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. I love this. Everything about how we plan and yet God has better plans we didn’t foresee. I love that you are raising your kids in your Grandma’s home and love how you wrote of those little mommy moments. I love that your post is making me think about my dreams for the next year and how we may set some goals, but keeping in mind the Lord’s will always.

    • So many times, Jackie, I’m just floating through. God is so merciful to remind me to crave Him. I’ve been thinking a lot bout chasing dreams. What does that even mean, you know?

  2. Yes, you write very eloquently, from an honest place. A timely article for me to read. Sometimes I think our journey is as much about others as it is about ourselves. Appreciate what you have shared with us, giving me a needed boost this last morning of the old year.

    • I love thinking about how God’s original design was a whole completed beautiful thing, how he’ll restore the whole one day – not just me.

      Thanks for reading here today, Paula!

  3. oh amber, you make me laugh and read aloud to my husband so he can chuckle. and you help me see that i don’t have to carry the burden of a plan or of plans gone awry. thank you. and for how long will seth be away?

      • it’s tough when they are gone. my husband travels for wycliffe bible translators, but my kids are older, so it’s more of a lonliness for me. not lonliness plus the insanity of four young boys….so wish i could come hold that baby!

  4. Planning was what I did best! Or so I thought…I’ve learned over the years that planning has really just gotten me in trouble in my mind. God has THE plan not me. That was hard to accept, still is at times. I’ve also learned its okay for me to ‘dream’ about things but I can’t fixate on them as a ‘plan’ for me if that makes sense. I can dream about it but I have to leave it in God’s hands to formulate into a plan if its going to become my reality. I can’t make it happen. I’m okay with that right now.

    My dream for 2012 is to meet a man who makes my life even more enjoyable. I want to be in a long term, committed, loving, respectful relationship with a godly man. I have someone in mind that I would love for that to be with but God gently reminds me, no, its not him. At least not right now, could that change? Maybe if God says so! But he is a wonderful friend.

    My dream for 2010 and 2011 never came to fruition. God has a reason. I wanted so despirately to sell my condo and move me and my kids closer to our church and into a house, in a neighborhood, with a yard, etc. etc. etc. The economy didn’t help matters much and we only had 4 people look in a matter of about 8 months. Its been off the market one year now and I am okay with being here without all those things I wanted. I pray the market will turn around someday soon and I will be able to eventually sell. I really would love to be in ahouse again so I can have a yard and a neighborhood.

    2012 will be a great year because I am going into it without an agenda! I’m just going to see what each day holds!

    • Lisa,

      Praying that God will bring a wonderful, Christian man into your life this year. Praying also that your condo can sell & you can get that house for your kids!

      May God bless you and give you an awesome 2012!

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Lisa. I keep learning so much about waiting. Sheesh, it’s not easy. I agree with Beth’s prayer for you here. But in the meantime, I pray that it ain’t so mean, that you’ll overflow with gratitude and be blessed in how you minister now.

  5. You expressed so honestly the whole “we plan, God laughs” idea. I like thinking of God slapping His knee in laughter at our antics. At least we continue to provide Him with worthy material!! 🙂
    I too have experienced this. I say that God is pretty sneaky…He allows us to follow the desires of our hearts–the best that we know them, then takes us into His plan. Case in point…I always had a passion for infants. Had never birthed one, chose not to, never desired to birth my own–really. (long story, for another day). So, I got my foster license, believing I was going to be the “in between” person from the hospital to the adoptive parents for many infants. Yes, tough on the heart, but a calling I felt I was designed for. Have the babies for three weeks, pray over them, nurture them, and then send them off much more spiritually healthy to their famailies.

    Well, like I said, God had other plans. He got me into place by becoming a foster mom. THEN he placed Martel, a five month old weighing less than 8 pounds, who had been so neglected and starved that our pediatrician later told me she didn’t know if we could save him.

    That summer I held him almost constantly (he came to us on the last day of my school year–I was teaching second grade). Let me drastically shorten the story–at age 50 I adopted him AND another little girl. Whew, it has been pretty rough, but here I am looking 60 in the face, the kids are 11 and 12, and I am still going strong. It has totally changed who I am and my vision for the future. Only way I can describe it is “The Great Adventure of Life”. Never know what’s around the corner.

    • AMAZING! This blows my mind.

      Seth and I were actually in the process of entering the foster care system when we got pregnant this last time. We just knew we’d be foster parents! Ha!

      I love that you shared here. Thank you so much.

  6. Sorry, forgot to proof-read. I never finished my sentence…God placed Martel in our family as a foster child. I’m sure you figured that out, but can’t stand unfinished business. lol

  7. So powerful Amber & so real. Thank you for this refreshing, Godly take on the year behind and the year ahead and who is truly paving the paths.

  8. Amber, I love your word songs. And your questions – I so appreciate your questions. One of my hopes this year is to be more comfortable sitting with the questions, the I-don’t-knows with a heart of faith and joy.

  9. Absolutely beautifully written and perfectly timed for me. Thank you so much! I pray we all find much joy and peace as we travel through this next year trusting that we are exactly where we should be. I pray to see clearly if He chooses a new path….whether for a day or a season. Just let me walk in His will with joy.

    Blessings from TN,
    Fran

  10. Amber, we too experienced similar feelings. Doing the things we felt God wanted, then having nothing work out, at least not in our definitions of working out. I’ve been so frustrated and confused, wondering if we heard Him wrong or had a misstep along the way. I still don’t understand. But honestly, just hearing that you’ve been in the same place brings comfort. Love you guys!

    • For some reason when I read this on my phone this morning, it made me cry. I love knowing that you’re right down the road – like some of our best friends that we don’t get to see (like at all, but whatever).

      Thank you for this.

  11. So beautiful – – the post above and the faith and love it expresses. I can feel that sunlight pouring in.

    My dream for 2012 is to just go slow. To allow my hopes to be bigger than my to-do list. To allow my plans to be thwarted and my days to make little sense to those looking in from the outside.

    Here’s to all that He will do in 2012 – in spite of us and our plans. Happy New Year to you and those sweet boys.

  12. Again, I am reminded that God’s plan for my life is so much better than mine. Thank you for reminding me that even through all the arguments of six children and the broken things God is still God and the work that we are doing is important. We are mothers and wives on the front lines and often we don’t see the rewards, but every so often we are remined that we serve God by loving and taking care of our family.

    • Beth, yes, His plan is better. I think I’m finding though that I don;t have to strive and strive to know what His plan is. I want to just rest and do what the next thing is.

      Thank you for this comment.

  13. I love the not having a plan at all. Open hands, open heart, no preconceived ideas about how God will work it all out. Just patient, thankful for every day loving Him is what I want for 2012. Blessings to you as you set up a new home, build new community, take care of all those boys while he is away. (I’ve done that too, only Rwanda!) Just love your voice Amber.

  14. Something similar happened to our family last year. We were headed back to the mission field after a time of rest and were planning towards a year that would be new and fresh and different and yet the same. God shook us up with the changes He brought and so this year as I head into 2012 I feel much more like you. I love what you said “I only know that God is with us”. It seems to me that I need to just hang on for dear live to truths like that and not worry about what God’s plan might be or was, but instead hang onto him in the moment and really listen to what he wants for me now. SOO hard to do but I guess my dream for this year is that I will do that. Listen to his voice and hang on to him! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you, Fiona. Actually that’s what I want to be. Sometimes I fear that what I write makes me sound more together than I am. Goodness knows. Sometimes God makes me open by mercifully letting what I think SHOULD happen Not happen.

  15. Wonderfully touching. Honest. Inspiring. Authentic. Loved it first thing this morning.
    God bless you and yours in the new year.

  16. Thank for reminding me that He is always in control and He has a plan. It is refreshing to know that I am not the only one who thinks I have the plan for my life. I am learning to live day-by-day and listen to Him through it all. He is faithful.
    Happy New Year!!

  17. As always, I love your words, your honesty, Amber. It makes me happy to think of you settling in a home with such deep roots. What a gift that is in and of itself.

    And, yes, maybe the only thing we can count on is that our plans can never really be counted on . . . true.

    Happy New Year to you guys!

  18. It is quite amazing how God’s plans always seem to be better than ours, huh? Blessings to you through Christ this new year!

    Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

  19. Thanks Amber. We had a year where our plans failed non-stop and at the end of this year we know one thing: God knows best, ALWAYS. He is completely in control.
    Strongs and thanks for your encouragement. He is our strength and we have energy only for one day.
    God bless.

  20. Amber, thanks for your vulnerability. Yes, God often has plans that are not ours. I love the verse you chose and it is one of my favorite of all time. We have had disappointments, victories and slumps in life but through it all we can see God. If not in the moment, certainly in the reflection.

    I am new to incourage and look forward to being a part of this in 2012.

    Happy New Year!

    Lu

  21. Yes, He knows the plans He has for us. How much better are His plans than ours! I had to get over myself many times this past year. I’m hoping to keep in focus that God is the one who is in control despite my plans. Happy new Year.

  22. “I’m trying not to have a plan…” is so where I am right now.

    Love this tender post Amber. Love how grace turns us upside down and right side up at the same time.

    Have a blessed 2012.

  23. Thanks for being so open & honest. The reminder that He is constantly in control and knows much better than we simple humans what is best for us.

    I’m praying for another good year with my hubby, getting the house fixed up, being better Christians and perhaps, is He wills it, a new job for me!

    Thank you and God Bless your family!

  24. Amber, this was so beautifully written. Wow. Thank you for this treasure, this realization of God’s grace in your family’s journey. What wonderful things He is doing in and through you… Praying His blessings for you all in the coming year.

  25. WOW. This truly has my name written all over it. What an inspiring article to read on the last day of the year. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I am trying to not have a plan , emphises on “trying”. Would love to say I LOVE not being in control but I don’t…my flesh struggles against it till I get so tired….THEN I FINALLY GIVE UP and for a while walk in the freedom of giving up..knowning in my fraility I will try to take over again and…..well so glad He is a God of patience, mercy, understanding, love, patience, longsuffering, did I mention PATIENCE.

    Encouraging post Amber…Happy New Year

  27. Our life looks a lot like yours, we are positioning ourselves for a major u-turn this year, out of ministry and into the real world. One that only God know. And the most encouraging thing we have been told is that it doesn’t take God by surprise. Your post has encouraged me to know I”m not alone. Thank you.

  28. Wow! This is ministering to me on many levels, but also showing me I’m not alone in the dream for Africa. While in college I felt God placed a dream in my heart to go there. I married a man who shared the same desire to serve the Lord in the same capacity. We’ve been married for 8 yrs. this past Nov and we’ve only been to Africa once.

    I had become so discouraged in the timing of it all that I literally told God- I’m not going. And have often concluded I’m not there yet because I’m not good enough. Then I went to Relevant. My heart was changed. I was broken again. Now I walk around with a blank piece of paper in my pocket and leaving it open for Him to write the plan down and reveal it when it’s time.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  29. I have four boys too! I love control. I love to plan. I am in a country now where that is harder. I too am trying to let go, and yield to the ultimate Planner.
    Blessings to you.

  30. 2011 taught me this too. after adopting our 5th child, i woke on an april morning to the words breast cancer. how could this be part of God’s perfect plan for my family of seven? had He zapped the wrong woman? wasn’t that kind of diagnosis for something with more margin and less laundry? but for the remainder of 2011 God showed how grace and goodness and mingle with something so grief bringing…so life changing. i can’t help but see this new year with new eyes. and even with new hope.
    http://www.eventhesparrow843.blogspot.com/

    • Hi Jody!
      My mom was diagnosed with cancer last year. When a lump was found under her armpit the initial thoughts were breast cancer, but after the test results came in the final diagnosis was Non Hodgkin Lymphoma.

      I wrote a few posts about her going through chemo and miraculously found a friend who is a survivor of the same cancer my mom had. My friend even gave a guest post about a pivotal moment during the time she was going through chemo.

      I would love love love for you to come by my blog and take a look. I know you’ll be encouraged. God is bigger than this moment in your life. I look forward for you to have a wonderful testimony through this!!! Blessings and big hugs!!

  31. 2011 taught me this too. after adopting our 5th child, i woke on an april morning to the words breast cancer. how could this be part of God’s perfect plan for my family of seven? had He zapped the wrong woman? wasn’t that kind of diagnosis for something with more margin and less laundry? but for the remainder of 2011 God showed how grace and goodness and mingle with something so grief bringing…so life changing. i can’t help but see this new year with new eyes. and even with new hope.

  32. I really hope 2012 is the year more people turn to God and see His Grace everywhere. My wife and I are thankful we read 1000 Gifts as it really opened our eyes.

  33. Thanks for the testimony! Lovely words of the impression He is making on your heart, your day…

    Seems only God knows what will really happen…everyone’s plans change – and change US – draw us closer to Him. I think sometimes it’s the journey, the choices we want to make, and in reality He’s more interested in our willing hearts and our attitudes when He changes those paths….will we still.step.one.foot.in.front.of.the.other….following Him with reckless abandon? Consume me Lord! I will follow!!

  34. Is it wrong that I’m thinkin’ John Lennon as I read this post??

    “Life is what happens while we’re busy makin’ other plans…”

    ?

    This piece was a treat to read, I could hear you speaking these words. Gritty pearls, all of it.

    xo

  35. Amber, I needed this perspective of yours today. Thank you so much for sharing….

    “Broken dreams are always building blocks for new dreams . . . I only know that God is with us, and it’s never what we think, and that things will fall apart, and that even then, especially then, it’s ok.”

    These words are life and breath to me as we close a hard year, yet stand with hope – here at the brink of 2012. Thank you and may your transition, building blocks and new dreams be more amazing and God-ridden that you’d ever imagined!!!!
    ~Audra

  36. Thanks for this honest and wonderful post! As I’ve heard some others say here, my plan for 2012 is to have no plan. I DO have an agenda of living the most authentic life possible, and plan to get to know God better.

    I figure He and I are on the same page on that one.

  37. A knee-slapper – that about says it all. Thanks for this, Amber – and I’m so glad you’re back in the rock house. Prayers for Seth (and for you and the quartet) as he travels. Looking forward to reading all about it when he gets back. And would love to have glimpses of what it’s like for you to single parent for a bit – wowza, that’s a full plate.

  38. Amen to that….Sister! Thank God for Sisters being real and telling it straight. Our plans are not our own….we do not own them, but God owns us!! It’s a safe place to be. 🙂

  39. Beautiful post, Amber. I smile when I read about your boys rolling around on the floor and the bloody noses! It brings back memories of when my three boys were little.
    “God’s grace can wreck what it is we think we’re doing here. Over and over again in 2011, I had a plan. And my plan always, mercifully, seemed a knee-slapper to God.” I’ve experienced this so much as well this year–God’s plan always surpasses mine. Maybe I should ask Him before I develop mine!

  40. This heals my soul in the very deep places I haven’t allowed healing. We had a failed adoption 2 summers ago (we had the baby in our home for 3 months.) It’s only now, with these truths (and this scripture) that God has shown me that He is with me and always has been.

    I may reference your words here in a blog post (I promise to link back). But, if I’m not brave enough to write that post, I will forever hold these words in my heart.

    Thank you for your faithfulness.

  41. thank you for this post — i’ve read it over and over. my husband and i have moved cross-country twice in two years, trying to follow God’s plan rather than our own, away from family and friends. my dream for this year is to find community, to not feel displaced, to see a glimmer of His plans at work in our lives.