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: family

{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. 


{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. 

{Date | Day 29 of 31}

Ready? Go.

Some days you never forget. The date is etched in your heart and mind long after it has passed. The memories attached are sometimes sweet, sometimes not. Yeah, I have a catalog of those kinds of dates.  It's good to remember. I've found over time, as God works things out in me, those dates that represented pain come to mean something more than that. He does turn mourning to joy, after all. Yesterday, I added a new date to my catalog.

Julia, my four-year-old, was playing in her room. I was using the restroom, her big sister was in the shower, her big brother visiting a friend, and her dad was working at his desk. I heard her running down the hallway, and before I knew it, the bathroom door flew open. She was standing there, tears streaming down her face, looking utterly terrified. “I swallowed a penny,” she stammered and then she started getting sick. She turned around and ran offto find her Dad. Besides being indisposed, I must have looked a bit afraid. I gathered myself and headed down to find her. I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t a bit of a mess. The tears filled my eyes and about the same time, my stomach started doing somersaults. I couldn’t find my words, but managed to squeak out a one-word plea toward heaven. My mind has a nasty habit of immediately taking me to the worst-case scenario when something like this happens. 

I made it downstairs and saw my little one standing on a towel, bent over, heaving and vomiting. Here dad was with her. I turned right back around, more tears, and lost my breakfast in the stairway. On my hands and knees, I had to remind myself to keep it together. The conversation in my head went something like this: Come on, Valerie. Don't you know who you belong to. Stop it. Ask for His help. I managed to squeak out another prayer. “God, please help her.”

About that time, I heard Julia. “There it is, I got it out.” She was pointing at a quarter lying in the mess on the towel. A quarter. That’s quite a bit bigger than a penny. I found a seat on the steps and she hopped into my lap. We were both covered in stuff I’d rather not discuss. Thank. You. God. I said it over and over again. 

This morning, Julia climbed up beside me in bed and we had a chat. She was feeling fine; she explained that her throat wasn’t hurting today. I asked her if she understood that God helped her when she swallowed that quarter. She shook her head and told me, “I was talking to Him in my head. I couldn’t talk out loud because I was throwing up.” I reminded her that we needed to thank God for keeping her safe and helping her.

A few minutes later she was chatting with her Dad. She was holding up a quarter. She thought it was THE quarter. (I don’t know how in the world she had another quarter.) “Daddy, this is the quarter. I swallowed it and God reached down and pulled it out of my tummy.” “I was asking Him in my head, and He did.” 

Yes. He absolutely did. 



{Letters to My Daughter No. 6}

Dear Sweet Girl,
I love you. I'm over the moon crazy about you. You are kind, beautiful, smart, creative, and quite funny. You are. And, you work hard. You. Are. Awesome. It makes my heart hurt when you get hurt. I am sorry it's been a hard week. You've demonstrated patience and grace in the most frustrating of situations! We are so proud of you. But, sometimes it feels hard, doesn't it? Sometimes, it feels like too much. Then, it's easy slip into a spot where you feel like nothing is quite going the way you want it to go. Goodness, I've been there. I get it. But, we don't get to skip the rough patch. We have to walk through it. So, can I remind you of a few things that may help as you navigate the next couple of week?

1. Even though there are things that are beyond our control, we always get to choose how we respond. I don't ever want to tell you that you aren't allowed to feel sad or mad because, well, that's just unrealistic and unreasonable. But, guard your heart and mind. Don't let those moments of anger or sadness or negativity settle in and hold you hostage. Don't let those negative feelings determine what you do next. One bad moment doesn't always ruin the big picture.

2. People sometimes label us incorrectly. People may unfairly assume things about us. But, listen. You don't have to let those labels and assumptions stick. There is only One who gets to define you. When you find yourself in a troublesome spot, worried way too much about what someone else says or thinks, ask God to help you with that. And, He will.

3. Making a mistake is ok. Perfection is never the goal. Instead, work to make progress, and be willing to accept instruction and correction along the way. Always.

4. Don't strive. Rest. See, God knows how to make you the best version of yourself. Invite Him to do that in this situation. It's His work to do, really. You'll wear yourself out if you try to figure it out on your own. I'm praying that you come to a place where you say, "God, I trust that you'll take care of me in this situation. Show me what to do, and help me do it."

Here's the thing, sweet girl: even though the past few days have been hard, there's still something you can learn or something you can work on that will make you even more awesome. You can ask God to help you with that too, you know. Ask Him to show you how all this is good for you. Ask Him what you're supposed to be learning about yourself and to help you make progress. I know. It's not easy. Maybe it seems a little silly. But, when you belong to God, you can be sure He's concerned with all the details of your life, so lean on Him. Pray. And, listen. Listen until His voice rises above all the other noise. He loves you so. And, He sees you.

Be brave. Be strong. Be determined. Keep going.


{Five Minute Friday | Team}

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 {TEAM}.

Ready? GO.

The people around you matter. I can’t think of another nugget of truth that so profoundly affects you from the outside in. Those people surrounding you and your relationships with them matter. Have you ever aligned yourself with the wrong people? I have. The effects can haunt you for days, months, even years. Then, there are people who, without a doubt, are God-sent. People who make life a little sweeter. Yeah, those folks are like treasure.

One thing I’ve recognized over the last few weeks is this: I need my team to share the same crazy-love for Jesus. I need my team to pray for me, to challenge me, to hold me accountable to the truth of Scripture. I need my team to be striving and working toward the same thing — chasing God wholeheartedly, knowing Him and doing what God has put in their hands to do to bring Him glory and make Him known. Something beautiful happens when we gather around Jesus. Something crazy-good. 

I know what you might be thinking. Why in the world would you only want to be with like-minded people? But, that’s not what I’m talking about. I have no desire to hole up in my living room and spend all my time with “just my people.” My team, though, they are home-base. People who launch and propel me forward and out into the purposes of God. Yeah, that’s what we do for each other. Not everyone gets to be on that team. Not everyone has permission to speak into and over my life. It’s a big deal, and I would be foolish NOT to guard my heart in that way. 

I am so thankful that God has placed people around me who love Him like crazy. I love how our stories tie together. I love what He’s doing in our lives, both individually and collectively. Sometimes, we laugh together, or cry together, or just have all kinds of fun together. Conversation flows. Sometimes, it's easy, sometimes deep, and other times it's hard. But, it's always ok. There is always love and trust, camraderie. All of these things matter. Godly friendships can't be underestimated. Even in our relationships, we can be about making Jesus known. Even our team can be about kingdom business.

Who’s on your team? May I encourage you today? Speak life. Encourage. Love. Pray for each other. Believe in each other. We are better together.