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: favorite things

{Five Favorite Books | 2016}

I start each year with a list of "Must-Read Books." I have to admit my 2016 list was a bit ambitious. Lots of books. Too many. I didn't get to all of them, but I did spend some time with some really, really good ones! Confession: I prefer a new book to a new pair of shoes. At least most days. Don't you just love a good book? One that makes you think and feel something. Reading is good for our brains. It makes us smarter, stimulates our imaginations, helps boost memory function, and even eases tension. It's like exercise for the brain and food for the soul. Good stuff.

Here are a few of my favorites from 2016 (in no particular order).  

1. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst |  Rejection. When I picked this book up, I wasn't sure what to expect. It's one of those books that walks you through some hard spaces with grace and ease. Not only does TerKeurst write with her usual charm and wit, but she lands on powerful biblical truth as our only hope in our struggle with rejection. But, there is hope. This book reminds us of that beautifully.

2. The Most Excellent Way To Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership by Perry Noble |  How do you define good, strong leadership? We have loads of useful resources available to help us grow as leaders. But, this one? It ranks at the top of some of my favorites. The leadership principles in this book are rooted in 1 Corinthians 13. It's smart and engaging.  Read it. It'll make you a better leader.

3. Fervent: A Woman's Guide to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer | This. Book. It's a game changer. I believe the enemy is actively seeking to destroy and devour (1 Peter 5:8). I believe in spiritual warfare. This book was like a shot in the arm for my prayer life, bringing focus and intentionality. I've revisited the pages many, many times over the past year. I imagine it's one of those books I'll keep in regular rotation - reading it over again for the rest of forever. It's powerful, insightful, engaging, and practical. Please read it. You won't be sorry.  

4. Looking For Lovely: Collecting Moments That Matter by Annie Downs | I needed this book. A lot. This book made me laugh and cry and breathe a sigh of relief. It was a powerful reminder to look for God in the everyday moments. Perspective matters. It provided space for a heart check: How do I tend to see things? Where is my focus? Am I looking for the right stuff? The thing is, we all get to decide that for ourselves. If you need a nudge toward a more healthy perspective on life, grab this book. The narrative is incredibly personal. It's like sitting down for coffee with a lifelong friend. That always makes me feel better. This book did, too.

5. Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. by Bren√© Brown | "If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. This book is about what it takes to get back up." Well, there you have it.  This book is about courage, vulnerability, & resilience. It's about dealing with struggle, disappointment, and heartbreak. The book is not a touchy-feely kind of book. It's challenging and thought-provoking. In the end, it's about embracing the process -- all of it, the highs and lows, the good and the bad -- and owning every part of your story.

These books left an impression. They made me think. They challenged me and encouraged me. Each one taught me something -- something valuable, something that changed me. That's a good read! How about you? What books did you read in 2016 that inspired you or otherwise moved you? Share some of your favorites!

Honorable mention: If nothing on the list piques your interest, these were great book too. Stars Over Sunset Boulevard (Meissner), Redeeming Love (Rivers), Boundaries for Leaders (Cloud), Anything (Allen), The Undoing of St. Silvanus (Moore)

{Weekend | Day 20 of 31}

How about another list? Yes. Great! 20 Things I love to do on the weekend. Not all twenty, every weekend. But at least a few make the cut every weekend.

  1. Sleep in. (You know, 9:30ish.)
  2. Read a book. 
  3. Go to the park with the kiddos. 
  4. Sit on the deck and stare at the trees. 
  5. Plan for the following week. 
  6. Do a little writing.
  7. Peruse blogs I follow.
  8. Netflix a movie.
  9. Stay up late and fall asleep on the sofa with my hubby. 
  10. Clean the house.
  11. Eat out. 
  12. Visit with friends/family. 
  13. Play.
  14. Take a short road trip. (Usually involving volleyball)
  15. Go window shopping.
  16. DIY projects. (Which usually requires a trip to Lowes or Hobby Lobby. Yay!) 
  17. Sit at the piano. Play. Sing. Play some more, without playing anything in particular.  
  18. Blast worship music in the house while we cook/clean. (That's not specific to weekends!)
  19. Go to small group which, for the time being, is church for me. 
  20. Take a nap. 

I suppose I appreciate those weekends that settle into rhythm at a slowed pace. You know how I like space to breathe. What are your favorite things to do on the weekend?

{Five Minute Friday | Mail}

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 {MAIL}. This is also Day 14 of the 31 Day Writing Challenge! WOO!

Ready? GO.

I almost decided to skip writing when I saw the prompt, mail. So, because I'm not feeling particularly creative this evening, I will make a list. I made a list on Day 9 when the prompt was post-it. I do love a good list, and it was big fun. When I was a kid church camp was one of my most favorite things about summertime. Back in the day, we used to exchange mailing addresses and write letters over the summer and fall. There's something sweet about seeing your name, handwritten, on the outside of an envelope. I do love to get mail. In honor of the pages and pages of handwritten letters, here's a list of fourteen people (because it's day 14 of 31) from whom I would enjoy receiving mail, in no particular order.

1. C.S. Lewis
2. A.W. Tozer
3. Moses
4. J.R.R. Tolkien
5. Jane Austen
6. Rosa Parks
7. Beethoven
8. Leonardo Da Vinci
9. G.K. Chesterton
10. Harry Potter
11. Phoebe, from FRIENDS
12. Walt Disney
13. Ray Charles
14. Paul McCartney

How about you?

STOP.

 

{Favorite Books in 2015}

Ah, the smell of a new book. For me, there's a great appreciation for a real-life, hard-copy, hold-in-your-hand book. Confession: I ALWAYS flip the book open, hold it right under my nose, and fan through the pages while taking the deepest breath possible! I like the smell of new books (and sharpies, but that's another matter)!  I also appreciate all the eTools that mean I can easily take my books with me. Thank you iBooks, Kindle App, and Audible. Another confession: Sometimes I have an eCopy and a real-life copy. 

Reading is so good for our brains. It makes us smarter, stimulates our imaginations, helps aide memory function, and even eases tension. It's exercise for the brain and food for the soul. Good stuff. 

Here are a few of my favorites from 2015. 

  1. The Comeback: It's Not Too Late and You're Never Too Far by Louie Giglio | This book is special. I'm staring at the blinking cursor trying to form the right words. Let's just do it this way. The book is . . . real, raw, inspiring, encouraging, and challenging. I laughed. I cried. I read and re-read. Louie Giglio has to be one of the most gifted communicators on the planet. Even more than that, each time I hear him give a talk, his love for Jesus is evident. It's no different when he puts pen to paper and writes one of the most important books I've read in a long while. It's a message of hope, for sure. But it's not a message that encourages a shallow hope based on circumstances. Sometimes, life comes at you with gut-punch and it's easy to lose your footing. This book reminds us of the hope and grace that is found in the truth of The Gospel, in Jesus. That hope is never out of reach.  It's a game changer. For real. 
  2. The Carpenter: A Story about the Greatest Success Strategies of All  by Jon Gordon | My husband gave me this book. And, I loved it. The characters are relatable and the story teaches simple yet powerful truths. This one is about building things the right way. All of your endeavors and all your relationships are sure to benefit from the takeaways in this book. This one reminds us that perspective shapes outcome and we have the power to choose our perspective. Short. Simple. Impactful. Read it.
  3. Jesus Is ____________ : Find a New Way to be Human by Judah Smith | The way you fill in the blank matters. This book gets to the heart of the matter. "Jesus is the sum and substance of the Gospel." It's funny, to the point, and engaging. Judah Smith has a brilliant way with words and his storytelling is magic! This book speaks to the fundamental, foundational truth that there's nothing I can do to earn salvation or to earn God's love. Nothing. That takes the pressure off, doesn't? If you need the reminder, pick this book up. 
  4. The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, Bob DeMoss | I could not put this book down.  The story of this minister and his family and the terror they walked through cuts straight to the heart. It's a real-life, true story of pain and persecution at the hands of cold-hearted, broken people.  But the book offers so much more than just a riveting true story. Alonzo bravely gives us a peek into her heart as she walks us through the process of healing and forgiveness. It paints the beautiful picture of the sustaining love of God, of which we could all use the reminder. 
  5. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst | This book came at a crucial time for me. The title really says all that needs to be said; but, TerKeurst masterfully walks us through the process of learning how to say no and when to say yes. Every people pleaser needs this book. This book was part of the process of my learning that not everything or everyone is allowed to claim space in my heart and mind. The book is engaging, insightful, and funny.  It will be well worth the time spent reading it. 

There you have it. My top five books from 2015. These books left a deep impression. Something changed in me because I read them. How about you? Do any of these jump off the page begging you to read them? What books did you read in 2015 that proved to be important for you? 

Oh! Because I loved these books so much, I want to give one away. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the page for a chance to win a copy of your choice! That's fun, isn't it!! 

Here are links to my faves on Amazon in case you want to grab one: