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 Tag: #RealLife

{#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.  

{#RealLife | No. 4}

Sometimes, you wake up tired. Yeah, that was me today. I was up at “normal” time but my sweet husband promptly sent me straight back to bed. I was so sleepy. Like my eyes felt like as heavy as softballs in my head.  For me that usually means that I haven’t been making rest a priority. True rest, the kind that creates space and breathing room. Yeah, I have a bad habit of that. I’m doing better. I figured out somewhere along the way that my inability to rest was directly related to my weak trust in God. My malady was Don’t-Know-How-to-Take-My-Hands-Off syndrome. Rest cures that. So, today I slept in and took a nap. 


So, because today is a rest day let's keep this one short.  Maybe you can find some space in your life for rest.  Be intentional. Schedule it. Make a date with that comfy chair or your favorite blanket. Go to bed early, take a nap. Get ahead of the exhaustion curve by making rest a priority. Oh, and just so you know, taking a rest doesn’t make you a slacker. So, go ahead and flip open your calendar and schedule yourself a nap. I promise it’ll make you feel better! 

{#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.  


{#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} 

#RealLife No. 1 {Mount Laundry} 

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.