A Haines Home Companion: Alter


My truly spectacular doctor girlfriend came over last night to talk about Titus’s health. He had weighed in the other day, only gaining about an ounce a week, and I was emotional at that visit. She tried to console me. That night she stayed awake, prayed, and read his chart a few times, and by 6:30 the next morning, she had texted letting me know she wanted to come over and share her feelings about Titus with me.

Last night she just made us feel so much better. The pediatric clinic here is such a team, and they’ve decided that he truly is doing well. We have to get food sensitivities figured out and try to catch him up so that he’s gaining 3 ounces a week instead of 1.

I am so encouraged and maybe, too,  a little overwhelmed. He already eats so much.

Sometimes I still find myself looking around my house saying, “HOW IN THE WORLD DID I GET FOUR BOYS?!” I keep having these little alter moments. It’s all praise and then it’s: Lord help me!

Yesterday, one of them had such a terrible, hour-long meltdown that I turned into a holy roller. I literally landed on my knees in the kitchen mumbling desperate pleas for help. So often I pray for my children and know they are the same things I need to be praying for myself:  for brokenness, humility, and self-control. Consider failure to thrive!


I forgot what a droned life it can be when you have a small child and when winter holds you hostage with potential characters from Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies. I have moments that I nearly cry and think I’ve entered the Twilight Zone and time is moving five times slower. Sometimes three hours till Daddy gets home feels like when you tell a woman starting her third trimester that the baby will be here soon. It’s not soon. It’s forever.

Then other days, of course, I look at them and think no no no no. I look in their eyes and see men. They are wonders.



Before our trip to Alabama for my cousin’s funeral, we had all planned a family weekend away at a cabin for my mother-in-law’s birthday. Right as we were leaving, Jude hurled everywhere and immediately started crying. He knew he couldn’t go. I stayed behind with him, offering alone time with legos. I decided then to start writing my book, though I had begun my proposal earlier in the week.

My outline became clearer. I set up my desk. I prayed and offered the blank slate, and then I sat there and stared at a blank document.



And that blank document stayed good and white just about the entire weekend, but it was an amazing feeling to hear ideas gather up like clouds. I sorted notecards and did work in long-hand. I’ve never written a book before. I didn’t realize how sensory it would need to be for me, how it would be going back to the pen and lined spiral notebooks.

I was brainstorming memories of old friends at the exact moment one messaged me to tell me Jeremiah was gone.  After that I couldn’t write. I remembered the All Sons and Daughters concert and took Jude to that. He pretended to text someone the entire way there. I was deflated. He slept in my lap, and as they led worship, I soaked his button-up shirt in mascara. It’s one thing to sing praise in light of good, and it is entirely another thing to sing praise in the deep recognition of sin and death and pain, to say even still, He is good. It may have been one of the sweetest, most desperate worship times I’ve ever had.

Once in Alabama, my Mama, Daddy, and sis watched my boys every spare second they could, and I would slip into the bedroom. It couldn’t have happened any other way – not in any other place or time. My first chapter poured out, and I couldn’t move my fingers fast enough.

For such a time as this, I keep finding the alter. I keep saying to God over and over, “I’ve got nothing. I’ve got nothing. Only Jesus.” Maybe that’s a prayer I’ve prayed before, but right now I really feel like I mean it. I have nothing to offer. Only Jesus.

When I remember this, what I really have to offer, it takes the pressure off all the striving. Kingdom Come.

*UPDATE* Now listen. If I spell something wrong, you guys can tell me. I promise you that I looked up the word Alter. It looked wrong to me. And when I breezed through the definition, I thought I read “to lay prostrate,” so I was like, well okay, Webster. But now that my loving husband has pointed out this late in the day, I went back and read “to castrate or spay.” Go ahead. Y’all can laugh at me now. Like I said, I have nothing to offer. 🙂

About me


What’s Up: New Year and a New Plan
January 13, 2017
An Uncooked Story
January 10, 2016
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
Celebrating Wild in the Hollow
August 04, 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


Reply February 22, 2013

Celebrating that first chapter, and Titus is well news with you, today. Love you sister.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply February 22, 2013

And this is one of your gifts, Amber Haines. To pour out your heart before us so we might see the glory in it and worship.

Jen @ Martymom's Musings
Reply February 22, 2013

Amber, I just love your heart poured out here.

"It’s one thing to sing praise in light of good, and it is entirely another thing to sing praise in the deep recognition of sin and death and pain, to say even still, He is good. It may have been one of the sweetest, most desperate worship times I’ve ever had."

-oh yes, I get this. I've been reflecting on something similar as I approach 3 years since losing my baby girl in the 2nd trimester (after losing 2 babies before). Realizing from where I came, how He pulled me from that darkness and I can say still...He is good!


Reply February 22, 2013

With you and for you, Amber.

Reply February 22, 2013

:). Love you guys. And love that pic of Isaac and T.

Reply February 22, 2013

and it is when you find He Is all you have
that you finally know He Is all you need
beautiful outpouring Amber
praying here

Stephanie Precourt
Reply February 22, 2013

I want to inhale all of this. Beautiful.


Reply February 22, 2013

i just feel like i should get to hang out with you....

(and when my nephew died at the wrong age - 22 - i couldn't sing the songs for a long time. or lift a hand. or understand god at all....i'm really sorry your cousin died....)

Reply February 22, 2013

I am not sure I've ever been more excited for any book in the history of ever. Praying for you sister.

Reply February 22, 2013

I can totally relate to this post. The 4 boys....all of it & the beauty of broken worship. Losing my dad has been the most gut wrenching thing I have ever gone through but also so, so, beautiful because God's love is sweeter to me now than ever before. I never would have wanted for my daddy to die....I still cry almost every day when I am alone with my thoughts, but I love my Savior even more now and for that I am so very grateful.

Praying for your sweet boy.

Annie Barnett
Reply February 22, 2013

You've summed up years of my life in this one line: "It’s one thing to sing praise in light of good, and it is entirely another thing to sing praise in the deep recognition of sin and death and pain, to say even still, He is good." Tears, here. Every grateful for your words, Amber.

Sarah Bessey
Reply February 22, 2013

I've got your arms, we're praying you home. You be wise, we'll be cunning, nothing but love, remember.

Micha Boyett
Reply February 22, 2013

Amber, this is beautiful. Thank you. I will soak up anything you write in a book. There are so many of us cheering for you and that blank screen.

Reply February 22, 2013

I have been running to catch up with myself all week Amber, but I have been praying. Praying for all of you and praying for kingdom words.

Kristin Gray
Reply February 22, 2013

One wise friend told me this, "The One who hovers over creation lives inside of me. I need never say to the blank page, 'I've got nothing.'"

Let's meet for a Mama Carmen's writing date soon... (although my prose, if you can call it that, is more akin to Goonies than theology, grace washes over both, no?)


Tanya Marlow
Reply February 23, 2013

I am SO excited for you and this book.

(But not in a 'I'm expecting great things from you, so don't you screw it up!'- kinda way, but a 'this is exciting - this feels like the right time for you, and I love your words and pray that they flow and breathe life and passion into you in those little snatches of time that you get'-kinda way. Glad we got that straight).

I love the way you describe the writing process - the energy, the excitement, the stopping dead and scrabbling for words because you have nothing to say. It feels like life process too; you're in a flow with kids and writing and then suddenly boom: the stop, the search for and clinging to God. I love the way you scrabble for praise, digging out that glory in the muddy times. It lifts my hands in worship, too.

Reply February 23, 2013

Agreeing with Annie about these words of yours, "It’s one thing to sing praise in light of good, and it is entirely another thing to sing praise in the deep recognition of sin and death and pain, to say even still, He is good."

And somehow, there is a beautiful play on words for me here - altar, alter. God alters me when I am able to lay myself and desires and stubborn will and sin on His altar. He is breaking me and it hurts and I am trying to hold onto His goodness and believe He is bringing me through.

Jessica Y
Reply February 23, 2013

But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Reply February 23, 2013

I too have thought about writing a book since my husband died more than three years ago. I've written bits and pieces, but cannot seem to stay focused. So, keep inspired and keep inspiring me! I can't wait to read yours!!

Diana Trautwein
Reply February 23, 2013

Reading this just lights me up, all the way to my toes. Praying for your boy, and for you, too, Tiger Mama to Four Boys. Thank you for your honesty, thank you for your heart. This book is important and it will come when it is time for it to come. It is clearly time for it to begin - thanking God you got help at home and the writing flowed as it did. But see, Amber - it did that because you did the spade work first. You sat with a white screen, you scribbled by hand, you worried and prayed over Titus, you sat with a friend, you grieved your cousin, you worshipped for real, real, real. THAT's what fed the writing frenzy. May you be blessed with exactly the food you need exactly when you need it.

Reply February 23, 2013

I love this... and though I only have two boys (age 8 months and 23 months) I often feel that nothing feeling. Only Jesus. And lately in my writing the words haven't been coming, but I know they will. Thank you SO much for always sharing your heart.

Jennifer Dougan
Reply February 24, 2013


I've stopped by here off and on, and joined with you and Seth in prayer for your Titus this summer a lot. Glad to hear that he is doing better, but joining you in prayer this afternoon, asking for him to thrive and gain more weight. Sorry too for the loss of your friend's Jeremiah. I can picture that desperate worship...

May your words continue to flow on those white spiral-lined pages-- for our Abba's glory, friend!

Jennifer Dougan

Reply February 24, 2013

I've been debating if I should leave this comment...at 6 months my son stopped gaining weight. Lots of tests, no answers. After a year of this (failure to thrive at this point) his GI doc put him on scandishake. He started gaining immediately. He's now totally healthy, though still on the small side. Never figured out what was wrong. I haven't read all the posts about Titus, but just wanted to share on that far, far off chance it could help you. Your family is in my prayers

Reply March 5, 2013

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