Tag Archive | love

An Important Prayer For Hard Times & COVID-19

With the coronavirus affecting and impacting so many people and countries, we can be tempted to fall into uncertainty, fear, worry, or anxiety about the future.

Prayer is effective…it can literally change everything – especially ourselves when we pray and petition God. The following is a prayer that I hope everyone will pray out loud. If you have a family member or friend you can pray with, that’s even better (Matthew 18:19-20).

God is not surprised by any virus, illness, pandemic, or financial crisis. I pray He will use this tragic time to draw everybody close to His heart – a true revival.

Praying for all impacted by COVID-19.💗

Please feel free to share this with your family and friends…the more prayers, the better!

An Important Prayer For Hard Times (pray out loud if possible):

“Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
We come before You and thank You for being in full control – and also for every evidence of good in our lives that You have blessed us with. You are better to us than we deserve.
We ask and thank You for your protection and provision. We ask for Your continual forgiveness, protection, safety, mercy, grace, and favor.
Lord, we ask You in the mighty name of Jesus Christ to powerfully shut down, cease, and halt COVID-19 – and all other viruses, illnesses, disease, and pandemics. We ask for supernatural healing, help, and protection for everyone…and each community, city, state, and country…that is being affected by this tragedy.
During uncertain times, it can be easy to freak out…to think the worst case scenarios…to give way to major anxiety, worry, and fear…and even doubt.
I ask that You completely strengthen each of us and our families and give us the grace to seek Your heart..to walk by faith and not by sight…to pick trust in You over fear…to choose Your peace that passes understanding over worry and anxiety.
Help us to be voices of comfort, love, compassion, encouragement, helpfulness, kindness, and hope to our loved ones – and please allow this tragedy to draw people close to Your heart. Lord, so many are worried about finances. Pandemics are so hard on the economy. During times of tragedy, finances can be quickly drained. Please provide for our every need…You know each and every need and financial challenge. I also pray for businesses and their employees. Please protect them and provide their every need. Give fresh creative ideas of how to sustain – and even prosper – during this extremely tough and trying time. We pray for speedy healing and recovery in every way.
Lord, we ask and pray for a miracle! No weapon formed or forged against us shall prosper, in Jesus’ Name! I pray You protect us…help us…encourage us…prosper us…and bless us with a deeper understanding, loyalty, honor, and love for You. Please keep safe and bless our leaders, families, friends, neighbors, citizens, and all emergency personnel and medical staff. We lift up our president, leaders, governments, and those who are working around the clock to create vaccines and cures…please grant them Your incredible wisdom, discernment, and understanding. Provide all of us with the wisdom to know how to navigate these hard times. Give all of us fresh ideas and creativity for resourcefulness, healing, and restoration. While we are going through tragedy, especially since many are staying home, bless our time with our family and loved ones…help us to use our time wisely and build these important God-given relationships. May we all find true joy in our relationship with You and our families as we get through this trial together…and may we appreciate the simple joys in life. If anyone is alone, I pray You grant them Your perfect Friendship, love, security, and comfort. Especially bless and enrich all of our time with You. Give us new inspiration for growing closer to Your heart. What the enemy meant for evil, we pray You turn it around for good! I specifically pray for people to turn back to You…and I pray for grace and more time. There are so many who do not know You…and some who have fallen away due to grief, heartache, anger/bitterness over an unfair life event, and tough life experiences. Please have mercy on them and give them the extra measure of grace they need to turn to You and turn back to You. Grant us Your blessed assurance, hope, a deep trust in You. and peace during times of uncertainty. If anyone doesn’t know You, I pray You’ll reveal Yourself to them and draw them to Your heart. Give us all the grace to see You work mightily through this pandemic…that we would clearly see You, hear You, and open our heart and lives fully to You…and gratefully give You the credit.
Please do more than we can ask, think, or imagine. Pour Your love, comfort, help, reassurance, supernatural resources and provision, encouragement, HOPE, and peace into each of us, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the world.
Help us to fully love and obey You – and turn our hearts completely toward You.
We love You, thank You, adore You, and ask all of these petitions in Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.”

❤️~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~❤️

🌴Need peace and assurance?
http://www.peacewithGod.net

🌺Feel free to share with loved ones for hope & encouragement.

⭐️IMPORTANT BIBLE VERSES:
(to claim for you, your family & friends, your city, state, country, and the world):

Matthew‬ ‭18:19-20‬, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Exodus‬ ‭22:27‬, “When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”

Psalm 91:10, “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place — the Most High, who is my refuge — no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Chronicles 7:14, “ If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Psalm 5:11, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Luke 10:19, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

Psalm 57:1, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that in due time He may exalt you. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”

Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-14‬, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’”

Isaiah 41:10,Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalms‬ ‭121:1-8‬, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

Romans 8:28,And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Psalm 4:8,In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

Psalm 91:14,Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.”

Psalm 18:30,This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 121:7-8, “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”

Psalm 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

Psalms‬ ‭94:18-19‬, “When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.”

John 10:28-30, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Genesis‬ ‭50:20-21, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”‬

Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

If your community is being encouraged to stay home, consider watching church online. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church, Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries, local pastors in your area, and many other churches are offering services online. It’s a great way to be – and stay – encouraged!

Praying everyone stays well!

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

❤️

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s $3.19 book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://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.

The Time A Goat Attacked My Son & The Powerful Lesson I Learned

This week, I decided to watch some home videos. Now, I have a plethora of home videos to choose from, due to videoing many family and life events the last few decades.

Experiencing the deaths of multiple family members and friends has taught me to make memories and preserve them through photography and videography.

The home video I randomly chose today was definitely from the vault…it’s over two decades old. It was a video of when my son was pounced on by a goat at Disney World. My son (who is now an adult) was – and still is – an animal lover. This particular day, he was super excited to spend time with the animals at the Affection Section part of Conservation Station at Animal Kingdom.

As soon as we entered the gate, my son got a brush so he could pet, brush, and interact with all of his animal friends. No sooner than he had gotten the brush, a goat pounced my son and then accidentally bit him as this new furry friend tried to eat his shirt.

My son (who was seven years-old at the time), sweetly placed his hand on the goat’s shoulder and said, “Now you quit that, Mr. Goat!”

My son then used the brush in his hand and started combing the hyper goat to calm him down.

My son then said, “Poor lil fella, you must be having a bad day.”

My son taught me a powerful lesson that day. My husband and I had a disagreement earlier that morning…and seeing my son handle conflict the right way sure convicted this mama’s heart.

People in our lives (and we) can be like Mr. Goat: attempt to pounce you and steal your joy…snap at you…be rude…create chaos…be difficult…

…but our response can either add to the chaos…or diffuse it.

The secret is in our character.

My son could’ve chosen to have poor character when that goat pounced him. He could’ve screamed at the goat…could’ve pushed or shoved the goat…could’ve even chosen to do something uncharacteristic by hitting the goat with the brush in his hand…but he chose:

  • gentleness instead of wrath
  • compassion instead of indifference
  • respect (and self-respect) instead of attitude
  • to honor God’s creation instead of mistreating or abusing it
  • discernment instead of quick judgment
  • to forgive, bring peace to the situation, and show kindness

Anytime we are mistreated by a loved one, we, too, have an opportunity to respond the exact same way:

  • Do we choose to use gentle words that heal…or do we blow up and display wrath?
  • Do we choose to look at the entirety of the situation and use compassion…or do we choose to be indifferent to the situation and the other person’s feelings?
  • Do we choose to show respect (showing respect is also evidence we respect our own self)…or do we choose to lack respect and self-control by drenching the other person with attitude or ignoring them?
  • Do we choose to view the person with God’s eyes (as His precious, treasured child/creation)…or do we choose to behave in an abusive way towards those God has entrusted in our life?
  • Do we choose to discern what a loved one is truly feeling or may be going through…or are we quick to judge and discard them?
  • Do we choose to work out the problem and extend forgiveness, peace, and kindness…or do we hold a grudge, speak poorly about them, and look for their flaws, holding it over their head?

By the way: I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m talking to y’all. This is a topic we all need to work on, am I right?🤗

Think of the people you have had conflict with.

How did you handle it?

How did they handle it?

How do you wish you had handled it?

How do you wish they had handled it?

Sometimes, we are the goat. We’re the instigator. We’re the one who is creating chaos or conflict by our own thoughts, actions, words, and deeds. We all think we are the innocent one…but everyone has mistreated loved ones at some point. Dig deep to the root of the conflict and have the courage to genuinely self-reflect. What was their contribution to the conflict? What was your contribution to the conflict? Majority of conflict is not one-sided. We all must look inward and take responsibility for our part. 

Sometimes, we are the one who was hurt or offended. Even though we were wronged, we are still responsible for our part…our reactions…every subsequent thought, action, word, and deed. It’s a good time to reflect on what change is needed by the other person…but it is also an excellent time to do a self-check to see if we’ve done something similar to God, to them, or to another person.

God sums up relationships and life in one simple and ultimate command — Love God, love others.

Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

None of us are perfect. None of us will float through life without hurting or offending our loved ones…

…but…

…it is up to us to make things right when we wrong our loved ones…to work things out…to forgive our loved ones when they wound us…and ultimately to obey God by loving Him and others – and treat others how we want to be treated.

When we hurt or offend others, God desires for us to do the right thing – by apologizing and asking for forgiveness…to reconcile. It’s so important to God that He offers this instruction:

Matthew 5:23-24, Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Whatever conflict you are going through (or have ever experienced), take the time to look at it not just with your own eyes and viewpoint, but through God’s and the other person’s eyes and viewpoint. Combining all three perspectives brings balance and resolution to the situation – which can ultimately provide healing.

Just a note: If someone is abusing you – especially things that could put them in jail – seek help from a qualified pastor or professional. In no way am I advocating tolerating, overlooking, or excusing abuse.

Spend some time with God today and sort through the times of conflict you’ve experienced in life. Talk with God about who has hurt or offended you…then talk to God about those you know you have hurt or offended. Next, ask God to reveal to your heart anyone you may have hurt or offended but didn’t realize it. Finally, ask God for wisdom and for Him to guard, guide, and direct you in any steps of forgiveness and reconciliation He may want you to take.

The next time you experience conflict, remember Mr. Goat…and be the mercy today that you’ll hope to receive tomorrow.

Did you know God has a lot to say about conflict – and peace? God promises to bless those who seek to be a peacemaker. Some important verses to read and ponder this week:

Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 7:12, So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬,Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

2 Corinthians 13:11, Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Psalm 34:14, Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Ephesians 4: 29-32, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hebrews 12:14, Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Mark 11:25, And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Proverbs 16:7, When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
James 1:19-20, Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Hope this post brought encouragement and hope to your heart! May we all seek to be peacemakers in all of our relationships!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

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

🍃

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

🍃

⭐️For more encouragement:

🍃

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

🍃

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

🍃

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

🍃

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

🍃

🌺FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🍃

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

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

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

Where you are today.

Exactly where you are today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s $3.19 book): https://www.christianbook.com/getting-knocks-transparent-journey-seeking-through/k-b-h-niles/

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Life Lesson You Won’t Want To Wait To Learn

There I was…sitting in a college classroom.

My books neatly stacked, pen and paper out to take notes, as I waited for my professor to start her lecture on the material that would be on the final exam in a few days.

It took everything in me to be present in class that day. My sister had just died six days earlier, and her funeral was the day before this particular class. And just a few weeks before my sister’s death, my other sister’s fiancé (who was also one of my best friends) had died. It was a small miracle I made it out of bed, but I didn’t want the whole semester to be wasted.

As I prepared to listen to my professor’s review, a girl sat right next to me.

This young lady began complaining to me (and the guy sitting next to us) for the next 10 minutes about her job, getting up early to make it to class, her boyfriend buying her the wrong color of roses over the weekend, and she complained about the manicure she had just gotten.

Then she complained about something that pierced my heart: she complained about having to go on vacation over Christmas break with her parents and sister.

Out of all of the mornings I had decided to arrive early to class, this was a day I wished I had slept in.

A mere month before, the young lady’s complaining would have gone in one ear and out the other. I would’ve thought, “wow…this girl is having a bad week.”

This particular morning though, I wanted to tell her – more like scream at her – how lucky she was to have both parents alive…lucky to have her sister to go on vacation with…blessed to have a boyfriend who bought her roses…and her fingernails…really?!…fingernails are something to complain about just because one chipped!? I thought, “wow…this girl needs some serious perspective!”

Sitting in that classroom, I wished my greatest problem was something as vain as a fingernail that could be fixed within half an hour. I wished my sister had her fiancé still here to buy her roses…she would’ve been grateful for any color. I wished I could go on a vacation…any vacation…with my sister and dad again. Instead, I was wondering how our family was going to make it through the grief and storm we were just catapulted into.

The fact is, grief deeply changes you. You see things so very differently!

It truly is like life is a glass “window” that has always been covered in thick glittery paint. Grief comes along and power washes all of the paint and glitter away.

…But having all of the thick glitter washed away doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Once you experience deep grief, and all of the glitter is washed away, you see people, things, and life – everything – much more clearly.

I’m not trying to be hard on the girl. I bet everything she was complaining about made perfect sense to her. It would’ve made perfect sense to me a few weeks earlier.

To be fair, I wonder how many times I have complained about trivial things to someone who was going through grief or a major life challenge?

And the bigger question:

How many blessings have I missed in life – especially pre-grief – due to not having a proper perspective or the ability to see a bigger picture?

The fact is, every “problem” we may have is an absolute lost “blessing” someone else deeply misses:

•The man or woman who is struggling to get along with their spouse? Someone else only wishes they could bring their spouse back from Heaven or back from divorce. Some are single and have never found love or marriage yet at all.

The job we may absolutely hate? Someone else has recently been laid off or disabled and would love to have their job back.

The child who is rebelling or making poor choices? Someone else would give everything they own just to have one more minute with their deceased child. Others have never been granted the privilege and gift of being a parent.

The person who complains about the wrong haircut, a bad manicure, or “having to go to the gym”? Someone else is in a hospital fighting cancer or battling another illness. They only wish they still had their hair or the energy to go run or workout again.

The person who complains about “having to go see their family,”…how long they have to stay at family gatherings and holidays…or who complains about their parents, siblings, children, extended family or in-laws? Someone else would give everything they own to have the luxury of having any family members at all. Family is a true gift – an EXTRAVAGANT gift – even if they (or we) don’t always act like one!

There are many more scenarios I could list of all the ways, and all of the people and things, we each take for granted or complain about. The opportunities and scenarios are unending.

Note: I’m not downplaying life challenges, difficult family members or challenging people, because life challenges and difficult people are always there and can be very painful. I, myself, have been guilty of complaining about people, things, and life events. I think we all have.

Once we truly put life in proper perspective though, and gain gratefulness in each area, the problems won’t seem near as big, annoying, inconvenient, or insurmountable.

We’ll find that some things in life are not quite the tragedy or crisis we make them out to be.

No matter what, at the end of the day, life is a tremendous gift! We may have to change our perspective, but life truly is.

Take some time today to truly see your blessings. Choose to continually create a grateful heart and genuinely appreciate each family member, person, gift, experience, opportunity, and modern day convenience we each are SO VERY blessed to have in our lives.

I have found that it seriously is a choice.

Rinse off the thick paint of the “window of life,” developing proper perspective, so you are clearly able to see, appreciate, and enjoy life…and the loved ones you have…to your best ability!

Don’t wait for life – or grief – to teach you a most painful lesson: The ability to see your pre-grief life with crystal clear perspective…to clearly see all of the treasure you once had in your life and held in your hand!

Learn this most important life lesson today…right now. Like great treasure in your hand, never allow perspective, blessings, or time to fall through your fingers. Life is precious. Family and good friends are a treasure. Time is a gift.

You may have already experienced a major loss or great grief. Perhaps you are currently going through a tragedy or crisis and life may not feel like a gift today.

Take the time to be kind to your heart. Even if it’s just baby steps, you truly can make it through.💗

🌺Encouraging quotes:

To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” ~Stephen R. Covey

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~Charles Richards

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” ~Oprah Winfrey

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” ~Oscar Wilde

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.” ~Stephen Vincent Benét

“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.” ~Hazel Lee

“If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance.” ~Andrea Boydston

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

5. Experiencing The Holidays With Jesus: Christmas (available November 2018) http://bible.com/r/3V5

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

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

Have Questions for God?

All throughout history, people have struggled with the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?” – and accuse God of abandoning them.

Gideon was no different.

Judges‬ ‭6:12-13‬, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (and here it goes: Gideon starts questioning what so many have thought or verbalized since the beginning of time)
Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.””

Gideon was in the middle of a crisis and his hope and trust were thin. Can you relate?

Gideon was an unlikely hero and conquerer – the odds were significantly stacked against the poor guy – yet God greatly used him in a huge, powerful way.
But first, God needed to work in Gideon’s heart.

In the 6th chapter of Judges, we find God revealed to Gideon some key things that needed to happen before He granted deliverance:

  1. A removal of a false God – what do we need to remove from our lives so that God can powerfully work? What “god(s)” are we choosing over the one true God?
  2. Sacrifice – God doesn’t NEED our sacrifices (Hosea 6:6 – another great book!) but He does desire a heart that is sold out to Him and Him alone. God wants us to give Him this: rightful first place in our hearts and lives. Loyalty. Love. Commitment.
  3. God desires for us to trust Him – we need to remove our doubts, our fears, and overcome our questions so we can have – and intimately experience – a dynamic encounter with Him.
  4. Obedience – whether it makes sense to us or not.

Notice as you read Judges 6 that God was patient with Gideon. When Gideon lacked hope or faith, or even had questions, God lovingly provided grace and evidence of His love and guidance.

God will do the same for us, too!

The most difficult times of my life have led to some of my greatest times with God. Difficult times are never easy – they’re painfully excruciating – but God has always carried me through these tough times. Faithfully.

When life throws BIG problems at you…these are often allowed so we will stop depending on ourselves and depend on God.
God-sized problems always open up the opportunity for God to provide God-sized love and answers.

Today, read Judges.

God will never abandon us. Ever.

Whatever “battle” we are going through in life, God has the power to bring total victory – no matter what the odds appear to be.

I challenge all of us to:

  • seek God’s face
  • remove the things/“gods”/sin in our heart that prevent us from truly putting God first
  • be fully devoted to God
  • Love and obey Him with all of our heart
  • ask God to remove our doubts, fears, and worries as we cast all of our cares upon Him
  • and ask to experience a dynamic encounter with Him

When we are tempted to question God’s Will, may we always remember this:
God’s perfect Will is exactly what we all would want if we knew ALL the facts. His ways are good and perfect – even if they don’t seem to be perfect and don’t feel good to us. He sees the big picture – start to finish.

Choosing to obey and trust God in difficult circumstances is a beautiful act of faith. And we need God’s continual love, help, and strength to accomplish this.

Let’s choose to love, obey, and trust God – and entrust Him with all the facts as we submit to Him today.
He loves you!💗

Hope all of you are safe and well,
Kim

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

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this brings hope and encouragement to all who read it!💗

“Grief Bites.”

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

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

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

Little did I realize how a little two-word simple sentence would transform my grief…and be the start of a significant plan pre-orchestrated by God.

That one random phone call, that one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 3 published books, a local grief organization, a national grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, an international blog that serves grief communities in over 150 countries, as well as several Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion (the Bible app that offers hope and encouragement to millions).

The morning my sister called me, we both were in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief.

I was going through multiple grief experiences – and my sister had just experienced the death of her fiancé.

I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life. I literally felt like I was “dead but couldn’t die”…as though all of my breath and “life” had been sucked out of my lungs and heart. Anyone who has experienced deep grief can completely understand the intense heartache I’m describing.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and three surgeries in hospitals in three cities and two different states for ten months
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members – one from my side of the family and one from my husband’s side – died on the same day
  • my husband deeply betrayed me and our marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s 2nd fiancé suddenly died on Easter (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • key family relationships I dearly loved deeply changed
  • a loved one battled addiction
  • a family member committed suicide
  • I became extremely ill out of nowhere – and although I didn’t change my diet, I went up 5 dress sizes within 3 months. I would eventually be diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness due to stress…and was bedridden for a lengthy time (I eventually found an effective treatment so I can be fully functional)

With everything happening so quickly together, I felt incredibly defeated.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses…all within a short period of time…was very challenging…

…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down, have a pity party, and become – or worse, remain – a depressed mess. I had already been tempted to do that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

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

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later
  • after my mom remarried, we moved twice within months
  • our home completely flooded the week of Christmas and we lost all of our belongings. We ended up living in a motel for several months while our home was repaired
  • my step-grandmother unfairly rejected and mistreated my mom, my siblings, and me…just because my mom was a widow with children
  • I lost two grandparents, my step-grandmother, two uncles, two friends, and an aunt to cancer
  • I went through a traumatizing event and was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died (my sister saved my life)
  • my high school boyfriend died in a car accident
  • I was in an abusive relationship in high school, so abusive I was pushed out of a speeding car just for wearing lipstick
  • my good friend died from suicide
  • a friend was murdered
  • a friend from my bible study group died from suicide
  • my dad was laid off twice and had to live in a different city for two years
  • I experienced deep church hurt
  • my older sister’s 1st fiancé died (her fiancé was also one of my best friends)
  • and a few weeks later, my 22 year-old sister suddenly died on Thanksgiving

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

BUT this time was different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is a genius at healing a broken heart and repairing a crushed spirit.

God can turn a test into a testimony…a mess into a message…a trial into a triumph…a victim into a victor…

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. I count grief as one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I don’t count the grief events – any of the heartache – as a good thing…goodness no...but how grief shaped my heart and life purpose holds tremendous value to me. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today.

I must say…I initially turned against God due to all of the grief I endured while growing up. I went through major rebellion initially…but I eventually became a Christian and submitted my heart and life to God’s plan when I was 18 years-old.

A good friend had challenged me to rethink my grief…and all I thought about God. He challenged me to read the entire Bible and get to know God for myself.

I’ve never been the same since.

As I got to know God, He eventuality revealed an important truth: With each grief experience He entrusted to me, God was widening my understanding, empathy, and ability to deeply understand grief – and eventually help and encourage others.

After sharing with my sister those two life-changing words, “Grief Bites,” we began discussing how we could help encourage other grievers through the grief experiences we each had faced.

Right before this conversation, I had begun writing a book to help encourage my son, mom, sister, and other family members through their deep grief. I had years of journals I had written of all God had shown me through multiple grief journeys and I was doing an in-depth Bible study on grief, loss, trials, hardships, and life challenges.

While attending a family member’s out of town birthday party, I didn’t know many people there, so I took out my iPad and continued to write the grief book I was writing for my family.

My brother (who is a pastor) had a fellow pastor friend there. This friend approached me and asked what I was working on. After showing him the book I was working on, he encouraged me to submit my book into the Women of Faith Book Writing Contest.

I didn’t expect anything to happen or come of it…but then I received the news that my book was chosen as a Semi-finalist.

My book, Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You, was published and was given out at two Women of Faith Conferences.

With my book, ministry, blog, YouVersion plans, and anything else I do, I take absolutely no credit. It is all God. I give God all of the credit and glory. I’m just a good listener who writes all the Lord shows me. And all of my book royalties are (and always have been) poured back into local grief communities and churches.

God (through grief) has taught me incredibly powerful lessons I never could have hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better Christ-follower, spouse, mom, aunt, family member, friend, neighbor, grief coach, and church member due to my grief. My compassion, mercy, understanding, and ability to communicate with grievers was deeply developed through each grief experience I faced and – with the grace of God – overcame.

It is also through my grief experiences I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

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

So why blog, write, and speak about grief?

Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief — And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too.

And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never completely goes away…because love never dies, grief velcroes itself to your heart. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grievers need hope, and to know how to travel through the treacherous roads of grief to get to the other side.

Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few months or years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times. It doesn’t have to be a thing that weighs your heart down though…it can become one of the greatest catalysts of growth you’ll ever experience.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes grief recovery efforts to get to that point.

I count it a privilege to coach hurting people through that overwhelmingly tough journey.

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

Like Pastor Rick Warren says: Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog – as well as my book, YouVersion plans and other Grief Bites resources – is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart…anyone who feels like their breath and life have been sucked out of them — yet they still want to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will NOT be easy.

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

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day.

Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life.

I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can…in time…when you are able to…because life (and enjoying loved ones) is the best adventure on earth. There is nothing like fully experiencing life. And there is no time to waste.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief.

Yes, there will be dark colors on that canvas…but there can also be – with God’s grace and healing – colors of light…perfectly blended together in total depth and beauty.

The very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

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

Grief bites.

It certainly does…

…but with God, we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

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

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

❤️For more encouragement:

🌸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 – all proceeds go back into helping the grief community): Click here for book

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Valentine’s Day: 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.

Choosing To Make Every Day A Celebrated Day Throughout Grief

Life is made up of days.

Most people typically describe their day as one of the following:

  • Good
  • Bad
  • Great
  • Fantastic
  • Lovely
  • Terrible
  • Sad
  • Frustrating
  • “Fine”
  • and every other adjective known to mankind

You rarely hear people say, “Celebrated.”

Especially not in grief.

When most people think of the word celebration, they think of birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, won sporting events – all of the happy occasions.

These celebrations are easy. They’re all smiles, fun, and enjoyable circumstances. No effort needed at all.

But what about when life gets hard? Really, really hard?

Celebrating every day during grief is much more challenging – but I have found it is equally needed.

The past 10 years, I have been through intense grief…over 30 major grief experiences – including my son’s tumors and surgeries, several family members being diagnosed with cancer, 13 family members dying, and experiencing six close friend’s deaths, my son being greatly wounded by his church and choosing atheism as a result, a family suicide, among other grief events. I’ve also been diagnosed with several autoimmune illnesses throughout this time due to the stress.

There has been extreme anguish throughout this past decade. Debilitating grief and prolonged hardships are all very tough to go through.

When you initially go through intense grief, you don’t feel like celebrating. A good day is holding it together and concealing your tears so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. For some who go through grief, a good day is simply mustering up the courage and energy just to get out of bed.

About half way into all of these grief events, I became concerned that I’d never feel genuine happiness again.

Thankfully, I found happiness and joy are both a choice.

Before you discontinue reading the rest of this blog post, please keep reading on. I understand how annoying that statement sounds. Truly!

It used to majorly annoy me when people would say that happiness and joy were choices…

…until I heard a dear bereaved mother who had lost her adult son to suicide say, “Choose joy!

Before Kay Warren said those two words, I always thought people were very insensitive to say that joy and happiness were a choice. But when someone can say these words in the midst of excruciating heartache, such as Pastors Rick and Kay Warren, I’ll listen to them.

Because it’s genuine. It’s real. It’s hard-fought. It’s extremely authentic.

I have found that joy and happiness are definitely choices…choices I now intentionally choose every day of my life.

I have also found that choosing to celebrate each day is also a choice.

Before grief, the words joy and celebrate hold much different definitions. These words were easy. Blissful. Comfortable, even.

After grief, you find these two words hold brand new meaning. They’re hard-fought treasures that you had to walk through emotional hell on earth to obtain.

I can’t go back and change anything that has happened in life. I can’t change the heartache and grief I’ve experienced. I can’t bring my loved ones back to life. I can’t undiagnose illness. I can’t undo other people’s hurtful or devastating decisions that led to massive consequences.

I do have complete choice and control over my own personal decisions, though.

Although I would definitely go back in time and change some things…and I most definitely would reverse my loved ones deaths if I could…I wouldn’t give up any lesson I’ve learned through the incredible teacher of Grief.

I have learned a phenomenal amount of life lessons as I embraced my grief.

At first, I saw grief as something that ripped my heart out and was holding it hostage…but as I chose to embrace my grief, the lessons came pouring in. I didn’t embrace my grief at first – I resented it greatly. I am thankful I opened my heart to the rich lessons I have learned, though.

Deep heartache and loss attempted to define my life…I, in turn, sought to allow grief to redefine – and refine – my life instead.

Through many tears, grief allowed me to see things clearer.

I think very differently.

I feel things at a much greater level and have a much higher capacity of intuitiveness.

I have found that the experience of life is viewed, felt, and experienced at a much higher quality.

I’m different, too. Very different than who I once was.

And I am much stronger.

I absolutely do not celebrate any grief event I’ve been through…but I do celebrate the many byproducts – all hard-fought and earned – that I have gained throughout my grief.

A few I most treasure:

  • A much closer, genuine, authentic, and more intimate relationship with God
  • The strength I’ve gained through grief and hardships
  • The ability to clear away the mundane and focus on who and what truly matters in life
  • The incredible ability to love and appreciate my family at a far higher level
  • The depth that is created through hardships and grief…I am no longer comfortable being shallow in any area of life
  • The wisdom, discernment, and understanding you gain through grief
  • The ability to be grateful… genuinely grateful … for everything in life
  • The ability to be a good “read” on people very quickly and the ability to discern even the most subtle emotions of others
  • The ability to appreciate and celebrate each day – regardless of what I’m going through (this gift took years to achieve)

These are just a few of many “gifts” I have received throughout grief. They’re not gifts you’d ever expect…and nobody in their right mind would willingly sign up for grief or hardships to gain them…but they are very precious gifts, nonetheless.

Focus is key in creating a celebration mindset. What you focus on is where your heart will be…and each day, I am given an important choice: If I focus on all of my loss, I will most likely live a life of loss. If I focus on even the smallest celebrations of the day, I’ll live a life of continual, intentional celebration.

I’m not suggesting to bypass grief or that a celebration mindset will remove grief. Absolutely not! Each griever must be true to their grief and thoroughly experience it. To not do that would be to cheapen grief and dishonor loved ones. I still experience grief, sadness, and missing treasured loved ones – for sure, I just also simultaneously choose to experience joy and allow celebration into my daily life.

I have found it helpful … even lifesaving … to balance grief and celebrating the gifts God and life still have to offer.

Each “gift” leads you to the unmistakable truth that every day can be a celebrated day.

Every day is a great day to be alive.

Every day is a fantastic day that you have the exquisite and exclusive gift of being able to love, talk to, share life with, and hug your remaining loved ones. Remaining loved ones truly are an extravagant miracle if you seriously think about it.

Every day offers the new ability to learn more. Know more. Understand more. Empathize more. The more you learn, know, understand, and empathize, you are then able to do better.

Every day allows you to seek and find fresh new strength…and new ways of creating the best “new normal” you not only initially muster – but eventually enjoy.

Every day is an opportunity to enjoy God, remaining loved ones, work, nature, hobbies, adventures, and the simple things in life like working out, savoring a great cup of coffee, enjoying pets, appreciating music, and the ability to set and achieve goals.

Life, no matter what we go through, is the best adventure – an adventure not afforded … or continued … to all. I have found the best way to honor my loved ones (both the deceased and my remaining loved ones) is to honor them by celebrating life.

Just having the breath of life is an extravagant gift…and that is definitely something to celebrate every single day.

The very best days of life may not have even happened yet. On my toughest days, this is a truth I focus on.

Each day – no matter how excruciatingly tough it is – is a choice. We have the ability to squander life or create the life we want…and we make this very important choice each and every day. And this makes every day an opportunity to make the choice of making every day a celebrated day.

Will there be extremely hard days? Yes. Will there be heartbreaking days you dread, where you feel like your grief could literally consume and destroy you? Absolutely!

But with each daily decision to press forward through the pain– and truly see each celebration offered throughout each day, life can eventually be the true celebration you choose and want it to be.

It may take time…maybe even lots of time…but it is possible.

A quote I’d like to encourage you with:

“Although I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living…purposefully.”

How can you choose to make each day a celebrated day?❤️🎁

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

A Huge Lesson Learned From My 100 lb Friend

This entire year – especially the past few months – has been a time of learning and growing.

Sometimes, I love and enjoy learning/growing seasons. This one…eh…not so much.

It’s been painful…very, very painful.

…Yet I do appreciate seasons like these.

Anyone who reads my blog, or has been to an event I’ve spoken at, knows how much my family and I love dogs – especially our dogs.

We have really, really big dogs. Our family’s biggest dog weighs 180 lbs (and stands 6’5″ on his hind legs) and our smallest one weighs 90 lbs. Our dog in the middle weighs 100 lbs – and she’s just a puppy!

Due to the breed our puppy is, she recently had to have a gastropexy surgery, along with being spayed.

She wasn’t a happy camper.

She still isn’t.

Having the surgery saved her life…and will prevent future major agony – which could’ve potentially also caused a very painful death due to bloat.

She doesn’t see it that way. She just sees that we took her to a strange place…dropped her off…seemed to abandon her…picked her up and brought her home to teach her a new way of life for a lil bit…only to greatly limit her freedom by putting a cone around her neck and not letting her play, run, or have fun for 14 days.

To keep her incisions clean and to where she couldn’t get to them, we’ve put t-shirts on her, too….(she’s been quite the lil master of destroying cones…she’s chewed through two of them…so the t-shirt is extra protection).

Notice I said “t-shirts”…plural. Oh yes, she’s destroyed 4 t-shirts as well.

Normally a super sweet pup (well, to us she is…she thinks everyone else is an axe-murderer), she’s been miffed. Super, super miffed.

She normally trusts us 100%, but I’d say the level of trust during her recuperation was 20% at best.

You’d think she’d trust us completely because she has an incredible life and she receives tons of love and hugs. Seriously, I wish I had the life of our dogs. It’s a charmed one. She has every reason in the world to trust us.

…But…

During the time of the surgery and healing, she stopped trusting us.

As I was helping her, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of how I treat God when going through a major grief event.

God is so good to me…

…yet I have accused Him in my heart of taking me to a strange place (grief)…dropping me off…seemingly abandoning me…picking me up just to have me learn a new way of life…only to greatly limit my freedom…and it is definitely not fun.

The same way my puppy is not trusting me…it’s sad to say there are times I’ve treated God the exact same way.

When we get to heaven, I wonder how many days God will show us (throughout our lives) when He worked for our best…preventing future heartache worse then we experienced – and we accused him of not caring. Perhaps He prevented something so much worse that we couldn’t even comprehend.

Times of grief, growing, and learning are hard…but God does care about us. He loves us. And He will make all things work together for good…when we love Him and trust His heart!

If my puppy could simply understand how much I love her…all of the great plans I have for her…the surprises I have in store for her once she’s fully healed….

….goodness, don’t you know that God wants so much more for us – and is willing to give us good gifts in the future!

Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I’m grateful for my big puppy and the spiritual lesson God taught me through her time of recovery. God teaches me lessons through our dogs all of the time.

Just like I would never hurt our dogs or allow pain without a future purpose, I know God would never intentionally allow pain to me without a future purpose.

And sometimes, we cannot see the purpose at all…

…but God can.

Isaiah 55:6-9, Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

‭‭It’s a good reminder – and huge lesson – from my furry lil 100 lb. friend.

Prayer:

Dear Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Thank You for each and every day of our life…the good and the bad. Sometimes, it’s difficult to trust Your heart and plans, and it’s hard to be thankful in some situations, but we know that You are good. Lord, there are so many who are hurting today. Some are grieving the death of a much-treasured loved one…some are battling addiction or have a loved one battling addiction. Some are going through divorce, adultery, or intense relationship problems. Some are weary from ongoing family or parent/child relationships. Some are experiencing deep financial issues or health issues. Some are trying to figure out how to heal from a loved one’s suicide. So many need to desperately know You are near. I pray for all who are reading this! I pray You will draw near to their heart…give them fresh hope…bring the healing they so desperately are seeking from You. If they have been praying for a loved one, I pray You will answer their heartfelt prayers! Lord, You are good…really, really good! I pray You bring healing, comfort, blessing, strength, and love to all who need it. I especially pray You will show everyone a fresh, new revelation of You and Your incredible love!

I ask this in the powerful Name of Jesus, Amen!

Today, seek God’s heart. Camp out in God’s Word (I especially love Psalms and Proverbs during times of grief). Get to know God for yourself. Take time to delight in God. Pour your heart out to Him. Entrust your situation into His hands.

He is for you. He loves you. He will never leave you. He is the ultimate Comforter.

Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

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.

Healing From Pet Loss ~ Part 3

This post is a continuation of a series on pet loss I started writing last year.

Most of my readers know that our family experienced the death of our much loved two year-old puppy last Spring. I never could get myself to write about his last day before today, because it was – and sometimes still is – very painful.

If you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2 of this series, I’ll start by sharing about our family’s relationship with our sweet puppy and how we rescued him…and how he rescued us.

At the very end of this post, I will give 20 important tips that can help you tremendously regarding the euthanasia of your treasured pet. There are some lessons my family and I learned the hard way and it is my hope to help others prevent the same (and even unnecessary) pain we experienced.

You can read this entire post in one sitting, break it up into a few reading sessions, or you can feel free to skip down to the 20 tips if you are short on time.

Before I get started, I’d like to share my heart by saying that I realize by writing about pet loss, I run the risk of a non-pet lover rolling their eyes (I used to do the same, so no worries)…and I also may be criticized by those who are experiencing human loss. I’d like to assure my Grief Bites readers that I am not saying pet loss is worse than losing a human being. To some, it totally may be worse; to others it may not be. Each and every grief experience is unique and completely different – no two people will go through or experience grief the same way. Whether it is a human being or a pet, this is truth every griever can agree on: The greater the investment, the greater the love…and the greater the love, the greater the grief.

Now to continue, here is how our new puppy was introduced into our lives and how he forever changed our lives and hearts:

For my son’s Christmas present of 2014, all he wanted was a puppy. I wasn’t a dog person at the time. I didn’t even like dogs.

But there I was, granting my son his Christmas wish: a new puppy.

My son had asked me if I would be willing to puppy-sit and help train his new puppy for him, as he worked 10 hours a day and my job is much more flexible since I can work from home. I immediately said yes since it meant I’d get to see my son every day.

When we took my son’s new puppy to the veterinarian for his first checkup, he noticed a few things about our new puppy. The puppy had been abused and was only three weeks old…not eight weeks old like we had been told. The vet noticed our puppy had an injured paw and had little cuts on his head. We hadn’t noticed until the vet pulled back our puppy’s fur.

The lady we had rescued the puppy from told us he was eight weeks old…among other mistruths. We would later come to realize through our vet that this lady had been reported several dozen times for intentionally harming puppies. My heart absolutely went out to this precious, fluffy, sweet puppy as I looked at his scars. Who abuses helpless puppies…and what on earth had he endured the few weeks he had been with her? Our family would find out in just two years that the lady had created the perfect storm for our puppy getting cancer.

After getting the new puppy, I can’t explain it, but my heart absolutely melted. Other than family and close friends, I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone as much as this puppy. We instantly bonded.

We had our set routine every single day. After my son dropped the puppy off at our house, I’d snuggle with that tiny puppy every morning. It was Christmas time and I was working on an important writing assignment. The puppy was so little, maybe 3 or 4 pounds when we got him. That sweet puppy would gently rest on my shoulder, snuggling so close to my neck and heart, as I researched and did my writing assignments.

The Christmas lights on the trees were aglow in our living room, peaceful Christmas music filled the air, and the preciousness of snuggling with him…and that sweet puppy breath🤗💕…everything was pure bliss! I ended up keeping all of the Christmas decorations up until the end of February because I was enjoying the atmosphere so much with my new furry friend.

Our family was going through a terrible grief experience at the time, and the addition of this new puppy brought so much life back into our lives.

After our snuggle time while I was writing, I would take a few hours to take the puppy on a walk, play with him, and train him. I was absolutely surprised how close I got to this puppy and how much fun we were having! Since the vet had told us how he was abused, I made it my mission to help the puppy understand our family was safe. I wanted him to feel so loved and treasured. Every afternoon, I’d give the puppy a little massage on his back, ears, and paws so he would trust that our hands would never hurt him. After that, he would fall asleep on my lap for about two hours as I took phone calls for work.

We were absolutely inseparable during the day. If I had to leave, I’d even take him with me. Everybody at our bank and our local Starbucks knew our puppy and would get him a dog treat or a puppuccino – a special puppy treat Starbucks offers complimentarily. In the middle of the day, I also took the puppy to see my son at my son’s workplace on his lunch break to strengthen their bond.

As the puppy grew, my love for him grew deeper and stronger too. My appreciation and respect for the puppy grew as well. I had seen how this puppy loved my son back to life. I saw my son go from a deep depression … to smiling and laughing again. My heart will forever be grateful to this sweet puppy for helping our family through that hard time.

God also used that little puppy to heal my heart. As my heart deeply grieved for my son because of all he had been through, and also throughout my dad’s cancer and another grief situation, that little puppy would lick the tears off of my face and get me to smile. He was just so intelligent and intuitive.

As time passed, the puppy seemed to make it his life mission to protect our family, deeply love our family, and it seemed that he wanted to show his gratitude to us for saving him out of his own terrible situation as much as he was helping us through our situation. I’d often look at our puppy and wonder, “who rescued who?”

Our puppy didn’t just love us, he loved us with his entire heart and being. When he would snuggle with us, it was like he was trying to melt his very body into our chests. He didn’t just want to be on our lap, he wanted to be as close to us as he possibly could be. Sometimes, he would snuggle into our necks and it would feel so soft and furry as he enveloped and intertwined his neck into ours. From the time he was a mere three pounds, all the way up to his full weight of 90 pounds, he loved being a lap dog!

When any of us would arrive home, he would greet us at the door and shake his entire body. His little wiggle was so cute! He’d be so happy to see us, that he would let out the sweetest cry as if to say, “Finally! You’re home! Come spend time with me!”… even if we had only been gone for 5 minutes to get our mail.

Our family had the most extraordinary relationship with this precious puppy. I never in my wildest dreams would ever have thought that a puppy could love us so much and that we would love a puppy as much as a human being. We enjoyed such a special bond!

That’s why it hurt so very bad when we found out he had cancer.

I also think one of the many reasons we loved him so much is because we had fought so hard even before the cancer to save him several times from euthanasia. One of his vets had requested three different times for us to have him euthanized. He had some behavioral issues that we had to correct in specialized training classes and his life medically was intense. He constantly had vet appointments because he had such terrible allergies and skin allergies due to not having his immune system built up (since he was taken away from his mom too soon). We poured a tremendous amount of care into him to keep him happy, healthy, and whole, even bottle feeding him when we first got him. Our love for him certainly developed as we took care of him.

When we found out he had cancer, we were beyond crushed! We were actually at one of his dog training classes when we first noticed something was amiss. The trainer thought our puppy had gotten some gravel embedded in his paw. He was limping but we couldn’t see any gravel. I wondered if maybe he had a sprain due to the agility work that he had done. He had just won 1st place at an agility competition…he loved his training classes and loved his agility work so much.

We took our puppy to the vet and they requested to keep our puppy and do x-rays. They called and asked us to come back in, so we did. The vet said she had very bad news. I was thinking she was just going to say he sprained or broke his paw and would need surgery. Instead, she told us he had a very aggressive cancer called osteosarcoma…and that he only had three months to live. I felt like I couldn’t breathe…did I really just hear what the vet had said? My son and I started crying. Even my husband (who isn’t very emotional) cried. We couldn’t believe what we were being told. How does a young, spritely, 2 year-old puppy get cancer? The vet explained he had old scarring in the paw that had the cancer and that it had never healed – and that’s how the cancer formed. I remembered right then what all the original vet had told us about the lady we got him from…I also remembered that the lady said she kicked our puppy away from the trash multiple times for getting into it. She said he had been nothing but trouble to her.

We ended up taking our puppy to two other vets – one, an oncologist – hoping to save him. The oncologist said that a popular drug that was prescribed to our puppy for his skin allergies was a major cancer causer as well. She said majority of her canine and feline patients had previously used this commonly prescribed medicine. She believed that his previously injured paw had been compromised, the cancer set in, and the drug accelerated the cancer.

Being told by the oncologist that our puppy’s cancer was preventable greatly upset me. I was very angry at the lady we got our puppy from for abusing him and I was also upset that a pet pharmaceutical company knew the high risk and incidents of cancer … yet still put the drug out — knowing it was going to harm pets. (My next post will share the dangers and solutions to creating the ultimate health for pets…especially in regards to cancer…we learned so much!)

We tried very hard to save our puppy. I truly believe we could have, but unfortunately, our puppy was exposed to a common virus that he just couldn’t beat. After showing great promise and rapidly getting better on the treatments we were giving him…he went downhill just as quick. We ultimately had to do the right thing for him…which was euthanasia. We owed it to him after everything he had done for family. We were not about to let him suffer.

We made the dreaded phone call every pet owner hates to make…we set up the appointment for his euthanasia.

As the time came for his euthanasia, I literally thought my heart was going to break. He continued a downward spiral, and it was heartbreaking. He was perfectly housebroken and crate trained…it literally only took me about two weeks to potty train him. He had a perfect record in our home. As I saw him “piddle” on the floor, he looked up at me and was so ashamed. It broke my heart that his dignity was compromised. He began sleeping a lot more. You’ll never know much I missed his energetic, fun-loving, spritely personality that he vibrantly spread all over our home.

He could no longer jump up on the couch, so he would quietly lay down on his bed and sleep. I would gently lay on the floor beside him, holding him – never wanting to let him go, and would kiss his cheek and head, as I sang his favorite songs to him (Penny Lane by The Beatles, I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Michael Bublé, and Ho Hey by the Lumineers…he would “sing” these songs anytime we played them).

The day of the euthanasia came, and my son and I decided that we were going to give his puppy the very best day of his life. We agreed that we were not going to show our sadness or have him around any crying.

We woke up and took my son’s puppy to all of his favorite places and let him eat all of his favorite foods that we’d previously let him only have a tiny bite of, as well as the bad food we never allowed him to eat. We also took him to get some toys and had one last photo session done at his favorite place – the park. We also snuggled with him a lot! We tried to give him the very best day possible and he was so very happy all day.

We picked up some sedatives from our vet the day before so he would be as calm and relaxed as possible when he arrived for his appointment.

We arrived at the appointment, expecting a calm, peaceful, and as gentle as possible euthanasia.

We received anything but that.

We arrived at the vet and was placed into a private room with our puppy. The vet also suggested that we bring our other dog who was extremely close to our puppy. We kept our third dog at home at the vet’s request. So the puppy, our other dog, my son, and I were all in this little room…and my husband was on FaceTime so he could also “be there” since he was out of town. The vet came in and explained how euthanasia works. The vet assured us that we would have time with our puppy before she stopped his heart with the final shot.

They then told us that they were about to take him to another room to insert an IV into his paw so they could administer the medications in that way. We had told them which paw had the cancer.

As they led our puppy to another room away from us, we heard him crying out in horrendous pain several times. It seriously made me wince.

After they brought him back into the room, to our horror, we saw that they had put his IV in his sore paw that had cancer. I can’t even imagine how excruciatingly painful that was for him to have a needle shoved into his tumor. Our puppy had been guarding that paw the last three months…he wouldn’t even allow us to touch it.

Our puppy at that point was highly anxious and was highly guarding his paw. After about 10 minutes of the vet and vet tech trying to force our dog to be okay with letting them touch his bad paw, I asked them to stop and asked if they could insert the IV in his good paw. They reluctantly did and our puppy came back looking hurt and worn out. He was also in defense mode. Instead of taking the time to calm our puppy down, the vet and vet tech ended up being rough with him. The vet on his right put one restraining leash on him and the vet tech on his other side put another restraining leash on him – our puppy was freaking out. It seriously reminded me of a video I had seen of a frightened, chained elephant on his hind legs trying to be controlled at a circus. As our puppy became more bewildered and confused, looking up at us as if to say, “why is this happening to me?” … the vet and vet tech slapped a muzzle on him.

We had never euthanized a pet, so in our shock, we didn’t know what to do.

In hindsight, I wish we had immediately called off the euthanasia, left, and went to another vet. Never having done this before though, we just didn’t know better. My guilt was excruciating in the days and months after the euthanasia. I felt like I had majorly let our puppy down.

The euthanasia got worse. My son and I were promised time with our puppy to say our goodbyes. We each wanted to have time to hold him while he was alive…to talk to him and snuggle him one last time.

Our wishes were totally not honored.

Thankfully, my son had gotten on the floor and was holding his puppy to comfort him…or our puppy would have died without feeling comfort, peace, or security.

The vet then administered all shots at the same time…and our puppy went limp within 20 seconds and was dead within a minute. I will never forget the loud cry my son made when he realized his dog – his very best friend who had been his everything the last 2 years – suddenly (and unexpectedly) went limp and died in his arms. When my son realized his dog was dead, and he didn’t get to say his goodbyes, my heart broke for him as I saw the anguish and regret in his face.

The vet then said to our deceased puppy, “you’ll never have to wear a muzzle again!” and walked out of the room. He had only worn a muzzle twice during his entire lifetime so I didn’t understand why she said something so heartless and thoughtless like that. As hard as my son was crying, and with my own face flooded with tears, the lack of empathy surprised me. The vet tech did come back in and apologized for what had transpired, but the damage was already done.

It was a bad situation. I know that the vet and vet tech are both very good at what they do, but I didn’t like how our puppy’s last moments in life were filled with pain, anxiety, and chaos…especially since we worked so hard to give him the very last gift we could give him – a peaceful life exit.

After we were left alone with our sweet puppy, I quietly said my goodbyes to him as I got on the floor and held him. As his death sunk in, I began to miss him so very much! I kissed his cheek and deeply inhaled the smell of his fur as I pressed my face into his soft neck. I told him “thank you” for loving my son back to life and for loving our family so very well. As I was leaving the room, my heart broke into a million pieces. I couldn’t handle the pain. I hugged my son and left the room so he could have time with his best friend to say his goodbyes.

This entire situation deeply broke our family’s hearts, and the regrets we felt in the days after the euthanasia were terrible.

It took me awhile to write this post because every time I’d start to write about this, I’d start crying. I cried today as I wrote it. There are some pets who make such an incredible impact in your heart and life that “goodbye” becomes truly unbearable.

Our family could never replicate the special relationship we built with this puppy because we deeply bonded with him during one of the toughest seasons of our lives. He kissed (licked) away our tears, brought us so much joy, and loved us so very well! God really blessed us when he gave us Titan!

I read a blog post right after our puppy died where the author said about her dog (a German Shepherd named Hugo): “To me, he was a person in a dog suit, a special being who opened my heart as it has never been opened before. Because of him, I know I am forever changed for the better.” ~Lisa Plummer Savas

When I read that, it brought tears to my eyes because that is exactly how I felt about our puppy…he was a person in a dog suit who opened my heart in a beautiful way that had never been opened before. He made our family – all of us – better. We loved better after knowing him. I used to not even like dogs. Now, I love and adore all animals! I “get it” now.

I truly hope our story helps others to not make the same mistakes we made…and to be very proactive if (and when) the time comes to euthanize your much-loved pet.

⭐️Here are my tips for creating a peaceful euthanasia:

1. Talk to the vet you would like to perform the euthanasia. Ask them what their protocol and timeline is…in great detail…for a euthanasia.

2. Ask the vet how long you can spend with your pet in between the shot that completely sedates them and the shot that actually stops their heart.

3. Ask for sedatives to give to calm your pet (before you leave to go to the appointment) so your pet will be most relaxed at the euthanasia. You usually pick these sedatives up the day before. The sedatives may also prevent your pet from twitching or taking a final deep breath which can startle you as your pet passes away.

4. Know that whatever outfit you wear to the euthanasia might remind you of that very sad day. I couldn’t wear the outfit I wore on the day of the euthanasia for almost a year…it was very painful to see that outfit.

5. Give your pet a super great “one last day.” It could be a day like I described or simply a quiet day at home enjoying your pet. Be sure to take pictures or have a photo session done with your pet. Whatever you think is a perfect, special day for your pet is what you should do. When I think back to our puppy’s last day of food, fun, and snuggles, my heart smiles at the joy he experienced. I’ll never forget how happy he looked all day, on his last day with us.

6. When you take your pet in to be euthanized, remind your vet about the conversation you had with them (when you talked to the vet about the amount of time you would have to spend with your pet, in between the two shots). Remind the vet and every tech you come into contact with of your wishes. When they administer the first shot, remind them again of your wish to have time with your pet before they are deceased.

7. Euthanize your pet on a Friday. You’ll have two whole days before you have to go back to work or school. Consider taking vacation days too. My boss was exceptionally kind to me…he had recently experienced his dog’s death and gave me three weeks off. He also said he’d extend it if needed. I will forever be grateful to him for being so understanding.

8. Consider where you want the euthanasia to take place. You can have your pet euthanized at the vet, inside your home, or at their favorite place in your backyard. In hindsight, I wish we had euthanized our puppy in his favorite place in our backyard and then planted a tree to remember him by.

9. Ask your vet what options you have for your deceased pet’s body. We were told we had the following options: allow the veterinarian office to dispose of his body…we could take him home and bury him…we could take him to a crematory…we could have our dog buried at a pet cemetery…or we could allow the vet’s office to take him to a crematory and they would return our puppy’s ashes to us for a fee. We ended up choosing the last option and selected a beautiful urn for his ashes. We wanted him home with us.

10. Consider what will be best for your emotions when you return home from the euthanasia: do you want your pet’s belongings to be out or do you want to pre-pack them and place them in a room, attic, or in your garage? We chose to leave them out where they had always been…but it was very painful to see all of his belongings once we got home – and realize he’d never be there again. I placed all of his belongings (his most loved toys, his favorite blanket, favorite bag of treats, all of his cancer/prescription meds/supplements, and his collar/leash inside his crate and shut the crate door so our other dogs wouldn’t get into any of it. I still have his crate out and finally feel – a year later – as though it’s time to move it into our attic. I had told our puppy every single night, “Goodnight little baby, I love you!”…it was comforting to still say that every night even though I knew he wasn’t there.

11. I greatly underestimated how upset and sad I’d be after our dog’s death. Consider having a trusted family member or trusted friend safely drive you home from the euthanasia. My mom and sister knew what vet we were going to and came up there unannounced right after the euthanasia. I was so very grateful that they showed up. It was really good to have their compassion and support.

12. Have some easy meals – easy to prepare or already prepared – for when you get home (pizza, cereal and milk, frozen waffles, fruit, soup, cheese and crackers, salad, etc.). You may not feel like eating, but if you do get hungry, you’ll appreciate having something quick and simple already prepared.

13. Sign any necessary paperwork and pay your bill before the euthanasia. Feel free to decide the aftercare after the euthanasia though. We decided the final plans for our puppy’s body right after he was euthanized. I’m thankful we waited until afterwards to decide his aftercare because we changed our minds. We considered having him be taken to a pet cemetery, but the finality of the situation hit and we decided we wanted his ashes at home with us.

14. Bring items you know will provide your dog with extra comfort…such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, and/or toy. Make the experience as comfortable as you possibly can.

15. Our vet said to bring our other dog. I really wish we hadn’t. Our other dog was super anxious and he didn’t handle it well. It brought a sadness to the mix that made the situation tougher. If you don’t bring other pets, you can exclusively focus and pour all of your attention onto the pet you are saying your goodbyes to.

16. Understand that your pet’s eyes may stay open after they die. They also may urinate or defecate after they pass away as well. We had our dog potty before we left the house and also right before we entered the vet’s building. We also wrapped our puppy in a comfy blanket too. We were not prepared for his eyes staying open after he died and the vet or the vet tech didn’t shut them. We didn’t expect that. Talk to your vet about these issues beforehand so you’ll know what to expect and to also prevent any unnecessary bad memories.

17. Realize that no matter what you do or how perfectly you plan your pet’s last days and euthanasia, you may experience extreme guilt. We did everything we could to save our puppy…got him the best care, loved him extremely well, gave him a fantastic life and wonderful last day, and took the time to pre-plan a perfect euthanasia where he’d be comfortable and at peace…yet we fell short. Guilt – and questions – haunted my heart for several months…”what if we had taken him to get a 4th vet’s opinion?”…”why didn’t we stop and leave the euthanasia after we saw how frightened he was?”…”could we have done more?”…”did we do the euthanasia too soon or did we do it too late into his cancer?”…”why didn’t I sleep in the living room with him the night before?”…”did we do everything we could have done?” My thoughts and guilt wouldn’t quit. It took me months to gain some much needed peace. The fact is, you can do all the right things, and plan as much as you can, but that in no way 100% assures that everything will go as planned or turn out as you hope it will. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to fully grieve. Cry if you need to…I cried almost every day for 11 months since I missed him so very badly. Realize that your pet is so very grateful for the terrific life you gave them and how well you loved them! Please go easy on yourself and know that majority of pet owners will experience some very tough emotions…as well as guilt…after a euthanasia.

18. Remember the amazing love and incredible lessons you shared and received from your beloved pet…and know that your pet absolutely loved and adored you! If they could tell you “thank you” in a letter, it’d probably be 1000 pages long! You made their life so very meaningful…their best days were when they were with you!

19. After you euthanize your pet, consider planting a memorial tree or garden in their honor. You can also place a bench, chair, or hammock by the tree or garden so you can sit down and reflect on your time with your pet.

20. Take care of yourself and be gentle with your heart. Grief is extremely tough and can wreck havoc on your health. Take the time to intentionally relax. Do something that brings your heart peace and joy. Surround yourself with loved ones. Start a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. If you live with a spouse, child, or your family, comfort and help each other. Most importantly, share your heart, grief, and feelings with God. God sure was faithful in helping me each and every day … especially on my worst days!

I’ll never forget that very extraordinary, sweet, exceptionally special, 90 pound fluffy fur baby of ours. He blessed our lives with so much love, fun, and joy! I’ll always remember him and love him!❤️🐶🐾

I hope this blog post and these 20 tips are helpful to all who read them. And I truly hope and pray that if you are in the heartbreaking position of having to plan your treasured pet’s euthanasia, that God will bless you and your pet’s last days together.

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim🐾💕🐾

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

🐩FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

Never.

Never change who you are just so someone else can accept you or find you worthy enough to love.

Never mistreat anyone who has proven their love for you. Genuine love, loyalty and concern are very hard to find.

Never allow someone else’s behavior to dictate your own personal integrity.

Never allow anyone to dictate or belittle your grief. That’s an extremely personal journey that is only between God and yourself.

Never give up your God-given convictions or opinion just because someone steamrolls you with theirs.

Never allow another person to interfere in your relationship with your spouse, child, parents, siblings, or other significant relationships. If someone genuinely loves you, they’ll protect the most important parts of your life.

Never refuse anyone kindness and basic respect.

Never allow anyone or anything to rob you of your joy.

Never allow yourself to become negative, judgmental, two-faced, dysfunctional, or bitter.

Never give up an opportunity to travel when you can afford it. Travel is one of life’s best gifts.

Never enter – or lose yourself in – a relationship where the person refuses to care enough about themselves to do their own self work.

Never go through mistreatment or abuse just because someone else doesn’t care to have good standards for how they treat others.

Never give up your dreams just because someone else has made fun of or belittled yours.

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

Never allow life’s hurts to make you toxic…don’t misplace your pain onto others.

Never give up your character or beliefs just because someone doesn’t want to raise their standards.

Never allow anyone who doesn’t love you to live “rent free” inside your mind.

Never judge a book by its cover. I’ve met a lot of incredible people with brilliant hearts and super cool ideas who were rough around the edges.

Never give up or compromise your character or uniqueness just so someone can find you more like-able or appealing.

Never allow someone to pull you down. Be around those who lift you up.

Never give up hope, faith, or God’s genuine love. These 3 things will always sustain you.

Never feel bad about loving your kiddos, family, spouse, and grandkiddos to the moon and back. The only people who will have a problem with it are those who are fighting an internal battle that has nothing to do with you anyway.

Never allow anyone to degrade you. Your value and your heart are your responsibility to protect.

Never allow anyone to intrude in your goals. Only God has that right.

Never attempt to “repaint” a person after they’ve shown (or continue to prove) their true colors. When the storms of life hit again, the rain will wash off all the paint.

Never blindly believe what you hear about others. So much of negative information is rooted in insecurity, bad intentions, jealousy, and someone trying to cover their own rear.

Never feel bad about loving your pets as though they were lil humans who happen to wear fur. God loves all His creation!

Never allow someone else to make you responsible for their happiness. Happiness and joy are each person’s own responsibility and self-work.

Never put the burden of making you happy onto another person. It’s too heavy of a burden to maintain.

Never be ashamed of tears. Tears cleanse your soul.

Trust, honesty, loyalty, kindness, and faithfulness are expensive gifts. Don’t expect these precious gifts from cheap people.

Never give up or jeopardize your belief in God…or your relationship with Him…especially if it’s due to how a “Christian” treated you. There’s a huge difference between a genuine Christian and a Church Attender or church staff. A Christian loves, honors, and obeys God and loves others…a Church Attender merely makes an appearance and warms a seat each week. God will always love you more – and better – than anyone else ever can…and He NEVER advocates anyone mistreating others.

Never waste life and never take life for granted. You’re never guaranteed tomorrow.

Never allow anyone or anything to rob you of God’s Purpose for your life. God’s perfect will for your life is the most precious gift and treasure you’ll ever have on earth!

Never waste one single second of – or give up on – this precious, beautiful, extravagant, incredible, miraculous gift of life you’ve been granted. What a gorgeous gift life truly is!

Never forget this amazing truth: your best days may have not even happened yet.

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🌷

When God Doesn’t Give You Your Fairytale

We all have fairytales we’ve built up in our minds. Those great kingdoms of our soul we so greatly want to happen and hold deep inside our hearts — our heart’s absolute greatest desires.

Some may have desired to get their college degree, find the right person, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.

Some may have desired for their kiddos to grow up, have children of their own, and all of them love spending time together and coming home for the holidays every year.

Some may have dreamed about developing their talents, passions, gifts, and abilities, and boldly create a satisfying career.

Some may have dreamed about moving away or traveling abroad, seeing and experiencing as much of life as possible.

Some may have wanted a certain relationship, dream, or goal to happen in their life.

Some poured a lot of time, prayers, and love into their marriage, children, and family and greatly desired to see the fruits of their labor and loving investment produce something of great value.

Some might have pursued health and wellness to the fullest.

Some have invested a lot of hard work and sacrifice into building their education, career, or business.

There are many desires, fairytales, and kingdoms we would’ve chosen if we could have been in total control…

…but the truth is, “life” happens.

Relationships end.

Finances may collapse.

Family and marital issues are far too real.

Illness and disabilities happen.

A spouse may commit adultery and leave you heartbroken.

Children may rebel or greatly mistreat you.

Friends and family may betray your heart and trust.

Infertility hurts your heart and hope deeply.

Family, in-laws, or friends may betray or reject you.

Loved ones die.

People fail us…and we fail them.

Plans we make crash and burn.

Fairytales we’ve created in our heart crumble and are compromised or destroyed…by others, ourselves, or “life.”

This past year may have been a real challenge for you…maybe the last decade, or your whole life has been difficult. Perhaps you have seen the fairytale you greatly desired fade right out of sight.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or you’ve watched people you dearly love go through grief, illness, or trauma. Perhaps you were given a terrible diagnosis. Maybe you’ve watched someone you deeply love walk away. You might’ve watched your marriage or family crumble…or a family member turn away from God. Maybe you’ve seen the desires you once held dear be sifted and slip through your fingers.

Something God has been showing me the last few years (after experiencing multiple major grief events) is to persevere … to love Him no matter what. To place my “fairytales” – all of my heart’s greatest treasures and desires – in His super caring…and super capable…hands. This isn’t always easy; in fact, it’s much easier said than done – especially when you’re going through major grief or trials.

My frustrations, disappointments, and heartaches have taught me many important life lessons. These lessons have come at a high price, but I’m not sure I could’ve learned them any other way.

Although hurts, frustrations, and disappointments can come from multiple sources, some originate from an unexpected source: ourselves. We break our own heart. We want to play God. We think we know best and try to force the “glass slippers” in our life to fit. We will wiggle, stretch, or try to broaden or shrink our feet (life) to make our plans and desires fit God’s plans. God has a better plan, but we want what we want.

God asks us to close the door on something, and if we refuse, He closes it for us. We then become upset. Instead of seeking to find the right “doors” He wants us to find and enter…we instead stay stagnant at a closed door, resenting Him for not answering our prayers – and we desperately try to “pick the lock” of the closed door. Oh, how we cry at the shut doors and become upset with God for not doing things our way – and for not giving us the “happily ever after” we envisioned.

As I was talking to God about this very thing a few years ago, I felt as though He was saying, “I don’t always allow the glass slipper to fit in the way you so desperately want to wear it. I know you want it to fit, but I love you enough to take that glass slipper away from you, place it behind a closed door, and lock the door because in My higher wisdom, I can clearly see how that glass slipper will eventually shatter…and then you would be stuck with broken, shattered slippers that would forever cut you the rest of your life.”

Sometimes, God protects us from the fairytales He knows will end badly; other times, I have found (particularly in times of deep rebellion or extended disobedience), God will allow us to make those ill-fitting glass slippers to fit. Sometimes, we need a painful reminder to not make the same unwise choices again.

God knows what is best – whether we like it or not. He is God and we are not. He is all knowing…our vision is so very limited. He doesn’t owe us our fairytale or our “happily ever after”…if we were to look at all of the good in our lives and every blessing, it’s astonishing how good He truly is to us. Even when bad things happen…He may be mercifully preventing something far worse from happening in the future.

If God closes a door or removes a glass slipper in your life, press forward, seek Him with all of your heart, and see what He has in store for you.

Many problems are born out of not viewing life or eternity correctly. We faultily believe life is about our comfort and blessings here on earth…and we fail to see that life is ultimately a training ground to prepare us for Heaven.

Everything we experience or go through in life – all of it (the good and the bad) – has great value and purpose. Every joy, every success, and even every heartache, disappointment, and failure brings us closer to God’s heart as these precious life experiences prepare us for Heaven. Nothing is ever wasted when we give it (and continue to give it back) to God. We can waste or take for granted the lessons God offers us, but each has a specific purpose.

Our minds cannot possibly wrap around or understand God’s plans, thoughts, or ways…and some of them may even seem incredibly cruel.

Being told you or a loved one have cancer (or another major health issue) is devastating. Going through relationship, marriage, or family difficulties…or other hardships in life…again, it totally stinks. It tempts us to think that God doesn’t care or that He somehow dropped the ball. But the fact is, God cares more than we can ever begin to fathom or imagine.

God loves us, and if we could see the overall picture that He is painting in our life and our loved ones’ lives, we’d totally be ashamed of any time we’ve doubted Him, His Word, His promises, or His goodness.

I’m just like everyone else…there are things in life I deeply struggle with and don’t understand. I don’t have everything figured out…and there are situations I sure do wish God would heal, repair, give justice in, or fix. There are some things I’ll never understand or agree with…not in a billion years.

We are fortunate God is so patient with us. He allows the questions throughout our deepest heart’s grief. He shows up. He cares.

We don’t know what Heaven will ultimately be like, but God is a great God of purpose, order, goodness, and creativity. This I know to be true.

As we go through the death of a fairytale or the death of a great desire of our heart, it is so vital to remember that God promises He will be making up for all of the bad we suffer and go through on earth (Joel 2:25-32; Revelation 21:3-5; Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Acts 3:19-21; Psalm 51; Job 42:10-17; Jeremiah 33; and so many other verses that share of God’s healing, blessings, and restoration).

When we faultily believe that life is primarily about our happiness…without caring about the incredible holy work God wants to perfect in our heart…we shortchange ourselves and those around us.

Don’t get me wrong. God loves to give us the desires of our hearts…He loves to see joy and happiness in our lives — He truly does. But when we have a specific purpose that God has in store for us (or our loved ones)…and then we rebel or refuse to obey God or fail to make His purpose and plans our first priority – above our desires and “fairytales” – then why are we surprised when life becomes stressful, difficult, and chaotic?

I love the quote by Lecrae: “You can live like there’s no tomorrow…but tomorrow always shows up full of consequences.” The same is true: God gives us free will to disobey, reject, and rebel against God when our fairytales crumble, but the consequences of these decisions will eventually catch up to us.

I’ve seen a lot of my fairytales end up in flames. Sometimes, “life” just happened – I didn’t do anything wrong and it was totally unfair. Other times, if I’m truly honest with myself, I can trace my heartaches and disappointments in life back to times when I disobeyed God or didn’t submit to Him. The consequences may not have shown up until years later, but in my heart, I know where the pain truly originated from.

When it comes to our life, our castles, kingdoms, and fairytales, they must fall so that God’s perfect plans can be rightfully built in their place instead.

Instead of us making ourselves the kings and queens of our own lives (which is ridiculously easy to do…knowingly and unknowingly), we need to exalt the King of Kings over every facet of our lives instead. When we truly do this, God gives us the desires of our heart. The difference is He takes away the glass slippers (desires) that could cut us deeply, and instead gives us a fresh new pair of sturdy, unbreakable glass slippers that are custom designed, the correct size, and a joy to wear…no pain or hardship is attached to them. If we do go through hardships down the road, the slippers will hold us up because we will be walking in God’s perfect, purpose-filled, peaceful will.

You may be in the worst chapter of your life right now, but with God, your life story is far from over. Give God the “pen” of your life’s book and ask Him to write the remaining chapters of your life.

What if you’ve already quit on God? It’s not too late! Just the fact that you’re reading this is proof that God has amazing plans for your life! Simply ask God to forgive you and tell Him you want HIS plans and purpose to prevail from this moment forward. Ask Him to guide and direct you.

Your very best days may not have even happened yet. We need to fully trust God to write our life stories. It will be far better than any fairytale we could ever write ourselves. Yes, we will still go through grief, hardships, and difficulties, but they will not be in vain.

What could God truly accomplish if we were to trade in our glass slippers and fairytales for His perfect will? God wants so much for us to trust Him, obey Him, and delight in Him.

God created all of His marvelous creation in just one week. Think what our Creator can accomplish in our lives if we were to give up our fairytales, and dedicate the remainder of this year to Him.

When we trade in our fairytales and kingdoms, God always gives us something far greater: He gives us true crowns and grants us a life we will wake up to each day and be truly excited to walk throughout our life with Him!

One day, we will see He is the truest Friend we can ever hope to have. Everything will all make perfect sense.

Today, share your heart, dreams, goals, and plans with God – your most treasured fairytales – and ask Him to do more than you could ask, think, or imagine…ask Him to accomplish His perfect Will for your life!❤️

He is faithful!

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. ❤️NEW!❤️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 guidanc

A Special Prayer For Your Marriage

Marriage today can be tough. There are so many attacks on marriages and so many day-to-day challenges.

If you are going through marriage problems, please know that God truly cares. Take some time today to get alone with God and pray for your marriage. If you know of a family member or friend who is going through a tough time in their marriage, intercede in prayer for their marriage, too!

This prayer by Beth Moore is one of my favorites! God used this specific prayer in my own marriage over a decade ago to bring about great change.

If you are married, after you check out this prayer, take some time this weekend to show your spouse how much you love them…thank them for all they do…plan a special time with them…remember your love story and the days of when you fell in love with each other.

With God, there is always HOPE!!!

A Valentine’s Prayer by Beth Moore

PRAY (out loud if possible):

My powerful and glorious and holy God, with everything I have and everything I am in Christ, I come before Your Throne to intercede on behalf of marriages, especially mine. Lord, I come before You with complete confidence because I know with irrefutable certainty that I am praying according to Your will. Father, You are PRO-MARRIAGE. You are FOR US. And if You are for us, who indeed can be against us? Lord, Your enemy the devil is waging full scale war on the marriages of Your own children. Havoc resides in the earthly house of God. Our churches will only be as strong as the families that inhabit them.

If not for Your Spirit living within us, Satan’s psychological warfare would be almost too much to bear and his lies too sly to discern. We cry out to You, Lord! I ask You to rise from Your Throne in & on behalf of each of our homes and marriages and cause our enemies to scatter violently. Open our eyes to the deceit of the enemy that tempts spouses to think they need something – or someone – brand new. Help them to see that it would be an unending cycle of newness always wearing off and demanding something deeper to sustain it. Renew us, Lord! You created marriage and You alone can sustain it. Breathe fresh life into each of our marriages. You are a master at resurrection life. Raise marriages from the dead, O Lord! Reclaim those that have given up. Put a holy tenacity in them to refuse to let go. Give each spouse eyes only for each other. Cause each husband to thrill to the touch of his wife. Cause each wife to thrill to the touch of her husband. Renew a fiery passion in their hearts toward one another. Fill each wife with the desire and obedience to treat her man like he’s the real man You created him to be. Forgive us our serious trespasses of dishonoring or belittling our spouses in any way. Forgive us for making our men secondary priorities to our children. Help us to see that the best thing we could ever do for our children is to have a wonderful relationship with their father.

Cause each man to be lavish in his demonstrations of love toward his wife. Open his eyes to see how hard she works and how badly she needs his blessing. In turn, open her eyes to the pressures that fall daily upon her man and enable her to love him in a way that soothes and relieves him. CLAIM OUR HOMES AND OUR MARRIAGES, LORD! I know You can perform miracles over the worst of marriages. You performed countless wonders over my own. Lord, in Jesus’ Name, You bring to a stunning halt every weapon forged & formed against my marriage & each couple’s marriage and every scheme the enemy may already have under way. Bind every single person and subsequent action that may be coming against my marriage & family, or one of these marriages & families. Halt any hint of extra-marital flirtation or fantasy in the powerful Name of Jesus. Cause any “other” person that has become dangerously attractive to a married spouse to now become utterly repulsive to them…and cause our spouses to become utterly repulsive to the “other” person. Empower every person at risk to flee for his or her life from sexual temptation, impurity, and immorality. Make each spouse TRUE, Lord, in heart, soul, mind, and spirit.

God, I lift this to You with great urgency and fervency. Enough is enough! Enough Christian marriages have disintegrated! I don’t just pray for couples to stay together. I pray for them to LOVE staying together. I pray for the return of laughter, flirtation, desire, and life-long commitment. Interrupt mediocrity with fresh fire. We are all weak in our natural selves, Lord, and we know we’ll never have perfect marriages and homes but we are fully capable in Your sovereign power to have good ones. Healthy ones. FUN ONES. L-A-S-T-I-N-G ONES! Lord, the beauty of praying in Your will is knowing that every single couple who desires and receives it can have it. Every couple can be healed. Every couple can be in love again. Every family can be healed & whole if they are willing. Make EVERY SPOUSE & FAMILY MEMBER willing! I offer this intercession with the absolute belief that You initiated it, Lord. You do not waste time nor effort. If You prompted it, You meant to answer it. Now, compassionate and wonderful Father, do what only You can do. Out-do everything we ask. Do more than we could think to request so that Your great Name can be magnified above all else. I set before You every marriage represented by those who read this entry. Cause every couple & their family members to have a glorious Head-on collision with You, Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Nothing is too difficult for You. My prayers are unmistakably heard and my thanks already appropriate because I offer each of these petitions in the incomparable and delivering Name of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Check out Beth Moore’s page for more encouragement: https://www.lproof.org

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2018 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

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

⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

⭐️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

7 TIPS FOR HELPING A GRIEVING LOVED ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Do you know 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 loved, treasured, and missed. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the fact 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 can 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 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 hint or 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 or chores for them. A small kindness and helpful gesture goes a very long way in encouraging someone 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 special Christmas church event, 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, unfortunately, they avoid seeing them altogether. Please let the grievers in your life know you care. An invitation can 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. Simply let them know someone truly cares. No words necessary…just be truly, genuinely caring and a good listener. And if they confide in you, please do not betray that precious trust. 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 realize.

Please consider whose life (and heart) you can make a difference in this week! Think of someone you know who is going through grief or a hard time and 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:

🎄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.

🎄❤️🎄

Divorce Prevention: Questions To Ask Before Getting Married

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these statistics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com

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

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

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

    https://www.celebraterecovery.com

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

    http://www.purposedriven.com

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

    http://www.chazown.com

    http://www.rickwarren.org/devotional

    http://www.rejoicemarriageministries.com

    http://www.familylife.com

    https://www.gottman.com

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

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

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

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

    ⭐️For more encouragement:

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

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

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

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

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The 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): Click here for book

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

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

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

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

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