Tag Archive | living life to the fullest

Be At Peace — Why Your Life & Grief Have Exquisite Value Exactly Today

Where you are today.

Exactly where you are today.

You may be in the depths of despair.
You may be a quarter of the way through your grief journey.
Perhaps you’ve thoroughly been through several grief journeys, have found healing, and are currently loving/encouraging others through their pain.

No matter where you are, right now, today…
..you and your grief have great value.
Exactly where you are today.

There are multiple layers of grief – and multiple people who are grieving around you…you may not even realize who they are.
And somebody desperately needs your encouragement, your story, and your perspective.

Today…choose one day out of each week…to simply be at peace where you are in your grief, create peace in your life, and offer that same peace to others.

Instead of trying to figure out grief…let’s instead make peace with exactly where we are and just take the time to offer love, encouragement, and understanding to those around us and online.

The beautiful thing about life – and grief – is we don’t have to be fully healed or have fully arrived at healing to offer hope and empathy.

There are few things more important than love, empathy, encouragement and hope. Offering these rare, exquisite gifts can make all the difference in the world.

Who can you offer hope, love, empathy and encouragement this week?

How can you create more peace and loving acceptance for your own grief journey and heart today?

Ask God to pour His love, peace, encouragement and hope into you, and to make your heart sensitive to those around you who are hurting.
You never know how God can use you to help others who are drowning in their grief.

Your grief experience has far more value than you can possibly know…EVERY layer of it…

…you are going to be an absolute jewel to those who are hurting.

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s $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.

Getting HOPE & The Best Days Of Your Life Back After Grief, Loss, & The Pandemic

Discouragement. Fear. Heaviness of heart. Defeat. Guilt. Regret. Weariness. Anxiety. Turmoil. Fear of the future. Depression. Uncertainty.

There are many feelings that can weigh down and haunt the soul, especially with what all is currently going on in the world.

Many of the feelings that haunt the soul are competitors…they’re competing to knock out your peace, joy, and HOPE.

Due to the pandemic, the world has dramatically changed in just a few months – and in some places, just a matter of weeks or days.

Most of us were enjoying life and loved ones, feeling hopeful about a strengthened economy, and were looking forward to better and brighter days – our best days yet…

…then the rug below was harshly ripped out from underneath us.

We’ve helplessly watched people – even loved ones – suffer. Some have even experienced the death of a treasured loved one. Many are going through financial/job fear and hardship like never before. We’ve watched fear, worry, and anxiety spike…as hope, peace, and faith in the future rapidly fall.

With this pandemic, COVID-19 will affect you in one of three ways: it will seek to massively weaken your (or a loved one’s) health and lungs by infecting your ability to breathe…it can seek to literally and permanently kill your (or a loved one’s) breath causing death…or it will attempt to steal your breath in “life” from you – your hope, faith, relationships, finances, your trust in God – everything you love about life.

I’m so very sorry for all who have experienced the death of a loved one, for all of my readers’ heartache, and all the world is going through. My heart hurts badly for everyone.

I’ve thought a lot about this pandemic…this terrible intruder that continues to affect the lives of so many. I’ve had a lot of extra time to think. Being at home, not being a big TV watcher, and work being affected which has opened up several hours – time seems to be in abundance right now.

We’ve all wanted more time, desperately wanted more hours in our day, but this is not the way we wanted to gain them.

A few days ago, with this new time, I decided to deep clean. Having been affected by cancer, I came across a quote a friend had given me:

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

(by Dr. Robert L. Lynn)

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

With what is going on in the world, it is so very important we all remember a huge truth: nothing on earth – no grief…no pandemic…no disappointment…no financial challenge…no hurts…no loss…no uncertainty…no heartache…none of it can take away any of the things mentioned in the cancer quote above. None of it can take away God’s love or sovereignty, or our life purpose. Nothing.

Re-read the quote above and insert the word of what you’re presently going through (all you are being affected by or are worrying about) to replace the word cancer. For example:

COVID-19 is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

OR…

Grief…illness…financial loss…divorce…(or whatever)…is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Grief, pandemics, illness, divorce, marriage/family issues, addiction, financial loss/hardships, relationship difficulties, life challenges, rejection — any struggle in life — NONE of these terrible events have the true capacity to defeat you…so don’t allow them that sacred privilege to damage, defeat, or negatively affect you or your soul. Each of these things can do a real number on you…for sure…but it’s up to us to limit their influence and damage.

Sucky life events steal and take away so much from us…but do not ever allow life events to destroy you, your relationship with God, family, or loved ones, or destroy your heart or soul. Never allow anything to destroy your hope.

We can’t completely control grief, loss, or the hard things in life…but we can decide how we will get through each event.

We can choose to be hope-filled…or defeated. And it’s normal if we go back and forth as we continually try to navigate what life has thrown at us. If we want to have better days, we need to continually choose hope if we are going to make it through the tough times.

How do we press forward — especially when our soul is tired?

A little story. It’s a small story, but I hope you’ll find it useful.

When I was in high school, one of my good friends was in a fight. The person who chose to start the fight didn’t give my friend an advantage. Not even a warning. Not at all. My friend was significantly smaller than their opponent and had no idea they were even going to be punched that day. And there wasn’t just the opponent…the opponent brought several friends along with them.

After being punched…my friend, in response, threw a huge, fast, and hard punch back. It just about knocked the opponent out. I was shocked…I bet my friend was shocked…and the opponent and his friends were definitely shocked. The punch allowed my friend to get us out of a bad situation so we’d be safe.

That lil bit of unprecedented courage made an impact: my friend is now a leader in the military. He credits that day with changing his life.

Totally not advocating violence…not at all…but the principle here is a great analogy for life challenges and grief. We will all be sucker punched out of nowhere by an unexpected life event…we won’t even know what hit us…but instead of quitting or accepting defeat, we need to dig deep to find unprecedented courage and punch life challenges back. Huge. Fast. Hard.

Life challenges and grief rob so much from us…do not allow it to rob you further by stealing more of your life, allowing it to get you to quit, or giving up your hope.

Feel what you need to feel. Get through those harsh emotions and horrible days. Learn all you can through any bad event life throws your way. Allow the events to teach you the lessons you didn’t sign up for…but do not ever tap out. Fight with everything you have to get your breath back after life has knocked it out of you.

We will get through these tough days. We may lose a lot along the path of figuring out this new normal and getting our breath back…we each have a long road ahead of us…but life can be good once again. It can definitely be good once again because we will choose for it to be good. We’re not going to allow bad events to choose for us what the quality of our life is going to be. We’re not going to allow life challenges, this pandemic, or grief to decide that for us. It’s already chosen so much for us…now it’s time to start taking the choices – especially choosing to build a quality life – back. We each get to choose what life is going to be now.

Don’t lose hope or faith.

Don’t lose your most prized relationships: God and family…your best loved ones.

Choose today that no matter what you go through, you will choose hope. You will choose to rebuild. You will choose to create.

Building life back up after a major loss is rarely easy…it’s truly painful…but six months from now…one year from now…five years from now…a decade from now…we will look back and be grateful we intentionally chose hope – and to create a good life in spite of monumental challenges. We’ll be thankful we chose to fight to get the breath back that this pandemic – or any other situation of grief – attempted to knock out of us.

What are the steps you need to take today to get your breath and life back? What choices need to be made so you can create the new in your future instead of continually getting lost in the old of the past? What has punched you…and what do you need to punch back huge, fast, and hard? What lessons need to be learned, implemented, and honored during this extraordinarily tough time?

We’ll each get there. I know this because you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t have the courage, desire, and tenacity for life change.

Take one step at a time. Continually look at your personal situation, assess and reassess each facet of life, regroup as much as needed, know ahead of time that tough days will continue and happen, allow God to strengthen you, and search for any way to improve your quality of life with God’s grace and help.

Just a note of strong encouragement here: This is the ultimate time for change. When life is hard, it steers us – forces us – into new territory. We don’t like being steered into a new direction…most of us inwardly kick, scream, and resent it…yet it’s the most opportune time to do a true life assessment in every area: relationships, work/career, family, marriage, education/trade, health, etc. Thinking outside the box will undoubtedly lead to new innovation and invention. Ask God what He wants to do through you. Ask Him for major creativity and unprecedented ways to improve life and ways to better help others. All inventions throughout history were created out of times of hardship, uncertainty, or finding ways to better meet a need in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing what new technology, business, and opportunities – as well as life, health, and relationship improvements – will be born out of this time of unparalleled challenge and change.

We have a lot to look forward to.

Several years ago, at a conference in Chicago, I heard a great quote from Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” A small sentence that packs a great big punch. We can all look backwards…and it’s important to do so periodically to learn and not forget…but our best use of time is looking to where life potentially is going to be. That’s what will get us through, and out, of the insurmountable rut and challenging emotions we are all in.

No matter what happens in life, life is still an exquisite gift. The opportunity is there. It’s up to us…each and every day…to choose how to best unwrap the gift of life and enjoy it.

Praying for everyone in the world today. May we all seek God, always choose to do better, and live the absolute best life possible.

By the way…this week, take the time to read Romans 8. See what God has to say to your heart. He loves you and deeply cares about your life. God truly has the power to bring extreme good out of extremely bad circumstances. Ask Him to.❤️

~Kim

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

Related posts you might like:

❤️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 $3.19 book – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

50 Great Adventures & Activities To Do While Staying Home Due To COVID-19

With the Coronavirus keeping majority of us indoors, it’s a great opportunity to fully enjoy the extraordinary gifts of God, family, and home.

A note to parents: If you have children still at home, they’ll be watching to see how to handle these uncertain times. We can add to their already present stress (kiddos are great at sensing stress or conflict – even if a word is not said)…or we can choose to make this an extra special time of creating great memories that will stay with them for a lifetime.

If you don’t have kids, it’s a great time to get to know and enjoy your neighbors or spouse more. Life is so busy, it can be hard to connect. These activities are great for couples, too.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude, healing, & many blessings to you,

Kim

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.**

An 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 and thoroughly enjoying 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 almost died, 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…and experienced three major grief experiences that were so excruciatingly painful that very few loved ones know about. 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 have 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 or addictions
  • foolish decisions, guilts, & regrets
  • unwise romantic relationships and friendships
  • wrong attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs
  • unexpected life challenges
  • this list could go on and on

These distractions tempt to 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 and better 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 exquisite 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): 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.

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).

My adult son is 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…😡…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 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 sometimes will have to go through life challenges which will majorly cut the fluff. 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 though, 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 will you choose to create the superpower of positivity today?

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): 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

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)
  • 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 and was bedridden for several months (I finally found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)
  • a family member went through a midlife crisis (God healed the marriage and now other couples are helped in saving their marriages)

I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking 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
  • after my mom remarried, we moved twice within 9 months due to extended family conflict
  • our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost everything. We ended up living in a motel for several months while our home was being repaired
  • 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, step-grandmother, two uncles, and an aunt to cancer
  • I was raped, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
  • my high school boyfriend died during Christmas break
  • one of my friends died of cancer
  • my best friend died from suicide
  • a good friend was shot and killed
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city for two years
  • my sister’s fiancé died (who was also one of my best friends)
  • my 22 year old sister died 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 this time was different.

I didn’t want to just “get over” my grief. This time, I was desperate to get through it and 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. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me. Not the grief events…goodness no...but how my grief shaped my heart and life purpose. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today. With each grief experience, it widened my ability to eventually help others. 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, grief coach, 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 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 completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. 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. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down…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 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.

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 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 – 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

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

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

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.

🌷

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.

Rock – 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):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

    ⭐️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.

    Divorce Prevention: Questions To Ask Before Getting Married

    Marriage can be one of the most incredible experiences of your life…or it can truly drain and destroy your heart every. single. day.

    When starting my grief ministry, I was surprised by the amount of people who sought help for marriage, family, in-law, and dating relationship related grief issues. All of these types of relationships – especially in this day and age – can be stressful and cause an extreme amount of grief and conflict.

    Yet few consider the huge impact these relationships can have before taking the plunge.

    My adult son once told me a marriage joke: “There are three rings in marriage…the engagement ring…the wedding ring…then the suffering.”

    This was funny when I heard it..but it is an all-too-true reality for so many.

    My husband and I have been marriage coaches at our church the last several years. We also have many couples contact us now due to word-of-mouth and recommendations from couples who we have helped. With God’s grace, we have an over 90% success rate with helping couples to turn their relationship around, and it’s not because my husband and I have a perfect marriage. It’s because we experienced years of marital turmoil, and we also experienced many life, family, and grief experiences throughout our marriage – so we have gained priceless practical insight on how to help couples. We are also very real, authentic, honest, and transparent when we help others.

    When rebuilding our marriage, we found what worked…and what did not…and we are very open about what we learned.

    My husband and I have been together for almost three decades. During the first 14 years, our marriage was horrible…absolutely terrible. There were ten years we genuinely despised each other. We only stayed together because we didn’t want to ruin family members’ birthdays…or divorce around a holiday…or we had a vacation or special occasion coming up that we didn’t want to ruin for anyone. For me, it was also because I didn’t want all of our photo albums and home videos to turn from being a source of joyful memories for our family to being a visual source of pain – evidence of what “once was.”

    At our lowest point…I sought to improve myself and our marriage, as I deeply pondered how things got so bad.

    Nobody plans on things going bad, but it does happen…frequently. Too frequently. In fact, around 50% of marriages fail.

    Most people (my husband and myself included) get it backwards: we wear rose-colored glasses before we get married and then we wear magnifying glasses after saying, “I do.”

    It is much wiser to wear magnifying glasses while dating so you can truly make a solid decision about who you will be spending the rest of your life with…then wear rose-colored glasses after you get married.

    When someone gets married, it literally can affect everything in, and about, that person’s life…who they are, their joy, their relationship with God and others, their family, their health, their present or future children, finances, goals, dreams, job/education/career, beliefs, their self-esteem…everything. Since they are willingly placing their self…and their life…in a position of extreme vulnerability, it’s important to be very thorough in making sure they’re giving their heart and life to someone who truly deserves it.

    Nobody is perfect…that’s for sure. We all are a work in progress. We all have room for improvement. We all have a bad day here and there. Always. But there is a huge difference between being with a partner who is willing to work at figuring things out vs. a partner who will simply wear you out.

    Many people — like I stated earlier, one out of every two people — will either file for divorce or be served divorce papers…so it makes sense to ask a few very important questions before getting engaged or tying the knot.

    Consider these statistics:

    • The average marriage lasts 8.2 years
    • 45-50% of first marriages end in divorce
    • 67% of second marriages end in divorce
    • 74% of third marriages end in divorce
    • Nearly 60% of spouses admit to cheating…45% will go on to cheat again
    • The average divorce costs $15,000 to $30,000
  • BUT you can beat these odds with prayer, and a lil preparation and prevention.
  • A good marriage can be an incredible joy and blessing…but a bad marriage can negatively impact both spouses, their children, and both spouse’s families – and each person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health…sometimes for years!

    Contrary to popular belief, a gold band or diamond ring doesn’t have magical abilities. It doesn’t sprinkle pixie dust on the wearer’s finger and make them a magically better version of their self. Brides and grooms come “as is” – no warranty.

    Some go into marriage not only thinking they can change someone…they try to make the marriage or potential spouse “fit” their expectations.

    If a person has to force their foot into a glass slipper (marriage) to make it fit, they will, no doubt, have a very uncomfortable walk throughout their marriage…or worse, the glass slipper will eventually shatter and they’ll carry the scars for a very long time. And if someone is made to feel they never measure up, they, in turn, will resent their mate.

    So now that I’ve been a much needed Negative Nancy so far in this post, how about some positive statistics?😍

    • Married women are 30% more likely to rate their health as excellent or very good compared to single women
    • Married people report lower levels of depression and distress
    • Married people (over 50 years old) are more likely to maintain daily health routines like exercise, eating right, not smoking, and routinely receive annual health physicals
    • Married people are twice as likely to go to church as unmarried people
    • Marriage does more to promote life satisfaction than money, sex, or sometimes even children (source: Wake Forest University psychologists)

    Okay, so what if you’re already married and you believe you made a huge mistake or you think you married the “wrong” person? Please consider a few statistics:

    • 50% of those who divorce regret ending their marriage, and 80% of those who divorce during an affair regret the decision…so it is vital to talk to a trusted pastor or qualified marriage therapist before making the painful decision to separate or divorce
    • 86% of those who rated their marriage as “unhappy” reported having “improved” or even “great” marriages five years later after choosing to stay married
    • once you get married, your spouse becomes the “right” person. God has the incredible ability to heal your marriage

    At some point, I’ll write specifically about each of these questions, but for now, I’ll leave these questions without answers so each reader can come up with their own individual answers. As you read each question, be sure to also answer how your partner would answer or rate you if they were the one reading these questions.

    With any and every relationship, you must keep perspective and look at all viewpoints and sides!😊 It is an absolute must for both people to reflect on not just their partner, or their own individual wants and desires, but it is also important to reflect – and be real about – what both people are personally bringing to the relationship. It most likely will be a mixture of good strengths along with some flaws.

    Each person needs to do their own self-work to ensure they are continually becoming a skilled “master” of their relationship, instead of being the “disaster” of the relationship.

    We’re truly either an asset or a liability to our partner’s heart and wellbeing.

    There are also a few issues many do not consider before marriage that my husband and I frequently hear while coaching:

    • a spouse influences their partner to “write off” or limit their spouse’s time with their spouse’s parents, siblings, or family…then a family member dies…then the spouse who was influenced becomes extremely bitter towards their spouse.
    • a spouse makes more money than one spouse and holds it over the lesser paid spouse’s head.
    • when children are born, a spouse compares their spouse to their own parents.
    • a spouse changes direction in their life without considering how it will affect their spouse (moving, going into missions, etc.)

    There are many reasons – too many reasons to count – why a marriage can fail. These questions are designed to eliminate possibilities for divorce.

    While reading this list, you may be tempted to point fingers, argue with your partner, or dish out blame. That is not the goal of this blog post. The questions are a great opportunity to reflect on what self-work needs to be done by each individual, and it may reveal deficits so you can make an overall decision to either work toward a happier, healthier, and much more fulfilling relationship – or discover that you (or they) may need to upgrade your/their value…or if you choose to stay together, upgrade the value of your relationship together.

    In any bad or challenged relationship, it is rare if it is just one partner’s fault. Both people need to take responsibility for their part and work toward creating a “team” mentality together. When my husband and I were repairing our marriage, I shared with him, “Well, we’ve already found out what doesn’t work for our marriage…let’s now focus on finding out what will work.”

    The truth is: marriage – just like all relationships – are work…sprinkled with love, times of joy, memories and purpose.

    If you’re experiencing a bad time in your relationship or marriage, or you’re in need of good, solid, unbiased advice, there’s no shame in seeking out a qualified and trusted pastor or marriage therapist. My husband and I went to several before we found one who we both liked who could genuinely help us. To this day, we still go to this therapist when we run into issues we can’t easily resolve. The best advice he’s given is, “Treat one another how you would want to be treated and seek to improve yourself!”

    When tempted to think that it’s all one partner’s fault, it’s best to consider the impact – both the good and the bad – both are contributing. As my husband’s and my marriage therapist always says, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

    When my husband and I coach couples, usually one partner will initially drag their feet and truly dread it…until they realize they can custom create a marriage where they and their spouse both feel treasured and fulfilled.

    Your relationship and marriage is yours. You do not have to have a perfect marriage to be happy. You don’t even have to resolve every problem to get along and feel fulfilled. You are not required to pattern your marriage after anyone else’s marriage. You get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make your marriage exactly what you both want it to be!

    Before reading this list, take a few minutes to pray. Ask God to speak to your heart and to guide and direct your life and relationship.

    Realize there are probably some of these that your partner and you are not favorably doing, and one or both of you may not be up to par. This list simply reveals what needs to be worked on.

    Some of these may be high priorities for you both as a couple…some may not be. Each relationship – especially a marriage – needs to be custom created by the couple. Parents, siblings, friends, etc. certainly care…and a couple should prayerfully consider and contemplate the advice and wise counsel of anyone who cares about them…but at the end of the day, both people need to take ownership of their relationship and do what works for them.

    My husband and I wouldn’t have suffered as much turmoil in our marriage had we discussed a list of questions like this before we got married. We pray this list truly helps others to avoid the heartache and grief we experienced for so long.

    Marriage is definitely a huge decision and commitment. And lifetime love, joy, purpose, and commitment are the goals — for both you and your partner!

    Things To Ask Yourself Before Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level:

    1. Is your partner into you…really into you? (Are you truly into them?)

    2. Do you both love, honor, & fear God? Is your relationship with God the top priority…individually and as a couple? Are you comfortable praying together and encouraging each other spiritually?

    3. How do you both treat your own family? How do you treat each other’s family? How does their family treat you…how does your family treat them? Do you both respect and love your families? Are you both under authority…or are you rebellious? Are you both capable of leaving and cleaving (even though you will still love and respect your parents and families)? Will you (and your partner) be able to set solid boundaries after the wedding so your spouse and marriage truly come first?

    4. Are they mature, responsible, compassionate, caring, and kind? Are they bent towards mercy in how they deal with others? (Are you?)

    5. Do they – and will they – handle hardship, grief, and stress well? (How do you think you handle these things?) If either of you were to prematurely die, can you trust and depend on them to be compassionate to your family and treat them well (and if there are children, will they be fair to your parents/family)…or would there be conflict? 80% of couples will divorce after the death of a child. How people handle grief and tough situations is more important than most realize.

    6. Do they protect, respect, and honor you? (Do you seek to protect, respect, and honor your partner?)

    7. Are they loyal, faithful, and will they truly put you first? (Are you truly wiling to do and be these, too?) Are they prone to cheating? Has a parent cheated? If a parent has cheated, there is a greater likelihood a child will cheat if they’ve failed to forgive their parent.

    8. Do they have a solid ability to communicate, process, and work out problems/issues and restore harmony in the relationship? Are they good at taking the initiative to work problems out? Will you truly have a partner who invests in the relationship to prevent issues? (Do you communicate and work problems out well? Do you invest in the relationship and do your part to prevent issues?) Are you both willing to learn new communication and relationship skills?

    9. How do they consistently treat their parents/family, waiters/waitresses, store clerks, pets, children, and others? (How do you treat others?) How a person treats their parents/family/others is a solid indicator of how they’ll eventually treat you.

    10. Will they be a good parent…and will you want your kiddos to be just like them once they’re grown? (Will you…and would you…want your future children to emulate your life/actions/habits?)

    11. Are they forgiving or do they hold grudges? Are they a peacemaker? Are they vindictive? Are they mature and work issues out…or do they resort to immature tactics such as throwing fits, cussing, sweeping issues under the rug, ignoring problems, or doing the silent treatment? (How do you handle forgiveness issues?)

    12. Do they have their finances in order and have a stable job/work history – do they quit easy? (How about you?)

    13. Are you (or they) controlled by any addiction or toxic behaviors? Will either of you have a hard life due to these issues?

    14. Do they have anger, bitterness, or attitude issues? Do they “make people pay”? (Do you?) Are they humble or prideful?

    15. Have they unpacked their “baggage” in life – the unprocessed baggage their parents (knowingly or unknowingly) passed down to them, as well as their own – and do they continually seek ways to grow and improve their self? (Have you taken – and do you continually take – the steps to do this?)

    16. Have you or they ever cheated in a relationship…and if either has a history of infidelity, did you/they learn from it? If someone has cheated and failed to self-reflect to figure out why, they have an overwhelming chance of cheating again.

    17. Do they respect sex and are they respectful towards you in this area? Do they respect boundaries on social media? Do they make inappropriate comments about the opposite sex? Do they use premarital sex to entice you so you overlook issues or fail to see their personal flaws? (Are you respectful in these areas? Do you do these things?)

    18. If you were ever disabled or diagnosed with a serious illness, how would they accept and handle that? (If your spouse became disabled or seriously ill, would you leave…or love them enough to stay?)

    19. Are they continually self-centered? (Are you?) Do they frequently talk about what they can get from you and others…or do they seek to give to others?

    20. How does your partner make you feel…and if nothing ever changes or improves, can you genuinely live with how things currently are? (How do you make your partner feel…and are you willing to do whatever is necessary to improve your relationship?)

    21. Do you have a good education, a trade, or skill set to provide for yourself – and any children – if the marriage ends or your spouse dies? (Are you committed to ensuring both you and your partner have this important ability?)

    22. Are you/they in love or in need? Getting married for financial purposes will bring problems and deep heartache – for both people.

    23. How do your parents/family feel about your partner? (How do your partner’s parents/family feel about you?) Are any of their concerns justified? Will your parents welcome your spouse after the wedding…will your spouse treat your parents/family fairly? Will you ensure that your parents/family loves and respects your spouse…and will you ensure that your spouse loves and respects your parents/family? You’d be surprised how many marriages end due to not ensuring basic love and respect by all parties.

    24. Is your partner genuinely good to you and are you genuinely good to them…and are you genuinely good for each other?

    25. Do you genuinely like them as a person? (Do they genuinely like you?)

    26. Do you have similar values, life goals, and beliefs? Are there any deal breakers?

    27. Do you have compatible ideas on the hot topics of marriage: religion, money, parenting, family, sex, chores/jobs/responsibilities?

    28. Do you have fun together, have a strong friendship, and genuinely enjoy each other? Do you value and celebrate each other on important “couple” holidays (anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc)?

    29. Are you attracted to your partner – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.? (Is your partner attracted to you in these areas?)

    30. Do you and your partner make gratefulness and valuing each other a priority? Are you (they) more grateful or ungrateful? More valuing or demeaning?

    Hope these questions are helpful! Keep in mind these questions are not the gospel…they’re simply a tool for self-reflection and self-improvement.

    Rome wasn’t built in one day and neither are relationships. Marriages take a lifetime to grow and perfect!

    So, what if you read this list and are now discouraged?

    Here are a few resources I have personally found to be very helpful. Some are websites and some are videos. All are helpful for building relationships and self-improvement:

    http://www.familylife.com/weekend-to-remember

    https://saddleback.com/watch/how-to-build-a-love-that-lasts-a-lifetime/growing-a-love-that-lasts

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com

    http://www.life.church/media/from-this-day-forward/

    https://saddleback.com/watch/the-purpose-driven-family

    https://www.drphil.com/advice_categories/relationships-sex/

    https://www.celebraterecovery.com

    http://www.life.church/media/the-vow/

    http://www.purposedriven.com

    http://www.life.church/media/samson/

    http://www.chazown.com

    http://www.rickwarren.org/devotional

    http://www.rejoicemarriageministries.com

    http://www.familylife.com

    https://www.gottman.com

    Marriage can truly last a lifetime and be one of the best experiences of your life!

    Your heart is one of the highest, most prized treasures you can give to someone. Give it to someone who will take good care of it!❤️

    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

    ⭐️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 andadvice.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Websites are not necessarily an endorsement. They are included for encouragement and informational purposes only.

    The Uniqueness of You & Your Goals 

    Everybody has had at least one goal.

    It may have been big or small…you may have created your goal when you were younger or older.

    The best thing about goals is how each goal is unique — and how each goal was created through unique circumstances. Even if two people have a similar dream, both goals are unique and will be accomplished differently. Each individual crafted their dreams and goals – and each goal or dream will contribute and positively effect each person’s family, friends, and sphere of influence.

    Since goals and dreams originate from each person’s individual life purpose, life experiences, influence, and perspective, it truly is uniquely wonderful and sweet when a person finally reaches their goal. It can greatly inspire everyone around them.

    I know of someone who was disappointed in life, so they made a goal to lose 100 lbs and to further their education. By the end of this year, they’ll have met their entire goal after years of hard work.

    Another person I know had a goal in their 20’s of owning a dance studio. Marriage and parenting took over – and even though they sure have enjoyed the last 20 years – they are now finally pursuing their forgotten dream.

    While growing up, I had some very strong goals and dreams. I had long forgotten about them…until I had a major health crisis last year.

    Some of the goals, I am incredibly happy I chose not to pursue them. They wouldn’t have been a good fit now. Other goals, I figured out that it’s not too late to accomplish them.

    Whether you’re a teenager, young adult, middle-aged, or elderly, we all have had dreams and goals. Some have met their dreams and goals head-on…others have neatly tucked them away in a closet of their heart.

    But did you know it’s never too late to pursue your goals and dreams? No matter what age you are, your goals and dreams – from the past or present – can be crafted, created, drafted, pursued, adjusted, improved, or completely changed so you can accomplish them…even if you already failed while trying to accomplish them.

    One of my friends had a dream and goal of getting married and having a large family. Growing up in a very small, and very chaotic dysfunctional family, she would dream of how awesome it would be to have a warm, happy home and family filled with love. Looking forward to the big holidays she would eventually have and enjoy…especially the whole family celebrating together…brought a smile to her heart. It was all she ever wanted.

    She eventually got married, and two months after the wedding, she had to have an emergency hysterectomy. With her hopes and dreams of a large family destroyed, her husband left her. Her dreams seemed to be forever crushed.

    She could have chosen to be deeply bitter…instead she chose to reconstruct her dream and is now helping children just like her. She is now a foster parent and has hosted dozens of children, who – like her – have lived in chaotic dysfunctional homes. She said she loves holidays and celebrations because she knows she is making a greater impact and difference.

    When we refuse to allow life to get the best of us during trials and challenges, new goals and dreams can be created and accomplished — some goals and dreams…when placed in God’s hands…will actually serve a bigger purpose, too.

    Earlier last year, I went through a major health scare. The radiologist suspected I had a very rare cancer…a cancer that only 5-15% survive. The odds didn’t look favorable.

    After thoroughly reading my medical reports, my very first thoughts were of how an illness would affect my family and my grief ministry. My next thoughts were about everything I wanted to experience and do in life…especially in my marriage, parenting, and family goals, spiritual/ministry goals, life-purpose goals, writing goals, health goals, travel opportunities, etc.

    After thinking about everything for a long while, I asked myself what lifelong goals I held in my heart that I never accomplished.

    When I thought about my loved ones, my life, and my goals…both childhood and current…life was greatly clarified for me. Crazy how when you’re faced with a major obstacle, loss, or illness, that’s when life, relationships, and choices become black and white…crystal clear.

    I also could clearly see how short life truly is…and how much of life is wasted.

    I couldn’t clearly tell what all was a waste or a foolish misuse of time…until I thought my time was about to run out.

    For me, God, family, friends, and my grief ministry was all that mattered ultimately. I also thought about future memories I might not get to be a part of and all of the experiences on earth I’d miss.

    Seriously think about the following and ask yourself which of these need pruning, improved, or prioritized in your life:

    • time
    • activities
    • relationships
    • money
    • opportunities
    • social media
    • computer/phone time

    I thought I was living a good, productive life, but when I was faced with potentially having 18 months to five years left on earth, it fiercely sifted my entire life — and everything in it. Being faced with a major illness showed me extreme truths about my life.

    I’m thankful the radiologist was wrong, but I will forever be grateful for the wake up call I was provided. While going through infusions, I used the time to truly think about life, as well as my relationships, goals, dreams, purpose, everything. It was an extremely eye opening, clarifying, and sometimes tough experience.

    Are you satisfied with life? Are there goals or dreams you regret not fulfilling? Are you wanting to make the world a better place for your loved ones and future generations?

    Think about your life.

    Think about your relationships.

    Think about your life purpose.

    Think about your goals.

    Think about your time.

    Think about your dreams.

    Deeply consider your legacy.

    At the end of your life, what will you want to look back on — and know you gave it your all? What is most important to you? Who is most important to you? What memories do you want your loved ones to have? How can you bless or inspire others?

    You have to ask these questions so you’ll better know how to live your life so you won’t waste it.

    For me, the answers were easy.

    When you’re faced with health issues or the end of your life, most will not care about how much money they have (or don’t have) in the bank, what kind of house they lived in or what kind of car they drove. You don’t care about past hurts. You don’t care about bills…schedules…calendars…or anything mundane or replaceable.

    You care about meeting God with a clear conscience, and you care about your loved ones, your legacy, and the difference you made. You care about the goals and dreams you accomplished that inspired others.

    Whether you are 13, 23, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73, 83, or 93, please consider all of your goals…your spiritual goals, your serious goals, your goals of helping others or making a difference, your relationship goals, and even your fun goals.

    You were created by God to fulfill a very specific purpose. Your influence, and all you bring to the table, is not replaceable. Whether you are healthy or sick, young or old, no matter the circumstances, if you have a heartbeat, then you have the powerful ability to create, pursue, reconstruct, or fulfill your goals and dreams.

    Your goals and dreams may be scary big or seemingly small…all can make a huge impact and difference. Especially to your loved ones.

    It’s never too late.

    Whatever goals or dreams you have, you truly can accomplish them with God’s help. I hope you choose to make a difference in others lives through your goals and dreams…and when you meet your goals, I hope you will celebrate with your loved ones.

    Here’s to the uniqueness of YOU & your individual goals and dreams. May God richly bless you and your goals!

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

    ❤️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

    One Of The Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made

    All throughout life, we each will make a series of choices.

    Some choices will turn out to be very beneficial; others will prove to be liabilities. 

    We can truly learn through all choices – the good and the bad. And when we learn or experience something in life – especially the great things, why not pass it on to help others?

    My favorite choices in life, are the ones I can look back on and be exceptionally happy I made them count.

    As I was talking to a dear friend this week, she asked me what three choices – other than becoming a Christian, wife, or mom – have made the greatest impact in my life.

    I immediately thought of several, but one stood out the most…the decision to buy a notebook and use it to create, and continually update, a Bucket List.

    A Bucket List has helped me to be much more intentional in living life…both short term and long term.

    There are many places I’ve traveled that I most likely never would have traveled to, many goals I’ve reached that could’ve gotten lost in the shuffle of life, and many activities and traditions I’ve enjoyed with my husband, the kiddos, and my family and friends — all because I wrote these things down and purposely made them a reality — especially if I gave myself a deadline to complete them.

    Do I meet every goal, destination, and activity’s deadline all of the time? Nah…and I don’t beat myself up when I don’t. But I do meet about 80-90% of them…which is much better than the 0-25% I’d meet if I weren’t intentional about it. And on some things, I’ll extend the deadline so I can accomplish them at a later date, so there’s never any stress with my Bucket List.

    I love my Bucket List! It’s purpose-filled and fun! I enjoy dreaming, setting goals, planning fun activities, and looking forward to different travels. 

    There have been many times that my Bucket List has provided much joy, and it also has helped me stay focused through times of deep grief.

    So how do you start a Bucket List?

    1. Buy a notebook or create a file on your computer/cell phone/iPad. There are also some Bucket List apps.
    2. Ask yourself what activities or traditions (old or new) you’d like to enjoy with family or friends 
    3. Think about what you intentionally want to do in life 
    4. Consider places you’d like to travel
    5. Ask God what spiritual goals He’d like for you to put on your Bucket List
    6. What educational or career goals would you like to pursue and accomplish 
    7. Are there areas of self-improvement you’d like to make
    8. What bad habits would you like to overcome
    9. What positive life goals or dreams would you like to fulfill
    10. What financial goals would you like to work on
    11. What relationships would you like to improve or honor/enjoy more
    12. What family and friends do you want to make sure feel extraordinarily loved, encouraged, and appreciated
    13. What ministry do you want to start or become involved in
    14. How can you make God and His love & kindness more known in the world
    15. What activities/hobbies are you passionate about…or what new activities/hobbies do you want to start, try, or perfect

    These tips can help you start brainstorming your way to living your life to the fullest! 

    Truly think about the kind of life you want. 

    Perhaps you’ve always dreamed about going on a Mediterranean cruise, or traveling to Hawaii or Disney World with family. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go skiing over Thanksgiving or to the beach at Christmastime. Or do a road trip in the Fall to see the gorgeous leaves in New England.

    Maybe you’ve dreamed of going back to school to get a higher degree.

    Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or cook…or do tae kwon do or adult league soccer. Maybe get into bodybuilding or running.

    Maybe you want to be a better spouse…parent…sibling…family member…friend. 

    Make your Bucket List your very own. Create individualized goals/plans and also include God and family in your plans. Have the best time creating a beautiful life – the kind of life you wake up in the morning and truly want. A life you are really excited to live each and every day! 

    A Bucket List has helped me tremendously throughout my life. It truly is one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made! 

    It helps anyone who has a Bucket List to be very intentional. And it’s great to look back and see how much you were able to enjoy, plan, do, and accomplish – and especially help others, too!

    What’s the first thing you’ll write in your Bucket List? Be sure to periodically highlight or put a check next to each item you’ve accomplished, enjoyed, or successfully completed.

    At the end of your life, you’ll be extra thankful you took the time to create a Bucket List…and look back and see the wonderful, beautiful life you intentionally created for you and your loved ones!

    Happy Bucket Listing!

    Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

    ©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

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

    ❤️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

    ❤️Kim’s FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I was instantly mesmerized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But God had other plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Enjoyment.

    Genuinely enjoying God and others.

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

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

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

    Example:

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

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

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

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

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

    Enjoyment is where you find the heart of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It makes all the difference in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    …It develops a trust and bond like no other.

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

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

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

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

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

    A few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Enjoy this upcoming time of massive spiritual growth.💕

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

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

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

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

    Gratitude & many blessings,

    Kim

    ©2019 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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