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: hope

{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. 

Done.png

 

 

{Full Circle}

Sure, it's been a lot of years. He was born and died before he was a year old. And, Saturday would have been his birthday. Emotions run wild on a day like this. There's sadness mixed with happiness; and then, gratitude mixed with wonder at the unfailing love of a Savior who picked up the pieces and put them all back together. Yeah, there's that. It's not uncommon for me on these kinds of days to seek solitude and quiet. My introverted self demands it.  But this day was way too full.

Instead of solitude and quiet, I stood on a platform in a crowded room full of people I didn't know. I was there with a team of pretty awesome musicians - most of whom I also didn't know - leading worship. On his birthday. That might not seem like a big deal, but the significance wasn't lost on me, though very few people in the room knew my story. God, however, knows my story, and He whispered to my heart that day to remind me.  Sometimes, I need those reminders. You, too? In this very sweet moment, God was drawing a giant circle around that season of my life and reminding me that there was a purpose in it. This was it. He was using me to declare His goodness and unfailing love. See, the truth of who He is is and what He has done can be applied to any and every situation. Mine. Yours. His goodness breaks through darkness and brings with it a glimmer of hope, because He is hope. He. Is. Hope. Here's the thing: I would never understand the depths of His love the way that I do without having lived through those moments. He lifted me out of a pit so that I could do the very thing I was doing that day. I was telling His story! The story of a love so great that He gave everything. The story of a God so good that nothing compares to Him. Nothing. What better way to honor Tyler's memory than by standing and declaring the greatness of God? What better proof of the faithfulness and unfailing love of God than to stand and sing of His incomparable goodness? I just can't even. . .

May I encourage you today, sweet friends? God is good. His goodness will penetrate the darkness even in the most difficult moments. And eventually, those most difficult, dark moments in your life will become more about His goodness than about your pain. You will find yourself standing in a spot where you expect pain and instead, you find peace. Or, you expect sadness and instead, you find gratitude and joy. I promise. He loves you so.

{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.

 

 

{Truth Behind Tradition}

Happy Monday! And, Happy St. Patrick's Day! (And, happy birthday Mamaw!) Throughout the weekend, loads of Americans donned their best (and sometimes not quite) green attire and celebrated St. Patrick's Day by attending various parades, visiting Irish pubs, and drinking lots of Irish beer. Confession: I wore green today, accidentally. 

St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland who actually hailed from Britain. He was kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish marauders and held captive for years. During his time there, he converted to Christianity and after escaping vowed to return to Ireland to rid the land of its pagans. He did return to Ireland as a missionary. March 17th marks the day of the religious feast in his honor and also marks the date of his death in the 5th century. And, so we celebrate? I assume this holiday is like others that have been consumer-ized  (I think I may have just invented a word) almost beyond recognition. We wear green and pinch people who do not. Some drink beer and many enjoy parades. We talk of leprechauns, shamrocks,  and the luck of the Irish. But, I wonder how many people know the real story. I am sure many people do, but I could not be counted among them! Bluewas actually the color associated with Saint Patrick.  The Shamrock (which does not exist but resembles clover) was used by Saint Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity and was worn later as a symbol of Irish Christianity not luck. Am I the only one who didn't know?! No matter. 

I never knew the history behind the observance of St. Patrick's Day, nor did I know the story of the man Saint Patrick until a few years ago when something piqued my curiosity. I heard, for the first time, a portion of Saint Patrick's Breastplate prayer. And, wow. It's beautiful. And, powerful. This beautiful prayer reminds me of one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 139.

A portion of the prayer is to follow. I pray the words are like balm to your soul and remind you that He hems us in and has laid His hand upon us. (Ps. 139, NIV) That is good news. Happy news. It's one of the greatest reasons I can think of to celebrate.

So, celebrate big sweet friends. Jesus knows you. Jesus loves you.

From Saint Patrick's Prayer
From Saint Patrick's Prayer

*Note: The historical info I included came from History.com.