Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

Thanks for stopping by!


Y'all. Last week was my birthday. If you know me in real life, you know how I love birthdays. You also know that I like to count down to my birthday. I'm sorry. Thank you for you loving me anyway. {Sigh}

This year marked my fortieth birthday celebration. Remember when forty was old and a lifetime away? Yeah, not so much anymore! Goodness, when I play back through the last twenty years of my life, well, I get bowled over with all kinds of feels. I am overwhelmed at the perfect faithfulness of God. All the moments pieced together paint a picture of His unfailing love. All my missteps and mess-ups highlight His unyielding grace. Had it not been for Him, my life would look . . . how can I say it. . . like a hot mess. But, God created us with the capacity to learn and think and gave us the ability to grow and change. I am grateful for His willingness to patiently correct and teach us along the way. With that in mind, what would I say to my 20-year-old self?

On Jesus:
He’s everything. Get to know Him at all cost. Make Him a priority. The center. Your treasure. There’s a difference, you know, between knowing about Him and knowing Him deeply, intimately. Make space for Him. Know Him. Love Him. Live for Him. Do it on purpose. Yeah, be known for loving Jesus like crazy. That's the mark of a life well-lived. When you get this piece, these other things will fall in line behind Him. And, don't ever let Him become "old news." Let your heart be full of awe and wonder because of who He is and what He's done for us.

On Making Choices:
Learn to ask these questions when you’re making a decision: Will this still be a good choice tomorrow? What about a year from now? Is it a best yes? Every decision you make sends a ripple through your story like a pebble tossed into a pond. Be forward-thinking. Make choices that move you toward your end goal as often as you can. It may require a sacrifice at the moment, but it will be one that will payoff. If you want to be strong and healthy at forty, then eating fast food for dinner every night won’t be the best choice. You get what I mean. You won't always get it right. There's lots of grace for that. Just keep getting back up and moving forward.

On Life:
Give yourself room to breathe. Create space. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to rest. Hold loosely to the things that don’t really matter and fight for the things that do. Be intentional. And above all, live life open-handed. That means saying “I’m good no matter the circumstance.” It’s contentment. It’s not easy. The ability to live with open hands comes from unyielding faith and trust in God’s sovereignty. Cultivate a heart that trusts God no matter what.

On Your Heart:
Guard it. Be careful where you look for truth. Culture is screaming - and I do mean screaming - ideas, its own version of truth. Be careful what truth you let sink in. Study Scripture. Memorize it. Hide it in your heart. Measure truth by using God’s Word as the standard. Guarding your heart doesn’t give you a pass on loving people well. Quite the contrary! You love like crazy because your heart is safe in the hands of Your Creator, and you belong to Him. You love well because you know that you are fiercely loved. But, you will learn that setting your heart on things that bring you closer to the heart of the Father is the most important. Cling tightly to that stuff.  

On People:
Don’t be afraid of people and don’t be afraid of conversation. Learn to talk and listen. Learn boundaries. Some people will creep in and suck the life right out of you. So, a boundary. Some will be there one day and gone the next. Learn which ones to let walk and which ones to chase down. Not everyone gets a spot in the inner circle, meaning not everyone gets the privilege of speaking into and over your life. Every person need not be privy to the inner workings of your heart. BUT, always love. Always grace. Always truth (even the hard kind when necessary).

On The Big Picture:
It’s not about you. Let your life be hidden in Christ. Let it be about Him first and foremost, in all things. It's pretty cool to live for something bigger than yourself. Stop striving, because, guess what? You can’t measure up. You can’t be enough, and you don’t have to be. Because Jesus. He is enough.

You guys, I am forever thankful for do-overs. There have been loads of opportunities for growth and correction. Thankfully, God doesn't leave us to figure it all out on our own. Nevertheless, we have to invite Him into the picture. Here's the thing: there will always be more learning and growing for me to do. That's true for each of us. And, God is quite capable of growing us into something beautiful and good. That truth brings a sigh of relief! I belong to Him. I trust that whatever He has for me in this next season has meaning and purpose. Aren't we all searching for that? Meaning. Purpose. Significance. It's in Him. Let Him write that truth on your heart.

May I encourage you today, sweet friends? You matter. He put you on this planet, in this space in history intentionally. Your life has meaning and purpose, whether you are twenty, forty, or sixty. If you're still trying to figure it out, ask God to show you. If you're tired, maybe you've taken to relying on your strength instead of His. But whatever you do, lock eyes with Jesus. Keep going. Keep loving Him. Keep trusting Him. Keep following His lead. He knows what He's doing. And, He's SO worth it.

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{Five Minute Friday | Breathe}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {BREATHE}.

Ready? GO.

Just. Breathe.

It’s a signal to pause, to wait, to focus. It seems like there’s not a lot of space to breathe these days. Everywhere you turn, seems like people are reacting quickly, impulsively, irrationally. Perhaps it’s because fewer and fewer people have a built in pause button. Culture doesn’t glamorize thoughtfulness. Oh no. Culture says throw thoughtfulness and careful consideration out the window, feelings and emotions, those rule. We don’t value sound judgment. Instead, we base our ideas on things as flaky as the weather and as untrustworthy as the media. We don’t value absolute truth. Instead, we push relative truth, which is no kind of truth at all. We don’t value human life or human rights. Our fellow man, if he disagrees with us, makes an enemy of us. At least that’s what it looks like some days.

And the church? We need to take a collective time-out, a deep breath.  We need to be thoughtful. We need to respond to the goings-on around us rather than react from a place of fear, offense, frustration, or disgust. There's a difference, you know. Here’s the thing: The church keeps looking outside of herself for solutions rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to rise above the noise and move toward people and engage them with love and truth and hope. Always love and always truth. Not either/or, but both. And always grace.

Just. Breathe. Saturate your heart with God's love, truth, goodness, and grace. Then, go and do and be a representative of those things. We just have to. What’s happening is not ok.

Come on then, let’s do it together. Ready? 1 - 2 - 3 and BREATHE.

Now, what’s one thing you can do today to push back against all the chaos with love and truth? Do you have an idea? Well, then, do that.


{Five Minute Friday | Control}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {CONTROL}.

Ready? GO.

This word, control, could take me in several different directions. I've been sitting with this one since the prompt opened, just waiting. 

I've never been one who appreciates big surprises, good or bad (unless it's a puppy or a birthday party, ahem). Because of control. Or lack of control. Control is a fickle companion, giving the illusion of stability and predictability, and for some of us, those things equate to safety. When you remove the illusion of control, the deepest parts of me start to squirm. That's why I love my planners and notebooks and lists and schedules. When things are under control, there is order. Here's the thing: When I have a death grip on control, I may be restricting the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. And even more than that, I become a slave to what I can see and touch, leaving little room to exercise faith. That stings a little bit. Complete surrender to life in the Spirit is something the Lord and I have been working through in Scripture and prayer. Complete, as in whole, not partial. Total, as in entirety, in all areas. How often do we fail to be in control, as in self-control, when we are certainly meant to be? That's a fruit of the Spirit. And, how often do we get confused about where our responsibility ends, and God's work begins? That comes from life in the Spirit, allowing Him to guide us and order our steps. Paul said it best in Romans when he wrote, "...letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." Yeah, that's what I want. 

Besides, my having control over a situation or circumstance doesn't guarantee stability or security. The hope that anchors my soul is found only in Christ. That kind of hope HOLDS. It cannot be shaken. 


{One Word 2017}

Confession: this isn’t what I planned to write about today. I didn’t even plan on having a word this year. We are already half-way through January after all. I'm feeling a little late to the party! But, I’ve learned when I can’t brush something aside, for one reason or other, the Lord is trying to get me to pay attention. That’s what happened here.

Have you ever existed in a space where the constant need to strive, or earn, or prove ruled? It’s a space that doesn’t allow for just being. It’s not life-giving and at the root is the need for acceptance or approval. It’s not always that you’re striving or trying to prove something to God, but to the people around you because everything they are doing or saying tells you that they don’t get you.

During the last year, we landed right in the middle of a situation like this. We moved to a new church to be part of the leadership team, and some things were happening that just plain knocked us off-center. We walked into a situation where proving yourself and your intentions before being fully in were just normal. At the very least, there was always a suspicion of motives and a pattern of assuming the worst of people right out of the gate. It was one of the hardest spots I’d ever been in, especially in the context of a church community. The desire to please people pulled me in one direction while the burden to speak truth into the situation weighed heavily on me. When we made the decision to walk away, we tried to leave well. Even then, people made assumptions and spoke poorly of us. I wrestled with the need to defend myself, explain myself, and set the record straight, but ultimately I realized that need was rooted in the same pattern of thinking I was trying to leave behind. I apparently didn't leave it completely behind. I carried the need to prove myself — my worth, my heart, my intentions — out of there with me. That’s what the enemy does. He attaches lies to these hard situations, we believe them, and it wreaks havoc in our minds.  It’s a hard pattern of thinking to break. The Lord started pressing on my heart - challenging me, stripping away this pattern of thinking, renewing my mind.

Here’s the thing: We don’t have anything to prove.

We’ve been asked to love God — heart, soul, mind, strength — and to love people.

We’ve been invited to follow Jesus, to live our lives connected to Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and refine us, ultimately making us more like Jesus.

We’ve been charged to know the Word and do what it says.

We’ve been urged to have faith.

These things, we do.

Then, there’s this:

We are loved.
We are forgiven.
We are chosen.
We are accepted.
We are valuable.
We are called.
We have purpose.
We are HIS.

These things, we are.

We are these things because He said so. This space is one where we can just be, nothing to earn, nothing to prove, no striving.  How do we do that?

We believe what He says and RECEIVE it. And, there it is. That’s my One Word for this year. {R E C E I V E}. Yep, I'm working on receiving what He's already promised. Fully. Completely. In every area of my life. That's what I want and what I need. And, that's what He wants for me.


{Five Minute Friday | Refine}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {REFINE}.

Ready? GO.

I sat down more than once today to write this post. The words wouldn't come. But a song came. Sometimes songs do that for us, put words to the things we can't articulate, and we find it precisely embodies what we want to say. In this season, these words give voice to something that's stirring in the depths of my soul.  

My delight is in You, Lord. On Your Word, I set my heart. You are peace. You are calm for my restless soul. You light my way through the dark. I want to know You even more. Holiness is my desire. Purify, burn in me, come and make me clean. You refine me in Your fire.

Here I am, open arms. Draw me close to Your heart. You're my life. You're my refuge. My delight, Lord, my delight is in You.

Refiner's fire. My heart's one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord.
I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master. Ready to do your will.

Here I am, open arms. Draw me close to Your heart. You're my life. You're my refuge. My delight, Lord, my delight is in You.

Yes. And amen.




*My Delight Is In You // © 2013 Songs Worship Together Music sixsteps Music Sixsteps Songs Sweater Weather Music A Thousand Generations Publishing (Admin EMI CMG). CCLI Song No. 6517953 . // Words and Music: Christy Nockels, Jessee Reeves, Chris Tomlin