Challenge 7: Love Consistently

Loving is living consistently in service to others and doing it naturally like taking an unhindered breath. I find this most times to be true with my family, though loving them is sometimes challenging. I would bet many of us fall in the realm of living consistently in service to our family, but what about others? Since loving is living and our lives occupy space beyond our families, how do we love those in spaces our families don’t occupy? Do you make a habit of living consistently in service to others and doing it naturally like taking an unhindered breath?

Loving is living
perhaps weekly.
always intentionally.
not sporadically.

Loving consistently is truly a radical act of love.

Take a Risk Challenge: 1) Examine the spaces where you need to consistently show love. 2) Develop a plan to display radical love in each. 3) Choose one place to begin consistently living in service to others starting this week.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Andre playing guitar—beautiful!
Advising my sister through a tough moment
Mama admitting her mistake
Sharon meeting Mama at the printer to get the obituary for Granddad
Hanging with Andrina
Sitting in, not having to organize, a program
Flynn offering to help me get ready
Andrina taking me to the cleaners
Floyd taking Joshua to piano class
Attending the Mother-Daughter Tea with Andrina

Challenge 6: Thank Your Offender

I hate seeing the ugliness in myself. Who does? But the seeing is a necessary gift, one we can unwrap every time we discover through disappointment and pain what’s inside of us. Our eyes may be opened from a loved one’s death, a loss of a job, a hurtful mate, a scheming co-worker or a backbiting friend. Once the situation brings out hateful words, vindictive actions and other ungodly ways to deal with our emotions, we can choose to continue down that path or stop and thank our offender for being used to help us see our ugliness inside that came out in that tough moment. That person gave you a gift and we should thank her.

Take a Risk Challenge: Thank someone who has offended you for giving you the gift of seeing the ugliness inside of you that you need to work on through God’s strength.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Josh getting his annual check up
Josh wanting to go to the radio station with me
Ms. Fisher accommodating Joshua by allowing him to makeup missed work
Conversation with Pastor Brooks about homeschooling and “Waiting for Superman”
Flynn not going to get food
Having to cook
Not speaking harshly to Flynn in my disappointment
Getting the boys to bed before 9 p.m.
Flynn working to get out of the mud by making the lunches, loading the dishwasher and uploading and downloading my radio interview on CD
Noelle playing cello

Challenge 5: Make Another Attempt

Last week I challenged you to reconcile with someone. How did that go? I called (only once) the person I know has an issue with me but she didn’t call me back. Should I stop, saying “Well, I called. She didn’t call me back. Now it’s on her.” While that may be tempting, I know that’s not acceptable. Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (NLT). Making one phone call is not doing all I can to live at peace with this person. I can call again. I can email or text her, write and mail her a letter, send a gift with a note, drop by her house, invite her to dinner, cook her dinner…I think you understand what I am saying. Our world of disposal products and instantaneous food and electronic results has us disposing of people who don’t immediately (or at all) respond the way we want them to. This is not the way of love. “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). So as we attempt to reconcile with the one we offended or the one who offended us, let us remember what true love is and seek to show it.

Take a Risk Challenge: *Make another attempt to reconcile with the person that you may have been unsuccessful with last week. If you are capable, try one of the suggestions listed above or come up with your own. Making another attempt truly is a radical act of love.

*This challenge is not for people to place themselves back into an abusive situation. If you are in danger, you need to seek safety.

My One Thousand Gifts List

My gifts and heartfelt not from Ruth for my birthday
Justus and Nathaniel’s joy at seeing me arrive home
My husband’s touch
My cooking video featured on The Brand New Mommy blog
Not grieving over my grandfather’s death, who passed
Flynn being able to get rest even though I wasn’t able to
Clarity of thought answering interview questions for my EEW Magazine profile
Being on the radio with Pastor Brooks to discuss Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood
Tayshawn for being brave enough to call into the radio station
Selling eight books

Challenge 4: Counter the Attack

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”—1 Peter 4:8 (ESV)

About 10 years ago one of my church members offended me bad. I was relatively young in the faith, a new mom, still quick to want to cut someone, and insecure about my mothering. This was a lethal combination ready to be doused on someone who questioned my maternal ability. And I was ready to throw it on Marsha, who to my god daughter, Bobbi, said that I must not hug my toddler son much because he was so clingy to Bobbi. Being only 16, Bobbi thought the best thing to do was to share with me what happened. “Sister Rhonda, I wasn’t going to tell you, but it bothered me. I see you with Joshua and know how much you hug him. I also thought you and Sister Marsha were cool. Why would she say something like that?”

“I don’t know and may never know,” I said, deciding to let Marsha’s comment go, but I clung to it. Marsha had been to my house for bible study, we were both in a small prayer group, and we had exchanged experiences about our young sons, each our first. We had a rapport so why would she say that about me? Had my fear of not being affectionate to Joshua come to pass? The more I thought, I became angry and knew I needed to confront so I wouldn’t affront her. I offended her anyway.

After I shared my offense, she never denied the comment but dogged me for listening to a teenager and then told me what she disliked about me and my family and how we made her feel inadequate. I got off the phone and regretted the confrontation. My huband, Flynn, helped me see that if I hadn’t confronted her I might not know how she really felt. Now I could pray specifically for her needs. After shouting and pouting about the incident and what I knew I needed to do.

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them” (Romans 12:14)

I prayed. God showed me the real source of her hurt and led me to write and give her a poem based on the revelation. She cried and gave me a monogrammed shirt. Our fellowship was restored.

Take a Risk Challenge: Think about someone who has offended you and pray that God will show you how to bless, not curse, the person. Blessing and not cursing an offender is truly a radical act of love. Remember, love covers a multitude of sins.

My One Thousand Gifts List

The devotion time at L.I.F.T.
Connecting with the women at L.I.F.T.
Having the support of my mom, aunt, Nichole, Wayne and Ruth at L.I.F.T.
Remembering my message without being glued to my notes
The name of Jesus being lifted high as Lord and Savior
Ten women at L.I.F.T. getting saved
Selling 14 books
Taking pictures with the ladies
Wayne and Nichole helping with book sales
Ruth for audio taping and videotaping my message