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Getting HOPE & The Best Days Of Your Life Back After Grief, Loss, & The Pandemic

Discouragement. Fear. Heaviness of heart. Defeat. Guilt. Regret. Weariness. Anxiety. Turmoil. Fear of the future. Depression. Uncertainty.

There are many feelings that can weigh down and haunt the soul, especially with what all is currently going on in the world.

Many of the feelings that haunt the soul are competitors…they’re competing to knock out your peace, joy, and HOPE.

Due to the pandemic, the world has dramatically changed in just a few months – and in some places, just a matter of weeks or days.

Most of us were enjoying life and loved ones, feeling hopeful about a strengthened economy, and were looking forward to better and brighter days – our best days yet…

…then the rug below was harshly ripped out from underneath us.

We’ve helplessly watched people – even loved ones – suffer. Some have even experienced the death of a treasured loved one. Many are going through financial/job fear and hardship like never before. We’ve watched fear, worry, and anxiety spike…as hope, peace, and faith in the future rapidly fall.

With this pandemic, COVID-19 will affect you in one of three ways: it will seek to massively weaken your (or a loved one’s) health and lungs by infecting your ability to breathe…it can seek to literally and permanently kill your (or a loved one’s) breath causing death…or it will attempt to steal your breath in “life” from you – your hope, faith, relationships, finances, your trust in God – everything you love about life.

I’m so very sorry for all who have experienced the death of a loved one, for all of my readers’ heartache, and all the world is going through. My heart hurts badly for everyone.

I’ve thought a lot about this pandemic…this terrible intruder that continues to affect the lives of so many. I’ve had a lot of extra time to think. Being at home, not being a big TV watcher, and work being affected which has opened up several hours – time seems to be in abundance right now.

We’ve all wanted more time, desperately wanted more hours in our day, but this is not the way we wanted to gain them.

A few days ago, with this new time, I decided to deep clean. Having been affected by cancer, I came across a quote a friend had given me:

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

(by Dr. Robert L. Lynn)

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

With what is going on in the world, it is so very important we all remember a huge truth: nothing on earth – no grief…no pandemic…no disappointment…no financial challenge…no hurts…no loss…no uncertainty…no heartache…none of it can take away any of the things mentioned in the cancer quote above. None of it can take away God’s love or sovereignty, or our life purpose. Nothing.

Re-read the quote above and insert the word of what you’re presently going through (all you are being affected by or are worrying about) to replace the word cancer. For example:

COVID-19 is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

OR…

Grief…illness…financial loss…divorce…(or whatever)…is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Grief, pandemics, illness, divorce, marriage/family issues, addiction, financial loss/hardships, relationship difficulties, life challenges, rejection — any struggle in life — NONE of these terrible events have the true capacity to defeat you…so don’t allow them that sacred privilege to damage, defeat, or negatively affect you or your soul. Each of these things can do a real number on you…for sure…but it’s up to us to limit their influence and damage.

Sucky life events steal and take away so much from us…but do not ever allow life events to destroy you, your relationship with God, family, or loved ones, or destroy your heart or soul. Never allow anything to destroy your hope.

We can’t completely control grief, loss, or the hard things in life…but we can decide how we will get through each event.

We can choose to be hope-filled…or defeated. And it’s normal if we go back and forth as we continually try to navigate what life has thrown at us. If we want to have better days, we need to continually choose hope if we are going to make it through the tough times.

How do we press forward — especially when our soul is tired?

A little story. It’s a small story, but I hope you’ll find it useful.

When I was in high school, one of my good friends was in a fight. The person who chose to start the fight didn’t give my friend an advantage. Not even a warning. Not at all. My friend was significantly smaller than their opponent and had no idea they were even going to be punched that day. And there wasn’t just the opponent…the opponent brought several friends along with them.

After being punched…my friend, in response, threw a huge, fast, and hard punch back. It just about knocked the opponent out. I was shocked…I bet my friend was shocked…and the opponent and his friends were definitely shocked. The punch allowed my friend to get us out of a bad situation so we’d be safe.

That lil bit of unprecedented courage made an impact: my friend is now a leader in the military. He credits that day with changing his life.

Totally not advocating violence…not at all…but the principle here is a great analogy for life challenges and grief. We will all be sucker punched out of nowhere by an unexpected life event…we won’t even know what hit us…but instead of quitting or accepting defeat, we need to dig deep to find unprecedented courage and punch life challenges back. Huge. Fast. Hard.

Life challenges and grief rob so much from us…do not allow it to rob you further by stealing more of your life, allowing it to get you to quit, or giving up your hope.

Feel what you need to feel. Get through those harsh emotions and horrible days. Learn all you can through any bad event life throws your way. Allow the events to teach you the lessons you didn’t sign up for…but do not ever tap out. Fight with everything you have to get your breath back after life has knocked it out of you.

We will get through these tough days. We may lose a lot along the path of figuring out this new normal and getting our breath back…we each have a long road ahead of us…but life can be good once again. It can definitely be good once again because we will choose for it to be good. We’re not going to allow bad events to choose for us what the quality of our life is going to be. We’re not going to allow life challenges, this pandemic, or grief to decide that for us. It’s already chosen so much for us…now it’s time to start taking the choices – especially choosing to build a quality life – back. We each get to choose what life is going to be now.

Don’t lose hope or faith.

Don’t lose your most prized relationships: God and family…your best loved ones.

Choose today that no matter what you go through, you will choose hope. You will choose to rebuild. You will choose to create.

Building life back up after a major loss is rarely easy…it’s truly painful…but six months from now…one year from now…five years from now…a decade from now…we will look back and be grateful we intentionally chose hope – and to create a good life in spite of monumental challenges. We’ll be thankful we chose to fight to get the breath back that this pandemic – or any other situation of grief – attempted to knock out of us.

What are the steps you need to take today to get your breath and life back? What choices need to be made so you can create the new in your future instead of continually getting lost in the old of the past? What has punched you…and what do you need to punch back huge, fast, and hard? What lessons need to be learned, implemented, and honored during this extraordinarily tough time?

We’ll each get there. I know this because you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t have the courage, desire, and tenacity for life change.

Take one step at a time. Continually look at your personal situation, assess and reassess each facet of life, regroup as much as needed, know ahead of time that tough days will continue and happen, allow God to strengthen you, and search for any way to improve your quality of life with God’s grace and help.

Just a note of strong encouragement here: This is the ultimate time for change. When life is hard, it steers us – forces us – into new territory. We don’t like being steered into a new direction…most of us inwardly kick, scream, and resent it…yet it’s the most opportune time to do a true life assessment in every area: relationships, work/career, family, marriage, education/trade, health, etc. Thinking outside the box will undoubtedly lead to new innovation and invention. Ask God what He wants to do through you. Ask Him for major creativity and unprecedented ways to improve life and ways to better help others. All inventions throughout history were created out of times of hardship, uncertainty, or finding ways to better meet a need in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing what new technology, business, and opportunities – as well as life, health, and relationship improvements – will be born out of this time of unparalleled challenge and change.

We have a lot to look forward to.

Several years ago, at a conference in Chicago, I heard a great quote from Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” A small sentence that packs a great big punch. We can all look backwards…and it’s important to do so periodically to learn and not forget…but our best use of time is looking to where life potentially is going to be. That’s what will get us through, and out, of the insurmountable rut and challenging emotions we are all in.

No matter what happens in life, life is still an exquisite gift. The opportunity is there. It’s up to us…each and every day…to choose how to best unwrap the gift of life and enjoy it.

Praying for everyone in the world today. May we all seek God, always choose to do better, and live the absolute best life possible.

By the way…this week, take the time to read Romans 8. See what God has to say to your heart. He loves you and deeply cares about your life. God truly has the power to bring extreme good out of extremely bad circumstances. Ask Him to.❤️

~Kim

©2020 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

Related posts you might like:

❤️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 $3.19 book – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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 and advice.

Be At Peace — Why Your Life & Grief Have Exquisite Value Exactly Today

Where you are today.

Exactly where you are today.

You may be in the depths of despair.
You may be a quarter of the way through your grief journey.
Perhaps you’ve thoroughly been through several grief journeys, have found healing, and are currently loving/encouraging others through their pain.

No matter where you are, right now, today…
..you and your grief have great value.
Exactly where you are today.

There are multiple layers of grief – and multiple people who are grieving around you…you may not even realize who they are.
And somebody desperately needs your encouragement, your story, and your perspective.

Today…choose one day out of each week…to simply be at peace where you are in your grief, create peace in your life, and offer that same peace to others.

Instead of trying to figure out grief…let’s instead make peace with exactly where we are and just take the time to offer love, encouragement, and understanding to those around us and online.

The beautiful thing about life – and grief – is we don’t have to be fully healed or have fully arrived at healing to offer hope and empathy.

There are few things more important than love, empathy, encouragement and hope. Offering these rare, exquisite gifts can make all the difference in the world.

Who can you offer hope, love, empathy and encouragement this week?

How can you create more peace and loving acceptance for your own grief journey and heart today?

Ask God to pour His love, peace, encouragement and hope into you, and to make your heart sensitive to those around you who are hurting.
You never know how God can use you to help others who are drowning in their grief.

Your grief experience has far more value than you can possibly know…EVERY layer of it…

…you are going to be an absolute jewel to those who are hurting.

©2020 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 $3.19 book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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 and advice.

An Important Question To Ask Yourself Every Single Night

There are so many things I absolutely love about life! Although I have been through a fair amount of grief, I made up my mind a few years ago that I would never waste one single day. Loving and thoroughly enjoying life is a byproduct of that important decision.

Each person on earth is guaranteed to go through two extremely important days: their birthday and their death day.

From the moment you are born, the clock of your life begins ticking. With every calendar year, you pass through your birthday, but there is a very specific date a person passes through each year as well…the anniversary of their future death date.

When I considered and pondered this fact, I also deeply considered and pondered all of the years, months, weeks, days, minutes, and seconds that are sandwiched in between these two very important calendar dates.

In my family, there have been many deaths. By the time I was 20, I had experienced the deaths of many loved ones, including my dad, sister, grandparents, uncle, best friend, and boyfriend. I had also been in ICU when I was 12 and almost died, and was in ICU again at the age of 17, so I further understood that life holds no guarantees.

After my 20’s, I experienced the illnesses and the deaths of over a dozen family members. I also experienced my son’s tumors and surgeries, as well as my own illness…and experienced three major grief experiences that were so excruciatingly painful that very few loved ones know about. Last year alone, six family members were battling cancer at the same time.

When you see and experience that much illness and death, you find a brand new, fierce determination to live life to the fullest – you truly realize what an exquisite gift life is – especially since you develop an exhaustive and profound understanding that life is short and nobody is promised tomorrow.

There is only so much grief and sadness you can experience before you choose to not only overcome your life circumstances…but you truly do everything in your power to embrace the trials – and view grief as a teacher and not an enemy – and seek opportunities to soar to a much higher level. You rise above your circumstances, trusting God with your purpose, and intentionally choose to better your life.

You determine that you will be a grief victor instead of grief’s victim. You turn your messy grief into a message so you can genuinely help and encourage others. You trade in your scars for stars. The only way I can describe it is, it’s like life is a balloon and you are no longer willing for it to continually deflate due to life’s circumstances. You instead want to fill it with as much air as possible every single day…so life, and your experiences in life, can rise to new heights.

You choose to do whatever it takes to get your breath back after life and grief knocks it out of you.

Life can certainly deflate you every single day…and sometimes, you genuinely cannot help or prevent it. But you can add quality air to your life’s balloon with one daily question.

This question is the one question – the only question – that will matter on our deathbed.

I’ll share this incredibly important question at the end of this post!

We won’t care about what we have in life: the home we live in, the car we drove, our belongings or clothing choices, our bank account, titles, popularity, accomplishments, awards, or anything else. These things are totally not wrong, and it definitely doesn’t mean someone is bad for enjoying them, but at the end of life, they just simply aren’t what’s most important.

We will only care about what we have and experienced in our relationships with God and our loved ones, and what we did with our life and love.

To live the best life possible, you need to be prepared for the many distractions, hangups, and hurts in life:

  • family issues
  • marriage issues
  • problems in relationships
  • grief experiences
  • financial difficulties
  • work challenges
  • illness/health issues
  • temptations or addictions
  • foolish decisions, guilts, & regrets
  • unwise romantic relationships and friendships
  • wrong attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs
  • unexpected life challenges
  • this list could go on and on

These distractions tempt to draw us away from focusing on what truly matters most.

We can’t control what happens in life, but we can totally control our response to life’s happenings and we can choose to take the necessary steps to intentionally prevent distractions and avoid consequences (as much as possible) by making wise and better decisions.

The most important choice is giving God, our loved ones, life, and our life purpose our personal best each and every day!

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” ~Charles Swindoll

So each night, no matter the distractions you are going through, make the commitment to ask yourself a very important question:

Did I give God, “life,” my loved ones, my responsibilities, goals, and endeavors, and even myself, my absolute personal best today?”

Each day is an exquisite opportunity to highly value, love, learn from, and improve the most important relationships and things in life…and each night is a great opportunity to evaluate your life purpose and the legacy you are in the process of leaving.

You only get this one, precious, amazing gift called life. How will you intentionally choose to unwrap it…and give your absolute personal best…each and every day?

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

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.

Have Questions for God?

All throughout history, people have struggled with the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?” – and even accuse God of abandoning them.

Gideon was no different.

Judges‬ ‭6:12-13‬, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (and here it goes: Gideon starts questioning what so many have thought or verbalized since the beginning of time)
Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.””

Gideon was in the middle of a crisis and his hope and trust were thin. Can you relate?

Gideon was an unlikely hero and conquerer – the odds were significantly stacked against the poor guy – yet God greatly used him in a huge, powerful way.
But first, God needed to work in Gideon’s heart.

In the 6th chapter of Judges, we find God revealed to Gideon some key things that needed to happen before He granted deliverance:

  1. A removal of a false God – what do we need to remove from our lives so that God can powerfully work? What “god(s)” are we choosing over the one true God?
  2. Sacrifice – God doesn’t NEED our sacrifices (Hosea 6:6 – another great book!) but He does desire a heart that is sold out to Him and Him alone. God wants us to give Him this: rightful first place in our hearts and lives. Loyalty. Love. Commitment.
  3. God desires for us to trust Him – we need to remove our doubts, our fears, and overcome our questions so we can have – and intimately experience – a dynamic encounter with Him.
  4. Obedience – whether it makes sense to us or not.

Notice as you read Judges 6 that God was patient with Gideon. When Gideon lacked hope or faith, or even had questions, God lovingly provided grace and evidence of His love and guidance.

God will do the same for us, too!

The most difficult times of my life have led to some of my greatest times with God. Difficult times are never easy – they’re painfully excruciating – but God has always carried me through these tough times. Faithfully.

When life throws BIG problems at you…these are often allowed so we will stop depending on ourselves and depend on God.
God-sized problems always open up the opportunity for God to provide God-sized love and answers.

Today, read Judges.

God will never abandon us. Ever.

Whatever “battle” we are going through in life, God has the power to bring total victory – no matter what the odds appear to be.

I challenge all of us to:

  • seek God’s face
  • remove the things/“gods”/sin in our heart that prevent us from truly putting God first
  • be fully devoted to God
  • Love and obey Him with all of our heart
  • ask God to remove our doubts, fears, and worries as we cast all of our cares upon Him
  • and ask to experience a dynamic encounter with Him

When we are tempted to question God’s Will, may we always remember this:
God’s perfect Will is exactly what we all would want if we knew ALL the facts. His ways are good and perfect – even if they don’t seem to be perfect and don’t feel good to us. He sees the big picture – start to finish.

Choosing to obey and trust God in difficult circumstances is a beautiful act of faith. And we need God’s continual love, help, and strength to accomplish this.

Let’s choose to love, obey, and trust God – and entrust Him with all the facts as we submit to Him today.
He loves you!💗

Hope all of you are safe and well,
Kim

©2020 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://www.peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

❤️Kim’s blog: https://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 and advice.

❤️

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this brings hope and encouragement to all who read it!💗

“Grief Bites.”

Such a simple sentence…yet complex and filled with incredible pain.

My sister called me one morning while I was in deep grief to ask how I was doing.

“Grief Bites” is all I could mutter through my tears.

Little did I realize how a little two-word simple sentence would transform my grief…and be the start of a significant plan pre-planned by God.

That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 3 published books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in over 150 countries, as well as several Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion (the Bible app that offers hope and encouragement to millions).

The morning my sister called me, we both were in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief.

I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life. I literally felt like I was “dead but couldn’t die”…as though all of my breath and “life” had been sucked out of my lungs and heart. Anyone who has experienced deep grief can completely understand the intense heartache I’m describing.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and three surgeries in hospitals in three cities and two different states for ten months
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members died on the same day
  • my husband deeply betrayed me and our marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s 2nd fiancé suddenly died on Easter (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed
  • a loved one battled addiction
  • my son’s father committed suicide
  • I became extremely ill and although I didn’t change my diet, I went up 5 dress sizes within 3 months out of nowhere…I would eventually be diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness due to stress…and was bedridden for a lengthy time (I eventually found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)

With everything happening so quickly together, I felt incredibly defeated.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses…all within a short period of time…was very challenging…

…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down, have a pity party, and become – or worse, remain – a depressed mess. I had already been tempted to do that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

It was almost a “saving grace” that I had previously been through grief when I was younger. Grief had been second nature in my life since I was a child. In hindsight, I’m actually very grateful for the grief I went through while growing up because I don’t think I could’ve made it through my adult grief experiences without knowing what to expect through previous massive heartache.

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later
  • after my mom remarried, we moved twice within months due to extended family conflict
  • our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost all of our belongings. We ended up living in a motel for several months while our home was repaired
  • my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, my siblings, and me…just because my mom was a widow with children
  • I lost two grandparents, my step-grandmother, two uncles, two friends, and an aunt to cancer
  • I was raped, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died (my sister saved my life)
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident
  • I was in an abusive relationship in high school, so abusive I was pushed out of a speeding car just for wearing lipstick
  • my good friend died from suicide
  • a friend was murdered
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city for two years
  • I experienced deep church hurt
  • my older sister’s 1st fiancé died (her fiancé was also one of my best friends)
  • and a few weeks later, my 22 year-old sister suddenly died on Thanksgiving

All of this before I was 20 years old…so I knew what grief could do. I understood the heartbreaking days and nights, as well as how difficult it could be to get through.

BUT this time was different.

I didn’t want to just try to “get over” my grief. This time, I was desperate to get through my grief…and truly understand.

As I already previously did (while growing up), I didn’t want to be forever mad at God and “life”…I actually needed to deeply and heart-wrenchingly take my tough questions to God so I could come to genuine peace with Him.

I didn’t want to live in the shadow of grief the rest of my life. I wanted to find a new way of life that made sense … a new way of life that held meaning and purpose.

Majority of the grief experiences we go through will never make sense, but I found that purpose and good can come out of any circumstance…if you allow life – and yes, even grief – to teach you lessons. They are not fun lessons, but they do hold tremendous value.

And eventually I learned, (ironically through my grief), that God IS good. So very, very good!

It didn’t magically happen overnight, but God did heal my heart from major grief and heartache.

God is a genius at healing a broken heart and repairing a crushed spirit.

God can turn a test into a testimony…a mess into a message…a trial into a triumph…a victim into a victor…

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I don’t count the grief events – any of the heartache – as a good thing…goodness no...but how grief shaped my heart and life purpose holds tremendous value to me. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today.

I must say…I initially turned against God due to all of the grief I endured while growing up. I went through major rebellion initially…but I eventually became a Christian and submitted my heart and life to God’s plan when I was 18 years-old.

A good friend had challenged me to rethink my grief…and all I thought about God. He challenged me to read the entire Bible and get to know God for myself.

I’ve never been the same since.

As I got to know God, He eventuality revealed an important truth: With each grief experience He entrusted to me, God was widening my understanding, empathy, and ability to deeply understand grief – and eventually help and encourage others.

After sharing with my sister those two life-changing words, “Grief Bites,” we began discussing how we could help encourage other grievers through the grief experiences we each had faced.

Right before this conversation, I had begun writing a book to help encourage my son, mom, sister, and other family members through their deep grief. I had years of journals I had written of all God had shown me through multiple grief journeys and I was doing an in-depth Bible study on grief, loss, trials, hardships, and life challenges.

While attending a family member’s out of town birthday party, I didn’t know many people there, so I took out my iPad and continued to write the grief book I was writing for my family.

My brother (who is a pastor) had a fellow pastor friend there. This friend approached me and asked what I was working on. After showing him the book I was working on, he encouraged me to submit my book into the Women of Faith Book Writing Contest.

I didn’t expect anything to happen or come of it…but then I received the news that my book was chosen as a Semi-finalist.

My book, Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You, was published and was given out at two Women of Faith Conferences.

With my book, ministry, blog, YouVersion plans, and anything else I do, I take absolutely no credit. It is all God. I give God all of the credit and glory. I’m just a good listener who writes all the Lord shows me. And all of my book royalties are (and always have been) poured back into local grief communities and churches.

God (through grief) has taught me incredibly powerful lessons I never could have hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better Christ-follower, spouse, mom, aunt, family member, friend, neighbor, grief coach, and church member due to my grief. My compassion, mercy, understanding, and ability to communicate with grievers was deeply developed through each grief experience I faced and – with the grace of God – overcame.

It is also through my grief experiences I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

Although extremely painful to go through, I finally (and through a lot of hard work) came to a place of peace with each grief experience.

So why blog, write, and speak about grief?

Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief — And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too.

And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grievers need hope, and to know how to travel through the treacherous roads of grief to get to the other side.

Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few months or years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down though…it can become one of the greatest catalysts of growth you’ll ever experience.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes grief recovery efforts to get to that point.

I count it a privilege to coach hurting people through that overwhelmingly tough journey.

I also talk about grief because there is a great need for grievers to share their experiences to help others who are going through grief. It is also helpful for grievers to help others who have never been through grief to better understand.

Like Pastor Rick Warren says: Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog – as well as my book, YouVersion plans and other Grief Bites resources – is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart…anyone who feels like their breath and life have been sucked out of them — yet they still want to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

I hope something I write encourages someone. I hope it allows someone to obtain the hope they need to move on press forward in spite of the heartbreak they have experienced.

Notice I drew a line through “move on” because anyone who has been through deep grief knows how frustrating that phrase can be.

I say “press forward” because if you are going through intense grief, it has to be a personal choice to press forward with everything you’ve got. I am NOT suggesting forgetting about your treasured loved one(s). In fact, I am a HUGE advocate of honoring a loved one’s memory. I don’t believe in “Goodbye”; I believe in, “See you later!”…I’ll write more about this in the days to come.

By pressing forward after you have thoroughly grieved, you’ll prevent additional loss, guilt, and regrets from entering your life. If you stay still or stagnant in your grief, or ignore it, more loss develops…and then you will have so much more to deal with later on…and grief will have damaged your heart and life further than you want it to.

Don’t allow grief to choose for you how you are going to live the remainder of your life. Grief does not deserve to make that decision for you. The only thing you should allow grief to do is cleanse your heart and teach you lessons…and the lessons are certainly there.

Choose TODAY to embrace and thoroughly go through your grief so you are truly able to create the life you want to live in the years to come.

It will NOT be easy.

There is no such thing as “neatly” grieving or a one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-style of grieving…there are no rainbows, unicorns, or cotton candy in grief recovery. Nope, it is messy. It will most likely be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do…but one day you’ll look back and be so very grateful you worked through your grief and embraced it.

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day.

Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life.

I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can…in time…when you are able to…because life (and enjoying loved ones) is the best adventure on earth. There is nothing like fully experiencing life. And there is no time to waste.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief.

Yes, there will be dark colors on that canvas…but there can also be – with God’s grace and healing – colors of light…perfectly blended together in total depth and beauty.

The very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

It will take time and you will know when your heart is ready. It is very helpful to join a grief group and talk to a trusted and respected pastor/counselor too.

Grief bites.

It certainly does…

…but with God, we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

©2014 / 2018 by 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

💕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 – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): Click here for book

❤️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. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day: 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 and advice.

Never.

Never change who you are just so someone else can accept you or find you worthy enough to love.

Never mistreat anyone who has proven their love for you. Genuine love, loyalty and concern are very hard to find.

Never allow someone else’s behavior to dictate your own personal integrity.

Never allow anyone to dictate or belittle your grief. That’s an extremely personal journey that is only between God and yourself.

Never give up your God-given convictions or opinion just because someone steamrolls you with theirs.

Never allow another person to interfere in your relationship with your spouse, child, parents, siblings, or other significant relationships. If someone genuinely loves you, they’ll protect the most important parts of your life.

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

Never allow anyone or anything to rob you of your joy.

Never allow yourself to become negative, judgmental, two-faced, dysfunctional, or bitter.

Never give up an opportunity to travel when you can afford it. Travel is one of life’s best gifts.

Never enter – or lose yourself in – a relationship where the person refuses to care enough about themselves to do their own self work.

Never go through mistreatment or abuse just because someone else doesn’t care to have good standards for how they treat others.

Never give up your dreams just because someone else has made fun of or belittled yours.

Never take your health for granted. You never know what a treasure health truly is until it’s compromised or lost.

Never allow life’s hurts to make you toxic…don’t misplace your pain onto others.

Never give up your character or beliefs just because someone doesn’t want to raise their standards.

Never allow anyone who doesn’t love you to live “rent free” inside your mind.

Never judge a book by its cover. I’ve met a lot of incredible people with brilliant hearts and super cool ideas who were rough around the edges.

Never give up or compromise your character or uniqueness just so someone can find you more like-able or appealing.

Never allow someone to pull you down. Be around those who lift you up.

Never give up hope, faith, or God’s genuine love. These 3 things will always sustain you.

Never feel bad about loving your kiddos, family, spouse, and grandkiddos to the moon and back. The only people who will have a problem with it are those who are fighting an internal battle that has nothing to do with you anyway.

Never allow anyone to degrade you. Your value and your heart are your responsibility to protect.

Never allow anyone to intrude in your goals. Only God has that right.

Never attempt to “repaint” a person after they’ve shown (or continue to prove) their true colors. When the storms of life hit again, the rain will wash off all the paint.

Never blindly believe what you hear about others. So much of negative information is rooted in insecurity, bad intentions, jealousy, and someone trying to cover their own rear.

Never feel bad about loving your pets as though they were lil humans who happen to wear fur. God loves all His creation!

Never allow someone else to make you responsible for their happiness. Happiness and joy are each person’s own responsibility and self-work.

Never put the burden of making you happy onto another person. It’s too heavy of a burden to maintain.

Never be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

Trust, honesty, loyalty, kindness, and faithfulness are expensive gifts. Don’t expect these precious gifts from cheap people.

Never give up or jeopardize your belief in God…or your relationship with Him…especially if it’s due to how a “Christian” treated you. There’s a huge difference between a genuine Christian and a Church Attender or church staff. A Christian loves, honors, and obeys God and loves others…a Church Attender merely makes an appearance and warms a seat each week. God will always love you more – and better – than anyone else ever can…and He NEVER advocates anyone mistreating others.

Never waste life and never take life for granted. You’re never guaranteed tomorrow.

Never allow anyone or anything to rob you of God’s Purpose for your life. God’s perfect will for your life is the most precious gift and treasure you’ll ever have on earth!

Never waste one single second of – or give up on – this precious, beautiful, extravagant, incredible, miraculous gift of life you’ve been granted. What a gorgeous gift life truly is!

Never forget this amazing truth: your best days may have not even happened yet.

Gratitude & many 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

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 and advice.

🌷

When God Doesn’t Give You Your Fairytale

We all have fairytales we’ve built up in our minds. Those great kingdoms of our soul we so greatly want to happen and hold deep inside our hearts — our heart’s absolute greatest desires.

Some may have desired to get their college degree, find the right person, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.

Some may have desired for their kiddos to grow up, have children of their own, and all of them love spending time together and coming home for the holidays every year.

Some may have dreamed about developing their talents, passions, gifts, and abilities, and boldly create a satisfying career.

Some may have dreamed about moving away or traveling abroad, seeing and experiencing as much of life as possible.

Some may have wanted a certain relationship, dream, or goal to happen in their life.

Some poured a lot of time, prayers, and love into their marriage, children, and family and greatly desired to see the fruits of their labor and loving investment produce something of great value.

Some might have pursued health and wellness to the fullest.

Some have invested a lot of hard work and sacrifice into building their education, career, or business.

There are many desires, fairytales, and kingdoms we would’ve chosen if we could have been in total control…

…but the truth is, “life” happens.

Relationships end.

Finances may collapse.

Family and marital issues are far too real.

Illness and disabilities happen.

A spouse may commit adultery and leave you heartbroken.

Children may rebel or greatly mistreat you.

Friends and family may betray your heart and trust.

Infertility hurts your heart and hope deeply.

Family, in-laws, or friends may betray or reject you.

Loved ones die.

People fail us…and we fail them.

Plans we make crash and burn.

Fairytales we’ve created in our heart crumble and are compromised or destroyed…by others, ourselves, or “life.”

This past year may have been a real challenge for you…maybe the last decade, or your whole life has been difficult. Perhaps you have seen the fairytale you greatly desired fade right out of sight.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or you’ve watched people you dearly love go through grief, illness, or trauma. Perhaps you were given a terrible diagnosis. Maybe you’ve watched someone you deeply love walk away. You might’ve watched your marriage or family crumble…or a family member turn away from God. Maybe you’ve seen the desires you once held dear be sifted and slip through your fingers.

Something God has been showing me the last few years (after experiencing multiple major grief events) is to persevere … to love Him no matter what. To place my “fairytales” – all of my heart’s greatest treasures and desires – in His super caring…and super capable…hands. This isn’t always easy; in fact, it’s much easier said than done – especially when you’re going through major grief or trials.

My frustrations, disappointments, and heartaches have taught me many important life lessons. These lessons have come at a high price, but I’m not sure I could’ve learned them any other way.

Although hurts, frustrations, and disappointments can come from multiple sources, some originate from an unexpected source: ourselves. We break our own heart. We want to play God. We think we know best and try to force the “glass slippers” in our life to fit. We will wiggle, stretch, or try to broaden or shrink our feet (life) to make our plans and desires fit God’s plans. God has a better plan, but we want what we want.

God asks us to close the door on something, and if we refuse, He closes it for us. We then become upset. Instead of seeking to find the right “doors” He wants us to find and enter…we instead stay stagnant at a closed door, resenting Him for not answering our prayers – and we desperately try to “pick the lock” of the closed door. Oh, how we cry at the shut doors and become upset with God for not doing things our way – and for not giving us the “happily ever after” we envisioned.

As I was talking to God about this very thing a few years ago, I felt as though He was saying, “I don’t always allow the glass slipper to fit in the way you so desperately want to wear it. I know you want it to fit, but I love you enough to take that glass slipper away from you, place it behind a closed door, and lock the door because in My higher wisdom, I can clearly see how that glass slipper will eventually shatter…and then you would be stuck with broken, shattered slippers that would forever cut you the rest of your life.”

Sometimes, God protects us from the fairytales He knows will end badly; other times, I have found (particularly in times of deep rebellion or extended disobedience), God will allow us to make those ill-fitting glass slippers to fit. Sometimes, we need a painful reminder to not make the same unwise choices again.

God knows what is best – whether we like it or not. He is God and we are not. He is all knowing…our vision is so very limited. He doesn’t owe us our fairytale or our “happily ever after”…if we were to look at all of the good in our lives and every blessing, it’s astonishing how good He truly is to us. Even when bad things happen…He may be mercifully preventing something far worse from happening in the future.

If God closes a door or removes a glass slipper in your life, press forward, seek Him with all of your heart, and see what He has in store for you.

Many problems are born out of not viewing life or eternity correctly. We faultily believe life is about our comfort and blessings here on earth…and we fail to see that life is ultimately a training ground to prepare us for Heaven.

Everything we experience or go through in life – all of it (the good and the bad) – has great value and purpose. Every joy, every success, and even every heartache, disappointment, and failure brings us closer to God’s heart as these precious life experiences prepare us for Heaven. Nothing is ever wasted when we give it (and continue to give it back) to God. We can waste or take for granted the lessons God offers us, but each has a specific purpose.

Our minds cannot possibly wrap around or understand God’s plans, thoughts, or ways…and some of them may even seem incredibly cruel.

Being told you or a loved one have cancer (or another major health issue) is devastating. Going through relationship, marriage, or family difficulties…or other hardships in life…again, it totally stinks. It tempts us to think that God doesn’t care or that He somehow dropped the ball. But the fact is, God cares more than we can ever begin to fathom or imagine.

God loves us, and if we could see the overall picture that He is painting in our life and our loved ones’ lives, we’d totally be ashamed of any time we’ve doubted Him, His Word, His promises, or His goodness.

I’m just like everyone else…there are things in life I deeply struggle with and don’t understand. I don’t have everything figured out…and there are situations I sure do wish God would heal, repair, give justice in, or fix. There are some things I’ll never understand or agree with…not in a billion years.

We are fortunate God is so patient with us. He allows the questions throughout our deepest heart’s grief. He shows up. He cares.

We don’t know what Heaven will ultimately be like, but God is a great God of purpose, order, goodness, and creativity. This I know to be true.

As we go through the death of a fairytale or the death of a great desire of our heart, it is so vital to remember that God promises He will be making up for all of the bad we suffer and go through on earth (Joel 2:25-32; Revelation 21:3-5; Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Acts 3:19-21; Psalm 51; Job 42:10-17; Jeremiah 33; and so many other verses that share of God’s healing, blessings, and restoration).

When we faultily believe that life is primarily about our happiness…without caring about the incredible holy work God wants to perfect in our heart…we shortchange ourselves and those around us.

Don’t get me wrong. God loves to give us the desires of our hearts…He loves to see joy and happiness in our lives — He truly does. But when we have a specific purpose that God has in store for us (or our loved ones)…and then we rebel or refuse to obey God or fail to make His purpose and plans our first priority – above our desires and “fairytales” – then why are we surprised when life becomes stressful, difficult, and chaotic?

I love the quote by Lecrae: “You can live like there’s no tomorrow…but tomorrow always shows up full of consequences.” The same is true: God gives us free will to disobey, reject, and rebel against God when our fairytales crumble, but the consequences of these decisions will eventually catch up to us.

I’ve seen a lot of my fairytales end up in flames. Sometimes, “life” just happened – I didn’t do anything wrong and it was totally unfair. Other times, if I’m truly honest with myself, I can trace my heartaches and disappointments in life back to times when I disobeyed God or didn’t submit to Him. The consequences may not have shown up until years later, but in my heart, I know where the pain truly originated from.

When it comes to our life, our castles, kingdoms, and fairytales, they must fall so that God’s perfect plans can be rightfully built in their place instead.

Instead of us making ourselves the kings and queens of our own lives (which is ridiculously easy to do…knowingly and unknowingly), we need to exalt the King of Kings over every facet of our lives instead. When we truly do this, God gives us the desires of our heart. The difference is He takes away the glass slippers (desires) that could cut us deeply, and instead gives us a fresh new pair of sturdy, unbreakable glass slippers that are custom designed, the correct size, and a joy to wear…no pain or hardship is attached to them. If we do go through hardships down the road, the slippers will hold us up because we will be walking in God’s perfect, purpose-filled, peaceful will.

You may be in the worst chapter of your life right now, but with God, your life story is far from over. Give God the “pen” of your life’s book and ask Him to write the remaining chapters of your life.

What if you’ve already quit on God? It’s not too late! Just the fact that you’re reading this is proof that God has amazing plans for your life! Simply ask God to forgive you and tell Him you want HIS plans and purpose to prevail from this moment forward. Ask Him to guide and direct you.

Your very best days may not have even happened yet. We need to fully trust God to write our life stories. It will be far better than any fairytale we could ever write ourselves. Yes, we will still go through grief, hardships, and difficulties, but they will not be in vain.

What could God truly accomplish if we were to trade in our glass slippers and fairytales for His perfect will? God wants so much for us to trust Him, obey Him, and delight in Him.

God created all of His marvelous creation in just one week. Think what our Creator can accomplish in our lives if we were to give up our fairytales, and dedicate the remainder of this year to Him.

When we trade in our fairytales and kingdoms, God always gives us something far greater: He gives us true crowns and grants us a life we will wake up to each day and be truly excited to walk throughout our life with Him!

One day, we will see He is the truest Friend we can ever hope to have. Everything will all make perfect sense.

Today, share your heart, dreams, goals, and plans with God – your most treasured fairytales – and ask Him to do more than you could ask, think, or imagine…ask Him to accomplish His perfect Will for your life!❤️

He is faithful!

©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

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. ❤️NEW!❤️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 guidanc

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

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

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): Click here for book

❤️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 
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.

❤️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

😇FREE Bible and devotionals: www.youversion.com

⭐️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.

⭐️❤️⭐️


It’s always better to: Creating A Great Life

It’s always better to:

•be too emotional than inauthentic 

•be too deep than shallow

•be too forgiving than bitter

•be too loving than rejecting 

•be too compassionate than hard-hearted 

•be too giving than stingy

•be too mercy-filled than unfeeling

•be too kind than excluding

•be too grateful than unappreciative 

•be too responsible than negligent 

•be too concerned than aloof

•be too thoughtful than selfish

•be too humble than arrogant

•be too honest than deceitful 

•be too mindful than careless

•be too invested than regretful 

•be too dependable than flakey

•have too much character than to look back on life with heartache and regrets

•to seek excellence in all you do than to succumb to mediocrity

Excellence is attainable because excellence is achieved by developing your character.

…And character either makes or breaks a person. 

I’ve seen people mightily succeed – or horrifically fail – in their marriages, parenting, relationships with God and family, and also in their business and personal lives…just based on character alone.

When people actively choose to cultivate and improve their character, they’re choosing to positively cultivate and grow success: in their relationships, in their goals, as well as every part of their life.

Look at both the positive and negative character traits above and ask yourself – and allow yourself to truly see – where you need to improve.

It’s always better to actively improve your character, heart, life, and the lives of others than to watch your life pass you by…or worse, to watch your life miserably fail – or your loved ones’ lives deeply hurt due to your poor choices. No one sets out to hurt their loved ones’ hearts or lives, but it happens all the time.

God gives each of us the choice to either create a great life – or to choose a bad life. Whichever is chosen will reap either the blessings or consequences that will follow.

It’s always best to get into the habit of being mindful of where our choices – big and small – will take us.

When you look back on your life, you’ll be glad you made good character a high priority.

Proverbs 22:1, Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”

Matthew‬ ‭12:35, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”

‭‭Proverbs 28:6, “Better a poor man who lives with integrity than a rich man who distorts right and wrong.”

So how do you develop character and create a great life? 

  • Read the Bible, especially Proverbs, and ask God to give you wisdom and understanding
  • Choose to make one good decision at a time
  • Always choose to do the next “right thing”
  • Realize life is about so much more than you…always put others first – especially God & family (family is the greatest training ground for character – they’re the only people on earth that God Himself intentionally placed you with…loving & serving them is the true litmus test of character – and sometimes, they can be the most difficult to get along with. You’ll be amazed how God will oftentimes promote you to the next level – especially in ministry – only after you learn how to genuinely love your spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.)
  • Love God and others with all of your heart
  • Choose to never intentionally hurt or harm others – and go the extra mile to prevent it
  • If you’ve messed up, clear your conscience by apologizing & asking for forgiveness from God and others…and by actively making it up to them and making restitution where necessary. Always ask yourself, “if someone hurt me the same way I hurt them, how would I want them to apologize and make it up to me?”
  • Research character traits and purposely develop one character trait each week or month (click here for a list: https://griefbites.com/2014/07/01/conflict-resolution-pt-3-75-character-qualities-that-can-change-your-life/ )
  • Expect a lot out of yourself in the areas of character, integrity, and how you treat others
  • Do unto others how you want done unto you
  • Develop empathy, compassion, and kindness
  • Quit judging others and have the courage to do your own self-work…and sort through your past and current baggage…so you’re a true joy to others

Developing character and integrity is a lifelong journey. Enjoy every moment of it. It will be one of the most challenging endeavors of your life, but it will also be one of the most rewarding.

Think of the difference you’ll make in not only your own life, but more importantly, in every life around you.

You’ll look back on life, and be so very grateful for the great life you created.

Your one beautiful, courageous, wild, marvelous, gorgeous life. Create wisely…you only get one!

©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

❤️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 and advice.

🌷

Lessons From My Furry Lil Friends

It’s incredible what you can learn from pets.

I’ve learned many life lessons just from watching and interacting with our family’s dogs everyday.

Our family has two large dogs — one is sweet and loves everyone he’s ever met…the other one – eh, not so much. He actually hates everyone except for our family. He pouts when he has to be around others. Literally, he pouts for days!

Our family loves animals and pets! We absolutely adore our furry lil friends.

Our current dogs are extra special to us because we got each of them during times of great grief. We got one of them several years ago when he was nine weeks old, and our other dog was a three week old rescue who we’ve had for almost two years.

Our first dog makes Marley (from the movie Marley & Me) look like an angel. This particular dog cost us over $10,000 the first three months we had him. He dug up our Sentricon system and cable lines, destroyed all of our windows, chewed the legs on the kitchen table, ate the cushions and armrests off of a sofa and then “marked” it, chewed the legs off of all the outside patio furniture, chewed up some carpet and a TV controller, among other things.

He’s very lucky he is so cute and we love him!

I credit God with using our second dog to “bring us back to life” after going through a major grief experience. Our son asked for a puppy for Christmas. At first, I was hesitant, but eventually said yes as I thought it would be really great for him to have a companion.

When we got him, he was supposed to have been a Great Dane but through DNA testing, we found he has absolutely no Great Dane in him at all. He was also very abused before we rescued him so we had surprises we weren’t prepared to handle…mainly, he isn’t a fan of people because he doesn’t trust anyone except for us…so he’s had to go to lots of dog training classes.

As we helped heal his wounds (physical and emotional), he has been the best dog we have ever owned. He’s also the biggest cuddler of any dog we’ve had. He thinks he’s a lap dog…and he weighs almost 100 lbs!

Both of our lil lovebugs are currently training with a military/police dog trainer. As I was watching the training taking place, it reminded me so much about grief and how to process grief.

It’s crazy how much dog training is similar to how God molds and trains us.

The first time our dogs went, they were unsure about everything. They were extremely cautious and weren’t too thrilled about being outside in the heat. The trainer said I was our dogs greatest problem since I baby our dogs so much — he said he was going to have to re-train me first so he could effectively train our dogs. I had to learn how to undo so many of my bad habits and learn new strategies, habits, and lessons so our dogs would understand the pack order in our home.

The dogs were not very impressed at first…especially our pouty dog…but then the strangest thing happened: both dogs began to be so much better behaved and much happier. Some of the issues we previously had began to melt away.

Our second dog who doesn’t like anyone was introduced to five German Shepherds and a Doberman, as well as their owners…and our dog actually socialized with them. No growling. No pouting. He just blended in. One of the owners commented on how it looked like our dog was smiling.

I think it’s a lot like God. He knows what’s best for us but so many times, we try to do our own thing…and even continue to do things the wrong way even though it’s not best. Then God allows a season of pruning or hardship, and we begin to be uncomfortable in the heat and not very thrilled about our circumstances. If we are wise, we finally realize that God is wanting us to learn new lessons by training us so we can learn how to live life in a brand new way…a better and more productive way. A much happier way. Ultimately, both dogs had to swallow their pride and willfulness and go through great discomfort so they could learn to hear my voice. They learned to fully trust and obey me. They know I have their best interests at heart.

The best thing about God is He transforms us into new creations. And just like they were wrong about our second dog’s DNA, and lied to us, realize you may have been told wrong info about yourself, too.

You may have been told your whole life that you won’t amount to anything…that you’re not important or special…you may have been abused or labeled in some way. But then God rescues you, gives you brand new spiritual DNA info and you find that what you were previously told is not the truth. God adopts you, makes you His very own and loves you back to life! He allows you to go through specialized training so you can have more joy…more hope…more stability. Through His love and concern for you, He brings you back to life by healing you spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

It may feel as though life is shaken up at the present moment, but as you depend on God and trust Him fully, He trains your heart to truly feel loved, secure, and at peace.

Today, realize how much God loves you! He’s committed to helping you find your life purpose — and it’s a fantastic one!

Matthew 11:29-30,Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Make the commitment to learn from God and allow Him to rescue you. Allow Him to train and teach you new things.

Being rescued by Him and then being trained in life-giving righteousness is the BEST! That’s when true life genuinely begins!

Learn to trust and obey Him. Train yourself to hear and listen to His voice by reading His Word in the Bible. Realize He truly has your best interests at heart!

Snuggle up to God today…He’s faithful to help you create a brand new life.

2 Timothy 3:16-17,All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

1 Timothy 4:7-8, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Hebrews 5:11-14, “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles of Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

❤️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): Click here for book

❤️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

8 Questions To Ask Yourself To Find Your Life Purpose & Gifts

Everybody on earth has something special that is God-given inside of them…something so special that it has the ability to greatly help and positively change the lives of others.

Each person has a unique life purpose, talent, gift, and/or specific character qualities.

Growing up, it took me awhile to find mine. In fact, I think many people struggle to find theirs because of seven things:

  1. They compare themselves to others
  2. They fail to truly find out who they are — and what they are good at —on purpose 
  3. They fear rejection and/or judgment
  4. They haven’t asked God to reveal their purpose or gifts to them
  5. They haven’t had people in their life who have offered encouragement or guidance
  6. They’re not willing to persevere or go through hardship to learn something new
  7. They prematurely quit
  8. Sometimes, a unique talent, gift, or life purpose passes to the next generation (as it did with King David and his son Solomon)

Talent-wise, I always felt inferior to my siblings as I was growing up.

All of my siblings were incredibly talented musicians. My brother was always first chair in band and played trumpet solos frequently. My sisters excelled at piano…both were concert level pianists at an early age. My oldest sister was so good that she had to start going to a college university in the fourth grade to be further taught since no local teachers had the ability to teach her anymore.

And then there was me.

No musical talent whatsoever.

It wasn’t so bad the first several years of life. It became embarrassing from the age of 12 up.

We frequently had guests in our home, and people would want to hear all of us play the big grand piano that graced our living room. 

My mom would play beautifully…My oldest sister would dazzle them with difficult to play classical favorites…My brother’s specialty was playing VanHalen’s “Jump” and a few other pop songs…And my other sister would impress people with classical tunes, well-known songs from movies and musicals — such as Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera, and beloved hymns. And like I already said, then there was Kim…and my usuals were “I Dropped My Dolly In The Dirt” or “Chopsticks.” Pretty cute to play those as a young child…and I was pretty proud of these two songs…until I saw the disappointed faces that seemed to question, “what happened to this musical dunce of the family?” You know, the one who couldn’t play piano worth a hoot? 

I wasn’t good at piano or other melodious instruments, so I decided I was going to play the snare drum in band. The only problem was, no matter how good I got at it, nobody…and I mean absolutely nobody (well, other than my mom)…wanted to hear someone playing a snare drum after hearing beautiful piano music. It was pretty noisy.

I’m grateful I had parents and siblings who didn’t make me feel inferior. In fact, my mom always encouraged us in many activities and interests…music lessons, ballet/dance lessons, sports, voice lessons, swim lessons, etc.

I finally found my niche in other non-musical areas…cooking/baking, soccer, writing, and tae kwon do. I also spent an entire Summer learning how to play Für Elise so when people came over, I would no longer be the musical loser of the family. 

It was very difficult to learn how to play Für Elise…especially since it was a higher level song…but I wanted to prove to myself that I could learn at least one great piano song and play it by memory.

Even though I learned to play Für Elise, piano just wasn’t my “thing” while growing up — it didn’t bring me joy — so I decided I would find out what was.

Finding what I was gifted or talented at only happened once I stopped comparing myself to my siblings or others. I had to take the time to truly find out who I was and purposely find out what I enjoyed and was personally good at. I had to get over my perceived feelings of rejection or judgment (who’s to say anyone judged me at all…it totally could have all been in my mind due to me not being comfortable with myself). 

It took awhile but I found — to my surprise — several things I was good at.

Sure, I would absolutely love to have the twinkle fingers of my siblings that can glide like silk on keys of ivory, but had I been good at piano, I most likely would never have discovered my own individual personal talents or life purpose. 

As you find your life purpose, gifts and talents, particularly if you found them early in life, realize they can evolve. What you may have loved or hated as a child or teenager may bring you either joy or dissatisfaction later on. As an adult, I decided to take piano lessons again from my sister, but I didn’t become frustrated. I can now play a few songs and read music but it still isn’t a main or primary talent. Likewise, soccer isn’t a talent I kept up with.
All of this to say: 

  1. What is your specific talent, gift, or life purpose? Have you discovered them yet? What character qualities are unique to you?
  2. Are you stuck in the dead end hamster wheel of comparing yourself to others?
  3. Have you truly taken the time to find out who you are — and what you personally are good at…on purpose? 
  4. Have you taken the proper steps to stop fearing rejection and/or judgment?
  5. Have you asked God to reveal your unique purpose, talents, or gifts to you?
  6. Have you sought out people in your life who can offer encouragement and guidance to you? Or accountability?
  7. Have you made the declaration that you are willing to persevere – and go through hardship if necessary – to learn what your life purpose is and to learn new talents, gifts, and brand new things? 
  8. Have you created a plan so you won’t be tempted to prematurely quit when life gets tough?

I encourage everyone to genuinely think about these questions and to ask God to reveal to you what your life purpose is. Everybody has one! Everybody has the treasure of talents, personal character, gifts, and purpose inside of them! Ask God to reveal what your gifts, purpose and talents are. They’re not going to be exactly what somebody else’s are, so don’t waste time comparing yourself — or your life — to others. There is great treasure inside of you…inside your heart, mind, body, spirit, and purpose. God wants to use these magnificent qualities for His glory and your ultimate good!

Seek to find out what they are — and the purpose behind them!

It could be one thing or multiple things. It may even be just a specific character quality that you are especially good at. Many people will have multiple things, but don’t be discouraged if it is just one thing — financial guru Dave Ramsey has helped a multitude of people with just one specific gift. Whatever gift(s) you have, it was specifically created just for you to make a difference in your family’s lives, in others lives, and to bless and help others.

Enjoy the amazing process and adventure of finding all that God has in store for you! Finding these treasures God has specifically for you truly makes life abundant and fulfilling!

Gratitude & 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

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): Click here for book

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

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️

Comparing Life, Grief, & Loss

When my sister and I founded Grief Bites, and started our grief group, classes, and seminars, I don’t think either of us could have possibly been prepared for all we would see and hear.

With grief, people are at their rawest and most vulnerable. Tensions and emotions run very high and sometimes that has led to some colorful dialogue — especially in the setting of a grief group.

Anyone who has been going through grief for awhile knows and deeply understands that each grief experience is unique to the one who is going through it…you just can’t compare grief experiences…and grief is just plain messy.

Anyone who has attended an authentic grief group has definitely seen and heard it all. 

Grief group participants will see people deeply heartbroken over a loved one’s death, as well as family members who celebrate the death of a loved one…especially if their loved one was suffering.

Some people deeply mourn the fact they had chosen to get married, and then there are singles who greatly wish to be married.

One couple, who seemed as though they had it all together and were deeply in love shared that they had grown in their love only after adultery had nearly destroyed their marriage…the marriage they were now enjoying was the result of many, many tears and a lot of hard work.

Looks can be deceiving when we make blind assumptions. And it can be easy to compare life and grief experiences. If we knew the facts about each other’s lives, we’d be more grateful we are living the one we are living.

I’ve listened to parents who were deeply hurting due to being severely mistreated by multiple children….as well as parents who were devastated they could only have one child…and others who would absolutely trade everything they own to have the ability to have a baby.

One time, I had two separate families tell me they were jealous of each other during grief group: one person (who had five children) was jealous that the other family frequently went on vacations since they are childless…and then the other family (who could go on multiple vacations) revealed that they travel to escape the pain of not having the big family they had always dreamed of. Each family had heartaches and each received a different blessing from God: one received children and the other, money.

The fact is, everybody is either:

  • coming out of a grief experience 
  • in the middle of grief experience
  • about to enter into a grief experience

We all have:

  • shining moments in life
  • fantastic memories
  • “behind the scenes” heartaches
  • major failures 
  • great accomplishments
  • grief experiences nobody knows about
  • blessings others may not have

It doesn’t make sense to compare ourselves to others, or compare our grief experiences or heartaches.

We are all different and our grief experiences — and blessings — are unique to each of us…even if we all go through similar ups and downs in life.

Each and every person who is going through a grief experience could present their case as to why their grief is greater, but wouldn’t it make more sense if we all simply chose to encourage and be there for one another? The greater the love, the greater the grief, and the more people encourage and empathize with one another, the more people have the ability to heal.

In His amazingly great wisdom, God said it best when He summed it all up:

Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”

Once we understand that everybody is going through an uphill battle — or will be going through an uphill battle, it becomes so much easier to be a vessel of encouragement, love, and hope to everybody around us.

Nobody has a perfect life…and nobody has it “all together” or has everything figured out.

We’re all just kind of winging it and doing the very best we each can. Amen?

Continually learn as much as you can through each grief experience, gain wisdom and perspective with each teardrop, and never fall into comparing yourself with others and never compare your grief experiences or life.

We are all human and we each will process life, love, blessings, and grief differently. And that is totally okay! 

Don’t judge others in life or grief…and do not fall into allowing others to judge your life or your grief.

It’s what we each choose to do with all of our blessings, our life and grief experiences that truly matters. Never waste any of these precious life experiences and learning experiences.

All have a deep purpose!

Gratitude, blessings, & healing,
Kim

©2016 by Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

❤️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): Click here for book

❤️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