Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 26th January 2016

Gratitude Starts With a “P”

As a mom, there are days when I simply don’t know what to do. I want to raise my kids to love and serve the Lord with grateful hearts. But I also know how easy it is can be to cave when they want stuff, or when they want the rules lightened up. How many of us have heard these words from our kids: “But everyone else’s parents say it’s okay!” On those days, I often ask myself, “What would Kristen Welch do?”

Well, lucky us. Kristen is right here with a story about gratitude. Her book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, releases today. It is a game-changer. I’ve read it front to back — twice. Kristen is a friend — but she is also a mentor to me, and to thousands of others. When she writes blog posts about raising kids in an entitled world, the posts go viral. That’s because so many of us need to know that we are not alone, and we have the voice of Kristen Welch, leading the way.

Welcome Kristen to the blog.

Gratitude Starts With A P

By Kristen Welch

A year ago, early on a Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and drove an hour to a government housing complex. Twenty-two apartment buildings line either side of a long street, home to more than fifty thousand refugees relocated to our city.

A few of my friends, along with our husbands and kids, had joined The Refugee Project to help clean up the “clubhouse,” where we help with a crocheting and knitting class for the refugee women. It was actually a vacant, musty three-bedroom apartment filled with an assortment of books, broken chairs, and dirty tables that needed a good scrubbing and fresh paint.

There was plenty of work to be done on this workday. We sorted and scrubbed and swept. We filled holes in the walls and stocked the shelves with books. We taped and painted, mopped, and dragged piles of trash bags to the dumpster.

Our children worked together to wrap more than six hundred crocheted bracelets onto cards that were going into the next Fair Trade Friday membership box. The cards had the word Thrive typed across them. That’s the hope of The Refugee Project—that these displaced women will find a place in Christ and thrive.

I looked around the apartment and smiled at my family. My husband who hates to paint (at least that’s what he tells me every time I ask), was completing a masterful job painting a wall. My son was wrapping bracelets, sitting next to my youngest, who was winding yarn into balls. My teen was in the bathroom creating face-paint designs on little children, with a long line of customers waiting their turns.

I stood in the center of that room and thought, My children haven’t complained once. They haven’t asked for anything. They didn’t think of themselves while we worked hour after hour. They found a need and filled it. My next thought hit me so hard I had to blink back tears: Our family is at its best—our absolute best—when we are doing something for someone else.

When our hands are busy serving others, we aren’t thinking about what we don’t have. Instead, we are thankful for what we do have. We drove an hour away from our house to step into a different culture, and it broadened our worldview.

Perspective is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids (and ourselves). And service is one of the best ways to package it. Kids are like us—their perspective is based on what is in front of them. As parents, I think it’s our job to find ways to change how our children see the world by altering their view occasionally. If we see life through only one lens, we believe the misconception that everyone in the world has what we do, and our blessings start looking a lot like expectations. We can offer a new worldview in a variety of ways, but mostly it occurs through discomfort. What we know; where we live, work, attend school and church; what we eat—all these things are familiar and comfortable. It’s not necessarily perfect or what we want, but we feel safe in what we know.

When I’m able to offer my kids a change in circumstances, I am always amazed at their reaction to being uncomfortable, touched by their compassion, and inspired by their motivation.

When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t . . . always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love. – Romans 13:8-10, MSG

It was after four in the afternoon when we piled back into the car and headed home. I was enjoying the comfortable quietness, realizing that the air was thick with satisfaction.

I turned back toward the kids. “Do you remember the sixteen-year-old refugee girl who helped us wrap bracelets?” They all nodded.

“She asked me if she could come to our class and learn to crochet like her sisters and mom and grandmother,” I said. “Because she also wants to earn money.”

“Doesn’t she go to school?” Madison asked. I explained that she did, but she wanted the money for something special. “She plays the cello and is very talented. She earned a scholarship for a music school but still needs more money to make her dream a reality.”

The car was quiet again, and I thought maybe my kids were thinking about how much they love music. Or maybe they were thinking about the instruments they own and love or the opportunity they have to take lessons. Or maybe they were wondering how to help a girl their age do the same.

“Mom,” my twelve-year-old son broke the silence. “I loved today.”

My heart nearly burst. RGK-gratefulheart I think we were all created to ask the question, What can I do that matters? My job as a parent is to get my kids to ask it because when they do, they might just see the big world (and others) for the first time.

*This post is an excerpt from Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead To Life’s Ultimate Yes

Kristen Welch Kristen Welch blogs at WeAreThatFamily.com where she shares about parenting, marriage and inspirational encouragement. Her family founded Mercy House, a non-profit that empowers impoverished and oppressed women around the world. Kristen is an author; her newest book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World releases today.


Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Lisa Appelo. I love how she differentiated between “obeying and “responding” to God… but more than that, I love the way she told such a beautiful, heartbreaking story. Find Lisa here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 xo Jennifer

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  • What a great picture of bringing our children into ministry. I’ve admired how Kristen does that so much as a family. This post is making me think about my own family and carving out more family ministry. Thank you for featuring my post, Jennifer, and I’m praying for you and your father this morning.

  • Thank you for sharing this, Kristen and Jennifer. Our kids have so much to be grateful for and I love the idea of giving them perspective. Gratitude isn’t in our nature is it – it’s something our children have to be shown. We truly have to cultivate that in them and serving others is such a great way to give them visual and tangible reminders of how very blessed we are. Thank you.

  • Angela Howard

    I’ve found this to be very true! When my son Ben went on a trip to serve at the Dream Center in LA it gave him a huge dose of perspective. As parents we can be tempted to teach through lecture and experience is so much more powerful. This post was a great reminder of that! Thank you.

  • Anita

    I love that you’re teaching your kids to serve the world instead of raising them to think that the world should serve them! Our daughters enjoyed translating on mission trips to Mexico when they were younger, and they are both choosing to go into the ‘helping’ professions (they’re becoming teachers 🙂 ).

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  • Mary

    Thank you for teaching your children to see beyond themselves through the service of others. Your work with your family will make a lasting impact. Your book sounds like a beautiful offering to spread this message of perspective to others. Blessings!

  • Kristi Woods

    Love in action ~ so beautiful. Your children will reap much in life with experiences and outreaches like this, Kristen. And I love that you shared it with us. It gives me ideas for my own kids! Best wishes and prayers for your book release.

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  • Wow, thank you Kristen for such a good word! My teens were born in a very poor “third world” country, and they grew up in a Mid Eastern city now flooded with Syrian refugees. Last year they put on a benefit dinner to raise money for Syrians, did EVERYTHING themselves.

    But you know what, we still forget. We still start living as if we’re “entitled.” Thanks so much for your words today.

  • Your story is so inspiring, Kristen! My daughter and son-in-law are raising three beautiful daughters, so I will be ordering your book as a gift for them. So glad Jennifer introduced us all to you. What a blessing!

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  • Anna Smit

    Thank you for this practical encouragement as a parent. It’s so true that working together to help others helps open our hearts to others and encourages us to look away from ourselves. As a nine year old, I took part in two aid trips my parents did to Romania just after the revolution there in 1989. It opened my entitled eyes to true poverty and need. I will never ever forget what I saw there, nor what I felt as I saw the beautiful children in the orphanages there and how broken down and dilapidated the houses were. It broke my heart.

    Thank you for reminding me to involve my children in similar experiences now. Our hearts definitely need breaking: not just theirs, mine too.

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  • Tara Ulrich

    Yes. Serving others is such a gift. Jesus loved serving others. He is a great model for us all. I’m reminded of the words from Micah 6:8

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  • Susan

    Heading to Amazon to purchase the book for my daughter. Love the paint story!

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  • I loved this book, and was thankful for the opportunity to review it this month! Kristen, thanks for coming alongside us to encourage us in the upstream swimming!

  • This is what I want for my family. To see that the greatest joy and pleasures in life come from serving others. In the new year, I plan on doing more serve projects with them.

  • Alisa Nicaud

    Kristen, this is so my heart these days! I love your comment about blessings beginning to look like expectations. I don’t want my kids entering the “real world” with an entitlement mentality (my oldest will be an adult in 4 months!) I love that you go do projects like this together as a family.

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  • Kristen,
    Yes 🙂 It is a battle to keep our perspective and to help our children develop gratitude …Great post! We’ve seen the same when we’ve served as a family, it always helps us all regain a perspective of gratitude 🙂 Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing.

  • This is such an important message in our culture of entitlement. Also, I really believe ingratitude isthe ugly root at the base of so much of sin.

  • This >>> Our family is at its best—our absolute best—when we are doing something for someone else.>>> So good! I loved this post so much. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing.

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  • It’s a matter of perspective. How you conceive life reflects what’s really inside you. Beautifully written as always.

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  • Nancy Ruegg

    It IS more blessed to give than receive, because generosity of time, talent, and effort (as well as financial assistance) results in contentment and gratitude, which then usher in joy. Wonderful post! Jennifer, thank you for introducing us to Kristen Welch.

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  • Nancy Franson

    Well dang. I wish she’d written this book when I was a young mama. Then again . . . I got grand babies! Good work, Kristen, and thanks for hosting her here, Birthday Gal!

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