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!

{Five Minute Friday | Done}

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 {DONE}.

Ready? Go.

Done. That word has a nice ring to it when I’m blasting through my to-do list like a girl on a mission. Confession: I love the feeling of checking the box. I can’t be the only one who gets overly excited when I check a box, any box. Anybody else? I’m a list maker. A box checker. A paper-calendar keeper. Oh, and a rule follower to boot. Yeah, I want things to get done and get them done well (really well) and on time.  Yet, there are days, even in all my striving, that things get missed and left undone. I’m just a girl. I’m just a girl with days crammed to the brim with all the things. You know what I mean? 

It’s not like that when the Lord goes to work, though, is it? When He does something, it gets done all the way and perfectly. He doesn’t miss a thing. Ever. 

He does the thing, and He declares it finished. And, it is. That’s what He said before He took His last breath, you know. “It is finished.” What Jesus accomplished for us at that moment changes everything. We can rest in the power of that truth. And, hope abounds. It. Is. Finished. All the way. For all time. What He’s finished cannot be undone. 

Stop. 

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{Missing Someone? Yeah, me too.}

Today I was looking through old photos and videos of my sweet Mamaw. How beautiful and wonderful was she!? Goodness, I miss her so. There's something about sitting beneath the weight of significant loss. It can be cumbersome. But, the Lord is near and brings comfort and healing to our broken hearts. I could tell story after story about my Mamaw -- some of them would make you laugh. Others would make you cry. But every story points to a life well-lived and a woman who was dearly loved. She was lovely, and she was remarkable. 

My mamaw was kind and tender-hearted. She saw great heartache and loss over the course of her life, but it didn't stop her from loving BIG. I admire that about her. She was fiercely loyal. There were ladies in her life that she called a friend for more than 60 years. She had a knack for making the acquaintance of her neighbors and people in the community. When she was for you -- she was all in. 

Mamaw never missed a birthday or an anniversary. Celebrating special occasions and holidays with her people was one of her favorite things to do. Every year she made us a calendar packed full of pictures with each birthdate and anniversary marked. And, without fail, when a significant date or holiday rolled around, you could guarantee a homemade card would find it's way to your mailbox. 

Mamaw laughed, and her laugh was the sweetest. She was funny and a tiny bit feisty. She enjoyed hearing and telling a good story. She could laugh herself straight to tears, and that would make her laugh even more. I've heard that she pulled a prank or two back in the day. 

She was always off on a grand adventure aboard a cruise ship or tour bus. She loved to travel to far off places and to places just down the road. She enjoyed a good show or singing, as she'd call it. She also loved to shop. And, quilt. She was a whiz in the kitchen and hosted with such ease and grace. She taught me how to be a gracious hostess. She also modeled the importance of spending quality time with loved ones. I remember that very clearly even as a young girl. She always showed up. And, she was present. I don't, in fact, ever remember her NOT being there. If she was there, she was likely snapping photos, both candid and posed, because capturing the moments she cherished was essential to her. I am so thankful that she did that. 

But, one of my favorite things about Mamaw, the thing I  found to be SO remarkable was her generosity. She LOVED to give good things to the people for whom she cared. Her generosity was unmatched. She generously gave because she lavishly loved. Those two things combined mean that her life was a beautiful reflection of the love of God. People like my mamaw leave a mark on the lives of those of us who knew them. I'm betting that everyone who knew her could describe one way she made his life a bit brighter. If you were lucky, you'd have a long list of ways she did that. She lived a big life. A meaningful life. One that will not likely be forgotten. It is my privilege to honor her memory. And then there's this: even when we sit in death's shadow, heartbroken by such a significant loss, there's hope. I have the hope of seeing Mamaw again because of Jesus.  In the meantime, I am thankful to have known her and loved her. And, even more than that, to have been loved by her. 

If you are missing someone tonight, I pray that God will be near and bring comfort and healing to your broken heart. I pray He will help you find joy and encouragement in remembering your loved one. Above all, I pray that God will reveal something of Himself in your circumstance that takes your breath away. You know, the kind of thing that fills you with awe and gratitude because you know beyond doubt that He sees you and loves you. Look for Him, friends, even in the midst of your sadness. I promise He's there. Be filled with hope. Death does not have the final word. 

{Five Minute Friday | Depend}

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 {DEPEND}.

Ready? Go.

I've been staring at the blank page for at least 10 minutes. I have no words. Not really. The week has been long and tedious. Confession: I'm exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. 

Seasons like this one are useful for reminding me of one thing: my complete and utter dependence on Him. There's no other place to land because God is sovereign. 

Confession #2: sometimes, I find that I'm exhausted because I depend on something other than Him to sustain me. 

 The truth is I'm not smart enough or wise enough to figure anything out on my own. I don't have the resources or experience to just "know" what to do. In the last two years, there has been a stripping away of people and places and things that I love. Not much looks the same or feels familiar. But, I see what's happening. God is reminding me that nothing finds meaning apart from Him. Perhaps sometimes, God allows people and places and things to fall away so that I can regain some perspective. When I say that Jesus is all I need, I mean it. But, I can't say that in one breath and then preclude Him in the next moment by failing to depend on Him. His voice, His truth has to be the loudest. And, I have to choose to listen. 

Stop.

{Five Minute Friday | Accept}

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 {ACCEPT}.

Ready? Go.

This word stirs up all kinds of things in my mind. Perhaps, that's indicative of this season of life. There are lots of things swirling in my heart and mind. So many things. Today, I'm landing in a place where acceptance is part of loss. You suffer loss. You grieve. You accept it. 

During my life, I have known the weight of a grieving heart many times. I have grieved the loss of friends and community. I have mourned the loss of a marriage.  I have lamented the loss of two children. Grief is exhausting and cumbersome. When you are walking under the weightiness of it, it threatens to squeeze the life right out of you. I'm grieving a few things during this season, you know. And, I'm heartbroken. But, if I've learned anything at all, it's that grief doesn't have the final word. 

It can't. Because of Jesus. He is Hope and Truth. Jesus changes everything. 

I suppose to survive you accept what is in front of you. You adjust. You redefine. You find a new "normal. You realize nothing will ever be the same, not really. But, oh, sweet friends. Can I tell you something? Lean in a bit because this is important. HE remains. His perfect faithfulness and steadfast love on full display. Look for Him. Grab hold of Him. After all, in Him, all things hold together. Nothing -- not one tear, not one prayer, not one desperate cry for help -- escapes His attention. 

Be encouraged today. Accept that He loves you so, even on the worst of days. Grab hold of the truth of Scripture and let that truth be what informs every other thing in your life -- the good, the bad, and all the in-between. 

Because, Jesus. 

Stop. 

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{Five Minute Friday | Play}

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 {PLAY}.

Ready? Go.

It's the sweetest when my youngest girl runs up, eyes wide, and invites me to play. There's such anticipation in her voice, such joy on her face. She always flashes her best smile. It used to easier to play with her when she was a bit younger. She was much easier to entertain and a lot less bossy. 

These days it's not enough just to BE with her, half-heartedly playing. I have to be in all the way. And you guys, my best Barbie voice is, well, it's pretty lame. Sometimes, I just can't. One more Barbie conversation might send me right over the edge. But, then I remember how important it is to play. It encourages imagination. It stirs creativity. It's good for a laughing and smiling. You know, it helps with being not SO SERIOUS all the time. For her and me. When you're doing your best Barbie voice, you can't help but feel a bit lighter. But there's something else, too. There's a certain amount of vulnerability in our capacity for play. As adults, I mean. The same goes for our ability to rest. We have to know and believe that everything isn't going to fall apart because we disengage in the grown-up business of life and have a little laugh. When you play, it helps keep things in their proper place. All too often the things that keep me from playing can wait.

Yeah, I don't want to forget how to play. I want to make room for fun and laughter in our lives intentionally. Every day. 

STOP.