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 Tag: christian life

{Five Minute Friday | Blessing}

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 {Blessing}.

Ready? Go.

The word {blessing} gets tossed about frequently, doesn't it? So, I pulled out my trusty dictionary before I started writing. This word, especially in the context of church culture, carries the tiniest bit of tension for me. It isn't that I am not incredibly blessed. I am. So are you. It's just that it feels like a slippery slope toward a path that relies considerably on my circumstance and my stuff rather than on what should be my source of gratitude and contentment. 

It's easy to feel blessed when I have my toes in the sand and sweet tea in hand, or when my kids are a glowing example of my super-awesome (Ahem, I mean subpar on a good day.) parenting skills. It's easy to recognize God's goodness when I am living in my best case scenario. But, what about when I'm not? What then? Am I quick to be grateful in those less-than-what-I'd hoped for moments? Listen, there's nothing wrong with having good things and enjoying good things. It's just that my primary purpose in life can't be accumulating blessings for myself. Joy, contentment, and gratitude aren't meant to be tied to things that are so unreliable and can change in a moment. 

Because even in the less-than-best-case scenario, we as believers are remarkably blessed.  Here's the thing: Jesus is our greatest blessing. And, He brings incredible context to every other thing in our lives. 




{Unyielding Love}

Goodness, it's been a while. I'm knee-deep in all kinds of stuff over here - some good stuff and some hard stuff, but I've missed sitting and writing. Life is moving at lightening speed. A little too fast for my taste.  Confession: Easter snuck up on me. It's my favorite holiday, and I was so disappointed in myself for that. I was sitting on the edge of my bed the Thursday evening before when it dawned on me that the next day was Good Friday. You guys. Just no. It's given me a reason to pause, to just stop.

When something like this happens, my default is to revisit the immediate past and question everything. I find myself saying "was that best thing there?" or "could I have done better here?" or "maybe I shouldn't have said that." If I'm not careful, my mind wanders down the rocky path of "what-if, " and my perspective gets all jumbled up. Yeah, sometimes that happens. There's never a day when I get it all right. But, I am so thankful for a God who loves me fiercely and pursues me relentlessly. His love is like no other. That's what the cross demonstrates.

Before I was born, He loved me.
Before I uttered a word, He loved me.
Before I attended my first church service, He loved me.
Before I sang the first worship song, He loved me.
Before I had the capacity to understand, He loved me.
He. Loved. Me.

And, there's more.

He loved me even before I loved Him back.
He loved me even when I've been angry with Him.
He loved me even when I've run from Him.
He loved me even when I was a total mess.

He meets every imperfection, every flaw, every weakness with perfect, strong, steady love. It's an unyielding love. And grace, sweet grace. It becomes even sweeter in light of His perfect holiness. It blows me away every time. Here's the thing: There's never been a moment when He hasn't loved me. There will never be a moment when He doesn't love me. The same goes for you.

If you're feeling a bit frantic and busy, pause and let this truth settle deep in your soul and bring with it a sigh of relief. There. That feels better, doesn't it?

{Undivided Heart and Humility}

I held my new Bible study workbook under my nose and let the pages fan open and then shut while I breathed in a deep breath. The new book smell is my favorite. My anticipation for this study was off the charts. I settled into my favorite spot with a cup of coffee, my Bible, the workbook, my favorite ink pens, and a brand new notebook spread out on the floor around me.

See, for quite some time now, I've been asking the Lord to rekindle a fire in my heart. My prayers have been raw and full of frustration and sometimes forced. Do you know what I mean? It's been a "What in the world is going on? Where are you!?" kind of season in prayer. The timing of this study isn't an accident. So, yes, I was anxious to dig in after the intro. I flipped my book open to Lesson 2: Humility.

While humility has everything to with how we relate and engage our world, I had forgotten that it first starts with how I relate and engage with God. It's perspective. It's not just how you see yourself, though. It's how you see yourself in light of a holy, all-powerful, perfect God who created you, who loves you, and who sent Jesus to die to save you. Here's the thing: we can't see anything clearly until we clearly see Him and know Him. Until we realize the magnitude of His grandeur and majesty, until we are keenly aware of His perfect holiness, we will never have an accurate picture of anything else. That includes our self and our sin and our hell-bent inclination toward pride. When we don't have an accurate picture, we find ourselves underwhelmed by God rather than undone and overwhelmed.

Underwhelmed. By God. Um, just no. But that's what happens when we get wrapped up in self. Self-conscious. Self-reliant. Self-protective. Self-serving. Self-righteous. Before you know it, you're spiritually drowning in an ocean of pride, struggling to keep your head above water and breathe. Never mind trying to see clearly. I can't tell you how many times I closed my study book and walked away because I just couldn't process. It was a hard week of study. But, it's what I need, and God knows that.
Lean in for some real talk. It's important. We don't have the right to demand anything of the Lord. Not even the answers we desperately think we need. And this relationship that we've been invited to have with Jesus? It's a privilege, an honor. We are so very undeserving.

Humility isn't about self-deprecation. Humility says: I saw the Lord. I am nothing without Him. I desperately love Him. I realize my utter need for Him. Just, yes. When we see the Lord, He transforms our hearts and our lives. I'm praying still that God will rekindle a fire in me. I've added confession and repentance to that prayer, though. And, I'm praying it from a place of brokenness rather than frustration.

May I encourage you today? He is matchless in glory and beauty. May He continually open the eyes of our hearts and fill us with awe and wonder as He reveals Himself. And, may we be forever changed. He wants nothing more for us than to see Him clearly and know Him deeply.

{Five Minute Friday | Park}

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 {PARK}. This is also Day 21 of the 31 Day Writing Challenge! WOO!

Ready? GO.

I do love going to the park. There's a beautiful one nearby our home. It has plenty of wide-open space to run and breathe. Or, maybe not to breathe if you happen to be a bit out of shape. And, perhaps not so much running. But one can't argue that certain feeling of freedom that comes when you're standing in the middle of green space -- free and clear of all the things that make our cities crowded.

At the park, you can hear the wind blowing through the trees. I love that. Julia loves to count butterflies and grasshoppers. Some days we go just to play. We picnic. We lay on a blanket a find shapes in the clouds. Other times, I go just to sit and be still. Being in His Creation reminds me that God is one of beauty. It reminds me that He's very specific in what He does. (I mean didn't fifth-grade Life Science blow your mind? Or astronomy?) There's just something sweet about being in creation acknowledging the beauty of the Creator.

It reminds me of what Paul writes in Romans 1:20. It goes like this:  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Maybe take a walk in the park this weekend and look up and around. Listen to the trees. Watch the clouds float through the sky. Count butterflies if you must! But, at some point, stop and know that God is God, and everything you see around you is proof.


{Unknown | Day 10 of 31}

Ready? GO.

Have you ever felt overlooked? Invisible? Misunderstood? Unknown? Yeah, me too. Relationships are hard and messy, sometimes even unhealthy. People are often quick to assume they know what you’re thinking when, in reality, they don’t know you well enough to make those kind of assumptions. But, it’s what we do. I can’t say that I much care for that. I don’t like to be misunderstood or misjudged. But, I can’t get stuck there. Because, there is One who knows me like no other, and loves me with an unfailing, unshakeable, and unconditional love. And, my identity is wrapped around what He says about me. Take a look at this beautiful truth. 

O, Lord, you have search me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down, you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem in in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain . . . For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your words are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed boy. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. (Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18)

Here’s the thing: I’ve never been unknown or overlooked or invisible. And neither have you. We were all seen and known by God before any of us existed. Let that sink in. It’s good for the soul.