Tag Archive | living life to the fullest

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this helps someone!

“Grief Bites.”

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

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

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

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

That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 2 published grief books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in 143 countries, as well as five Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion that offer encouragement to millions of people.

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

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

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

I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking marriage issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses within three short years was very challenging…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down and remain a depressed mess. I had already done that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

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

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later while having a routine surgery
  • I lost my grandparents (and 2 uncles and an aunt) to cancer
  • a traumatic event happened when I was 12 years old, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident over Christmas break
  • one of my good friends died
  • a best friend died from suicide
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my sister’s fiancé died (who was also one of my best friends)
  • I saw my 22 year old sister die after only being sick for 3 weeks

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

BUT 2010 was different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why blog about it? Why talk about grief? Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief. And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too. And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never goes away. Unfortunately, grief velcroes itself to your heart. It’s. there. for. life. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times.

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

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

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

This blog is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart yet still wants to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will NOT be easy.

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

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day. Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life. I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can — in time…when you are able to.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief. This is the very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

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

Grief bites. It certainly does…but we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

©2014 / 2018 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

❤️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

    2. 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): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

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

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

    ❤️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

    Life Questions That Can Powerfully Change & Transform Your Life & Regrets Daily

    Throughout life, we each have to look in the mirror and come to terms with what we choose to do with (and in) our lives—past, present, and future.

    No one has a goal of looking in the mirror—at any point—and saying to the reflection staring back at them, “I sure do love the awful consequences I’m experiencing because of my choices…I am so thrilled with the pain my choices have brought upon my loved ones and myself…I am so glad I wasted life, valuable life lessons, and life’s opportunities!” 

    Nobody in their right mind would say or want these things.

    Did you know that many of the regrets and guilt we face in life can be prevented…that we have a powerful opportunity each and every day to purposely create life questions that can bless our life choices?

    Everybody will go through multiple grief experiences and hardships, some even self-inflicted, throughout their lifetime.
    Some grief experiences are natural to go through in life, while others are due to foolish or uneducated decisions. 

    Some people were gravely warned by others to not make the choices they made; others had no training in life and genuinely had no one to care about their life choices. Some knew better; others truly didn’t. 

    Just because someone has made poor choices doesn’t mean they’re disposable, and it doesn’t mean they are doomed to have a terrible life. I think when people make poor choices, that’s when they need love and wise encouragement the most! It also is the perfect time to improve one’s life!

    Everybody has a unique opportunity each morning: they have the amazing ability to push the reset button on their life so they can start making the best decisions they can possibly make from this day forward.

    As a grief specialist, I hear story after story after story of hardships people go through…stemming from “life” happenings, as well as their own choices, and also the decisions of others. I constantly try to help each person find the genuine healing they so desperately need. Once they find out how to create a better life—a life they can truly enjoy living—their entire existence transforms.

    Changing one’s life for the better is a process of asking one’s self the right questions so they can begin to make good decisions in response to those questions. Just like grief is never a cookie cutter experience, life is never a one-size-fits-all experience either. Each person’s life is as unique as they are.

    Making solid decisions takes practice and a lot of cultivating, growth and nurturing of one’s heart and thoughts. All change initially begins as a solid decision…and then blossoms into a series of good, solid choices that continually need to be chosen on an ongoing basis. After awhile, the good choices develop into better choices, and then the better choices turn into the best choices.

    Remember: this is your personal life journey between you and God. Each question will reveal a highly personal, customized answer. 

    Here are some of my favorite questions I ask myself so I can make wise decisions, learn more each day, and continue to make the best choices possible everyday:

    •What can I do today to purposely grow my relationships with God and my family so these relationships are the strongest and healthiest they can be?

    •What can I purposely do, or not do, so I don’t waste my day or waste my time?

    •What do I need to prevent doing today so I can grow more and live life to the fullest?

    •Who can I show mercy and compassion to today? Who do I need to show empathy for by seeing life through their eyes? (For ideas: https://griefbites.com/2014/10/18/7-things-to-realize-about-someone-going-through-a-hard-time/ )

    •What one dream or goal can I work toward (or continue to work toward) today?…also, who can I help to be successful?

    •What one purpose filled action today would make me live life as lovingly and vibrantly as possible? 

    •What one choice today would bring me the most healing—spiritually, emotionally, and physically? How can I purposely grow through my current and past grief or life challenges?

    •What one thought today could override as much negativity as possible? 

    •Who can I choose to bless today in a way that would make the greatest difference in their life? 

    •What one foolish habit or sin can I purpose to avoid and overcome today to bring the most spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical wellness to me and my loved ones?

    •What one person do I need to forgive today to lighten my heart? (Read this if you have been deeply wounded: https://griefbites.com/2015/04/20/wounded-7-steps-to-free-your-soul/ ) What one person do I need to apologize to and ask to forgive me?

    •What topic or situation do I need to give to God and come into peace about today…what do I need to make right, cultivate, “let go” of, or remove to have optimal peace and joy? What do I need to change or accept so I can have peace?

    •What one piece of wise advice can I take to heart today that has the capacity to change my life for the better? (This can be either past advice or more recent advice)

    •What one improvement (big or baby step) can I make today that I can be proud of?

    •After deeply thinking about my everyday and longterm choices, and truly considering the present and future impact of those choices—as well as the consequences or blessings that can/will come into my life from my decisions—what do I need to do, or not do, today to prevent any future guilt or regrets?

    •Who needs to hear me say, “I love you!” today? How can I love others better today than I did yesterday?

    •Who can I show genuine appreciation to today? Who needs to hear me say, “Thank you!”?

    •What one regret do I need to forgive myself for and let go of today? (Read here to find help for regrets: https://griefbites.com/2014/10/26/overcoming-regrets/ )

    •What one topic will be the most beneficial to pray, journal, or blog about today?

    •What one physical and/or mental exercise will offer the most stress reduction today?

    •What one character quality can I learn about, develop, and work on today? (I focus on one character quality exclusively each week and seek to continually improve each quality thereafter…you can find ideas here: https://griefbites.com/2014/07/01/conflict-resolution-pt-3-75-character-qualities-that-can-change-your-life/ )

    •How can I best love, serve, and delight in God today? How can I grow my friendship with Him? He’s the ONLY relationship on earth that we can NEVER lose…this is SO important! ( Please feel free to read this for encouragement: https://griefbites.com/2015/12/04/delighting-in-god/ )

    All of these questions are for the purpose of creating the best life possible—even in spite of grief—and preventing future guilt and regrets. Each question has the powerful ability to better one’s life and to offer encouragement to live well.

    What questions stuck out most to you? What resonated with you the most?

    You can ask yourself one of these questions each day or all of them. It is so important to grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and in wellness every single day. Whether you take baby steps or an “all in” approach, it is always wise to continually better yourself and allow God to work mightily in your heart!

    Why not make a list of your own questions to ask yourself and commit to growth every single day? What does life look like for you today? By making changes, choosing to change your thoughts for the better, or cultivating your heart, what can life look like for you in 1 month…1 year…5 years…10 years…or even 30 or more years?

    We all have such phenomenal value and I think we sometimes forget or fail to fully realize that. We also forget to realize how powerfully God can use our lives to make a difference in our loved ones lives, as well as in the world!

    Wishing everybody special times of self-reflection, making wise choices and changes, preventing regrets, and living life to the fullest!

    Gratitude and many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    For more encouragement:

    Making peace: http://peacewithgod.net

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

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

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

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

    ❤️

    You’re In More Control Than You Think

    Grief, stress, “life,” and the people around you can definitely have a profound affect on you, as well as affect the overall quality of your life. Until a few years ago, I never could have realized how much of an affect.

    Then I got sick. Really, really sick.

    At the time, I was used to running 3-5 miles a day, playing disc golf several times a week, practicing tae kwon do daily, and basically doing whatever I wanted physically…because I had the ability to do so.

    Then I not only got really sick…I completely lost my health.

    It took me almost four years to rebuild my immune system and get my health back…and during that time, I couldn’t hardly do anything but sit. And sometimes, just sitting was painful. Some days were so bad, I couldn’t even get out of bed. My veins throughout my entire body felt as though fire was traveling through them, my hair started falling out, the fatigue and pain were both debilitating, and the weight gain began rapidly even though I was a very health-minded, clean eater.

    My doctors explained to me that my illness was created due to prolonged stress…and the illness would be lifelong, attached to me like permanent superglue. They explained the difference between having typical day-to-day stress and being distressed to where the stress becomes toxic.

    After I found out my illness could’ve been prevented (had I only simply set boundaries and controlled my surroundings and the people/stress I allowed into my life) I went through many emotions. Sadness because my illness wasn’t curable. Unforgiveness – for a period of time – at certain people or situations that had created extreme stress or hurt. Anger towards myself for not setting better and stronger boundaries. Fear because, at the time, I had no idea how to control my illness or its debilitating symptoms. Grief…because life as I previously knew it was over.

    I felt as though I was thrown into oblivion and I had to figure life out all over again….what to eat, so as to not trigger or make my symptoms worse…what to do medically, so I could understand what the best medicines, supplements, and prescriptions were for regaining my health…what work or social events to accept or decline based on my health…which people to be around—or to not be around—so stress wouldn’t trigger symptoms…what to do spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally so I could prepare my heart to fight for my health (talk about self-work!). I was knocked down and wasn’t sure how to get back up.

    It was a scary time of completely reevaluating my entire life in every area so I could regain my health…and prevent new and additional illnesses from forming.

    This health crisis allowed me to find out something new that I had never realized before: I was so much more in control than what I had previously thought or realized.

    I found that if I couldn’t control the actions of others, my circumstances, my grief experiences, or my environment, I COULD at least control the actions, thoughts, as well as the emotional and spiritual health, of myself. I had complete control over me and I had complete control over what I allowed to go on around me and inside my own heart.

    As I worked with my specialists to regain my health, I intentionally removed anything and everything toxic in my life: toxic foods, toxic habits, toxic thoughts, toxic emotional baggage, toxic situations, toxic unwise schedules, and toxic people. This was difficult to do, but I wasn’t willing for my health to further deteriorate. Courage became necessary to regain my quality of life, and at the time, courage wasn’t exactly my forte. Having the knowledge my illness was lifelong, I realized this wasn’t going to be a quick fix—anything I did had to be “all-in” and longterm.

    As I repaired my health, and my rheumatologist, hematologist, and endocrinologist conveyed the importance of a stress-free lifestyle, I realized just how much power stress has on a person’s wellness. As I took the steps to regain my health, I often wondered if my sister possibly could’ve prevented her illness (or death) had she only had the knowledge about the stress and illness correlation.

    Whether it’s an illness, grief, trials, life circumstances…anything…we all are so much more in control than we think. I’ve been surprised by my strength to overcome obstacles in dealing with getting well. I know I never would’ve refined and sifted the contents of my life had I not been forced into doing so due to becoming ill.

    Like anything I go through in life, I always try to find something good that can come out of any trial. The good that came out of my illness is I found out so much about life and myself: that health and wellness are absolute gifts that should never be taken for granted…what I’m willing to tolerate or put up with and what I’m not…what I love about life and what I don’t…that God is an incredible Friend and Comforter…that life is a gift to never be wasted…I also learned about setting wise boundaries and priorities…and I learned life doesn’t just have “to happen” and I don’t have to just roll with the punches—I learned that I am so much more in control than I previously thought.

    It took me almost 4 years to regain my health, but I’m so glad God allowed healing to take place and allowed me to realize I had a lot of control over my life, illness, and wellness.

    The thoughts that ran through my mind while I was at my sickest, I’ll share with you. They tremendously helped me and put my life in perspective. Maybe they’ll help someone else today:

    What’s plaguing your heart today? What’s weighing you down? What’s preventing you from living life to the fullest? What past baggage is controlling your present life? What’s keeping you from fully knowing, loving, and enjoying God? What is your life purpose and how do you plan to cooperate with God to fulfill it? What’s keeping you from fully loving and enjoying your family and friends? What changes do you need to make to have better health? What kind of life do you want and what steps can you take to achieve it? What courage and character qualities do you need to develop to see you through? What do you need to do today to make all of this a reality?

    Every morning I’d say two things to myself (I still do):

    “Today is the first day of the rest of your life…make every ounce of it count”

    “If it is to be, it’s up to me”

    Consider if you’re truly happy with your wellness and the way life is going…or if you need to change things or tune life up.

    You’re in more control than you think!

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    A few inspiring websites* that may be helpful~

    (*websites are for encouragement purposes only and are not an endorsement. View websites at own risk.)

    ©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️

    For more encouragement:

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

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

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

    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: (Coming November 4, 2015)

    Cultivating A Relationship With Self

    “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose” ~C.S. Lewis

    I saw this thought-provoking quote from C.S. Lewis several months ago and it truly made me think.

    Like majority of you, I’ve been through extensive grief, due to losing loved ones and going through major life challenging situations, so I first found this quote confusing. 

    Without truly understanding the significance, perspective, and meaning of this quote, it can at first seem as though C.S. is recommending a detached life, free from an emotional connection to people or things.

    I believe C.S. is beckoning his readers to love others and cherish the goodness of blessings in their lives, but I also believe he is encouraging people to not place all of their eggs in only one basket (or two) throughout their life journey.

    How many of us are guilty of primarily throwing our complete energy, love, and investment—our very prayers, blood, sweat, and tears—into only family, friends, pets, work, and maintaining possessions (home, car, appliances/electronics, clothing care, etc)?  Which, unfortunately, are all people or things we can lose?

    Do we mindfully, purposefully, passionately, and intentionally think about what we can’t lose…and take a gigantic step back to see the overall big picture of all our life can truly be? Do we continually refine ourselves and choose to do our much needed self work…while also developing and investing in our individual, personal life purpose?

    I’ve always been told to be accountable to my family, church, and authority figures, and to develop my life purpose, but I began to wonder why there never has been an importance to be accountable to my own self…and the importance of truly getting to know myself…to better myself…to develop knowing exactly what I think and believe.
    We should all demand accountability to, and of, our own selves. It’s life changing!

    We need community, of course, (family, friendships, work and/or church relationships, etc), and we also need jobs, transportation, and things such as homes, food, clothes, appliances, etc, but, we also need more than that…we need a great relationship with God—and our own self.

    Out of all the relationships on earth, the relationships we have with our God and our own self are truly the only relationships that can never end or be taken away…so wouldn’t it make sense to develop and invest in these two very important and vital relationships?

    I have a tendency of neglecting myself due to heavily investing in my relationships with my family, friends, and those I encourage in my grief ministry.

    I naturally put others first and always enjoy loving the people God has blessed me with.

    One day, though, after seeing the C.S. Lewis quote, I felt God tugging at my heart as though to say, “Kim, before you were ever a wife…before you were ever a mom…before you were ever a daughter, aunt, sister, niece, cousin, granddaughter, neighbor or friend…before you were ever a writer or a part of Grief Bites…you were Mine. You were Kim before you were ever anyone or anything else. Before you even took one breath, you were you!

    I began to feel convicted of not living up to my full potential and began to invest greater into my relationship with God, and graciously into myself, as well.

    I’m not talking about a self-absorbed or narcissistic relationship with self, but a healthy relationship with self that realizes life is not about me at all. A healthy relationship that keeps me accountable to continually better myself…and keep myself in check…so I can better love, help, encourage, and minister to others. 
    Ultimately choosing to better develop and use my skills, God-given talents and personality, character, life events, education, ministry, and life purpose for a much greater good in life. 

    Dedicating and giving all of these things to God and resting in Him and allowing Him to energize my life has made a huge difference in how I live! It’s given me a better mindset and more energy to accomplish every task at hand…especially on days when I feel worn out.
    Matthew 11:29-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

    If you think about it, this verse is phenomenal. Getting away to be with God and yourself leads to a life lived freely, restfully, and lightly. It eases life’s hardships and day-to-day burdens…so learn from God how to keep company with Him as you develop your individual self with His help.

    Living this way on a day-to-day basis, and developing my own self, has been rewarding, and has opened my eyes and heart to things I would’ve otherwise missed. I want to always develop my character and be so accountable to God and myself, and His and my relationship together, so I can look back and know that I spent the days (and the circumstances) of my life very, very well. I want to always live in such a way as to know without any doubt that I hit the bullseye of my personal best life possible. Passionately. Purposefully. Intentionally.

    I also found that when you develop a healthy relationship and accountability with God and yourself, you’re not as apt to make harmful or unwise decisions.

    After all, at the end of each day…and ultimately at the end of your life…you understand better the need (and importance) to answer for all of life’s decisions and for how you chose to live your life. When you realize you’re accountable to yourself, and you look into the mirror of your life, you don’t want to disappoint not only God or others, but you don’t want to disappoint yourself. You also realize it’s not too late to change things up so you can start living your best life possible—starting today. 
    And this becomes a very powerful way to live.

    Everything takes on a new meaning as you say to yourself each and every morning, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life…how can I better develop my relationship to God, myself, and others…how can I spend today in the best way possible?”
    Your relationships…your work…your life purpose…your goals…what you choose to do—or not do…Everything brilliantly changes and life begins to take on a brand new level of purpose.

    Cultivating a relationship with yourself brings on a new dimension of living, and prevents you from wasting any area of your life…especially grief.

    Truly be thinking about life and what life can fully be if you began to cultivate a relationship with yourself. You have the ability to choose to change your life and the potential to live a more brilliant life than you ever thought possible!
    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim
    ❤️

    ©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
    ❤️
    Resources~
    Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 
    Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
    Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
    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: (Coming November 4, 2015)