Tag Archive | living life to the fullest

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

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

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

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

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

I was instantly mesmerized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But God had other plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoyment.

Genuinely enjoying God and others.

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

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

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

Example:

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoyment is where you find the heart of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes all the difference in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

…It develops a trust and bond like no other.

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

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

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

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

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

A few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy this upcoming time of massive spiritual growth.💕

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

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

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

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

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Questions To Powerfully Change & Transform Your Life & Regrets Daily

Life is a gift! Sometimes, due to our own choices, the decisions of loved ones, or due to a major grief event, it may not feel like a gift at times.

Life is a gift, though, that offers so much…if we will only to choose to unwrap it daily.

Throughout life, we each have to look in the mirror and come to terms with what we choose/chose to do with the gift life has to offer —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 am grateful I wasted time and opportunities! I just love that I allowed others to defeat my heart…and I love the awful consequences I’m experiencing because of my ridiculous choices…I am so thrilled with the pain my choices have brought upon my loved ones…or I’m so happy I allowed myself to be defeated by grief or life challenges.

Nobody in their right mind would say or want to admit these things…

…yet so many of the regrets and guilt we face in life can be prevented. We have a powerful opportunity each and every day to purposely ask important life questions that can bless our life choices.

We each have the powerful ability to create a great life…a life we love to live each day – regardless of circumstances.

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 unthought out decisions by us or others. 

Some people were gravely warned by loved ones 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 had a pretty big inkling their choice wasn’t wise…but they wanted what they wanted at the time. Some were blindsided. Some knew better; others truly didn’t. 

Just because someone has made a poor choice doesn’t mean they’re disposable or not redeemable – 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 encouragement the most! A setback is the perfect time to purposely setup and create a better life!

A G-R-E-A-T life!

Everybody has a unique opportunity each morning: they have the amazing ability and gift of making better decisions – so they can start making choices that truly count 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 heal and 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, digging, 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 possible choices 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 love, 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?

•Who can I help to be successful today?

•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/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 to 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 either be past advice or 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, regrets, or damage?

•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/2016/12/30/making-2017-your-best-year-yet-43-ways-to-delight-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 and life.

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 20 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 guilt, potential damage, and 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 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.

⭐️❤️

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): Click here for Kim’s book

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): Click here for book

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)

Living in the Moment

In life, we usually are either running TOWARDS our future or FROM our pasts…rarely are we truly living in the MOMENT, simply allowing God to mend and mold our hearts. 

And it’s easy to want to run away from grief, problems, issues, or circumstances. 

No matter what happens in life: illness or great health, betrayal or commitments, grief or favor, good times or bad times, success or failure, family/marital harmony or family/marital conflict, etc…ALL situations in life reveal so much about ourselves. 

Every situation reveals our level of commitment, love, and loyalty to God, our love, loyalty, and service to others, and ALL reveal our true character. 

EVERYTHING in life has the power to refine us, strengthen us, or weaken us—each shows us a true glimpse of our heart. 

It’s up to us to continually allow our hearts to be molded by God and allow Him to polish us up to shine for Him…in good times and bad. 

Sometimes being present in the moment is very difficult to do, but these moments can oftentimes be the times we look back on and realize that God accomplished the most in and through us. 

As we seek God’s heart and call on Him, we realize He has a great plan for our lives. He truly is worth seeking with our whole heart! 

What are you running from or towards today? Truly focus on simply being in the moment.

Run to God’s heart today, then rest in Him. He holds our past, present, and future in His hands so we truly can trust Him with the details of every moment…past, present, and future. 

Once we trust Him (and this can be difficult to do in the midst of loss), living in the moment becomes a true joy. 

Ask God to help you to live in the moment each and every day.

Lookup: Matthew 6:31-34

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

(from the free YouVersion Bible reading plan, Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships by Kim Niles)
❤️
Resources~

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

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)

When Hope Seems Lost

When going through grief or the hardships of life, it can be easy to lose hope.

When googling a definition for hope, this came up:

Hope~
1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design; More

After I saw this definition for hope, I quickly realized that the reason hope is not readily available to a griever is because the expectation and desire is for our loved one to still be with us…or for a past circumstance to not have happened…and we can’t make that happen.

As I looked at the synonyms…aspiration…desire…wish…expectation…ambition…aim…goal…plan…design, I realized hope itself can be created out of these synonyms of hope.

We can’t bring a loved one back…and in many situations in life, we may not have the ability to take back something that happened in the past…but we can all make the important life-saving decision to aspire to create a new normal.

We can create new desires for our futures. We can form new wishes and expectations, have new ambitions, aim our sights on fresh new goals, make new plans, and come up with a new design for our lives.

It’s not easy or fun…and if a griever is completely honest with themselves, it will most likely be one of the hardest things a person will ever have to do. Creating a new “normal” isn’t something any griever would willingly sign up for…but the alternative is to die a little bit more inside every. single. day. The ultimate alternative is to permanently lose hope.

So we hope for a better tomorrow…we hope someday the pain will not feel as fresh as it does today…we hope that life will once again be the joyful song we once knew it to be…and we hope that eventually hope itself will be renewed so we can truly feel hope once again on an everyday basis.

How do we regain our hope after life devastates us?

That will look different for each individual griever. Hope is something that requires self-work and renewing hope is something we must CHOOSE for ourselves.

I personally find hope in God. In grief, He is the only thing that has ever made sense…and the only One who has ever had the ability to make sense out of my grief.

As I struggle through situations I don’t understand, I ask God to show me deeper levels of His love and comfort. I ask Him to reveal a greater depth and perspective about life that will help me, or someone I know, at a future date. I do not like to feel as though life or grief is in vain or wasted, so I seek to learn life lessons through anything I go through in life…good and bad.

A few months ago, I came across Psalm 107:23-31 as I was studying about prayer. It spoke volumes to me because grief makes a soul feel as though it is drowning in the deep. As the waves of grief come crashing in, it can feel just like a horrible storm that leaves you miserable and at your wit’s end. It can make you feel as though you have no hope.

Psalm 107:23-31, “Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!”

When we cry out to God in our heartache and troubles, He has the powerful ability to renew our hope and bring us out of our distress. He is the One who can quiet the waves we go through in life, causing the storms of life to be still, when we allow Him to guide and direct us in life.

Today, if you are struggling with God and wondering if hope will ever be a true part of your life again, I encourage you to call out to God and seek Him for His help. I encourage you to do whatever you need to do to regain your personal hope.

Hope can be renewed. It may take time, and maybe even a lot of tears, but it can happen. Life can be good again, too!

Faith and hope go hand-in-hand. When you are lacking in one, strengthen the other. Both can be built by choice.

Ask yourself, “How can I strengthen my hope or faith today?”

Diligently think of new ways to build your hope back up.

It may be hard at first…and it may take baby steps…but one step at a time, made each and every day, will eventually lead you to a new normal of experiencing HOPE.

Once one rebuilds their hope, they then have the incredible opportunity to start rebuilding their life.

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
❤️
Resources~

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

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)

Creating a Bucket List–Living Life to the Fullest in Spite of Loss

Although nobody would willingly choose to go through grief or loss, good can come out of both experiences.

One of the most powerful lessons I personally learned from grief was to live life vibrantly, making the most of each and every day, because I painfully found that “tomorrow” is never promised.

People who have experienced deep grief are forever changed because grief completely changes everything.
It can change and challenge your emotions…your thoughts…your beliefs…your outlook…your relationships…your goals…everything!

Something else grief can change is your viewpoint on living life.

Many grievers, after thoroughly going through grief, are no longer willing to float through life or live a life of mediocrity. Other grievers are at the opposite end of the spectrum…they may be genuinely concerned they’ll never want to live life again…they may even believe that life will never be enjoyable or fulfilling.

That’s where a Bucket List comes to life.

Whether a griever doesn’t feel like living or enjoying life, or a griever wants to live life vibrantly to the fullest, a Bucket List is a very useful tool in grief recovery.

No matter where you are in your grief journey, consider buying a notebook and write down:
-everything you currently enjoy about life
-everything you previously enjoyed pre-grief
-any goals you want to achieve
-any places you’d like to travel to
-anything you’d like to
accomplish
-any dreams you’d like to see fulfilled
-family & friends you’d like to encourage or spend more time with
-any difference you’d like to make
-“life purpose” goals
-memories you’d like to create
-any new skills or hobbies you’d like to learn and enjoy
-any self improvements you’d like to create (spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, wellness, etc)
-any fun events you’d like to do or attend
-anything else God puts on your heart

Having a Bucket List ensures that life, memories, moments, and opportunities are never taken for granted…or wasted…ever again.

Grief takes away & destroys so much.
A Bucket List prevents future regrets and loss.

When life knocks your breath out of you, a previous solid commitment to living out a Bucket List can prevent continually “drowning” in life on your worst days.

Even though it can be hard, and sometimes it takes baby steps, think about how to improve the quality of life. On days when you feel like giving up, you’ll have a Bucket List of goals to press forward in life with.

Grief destroys everything in it’s wake and can make you feel hopeless…it “takes” your life & holds it hostage.
Living life, creating a Bucket List, and choosing to press forward…regardless of circumstances…begins the process of taking your life back from grief and freeing every part of your life!

So who will choose to buy a notebook today and get started?

Life awaits you!

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

❤️Kim’s blog: www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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