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: encouragement

{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?

{Five Minute Friday | Enjoy}

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 {ENJOY}.

Ready? GO.

I get super-excited about Fall. Some of my favorite things are wrapped up in this season: colorful leaves, crisp morning air, pumpkin-spice everything, firepits, s'mores, turkey, family, football, boots, flannel shirts, cute scarves. Are you smiling? I mean, what girl doesn't feel like she can conquer the world in her favorite pair of blue jeans, a great flannel shirt, and a perfect pair of boots, pumpkin-spice latte in hand. It's my most favorite time of year, lots of things to enjoy.  

But, wait.

I'm quick to remember a time when there was less to enjoy and more to grieve.  When you suffer an incredible loss, pain tries to hijack everything you love about your favorite time year. Stumbling through the holidays grappling with grief and loss is no fun. But, I suppose you find a way to enjoy bits and pieces. You learn to hold grief and gratitude in a kind of healthy tension -- enjoying the moments right in front of you while at the same time remembering those moments that forever changed you.

And then, there's Jesus. My heart will be forever grateful for His unfailing love and faithfulness. He heals and redeems even the most painful moments, eventually, that is. And then, you find gratitude in the midst of your grieving.

Maybe you're still waiting. Perhaps for you, the pain left in the wake of loss is still quite raw. Don't lose hope.  I'm praying for you today. I'm asking God to remind you of His goodness and His nearness. I'm trusting that He will soothe your aching heart by reminding you of His unfailing love.  He sees you.


{Five Minute Friday | Eat}

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 {EAT}. This is also Day 28 of the 31 Day Writing Challenge! WOO!

Ready? GO.

"You give them something to eat." -Jesus

I like to imagine their mouths hanging wide open in astonishment when He gave them this answer. Can you imagine it? Thousands of people followed them to a remote place. They had come there with Jesus for a rest. It was hot. It was late. They hadn't even had a chance to eat themselves. "Send the crowd away so that they can go. . .and find food," they said. And this was His reply! No. Way. Never mind feeding all these people would cost eight months' wages. Impossible? By their estimation, yes; but, Jesus has a way of taking an impossible situation and doing something amazing. That's what He did here. He used five loaves and two fish to feed 5000 people. And, they didn't just have a nibble. Scripture says they all ate and were satisfied. And, Jesus didn't offer just enough. He provided more than was needed. There were twelve baskets of food left after everyone had eaten. Wow.

I love the truths we can uncover in this scene.

1. Rest is important. Jesus had taken this twelve disciples away to a remote place to do just that.
2. Interruptions can provide an opportunity for a God-moment. People followed them. They didn't get to rest much if at all. Instead, they witnessed a miracle.
3. We often measure what's in front of us by taking account of what's missing, what we don't have. Our lack of resource limits our vision. But, Jesus sees what we do have and loads of potential in even the smallest things.
4. Jesus cares about our physical needs and our spiritual needs. He spent the day teaching the crowd, feeding them spiritually. And when they grew hungry, He met that need as well. His compassion was on display.
5. The disciples were invited to participate in the miracle. They did what they could, and then God did what only He could do.

Yes. I love it when God does something that only He can. In those moments, His infinite power and goodness are undeniable.

What seemingly impossible thing has God asked of you? Have no doubt, if He's asked it of you, then He's fully prepared to take what you have in hand and blow impossible right out of the water. Ask Him. Then, watch Him go to work.


{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.


{Five Minute Friday | Collect}

Yesterday was 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. I'm a day late to the party, but I made it! If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {COLLECT}.

Ready? GO.

I came into my bedroom and found a pile of random papers, books, and pictures on the floor beside my bed. Sitting just off to the side was my ever-curious daughter playing with a few items that she chose when she rummaged through the drawer of my bedside table. She had a coin purse or pouch, a small notebook, an ink pen, and a satin ribbon. I sent her off with her treasures so I could clean up the mess. I did what anyone would do. I tried to shove it all back into the drawer. It barely fit. And, the drawer wouldn't close.

Somehow over the years, I collected all these things in the drawer that I didn't even know I had. As I sorted through it, I found some treasures. I also found lots of junk. I'm sure I started collecting things in the drawer with well-meaning intention. Eventually, I decided it was a good place to stuff cough drop wrappers and broken pencils. The good stuff buried among the not-so-good. I rarely opened the drawer far enough to see what was happening. I certainly couldn't see the good things buried in the mess. So, what was meant to be a collection of treasures turned into a collection of this and that. But, when I found those things in the drawer that I wanted, that I kept on purpose, well, you know . . .it's good for the soul to remember the sweet moments those treasures represented.

There have been seasons of my life that mirror the same thing that happened with that drawer. Days cluttered with dirty laundry, too many bills and not enough money, lost friendships, betrayal, heartache. The drawer of my heart and mind crammed full. God taught me a valuable lesson in those seasons. He showed me how to find and collect the life-giving moments in the midst of the mess. You know the kind. Those moments meant to be cherished. The ones where you find joy and hope. Contentment. Yes. And you can breathe. When you let Him show you how to do that, you learn to close the drawer in your heart and mind to the things that aren't so good and only collect and keep the things that matter. It makes a world of difference.

Scripture lays it out for us. I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrased it in The Message. 

"Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. "  Philippians 4: 8

Yes, do that.