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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{Favorite Fifteen from 2015}

It has been quite a year. Time passed without worrying whether or not I'd catch my breath as the days raced by. I had moments where life knocked the breath right out of me. Yeah, that happens. I also had moments that made my heart swell to the point of bursting. Lots of times those moments get buried in the busyness of the daily grind. So, when I'm scrolling through my camera roll and I find them, my heart smiles a grateful smile. It just so happens, I was scrolling through my 1000+ snapshots and figured I might share some of those buried gems with you. It's a recap of sorts. Fifteen of my favorite moments from 2015 in pictures. Ready? 

No. 1 - February Snow Days | We had such fun in the snow this year. Julia had her first ride on a sled and made her first snow angel. She loved being in the snow. Every time the garage opened she would head straight outside and fall flat on her back giggling as she wriggled around in the snow. More than once we had a whole family of snow angels in our front yard. The Jones family gained a new appreciation for snow days. 

No. 2 - Worship Leading Weekend | Planning and leading worship for this weekend with these girls put me over the moon. God did special things during this particular ladies retreat. I was in awe, yet again, of Him. 

No. 3 - Wrecked | It was raining when I left for worship band rehearsal that morning. But, it was just rain. Oh, and a little black ice. I hit a patch as I turned off the expressway and promptly bounced into a big truck. My car bounced off the truck and slid up over the median (which was a solid sheet of ice) and into the two lanes of oncoming traffic. The car slid across both lanes into the emergency lane before finally stopping.  And I walked away with only a mild concussion. 

No. 4 - LIFT at Passion City | B. and I really, really appreciate Passion City Church.  We say that Louie and Shelley Giglio are our podcast pastors. When we're in Atlanta, we make it a point to be a part of the gatherings at Passion City. I was ecstatic when the info about LIFT popped up on my Instagram feed. The first snapshot shows the JESUS IS LIFE wall where each light bulb represents a person who has found new life in Christ through Passion City. It was truly a stunning visual of hope! The second snapshot captured the moment David Crowder led "I Saw The Light" during a blackout (which happened during the gathering). I walked away with two basic reminders from these photos. The truth of the Gospel changes lives STILL and worship can happen apart from bright lights and fancy production. Yes, I already knew these things. But, I needed the reminder. True to form, He knows exactly what we need when we need it. 

No. 5 - Growing Up & Moving On | The passing of time means that the kiddos are getting older. Nothing like the end of the school year to remind me of that! William's last year of elementary school was marked with the fifth grade end-of-year music program. His last one. Thankfully, he's taken up cello so there are plenty of orchestra concerts to be seen. Maddie ended the year with eighth grade crossover. She's a freshman. So far, the year has been full of firsts. Finals. Homecomings. Football games. Varsity sports. It's good. 

No. 6 - Jones Family Magic | Disney World. There is something magical about experiencing something with fresh eyes. Julia brings that to our family. She's three and there are eleven years between her and her biggest sister. Watching her see and experience things for the first time stirs something in each of us. It helps us recall things that we otherwise might have forgotten. Our day at Disney World was pure magic. Wide eyes. Big smiles. Belly laughs. I do not, however, under any circumstance recommend sitting through a time share preview to get discount tickets. Just. Don't. 

No. 7 - My Best Yes | I quit cleaning toilets and said goodbye to my clients in July 2015 so that I could say my "best yes" to my family. My clients were wonderful and the money was decent, but the tradeoff was too high. I was exhausted. Spent. Here's the thing: When something takes so much that it leaves little for the people who matter most, an adjustment is in order. For me, that was walking away. So, here's to leisurely walks in the park, counting (and catching) grasshoppers and butterflies. Dirty laundry. Dirty dishes. My own dirty toilets to clean. Cooking dinner. Carpool. Finger painting. And, play dough. 

No. 8 - My Story, His Story | I used to be very protective of & private about my story. A certain amount of vulnerability is inevitable when standing in front of a group and talking about yourself. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. And, then there’s this need for control. I tell the story; but, I can’t determine how it lands with people. But this time was different. This story is His because my life is His. My story is meant to paint a picture of God’s relentless love,  unfathomable grace, and the enduring hope that comes from surrendering my life to Him.

No. 9 - 30 Pounds Down | It was hard. I cried. I complained. I ached. But, I did it. And, I'm not finished yet. 

No. 10 - Pumpkin Pickin' | The pumpkin patch is all kinds of fun and a sweet, easy family tradition. We missed a couple of  years at the pumpkin patch when we moved to our new house and celebrated Julia's arrival just a few weeks later. This year we made it! The bigger the kiddos, the bigger the pumpkins picked! 

No. 11 - Brian shares his story | I love B. to the moon. And back. A million times. I was overwhelmed as I listened to him describe his journey to knowing Jesus. He spoke with ease and conviction and wisdom. It was a beautiful thing. 

No. 12 - Rest in the Georgia Mountains | I haven't said much about my November trip to the Georgia mountains. Let me just say that when I left I had no doubt that God knew exactly where I was and exactly what I needed. Of course, He does. He graciously and sweetly reminded me. I think He loves to do that for us. 

No. 13 - Worship Leading Siblings | This was one of my most favorite moments leading worship. My little brother has shown courage and tenacity in pursuing the things God has called him to. He's taught me God can do things beyond your expectations when you obey Him. I'm proud of my brother and love him so. I can't put it into words really. This was a top five moment for me. I am so grateful we got to do this. I look forward to the next time.  

No. 14 - Just Beachy | We went to the beach. In November. Oh, the perks of having a brother and sister-in-love who live in coastal Georgia! This was not a big deal, just a walk on the beach, collecting shells and fistfuls of sand. Even though the kiddos promised to stay dry, they were all wet by the time we made it back to the car. 

No. 15 - Bringin' Back Family Game Night | Just last week Jules and I played a little Go Fish. That was big fun! I hardly expected her to hang with me, but she did. You know what that means? It means we can bring back family game night without worrying that she'll sit on the game board or run off with all the pieces. She can participate! For real! We've already had big fun playing Zingo, Busytown, Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, and even LIFE. It's big fun!

Happy New Year, sweet friends! I hope as you celebrate the new year and reflect on 2015 there are plenty of moments that rise to the top and make your heart smile a grateful smile.