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.

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Filtering by Category: Family

{Don't Hide. Obey.}

With every step toward the door of the restaurant, my heart pounded and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach nearly overcame me. Just keep walking. And smile. They are watching you, after all. I wish they weren’t watching me! Just. Keep. Walking. If I hesitate, they will bail. Who am I kidding? Let's bail! That's a great idea!

Our family was there for a dinner meeting with my recently-divorced-a-second-time ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Did I mention that she had been my best friend? That’s right. My recently-divorced-a-second-time ex-husband was dating my used-to-be-best friend. The two of them had just welcomed a new baby, which, by the way, we only heard news of about a month before the arrival. We put the meeting off as long as we could. But now, we had to make introductions.

When I say that the kids were stressed and opposed to the introduction, I’m putting it mildly. The last time their Dad introduced a woman into their lives it ended badly. His last wife was, well, I can’t quite find a word that fits. She didn’t care for the kids, and they suffered emotionally at her hand. Even worse, the relationship between the kids and their dad was strained and damaged. He had barely started making an effort to reach out to them, and then, this. They just were not ready. What I really wanted to do was pitch a fit and tell him that I was disappointed and that he was on his own. There was no way I was going to help him out with this one! No way. Nope. Forget it.

But there was a not-so-gentle nudge to invite them for dinner. You know what that means, right? Now, because of that not-so-gentle nudge, inviting them to dinner was a matter of obedience. And that’s how we ended up in this mess! 

Am I alone here?  Have you ever felt like the right thing to do seemed the most unfair, impossible thing to do? Have you ever been standing in a moment with a decision to make and thought “There is absolutely no way I can do this!"? Yeah, that was me. Exactly. But, here's the thing: when you know the right thing to do and don't do it - it's sin.

Still, this was not exactly something I was looking forward to. But, wait.

God sent Jesus. And the last words that rolled off the tongue of the Savior as He died on the cross were “It is finished.” His work on the cross was done. He won. And so did we. It was the most lavish display of love the world has ever seen. In that moment, we were granted access to everything we would ever need to do those impossible, unfair, and uncomfortable things. Sometimes it seems the implication of that truth is lost on us. Do we really know what it means to have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead every moment, every day. Death-to-life power. In us. I mean, come on now. That's huge!  You know, He is constantly working in us to make us more like Himself. That means He doesn't leave us hanging on the edge of any situation left to figure it out on our own. Even the most impossible, unfair, and most uncomfortable situation.

We finally made it into the restaurant. We stood in the corner - still trying to decide if this impossible thing was possible. What seemed like an eternity passed before we walked toward the table. Both my daughter and son were trying to make themselves invisible behind me. But, we walked on, stumbling over each other. 

And there they were. My ex-husband. My used-to-be best friend. The new baby. And, three other children from his second marriage. Lord, help me do this. This is beyond the worse case scenario. She was my best friend. She was my best friend, and it didn't end well! I can’t do this! Do you think they noticed us? Maybe there’s still time to duck behind a table! Yeah, in that moment I'm sure we were all thinking the same thing. If only we could make ourselves invisible!

But, no. They saw us. There may have been a faint whisper of a cuss word in my mind before I managed to pull myself together.  Lord, please. Help. Me.  Before I knew what happened she had both her arms wrapped around me and tears forming in her eyes. And I was hugging her back! It was a real hug, too. It wasn't me trying to squeeze the life out of her. Dinner was as good as it could have been given the circumstance. Conversation was easy-ish. And, the kids were ok-ish. We didn't knock it out of the park, but we did the right thing. This time it just so happened that the right thing was really hard. It would have been so much easier to hide. But, I'm glad we didn't because God reminded me of something through the process.

See, God had already been in that moment. Long before I dragged my kids into the Chick-fil-a, He was there. I only had to choose to see Him. I only had to choose to access the power of the Holy Spirit that was available to me by saying yes to Him.  When you push through the fear and anxiety and obey anyway, God will enable you to do what He's asking. God reminded me that when we are standing on the edge of something impossibly difficult searching, doubting, trying to find a way to run, that not only is He with us, but  He’s  already been there ahead of us, fighting for us. And He won. It. Is. Finished. Our job is to fix our eyes on Him and to do the thing He’s asked us to do, even if it means doing it with teary eyes and trembling hands. Just obey. And, when you do the thing He's asking,  do it trusting that He's got it all under control. Of course He does.  See, God loves us so fervently that He sent Jesus to die for us so that we would never have to do these hard things alone. Be brave. He knows exactly where you are every moment. And, He’s there too. 

And, in case you're wondering, things still aren't perfect or easy in this particular situation in our lives. But, there is a peace that is beyond comprehension. For that, I am thankful. 

{Five Minute Friday | Present}

 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 {PRESENT}. 

Ready? GO. 

As a momma, this one is big. Watching your littles grow as fast as a weed, right before your eyes, teaches us a lot about being present. And besides, who doesn't savor those warm, fuzzy feelings that come when you are present, in the moment. I sure do! Sure, busy mom life is hard. But, I've learned something. Being present, fully present, is worth every bit of effort it takes. Here's why.

1. It teaches you to see. When you are present, things you otherwise overlook catch your attention. The details of the moment shift from ordinary to remarkable. Imagine putting on a new pair of glasses you never knew you needed. It's like that! You see more clearly and learn to appreciate your moments more deeply. You learn what's important and what's not so important. Sometimes, the remedy for a tired, overworked mind is wrapped up in the simplest of things.

2.  Being present cultivates gratitude. Y'all know how I feel about gratitude, right? Gratitude is a big deal. When you practice gratitude, you interact and engage with your world differently. You understand you have one shot at this moment, and you aren't guaranteed the next. When you get that,  you find the value in being present, and you don't want to waste a single moment.

So, go for it. Open your eyes wide, take in the remarkable details of your moment, and be thankful that it's yours.


{#RealLife | No. 5}

Some weeks it feels like we do life with the Dora the Explorer theme song playing in the background. Everybody sing! "Come on vámonos! Everybody let’s go! Come on let’s get to it! I know that we can do it!” We are in constant motion juggling school schedules, sports schedules, playdates, chores, errands, dinner, and precious family time. It’s madness. “Let’s go!” “Hurry up!” “Where are your shoes!?” “Let’s not be late!” “I hate to be late!” When it’s really bad, we get to the end of the week and wonder how in the world we got there with our heads still attached to our bodies and all our limbs in place. Kind of like when you mindlessly drive that familiar route from one place to another and the trip is kind of hazy in your mind’s eye. Yeah, there’s a lot of that too when the madness is upon us. Once we come to the other side we can see the trail of a hot mess behind us. You know, when you have that many balls in the air sometimes you drop one or two. Last week, was one of these whirlwind weeks for us and I looked in the back of Luna (that’s our mom van) and could see the evidence.

This one hurts a bit. It really does. Don't judge. It doesn't always look like this, I promise.

Yes. There it is. Evidence of a mad, hurried, overcrowded week. Right in the floor of the car. It looks like that because we likely spent ALOT of time in that space getting from one place to the other. Usually, we clean it out every evening so there’s a place for our feet the next morning. Yeah. Not so much last week. 

While I don’t recommend ordering your life to include constant madness and overcrowded schedules, we are growing together as a family because it teaches us some valuable lessons. We have to be intentional in making plans and arranging schedules. There’s a plan. On a whiteboard. We know what our non-negotiables are, the things that always win space on the schedule. That teaches us that it’s ok to say no to other things and gives us the chance to practice that. We have to pull together, pitch in, and make it work. All of us, even the littlest one. We’re figuring out how to actively look for ways we can contribute above and beyond — even if it means cleaning up someone else’s mess or helping the little one find her shoes. And sometimes, we even do it without complaining. Thankfully, Luna will get cleaned up and there will be place for the kiddos’ feet. It’ll just take each of us grabbing an armful of stuff to get that done. And, it’ll be faster than leaving it for one person. Yeah. Two are better than one and three are even better than two. That’s it. That’s what we’re learning. 

This momma is learning to find the teachable moments even in the midst of the madness and mess.