A Haines Home Companion: On Joy and How We Love



When I was very small, Saturday mornings were the only mornings we had Daddy at home that we weren’t rushing about in the before-church fits. My little sister, brothers, and I would wake as early as possible with our tangled hair and find Mama and Daddy’s bed. We would crawl in between them where it was warm in body heat and heavy blanket. They smiled up at the four of us crawling in, even though my Daddy worked like a mule and needed the rest. We called it “cartoon day,” because young’ns, Saturdays used to be the only day you could watch awesome things like Smurfs, Snorks, and Land of the Lost. A mother and father holding their babies with their sleepy eyes and hot breaths, there is no purer of a thing.

Our boys love to sleep in our bed. I let them in as much as possible, even if it’s for naps or for a smoother transition into their own beds. One night Ian and Titus went to sleep holding hands.


This is a photo proving that Seth is the best dad and husband on the planet. Here he’s washing dishes while Titus clings to him with an unusual grip. Some days, Titus just won’t let go.

Here they are as super heroes.


Here’s Isaac teaching Titus how to shoot a basket.

I don’t have any recent photos of Jude because the boy just doesn’t sit still long enough. He’s my one who is the very most like me. We fight the most. We dance the most. We’re the ones who feel the most. When I get him alone, we have what I call campfire conversations. He’s so good at them.

On our way to the grocery store the other day, he asked me why he doesn’t feel joy. Ha, I thought. I wonder the same thing sometimes. So between home and Walmart, we prayed together and asked the Spirit to speak to him about what has taken the place of his joy. We talked about what it means to “hear God.” We talked about that still place, the place where either peace or unrest can swell up inside you. You’ll hear Him speak to you as a thought in the still place, in the quiet. You’ll run that thought across what you know to be true of God.

So we were quiet and it only took a moment. I won’t tell you what He said, but God spoke to my Jude. I am learning that He is speaking a great deal more than we are listening.

IMG_3620Here’s the one extremely random recent photo I have of Ian, and it’s from a terrible angle. He’s the funniest human ever born. He really wanted a photo of himself with the American flag while on a bathroom stop at McDonalds on our way to Alabama.

Speaking of bathroom stops,  I acquired a new story on our way there that involves me laughing so hard that I was on my hand and knees in a public restroom. To preserve the threadbare dignity of all involved, you’ll need to ask me about it when I see you next, and then if you tell anybody, I’ll cut you.

I got to go home to write during Spring Break, and I know I haven’t told y’all about what I’m writing yet, but I will in a few weeks. My sister watched the boys while I holed up in her attic. After she worked her tail off on my behalf, we finally got away together, just the two of us. We shopped and ate frozen yogurt, and when I said goodbye, we cried so hard and did one of those hugs that reminded us both of our Aunt Josie. I ache over my entire body with missing. The older I get, the worse I am about it. We only got one photo of ourselves, and this is it.


I leave tomorrow for Haiti. I asked Isaac what he knew of Haiti, and he really knew nothing. I mentioned the bad earthquake, and he immediately responded with “why would God ever do something like that?”

I’ll share my response and our conversation from the ground there, from that island where I hope to see the tangible goodness of God in the land of living. We were so glad that Ike felt the freedom to doubt with us, to speak his question.

What we believe about God has a way about it. It either reaches down into deep roots of bitterness during hard circumstance, or it produces fruits so good that it nourishes even in absolute worst conditions. Ask me how I know. Ask me about holding my limp baby in the hospital. Ask me why my heart feels broken into two solid pieces right now. There are things I’ll never type.

Taken by the amazing Scott Wade - it's mind-blowing, huh?

Taken by the amazing Scott Wade – it’s mind-blowing, huh?

Photo Cred: Scott Wade

I’ll tell you what I do have going for me, and sometimes I wonder if you have it, too. I wonder why we connect here, you know? I wonder if you love people how I do. Now I’m not saying it’s easier on me to love my enemies. I’m saying that I am in love with perfect strangers. I am in love with subcultures and anyone different. Somehow that’s what makes me feel connected. I wonder if we have our own special, good way of not fitting – together. This makes me excited and also a tad desperate for you.

PRAY: So would you pray for me while I’m flying to Miami and then on to Haiti? You know how goobery emotional I am. Pray I’ll be tender without falling apart. Pray for my words. Pray I brim with joy.

GET A BAG: Also, I love the thought of a bunch of us from all over creation putting paper bags behind our bedroom doors so we can start chunking some things in it. Maybe ask your friends to do it? Let’s do a big yard sale together. You don’t need a plan, just a bag.

SHARE: If you feel at all inclined, when I post here it would be an honor if you would claim me in public and share the work I see. It may be my greatest honor to be a voice connecting you with real flesh and blood Mystery Stewards there in Haiti.



Facebook is a good place to spread the word, too.

Here’s the Amber C Haines page. 


If you’d like, here’s a little button code, too. <a href=”http://helponenow.org/haiti-stories/”><img alt=”1200×1200-a” src=”https://amberchaines.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/1200×1200-a-600×600.jpg” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>

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
Anger Exchange: a Giveaway of an Original Painting from Haiti
November 18, 2014
When a Mother Sways into Ferrier Village
April 25, 2014
The Birthing Place of Beauty
April 21, 2014
A Haines Home Companion: Back to the Grind
April 18, 2014
For the Dreamers of Drouin
April 15, 2014
For Us to be One
April 13, 2014


Lori Harris
Reply April 11, 2014

I so love it when you write like this.
And I mostly love that you used the word young'uns.

    Reply April 11, 2014

    Lori, you get me. It sure is relieving. :)

kim whitaker
Reply April 11, 2014

Again, I am blown away by your beautiful words...actually God's words thru you:) Blessings on your trip. I will be here in prayer for you. Maybe we can do a bag for the cause:)

    Reply April 11, 2014

    That would be amazing, Kim. Thank you!

Brandee Shafer
Reply April 11, 2014

I will be praying for your time in Haiti. I will be praying for Seth and the boys while you're gone. I will be praying for the Lord to continue to send helpers. Helpers make every difference. I will also be praying for all the things you cannot write, or cannot write, yet. I have these things, too, and sometimes I think it's as hard not to write them than it is to have them. They press against the breastbone.

    Reply April 11, 2014

    These are perfect prayers, and yes, pressing against the breastbone is exactly what it is. Thank you, Brandee.

Reply April 11, 2014

Dear Amber,

Something seemed to change in your writing - perhaps in you too? - in the last months. Change from very readable to even more readable. Something seemed to change in your husband's writing too. Maybe you don't feel this - and maybe it's me who changed as a reader?! But maybe also, it's that as you both grow more confident in what you know and realise also what you don't know at all, that you become even more real? It's wonderful, whatever it is. And I'm so enjoying being a tiny part of your journey, by listening along the way.

I'm sure that your trip will make you smile and cry, and will above all be rich.

Ali in the Alps, wishing you every good thing.

    Reply April 11, 2014

    Alison, maybe you're right. I didn't know my writing had changed, but I do know that we have. It actually has a lot to do with how I answer Isaac's question up there. I bet that's the next thing I blog about.

    Thank you for encouraging me, all the way up there in the Alps. :)

Kristin Potler
Reply April 11, 2014

Oh sweet friend! Praying for your heart to be open to all the He will show you so you can bring those nuggets back to plant in the hearts of your boys.

Reply April 11, 2014

Godspeed. And God keep all your dear ones. Drink deep and guard your heart, but let it go all the way down to the bottom, too. xo

lisha epperson
Reply April 11, 2014

Oh the things we'll never type. I feel the beautiful gravity of that line. Praying as you take flight...ever and always under His wings. Safe travels Amber.

Kathy Schwanke
Reply April 11, 2014

I'm kind of speechless because you have me all choked up.

You write from a deep place. I recognize it from the depths of my own heart in a few posts. Particularly the one love letter to my son just before his wedding. From the well of love and the necessary hurt a heart carries for it on this dusty earth.

The splintery cross: suffering beautiful love. The heart of the Father. Have a blessed trip. Saying a prayer now.

I hope to see your posts while you are away.

Diana Trautwein
Reply April 11, 2014

My bag will be white plastic with a big ole drawstring, if that's okay. I keep one going almost all the time and will put it out next Tuesday for a local thrift shop that supports several different outreach ministries to disabled adults. I love this post a whole lot and am praying for all of you as you fly, as you enter the pain and beauty of Haiti, as you re-enter home. Your emotions are bound to overwhelm you, Amber. That's who you are - and it's okay. All will be well. God will work in the midst of all of it.

Sarah Bessey
Reply April 12, 2014

Love you and can't wait to see you.

Anna Rendell
Reply April 12, 2014

Amber, I've followed your journey for a long time. I was too shy to tell you when we met at the DaySpring dinner last summer, but THIS summer, when I see you in July, I'd very much like to give you a big hug (I'm certain that giving good hugs is one of my spiritual gifts) and hear the bathroom story. =) Thank you for welcoming us into your story.

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