Framing the Fragments ~ A Giveaway {Take Heart…in Kinship & Community}

When I take in her words, I go away pondering, considering. Sometimes a piece is so moving that I leave it on the screen and come back for a second read. When I see her artwork, I feel like testing my (child-like) skill with the paintbrush. It’s the sign of an authentic artist in my book, one who inspires others to consider their own life in light of the work and one who inspires others to create works of their own. That is Annie Barnett. I am honored to have Annie as part of our Take Heart series today, sharing words and watercolor and letting us in on the way one friend’s honesty helped her go deeper as an artist.



She lives in faraway Texas now, but these little-ones-playing-wildly-in-the-background days we talk on the phone nearly as much as we did in junior high.

It was autumn when she told me, gently: “I love your work, I really do. But it lacks some of the tension and messy brokenness that makes your story yours.”

I wasn’t expecting so much honesty, but wounds from a friend can be trusted, and few people know (and love) me so well as this particular one. She knows I draw little birds and acorns, favorite lines of Christmas hymns and a whole series of eggs, all expectant, full of April hope. These are the pictures I want to hang on my fridge, to call me towards home and invite me in to a place of daily abiding.

I shuffle around her words, awkwardly mumble something about not adorning my walls with images of a bleeding heart twice flattened by a Mack truck.  And this wise friend, she didn’t pull her words back or defend them at all. She just let those words sit a while.

We ended our call, and I sat with the words. Days and weeks slipped by, and the words stayed, grew.


Since I started painting again, all my work centered on good true words I needed to hear and see, speak and remember. These were not simple niceties, rather painted during hard days, when the call to abide and dwell was a lifeline in the midst of grief.

I set out to paint a shadow of that brokenness and filled a sketch book. In the end, I pursued a nest filled with eggshell debris and a fragile heirloom marked by hairline cracks. I worked water and pigment over weeks instead of hours. Often, this is how I learn, pouring over a painting and learning from the image as I create.

I let the brush wrap moss and string and branch into a crown of twigs: the little nest to frame the fragments that once housed life.  I have carried babies in my womb, and I think twice about such fragile eggs sustaining and nourishing an unhatched life. The broken pieces left behind are the only evidence of something fully alive, taken wing.

Sometimes brokenness is part of the birthing.

My toddler insisted I add baby birds to the nest. But this nest, it speaks of the broken places, where neat little bows don’t tie up the mess because our hearts are made for walks in the cool of the garden, and we don’t always see the whole of redemption in the midst of brokenness.

We wait and we sit with those who wait. Like my dear friend, we ask the hard questions and we learn to listen. And sometimes, when we are quiet, we see a shadow of something new unfurling in those hard places.

annieathomeAnnie Barnett is a creative soul who pours her days into her family and her art. She writes sporadically at, chronicling her broken, grace-infused journey of playing house and centering her heart on her true home. She loves to make a good mess – whether it’s curry, painting, or play. In the last few months she’s stepped tentatively out into a new space, offering her prints on Etsy and slowly entering the conversation about art and faith at Follow along on Facebook or Twitter.


And now for this week’s giveaway from Be Small Studios!

nestprintSimply comment below for the chance to win your own 8×10 print of “Nest: A Study in Brokenness”. (I plan to use my print as a focus point while laboring to deliver my baby girl this April!) For extra entries (include a separate comment here for each entry): 1. subscribe to Message in a Mason Jar via email or RSS feed, 2. like Be Small Studios on Facebook, 3. share this post on Twitter, 4. share on Facebook, 5. and/or share on Pinterest. This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, February 23.


Thanks for visiting Message in a Mason Jar where we’re finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. To get posts delivered to your email box or blog reader, enter your email address on the homepage sidebar or enter in your reader.

This week in our Take Heart series we’re talking about kinship/community. We’d love to have you link up with us and share how God has helped you take heart in the midst of your own struggles in anything related to extended family drama, difficult ministry experiences or conflict in friendship. The link-up is open through Friday night. And don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win our giveaway from Annie at Be Small Studios today!

54 thoughts on “Framing the Fragments ~ A Giveaway {Take Heart…in Kinship & Community}

    • As with my first two, I’m planning to do natural unmedicated birth with my doula and labor tub at the hospital. Believe it or not, being there feels like a mini luxury vacation. The rooms are beautiful, plus I love being waited on those first couple of days. ;) I have a lot of friends who have gone for the home births and I’ve been tempted to try it. You?

      • I had an epidural with my first but a natural, unmedicated birth with Ella.

        I actually work at the hospital where I had both of my babies. There is a wonderful midwifery practice onsite that I simply adore. I too felt like I was on a mini-vacation {apart from the sleep deprivation} staying there–no chores, cooking or responsibilities other than loving on a sweet, new baby. ;)

  1. Pingback: Annie at Home » Blog Archive » Framing the Fragments (Guest Post for Message in A Mason Jar)

  2. I LOVE this and love the print! Whqt a beautiful reminder that there is beauty in brokenness…and vice versa.

    And now I’m going to blow up your comments by doing multiple entries.

  3. Annie, your words are so beautiful, as is your art. I love that your friend spoke honestly to you about this missing tension, and even as you are painting these raw pieces, the fragility of them makes them that much lovelier. I’m so glad to call you friend and love seeing your art grow and blossom.

    • Nice to see you here, Crystal. Which print do you have? P.S. Thanks for all of your leadership for (in)couragers. I’m so glad to be heading up such an amazing group of writers in The Story Circle!

  4. You all are going to make me cry! Thank you for your sweet words, old friends, new friends, even my sweet sister-in-law! Such a joy to share here today. Darcy, I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

    • It has been a real joy for me to have you and so many of your friends in this space today! Really, I’m SO honored that you said yes to taking part in the series and giving away one of your lovely new pieces. :)

  5. Annie-
    I remember you as a child, running in the bank. Now, I sit at your feet and learn. Thank you for your honesty, your heart for the “real” places, and bringing us to the healer.
    Kim Johnson
    PS- I love your print, liked your on Facebook and will share this post because more people need to hear this message

  6. So happy to see Annie here! I discovered her honest and poignant words– and lovely brushstrokes — just last fall. I may have even been one of the first Be Small customers on Etsy, ordering a “Thankful” print for my Thanksgiving mantel. I love this new print, and will be most happy to buy my own copy, {Love to support Etsy artists :) }I already liked Be Small on Twitter and just added in Facebook!

  7. Beautiful! I can’t wait to check out her store (and p.s. to your first reply to comments, I liked staying in the hospital as well. I could PICK OUT MY FOOD and they bring it to me?!? :)

  8. Note to Annie, God has truly blessed you with a gift! I just subscribed to your blog. Love the was you write and the Print “Nest” – Beauty from Brokenness, what a wonderful way to look at it. Darcy thank you for sharing this. I am going to subscribe to your blog as well.

    • So happy to have you, Maria. And I second all you said about Annie’s writing and art. I’m blessed to have her here in this space this week!

  9. Annie, This is stunning and so raw and true to grief. Thank you for your bravery and commitment to continue to work through the suffering and not abandon the journey. Your writing and paintings continue to draw me in and inspire me beyond….You have truly been given a gift. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. Such an honor to know you. Blessings, jana

    • It’s a rare gift to have a friend who will speak those hard truths! But what a blessing to be able to take in those words and grow from them. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. :)

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