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: Everyday Life

{Undivided Heart and Repentance}


There he stood on the crowded sidewalk proudly wearing his not-so-cool sandwich board sign. He was handing out pamphlets and shouting at the top of his voice, "Repent!! Avoid Hell! Repent!" I happened to be in New York City when I saw this fellow, but I'm sure many of you could describe a similar scene. I applaud his boldness, I think. But, my heart sank because, well . . . The approach is, without argument, lacking in too many ways to list.  I could never imagine.  But, repentance? He was right about that at least. It is certainly necessary for unbelievers and also for believers.

So far we've talked humility and honesty; this week we worked through repentance. Notice the progression because it isn't accidental or inconsequential. A couple of things landed on my heart this week as weighty reminders as I studied repentance. Are you ready?

1. As followers of Jesus, a repentant heart is crucial to our daily lives. Until Heaven, we are susceptible to sin. We cannot deny that reality. Likewise, we cannot escape taking responsibility for our sin. And you guessed it! Humility and honesty are required. I've been asking the Lord to help me respond quickly to the voice of the Holy Spirit when He reveals sin in my life.

2. Repentance is more than a confession. True repentance requires the laying down of something and a refusal to pick it back up. The study explained the Greek word translated repentance means that our minds change or we think differently about something. Do you know what that means? It means a change of behavior follows repentance. I'm not saying we get it 100% right every time after, but there is definite, measurable movement in a new direction. It means obedience in whatever the Lord is asking of us in a particular situation.

Here's the thing: our hearts and minds are limited; there is a finite amount of space for things to settle. How often do sinful attitudes and behaviors move in and make themselves at home?  Repentance, in it's truest form, means clearing out space for the Lord to fill. And, through grace and the Holy Spirit at work in us, He fills us with godly character so that we are beautiful reflections of Jesus. Isn't that what we all want? It's absolutely what I want. But, on my own, it's impossible. I need Him. So, I do not want any unconfessed sin or an unrepentant heart to keep me from Him.

What's something you need to confess? Is the Holy Spirit calling you to repentance in any area of your life? May I encourage you today, sweet friends? Don't delay. He is faithful to extend forgiveness, and "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities."  Because, love. Because, grace. Because, Jesus.


{Five Minute Friday | Friend}

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 {FRIEND}.

Ready? Go.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the prompt. See, the Lord and I have been talking a lot about this. It seems over the last several months, many people I called friend have wandered away or become somehow unavailable, several of them without explanation or conversation. I'm relieved to see some of them go if I'm honest. But, with others, there's a certain sense of loss. Confession: I'm quite needy these days, craving connection with particular people face-to-face. But, I'm not great at making time for that outside of my daily grind. And, the sting of rejection is a very real thing to sort through when you reach out with no reply. That's where the Lord and I have been sorting some stuff out. See, the thing is, some people make you better and others, not so much. I want the former to be true of me. So, I'm asking Him to teach me how to be a friend who is an honest and lovely representation of Jesus. I'm also asking Him to show me where to invest and where to let go. That's a hard process.

There's another piece, though. I found myself again looking to people to satisfy some deep thing in me rather than to Jesus. And, y'all, it's just not possible. Goodness, at some point, it seems I could check that box. But now and then, I find that I slip back into old patterns of people-pleasing because my soul is longing for something that only Jesus can give me. In seasons of transition, it's especially easy to slip back. I am oh so thankful that God continually pursues us.

Here's the thing: Jesus is enough. I know, that seems shallow and cliche. But it comes from a belief deep in my soul, anchored firmly in His unwavering love. Nothing else will ever be enough, especially when I neglect the most important One. Sometimes we do that you know? We overfill our lives, our hearts, and minds until we don't have much room left for Him. And though we're busy or living "full" lives, something is missing. Even if we can say we have everything we want, apart from Him, it's all meaningless. When I find myself in a spot where I'm missing something or someone, He's always the remedy. May I encourage you today sweet friends if you are struggling with feeling alone and isolated? He's our most constant companion, a friend that sticks closer than any other. Start with Him. He is enough. Let Him be the One we think of first. Yes, always Jesus.



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 Favorite Books | 2016}

I start each year with a list of "Must-Read Books." I have to admit my 2016 list was a bit ambitious. Lots of books. Too many. I didn't get to all of them, but I did spend some time with some really, really good ones! Confession: I prefer a new book to a new pair of shoes. At least most days. Don't you just love a good book? One that makes you think and feel something. Reading is good for our brains. It makes us smarter, stimulates our imaginations, helps boost memory function, and even eases tension. It's like exercise for the brain and food for the soul. Good stuff.

Here are a few of my favorites from 2016 (in no particular order).  

1. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst |  Rejection. When I picked this book up, I wasn't sure what to expect. It's one of those books that walks you through some hard spaces with grace and ease. Not only does TerKeurst write with her usual charm and wit, but she lands on powerful biblical truth as our only hope in our struggle with rejection. But, there is hope. This book reminds us of that beautifully.

2. The Most Excellent Way To Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership by Perry Noble |  How do you define good, strong leadership? We have loads of useful resources available to help us grow as leaders. But, this one? It ranks at the top of some of my favorites. The leadership principles in this book are rooted in 1 Corinthians 13. It's smart and engaging.  Read it. It'll make you a better leader.

3. Fervent: A Woman's Guide to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer | This. Book. It's a game changer. I believe the enemy is actively seeking to destroy and devour (1 Peter 5:8). I believe in spiritual warfare. This book was like a shot in the arm for my prayer life, bringing focus and intentionality. I've revisited the pages many, many times over the past year. I imagine it's one of those books I'll keep in regular rotation - reading it over again for the rest of forever. It's powerful, insightful, engaging, and practical. Please read it. You won't be sorry.  

4. Looking For Lovely: Collecting Moments That Matter by Annie Downs | I needed this book. A lot. This book made me laugh and cry and breathe a sigh of relief. It was a powerful reminder to look for God in the everyday moments. Perspective matters. It provided space for a heart check: How do I tend to see things? Where is my focus? Am I looking for the right stuff? The thing is, we all get to decide that for ourselves. If you need a nudge toward a more healthy perspective on life, grab this book. The narrative is incredibly personal. It's like sitting down for coffee with a lifelong friend. That always makes me feel better. This book did, too.

5. Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. by Brené Brown | "If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. This book is about what it takes to get back up." Well, there you have it.  This book is about courage, vulnerability, & resilience. It's about dealing with struggle, disappointment, and heartbreak. The book is not a touchy-feely kind of book. It's challenging and thought-provoking. In the end, it's about embracing the process -- all of it, the highs and lows, the good and the bad -- and owning every part of your story.

These books left an impression. They made me think. They challenged me and encouraged me. Each one taught me something -- something valuable, something that changed me. That's a good read! How about you? What books did you read in 2016 that inspired you or otherwise moved you? Share some of your favorites!

Honorable mention: If nothing on the list piques your interest, these were great book too. Stars Over Sunset Boulevard (Meissner), Redeeming Love (Rivers), Boundaries for Leaders (Cloud), Anything (Allen), The Undoing of St. Silvanus (Moore)

{Five Minute Friday | Middle}

Well, hello there, friends. It's been a little while since I've written. That was by design - just taking a little rest. What better way to say hello after a break than with Five Minute Friday.

Five Minute Friday 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.

The prompt is {MIDDLE}.

Ready? Go.

I'm not the kind of gal who wants to be somewhere in the middle. When I'm in, I'm all in. Otherwise, why bother? I suppose there are good things and not-so-good things about being an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Sometimes, it keeps me from starting. Sometimes, it means I have super-high (and super-unrealistic) expectations of myself. That's no fun, but hey, I'm working on it! It's just that I don't want to spend my days in a rut, you know, going through the motions in a kind of mindless, aimless way. That's kind of what it feels like in the middle to me. Do I begrudge the ordinary stuff? Absolutely not. Sometimes, the common, everyday tasks are where being all in matters most. Yeah, for sure. Here's the thing: Jesus gives meaning to whatever I'm doing. Scripture says to work with all our heart at whatever we find to do.  It says to do it as if you were doing it for Him. Whatever. We. Do. You know what that means? We don't have to compartmentalize our lives into "Jesus-stuff" and "everyday stuff." That changes things, doesn't it? That load of laundry? Do it for Him being thankful that you have running water, a washing machine, and clothes to wear. Gratitude and joy push you out of the middle into a place where you live intentionally and with purpose. In every moment. Yeah, what if we do that.


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