Puzzle Pieces and how they came together

It is happening!! After years of being just a thought in my mind, it is finally happening. This book of mine is in the process of being published. Soon, I will have a copy in my hands. YIKES!!!    It didn`t just happen because I thought about it. It didn`t just happen because I wanted it to and it didn`t just happen overnight.  It has taken an army to come on board with me to see it being created and finished. So much had to fall in place in order for it to happen. Many thoughts, meetings , plans, disappointments, closed doors to be followed by open doors, writing and rewriting, editing, decisions and most of all many prayers have gone into this process. I am so thankful for it all.

He has been intricately putting the puzzle pieces in place. for years.   I had no idea how He was working on circumstances in my life behind the scenes to use later. This  art journey of mine was started years ago and now with the light in sight of this journey`s end, I love to look back and think about each piece and how He placed them to fit just right. Here are a few threads that were woven into this tapestry book of mine.

Twenty five years ago, I met Deborah Stegall in Marietta, Georgia, in our Sunday School class. We became fast friends  and enjoyed many get togethers with our children. Then one day she told me they were moving back home to Birmingham. A few years later, we moved back to Birmingham and reconnected.  As our children were friends, I followed each one while they were growing up. The oldest daughter, Hillary, grew up and became an awesome photographer. She owns her own company,  Je Vois Photography     When Mother was so sick, I asked her to take pictures when we had an event in Mothers front yard, “Prayers for Gaga”. So many beautiful pictures that we have as memories of that day. That was 8 years ago, and this past spring, I called to see if she would meet with me about an idea I had, for her to take pictures again for me.

Hillary on one of many photo shoots

As Mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I wrote almost daily on her online journal, Caring Bridge, to share her journey and to let others communicate with her. That put the seed in my mind and the love of writing.  As she ended her journey here with us, my new journey of writing started.

My brother, Bill, saw an event at Samford, Boot camp for Christian authors, and encouraged me to go. Not really knowing what I wanted to do with this new love and feeling like a child on the first day of school, I walked in that big room, all alone but left with a great desire to pursue my passion after listening and being encouraged by many people and authors.

As I was standing in line early one Saturday morning, to register my daughter for afternoon art classes, I got up to the table in time to sign her up but noticed there was a sheet for adults to sign up for an afternoon class. I immediately signed my name and for the next 18 years, we met on Thursday afternoons to draw and paint and pray and love on each other. This group of ladies have grown very dear to me and we owe it all to our teacher, friend and mentor , JoAnne Young. She encouraged all of us each year and  has encouraged me  recently as I have been working on this project. She helped grow my love of art as I watched her teach and create all of those years. She has just recently written her own book , Giggles and Hugs, and in doing so, inspired me to move ahead with mine. We share the same birth year and anniversary year, so as our bodies and bones get tired, it is a mutual encouragement that we can  still do it!!! (We do, however sympathize with each other too when the old bones start aching!!)

My neightbor, who I have watched grow up, McKinnon Maddox,  started his own media company while he was still in high school. Now, several years later, his vision,   MacMedia Marketing ,  has grown to  employ 8 people . We talked  years ago at the beginning of our journeys, in my den, on my couch, about how he could help me with my web site. I am sure he left being  bit overwhelmed to see how my mind throws thoughts out there, but he has been faithful to help any way he can.  In doing that, he has been a big cheerleader as this book has progressed and a huge help with my web presence.

Online art classes appeared from no where and I was hooked. I had become familiar with artist online from all over the world and when they offered online classes, I signed up. My concentration was on faces, so many different options of materials to learn to use and I loved it all.  My art room began getting full of supplies and painted canvases. From these art days, I ventured on my own to create drawings . I started writing stories to go with my ladies and once again, I collected the paintings and drawings in my art room. In the process of these classes, I am most thankful that it indeed gives me the opportunity to actually talk to people from the other side of the world and consider them friends.  Lots of encouraging goes on within those classes. Internet is awesome that way.

All this time,  I was  still thinking about writing some kind of book but not knowing what I wanted to do or where to go to get started.  Just do something. Take the first step, I told myself, and I did. That lunch with Hillary that we had back in the fall, I talked, she listened. I was afraid I would scare her with all of my different thoughts and ideas. The vision and words were not really in any particular order, just laid them all out there. At the end of our time together, she said she would love to be a part of this journey, and so it began. It started with her taking pictures of my pictures. I didn`t just want a book of my pictures, flat on the pages. I wanted them to come to life through photographs and she did just that. Our first photo shoot was out in Saginaw at a beautiful barn and lake retreat. (that  just happens to belongs to Bob and Bonnie Alvord, who I would not have known had my son not married Rebecca Alvord!! Another piece of puzzle)


Tea party by the lake with paintings on the first photo shoot with Hillary

Once the pictures were edited and we saw how beautifully they came out, it was time to bring a designer on board to continue this vision. Hillary suggested a friend of hers, Dawn Curtis, and I gave her a call. We met one morning soon afterwards and I went armed with a bag full of paintings and pictures and writings to pull out to show her. I am so thankful that she didn`t take one look and run the other way!! It must have been so overwhelming for her because it still was for me .  So many loose ends that I knew I had to take care of so I could narrow the possibilities of content to a manageable amount for her to work with. She was so sweet to listen and offer suggestions and was very knowledgeable because she had published a book of her own last year and was working on her second one as we were meeting. That alone should have been enough for her to walk the other way, but she became a very important part of this new team I was forming.  Her book , Second Stories 2, got published this summer . With her book published, she has worked hard to see mine get to this point. Knowing we needed a bit more direction, she suggested  I call a friend of hers who is  a life coach, Anna Nash, to talk to about the direction we were going.

Half of my sweet team, Anna and Dawn

Anna has been a faithful friend and mentor ever since the first meeting. Dawn and I met at Innova Coffee Shop, which is owned by Anna and her husband, Tyler. As I met with her there, she looks back and recalls that first meeting I had with Dawn. She was intrigued as we spread out all of those pages  of paintings and stories on the table that day.  She was already a little familiar with the vision before we met. She is my conscience. When my mind wanders to places and I get ahead of this vision, she reels me in. I so needed that. She has helped with my Jane Lazenby Art journey that has led to this book. She is always cheering from the sidelines as she offers words of wisdom to me. She knows many Birmingham connections to share with me and when it was time to get this book and thoughts edited, she suggested Leah Eagle.

Leah read and reread the stories as they were being added to the book, correcting errors along the way. Finally, she got a copy of the final proof book and just this morning, rang my doorbell to hand it over with the final marks in it.

Leah and I both share the use of our lips to concentrate

One of the fun things about this art journey is meeting other artists along the way. One of my sweet art friends, who, good or bad,  thinks a little like me with all of our thoughts and hopes and dreams in all different directions, Tricia Robinson, has been such an encourager as we have met to talk about our visions together. She shines for Him in her art and I have loved watching her grow as she inspires and encourages me through her journey.

I have admired Amy Grimes and her art, from afar for a long time . I have spoken to her at art shows and behind the scenes on social media. She is another  piece, being a big part of my inspiration. She has written several beautiful books and I went to her last book launch. It was so over the top beautiful that it set the bar very high for me to think about my own.

With her book launch in my mind, and being the only one I have ever gone to and admired,  I thought and prayed about the perfect place to have this party of mine. Weeks went by and the same name kept popping up in my mind. I knew it was a long shot. I knew they usually held weddings and much larger events but it was still on my mind to call.  One day recently I reached out in a message to see if this might be possible. They were open to the thought and I followed it up with another call then a visit to the Barn at Shady Lane  to talk with Linda Adler.

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful last piece to my puzzle that He allowed.

Linda and Michael had been a part of our journey with Mother 8 years ago, as they came to her home that Sunday afternoon for our “Prayers for Gaga” and led us in a few songs then prayer as we let our purple balloons go in the sky with prayers for Gaga. It just felt right for them to be a part of this journey as it comes to fruition.

Linda and Michael leading in song as mother watched on

I am indeed in awe as I take a look back to see how He was working on my art journey with each tiny detail that He planned.  Many more people have been instrumental along the way and I appreciate each one of you. For the encouragement and comments on my art, I am truly thankful.   I need an army to function sometimes but my heart is full today. I am thankful for His guidance and His answered prayers and His faithfulness as I walked each step. It is not about anything I have done or accomplished but what He is doing through me.

“The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As I look forward to the event September 23,  I realize that at this stage in my life, where I like to call, “Slightly over middle age”, I am especially thankful that He is not finished with me yet. If He can use me at this age, He can use anyone for any purpose of His.


Thank you, Lord, for Your provisions and for letting me get a glimpse of Your plan through all of these puzzle pieces that I call, “Friends”


  1. Jane, i am thrilled to hear of your new venture. You are an exceptional artist as well as having the gift of encouragement.
    I will be praying for you.
    Judy Lawhon

    1. Thank you so much Judy! I so appreciate your kind words and all of your encouragement along this journey. Thanks for the prayers!! Have a great day!!

  2. That is just wonderful news, Jane. I am so happy for you, I know how hoard you worked for it. Can’t wait to hold it in my hands <3

    1. Thank you so much Renata!! yes, long time coming.. I appreciate your kind words… You have always been such a huge inspiration for me with your beautiful art!

  3. Oh Jane, I’m so excited for you!!!! And can’t wait to see the finished product!

    1. Thank you Cathy!! it won`t be long now! See you soon!

  4. Oh Jane!! My friend from afar, I am so happy for you! As I scrolled through your story and came to the photo of the tea party at the lake, I felt such a strong emotional pull! I am thankful you put together those puzzle pieces and listened to His guidance! I SOOO look forward to your book! Blessings on each new step!

  5. Oh Jane!! My friend from afar, I am so happy for you! As I scrolled through your story and came to the photo of the tea party at the lake, I felt such a strong emotional pull! I am thankful you put together those puzzle pieces and listened to His guidance! I SOOO look forward to your book! Blessings on each new step!

    1. Candice, Thank you for saying that! Part of this puzzle is all of those friends from afar that I have met through art and my journey. I am thankful for you and how you encourage me!! Wish you were closer!! thanks again, for your sweet words.. Have great rest of your week!!

  6. May God continue to bless you! You have been a blessing to me this past year and I know this will bless many! Blessings!

    1. You are sweet Marlys!! I loved getting to know you this past year and look forward to seeing you soon and catching up with you!! Love to you!!!

  7. I am so excited for you Jane! You have really been blessed to be able to use your talents in a way to please God and spread His word. I am so proud of you and now I see why you have been so busy this year! Can’t wait to see your book (and get a signed copy!!)
    Love you Friend

    1. Well, that is sweet Cathy, for you to say! Life is busy for all of us, isn`t it?!! but fun to see this light at the end of this journey. I will have you a signed copy waiting! thanks… hope to see you soon.

  8. […] Today, I am filled with such sweet memories of this special day. If you would like to read more about the journey you can go here […]

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