Welcome friends! Living out the Christian life authentically requires daily submitting the pieces of our life to God, the Ultimate Artist, allowing him to craft us into a beautiful mosaic masterpiece that can be used for His glory. It's a moment by moment journey of living with purpose, releasing fear & control, and embracing the freedom of Christ. Learn more about me and The Mosaic Life community and join us as we seek to submit our art {our lives} to Him.

Praising God in the Storm :: Our Miscarriage Story

Lately a friend reminded me of the power of telling our stories. Stories are the essential connection between people. Shared experiences remind us we’re not alone in this sometimes scary world.

Today I’m sharing one of my stories, one of pain in the moment and how Chuck and I chose to praise God in the middle of our storm. Now, 7 years and 3 beautiful babies later, I realize it was the first of many experiences God used to grow our faith and highlight His faithfulness in our lives.


 

journal and coffee

July 2, 2008

It has been a long few weeks filled with every emotion imaginable. On May 15th, Chuck and I found out we were expecting our first child, due Jan 10th. We were so excited…our “five year plan” of starting a family after five years of marriage was falling right into place.

We kept the news pretty quiet, only telling our parents, our sisters, and a few close friends, until we had our first doctor’s appointment. I think that I thought the news that we were going to have a baby was going to really sink in once we had that first appointment.

What started as excited anticipation during that first visit quickly became nervous anticipation as our doctor became concerned that I was having some early complications. An ultrasound was scheduled for later that same afternoon.

I know it was the “peace that passes understanding” because I went back to work and was calm while waiting for the ultrasound appointment. Chuck, on the other hand, would tell me later that he had a feeling that something was very wrong.

The ultrasound later confirmed this when a heartbeat could not be detected. I should have been 7-8 weeks along. After a devastating conversation with our doctor, I had some blood work done and we headed home to share the news.

The next few weeks proved to be a rollercoaster of emotions, with more blood work and two more ultrasounds. My pregnancy hormones kept rising, but the baby was not growing properly and we could still hear no heartbeat.

The hardest part was not knowing what or how to feel, since at each appointment we were given a small ray of hope that the baby might be okay…maybe we were not as far along as they thought…maybe this, maybe that. It was more proof that only God knows us intimately, and medical science, though helpful, cannot always give us the answers.

Eventually last week we were told that the baby was not growing and that we should expect a miscarriage. After a week of waiting, I began to miscarry.

Through this all we have had an amazing support network of family and friends. God has continually placed people in our path who have been through similar experiences or who knew just what we needed to be comforted at that moment.

Although we are sad at the loss of this little child, we know God has more plans for us and our family.

I have been and will continue to cling to this verse:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge HIM and he will make your paths straight.”

Although we may not always understand, we must trust God and acknowledge His sovereignty over all situations, even this one.


Friends, it’s time we share our stories. Let’s lift up God working in our lives and shine His grace and glory!

What can YOU praise him for today? Share in the comments and let’s encourage one another to view our lives through the lens of gratefulness, despite our difficult circumstances.

Encouraging Back to School Bible Verses {Free Printable}

*Scroll down to download your free back to school Bible verse printables!

It’s back to school time!

We’ve managed to accomplish all the usual back-to-school activities:

✔ new tennis shoes (summer = worn out shoes!)
✔ new clothes (yep, kids grow in 3 months)
✔ school supplies
✔ Open House
✔ ice cream with the grandparents to mark the occasion

crayons

It’s back to school time! Time to spruce up our morning routines.

Now we’re working on our morning routine since in our family, mornings are our “around the table times”. Hubby works afternoons and evenings  during the week as a pastoral life coach, so eating dinner around the table together usually only happens on the weekends when we aren’t out exploring or traveling.

Parenting With Purpose

Each year has seasons, and for us, the back-to-school season is a great time to refocus on intentional parenting with purpose.

Now that our “big kids” are a little older (6 and 3), this year’s morning routine after our kids wake up will include asking them to:

✔ get dressed independently
✔ put lunch in backpack & backpack by the door
✔ sit at the breakfast table with the family (sometimes sitting is the hardest part for them)
✔ write something you’re thankful for in our family gratitude journal
✔ work on scripture memory as a family

It’s simple on purpose since our kids are young.

Your Morning Routine

Your morning routine will look different in your home, but I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to think about what kind of morning would be your ideal morning. Then work backwards to put systems and routines in place to make that happen.

Let’s be real. If you have a beautifully planned schedule for your mornings and you have littles, middles, or even big big kids, your mornings probably won’t go 100% like you plan. But as the saying goes, failing to plan = planning to fail.

So this school year, let’s be intentional in determining the type of environment we’d like to create for our family and take some action to make it happen. Then remember to give yourself and your kiddos grace when it doesn’t work perfectly.

To help you get started, I’ve created two downloadable printables with encouraging back-to-school Bible verses. Please feel free to share with anyone you think would benefit from these as a jumpstart to intentional, God-centered mornings.

Blessings,

Signature

 

 

 

encouraging bible verses for back to school

Click the image to download a printable version.

 

encouraging bible verses for back to school

Click the image to download a printable version.


Also, right now for a short time you can click the banner below to get the first lesson of Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings Course for FREE.
Crystal is the “Money Saving Mom” and after meeting her in person at a conference last year, I just love her heart and her intentional approach to mornings. Snag this while it’s still available!


 

Use the social share buttons below to share these free printable back to school Bible verses with your friends. Many blessings for another wonderful school year!

Five Minute Friday Retreat Reflections {Community + Connection}

Two weeks ago I loaded up our suburban with the kiddos and all manner of things needed for a 7+ hour trip and a weekend stay. My husband drove and my friend Mollie kept me company on the dark, rainy drive to Nashville, TN.

The most anticipated weekend of the summer had arrived! We were on our way to the FMF (Five Minute Friday) Retreat.

mollie and I in the car

We were *a little* excited!

Five Minute Friday is an online community of women who come together on Fridays to write for five minutes using a one-word writing prompt. Five minutes of sharing words and hearts without concern for editing. It’s a writing exercise, the type of which my brother-in-law says sounds like a torturous high school assignment. For the 100 or so ladies who participate each week, however, it’s a weekly lesson in releasing perfectionism in our writing.

Some of us gather on Twitter on Thursday evenings to chat using the #fmfparty hashtag. We talk like women do. There is usually talk of chocolate, kids, work, family, prayer requests and more. When the writing prompt is released that evening, the Twitter party gets quiet while we all go to write for our five minutes.

writing on laptops

We love to write and share our hearts!

A few months back during one of our Thursday evening #fmfparty chats, someone mentioned how great it would be if we could all chat in person instead of just online. The idea of a retreat was born and four brave souls – Kate, Holly, Mary, and Jen – took on the challenge of planning a time for us to meet.

While to some it might seem strange to gather women from all over the U.S. and Canada who have never met in person in one cabin for a weekend, to those of us who attended, it couldn’t have felt more normal.

We're finally together!

We’re finally together!

When describing the retreat to my husband and friends after the weekend ended, I talked about how it felt like “church camp for adult women”. Church camp to me means so many things, but in this case I likened the retreat to camp since the Holy Spirit was just so obviously present in all of our interactions.

The small talk that normally occurs when you first meet someone wasn’t necessary, as we’d “talked” about these things weekly with one another online for months, sometimes even years.

We were familiar with so many aspects of each others’ stories – families, workplaces, church environments, struggles, and joys. Instead of our conversations staying at surface level, we quickly shared the deep places with one another, becoming “heart sisters” in the process.

Many of the women have shared their own reflections of the weekend we spent together. For some, it was the first time they’d experienced community with like-minded Christian women. For some, it was a time to release fear and embrace a deeper faith. For some, it was a time to truly embrace their identity as a writer.

For me, it was a time to acknowledge God’s true provision in my life in so many areas.

God proved to me His goodness over and over through the women present at the retreat. I was able to see first hand how intimately God knows me, his child, and his desire to pour out his blessings in the form of these sweet relationships.

Some of His good gifts looked like:

jen and baby girl

Jennifer, the woman who led the Hello Mornings group I joined years ago when I was first learning to be intentional with my morning quiet time, attended the retreat, loved on my baby girl, and prayed with me.

trillia

Trillia, whose book Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves, spoke so deeply to my journey over the past few years. {click the image to learn more about her book}

natasha being brave

Natasha, who personified brave and encouraged me to be brave in my own life.

FMF Retreat LeeAnn and Janel

Janel, whose kind words shared so graciously touched my heart and encouraged me to do the same for others.

The incredibly generous planning team was amazing!

The incredibly generous planning team was amazing!

kaitlyn every story matters

Kaitlyn, who reminded me that every story matters, including mine!

mary and me

Mary, who God placed in my life last year as a sweet friend and prayer warrior. What a blessing to share more in-person time with her!

There are so many more stories I could share of God’s faithfulness throughout the weekend, stories of special conversations and moments we’ll all cherish forever. These pictures provided a peak into our experiences:

free write on Friday

Five Minute Friday live and in person! We wrote for 5 minutes on the prompt “Tell” and then shared our writing aloud.

deck outside at the lake

The serene environment created space for our souls to reflect and connect.

soul sisters

Taking pictures with new soul sisters before heading home.

Emily Freeman reflects on these life-changing moments in her new book, Simply Tuesday:

The kingdom of God exists right here in the moments where we live.

On some level, we already know this. Maybe you, like me, can recount moments in your life where it seemed you stepped through the invisible curtain dividing heaven and earth, where you nodded your head with misty eyes and thoughtful gaze, feeling the gauzy weight of eternity settle softly over the moment – at the wedding, the graduation, the birth of a baby, or even after a meaningful night with friends.”

This weekend retreat, two meaningful nights with friends, certainly provided a peak into the kingdom of God here on earth and I am grateful, so very grateful, to have experienced it!

What places in your own life have you experienced the type of community and connection that is the kingdom of God here on earth? If it’s been awhile for you, I’d encourage you to seek out connection with other believers – in your workplace, in a MOPS group, in a small group, at a ladies retreat, or even online. Make space for God to delight you with his provision and create joy in your life through other believers!

*Thank you to Mollie, Jen, Melinda, Holly, and Jennifer for sharing your pictures from the retreat!

Five Minute Friday – Here

We travel on, the road winding as the water from the lake peaks through the evergreen trees. “Is that our lake?” my friend Mollie asks. “It sure is!” quickly escapes from my lips, excitement apparent.

FMF retreat view

The lake is such a beautiful and peaceful setting for a retreat!

“We should be there any minute.”

And then, all of a sudden…we are here.

“Here” is an unassuming lake house in the middle of a neighborhood on the outskirts of Nashville, TN. We’re gathered with a handful of brave women who share words and hearts each week as writers part of the Five Minute Friday community.

In the past few years, I’ve learned that although I’m as introverted as they come, I too need community. I too need to be brave and venture outside of my little circle of friends.

While the comfort of being known is just that – comfortable – I’m learning there is something special about the process of becoming known.

FMF Retreat LeeAnn and Janel

Thank you Jen for capturing this moment!

So I’m here, baby girl in tow, sharing a little bit of life, breaking through the fear of the unknown, meeting new friends, and enjoying being here.


 

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday series. Each week writers from all over the world gather together around a one-word writing prompt, sharing words and stories and hearts. The words spill out, unedited and free. This week’s word is HERE.


Consider one way you can be brave this week. Seek out community and authentic relationships, take a risk, and let God handle the details!

 

Life’s Struggles, Control, and Embracing Truth

If you’ve ever wondered if opposites truly do attract, my husband and I are living proof. We are as opposite as they come!

He’s an extrovert. I’m an introvert.
He’s gregarious and funny. I’m quiet and matter-of-fact.
He’s a “feelings” person. I’m a thinker.
He relies on his intuition. I rely on logic.
He’s never met a stranger. I get overwhelmed in groups of people I don’t know.

chuckleeann

While we knew when we were dating that we were different, after we married it quickly became apparent that these differences could very easily drive us apart. It seemed with each decision that arose we just did not see eye to eye.

My structured, controlling nature collided with his free-spirited, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants nature on a regular basis. Our perspectives were so different!

As we navigated challenging situations in our early years of marriage including job loss, mounting debt, medical problems, church planting, relationship conflicts, the miscarriage of our first baby, and more, I struggled to trust God in both the day-to-day and in the larger narrative of our lives.

My husband’s faith, however, seemed to only grow stronger as a result of the same challenges that left me feeling like our lives were spinning completely out of control…

…read the rest of our story about life’s struggles, control, and truth at Reclaiming a Redeemed Life.

 

It’s Time to Jump!

Have you ever had an idea for a new project or wanted to learn a new skill or implement a new routine in your life but when you thought about it, you just got stuck?

Instead of jumping in and taking action, you pondered all the ways that something might go wrong or convinced yourself you weren’t really good enough or the right person to complete the task.

Surely I’m not the only one who has experienced this!

Here’s the thing.

When you first learned to ride a bike as a kid, what if you had hemmed and hawed over all the things that might go wrong? Instead of getting on the bike and peddling, what if you sat on the curb wondering what it would feel like if you fell and scraped your knee or how terrible it would be if the neighborhood kids saw you wobbling and laughed.

I’d venture to say you never would have learned to ride a bike. Then, think about all the fun you would have missed out on.

Sometimes to experience or new things in life as adults, we need to channel our inner kid and just jump!

So…what are you waiting for?

Today, take a leap of faith, take a risk.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines, enjoy this precious life we’ve been given!

What is something new you’ve been thinking about taking action on that you’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to begin? Share in the comments and let’s encourage one another to, as Jon Acuff says… just Start!

LeeAnn jumping

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where we write for five minutes on a one-word writing prompt each week. Today’s prompt was “Try”.