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: healing

My Bottom Line

It's been a lot of years, but every year on Tyler's birthday and the anniversary of His death, I have to say something. If you've known me any length of time, you're at least familiar with my story, and maybe a little worn out with it. But, I can't forget to remember. And, I won't stop talking about it. See, the thing is, my story paints a picture of God’s relentless love and unfathomable grace and of the enduring hope that comes from surrendering my life to Him. That is a story worth telling again and again. Sunday I was having a hard time finding words, but they came.

The ebb and flow of grieving a loss is as constant as the ebb and flow of the ocean. It's always there, sometimes crashing against your heart and soul knocking you backwards and other times rolling in with ease. This year it was an unexpected crash. Yeah, sometimes that still happens.  When it does, it always, without fail, sends me back to the moment my world shattered into a million pieces. And then, I walk through it all one more time. But, God proves his perfect faithfulness in those moments, and I find myself overwhelmed by His grace and love. See, He never fails to whisper some truth to my aching soul. He gently goes to work peeling back yet another layer of my heart, mending and healing -- even all these years later. I love that. This year was no different. At the end of the day, one single truth emerged in my heart and soothed the ache in my soul. It's my bottom line. I need Him desperately. All of the time. And, He's there. All of the time. I mean it when I say, "had it not been for Jesus . . ."

Here's the thing: when I find myself in a moment, keenly aware of my desperate need for Him, then I am exactly where He wants me. Above all, He wants us to know Him and to belong to Him. He wants to be what we treasure most of all.

May I encourage you today, sweet friends? God sees you. When He says He will never leave us, He means that. He is telling the truth when He says He has a plan. When He calls us His sons and daughters, He means that, too. When He says He has us in the palm of His hand, He does. Lean in a bit, because this part is important. He. Loves. You. If you are standing in the middle of a million broken pieces, trying to answer questions that are unanswerable, grab hold of that truth and cling to it with all your might. You are not alone.


{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. 

STOP.

 

{Five Minute Friday | Heal}

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 {HEAL}.

Ready? GO.

When my little guy died at eight months old, I expected healing would take a very long time. After losing the next child (she was four days old),  just fifteen months later, there were moments I didn't believe it possible to heal. Who am I kidding? I could barely get myself out of bed for a long while.

Healing is hard work, you know. It took some time for me to want to do it. It seemed easier to bandage my wounds and wear them as a badge. I believed I had earned the right to be angry and confused and wounded - indefinitely.  And so, I refused to cooperate with God and let Him heal me. It didn't take long for my identity to become wrapped up in and defined by my wounds. Anger and confusion turned to resentment and bitterness. But my scars shouldn't define me. Only God's truth can accurately do that.  

I'm so thankful for a God that pursues us. He heals and redeems.

Painful, difficult, dark moments and the wounds they leave behind can help shape us into something beautiful. But only when we come before God honestly, with our souls laid wide open, exposing all the wounded, broken spaces. Nothing is off limits. Nothing goes untouched. That's the hard part. Being honest and vulnerable, giving God unrestricted access to our broken hearts. But then, in the process, He reveals something to us about His character, about His unfailing love and faithfulness. And, you fall more deeply in love with Him and more convinced of His goodness. When God heals, He does so gently, yet with the strongest of hands, and He loves you lavishly in the process. Resting in His love eases the heavy work of healing. And, eventually, God becomes the only thing worth clinging to ever so tightly. And to do that, you're willing to let go of everything else that you've long held. It's a beautiful exchange.

May I encourage you today, sweet friends? He. Is. Good. And, He loves you so. When He asks you to let go of something, trust Him. He truly does know what He's doing.

STOP.


{Remember His Faithfulness}

Finally, early spring was peeking through the dreary grayness of a long, long winter. B. and I piled into the car and headed in a direction that I hadn't been in a long while. This place. It represented some of the most difficult moments of my life. You know, all of the moments I didn't care to relive. I didn't go often.

Each time I visited this place in the past, the pain and anxiety crept in and gripped my heart and mind the second my car approached the driveway. Images raced through my mind in rapid fire and the deep ache that had become so familiar pressed hard on me. Sometimes, I felt better after a visit because that's what happens after a good, ugly cry. Other times, though, bitterness tightened its fierce grip on my heart, and I would leave feeling more hopeless and helpless. But this time it would be different. I was different.

The car turned into the gravel drive and evidence of time passed was striking. Trees were much larger; and, the sprawling, empty field of grass that I remembered wasn't sprawling and empty. There were rows and rows of gravesites, almost as far as my eye could see. My eyes searched for the beautiful tree that grew just behind the plot chosen for my sweet babies, Tyler and Hailey. It took me a few minutes to get out. But, I did.

It's hard to put into words exactly what happened during that graveside visit. B. stayed in the car because he knew this moment was between a girl and God. See, in the weeks and months prior, the Lord had been healing my heart and my perspective. I had finally released the right to be angry and bitter and allowed Him to work a miracle in me. And, He did just that. So, there I was. My being there was a matter of obedience. The Lord was taking me back to this spot so I could see it with fresh eyes through the lens of a healed heart and mind. We had a sweet moment, the Lord and I. I knelt graveside and prayed, weeping. But these tears were different. I was grateful and in awe of God and His unfailing love and faithfulness. Before I knew what happened, my arms were stretched to the sky and I was singing.

For thou O, Lord are high above all the earth. Thou art exalted far above all Gods. I exalt Thee. I exalt Thee. I exalt Thee, O Lord.

In that moment of worship, there was a beautiful exchange: beauty for ashes, joy for mourning. In that moment, He reignited a passion and a calling for worship leading. In that moment, He reminded me of His lavish, unfailing love.

Fast-forward to January 2016. It's a season of many challenges. I'm talking about the kind of challenges that, in the moment, make you want to run and hide. Quit. Give-up. These are the kinds of challenges that sweep through every inch of your world like a tidal wave and knock you off your feet. It's all I could do to keep my head above water. But God has a beautiful way of reminding us that He's with us.

There I was standing in a room during a night of worship. The evening had already been like a breath of fresh air. Just as I was asking the Lord what He wanted me to do, a new song rang out in the room.

I exalt Thee. I exalt Thee. I exalt Thee, O Lord.

I hit my knees. Once again in awe of God's faithfulness. He was reminding me of where He brought me from. He was reminding me that He lifted me out of a deep pit, healed me and restored me. He was reminding me that He was the same God that held me in His hands when I knelt graveside all those years ago. He told me to get up and do the thing He's called me to do with bold faith. Why? Because He's proven Himself faithful over and over again. He is God. He is always God.

May I encourage you today? On those days that God seems far off, remember WHO He is. On those days that God seems quiet, remember how He's been faithful. I promise you this: God is always there and He's always faithful. Do the next thing simply because God is who He says He is. Then watch Him do what only He can do, proving again that He is faithful beyond measure.

He. Never. Leaves. You. He loves you so.

 

 

{Don't Forget to Remember}

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of celebration. Let’s see - there is turkey, dressing, dumplins, and pumpkin pie. After we feast, we usually spend a bit of time flipping through the newspaper ads, pen in hand, marking our favorite things. Christmas is just around the corner, after all. We play games. We take naps. And, we remember. I remember Tyler’s first Thanksgiving. He was 7 months old and the life of the party. He most likely had his hands in everyone’s plate getting his first taste of the delicious goodness that is Thanksgiving dinner. I remember the laughter. Lots of laughter.

I remember where I was standing when I received a phone call from the hospital just a few days later. I remember the heaviness in the room when I arrived there. It was suffocating. I remember being told, “He didn’t make it.” It was SIDS.

He. Didn’t. Make. It. The reality of that moment hit me in a way I cannot begin to explain.

I remember walking back to a different room. My eyes landed on my lifeless baby boy and pain pierced me to the very core. It would become a familiar pain. I wept while I begged God to “fix it.”

I remember walking away from that hospital without my baby. I can tell you it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

I remember losing a second child 15 months later. I remember my marriage falling apart. I remember being angry, confused, and feeling completely abandoned by God. The pain was relentless and I crumbled.

I also remember the moment I gave up and laid all the brokenness and pain at the feet of Jesus. I remember the moment He turned my mourning (YEARS of mourning) into joy.

And, I am so thankful.

I belong to a sovereign, perfect, faithful God. I am completely in awe of Him. He heals. He redeems. He restores. There is not one moment of my life when He has taken His eye off of me. (Or you!) He sees us. He loves us. Even in our darkest, most desperate moments. I know that now.

I know it.

So, don’t forget to remember. Remember who He is and what He has done. Remember the cross. Remember His lavish love and perfect grace. And in everything, give thanks...That can be a hard one to take in and live out until we remember Christ. Then suddenly even our most difficult moments pale in comparison to the pain and suffering He endured. For the glory of the Father and for us.