A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept


Yesterday I posted this to Facebook: “This mothering of 4 small boys is no freaking joke. I am a hard core mutha. I drive a mini-van, and I can only do about 5 pushups, but I promise that I could walk into the scariest place you can think of right now, and I wouldn’t blink an eye. ‪#‎IMayHavePTSDinaFewYears‬ but probably I’ll just be able to run the world.”

If I told you what happened right before I wrote that post, you would see stars. Imagine that it involved the interruption of that tiny moment of silence right before a shower, when you’re standing there naked, and then someone comes in screaming, and then you don’t know how to cover yourself because your brain went to mush, and then you grabbed a towel and hardly wrapped it round. Then you started running and when you saw all the blood, you decided to run to the back of the house again, but then when you did, you realized there had been no reason for leaving the scene of the crime. You were literally just running around like a useless, headless, naked chicken. That’s the only part I’m going to let you imagine to preserve dignity, not my own, obviously.

I keep jars of dignity all over my house. As kids get older, you get better and better at preserving things, lest you damage the truth of what they think of themselves and lest you lose your ever loving ability to put on a robe or conversate with other humans.IMG_3108

The stage we’re in seems critical. The older they get, the more weight our words have and the more crushed or made they can be by a facial expression. They already look so different from the school pictures taken a few months ago. Also, Ian’s spelling and handwriting will never say “pgwnz” again.


He had a kindergarten program a few weeks ago, and I remember my own kindergarten program vividly, and now in a flash, I’m 34. When I feel time moving crazy like this, I get extra emotional. Before the school’s talent show began the other day, the song You’re Amazing came on, and over half the kids started singing together and swaying back and forth. It was all I could do to not stand there and weep. They were so precious. Then Jude did all his karate moves on the stage all by himself, and people clapped, but all he heard were the few boos from bullies. I went from “so-precious face” to “beastly, fanged mother growl.”

This ole blog isn’t a big thing, and neither am I, but some of you have stuck with me. Many of you know stories of my girlhood and how homesick I stay. Many of you have prayed for our Titus, and please keep praying because he isn’t well. I think he’ll be getting that feeding tube again. Many of your children know Titus’ name because they have prayed, too. It’s a big deal. You’ve read my words and have encouraged me in ways that are very real. Sometimes words are just words. Sometimes they are Spirit.

I’m taking the Summer off this ole blog, because Summer Break is here, and I think I might blink and it will be over. But listen. I have something to tell you, because most of you have been with me for a while and have prayed.


I have been writing that book I said I would. 🙂 I signed with Revell back in February, and I love that team. They feel close and real to me. They make me feel small in the right way that I am. To have my name on a big document like that is rattling, but Seth keeps me on task in about a trillion ways. My manuscript is due August 15th, and I have loved the process of writing a book. I don’t know how many times I’ve been writing at my desk and then suddenly I pause to gulp big and think how grateful I am to do the little-girl thing I always wanted to do.

Gratitude brings glory to anything, but besides that, it’s a whole bunch of lonely grinding. There are entire days that feel wasted. One chapter took 5 weeks to write, and then I wrote two chapters in three days. It’s a freaky spirit thing with tiny spurts of one word in front of the other. It’s the feeling of lost and then a whoosh rushing out thousands of words.

It’s thinking your chapter is complete and then having a dream or going back to read it to find that it makes a whole different kind of sense than you meant for it to make.


I’m learning a lot about space and intimacy with the Spirit and discipline. I’ve learned that it’s expensive to drink coffee to pay for a spot to write. It’s less expensive to rent a little shared space in town. So that’s what I did. I call it “A Room of Her Own,” and the only things I hear in that room are my own coffee pot, a train whistle, and a music studio. Once in a while, a little girl may sing karaoke, and every smack bit of that makes me happy.


This summer I’ll be writing a book that I love, and that’s my job now after keeping my eyes on the boys so that they don’t make each other bleed too much. I love the title of my book, and I can’t wait to tell you everything. I love looking back through my blog here to help me remember fuzzy details. I have been through my archives and cried and felt such gratitude toward Jesus and toward you.

During this summer blog-break, I’ll be living such fodder. My Haines Home Companions will no longer be on the blog but will only come once a month to you friends who sign up. It feels more like a letter to those who really want to know about our real lives. I’m excited to write there about my writing process as well.

Sign up and you’ll be first to hear about my book and about our real, regular lives. 

The Monthly Story-Letter

Now in the meantime, I invite you to link-up to any Marriage Letters you write this summer and also to any posts you write considering a Revolution in the American Church. That’s a big deal to me, and I want others coming here to keep thoughts whirling on it all. Please link below.

[inlinkz_linkup id=413623 mode=1]

Y’all come back here to check on the conversation. Hopefully it won’t be like when you go to Buzzfeed to check out the Top Ten Cat Mustaches of 2014, and then you get sucked into reading about Swinging Hollywood Chimpanzees or How to Erase Who You Really Are To Be a Better Beyonce. If you start to accidentally read dumb stuff, then come back here and click around, and let me also suggest to you

Seth HainesJohn Blase, Tsh Oxenreider, or Tonia Peckover. You won’t go wrong with these writers.

If you’re looking for a book idea, let me suggest

Nonfiction: Bonnie Gray’s Finding Spiritual Whitespace


Marva Dawn’s Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God

Fiction: Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings

May your summer never once involve a naked chicken run! May your children’s bleeding be minimal,

and may you sign up for my newsletter. 

About me


Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
On Broken Parts in Regular Towns: Alabama, Arkansas, and Haiti
April 03, 2014
On Losing Place
September 05, 2013
How the Light Peeks Through
August 26, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: A Little Eden
March 13, 2013
A Haines Home Companion: Alter
February 22, 2013
Back Around Again
February 13, 2013


Reply June 6, 2014

Dear Amber, who I now see is actually Mary,

1. "pgwnz" is a word that should never die, so terribly efficient. Love it.
2. I love that you took a small room for writing. As a freelance management consultant, and writer, I end up paying coffees for writing space. You've inspired change.
3. Wishing you a particularly gorgeous summer - looking forward to your written loveliness when Fall falls.

All the best from my alps to your prairies,

    Reply June 6, 2014

    Oh I love how bests can come from the Alps! Thank you, Alison.

Amy Smith
Reply June 6, 2014

Made my heart come up in my throat a little bit to see that name, Mary, the name of your grandmothers. You honor them with every word you share. The fact that you can do it gracefully in the midst of "life" is the legacy that weaves generations. I love you.

    Reply June 6, 2014

    You made me cry, Amy.

    Well, and I know that doesn't surprise you. :)

Reply June 6, 2014

"May your childrens' bleeding be minimal" - best sentence ever.

Can't wait to read your book - write on.

Kristen@Chasing Blue Skies
Reply June 6, 2014

Amber! What a golden post. The boys, the bleeding, the uneven ebb and flow of writing a book. Ya, I get it.

I knew this day was going to come, and I'm just so happy for you. . . and folks like me who get to hold your book in our hands. Big congrats and so much love. xo

Robin Dance
Reply June 6, 2014

I'm afraid all mamas have done some version of the Naked Chicken Dance; praise God the Littles don't first think to grab a cell phone to video it and upload such indignity for God and all of You Tube to see. Wouldn't THAT be the most awful thing to go viral, almost guaranteed??

This might well be the fastest two months you've ever seen fly by, but at the end of it all, there will be a wander of words, a wonder of words...the bulk of your book. Your BOOK, Amber! Finally! This dream holdable in your hands! I'm so happy for you, eager for you, and interested in next things.

Praying over you and that Room of Your own, that it may receive and give at His will. xo

Reply June 6, 2014

I think you should be writing a book. Good!

Reply June 6, 2014

Shared an old post of mine that I thought of when I read the Revolution series. It was good for me to go back and re-read!

Reply June 6, 2014

So much love. Especially the bloody naked part. ;) Just kidding. Especially the BOOK part and the Virginia Woolf part! I am so inspired!

Tanya marlow
Reply June 6, 2014

Woo hoooooooo!!!
An Amber-book! I am dancing-round-the-room-excited.
Go write, write, write, and I shall be praying for you as you do.
Seriously awesome news. I cannot wait to get my hands on that book!

Donna C
Reply June 6, 2014

That is so awesome! Fantastic news about the book, and have a great summer. :)

Reply June 6, 2014

I'm excited for you Amber - and eager to read your words and your heart. I'm writing too (nothing deep - just a mystery story), and I know that struggle and joy. I am way far behind you so i'm looking to you to encourage me along :) I'm signing up, praying for Titus and for words - spirit-filled words.
Have a joyful summer.

Jessica Hoover
Reply June 6, 2014

Oh, this is exciting...so very exciting. I'm taking a break too to write- not a book...yet. But a break to breathe and write and so I'm gonna pray you through while you do the same.

Reply June 9, 2014

I just started reading your blog and found myself enjoying your words. Enjoy your summer of writing and your beautiful family. Summer is meant for family time with a little writing thrown in for good measure. I just started this blogging thing (just switched to Wordpress, so very minimal) but your voice has given me inspiration and ideas. Thanks!

Jamie S. Harper
Reply June 10, 2014

Thrilled to see you are writing a book and I can't wait to hear about all the details!

Mark Allman
Reply June 11, 2014

I wish you well on your book. I know if my friend Tanya is excited about your book then I should be as well. :) Enjoy your summer. Caring for your family trumps dignity every time.

Dawn Camp
Reply June 11, 2014

So happy for you, us, and Revell! :) I was Facebook sharer number 316, which oddly enough is my lucky number. Can't wait to hug your neck next month.

Reply June 13, 2014

Yeah! Book!

Emily Wierenga
Reply June 20, 2014

WOW!!! Yay! So excited to read your beautiful book Amber... congratulations sister.

Reply July 2, 2014

I have been reading your posts for months-not sure if I have ever commented. I am thrilled that you are writing a book! Your words are grace to me. You're one of my favorite writers on the internets, and I cannot wait to hear more. Thank you for speaking life, and also challenge. I'll pray for your writing time, and the balance with family. (I have three small girls, so it's a different kind of crazy over here. But chicken dances are the universal mother experience, apparently.) Blessings to you.

Richard and Mike
Reply July 17, 2014

Hello, Amber! Mike Morrell and I really appreciate your blog, and think you'd be an excellent candidate for our Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it's free to join. Sign up here, if you'd like: http://thespeakeasy.info

Reply July 30, 2014

Great! a book!
I really enjoy every post from you, keep writing.

Faith R
Reply September 12, 2014

So I just thought I'd comment to say I am praying for you - in your "Room of One's Own" (I just checked that book out from the library this week!!) and know you will be a blessing to many.

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