Tag Archive | bible

An Important Question To Prevent Future Heartache & Pitfalls In Your Life

A few years ago, I went on vacation with some of my extended family and stayed at a hotel where the entire back portion is primarily glass windows and glass doors.

This wasn’t a foreseen problem…

…until I got distracted by a motorized luggage cart while walking along a path at the hotel.

As I tried to be polite to the driver of the cart by moving over, I tripped over the sidewalk…and then as I tried to correct my fall, I tripped over a huge rock and fell flat on my face.

Rocky – 1

Kim – 0

The fact is, I simply didn’t see the tiny variation in the sidewalk…and apparently, I didn’t see the rock either.

My fall was not graceful or quick. I actually skidded a few feet after hitting the ground.

And the glass windows, doors, and veranda that weren’t previously a problem? Well, they became problematic because EVERYONE who was out on the ground level veranda, and everyone who had a view out of the windows, patios, and doors, got one heck of a show – a free comedy show, compliments of me!

I could hear a few people laughing.

Not that I blamed them because I’m sure it was quite the sight. Even though I was extremely embarrassed as I scrambled to get up, I even laughed at myself because the rock was huge. The variation in the sidewalk wasn’t near as noticeable, but the rock was unmistakable! Both were blind spots to me.

It’s the same with the “blind spots” and “pitfalls” we each have in our own individual lives…most everyone can see them – they’re truly very obvious, while we personally can only see a few.

Some are subtle (like the sidewalk); some are huge (like the rock)all can create a crazy amount of regrets, grief, heartache, destruction, unnecessary challenges, and hardships in life.

So what are blind spots and pitfalls?

Blind spots – an area where a person’s view is obstructed or in which a person lacks understanding or impartiality.

Pitfalls – a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty.

Everybody has blind spots and potential pitfalls. It’s so very important to ask people (the ones who you know care about you) what yours are. They can prevent an outrageous amount of grief and life challenges.

Each year, I choose a few trusted people to ask a very important question of:

Can you please share with me what you would consider my blind spots…the irritating habits, hang ups, insensitivities, and character flaws I may or may not be aware ofand do you see any potential pitfalls I could experience in the future that I can’t – or I’m not willing to – foresee?”

And I always tell them to be completely honest!

I haven’t always enjoyed the feedback, because it’s truly not fun hearing hard truths. But the truth greatly matters to me!

You may be asking (like I did when I first started doing this): who seriously wants to hear family members and close friends picking on you and telling you bad things about yourself?

The Bible reveals the answer: a wise person does. And couldn’t we all use more wisdom? I know I can!

PSALM‬ ‭141:5‬, Let the righteous thoughtfully strike (correct) me–it is a kindness done to encourage my spiritual maturity. It is the choicest anointing oil on the head; Let my head not refuse to accept and acknowledge and learn from it…”

PROVERBS 27:6, Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”

PROVERBS 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

PROVERBS 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

When I first began asking this annual question, I seriously got my fe-fe’s hurt…but then I began to see the exceptional value of asking this question…and I valued the answers even more!

The answers to this question always allow me to self-reflect and even allows me to avoid many possible bad outcomes down the road. (If you don’t know what to fix or prevent, how can you fix, prevent, or improve it?)

A few of the answers took me by surprise. Some even broke my heart.

With every honest answer received, it is imperative to find a way to change, improve, or create a way of doing things better.

Our blind spots may truly affect others…but they may not say anything.

I never would’ve had the ability to understand how my blind spots were affecting others, so I am beyond grateful I asked. Had I not asked, the results may not have shown up until irreversible damage had been done.

When people give you feedback, listen.

Truly listen.

Never resent anyone or their feedback. I genuinely appreciate them because they allow me to make both major and minor corrections so I can continually improve (and safeguard):

  • my relationship with God
  • my marriage and family
  • my character
  • my heart
  • my relationships with family & friends
  • my ministry
  • time
  • habits
  • goals
  • …pretty much every area of life!
  • Coming to terms with truthful realities vs limited perceptions is so important! It can be very difficult for people – myself included – to truly see and admit their flaws and blind spots…but who wouldn’t want to prevent pitfalls?

    I absolutely do not get mad if someone gives me feedback I don’t enjoy or like. I am the one who is asking for honest answers…so I understand what I signed up for: absolute truth.

    If you choose to do this incredibly revealing activity, don’t become upset or hold it against someone for sharing important truths with you. They truly are trying to help you be the best you can be!

    It is a gift!

    Kindly thank trusted family members, co-workers, fellow church members, and friends for their honest feedback, write down what they share with you, and then consider what they told you as if it were gold! It is gold!

    PROVERBS 20:15, There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

    The truths they share will allow you the treasure of making better life decisions.

    Better decisions = better life & relationships

    …And absolutely a better YOU!

  • I look forward to asking this annual question and look forward to hearing honest feedback from my family and friends later this month.
  • It is always a good thing to have truth … truths I may not yet see … be revealed to me so I can prevent pitfalls, and potential grief or destruction, in my life. I am so very grateful to have family and friends in my life who care enough about me to prevent my next fall!
  • And just as there were multiple glass windows and doors at that hotel, the people we love dearly in our life all have a front row view of our character and actions. What we do…our choices…how we respond to others…it all matters.
  • We’re all leaving a legacy, and asking for truth about blind spots ensures we have the opportunity to leave the best possible legacy we can!
  • What family members and friends do you trust enough to ask about your blind spots? The first time, you may ask them to go a little easy on you. The following year, ask for total honesty!
  • Gratitude & many blessings,
  • Kim
  • (Sorry for the misplaced random bullet points…Wordpress said this glitch should be resolved within the month!)
  • ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️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 and advice.

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    The Perfect Way To Grieve

    Anyone who has experienced heartbreaking, life-shattering grief understands just how difficult grieving can truly be: all of the emotions…how mentally and emotionally draining it is…how it can affect your relationships (in both positive and negative ways)…the toll it can take on your energy level…and how it can even impact your health.

    Grief can do a real number on you.

    There are so many different perspectives and viewpoints on grief – and each person believes their perspective and viewpoint is best:

    • Some say you need to write a letter to say goodbye…others say it’s never “goodbye;” it’s “I’ll see you later.”
    • Some say you need to quickly move on in life…while others say fully embrace your grief and take your time.
    • Some say time heals all wounds…while some still experience difficulty for many, many years.
    • Some say God has nothing to do with grief…others say He’s in every detail.
    • Some attend grief groups and gain the support of family and friends…others prefer to grieve alone and privately.
    • Some cry a lot…others rarely cry at all.
    • Some like to talk about their loved one or loss…others prefer not to.

    So what is the perfect way to grieve?

    What’s right and what’s wrong?

    The truth is: there simply isn’t a perfect way to grieve. And there is no cooker-cutter, one-size-fits-all, right or wrong way to grieve either.

    Advice is simply advice.

    Help is simply help.

    Encouragement is simply encouragement.

    Thoughts are simply thoughts.

    Grief steps are simply grief steps.

    After my sister and one of my best friends died three weeks apart, I tried to follow the traditional grief steps. Problem was, I didn’t experience any of them in the correct order. I felt like a grief failure!

    I eventually learned what works for one person may not work for another. What one griever might find encouraging may not encourage another person at all.

    Some are easily able to process their grief/loss immediately, while for others, it seriously takes time and a lot of effort.

    Some are able to eventually date/remarry, while another widow may never find the ability to get married again.

    Some feel relief (or other extremely difficult, complex emotions) when a loved one dies (due to abuse situations, terminal illness, abandonment, relationship difficulties, etc), while others may feel total, utter loss.

    Some are able to celebrate holidays and return back to living life quickly, while another may need a lot of time to find their smile again. Some may never fully find it.

    Grief is an incredibly personal journey…and there just simply isn’t one perfect road to healing. There are many.

    It is so very important for all grievers – and their family and friends – to remember this very important truth:

    The perfect way to grieve simply doesn’t exist.

    Each person’s grief experience is as custom and unique as the person who is navigating through it.

    Have compassion and empathy for one another as you seek out and find the best grief resources for you. With so many good grief resources available – locally, nationally, through churches, as well as on the internet, each griever can customize these precious resources to best fit their needs.

    The most important thing is to find the help and encouragement you feel most comfortable with to grow and heal throughout your grief journey.

    This may include:

    • deepening your relationship with God and allowing Him to guide and direct you through your grief
    • allowing trusted family and friends to encourage and support you
    • talking to a trusted pastor
    • finding a good grief counselor or therapist
    • reading good books on grief and loss
    • seeking out your church’s grief resources
    • attending a grief group (online or in person) such as GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, Grief Bites, The Grief Recovery Method, or other grief support groups offered through various churches.
    • online resources such as Grief Bites, Hope For The Broken Hearted, or Open to Hope, various grief blogs, or other trusted organizations.
    • reading grief and loss related Bible reading plans on YouVersion, the Bible app
    • anything positive and healthy you find to be of help

    Although there is no one “perfect way” to grieve, each person has the daily opportunity to grieve in their own unique perfect way.

    Wishing all of you healing, comfort, and peace!

    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:

    ❤️Connect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

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

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

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

    ❤️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

    Above grief resources and organizations are only mentioned for encouragement purposes only and are not to be considered an endorsement by Grief Bites. Use of any is a personal decision and at own risk.

    Grief: When No Closure Can Be Found

    Going through grief is excruciating.

    Having to go through a grief experience where there is no ability to have closure is terrible.

    There have been grief experiences in my life where the grief had a beginning and an opportunity for closure. Then there were other grief experiences that were like a wild roller coaster ride that had no end. To be honest, I’ve been on two seemingly never ending roller coasters of grief the past 10 years and 3 1/2 years.

    I’ve experienced just about every emotion known to mankind. And to be honest, some emotions weren’t the godliest. I’ve had to work through some extremely tough thoughts and emotions.

    I’ve struggled and wrestled spiritually with God with many questions:

    “Why would you allow this?”

    “Why wouldn’t You prevent this?”

    “Are You there…and do You truly care?”

    “Will you please grant me a brand new season?”

    Lots and lots of questions.

    Ultimately, God doesn’t owe me answers to any of my questions. God is God…and I am not. He understands the entirety of situations…He knows the good that will eventually come out of the situations (Romans 8:28)…and the purpose for the situations, too. God understands what He is accomplishing through the tough situations and in every heart involved in these tough events.

    These situations seemingly have no closure…and no possibility of closure.

    One of these situations caused a dearly loved family member to become an atheist and several family members to drop out of church…which created even more heartfelt, agonizing questions from me to God.

    I’ve thought about not only these two situations, but all of the situations I’ve experienced in life that I’d label “No closure grief events.” No closure grief events are tough events because it is very difficult to find any closure…the emotions that stem from them can eat you alive. They’re exceptionally tough because it takes a lot of faith to get through them.

    Some of the most common No closure grief events are:

    • terminal illness
    • regrets you can’t make right
    • unspoken grief events
    • a devastating diagnosis
    • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who died
    • when someone violates your trust
    • when a loved one attempts or commits suicide
    • when there is a major betrayal in a relationship
    • family, extended family, step-family, marital, or parent/child conflict…or conflict with any of these that began post-grief
    • separation or divorce – especially if it’s not wanted by one spouse
    • adultery
    • abortion
    • church hurt
    • church abuse
    • rejection or abandonment by a family member or loved one
    • situations of abuse – physical, emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual
    • a job issue
    • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who left
    • not getting to confront or make something right with someone who deeply hurt you
    • a situation where justice did not prevail
    • unfair life events
    • when someone mistreats you or lies about you
    • any situation where closure is difficult

    So what can you do?

    God has been teaching me so much these past few years. I haven’t enjoyed the lessons, but I sure have learned…and applied…some very valuable lessons and truths.

    Have there been times I’ve wanted to quit? Oh yeah! Many.

    Have I been bitter? For a season, I sure was! Absolutely.

    Have I been tempted to be mad at God? Yes.

    Have I wanted to speak about the situations and about my thoughts, heart, and opinions publicly? Definitely.

    I think anytime you (or a loved one) have experienced a major grief event, especially a No closure grief event…emotions are sure to show up. Some emotions may even surprise you.

    When there is no closure, the trick – and what is most needed – is to trust God and not our emotions…to believe God is sovereign in spite of what a situation looks like…to fully fall into God’s arms and realize He truly is good…to know and fully trust that God holds everyone accountable and no one gets away with anything – even if it appears there has been zero conviction or consequences.

    Maybe you’re going through a “No closure grief event” right now. Maybe you’ve also pleaded with God for answers through many tears…and have even prayed throughout many months or years. Perhaps you feel like giving up.

    I highly encourage you to never give up!

    I highly encourage you to never fall away from your relationship with God!

    One day, God will give you the gift of closure…the Bible promises it.

    God doesn’t mind our questions and pleadings…His heart is big enough to take on our woundedness, sufferings, and hardships…and He truly and genuinely cares about every grief event and situation we go through.

    We may not be able to find the closure we need…but God created our hearts – He fully knows and loves us. He will be making every wrong right. The situations we go through do not catch God by surprise. And He will never allow us to go through a situation unless He realizes the situation can be turned into something great. It may not happen overnight…it may even take years…but God can turn your worst events into something of great value.

    Our job is to praise God through the storms we face…to deepen and prove our salvation is genuine and real…to love and forgive others…to live in peace…to embrace God, our grief, and our hardships…to learn through everything we face – the good and the bad…to love God with all of our heart and to sincerely rest in Him.

    Today, lay down your toughest grief events – every grief experience – at God’s feet. Cast all your burdens and cares onto Him. Tell God you are choosing to trust Him with everything – especially the situations that are breaking your heart! Leave your hurts, heartaches, burdens, situations, disappointments, dreams, goals, emotions, and grief experiences with Him.

    When the enemy reminds you of a No closure grief event, immediately take your thoughts and feelings to God! It is imperative that you talk through your feelings with God.

    We may not be able to find closure in our present circumstances, but we can find closure through leaving our situations in God’s more than capable hands.

    Seek God with all your heart! Pour out your heart to God as you spend time with Him today!

    He loves you.

    He truly cares.

    Entrust your situation with Him and trust His great heart!

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    The Incredible Power & Responsibility Of Words

    Words (spoken, written, or used) can have a huge influence and lasting legacy:

    • in families and marriages
    • at workplaces
    • in schools, universities, and education facilities
    • while talking or texting on the phone
    • when commenting on social media
    • when communicating with friends
    • at church or when ministering to others
    • when dealing with business issues

    Words are so very important, especially during grief and stressful times. And words, whether positive or negative, can have such a deep, far-reaching, and lasting impact.

    Children especially believe what a parent says to and about them. Did you know that over 90 percent of prison inmates were told by parents while growing up, “They’re going to put you in jail.” On the other hand, famous painter Pablo Picasso once said, “My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”

    People tend to live up to what is said or continually spoken about them..it truly can become their inner dialogue. What we say and think about ourselves can have an affect as well.

    Be it positive or negative, good or bad, words certainly have power.

    Years ago, I heard a story that truly made an impression on my heart. The story used a feather pillow as an analogy for words. The story basically said words are like the feathers in a feather pillow…and when words have been spoken, written, or used, it’s just like busting open a feather pillow on a windy day.

    Once words are spoken – whether it’s gossip, anger, or any other negative use of words – those words are “blown” everywhere…it’s virtually impossible, like the feathers of a pillow on a windy day, to retrieve all of your words back. On the other hand, if you use your words in a positive way, those feathers are beautifully blown in multiple directions. Our words truly make a huge impact!

    I’ve had the joy of receiving some very positive, kind, thoughtful, loving, and encouraging words during my lifetime…and I have also been the recipient of some very harsh, hurtful, condescending, rude, and damaging words, as well.

    I think we all have.

    We each have a voice, or what I like to call a “microphone,” and with that microphone comes incredible responsibility. Whether we like it or not, our microphone is always “on”…there is no “off” button – meaning the people around us hear loud and clear our words. Perhaps more than we realize. This is especially true with children, our family, closest friends, and peers.

    Most people…unless they are an absolute saint…have used the power of their words in not only positive ways, but negative ways as well during their lifetime.

    Life happens. Stress brings out the worst of us. We speak before we think. We have a disagreement with a loved one. We have a rushed work deadline. Someone becomes snippy with us first. A car cuts us off on the highway. There are numerous opportunities to misuse our words in any given week.

    There are also times we use our words to bring joy or show love. We are there for a family member or friend who is hurting. We encourage someone who needs lifted up. We share important words we know others need to hear, “I love you” … “You’re important to me” … “You can do it!” … “Great job!”

    My parents always told my siblings and me as we were growing up, “Make your words sweet…you may have to eat them someday.” I have found this to be very true!

    So what if you have misused or harmed others with the power, responsibility and influence of your words?

    You can’t do anything about the past…other than sincerely apologize and make things right…but you can choose to commit to making your words sweet from this moment on.

    Today, let’s make a commitment to use all of our words in positive ways:

    …to build and not destroy.

    …to encourage and not dishearten.

    …to edify and not damage.

    …to love and not hate.

    …to bridge and not disconnect.

    …to create harmony and not discordance.

    …to empathize and not wound.

    …to create understanding and not chaos.

    …to calm and not provoke.

    …to motivate and not tear down.

    …to accept and not reject.

    …to bless and not hurt.

    …to be a vessel of positivity and refuse negativity.

    Who can you encourage and praise with your words today?

    Who do you know you’ve hurt or offended and need to make things right?

    Who do you need to take the time to better empathize with or understand?

    Who needs to see a glimpse of hope and kindness through you today?

    Who needs to be built up with your words?

    What ways can your words be a vessel of positivity to others?

    What changes need made so your words and “microphone” leave a legacy you can be proud of?

    Words are one of the most powerful things we possess. Let’s determine to continually use them wisely from this day forward.❤️

    A few Bible verses to encourage you:

    🌼“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”

    ~Proverbs 18:21

    🌸“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.”

    ~ Ephesians 4:29

    🌺“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

    ~ Proverbs 15:1

    🌷“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

    ~ Proverbs 16:24

    💐“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

    ~ Psalm 19:14

    🌹“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

    ~ James 1:26

    🌻“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

    ~ Colossians 4:6

    🌸“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”

    ~ Colossians 3:8

    🌼“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

    ~ Proverbs 25:11

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    Christians: Are We Taking The Easy Way Out?

    This weekend, I watched a movie that was very good – gut-wrenching, actually.

    Movie clips of this particular movie were shown here as well https://www.life.church/watch/ during Pastor Craig Groeschel’s annual teaching of At The Movies (every year at Life.Church, they teach on a different movie each week during the month of July).

    If you haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, you truly need to.

    As I was watching one particular scene, my heart broke in excruciating pain…tears just rolled down my face.

    As Life.Church showed this clip, it was used to show the importance of saving the unsaved…which is very important. My mind went beyond that to each person who has ever went through grief – especially those who felt abandoned, betrayed, or wounded by the Church. My heart immediately thought about those who nobody went to check on or those who nobody “went back” to help save them. I hear more stories than I can count of how nobody took the time to love hurting people back to life.

    As a grief specialist and grief group leader, I hear the most heart wrenching stories people have experienced. For almost 10 years now, helping people for 20-50 hours each week, these stories have caused my heart to truly go out to those who hurt…stories about death of loved ones, grief over wrong personal decisions or a loved one’s hurtful decisions, adultery, abuse, military grief, PTSD, abandonment, extreme hurt and conflict in families and churches, church abuse, suffering, heavy guilt and regrets, illnesses, addictions…I literally hear every story that has wounded a human heart.

    Before a person comes to me for help, many times, they’ve already sought out help from church leaders, family members, and friends. The hardest – and most taboo – situations of grief (suicide/suicide attempts, the after effects of rape or murder, all situations of abuse, death of a child or young person, church/spiritual abuse, etc.) are the most challenging to help.

    Something that has happened time and time again, and has been said numerous times, is this:

    “I went to my pastor (or fellow church staff or church member) for help, and they never got back to me…I felt I wasn’t important.”

    Or worse….

    “My pastor, church staff, and/or fellow Christians knew about my situation…and they ignored me. They never even called to see how I was after I reached out for help.”

    Watching Hacksaw Ridge, when the main character is courageously sacrificing himself and bravely doing everything in his power to save as many as he can…and pleads, “Lord, help me get (save) one more”…my heart sank.

    Just like a physical war, when someone goes through heartache, grief, or pain and they are wounded, if someone does not go and help them…the alternative is to leave them for the enemy to devour. This is beyond true spiritually, too. When a Christian is wounded, and the Church doesn’t take the time to care, the enemy is more than happy to delightfully devour them, too.

    Watching that scene of Hacksaw Ridge, all I could think of were the several people I know who have quit going to church, and the ones who have turned to atheism – or even other religions – because they went through a harsh life challenge and felt like nobody cared.

    We as Christians have got to demand higher of ourselves. 

    Yes, everybody is busy.

    Yes, it may not be someone’s specific responsibility because, after all, they did not cause the pain.

    Yes, it is totally time-consuming.

    Yes, it truly is messy.

    And there will always be people in the church or on staff who will make excuses by saying things like, “hurting people hurt people”…”we won’t help others who aren’t taking responsibility by taking the first steps to help themselves”….”nobody is perfect.”

    But, the example of Jesus Christ is to deny yourself and pick up your cross…and part of picking up your cross is to actively love people back to life – especially those who are unsaved or those who have been hurt or who have left the church.

    And it’s not just church members who have been hurt by the church. There are many who are (or who were) on church staff (or their spouses/families) who have been deeply wounded by either fellow church staff members or members of their congregations, too.

    Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

    1. Hurting people do not hurt people. Hurting people help heal people because they understand what being hurt feels like. Jerks hurt people and then refuse to make it right.
    2. The attitude of “I’ll help people once they help themselves…” is very flawed. I am so very thankful that God doesn’t treat people that way. He loves…He gives grace…He initiates healing…He lifts us up and carries our burdens for us.
    3. The argument of “Nobody is perfect…” fails what God commands in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, nobody is perfect, but God certainly gives us some very sobering and serious responsibilities as believers on how to treat others – especially reconciling with those we hurt or those who may have something against us. He even instructs us in Matthew 5:23-24 to leave our gifts at the altar until we actively go make things right with those we have hurt or offended…and says to not come back until this is done first.

    God doesn’t give us these responsibilities of how to treat others – or how not to treat others – to be difficult; He gives us these precious responsibilities so we will be careful with each other’s heart and spirit. He understands the potential terrible cost if we are not careful with His instructions.

    I heard the most profound statement this week from a young person who had been deeply wounded and wronged by their church:

    “People always knock certain shady TV evangelists, but all they do is steal money. What about the pastors at churches who hurt people in their congregations? They steal peoples emotions and spirit. Money is readily replaceable…trust is not.”

    To hear someone young be so wounded and jaded by the Church really concerned my heart. Hearing their story…and then hearing how the leaders at their church knew about the hurt they inflicted — yet didn’t show good character by going to them and working things out…there just are no words.

    Satan loves taking people out. The enemy knows if he can get Christians or church leadership to wound someone, the likelihood of additional generations being spiritually destroyed will ensue:

    Proverbs‬ ‭27:23-24,Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”‬ ‭

    When someone is deeply wounded, it doesn’t just affect the individual who was hurt. It affects everyone they’ll ever come in contact with…and future generations.

    •You may be reading this, and you may be one who has been deeply wounded. On behalf of every Christian, I apologize profusely to you for your pain. You should never have been left alone in your time of hurt, somebody should have cared enough to reach out to you and loved you back to life. Please, please, please know that God wanted for you to be treated with love, kindness and respect…it’s not His fault – or His Will – when people disobey scripture by mistreating others or not helping them. I humbly ask you to please forgive the Church. God loves you and has not forgotten you!

    Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬,Why would you ever complain, O Jacob or Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. Butthose who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

    Isaiah‬ ‭49:15-16‬, “Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are always in My presence.”

    •You may be reading this right now and you know for a fact you’ve wounded a fellow believer, but you never made it right. I strongly plead with you to go to that person (or persons) and courageously apologize for your wrongdoing…Most importantly, for them. Secondarily, for the judgment that can fall onto you:

    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.”‬ 

    Colossians 3:25, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

    Proverbs‬ ‭17:13, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.” ‭

    •You may be reading this right now and you personally know of someone who was wounded by another believer. If you know of someone who is wounded, please consider being the one to make a difference.

    Matthew‬ ‭25:40, 45‬, ““The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’…and…“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’” 

    I don’t think most people drop the ball purposely, but it does happen unfortunately. An apology, or genuinely caring for others from the heart, goes a long way.

    My heart is for the hurting, the grief stricken, and those who have been spiritually wounded. I know of many Christians who this is so very important to their heart, too.

    Majority of the Christians I know are really amazing people who genuinely care about others. They actively love people and truly enjoy serving others. When others hurt, they genuinely hurt for them, too!

    We all (totally including myself) need to do better and become more mindful of others.

    When we’re tempted not to make things right with those who we have hurt or offended…or we are tempted to leave it up to someone else to do our part…or we believe the lie that we are too busy or things are too awkward or messy to get involved…I really pray that we each will consider how we can make these situations better for everyone we know.

    I know I can do better.

    The rest of this year, let us prayerfully consider reaching out to those who used to attend our churches or those who were once in our LifeGroups, Sunday School class, or Small Groups – those who we never see anymore. I pray we consider the people we know who quit going to church because they were hurt, deeply offended, or wounded.

    Consider calling one person a week to check on them to see how they’re doing and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. May we each choose to love people back to life.

    As a Christian, we never want to be known as someone who took the easy way out… Especially since Christ never did.

    Be the example of Jesus to others that you would hope someone will be to you and your family.

    Jesus’ example is very, very clear:

    Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬, ““Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

    I love how God used sheep in this passage of scripture. I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the above scripture and the following verses deal with sheep and lions. Think about this:

    1 Samuel‬ ‭17:34-36‬, “David replied to Saul, “I am a shepherd for my father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it attacked me, I took hold of its mane, struck it, and killed it. I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.””

    1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

    The above verses speak of sheep and lions. Just as David vigilantly looked out for his earthly father’s sheep, how much more should we as Christians look out for, and help and defend, our Heavenly Father’s sheep? The enemy’s goal is to challenge and hurt God. If we don’t actively care for those in the Church…yes, even those who have left it…then we are part of the problem.

    When people waver in their faith or leave the church, or when we know of people who are hurting or who have been deeply wounded, or when there are leaders (or church members) in the church who have hurt people and not made it right – yet no one corrects them or holds them accountable – we really need to start addressing that in our churches. When no one seems to care during these situations, we must ask God to soften our hearts and also for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to those who have been wounded.

    We have got to stop taking the easy way out…..we have got to expect more of ourselves and do better.

    If a family member of ours stopped attending family functions and quit communications, would we simply shrug our shoulders and have an apathetic attitude of, “oh well?” Would we merely accept it and just move on? Would we think that it wasn’t our problem or responsibility? Absolutely not! We would call them and we would fight for that precious family member and our relationship with them.

    God considers Church family relationships to be of utmost importance…they’re a reflection of His relationship to us, His Bride. That is something we all need to deeply consider.

    The only response a Christian should have to those who are struggling is this: Snatch them from the flames…help and encourage them…be the best version of “Jesus” to them…meet needs wherever possible…and love them back to life!

    We have got to do a better job of focusing on helping people in their spiritual walk, being deeply concerned with their eternal destination, as well as care about peoples hearts, their hurts, and what truly matters.

    Galatians 6:1-2, ““Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

    John‬ ‭13:34-35‬, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Never discount a person’s hurt…or their potential. There are some people in life who have been deeply wounded, but they will blossom greatly when the right people genuinely take the time to care about them. There may be weeds, but please understand that underneath the hurt and weeds is good soil. All they need is for someone to take the time to rinse the mud off of their heart, and water them with compassion, so the Sonshine can work miracles.

    Luke 10:2….“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

    Tell God you’re willing to be a worker for Him in building people back to life. Ask God to grant you the gift of seeing people how He sees people, and to love people how He loves people. Ask God to impress on your heart, and every believer’s heart, to deeply care about saving both the lost and the hurting.

    I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who had a deep burden for the harvest. They saw an ugly, dying weed, but decided to care about me and love me back to life.💕

    Please take a moment and soberly watch this video and listen to this song. Then pray and ask God to show you who you can love back to life. We each need to make a strong commitment as Christians to stop taking the easy way out.❤️

    Movie clip from Hacksaw Ridge: https://youtu.be/Oy6kwogmhRYSong by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7kWho can you love back to life today?If you have been hurt or wounded by the church, I highly recommend Saddleback Church in California. If you don’t live in California, they offer online services, too. Life.Church also offers online experiences.http://www.saddleback.comwww.life.church You are so very valuable and loved! Gratitude & many blessings,m ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!For more encouragement: ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

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

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

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

    ❤️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.&
    br>e<br
    t
    ed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
    3.&
    br>e<br

    To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
    4.&
    br>e<br

    Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    43 Ways To Delight In God

    I’ve previously written about delighting in God – and have received so many requests to follow up on those posts.

    Sometimes, when God places a specific topic on my heart, I’ll write a longer blog post than normal. Today is one of those days. I promise it’s worth reading, though, because today’s topic has the power to radically change your relationship with God and bring great treasure into your life.

    Read it all in one sitting, or read a little today and more tomorrow. I pray your heart will be greatly blessed!

    I love writing about God – especially delighting in Him!

    When people truly understand how incredible God’s love is for them, it absolutely transforms their entire being! It is no longer drudgery to follow God or His ways…it suddenly becomes the highest privilege you can have while on earth.
    You discover God isn’t a killjoy…in fact, He’s better than any adventure you could ever hope to have. And you find He isn’t just merely “Love”…He’s love in action in everything He does.

    You find how awesome God truly is: during the great times…the joys…the amazing adventures we have in life…but also in the super hard times when we don’t understand. He’s amazing!

    Even when our hearts are shattered to the point we think we’ll never be able to pick up the pieces. Even when all seems lost. Even when absolutely nothing makes sense.

    It’s a powerful thing to love God and to feel His love in return through each season of life…good and bad.

    Deuteronomy 6:5,Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

    I am blessed to have attended a good church while growing up, to have parents who invested heavily in me, and to have learned a lot through various retreats and conferences. Each taught me a new perspective on how to grow closer to God’s heart.

    I always thought I’d learn to love and delight in God during the good times in my life, when everything was going great. I’ve learned I have fallen more deeply in love with God not just during the beautiful times, but especially through the hard times, too…because it’s usually during the toughest times when you truly find the heart and provision of God.

    When I’ve gone through the death of loved ones, and I missed them like crazy…I found God understood my deep pain because before He received my loved ones back to heaven, He was missing them while they were here on earth. God knew them before He gave them their heartbeat and first breath…Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” He knew how it felt to long for the same loved one when He was away from them from the very minute He graciously loaned them to live and do life with me.

    When I went through deep marriage issues…He understood that same heartache. He had, and still does, experience deep hurt and betrayal – by His own people…including me when I’ve mistreated His heart. Marriage has taught me a great deal about Christ’s genuine love and commitment…and has been a great tool in cultivating my heart.

    When someone close to me became an atheist…He understood the agony and heart-wrenching tears that fell from my eyes. I gained a much greater picture of how to empathetically witness to others who have been deeply hurt and wounded by the Church…and just as I was desperate for my loved one to find their way back to God’s heart, I gained a small understanding and glimmer of how God greatly desires for us to help His prodigal loved ones to come back to Him, too. He strongly desires for us to help those who are hurting: Jude‬ ‭1:22-23, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment…”‬ ‭

    When I went through both my son’s tumors and surgeries and my own illness – and felt so helpless…I found God is perfectly in control and His plans (even if I didn’t like them), are perfect and hold great purpose.

    After my dad died…I learned God is very much a Father to the fatherless. He truly made provisions spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.

    I could go on and on. There are so many great lessons I’ve learned throughout the years about God and His great heart – especially after those sweet days of holding my newborn baby so many years ago.

    My favorite lesson has been learning how to delight in God through the good times, and especially during the bad.

    During my rebellious years before submitting my life to God, I thought people were crazy to love or follow God. I had experienced a lot of pain and heartache in my life while growing up…and the last person I wanted to delight in was God. Sad but true. My plan included rejecting God and the Church…and living independently of both. I didn’t even plan on becoming a born again believer – not even the morning I was saved. And I totally never had plans of becoming a Christian author and blogger. I just didn’t “get it”.

    …Then God showed up.

    I felt a tremendous pull to read the Bible my dad had previously bought me (the year he married my mom)…to those who are new to my blog and haven’t read my book, my biological dad died while I was growing up and my mom married again…giving me one treasure of a new dad. As my Bible fell open, it opened to a page that held the story of Jesus’ great compassion for a woman who had deserved death. Instead, He chose to give the woman great compassion and mercy. He became her friend. As I read the amazing story, I cried out to God and asked Him to save me and have compassion on me like He did for the woman. Jesus became my Friend and He’s proved to be my closest, most treasured friend in life.

    When you truly read God’s Word…and you read for yourself all of the great ways He loves each of us, it becomes incredibly easy…and sweetly and richly rewarding…to love and delight in Him.

    Think about your life and your loved ones’ lives…

    God could have just spoken each person’s existence into being. With one command, it all could have been accomplished. Look how incredible sunsets and sunrises are…the light is truly brilliant, gorgeous, and amazing. Yet, God considers each of us more glorious than sunlight itself. He spoke light into existence…yet He chose to personally create and craft each of us exclusively with His very own hands…knitting us together…establishing a relationship with us before we even breathed one breath. And that’s not all. Our breath? God Himself breathed into our nostrils the breath of life…just as He did with Adam! Genesis‬ ‭2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”‭‭‬ ‭

    If you ever doubt God’s intimate, extravagant, brilliant heart and love for you, you never have to doubt or wonder about your value ever again. Your value is beyond comprehension!

    And the more you love and delight in God and submit to His great purposes for your life, the more you’ll experience God’s great heart. Through both good times and also bad times, you’ll uncover incredible treasure you never knew was possible.

    And Jesus is a true friend. He isn’t fickle…He doesn’t ignore, hurt, or reject people. Jesus fiercely loves you and cuts through all of your sin, poor choices, past shame, or anything else you are dealing with…and He looks directly in your heart. He sees the best in you and all of your great potential. He’s a true friend, especially of sinners (and who isn’t a sinner?), and meets you exactly right where you are. He is exceptionally all in when it comes to His relationships.

    One of my favorite Bible passages is John‬ ‭1:38-39: “Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).”‬ 

    How amazing is that passage? Truly think about this for a moment:

    • Jesus first cared about their hearts, lives, and their needs by asking, “what do you seek?” 
    • When He could tell they were searching in their souls, He didn’t just cleverly come up with a well thought out cliche…He didn’t ignore or reject them…He wasn’t too busy for them..He didn’t tell them to come back later. What’d Jesus do? He invited them in – ALL in – so He could actively become involved in their lives as He simply – and adventurously – said, Come and see.Jesus was about to show them a whole lot more than where He was staying. He didn’t just invite them in for a day…Jesus was ultimately inviting them to experience the absolute adventure of a lifetime – and more importantly, into eternity!! He gave them new names…and brand new lives. They were about to see Jesus’ first miracle (of many) that He was about to perform. Jesus invited them to be ALL in because they were about to find that HE was ALL in too – all the way to death on a Cross for all who would love and accept Him.

    Did you know Jesus wants to do the same for you? Do you realize He still asks, “What do you seek?”…He still wants to intervene in lives today; to give people new “names” and brand new lives? Jesus invites you in – ALL in – today…so He can show you the absolute adventure of your lifetime! Whether you’ve followed Him for many years or you are just beginning to take His hand, when you choose to love and delight in Him…and learn from His great heart, life will forever change and take you to a level you never realized you could go!

    Matthew‬ ‭11:29, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”‬ 

    So how do you learn from God and delight in Him?

    There are so many ways to delight in God. It’s never a cookie-cutter experience…God cares enough to make your relationship with Him the most unique experience possible! God will reveal to your own heart special ways you can delight in Him, learn from Him, and grow your relationship and friendship together. Ask Him to make both the Bible and your relationship with Him come alive for you starting today. He totally will do it!

    Does this mean I’ll never have troubles in my life again…or will it make my current problems instantly disappear?

    If you have given up on God because of a trial that left you broken hearted, I hope this helps you find the One who is patiently waiting to help you and love you. God is crazy about you, adores you, and has great plans for your life! (Jeremiah 29:11)

    God greatly desires to help (and even carry) you through all of life’s toughest situations. When you go through grief or loss, He will wrap you in His arms, and bring such an amazing comfort and strength, giving an opportunity to fall even more deeply in love with Him.

    Life never becomes “perfect” – because people and this earth are still flawed and fallible – but it’s incredible to have a Best Friend with you at all times…in the good times and the bad…when your walk with Him is going great….and even times when you neglect your relationship with Him and are failing miserably. God’s unconditional love is amazing in experience. He doesn’t cut people off because He is all-in! He will never leave you or forsake you!

    Life never becomes void of problems or grief, but as you grow close to God…you begin to see there is value in every life experience.

    Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

    So…do we delight in God so we can get the desires of our heart…or for what we can get out of Him?

    Absolutely not. God loves giving good gifts – in fact, every good gift comes from Him – but God weighs the heart in all we do.

    James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

    1 Samuel 16:7, “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    We choose to love and delight in God because we love Him and His great big heart!

    We don’t seek out His presents; we learn to thoroughly enjoy His presence.

    I have found throughout the years that God – and a relationship with Him – is the truest treasure on earth. I’d choose Him and my relationship with Him over anyone and anything…even all of the money in the world. I believe that anyone who has experienced God would.

    If you grew up in church and feel as though you were never taught how to connect to God, no worries! You can begin today! Growing up, we didn’t have the resources we have today. Literally, today, you have information with just a click of a computer button. Study your Bible, look at compelling Christian articles that are offered online, download the Youversion Bible app and read some great Bible Reading Plans, and ask God to come alive to you. He’s faithful!

    So how do I begin to treasure and delight in God?

    Here are a few of my favorite ways:

    1. Plan a special time when you can exclusively enjoy God. Every morning, I make some hot tea with honey and talk to God about my day. I pray for my loved ones, read the Bible, and listen to whatever He has to share with me.
    2. Talk to God continuously throughout your day silently in your heart..an ongoing conversation. Share every part of your day.
    3. Get alone and curl up on the couch with a blanket and your Bible at the end of the day and reflect on your day with God.
    4. Go on a nature walk with Him. Marvel at all of His creation. Breathe the air in deeply and thoroughly find refreshment in His nature.
    5. Go to a restaurant and talk to God silently while you enjoy a meal with Him.
    6. Pick a favorite activity and simply enjoy God and His presence…it could be playing golf or disc golf, swimming, running, leisure walking, lifting weights, or my personal favorite – longboarding. There’s nothing like getting alone with God and having the cares of the world melt away as you talk to Him about everything. God is everywhere so spend some time hanging out with Him.
    7. Ask God to show you areas of your heart and life that you need to change. Follow through with whatever change He asks you to do.
    8. Buy a Journal and write letters to God. Also write down goals He shares with your heart and prayer requests for your family, friends, church, work, leaders, life, and yourself.
    9. Seek to know the deepest parts of God’s  heart and share the deepest parts of your heart and soul with God. Find out as much as you can about Him and tell Him all about you. He already knows everything about you but He loves when we pour our hearts out to Him and we seek to truly know Him. Francis Chan once said that if you take a thimble to the middle of the ocean and filled water into the thimble…that’s about our limit to what we can possibly know about God in comparison to the entire ocean. I hope God allows me to know Him as much as I possibly can…and then even more after that.
    10. Ask God to share with you the plans He has for you and obey those plans.
    11. Tell God your hopes, dreams, struggles, ideas, fears, joys, and failures. Seek to find what brings great joy to His heart.
    12. Share with God your heartaches and cry out to Him. He is the ULTIMATE best friend you will ever have the privilege of knowing. He’s the only Friend who is available 24/7 and truly cares about everything you experience and go through. Deeply consider – and be compassionate about – what brings His heart pain.
    13. Ask Him for His guidance and ask Him to give you the gifts of wisdom and understanding.
    14. Ask God to continue to “create and perfect” you. God is the ultimate artist….place yourself back on His canvas and allow Him to “paint” the rest of your life to what He wants for it. Ask Him to finish your picture in His time with the colors He chooses. There will be colors of joy…colors of brilliance…colors of beauty. There will also be dark brushstrokes and shades of sadness…heartache…suffering… BUT…God promises to take ALL of the colors and make the overall portrait something of great value, extraordinary beauty, and treasure. (Romans 8:28)…You can trust His most skillful Hand!
    15. Extravagantly honor and admire Him. Think about creation and of all the beauty He lavishes on us everyday-we are SO incredibly blessed!!! He creates sunrises, sunsets, flowers, trees, nature. When you feel the wind, think of it as a hug from God that envelopes you. When it rains, think of it as God giving you tiny little kisses. One of the things I love about God is how creative He is. Whether it’s nature, or how uniquely different He has made each one of us, or even the amazing variety He allows us in life, I always thank Him for it. Thank Him for making different seasons of weather or thank Him for all of the variety of foods and spices He has created. Look at all of the different animals and even look at all the different places you can travel to and experience. I love how God is totally not boring in anything He does. My absolute favorite is all of the people He has created. He is the greatest, most creative Genius ever!
    16. Have a Thank-fest: take the time to literally thank Him for each and every good person and thing in your life…especially Him! There is a tremendous amount to be thankful for!
    17. Truly get to know Him- Read your Bible and find out for yourself who God genuinely is. Don’t merely depend on what others have told you about Him. Seek out His heart and really pursue Him. I had a good friend who challenged me to get to know God for myself and I am so very glad he did. God wasn’t anything like what I had thought. Many Christians have given God a bad name and have pushed self-centered agendas on to others. Forget what you’ve been told and look up passages of scripture that reveal and reflect God’s TRUE character and heart. He is a beautiful God of mercy, forgiveness, justice, and compassion. Slow to anger and filled with grace. Yes, He does discipline, so it’s good to look up what pleases God and what He expects out of us, but once you truly know God’s heart, you’ll want to obey Him…not out of fear but because you truly LOVE him. Read Psalms. It’s a great book to find God’s heart. Look at Proverbs, it tells you the right way to live. Get to know God for yourself and develop a personal relationship with Him. And make your relationship truly special and unique…build it continually with authenticity. You can download the Bible for free on the YouVersion app…they also have tons of free devotionals/reading plans to enrich your relationship with God. Grief Bites has several reading plans on YouVersion too.
    18.  Speaking of different books of the Bible…read all of the books of the Bible. I personally love Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament the most because they are so applicable, but I also enjoy getting to know about God in the Old Testament. Every book in the Bible gives clues as to who God really is. When you read it, the Bible comes alive and you find treasures only He can reveal to your heart. Did you know God’s Word shares that only believers can completely understand and interpret His Word (1 Cor. 2:14, Matthew 13, Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25)? If you believe in Him, the Bible is a complete adventure each time you open and read it! If you’re a believer and you’re not sure what to do in reading the Bible, start off by reading one chapter of Proverbs a day and five chapters of Psalms. In one month, you’ll have read all of the Psalms and Proverbs…and it is incredible how God uses many of the verses in a different way each month that you read them. Add one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament immediately or after the first month. It will take you about 15-20 minutes per day. If your Bible reading becomes dry…ask God to bring it to life, to show you new truths, and then let the Bible fall open to wherever it falls to and read that chapter for the day.
    19. Memorize and personalize scripture and God’s Promises with your name in it. For example: Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for Susan and her family,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper Susan and her family and not to harm Susan or her family, plans to give Susan and her family hope and a future.” You can memorize and personalize any scripture. You can personalize it with just your name or you can include others in it (such as family members or friends) like I just did. You can also put a loved one’s name in it if you’re praying for someone.
    20. Do an in depth Bible study on a certain topic and find out everything you can about it. I did one about suffering and it was amazing what I found. I had no idea that God saves each of my tears that I have cried in a bottle and writes down each and every one of my heartaches in His book. It is extremely interesting what God has in store for you if you’ll just seek to find Him, His great heart, and His plans. My sister helped teach me how to make the Bible “come alive” for me personally through studying specific topics and I have never read the Bible the same way since. God (and His word) is super exciting!
    21. Confide in God and ask Him to purify and soften your heart. Nobody cares more about your heart than God. Nobody. Like I previously said, I LOVE what Psalm 56:8 says- “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear placed into Your bottle, each ache written in Your book”. If God cares enough to document every pain I have ever experienced, then He is who I want to expose my complete heart to. Trust Him with your heart and ask Him every day to change, purify, and soften it.
    22. If you are going through a time of suffering…ask Him to heal your heart and ask Him to show you His purpose for whatever trial or suffering you are currently or have previously gone through. If you have gone through a major trial, don’t be scared to talk to God openly about it. If you’re mad at Him then respectfully tell Him. He’s big enough to handle it. There have been times, to be honest, that I have been angry at God. It was very hard having loved ones die and watch my sister lose not only one fiance but two fiances in death and see the affects of those situations. Seeing my son go through multiple surgeries for ongoing, inoperable tumors was very difficult to watch…that has been one of the hardest trials I have been through…but I am SO grateful God is in control and He hears my heart, my fears, and comforts us through those hard times. There are other things I have gone through that have been very hard, but I have seen how God can take a horrible situation and turn the bad into good for His purposes that are too great for me to understand. I am forever grateful to the person who showed me that God has a purpose for EVERYTHING. It’s been during times of suffering that I grew in my relationship with Him the most. I like what Rick Warren says, “God never wastes a hurt”. Ask God to truly heal your heart and show you how to bring purpose out of your pain. He’s faithful.
    23. Look for ways to do something awesome for God and seek to build His kingdom. God loves for us to minister to and love others as unto Him- Matthew 25:40, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
    24. Surprise someone for God with a secret gift to cheer them up when they’re down. If you’re at a restaurant and you can tell your waiter/waitress is struggling, leave an extra tip-make sure the tip is really good! Do something super sweet for a family member, friend, pastor, or neighbor.
    25. Share your testimony with someone and tell them how God is working in your life.
    26. Invest in your church, pastor, and church leadership by regularly praying for them.
    27. Give God an extra offering above your usual tithe. If you don’t already tithe, start to give what you can.
    28. Do a kind favor for a family member or a friend without expecting anything in return. Help family you know who are in need if you are able to.
    29. Have friends or family over for dinner, a Bible study, game night, or a fun movie and serve others with the hospitality and resources God has blessed you with. God loves when we’re hospitable!
    30. Forgive anyone you hold something against. Take them off of your hook and place them (& the situation) into God’s capable hands.
    31. Encourage someone with a kind word or a note. Give family and friends genuine praise and bless them with words of affirmation.
    32. Write God a love letter and share with Him all you love about Him.
    33. Buy a new Bible and read through the entire Bible and make notations on the sides of each page of what God has spoken to your heart and then give that Bible to your child/future child/niece/nephew/family member as a readable legacy.
    34. Make a special commitment to God and after you accomplish the commitment, celebrate with Him.
    35. If you know the date of your salvation, plan an evening with God on that exact date. Go out to dinner and celebrate with God (and family or friends) or take lunch to the park and spend time with Him.
    36. Turn on some praise music and spend time wholeheartedly worshiping Him. Music is such a phenomenal gift from God…thank Him for it!
    37. Look for God in the details. He is there. I am constantly amazed how God orchestrates daily lives. I love it when he surprises me by turning a bad situation into a good one, or how if I’m out late, he always gives me an up front parking spot. It’s fun to see how God works through daily life as well as the people who I know.
    38. Pray for specific things for your spouse, children, nieces and nephews, parents, siblings, and family members. I love praying for my family!  It’s super cool to pray for them and not tell them what I’m praying about and then hear them tell some story of how God did something or provided something…and it was exactly what I had been praying for them. I love how God is in ALL the details! I had been praying for one particular prayer request everyday for 14 years and God finally answered it in 2008. It has been incredible to watch God work out the details of that prayer request and He answered it in a way that only He could have fulfilled. Trust God with the details of your life and your family.
    39. Learn a new skill you can use for God. I know a guy who learned how to paint gorgeously with chalk. He’d use his talent to share life stories of how God was working in his life. I also know a young lady who learned how to teach dance lessons. She offers discounted dance lessons through her church.
    40. Start a ministry for God. Everybody has the ability to start a ministry. Look for a need, think of what you’re passionate about, ask God to show you what He’d like you to do and where He’d like for you to serve, and then go out and change the world.
    41. Focus on God on every holiday: Celebrate with Him throughout the year. Start New Year’s Day by dedicating your year to Him. In February, thank Him for being the Love of your life. On Easter, watch The Easter Story or The Passion and really try to comprehend what He did to have a relationship with you. Now that is GENUINE LOVE! On Father’s Day, thank Him for being the ULTIMATE Father. By the way…if you are fatherless, you have an extra special place in God’s heart! Use Father’s Day to celebrate God the Father. On 4th of July, pray for the men and women in the military as well as their families, thank God for your freedom that other people have sacrificed for you to have, and most importantly thank God for giving you true freedom in Christ. Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for our family because my sister died on Thanksgiving Day. I used to dread it and cried to God about how painful that day was. God placed in my heart a true gratefulness for Him and the rest of my family that is still here on earth. Use Thanksgiving as a way to show your thankfulness to whoever God has allowed in your life and thank Him for every blessing. Thank Him also for everything He has brought you through all year. Christmas is super fun, it’s His birthday. Make Him a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Throw God a HUGE birthday party and then as His birthday present, invest your time in prayer throughout the year for each person that comes. Think of something special you can do for God and celebrate with Him.
    42. Show family how special they are to God and you…treat them like royalty! When a family member has a birthday, make a special birthday card or a slide show for them with pictures set to some great music and watch it as a family. Then when you pray to God later that night, thank Him for creating that family member and ask God to bless and protect them. Say a special personalized blessing for them. I do this for my family. It’s a lot of fun to honor someone in this way to celebrate their birthday.
    43. Speak verbal blessings over your loved ones- Ever since my son was a baby, I have always spoken a blessing to him. I always say it on his birthday, but there are times throughout the year I’ll go up to him and say it out loud to him. Pick out a special scripture and speak it to your family members. For example, my blessing for my son is Numbers 6:24-27, and I speak it out loud to him…even though he’s an adult, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace”. Take the opportunity to invest and celebrate in your family’s lives.There are tons of ways to celebrate with God, for God, and because of God. God is a God of celebration so celebrate with Him in all things.

    To sum it all up: Make God your life. Include Him in everything. Make Him your everything. Day by day, share your life with Him. Find new ways everyday to fall more in love with Him and fully delight in Him.

    This list is just some ideas I came up with, and I’m not the most creative person, so I’m sure you can definitely come up with some better ideas. If you have a special way you delight in God, comment to this post so everyone else can see your idea. We’re all here to help each other love God and love others more.

    Hope you each have a super awesome, blessed, and fantastic New Year overflowing with God’s love!

    Deuteronomy 30:20, “…that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…” 

    Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

    Thank you reading this! Hope you enjoyed it and got some new ideas for how to love and delight in God more. I pray He richly blesses you as you delight in Him and make Him your heart and your life!

    More on delighting in God:

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

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

    Happy New Year!!!🎉⭐🌺

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    😇FREE Bible and devotionals: www.youversion.com


    Lessons From My Furry Lil Friends

    It’s incredible what you can learn from pets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

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

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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