Tag Archives: appreciation

Are You Being Honest With Yourself?: a guest post by Nathan Phillips on Appreciation

Writing about or describing the life of appreciation can be a little overwhelming. What is my life, or who am I to describe to anyone what it means to live a life of appreciation?

When I think about an appreciative person I instantly think about my campus minister.  He ministered to me, and I got to minister alongside of him for a couple of years.  He was extremely intentional about telling me “thank you”, and— so much so— that for the longest time I found myself confused about why he would thank me so much.  I could not possibly be doing something that good to deserve such acknowledgment and appreciation.  Though I may have doubted my ability to be appreciated by another, I did not doubt his honesty.

And this brings me to honesty and its role in appreciation in my life.  I think in some ways honesty is a necessity for demonstrating appreciation.  Could it be that to really show appreciation, an individual must be honest with him/herself and then honest to another?  When we outwardly acknowledge the act or gift that another person gives us, are we also acknowledging our need of it or the desire for it? In the end, showing appreciation is the recognition of our own individual limitation and our need for friendships and relationships in our everyday life.

Honesty in thanksgiving also brings out our vulnerability. When I give thanks for someone’s kind words, a conversation with a friend, or even small bits of wisdom that are shared with me, I am acknowledging that these things are undeserved instruments of God’s grace in my life.  Then, I give thanks to God for allowing me to participate in life together with a friend if even for just a brief moment, and for the mutual exchange of wisdom that comes from relationships that have left me forever different.  Honesty and vulnerability: two elements of appreciation that renew a person by the gift of Jesus Christ in the world.

Guest Post by Andrea Summers on Appreciation (Part 3 of 3): Sprouting Hope

Read Part 1
Read Part 2

… What if Mary had not had the discernment to understand that the shepherd’s untimely appearance at her postpartum doorstep was more than an annoying interruption, but a divine moment? What if she had not had the foresight to intentionally preserve this moment or reflectively ponder over it as time went on? It was these treasured up moments that pushed through the doubt of death and pain – sprouting hope and appreciation.

This hopeful appreciation did not have answers yet. It wasn’t time… Mary wasn’t supposed to understand yet. The trajectory of unfolding revelation had not reached its destination and these countless moments she had preserved from extinction had not yet been brought together in her mind. She couldn’t yet fully understand the weightiness of these treasured up moments. But that day was fast approaching.

And so is mine. Soon enough God’s unfolding revelation in my life will make all these ordinary moments with extraordinary import finally make sense. God, give me the discernment to see these moments as you hand them to me. Give me the capacity to treasure them and keep them from being lost. Give me the discipline of a reflective life that makes room for these moments to resurface. Allow these simple acts to cultivate the hopeful appreciation which weathers the worst of storms.

The Gospel writers don’t include this in their post-resurrection accounts, but I imagine Jesus’ first appearance to his mother. I imagine her heart was feverishly putting all the pieces of the puzzle together – now that she had this last missing piece to add. I imagine she wept tears of joy. I imagine she fell to her knees to worship her Lord with deep appreciation.

Guest Post by Andrea Summers on Appreciation (Part 2 of 3): Reflective Walking

Read Part I:

Pain and heartache are part of the equation too, however. Deep gratitude has, more often than not, been tested in the fires of hardship. Standing on the side of Golgotha helpless to intervene as her son was tortured to death very surely broke Mary’s heart. Perhaps witnessing so great a tragedy would have been less painful had she not treasured any of those moments up. Then she would not have had to remember the sound of his newborn cry when he let out cries of anguish from the cross. She would not have the shepherd’s ‘good’ news mocking her as the women prepared his body for burial. Pain and heartache is what separates the life of appreciation from the life of bitterness. After all… what is bitterness besides the preserving and pondering over that which has caused the pain and heartache? Some of the most reflective people are some of the most bitter people; for a bitter life is a life lived in reflection.

No doubt Mary had a choice to make as she stood on the crowded hill outside of Jerusalem. She could trade the shepherd’s good news of a savior in for the sound of her son’s last gasps for air. She could trade every last one of those little moments she’d been treasuring up… it would be easy to do. The pain she felt could easily swallow them all in one hungry gulp. She could replace her aching heart with a gnawingly satisfying bitterness by replaying the injustice of his death over and over in the coming weeks, months and years.

But even in this moment a small sprout of hope still existed that forced her to choose the life of appreciation. Even when wrapping her son’s cold, life-less body in burial cloths she couldn’t shake the promise God had given her – the promise that was to be for all people, “A Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”

Read Part III:

Guest Post by Andrea Summers on Appreciation (Part 1 of 3): Reflective Walking

It is a reflective walk through life – one that preserves and ponders – which cultivates deep appreciation. There have been a few moments in the last two weeks, since my son Ty was born, that I have understood to be different somehow. They were moments when time slowed down and I felt an urgency to drink in all the details… Ty’s wrinkled skin, his newborn grunts, his soft hair and clenched fists. I have a limited knowledge that – as much as these moments mean to me now, because this little man has already stolen my heart – they will come to mean so much more to me as time passes. I’m not sure how or why, but I just know I have to hide these moments in my heart while they’re still here.

There was a new mother who had a similar urgency to preserve the newest moments of her son’s life for safe keeping. After Jesus was born and the shepherds had paid a visit, Luke says that Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Surely she was treasuring up the good news the shepherds had received from the angel that a savior had been born. And surely she was carefully preserving every feature on her perfect child’s face, hands, toes.

The word Luke chooses… ‘treasured’… means to keep something from perishing, from being lost or forgotten. This explains the urgency that accompanies these ordinary moments. There is some awareness that these moments will be entirely lost if not intentionally treasured or preserved. And the word Luke chooses… ‘pondered’… means to bring together in one’s mind. These moments are on a trajectory of unfolding revelation. Not fully understanding the weight of the shepherd’s interruption, Mary tucked it away none-the-less, knowing that it would come to mean more as time passed. One day this moment, and hundreds of other little moments like it, would be brought together in her mind and she would be desperately humbled by this child she had been chosen to mother. It is this reflective walk through life – one that preserves and ponders – which cultivates deep appreciation.

Read Part II

Guest Post by JD Walt: “How Appreciation Works”

“Assets depreciate from wear and tear from use and misuse over the passage of time. Think of your car. What would it look like for my swagger wagon to actually appreciate in value; to get newer or increase in worth? It would look like me in the drive way washing and waxing that dream machine every week. It would look like protective floor mats and no Dorito chiplets filling up the cracks between the seats. It would look like me constantly asking and answering the question, “What will appreciate the value of this awesome ride?”

People depreciate from wear and tear from use and misuse over the passage of time. Think of your spouse. What would it look like for your spouse to actually appreciate in value; to get newer or increase in worth? It would look like me in the bathroom washing and waxing her body– I mean those toilets every week. It would feel like a constant noticing of her deepest self and her constant possibilities with visionary affirmation. It would look like anticipatory thoughtfulness as relates to her needs and wants and well timed words that build in her a strength of spirit. It would look like me constantly asking and answering the question, “What will appreciate the value of this awesome woman?”

This is how appreciation works. And it works on anyone, anywhere at any time.

This is the work of God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in and through his people. “Behold,” says Jesus, “I am making all things new.” We join this work through simple appreciation of others.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16


Guest Post by Ryan Strebeck: “Appreciative Abandon”

There are a lot of quality people out there.  I just happen to know some.  So, I have asked a few of them to do some guest posting, mostly because you should know them too!

You can find Ryan on the web at his blog or at his church’s website!. Check out one of his sermons here.

“Greetings, readers of Thriving Among the Lilies! Keith asked me to write on a life of appreciation. I’m happy to do this work and to witness this very quality in our mutual friend & author of this blog. It’s an honor to be here!


Appreciative Abandon, scene 1: My daughter smiles between bites of potato. She’s proud of her samurai-style, triple banded pony tail and how she caught herself before bursting into full song at the table.

Appreciative Abandon, scene 2: My friend and co-worker Lou, our beloved church secretary, reports during a run-of-the-mill phone conversation how she’s in no hurry to retire because she loves her job (this is her 30th year).

In the busy, anxious world where we pay bills and potty train, buy groceries and wave at our neighbors, the above scenes affirm the possibility of childlike gratitude along the way. They expose my tendency to allow what I have earned to shape my way of being in the world. Such an outlook does equal survival within a transactional milieu like ours. It grates, however, against welcoming life as a gift – prizing expectancy, not entitlement.

What we’re calling appreciative abandon will not grace the lines of a to do list. Rather, it arrives as a gift. We ask for, cultivate, and learn appreciation but cannot fabricate it on demand. Meditating on the Psalms, Ben and Robin Pasley sing “A thankful heart prepares the way for you, my God.” The way of appreciation shapes and employs a thankful heart. This heart sees and hears what goes unnoticed by an anxious heart or one clinging to entitlement. I can tell when appreciative abandon wanes as the sunrise, conversations, and crayon-waxed papers play second fiddle to what I (fail to) accomplish in a day or the meal I deserve. Then I hear my three year old pound random piano keys and somehow make the melody work. And I repent; and I offer this poem toward the promise of appreciative living:

Today’s Coffee
Black drink taken but first
Steadfast gratitude steeps
Goodness aware
Sun waking up
Thoughts of entitlement flee
Clouds parting and gift breaks

The Power of Appreciation When We Meet Our Limits

What is it about life that makes it so impossible sometimes to focus? I mean about priorities, relationships, perspective. Our ambitions and projects seem to steer us away so swiftly from deep inspirations, which flow from our hearts.  At every turn, we painfully meet our limitations.  The psalmist says, “Every person’s life is like a breath.”   We must not follow every rabbit trail idea, which flips through our heads nor struggle to answer every question that disturbs even our silent spaces.

And from time to time, we meet those rare moments when death stares us in the face and reminds us that he too will knock on our door.

Yet, on days when I loose sight of the end or on days when I stare in it face to face, I pull out appreciation.  When I squander my priorities and lock myself away from those seeking to give me their love, only one powerful tool remains: appreciation. Try it.  Give thanks with a grateful heart.  Appreciation is a pill to swallow that transforms disappointments into opportunities for growth. Appreciation gives light to our path when the darkness of drudgery casts its wintery shadow on our sunlit thirsty souls.  We cannot always muster the strength to appreciate this life.  But when we do, we pierce that force that forever seeks to blind us to our limitations and convince us that our life is more than a breath.