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7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Do you know of someone who is hurting due to the death of a loved one, an illness, divorce, family conflict, or an unexpected life challenge or crisis?

The holidays are very hectic for most people, but they become extra challenging for those going through grief.

When family and friends offer kindness and encouragement, it can make all the difference in the world to those who are hurting.

Whether the person who is grieving is a family member, friend, fellow church member, coworker, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the AMAZING opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this holiday season.

Choose to be a BLESSING!

Think about each of these tips, and while you’re reading them, think of who you can bless – starting this week!

Here are 7 practical tips for helping a grieving loved one during the holidays~

1. Offer encouragement to the person who is going through grief by sending them an I’m-thinking-of-you card or a phone call. Whether they lost a loved one a week ago or many years ago, their loved one will always be treasured and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact that their loved one is no longer here. If possible, refrain from sending over-the-top cheerful holiday greetings and cards if their loss is recent. Instead, send a more peace-filled greeting card with a special heartfelt note.

2. Stay away from cliches such as, “They’re in a better place”, “God needed an angel”, or “God must have needed them more.” Although these statements are intended to make the grieving one feel better, it will often leave them hurting and frustrated. Try encouraging your loved one with loving words of remembrance such as, “I really miss _____, she/he was a such a wonderful person” or “I remember when we ________.” Reflection on the deceased loved one brings validation to family members left behind that their loved one was important, is missed, and that they are still cared about. Most who have gone through grief still enjoy talking about their loved one. Bringing their loved one up is welcomed by most. You’re not going to hurt them by bringing up their loved one…their loved one is already on their heart. Also, at all costs, never say (or even suggest) to someone who is going through grief to “get over it.” That’s worse than all cliches combined.

3. Take the bereaved person a Christmas wreath, cookies, or a Christmas flower arrangement, and while there, maybe offer to do errands for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in cheering someone up who is going through grief.

4. Invite them to attend your Christmas church service, family holiday dinner, or join in your Christmas festivities. Peace, comfort, encouragement, and loving relationships are important to offer to the bereaved during the holidays. A griever may want to attend church, but may not have anyone to attend with. Sometimes, traditional family dinners can be challenging too. If you are a close enough family member or friend, they may welcome an opportunity for a new place and environment to go to for church, dinner, or holiday celebrations.

5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a Christmas church service, to see The Nutcracker, to dinner, or to go shopping with you. When someone is going through grief, they lose contact with the outside world as they are immersed in their pain. Many times, people do not know what to say to someone who is going through grief so they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let them know you care. An invitation will speak volumes of your love and concern for them.

6. Be patient with those in grief. Life as they once knew it has drastically changed. It takes time to find a new “normal” and to thoroughly understand the full impact their grief and loss will have. Allow them the time they individually need to grieve. Everybody grieves differently and that’s perfectly fine. Please do not become frustrated with someone who is in grief…trust me, they’re frustrated, too! Support, love, and encourage them.

7. Simply listen and be there. Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for a griever is to give them a hug with the gift of silence and a listening ear, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and be a good listener. We all desperately want to say the magic words that will comfort loved ones in grief, but there simply are no words that can magically remove their heartache and pain. A trustworthy listening ear is more important than most people realize.

Please consider whose life (and heart) you can make a difference in this week! Think of someone you know who is going through a hard time and then offer them hope and encouragement.

Have a very blessed and meaningful holiday season!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 🦃🎄❤️🎄🦃

©2015 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:
⭐️ <u
p://peacewithgod.net

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

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

🎄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

⭐️FREE YouVersion reading plan:

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

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One Of The Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made

All throughout life, we each will make a series of choices.

Some choices will turn out to be very beneficial; others will prove to be liabilities. 

We can truly learn through all choices – the good and the bad. And when we learn or experience something in life – especially the great things, why not pass it on to help others?

My favorite choices in life, are the ones I can look back on and be exceptionally happy I made them count.

As I was talking to a dear friend this week, she asked me what three choices – other than becoming a Christian, wife, or mom – have made the greatest impact in my life.

I immediately thought of several, but one stood out the most…the decision to buy a notebook and use it to create, and continually update, a Bucket List.

A Bucket List has helped me to be much more intentional in living life…both short term and long term.

There are many places I’ve traveled that I most likely never would have traveled to, many goals I’ve reached that could’ve gotten lost in the shuffle of life, and many activities and traditions I’ve enjoyed with my husband, the kiddos, and my family and friends — all because I wrote these things down and purposely made them a reality — especially if I gave myself a deadline to complete them.

Do I meet every goal, destination, and activity’s deadline all of the time? Nah…and I don’t beat myself up when I don’t. But I do meet about 80-90% of them…which is much better than the 0-25% I’d meet if I weren’t intentional about it. And on some things, I’ll extend the deadline so I can accomplish them at a later date, so there’s never any stress with my Bucket List.

I love my Bucket List! It’s purpose-filled and fun! I enjoy dreaming, setting goals, planning fun activities, and looking forward to different travels. 

There have been many times that my Bucket List has provided much joy, and it also has helped me stay focused through times of deep grief.

So how do you start a Bucket List?

  1. Buy a notebook or create a file on your computer/cell phone/iPad. There are also some Bucket List apps.
  2. Ask yourself what activities or traditions (old or new) you’d like to enjoy with family or friends 
  3. Think about what you intentionally want to do in life 
  4. Consider places you’d like to travel
  5. Ask God what spiritual goals He’d like for you to put on your Bucket List
  6. What educational or career goals would you like to pursue and accomplish 
  7. Are there areas of self-improvement you’d like to make
  8. What bad habits would you like to overcome
  9. What positive life goals or dreams would you like to fulfill
  10. What financial goals would you like to work on
  11. What relationships would you like to improve or honor/enjoy more
  12. What family and friends do you want to make sure feel extraordinarily loved, encouraged, and appreciated
  13. What ministry do you want to start or become involved in
  14. How can you make God and His love & kindness more known in the world
  15. What activities/hobbies are you passionate about…or what new activities/hobbies do you want to start, try, or perfect

These tips can help you start brainstorming your way to living your life to the fullest! 

Truly think about the kind of life you want. 

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed about going on a Mediterranean cruise, or traveling to Hawaii or Disney World with family. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go skiing over Thanksgiving or to the beach at Christmastime. Or do a road trip in the Fall to see the gorgeous leaves in New England.

Maybe you’ve dreamed of going back to school to get a higher degree.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or cook…or do tae kwon do or adult league soccer. Maybe get into bodybuilding or running.

Maybe you want to be a better spouse…parent…sibling…family member…friend. 

Make your Bucket List your very own. Create individualized goals/plans and also include God and family in your plans. Have the best time creating a beautiful life – the kind of life you wake up in the morning and truly want. A life you are really excited to live each and every day! 

A Bucket List has helped me tremendously throughout my life. It truly is one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made! 

It helps anyone who has a Bucket List to be very intentional. And it’s great to look back and see how much you were able to enjoy, plan, do, and accomplish – and especially help others, too!

What’s the first thing you’ll write in your Bucket List? Be sure to periodically highlight or put a check next to each item you’ve accomplished, enjoyed, or successfully completed.

At the end of your life, you’ll be extra thankful you took the time to create a Bucket List…and look back and see the wonderful, beautiful life you intentionally created for you and your loved ones!

Happy Bucket Listing!

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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617&nbsp;

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

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

❤️Kim’s FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

To Make Resolutions or Not Make Resolutions: The Excitement of Yearly Goals

Every year since I can remember, I’ve always made a New Year’s Resolution.

In recent years, I chose to give up a food item or beverage I loved: in 2012, I gave up all dessert, candy, and sweets…in 2013, I gave up soda…2014, I gave up sweet tea…2015, I gave up chips and queso…and this past year, I gave up coffee.

Before these recent years, I would make a commitment to do something for a whole year: walk for 20 minutes each day…perfectly keep up with my most dreaded chore (laundry)…etc.

One year (after my sister passed away), I was so extremely disappointed in life, I set out to purposely regain my “life,” post-grief.

Another year, my resolution was to pray fervently each and every day for two specific prayer requests.

…But my favorite Resolutions have been times when I set specific goals, enriched my spiritual life, or learned new skills.

I usually know exactly what I’m going to do – or not do – each year, but this year, I was stumped. 

A surprising thought entered my mind: “to make Resolutions or not make Resolutions…”

Then I thought, “why would I deny myself the excitement and opportunity to set a goal with God’s help to better my life?”

New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be drudgery. They should be exciting…an opportunity to accomplish new goals..and breathe new life..into the New Year!

As I pondered what my newest resolution was going to be, I thought about many things.

•Giving up a food or beverage item isn’t really that big of a deal since I follow a very strict diet due to medical reasons anyway. I’ve already “been there, don’t that,” too.

•I’m already doing what I should be doing, so there aren’t many tough challenges there.

•I continually do self-work and allow God completely into my life to help through life challenges, so that is already second nature.

•And I’m already praying fervently about the life issues that need it.

Then I got to thinking…and really thinking…about resolutions I should have done many years ago — but failed to do so.

I asked myself, “What goals did I prematurely give up on in my younger years?…What dreams did I allow to get pushed to the background due to “life” happening? …And do I now have the courage and ability to accomplish these things?”

I suddenly knew exactly what my New Year’s Resolution was going to be.

It’s a huge one…a God-sized resolution that I will need God’s daily help to accomplish. A past goal I had lost sight of.

I was going to keep it a secret just between God and me, but after praying, I felt as though God told me to pick two people to hold me accountable – because I know I’ll need accountability throughout 2017 to accomplish it. I knew I needed two people who wouldn’t be apprehensive to be direct with me, who would be able to give me much needed feedback (both encouraging and harsh), so I can accomplish what I know I’m called to do.

And I’m excited about this New Year’s Resolution – more so than any other I’ve chosen to do.

So, do you make resolutions each year?

If not, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. It could be something small…something huge…doing something you know you’ve needed to do…fulfilling a dream…accomplishing something great…overcoming something challenging…nurturing a need in yourself or others…or simply breaking a bad habit. 

Choose something that will breathe new life into you, those around you, and your new year…something that can greatly improve life and circumstances…

2017 could very well be the greatest adventure and most exciting journey of your life!

There are so many resolutions to choose, you could: 

  • delight in God more
  • overcome a specific life challenge 
  • make a resolution to travel more
  • save up for the vacation of your dreams- go to Disney World, go camping or on a road trip for a week, visit Ireland & the Cliffs of Moher, go on a mission trip, visit the place your ancestors lived, go on a cruise to see multiple new places, etc.
  • thoroughly organize your home & life
  • show love to your family & spend more time with them
  • read your Bible more and do indepth studies
  • overcome negativity, an addiction, or anything that is holding you back
  • exercise more 
  • enjoy nature or gardening
  •  learn a new skill, or better a current skill, such as cooking or playing a musical instrument 
  • learn how to do a fun activity you’ve always wanted to do: sewing, surfing, longboarding, tennis, tae kwon do, join an adult sports league, painting/art, etc.
  • write a book or start a blog
  • create a new ministry
  • gain better health – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and/or physically 
  • improve a specific relationship 
  • actively forgive someone or seek out forgiveness from others
  • do something work related such as go back to school, improve your work situation, change jobs, or attend specific seminars to help you be better at what you do
  • get out of debt/start a savings account
  • volunteer at your favorite charity or church

There are so many exciting options and great opportunities for New Year’s Resolutions!

My sister did something super cool one year; she did one resolution per month:

  • She gave up soda for January 
  • She read her Bible for 30 min each day in February 
  • She walked 30 min each day in March
  • She worked on and perfected work related stuff all of April
  • She then did one specific resolution per month for the rest of the year

Your resolution can be serious, specific, challenging, or purpose-filled. It’s your resolution, so make it a great one that is specialized for you!

And don’t be scared to make your resolution fun, and enjoy including loved ones! One of my favorite “fun” Resolutions was to attend as many concerts as possible in one year. At the end of the year, thanks to music festivals and local shows, I had seen over 100 bands. I’ll always cherish that year of fun and great music because I went to all of the music events – and made incredible memories – with one of my most favorite, treasured people in the whole world!

You can break up resolutions into monthly goals, do one large goal for the whole year, or do a mix of different resolutions broken up however you wish. There’s no right or wrong way to make a resolution.

I love the sheer challenge and excitement of resolutions! I love it better when I can look back and see how I was creatively able to keep my commitments!

When I dedicate my resolution to God, He always makes the experiences extra special and they always turn out to be exactly what I needed most.

I’ve only broke one resolution my entire life, so I’m looking forward to meeting a more challenging resolution head-on and looking back on the whole year on December 31, 2017 at 11:59pm. That will be the night, and the moment of truth, I look back on and see all I was able to accomplish with God’s help throughout 2017.

I’ll be sure to write an update quarterly and especially on January 1, 2018 and share with you what my resolution was…and how God worked in my life to help me accomplish it throughout the year.

I pray whatever your resolution is, God will provide you with the strength, help, fun, compassion, and drive you need to accomplish it.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

With God’s help, you can accomplish GREAT things! Your resolution has the amazing power to change your life…what an adventure!

On December 31, 2017, at 11:59pm, I hope you see and realize how all of your hardwork, effort, and sacrifices paid off brilliantly! 

Happy New Year Resolutions making! 🙂

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2016 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

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

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

❤️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&nbsp;

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

Making 2017 A Year To Remember: 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.

With a brand New Year, today is the perfect time to reflect on 2016, and to plan for making 2017 your best year yet.

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 in your New Year.

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

To start off, I’ll share how I learned how to delight in God:

I learned how to delight in God after going through the wonderful life-changing experience of becoming a mom. Life at the time, however, was not so wonderful…and I was scared to death I’d mess everything up.

I had given my heart to the Lord as a child, but I became a sold-out, truly born again Christian the day I went into labor, and the very first night after I gave birth…as I was holding my fresh, brand new baby…I desperately pleaded with God to show me how to be a good Christian and a good mom. 

I don’t think I understood God’s extravagant love before I became a mother. I grew up in a Christian home and attended church; even had loving parents…but I failed to genuinely appreciate or see the great value and blessings of God’s heart and my parents’ love.

After I had given birth, my doctor thought I had postpartum depression. I explained to him, I was weepy because I felt so lucky to be a mom…and I suddenly understood how much God and my parents loved me. I had put my parents through a lot during my teen years…I, sadly, was their worst child…so the day I held my son, everything “clicked” as I understood love so much better.

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. Everything

You find how awesome He 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 am blessed to have attended a good church while growing up, to have parents who invested heavily in me, and to have learned a lot through various retreats and conferences. Each taught me a new perspective on how to grow closer to God’s heart.

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 deep marriage issues…He 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 someone close to me became an atheist…He 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 both 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 – especially after those sweet days of holding my newborn baby so many years ago.

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. I just didn’t “get it”. 

…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 we’ve been friends for decades now. And He’s proved to be my closest, most treasured friend.

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 Jesus’ first miracle (of many) that He 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 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 Him 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. 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, I make some hot tea with honey 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 your 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 or disc golf, swimming, running, 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 God. Find out as much as you can about Him 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 to the middle of the ocean and filled water into the thimble…that’s about our 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.
  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 and cry out to Him. He 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 and go through. Deeply consider – and be compassionate about – what brings His heart pain.
  13. Ask Him for His guidance and ask Him to give you the gifts of wisdom 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 Him to finish your 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…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 Him. 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 Him 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 Him for each and every good person and thing in your life…especially Him! There is a tremendous amount to be thankful for!
  17. Truly get to know Him- 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, 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 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 completely understand and interpret His Word (1 Cor. 2:14, Matthew 13, Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25)? If you believe in Him, 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 15-20 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 if you’re praying 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 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 Him with your heart and ask Him every day to change, purify, and soften it. 
  22. If you are going through a time of suffering…ask Him to heal your heart and ask Him to show you His purpose for whatever trial or suffering you are currently 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 someone 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! 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 to give what you can. 
  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 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/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 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 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, 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 Him a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Throw God 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 do 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 Him 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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❤️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&nbsp;

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

😇FREE Bible and devotionals: www.youversion.com


    The 10 Thieves of Christmas 

    So, who all has seen How The Grinch Stole Christmas?

    If you’ve not seen, or at least heard of, the Grinch, you probably live in a remote village with no TV or wifi access.

    I watched the tv show version of the grinch with my family as a child while growing up, and I have now always watched the grinch with my own family ever since I got married each year as well.

    I love the complexity of this show because of the many elements – and so much of life happens in similar ways. 

    Just like the Grinch and the Whos of Whoville, you dream of what life has to offer…you plan and prepare for it…something happens and wrecks your plan, attempting to rob you of your joy…and then there is growth – and eventually healing. And this circle goes on and on and on through multiple different circumstances all throughout life.

    Just like when the Grinch attempts to steal Christmas from The Whos – and all seems lost, miracles can still become a reality and life lessons can be learned through the toughest grief experiences we each face.

    Are you battling a thief of Christmas today? Is something, a life event, or someone sucking all of your joy and peace out of you this Christmas season? 

    Everybody at some point will go through a season during the holidays where life is a true, heartbreaking challenge. Below is a list of the most common thieves of Christmas. As you read this list, consider what “thieves” are attempting to steal your joy and peace.

    1. Grief – 
    Losing a loved one can make the holidays absolutely unbearable. You miss your loved one so much that your heart genuinely aches…it feels as though your heart is literally breaking. If you are going through grief, be kind to your remaining loved ones and yourself. If you are freshly in grief, there is no wrong or right way of celebrating the holidays. Do only whatever makes you comfortable. You may choose to do your usual festivities…you may choose to have a much more relaxed holiday…or you may choose to simply stay home or go out of town. The people who love you will understand and support however you need to spend the holidays. Surround yourself with love.

    2. Disappointment
    There are many disappointments life can throw at you — and the holidays seem to magnify them. If you’re frustrated by an area of your life, the holidays tend to bring up intense feelings. If you’re single and wish to be married or you desperately desire to be a parent, you most likely will see more happy couples or children than usual. If you wanted a promotion at work, this can be magnified as well. If you’re married and your spouse or children don’t seem to care about you or they don’t care to celebrate the traditions that are dear to your heart…or your kiddos can’t come home for Christmas…that’s tough, too. Disappointments come in many forms. It’s up to each person to figure out how to navigate through the deep disappointments in life. I have found the best way to deal with disappointments in life, is to mourn the loss of whatever disappointment it is, then give all of my expectations to God, and then finally write down a checklist of all of the good I have in my life. Sometimes when you see what you do have in life it alleviates what you do not.

    3. Relationship Conflicts –
    The holidays for most people – sadly – wouldn’t be the holidays if there wasn’t some sort of relational conflict. Parents get upset by how their married children divvy up the time they have to spend on Christmas Day…spouses are stressed due to a multitude of reasons – maybe even undealt with past conflict…kids are shuffled between homes and become irritable…family members fail to value one another…certain family members bring up problems during Christmas dinner or make catty or rude remarks. A variety of relationship conflicts happen to most everyone at some point during the holidays. My advice? Make the most of EVERY Christmas event with loved ones. You never know who will pass away in the new year and you don’t want your previous holiday to hold painful memories or regrets. Choose to give grace to others when you can. Enjoy and love your family extravagantly. If you’re upset a family member isn’t doing what you’re expecting them to do, or if someone is upset with you, seek to find win/win situations where both people can be happy. If you know you’re being difficult, give the gift of harmony and flexibility to others. Be super good to your spouse, kids, parents, grandparents, siblings, and all other family members. Family is a most treasured gift – even if each person doesn’t always act like one. I talk to so many grievers who would absolutely give up everything in the world to have their loved one back with them on Christmas Day. Choose to call a moratorium and be the bigger person. It’s one day of the entire year – do your part to make it a great one! If someone is seriously rude or degrading to you or your family, sometimes the most polite thing you can do is create strong boundaries…especially if you have young children who you are trying to provide great Christmas memories for. If someone has majorly crossed over boundary lines, you may want to get the advice of a therapist to see how to best handle the conflict. If it can be resolved or talked out, family harmony is very important. Sometimes, that just, sadly, isn’t possible. There’s a big difference between an annoying or opinionated relative and an extremely toxic one who can truly create long term damage. Pray and ask God for wisdom of how to handle situations, give grace where you can, and seek out healthy interactions and create great memories with family this year! 

    4. Addictions
    Addictions are a killer around the holidays. If you are someone who struggles with sobriety or you’ve chosen to make healthier life choices, temptations are EVERYWHERE. If you’re battling alcohol, food/overeating, overspending, etc, you have to be so very careful to maintain your sobriety and health. Perhaps your family still has alcohol around because they “have always done things this way,” you’ll need to ensure your healthful choices by pre-planning how you’ll address potential situations and temptations. Preparation and having a solid plan at all times goes a long way! Addictions demand that you give up so much for so little…it literally is like borrowing $5 but having to pay back $5,000. Don’t give up months or years of discipline and hard work for one day or one week of the year. It just isn’t worth it!

    5. Loneliness – 
    There are many reasons for loneliness. You may not have family or friends, or you may even be married with kiddos and have family and friends but feel extremely alone if your relationships are shallow or stressed. The holidays can be intensely lonely. Everybody dreams of having lots of family and friends around…receiving lots of Christmas cards…being invited to holiday parties…having a special friend or romantic partner to do activities with…snuggling up with someone or doing lots of fun Christmas activities with friends…but sometimes life just doesn’t happen the way we wish. I remember one particular Christmas that was painful for me, it was actually the year before I met my husband. Due to some very tough situations, I felt extremely alone. More alone than I had ever felt. I had just been through a traumatic grief event and I could have thrown the biggest pity party on planet earth – and everyone who knew me at the time would’ve completely understood and supported the pity party. I, instead, chose to do whatever I could to create a memorable Christmas. I invited my parents to go buy a live Christmas tree with me. I asked my sisters to bake treats with me. The very best thing I chose to do was choosing to spend many nights in front of the Christmas tree with all of the lights out in the room except for the beautiful lights on the Christmas tree, pouring my broken heart out to God. It sounds really crazy, but I will always treasure that super lonely Christmas. I found God’s heart through that tough and lonely season in my life. If you are feeling all alone this Christmas, please know that God loves you so very much! When people hurt or fail you…when spouses of kiddos disappoint or hurt your heart…when friends fail you…God is always there. He’s beyond faithful and will comfort your lonely heart in a way no human possibly can. Invite God to spend your holiday with you. You’ll be delightfully surprised how faithful – and what an amazing friend – He truly is!

    6. Financial Difficulties –
    I wish everybody had a money tree in their backyard, especially during the holidays. How cool would that be? Unfortunately, not everyone is consistently blessed in the area of finances. Finances can bring upon tons of stress and be limiting. If people allow it to, finances can create conflict in marriages and families, wreck havoc on health, and cause tension. The only good things about financial challenges are the creativity you can develop through hard times, the drive to create a better life, and realizing that what truly matters in life is definitely not “things.” Don’t feel pressured into buying things you can’t afford or taking up slack you genuinely aren’t able to. Do your very best and ask God to meet your needs. It also helps to appreciate the simplicity of Christmas and the peacefulness of the season with your loved ones. The only thing that truly matters is Christ and loved ones. Everything else is just a bonus.

    7. Medical Diagnosis –
    Medical diagnoses or issues are alarming. If you or a loved one received bad medical news this year, you most likely feel deep concern. Concern for how your loved ones are going to handle the diagnosis, concern for the future, concern for you or your loved one’s wellbeing. You also are probably going through a roller coaster of emotions…fear, worry, heartache, frustration. You may even feel angry or cheated. Illness is difficult and can leave you feeling helpless and even depressed. Take the time to talk to God about all you or your loved ones are going through and feeling. He wants to encourage and comfort you. With your loved ones, share how you each are feeling and also share what each of your needs are. Whether you (or a loved one) have a lifelong debilitating illness or the illness is at hospice level, I pray God comforts your heart and gives you and your loved ones a Christmas that is special and memorable.

    8. Prodigal spouse, child, or family member –
    I’ve never seen a time in my life where there was such spiritual warfare in families. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a phone call to meet with clients who are experiencing the pain of a spouse who has committed adultery, the heartache of an adult child who has abandoned their Christian faith, or a sad situation of family estrangement. Parents abandon their children…children are now abandoning their parents…family members quit talking to one another…it’s just very, very sad. And this time of year is the worst time to experience such heartache because it is so much more deeply felt. It is very painful to experience a family member not living close to God or yourself. When you are at your wit’s end, remember that God is never not working in a situation. He truly is working on your behalf and your loved ones behalf. He never quits, and He can bring beauty out of ashes. Commit your loved ones and your tough situations to the Lord and ask Him to work everything out. He loves you and your loved ones – and can do – more than you can imagine. Trust His heart! He, better than anyone, knows exactly how you feel. His heart is for you and your loved one!

    9. Guilt & Regrets –

    Past guilt and regrets can do a real number on people. “Could’ve,” “Should’ve,” “Would’ve,” and “If Only,” wreck havoc on many people during the holiday season. “If only I had tried harder in my marriage…”…”I should’ve spent more time with my kids while they were growing up…”…”If only I could’ve gone back in time to prevent_____…”…”If only I would’ve done_____…”…the list of guilt and regrets can go on and on. It is so incredibly important to realize that had you known better, you would’ve chosen or done better. By all means, if your conscience is hurting you and you have it in your power to do something about your guilt and regrets, then definitely do so. Make amends wherever possible. But if you can’t do anything about whatever past situation you are hurting or feeling guilt or regrets from, then you may want to talk to God about the situation and ask Him to help you and heal your heart. Every situation we go through in life is an opportunity to learn to be better, do better, and change things for the better. Be kind to others and yourself, always seek to have a clean conscience, and give grace to yourself and others. You may not be able to do anything about the past, but with each new day, you have the opportunity to create a brand new future.

    10. Stress
    There are three types of people during the  holidays: those who are completely refreshed and relaxed…those who are completely stressed out…and those who are a combination of the two. Try not to stress too much these next few days. Take on only what you feel comfortable doing. It’s not a sin to say no to a request if you genuinely don’t have the time or energy to do something. Take time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of the season: time with God, family, friends, and your church family…attending Christmas services at church…Christmas music…a good Christmas movie…hot cocoa…Christmas lights. Stop to reflect on all of the blessings you’ve received from God and others this year. Take a deep breath and realize that it’s truly okay to relax!

    There are so many thieves that can invade Christmas and obliterate it’s usual cheer.

    With just 4 days until Christmas, make the decision to be kind to your heart…and to celebrate these remaining days of the holiday in the most stress-free, enjoyable, and relaxed way possible.

    Whether you are feeling sadness, or you are feeling cheerful, take the time to focus on the most important Reason for the season. Spend time seeking God’s heart and thank Him for the absolute miracle of Christmas.

    When it all comes down to it, the holiday is truly only about Jesus. Never allow anyone or anything to steal your joy in Him!

    I truly wish each of you a very blessed Christmas! May God richly bless each of you in the days to come and throughout the new year!

    Gratitude and many blessings,
    🎄Kim

    ©2016 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

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

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

    🎁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&nbsp;

    🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

    7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS 

    Do you know of someone who is hurting due to the death of a loved one, an illness, divorce, or an unexpected life challenge or crisis? 

    The holidays are very hectic for most people, but they become extra challenging for those going through grief. When family and friends offer kindness and encouragement, it can make all the difference in the world to those who are hurting.

    Whether the person who is grieving is a family member, friend, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the AMAZING opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this Christmas season. 

    Choose to be the BLESSING and compassion today that you will hope to receive tomorrow.

    Think about each of these tips, and while you’re reading them, think of who you can bless this week!

    Here are 7 practical tips for helping a grieving loved one during the holidays~

    1. Offer encouragement to the person who is going through grief by sending them an I’m-thinking-of-you card or a phone call. Whether they lost a loved one a week ago or many years ago, their loved one will always be treasured and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact that their loved one is no longer here. If possible, refrain from sending over-the-top cheerful holiday greetings and cards. Instead, send a more peace-filled greeting card with a special heartfelt note.

    2. Stay away from cliches such as, “They’re in a better place”, “God needed an angel”, or “God must have needed them more.” Although these statements are intended to make the bereaved one feel better, it will often leave them hurting and frustrated. Try encouraging your loved one with loving words of remembrance such as, “I really miss _____, she/he was a such a wonderful person” or “I remember when we ________.” Reflection on the deceased loved one brings validation to family members left behind that their loved one was important, is missed, and that they are still cared about. Most who have gone through grief still enjoy talking about their loved one. Bringing them up is welcomed by most. You’re not going to hurt them bringing up their loved one…their loved one is already on their heart. Also, at all costs, never say (or even suggest) to someone who is going through grief to “get over it.” That’s worse than all cliches combined.

    3. Take the bereaved person a Christmas wreath, cookies, or a Christmas flower arrangement, and while there, maybe offer to do errands for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in cheering someone up who is going through grief.

    4. Invite them to attend your family holiday dinner or Christmas festivities. Sometimes, traditional family dinners can be challenging. If you are a close enough friend, they may welcome an opportunity for a new place and environment to go to for dinner or holiday celebrations. 

    5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a Christmas church service, or to go shopping with you. When someone is going through grief, they lose contact with the outside world as they are immersed in their pain. Many times, people do not know what to say to a griever so they avoid seeing someone in grief. Please let them know you care. An invitation will speak volumes of your concern for them.

    6. Be patient with those in grief. Life as they once knew it has been drastically altered. It takes time to find a new “normal” and to thoroughly understand the full impact their grief and loss will have. Allow them the time they individually need to grieve. Everybody grieves differently and that’s perfectly fine. Please do not become frustrated with someone who is in grief…trust me, they’re frustrated, too! Support, love, and encourage them.

    7. Simply listen and be there. Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for a griever is to give them a hug with the gift of silence and a listening ear, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just truly, genuinely caring and being a good listener. We all desperately want to say the magic words that will comfort loved ones in grief, but there simply are no words that can magically remove their heartache and pain. A trustworthy listening ear is more important than most people realize.

    Please consider whose life (and heart) you can make a difference in this week! Think of someone you know who is going through a hard time and then offer them hope and encouragement.

    Have a very blessed and meaningful Christmas season!

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim 🎄❤️🎄

    ©2015 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

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

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

    ⭐️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&nbsp;

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

    Creating An Authentic & Personalized Valentine’s Day In Spite Of Heartache

    Valentine’s Day.

    Ah, the day for lovers. A day filled with flowers, chocolate, jewelry, romantic candlelight dinners, gifts, and love.

    But what if you’re one of the people who aren’t in the Happy Valentine’s Day Club this year?

    Maybe your treasured spouse has passed away, or you recently went through an ugly divorce or tough breakup, or your little Valentines (kiddos) who used to make you the sweetest homemade Valentine’s Day cards have grown up and are being anything but sweet.

    Maybe your spouse or significant other has cheated on you or betrayed your trust and you’re in the heart wrenching transition of cleaning up a horrible mess you didn’t choose, create, or deserve.

    Maybe you’ve longed to have a spouse or a special someone in your life, but things never worked out quite how you wanted them to, and now you find yourself alone. 

    Perhaps you’re married or in a relationship, but you know you will not be cherished or celebrated…February 14 is “just another day” to your significant other or spouse – and no matter how much you’ve shared or communicated your feelings, needs, and desires, Valentines Day will simply be another annual holiday let down…just like every other past Valentine’s Day.

    Maybe you’ve been burnt by love in the past, so you take great care to never go near any flame of love ever again. You just don’t care to pursue or open yourself up to love ever again because you don’t wish to potentially get hurt. 

    Perhaps you’re in the middle of a huge grief experience and love is the last thing on your mind. Your broken heart feels as though it can’t focus on anything but your present pain.

    There are many reasons – spoken and unspoken – why some are less than enthusiastic about February 14: the day of love, chocolate, and roses.

    This past week, I’ve seen so many blogs with helpful lists of Valentine’s advice. What to do…what not to do…what to avoid…where to go…where not to go…the advice is as numerous as the lists. I actually had spent several hours writing a list, but my computer crashed and it was all lost. I’m now glad it was, even though it was very frustrating at the time, because I think this post is much more real, heartfelt, realistic and authentic than the original list I came up with.

    As I kept pondering Valentine’s Day, I realized that lists can be a huge source of help – because face it…some people do not have a romantic bone in their body and they need all the help they can get – but by following lists, it still keeps the focus exclusively on the romantic facets of the holiday. 

    And I think that’s a big problem.

    I remember times in the past that I could have been the president of the Valentine’s Day Sucks Club. During these times, I was in the midst of certain grief experiences (death of a loved one, being alone on Valentine’s Day, after getting married – having marriage issues, going through relationship conflict, feeling as though there was no hope to be had, etc). And I get it…because I remember holidays not being so great during these times. 

    I didn’t read any blogs at the time, and frankly, if I had been in a state of mind to read, I’m not sure a tidy little list could have helped me out or solved my hurts. They most likely would have encouraged me, but I’m not sure I’d feel much better after reading them in the long run.

    I think when you’re going through a tough life experience, your soul craves comfort and relief. It also craves authenticity, because when your heart and soul have been battered by the waves of life, it washes everything away and you just want something real.

    I wish someone would have given me a different perspective on holidays – new ideas so I had options for enjoying them – so today, I hope to be a source of encouragement for all who are hurting today.

    Sometimes, you just need to change things up or create something unique and different – so as to not stay stagnant or miserable.

    How do you wish to spend Valentine’s Day? What can you do to create a wonderful day for your loved ones and yourself?

    Maybe you want to celebrate big. Maybe you’re so discouraged that you truly just hope to get through the day.

    This Valentine’s Day, create whatever kind of day you personally need, so you truly are able to enjoy or just get through the day. If that means declaring an “Un-Valentine’s Day” where you make the day just like any other day or avoid all things Valentine-ish, then do so. If it means pouring your heart and love into your loved ones (spouse, children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, other family, or friends, then wholeheartedly do that. If it means baking Valentine’s Day treats and passing them out to loved ones or those you know who are hurting, then go and enjoy that. If it means warmly remembering and honoring your loved ones who are no longer here, then do that. If it means putting on your comfiest pajamas, lighting the fireplace, and getting a big box of chocolates and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (hey, no judgment here😊) and watching sappy movies while either loving or hating the holiday, then go for it. If you want to go out to dinner with all of your single friends, go out and celebrate. Do whatever makes you feel comfy, cozy, and happy!

    You might want to spend the day completely alone, or with a few people, or get a big group of people together who want to have a great Valentine’s Day, too…or even an anti-Valentine’s Day. 

    People should create whatever type of day they need, so that on February 15, they can wake up with a heart that is filled with joy, contentment, good memories and wholeness.

    Expectations of how one thinks the day should go…or expecting others to fill their heart up…is the quickest road to arrive at disappointment and heartache. Instead of waking up on February 14th with great expectations…and then waking up on the 15th with disappointments or sadness, what if you purposely choose to cultivate gratefulness for any evidence of love you have in your life… and on the morning of February 14th, choose to create the best customized Valentine’s Day that truly fills your heart and the hearts of your loved ones, too? 

    There are no rules on how to get through Valentine’s Day – or any other tough holiday of the year for that matter. As long as you aren’t hurting God, other people, or yourself…or doing anything illegal…then authentically doing whatever helps your heart to heal or feel great joy will be what creates a wonderful, personalized Valentine’s Day.

    What kind of day can you custom create this Valentine’s Day? What will bring your heart joy, comfort, warmth, and peace? Do you want a day of relaxation and solitude or do you want a day filled with loved ones and fun? Do you enjoy flowers, candy, and jewelry? If you have no one to buy these special gifts for you, consider buying these treats for others or yourself. Are you concerned someone won’t celebrate and honor you? You have great value! Celebrate and honor your own heart…because you deserve it! 

    All of the usual things about Valentine’s Day…flowers, chocolates, jewelry, gifts, fancy dinners, and gifts…although these things are amazing, they ultimately fail to include the very best thing about Valentine’s Day. They can’t even compete with the true meaning.

    Valentine’s Day is about genuine love and the hearts of ALL the precious people God has graciously given us to love in our lives: God’s heart, our family members’ hearts (spouse/significant other, kiddos/little people, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, etc), and also our own heart.

    Creating a special day to celebrate love – and the gift of love – is what will make the day special. It doesn’t have to primarily be about romance. In fact, I prefer it doesn’t so I’m not limited in my celebrations of the day. I choose for February 14 to be a day of gratitude and love.

    It is also a great source of comfort for each person to know and truly realize that the Ultimate Valentine loves and adores their heart. If there is ever a day a person feels they do not have any options for a Happy Valentine’s Day, there will always be One who constantly remains…and He loves each and every soul more than any human ever can. God is MORE than happy to spend the entire day with anyone who feels lonely or disappointed by life and love! Just ask!❤️

    So how can you celebrate and create love tomorrow and each and every day of the year?

    The creation of how you choose to unwrap the gift of Valentine’s Day is truly and authentically yours. Do something extra special!

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! May you always realize your great value, and how special and loved you truly are!

    Gratitude, LOVE, and many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 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

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

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

    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&nbsp;

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

    ❤️