Today kicks off week 2 of our 12 Weeks of Virtue Summer Challenge that I am doing with my family this summer. As explained in my introduction to our 12 Weeks of Virtues Summer 2017 Challenge this blog series is based on a 12-week challenge I designed around the book “In This House We Giggle” by Courtney DeFeo that I read this past April. The line up of virtue’s and schedule during which I am completing this challenge with my family is included in PDF form 12 Weeks of Virtue Summer Plan. Our first virtue was Joy (check that out here at 12 Weeks Of Virtue Week 1: Joy) and you can start at any time from the beginning according to your family’s desire. Our second virtue that is our focus of this week’s devotions is love…..
Like most of this book, In This House We Will Giggle and the sentiments the author Courtney DeFeo includes, I agree with the sentiment of this picture wholeheartedly and I feel like this is genuinely the most important yet overlooked way to LOVE, by doing so on those you see most & spend the most time with. These are the people most consistently chipping away at your patience, happiness and at least for me, productivity. These are the people, in my opinion, that will benefit you the most from practicing love on. It will take work, and once fully aware of and focused on your actions and choices it may even begin to feel difficult, but practicing real love on the ones you spend the most time with is THE BEST way to learn love.
What is love?
It can seem easy to demonstrate love for a short amount of time because in all reality demonstrating love and actually feeling love are two different things. Demonstrating love could encompass acting like you love, and acting doesn’t require emotional entanglement or even genuine good intentions. You can act like you love briefly for your own benefit if you wanted, because acting is like a hat you put on, so you can seem to others however good you want to be perceived as based on your level of commitment to the “love cause” in that moment… and that may appear to be love but in fact it is self-serving and in reality the total opposite of practicing real love.
“Love is a complex topic and extremely hard to define, but you sure do know it when you bump into it.” -“In This House We Will Giggle” by Courtney DeFeo
Showing love, practicing real love, is not the same as actually feeling the heart pounding, soul shivering love that makes two people commit their lives to each other as husband and wife either though. I would call that romantic love. Romantic love is a whole different thing as well and typically far more complicated than just plain old LOVE. For the purpose of this chapter in her book, Courtney focused on biblical love and so for the purpose of this week in our 12 Weeks of Virtues Summer Study, we will focus on biblical love too. Practicing real love, biblical love requires the willingness to completely sacrifice for the benefit of another. Like Jesus Christ sacrificed for us on the cross.
The act of biblical love doesn’t need feelings involved at the start to be done, it essentially is the act of choosing to show someone love just because, with no gain of your own, simply for the purpose of benefitting that of which you are practicing real love on. Biblical Love is an act of obedience, and though biblical love doesn’t require feelings in the start, it is sure to create some feelings in the act. You can show love once to the person walking into the coffee shop behind you briefly, by simply making a conscious decision to hold the door for them, and that would be showing a small example of love and create a small moment of joy in your insides. But would you do it every single day, allowing them to beat you to the line, delaying the purchase of your own coffee, every, single, day? If you did so, it would likely create immense feelings of kindness and gratitude inside of that person for whom you keep holding the door. similarly, you can show love once to an elderly person at the grocery store struggling to reach an item on the top shelf by assisting in getting the item down for them……..but would you be willing to stop your own shopping to follow alongside them helping them retrieve every item they couldn’t reach? If you did I am sure you would stir up feelings in that elderly person. I also find that in looking for ways to practice real love in your day-to-day can create positive, impressionable moments and feelings in yourself as well.
I often tell my children that the easiest way to find JOY in their lives is by following this model:
Value in your priorities should be
J- Jesus 1st, Put Him above all other…when you actively seek Him and His will you will not be steered wrong and will be less likely to be distracted or discouraged by Satan.
O- Others 2nd, look for opportunities to bless others, big acts or small within your means and in keeping with Gods will, in the name of Jesus. You never know when the smallest act of kindness and love from you could completely transform their mood, their moment, or their life. We should bless others in return through the blessings God has given us.
Y- Yourself last, not to be forgotten, bless yourself with the building blocks of your own personal JOY recipe because we MUST include ourselves as a priority in order to be Mentally Happy and Healthy. However allowing ourselves to be our last priority leaves room for us to bless others as a priority, and in turn allows those in our lives to have the opening & opportunities to bless us in return without us beating them to the punch. (No act of giving should be done with reciprocation as an expectation though, rather of a pure and genuinely loving heart. Don’t worry, God knows the difference)
I have never officially learned my “Love Language” but I don’t need to learn it officially to know that my personal “Love Language” is Acts of Service. I feel strongly that because of the GRACE of Jesus Christ my Savior alone I have the ability to serve others for His good. He brings my thoughts back down when I let them get the best of me. He reminds me to focus on Him because He has it all figured out anyway! He provides in all areas of need and it’s because of this that I feel confident in this virtue of love when it comes to strangers and those in my extended social circle. I look for all opportunities to serve others, sometimes to my own detriment if I am completely honest. I do however feel that I lack in remembering to demonstrate Love in all the little ways at home, with those I love the most but whom also pick at me and strip down to “me-centered responses” the fastest. It’s because of this area lacking in my own walk that I knew this was another area in this journey to giggle more that God wanted for my family this summer and also in this blog series. I have again included printable decorative PDF’s for each virtue with a quote that I have found either in the book “In This House We Will Giggle” or elsewhere to encourage me each week as well. This weeks quote jumped off the page at me again and is in this weeks title image also. I will be printing it for my office also so I can reference it easily & regularly. Love – Quote for inspiration
Each week I am going to share with you my “Weekly Outline” for each new Virtue and the PDF’s for the printables that I created and intend to use with my children for this 12 Weeks of Virtue Challenge.
Sunday – Introduce LOVE Virtue & the Memory Verse for the week & explain the Weekly Activity (the weekly activity alone is a great reason to order or buy the book. For each chapter, there is a two-page Activity Idea detailed and explained. This weeks activity is Love ‘Em Up Idea’s and it’s basically a series of pages in the book with different “Love ‘Em Up Ideas” for siblings to siblings, children to parents, parents to children and some miscellaneous ways that Courtney DeFeo encourages you to look for ways to serve those in your home this week, filling your home with LOVE!
Memory Verse “We love because first He loved us” 1John 4:19
I have created a PDF that includes a printable Memory Verse that I plan to print and display on my refrigerator door for the week on the top and the Family Discussion Questions for the virtue that you can print for free to use.
Monday – Daily Devotion for the day, read 1Corinthians 13:4-8 and introduce “Love “Em Up Idea’s”. I may add a printable version of this list through a post-amendment but for now, I just encourage you to explain this concept in a way that makes it easy for your kiddo’s or go pick up the book!
Tuesday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Galatians 5:6, 14 and discuss first 3 Family Discussion Questions included in the Memory Verse PDF
Wednesday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Colossians 2:2 & 3:14 and partake in a Bring Out the Giggles Idea. The book includes “60 ways to bring out the giggles” and in my 12 Weeks of Virtues Summer Challenge Schedule, I included 12 that I chose for my family. I encourage you to pick up the book at your local Barnes & Noble or pick it up online through Amazon so you can read the whole book and also have the full list of “60 ways to bring out the giggles” to choose what will appeal to your family most!
Thursday – Daily Devotion for the day, read 1John 4:7-8 and discuss the remaining 3 Family Discussion Questions.
Friday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Luke 6:27-36 and participate in this weeks Encourage Activity, to write a letter or make a card for someone in your life who LOVES well!
Saturday – Daily Devotion for the day, read Ephesians 3:17-18 as well as participate in a fun Family Activity Day! This week I am planning a love-themed night of fun for our family activity.
Virtue two-Love Overview of the week
10 Ways to Break a Bad-Mood Cycle a great tool from the book to reference through all 12 weeks!
Lastly, I also created a FREE printable PDF including the other six Daily Devotional verses included here Devotions Verses-Love. I encourage you to look up all 6 of the Bible Daily Devotions at the start of each week. You can just look them all up at the start of the week and then cut these cards apart to use each one as a page marker for the verse in the bible so you can be prepared.
I hope you choose to join me & my family in this 12 Weeks of Virtue Summer Challenge and if you do decide to, please let me know in the comments! I will be trying to post the remaining Weekly Virtues outline’s in the morning part of the day on Sundays for the next 10 weeks. My weekend was exceptionally busy and I just couldn’t find the time to put the finishing touches on this post until today, my apologies! Life has a way of making certain things and people priorities when you try to live intentionally in God’s will and that means sometimes my plans for myself change! Have a blessed and Joyful LOVE filled week and check back tomorrow for an unrelated post about how I plan to keep my kids’ brains academically fresh during the summer!
As always, thanks for reading!