your pain.❤

    Jeremiah 29:13,You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    Further blog posts on this topic & encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/god-can-restor-your-lost-years

    http://pastorrick.com/devotional/english/god-s-purpose-is-greater-than-your-problems-or-pain

    https://griefbites.com/2015/12/30/sometimes-god-is-waiting-on-us/

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    The Value of Anger in Grief

    One of the strongest emotions you may face during times of grief is anger.
    I have found throughout the years that anyone who hasn’t been through a tough grief experience, they aren’t quite sure what to do with a loved one who is dealing with anger after an unfair or tragic loss.

    Anger is a very uncomfortable emotion. Most people want a remedy that is instant…but anger has to run its course.

    Outside of the ground rule I have for those I coach through grief of “Grieve however you need to grieve…as long as you don’t harm God, others, or yourself,”…I never tell a grief-stricken person to not be angry.

    Some are going to be angry. Angry at God…angry at other people, including family…angry with a doctor or other hospital workers…angry at life…angry that life drastically changed…angry at the lack of being able to turn back time…angry at injustices…angry at other’s wrongdoings…angry at feeling hopeless or helpless…angry you prematurely or unfairly lost a loved one. The fact is, anger is sometimes interlocked with grief.

    One time, at a monthly grief group I lead, there was an attendee who very unfairly went through the premature death of a loved one who meant the world to them. This attendee was screaming…cussing…insulting me…but I didn’t stop it. Another attendee was about to stand up for me and correct the person, but I quickly interrupted and just allowed the parent to get it all out. They didn’t need corrected or judgment…they needed compassion and understanding in the midst of their shattered life and their heart being torn apart.

    A grief group should offer a safe place where each attendee can feel how they need to feel, and have the freedom to work through the tough, difficult, and agonizing emotions. When you try to make grief predictable…safe…sterile, you shortchange the person you are trying to help.

    The thing is…as I explained to everyone in my grief group – whose eyes were as big as silver dollars at the outburst – why shouldn’t the person who was throwing the fit be angry?They just lost one of the most precious, highly treasured gifts they had ever been given in life. This grief event changed life as they knew it. I’ve seen people become unglued when they temporarily lost a replaceable possession such as a car, home, job, or even when breaking something as silly as a fingernail…and everyone understood – so why not be understanding and empathetic when someone permanently loses a person they greatly love here on earth?

    I think it is totally justifiable to have a time for anger during times of grief…without having an outside person trying to remove it, control it, fix it, or lessen it. If someone went through the heartbreaking loss of a loved one’s death…the loss of their marriage…found out they have an untreatable or terminal illness…went through the loss of a job after years of loyalty and service…was assaulted…went through the devastation of adultery…or someone came back after serving in the military…etc. Well, those experiences are harsh, and absolutely horrible. They’re life-changing. Why wouldn’t they be mad? They should be mad for awhile if they need to be. They had terrible things happen to them in life and they should have full understanding and support from loved ones (family, friends, church family, etc) to work through that anger…as long as they aren’t harming God, others, or themselves.

    I think society needs to become more comfortable with allowing people to feel what they need to feel during times of grief. And anger is a part of it.

    If people on the outside are frustrated with how a loved one is processing grief, think how the griever feels on the inside. They’re frustrated, too. Probably, more so. They most certainly didn’t sign up for the grief experience they’re having to walk through…and when family or friends lack compassion, understanding, and genuine love and empathy, think how much that compounds their hurt and frustration.

    If you have a loved one who is experiencing  deep hurt, allow them to hurt without trying to fix them. If you have a loved one who is experiencing anger, allow them to be angry. If they are feeling shattered, allow them the dignity to grieve over their tremendous loss without any judgment.

    Majority of grievers will grow through their grief…in time. But they aren’t going to get over it…..no, they will instead need family and friends who care enough to stick around who will actively love them back to life so they are able to get through it.

    Even in the toughest life situations, it is never wise to camp out in the wilderness of anger longterm. If you stay angry, or make anger a lifestyle, your grief and pain will be in vain.It will destroy you and your loved ones from the inside out, and will harm your relationships and your quality of life…but anger for a season isn’t bad.

    Anger can have great value. For example: as a society, we immediately teach children that anger is a bad emotion…and by doing so, we fail to show them that anger can be a healthy emotion (when used correctly with care) that can be a helpful, driving catalyst to bring about great change. Anger reveals an injustice, injury, or hurt we have experienced in life…and these revelations eventually open up opportunities to prevent similar situations from happening – or to help others who are going through a similar situation.

    When a griever is allowed the freedom to feel angry about their loss…mind you, not stay in their anger longterm, but to feel the expected feelings of anger…they are fully using their emotions and heart to process their grief.

    The alternative is not pretty.

    I’ve seen a lot of grievers stifle their anger or stuff it down, and, instead, turn to alcohol, drugs, and other addictions to numb their pain.

    It is far more valuable for a griever to go through – and work through – anger than to permanently destroy their life by denying, burying it, holding it in, or stifling it. Anger is a way of a griever’s heart screaming what they know to be true: “grief sucks…this is not fair…this should not have happened.” Because, ultimately, that is what anger is…it’s acknowledging that what took place in life was hurtful, tragic, unfair, and not right.

    The next time you have a loved one who is horrifically hurting in grief, please keep in mind they truly are not trying to be a pain…they instead are in pain.

    Expecting a griever, who went through a tragic life event, to not have anger or intense pain would be like unfairly expecting a person who was in a horrible car accident to conceal their pain while in the ambulance or emergency room.

    Instead of judgment, please show kindness and mercy, and help them through their hard time. No words necessary…just love them, listen to them, stick around, and be there. Give them the respect and gift of time so they are able to thoroughly understand their grief and how their grief event has impacted their life.

    Make the commitment to meet loved ones who are grieving exactly where they are, and to be the kind of family member or friend who is an active, restorative support system to loved ones throughout grief and life.

    Always be the mercy and compassion today that you hope to receive in the future.

    “It is important to feel the anger without judging it, without attempting to find meaning in it. It may take many forms: anger at the health-care system, at life, at your loved one for leaving. Life is unfair. Death is unfair. Anger is a natural reaction to the unfairness of loss.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

    Gratitude, grace, & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    Seasons of Life: When Life Hurts

    One of my favorite places in the whole world is Butchart Gardens in Canada. 

    The first time I went there, I was absolutely stunned and amazed by how breathtakingly beautiful their gardens are. The Butchart Gardens are exquisite – a gardener’s or flower lover’s absolute paradise. I’m very familiar with flowers, yet I saw so many varieties I didn’t even know existed. The Butchart Gardens boast over 1,000,000 bedding plants in some 700 varieties. An incredible sight to see!

    Last month, The Butchart Gardens posted a picture of their wintry sunken garden on Facebook and it was beautiful, but strikingly different in comparison to their gardens in other seasons. 

    It reminded me of grief. 

    You may be in the coldest, most uncomfortable and dead season of your life right now…but please take heart. Deep within your grief are seeds that are soon to blossom once again. Spring always arrives and the landscape of your grief will beautifully change. 

    Not “change” as in your grief will magically end…because grief can never be fully resolved. As long as there is love in your heart for your much treasured loved one, grief will always be a part of your life…but that’s not always a bad thing.

    Let me explain.

    Even if you are in the worst chapter of your life, God isn’t finished writing your life story yet. Beauty, greater days…possibly even the best days of your life…may be yet to come. 

    You will still have hard days. Just as the seasons rotate, so do emotions when it comes to life and grief…and that’s okay. When you deeply love – and terribly miss – a loved one, it’s completely normal and to be expected.

    Embrace the days you are in right now, learn all you can, and greatly honor your grief, your treasured loved one, and remaining loved ones. There is purpose that can be born out of grief. Once a new season of your life emerges, you’ll never forget the cold, harsh days you went through…but you will appreciate the beauty that is to come even more. And just like the Butchart Gardens, you will see beauty you may not have even realized exists. Never lose hope! Just like the seasons on earth change, God has the same power to bring renewal to your life and heart! 

    The amazing Butchart Gardens began with Jennie Butchart invited master garden designer Isaburo Kishida to begin a Japanese garden at her estate. From there she added additional gardens that would eventually become The Butchart Gardens. The gardens were a source of joy for many years, and on their grandson’s 21st birthday, the Butcharts gave him the gift of owning the gardens.

    Grief is very similar. There is something or someone who brings us great joy. We invite the Master Garden Designer of our hearts to take the raw pieces of our grief so beauty can eventually be seen. And just like Jennie Butchart gifted the gardens to the generation after her…our greatest gift to our next generations is taking the time to break up the hard ground of grief and allowing extraordinary beauty to come from the gardens of our grief experiences. 

    Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8, There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants. There is a time to kill and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy and a time to build. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance. There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. There is a time to hug and a time not to hug. There is a time to look for something and a time to stop looking for it. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace.”‬ ‭

    Wishing all of you love, healing, blessings, comfort, a great new season, and a beautiful weekend!

    You are VALUABLE and life can become fragrantly sweet again!!

    ~Kim 

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.


    (Photo credit: Butchart Gardens. Go check out and “like” their Facebook page. And if you are ever in Canada, consider visiting Butchart Gardens. It’s a gorgeous place to spend the day and have lunch or afternoon tea!) http://www.butchartgardens.com

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

    For more encouragement:

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    43 Ways To Delight In God

    I’ve previously written about delighting in God – and have received so many requests to follow up on those posts.

    Sometimes, when God places a specific topic on my heart, I’ll write a longer blog post than normal. Today is one of those days. I promise it’s worth reading, though, because today’s topic has the power to radically change your relationship with God and bring great treasure into your life.

    Read it all in one sitting, or read a little today and more tomorrow. I pray your heart will be greatly blessed!

    I love writing about God – especially delighting in Him!

    When people truly understand how incredible God’s love is for them, it absolutely transforms their entire being! It is no longer drudgery to follow God or His ways…it suddenly becomes the highest privilege you can have while on earth.
    You discover God isn’t a killjoy…in fact, He’s better than any adventure you could ever hope to have. And you find He isn’t just merely “Love”…He’s love in action in everything He does.

    You find how awesome God truly is: during the great times…the joys…the amazing adventures we have in life…but also in the super hard times when we don’t understand. He’s amazing!

    Even when our hearts are shattered to the point we think we’ll never be able to pick up the pieces. Even when all seems lost. Even when absolutely nothing makes sense.

    It’s a powerful thing to love God and to feel His love in return through each season of life…good and bad.

    Deuteronomy 6:5,Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

    I always thought I’d learn to love and delight in God during the good times in my life, when everything was going great. I’ve learned I have fallen more deeply in love with God not just during the beautiful times, but especially through the hard times, too…because it’s usually during the toughest times when you truly find the heart and provision of God.

    When I’ve gone through the death of loved ones, and I missed them like crazy…I found God understood my deep pain because before He received my loved ones back to heaven, He was missing them while they were here on earth. God knew them before He gave them their heartbeat and first breath…Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” He knew how it felt to long for the same loved one when He was away from them from the very minute He graciously loaned them to live and do life with me.

    When I went through marriage issues…God understood that same heartache. He had, and still does, experience deep hurt and betrayal – by His own people…including me when I’ve mistreated His heart. Marriage has taught me a great deal about Christ’s genuine love and commitment…and has been a great tool in cultivating my heart.

    When a family member became an atheist…God understood the agony and heart-wrenching tears that fell from my eyes. I gained a much greater picture of how to empathetically witness to others who have been deeply hurt and wounded by the Church…and just as I was desperate for my loved one to find their way back to God’s heart, I gained a small understanding and glimmer of how God greatly desires for us to help His prodigal loved ones to come back to Him, too. He strongly desires for us to help those who are hurting: Jude‬ ‭1:22-23, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment…”‬ ‭

    When I went through my son’s tumors and surgeries and my own illness – and felt so helpless…I found God is perfectly in control and His plans (even if I didn’t like them), are perfect and hold great purpose.

    After my dad died…I learned God is very much a Father to the fatherless. He truly made provisions spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.

    I could go on and on. There are so many great lessons I’ve learned throughout the years about God and His great heart. And my favorite lesson has been learning how to delight in God through the good times, and especially during the bad.

    During my rebellious years before submitting my life to God, I thought people were crazy to love or follow God. I had experienced a lot of pain and heartache in my life while growing up…and the last person I wanted to delight in was God. Sad but true. My plan included rejecting God and the Church…and living independently of both. I didn’t even plan on becoming a born again believer – not even the morning I was saved. And I totally never had plans of becoming a Christian author and blogger.

    …Then God showed up.

    I felt a tremendous pull to read the Bible my dad had previously bought me (the year he married my mom). To those who are new to my blog and haven’t read my book, my biological dad died while I was growing up and my mom married again…giving me one treasure of a new dad. As my Bible fell open, it opened to a page that held the story of Jesus’ great compassion for a woman who had deserved death. Instead, He chose to give the woman great compassion and mercy. He became her friend. As I read the amazing story, I cried out to God and asked Him to save me and have compassion on me like He did for the woman. Jesus became my Friend and He’s proved to be my closest, most treasured friend in life.

    When you truly read God’s Word…and you read for yourself all of the great ways He loves each of us, it becomes incredibly easy…and sweetly and richly rewarding…to love and delight in Him.

    Think about your life and your loved ones’ lives…

    God could have just spoken each person’s existence into being. With one command, it all could have been accomplished. Look how incredible sunsets and sunrises are…the light is truly brilliant, gorgeous, and amazing. Yet, God considers each of us more glorious than sunlight itself. He spoke light into existence…yet He chose to personally create and craft each of us exclusively with His very own hands…knitting us together…establishing a relationship with us before we even breathed one breath. And that’s not all. Our breath? God Himself breathed into our nostrils the breath of life…just as He did with Adam! Genesis‬ ‭2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”‭‭‬ ‭

    If you ever doubt God’s intimate, extravagant, brilliant heart and love for you, you never have to doubt or wonder about your value ever again. Your value is beyond comprehension!

    And the more you love and delight in God and submit to His great purposes for your life, the more you’ll experience God’s great heart. Through both good times and also bad times, you’ll uncover incredible treasure you never knew was possible.

    And Jesus is a true friend. He isn’t fickle…He doesn’t ignore, hurt, or reject people. Jesus fiercely loves you and cuts through all of your sin, poor choices, past shame, or anything else you are dealing with…and He looks directly in your heart. He sees the best in you and all of your great potential. He’s a true friend, especially of sinners (and who isn’t a sinner?), and meets you exactly right where you are. He is exceptionally all in when it comes to His relationships.

    One of my favorite Bible passages is John‬ ‭1:38-39: “Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).”‬ 

    How amazing is that passage? Truly think about this for a moment:

    • Jesus first cared about their hearts, lives, and their needs by asking, “what do you seek?” 
    • When He could tell they were searching in their souls, He didn’t just cleverly come up with a well thought out cliche…He didn’t ignore or reject them…He wasn’t too busy for them..He didn’t tell them to come back later. What’d Jesus do? He invited them in – ALL in – so He could actively become involved in their lives as He simply – and adventurously – said, Come and see.Jesus was about to show them a whole lot more than where He was staying. He didn’t just invite them in for a day…Jesus was ultimately inviting them to experience the absolute adventure of a lifetime – and more importantly, into eternity!! He gave them new names…and brand new lives. They were about to see a miracle (of many) that Jesus was about to perform. Jesus invited them to be ALL in because they were about to find that HE was ALL in too – all the way to death on a Cross for all who would love and accept Him.

    Did you know Jesus wants to do the same for you? Do you realize He still asks, “What do you seek?”…He still wants to intervene in lives today; to give people new “names” and brand new lives? Jesus invites you in – ALL in – today…so He can show you the absolute adventure of your lifetime! Whether you’ve followed Him for many years or you are just beginning to take His hand, when you choose to love and delight in Him…and learn from His great heart, life will forever change and take you to a level you never realized you could go!

    Matthew‬ ‭11:29, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”‬ 

    So how do you learn from God and delight in Him?

    There are so many ways to delight in God. It’s never a cookie-cutter experience…God cares enough to make your relationship with Him the most unique experience possible! God will reveal to your own heart special ways you can delight in Him, learn from Him, and grow your relationship and friendship together. Ask Him to make both the Bible and your relationship with Him come alive for you starting today. He totally will do it!

    Does this mean I’ll never have troubles in my life again…or will it make my current problems instantly disappear?

    If you have given up on God because of a trial that left you broken hearted, I hope this helps you find the One who is patiently waiting to help you and love you. God is crazy about you, adores you, and has great plans for your life! (Jeremiah 29:11)

    God greatly desires to help (and even carry) you through all of life’s toughest situations. When you go through grief or loss, He will wrap you in His arms, and bring such an amazing comfort and strength, giving an opportunity to fall even more deeply in love with Him.

    Life never becomes “perfect” – because people and this earth are still flawed and fallible – but it’s incredible to have a Best Friend with you at all times…in the good times and the bad…when your walk with Him is going great….and even times when you neglect your relationship with Him and you are failing miserably. God’s unconditional love is amazing in experience. He doesn’t cut people off because He is all-in! He will never leave you or forsake you!

    Life never becomes void of problems or grief, but as you grow close to God…you begin to see there is value in every life experience.

    Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

    So…do we delight in God so we can get the desires of our heart…or for what we can get out of Him?

    Absolutely not. God loves giving good gifts – in fact, every good gift comes from Him – but God weighs the heart in all we do.

    James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

    1 Samuel 16:7, “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    We choose to love and delight in God because we love Him and His great big heart!

    We don’t seek out His presents; we learn to thoroughly enjoy His presence.

    I have found throughout the years that God – and a relationship with Him – is the truest treasure on earth. I’d choose God and my relationship with Him over anyone and anything…even all of the money in the world. I believe that anyone who has experienced God would.

    If you grew up in church and feel as though you were never taught how to connect to God, no worries! You can begin today! Growing up, we didn’t have the resources we have today. Literally, today, you have information with just a click of a computer button or touch of a screen. Study your Bible, look at compelling Christian articles that are offered online, download the Youversion Bible app and read some great Bible Reading Plans, and ask God to come alive to you. He’s faithful!

    So how do I begin to treasure and delight in God?

    Here are a few of my favorite ways:

    1. Plan a special time when you can exclusively enjoy God. Every morning and afternoon, I make some hot tea and talk to God about my day. I pray for my loved ones, read the Bible, and listen to whatever He has to share with me.
    2. Talk to God continuously throughout the day silently in your heart…an ongoing conversation. Share every part of your day.
    3. Get alone and curl up on the couch with a blanket and your Bible at the end of the day and reflect on your day with God.
    4. Go on a nature walk with Him. Marvel at all of His creation. Breathe the air in deeply and thoroughly find refreshment in His nature.
    5. Go to a restaurant and talk to God silently while you enjoy a meal with Him.
    6. Pick a favorite activity and simply enjoy God and His presence…it could be playing golf, swimming, running, surfing, leisure walking, lifting weights, or my personal favorite – longboarding. There’s nothing like getting alone with God and having the cares of the world melt away as you talk to Him about everything. God is everywhere so spend some time hanging out with Him.
    7. Ask God to show you areas of your heart and life that you need to change. Follow through with whatever change He asks you to do.
    8. Buy a Journal and write letters to God. Also write down goals He shares with your heart and prayer requests for your family, friends, church, work, leaders, life, and yourself.
    9. Seek to know the deepest parts of God’s  heart and share the deepest parts of your heart and soul with Him. Find out as much as you can about God and tell Him all about you. He already knows everything about you but He loves when we pour our hearts out to Him and we seek to truly know Him. Francis Chan once said that if you take a thimble or a soda can to the middle of the ocean and filled water into the thimble or can…that’s our humanly limit to what we can possibly know about God in comparison to the entire ocean. I hope God allows me to know Him as much as I possibly can…and then even more after that. Ask God to reveal a beautiful or unique facet of Himself to you that He has never revealed to anyone else.
    10. Ask God to share with you the plans He has for you and obey those plans.
    11. Tell God your hopes, dreams, struggles, ideas, fears, joys, and failures. Seek to find what brings great joy to His heart.
    12. Share with God your heartaches, sins, failures, and shortcomings…and cry out to Him. God is the ULTIMATE Best Friend you will ever have the privilege of knowing. He’s the only Friend who is available 24/7 and truly cares about everything you experience, struggle with, and go through. Deeply consider – and be compassionate about – what brings His heart pain.
    13. Ask God for His guidance and ask Him to give you the gifts of wisdom, discernment, compassion, a soft heart, and understanding.
    14. Ask God to continue to “create and perfect” you. God is the ultimate artist….place yourself back on His canvas and allow Him to “paint” the rest of your life to what He wants for it. Ask God to finish your life picture in His time with the colors He chooses. There will be colors of joy…colors of brilliance…colors of beauty. There will also be dark brushstrokes and shades of sadness…heartache…and suffering… BUT…God promises to take ALL of the colors and make the overall portrait something of great value, extraordinary beauty, and treasure. (Romans 8:28)…You can trust His most skillful Hand!
    15. Extravagantly honor and admire God. Think about creation and of all the beauty He lavishes on us everyday — we are SO incredibly blessed!!! He creates sunrises, sunsets, flowers, trees, nature. When you feel the wind, think of it as a hug from God that envelopes you. When it rains, think of it as God giving you tiny little kisses. One of the things I love about God is how creative He is. Whether it’s nature, or how uniquely different He has made each one of us, or even the amazing variety He allows us in life, I always thank Him for it. Thank God for making different seasons of weather or thank Him for all of the variety of foods and spices He has created. Look at all of the different animals and even look at all the different places you can travel to and experience. I love how God is totally not boring in anything He does. My absolute favorite is all of the people He has created. He is the greatest, most creative Genius ever!
    16. Have a Thank-fest: take the time to literally thank God for each and every good person, blessing, and thing in your life…especially Him! There is a tremendous amount to be thankful for!
    17. Truly get to know God- Read your Bible and find out for yourself who God genuinely is. Don’t merely depend on what others have told you about Him. Seek out His heart and really pursue Him. I had a good friend who challenged me to get to know God for myself and I am so very glad he did. God wasn’t anything like what I had thought. Many Christians have given God a bad name and have pushed self-centered agendas on to others. Forget what you’ve been told and look up passages of scripture that reveal and reflect God’s TRUE character and heart. He is a beautiful God of mercy, forgiveness, justice, fierceness, and compassion. Slow to anger and filled with grace. Yes, He does discipline, so it’s good to look up what pleases God and what He expects out of us, but once you truly know God’s heart, you’ll want to obey Him…not out of fear but because you truly LOVE him. Read Psalms. It’s a great book to find God’s heart. Look at Proverbs, it tells you the right way to live. Get to know God for yourself and develop a personal relationship with Him. And make your relationship truly special and unique…build it continually with truth and authenticity. You can download the Bible for free on the YouVersion app…they also have tons of free devotionals/reading plans to enrich your relationship with God. Grief Bites has several reading plans on YouVersion, too.
    18.  Speaking of different books of the Bible…read all of the books of the Bible. I personally love Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament the most because they are so applicable, but I also enjoy getting to know about God in the Old Testament. Every book in the Bible gives clues as to who God really is. When you read it, the Bible comes alive and you find treasures only He can reveal to your heart. Did you know God’s Word shares that only believers can understand and interpret His Word (1 Cor. 2:14, Matthew 13, Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25)? If you believe in God, the Bible is a complete adventure each time you open and read it! If you’re a believer and you’re not sure what to do in reading the Bible, start off by reading one chapter of Proverbs a day and five chapters of Psalms. In one month, you’ll have read all of the Psalms and Proverbs…and it is incredible how God uses many of the verses in a different way each month that you read them. Add one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament immediately or after the first month. It will take you about 15 minutes per day. If your Bible reading becomes dry…ask God to bring it to life, to show you new truths, and then let the Bible fall open to wherever it falls to and read that chapter for the day.
    19. Memorize and personalize scripture and God’s Promises with your name in it. For example: Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for Susan and her family,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper Susan and her family and not to harm Susan or her family, plans to give Susan and her family hope and a future.” You can memorize and personalize any scripture. You can personalize it with just your name or you can include others in it (such as family members or friends) like I just did. You can also put a loved one’s name in it when you’re praying specifically for someone.
    20. Do an in depth Bible study on a certain topic and find out everything you can about it. I did one about grief and suffering and it was amazing what I found. I had no idea that God saves each of my tears that I have cried in a bottle and writes down each and every one of my heartaches in His book. It is extremely interesting what God has in store for you if you’ll just seek to find Him, His great heart, and His plans. My sister helped teach me how to make the Bible “come alive” for me personally through studying specific topics and I have never read the Bible the same way since. God (and His word) is super exciting!
    21. Confide in God and ask Him to purify and soften your heart. Nobody cares more about your heart than God. Nobody. Like I previously said, I LOVE what Psalm 56:8 says- “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear placed into Your bottle, each ache written in Your book”. If God cares enough to document every pain I have ever experienced, then He is who I want to expose my complete heart to. Trust God with your heart and ask Him every day to change, convict, purify, speak to, and soften your heart.
    22. If you are going through a time of suffering…ask God to heal your heart and ask Him to show you His purpose for whatever trial or suffering you are currently going (or have previously gone) through. If you have gone through a major trial, don’t be scared to talk to God openly about it. If you’re mad at Him then respectfully tell Him. He’s big enough to handle it. There have been times, to be honest, that I have been angry at God. It was very hard having loved ones die and watch my sister lose not only one fiance but two fiances in death and see the affects of those situations. Seeing my son go through multiple surgeries for ongoing, inoperable tumors was very difficult to watch…that has been one of the hardest trials I have been through…but I am SO grateful God is in control and He hears my heart, my fears, and comforts us through those hard times. There are other things I have gone through that have been very hard, but I have seen how God can take a horrible situation and turn the bad into good for His purposes that are too great for me to understand. I am forever grateful to the person who showed me that God has a purpose for EVERYTHING. It’s been during times of suffering that I grew in my relationship with Him the most. I like what Rick Warren says, “God never wastes a hurt.” Ask God to truly heal your heart and show you how to bring purpose out of your pain. He’s faithful.
    23. Look for ways to do something awesome for God and seek to build His kingdom. God loves for us to minister to and love others as unto Him- Matthew 25:40, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
    24. Surprise a family member or friend for God with a secret gift to cheer them up when they’re down. If you’re at a restaurant and you can tell your waiter/waitress is struggling, leave an extra tip – make sure the tip is really good – with a note telling them God loves them! Do something super sweet for a family member, friend, pastor, or neighbor.
    25. Share your testimony with someone and tell them how God is working in your life.
    26. Invest in your church, pastor, and church leadership by regularly praying for them.
    27. Give God an extra offering above your usual tithe. If you don’t already tithe, start tithing.
    28. Do a kind favor for a family member or a friend without expecting anything in return. Help family you know who are in need if you are able to.
    29. Have friends or family over for dinner, a Bible study, game night, or a fun movie and serve others with the hospitality and resources God has blessed you with. God loves when we’re hospitable!
    30. Forgive anyone you hold something against. Take them off of your hook and place them (& the situation) into God’s more than capable hands.
    31. Encourage someone with a kind word or a note. Give family and friends genuine praise and bless them with words of affirmation.
    32. Write God a love letter and share with Him all you love about Him.
    33. Buy a new Bible and read through the entire Bible and make notations on the sides of each page of what God has spoken to your heart and then give that Bible to your child/future child/niece/nephew/grandchild/family member as a readable legacy.
    34. Make a special commitment to God and after you accomplish the commitment, celebrate with Him.
    35. If you know the date of your salvation, plan an evening with God on that exact date. Go out to dinner and celebrate with God (and family or friends) or take lunch to the park and spend time exclusively with Him.
    36. Turn on some praise music and spend time wholeheartedly worshiping Him. Music is such a phenomenal gift from God…thank Him for it!
    37. Look for God in the details. He is there. I am constantly amazed how God orchestrates our daily lives. I love it when He surprises me by turning a bad situation into a good one, or how if I’m out late, He always gives me an up front parking spot. It’s fun to see how God works through daily life as well as the people who I know.
    38. Pray for specific things for your spouse, children, nieces and nephews, parents, siblings, grandchildren, and family members. I love praying for my family!  It’s super cool to pray for them and not tell them what I’m praying about and then hear them tell some story of how God did something or provided something…and it was exactly what I had been praying for them. I love how God is in ALL the details! I had been praying for one particular prayer request everyday for 14 years and God finally answered it in 2008. It has been incredible to watch God work out the details of that prayer request and He answered it in a way that only He could have fulfilled. Trust God with the details of your life and your family.
    39. Learn a new skill you can use for God. I know a guy who learned how to paint gorgeously with chalk. He’d use his talent to share life stories of how God was working in his life. I also know a young lady who learned how to teach dance lessons. She offers discounted dance lessons through her church.
    40. Start a ministry for God. Everybody has the ability to start a ministry. Look for a need, think of what you’re passionate about, ask God to show you what He’d like you to do and where He’d like for you to serve, and then go out and change the world.
    41. Focus on God on every holiday: Celebrate with Him throughout the year. Start New Year’s Day by dedicating your year to Him. In February, thank Him for being the Love of your life. On Easter, watch The Easter Story or The Passion and really try to comprehend what He did to have a relationship with you. Now that is GENUINE LOVE! On Father’s Day, thank Him for being the ULTIMATE Father. By the way…if you are fatherless, you have an extra special place in God’s heart! Use Father’s Day to celebrate God the Father. On 4th of July, pray for the men and women in the military as well as their families, thank God for your freedom that other people have sacrificed for you to have, and most importantly thank God for giving you true freedom in Christ. Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for our family because my sister died on Thanksgiving Day. I used to dread it and cried to God about how painful that day was. God placed in my heart a true gratefulness for Him and the rest of my family that is still here on earth. Use Thanksgiving as a way to show your thankfulness to whoever God has allowed in your life and thank Him for every blessing. Thank Him also for everything He has brought you through all year. Christmas is super fun, it’s His birthday. Make Jesus a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Throw Jesus a HUGE birthday party and then as His birthday present, invest your time in prayer throughout the year for each person that comes. Think of something special you can do for God and celebrate with Him.
    42. Show family how special they are to God and you…treat them like royalty! When a family member has a birthday, make a special birthday card or a slide show for them with pictures set to some great music and watch it as a family. Then when you pray to God later that night, thank Him for creating that family member and ask God to bless and protect them. Say a special personalized blessing for them. I’ve done this for my family. It’s a lot of fun to honor someone in this way to celebrate their birthday.
    43. Speak verbal blessings over your loved ones- Ever since my son was a baby, I have always spoken a blessing to him. I always say it on his birthday, but there are times throughout the year I’ll go up to him and say it out loud to him. Pick out a special scripture and speak it to your family members. For example, my blessing for my son is Numbers 6:24-27, and I speak it out loud to him…even though he’s an adult, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” Take the opportunity to invest and celebrate in your family’s lives. There are tons of ways to celebrate with God, for God, and because of God. God is a God of celebration so celebrate with Him in all things.

    To sum it all up: Make God your life. Include Him in everything. Make Him your everything. Day by day, share your life with Him. Find new ways everyday to fall more in love with God and fully delight in Him.

    This list is just some ideas I came up with, and I’m not the most creative person, so I’m sure you can definitely come up with some better ideas. If you have a special way you delight in God, comment to this post so everyone else can see your idea. We’re all here to help each other love God and love others more.

    Hope you each have a super awesome, blessed, and fantastic New Year overflowing with God’s love!

    Deuteronomy 30:20, “…that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…” 

    Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

    Thank you reading this! Hope you enjoyed it and got some new ideas for how to love and delight in God more. I pray He richly blesses you as you delight in Him and make Him your heart and your life!

    More on delighting in God:

    https://griefbites.com/2015/12/27/delighting-in-god/

    https://griefbites.com/2016/04/03/delighting-in-god-through-trialspart-2/

    Happy New Year!!!🎉⭐🌺

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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