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.

Thanks for stopping by!

Filtering by Tag: loss

{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. 


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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.

{Five Minute Friday | Enjoy}

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 {ENJOY}.

Ready? GO.

I get super-excited about Fall. Some of my favorite things are wrapped up in this season: colorful leaves, crisp morning air, pumpkin-spice everything, firepits, s'mores, turkey, family, football, boots, flannel shirts, cute scarves. Are you smiling? I mean, what girl doesn't feel like she can conquer the world in her favorite pair of blue jeans, a great flannel shirt, and a perfect pair of boots, pumpkin-spice latte in hand. It's my most favorite time of year, lots of things to enjoy.  

But, wait.

I'm quick to remember a time when there was less to enjoy and more to grieve.  When you suffer an incredible loss, pain tries to hijack everything you love about your favorite time year. Stumbling through the holidays grappling with grief and loss is no fun. But, I suppose you find a way to enjoy bits and pieces. You learn to hold grief and gratitude in a kind of healthy tension -- enjoying the moments right in front of you while at the same time remembering those moments that forever changed you.

And then, there's Jesus. My heart will be forever grateful for His unfailing love and faithfulness. He heals and redeems even the most painful moments, eventually, that is. And then, you find gratitude in the midst of your grieving.

Maybe you're still waiting. Perhaps for you, the pain left in the wake of loss is still quite raw. Don't lose hope.  I'm praying for you today. I'm asking God to remind you of His goodness and His nearness. I'm trusting that He will soothe your aching heart by reminding you of His unfailing love.  He sees you.


{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.