Tag Archive | blessings

When A Loved One Is Battling Cancer…

It’s been a crazy few weeks.

My brother had a heart attack, and then my dad suddenly became extremely ill after a biopsy (which came back clear) … and a few weeks later was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastasized cancer.

With my dad, it came out of the blue. Nine weeks ago, we were working out together, as we had been doing, three times a week. He was out-lifting and more fit than many people half his age at the gym. He also always walked at least 10,000 steps a day and was taking care of his health since beating cancer a few years ago (you can read a blog post I wrote from my dad’s first cancer journey here: https://griefbites.com/2016/07/27/the-thief-grief-of-cancer/).

My brother’s heart attack also came as a shock. It happened on Mother’s Day and was a complete surprise.

Having two family members go through dire, life threatening illnesses within mere weeks of one another has been extremely stressful and heart wrenching.

As I was talking on the phone with a friend, telling her how I felt after she asked how I was doing, I put it into words. She said, “Kimmy, you need to blog about this. I’ve never heard such an accurate description.”

This is for my dad…my mom…our family…my two additional family members who are battling cancer…our friends…the grief and cancer communities.…everyone who has had cancer or has watched a loved one suffer through such a devastating illness.

May God grant all of us His mercy, compassion, healing, and His help as we walk through the incredibly hard journey of cancer.

😢🌷When A Loved One Is Battling Cancer🌷😢

Having a loved one go through sudden advanced aggressive cancer is the equivalent of your whole family being thrown into hell in a big bubble without warning.

The whole family is in an air conditioned bubble among the flames — except your loved one who is battling cancer — and you’re watching your loved one…who is outside the bubble…greatly suffer.

You can’t open the bubble to let them in…and you can’t exit the bubble to offer them relief or help.

You have water and you’re willing to give your loved one all the water in the world to refresh and help them – to put out the flames, to offer them a drink, to cool their suffering…but you can’t.

Every time you hear them cry out or wince in excruciating pain…you can’t help. You can’t take away the pain at all.

When they’re so weak they can barely walk or talk…you can’t strengthen them or be the breath their lungs so badly need.

When they are rapidly losing weight…you may be the best cook in the world, or offer to get them any food they want from any restaurant…ANY restaurant…but there’s nothing you can do. You can’t give them the gift of appetite or take away their nausea. Seeing your loved one lose weight – my dad lost 40 lbs last month – you feel like you’re in a nightmare. You learn that when they do feel like eating, you take full advantage of it – and pray they’ll be able to keep it down.

You love them so much that you’d willingly trade places with them…you even tell God you’re willing…but it’s not an option and you can’t take any of the burden off of them.

You see your other loved ones processing it…you can’t really help them either. Words of encouragement are empty…it feels so fluffy and artificial. Just like grief, there are no words in the human language to provide relief or comfort.

You want to say, “I love you,” and hug them a billion times a day…actually, you want to hold them tight and never let them go…but you can’t because it’ll just freak them out. They’ll wonder if they’re closer to death than they realize.

And the pain…the horrendous pain…you desperately want to make it better for them. Sometimes their pain is so great that gentle hugs are physically painful to them. It’s miserable not being able to alleviate their pain. You can’t make them more comfortable either…and due to the pain, no position – sitting or lying down – feels good. Temperature means nothing. They’re burning up one minute and another minute, they’re freezing. It’s so frustrating to them.

You want to cry…but you don’t dare because you need to keep your loved one’s spirits and hope up as high as possible. So much of the battle of beating cancer is in the mind and spirit. You’ll do whatever it takes to help them have the best odds, and most favorable mindset, of beating this dreadful illness.

You want to say stuff like, “it’s going to be okay” – but how do you tell someone it’s going to be okay – when you don’t even know if things will be okay? So you instead say, “We are going to do everything possible to beat this! We’re in this together!”

You want to 100% focus on your loved one battling cancer…but there will be times you won’t be able to since you still have work responsibilities, chores, etc – and you’ll feel so torn. You’ll strive for as much time with your loved one as possible – because you fully understand that any day could be “the day”…and as a result, you’ll cancel any and every unnecessary appointment, social event, anything unnecessary, everything. You realize an awful truth and it breaks your heart into a billion pieces: if God doesn’t grant you the miracle you’re seeking, you are on borrowed time…and the time is short.

You so badly want your loved one to stay on earth…you ignore reality and pray boldly in faith. You’ll be praying for huge miracles – because you want your loved one to stay here. You can’t imagine life without them…and you know you can’t “go there” and especially cannot “camp out there” in your thoughts because this can absolutely depress you. So you ask God for more faith, strength, and a miracle. You’ll even try to barter with God. You focus on prayer…you realize that intense prayer – and even fasting for your loved one (after talking to your doctor) – is the best way to help them. And you don’t just want to save them because you love them so much…you want to save them because you don’t want to see a bright light go dim…they’re doing so much for God on earth, so you continue to beg God for a miracle — multiple times each day. Even though things look bleak, you stand firmly in faith and claim any scripture you know or can find on healing.

Since you’re not crying in front of your loved one…God, other family members, the shower, and the car become your best friends. You cry out to God in your heart…your insides do the crying – and no one around you is aware of it. You turn on music and cry in the shower – where no one can hear. Sometimes, you’ll slump to the ground and pour your ever living heart out to God – especially on the frustrating days where you feel so powerless to help. You get it all out. The car is a great place to pull over and just cry on the hardest days, too. And you do this so you can reset and be your absolute best for your loved one.

You get upset that it’s your dad or family member…and will ask God, “why my dad?why my loved one?” My dad is the nearest thing to a walking angel. Seriously…he is SO good to God, my mom, his grandkids and greats, my siblings, my husband, me – all of our family. I’ve never met anyone who has more integrity than him. Here’s how well-known of how great a person my dad is: At my dad’s birthday party, my sister (as a party game) had a quiz about my dad…one of the questions on the quiz was “Where was Gramps born?” Someone replied, “Don’t say in a manger!” My dad isn’t just a good man…he’s literally the godliest man I’ve ever known. He loves others and lives out his Christianity 24/7.

So many thoughts and emotions these past few weeks!

Whoever pegged the saying “Cancer Sucks” … they were absolutely right. It so very much does suck.

……………..BUT……………..

Make no mistake…there is always hope!!

Cancer – even though it sucks so bad – it does not and will not have the last word! It will refine you…absolutely allow it to refine you…you’ll also find out who your real friends and caring family members are…this refinement is a gift! It will cause you to completely reprioritize your life and relationships. You find out quickly what is truly important – and what is not.

It’s not always doom and gloom…you’re not always a crying, bumbling mess…because you’re also enjoying the heck out of your loved one. You’re doing everything in your power to bring them encouragement, hope, and joy.

Every. day. is. a. precious. gift. A gift not to be wasted.

You’ll have some of the deepest, richest, best conversations ever…and you’ll laugh with your loved one, too.

I’ve had some of the most meaningful conversations with my dad lately…and I’m writing down these precious words, too. I never want to forget these very meaningful talks — and the precious advice he’s giving me. He’s also sharing with me things to say to our loved ones at a future date. His focus isn’t on himself…his focus and his heart is on God, the love of his life (my mom), his treasured grandkids, my siblings, all of our family, and me. My dad’s entire life and world is God, my mom, and our family. Cancer hasn’t and will not change that.

I did mess up and cry around my dad – on Father’s Day – and my dad said something that blew me away. He said he feels his cancer is a privilege to walk through…that it’s a blessing in disguise – even though it doesn’t look like one right now – BECAUSE God will be glorified in this extremely tough situation. He said his cancer will draw our family closer together — and we have the opportunity to allow this trial to refine, teach, and remind us what life, family, forgiveness, and love are all truly about.

I know God is going to carry my dad, my mom, and us through this excruciatingly painful time…no matter the outcome…because God is good. So very, very good!

There are days I feel helpless. I HATE not being able to help my Dad. It’s my nature to help…love…encourage…prevent tragedy…console…save…and protect those I love deeply. I’ve wondered a hundred times how we got here…my dad had been to the ER a few times and was hospitalized twice as well…how did nobody catch this?🥲 Questions like these are futile. My dad told me to focus on the “here and now.” Although this all took us by surprise…this did not take God by surprise. And God is sovereign.

My dad said the battle isn’t mine…that I need to be still and know that God is God. He also said not to be upset with God…that God is good. My dad’s right: The battle isn’t mine. And God IS always good. He isn’t just good…He is 100% faithful…capable…loving…kind…and He is for my dad and our family.

Now that I’ve had a few cry-fests, I’m learning how to better shift my emotions, perspective, thoughts, and focus from an earthly perspective to an eternal perspective…to take (like my siblings have advised) “one hour/day at a time” – which isn’t always easy.

We always say, “I trust God”…and times like these reveal the contents of our hearts…they are also an exclusive opportunity to prove that we do indeed trust God.

So I need to remind my heart: We walk by faith not by sight…God can do more in a moment than I could ever hope to do in a lifetime…God’s Perfect Will – even when we don’t like or agree with it – is exactly what we all would want if we knew ALL the facts…God doesn’t need my help. At all…God is God – and I am not…sooo…I lovingly place my dad, his care, and his very life into the hands of the One who loves him most.

Anyone who has been through this gets it – our family, sadly, is not the only ones to go through this. Millions of people experience this every year. Two other family members are experiencing cancer as I write this. My heart goes out to all who have – and are – experiencing illness.

My focus is on God, my dad, family, and others who are grieving a loved one or battling cancer.

Instead of focusing on the cancer on the toughest days…what could or could not happen…what may or may not be…I will turn my focus – in faith – onto God.

Instead of crying in the car and shower…I will turn these times into deeper times of prayer and praise to the One who loves us most and best.

I will love and enjoy God…my parents…my spouse and kiddos…my entire family…to the very best of my ability.

Yes, I will absolutely still lift my dad and family up in prayer every single day…but my focus will not be on the storm…my focus will be on my God who controls the storm.

And I know I’ll get to know God at a much deeper, richer, and more treasured level through these trials. Like my dad said, this is a blessing in disguise…and God will create good from this situation — because God never wastes a hurt.

I’ll do what my dad has requested: turn my tears into prayers…my worries into praise…my fears into trust…and believe this trial holds a greater purpose.

I. will. not. quit. praying…and I will help my dad stay positive as his treatments become more intense and painful. He said this type of chemo (FOLFOX) made his first cancer treatments feel like a cake walk. I’ll continue to encourage, strengthen, and help him.

I pray anyone who has been affected by cancer will be comforted, encouraged, and healed. And I pray fervently that my dad – and your loved ones, too – will make it and will be healed.

Please pray my dad and all who are battling cancer will win their fight starting today…and may each and everyone of us experience a brand new facet of God as we walk – and continue to love, trust, and praise Him – through the storms we all face. 💗

No matter what storm you’re facing today, always remember you are loved and I am praying for you!

~Kim

©2021 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.

The Very Best Time You Can Spend Today – It Can TOTALLY Make A Difference!

🎄❤️🎄Good afternoon!
Today is a great topic (and so very needed in the world today)! Hope it encourages your heart and enriches lives!

As you read this, consider who you can do this for!💕

Have you ever received a note or word of kindness or thankfulness?

One time, I spoke at a school and shared my testimony. A few days later, I received dozens of homemade cards sharing many kind words to tell me, “thank you,” for speaking at their school. My heart was beautifully overwhelmed with gratitude!

Life-giving words of affirmation are so very important – spoken or written.
When people take the time to pour into the hearts of others, it makes the recipient’s heart happy – but more importantly, it blesses God’s heart, too!

When I was in college, God blessed me with the idea to write notes of gratitude to anyone who had invested in my heart or life.
As I sat down and made a list, I included Jesus, my parents, grandparents, siblings, other family members, good friends, all of my teachers and professors, my Sunday School teachers, pastors, youth group leaders, previous and current employers, the doctors who saved my life when I was 12 and 17…anyone who had benefited my life, invested in me, or poured their heart and prayers into my life.
I received several letters back and was very surprised when many shared I was the only one who ever wrote to thank them for their kindness or investment.

So many are truly thankful for how others have blessed their life or invested in them, yet we assume others understand how grateful we are without sharing our gratitude with them.

Who can you write a beautiful note of gratitude to today? Who can you call or visit to say, “thank you,” or share with them how much you love them and care about them?

Thankfulness, notes of gratitude, and words of affirmation and blessings are all beautiful, priceless gifts we can give to Jesus, our spouse, children, parents, family, friends, educators, doctors, those we know in the military, people who serve us in our communities — everyone.

Let’s take some time to truly thank Jesus for all of the great people, blessings, and things we have in our life!

Never miss an opportunity to pour the extra special blessing of thankfulness and words of affirmation into the lives of others!

🙏🏻Prayer: “Jesus, thank You so much for all of the love, words of affirmation and blessings You pour into our lives! We also thank You for the many times people have invested in us, raised us, prayed for us, poured into our hearts and lives, educated us, taught us how to love and serve You, sacrificed for us, helped us, and all of the other ways people have contributed to our lives! I pray a special blessing right now for those who have done this for us and our families. Jesus, please help us to live lives of love, thankfulness, and gratitude. Help us to truly see how much those around us pour into our lives, love us, and care enough to bless, help, and encourage us through life‘s events. May we never take anyone, anything, or any act of love, concern, care, kindness or investment for granted – and may we never fail to give proper thanks to You and others. Jesus, please place on our hearts the names of people You want us to write a letter of gratitude to, and please also place the names of people You would like for us to call to tell them a heartfelt “thanks.” Who needs to hear positivity, love, and encouragement from us today?Also – saying “sorry” to those we have wronged and asking for forgiveness is a powerful act of gratefulness, kindness, affirmation, and love — it shows someone we truly value their heart. Please show us who we need to apologize to today.
Help us to be people of extreme gratitude and extravagant love! We love You! In Your precious name we pray, Amen!”

⭐️Activity #1: thank Jesus for all of the good He has blessed you with, and is currently blessing you with, in your life! Write a beautiful letter of gratitude to Him! Share with others how good Jesus is!

⭐️Activity #2: make a list of all of the people throughout your lifetime who have invested in your heart, spiritual walk, education, health, and life….anyone who has invested or sacrificed so you could have a better life…anyone who has encouraged you during a time of stress, heartache, and grief…anyone who has gone out of their way to make your life better. Write or call them today to say, “thank you!”

⭐️Activity #3: reach out to your loved ones who are going through grief. Ask God for ideas for loving and encouraging your loved ones today.

⭐️Activity #4: if you have children, nieces, nephews, or little people in your life (this is also great to do for the big kiddos in your life, too!), consider giving them the gift of a daily spoken blessing. I’ve continually spoken a specific verse vocally to my son…I’d rub my tummy and say this blessing to him while he was in my womb, and randomly say this scripture blessing out loud to him throughout his life (Numbers 6:24-26).
You can choose a specific Bible verse as a blessing or just use loving, positive words of encouragement. Loving words of blessing and encouragement are one of the most powerful gifts you can give to loved ones!💕
(If it feels weird to give loved ones spoken blessings, just tell them you’re starting a new tradition. They’ll love it!)

❤️Read: Numbers 6:24-26, Colossians 3:16-17, Psalms 9:1, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalms 100:4, Psalms 103:1-5

(From the YouVersion reading plan Experiencing the Holidays with Jesus: Christmas. This devotional © 2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

🎄💕🎄

🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️

©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.

Always Be Kind…Here’s Why.

“Be kind.”

We’re always told to be kind. In fact, I imagine everyone was taught this as a child.

Yet many don’t take the time to truly contemplate the importance of kindness.

Just look at social media – it is overrun with unkindness.

Yet…

You never know what people are privately going through…you never know when it will be someone’s last breath.


You’re guaranteed this: one day, with each person you’re close to, it’ll be your last conversation with them…and you won’t even know it at the time.

So be the kindness, love, respect and compassion you want to receive.

Be mindful – so very mindful – of kindness…especially in your closest relationships.

…the people you love

…the people who love you

…especially the people who have proven beyond any shadow of doubt they love you.

The ones who have stood by you after everyone else walked away…

…the people who believed in you when no one else did

…the people who encouraged you when no one else would

…the people who deeply pray for you consistently

…because all of these people are exquisite gifts loaned to you by God.

Loaned. Meaning, you never know when God will need them back.

Treat your loved ones right.

Have conversations you won’t regret or be ashamed of at a later date.

Set aside time this holiday season to reach out to your loved ones and tell them…

…you love them.

…you care about them.

…how important they are to you.

…that you’re always there for them.

…and thank them for being there for you and loving you so well all the times they have.

And above all, always love your loved ones so very well and always be extra kind.

Because just like you have had hard times in life and you never shared it with your loved ones so they wouldn’t worry…

…the people you love most may be going through a hard time and you not even know it for the same reason.

So always, always, always be kind.

I’ve talked with many grievers who have such heartbreaking guilt and regrets after a loved one died…

…words left unsaid.

…words spoken that were unkind.

…last conversations that were less than ideal.

…texts/phone calls that were deliberately ignored.

…pride or embarrassment that kept families from truly working things out.

Nobody ever weighs the consequences of unkindness…until the time comes and you can’t undo it.

Also, children watch how parents behave and treat others. I’ve seen parents in deep grief after their children grew up and now treat the parents in similar ways they’ve seen them treat other family members and others. Character – whether good or bad – is more caught, than taught.

So starting today…

Forgive others…

Forgive yourself…

Be kind…

Love your family extraordinarily well…

Treasure those God has placed in your life…

…Choose to do better.

When their last breath or your last breath comes, you’ll know you intentionally treasured, loved, and treated each other with love, compassion, respect, and kindness…and gave the very best you absolutely could give.

Each day, your legacy of kindness is in the making. Make each day a great one worth remembering.

It could literally make all the difference in the world.💕

May all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving!🍂🧡🍂

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://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 neighbors or spouse more. Life is so busy, it can be hard to connect. These activities are great for couples, too.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings to you,

Kim

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Important 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.

🎄Christmas Countdown ~ December 4🎄

🎄❤️🎄Today, we’re on Day 4 of our Christmas Countdown. Today’s Countdown talks about something everyone loves – gifts!

Hope it blesses & encourages your heart.❤️

(For those who are just joining us: each day, I’ll be posting from one of our YouVersion Christmas reading plans each day throughout December. I hope this helps each of you to feel less discouraged or alone…especially with the pandemic…and like you have a friend encouraging your heart during this very tough time of year.)

🎄🦌🎄 Day 4🎄🦌🎄

As children, most get really excited about Christmas because that’s the time of year you receive gifts!
As you get older, you still enjoy receiving gifts…but you begin to see true joy comes from giving to others.

On Christmas morning, as a parent, I would always share how special it was that it was Jesus‘ birthday – and He loves us so much that He allows us to receive and open gifts on HIS birthday.
I also made it a point to focus on teaching giving gifts to others, such as Angel Tree or other ministries, was a true blessing…and also showing gratefulness and thoughtfulness towards family and friends by baking treats and passing out treat trays.

Gifts are definitely unanimous with the Christmas season, so the question is: how can we allow Jesus to be “a gift” to others through us? And how can we be an absolute gift to Jesus to show Him how extravagantly thankful we are for Him and the joy of His birthday?

Perhaps we can donate toys to Angel Tree, sponsor a family who is in need, donate Christmas dinner to someone we know has fallen on hard times, encourage those who are experiencing deep grief this Christmas season, do something special for our closest family and friends, bake treats for or send cards to our family, friends, and neighbors, host a holiday tea or Christmas party for those who need extra love and encouragement…
…and if finances are tight, there are many ways to be a blessing to others as well: daily praying for loved ones, speaking words of life, encouragement, and comfort to others, writing a heartfelt letter of gratefulness to loved ones, sharing the Reason for our hope, or calling – or better yet, video calling – with loved ones to stay in touch…there are so many ways and opportunities we can be “a sweet gift” to God and those around us this Christmas season!

Jesus was so amazing to give us Himself as the greatest gift we could ever imagine. Let us be so mindful of extending that precious gift to family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others God places on our hearts!

🙏🏻Prayer: “Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You so much for giving us the Best Gift of all! I pray You would make each of us aware of how we can be an extravagant gift to You and others this holiday season. Give us fresh ideas of how to extravagantly love, celebrate, relax with, and enjoy You, our family and friends, and how to best encourage and serve those around us! Thank you for all of the good gifts we have and enjoy in our lives (especially all of the “little” things we may daily take for granted), and may we always realize just how many great gifts we have exclusively just in knowing You. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!”

💗Read: James 1:17, 1 Peter 4:10

⭐️Activity #1: Think of a special gift you can give to Jesus this Christmas. This is exclusively between you and Jesus, so ask Him to guide you on how to best express your love, creativity, and gift(s) to Him.

⭐️Activity #2: Consider how you can be a gift to your family/loved ones this Christmas season. Ask God which family & friends need love & encouragement from you.

This devotional © 2018 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️🦌🎄❤️

©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.

The Life Lesson You Won’t Want To Wait To Learn

There I was…sitting in a college classroom.

My books neatly stacked, pen and paper out to take notes, as I waited for my professor to start her lecture on the material that would be on the final exam in a few days.

It took everything in me to be present in class that day. My sister had just died six days earlier, and her funeral was the day before this particular class. And just a few weeks before my sister’s death, my other sister’s fiancé (who was also one of my best friends) had died. It was a small miracle I made it out of bed, but I didn’t want the whole semester to be wasted.

As I prepared to listen to my professor’s review, a girl sat right next to me.

This young lady began complaining to me (and the guy sitting next to us) for the next 10 minutes about her job, getting up early to make it to class, her boyfriend buying her the wrong color of roses over the weekend, and she complained about the manicure she had just gotten.

Then she complained about something that pierced my heart: she complained about having to go on vacation over Christmas break with her parents and sister.

Out of all of the mornings I had decided to arrive early to class, this was a day I wished I had slept in.

A mere month before, the young lady’s complaining would have gone in one ear and out the other. I would’ve thought, “wow…this girl is having a bad week.”

This particular morning though, I wanted to tell her – more like scream at her – how lucky she was to have both parents alive…lucky to have her sister to go on vacation with…blessed to have a boyfriend who bought her roses…and her fingernails…really?!…fingernails are something to complain about just because one chipped!? I thought, “wow…this girl needs some serious perspective!”

Sitting in that classroom, I wished my greatest problem was something as vain as a fingernail that could be fixed within half an hour. I wished my sister had her fiancé still here to buy her roses…she would’ve been grateful for any color. I wished I could go on a vacation…any vacation…with my sister and dad again. Instead, I was wondering how our family was going to make it through the grief and storm we were just catapulted into.

The fact is, grief deeply changes you. You see things so very differently!

It truly is like life is a glass “window” that has always been covered in thick glittery paint. Grief comes along and power washes all of the paint and glitter away.

…But having all of the thick glitter washed away doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Once you experience deep grief, and all of the glitter is washed away, you see people, things, and life – everything – much more clearly.

I’m not trying to be hard on the girl. I bet everything she was complaining about made perfect sense to her. It would’ve made perfect sense to me a few weeks earlier.

To be fair, I wonder how many times I have complained about trivial things to someone who was going through grief or a major life challenge?

And the bigger question:

How many blessings have I missed in life – especially pre-grief – due to not having a proper perspective or the ability to see a bigger picture?

The fact is, every “problem” we may have is an absolute lost “blessing” someone else deeply misses:

•The man or woman who is struggling to get along with their spouse? Someone else only wishes they could bring their spouse back from Heaven or back from divorce. Some are single and have never found love or marriage yet at all.

The job we may absolutely hate? Someone else has recently been laid off or disabled and would love to have their job back.

The child who is rebelling or making poor choices? Someone else would give everything they own just to have one more minute with their deceased child. Others have never been granted the privilege and gift of being a parent.

The person who complains about the wrong haircut, a bad manicure, or “having to go to the gym”? Someone else is in a hospital fighting cancer or battling another illness. They only wish they still had their hair or the energy to go run or workout again.

The person who complains about “having to go see their family,”…how long they have to stay at family gatherings and holidays…or who complains about their parents, siblings, children, extended family or in-laws? Someone else would give everything they own to have the luxury of having any family members at all. Family is a true gift – an EXTRAVAGANT gift – even if they (or we) don’t always act like one!

There are many more scenarios I could list of all the ways, and all of the people and things, we each take for granted or complain about. The opportunities and scenarios are unending.

Note: I’m not downplaying life challenges, difficult family members or challenging people, because life challenges and difficult people are always there and can be very painful. I, myself, have been guilty of complaining about people, things, and life events. I think we all have.

Once we truly put life in proper perspective though, and gain gratefulness in each area, the problems won’t seem near as big, annoying, inconvenient, or insurmountable.

We’ll find that some things in life are not quite the tragedy or crisis we make them out to be.

No matter what, at the end of the day, life is a tremendous gift! We may have to change our perspective, but life truly is.

Take some time today to truly see your blessings. Choose to continually create a grateful heart and genuinely appreciate each family member, person, gift, experience, opportunity, and modern day convenience we each are SO VERY blessed to have in our lives.

I have found that it seriously is a choice.

Rinse off the thick paint of the “window of life,” developing proper perspective, so you are clearly able to see, appreciate, and enjoy life…and the loved ones you have…to your best ability!

Don’t wait for life – or grief – to teach you a most painful lesson: The ability to see your pre-grief life with crystal clear perspective…to clearly see all of the treasure you once had in your life and held in your hand!

Learn this most important life lesson today…right now. Like great treasure in your hand, never allow perspective, blessings, or time to fall through your fingers. Life is precious. Family and good friends are a treasure. Time is a gift.

You may have already experienced a major loss or great grief. Perhaps you are currently going through a tragedy or crisis and life may not feel like a gift today.

Take the time to be kind to your heart. Even if it’s just baby steps, you truly can make it through.💗

🌺Encouraging quotes:

To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” ~Stephen R. Covey

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~Charles Richards

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” ~Oprah Winfrey

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” ~Oscar Wilde

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” ~Stephen Vincent Benét

“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.” ~Hazel Lee

“If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance.” ~Andrea Boydston

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

5. Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas (available November 2018) http://bible.com/r/3V5

⭐️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 Blessing I Could Have Missed…

Life is a miracle. 

I’m finding out more and more what a precious miracle life truly is…especially in the details.

Before deep grief, I kind of just took everything at face value. I never really looked too much into things…never really noticed the little things that make life and people so unique and precious.

But grief changes things; it truly changes each person who goes through it.

You see things you previously never did…you appreciate people at a much greater level…you start to notice how intricately beautiful life and people truly are.

When you’re with a loved one…or even other people you don’t know very well…you notice little things:

  • the special crinkle by their eye when they laugh…
  • a person’s personality, heart, and spirit…
  • the stories they share and the details of their thoughts…
  • the day-to-day life experiences, joys, and struggles you can automatically sense…

The details are always right in front…if you take the time to notice.

Yesterday is a day I’m glad I took the time to notice details.

We recently found out someone in our family has cancer and our puppy also has an aggressive cancer. My mom knew I was having a challenging week with work and life events, and especially the cancer situations, so she compassionately invited me out to a very nice place for lunch. Shortly after we arrived for lunch, a God-incidence happened – an encounter that God planned way before my mom even thought to invite me out to lunch.

After we ordered our food, an older gentleman came up to our table and asked me about my hair and eyes, particularly asking if I was from Europe. He thought I looked like I was from either Ireland, Germany, or Switzerland. After telling him what ancestory I originated from, he then sat down at our table and started a more indepth conversation. A conversation that lasted an hour.

Now, this has never happened to my mother or me before…but I could tell that this was no chance encounter.

The man almost immediately said something so profound about a specific situation I have been praying fervently for…a prayer I’ve been desperately praying for over two years – a prayer he knew nothing about – so he had my undivided attention.

Had I not been through specific grief experiences, I probably would’ve missed the blessing God had in store for me. I wouldn’t have noticed the details or miracle God tucked away into this very special man and our inspiring conversation.

A day later, I’m still pondering and marveling about the way God orchestrated the details of yesterday’s lunch…and the message the man shared with me. Mind you, the man had no previous knowledge about the situation I had been going through and praying about…he didn’t know me at all…so it’s unexplainable – a true Godincidence.

I left the restaurant with renewed hope.

What details can you take the time to notice today? I’m convinced we miss out on so many incredible details – and love gifts from God – because we don’t take the time to notice the details. Sometimes, we become instantly annoyed at situations or people…without considering that each situation and person may have been God ordained. We don’t expectantly look for the beauty and miracles that are in front of us each and every day. I know I’m guilty of not always viewing situations through godly lenses or seeing blessings that are right in front of my face.

I’m beyond glad I took the time to notice the details yesterday. I could have chosen to become annoyed or irritated by the interruption of my time with my mom at lunch…instead, God gave me an incredible gift from a kindhearted, exceptional, 80 year-old gentleman who listened to God and obediently relayed a message to me.

If you’re going through a tough life event or a grief experience, please know that God cares about you and your situation. He deeply loves you and cares about your heart! If you’ve been deeply wounded, He genuinely cares. He truly does!!

Today, look at the details of everything in life…the smallest ones. Take a break from the hardships you are currently facing. Be kind to your heart and others. Deeply treasure the miracle of God and your loved ones. 

Look for every detail you can. 

Don’t miss out on any blessing or love gift from God. 

Life truly is a miracle.

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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.