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Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

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

ps://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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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 🎄⭐❤


The 10 Thieves of Christmas 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Guilt & Regrets –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude and many blessings,
🎄Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

🎄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
❤️

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

Valentine’s Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I think that’s a big problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude, LOVE, and many blessings,
Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

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

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

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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