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The 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 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 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. 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 had 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
  • wrong friendships
  • unwise romantic relationships
  • wrong attitudes and beliefs
  • unexpected life challenges
  • this list could go on and on

These distractions can 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 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 exclusive 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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330

❤️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

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Never.

Never give up your opinion just because someone steamrolls you with theirs.

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 and concern are 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 allow anyone or anything to rob you of your joy.

Never allow anyone access to or into your life if they don’t truly care about who you are and have the very best intentions for you.

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 so someone else can pursue theirs.

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

Never give up your 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 allow another person to interfere in your relationship with your spouse, child, parents, siblings, or other significant relationships.

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

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 genuine love. These 3 things will always sustain you.

Never feel bad about loving your kiddos and grandkiddos to the moon and back.

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.

Never blindly believe what you hear about others. So much of negative information is rooted in 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 be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

Never bless someone with the expensive gift of trust – or another “knife” – after they’ve already carelessly stabbed you in the back.

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. God will always love you more – and better – than anyone else ever can.

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.

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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

❤️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

When God Doesn’t Give You Your Fairytale

We all have fairytales we’ve built up in our minds. Those great kingdoms we so greatly desire and hold deep inside our hearts.

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 their own children, and all of them love and serve God.

Some may have dreamed about developing their talents, passions, 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 might have pursued health and wellness to the fullest.

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. Financial and marital issues are far too real. Illness and disabilities happen. People fail us…and we fail them. Plans we make crash and burn. Fairytales we’ve created in our hearts 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 is to persevere … To love Him no matter what. To place my “fairytales” in His super caring – and 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 couldn’t have learned them any other way.

Although hurts, frustrations, and disappointments can come from multiple sources, some originate from an unexpected source: ourselves. 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, 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 hearts. 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 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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

❤️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

❤️

Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

(This was originally published on this blog (Grief Bites) a few years ago. I’m just reposting it since it’s the holidays)

Throughout the Christmas season, I’ll be offering encouraging tips on how to get through the holidays during times of grief.

After going through multiple family deaths on or around holidays, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time. As I share what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, enjoyable, and meaningful holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all who read these helpful tips will be encouraged and comforted!

Grief can definitely make the holidays very challenging to get through…but there truly is hope.

I wish each of you a peaceful Christmas season that is filled with hope, comfort, encouragement, and even joy!

My first holiday tip is:

Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to yourself. Do not put on yourself the extra pressure of having the “perfect” holidays.

Just like you are having to create a “new normal” in day-to-day life, you may need to create a “new holiday normal,” or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season as well. Creating new normals doesn’t make anything (or return anything back to) normal. I like to think of and compare “creating new normals” to an inflated inter tube…it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it will keep a griever from completely drowning.

When going through grief, holidays can lose their previous joy, sparkle and specialness.

• Suddenly, the tree that used to shine bright holding treasured ornaments and memories can now bring about intense sadness

• Baking treats and making favorite dishes you used to bake or make for a loved one who is no longer here can now bring about incredible heartache

• Old familiar traditions can now bring intense pain…even anxiety or depressed feelings

• Certain Christmas songs can be tied to a special memory or remind you of a loved one, and can bring sudden tears

• And seeing happy couples and cheerful families—on social media or in real life—can bring about feelings of depression, hopelessness, or maybe even envy

It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the loss of a loved one, adultery or divorce, miscarriage/infertility, financial or job loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, physical or mental illness of a loved one, addiction issues, family rebellion or estrangement, or other painful losses.

…And it can be extra painful and burdensome when family and friends do not understand or agree with how you are handling your grief.

Explain to family and friends that the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask them for their help, support, and compassion.

Some grievers may be able to do all of their usual holiday traditions, while others may not…BOTH are perfectly fine!

Pray about and consider what you need to do, or not do, this holiday season and come to a place of peace about it.

It doesn’t mean it will always be like this…(just because you choose something this year doesn’t mean it will be cemented forever)…it simply means you are doing what you need to do THIS holiday season to make it through.

Communication is key! Talk about it with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict. Some compromise may also be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays. Ideally, it is best to come to decisions where your grief is genuinely honored while also factoring in honoring your time with remaining loved ones. Just like there is no such thing as “cookie cutter” grief, not every griever or family will handle the holidays the exact same way either. Each must communicate and find what’s best for their own individual family. It may include fully celebrating holidays as usual…or changing things up just a little…or beginning some new traditions…or completely changing everything this year…or going out of town, on a vacation, or to visit family who live out of town for a change of scenery. There are many ways to create a special, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for any way they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life!

I am praying for everyone who is going through a sad or tough time to have a meaningful holiday season – and I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring family and friends who will encourage you this month.

It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time, effort, and grace to work out a broken heart and to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.

The first few years are the absolute hardest, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief situation, showing love to your remaining loved ones, and working through your grief, holidays can hold great joy again…in time!

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

🎄❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others! 🎄For more encouragement: ❤️ Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net ❤️ Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): softcover and hardcopy – http://www.barnesandnoble.com or for $3.19 eBook – https://www.christianbook.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
ible.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

🎄❤️🎄

Divorce Prevention: Questions To Ask Before Getting Married

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these statistics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    4. Are they mature, responsible, compassionate, caring, and kind? (Are you?)

    5. Do they – and will they – handle hardship, grief, and stress well? (How do you think you handle these things?) If either of you were to prematurely die, can you trust and depend on them to be compassionate to your family and treat them well…or would there be conflict?

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

    7. Are they loyal, faithful, and will they truly put you first? (Are you truly wiling to do and be these, too?)

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

    9. How do they consistently treat waiters/waitresses, store clerks, pets, children, and others? (How do you treat others?)

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

    11. Are they forgiving or do they hold grudges? (How do you handle forgiveness issues?)

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

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

    14. Do they have anger, bitterness, or attitude issues? (Do you?)

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

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

    17. Do they respect sex and are they respectful towards you in this area? (Are you respectful towards them?)

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

    19. Are they continually self-centered? (Are you?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    28. Do you have fun together, have a strong friendship, and genuinely enjoy each other?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com

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

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

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

    https://www.celebraterecovery.com

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

    http://www.purposedriven.com

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

    http://www.chazown.com

    http://www.rickwarren.org/devotional

    http://www.rejoicemarriageministries.com

    http://www.familylife.com

    https://www.gottman.com

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

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

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    One Of The Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So how do you start a Bucket List?

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

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

    Truly think about the kind of life you want. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Happy Bucket Listing!

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

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

    ❤️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

    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 of the time.

    God gives each of 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.

    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 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
    • Do your self-work and sort through your past and current baggage so you’re a 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 in loving God and serving others.

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

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

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

    🎁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 🎄⭐❤