Gems For The Journey {Book Club}

We are reading chapters 9-12 in Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines.

Maybe it was just me, but I wanted to lay down at the end of today’s section. All that longing for community. All the effort to adopt and then scandals and confusion. All that desire. All those hours spent in hospitals trying to figure out what was wrong with Titus.

I was tired.

But I was also fed. Amber had woven in with gems for the journey:

  • “This is all kooky talk, but I look at it now and recognize the winds of the Holy Spirit speaking to me.” I’ve spoken kooky talk myself and I recognize the Spirit too.
  • “This community was something new to me, like church without production, and it was all a part of being small, my being the one in the room with the least amount of wisdom.” The longing for community without production resonates deeply with me.
  • “In my desire for a daughter and in my desire to change the world, I refused to listen to Seth or the Spirit.” I imagine this is more universal than we realize . . . refusing to listen in the face of our desire. The dance between desire and motive is often done so far below the surface it can be tricky to know their relationship.
  • “We, in the Rock House with our beautiful boys, hit a heart-broken and only low, and that was not the kind of small we were looking for.” This is one word brought to life, isn’t it? We might think we know what a word may mean, but then it does in a different direction and don’t respond to, “Come back here right now!” What journey is your word taking you on?
  • “We had gathered a group who lived in close proximity to failure, last breaths, mental illnesses, warring children, and addiction.” I’m not sure why, but the line about living in close proximity to failure made me think of us and this calling of bringing good news into dark corners. We, too, live in proximity to failure. This comforts me and I’m not sure why.
  • “We were in the rare phase of learning how to be both common and uncommon.” I love this!
  • “Maybe that’s exactly what you are supposed to do—let yourself break.” How does this idea free you and scare you at the same time?
  • “I talked to God. I said words like ‘glory.’ I said words like ‘trust.’ I said, ‘No matter what,’ but I find’ know what I meant.” I think we can relate.
  • “This is what I know of desire. Desire affects the whole person, mind, body, and soul. Desire is a drive. It is a hunger that opens its mouth. It is a dissatisfaction, a longing, a wintered beast of prey.” This is one of the most stunningly written bull eyes to my heart.
  • “I planned and spent our money as if I were buying sanity.” Really, there was so much in this section I could have copied the whole paragraph. Seth used alcohol to escape (she called it “a process of un-recovery” for them both. What a description!), Amber shopping. What have you used as a process of un-recovery?
  • “All my desire had wished it so, but the names, the metaphors given that point to God, were lackluster, never what I desired because (I see it now) the thing itself, the metaphor, is not God.” Yes. Just yes.

Today I was working on a post and wanted to link my friend Lynn’s blog and when I went to check I had the address right, I saw a post entitled The Anger Scared MeLynn wrote it not too long after the movie Inside Out was released and in it she shared a short video she recorded for the counseling group she and her husband used in recovery. She shares her experience with anger in the video below:

(If you’re reading this in an email, click here to watch the video.)

When Lynn describes hauling her anger up and over the mountain, it made me think of this section. I also had the strongest sense I was to share it. So, I have no doubt that God had me see this this week for you, who ever watches this video and knows it was for you. Kooky talk, I say :). But you get it. The Spirit blows the whole world over and it blows for us too.

What stood out to you? If you can believe it, though I have loved this whole book, my favorite section is yet to come! Until the comments and next week :),


We finish Wild in the Hollow next week. February will be YA and a children’s book. We’ll read The Witch of Blackbird Pond only $6.99 on kindle or here’s a free PDF. The last week of February we got a treat with a children’s book and author! Lots to look forward to in our current book and future ones to come :). I love book club.

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 


  1. Jenny January 18, 2016

    I got this book last week and am jumping in late.  There is so much good and healing in this book.  In this section i was filled with the hope and satisfaction of community and heartbroken as it was snatched away or faded out of the picture.

    These lines really resonated with me “I had believed through the pain for so many others, but i hadn’t believed for myself…it had meant long-suffering with hope for others but despair for me.”   This was true for me in a very dark time, and can still be true for me some days.

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2016

      Jenny, glad it’s worked out for you to jump in and join us! Yay! I had similar feelings as they found and lost community several times.

  2. Keri January 18, 2016

    One of the parts of this section that has spoken to me over and over is at the end of Chapter 12 where she talks about sorrow and suffering with Christ.  “Sorrow is the very place that hope and joy intermingle, because without sorrow, there is no whisper of hope.”  I could quote until the end of the chapter but you get the idea.  As Amy mentioned in her post, this resembles the movie Inside Out.  The intermingling of colors and emotions and the combination is what brings us healing and Joy.  Lynn was afraid of Anger and sometimes I am afraid of sadness, especially if it leads to despair, but if I let the sadness in it can intermingle and create hope.  Praise to the father for making us such dichotomous and intricate beings.

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2016

      Keri, it would be interesting to hear from everyone which of the five main emotions shared in Inside Out people are afraid of. Today I was in a team meeting and one person said, “I don’t want to complain” and went on to minimize her frustration. I said, “I think frustration is a completely reasonable response to this situation! And fake happiness because that’s what ‘good Christians do’ would be the out-of-sync response to this messy reality.

      1. Keri January 20, 2016

        Authenticity.  Why are believers afraid of being Authentic?  If our hearts are right with the spirit within us, we need to honor the spirits work and do what he is calling us to do.  Excellent point Amy.


    2. Anna January 20, 2016

      The part you quoted jumped out at me, too.  I remember reading the last book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (probably in high school) & there was a section that talked about joy and sorrow mingled together that I read & reread & reread.

      So often in my life, the times which are sorrowful are mingled with that joy, and the closeness of God is felt so much more intensely and sweetly.  Maybe it’s because that’s when my heart cries out to God, and I am more open to the closeness.

      1. Keri January 20, 2016

        Yes!  There is such sweetness with the Father during those seasons.  This was a good reminder to me to not miss the sweetness…


  3. Kiera January 19, 2016

    What stuck out to me most after hearing this section was Amber talking about desire. She wrote so much in this section about desire and linked it to earlier parts of desire in her story that it made me pause and ask myself, “what do I desire?” and  “are those godly desires?” I don’t know that it’s always possible to see it in the moment. Sometimes, I think, that like Amber our desires for something good – a daughter – might later be revealed to be desire for more than just that – ex. completeness in our family through our own efforts, but it might only be possible to see this later. However, I think that keeping this question of what do I desire and is it godly in the forefront of our minds is a wise thing.

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2016

      Kiera, I wonder what a week with the theme of “desire” would look like :). I agree, I liked the way that Amber came at it from different angles and kept rooting us in Jesus. I also agree that sometimes in the moment we may not know what we really desire . . . and we need time to sort things out 🙂

  4. Elizabeth January 19, 2016

    One of my favorite lines from the book was “What do I want? Desire always points to the kingdom I serve.” Can be a very haunting and convicting idea, but also a great compass. What do I want, really, and whom am I serving? Was just reading in Luke 12 this morning to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need,” which is followed here by the extremely comforting, “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

    My other favorite line was “The prophets always hear God whispering, ‘Come back to me.’ The prophets work out of a deep sense of belovedness.” That may be in next week’s reading — I had just written those two phrases down in a notebook as some of the most impactful (though I underlined a TON too, entire chapters towards the end). Incidentally I had also written down the questions about “Will I break? Can I contain this kind of pain? Do I even have a choice?”

    I love her thing about metaphors. Metaphors point to God, but they are not God. Reminds me of Walter Brueggemann (who incidentally is all about the prophets) when he says the more metaphors for God, the better, because every metaphor is incomplete, and can only take us so far. So we need lots of them to point us to God. And of course the Bible is full of metaphors, Jesus’ teaching especially so. I love the metaphors, they help in understanding who God is and how He loves us, but we must always remember not to worship the metaphor, to worship only Him.

    Which reminds me of a poem by C.S. Lewis, “A Footnote to all Prayers”:

    He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow

    When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
    Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
    Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
    Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
    And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
    The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
    Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
    Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
    And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
    To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
    Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
    Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

    1. Elizabeth January 19, 2016

      (Sorry about my spacing there on the poem. Looked right before I published!)

    2. Amy Young January 19, 2016

      Elizabeth, I love so much about your comment! Scripture, Walter, and poetry from C.S. Lewis?

      I really want to say something more intelligent but I was out late (for me) last night, had a long day, and still need to do some writing (I’m now worried about that last one as I can’t even make a decent reply to this comment!!!).

      1. Elizabeth January 20, 2016

        I totally understand! And good luck on your other writing (or on your sleeping so that you can get up later and write 🙂 )

        Also, after I wrote that comment, I watched the video, which is so interesting because for me, anger is the “safer” emotion. It’s easier for me to be angry than to sit in the pain and be sad. Not that anger isn’t bad for me! It’s just more comfortable. (I know that might sound strange.) But also, God never seems to heal me in my anger; He only heals me in my pain. So I know I have to go there when I’m seeking healing and wholeness in my anger (which I’ve been doing lately). So I guess anger is still a wake-up call, same as she says. . .

    3. Ellie January 20, 2016

      I’m still all topsy-turvy after the (long) Christmas and Epiphany holidays here so I haven’t had time to read the book 🙁 (maybe later in the year?) but today I couldn’t stay away from the post and this really touched me Elizabeth.. I was really thinking/examining/praying yesterday evening about “what do I really *want*?” (my deepest desires in life right now/for the future) and it was like I couldn’t even go there to look in case it was “wrong” because I felt it so powerfully, I had to avoid it. And I felt like God was saying to me gently: “let’s look at it, come, come on, let’s just approach it gently, it might not be such a BAD thing you think it is, let’s just look…”

      So the desire quote has a powerful synchronicity for me today. (Although I can’t say I got all the way into looking – maybe I need to schedule some time for that today?! Why do I love hiding from myself?! :p )

      And I loved the bit about metaphors and poetry (good poetry always gets me..) and I think that’s perfect: the idea that we need lots of metaphors for God because they all break down. And it reminded me of the J John talk he gave one year. (I don’t know if you know him he’s a little man who bounces round the stage with an enviable energy.) Shouting delightedly “he’s the bread for the bakers, he’s the light for the electricians, he’s the water for the plumbers” and the list went on and on and it was a joy. Because we all relate to God in such special and particular ways. (Will see if I can find a link.)

      So blessings on your day book-reading and blessing friends.


      1. Elizabeth January 20, 2016

        Oh Ellie, I love the way Jesus was so sweet with you, saying, “Let’s look at it gently, you and Me together.”

        (And I love the video link. Thanks for sharing!)

      2. Amy Young January 21, 2016

        Ellie I love you jumping in! And that video was great :)! Thanks for sharing.

    4. Michele Womble January 21, 2016

      thanks for sharing this poem in connection with her thoughts about metaphors  – I love Lewis’ poetry (but I’m afraid I left my book on the other side of the world…)


  5. Sarah H January 20, 2016

    Amber’s experience with community was really beautiful to me, especially since I have been really hungry for that the last year. I live in a remote area with just my teammate, without a body of believers to fellowship with. I loved how these families did life together, ate together, were “small” together, and were there for each other during the ups and downs.

    I highlighted A LOT in these chapters, but this little quote was a powerful reminder to me: “Habits need to heal too, and my mind habits were to spin wheels”. Changing our thinking patterns and ‘mind habits’ is such an important part of healing! It is something I am right in the midst of at the moment.

    1. Amy Young January 21, 2016

      Sarah that is so rich — that our habits need to heal too. Wow. That’s a nugget to chew on.

      And her experience with community called to me too 🙂

  6. Anna January 20, 2016

    I highlighted a lot of these 4 chapters, and I cried through most of it.  I read it in one chunk Sunday afternoon- couldn’t stop once I started. 🙂  I love the feeling of being lost in a book.

    One thing I marked from ch 9 was “I didn’t know anybody could stay awake for days like that just to hold someone’s hand.”  Beautiful.  And “I knew during those thin places of suffering that God was very near, that the ground was barefoot holy, and that his voice was clear to my heart…”

    I have my own adoption gone awry story, which is what made it so emotional for me.  The short version is that it was a domestic adoption, a little girl we already knew and had started to become involved with then lived with us for 9 months.  Everything was set, it was just a matter of making it official at the court date.  About 6 weeks before, her mom wasn’t sure, and things went downhill from there.

    I know about desire from that.  I was absolutely convinced that it was the will of God for her to be part of our family.  How could it not be?  She had known such hardship, and we loved her and wanted her.  God would never want her to be with someone who wasn’t even sure she wanted her, but wasn’t entirely sure she didn’t either.  I was very clear on what God should be doing there.

    One of the positives in all the difficulties of that time was being surrounded by a loving community, both Christians and non-Christians- neighbors, friends, church family.  We had such love and support.  But about 1 month after she went home with her mom, we moved to start language school- community was ripped away.  God knew what we needed and from day 1 of arriving at school, we were surrounded by such incredible loving community.  So I also know about the ebb and flow of community.

    I was kind of a wreck, as you could probably imagine.  We also had a different baby, who was always meant to be a temporary foster child, and went to a great permanent home, but I missed her, too.  I was trying to acclimate to a new place and a new role while I wanted to curl up and hide away.  Every time I met someone, I would go through the general small talk, which usually included- “Do you have kids? How many?” and I would have to force myself to say “3” when my heart said “5.”  But I had people who didn’t know me, didn’t know what I was like, but walked with me through that time.   It reminds me of the line from the book, “It didn’t take us long to learn that food and burdens were meant to be shared.” Yes, yes, yes!

    So that was chapter 9.  Maybe we need a blog post for each chapter.  I could say as much for each chapter 10-12, but recess is almost over, and I need to give an Algebra 2 test.

    I will add that when I started this book, I thought it was a good one.  Now I think it’s a great one, and I’m already sad that it’s going to end.  🙂


    1. Elizabeth January 20, 2016

      Oh Anna, I am so sorry about your disappointed adoptions! These stories are heart-breaking.

      I just want to say that in this place, you CAN say you are a mom of 5. You do not have to hold back from that here.

      Hugs and tears.

      1. Michele Womble January 22, 2016

        Anna, I absolutely agree with Elizabeth that you can say you are a mom of 5.  Because…you ARE, aren’t you.  Even though two aren’t with you now….



    2. Keri January 20, 2016


      Thank you for sharing your story.  There is something deep and profound for a woman’s desire for a child.  May the Father enter into that sweetness and fill that desire in beautiful ways…

      I, too, am sad this book is going to end soon.  I have been limiting myself to savor every word…

    3. Amy Young January 22, 2016

      Anna, I echo other clabbers — I’m so sorry for the heart ache behind each of your stories. I’m thankful that books and the topics they cover can create doors for people to share their stories. It’s been years, but one of my sister’s had an adoption fall through last minute. For the longest time I didn’t know how to answer the question as to how many nieces I have. Do you mean the ones that come with a fairly straight forward story? Or the one that isn’t my niece, but is and has a complex story and I’ve never met, but I love her?

      Amber’s writing is so beautiful, isn’t it? I felt like I was sitting the room holding the hand with her.

      P.S. you distracted me with Algebra 2!! How did it go? What part are you teaching :)?

      1. Anna January 22, 2016

        I’m not teaching Algebra 2 as much as moderating and trying to keep up.   We’re doing real and imaginary numbers.  Makes my head spin.  But the test was a success.  96% 🙂  We’re using Teaching Textbooks, and I follow along with the lessons using either the lecture from the CD or teaching it out of the book.  Then stumbling through the problems.  But this is my first kid, so by the 3rd, I should have it down pat, right?

        1. Elizabeth January 22, 2016

          Oh now I’m distracted — we’re starting Teaching Textbooks next year (for my oldest only) in an effort to lighten my teaching load (have been doing Singapore for all — very good but very time-intensive). Do you like the TT in general? I love math, I just don’t have a lot of time.  🙂

          1. Anna January 22, 2016

            We have been really happy with Teaching Textbooks.  I don’t love math at all, so remember that my tastes might be different than yours.  I used Singapore math up until 7th grade.  I had read the reviews, and it seemed like those who had used the program in younger grades liked the 7th grade book, too.  The teacher book had the answers to the problems only.  There was nothing to explain the lessons, which I really needed.  At that point, we couldn’t get another book, so we struggled through it.  I can remember one point where my husband and another doctor were both googling the types of problems to try to help me get ready for the next lesson.  I spent HOURS on that math.

            We returned to the US about 1/2 through that year, and switched to Teaching Textbooks.  The concepts are well presented.  The problems aren’t as challenging.   (Same concepts, not always as tough of problems.)  My son has done 7th grade math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, now Algebra 2.  One of the things that I was concerned about was having computer problems and not being able to use the DVD drive.  The curriculum comes with a big book with the lessons written out.  We’ve had to use that when we have had problems with the computer or a certain CD, and we’ve been able to do that.  My daughter did 6th grade math, and is now on the 7th grade program.  For my youngest, I may leave him in 6th grade math for Singapore, then switch.  He’s a natural at math, and I think the challenge will be good for him.  She needed something slightly less challenging.   I watch the lessons along with them so I know where they are if they get stuck on the assignments.  I like the way it checks each individual problem before going on to the next, because I think they pay more attention and do the corrections than when I checked their Singapore workbooks at the end of the assignments. We’ve been really happy with it.  I hope that helps.

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