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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{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:

{New Site Design}

Hello sweet friends.

First, can I just say thank you! Thank you for following my blog either via Wordpress or email. Some of you have been subscribing to email updates for years! We've come a long way together, haven't we? I love that. And, I appreciate you. Thanks for sticking with me.

I have been working on something new for my site - a new design. You may have already seen a preview on social media. I am moving from Wordpress to a new platform. The process has been fussy and I can't even tell you how I managed. But, I think I have it working now! I'm such a novice. But, that's ok, right?

So. The new site.  I'd love for you to stop by and take a look.

Unfortunately, the email subscriptions didn't move with me. So, if you'd like,  you can click the link below and re-subscribe to the blog. Once you see the landing page, you just click the button that says "Subscribe." I hope you will stay with me! I'm excited about what's coming.

Re-Subscribe to My Blog Here.

Happy Christmas season to you all! It's been quite a year, hasn't it?  I pray that you are filled with hope as you stop and take time to remember why Jesus came. He loves you so.

With Love,

{Random Updates & Merry Christmas!}

It's been a few weeks. I just spent the last 4 minutes staring at the blinking cursor on the screen wondering where to begin. My thoughts are jumbled, which seems to be my normal state of being for the moment. Today I'm writing from the Guest Library at the Staybridge Suites.

By Library, I mean this. . .

Guest Library
Guest Library

Another guest just walked into the Library and said to her daughter, "There is supposed to be a library, I don't see it." I couldn't bring myself to tell them! It's a nice change of scene, anyway.

We're inching closer to being into our new home. Woo-hoo! We went yesterday for a final walk-through.

We did get another big item checked off our to-do list when we purchased a mini-van last week. That's right. A mini-van. Brian has affectionately named her the Jones Family Spaceship. We are still learning where all the buttons and switches are. It has automatic doors on the sides that open with the push of a button. What we didn't know is that the van has to be in park and of course, the doors have to be unlocked! The first morning in carpool was interesting. Lots of beeping. A little embarrassment for our poor 5th grader. It went a little more smoothly in afternoon carpool. But, sometimes we still forget. The kids stand outside the door yelling, "Park! Park! Put it in park!" We're having fun with it so far. The kids love it. It has plenty of space for Baby Girl. We are thankful for God's provision. It is more than we could have imagined. But, isn't that the way God does things. Yes, yes it is.

Family Date night was big fun last week. We went to the Paint Spot and painted some pottery. It's therapeutic! At least that is true for the grown-ups. Madeleine, who is showing signs of being a perfectionist and over-achiever, was taking her time with every brush stroke. She wasn't happy with her volleyball bank. William, who's been named the "best artist in his class," wondered why his Lightening McQueen bank didn't look as nice as our baby owl ornament. After a few minutes, they both settled down and were pleased enough to continue. By the end of the night, there were huge splatters of paint on me, William and the wall behind us. William was shaking his bright red paint bottle with the lid open. Yikes!

Family Date Night
Family Date Night
Finished Product
Finished Product

This week, Madeleine and William went to a class just for big brothers and sisters-to-be. They learned about changing diapers, swaddling the baby, and holding the baby. All the kids sat in a circle and talked about what babies do when they come home. It was big fun. It won't be long now. They are going to be fabulous. I love our little family.

We are 32 weeks, which is the beginning of the 8th month. Things have gotten a bit complicated because my glucose tolerance test came back high, which means gestational diabetes. For the rest of the pregnancy, I'll be treated as a diabetic complete with finger pricks and careful monitoring. It seems I won't have to take insulin, but will rather be able to control my blood sugar by adjusting diet and exercise. We'll do Biophysical Profiles each week to keep an eye on Baby Girl's growth (gestational diabetes can mean really big, difficult to deliver babies) and amniotic fluid levels. Next week, we have three doctor appointments. Three. It's no fun being labeled "high risk." Sigh.

The last report was excellent. Baby Girl looks wonderful. She weighs about 4.3 lbs. We were able to see a few of the ultrasound images in 3D. That was so fascinating. It appeared that she was trying to get her foot in her mouth. She was pulling her toes up to her mouth with her little hand. The tech commented that she was quite an acrobat. You don't have to tell me that, right!? She likes to use my bladder and my ribs as props! We'll have 2 more ultrasounds next week and a regular check-up.

Looks like we'll be spending Christmas morning in the Staybridge Suites, unless there is divine intervention. (Which is possible!) We finally decided we'd go and get a small Christmas tree. Presents are yet to be wrapped. I keep telling myself I still have time! Take a look at our little tree...precious, isn't it? :)

Our Little Tree
Our Little Tree

The kids are convinced it will be fun to have to Christmas here...they almost have me convinced. Almost.

Please pray for us. We are growing a bit tired and weary. We are thankful for reminders along the way that the details of our life and our circumstance do not escape the watchful eye of Him who holds the whole world in His hands. Sigh. (Of relief.)

Merry Christmas. Blessings to you as you celebrate the Hope of the World. Baby King Jesus.

{Perfect Chaos}

Perfect chaos. Those two words describe the past two weeks of life for our little family. My predominantly sanguine husband might say it's been one adventure after another. At least that was probably true for the first of the two weeks. The second of the two weeks, however,  has given his melancholy characteristics an opportunity to shine! Chaos, indeed!

I'm writing from our cozy little suite at the Staybridge Inn. It's a lovely extended-stay hotel tucked nicely between Southeast Christian Church and Bluegrass Harley-Davidson. (Sense my sarcasm!) After we moved out of our home at warp speed (7 days to be exact), we landed here. By "we" I mean Brian, Madeleine, William, and me . . . and the 2 dogs, 2 fish, 2 sugar gliders, and a hamster! Cozy = crowded! The dogs are not taking the change very well.  They bark and whimper and are generally anxious. Ruby decided the place needed a little color; so, she escaped from her crate and knocked blue nail polish off the sink. We were able to get all the polish cleaned up, but poor Ruby is still sporting one blue paw. I'm not sure which was more upsetting--the blue polish or the hole she left when she tried to dig her way out of the room (from inside her crate)! Poor pup. She doesn't seem to be handling all of this too well! The rest of us are doing just fine! We really are, all things considered.

Ruby . . . blue paw, big hole
Ruby . . . blue paw, big hole

Hopefully, we won't be here too much longer. We made an offer on a house last week and received the signed contract today!  We are still in awe and give God praise and glory for His divine provision. I am being reminded again and again of two important truths: 1.  He is concerned with the details of our lives--both big and small, and 2. Divine providence can be seen in our lives as He works in every situation--both big and small. He's working one miracle after another for us. There is no doubt it's God. He's God in the midst of chaos. And, He sees us, in the midst of chaos.  I am so thankful for that.

New House
New House

Baby Girl is due to arrive in just over 10 weeks. That's 74 days! I am pleased to report that we have started registering for baby items, making lists, making plans. That makes me feel so much better. This weekend we made the first purchase for Baby Girl.  You might think of a bassinet, crib, or car seat. Or maybe a going-home-from-the-hospital outfit. But, no. Here's what we bought. . .


Sleep sacks! Please don't ask me to explain that one! I have no idea.

She's growing! The baby bump is expanding, meaning my lap has essentially disappeared.  I cannot seem to position  myself in any way to dissuade her from all her moving about. Her bumps and kicks are turning into rolls and jabs. Space is getting tight, I suppose! She especially likes to wiggle and roll when I'm lying down trying to rest. (That must be God's way of preparing me for the sleepless nights to come.) We had to take a glucose tolerance test today.  That means I had a yummy breakfast, and she put on quite a show with all her acrobatics. You know that point where it actually hurts when the baby moves? We're there.


Though I wish I could have the delicious glucose drink every day, I have managed to find a reasonable substitute. Chicken and dumplings has become a favorite. In fact, I've had them about 4-5 times in the last 7 days! Comfort food. The kids are officially tired of Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-a. I can't say that I blame them. Even still, Baby Girl seems to be a fan.

Madeleine starts playing club volleyball this week.  She tried out in the beginning of November for a non-travel team and made it! She's very excited. We all are. She recently performed in her first Performing Arts Club production, "Rock Solid". She was great! All the kids did an awesome job. She always surprises me. I think she surprises herself too. Her violin recital was last week. She did a fabulous job. We were all excited to have Poppy and Grammy be able to join us.

William is getting ready for his annual Christmas program at school.  He's been singing and practicing hard. It's one of my favorite programs of the year. This year we managed to get his little shepherd costume together before the night of the performance. We did not, however, manage to get a cute picture of said costume! Maybe, tomorrow.

I could go on and on, but I will spare you. Just know that we're here and all is well. We're taking it one adventure at a chaotic moment by one.  And in the midst of our chaos we've had the opportunity as a family to be still, stand firm, and know that He is God. (That's been hard!) But when we manage it, our chaos becomes something more. Something good.

Perfect. Chaos.

It's just one of the beautiful things that comes with belonging to Him.

{92 Days}

Brian and I have a couple of those cool pregnancy apps for our iphones. They’ve been fun. Today, however, I opened one up and read “92 more days to go!” Ummm...what’s that now?

I must confess. I freaked out.

Between moving (twice), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s there won’t be much time to blink before the beginning of February is staring us in the face! Never mind that I have been known to deliver anywhere between 37 and 38 weeks in previous pregnancies. That puts us in the middle of January! The MIDDLE OF JANUARY! There is still so much to do. That might be an understatment. We haven’t done anything!

Oh. My. Goodness.

Moving on.

We’re 27 weeks along. Our next appointment is November 22. After that, we will likely start going to the doctor every 2-3 weeks. We’ve taken one of our first prenatal classes. That was fun! Brian was paying close attention. I was overwhelmed and suddenly panicky as the nurse covered the labor and delivery process. Suddenly, I had vivid memories. I kept thinking, “Oh yeah, I hate that part!” or “Oh, right. That part HURT!” and even, “I don’t think I can do this again!” Shameful, I know. Brian, being the encourager that he is, gently reminded me that I’ve done this four times. He says it’ll be a breeze! He’s my biggest fan! Our birthing class will be in the beginning of January. That’s bound to provide plenty of opportunities for a good laugh and even more opportunities for sheer panic! Big fun!

We still haven’t settled on her first name. Only a couple names from the original list actually made it to the final list. Some of our favorite possibilities are new additions to the list! We have a short list for her middle name, also. Here is that list: Claire, Dawn (my middle name), Faith, or Christine (after my grandmother on my Dad’s side). That list was easy! Looks like we will take our list with us to the hospital and name her when we meet her. That is, if I can keep the planner in me at rest until then! Luckily, we have plenty of other plans to make!

Speaking of plans, there are a lot of other things happening around here at the moment. I’ll have to save those updates for a separate post. Thanks for reading!