Watch Me.


Last weekend I went to Allume, and I have so much to say about it. I loved that I finally got to be with some online friends, the ones who actually feel like childhood friends. I’m not sure I ever felt more like myself with a bunch of women. It wasn’t a cheesy conference, and it wasn’t shallow. It was a place of confession and prayer, of worship and of some of the best laughs I’ve had in a while. There’s more, but the thing I keep thinking about is how multi-generational it was and how it seems that every single woman over the age of 45 seemed to come to my side with a word of clarity and admonition about my writing. The most intense encouragement came from multiple older women there, and these women are ones I so highly esteem that I would consider not writing another word if they said I shouldn’t

But each encouraged me to go deeper. Keep laying it out. Keep telling my story that is so different and yet somehow so the same. These were the exact women that had to speak these things to me, and I took them seriously.

So I am home now, back in the whirlwind of mothering 4 boys at Halloween time, and I am facing something that I would like to never type. Never in all my days do I want to tell this story, but the truth is that the gospel is alive in me. My story (and yours, too) is one where an active gospel of Christ Jesus is at work, and so taking heed what the Spirit is saying to me, I will tell our current story to you here.

Before I begin, I call this an offering to God, to the God that whispers within you, and I can type this with boldness: watch me. God will prove Himself to you through me, just as He will prove Himself to me through you. Only let’s help each other watch. Let’s stop a minute and listen.

On Tuesday morning we woke early to get the boys ready for school and then to get Titus and me on the road for the 3.5 hour drive to Little Rock for his yearly MRI appointment. Titus has chiari malformation 1, which can affect his appetite and ability to gain weight if it worsens, so honestly we were hoping to blame his weight loss on the chiari, have a little brain surgery, bada bing, bada boom – healed.

Seth had already taken the boys to school. It had been a headless-chicken sort of morning, and well after the sun had risen, it was still dark outside. It looked like a giant was emptying a water tower over our house, buckets of rain sloshing down, so I grabbed the keys and ran out to the van to bring it a little closer to the garage. As I was pulling closer, I saw Titus in his little diaper, running out the door after me with sheer panic in his face. He stopped at the edge of the garage with his arms outstretched, and he was screaming and shaking in terror, “Mama! Mama!”

I knew right away that he thought I was leaving without him, so I slammed the van into park and ran through the rain, yelling “I will never leave you, Titus! I will never leave you!” I scooped him up and nearly stripped my own shirt off to have him closer. “I will never leave you. I will never leave you.” Down to a repeated whisper, rocking, “I will never leave you.”

And the sky could have split open and rolled out and down its own rocking arm. Christ had his lips at present with me. My soul was suddenly more real than garage. I heard the voice of God.


“Do you hear me? I will never leave you.”


Internal thunder.

I was holding a weeping, relieved baby who had gone limp in my arms, and I felt like going knee-to-concrete down, but we were running late, so I had to leave in a rainy hurry, knowing the God of the universe had just clearly spoken to me. Then of course I wanted to call about 12 people, but my cell phone wouldn’t work. Instead, I realized I had many messages. A few of them were from the Women’s Clinic, and they indicated that “they had to discuss some results with me.” It wasn’t cool, because, with no phone to make a call, I just had to sit on the news. I had to pray because I couldn’t call, but His truth continued to echo the calm, and it echoed straight into Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where two doctors walked in to meet Titus before he was put under.

Right away they noticed that his head has not developed properly. The MRI showed very little change from last year, so the chiari malformation is fine, but the MRI did confirm that he needs to see a craniofacial specialist. When they called to give me the results, they said something about how his head would not give room to the sides of his brain, so they suspect that his chiari is more likely to get worse with time. His face has remained that of a much smaller child while his head has grown in an unusual way. I don’t know what it means, and I’m not so sure they know either.

Nothing we learned seems to have anything to do with how he’s lost weight. Last week I did tell you here that he had gained the weight back, and I am still encouraged by that, but as of now, he’s back down. In any case, he isn’t growing. Our amazing pediatrician (and dear friend) has referred him to MAYO clinic now, so please do pray that they’ll see him and that the timing of that would be perfect. We’re hoping to find someone capable of seeing Titus as a whole child – not just as a digestive system, not just as a skull.

I have to say it like matters of fact, because I can’t take it, but I’m not sure I believe in matters of fact. Spirit is the realest part, and I don’t know how matter or time or space or brain or syndrome applies in the Spirit. I’m torn up, but I know for absolute certain that He will never leave me.

Watch me, I said. Watch me with a broken heart. Watch me come to know the Healer. Watch me take off my shoes. Watch me climb the mountain, unchanging love. Watch me. We’re running together, you and I. Cloud of witness, pick us up when we hit the side of the road. Name of Jesus on us all.

Thank you for praying for my baby.  Please pray, too, for our faith.

About me


Soul Practices: Part 2
January 25, 2017
What a Concussion Taught Me
March 25, 2016
When You’re Not a Precious Thing
February 03, 2016
A Haines Home Companion: On Joy and How We Love
April 11, 2014
What to do with Temptation
September 11, 2013
At the Crux
September 02, 2013
On Holding It In
April 09, 2013
Nameless Woman: An Abstraction on the Spirit
March 27, 2013
Guard What Has Been Entrusted
March 04, 2013


Reply October 31, 2013

Oh goodness my friend. Praying over here. God heals. I know He heals. I have to believe He will heal here.

Kristin Smith
Reply October 31, 2013

"I’m not sure I ever felt more like myself with a bunch of women." I could have written these exact words. It was an amazing experience and I am changed.

I am praying for you and believe that you will be a witness to God's glory in this. I am watching in anticipation and praying with you and for you along the way.

Reply October 31, 2013

Oh, Amber... tears here for all you are going through and for how God comforts. You are an encouragement in the midst of this awful trial, and I'm so grateful for that. Yes, keep writing your broken heart out, because we all need each other's broken stories to heal together in Christ. Father God, would you orchestrate all of this for Titus' good, for the Haines' good? Would you bring peace and healing, smart and caring doctors, and work out the details? Would you bring provision as they need it, both physically and spiritually? Yes, cover us in Jesus redemption, in His name.

If you end up at Mayo in Rochester, I know some MN girls who would love to bless you somehow. :)

    anna {}
    Reply October 31, 2013

    Yes, yes - what Amanda said. Our MN #inRL girls will gather round you and yours with hot coffee and prayers and whatever we can do to help.

    Praying, always praying. And a little embarrassed that I neglected to say hello at Allume, solely because I didn't want you to think I was a weirdo (you and I had dinner together with the (in)couragers team in Arkansas last summer) Here's the hug I would've given you had I been brave enough - ((((amber))))

      Lisa-Jo @lisajobaker
      Reply October 31, 2013

      Community is the strongest kind of Jesus I know. We are with you Amber.

        Jenny Perkins
        Reply October 31, 2013

        "Community is the strongest kind of Jesus I know." One of the wisest and truest things I've ever heard. Praying for you, Amber and Titus and your whole family. And praying that your community is Jesus to you every step of the way.

Elora Nicole
Reply October 31, 2013

You are known and held and loved. So thankful for you, Amber. These words shook me deep. Watching. Waiting. Praying. Believing.

Sarah Markley
Reply October 31, 2013

i love you my dear. praying for your sweet family.

Reply October 31, 2013

Also, can I say for you Biblical scholars in the room that yes, indeed we are to keep our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith. I'm saying watch me with the sense that Christ will come through for me, not "watch me" like I'm a rapper singing about all the benjamins I got. Does that make sense? Probably not.

Anyway, watch Jesus, and pray you see Him in me.

    Reply October 31, 2013

    you made sense :) don't fret!

      Reply October 31, 2013

      Yes. Complete and total sense to me. God will show His glory through you. Praying for you. For Titus. For your family.

Reply October 31, 2013

Praying, and here for you.

Reply October 31, 2013

I have to admit, I don't read every post you write simply because I chase two boys around (and you have four! Oh, I imagine your capacity changes with each one, right?)... but I DO always look for updates on Titus. I do. And I am praying. Even when I have no idea what words to say I know my soul is praying.

Yeah, "lets help each other watch."

robin dance
Reply October 31, 2013

Oh, I think we know what you meant by "watch me"...but I suppose you felt led to clarify for a reason :). Something generous about that.

If I could manufacture your life, it wouldn't involve stories like this; I'd protect you from them. And yet...


this IS your story and God has deemed you (and Seth and the boys) worthy to tell it. Titus is this smallish carrier of Grace and all of these hard things are Kingdom holders.

I love you and I'm praying, longing to be hands and feet (thankful for those who are). xo

Annie Barnett
Reply October 31, 2013

Oh, Amber. What a week you've come back to. Standing with you and praying for you - for faith and rest - and for Titus and his doctors and all. Lord, be near.

Reply October 31, 2013

Amber, praying for you guys and precious Titus. Keep writing!!!

Tanya Marlow
Reply October 31, 2013

Your writing touches me deeply - and I thank you so much for writing your precious realisation that God will never leave you, because that whole thing seemed to unleash something in me.

I am watching with you. I am being a witness. I'm praying something fierce for your gorgeous boy. Praying he gets a really good doctor. Praying God will hold you all.

Reply October 31, 2013

Thanks for sharing this, Amber. Praying for your little guy and all of you.

Lori Harris
Reply October 31, 2013

Oh wow, Amber. I don't know if I believe in matters of fact either- everything is all mixed up with soul and spirit and body and mind and above everything is the God of the universe holding all truth. So you are so right: We watch Christ in you working all this out for your good and His glory and we run alongside you, lifting you up.
Praying, praying, praying.

Rachel Franklin
Reply October 31, 2013

Amber, I am before His throne in prayer for you and yours. Praying for the protection of your dear spirit, too. Also, I love how you told us about God saying He'll never leave you. When I asked Jesus to rescue me when I was a young teen, I heard an audible voice say, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." He knew how I needed to hear.

I know a portion of what it is like to desire physical healing. May He teach us all to tell of hurt and hunger like a healing.

Jennie Walker Knoot
Reply October 31, 2013

All my prayers are for you and yours today. Thank you for sharing such a real faith in your heavenly father.

Kelley J Leigh
Reply October 31, 2013

Thank you for making the brave choice to speak from this hard and sacred place, Amber.
Expecting to see so much of God's relentless heart in new ways ...
With you.


Shara Aatsap
Reply October 31, 2013

Amber, I'm praying for you all, especially little Titus. When you know more about Mayo, please let me know how I can help. We are in Minneapolis and can do an airport pickup or whatever. Rochester isn't too far away.

Lindsey Nobles
Reply October 31, 2013

Love you. And while I can't offer up many platitudes there is comfort in knowing that 1. God knows. He knows you. He knows Titus. He knows all the doubts, the fears, the hope mingled up in there. 2. He isn't going to leave you. Good. Bad. Ugly. You are still swimming in his love & grace. And those 2 things my sweet friend...are SOME THING.

Reply October 31, 2013

Tears in my eyes as I read this. Praying for you, sister in Christ. Thank you for sharing your heart and story today.

Reply October 31, 2013

"I call this an offering to God, to the God that whispers within you"

There's something outrageously holy about today and your words carry that sense deeper into my soul. Thank you for sharing with us!

Reply October 31, 2013

This is really scary and I'm here. xoxo

Sarah Mae
Reply October 31, 2013

Watching with you. He's with you, and I'm watching.

Reply October 31, 2013

You say it so well!!! I'm not sure we got to officially meet, but I loved the prayer that you offered up at the end of Erika's was SO the right thing!
Praying for you and your boy and the days when the truth is almost intangible. I have those days too, which my son's special needs, and the weight of this world...and we will just keep offering prayers because it is the right thing and because in saying it out loud the truth becomes tangible. Watching. - miriam

Diana Trautwein
Reply October 31, 2013

You offered up the prayer for Erika's message? Well, of course you did. How perfect.

Oh, sweetheart. This is just hard and scary and awful. I am praying for you and your sweet boy and all the other boys, including the big one. May you abide in the peace of God's presence, remembering this story each step of this journey, no matter where it takes you. Praying specifically for the right doctor to see your boy, all of him. Thanks so much for keeping us updated. And just drink in these words from so many who love you all. Especially Lisa-Jo's succinct summary of so much important truth: "Community is the strongest kind of Jesus" any of us knows. Love to you all.

Reply November 1, 2013

Amber, thank you for your courage and your faith. Telling what happened on Tuesday morning brought me to tears, it's something we all need to hear. Mothers reminded that we are being taken care of while caring for everyone but ourselves. I'll be watching and praying for Titus and you, grateful for your very real, very touching grace-filled wisdom.

Shelly Miller
Reply November 1, 2013

I was reading this in my email and I got to "I heard the voice of God" and I had chills and I thought that was the end until I moved my cursor to leave you a comment and then I realized "oh, there's more" and I had chills a second time at the end. I'm standing with you Amber, in prayer and lots of love for you and your sweet family. Sending a hug, can you feel it?

Robin Troxell
Reply November 1, 2013

praying - I can't even put into words what I am thinking right now but suffice it to say your family is on my heart frequently and I LOVE every time I see your name in my inbox and I pray for Titus to get an accurate diagnosis, treatment and healing.

Reply November 1, 2013

Oh, how I wanted to reach over and hug you at Allume, but, sadly, I felt the little girl again and was shy. I am praying sister. Yes, I am watching. I am watching Him and you in Him and it is glorious.

Heidi McCahan
Reply November 1, 2013

Oh, Amber. Thank you for sharing a portion of your very real story with us. I'm so sorry for all that is happening with Titus right now. I am watching. May the God of all comfort continue to draw you near.

Reply November 1, 2013


Reply November 1, 2013

I am sitting here in tears. As a mama of boys, Titus bears heavy on my heart and when I saw your lovely face at Allume, for some reason his loomed large in my mind too. I will be a part of this family that prays you through this, Amber. He will never leave. No. Never.

Reply November 1, 2013

ms. amber, i don't "know" you or your family.... but i love you. and your family. praying for all of you.

    Reply November 2, 2013

    This is the sweetest thing to me, melissa, that you don't know me but you love me. Well, I'm a mess, but I believe you. Thank you.

Rachel Collier
Reply November 1, 2013

You're family is being lifted up by many prayers. Praying for peace for your family, wisdom for the doctors, and healing for Titus.

Reply November 1, 2013

My goodness, Amber. I'm with tears in my eyes and a thick throat praying for you and yours, ready to testify with you about God's glory through you. So honored to be one of the Church with you. Peace, peace, peace, sister.

Donna C
Reply November 1, 2013

Oh Amber-girl, you are just... you burn so bright that you hurt my eyes.
Praying... for Titus, for you and for your 4 other boys.

Kristen@Chasing Blue Skies
Reply November 2, 2013

Oh, my mama heart swells and hurts for all you're going through, Amber. Just love you so much, and holding you and yours tightly through prayer always.

Marian Vischer
Reply November 2, 2013

Amber, it was a privilege to meet you briefly at Allume. It was such a rich conference in so many ways. Praying today for you. For Titus. For all that is heavy in your spirit. Yes, name of Jesus on us all.

Reply November 2, 2013

I've been there.
Praying for you, your family, for Titus.

cynthia Lau
Reply November 3, 2013

I am praying for your family, and that your baby will be healed. I recently told someone, "this is not the live I thought I was going to live!", and that person said, "But its the one you got, so you got to live it!". I remember that moment took my breath. But the more I thought about it, I know it is true. I'm praying for you and your situation. Waiting to hear good news.

Margaret Feinberg
Reply November 15, 2013

Praying for your sweet Titus. Lifting you and your hubby up today. You are loved. You are prayed for.

alina y
Reply November 16, 2013

Praying for your sweet little boy Titus. praying for strong faith and courage for your family. Blessings, lots of blessing upon your family. Tears are falling and my heart achs for your little baby.

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