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Have Questions for God?

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

Gideon was no different.

Judges‬ ‭6:12-13‬, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.””

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

My interest in Gideon was piqued while reading my friend (Tom R. Harper)’s book, Servant Leader Strong: Uniting Biblical Wisdom and High-Performance Leadership, and I have thoroughly enjoyed studying about Gideon in the Bible as a result.

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

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

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

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

God will do the same for us, too!

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

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

Today, read Judges.

God will never abandon us. Ever.

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

I challenge all of us to:

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

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

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

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

Hope all of you are safe and well,
Kim

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️

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 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: 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 family, 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: 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: 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…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 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 as a family: 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 Prayer For Hard Times & COVID-19

With the coronavirus affecting and impacting so many people and countries, we can be tempted to fall into uncertainty, fear, worry, or anxiety about the future.

Prayer is effective…it can literally change everything – especially ourselves when we pray and petition God. The following is a prayer that I hope everyone will pray out loud. If you have a family member or friend you can pray with, that’s even better (Matthew 18:19-20).

God is not surprised by any virus, illness, pandemic, or financial crisis. I pray He will use this tragic time to draw everybody close to His heart – a true revival.

Praying for all impacted by COVID-19.💗

Please feel free to share this with your family and friends…the more prayers, the better!

An Important Prayer For Hard Times (pray out loud if possible):

“Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
We come before You and thank You for being in full control – and also for every evidence of good in our lives that You have blessed us with. You are better to us than we deserve.
We ask and thank You for your protection and provision. We ask for Your continual forgiveness, protection, safety, mercy, grace, and favor.
Lord, we ask You in the mighty name of Jesus Christ to powerfully shut down, cease, and halt COVID-19 – and all other viruses, illnesses, disease, and pandemics. We ask for supernatural healing, help, and protection for everyone…and each community, city, state, and country…that is being affected by this tragedy.
During uncertain times, it can be easy to freak out…to think the worst case scenarios…to give way to major anxiety, worry, and fear…and even doubt.
I ask that You completely strengthen each of us and our families and give us the grace to seek Your heart..to walk by faith and not by sight…to pick trust in You over fear…to choose Your peace that passes understanding over worry and anxiety.
Help us to be voices of comfort, love, compassion, encouragement, helpfulness, kindness, and hope to our loved ones – and please allow this tragedy to draw people close to Your heart. Lord, so many are worried about finances. Pandemics are so hard on the economy. During times of tragedy, finances can be quickly drained. Please provide for our every need…You know each and every need and financial challenge. I also pray for businesses and their employees. Please protect them and provide their every need. Give fresh creative ideas of how to sustain – and even prosper – during this extremely tough and trying time. We pray for speedy healing and recovery in every way.
Lord, we ask and pray for a miracle! No weapon formed or forged against us shall prosper, in Jesus’ Name! I pray You protect us…help us…encourage us…prosper us…and bless us with a deeper understanding, loyalty, honor, and love for You. Please keep safe and bless our leaders, families, friends, neighbors, citizens, and all emergency personnel and medical staff. We lift up our president, leaders, governments, and those who are working around the clock to create vaccines and cures…please grant them Your incredible wisdom, discernment, and understanding. Provide all of us with the wisdom to know how to navigate these hard times. Give all of us fresh ideas and creativity for resourcefulness, healing, and restoration. While we are going through tragedy, especially since many are staying home, bless our time with our family and loved ones…help us to use our time wisely and build these important God-given relationships. May we all find true joy in our relationship with You and our families as we get through this trial together…and may we appreciate the simple joys in life. If anyone is alone, I pray You grant them Your perfect Friendship, love, security, and comfort. Especially bless and enrich all of our time with You. Give us new inspiration for growing closer to Your heart. What the enemy meant for evil, we pray You turn it around for good! I specifically pray for people to turn back to You…and I pray for grace and more time. There are so many who do not know You…and some who have fallen away due to grief, heartache, anger/bitterness over an unfair life event, and tough life experiences. Please have mercy on them and give them the extra measure of grace they need to turn to You and turn back to You. Grant us Your blessed assurance, hope, a deep trust in You. and peace during times of uncertainty. If anyone doesn’t know You, I pray You’ll reveal Yourself to them and draw them to Your heart. Give us all the grace to see You work mightily through this pandemic…that we would clearly see You, hear You, and open our heart and lives fully to You…and gratefully give You the credit.
Please do more than we can ask, think, or imagine. Pour Your love, comfort, help, reassurance, supernatural resources and provision, encouragement, HOPE, and peace into each of us, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the world.
Help us to fully love and obey You – and turn our hearts completely toward You.
We love You, thank You, adore You, and ask all of these petitions in Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.”

❤️~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~❤️

🌴Need peace and assurance?
http://www.peacewithGod.net

🌺Feel free to share with loved ones for hope & encouragement.

⭐️IMPORTANT BIBLE VERSES:
(to claim for you, your family & friends, your city, state, country, and the world):

Matthew‬ ‭18:19-20‬, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Exodus‬ ‭22:27‬, “When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”

Psalm 91:10, “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place — the Most High, who is my refuge — no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Chronicles 7:14, “ If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Psalm 5:11, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Luke 10:19, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

Psalm 57:1, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that in due time He may exalt you. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”

Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-14‬, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’”

Isaiah 41:10,Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalms‬ ‭121:1-8‬, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

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

Psalm 4:8,In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

Psalm 91:14,Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.”

Psalm 18:30,This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 121:7-8, “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”

Psalm 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

Psalms‬ ‭94:18-19‬, “When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.”

John 10:28-30, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Genesis‬ ‭50:20-21, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”‬

Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

If your community is being encouraged to stay home, consider watching church online. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church, Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries, local pastors in your area, and many other churches are offering services online. It’s a great way to be – and stay – encouraged!

Praying everyone stays well!

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

❤️

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s $3.19 book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles

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

❤️Kim’s blog: 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 Time A Goat Attacked My Son & The Powerful Lesson I Learned

This week, I decided to watch some home videos. Now, I have a plethora of home videos to choose from, due to videoing many family and life events the last few decades.

Experiencing the deaths of multiple family members and friends has taught me to make memories and preserve them through photography and videography.

The home video I randomly chose today was definitely from the vault…it’s over two decades old. It was a video of when my son was pounced on by a goat at Disney World. My son (who is now an adult) was – and still is – an animal lover. This particular day, he was super excited to spend time with the animals at the Affection Section part of Conservation Station at Animal Kingdom.

As soon as we entered the gate, my son got a brush so he could pet, brush, and interact with all of his animal friends. No sooner than he had gotten the brush, a goat pounced my son and then accidentally bit him as this new furry friend tried to eat his shirt.

My son (who was seven years-old at the time), sweetly placed his hand on the goat’s shoulder and said, “Now you quit that, Mr. Goat!”

My son then used the brush in his hand and started combing the hyper goat to calm him down.

My son then said, “Poor lil fella, you must be having a bad day.”

My son taught me a powerful lesson that day. My husband and I had a disagreement earlier that morning…and seeing my son handle conflict the right way sure convicted this mama’s heart.

People in our lives (and we) can be like Mr. Goat: attempt to pounce you and steal your joy…snap at you…be rude…create chaos…be difficult…

…but our response can either add to the chaos…or diffuse it.

The secret is in our character.

My son could’ve chosen to have poor character when that goat pounced him. He could’ve screamed at the goat…could’ve pushed or shoved the goat…could’ve even chosen to do something uncharacteristic by hitting the goat with the brush in his hand…but he chose:

  • gentleness instead of wrath
  • compassion instead of indifference
  • respect (and self-respect) instead of attitude
  • to honor God’s creation instead of mistreating or abusing it
  • discernment instead of quick judgment
  • to forgive, bring peace to the situation, and show kindness

Anytime we are mistreated by a loved one, we, too, have an opportunity to respond the exact same way:

  • Do we choose to use gentle words that heal…or do we blow up and display wrath?
  • Do we choose to look at the entirety of the situation and use compassion…or do we choose to be indifferent to the situation and the other person’s feelings?
  • Do we choose to show respect (showing respect is also evidence we respect our own self)…or do we choose to lack respect and self-control by drenching the other person with attitude or ignoring them?
  • Do we choose to view the person with God’s eyes (as His precious, treasured child/creation)…or do we choose to behave in an abusive way towards those God has entrusted in our life?
  • Do we choose to discern what a loved one is truly feeling or may be going through…or are we quick to judge and discard them?
  • Do we choose to work out the problem and extend forgiveness, peace, and kindness…or do we hold a grudge, speak poorly about them, and look for their flaws, holding it over their head?

By the way: I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m talking to y’all. This is a topic we all need to work on, am I right?🤗

Think of the people you have had conflict with.

How did you handle it?

How did they handle it?

How do you wish you had handled it?

How do you wish they had handled it?

Sometimes, we are the goat. We’re the instigator. We’re the one who is creating chaos or conflict by our own thoughts, actions, words, and deeds. We all think we are the innocent one…but everyone has mistreated loved ones at some point. Dig deep to the root of the conflict and have the courage to genuinely self-reflect. What was their contribution to the conflict? What was your contribution to the conflict? Majority of conflict is not one-sided. We all must look inward and take responsibility for our part. 

Sometimes, we are the one who was hurt or offended. Even though we were wronged, we are still responsible for our part…our reactions…every subsequent thought, action, word, and deed. It’s a good time to reflect on what change is needed by the other person…but it is also an excellent time to do a self-check to see if we’ve done something similar to God, to them, or to another person.

God sums up relationships and life in one simple and ultimate command — Love God, love others.

Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

None of us are perfect. None of us will float through life without hurting or offending our loved ones…

…but…

…it is up to us to make things right when we wrong our loved ones…to work things out…to forgive our loved ones when they wound us…and ultimately to obey God by loving Him and others – and treat others how we want to be treated.

When we hurt or offend others, God desires for us to do the right thing – by apologizing and asking for forgiveness…to reconcile. It’s so important to God that He offers this instruction:

Matthew 5:23-24, Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Whatever conflict you are going through (or have ever experienced), take the time to look at it not just with your own eyes and viewpoint, but through God’s and the other person’s eyes and viewpoint. Combining all three perspectives brings balance and resolution to the situation – which can ultimately provide healing.

Just a note: If someone is abusing you – especially things that could put them in jail – seek help from a qualified pastor or professional. In no way am I advocating tolerating, overlooking, or excusing abuse.

Spend some time with God today and sort through the times of conflict you’ve experienced in life. Talk with God about who has hurt or offended you…then talk to God about those you know you have hurt or offended. Next, ask God to reveal to your heart anyone you may have hurt or offended but didn’t realize it. Finally, ask God for wisdom and for Him to guard, guide, and direct you in any steps of forgiveness and reconciliation He may want you to take.

The next time you experience conflict, remember Mr. Goat…and be the mercy today that you’ll hope to receive tomorrow.

Did you know God has a lot to say about conflict – and peace? God promises to bless those who seek to be a peacemaker. Some important verses to read and ponder this week:

Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 7:12, So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬,Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

2 Corinthians 13:11, Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Psalm 34:14, Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Ephesians 4: 29-32, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hebrews 12:14, Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Mark 11:25, And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Proverbs 16:7, When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
James 1:19-20, Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Hope this post brought encouragement and hope to your heart! May we all seek to be peacemakers in all of our relationships!

Gratitude & many blessings,

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): Click here for book

🍃

🌸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.

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.

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.

An Important Hidden Key To Massive Spiritual Growth & Improving Relationships – Especially During Hard Times

When I first met my husband, I can still remember my very first thoughts I had about him.

My sister had been seriously dating a young man and we had just gotten word he had been in a horrible car accident. After finding out my sister’s boyfriend had to be life-flighted to a specific hospital, we wasted no time in getting there.

And that’s when I saw my husband for the very first time … in the emergency room.

As I was comforting my sister…I saw him – all 6’3 of him – walk into the ER.

I was instantly mesmerized.

He was the best looking guy I had ever seen, y’all.

And I must’ve looked at him longer than I thought because my sister looked at me and said, “seriously, Kim?”

Nobody had to tell me to be drawn to my hubby in that ER…or to want to get to know him. And as he looked at me, I somehow knew he would become an important part of my life.

Now I must say…I was not looking for love.

…I don’t believe in love at first sight.

…I hadn’t dated anyone in over a year.

…And a relationship was definitely not something I was seeking at the time.

My heart had been deeply hurt the year before, so I had completely sworn off relationships and marriage. My plan was to never get married while continuing my college education with the goal of becoming a pediatric cardiologist. A life of singleness forever. Blissfully helping others. And I was very, very happy, comfortable, and content with that decision.

But God had other plans.

The very first weekend after the accident, just a few days after I saw my husband for the first time in the ER, my husband and I went on our first date.

My sister’s boyfriend (who I would later find out was my husband’s cousin) ended up being in the hospital for an entire year.

Throughout the year at the hospital, my husband and I would go to the hospital coffee shop together and we’d talk while we were waiting in the ICU waiting room.

We talked about everything…life, God, family, friendship, mutual friendships we shared, sports (he’s an amazing basketball player), movies, music, the Bible, our life experiences while growing up, college, heartaches, past relationships we had been in, current events, what we loved about life, future goals and dreams, where we wanted to travel…everything.

Slowly, my heart began to melt and I began to think about dating and marriage differently.

As we continued dating, talking, and spending time together, my husband eventually opened my heart back up.

He asked me to marry him after three weeks of dating (his spontaneity is one of my favorite things about him). As we headed out on a date, I asked him what was the plan for the evening. He suggested we elope that night.

Although we didn’t elope that night, we did get married a few years later. We had become very close due to spending hours together every day at the hospital – and also due to a hidden key that I believe is the most vital ingredient to any relationship.

The hidden key to the openness and growth we experienced is the exact same key to how we’ve weathered massive grief and storms in our 28 years together.

It’s the same hidden key that allowed me to experience incredible, explosive, extremely meaningful spiritual growth with God.

This special Hidden Key is what sustained us after my sister’s boyfriend died after that hard year in the hospital…and when my sister died three weeks later…when our son was diagnosed with tumors…illnesses…deaths…grief events…a midlife crisis…disagreements…etc. It has sustained us our entire marriage.

More importantly, this hidden key is the very thing that has grown my relationship with God and has sustained me through debilitating grief.

I previously used to think the best way to grow close to God and His heart was to read the Bible…to pray…to memorize scripture…to attend church.

Sure, these are definite ways to grow close to God. They’re absolutely vital and necessary too…but they’re only part of the equation.

Growing up, I did all of the above. My mom worked at the church we attended so we were frequently there – especially every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. My mom made sure we knew our Bible frontwards, backwards, and in between. My siblings and I took Bible memory classes, participated in Bible drills, and prayed everyday.

I had the head part down…but I lacked the heart part.

After a few grief events crashed into my life, I didn’t have the ability – the important hidden key – to grow through my grief.

To be honest, I turned pretty bitter for a season of about 6 years…so bitter that it transitioned into deep rebellion. I count these years (12-17 years old) to be the most wasted years of my life.

Toward the end of these 6 years, my parents and sister asked if I would attend a seminar with them…and for the first time, everything I heard made sense to me. The heartache. The grief. Everything I had been through.

I found the hidden key to getting through grief and trials…and (what I believe to be) the greatest key to spiritual growth.

Whether it’s spiritual growth with the Lord or growing in any human relationship, it’s vital if you’re going to be close:

Enjoyment.

Genuinely enjoying God and others.

With God, it’s sincerely and genuinely enjoying His presence.

Talking to God…sharing the deepest waters of your heart, mind, spirit, and soul…diving in deeply…spending precious time with Him…finding out what He loves and enjoys…and looking forward to each and every moment with Him. This has greatly impacted – it has been the greatest impact – for my close relationship with God. Enjoying Him, His love, and His presence.

It’s not hard to enjoy God because He gives us lots of practice with loved ones on earth.

Example:

My husband is someone I genuinely enjoy. I love my time with him. I love watching sports with him, singing in the car together (everything from Hillsong/praise music, Broadway musicals, Spice Girls, to Red Hot Chili Peppers), traveling with him, and talking about politics together – even though one of us is a Republican and one is a Democrat. I love that anytime his favorite band comes on the radio, his face instantly lights up and he dances. I love seeing him have fun with the kiddos in our family.

Whatever you do with loved ones, do similar activities with God.

In dating relationships and marriage, you can do all of the “correct” things. You can go through all the right motions. You can have all the intelligence in the world…you can have or create great wealth…you can do all of the chores in your household…you can be the hottest thing since sunburn…but if you and your partner don’t genuinely enjoy each other, the relationship will eventually fold, become massively stale and boring, or evaporate altogether.

The same is true with our relationship with God. We can do all the “right things”: read the Bible…memorize scripture…pray…go to church…etc…but if we don’t genuinely enjoy God and His presence, our relationship with Him has the danger of becoming stale…and worse, merely optional – especially when hard times hit.

There’s just something about enjoying God and creating a fantastic loving friendship with Him that makes the greatest difference in your spiritual walk.

Enjoyment is where you find the heart of God.

I’ve written on my blog about delighting in God, but enjoyment dives much deeper than delighting.

What if like me (how I described not being interested in a relationship when I saw my hubby earlier in this post)…what if something has happened in your life and a relationship with God is a turnoff to you?

You may be mad at God. You may be thinking, “this chick is crazy.”

I encourage you to dive in…headfirst. God loves you and wants you right where you are.

I’m frequently asked how I’ve weathered so much grief…how I’m not bitter.

The hidden key is loving and enjoying God…experiencing a deep intimacy and enjoying a very rich relationship with Him.

It makes all the difference in the world.

Today, consider how you can create and enjoy a deep relationship of enjoyment with God.

It’s very similar to how we develop strong relationships with our loved ones…just like I did when I met my husband. Just like how we thoroughly enjoy and build our relationships with our children, families, and friends.

Nobody has to tell us how to enjoy our loved ones. I’ll tell you this: with God, it’s so much stronger.

…It’s a brilliant, vibrant, most loving friendship that infuses every cell and fiber of your being.

…It molds, challenges, and changes every ounce of your heart. Over and over.

…It’s the best relationship you’ll ever experience in your entire lifetime. Nothing can compare to God.

…It develops a trust and bond like no other.

And it all starts with getting to know God for yourself…and finding – and continually creating – ways to massively enjoy Him.

Francis Chan once said that our ability to know and understand God is the equivalent of God being the entire ocean…and our ability to know and understand God is a mere thimbleful of water in comparison.

I want more of God than just a thimbleful…I want to experience God as much as I can. I want to know, love, enjoy, and understand God as much as possible so that when I finally meet Him face to face…I can know, love, enjoy, and understand Him even more.

You may be wondering, “what does a typical day of enjoying God look like? How can I enjoy God?”

God is in every detail of the entire day. There are so many opportunities and ways to enjoy God!

A few examples:

•God is my very first thought in the morning as I enjoy the start of my day with Him. I make my coffee and prepare my senses to thoroughly enjoy God (coffee drinkers: Wolfgang Puck’s Jamaican Me Crazy is a current favorite…smells sooo great! Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the ability to smell and enjoy coffee). I start my time of enjoying God through communicating about the upcoming day as I pray. I then ask God how He’s doing, how I can serve Him that day, and simply enjoy His presence.

•Next, I begin a more in-depth prayer time and ask for God’s perfect Will to be done in my life, my family and extended family’s lives, and everywhere in the world. I share everything that’s on my heart and mind and ask for God’s direction. I then pray more specifically for my loved ones, my authority figures, my local, state, and national leaders, my pastors, all pastors and church staff everywhere, all churches, and everyone I minister online to in the Grief Bites family.

During times of occasional conflict, I’ll pray for that situation and also for anyone involved. I have found that when I have conflict with “life” or others, it’s a great opportunity to not just look horizontally at the problem between me and the situation or other person…it’s an incredible opportunity to look at the situation vertically and see if I am doing the same things/offenses to God or others. This has greatly helped me to resolve life’s conflicts, enjoy God during life’s storms, and seek God throughout difficulty…and not become bitter. Every situation we go through in life is to be looked at vertically as we enjoy God’s feedback … There is massive spiritual growth in that! I seek God’s heart through every life situation – all of the good and all of the bad – and find new ways to love, obey, and enjoy God through it all.

•I talk to God quietly in my heart and have an ongoing conversation with Him throughout the entire day. If something good happens, I thank Him. If something bad happens, or something irritates or annoys me, I share that with Him too. I continually try to create an ongoing relationship of enjoyment with God throughout the day and greatly enjoy my friendship with Him.

•I pray at mealtimes and thank God for providing for me. When I spend time with family and friends, I thank Him for the splendid gift each person is to me. If I use an appliance or anytime I use water, drive my car, listen to music, watch TV, or use heat or the AC, I thank Him for it. Anything…everything…we have, it’s evidence of God’s goodness. Every experience of every single day is a great opportunity to talk to God, enjoy His goodness, and extravagantly thank Him. We are so blessed to have and enjoy so many exquisite gifts from Him…my goal is to enjoy God, be grateful, and never take Him, His blessings, anyone, or anything for granted.

•As I cook dinner, I talk to God about anything that’s on my heart. I ask Him to help me see life and situations from His perspective.

•When I exercise, especially running, I carry on a conversation with God about family situations or any character quality I’m working on. Sometimes, I’ll talk about work too.

•I close my night by talking to God about the day and the upcoming day…I also pray for loved ones and anyone or anything else that’s on my heart. If I’m reading or meditating on a particular Bible verse, I’ll talk to God about it and ask Him to help me understand it better. Closing the day with God is an extravagant treat. How incredible is it that God…the Maker and Creator of everything and everyone…wants to spend time with us, love us, enjoy us, and talk to us? What a supreme privilege!

•Do a themed Bible study and genuinely get to know God’s heart. I’ve done studies on specific topics, and it truly makes the Bible come alive. The Bible goes from being something good to read…to truly breathing life into you. It encourages your heart…instructs you…helps you…molds you. And it is so very applicable. The life stories illustrated in the Bible vibrantly come alive. I’ve done specific studies on so many great topics – God’s names in the Bible, the fruits of the Spirit, wisdom, love, friendship, how to treat family, grief, health, how negative emotions can affect health, character studies, marriage, parenting, money, time management, fear, sorrow, trusting God, suffering, how to grow through trials, forgiveness/bitterness, alcohol, the best ways to live life, joy, success, how the Bible applies to current events…so many great topics. The Bible is packed with God’s love, revelation, and instruction. It’s the ultimate interactive Book. Reading 5 chapters of Psalms and 1 chapter of Proverbs every day…and then allowing the Bible to fall open to any given chapter is one of my favorite ways of reading and enjoying God’s Word. It’s applicable each and every day. Not a day goes by that God’s Word doesn’t convict my heart, instruct me, and wrap it’s pages around my heart. You find out what God loves…what God hates…what His plans are…how to develop a rich friendship with Him…all God has done and what is to come. You find the heart of God so you can better enjoy the heart of God. The Bible is an extraordinary, extravagant, priceless gift! If you want to do a really cool themed Bible study, do one over the words ‘enjoy’ and ‘enjoyment.’ You’ll be very surprised what God says. He talks about enjoyment a lot! God created us to enjoy Him and life!

•I go on weekly “dates” with God. He’s my absolute favorite to enjoy life with. Throughout life, we are only guaranteed two lifelong relationships: our relationship with God and our relationship with our own self. Our relationship with God is all of the ways we interact with and enjoy Him. Our relationship with our self is every facet of developing our character, spiritual growth, and any other way God wants to develop us. I enjoy my dates with God so very much! Sometimes, I’ll go to a restaurant and just enjoy a meal with God as I talk to Him silently in my heart. Other times, I’ll go to our local zoo, aquarium, park, nature trail, or drive out by the water, and just talk with God as I enjoy His amazing, beautiful creation. Every year, during the Christmas season, I get some hot chocolate and drive around looking at lights as I talk to God in my heart. Another time, I spent a day at Disney World just with God. As I rode rides and ate at a favorite restaurant in the park, I just thoroughly enjoyed that amazing, fun experience alone with God. Later that evening, I found a quiet spot to enjoy watching the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks and ended the day by praying as I watched the sky beautifully light up. Many times, I’ve just gotten a cup of coffee and watched the sunset as I enjoy God and His presence. I love to play praise music and thoroughly enjoy worshipping Him. Recently, I asked God where He’d like to go on a lunch date. The very next second, I received a text message with a coupon to a local ice cream store. This specific ice cream store only has a drive thru, so I ordered my ice cream and sat in the car and spent time with God. This year has brought a few serious grief situations, and I also recently found out that a good friend was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. March-June were extremely hard months due to several situations. As I sat in my car, eating ice cream, I poured my heart out to God about these situations and worked through some tough emotions… deep sadness… hurt… worry… fear… deep concern for my friend and her precious children and husband. Prayed for all of my family. It was a much needed time with God in prayer and enjoying His love, comfort, encouragement, and presence. Enjoying God isn’t just for the good times…it is also for the hard times in life. That’s when the enjoyment becomes most real. I thoroughly enjoy God, spending time with Him, and finding ways to know and love – and enjoy – Him better through every opportunity and situation in life.

As I was growing up, I was taught (by my parents and our church) to read the Bible, pray, attend church, memorize scripture, do nice things for others, and serve God… These things are great, but they really didn’t help my growth with God to explode. I could do all of these things in action, but it didn’t necessarily mean that I had a solid relationship with God – or a heart change.

It was only when I learned how to thoroughly enjoy God (get to know God for myself…find His true heart by looking at the Bible as a personalized interactive experience…do special themed Bible studies…learn how to thoroughly enjoy His heart and presence)…that is when I had a head-on collision with God’s love and goodness.

The hidden key to exponential spiritual growth is absolutely enjoying God.

What ways can you begin to enjoy God, or further enjoy God, today?

Think of some cool things you can do to build your friendship with God. Breathe Him in deeply. Love Him. Delight in Him. Purposefully seek to see His goodness. Ask and allow Him to change your heart. Never let go during the hard times…when you go through deep grief or after you sin, fail, or make a huge mistake…that’s when you need Him the most. Seek to enjoy God every single day!

Thoroughly enjoy Him! He is waiting for you with open arms.

Enjoy this upcoming time of massive spiritual growth.💕

Here are a few past blog posts of how to delight in God:

https://griefbites.com/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-in-god/

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

https://griefbites.com/2016/04/03/delighting-in-god-through-trialspart-2/

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.