Tag Archive | honoring loved ones

💗Truly Think About This💗

Think about your life for a moment.

🌼All of the relationships you have

🌺The memories you plan to make with loved ones.

💗The broken marriage, parent/child relationship, or family relationship that needs mending.

🌴The future vacations you want to enjoy.

💃🏻Those bucket list activities you hope to do “someday”.

🧑🏻‍🍳The career change you’ve always wanted, but haven’t dared to make.

🕺🏻Those hobbies/skills you have always wanted to learn or better develop.

What if you were told today that you’re dying?

What would you do…how would you love…how would you live…differently?

Well….I have some very important news:

You are dying.

Every. one. of. us. is.

From the moment we are born, we are literally one step closer to death with each and every day that passes by.

Not being negative…in fact, when truly pondered, life can hold brand new meaning if we truly think about this.

Each year we’re alive, we pass by our birthday…but there’s another equally important date we pass by every calendar year…the date of our future death.

We pass by this date each and every year, so we need to be just as mindful of this date as we are of our (and our loved ones) birthday.

Soooo…..

…truly get to living.

🤗Make the most of each & everyday

🙏🏻Love & treasure God with all your heart

🪴Choose to find & live out a purpose greater than yourself

🥰Love your loved ones extravagantly

🤩Give your kiddos, nieces, and nephews – all of your family – the gift of knowing they’re truly treasured, important, accepted, & loved

💋Go all out cherishing and showing love to your spouse

🌹Do what needs to be done so you can genuinely live a healed life – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically

😍Be extra kind to everyone

🙏🏻Trust God with the difficult situations in your life…know and trust that He can – and if you ask, He will – make Romans 8:28 come to life for you

💕Repair the relationships that need repaired

💐Be a source of encouragement and joy to others

🧁Enrich your (& your loved ones) life with great memories & cool experiences

⭐️Frequently visit those you love and spend time with them

👠 Buy that pair of shoes – or that one outfit – that makes you feel like a million bucks

🕺🏻Dance in your living room

🍎Take the time to improve your health – health (& being “here” for family) truly is wealth

🍃Do the tough work of grief work and self work so you have the ability to heal and create your best days yet

🎵🎶Enjoy good music everyday

📔Be well read – read the Bible for encouragement and wisdom…read good quality books for self improvement…and read books for fun. If you have kiddos, read to them every night to develop their love for books and need for creativity

✏️Journal…Create a bucket list…Write thank you notes…Send letters of encouragement and gratefulness to those God places on your heart

🎉Celebrate every holiday and special occasion BIG…celebrate life…celebrate loved ones

❤️Make a difference

😇Forgive others – be the grace today that you’d hope to receive tomorrow

🐶Love (or get) a pet

😂🥲Celebrate, enjoy, and rejoice with those who rejoice … and intentionally grieve and mourn with those who grieve and mourn. Be a source of love, encouragement, compassion and comfort.

🌷Intentionally develop and leave a great legacy worth remembering

Get to it because at the end of your life – or your loved ones’ lives – you’ll either say, “If only I would’ve” … or … “I’m so glad I did!”

We (our loved ones, us) are all on loan from God…and one of these days, He will call each of us back…so make the most of every relationship you have.

Today’s the first day of the rest of your life…

Each day is a gift…and we get to decide how to daily unwrap it…so don’t waste a single precious moment of it.

Redeem the days.

Choose today, going forward, to live a full life of no regrets.

Happy weekend, everyone!

You are treasured.
You are important.
You are loved.

Your life is so very valuable and worth living!

Gratitude & blessings,

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. Sharing the link is fine.

⭐️⭐️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.

The Time A Goat Attacked My Son & The Powerful Lesson I Learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The secret is in our character.

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

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

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

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

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

Think of the people you have had conflict with.

How did you handle it?

How did they handle it?

How do you wish you had handled it?

How do you wish they had handled it?

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

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

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

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

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

…but…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

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

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

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⭐️For more encouragement:

🍃

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

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

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

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

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🌺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 10🎄

🎄❤️🎄Today, we’re on Day 10 of our Christmas Countdown. Hope you are having a great week!

🎄🦌🎄❤️🎄🦌🎄 Day 10🎄🦌🎄❤️🎄🦌🎄

I don’t know about you, but food is a fun part of my family’s Christmas traditions!

Christmas has always been a time to enjoy Jesus, family, friends, warm memories, fellowship and food as we celebrate Jesus and His wonderful birthday!

Throughout history, food has been a part of celebrations and meaningful events. It brings about instant fellowship. Food brings family and friends together.

As you share a meal with loved ones, you are in essence saying, “I enjoy you and your company. You’re important and special to me. I care about you and love you!”

Food isn’t just for family and friends. Christmas is a fantastic time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, or to buy items for a Christmas food basket, so you and your church (or a local charity) can deliver it to a family in need.
When you share Christmas treats or food with others, it’s also a way of saying, “God loves you! You are remembered. You are valued. You are not forgotten. Somebody loves you and cares.”

I love the creativity God has given us through food. He truly could have just made one food item that met all of our nutritional needs…yet He chose to give us a huge variety of foods for a variety of events, occasions, holidays and traditions.

Who can you bless this Christmas season with the gift of food? Whether it’s cookies, candy, a meal, or a fruit basket, it’s a form of loving Jesus as you love your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others God has placed on your heart and in your life.

Also, the Christmas season is never complete without remembering the most important dinner of all time: the Lord’s Supper.
Check local churches in your area who are planning a time of communion or the Lord’s Supper this Christmas season.

(Update: due to COVID-19, you can do a personal Lord’s Supper with grape juice and crackers at home. You can also do a Lord’s Supper or holiday “dine” with family and friends via video as well).

With so many opportunities to share Christ’s love through food and fellowship, let’s celebrate Christ through His wonderful gift of food!

🙏🏻Prayer: “Jesus, we thank You so much for this exciting season of Your birth! We also thank You for Your special gift of food. Please place upon our hearts the many ways we can bless others through this very special gift. I pray You would help us to see, and be aware of, those around us who are hurting, those in need, those who need encouragement, and those who need a reminder that someone cares. Please bless us as we are a blessing to others this Christmas season! Thank You for Your beautiful creativity, and giving us the great gift of fellowship with our loved ones. Thank You more importantly for our ability to have great fellowship with You! You are our highest Treasure! We love and absolutely adore you, Jesus! Help us to love others extravagantly this Christmas season! In Your precious name we pray, Amen!”

⭐️Activity #1: have a cookie party for the little people in your life, or with family. If you prefer peaceful solitude, you can also bake treats with just Jesus as you talk to Him about your day! Be sure to pass treats out to whoever God places on your heart! (Update: if you’re concerned about the pandemic, have a cookie party with those who live in your home or with family or friends via video. You can also call loved ones ahead of time and schedule a time to drop treats off on porches).

⭐️Activity #2: consider the ways you can bless others with food throughout the season. Delivery works well too!

⭐️Activity #3: Partake in the Lord’s Supper this Christmas season. Truly delight in Jesus as you remember His incredible love and sacrifice!

❤️Read: Matthew 25:40, Matthew 7:12, Proverbs 11:25, Matthew 6:1-4, Proverbs 15:17, Matthew 26:26-29, Matthew 4:4, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29,

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 $3.19 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.

🎄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.

🎄Christmas Countdown ~ December 3🎄

🎄❤️🎄Here’s Day 3 of our Christmas Countdown. Day 3’s Countdown shares how incredibly special and important you are! Never forget your value!❤️

(For those who didn’t see Day 1 & Day 2: 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 3🎄🦌🎄

I love all of the symbols of Christmas – and one of my most favorites is a star.

When I was about five years-old, after my dad died, and we had moved into a new home, my mom took me out on a cold night during Christmastime, sat me on her knee, and showed me the constellations. She taught me the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and all of the other stars.

Coming from a large family, I felt so special! How my mom took just me outside to teach me about God and His great majesty was a very special treat!

As she taught me about all of the stars and creation, she shared with me how God‘s thoughts of me were more numerous than all of the sand on the beach and more numerous than all of the stars up in the sky.

I will never forget that special night so many years ago. It made a great impression on my heart and allowed me to see God’s majesty and who He truly is – especially later on in life.

Did you know you are so precious to God that His thoughts of you are more numerous than all of the sand and stars in the world? He is so invested in you that He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head.

God created you so intricately and exquisitely that He gave you great gifts such as your specific personality, as well as specialized goals and dreams, likes and dislikes, and a very specific life purpose.

As you spend time with Jesus today or tonight, ask Him to reveal your life purpose to you. No one on earth can do your purpose except for you…you are that amazingly important, precious, exquisitely created, and special!

Every time you see a star in the sky, or a star Christmas decoration, I pray you will remember how much Jesus loves you! Let each star you see be a reminder to seek Him with all of your heart!

❤️Prayer: “Jesus, I want to thank You so much for giving me a life purpose that You planned for me — before I even breathed one breath. Thank You for creating me so specially and so specifically so I can serve You with all of the gifts You have given me. I pray I would use my personality, gifts, talents, and skills for You, Your glory, and Your purpose for me. I adore You, Jesus, and love You so very much! Please be with me every moment of my life and this Christmas season. In Your name I pray, Amen!”

Read: Matthew 10:29-31, Matthew 2:10, Psalms 8:3-4, Psalms 139:17-18

⭐️Activity #1: bake star shaped Christmas cookies and ask Jesus who He’d like you to bless or encourage by giving the cookies to them. Be sure to share some cookies with your family and friends, and also share the Christmas story of the most important star – and how God‘s thoughts of them are more numerous than all of the sand on a beach and all of the the stars in the sky.

⭐️Activity #2: ask Jesus to reveal to you His life purpose for you. Some good books on this topic are, ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren and ‘Chazown‘ by Craig Groeschel. Both are excellent for discovering your life purpose!

⭐️Activity #3: if you have little people in your life (children, nieces, nephews, grandkiddos), teach them how to recognize the Big Dipper and Little Dipper and share with them how much God loves them!

Check out Pastor Rick Warren: https://www.purposedriven.com and Life.Church Pastor Craig Groeschel: https://www.craiggroeschel.com/books/chazown for more details to help you find your life purpose.

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

Wishing everyone a very blessed and Merry Christmas season!

©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 $3.19 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.

❤️

A Good Reminder For The Holidays…

🎄❤️🎄Grief is difficult…and this time of year can be excruciatingly painful.

Intense sadness. Expectations – from others and of ourselves. Trying to navigate through grief as we try to redeem the holidays. It can all be overwhelming.

Take a moment – or several – throughout the day and just breathe.

Pray. God is a STRONG refuge & TRUE Friend.

Be kind to your heart.

Be so very good to others.

When you’re around family who aren’t acting like the gift they are – remember everybody needs love, acceptance, and kindness…us and them.

Love, care, and seek to be a blessing to others.

Remember and honor your treasured loved one(s) who you miss so very much.

Make a great cup of coffee or tea, put on some soft music, get cozy, and just relax.

If you need a good cry, let it out. It’s totally okay to grieve deeply.

Pamper your heart and soul by doing something peaceful and calming.

Enjoy a good meal with loved ones.

Eat some ice cream or a baked good…something to cheer your heart. I’ve never seen anyone sad while eating either.

Feed your spirit by feasting on the Word of God.

Put your pajamas on, wrap up in a warm blanket, and watch a Christmas movie or home videos.

Light your Christmas tree, turn on some soft Christmas music, and share your day with Jesus. I have found this to be the best way to end my day throughout the season.

If there is a special family member who has been there for you, thank them and share with them you need extra love, encouragement, and support over the holidays. We all need trusted family members and friends throughout grief.

I’m praying for all of you and your families!

Lift the burden of getting through the holidays with the help of our Heavenly Father who loves and adores each of us so much.

You matter. Your heartache matters. And God truly cares.

May each of you have a peaceful & beautiful holiday season!🎄❤️🎄

©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 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.**

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this brings hope and encouragement to all who read it!💗

“Grief Bites.”

Such a simple sentence…yet complex and filled with incredible pain.

My sister called me one morning while I was in deep grief to ask how I was doing.

“Grief Bites” is all I could mutter through my tears.

Little did I realize how a little two-word simple sentence would transform my grief…and be the start of a significant plan pre-orchestrated by God.

That one random phone call, that one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 3 published books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in over 150 countries, as well as several Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion (the Bible app that offers hope and encouragement to millions).

The morning my sister called me, we both were in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief.

I was going through multiple grief experiences – and my sister had just experienced the death of her fiancé.

I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life. I literally felt like I was “dead but couldn’t die”…as though all of my breath and “life” had been sucked out of my lungs and heart. Anyone who has experienced deep grief can completely understand the intense heartache I’m describing.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and three surgeries in hospitals in three cities and two different states for ten months
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members – one from my side of the family and one from my husband’s side – died on the same day
  • my husband deeply betrayed me and our marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had two cancer scares that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s 2nd fiancé suddenly died on Easter (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • key family relationships I dearly loved deeply changed due to my decision to stay married
  • a loved one battled major addiction
  • our family experienced deep wounding and hurt from our church … not just a little hurt – our son became an atheist, 12 family members dropped out of church, and a pastor we went to for counsel said it was the worst thing he’d ever heard of church staff doing to a family
  • a good friend committed suicide
  • a good friend died
  • a family member committed suicide
  • I became extremely ill out of nowhere – and although I was running 5 miles a day and didn’t change my diet, I went up 5 dress sizes within 3 months. I would eventually be diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness due to stress…and was bedridden for a lengthy time (I eventually found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)

With everything happening so quickly together, I felt incredibly defeated.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses…all within a short period of time…was very challenging…

…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down, have a pity party, and become – or worse, remain – a depressed mess. I had already been tempted to do that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

It was almost a “saving grace” that I had previously been through grief when I was younger. Grief had been second nature in my life since I was a child. In hindsight, I’m actually very grateful for the grief I went through while growing up because I don’t think I could’ve made it through my adult grief experiences without knowing what to expect through previous massive heartache.

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later
  • after my mom remarried, we moved twice within months
  • our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost everything. We ended up living in a motel for several months
  • my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, my siblings, and me…just because my mom was a widow with children
  • I lost two grandparents, my step-grandmother, two uncles, two friends, and an aunt to cancer
  • I was raped and ended up in the hospital in ICU where I almost died (my sister saved my life)
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident
  • I was in an abusive relationship in high school, so abusive I was pushed out of a speeding car just for wearing lipstick
  • a good friend died from suicide
  • a friend was murdered
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • a relative was murdered
  • my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city away from us for two years
  • my older sister’s 1st fiancé died (her fiancé was also one of my best friends)
  • and a few weeks later, my 22 year-old sister suddenly died on Thanksgiving

All of this before I was 20 years old…so I knew what grief could do. I understood the heartbreaking days and nights, as well as how difficult it could be to get through.

BUT this time was different.

I didn’t want to just try to “get over” my grief. This time, I was desperate to get through my grief…and truly understand.

As I already previously did (while growing up), I didn’t want to be forever mad at God and “life”…I actually needed to deeply and heart-wrenchingly take my tough questions to God so I could come to genuine peace with Him.

I didn’t want to live in the shadow of grief the rest of my life. I wanted to find a new way of life that made sense … a new way of life that held meaning and purpose.

Majority of the grief experiences we go through will never make sense, but I found that purpose and good can come out of any circumstance…if you allow life – and yes, even grief – to teach you lessons. They are not fun lessons, but they do hold tremendous value.

And eventually I learned, (ironically through my grief), that God IS good. So very, very good!

It didn’t magically happen overnight, but God did heal my heart from major grief and heartache.

God is a genius at healing a broken heart and repairing a crushed spirit.

God can turn a test into a testimony…a mess into a message…a trial into a triumph…a victim into a victor…

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I don’t count the grief events – any of the heartache – as a good thing…goodness no...but how grief shaped my heart and life purpose holds tremendous value to me. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today.

I must say…I initially turned against God due to all of the grief I endured while growing up. I went through major rebellion initially…but I eventually became a Christian and submitted my heart and life to God’s plan when I was 18 years-old.

A good friend had challenged me to rethink my grief…and all I thought about God. He challenged me to read the entire Bible and get to know God for myself.

I’ve never been the same since.

As I got to know God, He eventuality revealed an important truth: With each grief experience He entrusted to me, God was widening my understanding, empathy, and ability to deeply understand grief – and eventually help and encourage others.

After sharing with my sister those two life-changing words, “Grief Bites,” we began discussing how we could help encourage other grievers through the grief experiences we each had faced.

Right before this conversation, I had begun writing a book to help encourage my son, mom, sister, and other family members through their deep grief. I had years of journals I had written of all God had shown me through multiple grief journeys and I was doing an in-depth Bible study on grief, loss, trials, hardships, and life challenges.

While attending a family member’s out of town birthday party, I didn’t know many people there, so I took out my iPad and continued to write the grief book I was writing for my family.

My brother (who is a pastor) had a fellow pastor friend there. This friend approached me and asked what I was working on. After showing him the book I was working on, he encouraged me to submit my book into the Women of Faith Book Writing Contest.

I didn’t expect anything to happen or come of it…but then I received the news that my book was chosen as a Semi-finalist.

My book, Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You, was published and was given out at two Women of Faith Conferences.

With my book, ministry, blog, YouVersion plans, and anything else I do, I take absolutely no credit. It is all God. I give God all of the credit and glory. I’m just a good listener who writes all the Lord shows me. And all of my book royalties are (and always have been) poured back into local grief communities and churches.

God (through grief) has taught me incredibly powerful lessons I never could have hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better Christ-follower, spouse, mom, aunt, family member, friend, neighbor, grief coach, and church member due to my grief. My compassion, mercy, understanding, and ability to communicate with grievers was deeply developed through each grief experience I faced and – with the grace of God – overcame.

It is also through my grief experiences I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

Although extremely painful to go through, I finally (and through a lot of hard work) came to a place of peace with each grief experience.

So why blog, write, and speak about grief?

Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief — And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too.

And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grievers need hope, and to know how to travel through the treacherous roads of grief to get to the other side.

Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few months or years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down though…it can become one of the greatest catalysts of growth you’ll ever experience.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes grief recovery efforts to get to that point.

I count it a privilege to coach hurting people through that overwhelmingly tough journey.

I also talk about grief because there is a great need for grievers to share their experiences to help others who are going through grief. It is also helpful for grievers to help others who have never been through grief to better understand.

Like Pastor Rick Warren says: Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog – as well as my book, YouVersion plans and other Grief Bites resources – is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart…anyone who feels like their breath and life have been sucked out of them — yet they still want to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

I hope something I write encourages someone. I hope it allows someone to obtain the hope they need to move on press forward in spite of the heartbreak they have experienced.

Notice I drew a line through “move on” because anyone who has been through deep grief knows how frustrating that phrase can be.

I say “press forward” because if you are going through intense grief, it has to be a personal choice to press forward with everything you’ve got. I am NOT suggesting forgetting about your treasured loved one(s). In fact, I am a HUGE advocate of honoring a loved one’s memory. I don’t believe in “Goodbye”; I believe in, “See you later!”…I’ll write more about this in the days to come.

By pressing forward after you have thoroughly grieved, you’ll prevent additional loss, guilt, and regrets from entering your life. If you stay still or stagnant in your grief, or ignore it, more loss develops…and then you will have so much more to deal with later on…and grief will have damaged your heart and life further than you want it to.

Don’t allow grief to choose for you how you are going to live the remainder of your life. Grief does not deserve to make that decision for you. The only thing you should allow grief to do is cleanse your heart and teach you lessons…and the lessons are certainly there.

Choose TODAY to embrace and thoroughly go through your grief so you are truly able to create the life you want to live in the years to come.

It will NOT be easy.

There is no such thing as “neatly” grieving or a one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-style of grieving…there are no rainbows, unicorns, or cotton candy in grief recovery. Nope, it is messy. It will most likely be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do…but one day you’ll look back and be so very grateful you worked through your grief and embraced it.

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day.

Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life.

I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can…in time…when you are able to…because life (and enjoying loved ones) is the best adventure on earth. There is nothing like fully experiencing life. And there is no time to waste.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief.

Yes, there will be dark colors on that canvas…but there can also be – with God’s grace and healing – colors of light…perfectly blended together in total depth and beauty.

The very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

It will take time and you will know when your heart is ready. It is very helpful to join a grief group and talk to a trusted and respected pastor/counselor too.

Grief bites.

It certainly does…

…but with God, we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

©2014 / 2018 by 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

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

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

💕Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): Click here for book

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day: 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.

Choosing To Make Every Day A Celebrated Day Throughout Grief

Life is made up of days.

Most people typically describe their day as one of the following:

  • Good
  • Bad
  • Great
  • Fantastic
  • Lovely
  • Terrible
  • Sad
  • Frustrating
  • “Fine”
  • and every other adjective known to mankind

You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”

Especially not in grief.

When most people think of the word celebration, they think of birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, won sporting events – all of the happy occasions.

These celebrations are easy. They’re all smiles, fun, and enjoyable circumstances. No effort needed at all.

But what about when life gets hard? Really, really hard?

Celebrating every day during grief is much more challenging – but I have found it is equally needed.

The past 10 years, I have been through intense grief…over 30 major grief experiences – including my son’s tumors and surgeries, several family members being diagnosed with cancer, 13 family members dying, and experiencing six close friend’s deaths, my son being greatly wounded by his church and choosing atheism as a result, a family suicide, among other grief events. I’ve also been diagnosed with several autoimmune illnesses throughout this time due to the stress.

There has been extreme anguish throughout this past decade. Debilitating grief and prolonged hardships are all very tough to go through.

When you initially go through intense grief, you don’t feel like celebrating. A good day is holding it together and concealing your tears so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. For some who go through grief, a good day is simply mustering up the courage and energy just to get out of bed.

About half way into all of these grief events, I became concerned that I’d never feel genuine happiness again.

Thankfully, I found happiness and joy are both a choice.

Before you discontinue reading the rest of this blog post, please keep reading on. I understand how annoying that statement sounds. Truly!

It used to majorly annoy me when people would say that happiness and joy were choices…

…until I heard a dear bereaved mother who had lost her adult son to suicide say, “Choose joy!

Before Kay Warren said those two words, I always thought people were very insensitive to say that joy and happiness were a choice. But when someone can say these words in the midst of excruciating heartache, such as Pastors Rick and Kay Warren, I’ll listen to them.

Because it’s genuine. It’s real. It’s hard-fought. It’s extremely authentic.

I have found that joy and happiness are definitely choices…choices I now intentionally choose every day of my life.

I have also found that choosing to celebrate each day is also a choice.

Before grief, the words joy and celebrate hold much different definitions. These words were easy. Blissful. Comfortable, even.

After grief, you find these two words hold brand new meaning. They’re hard-fought treasures that you had to walk through emotional hell on earth to obtain.

I can’t go back and change anything that has happened in life. I can’t change the heartache and grief I’ve experienced. I can’t bring my loved ones back to life. I can’t undiagnose illness. I can’t undo other people’s hurtful or devastating decisions that led to massive consequences.

I do have complete choice and control over my own personal decisions, though.

Although I would definitely go back in time and change some things…and I most definitely would reverse my loved ones deaths if I could…I wouldn’t give up any lesson I’ve learned through the incredible teacher of Grief.

I have learned a phenomenal amount of life lessons as I embraced my grief.

At first, I saw grief as something that ripped my heart out and was holding it hostage…but as I chose to embrace my grief, the lessons came pouring in. I didn’t embrace my grief at first – I resented it greatly. I am thankful I opened my heart to the rich lessons I have learned, though.

Deep heartache and loss attempted to define my life…I, in turn, sought to allow grief to redefine – and refine – my life instead.

Through many tears, grief allowed me to see things clearer.

I think very differently.

I feel things at a much greater level and have a much higher capacity of intuitiveness.

I have found that the experience of life is viewed, felt, and experienced at a much higher quality.

I’m different, too. Very different than who I once was.

And I am much stronger.

I absolutely do not celebrate any grief event I’ve been through…but I do celebrate the many byproducts – all hard-fought and earned – that I have gained throughout my grief.

A few I most treasure:

  • A much closer, genuine, authentic, and more intimate relationship with God
  • The strength I’ve gained through grief and hardships
  • The ability to clear away the mundane and focus on who and what truly matters in life
  • The incredible ability to love and appreciate my family at a far higher level
  • The depth that is created through hardships and grief…I am no longer comfortable being shallow in any area of life
  • The wisdom, discernment, and understanding you gain through grief
  • The ability to be grateful… genuinely grateful … for everything in life
  • The ability to be a good “read” on people very quickly and the ability to discern even the most subtle emotions of others
  • The ability to appreciate and celebrate each day – regardless of what I’m going through (this gift took years to achieve)

These are just a few of many “gifts” I have received throughout grief. They’re not gifts you’d ever expect…and nobody in their right mind would willingly sign up for grief or hardships to gain them…but they are very precious gifts, nonetheless.

Focus is key in creating a celebration mindset. What you focus on is where your heart will be…and each day, I am given an important choice: If I focus on all of my loss, I will most likely live a life of loss. If I focus on even the smallest celebrations of the day, I’ll live a life of continual, intentional celebration.

I’m not suggesting to bypass grief or that a celebration mindset will remove grief. Absolutely not! Each griever must be true to their grief and thoroughly experience it. To not do that would be to cheapen grief and dishonor loved ones. I still experience grief, sadness, and missing treasured loved ones – for sure, I just also simultaneously choose to experience joy and allow celebration into my daily life.

I have found it helpful … even lifesaving … to balance grief and celebrating the gifts God and life still have to offer.

Each “gift” leads you to the unmistakable truth that every day can be a celebrated day.

Every day is a great day to be alive.

Every day is a fantastic day that you have the exquisite and exclusive gift of being able to love, talk to, share life with, and hug your remaining loved ones. Remaining loved ones truly are an extravagant miracle if you seriously think about it.

Every day offers the new ability to learn more. Know more. Understand more. Empathize more. The more you learn, know, understand, and empathize, you are then able to do better.

Every day allows you to seek and find fresh new strength…and new ways of creating the best “new normal” you not only initially muster – but eventually enjoy.

Every day is an opportunity to enjoy God, remaining loved ones, work, nature, hobbies, adventures, and the simple things in life like working out, savoring a great cup of coffee, enjoying pets, appreciating music, and the ability to set and achieve goals.

Life, no matter what we go through, is the best adventure – an adventure not afforded … or continued … to all. I have found the best way to honor my loved ones (both the deceased and my remaining loved ones) is to honor them by celebrating life.

Just having the breath of life is an extravagant gift…and that is definitely something to celebrate every single day.

The very best days of life may not have even happened yet. On my toughest days, this is a truth I focus on.

Each day – no matter how excruciatingly tough it is – is a choice. We have the ability to squander life or create the life we want…and we make this very important choice each and every day. And this makes every day an opportunity to make the choice of making every day a celebrated day.

Will there be extremely hard days? Yes. Will there be heartbreaking days you dread, where you feel like your grief could literally consume and destroy you? Absolutely!

But with each daily decision to press forward through the pain– and truly see each celebration offered throughout each day, life can eventually be the true celebration you choose and want it to be.

It may take time…maybe even lots of time…but it is possible.

A quote I’d like to encourage you with:

“Although I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living…purposefully.”

How can you choose to make each day a celebrated day?❤️🎁

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

The Day My Mom Could’ve Royally Lost It

When I was in kindergarten, after my dad died, I got to spend about four hours each morning with my mom.

I’m from a large family so I especially loved this special time…particularly because no siblings were around. I sure enjoyed the close friendships my siblings and I shared…but getting my mom all to myself was the best!

I was the kiddo who all of the neighbors knew from either me picking flowers from their gardens (to surprise them with bouquets…oops!) or from me stopping by their house just to chat. I was the kiddo who ran around barefoot, loved being outdoors, singing and dancing – a very free spirit!

My free-spirited personality got me into trouble a few times while growing up.

Like the time I thought I was a chef…even though my mom had only taught me to cook one time.

On one warm day, when it was just my mom and me, we decided to go grocery shopping and then we came home to go swimming. After we swam, my mom went to get some dry clothes on so she could start lunch. I love my mama so I thought I’d surprise her by making lunch for her. After all, she was teaching me how to cook and had just showed me how to use a can opener the day before…Yikes!

By the time she had gotten out of the shower and got ready for the rest of the day, I had used majority of the items we had just bought at the store…and many of the other food items and beverages we had in the refrigerator and pantry, too.

I had gotten out the biggest bowl we owned, put every ingredient I knew my mom liked into it, and surprised my mom with a special lunch that I called, “Pig Soup.”

All in all, it was probably about $100 worth of ingredients.

I’ll stop right here and give a HUGE accolade of gratefulness to my mom for not killing me that day. Seriously.

My mom could’ve yelled at me or disciplined me…after all, she was in the midst of grief and learning how to live without my dad while raising four children…but she could see that my little five-year-old heart was just trying to surprise her by doing something especially nice to please her.

My little heart had no idea what money was, or what food waste was…I just knew how much I loved and adored my mama and wanted to make her happy. I wanted to show off my cooking skills to impress her.

So that very day, “Pig Soup” was created, and for the last few decades, my family has lovingly brought that day to my memory by teasing me about it on more than one occasion.

My mom could’ve completely (and understandably) royally lost it and crushed my heart that day, but she celebrated my creative attempt to surprise and please her instead.

Pig Soup.

My very first recipe I ever created…I was so exceptionally proud of myself. My attempt to cook and create something special was – thankfully – lovingly celebrated.

My mom had a choice to berate me or celebrate me that day. I’m glad she was careful to see the joy in my eyes instead of making those same eyes cry.

My brave mom was a trooper…she even took a bite of the Pig Soup I created just for her.

My husband and I were talking about the Pig Soup incident the other day, and he said, “I wonder what would’ve happened had your mom handled that wrong? I wonder how much that would’ve changed who you are…your creativity…your cooking…your love to do nice things for others? Would you ever have even wanted to cook again or surprise others like you love to do if your mom had yelled at you for that?”

We each have multiple opportunities in any given week to choose wisely or poorly in how we respond or react to others…especially our spouse, children, and families.

And just like my Pig Soup incident, every situation in life has the power to bring out the best – or bring out the worst – in others or within ourselves.

We all have a heart that gets written on every single day of our lives…by our loved ones…ourselves…and by everybody around us. And we write upon every precious heart we come into contact with, too.

I learned a lot that day from my mom after she unknowingly made a long-lasting impact by choosing to write mercy, love, kindness and grace onto my little heart. I learned that day how to be merciful to others, to see past mistakes, and to (most importantly) look at the intentions of a person’s heart instead of instantly reacting.

Life is about loving God and others, enjoying every moment life has to offer, challenging ourselves to become better every day, making a difference in our loved ones’ lives, and being responsible with our words and actions.

Sometimes, I miss the mark…but you “live and learn” while finetuning your talents and continually discovering, celebrating, and bettering life!

People – especially children – are such an incredible and treasured gift! It is so important to treat people as well as we possibly can.

What are we writing on our loved ones’ hearts each day? What about our clients and other people we serve?

Are we writing mercy, love, kindness, acceptance, and grace onto their hearts? Or are we scribbling harsh words that can negatively change who they are as a person?

We can’t do anything to change the past, but we can choose to be much more careful with how we treat others from this day forward.

Positive … or negative.

Loving … or unkind.

Edifying … or wasteful.

Peaceful … or chaotic.

Accepting … or rejecting.

Celebrating … or berating.

Encouraging … or disheartening.

Constructive … or destructive.

Uplifting … or degrading.

The memories we create, the words we “write” on people’s hearts, and the legacy we leave is our choice!

Let’s make them royally grand!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships

: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

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

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

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

Relief From Grief

Throughout my grief journeys, I’ve always purposely ensured I take the time to care for myself – spirit, mind, heart, body, and soul.

I also have trained myself to continue pursuing my hobbies and interests during these tough times (even if I don’t feel up to it) because they offer a way to blow off steam, relax, or create enjoyment … which is so very needed during times of grief.

I call these times, “My relief from grief.”

Some of my favorite things to do are: spend time with God, my loved ones, and our family’s dogs, take time for self improvement (read, reflect, plan / implement self-improvement, journal), watch a good movie, go get a great cup of coffee, sit by the fire and listen to some good acoustic music, go lift weights, do tae kwon do, go on a run, listen to my favorite music playlists, cook/bake, and go to the shooting range to shoot guns. All of these have the ability to improve my mood greatly!

During a few grief experiences, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Life and grief had knocked me down…and I initially just felt like tapping out and doing absolutely nothing.

After awhile though, I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I’ve always thought of life as the greatest gift and best adventure. I didn’t want to waste the precious gift of life, the time I could be spending with my remaining loved ones, or the time I have here on earth.

I knew I had to embrace my grief and find a new strength so I’d have the ability to grow through my heartache and eventually press forward.

It’s painful pressing forward and creating a new normal. As you do so, you realize you’re taking steps forward away from the previous pre-grief life you once knew and lived. With each new memory made, you know that your loved one wasn’t there to be a part of the memory. It feels wrong.

I didn’t like the feeling of embracing my grief and eventually pressing forward at all … but I also knew I was hideously miserable staying stagnant. I also knew my loved ones loved seeing my smile and joy while they were here on earth – just as much as I loved seeing their smiles and joy while they were here with me– and I know they’d never want me to stay continually or permanently depressed.

So I chose to get up.

I remember someone telling me, “Every day you wake up, immediately make your bed and go wash your kitchen sink.”

I thought this advice was odd, but I committed to doing those two things.

The first day I cleaned my sink, I could’ve probably cleaned the sink with just my tears. They were heavily dripping from my face.

Then as the days went by, I found myself crying less, and I felt much stronger. It’s ridiculous, but doing those two small things really made a big difference.

Seeing how much relief simply making a bed and cleaning a sink created, I decided to do more activities…even though my emotions weren’t into it.

When you go through a tough grief experience, it’s truly like you’ve been born into a new life…and you have to learn how to navigate everything around you all over again.

You navigate through the tough terrain of raw, unpredictable emotions…through the toughest days of your life…through the times you literally feel as though you can’t breathe…to learning how to live without the loved one(s) that you absolutely adored, loved, cherished, treasured, and enjoyed. You navigate through the sinking quicksand of all of the dreaded “firsts” too: the birthdays (theirs and yours), the holidays, special occasions, important events, anniversaries, vacations, and the incredibly dreaded anniversary of the death date.

It’s a true suckfest.

But then you start to realize that you don’t have to permanently say, “goodbye”…you have the choice to instead say, “I’ll see you later.”

You can find relief from your grief not just by merely investing in your own hobbies, but you can incorporate their favorite hobbies and enjoy doing some of their favorite activities in their memory and honor, too.

You also find that you don’t have to be sad when you talk about your loved one…you can fondly remember – and even smile, find joy, and laugh about– all of the fantastic, fun, and heartfelt memories you will forever hold in your heart!

Ultimately, I know my loved ones greatest wish for me (as well as their wish for all of their other loved ones) is the exact same thing I’d want for my loved ones when my time comes: they want for each of us to be happy, healthy, inspired, and whole.

And a part of feeling happy, healthy, inspired, and whole is finding activities that bring much needed relief from grief.

What activities and hobbies bring – or previously brought – your heart joy?

Which activities or hobbies of your treasured loved one would you enjoy doing in their honor and memory? What activity do you think they’d recommend you do?

What ways can you find relief from your grief this week?

Each week (or month), set aside four special appointments/times: one to do something special with just God…one for just you to do a hobby you love…one to do an activity in your loved one’s honor…and one to do something special with your remaining loved ones.

Obviously, grief will still be present as you do these activities, but as I started to do these activities, I imagined my grief was a ball. I’d set the “ball” down before I left to go invest in these four specific appointments, knowing I’d pick the ball back up once I returned.

Finding relief from your grief can truly be one of the very best gifts of strength you can give to yourself during tough times.

I know it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve given to myself during my times of grief!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

Never.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🌷

Grief & Holidays ~ helpful tip #1

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

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

As I share (in these next holiday posts) what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, meaningful, and eventually enjoyable holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all who read these helpful tips will be encouraged and comforted!

Grief can definitely make the holidays excruciatingly painful to get through…but there truly is hope.

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

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

My first holiday tip is:

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

Do not put on yourself the extra pressure of having the “perfect” holidays.

Just like you are having to create a “new normal” in day-to-day life, you may need to create a “new holiday season” – or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season, too.

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

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

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

• Suddenly, the tree that used to shine bright holding treasured ornaments and memories can now bring about intense sadness.

• Baking treats and making favorite dishes you used to bake or make for a loved one who is no longer here can now bring about incredible heartache.

• Old familiar traditions can now bring intense pain or anxiety.

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

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

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

It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the death of a loved one, adultery or divorce, miscarriage/infertility, financial or job loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, physical or mental illness of a loved one, addiction issues, family rebellion or estrangement, illness, or other painful losses.

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

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

Some grievers may be able to do all of their usual holiday traditions, while others may not…BOTH are perfectly fine!

Pray about and consider what you need to do, or not do, this holiday season and come to a place of peace about it.

It doesn’t mean it will always be like this…(just because you choose something this year doesn’t mean it will be cemented forever)…it simply means you are doing what you need to do THIS holiday season to make it through the holidays.

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

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

Ideally, it is best to come to decisions where your grief is genuinely honored…while also factoring in honoring your time with remaining loved ones.

Just like there is no such thing as “cookie cutter” grief, not every griever or family will handle the holidays the exact same way either. Each must communicate and find what’s best for their own individual family. It may include fully celebrating holidays as usual…or changing things up a little…or beginning a few new traditions…or completely changing everything this year…or going out of town, on a vacation, or to visit family who live out of town for a change of scenery. There are many ways to create a peaceful, meaningful holiday during times of grief.

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

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

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

…You don’t “get over it”…

…You can’t go around it…

…You can’t fly above it…

…You have to go through it…

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

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

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

It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time, effort, and grace to work out a broken heart and to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.

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

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

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

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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