17 January 2016

Raising Grateful Kids

Today I am participating in a "blog hop."  Truthfully, I am not exactly sure what that means, but I do know that I am writing about Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World by Kristen Welch.  I have had the privilege of reading this book as part of the launch team.  And y'all are going to love this book.  For real.

Because, you know what?  It is hard to raise grateful kids in an entitled world.  And sometimes it feels awkward and lonely and unattainable.  Am I right?

This book has been such a good read; it has challenged me, encouraged me, and reminded me that we are not in this alone.  {You can go pre-order it here.}

While I feel that our boys are a pretty grateful bunch, I can see how it has been a hard fight to get here at times.  And I know without a doubt that it is an ongoing battle.

Beyond question, I feel our family has an advantage when it comes to being grateful because of our time as a military family.  Its hard to take simple things for granted when you go without them for long stretches of time.  A daddy reading bedtime stories before bed is priceless.  Visiting with extended family after being far away for so long cannot be undervalued.  Realizing God has brought you lifelong friends in a short period of time is a gift beyond measure.  Truly, our family gained so much perspective while living that life. I pray that the gratitude we learned there will always be woven into our family story.

Obviously, our involvement with the foster care community has given us a perspective that helps guide our boys toward gratitude as well.  Our older boys have been able to volunteer in the clothing closet and at Brad's work sorting donations for foster kiddos.  This has opened the door for so many conversations about children in difficult situtions. {And about why people donate junk, but that will be a separate blog post.} Being aware that there are kiddos in our own community that wish for nothing more than a family is a reality check for any child. While we do our best to not lay anything too heavy on our boys, and we try to keep our conversations age-approriate, we do not sugar coat the truth.

Even with these built-in perspective boosters, gratefulness is sometimes elusive.  We have to work for it.  And the work starts with Brad and I.   If we aren't grateful, our children won't be either. I love this quote from Kristen's book:

Through the book, at the end of each chapter, Kristen provides a "Going Against the Flow" list broken down by age group: parents, toddlers/preschoolers, elementary, tweens/teens.  I appreciate this because it helps me take inventory of how we are doing and gives me ideas for what we could try.  It is written in a way that gives guidance without condemnation.  I think these segments will be a blessing to each person that reads the book.  I have already found some suggestions that I would like to add in to our routine.

Here are a few practical things we do as a family to intentionally build gratitude and fight entitlement.

  1. We talk about God's goodness to us. A lot. Especially this past year as we bore witness to heavy grief.
  2. Our kids get an allowance each pay-period.  Sometimes when we are out + about they will ask for a treat, and I reply, "did you bring your wallet?"  This doesn't mean we don't get occasional treats, but it provides an instant check for the older boys to determine if they want to spend their own money on that milkshake.
  3. We sponsor a child through Compassion International. This is an easy way to inform your children about what life is like for kiddos around the world, and make a difference for a child in Jesus' name. 
  4. We have scaled back on gifts.  Our kids know they get three presents from us at Christmas and the older boys know our budget for gifts too {they've overheard me talk about it before.} This takes the pressure off of us as parents and lowers their expectations too.  A lot of these types of decisions bloomed during our journey to become debt-free.
  5. We read a chapter from Proverbs together every morning at breakfast.  We re-read it every month.  Its a simple way to remind us daily that Scripture holds truth for our daily lives. We each pick which verse we 'like' best each morning. This is a simple ritual that has become so dear.
Do not be fooled, we get this wrong all the time.  That's part of why I like this book so much.  Every stage of parenting holds new challenges and our culture is constantly changing.  Its important to remember that Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World isn't something we have to do alone.  We have a faithful Father that guides us toward gratitude. Its not hard to find a verse in scripture reminding us to be grateful.
 "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1 {NIV}

I think it is certainly something that gets easier with practice and with prayer.  If we continually seek His word, seek His guidance, and follow Him; we will find Him trustworthy and we'll be ever grateful.  Our gratitude will spill over to our children and Lord-willing they will be grateful too.

Click on these links to read more about what gratitude looks like in other families too!

Inspiring an Attitude of Gratitude - by Alison Rasisng Grateful Kids - by amanda Why You Can't Buy Gratitude At The Dollar Store - by Andrea Missing - Gratefulness in our home - by Ange Choosing Gratitude - by Angela Gratefullness - by chaley 5 Steps to Gratitude-Fille Family - by Christa Practicing Grateful Parenting - by Dana Sing a Song - by Hannah Cultivating gratitude in our family - by Jamie Gratefulness In Our Home - by Jana Gratefulness In Our Home - by Jana Let It Begin With Me - by Jen Choosing Gratefulness - by Jennifer Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World - The Book - by jeri Eradicating Entitlement - What are you rooted in? - by Jessica Gratefulness in our home - by Kate The Problem With Entitlement is that it begins with us - by Katelyn 7 Unusual Ways I Know How to Be Grateful - by Kathryn Raising Grateful Kids - by Keri How My Children Remind Me to Pray with Gratitude - by Kishona Grateful - by Kristy Entitlement: The Ugly Truth of a Beautiful Lie - by Leigha The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Raise Grateful Kids - by Lindsey Dear Son: How Do I Teach You To Be Grateful Without Guilt? - by Marie Osborne Gratitude, A Practical Definition - by Mia Cultivating Gratitude in Our Home - by Nancy Learning Gratitude through Chronic Illness - by Rachel Being Grateful - by Rebecca I've Found Something I Can't Live Without - by Sarah The Power of Naming our Gifts - by Sarah Outfitted - by Sarah Jo Growing Gratitude in our Family - by Sondra Teaching Gratefulness - by Stephanie How Grateful Looks From Here - by Alison Fighting Entitlement in Children and All of us - by Leah Entitlement Problem - by Karrie Grateful Today - by Krystal

08 January 2016


Alright, y'all.  I need to tell you something.  And for reasons I can't quite explain I feel a little weird about telling you.  But today is the day, so here goes...  

In November I started training for a half-marathon. Race day is January 30, 2016.

There are a bunch of reasons that I decided to do it. One being that I had started out to do it before but never made it.  I wrestled a lot with the decision.  Back in October while I was weighing it out, I was running with a couple friends frequently as we powered through the Couch-to-5k program.  I realized that the way I encouraged my friend, Amanda, as she ran was so very different from the way I spoke to myself when I ran.  Its probably no coincidence that Andrew Peterson's new album had been playing on repeat for weeks at that point and the song "Be Kind to Yourself" was slowly becoming an anthem for me.  

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, Dunia, wanted to run a half too, and the timing of this January 30 race was perfect for her because it'd be before she started nursing school. So we looked for a training plan and got started.  After her first week of training she realized she needed foot surgery.  So I was down a running partner.  I discussed with Brad about whether or not I should go ahead and keep training.  It seemed like a terrible time for me -- weather-wise anyway.  If you have known me for a minute you know I don't like the cold.  Even southern cold. But I decided to pray about it anyway.

And had the distinct feeling that I should keep on training.  Even in the winter.  I told Jesus He was going to have to meet me on those long runs if He expected me to do this.  And He said I would need to be kind to myself.

Quite honestly, I kept giving myself an out.  The registration price doesn't increase until next week so I reasoned that I might as well wait to register.  Those first few weeks each long run had been preceeded with this declaration, "If I feel too bad after this I will just train for a later race."

I had felt a bit disappointed all along that this half-marathon wasn't for a "good cause."  It wasn't until I read this blog post by Kristen Welch that I finally decided I was really going to aim for this January 30 half-marathon.  When the opportunity came along to pair my goal with fundraising for Mercy House I knew it was just-right.  [You can read the post here.  Kristen could still use more people to join her in this fundraising adventure.]

I've been following Kristen probably ever since The Mercy House started.  I love the work they are doing with pregnant women and new mommas in Kenya as they partner with local churches.  Also, Fair Trade Friday is a global ministry of Mercy House that empowers women around the world.  Artisans create beautifully crafted fair trade products that are shipped off to monthly subscribers.  I love, love, love this model, its a win-win in so many ways!

Ten days before Christmas I decided to do this for real.  And I told a few folks about it.  And set-up a fundraising page too.  {Click here to find the fundraisisng page.}

But I waited a bit to tell all y'all.  Because sometimes goal-sharing can feel a little braggy to me.  Is that just me?  Or can you relate?  Maybe its because I am the opposite of Type A?  Also, sometimes all the goal-setting-talk in January can feel like a little much, right?

Either way, I am telling you now because I wanted to tell you about something I learned this week. As I stepped out the door to run on Monday, I said out loud {to God + myself} "I do NOT want to do this."

I really did NOT want to do it.  But it was on my Hal Higdon Half Marathon Novice 1 training plan.  So I ran 5 miles anyway.

And as I ran, God kindly pointed out that its important to do training runs if you plan on running a half-marathon.  Of course, I agreed and I knew He was right. But God, in His kindness, always teaches us about more than just the obvious.  He reminded me that I need to do the work for other goals too, whether I feel like it or not.  While I maybe wouldn't call some of my creative ventures "goals," He kinda nudged me toward thinking of it that way.  So I thought about how often I think I should write more, but I don't really "feel like it."  Or think I should get out my sketch book and hand-letter while the boys nap, but scroll Facebook instead because I am not "feeling inspired."  I put off these things waiting until "I feel like it", instead of getting in the practice when I have the time.  Granted, there aren't printable "Novice Training Plans" available for every goal, but there are so many resources available to me in 2016, I  can't really use that as an excuse.  So I had a little shift in my thinking as I finished that cold run that I did NOT want to do.  And wondered if it might help some of you as you think about some of your dreams for 2016.

So I am telling you about my half-marathon + I am asking you to consider donating to the fundraising page because I believe in Mercy House and the work they are doing in Jesus' name.

But I am also telling you because you might have a thing you want to do.  Call it a goal if you want. You might need to make a training plan. I promise there will be days you don't feel like doing the training, but you might just do it because you planned it.  As you keep training, you might find further incentive to keep heading toward your goal {like I did with the post from Kristen about Miles for Mercy!} And eventually you might be brave enough to share your goal because you think someone else might be inspired to set up a training plan of their own.  Let's do this!

This is a link-rich post, so I am listing the links down here too, if that makes it easier to find what you are looking for.

My fundraising page: https://www.crowdrise.com/amandasmilesformercy
Mercy House:  http://mercyhousekenya.org/
Kristen's post about Miles for Mercy: http://wearethatfamily.com/2015/12/im-feeling-43-help-me-celebrate-with-a-run/
Miles for Mercy page: http://www.mercyhousekenya.org/node/634
Be Kind to Yourself video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYiM-sOC6nE
Buy the song here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014M2KA4W?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0