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!

Filtering by Category: Random Musings

{God Take Me Back in 2016}

The Lord has been reminding me of something this week, and I am so thankful. I appreciate that He graciously and lovingly corrects us when necessary. I am especially grateful for those times He drops something right in front of me and whispers, "Beloved, this is for you." See, there has been ALOT going on. The last half of 2015 was challenging. I sat across from a sweet friend this weekend and she said, "You must feel like you've been through the ringer." And, I do. Mostly because there has been too much noise, too many voices, too many things competing for my attention. That's when He does it. That's when He drops that just for me something right in my lap. I can't ignore it. I can't explain it away. I can't deny it's exactly what I need in that particular moment. This time He used a song. 

I heard the song the Sunday after Thanksgiving at Passion City Church. They were leading it for the first time ever in a worship service. In a moment, one song said everything that needed to be said by me to the Lord. So I sang it prayerfully during that sweet time of worship and tears rolled down my face. He heard and saw. 

Somewhere between the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas tree, I forgot about the song.

On New Year's Day I saw something on social media about the release of the new Passion album. It was available! That's new. The album is normally recorded live at Passion Conference and released in March or April. I was so excited! Please Lord, let this album be available on Apple Music so I can download it with my monthly subscription. And, it was. YAY! I immediately added it to my music and started scrolling through the track list. You know where I'm going with this, right? 

Song number five. The title caught my attention. It was weird, ambiguous. Now, it makes perfect sense of course! I tapped the title, and as soon as I heard the first note, the Lord reminded me of that moment in a room of a thousand people where He saw me. And there were tears. Then He reminded me again a few days later when I was chatting with a friend. 

So, it's my prayer focus as I head into the new year. Here it is. Simple Pursuit. One that changes everything. What are you pursuing into 2016? 

 

Simple Pursuit | Ben Catelon, Matt Redman, Nick Herbert, Sam Bailey | Passion: Salvation's Tide is Rising  © 2016 Ben Cantelon Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Bespoke Records (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Said And Done Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Simple Pursuit | Ben Catelon, Matt Redman, Nick Herbert, Sam Bailey | Passion: Salvation's Tide is Rising

© 2016 Ben Cantelon Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Bespoke Records (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Said And Done Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

{#RealLife | No. 3}

Happy Monday, sweet friends. Did anyone else have a long week? I did. Sometimes that happens. And I'm here to tell you it's ok. I used to think that it was the opposite of ok. I used to believe that it somehow meant I was bad at doing all the things I have to do, bad at being a wife and mom. Now, I know that's a lie. So go ahead and take five. Go ahead and call your friend for a coffee date. Go ahead and find a quiet place to sit alone. It really is ok to enjoy a little time to yourself. I think it's more than ok. I think it's necessary. That's what I did this weekend in the midst of a long list of things to do and places to go. I sat alone for 45 minutes. Then, I enjoyed a cup of coffee with a special friend. And I was all the better for it. 

You don't always have to be "on." Let that bring some immediate relief and rest. Be encouraged.  

 

{Favorite Books in 2015}

Ah, the smell of a new book. For me, there's a great appreciation for a real-life, hard-copy, hold-in-your-hand book. Confession: I ALWAYS flip the book open, hold it right under my nose, and fan through the pages while taking the deepest breath possible! I like the smell of new books (and sharpies, but that's another matter)!  I also appreciate all the eTools that mean I can easily take my books with me. Thank you iBooks, Kindle App, and Audible. Another confession: Sometimes I have an eCopy and a real-life copy. 

Reading is so good for our brains. It makes us smarter, stimulates our imaginations, helps aide memory function, and even eases tension. It's exercise for the brain and food for the soul. Good stuff. 

Here are a few of my favorites from 2015. 

  1. The Comeback: It's Not Too Late and You're Never Too Far by Louie Giglio | This book is special. I'm staring at the blinking cursor trying to form the right words. Let's just do it this way. The book is . . . real, raw, inspiring, encouraging, and challenging. I laughed. I cried. I read and re-read. Louie Giglio has to be one of the most gifted communicators on the planet. Even more than that, each time I hear him give a talk, his love for Jesus is evident. It's no different when he puts pen to paper and writes one of the most important books I've read in a long while. It's a message of hope, for sure. But it's not a message that encourages a shallow hope based on circumstances. Sometimes, life comes at you with gut-punch and it's easy to lose your footing. This book reminds us of the hope and grace that is found in the truth of The Gospel, in Jesus. That hope is never out of reach.  It's a game changer. For real. 
  2. The Carpenter: A Story about the Greatest Success Strategies of All  by Jon Gordon | My husband gave me this book. And, I loved it. The characters are relatable and the story teaches simple yet powerful truths. This one is about building things the right way. All of your endeavors and all your relationships are sure to benefit from the takeaways in this book. This one reminds us that perspective shapes outcome and we have the power to choose our perspective. Short. Simple. Impactful. Read it.
  3. Jesus Is ____________ : Find a New Way to be Human by Judah Smith | The way you fill in the blank matters. This book gets to the heart of the matter. "Jesus is the sum and substance of the Gospel." It's funny, to the point, and engaging. Judah Smith has a brilliant way with words and his storytelling is magic! This book speaks to the fundamental, foundational truth that there's nothing I can do to earn salvation or to earn God's love. Nothing. That takes the pressure off, doesn't? If you need the reminder, pick this book up. 
  4. The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, Bob DeMoss | I could not put this book down.  The story of this minister and his family and the terror they walked through cuts straight to the heart. It's a real-life, true story of pain and persecution at the hands of cold-hearted, broken people.  But the book offers so much more than just a riveting true story. Alonzo bravely gives us a peek into her heart as she walks us through the process of healing and forgiveness. It paints the beautiful picture of the sustaining love of God, of which we could all use the reminder. 
  5. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst | This book came at a crucial time for me. The title really says all that needs to be said; but, TerKeurst masterfully walks us through the process of learning how to say no and when to say yes. Every people pleaser needs this book. This book was part of the process of my learning that not everything or everyone is allowed to claim space in my heart and mind. The book is engaging, insightful, and funny.  It will be well worth the time spent reading it. 

There you have it. My top five books from 2015. These books left a deep impression. Something changed in me because I read them. How about you? Do any of these jump off the page begging you to read them? What books did you read in 2015 that proved to be important for you? 

Oh! Because I loved these books so much, I want to give one away. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the page for a chance to win a copy of your choice! That's fun, isn't it!! 

Here are links to my faves on Amazon in case you want to grab one:

{#RealLife | No. 2}

We made it. The rush of the season is starting to calm and perhaps there’s a little rest to be had. I’m worn out. Plum tuckered. Exhausted. You too? 

Yesterday, I was up early with good intentions. I planned to cook some tilapia for lunch; so, I wanted to prep it before leaving for church. I prepped it, put it in the slow-cooker, and left. Without turning it on. Yep, you read that right. To say my house smelled of stinky fish, well, it was awful. Just awful. We had to throw it out given that it sat out at room temperature for no less than seven hours.  It’s probably all for the best because here’s a snap shot of the kitchen just before I left that morning.

Ah, my kitchen. It’s the hub of activity in the house. Everyone passes through the kitchen every time they come and go which means sometimes it’s a catch-all. Like this week. Every flat surface, covered. Dishes in the sink. Oh, and you can’t see it in the picture, but there’s a broken light bulb in the fixture above the table. (That, by the way, is still driving me crazy!) Even if I had properly cooked the fish, we couldn’t have very easily sat down at the table for a meal. Thankfully, we were treated to lunch out by my dad. For dinner, though, we had rice and Big Red floats. In the family room. Then we played board games on the floor. It was a good night. My kitchen is still a bit of a mess; although, the mess has been contained to one end of the table and one corner of the island. The mess represents something more than the chaos of the season. It’s a picture of the generosity shown us by our family and friends. People gave us stuff because they love us. We are loved. And blessed. Even when we didn’t have the means to give a lot in return. But, that’s not the point, is it? We don’t give generously in hopes of receiving things in return. We give generously just because we can. Generosity looks different for some folks than for others. It’s not always an expensive gift, that’s for sure. Generosity is a matter of the heart. A grateful heart loves lavishly and gives generously. Always.

That reminder was worth this mess.

{#RealLife | A New Blog Series}

Confession: I love social media. All of it. I do. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. And, oh the joy that is Pinterest. Social media can be good. It makes me smile, it makes me laugh, it reconnects me with people I'd otherwise be lost to. But sometimes, it's not so good. Some days if I see another picture of a perfectly baked dessert, a perfectly place Elf on the Shelf, a perfectly executed DIY project, or a mountain of beautifully wrapped presents, I want to retreat into the farthest corner of my closet, underneath all the dresses I never wear but refuse to get rid of (mostly because they don't fit, but maybe they will someday) and HIDE. It's too much. So it goes when you play the game. {Disclaimer: I post those kinds of things, enjoy seeing them most days, and will continue to do so. This isn't about that.} 

See there's something in me that drives me to compare + compete -- some days it's far worse than others. It's not that I want to make a wreath as expertly as the girl who lives half way across the country, it's just that I want to know that I'm doing okay. You know?  I want to know that if I want to make a burlap wreath with monogram, I can. The truth is some days I can barely get dinner on the table and you can forget about laundry. And where in the world is my vacuum? Oh yeah, plugged in upstairs where I left it three days ago when I meant to vacuum the hallway. On those days I find myself wondering how I ended up such a slacker.   But the truth is I'm not a slacker. Actually, most days I'm on it. Really. And when I compare my highlight reel (that's what social media has kind of become) to my #RealLife, it's quite nice actually. I have plenty of picture-perfect moments to share. But I also have LOTS of the other kind of moments. You know, the unedited, unposed, unfiltered messy moments, moments I wouldn't typically snap a picture of and post to my social media accounts. Because, who cares about laundry that's piled to the sky or dishes that are piled across the entire countertop? Who cares that sometimes my socks don't match or I forget to change out of my slippers before I leave the house? Who cares that I didn't have the will to argue with the three year old about her mismatched clothes? Maybe no one. But, maybe there is one who needs to know it's ok. You're doing ok. 

So, I'm taking to social media every Monday for the next several weeks with a #RealLife post. A new friend of mine was doing something similar earlier this month and it was SO refreshing. Here's the thing: I don't want to be the girl that everyone assumes has it all together because I don't. That's not real for anyone. See, I've figured something out. Even when I'm a mess and everything in the house is a mess or the car is a mess, or money is running low, my life is still quite good. Yes, it's good. I am not necessarily proud of the messes but I've figured out how to appreciate them because of what they've come to represent -- my life is FULL of people and things that I have been given to love and enjoy. 

Would you like to join me? Let's take to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with the hashtag #RealLife and encourage each other with proof that we aren't alone in our mess.  Make sure you tag me. ( Valerie Gibson Jones on Facebook@vdjones on Twitter | @valeriejones on Instagram

So, here we go. #RealLife No. 1

#RealLife No. 1 {Mount Laundry} valerie-jones.com 

#RealLife No. 1 {Mount Laundry} valerie-jones.com 

I think these clothes are clean, but I can't be sure. Oh, and when it was time for sleep these piles moved to the floor. Three days. That's how many days we shuffled these piles around the bedroom until it finally got cleaned up. Instead of putting away the laundry, we made fun desserts as an advent activity. I have pictures of that, too. But this, this is what it looked like in the room right above us. And can I tell you something? It didn't matter to any of us one tiny bit. We laughed and giggled and ate ridiculous amounts of candy sprinkles for Advent Day #14 choosing to ignore the mess for a little while and enjoy each other. 

See. It's ok. Your turn.