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. Amber, you’re so right. We don’t just know Jesus because we go to church or because we study Him. We know Him through the experiences He allows in our life. Those powerful places where He longs for us to know His peace. Praying you that peace, friend. That richness of peace that only He can give.

  2. I am continuing to learn over & over that My friendship with Jesus can be enough <3 Faith is tattooed on my wrist as a reminder to:
    F-antastic
    A-dventure
    I-n
    T-rusting
    H-im
    Simply Living By Faith,
    Stacey :o]

  3. This is where I am today; where we are, my husband and I. Lots of talking to Jesus in the deep-unto-deep places, lots of storms raging yet our boat can be calm. We are learning that through these tempests that seem to come one right after the other, that Jesus is in our boat. That even though it’s tough right now, we are definitely not alone. Heavens no. And whatever He’s doing, it’s for reasons and purposes that couldn’t be accomplished if He didn’t do this with us for a season.

    Here’s the good news; He’s not on land wishing us well. He’s at the helm steering our craft through the ominous waves. And for this I am eternally grateful.

  4. When I first moved to Dallas, a hot holy mess, I moved for a church, because I heard that it was a place that welcomed hot holy messes. The first words I heard from the front, and heard them every week for a year, “We’re okay if you’re not okay,” resonated and set something free inside of me.

    I listened to those words every day, said them to myself until I was really okay to not be okay.

    And then I started listening to the rest of the sentence, “…but we’re not okay if you stay that way.” And soon, slowly but surely, I began to see the light of God through the hot mess, the faithfulness to His name, the goodness of His character.

    Those words set people free. Thanks for writing them.

  5. Sitting in my boat in that river, praying for you over here. Your words lead to place of seeing beauty in all the places of life. Him standing on shore and smiling over all of it.

  6. It’s okay not to be okay, I really needed to hear that today-thank you. Sometimes things are just out of our control no matter how hard we try or if we do all the right things. I pray for you and your baby, leaving you both in God’s safe hands. God Bless.

  7. I love this post – just what I needed for this week!! My question is why is it so difficult for others to acknowledge/validate my “not ok” moments? I feel like a bad Christian, wife, mom, friend, etc. when I’m falling down the cliff in search of river of peace. And I feel like everyone else just stands at the top of the cliff shouting encouragements such as, “Just trust God; you need more faith; things aren’t that bad; can’t you be more cheerful?”

    • My husband and I have been talking a lot about exactly what you just said. Sometimes faith is in the waiting, in not feeling it, and in losing it because you know you can’t do it. I’m there right now.

  8. beautiful…when nothing else can hold us except Jesus… when there is no light in the darkness but His…there is where He does become our very best Friend. I continue to pray for you and your family…blessings as you continue to find rest in your Best Friends arms.

  9. “Often we say that we wouldn’t survive if _________ happened. I’m learning that we can give the Holy Spirit more credit than that. Often we like to think we know how we would act in a given situation, but the truth is that we don’t. News that your baby is cratering can give you the feeling that all is at storm, but your boat is calm.”

    My brother was killed in a car accident when I was fifteen. Everyone asked, how are you making it through? EVERYONE asked my momma everything. And this past weekend I attended the funeral of a three year old. And his momma was praising God for letting her have that baby. And I remember saying, “I can’t even imagine…” My family survived that and STILL. I can’t even imagine. You’re right- we can give the Holy Spirit more credit than that.

    Praying for your little guy and your spirit and your clan.

  10. thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been sitting here bawling my eyes out in my ‘not okayness’. I’m certain that God is at work though. I turned on my computer to just ‘get it all out’ (I think I see a blog post forming). I need to look up some bible passages and so I’m on the internet. I see your post. I am encouraged. Bless you!

  11. “We sit outside of time with Him a little, and I look at my babies and our generational struggles, and I know we are overcomers in a troubled world. That’s why it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. His peace river is trenched low-down deep, and we dredge there in sorrow. That’s where we find that Jesus is the very best friend.”

    For the suffering of this time, while very small and swift, prepares us great glory without limits for the eternity of eternities. (2 Cor 4:17) Your troubles loom large and long within the confines of our time and space continuum, yet you are willing to step outside the limits of this human existence to sit with Christ on the edge of eternity in the river of His blood. You’ve grasped what many theologians and great thinkers have failed to…how suffering pairs us indelibly with Christ, how we forevermore walk shoulder-to-shoulder with Him under the weight of the Cross yet with the lift of Grace freeing us from gravity’s stanchions.

    How beloved it is to trod the road of suffering with people like you, with eyes to see and ears to hear, and a voice to proclaim! Preach it, sister.

  12. Sometimes the life-of-more is born from long-suffering the lesser-life.
    I sit in Denver Children’s Hospital and wait thru yet another round of tests & appts for my firstborn son. Years of praying for healing. Years of hope, and heartbreak. So many surgeries, so much suffering. And yet…he is, as HE is…all glory.
    Strength, endurance, faith, hope, gratitude, courage. Now a lanky, driving, blogging, running, miracle of a man-boy.
    Ongoing trials that ever-shine God’s glory within him.
    I wouldn’t wish it on any parent. Oh, but I wouldn’t trade it either.

    (Amber if you wanna read a bit of our boy’s story – and hopefully find some hope, empathy, & encouragement – http://freeagentmommy.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-caleb-miracle-part-one.html)

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Amber, esp. about focusing on the unseen. I’ve prayed about that recently, so hard to do for us mortals but truly as you put it, the Place of Peace with Jesus.

    Our son was born with cancer that was discovered when he was 6 months old. My refuge became John 9 where Jesus’ disciples asked him regarding the man born blind, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” and Jesus responded, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” That became my prayer even as I struggled to accept God’s will for our son. He’s now 25.

    That will be my prayer for your precious son as well.

  14. Your journey supports your claims with such poignant power…thank you, Amber, for turning the key, opening the door, and inviting us into your heart. When we step inside, you let us see Who is on the throne.

  15. I think we can so easily underestimate the power of ourselves and the Holy Spirit when we say, “I couldn’t cope with….” or “I can’t cope now with…” and we cut ourselves and the Spirit short…which then makes it hard to access the Spirit to have peace to be in that space. We then actually can’t cope…when we have expectations of doing it in a certain way or not at all…it’s so incredible that this is our problem, but NOT God’s problem…He doesn’t need us to cope in a certain way, or even at all…merely to rest in his comfort and strength…and then we can sit in the pain for just this minute, and then the next, and the next…because of Him.

  16. Thank you for sharing the impossible reality of peace amid the storm. In my own life, I keep trying to pin down with words the depth of grace I experience as I walk through our own trials. No, things are not ok, the creation groans but the reality of Him, His impossible love is more than enough. It is a paradox. Thank you for putting into words my experience.

  17. I was really worried that our dr would give our son that label. While he was a slow gainer (and still is) he is extremely healthy and overly active. Turns out our peds office was using the incorrect chart so all of their encouragement to “feed him more” was actually incorrect. Do the drs have any idea what is happening? I know you posted there are a number of allergy issues at play. I am guessing you need prayers in the drs direction that they find the wisdom and knowledge to determine what is going on with Titus.

  18. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the reminder that Jesus already has won the victory and we can rest in Him. I also love your point about not underestimating the Holy Spirit. I’ve often thought if something seriously happened to my son, I’d lose it, so this was a much needed light-bulb moment!

  19. I’ve been there- in that situation I said I couldn’t -and would’t- recover from or survive.

    I’m still here. Different and changed, but the holy spirit does quicken and strengthen us when we don’t see how it could be possible. You have to keep living your new life- this one you thought you’d never have. And it can be good too.

  20. ” And yet, peace like a river. I do have that peace like a river.”

    “I’m learning that we can give the Holy Spirit more credit than that.”

    Yes. Simply beautiful. Brings tears because this reminds me that I have a blessed assurance that all is well because He has the whole world in his hands.

  21. Amber,

    Praying for your son and family. May God’s grace & mercy surround during this trial!

    I, too, believe that if we just let Jesus do His work in us through the Holy Spirit we could endure anything this old world has to give! Through Christ we are more than conquerors!

  22. What is it with okay? Why does anyone ever think that they ARE okay? We’re all ‘hot messes’ as Lore so beautifully put it up above. I think maybe the truest salvation comes when we acknowledge that and learn more and more about leaning into that river of peace despite our oh-so-not-okay-ness. Thank you, Amber, for modeling that so beautifully for all of us. It IS okay not to be okay – why else would be need our Savior? Life is filled with mystery – some of it beautiful, some of it horrific. Just admitting that much can start us on the road toward the river. Praying you feel that current carrying you through whatever comes, sweetheart.

  23. “Often we say that we wouldn’t survive if _________ happened. I’m learning that we can give the Holy Spirit more credit than that.”

    Yes. Yes and yes. We landed smack in the middle of that blank when our first born nearly drowned at 15 and lay in a coma in ICU. The doctors said, “no hope,” and the ground beneath our feet crumbled, but grace met us there. God and His mysterious, indescribable grace met us there. And, like you, I learned through that long valley of lost dreams that the reason we think we won’t survive tragedy is because we can’t imagine grace into it. Grace defies imagination.

    You are tasting grace, and that is actually much, much better than simply being “okay.” May the Lord hold your Titus, and may you know with unshakable certainty that not one word He has spoken concerning your precious child will fail, but all will be brought to pass. Peace to you and your sweet family. Grace and peace that pass understanding.

  24. That you noticed the little blue flowers He bloomed and ate the fruit He provided shows your recognition and acceptance of the beauty in the troubled world.

    Continued prayers.

    Blessings.