Tag Archive | love

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Do you know of someone who is hurting due to the death of a loved one, an illness, divorce, family conflict, or an unexpected life challenge or crisis?

The holidays are very hectic for most people, but they become extra challenging for those going through grief.

When family and friends offer kindness and encouragement, it can make all the difference in the world to those who are hurting.

Whether the person who is grieving is a family member, friend, fellow church member, coworker, acquaintance, or neighbor, you have the AMAZING opportunity to offer compassion, support, and HOPE this holiday season.

Choose to be a BLESSING!

Think about each of these tips, and while you’re reading them, think of who you can bless – starting this week!

Here are 7 practical tips for helping a grieving loved one during the holidays~

1. Offer encouragement to the person who is going through grief by sending them an I’m-thinking-of-you card or a phone call. Whether they lost a loved one a week ago or many years ago, their loved one will always be treasured and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact that their loved one is no longer here. If possible, refrain from sending over-the-top cheerful holiday greetings and cards if their loss is recent. Instead, send a more peace-filled greeting card with a special heartfelt note.

2. Stay away from cliches such as, “They’re in a better place”, “God needed an angel”, or “God must have needed them more.” Although these statements are intended to make the grieving one feel better, it will often leave them hurting and frustrated. Try encouraging your loved one with loving words of remembrance such as, “I really miss _____, she/he was a such a wonderful person” or “I remember when we ________.” Reflection on the deceased loved one brings validation to family members left behind that their loved one was important, is missed, and that they are still cared about. Most who have gone through grief still enjoy talking about their loved one. Bringing their loved one up is welcomed by most. You’re not going to hurt them by bringing up their loved one…their loved one is already on their heart. Also, at all costs, never say (or even suggest) to someone who is going through grief to “get over it.” That’s worse than all cliches combined.

3. Take the bereaved person a Christmas wreath, cookies, or a Christmas flower arrangement, and while there, maybe offer to do errands for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in cheering someone up who is going through grief.

4. Invite them to attend your Christmas church service, family holiday dinner, or join in your Christmas festivities. Peace, comfort, encouragement, and loving relationships are important to offer to the bereaved during the holidays. A griever may want to attend church, but may not have anyone to attend with. Sometimes, traditional family dinners can be challenging too. If you are a close enough family member or friend, they may welcome an opportunity for a new place and environment to go to for church, dinner, or holiday celebrations.

5. Invite your grieving loved one to a holiday movie, out for coffee, to a Christmas church service, to see The Nutcracker, to dinner, or to go shopping with you. When someone is going through grief, they lose contact with the outside world as they are immersed in their pain. Many times, people do not know what to say to someone who is going through grief so they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let them know you care. An invitation will speak volumes of your love and concern for them.

6. Be patient with those in grief. Life as they once knew it has drastically changed. It takes time to find a new “normal” and to thoroughly understand the full impact their grief and loss will have. Allow them the time they individually need to grieve. Everybody grieves differently and that’s perfectly fine. Please do not become frustrated with someone who is in grief…trust me, they’re frustrated, too! Support, love, and encourage them.

7. Simply listen and be there. Sometimes, the best thing someone can do for a griever is to give them a hug with the gift of silence and a listening ear, and simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and be a good listener. We all desperately want to say the magic words that will comfort loved ones in grief, but there simply are no words that can magically remove their heartache and pain. A trustworthy listening ear is more important than most people realize.

Please consider whose life (and heart) you can make a difference in this week! Think of someone you know who is going through a hard time and then offer them hope and encouragement.

Have a very blessed and meaningful holiday season!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim 🦃🎄❤️🎄🦃

©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

❤️For more encouragement:
⭐️ <u
p://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 plan:

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

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The Dark Candle ~ Resolving Guilt After The Death Of A Loved One

When someone you greatly love and cherish dies, life can be a challenge.

A challenge to find joy again.

A challenge not to cry every day.

A challenge to enjoy others.

A challenge to relax by doing your previous favorite activities.

A challenge to figure out how to live life at all.

After my sister passed away, life became a true challenge. I felt absolutely horrible guilt that I couldn’t help her…that I didn’t notice how sick she truly was…that we had a bad argument a few months before she passed away…that I was so busy preparing for thanksgiving that I didn’t visit her the few days she was in the hospital.

My sister and I were extremely close; in fact, she was my best friend. The heartache and intense guilt I felt after she died plagued my heart for years. As I cried out to God to help me through my grief…and to release me from the unrelenting guilt and pain…God was so good to answer my prayers.

My life and the way I process grief has never been the same since.

As I was seeking God for His help, a thought came into my heart, “Your sister doesn’t hold anything against you. What may have bothered her on earth, does not even remotely bother her in Heaven. She knows how much you love her, and she knows if you would have known how ill she was, you would’ve come to the hospital. She loves you and she forgives you. Your sister loved life! She’d want you to enjoy and love life, too, so do so in her honor.”

After sensing this in my heart, my eyes flooded with tears. Ever since that day, I have truly tried my best to celebrate life, love my family, and honor my sister and other loved ones to my greatest ability.

When grief enters your life, you are left to work through all of the tough emotions. You grieve not just the person, instead you grieve every facet of that person and all they meant to you. And it takes time.

I’d like to share a story with you. As you read the following story, keep in mind that during grief, there will be tears – absolutely! – they are a very normal and healthy part of grief. And you don’t always have control of when grief will hit you since grief is much like the ocean’s water…sometimes the water is calm and beautiful, but other times, the water is extremely rocky and torrential.

As you read this story, listen to your heart and truly know that your loved one loves you so very much! They love you for all the ways you loved and cared for them while they were here on earth…and they treasure and love you for all of the ways you honor and remember them daily. They hold nothing against you…they wish you love, peace, comfort, and joy.

I hope this story brings your heart the comfort and peace you so desperately deserve. May God bring your heart healing, love, and all of the good things that life has to offer! You’re going to make it through this!

❤️Gratitude & blessings,
    Kim

The Dark Candle

A man had a little daughter – an only and much beloved child. He lived for her ~ she was his life. So when she became ill and her illness resisted the efforts of the best obtainable physicians, he became like a man possessed, moving heaven and earth to bring about her restoration to health. 

His best efforts proved unavailing and the child died. The father was totally irreconcilable. He became a bitter recluse, shutting himself away from his many friends and refusing every activity that might restore his poise and bring him back to his normal self. But one night he had a dream. He was in Heaven, and was witnessing a grand pageant of all the little child angels. They were marching in an apparently endless line past the Great White Throne. Every white-robed angelic tot carried a candle. He noticed that one child’s candle was not lighted. Then he saw that the child with the dark candle was his own little girl. Rushing to her, while the pageant faltered, he seized her in his arms, caressed her tenderly, and then asked: “How is it, darling that your candle alone is unlighted? His sweet daughter lovingly replied, “Father, they often relight it, but your tears always put it out.” 

Just then he awoke from his dream. The lesson was crystal clear, and its effects were immediate. From that hour on he was not a recluse, but mingled freely and cheerfully with his former friends and associates. No longer would his little darling’s candle be extinguished by his useless tears.

Written by Strickland Gillian

I pray this story brought comfort and great encouragement to your heart. May God bless you today and always!

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

Creating An Authentic & Personalized Valentine’s Day In Spite Of Heartache

Valentine’s Day.

Ah, the day for lovers. A day filled with flowers, chocolate, jewelry, romantic candlelight dinners, gifts, and love.

But what if you’re one of the people who aren’t in the Happy Valentine’s Day Club this year?

Maybe your treasured spouse has passed away, or you recently went through an ugly divorce or tough breakup, or your little Valentines (kiddos) who used to make you the sweetest homemade Valentine’s Day cards have grown up and are being anything but sweet.

Maybe your spouse or significant other has cheated on you or betrayed your trust and you’re in the heart wrenching transition of cleaning up a horrible mess you didn’t choose, create, or deserve.

Maybe you’ve longed to have a spouse or a special someone in your life, but things never worked out quite how you wanted them to, and now you find yourself alone. 

Perhaps you’re married or in a relationship, but you know you will not be cherished or celebrated…February 14 is “just another day” to your significant other or spouse – and no matter how much you’ve shared or communicated your feelings, needs, and desires, Valentines Day will simply be another annual holiday let down…just like every other past Valentine’s Day.

Maybe you’ve been burnt by love in the past, so you take great care to never go near any flame of love ever again. You just don’t care to pursue or open yourself up to love ever again because you don’t wish to potentially get hurt. 

Perhaps you’re in the middle of a huge grief experience and love is the last thing on your mind. Your broken heart feels as though it can’t focus on anything but your present pain.

There are many reasons – spoken and unspoken – why some are less than enthusiastic about February 14: the day of love, chocolate, and roses.

This past week, I’ve seen so many blogs with helpful lists of Valentine’s advice. What to do…what not to do…what to avoid…where to go…where not to go…the advice is as numerous as the lists. I actually had spent several hours writing a list, but my computer crashed and it was all lost. I’m now glad it was, even though it was very frustrating at the time, because I think this post is much more real, heartfelt, realistic and authentic than the original list I came up with.

As I kept pondering Valentine’s Day, I realized that lists can be a huge source of help – because face it…some people do not have a romantic bone in their body and they need all the help they can get – but by following lists, it still keeps the focus exclusively on the romantic facets of the holiday. 

And I think that’s a big problem.

I remember times in the past that I could have been the president of the Valentine’s Day Sucks Club. During these times, I was in the midst of certain grief experiences (death of a loved one, being alone on Valentine’s Day, after getting married – having marriage issues, going through relationship conflict, feeling as though there was no hope to be had, etc). And I get it…because I remember holidays not being so great during these times. 

I didn’t read any blogs at the time, and frankly, if I had been in a state of mind to read, I’m not sure a tidy little list could have helped me out or solved my hurts. They most likely would have encouraged me, but I’m not sure I’d feel much better after reading them in the long run.

I think when you’re going through a tough life experience, your soul craves comfort and relief. It also craves authenticity, because when your heart and soul have been battered by the waves of life, it washes everything away and you just want something real.

I wish someone would have given me a different perspective on holidays – new ideas so I had options for enjoying them – so today, I hope to be a source of encouragement for all who are hurting today.

Sometimes, you just need to change things up or create something unique and different – so as to not stay stagnant or miserable.

How do you wish to spend Valentine’s Day? What can you do to create a wonderful day for your loved ones and yourself?

Maybe you want to celebrate big. Maybe you’re so discouraged that you truly just hope to get through the day.

This Valentine’s Day, create whatever kind of day you personally need, so you truly are able to enjoy or just get through the day. If that means declaring an “Un-Valentine’s Day” where you make the day just like any other day or avoid all things Valentine-ish, then do so. If it means pouring your heart and love into your loved ones (spouse, children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, other family, or friends, then wholeheartedly do that. If it means baking Valentine’s Day treats and passing them out to loved ones or those you know who are hurting, then go and enjoy that. If it means warmly remembering and honoring your loved ones who are no longer here, then do that. If it means putting on your comfiest pajamas, lighting the fireplace, and getting a big box of chocolates and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (hey, no judgment here😊) and watching sappy movies while either loving or hating the holiday, then go for it. If you want to go out to dinner with all of your single friends, go out and celebrate. Do whatever makes you feel comfy, cozy, and happy!

You might want to spend the day completely alone, or with a few people, or get a big group of people together who want to have a great Valentine’s Day, too…or even an anti-Valentine’s Day. 

People should create whatever type of day they need, so that on February 15, they can wake up with a heart that is filled with joy, contentment, good memories and wholeness.

Expectations of how one thinks the day should go…or expecting others to fill their heart up…is the quickest road to arrive at disappointment and heartache. Instead of waking up on February 14th with great expectations…and then waking up on the 15th with disappointments or sadness, what if you purposely choose to cultivate gratefulness for any evidence of love you have in your life… and on the morning of February 14th, choose to create the best customized Valentine’s Day that truly fills your heart and the hearts of your loved ones, too? 

There are no rules on how to get through Valentine’s Day – or any other tough holiday of the year for that matter. As long as you aren’t hurting God, other people, or yourself…or doing anything illegal…then authentically doing whatever helps your heart to heal or feel great joy will be what creates a wonderful, personalized Valentine’s Day.

What kind of day can you custom create this Valentine’s Day? What will bring your heart joy, comfort, warmth, and peace? Do you want a day of relaxation and solitude or do you want a day filled with loved ones and fun? Do you enjoy flowers, candy, and jewelry? If you have no one to buy these special gifts for you, consider buying these treats for others or yourself. Are you concerned someone won’t celebrate and honor you? You have great value! Celebrate and honor your own heart…because you deserve it! 

All of the usual things about Valentine’s Day…flowers, chocolates, jewelry, gifts, fancy dinners, and gifts…although these things are amazing, they ultimately fail to include the very best thing about Valentine’s Day. They can’t even compete with the true meaning.

Valentine’s Day is about genuine love and the hearts of ALL the precious people God has graciously given us to love in our lives: God’s heart, our family members’ hearts (spouse/significant other, kiddos/little people, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, etc), and also our own heart.

Creating a special day to celebrate love – and the gift of love – is what will make the day special. It doesn’t have to primarily be about romance. In fact, I prefer it doesn’t so I’m not limited in my celebrations of the day. I choose for February 14 to be a day of gratitude and love.

It is also a great source of comfort for each person to know and truly realize that the Ultimate Valentine loves and adores their heart. If there is ever a day a person feels they do not have any options for a Happy Valentine’s Day, there will always be One who constantly remains…and He loves each and every soul more than any human ever can. God is MORE than happy to spend the entire day with anyone who feels lonely or disappointed by life and love! Just ask!❤️

So how can you celebrate and create love tomorrow and each and every day of the year?

The creation of how you choose to unwrap the gift of Valentine’s Day is truly and authentically yours. Do something extra special!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! May you always realize your great value, and how special and loved you truly are!

Gratitude, LOVE, 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

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&nbsp;

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

❤️

Brunch & Grief: 5 Valuable Life Lessons 

Spending time with loved ones, going to brunch, and learning from others are among some of my favorite things to do in life. 

Earlier this week, my mom, sister, and I were lucky enough to all have some free time to have brunch together.

My sister and mom are some of my favorite people to talk to. I love talking about life with these two because they both have such deep insight and wisdom. Both have been through excruciating grief, yet both came out of multiple harsh grief experiences stronger and better than before.

As we were talking about our grief ministry, my sister shared a verse that is personally very meaningful to her, Psalm 55:17, “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.”

The reason this verse is so meaningful to her is because she lived it out in experience. After the death of her fiancé and our sister (they died 3 weeks apart), she didn’t hear from God for almost an entire year. An ENTIRE year!

How many of us would have become frustrated, grown bitter, or simply given up? She didn’t. She shared with me that she knew God loved her and was listening to her, so she felt compelled to keep pressing on. 

I’m glad she did because she’s a wealth of wisdom and knowledge about harsh grief experiences! Had she given up on God, she would’ve missed out on so much wisdom and some very powerful life lessons…lessons she now shares with thousands of people!

Several things she and my mom shared at our special brunch date made an impact as I intently listened.

By the way, everybody you know has a life story and rich life lessons you can learn from. Anytime I meet with someone, I like to come away with at least one new thing I’ve learned from them.

Brunch was a jackpot of lessons. As I listened and talked with my sister and mom, I learned so much.

Here are 5 lessons I learned at brunch that I think are very valuable:

  1. It’s totally okay to be in deep grief and distress. There’s an entire book in the Bible (Psalms) where David didn’t “get over” his grief. God allowed David the freedom to deeply grieve. God didn’t rush David or tell him to get on with life. Allow God’s Word to validate your grief…especially when people around you don’t (or won’t) validate it.
  2. Grief changes people. You are guaranteed to become a different person: you’ll either choose to grow from grief and become a different (better) person…or you’ll choose to wither up and die and become a different (bitter) person. It’s completely up to you what kind of person you’ll ultimately decide to become of the two.
  3. One of the best things someone can do for a griever is to go get them and treat them to a soda or coffee. Just being there means so much to a griever. My mom credits her friends who regularly did this for her with tremendously helping her overcome her deep grief after my dad died.
  4. When you feel all alone and your family and friends aren’t measuring up in being there for you during grief, know that God half designed it to be like that so He can meet your deepest needs…and He designed the other half so family, friends, and His church can meet the other half of those needs. My sister explained, “If people had come through and been there for me 100% of the time, I never would’ve realized my need for God or developed the rich relationship I enjoy with Him today. If I hadn’t had to wait for God’s timing, I wouldn’t have known the treasure of trusting Him and His deliverance as much as I did. God wants to be your hero during times of grief…stop desiring that from your loved ones and let God be that hero!”
  5. Don’t allow people to rush you through your grief or to control your grief or life. Both my mom and sister shared stories of people wanting to take the steering wheel of their grief and make life decisions for them. Both are glad they chose to give the steering wheel to God and allowed Him to guide and direct their grief and lives. My mom is especially glad she didn’t allow others to make major life decisions for her. She shared, “I don’t believe my kids would be in ministry today and serve God like they do had I allowed others to control my grief, my life, or their lives. I also wouldn’t have drawn as close to God. It probably would have been easier—but easier doesn’t always mean better.

What valuable lessons have you learned throughout your life or grief? Who do you know who could be a source of wisdom, insight, and great knowledge of life or grief lessons for you? Invite them out to brunch this month or call and invite them out for coffee, ice cream, or a soda. 

It’s always a great privilege to learn from others and to hear their life stories and experiences. 

Always learn as much as you can through grief and throughout life! Both are extremely valuable!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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



For more encouragement:

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

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&nbsp;

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&nbsp;
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites&nbsp;
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

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

Loving The Hurting, Remembering The Forgotten: An Important Challenge To Churches Everywhere For 2016

This morning, I attended a very special All Staff meeting at my church.

We received phenomenal leadership and encouragement about change from our pastor. It was a great time of worship, vision, learning, and community.

While Pastor Craig was sharing his heart, my mind began to come up with so many fresh, new ideas of change for my grief ministry, as my spirit absorbed the wisdom, passion, creativity, and vision God had planned for me.

I have a huge passion for those who hurt, those who feel rejected or displaced, those who deeply grieve, those who feel life can never be better, and those who have turned their back on God and the church. And I absolutely love that my pastor has a huge heart for these precious groups of people as well!

I’ve felt the sting of each of these situations through different seasons of my life, and none of them were a fun place to be. Because of personally experiencing these situations, God has been good to allow me to gain insight and understanding so I could know how to encourage and help in these areas…but today I wondered “is it enough?…am I doing enough?” 

The answer, if I’m honest with myself, is no, not always. 

So another question came to mind, “what can you change?…what needs to change?

Every church cares. Most Christians truly care.

Every church wants people to feel as though they belong. Many Christians go out of their way to show love and acceptance.

Every church truly wants to minister to everyone. There are a lot of staff and Christians who spend many, many hours in ministry helping and equipping others. 

Every church wants to make a huge difference. There are too many ministries to count that genuinely make incredible impacts.

So what are we missing? Also, who are we missing? 

What changes can we all implement to be more loving, accepting, kind, and effective so we can minister, serve, and encourage to the best of our abilities to make the absolute greatest impact?

There are no perfect Christians, no perfect churches, no perfect ministries, no perfect staff, no perfect people, no perfect anything. Perfection is something we definitely pursue, but Christians fall short…all people fall short—regardless of their religious affiliation. Ministries fall short…just like workplaces fall short.

So how do we bridge the gap between the church and people who are hurting…people who are deeply grieving…people who have given up on—or even reject—God and the church…people who have never and won’t even consider stepping foot in a church…people who feel like life is hopeless?

I’m truly excited by what God showed me this morning and the ideas He gave me!

I look forward to ministering like never before, serving more vibrantly, boldly caring, and writing more in 2016.

As you read this, you may not share my enthusiasm. You may even have already thought of past hurts you’ve experienced.

If you fit into any of the above categories, I hope you’ll closely follow my blog and find encouragement. I am so very sorry if you have been wounded or offended by someone in the church…so very sorry if you’ve experienced deep grief…incredibly sorry if you ever felt as though life was hopeless or made to feel that your life was void of value…so sorry if an event happened that made you turn your back on God and the church. Truly, truly, genuinely sorry. If someone has not sincerely apologized to you personally, then I offer my deepest apologies as a part of the body of Christ!

God has great compassion and incredible love for you! You DO matter! Your life IS valuable! Your heartache, grief, and pain DOES count! God hears your heart’s pain and cries…and if anyone on earth failed to hear, understand, or realize your pain or grief (or failed to make it right), that is NOT okay with God…and I guarantee you it truly broke His heart. 

This year, I want to vibrantly continue to help and encourage the grief community, and I also want to pour into people who have felt hurt and offended by anyone in the church.

I look forward to encouraging everyone in 2016…especially with the vision God gave me today!

Rolling up my sleeves to truly make a greater impact is my heart’s desire this year. If you are a part of any church, please join me in this endeavor. It is desperately needed! 

If you know of anyone who has been through deep grief, anyone who is down in life, anyone who has been deeply hurt or offended by the church—whether by church staff or fellow believers, reach out to the offended and the hurting! 

We need to never be so quick to be offended or put off by a person’s disbelief, mistrust or abrasiveness…instead, we ought to look into their hearts and seek to understand the reason behind why they’re hurt, offended, or bitter. There are a crop of people we need to seek to intentionally love back to life! 

We, as the Church, constantly say and promote, “it’s okay not to be okay”…but then when people aren’t okay, or they later become not “okay,” do we as the whole church truly put our money where our mouths are and intentionally pursue the hurting and also genuinely care when others are hurt, offended, or leave?

Church is a family…ultimately one big family…who will ALL be living together in heaven some day. Is it not going to cause us shame when we see Christ and have to explain to Him how we treated some people as unvaluable or, worse, disposable?

Helping others and conflict resolution can be uncomfortable. It can be gritty and messy, for sure—definitely not all cotton candy, unicorns, sunshine and rainbows. It requires sacrifice and selflessness. People are worth it, though. So very worth it!

Isn’t this exactly what God did for each of us? I am forever grateful to those who loved me back to life and those who intentionally invested in me. Because they took the time to genuinely care for a broken, hurting, mess of a young lady years ago, my life was spectacularly changed! Now, all because of their love and concern, 200 million users on YouVersion have an opportunity to read the Grief Bites reading plans, and people in 110 countries receive grief encouragement weekly on my blog. None of this would’ve happened had certain people not seen me as someone valuable enough to care about. I had plans to be an atheist and reject God and the church…but I saw—and truly experienced—Christianity in the most pure, loving, amazing, kindest form. And it made all the difference in the world!

Who else in the world needs to experience the love of Christ? And what amazing spiritual gifts are hidden behind each hurting or hardened heart?

Sometimes, people have hearts that have had a lot of mud flung their way. Who is willing to accept the challenge to use their Christ-like love to water and nurture these hearts so their true heart can shine through?

People who have been through major grief, life challenges, or tough circumstances in life, they all have hidden treasure locked inside of them…each has their personal life story that can help others. What stories are not being shared due to not being nourished and nurtured? Like Pastor Rick Warren says, “Who better to help the grief community than someone who has been through grief? Or the atheist community than a former atheist? Or the addiction community than one who battled addiction?” There are a wealth of amazing people out there who are being lost in the shuffle and it’s up to the church to love, help and encourage them. If they were once plugged in and left a church…and no one cared…that falls on each of us.

Every person has great value and has the amazing ability to create lasting change inside and outside of their church. Ask God to use you and ask Him to show you where…and with who…He wants you to begin!

We have 11 1/2 more months of 2016 to see what God is capable of doing through this challenge. Let’s seek to obey Him with everything we’ve got!

Make the incredibly important decision to love the unlovely, encourage the hurting and grieving, and to go after the ones who have left or abandoned their faith so they know someone cares…so they know that God and the church truly does care.

I know this will be some of the best time we’ll spend this year in service and devotion to God!

Be His heart…be His hands…be His feet!

So who is up to this challenge?

I hope everybody!

Every single day, ask God to show you someone to encourage, and ask Him to bring to mind those who have left the church or who have abandoned their faith.

May God richly reward and bless you as you love people back to life and shine the brightest light possible for Him this year!

Gratitude and many blessings,
Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

If what you read was helpful, please feel free to share it❤️

For more encouragement:

Best decision of your life: http://peacewithgod.net

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

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&nbsp;

❤️

3 Questions To Ask Yourself For The Best Relationships Possible

When I was a senior in highschool, I had the best family relations teacher. She didn’t just teach from the usual curriculum, she branched out and taught from resources she knew would be genuinely useful to us in life. One of those resources happened to be a video series from Dr. Gary Smalley.

As I watched and intently listened to each fantastic video, one stood out. It was a teaching on showing great Honor to others. Dr. Smalley basically said to treat each person as though they were the only person in the room…and to not just stop there but to treat your loved ones better than royalty—to be in absolute awe and wonder that you get the incredible, precious privilege of being a part of each of your loved ones lives. He also shared that it starts with just one person choosing to show their loved ones honor. It wasn’t contingent on anyone or anything else.

I grew up in a home where we were close and loved each other, both of my parents were phenomenal role models to me on how to show others honor, but Dr. Smalley’s video made an incredible impact in my heart and life.

I began to realize how everything I did in life—and how I treated my loved ones, especially—had the powerful ability to affect everyone I (and they) came into contact with. Family. Friends. Co-workers. Church family. Neighbors. The employees at businesses and restaurants frequented. Everyone.

With each interaction I had, I could leave people in a much better condition if I treated them with great honor, or a worse condition if I chose differently…all depending on my attitude and honor.

I began by purposely treating my family better. I’d stop by after school and buy my mom one of her favorite treats…a flavored bagel with honey & almond cream cheese, or I’d surprise her with flowers “just because.” I’d go out of my way to be kind to my siblings and make them homemade cards or bake them treats. I’d randomly treat my friends to ice cream, write them a note to encourage them, or pay for their lunch. If I ordered food from a fast food reastaurant, I’d go out of my way to be nice and ask the worker how their day was going. I told all of my teachers, “Thank you,” for all they had taught (and were teaching) me and began to listen in class as a way of honoring their hard work and time they were investing in me. I’d surprise my dad by mowing the lawn, do my mom’s hair and makeup for her, or go grocery shopping to help out. With my mom’s encouragement and help, I’d also buy my teachers gifts around each holiday. I began to look forward to honoring others and doing special things for loved ones.

With every choice I made to honor others, the better I felt. Life became much more rewarding and I felt I was making a difference. It was an amazing feeling to know that I could bring others happiness or brighten their day. Honoring others felt much better than being shallow or selfish.

After the video series, my teacher asked each of us, “How do you want to be remembered?” She explained she gave us some great information, but the info on the videos would only prove to be valuable if we chose to implement it. Ultimately, we needed to decide if we would choose to be an honorable person who chose to honor others as a lifestyle.

Words cannot express how grateful I am to Mrs. W. for pouring into me my junior and senior years of highschool. Her investment in my life caused me to value my parents, family, and friends so much more…and this also positively impacted (in the future) my parenting and marriage. To this day, I greatly treasure my loved ones!

I am thankful for the two questions I was asked many years ago that had such a fantastic impact:

“How do you want to be remembered?”

“How can you show great honor & love to your loved ones each day?”

We each have a choice of the kind of person we want to be.

If we were to die today, would we be remembered as:

•a campfire who everybody gathered around for light, insight, & warmth?
•a bright ray of sunshine who was fun & made everybody laugh?
•a raging lunatic who everyone saw as a walking time bomb?
•a selfish person who made everybody feel stressed, unvalued, & miserable?
•a mediocre or timid person too scared to take risks?
•a source of comfort and strength for the broken?
•an arrogant, exclusive, snobby person who made others feel unwanted or beneath them?
•a source of loving encouragement who made others feel they could truly do something remarkable with their life?
•a big ball of energy who loved life & everyone made great memories with?
•a person who made great promises but rarely kept their word?
•a person who sucked the life out of others?
•a person who was helpful and hardworking?
•a materialistic person who put money & possessions before relationships?
•a flaky person with no stability or follow through?
•a person of great moral character who others could depend on and learn from?
•a person who was too busy to genuinely care?
•a person who made mistakes, but changed it all one day to become a person who greatly loved & honored others?

We ALL leave a legacy. We ALL are known by our personalities, passions, and choices. We ALL leave our unique personal mark…our “brand”…on EVERYONE around us.

The cool thing is, it is never too late to leave a better legacy than the one we are currently living.

Through honor, we ALL have the powerful ability to choose what legacy we’ll be leaving. 

Think of who you TRULY want to be and then make it happen.

What if you feel you’ve already monumentally messed up? Put one hand on your heart and your other hand on your mouth. Do you feel your heartbeat and your breath? If you’re still alive (which I’m guessing you are since you’re reading this😊), you still have the power to turn things around. You may have to make amends, create much needed change, or set some things right, but today….yes, today, this very minute…you have the ability to choose to become a person of great honor who others will warmly remember.

Challenge yourself every day to grow and become a better person than you were yesterday, love your loved ones dynamically & extravagantly while you still can, and leave a legacy of great honor that is worth remembering.

That’s something I’ll always challenge myself to do.

So, today (and every day) ask yourself 3 very vital questions:

“How do I want to be remembered?”

“Who can I show honor to TODAY?”

“How can I love my family/loved ones to the very best of my ability?”

One day, you’ll definitely be remembered by your loved ones and everyone around you. Make your memory a great one!

Gratitude & 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

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&nbsp;

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

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

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

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

❤️

My First Christmas In Heaven

❤️🎄MY FIRST CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN🎄❤️

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,  

With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear. 

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs, that people hold so dear,

But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring, 

For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor, Or the peace here in this place.

Can you just imagine Christmas, with our Savior face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light and comfort your spirit. As I tell Him of your love.

So then pray for one another, As you lift your eyes above.

Please let your heart be joyful, and allow your spirit to sing.

For I’m spending Christmas in Heaven, and I’m walking with the King.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart. 

But I am not so far away, We really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones, You know I hold you dear. 

And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above. 

I sent you each a memory of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold. 

It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, just as my Father said to do. 

For I can’t count the blessings or the love He has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and please wipe away that tear,

Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year!

~Author Unknown

Hoping everybody has a Christmas season filled with love, comfort, encouragement, and HOPE!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

For more encouragement:

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

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

3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed&nbsp;

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

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&nbsp;