three red birds

Note: this was first published on 2/2/12. It remains just as true today. And I’m reposting it because of the beautiful little painting of a barn I just added to my barn painting collection, with three red birds.


Before I knew what life could do to a person . . . before I knew what had been done to me . . . I felt peace. I remember it, whole and holy, round and full, like the weight of a newborn infant in a mothers arms.

It was the sort of peace that comes from a youth undented and undaunted by the hammers of hurt.

The sort of peace that lives in a heart that has not yet realized people really are capable of evil . . . of lies . . . of betrayal . . . of stealing innocence, no matter how old we are when someone snuffs the last piece of us out.

Holed out, hollowed and spent, fear fills us first.

Unless we believe God and His promise to pour His Holy Spirit into us.

Unless we believe His promise to never leave us alone.

Only then, by releasing the clutch of our unbelief, can we let fear, unfettered, flee from our hearts.

The other day, I realized the depths of my unbelief as fear and shame overwhelmed me once again. I ran down a quiet path, spindly brush, naked trees and silence surrounding me.




And then, unrequested and unrehearsed, the birds appeared.

Bright, red cardinals. Chests bursting and fat with downy, winter feathers.

First one.

Then a second.

Then a third.

Three cardinals stained red flew wild across my path. And I remembered God has something important to say when He says it in threes.

died for you, He said.

died for you, He said.

I died for you, He said.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture . . . We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 8:31-39 (TMV)

The scoop on our first empty nester trip to Austin and Waco!

My husband and I sent our youngest son to college this fall, and can I just say: empty nesting is for the birds! I’ve always been the sort of mama who laments the start of school, because I so enjoy the company and conversation and joyful work of raising our sons. I’d been bracing myself for the wonderful-for-them-but-hard-on-mama time when our youngest would go to college this fall, but still, it’s been awkward. Disorienting. Hard.

But alas, the silver linings are many, and evolving. First, all three of our sons are blossoming and thriving in their college endeavors, and we couldn’t be more proud, or grateful.

Second, I get to hang out with my husband again! We have so much fun together, and over the years, sometimes that fun gets lost in the daily-ness of child rearing, bill paying, and work going life. But now, we’re having so much fun planning for the next chapter of our lives together.

Today I’m sharing one of the first empty-nester things we did: taking a trip to TEXAS!

Full disclosure: He called it “the Austin trip.” I called it, “the Waco trip.” Because he’s all about cooking and grilling and the art scene, and I’m all about the art scene, and…well…I’m a Fixer Upper JUNKIE.

You can follow along with my DIY and Fixer Upper-ish projects on my instagram site, Scrap Wood and Still Life. In the meantime, enjoy some glimpses of our time in Waco! I’ve added about a hundred million projects to my DIY list because of this trip, it was so much fun and so inspiring!

The silos! I’m here!

The staff here are experts at merchandising. Aren’t these faux fall stems beautiful? I wanted to bring home EVERYTHING I looked at!

Gotta get me a thing of wheat for sure.

Seriously, it’s a crate with faux stems.

How do they make it look so irresistible???

Of course I love books. So of course, I have to find myself some corbels and make my own book ends like these! How adorable, right???

Another display in the store.

How cool are the overlapping mirrors?

I have a bunch of random mirrors.

I’m gonna have to duplicate this look.

That’s all there is to it.

“Come Thou fount of every blessing.”

One of my all-time favorite hymns.

I have a sharpie.

I can find a cool big frame.

I’m so gonna copy this.

So, not only am I a writer and a DIY-er, I’m a nurse. An RN. And behind every RN is an awesome clipboard.

Now, this one is really thick, so I wouldn’t use it at the hospital.

I’d make it to clip photos to, or maybe to clip recipes to in the kitchen. I have several antique binder-type clips, so I know I could duplicate this. And so, I MUST.

Just so cool.

Don’t ya think?


Speaking of original book ends, check out how they use these antique woodworking clamps! You guys, these are a woodworker/book lover’s DREAM!!!!

Gotta find some old clamps.

(My Dad, who is my idol–carpentry and beyond–says I can’t have any of his. He’s using them, after all.)

I’m already searching Facebook Marketplace for someone getting rid of an old, wooden ladder. How adorable and industrial-ish is this bookshelf???

I found this at a store near the silos–that’s every bit as cool as the silos–called The Findery. I highly recommend visiting The Findery stores if you make your own Waco trip.

I stole a bunch of ideas from them, and I actually found an adorable dress there, too.

A beautiful table at The Findery.

Another beautiful table at The Findery.

Love how they put a metal inlay on the top.

So how cute is THIS little rustic wall sconce?

Could hold fresh or faux flowers, perhaps pencils or crayons in a homeschooling room, maybe cotton balls and Q-tips in a bathroom.




So many buildings in Austin and Waco have beautiful murals on them.

Waco has quite the soul, indeed.

The storefront!

Of course, when in Waco, we had to visit Clint Harp’s place.

I love all of the Fixer Upper episodes where Joanna commissions Clint Harp to do various (and GORGEOUS) woodworking projects.

This item holds photographs under the burlap strings.

SOOOO cute!

Likewise, his little store front did not disappoint.


Wooden pumpkins at The Findery. Surely #icandothat.

One of my favorite things at the Harp Design Co.

Two-by-fours routed out to hold simple chalkboards.

Be still my DIY HEART!!!

Letters made with 2×4’s and a little simple hardware.

Also from Harp Design Co.

Get. In. My. Workshop!!!

I have old egg crates.

And faux greenery.

And glass vases.

These are at The Findery.

Copying NOW.

This wall display was probably my very favorite part about the Magnolia store.

Brokenness is beautiful.

If you’ve read my novels, you know that’s my overarching theme.

For my books.

My art.

My everything.

Inside the little garden store on the Magnolia property.

Probably my favorite part.

Flowers outside the Magnolia garden center.

Food trucks within the Magnolia center.

In summary, such a wonderful trip!

With such a wonderful husband!!!

(photo below of me and my hunky husband in front of an iconic wall in Austin.)


The story behind the theme of my 2019 release: Then Sings My Soul

I think one of God’s favorite things to do is to make and shape people. Of course I can’t speak for Him, but the works of God’s hands are mentioned not infrequently throughout the Bible, how God sculpts the land and the heart, and how He creates artists, too.

Moses talks about an artisan named Bezalel who may have been one of the earliest lapidarists.  Exodus 31:5 (NLT) reads, “[Bezalel] is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!”

And in Isaiah 64:8 (NLT) we read, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”

Jakob, the main protagonist in Then Sings My Soul, is a lapidarist–one who works with and fashions stones and gems. Jakob’s father (Josef) was a lapidarist, too.

This is a piece of raw aquamarine, the sort of stone Josef  would have worked with and passed on to Jakob in the story.

I used the trade and theme of lapidary in this novel because my grandfather was a lapidarist, too. In fact, he actually made the stone on the cover of the novel, and you can read more about that providential story in the afterwords in the back of the novel.

As a special treat for you today, here are the actual diagrams and notes my grandfather used to make this stone:

When you read Then Sings My Soul, I think you’ll discover why the theme of lapidary lends itself so well to Jakob and his daughter, Nel. They both start out pretty rough, living in ways not everyone would approve of. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t see the beauty He knows they can become.

The same story can be yours, friend. If you feel dirty and rough, unnoticed, worthless…God sees the new and clean, the priceless and sparkling person He is making you to be.

The work a lapidarist does on a stone is harsh at times. There are cuts and chisels, chunks hacked off and angles shorn. But in the eye of the Lapidarist, all these steps are necessary.

More than that, as He works, the Lapidarist holds you in His hand and never lets go.

What about you? 

Do you have places in your life that need polished? 

Do you wonder where God is in the midst of your journey?