Tag Archive | living life to the fullest

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

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

This wasn’t a foreseen problem…

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

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

Rocky – 1

Kim – 0

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

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

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

I could hear a few people laughing.

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

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

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

So what are blind spots and pitfalls?

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

Pitfalls – a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty.

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

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

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

And I always tell them to be completely honest!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When people give you feedback, listen.

Truly listen.

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

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

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

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

    It is a gift!

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

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

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

    Better decisions = better life & relationships

    …And absolutely a better YOU!

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

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    The Important Question To Ask Yourself Every Single Night

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

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

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

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

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

    After my 20’s, I experienced the illnesses and the deaths of over a dozen family members. I also experienced my son’s tumors and surgeries, as well as my own illness. Last year alone, six family members were battling cancer at the same time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • family issues
    • marriage issues
    • problems in relationships
    • grief experiences
    • financial difficulties
    • work challenges
    • illness/health issues
    • temptations
    • wrong friendships
    • unwise romantic relationships
    • wrong attitudes and beliefs
    • unexpected life challenges
    • this list could go on and on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    The Vital Superpower You Must Create Daily

    Growing up, my siblings and I lived for Saturday mornings! Cartoons and bowls of cereal – or doughnuts if we were super lucky – were the highlight of our week!

    We never missed watching the popular cartoon, Super Friends. We loved watching the plot unfold and never failed to be impressed by how their super powers saved the day.

    My husband also enjoyed watching comic character based TV shows and movies during his childhood. Since the first year we met, my husband and I have always randomly connected our fists and said, “Wonder Twin powers activate”…and then we say two random objects to transform into (if we can’t think of anything original or funny, an eagle and a bucket of water is our favorite cliche go-to). It’s our little inside joke and a fun way to quickly connect and add humor to our relationship.

    Our adult son is also a huge comic fan. ComicCon with my son is a fun tradition as well! And with my son, you only make the mistake once…just once, I tell you…with saying the characters are in the wrong universe. I’ve learned throughout the years that Batman is not in the Marvel group and the Hulk is not DC…I found this out when my son slowly shook his head one day and said, “How are you even my mother not knowing who belongs to which universe?”😂

    I’m sure many of you loved cartoons while growing up and are comic fans, too!

    So how about that ending of the latest Avengers movie…😡

    Just kidding…we won’t even go there!

    I think most kiddos, at one point or another during their childhood, have dreamed about having super powers – the ability to have supernatural strength or do something extraordinary and powerful!

    What if I told you that you do have the ability to do something extraordinary and powerful…and gain insurmountable strength every single day.

    I don’t know anyone who can lift an airplane with one hand…but I do know of some family members and friends who can lift the entire mood of a room.

    I don’t know of anyone who can smash through brick walls…but I do know of some who can smash through some very concrete hard obstacles.

    I don’t know of anyone who can transform like the Wonder Twins (well, other than my hubby and me🤗), but I do know of some family and friends who have powerfully transformed their lives – at a miraculous level, with God’s help – after they experienced debilitating grief or tough circumstances.

    If I could pinpoint these amazing abilities down to one superpower, then that superpower would be the power of positivity.

    In life, and also grief, you learn just how incredibly important positivity is.

    We all develop one of two things intentionally or by default every single day: positivity or negativity.

    I’m not talking about fluffy, cheesy, fake positivity as philosophical annoying babbles of positive cliches are spoken.

    Cliches such as, “Fake it until you make it”…”They’re in a better place”…”Look at the bright side”…”Find the silver lining”…”There’s a light at the end of every dark tunnel”…

    I think these are positive attempts at helping others (or even ourselves) feel better – and these statements may even be true – but I don’t consider these statements authentic positivity.

    I think to gain genuine positivity, you must (majority of the time) go through life challenges. Positivity (along with other character attributes) are hard-earned treasures God grants those who go through extremely dark, deep waters.

    “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” ~Isaiah‬ ‭45:3‬

    When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.” ~Isaiah‬ ‭43:2‬ ‭

    Positivity isn’t just developed through trials or suffering, positivity is also a choice.

    It is sometimes extremely difficult to be positive during certain situations. Notice I didn’t say about situations…but during situations. There are some circumstances – such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or other tough loss – that there isn’t much positivity to be found.

    Positivity is like a muscle…it initially can hurt as you develop it, it can wear you out, but with each decision to grow and expand positivity, you find new strength. After awhile, it becomes as second nature as breathing. Just as muscle is best developed through grit, positivity is highly developed through grief, trials, perseverance, and choice.

    I firmly believe that positivity is a superpower. It literally can make or break a life. Positivity, or a lack of, can dramatically build or destroy a relationship, goal, dream, or endeavor…it can make the difference between business and career success or failure. Positivity can create harmony and calm in marriages and families. It literally affects every area of life.

    Positivity isn’t tricking your mind into thinking everything is going to be okay…it’s training your mind to understand that you have a choice in the matter.

    It’s not fluffily believing that your best days are ahead of you…it’s pre-determining that you will do whatever it takes to ensure they will be.

    Positivity is not blindly pushing away or forgetting the past, past grief, or lost loved ones…it’s deciding you will learn valuable life lessons throughout these hard times and implement that hard earned wisdom in your future.

    Positivity is individually developed and decided…and needs to be guarded in the heart of each person.

    It gets you through the hard times.

    Sustains you through stagnant times.

    And continually builds an excitement for life and the days to come.

    So how do you develop positivity?

    A future blog post will share some of my favorite ways!

    Stay tuned…

    Gratitude and 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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    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.

    Throughout my lifetime, I have experienced an extraordinary amount of grief. I’ve been through three major waves of grief and through these waves (each wave lasting between 5-11 years of continual grief events), I’ve experienced…and learned…a lot.

    The past 10 years, I have been through intense grief…30 major grief experiences – including my son’s tumors and surgeries, ten 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, my husband experiencing a midlife crisis, a family suicide, among other grief events. I’ve also been diagnosed with several autoimmune illnesses throughout this time.

    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 that 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.” ~Kelli Horn, grief author

    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): https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    Never.

    Never give up your opinion just because someone steamrolls you with theirs.

    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 and concern are 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 allow anyone or anything to rob you of your joy.

    Never allow anyone access to or into your life if they don’t truly care about who you are and have the very best intentions for you.

    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 so someone else can pursue theirs.

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

    Never give up your 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 allow another person to interfere in your relationship with your spouse, child, parents, siblings, or other significant relationships.

    Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

    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 genuine love. These 3 things will always sustain you.

    Never feel bad about loving your kiddos and grandkiddos to the moon and back.

    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.

    Never blindly believe what you hear about others. So much of negative information is rooted in 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 be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

    Never bless someone with the expensive gift of trust – or another “knife” – after they’ve already carelessly stabbed you in the back.

    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. God will always love you more – and better – than anyone else ever can.

    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.

    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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    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 helps someone!

    “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 say through my tears.

    Little did I realize how such a little sentence would transform my grief.

    That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 2 published grief 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 143 countries, as well as five Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion that offer encouragement to millions of people.

    The morning my sister called me, I was in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief. I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life.

    In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

    • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and surgeries in hospitals in two different states
    • 3 of my son’s friends died
    • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
    • 2 family members died on the same day
    • my marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
    • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
    • my sister’s fiancé died suddenly (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
    • we lost our entire lifelong savings due to a then trusted person’s decisions
    • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed (grief can do that)
    • my son’s father suddenly died
    • I was diagnosed with a lifelong serious autoimmune illness due to stress

    I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.

    To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking marriage issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses within three short years 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 and remain a depressed mess. I had already done 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 while having a routine surgery
    • I lost my grandparents (and 2 uncles and an aunt) to cancer
    • a traumatic event happened when I was 12 years old, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
    • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident over Christmas break
    • one of my good friends died
    • a best friend died from suicide
    • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
    • my sister’s fiancé died (who was also one of my best friends)
    • I saw my 22 year old sister die after only being sick for 3 weeks

    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 2010 was different.

    I didn’t want to just “get through” my grief. This time, I was desperate to 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 and had 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 have value.

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

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

    The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today. Grief has taught me incredibly powerful lessons that I never could have ever hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better spouse, mom, family member, friend, and church member due to my grief. It is also through my grief experiences that I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many people 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 gratitude and peace with each and every grief experience.

    So why blog about it? Why talk 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 goes away. Unfortunately, grief velcroes itself to your heart. It’s. there. for. life. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times.

    Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes a lot of self work and grief recovery to get to that point.

    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.

    Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

    This blog 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 yet still wants 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 been through.

    Notice that 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 wanted 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 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.

    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. This is 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 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:

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

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

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

    ❤️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

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