Her brushes create vibrant, meaningful paintings; her home invites artisans to work on their masterpieces as they are surrounded by the breeze blowing through the oak trees secluding this hidden gem in the heart of Madisonville; and, the venue hosts varying events and retreats as well as providing a bride, a groom, and their friends and family many blessings as they cement their covenant in the Amazing Grace Chapel.
Like the mighty trees that enclose the 30-acre property that is Bluebird Haven Estates, owner Sallie Reid boasts deep roots in the area; on both her mom and her dad’s sides, her family has resided in the area for at least four generations. “I love this region! I love this county! Although I was gone for 16 years, I always wanted to come back. It is in my DNA to help promote Madison County and this region. I want people to know this is God’s country. It is a beautiful place! There is something special about this county,” Sallie reflected.
“The bluebird is something that has been symbolic to me about God’s love; I felt like it was a kiss from Heaven. When I lived in Walker County, I was walking out in the woods. When I looked up, I saw a tree full of bluebirds. It was such a special thing to see! Through the good times and the tough times, the bluebird has been a symbol of God’s love to me.” And thus, this venue was named.
Twenty-four years ago, the house that now welcomes dancers, writers, painters, composers (and more) became the home where Sallie created many memories as she raised her children. “I want to pass on a legacy of faith and love to my three children and three grandchildren. They are the delight of my life,” she mused. The Lord had placed a vision within her mind, but it was still frightening to take on the task of building this hamlet of love and creativity. “My faith is very important to me. I wanted people to encounter the love of God, a church with no walls, a place where they could create in the atmosphere of Heaven. I told God, ‘I can’t do this by myself!’ He said, ‘No, you can’t! But I can work through you!’ I wanted to see the dream that He placed inside me come true. I was jumping off the edge in faith,” Sallie shared. As a cornerstone to this endeavor, she placed her mom and dad’s Bible in a metal box in the right, far corner of the building that houses the chapel, seating in the wings, a kitchen, storage, and two spacious rooms where the bride and groom with their respective attendants can ready themselves to be united. “I have just started doing “all-inclusives,” where I do the decorating, etc. They just have to walk in and get married! They don’t have to worry about a thing. A reception for up to 200 people can be accommodated. We also have beautiful sunsets over the trees and the lakes that make phenomenal photo opportunities for the wedding photographers.” Some parties choose to take advantage of the full weekend packages (where they stay two nights at the venue) for a weekend of fun without worrying about traveling, etc. Sallie also blesses each couple with an original painting in which she has captured their story, the story of their love.
“I want people to know how good God is and that He doesn’t fail us! I have kept my eyes on the Lord as I watched Him bring to reality the dream which He had given me…Many people told me I had no business starting this venue… Everyone has difficulties in this life, but with God’s direction, we push through to get to the other side. The impossible can be true! Although it seemed impossible for a single woman to step into this undertaking, I know it is the blessings of the Lord that has brought me to this point,” Sallie boldly stated.
As one walks through the main house, which can sleep 18 people, beautiful paintings (with equally beautiful stories to match) adorn the walls. Sallie beams as she shares the inspiration behind each canvas. Sallie is currently working with a musician who is composing music that can be listened to as a spectator views each creation. Music notes and colors have correlations that are explained in a science called Color Sensory Therapy. No matter in which room one finds repose for the evening, each location allows a conference attendee or member of a bridal party to drift off into slumber comfortably surrounded by astounding and spiritually uplifting pieces. Sallie also has written a children’s book, Annabelle, The Big Blue Horse, which reminds its readers, young and old, that God made us each uniquely with His purposes in mind. Her other book, The Color of Joy, displays her many paintings and the spiritual foundations of each one.
If Sallie is not facilitating the retreat, she will be found in the kitchen preparing meals and snacks for those in attendance. She can serve meals to 25 people as they comfortably spread out among the kitchen and dining areas. “I love to cook and serve people. I cannot run the retreat and cook. Either I can lead a painting workshop, or I can cook and serve you while you run your retreat. I have taught painting for over 20 years. I love to teach, especially to children. I love to empower kids with their art and their creativity. It is important! All creators of art (musicians, painters, writers) need to be encouraged, no matter what age,” Sallie pointed out. People can also choose to follow Sallie as she leads a group to all create the same piece as they enjoy the fellowship with friends.
As Sallie walks from the main house out towards the chapel, she proudly points out the many masterful projects that her son John Reid Carter produced. “He built these two tables, the fountain, the pier, the bridge, the cathedral-window backdrops, and–most importantly–the cross. He did all the woodwork. He helped me get all the little finishing touches completed,” she beamed as she spoke. He is getting married in June, and of course, Sallie is hosting his wedding at Bluebird Haven Estates.
601 East Collard
Madisonville, Texas 77864