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: faith

{Five Minute Friday | Loved}

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 {LOVED}.

Ready? Go.

I'm sitting here in a hotel lobby just thinking. We have a big, hard day ahead of us and I'm feeling...well, I cannot quite wrap my words around it just yet.

But that's ok.  Why? It's ok because I am loved. 

I am loved by the Creator of the Universe -- the God in whom all things hold together. And, that's what He's doing for me in this moment, holding everything together. That's what He always does, after all. That reality is enough to take my breath away and fill my heart with gratitude. He loves us with lavish, reckless, unfailing love. And because of that, we can live our lives loving others well.

My Papaw did that, you know. He loved others well. He was kind and generous. Always. He was also honest. Sometimes, he loved you well by telling you a hard truth. I appreciated that about him. I am thankful for his life, one that was well-lived. Yeah, he lived well because he loved well. That's the kind of girl I want to be. Because here's the thing: when you belong to Jesus, that's what you do. You love others well. You love others BIG. Because that's how you've been loved. Jesus changes everything. His love compels. That's the story I want my life to tell. 

Stop. 

{Five Minute Friday | Done}

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 {DONE}.

Ready? Go.

Done. That word has a nice ring to it when I’m blasting through my to-do list like a girl on a mission. Confession: I love the feeling of checking the box. I can’t be the only one who gets overly excited when I check a box, any box. Anybody else? I’m a list maker. A box checker. A paper-calendar keeper. Oh, and a rule follower to boot. Yeah, I want things to get done and get them done well (really well) and on time.  Yet, there are days, even in all my striving, that things get missed and left undone. I’m just a girl. I’m just a girl with days crammed to the brim with all the things. You know what I mean? 

It’s not like that when the Lord goes to work, though, is it? When He does something, it gets done all the way and perfectly. He doesn’t miss a thing. Ever. 

He does the thing, and He declares it finished. And, it is. That’s what He said before He took His last breath, you know. “It is finished.” What Jesus accomplished for us at that moment changes everything. We can rest in the power of that truth. And, hope abounds. It. Is. Finished. All the way. For all time. What He’s finished cannot be undone. 

Stop. 

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{Missing Someone? Yeah, me too.}

Today I was looking through old photos and videos of my sweet Mamaw. How beautiful and wonderful was she!? Goodness, I miss her so. There's something about sitting beneath the weight of significant loss. It can be cumbersome. But, the Lord is near and brings comfort and healing to our broken hearts. I could tell story after story about my Mamaw -- some of them would make you laugh. Others would make you cry. But every story points to a life well-lived and a woman who was dearly loved. She was lovely, and she was remarkable. 

My mamaw was kind and tender-hearted. She saw great heartache and loss over the course of her life, but it didn't stop her from loving BIG. I admire that about her. She was fiercely loyal. There were ladies in her life that she called a friend for more than 60 years. She had a knack for making the acquaintance of her neighbors and people in the community. When she was for you -- she was all in. 

Mamaw never missed a birthday or an anniversary. Celebrating special occasions and holidays with her people was one of her favorite things to do. Every year she made us a calendar packed full of pictures with each birthdate and anniversary marked. And, without fail, when a significant date or holiday rolled around, you could guarantee a homemade card would find it's way to your mailbox. 

Mamaw laughed, and her laugh was the sweetest. She was funny and a tiny bit feisty. She enjoyed hearing and telling a good story. She could laugh herself straight to tears, and that would make her laugh even more. I've heard that she pulled a prank or two back in the day. 

She was always off on a grand adventure aboard a cruise ship or tour bus. She loved to travel to far off places and to places just down the road. She enjoyed a good show or singing, as she'd call it. She also loved to shop. And, quilt. She was a whiz in the kitchen and hosted with such ease and grace. She taught me how to be a gracious hostess. She also modeled the importance of spending quality time with loved ones. I remember that very clearly even as a young girl. She always showed up. And, she was present. I don't, in fact, ever remember her NOT being there. If she was there, she was likely snapping photos, both candid and posed, because capturing the moments she cherished was essential to her. I am so thankful that she did that. 

But, one of my favorite things about Mamaw, the thing I  found to be SO remarkable was her generosity. She LOVED to give good things to the people for whom she cared. Her generosity was unmatched. She generously gave because she lavishly loved. Those two things combined mean that her life was a beautiful reflection of the love of God. People like my mamaw leave a mark on the lives of those of us who knew them. I'm betting that everyone who knew her could describe one way she made his life a bit brighter. If you were lucky, you'd have a long list of ways she did that. She lived a big life. A meaningful life. One that will not likely be forgotten. It is my privilege to honor her memory. And then there's this: even when we sit in death's shadow, heartbroken by such a significant loss, there's hope. I have the hope of seeing Mamaw again because of Jesus.  In the meantime, I am thankful to have known her and loved her. And, even more than that, to have been loved by her. 

If you are missing someone tonight, I pray that God will be near and bring comfort and healing to your broken heart. I pray He will help you find joy and encouragement in remembering your loved one. Above all, I pray that God will reveal something of Himself in your circumstance that takes your breath away. You know, the kind of thing that fills you with awe and gratitude because you know beyond doubt that He sees you and loves you. Look for Him, friends, even in the midst of your sadness. I promise He's there. Be filled with hope. Death does not have the final word. 

{Five Minute Friday | Accept}

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 {ACCEPT}.

Ready? Go.

This word stirs up all kinds of things in my mind. Perhaps, that's indicative of this season of life. There are lots of things swirling in my heart and mind. So many things. Today, I'm landing in a place where acceptance is part of loss. You suffer loss. You grieve. You accept it. 

During my life, I have known the weight of a grieving heart many times. I have grieved the loss of friends and community. I have mourned the loss of a marriage.  I have lamented the loss of two children. Grief is exhausting and cumbersome. When you are walking under the weightiness of it, it threatens to squeeze the life right out of you. I'm grieving a few things during this season, you know. And, I'm heartbroken. But, if I've learned anything at all, it's that grief doesn't have the final word. 

It can't. Because of Jesus. He is Hope and Truth. Jesus changes everything. 

I suppose to survive you accept what is in front of you. You adjust. You redefine. You find a new "normal. You realize nothing will ever be the same, not really. But, oh, sweet friends. Can I tell you something? Lean in a bit because this is important. HE remains. His perfect faithfulness and steadfast love on full display. Look for Him. Grab hold of Him. After all, in Him, all things hold together. Nothing -- not one tear, not one prayer, not one desperate cry for help -- escapes His attention. 

Be encouraged today. Accept that He loves you so, even on the worst of days. Grab hold of the truth of Scripture and let that truth be what informs every other thing in your life -- the good, the bad, and all the in-between. 

Because, Jesus. 

Stop. 

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{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?