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

{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. 

{Date | Day 29 of 31}

Ready? Go.

Some days you never forget. The date is etched in your heart and mind long after it has passed. The memories attached are sometimes sweet, sometimes not. Yeah, I have a catalog of those kinds of dates.  It's good to remember. I've found over time, as God works things out in me, those dates that represented pain come to mean something more than that. He does turn mourning to joy, after all. Yesterday, I added a new date to my catalog.

Julia, my four-year-old, was playing in her room. I was using the restroom, her big sister was in the shower, her big brother visiting a friend, and her dad was working at his desk. I heard her running down the hallway, and before I knew it, the bathroom door flew open. She was standing there, tears streaming down her face, looking utterly terrified. “I swallowed a penny,” she stammered and then she started getting sick. She turned around and ran offto find her Dad. Besides being indisposed, I must have looked a bit afraid. I gathered myself and headed down to find her. I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t a bit of a mess. The tears filled my eyes and about the same time, my stomach started doing somersaults. I couldn’t find my words, but managed to squeak out a one-word plea toward heaven. My mind has a nasty habit of immediately taking me to the worst-case scenario when something like this happens. 

I made it downstairs and saw my little one standing on a towel, bent over, heaving and vomiting. Here dad was with her. I turned right back around, more tears, and lost my breakfast in the stairway. On my hands and knees, I had to remind myself to keep it together. The conversation in my head went something like this: Come on, Valerie. Don't you know who you belong to. Stop it. Ask for His help. I managed to squeak out another prayer. “God, please help her.”

About that time, I heard Julia. “There it is, I got it out.” She was pointing at a quarter lying in the mess on the towel. A quarter. That’s quite a bit bigger than a penny. I found a seat on the steps and she hopped into my lap. We were both covered in stuff I’d rather not discuss. Thank. You. God. I said it over and over again. 

This morning, Julia climbed up beside me in bed and we had a chat. She was feeling fine; she explained that her throat wasn’t hurting today. I asked her if she understood that God helped her when she swallowed that quarter. She shook her head and told me, “I was talking to Him in my head. I couldn’t talk out loud because I was throwing up.” I reminded her that we needed to thank God for keeping her safe and helping her.

A few minutes later she was chatting with her Dad. She was holding up a quarter. She thought it was THE quarter. (I don’t know how in the world she had another quarter.) “Daddy, this is the quarter. I swallowed it and God reached down and pulled it out of my tummy.” “I was asking Him in my head, and He did.” 

Yes. He absolutely did. 



{Letters to My Daughter No. 6}

Dear Sweet Girl,
I love you. I'm over the moon crazy about you. You are kind, beautiful, smart, creative, and quite funny. You are. And, you work hard. You. Are. Awesome. It makes my heart hurt when you get hurt. I am sorry it's been a hard week. You've demonstrated patience and grace in the most frustrating of situations! We are so proud of you. But, sometimes it feels hard, doesn't it? Sometimes, it feels like too much. Then, it's easy slip into a spot where you feel like nothing is quite going the way you want it to go. Goodness, I've been there. I get it. But, we don't get to skip the rough patch. We have to walk through it. So, can I remind you of a few things that may help as you navigate the next couple of week?

1. Even though there are things that are beyond our control, we always get to choose how we respond. I don't ever want to tell you that you aren't allowed to feel sad or mad because, well, that's just unrealistic and unreasonable. But, guard your heart and mind. Don't let those moments of anger or sadness or negativity settle in and hold you hostage. Don't let those negative feelings determine what you do next. One bad moment doesn't always ruin the big picture.

2. People sometimes label us incorrectly. People may unfairly assume things about us. But, listen. You don't have to let those labels and assumptions stick. There is only One who gets to define you. When you find yourself in a troublesome spot, worried way too much about what someone else says or thinks, ask God to help you with that. And, He will.

3. Making a mistake is ok. Perfection is never the goal. Instead, work to make progress, and be willing to accept instruction and correction along the way. Always.

4. Don't strive. Rest. See, God knows how to make you the best version of yourself. Invite Him to do that in this situation. It's His work to do, really. You'll wear yourself out if you try to figure it out on your own. I'm praying that you come to a place where you say, "God, I trust that you'll take care of me in this situation. Show me what to do, and help me do it."

Here's the thing, sweet girl: even though the past few days have been hard, there's still something you can learn or something you can work on that will make you even more awesome. You can ask God to help you with that too, you know. Ask Him to show you how all this is good for you. Ask Him what you're supposed to be learning about yourself and to help you make progress. I know. It's not easy. Maybe it seems a little silly. But, when you belong to God, you can be sure He's concerned with all the details of your life, so lean on Him. Pray. And, listen. Listen until His voice rises above all the other noise. He loves you so. And, He sees you.

Be brave. Be strong. Be determined. Keep going.


{Five Minute Friday | Five}

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 {FIVE}.

Ready? GO.

We've only been at it for five days. Julia was having a tiny bit of trouble with her coloring page. The picture was too big to color, and her arm was already shaky and tired, so she said. That's code for I'd rather be watching Mickey Mouse Club House. So, she looked up at me, arms crossed, brow wrinkled and said in her most serious voice, "I quit school." I explained in my best matter-of-fact mom voice that quitting isn't a choice. She's four, so I didn't get far with my explanation before she determinedly said it again. "No! I do quit!" We took a quick five-minute break, played Simon Says says, and then took our seats back at the table. She finished her coloring page. "Mommy, I love school. I don't quit. My picture is beautiful. Do you see it?"

And, there it is. My little one didn't need to quit, but she needed a rest. You know, a time-out. Sometimes, I need a rest too. How often are we just moments away from a beautiful picture when we completely bail when a little rest would have done the trick? Or how often is the Lord clearly saying "take five," and we keep pressing and striving toward something that's not what He wants for us? Yeah, me too. It's because I often feel pressed to react quickly rather than allowing space for a proper response, from a well-rested soul.

Here's the thing: In those moments when I allow myself space to breathe and rest, God whispers just what my heart needs to keep going. Five minutes is sometimes all it takes to reset my heart and mind and realign my perspective. Five minutes with my attention fixed completely on Him can change what happens next. I love that.

May I encourage you, sweet friends? If you're frazzled, weary, or just a little bit bored with what's going on in front of you -- take five minutes. Breathe in His grace for the next moment. And, then get back in there. Finish the picture, with Him at your side, of course. It's bound to be beautiful.


{Dear Momma, It's Almost Your Birthday!}

Tomorrow is your birthday! I'm sure you have plans to celebrate -- at least, I hope you do. You deserve to celebrate. I'm looking forward to celebrating with you in a few weeks! That will be big fun! But, in the meantime, I thought it'd be a good day to remind you of a couple of things. You spent years pouring into me, and I wanted to pour something into you. So, here's what I want you to know.

1. I am grateful for you. Yeah, for sure. A funny thing happens once you're a momma. You quickly realize that being a mom is hard. Even on my best day, those pesky doubts creep in and leave me feeling like I came up short. And on my worst day - well, let's just say I'm left looking for a place to hide to avoid scarring my children for life. So not only do I want to say thank you, I want you to know that you did a good job. Whatever you did or didn't do, it worked out just fine. What I didn't quite understand back then was that being a mom was not your only gig. You were doing and being a lot of other things, too. So, thanks mom for sticking with it when you were exhausted and overwhelmed, on good days and bad, and on days when being a mom was the hardest hat you had to wear. Yeah, thank you.

2. I love you. But even more than that, God loves you. Maybe that feels a little cliche, but it's true. I am constantly reminding the kids of this truth, but sometimes, I need the reminder, too. I don't know the last time someone took the time to tell you: He loves you and you're pretty special, His masterpiece, in fact, created with intention and for purpose.

3. I pray for you. Being a momma is hard for sure, and so is being a woman. We push and strive trying to live up to unrealistic expectations and hard-to-keep-up-with standards. And we don't have to. We just don't. The mark of a great woman, I think, has nothing to do with all that and everything to do with how well we love the people God puts in front of us. And we can only do that well when we we fully realize how deeply loved we are. So, that's my prayer - that you know that you are deeply loved and can rest in that when rest is what you need. Nothing is wasted you know, even those seasons of difficulty; and, it is never to late to dream a new God-sized dream. This year, I'm praying that for you, too. 

You are lovely. I'm glad you're my mom. I am who I am because God wanted you to be my mom. I love that. I love you! Happy birthday, mom! Oh, and eat cake.