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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

(by Dr. Robert L. Lynn)

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

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

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

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

OR…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t lose hope or faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a lot to look forward to.

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

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

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

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

~Kim

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

Related posts you might like:

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⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s $3.19 book – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

50 Great Adventures & Activities To Do While Staying Home Due To COVID-19

With the Coronavirus keeping majority of us indoors, it’s a great opportunity to fully enjoy the extraordinary gifts of God, family, and home.

A note to parents: If you have children still at home, they’ll be watching to see how to handle these uncertain times. We can add to their already present stress (kiddos are great at sensing stress or conflict – even if a word is not said)…or we can choose to make this an extra special time of creating great memories that will stay with them for a lifetime.

If you don’t have kids, it’s a great time to get to know and enjoy your neighbors or spouse more. Life is so busy, it can be hard to connect. These activities are great for couples, too.

If you’re single (or have roommates), this can be a memorable and pivotal time of your life.

While the kiddos in our family were growing up, we did the following activities often. I’ll forever cherish the memories we made and be so very grateful for all of the time I spent with them.

I hope these activities will help you remember what’s most important in life. I hope you’ll choose to enjoy this unique opportunity to create good memories and build your most prized, vital relationships. Let’s decide right now to not merely make the best of it…let’s choose to thoroughly appreciate the simple things in life once again.

Here are 50 activities to keep you and your family sane during this stressful time. May you enjoy & delight in every moment!

1. Spend time – truly spend time – with your family (those who live with you…FaceTime is also fantastic): Take this time to thoroughly enjoy your family…get to know them…find out what’s going on in their lives…truly love and care about them..find out what their fears and worries are… encourage and love them… enjoy them and have fun with them. Family isn’t just an important thing…next to God, it’s the most important thing.


2. Watch FREE Metropolitan opera (amazing opportunity! Get their app to avoid waiting in the que): https://www.vulture.com/2020/03/coronavirus-the-metropolitan-opera-to-stream-free-operas

3. Bake treats: there are lots of great recipes online. My favorite website is http://www.tasteofhome.com. I spent a lot of time baking with the kiddos in my family…some of my absolute favorite memories! When I’d drop my son off at kindergarten, he’d say, “I don’t want to go to school…I want to stay home and bake cookies with you!” Baking creates lifelong memories and is so much fun! Here is my (now adult) son’s beloved cookies he wanted to stay home and bake with me (we still use milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet chips and omit the nuts): https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/original-nestle-toll-house-chocolate-chip-cookies/


4. Have a tea party:
tea parties are delightful! It can be as simple as making a great cup of tea and enjoying it while relaxing, or you can do the whole shebang…complete with tea, finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and baked goods, Devonshire (clotted) cream – the works! Here’s a great website to get you started: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-throw-afternoon-tea-party


5. Call extended family and friends, as well as family and friends you haven’t talked to in awhile: Take time to reach out to special loved ones and see how they’re doing. Calling, FaceTiming, and Skyping loved ones is a great way to offer support, love, and encouragement to one another.

6. Cook something comforting: when my family has gone through stressful times, it has always made life better by connecting with my most favorite loved ones over a good, comforting meal. Cook with your family, or if it’s just you, make your absolute favorite dinner. Make it an event. Savor every bite and thank God for all the foods and flavors He has created and blessed you with. This is one of my favorite comfort foods: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cheesy-hash-potato-casserole/ As someone with Celiacs, I swap out ingredients with gluten-free products. To swap out canned soup, this is an awesome recipe: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/condensed-cream-anything-soup/. I use gluten free products for this and it has been life-changing to use when recipes call for canned cream of whatever soup.

7. Have a game night (you can also Skype or FaceTime others to play) : get out the board games, cards, and dominoes and have a fun evening while playing games and talking. Just a suggestion: skip stressful games that could end up in an argument…*ahem* Monopoly.

8. Play charades: have everybody fill out 3-5 pieces of paper and put an action or a song on them. Then everybody guess what is being played out. We do a Christmas song version of this and it is always a fun time.

9. Build a fort in the living room and watch favorite movies: my son and I did this often. We’d also make a teepee out of a camera tripod and sheet. Great times and memories!


10. Finger paint with pudding: get out some wax paper and make some pudding. Divide the vanilla pudding into small bowls and add food coloring. Be sure to protect your clothing, furniture, and floors. Of course, just painting with vanilla is fun too!

11. Watch home videos: It is so special to watch old home videos. You forget so many great memories and it’s fun to relive them. Kiddos especially enjoy watching themselves on TV.

12. Appreciate all you have: when going through uncertain times or tragedy, we can become so grieved or worried about what we could lose…instead of simply being thankful for who and what we currently have in our lives. Majority of the things we worry about never actually happen. Worry also reveals the areas we trust God the least. We can’t control tragedy or future events…but we can choose to stop worrying and leave it all in God’s hands. Appreciate all you have today…especially loved ones!

13. Make homemade marshmallows: make some hot cocoa and top it with marshmallows…or make S’mores with them. Yum! https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe

14. Read the books you’ve bought but haven’t had time to read: every year. I go to a local book fair and purchase lots of books. This year, I got $1,600 worth of books for only $60! Sixty buckaroos! I even found three vintage Elvis books for my son’s girlfriend. With lots of time at home, it’s definitely a great time to read. If you have kiddos at home, it’s a great time to read to them or introduce them to the joy of reading.

15. Watch online church services, motivational talks, or read inspirational content online: the internet has an amazing amount of positive encouragement. My personal favorites are Rick Warren (https://pastorrick.com), Craig Groeschel (https://life.church), various TED talks, Lysa TerKeurst (https://lysaterkeurst.com), Christine Caine (https://christinecaine.com), and Charles Stanley (https://www.intouch.org). There are also other great websites that are so encouraging to marriages and families. Two of my favorites: FamilyLife (https://www.familylife.com) and Focus On The Family (https://www.focusonthefamily.com).

16. Have a scrapbook night: gathering photos, cards, and mementos to put in a special scrapbook is very special. Throughout the years, you can look at the scrapbook you made and reflect on beautiful memories.

17. Take time to thank others: Think of all the family and friends who love you, have invested in you, and have been there for you. Also any pastors, Sunday school leaders, teachers, or bosses who have taught you or poured into your life. Call these special people today and personally thank them for investing in you.


18. Have an indoor picnic: spread out a blanket and have your favorite picnic foods. It could be sandwiches and chips, a charcuterie tray, or even a variety of snack foods or desserts. You can even make some homemade lemonade: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/ginas-homemade-lemonade-recipe

19. If you’re married, look at your wedding photos and watch your wedding video — if you’re widowed or divorced, it’s also a great time to reflect on the good memories of the past and be grateful: being home more is a grand opportunity to reflect on your marriage and choose to strengthen your relationship. The stress of this epidemic can create a lot of worry and stress…talk to your spouse and decide today to be on the same team. Love, encourage, and support each other…help and comfort each other through this hard time. Look at your photos and remember how in love you were while dating your spouse and on your wedding day. Focus on your spouse’s good qualities and help each other get through these times of high stress.

20. Make homemade play dough: This is my favorite recipe because it also has a gluten-free version too (and has instructions for getting play dough out of carpet and clothing). Make some play dough and have the best creative time!
https://livingwellmom.com/easy-homemade-playdough-recipe/

21. Find old mix CDs, records, cassettes, and 8-Tracks and listen to them: music is such an amazing gift – especially during times of stress. It can truly soothe your soul. It is also fun to listen to old music that can bring back fun and warm memories.

22. Have a theater night, talent show, or skit night: When the kiddos in our family were growing up, they enjoyed putting on talent shows, skits, and puppet shows. They’d play the piano, sing, do stand up comedy, dress up and act, and dance. Encourage creativity and be entertained. Be sure to offer praise.

23. Watch all those Christmas movies you DVR’d but never had the chance to watch:
So I personally have a few…okay, dozens…okay, okay, more like 100…of Hallmark Christmas movies I recorded and never had the chance to watch. I imagine I’m not the only one who has a plethora of movies that need watched to clear up space on the ‘ol DVR. Pop some popcorn and eat any remaining Christmas candy as you enjoy your shows!

24. Make shaped pancakes for dinner:
Pancakes are cheap and easy to make. Most people have the ingredients already. You can make alphabet pancakes or try your hand at pancake art. Here is my favorite recipe: https://www.marthastewart.com/basic-pancakes For pancake art ideas, this is awesome for Spring themed pancakes: https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/recipes/spring-pancake-art. Pinterest also has many ideas for pancake art. It’s a fun time of creativity.

25. Do a themed Bible study: One of my absolute favorite ways of reading the Bible is to ask God what theme or topic He’d like me to study deeper. I’ve done full Bible study themes on grief, encouragement, finding God’s heart during loss, requirements for God’s favor, fully seeking God, finances, marriage, parenting, illness, family, love, how to handle betrayal, getting through tragedy, forgiveness, bitterness, Heaven…lots of topics. When you read the Bible with a theme in mind, it further makes the Bible come “alive”…it’s a very special way of drawing closer to God as you talk with Him about all you are learning.


26. Learn a new skill online: Have you always wanted to learn to play an instrument? Further your studies and knowledge on a specific topic? Learn how to be a better cook or how to sing? Always wanted to learn how to write, paint, or draw? You can learn virtually every hobby known to mankind through online lessons or tutorials. Think of something you’ve always wanted to learn or do and have the best time!

27. Call your grandparents and ask them to tell you any life advice they think you’ll need: Ask them about their childhood, family, careers, favorite Bible verse, favorite holiday memory, their testimony, relationship advice, and anything else of great value. you have WEALTH when you invest in and talk to a loved one who is older…and that treasure leaves the moment they do…so protect and spend your time with them wisely.

28. Have a night of total relaxation:
Spend an evening with total relaxation in mind. Do whatever helps you to relax and get away from everything stressful. Take a hot shower or bubble bath. Light some candles, light the fireplace, and listen to some soft music – don’t fall asleep before blowing out the candles or turning off the fireplace though. 🙂 Relax with loved ones. Snuggle up with God, your spouse, and your kiddos. Whatever relaxes your soul, make time to destress.

29. Dress up and have a candlelight dinner:
Just because you’re having to stay in, it doesn’t mean you have to be bored. Look for ways to make the common extraordinary. Dress up for dinner. Light candles for dinner. Change things up and make dinner time memorable.

30. Have a movie night:
With so many options to watch movies – regular TV, cable, DVR, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, DVDs, old VHS’s, home videos, etc, it’s a great time to relax and watch non-stressful movies. Watch things that will bring positivity and joy to your soul: comedies, movies that show how people overcome obstacles, Disney movies, etc. It’s far better to watch something positive instead of continually watching the news.

31. Have a craft day:
I’m not a real crafty person…seriously, I flunked sewing in Home Ec in high school…but I know there are a lot of people – like my amazing sister-in-law – who are awesome at crafts. Look up craft projects online and have fun being creative!

32. Camp out in the living room:
When my son was little, we’d periodically camp out in the living room. We’d make pallets on the floor with comforters and sleeping bags, and do camping activities: make hot dogs and S’mores, sing campy type songs, tell stories, and just had the best time together. One time, we even put up an actual tent. Memories like this last a lifetime.

33. Learn how to meditate on scripture:
Did you know that God promises success – to prosper all we do – to those who take the time to meditate on scripture and apply it? This is an excellent post of how to meditate on scripture: https://iblp.org/questions/how-can-i-meditate-scripture Commit to doing this every night for 6 months and see where God will take you through this exciting adventure. Your life will never be the same! A few other good posts to check out: https://billygraham.org/devotion/meditate-on-scripture/ and https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-does-meditation-mean-in-the-bible-how-can-i-practice-biblical-meditation.html and https://iblp.org/sites/default/files/pdf/daily_success_brochure.pdf

34. Spend an evening singing:
Seriously, I know this sounds silly, but it can do a world of good. Sing your favorite tunes..praise music and hymns, Broadway musicals, and your favorite songs from the past and present. You’ll feel happier in no time!

35. Have a spa night:
Take a hot bath, give yourself and your family an at home facial, manicure, and pedicure, or do a homemade hair treatment. Anything that brings rejuvenation.

36. Remember and appreciate the little things and little comforts in life: the little things and comforts in life, you will find, end up being the most important things in life. God, family, and friends. A good cup of coffee or hot tea. Hugs from your spouse and family that live with you. Snuggle time and reading books with your children/grandchildren. Cuddles with pets. Sunrises and sunsets. The relaxing sound of rain. The sound of the ocean. A warm blanket on a chilly evening. Fresh air outside. Nature. All things that offer comfort. Appreciate and enjoy the people and little treasures life has to offer. All are an exquisite blessing from God.

37. Organize your home: What better time to do a deep cleaning and organizing of your home? Studies show that clutter can exacerbate stress and depression. Clear the clutter, and by doing so, improve your physical, mental and emotional perspective, wellness, and health.


38. Truly think about life and reorganize anything that needs changed or improved. Some of the best thoughts, goals, dreams, inventions, philosophy, testimonies, and perspectives came from a time of great struggle, suffering, and obstacles. These harsh times are an excellent opportunity to honestly evaluate and reevaluate life, relationships, goals, education, and other important life choices.

39. Pray fervently: Prayer can change everything. Absolutely everything. Having the extraordinary privilege of spending time with God each day is beyond incredible. There are many – so many – great Bible verses to pray during times of tragedy. Some of my favorites that I have personally prayed are in the last part of this blog post: https://griefbites.com/2020/03/17/an-important-prayer-for-hard-times-covid-19/. During times of hardships, grief, tragedy, and uncertainty, our time is best spent in prayer instead of worry and stressing over circumstances we do not have the power to change. If you have praying family members and friends, ask to pray with them too. Prayer can even be done over the phone. Remember: prayer can move mountains and obstacles.

40. Stay positive during this (and every) trial: Staying positive isn’t easy when life falls apart. It’s definitely not easy. Sure, you must feel what you need to feel…but it is so important to infuse positivity into your life and your loved ones’ lives. Positivity is a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it will be. Look for, and seek, any opportunity you can to build positivity into your life.

41. Play video games or computer games: When I was a kiddo, Pong was the big thing…then came Atari…then Coleco Vision. Video games have come a long way. Many are even educational. Spend an evening unwinding with your family as you connect with those you love best!

42. Have a no electronics night: There are lots of fun things you can do that require zero electricity. Get creative and find new, non traditional ways to have fun.

43. Have a chore night – followed with a special treat once everyone is finished: Nobody likes chores. Well, I know a few weirdos who do, but it’s definitely not the norm. A clean home with chores done is rewarding. You’ll think better and sleep better – and after the chores are done, have a fun treat as a reward for your hard work.

44. Have a “no TV news / no worrying allowed” night – only talk about & do delightful things: self explanatory. 🙂

45. Make things right with people you know you have wronged: we all have hurt or offended another person in life. While I was doing a themed study in the Bible, a specific (and frightening) verse popped from the page that truly made me think: Proverbs 17:13, “If anyone returns evil for good, evil will never leave his house.” or another translation: “You will always have trouble if you are mean to those who are good to you.” Take the extra time you now have to say sorry and make amends with anyone you know you have wronged. Ask the person’s forgiveness and then seek God’s forgiveness. Make right any wrongs you have done in life. You’ll be giving a huge gift to those you have wronged – and as a bonus, you’ll be grateful to have a much lighter conscience and spirit.

46. Do a fun science project: There are lots of fun and easy kid-friendly science experiments on the web. Here is a great one: https://www.today.com/parents/how-entertain-kids-home-crafts-science-projects-t176161

47. Take a virtual vacation or watch a home vacation video: Travel is so enjoyable and relaxing…but this pandemic has shut many travel opportunities down. During this time, take advantage of a virtual vacation. You may not be able to surf in Hawaii or California, but you can experience the next best thing by surfing the web for vacation fun. https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/cool-gadgets/virtual-reality-vacations. Experience some Disney World rides here: https://allears.net/2020/03/19/take-a-ride-on-your-favorite-disney-world-attractions-from-the-comfort-of-your-home/. You can also do a virtual tour of several super cool museums here: https://hellogiggles.com/news/museums-with-virtual-tours/

48. Get some exercise indoors: With gyms closed, you don’t have to throw away your health, fitness goals, or wellness plans. There are many online options for exercise…hello, Tony Horton and Shaun T…and there are many ways to exercise indoors. Even walking around the house will do your body, mind, and spirit good.

49. Toilet paper someone’s yard: just kidding…there is absolutely no toilet paper to be found, much less wasted.
But…if you do happen to have an abundance of toilet paper or food, ask family if they need any. Getting through hard times together and encouraging and loving each other is what family is all about.

50. The most important of all? Spend time delighting in God: delighting in God is absolutely life changing! https://griefbites.com/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-in-god/ Teach – and give the gift to – yourself and your children of how to have a dynamic relationship with God. Teach them (and yourself) to daily read and enjoy the Bible. Delight and trust in “being still” with God…loving Him…adoring Him…obeying Him…allowing Him full access to your heart and your life. Developing a love relationship & friendship with God is the greatest adventure, treasure, peace, and joy you’ll ever experience on earth. http://www.peacewithGod.net

We’ll all get through these hard days. When awful thoughts of worry or anxiety pop into your head, whisper to your heart, “It won’t always be like this.”

We each have overcome major obstacles in life, we will press on and do the same – today and always.

Hang in there! Your best days may not have even happened yet. The best is yet to come.

Enjoy God, family, and loved ones and allow this pandemic to teach your heart what matters most. Maybe everything we’ve been living for isn’t as important as we thought it was. Perhaps it’s far past time to appreciate, love, and enjoy the people we love best and the simple things in life!❤️

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings to you,

Kim

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐️⭐️⭐️All websites in this post are not necessarily endorsed and are completely at each users own discretion and risk.

An Important Question To Ask Yourself Every Single Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Huge Lesson Learned From My 100 lb Friend

This entire year – especially the past few months – has been a time of learning and growing.

Sometimes, I love and enjoy learning/growing seasons. This one…eh…not so much.

It’s been painful…very, very painful.

…Yet I do appreciate seasons like these.

Anyone who reads my blog, or has been to an event I’ve spoken at, knows how much my family and I love dogs – especially our dogs.

We have really, really big dogs. Our family’s biggest dog weighs 180 lbs (and stands 6’5″ on his hind legs) and our smallest one weighs 90 lbs. Our dog in the middle weighs 100 lbs – and she’s just a puppy!

Due to the breed our puppy is, she recently had to have a gastropexy surgery, along with being spayed.

She wasn’t a happy camper.

She still isn’t.

Having the surgery saved her life…and will prevent future major agony – which could’ve potentially also caused a very painful death due to bloat.

She doesn’t see it that way. She just sees that we took her to a strange place…dropped her off…seemed to abandon her…picked her up and brought her home to teach her a new way of life for a lil bit…only to greatly limit her freedom by putting a cone around her neck and not letting her play, run, or have fun for 14 days.

To keep her incisions clean and to where she couldn’t get to them, we’ve put t-shirts on her, too….(she’s been quite the lil master of destroying cones…she’s chewed through two of them…so the t-shirt is extra protection).

Notice I said “t-shirts”…plural. Oh yes, she’s destroyed 4 t-shirts as well.

Normally a super sweet pup (well, to us she is…she thinks everyone else is an axe-murderer), she’s been miffed. Super, super miffed.

She normally trusts us 100%, but I’d say the level of trust during her recuperation was 20% at best.

You’d think she’d trust us completely because she has an incredible life and she receives tons of love and hugs. Seriously, I wish I had the life of our dogs. It’s a charmed one. She has every reason in the world to trust us.

…But…

During the time of the surgery and healing, she stopped trusting us.

As I was helping her, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of how I treat God when going through a major grief event.

God is so good to me…

…yet I have accused Him in my heart of taking me to a strange place (grief)…dropping me off…seemingly abandoning me…picking me up just to have me learn a new way of life…only to greatly limit my freedom…and it is definitely not fun.

The same way my puppy is not trusting me…it’s sad to say there are times I’ve treated God the exact same way.

When we get to heaven, I wonder how many days God will show us (throughout our lives) when He worked for our best…preventing future heartache worse then we experienced – and we accused him of not caring. Perhaps He prevented something so much worse that we couldn’t even comprehend.

Times of grief, growing, and learning are hard…but God does care about us. He loves us. And He will make all things work together for good…when we love Him and trust His heart!

If my puppy could simply understand how much I love her…all of the great plans I have for her…the surprises I have in store for her once she’s fully healed….

….goodness, don’t you know that God wants so much more for us – and is willing to give us good gifts in the future!

Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I’m grateful for my big puppy and the spiritual lesson God taught me through her time of recovery. God teaches me lessons through our dogs all of the time.

Just like I would never hurt our dogs or allow pain without a future purpose, I know God would never intentionally allow pain to me without a future purpose.

And sometimes, we cannot see the purpose at all…

…but God can.

Isaiah 55:6-9, Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

‭‭It’s a good reminder – and huge lesson – from my furry lil 100 lb. friend.

Prayer:

Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Thank You for each and every day of our life…the good and the bad. Sometimes, it’s difficult to trust Your heart and plans, and it’s hard to be thankful in some situations, but we know that You are good. Lord, there are so many who are hurting today. Some are grieving the death of a much-treasured loved one…some are battling addiction or have a loved one battling addiction. Some are going through divorce, adultery, or intense relationship problems. Some are weary from ongoing family or parent/child relationships. Some are experiencing deep financial issues or health issues. Some are trying to figure out how to heal from a loved one’s suicide. So many need to desperately know You are near. I pray for all who are reading this! I pray You will draw near to their heart…give them fresh hope…bring the healing they so desperately are seeking from You. If they have been praying for a loved one, I pray You will answer their heartfelt prayers! Lord, You are good…really, really good! I pray You bring healing, comfort, blessing, strength, and love to all who need it. I especially pray You will show everyone a fresh, new revelation of You and Your incredible love!

I ask this in the powerful Name of Jesus, Amen!

Today, seek God’s heart. Camp out in God’s Word (I especially love Psalms and Proverbs during times of grief). Get to know God for yourself. Take time to delight in God. Pour your heart out to Him. Entrust your situation into His hands.

He is for you. He loves you. He will never leave you. He is the ultimate Comforter.

Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2019 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🌷

When God Doesn’t Give You Your Fairytale

We all have fairytales we’ve built up in our minds. Those great kingdoms 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. Finances may collapse. Family and marital issues are far too real. Illness and disabilities happen. A spouse may commit adultery and leave you heartbroken. Children may rebel or greatly mistreat you. Friends and family may betray your heart and trust. Infertility hurts your heart and hope deeply. In-laws (parents or children) may reject you. Loved ones die. People fail us…and we fail them. Plans we make crash and burn. Fairytales we’ve created in our heart crumble and are compromised or destroyed…by others, ourselves, or “life.”

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

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

Something God has been showing me the last few years (after experiencing over 30 major grief events) 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’m not sure I could’ve learned them any other way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is faithful!

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Words That Can Change EVERYTHING

The following verses all have something amazing and special in common: 1 Samuel 23:14, Genesis 8:1, 1 Kings 5:4, Acts 2:24, Psalm 49:15, Genesis 31:7, 31:24, Romans 5:8, Genesis 50:20, Genesis 31:42, Psalm 73:26, Acts 3:15, Genesis 45:8

They all contain two specific words.

And these two words – when put together – are two of the most important and powerful words we can ever hope for and say —

…”but God.

Anytime God uses these two words…you know specific, big and incredible things are going to happen:

incredible change

big protection

incredible grace

specific answers

big healing

It’s just who our God is.

I’ve experienced it time and time again throughout my life.

Today, read the above Bible verses. Think about what you are going through, and then, insert and introduce the words, “but God” to your life experience.

Example: “I may be going through grief…but God will carry me through this tough time and cause good to come out of the situation.”

Where there is deep heartache…a monumental life challenge…a situation that is causing fear or worry…marital or family conflict…a health crisis…anything…these two words are powerful and have the ability to change everything

but God.

Today, you may be going through the death of a treasured loved one…but God is going to carry you through it.

Your spouse may have come home and told you they don’t love you anymore…but God has the power to work in your spouse’s heart and heal your marriage.

You may have just found out a devastating medical diagnosis…but God knows your body inside and out and has the power to work a healing miracle.

You may be estranged from a family member…but God has the power to bring peace and harmony to the relationship.

You may be struggling with addiction (or the addiction of a loved one)…but God is bigger than any addiction.

You may be struggling financially…but God can open up blessings on you when you honor your finances His way.

You may have been deeply wronged, abused, or mistreated by others…but God is the One who sees your tears, places those precious tears in a bottle, and records all of your heartache in His book (Psalm 56:8).

No matter what we go through or experience in life…the words “but God” always apply.

God loves you.

God cares for you.

God wants to help and bless you.

You will never find anyone who loves and cares for you more than God – and He will always redeem and make things new…especially when we place each situation in His hands.

Note: sometimes God doesn’t change things how we want to see things changed…and God’s change happens in His way and His timing. So don’t lose hope. Ever. God will never do something halfheartedly, hurriedly, or incompletely. I’ve found Him to be 100% faithful in every situation. And many times, God changed me first before He changed a situation. Always remember: He’s got you.

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2019 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

More encouragement on this topic:

https://griefbites.com/2016/02/17/7-ways-to-receive-new-mercies-favor-from-god-through-lifes-storms/

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

https://griefbites.com/2017/12/23/7-important-things-to-remember-through-a-growing-season/

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

https://griefbites.com/2017/04/12/where-are-you-god-2/

https://griefbites.com/2017/02/17/seasons-of-life-when-life-hurts/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/14/a-special-prayer-for-your-marriage/

https://griefbites.com/2018/02/07/grief-when-no-closure-can-be-found/

https://griefbites.com/2018/03/21/when-god-doesnt-give-you-your-fairytale-2/

https://griefbites.com/2016/06/22/bringing-your-hard-questions-to-god-an-extra-crispy-collision/

https://griefbites.com/2016/03/20/mourning-those-who-are-still-alive/

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Special Prayer For Your Marriage

Marriage today can be tough. There are so many attacks on marriages and so many day-to-day challenges.

If you are going through marriage problems, please know that God truly cares. Take some time today to get alone with God and pray for your marriage. If you know of a family member or friend who is going through a tough time in their marriage, intercede in prayer for their marriage, too!

This prayer by Beth Moore is one of my favorites! God used this specific prayer in my own marriage over a decade ago to bring about great change.

If you are married, after you check out this prayer, take some time this weekend to show your spouse how much you love them…thank them for all they do…plan a special time with them…remember your love story and the days of when you fell in love with each other.

With God, there is always HOPE!!!

A Valentine’s Prayer by Beth Moore

PRAY (out loud if possible):

My powerful and glorious and holy God, with everything I have and everything I am in Christ, I come before Your Throne to intercede on behalf of marriages, especially mine. Lord, I come before You with complete confidence because I know with irrefutable certainty that I am praying according to Your will. Father, You are PRO-MARRIAGE. You are FOR US. And if You are for us, who indeed can be against us? Lord, Your enemy the devil is waging full scale war on the marriages of Your own children. Havoc resides in the earthly house of God. Our churches will only be as strong as the families that inhabit them.

If not for Your Spirit living within us, Satan’s psychological warfare would be almost too much to bear and his lies too sly to discern. We cry out to You, Lord! I ask You to rise from Your Throne in & on behalf of each of our homes and marriages and cause our enemies to scatter violently. Open our eyes to the deceit of the enemy that tempts spouses to think they need something – or someone – brand new. Help them to see that it would be an unending cycle of newness always wearing off and demanding something deeper to sustain it. Renew us, Lord! You created marriage and You alone can sustain it. Breathe fresh life into each of our marriages. You are a master at resurrection life. Raise marriages from the dead, O Lord! Reclaim those that have given up. Put a holy tenacity in them to refuse to let go. Give each spouse eyes only for each other. Cause each husband to thrill to the touch of his wife. Cause each wife to thrill to the touch of her husband. Renew a fiery passion in their hearts toward one another. Fill each wife with the desire and obedience to treat her man like he’s the real man You created him to be. Forgive us our serious trespasses of dishonoring or belittling our spouses in any way. Forgive us for making our men secondary priorities to our children. Help us to see that the best thing we could ever do for our children is to have a wonderful relationship with their father.

Cause each man to be lavish in his demonstrations of love toward his wife. Open his eyes to see how hard she works and how badly she needs his blessing. In turn, open her eyes to the pressures that fall daily upon her man and enable her to love him in a way that soothes and relieves him. CLAIM OUR HOMES AND OUR MARRIAGES, LORD! I know You can perform miracles over the worst of marriages. You performed countless wonders over my own. Lord, in Jesus’ Name, You bring to a stunning halt every weapon forged & formed against my marriage & each couple’s marriage and every scheme the enemy may already have under way. Bind every single person and subsequent action that may be coming against my marriage & family, or one of these marriages & families. Halt any hint of extra-marital flirtation or fantasy in the powerful Name of Jesus. Cause any “other” person that has become dangerously attractive to a married spouse to now become utterly repulsive to them…and cause our spouses to become utterly repulsive to the “other” person. Empower every person at risk to flee for his or her life from sexual temptation, impurity, and immorality. Make each spouse TRUE, Lord, in heart, soul, mind, and spirit.

God, I lift this to You with great urgency and fervency. Enough is enough! Enough Christian marriages have disintegrated! I don’t just pray for couples to stay together. I pray for them to LOVE staying together. I pray for the return of laughter, flirtation, desire, and life-long commitment. Interrupt mediocrity with fresh fire. We are all weak in our natural selves, Lord, and we know we’ll never have perfect marriages and homes but we are fully capable in Your sovereign power to have good ones. Healthy ones. FUN ONES. L-A-S-T-I-N-G ONES! Lord, the beauty of praying in Your will is knowing that every single couple who desires and receives it can have it. Every couple can be healed. Every couple can be in love again. Every family can be healed & whole if they are willing. Make EVERY SPOUSE & FAMILY MEMBER willing! I offer this intercession with the absolute belief that You initiated it, Lord. You do not waste time nor effort. If You prompted it, You meant to answer it. Now, compassionate and wonderful Father, do what only You can do. Out-do everything we ask. Do more than we could think to request so that Your great Name can be magnified above all else. I set before You every marriage represented by those who read this entry. Cause every couple & their family members to have a glorious Head-on collision with You, Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Nothing is too difficult for You. My prayers are unmistakably heard and my thanks already appropriate because I offer each of these petitions in the incomparable and delivering Name of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Check out Beth Moore’s page for more encouragement: https://www.lproof.org

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

Throughout the next few weeks, I will be offering holiday tips that I hope will be encouraging and helpful to your heart.

After going through multiple family deaths, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time for my family and me.

As I share (in these next holiday posts) what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, meaningful, and eventually enjoyable 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 excruciatingly painful to get through…but there truly is hope.

Having experienced the death of family members on major holidays (Thanksgiving and Easter) and the day after Valentine’s Day and day before Christmas, I truly understand how challenging holidays can be.

To be honest, I never thought our family would ever have the ability to enjoy these particular holidays again…ever…but we finally were able to after navigating through tremendous grief.

My first holiday tip is:

Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to your heart.

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 season” – or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season, too.

Creating a “new normal” doesn’t make anything “normal“…oh, how I hate that word…yet I like to compare “creating new normals” to inflating a life raft: it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it can prevent a griever from completely drowning.

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

•Holiday meals can be excruciating since a much-loved family member is no longer here to enjoy loved ones, the meal, or the holiday. Their presence is sorely missed!

• 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 or anxiety.

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

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

The holidays can be a huge reminder of the great treasure you lost.

It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the death 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, illness, or other painful losses.

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

Explain to family and friends how the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask for their help, support, love, understanding 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 the holidays.

Communication is key! Talk about your plans and how you are feeling with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict.

Compromise may be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays…but it is important to grieve however you need to grieve.

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 a little…or beginning a few 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 peaceful, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing, incredible gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for all of the ways they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life.

Grief is so unique and personal – and affects so many facets of your life – it isn’t a cookie-cutter experience. It’s a journey that is between God and you – and, at times, those you live with.

Grief isn’t designed for everyone to have input or an opinion about it.

…You don’t “get over it”…

…You can’t go around it…

…You can’t fly above it…

…You have to go through it…

…And there isn’t an ending to grief while on earth because grief will resurface from time to time. As long as there is love, grief will lovingly linger…because love doesn’t die.

Yes, grieve however you need to grieve and be kind to your heart. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others…and you’re not hurting the heart of God…your grief is totally appropriate.

I am praying everyone who is going through a sad or tough time will have a meaningful holiday season. And I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring loved ones who will offer encouragement and kindness the next few weeks.

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.

Grief can be excruciatingly heartbreaking during the holidays, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief, and showing love to your remaining loved ones – while working through your grief – holidays can hold great joy again…in time!

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

With God’s help, the holidays can be meaningful again.

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): Click here for book

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divorce Prevention: Questions To Ask Before Getting Married

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these statistics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com

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

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

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

    https://www.celebraterecovery.com

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

    http://www.purposedriven.com

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

    http://www.chazown.com

    http://www.rickwarren.org/devotional

    http://www.rejoicemarriageministries.com

    http://www.familylife.com

    https://www.gottman.com

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

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

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    An Important Question To Periodically Ask

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

    There are so many who are hurting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2019 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    One Of The Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So how do you start a Bucket List?

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

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

    Truly think about the kind of life you want. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Happy Bucket Listing!

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️Kim’s FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

    It’s always better to: Creating A Great Life

    It’s always better to:

    •be too emotional than inauthentic 

    •be too deep than shallow

    •be too forgiving than bitter

    •be too loving than rejecting 

    •be too compassionate than hard-hearted 

    •be too giving than stingy

    •be too mercy-filled than unfeeling

    •be too kind than excluding

    •be too grateful than unappreciative 

    •be too responsible than negligent 

    •be too concerned than aloof

    •be too thoughtful than selfish

    •be too humble than arrogant

    •be too honest than deceitful 

    •be too mindful than careless

    •be too invested than regretful 

    •be too dependable than flakey

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

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

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

    …And character either makes or breaks a person. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.


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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    🌷

    The 10 Thieves of Christmas 

    Christmas is a magical time.

    Most people are in a better mood and the sights, sounds, and smells of the season are delightful. I think December is the best month of the entire year…

    …but what if you’re deep in grief?

    …what if you’re experiencing disappointment?

    …what if life currently isn’t being too kind?

    You dream of all life has to offer…you plan and prepare for the best life possible…then something happens and wrecks your plan, attempting to rob you of your joy.

    Life is truly a series of blessings and losses…and this circle goes on and on through multiple different circumstances all throughout life.

    What if all seems lost?

    I get it. I’ve experienced those heart wrenching times in my life as well.

    …yet 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 situation…a life event…or someone…sucking the 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 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. Sometimes, it can feel difficult to simply breathe. If you are going through grief, be kind to your heart. 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 maybe even 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 celebrating 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 a disappointment may bring, then give all of my expectations to God. It also helps to write down a checklist of all of the good that remains in life. Sometimes when you see what you do have in life, it can bring a new perspective.

    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…an adult child or their spouse may not treasure or treat parents right and vice versa…spouses are stressed due to a multitude of reasons – especially undealt with past conflict…kids are shuffled between homes and become tired or frustrated…family members fail to value one another…certain family members bring up problems during Christmas dinner or make catty, rude, or passive-aggressive 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 may 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. If someone is over 21 years-old and finances their own life, realize their life is theirs to live…they need to learn and experience blessings and consequences on their own (the only exception is if they’re making life & death choices that could be detrimental). 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 or trusted pastor to see how to best handle the conflict. If it can be resolved or talked out, family harmony is very important. Sometimes, that sadly isn’t possible. There’s a big difference between an annoying or opinionated relative and an extremely toxic one who can truly create longterm damage. Pray and ask God for wisdom of how to handle situations, give grace when 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 an addiction, be so very careful to maintain your sobriety, boundaries, 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 $50,000. 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! If a loved one won’t respect your choice of sobriety or boundaries, you may need to limit your contact with them…or meet at a neutral place where no source of an addiction will be available. Do whatever you need to do to maintain your sobriety and avoid all addictions. Seeking out a trusted loved one to hold you accountable is also a good idea. I’ve heard some absolutely heartbreaking stories from grievers who wish they would’ve maintained strong boundaries when it comes to addiction.

    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 — yet 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 Christmas cards…being invited to holiday parties…having a special friend or romantic partner to do activities with…snuggling up with someone…doing fun Christmas activities with loved ones…desire to maintain holiday traditions with your adult kiddos…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 alone. More alone than I had ever felt. I had just been through a major loss 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…I watched every Christmas TV special I could…and I surrounded myself with loved ones. 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 particular 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 your spouse or 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. Jesus is the real treasure! 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. 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 thing about financial challenges is the creativity you can develop through hard times, the drive to create a better life, and realizing 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. I remember a specific Christmas season (about 25 years ago) when my husband and I were broke as smoke. We literally were so broke that we could only afford two Happy Meals from McDonald’s as a Christmas treat…one for our child and we split the other one between my hubby and me. Our Christmas tree only had 24 apple ornaments – because they were 12 for $1. Our gifts to each other came from the Dollar Store. We bought five $1 board games. Even though we were broke, I remember that year as a very treasured memory…we learned the only thing that truly matters is God and loved ones. Everything else is just a bonus.

    7. Medical Diagnosis –
    A poor medical diagnosis or serious health issues can be 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, panic, frustration. You may even feel angry or cheated. Illness is difficult and can leave you feeling helpless and even depressed. I truly get it…one year, I had multiple family members battling cancer at the exact same time. 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. Spiritual Warfare –
    I’ve never seen a time in my life where there was so much spiritual warfare in families and marriages. Not a week goes by I don’t receive a phone call to meet with those who are experiencing the pain of a spouse who has committed adultery, the heartache of an adult child who has abandoned their faith, or a sad situation of family estrangement, family conflict, or marital heartache. It’s just so 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 their family. 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 in His way and in His time. He loves you and your loved ones – and can do – more than you can ask, think, or imagine. Trust His heart! He, better than anyone, knows exactly how you feel. God’s 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_____or not 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 and whenever 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 to 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. The lesson is always love…how to love God and others 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 – with God’s help – to create a brand new future. Always remember: your best days may not have even happened yet.

    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 during the holidays. 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. 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 rest and relax!

    There are so many thieves that can invade the Christmas season and obliterate joy…

    …for sure…

    …but there are also choices that can be made to create a special, meaningful Christmas season.

    With just a few weeks until Christmas, make the decision to:

    • Be kind to your heart…
    • Extravagantly love and enjoy God and loved ones
    • Celebrate these remaining weeks and days of the holiday in the most stress-free, enjoyable, and relaxed way possible…
    • Enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa as you reflect on good memories of Christmases past…
    • Do something meaningful for others: buy someone a surprise treat or gift…help a family in need…donate to a charity that is dear to your heart…go to dinner with a family member or friend…encourage someone who is going through grief…bake cookies for loved ones…etc…
    • Attend a special Christmas church service, program, or concert…
    • Watch Christmas specials or movies that will warm your heart…
    • Look at Christmas lights and decorations – every year, I do this with loved ones…and I also look at Christmas lights with just God. I cherish both of these times every year.
    • Most importantly, seek God’s heart and friendship and spend the holidays delighting in Him. https://griefbites.com/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-in-god/ He is truly the best part of the season! Whether you are feeling sadness, or you are feeling cheer, thank Him for the absolute miracle of Christmas.

    When it all comes down to it, the holiday is about Jesus…the true Reason for the season. Never allow anyone or anything to steal your joy in Him!

    I truly wish each of you a very blessed Christmas season! 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): Click here for book

    🎄FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    🎄❤️🎄

    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 and Valentine’s Day is excruciatingly painful and hard to go through.

    Perhaps 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 committed adultery, betraying your trust, and you’re in the heart wrenching transition of cleaning up a horrible mess you didn’t choose, create, or deserve.

    Perhaps you recently went through an ugly divorce or tough breakup and it’s super hard to see other couples celebrating all day.

    Maybe you’ve longed to have a spouse or a special someone in your life, but things never worked out quite how you imagined 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” – and no matter how much you’ve communicated your feelings, needs, and desires, Valentines Day will simply be another annual let down. https://griefbites.com/2018/02/14/a-special-prayer-for-your-marriage/

    Maybe you’ve been burnt by love in the past, so you take great care to never go anywhere near the flame of love ever again. You just don’t care to pursue or open yourself up to love 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 grief and pain.

    Maybe you have a loved one you are estranged from (spouse, child, or other loved one) so your heart feels as though it will never heal. Every day feels like a silent funeral in your heart. https://griefbites.com/2016/03/20/mourning-those-who-are-still-alive/

    There are many reasons – spoken and unspoken – why some are less than enthusiastic about February 14. Sometimes the pain is so deep, it can literally hurt to breathe. https://griefbites.com/2017/06/20/the-challenge-of-unspoken-or-hidden-grief/

    Life just doesn’t always go the way we had planned. https://griefbites.com/2018/03/21/when-god-doesnt-give-you-your-fairytale-2/

    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.

    As I kept pondering Valentine’s Day, I realized lists can be a huge source of help – but by following lists, it still keeps the focus exclusively on the romantic aspects of the holiday.

    And I think that’s a big problem.

    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 shallow away and you just want something real.

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

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

    How do you wish to spend Valentine’s Day? What can you do to create a memorable day in spite of grief and loss?

    Maybe you want to celebrate big. Maybe you’re so discouraged, 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 and 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, parents, grandparents, other family, or friends), then wholeheartedly enjoy it.

    If it means baking Valentine’s Day treats and passing them out to loved ones or those you know who are hurting, then lovingly do that.

    If it means warmly remembering and honoring a loved one who is no longer here, then allow those special memories to comfort your heart.

    If it means putting on your comfiest pajamas, lighting the fireplace, and getting a box of chocolates or a pint of ice cream (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 enjoy yourself.

    Do whatever makes you feel comfy, cozy, and comforted.

    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, special memories, and wholeness.

    Expectations of how one thinks the day should go…or expecting others to fill their heart up…is the quickest way to arrive at disappointment and heartache.

    Instead of spending February 14th with great expectations…and then waking up on the 15th with disappointments or sadness…what if you purposely chose to create the day you want, and cultivate peace and gratefulness for all evidence of love you have in your life. 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 the heart of God, or hurting others or yourself, or doing anything illegal, then authentically doing whatever helps your heart to heal or feel joy will be what creates an authentic, personalized Valentine’s Day.

    What kind of day can you custom create this Valentine’s Day?

    What will bring your heart comfort, warmth, and peace?

    What can you do to custom create a day of relaxation and solitude – or what can you do to create 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, dinner, 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 precious hearts of ALL the special people God has graciously given to us to love in our lives: God, our family members (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 will forever choose February 14 to be a day of gratitude and love.

    It is also a great source of comfort to know and truly realize that the Ultimate Valentine (God) loves and adores you! So much!! 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 heart, spirit, and 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!❤️ https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus

    You don’t even have to wait to enjoy God’s love…you can celebrate and soak up His incredible love each and every day of the year. https://griefbites.com/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-in-god/

    Valentine’s Day is a gift. How you choose to unwrap the gift of Valentine’s Day is truly and authentically yours. Do something extra special…or do nothing at all. That’s how to create an authentic and personalized Valentine’s Day. Make it what you need it to be.

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

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

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

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