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: christian living

{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.

Stop.


{Undivided Heart and Honesty}

Honesty. It's essential. We all know that. In this week of study, honesty is a prerequisite to humility and intimate relationship with God.

I'm not sure I realized how easy dishonesty is for us. With others, with ourselves, with God. See, dishonesty isn't just about telling a blatant lie. It can be about concealment, covering up, leaving out various details about ourselves or a situation, or failing to take personal responsibility in a situation or circumstance. You know, being silent instead of speaking up. I've had much to confess to God over these last few weeks.

I think sometimes we're honest about our shortcomings and character flaws, but we stop short of actually acknowledging, when necessary, those things as sin and dealing accordingly through confession and repentance. Instead, we say things like, "No one is perfect. We are all sinners. I'm just authentic and real." And, yes, we are all sinners, and none of us are perfect, but in failing to deal with our sin honestly, we sabotage our efforts at authenticity and realness. We must learn to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and our sin lest our hearts be hardened, and the Holy Spirit grieved. Scripture tells us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8)

For me, my prayers had become a bit lop-sided lacking confession and repentance. I don't make a habit of keeping a running list of all the ways I mess up in a day. That's not what I'm saying. But, what I do want to do is make an intentional effort to ask the Lord to reveal hidden sin in my life. And I also want to listen actively for and respond more quickly to the Holy Spirit as He convicts me. Because intimacy with God is what my soul craves, I don't want anything in my life to unnecessarily create barriers or limit my closeness to Him. I want Him to clean out everything that doesn't belong, anything that offends Him so that He has free reign in my heart. My undivided, completely yielded to Him, heart. This week, I had to ask myself: Do I trust Him enough to do that? Because here's the thing: Honesty requires vulnerability. When I willingly lay bare the vulnerable places of my heart before the Father, I am demonstrating my trust in Him. He, in turn, shows His unfailing love and faithfulness, His grace and mercy.  It's a beautiful, wonderful thing.

And, yes, I do trust Him. God is trustworthy.

May we never miss an opportunity to be vulnerable and honest at the feet of our Savior. May I encourage you in that today, sweet friends? God doesn't deal with us harshly, as our sins deserve, because, Jesus.


{Five Minute Friday | Abandon}

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 {ABANDON}.

Ready? GO.

After Hailey died, I would not go back to the apartment. I just couldn't. The nursery area was set up and ready; all the beautiful, tiny baby girl clothes were tucked neatly in the wardrobe. But, Hailey wouldn't be coming home with me, and I didn't want to walk back into a something that reminded me of her death and reinforced the pain. I was terribly angry with God. I begged and pleaded with Him for months to save her, heal her tiny heart. I reasoned with Him that because I'd already suffered the loss of my baby son, He owed me this. Never mind how messed up that was! I know. (That's a story for another day.) When He didn't come through for me, it sent me into a spiritual tailspin. I felt abandoned. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, the feeling settled deep into my soul. One minute I would weep bitterly and the next I would be filled with a kind of quiet rage. But God saved me. He reached down into the dark pit and pulled me out into the light. His light.

Guess what I was failing to realize during my time in the pit? That truth is always truth despite my feelings. I felt abandoned. But the truth found in Scripture says He never leaves us or forsakes us.  I felt as if He'd turned His back on me and was unconcerned with my heartbreak. The truth is He would stop at nothing to heal the brokenness in my soul and heart. I know that now. I believe it.

That's what faith does. Faith always declares the truth in the face of insurmountable circumstance. In those weeks and months following that loss, I failed to let my faith go to work and instead let my feelings determine what I believed to be true. Here's the thing: What God says about any given situation matters infinitely more than what I think about it.

The truth won in my heart and life. God never abandons us. Instead, He pursues us, draws us close to His heart. May I encourage you today, sweet friends? God knows precisely where you are, and He knows even the tiniest detail of your situation. Look for Him. Listen for Him. You are sure to find Him. 

STOP.


{Forty.}

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.


Knowing God.png

{Five Minute Friday | Breathe}

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 {BREATHE}.

Ready? GO.

Just. Breathe.

It’s a signal to pause, to wait, to focus. It seems like there’s not a lot of space to breathe these days. Everywhere you turn, seems like people are reacting quickly, impulsively, irrationally. Perhaps it’s because fewer and fewer people have a built in pause button. Culture doesn’t glamorize thoughtfulness. Oh no. Culture says throw thoughtfulness and careful consideration out the window, feelings and emotions, those rule. We don’t value sound judgment. Instead, we base our ideas on things as flaky as the weather and as untrustworthy as the media. We don’t value absolute truth. Instead, we push relative truth, which is no kind of truth at all. We don’t value human life or human rights. Our fellow man, if he disagrees with us, makes an enemy of us. At least that’s what it looks like some days.

And the church? We need to take a collective time-out, a deep breath.  We need to be thoughtful. We need to respond to the goings-on around us rather than react from a place of fear, offense, frustration, or disgust. There's a difference, you know. Here’s the thing: The church keeps looking outside of herself for solutions rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to rise above the noise and move toward people and engage them with love and truth and hope. Always love and always truth. Not either/or, but both. And always grace.

Just. Breathe. Saturate your heart with God's love, truth, goodness, and grace. Then, go and do and be a representative of those things. We just have to. What’s happening is not ok.

Come on then, let’s do it together. Ready? 1 - 2 - 3 and BREATHE.

Now, what’s one thing you can do today to push back against all the chaos with love and truth? Do you have an idea? Well, then, do that.

STOP.