life equals school

Isaac learned to read a few weeks ago, and his first book was Hop on Pop. This is amazing because a few weeks before that, I had spent 2 weeks going over the “n” sound and the “d” sound. There were so many tears, his and mine.  All I know is that I decided I would cover letter sounds until Kingdom Come if I had to. But I didn’t have to. Something just clicked over, and he read a book on a Saturday morning, pausing over and over to exclaim, “Can you believe I’m reading a book?!”

That was the last Saturday of the soccer season, and he played worse than ever, hardly even worked up a jog. Coach would kick him off the field, and then he would RUN to me smiling.

He would sit in my lap with his legs all overlapping mine, and he would continue to say, “Can you believe I read a book? It’s my favorite thing.”

Meanwhile, Jude wears clean underwear on his head, which is very important, as the eye holes put the nose in, well, … you know. He is also drawing very straight lines and using manners, relatively speaking.

Ian still has no idea what it’s like to poop in the potty, though he’s been training for at least 6 months. He shows me a lot about myself. Every time he doesn’t make it, he says, “I’m sorry Mama. I won’t do it again. I’m really sorry.”

We’re all maturing at different rates, but it’s maturation nonetheless.

I would love it if the emails I received after my post the other day would actually have been posted as comments. There might have been a lively discussion on snarly, log-eyed poetry.

I certainly do intend to open comments from time to time. There are some occasions however that I can’t. If I’ve written something that makes me feel in the least bit insecure, especially if I don’t get comments, I’m just not going to do it. I can either write like that for God or for nobody. If I write something that I hope spurs conversation that points away from me, then yes, let’s talk, especially if I feel like I might actually be around some for the conversation.

One email to me was amazing. She suggested  that sometimes not having comments might be it’s own backward form of selfishness. She suggested that sometimes the comments are more for the reader than the writer. What do you think?

About me


Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
What I Knew In My Dying Day: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Tara Owens
August 19, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
Condemnation on the Molehill
June 08, 2015
Tools for the Highly Sensitive Mother: An Introduction
April 27, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014
The Uncouth: The Hormonal
May 12, 2014
On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti
April 03, 2014


Reply November 2, 2010

I'm struggling with comments, too. i WANT them. i NEED the affirmation. sigh. reading others' comments on others' blogs lends a community feel and forces me to think. but on my own blog, i'm afraid i want comments so i know people are reading me and liking me....

laura@life overseas
Reply November 2, 2010

Great honest post, again!

I agree with Kendal in the evident struggle--somehow (wrongly, of course) judging my writing on that number at the top. Lame, but true.

Yet, I do think that the CONVERSATION is an important element in processing life and spirituality. And I think if your blog is about that, the conversation, then open comments is an important element. It gives people the chance to speak and respond and question and bounce ideas off each other.

I think your friend was onto something when she said that as bloggers to put yourself out there--comments or no--is perhaps another way to give yourself up, lay pride on altar, trust, and choose not to be defined by the number--for the sake of good questions and real conversation.

Thanks for this post! And comments or no, I'll still come a'visiting you!

laura@life overseas
Reply November 2, 2010

Woops, I meant

"to put yourself out there--whether you GET lots of comments or not-- (not if you don't have commenting as an option)" Sorry.

Promise I didn't do that just to get you a higher number of comments. Promise. ha ha.

Debbie in Newfoundland!
Reply November 2, 2010

Hi Amber!
I LOVE comments. I never get any, but that's beside the point. Eventually I will. Someone will read my ponderings.... I understand what you mean about only opening comments occasionally, but I think if you blog, you need to be fearless. Once you hit publish, that's it, your thoughts are out there and open to debate. And good or bad, it's only someone elses opinion and not to be taken as fact.
I homeschool too, fairly new to it, we did kindergarten last year and are doing grade one and a bit of preschool this year. It is only fun sporadically! Most of the time it takes every bit of good out of me and leaves me pretty exhausted by the end of the day. But weirdly enough, I still love it. I love having my children around me, knowing what they are learning, keeping them safe, building on their faith (hopefully) and only teaching them good words to use. But even if I mutter the bad ones, they still hear them. Unfortunately.
I wished I could have commented yesterday because I so relate to feeling the selfish desire to run away and change my name and I broke down into tears just two days ago, locked myself in the bathroom, told my husband to retrieve the kids from the car in the driveway and said exactly that--well almost. Is it possible to give them away for just a little bit?! And of course I didn't mean it, but I was emotionally drained. Nothing left to give. And it is not something I can say to my non-approving, non-homeschooling friends, because their first response... send them to school. And it just is not the right option for our family. I can't even begin to explain it.
But yesterday, things changed again. Instead of trying to get school done in the morning, we did nothing but play until after supper, then both kids got out their books and ASKED to do some school. THEY asked ME. And bedtime stories were from the Science book, exploring creation with astronomy. Just when I think I can't do it anymore, it appears that I can, but only with His help. And isn't that just the way God wants it to be. Us relying on Him desperately and then things just fall into place.
A much longer post than expected. But I just wanted to say to you---continue on and be fearless--rely on God for wisdom--and if someone posts an inappropriate comment, remember you are the EDITOR. Hit delete!

Reply November 2, 2010

Amber , you have to do what works for you . It's your blog. Your heart.
It's a personal thing really.

okay, and just so you know, I've written a novel here about five times and then deleted it .

there is no one way to do this community thing, this serving and loving and truth thing.
there just isn't.

laura@life overseas
Reply November 2, 2010

One more thing (because obviously I AM in the business of giving you more comments),

as in so many things--

grace. and the freedom to individually follow whatever it is Jesus is asking, YOU, to do. in your story, not anybody else's. whatever that looks like. and grace for everybody else to do the same.

allright. that's really it. :)

    Reply November 2, 2010

    I like you ladies that meander over here to my wife's blog.

    Y'all's good people.

Reply November 2, 2010

I think you have to do what your heart believes is best.

I like being able to comment on blogs, to dialog, or at least say to someone "I was here; I agree; you made me think." But i have fallen into the comment trap and fear that my self-worth comes to often from the comment section of my blog. So I see it from both sides.

You just have to do what God leads you to do. That's all any of us can do I think.

    Reply November 2, 2010

    I agree with you, Erin, and all of these comments, really.

    A part of my problem is simply the computer trap of running to the laptop if I get a single spare second to see if anyone has said anything, and then if someone compliments me, I freak. I don't know what to do with praise. If people don't comment, I get stupid, too.

    Here's the deal: I know the truth. I have had very long phases of not caring, but lately there have been some behind the scenes things that have made me battle insecurity. SO the blog seems to be an extension of that.

    The comments that focus on what I've done or written are the hardest for me. I share my story, I hope, because it's God's story, and often hearing the God story in others is what helps me press on. Praise makes me feel ICKY, but a comment section that centers on GOd-story, that is encouragement. That's what I want.

Reply November 2, 2010

i think you should do as laura says, gauge it according to your heart and follow accordingly. Sometimes that means turning comments on and off like a light switch. I think our heart attitude can change by the second, by the day. It's a struggle. Don't let anyone tell you how to eat, drink, or blog, we are free!
And with great freedom comes great responsibility! HAHAHA!

sorry. I don't know how that got in there.
did my email sound, um, harsh? I hope not. I am just having to eat humble pie like, every day. I get sick of it sometimes, most times.

Reply November 2, 2010

And can I be really honest? REALLY HONEST?

I have dear dear friends who have been Compassion Bloggers. When I started blogging seriously, I came to it assuming that once you were For Real, you would be a Compassion blogger or someone that really got to speak out in the world and change things.

See how wicked crazy that is?

Since then, I've heard that certain numbers mean that you're good enough to speak for the poor. Certain numbers mean you get the honor. How backwards! How backwards for me to receive it that way.

So I know my heart is wicked.

I saw a tweet the other day between girls I love about maximizing their facebook traffic so they could bring more glory to God. I have to say that I am too wicked for that. The more I work on becoming "known," the less I seem to know God.

When I am content for God to be my friend, and when I really take joy in that, I know I am safe to boldly write and make connections - Glory where it's due.

    Reply November 2, 2010


    So let us know, let us press on to know...

    I'm glad you married me.

Reply November 2, 2010

Goodness, No! Joann, you weren't harsh at all. I agreed with you. I loved it altogether, and honestly I wish everyone could have read it and the other emails I got.

Reply November 2, 2010

"Since then I've heard that certain numbers mean you're good enough to speak for the poor...certain numbers mean you get the honor."

Oh friend. I know this. Just the other day, when I battled and wrestled with whether or not to place the story of Kibera - asking for help - I questioned. "Would anyone care? I'm not so-and-so and I haven't published such-and-such..." But God gives us these words, these stories for a reason - and it's not to cling tightly to them like we would a pet. I'm thankful for what you allow God to teach me through your words - your authenticity. I'm still going to come back, regardless if you have comments or not. God's using you - and perhaps it will be in the exchange of e-mails or perhaps it will be in the thread of comments, but this blog will foster a deep sense of community among the readers. It already has for me.

Love you.

Reply November 2, 2010

praise makes you feel icky , why?
because of how you are afraid of it becoming about that? the whole idol thing?

you are a phenomenal writer. you make me shine my Light more and brighter and doesn't that count? and why can't I tell you that. why can't you know that. is it any less important than any other mission afar or on the other side of the tracks or in the dark of who knows where?

I think sometimes I am wary of false humility ( and I am not excluding myself in any of this.. just thinking out loud ). If I notice that someone has decided that I don't matter in the sense that they don't answer a question I have asked them... but suddenly they have a redesigned facebook page, a book coming out and a photography site opened... well how is that right? How is not stopping to hold the door for a lame neighbour to get to the pep rally for a shiny cause being a Christian?

Reply November 2, 2010

my stomach is in knots. I should never had said anything... it's so difficult to come across well in this forum. I firmly believe everyone is entitled to their own art. ack.

I was just sort of thinking that we can' t know how God will use us. We can't script it out in a way that sounds like the right way , because we just don't know. That's all.

    Reply November 2, 2010

    Deb! No worries, I promise.

    False humility is my middle name. If I realize my pride, I try to fix it up in a hurry with right answers and then there I go letting doors slam in widow's faces. It's the truth. False humility is another bit for man not God.

    And I don't think that's what you were trying to tell me about myself - at all! It's true of us all, I think.

    Praise makes me feel icky because I have it in my head that what I get here on this earth from man is what I'm giving up 100-fold in Heaven. When I desire from man what I should be desiring from God, I find myself satisfied to write about believing rather than to live out what I believe. Gratitude for encouragement is one thing, but it's another thing to start to believe that I'm this or that, so that my ego outgrows me and I start expecting things like ... an invitation to be a dern Compassion blogger - God bless every one of their wonderful souls!

    Does that make sense? If I'm not in the right place when I receive praise, then I'm at risk for it to go to my head instead of to the Father.

    That being said, my shutting off comments is a way to protect myself from myself, not from any readers at all. My motives are muttled. My words are mostly sincere. I am cynical. I have a life-long habit/struggle with works-based righteousness.

    Whoa. I wrote more of my internal battle than I intended to.

Reply November 2, 2010


I like what you said. Amber's words help me shine my light brighter, too. SO MANY times I don't comment, but the posts and conversations help my walk with Jesus so much. Love to all! And thanks for the honesty here. It means so much to this mission field.

Reply November 2, 2010


I almost didn't write here today. Then I wrote pages of text only to delete it - like Deb. Don't really know what to say - usually that doesn't stop this heart with no reins. Am not really qualified to say anything anyway - only been reading blogs since September, and then only to prepare for beginning my own blog next week. Which, by the way, I am now reconsidering a bit.

I know that it's because of what I have read these weeks, and in reading the words of years of back posts, in this blogging community that all of you belong to, that I can begin to put my words out there only half as bravely and as well you do Amber. I'm sorry even there, if it made you feel bad. Almost deleted that.

My stomach is in knots too. I am laboring over these words, writing, deleting, writing, deleting, I began this comment an hour ago. It says less than it did before I began. I'm sorry if I, in any way, contributed to you feeling bad.

Comments on or comments off I will keep coming back to this river because the water, is, good.

    Reply November 2, 2010

    Oh Craig, Everybody,

    I HOPE EVERYBODY READS THIS! I am so so so grateful for every comment ever ever ever. SO grateful! Please hear my heart. please.

    It has never been any one person or any one comment that really sent me battling. It's that whisper we all get from time to time, the liar using what God has given us to distort it, and make us believe untruths. That's it.

    I've said it lately: I've struggled with faith. Really struggled. That's all I'll say about it now. BUT I have to confess that when I look at it all together from where I'm sitting right now, the comments on my blog have encouraged me to live. That someone reads what I write has held me accountable to my art, and in writing, I worship God when some days I wake up and I'm not sure a postive thing would come out of my mouth.

    I'm thankful for this space, not only because I write here (and therefore get to actually think) - but because you read here. I am so grateful. Please know.

Reply November 2, 2010

Amber - I struggle so much with comments as well. I feel the pull of validation with every comment, and for hours after I hit "post" just waiting to be told that I did something well... but then if that happens it makes me twitchy and I don't think anyone has understood that I put whatever I wrote out there not really as a "look at me" but as a quiet gift of myself...
I don't know if that makes any sense at all.
Comments are comments... and I agree with everyone above who said you need to do this blog thing in whatever way that makes you happy. It's a journey... I think many of us are figuring out how to do it our own way...
{and just a side note - like so many have said - your writing is so inspiring, moving, and motivating. Thank you for sharing so much of you with all of us...}

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply November 2, 2010

Have you read Ann Voskamp's post today? The first part of her keynote from Relevant? It seems to address the very heart issues you're exposing.

To me, it always comes down to the why. Why am I doing this? Why do I enable comments? Is it to validate me? Is it to further the conversation with the community I love? It's never black-and-white, of course. (Gosh, I wish things could be black-and-white sometimes.) But for me, God seems to constantly drum the attitude behind my actions.

The tricky thing about that is: my actions could look just like someone else's action and we could have entirely different motives but people will judge us the same.

Reply November 2, 2010

i'm on a teacher workday today. left for lunch and a family photo and came back to thirty minutes of reading here! sometimes i feel like a dolt and believe that i don't even deserve to read your posts (i read most everyone who has commented here), much less comment or write a post....reading all of you has enriched my walk with God. seriously. comments? no comments? whatever. just keep writing, please.

Reply November 2, 2010

"I can either write like that for God or for nobody."

Yep. So SO get that. I decided some time ago when I noticed the posts I just sort of flung out into space were often so well-received and the ones I labored and pushed through to contractions to deliver? Well, they were often greeted with silence.

So I made a promise to myself to remember before I hit "publish" that the ones that are the most tender to me, those are the ones I wrote for me. And for Him. Communion between the two of us. That's it. Any other response to it was fine, but not necessary.

That really, really has helped. Really. (!!!)

Reply November 2, 2010

Okay, and also? The Compassion Bloggers thing? Yeah. I pretty much TOTALLY GET THAT. And also I almost just sent you a Facebook message to tell you that, but then I figured if you were brave enough to say it out loud here, then so I should I be. So yeah. I'll stand beside you in that, sister.

    Reply November 2, 2010

    Thank you, Megan. Better shine the light on it, huh?

    Most of what I say here, though, I'm pretty confident that I'm not alone in it, but SISTER, it is still good to hear somebody else say so.

Reply November 2, 2010

Nope. You're definitely not alone my friend.

Reply November 2, 2010

Sometimes? I think of starting my own club, where numbers don't count. Because, um. Because why not?!
Okay, I don't know exactly why, but it seems like something like that is needed.

Reply November 2, 2010

can i join your club joann?

Amber - you are not alone. And I so wish we could have coffee together and chat about this thing called life.

    Reply November 2, 2010

    Me too, Fiona.

    Joann is spunky. I sure like her.

Reply November 3, 2010

All I know is...I hear from God when I visit your blog....
I miss being able to tell you that.

(I think Joann is great too!)

Reply November 3, 2010

:winces and smiles: You have laid bared all the reasons I have not started a blog. I am so desperately afraid that I will end up making it about me. In fact, I know I will make it about me. But I am realizing more and more ( not enough to begin bloggin yet...still too tender), that I have ended up making it about me focusing on all that I am not, by reinforcing all I "know" to be true about myself, by being so sure of the strength of my weakness and brokeness to the exclusion of all He is. Does that make any sense? In some twisted way, I have become even more self-focused in my pursuit of "holiness"....believing, without even realizing it, that somehow my brokeness is greater than His redemptive power at work in my life. Father, forgive me. And honestly, I'm not exactly sure how to work it out. But I do know that my heart beats with yours in this struggle.


Reply November 3, 2010

Just so you know, when I read your blog, I usually cry. Good tears:) You are so open, and so willing to let GOD use you. I have my own set of insecurities, so I don't usually feel comfortable commenting. I always feel encouraged when I read your writing, though...

Reply November 3, 2010


I appreciate your writing, beautiful as it is, and your honesty, beautiful as it is.

Being transparent and honest is so frightening. I know. Remember me wanting to delete my own comment a few weeks ago? I was raw and said so, then regretted it. We all struggle. I think that we live in a day where we want to see the dark things come to light. That takes each of us examining our hearts and asking God to shine a light on the parts that aren't pleasing to Him. It's a tug-of-war with eternal implications.

Confession? I'd *love* to be an (in)Courage blogger. But I'm not there yet and I'm not sure I ever will be. I've struggled with putting my story out there on my blog, only to be "found out" and have it thrown in my face. Which hurt terribly, because I was trying to just be honest about where I was. I self-censor a lot out of fear, nearly 3 years later.

I, too, want my story and my daughter's story to be used by God. But only He can use it, move it, show it, say it. It's hard.

Others have said it so much better, but I would say, lean on God. Ask Him to show you, lead you, help you.

Kelly Langner Sauer
Reply November 3, 2010

Wouldn't have thought of it as selfishness; but yes, the comments are often more for the reader than for the writer - I breathe back when I comment, engage.

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