About the Author

Amber C Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow, has 4 sons, a guitar-playing husband, theRunaMuck, and rare friends. She loves the funky, the narrative, and the dirty South. She finds community among the broken and wants to know your story. Amber is curator with her husband Seth Haines of Mother...

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  1. This is what I am yearning for right now: The secret to our stayed love is our littleness, watching God bring His swooping wing low – how exponentially magnified He becomes if we acknowledge our humble position.
    Pray for me?

  2. finding it again and again – the god love for each other, the liking – that’s marriage. and it’s beautiful. like your emerald. i love your honesty and your sentences.

    • Thanks, Kendal. : )

      I feel like Seth and I have been through several turbulent events, mostly through things we couldn’t control. I was telling a girlfriend last night that we wouldn’t be who we are without them. It’s almost cliche to say.

  3. Thank you for sharing so sincerely. For allowing this taboo subject to be discussed in a public forum.
    Why do women have affairs?
    It seems to me that it is a heart issue. A void that we long to fill. Perhaps every woman has this void – we just fill it with different things. I’ve heard it spoken of as the hole that only God can fill. Anything else is idolatry.
    I would like to understand. I would like to bring myself and other women to healing, to wholeness in God, and to help restore marriages. It’s a calling that I am sensing, and blindly stumbling towards. Prayers and suggestions are welcome.

    • For us, Dawn, we have seen a direct correlation in how we’ve treated our marriage to how how we treat and love the church and her relationship with Christ.

      Unforgiveness in our hearts at all becomes a rift. Pride is a rift.

      Many women come to marriage with unforgivenesses they don’t even know they bare. Unforgiveness makes the hole gape wide open!

      That’s all I know to say because I’m surely not an expert.

      • Can you expound more on this: “we have seen a direct correlation in how we’ve treated our marriage to how how we treat and love the church and her relationship with Christ” It intriques me but I can’t quite put my finger on it…I think there might be a key here for my understanding some struggles.

        Came here via AHoly Experience…
        Thanks.

        • Melody, here’s a little more of our story. My husband is an attorney now, but when we first married, he was a youth minister/ worship leader. We moved to be ministers, and the church where we moved hurt us so very deeply.

          We didn’t even realize how deep the wounds. We simply moved off, started law school, and began to self sooth both in different ways.

          We began to see the church as something we weren’t a part of. Our sin multiplied by the minute when we let such a root of bitterness grow in us.

          As we finally unpacked our sin and searched the roots to dig them out, we saw how connected it all was to our pride against the church. We’d taken on the same sins we were claiming the church had committed against us.

          As Christ began to help me see how He sees me, again, we were able to see how He also sees the church. I can’t get away from the story of Hosea here.

          Thanks for asking. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense.

          • dear amber,

            i didn’t even realize that i needed to read these words in your above comment until i was done reading. my husband and i just moved away from our small, christian, college town in a whirlwind of hurry and hurt.

            hurt deeply by those at the college and at our church.

            and these words of yours are what caught me:

            “We didn’t even realize how deep the wounds. We simply moved off…and began to self sooth both in different ways.

            We began to see the church as something we weren’t a part of. Our sin multiplied by the minute when we let such a root of bitterness grow in us.

            As we finally unpacked our sin and searched the roots to dig them out, we saw how connected it all was to our pride against the church. We’d taken on the same sins we were claiming the church had committed against us.”

            and i feel His gentle warning…encouraging me to not branch off from my husband, to not self-sooth, to not allow the root of bitterness to grow in my heart, because then i will just be putting on myself what i am accusing the church of committing.

            thank you so much for writing that out.

            in His love,
            kimberley

  4. Faith as a mustard seed moving mountains. Love as a little emerald lasting a lifetime. Funny how the small grows into the big when we’re not looking, not holding it too tight. I needed to remember this today. Love you, beautiful friend.

  5. We gave up BIG to be closer together and to raise our family. God kept telling me to let it go and we did. Our family couldn’t be happier. Nobody said I would last in the middle of the woods. 10 years later, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

    Thanks for sharing your story. We’ve been around that mountain too.

    • It’s harder than I thought it would be at the time we made the commitment, and obviously, we fall short.

      My friendship circle has grown very very small, but in that, Seth and I have grown together. It’s wonderful.

      But still hard.

  6. Thanks, Amber. I think the little actually is the Big. Beautiful post.

    Our 20 year marriage has seen some pretty tough stuff. I never imagined in my wildest thoughts some of the types of tears we would shed. I’ve come to believe the journey is the beauty–not just the end result. But the beauty is full of pain sometimes; and the starting again and again, the effort to keep listening, communicating, understanding and liking–that is where God meets us and smiles.

    In several ways we are in a tough season right now. Again. Not our toughest by a long shot, but one that makes misunderstanding and foolish assumptions easy. And the enemy wants to destroy. He isn’t winning and won’t win though. I am, again, driven to my knees–and to God’s arms. I’m glad to be there.

    • Once, I had two miscarriages back to back. It was awful. We hurt so badly, but God was so very near. I didn’t want that nearness to ever go away. I wouldn’t have traded that time with the LORD for Anything, not even losing my babies – though I wouldn’t have chosen it on the front end.

      It’s the same with marriage, I think.

  7. This is what I hear at the end of this post: “Little ones to Him belong…”

    I think there must be peace inside the small things.

  8. Thanks for being so honest & real!

    Forgiveness is very important to a lasting marriage. You will find that small can be wonderful. I love my house in the country in a small town & attending a small church.

    Small is the best for being able to hear & enjoy God!

  9. Such transparency. What a beautiful story. Truly. What a courageous woman. What a courageous husband. I will always think of your story of love and mistakes and forgiveness and hope every time I see an emerald from no until forever.

  10. Thank you so much Amber for sharing that part of your life, so painful, but so freeing to be able to share it all. I too had an affair and it did not turn out like everyone expected with reconciliation. I am just reaching a point of accepting God’s grace in my life and going though the process of seeking forgiveness from all of those that I hurt. I am a flawed and forgiven woman and I cling to that. I married again and am starting over from ground zero. It is not easy, but God is in the center of my life more now than he ever was in my 42 years on this planet. I am healing and it is only because of His mercy and grace and love. It is possible to still be effective for the Kingdom. Thank you for being authentic.

    • Tawni, THANK YOU for sharing this. I know that every story doesn’t end how ours did, and the truth is that our story hasn’t ended. That was just an episode.

      It is possible to still be effective. Sometimes the train wrecks in life are what make us effective.

      • Thank you for that affirmation Amber. I have truly seen how God can turn something horrific into something glorious for Him. He doesn’t want me to live in my pain and regrets. My sin does not define me. And it really has been only recently that I’ve been able to say that and believe it! I don’t know where I’d be without the redeeming love of Jesus.

  11. We must tell our hurts, our shortcomings, our failures because they point to an all-consuming Grace from an unconditional Lover of Souls. Anything less than the truth will steal His glory and make us out to be liars.

    Thank you for being a truth-speaker today as always. And not in false humility but as one who has seen God’s redemptive goodness in the daily small things. You make me remember that love is worth fighting for, worth dying to self, worth all of me. How easily I pull back in my unforgiveness, for shame.

  12. Beautiful.

    My husband and I have had our share of forgiveness-giving. Mainly to one another. And it’s been hard, and ugly, and a process. But it’s been so good. So humbling. And dare I say, worth it? It’s almost like if you don’t have an opportunity to be forgiven by someone and if you don’t have the opportunity to forgive someone else – in big ways – you’re kinda missing out. Sounds weird, but it ‘s true.

    Awesome post. Totally awesome.

    Blessings,
    Kate 🙂

    • Kate, this is exactly it to me! I totally agree. I remember wondering if I had even loved in the first place after we had both experienced the giving and receiving of forgiveness.

      Thank you for saying it.

  13. Wow! What a brave girl you are–and a blessing to those struggling the same strain. I have friends that were ousted from their churches and faith groups because they were honest and seeking compassion and guidance. I’m glad to see there is enough grace between you and your husband to pull through that tough experience and left you brave enough to help others.

    • Tee, we’re humbled by a humble church. The body that surrounds us is broken, and that makes all the difference.

      Praise God for His people, the ones who can truly speak on behalf of redemption and reconciliation.

  14. It took such courage to write this post. If ever a person were to be critical of the circumstances you’ve shared – ever – simply know that they have never been tested as you have. You are spot-on when you say that forgiveness is at the crux of the issues we face. Thank you for ‘stooping to the lowest place’ in a Mother Theresa fashion and allowing us to see into your life and your heart. Your transparency is as beautiful as your emerald. What promise and destiny are ahead for Baby 4, born for ‘such a time as this’.

    Samantha

    • Samantha, that made me cry. There were only a few that didn’t stand behind our coming out with our story, and it still hurts, but I know what you’re saying is true.

      Since we decided to share, I’ve learned that there are many many many couples who have struggled this way – some who made it, some who didn’t. There’s a lot of healing out there to be found.

  15. Amen – it’s only when we see that we are NOTHINGS IN THE UNIVERSE that we can see with the better eyes that tell us we are EVERYTHING to the creator of the universe.

    God Bless you and Seth and your babies and your marriage. The necklace is an amazing reminder. A simple piece that speaks a world’s worth of message.

    Thank you for this Amber

    #writertribe

    God Bless and Keep You
    and Yours

  16. This is really powerful–thanks so much for sharing your heart. Praying blessings on your marriage and family!

  17. I know this is a girly place and all, but I thought I’d sneak in to say that I like you a lot and the way you share story is a gift.

    I love you.

  18. The raw, reality of your story is indeed beauty. I brought a large duffel bag filled with unforgiveness (of myself) to marriage. Several years later, and although not directly related to our wedding vows, my festering unforgiveness nearly undid us. Thankfully we found Christ, learned of His redemption, and I traded my duffel bag for His love. It was a grande trade.

    Blessings.

  19. I loved how carefully you shared your story, always focusing on forgiveness and grace….never glorifying the sin. Thanks for letting light shine into your darkness and giving courage to others.

    We have been married almost 25 years and it takes work and attention every day. (Some days we have done better than others!) We tell our boys that marriage is the hardest AND most rewarding relationship on this earth.

    Praying for you tonight!

  20. An emptier, fuller life.
    A smaller, bigger vision.
    A quieter, surer voice.

    I love you with all my busted up heart, Amber Haines….

    All’s grace,
    Ann

  21. Amber –
    I, too, am from rural Alabama. But more importantly, I, too, am walking this road. My husband also gave me a necklace – a small cross with a small heart in the middle of the two intersecting lines. It came with a note saying Jesus loves me and forgives me and that he still loves me and forgives me. Thank you for being willing to open your heart to give hope to those of us who found themselves in the same situation. You are a blessing.
    Heather

    • Heather, I’m telling you, there are a LOT of us. I’ve been floored by the response.

      After sharing online over a year ago, the leaders of our church asked us to share to our local body, and when we did, women came out of the woodwork. It was beautiful, like we all got to take this collective sigh of relief together and then sing Glory to God.

      • ….all got to take this collective sigh of relief together and then sing Glory to God.

        Yes, this!

        Glory to God for his mercy and grace!
        Glory to God for his miraculous way of turning ashes to something beautiful!
        GLORY TO GOD!

  22. It is almost 4 years (on Valentine’s Day) since I discovered the affair. Although I never want to go back and pain still lingers and can become fresh if I let the enemy in….
    I am in awe of the WE that WE have become again. For the little that makes my love for him big. That keeps forgiving and asking for forgiveness. For keeping my heart stitched to his and..as the song says…
    ” We went dancing in the minefields
    We went sailing in the storm
    And it was harder than we dreamed
    But I believe that’s what the promise is for”
    Thanks for sharing.

  23. Thank you for the beautiful reminder that the meek will inherit the kingdom. Small is so good, yet so easy to forget in this world of oversized allure and promises.

  24. Thank you Amber. Our pastor preached a message about insignificance and the story of the mustard seed on Sunday – small things. How God uses small things and people in His plan. I love Him for that. As he said, the world admires mega-things, money, cars, houses, etc., but God uses the humble and the meek. Otherwise we would take the glory for ourselves. So we can be the seed planter – never to be seen or noticed by the world, but He sees, He loves, He forgives, He hold us close and wipes our tears. I love Him so much.

  25. Amber, I must hug you. Now. Before I came to Christ, last November, I sinned in my marriage. I had an affair. We did not have sex, but we might as well have. I was all messed up in the head. My husband is the best man in my world and I couldn’t understand why I was seeking this “something” out in someone else. It gives me more relief than you can imagine to read your blog entry about having the affair and the forgiveness. BECAUSE i had the affair and my Christian husband felt desperate enough to ask me to pray for us… BECAUSE of that… it all clicked. It’s like the Holy Spirit came down to this New Age Hippie Chick and filled her up with all things Godly. I’ve been going to church, listening to Christian radio, reading Christian books, the Bible, making Christian friends, starting a fledgling Christian blog, LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE all because of that. I’m going to keep reading your blog. The Lord blessed me tonight with going to the incourage website and reading your entry. If I have more questions, may I ask you? I’d like to “come out” one day in my writing about my faith.
    Best to you and your family,
    Lisa

    • Oh my gracious, Yes, Lisa! I love this comment. Thank you.

      The LORD did the same for me in my salvation, too. I wasn’t even asking for it, but He took over at my very lowest.

      Go figure. His using people like me is a wonder, only a testament to grace, and He never stops teaching me about grace.

  26. Amber ,

    I saw an emerald sky today.

    I don’t know why life unravels the way it does. But I stay on my knees.
    Sometimes I get knocked back down there, sometimes I choose willingly.

    love to you.

  27. Thank you for sharing this powerful testimony. God’s grace truly is amazing and I rejoice in how He has restored your life and marriage!

  28. I read your words earlier tonight and they blessed me. The words on your post are just beautiful and I pray for your strength to tell your story. May your marriage and family be your continued blessing as you follow God!

    Thank you!

  29. Thank you so much for your strength to share your story. I, too, am struggling with problems in my marriage and there are times I just want to give up. I know that God has a perfect plan for my life, and if only my husband would come to him, it would be so much easier. Please pray that I make the right decisions in the future, not only for myself, but for him as well.

    • Janet, I am praying now for you both.

      Have you ever heard of something like “listening prayer”? It’s when you come to the Lord not to rattle off a list of requests, but to clear your mind and ask Him to speak to you. Obviously, His speaking will line up with the truth in the Bible.

      I’ve found that He has revealed so much of His love, beauty, and glory in my simply being quiet, and He has also revealed my sin or actions I need to take to love more like He loves.

      He has good for you, your best in mind.