The Speed The Soul Travels {Book Club}

My friend Judy found the best line to describe our world in Safe passage: How mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it:

“The soul travels by horseback” while our bodies are whisked about on planes, trains, cars, and subways. No wonder we never feel quite integrated.

Reading Wild in the Hollow  by Amber Haines feels like a book that travels by horseback. It’s good for my soul and even better to be invited (I almost said forced, ha!) to slow down and read it in smaller four chapter pieces throughout this month. Amber takes us through vast portions of her life, but is able to do it in such a way I don’t feel lost in the journey. Instead, my soul feels it has found a traveling companion.

I fear every week I’m going to say the same thing: “Oh my word, this was so beautifully written!” So, please forgive me now and if you want to comment every week, “Oh my word, this is so beautifully written” know we will never tire of you saying it.

The amount of notes and stars and “YESes” I made while I read makes me a bit worried that I won’t be able to say all that I want. I wonder if you feel the same? So instead of being overwhelmed, let’s take a collective breath and slowly exhale, trusting that the Spirit will lead us to say what we need to say (knowing there is always more we can add). For today’s post, I want to share three observations:

  1. Chapter titles
  2. Beauty of the language
  3. Ideas expressed

Chapter titles

I am not one who normally pays much attention to chapter titles. I read them, but they tend to wash over me. Titling chapter one Rebel caught my eye. By chapter chapter two seeing Capacity: one and then reading about her heart wrenching decision to terminate the life growing in her, I sensed that the titles were road maps to Amber’s soul. Becoming Kin and A Harness on the Wind were chapters three and four. I’m curious by the end to line them all up for us and see what memories they evoke from these pages.

What stuck you as you read these titles?

Beauty of language

I would like to be more of a poetic person. But when I’ve been likened to Jen Hatmaker on rare occasion and Ann Voskamp never, reality collides with desired perception (anyone else think Danielle and Kim and Patty’s writing for the Grove is so poetic?). I wish I could write like Amber Haines, in a gentle, lilting voice. I wish I could grab a bit of the mystery of God in a phrase that hangs in the air.

What I can do is—at times—recognize it. Enjoy it. And mark it saying “Yes, you’ve said what I felt but didn’t have the words for.” I’ll share a few that stood out to me, knowing there is more! And I’d love to hear what stood out to you.

“God knew my name. He must have been insane, but I went with it. He lavished truth on me. Jesus himself traveled the abyss and through time to meet me on the floor of a dorm room.”

“What I sensed from that church is that perfect love adopts fear. So much hammered doctrine was an effort to control, as if it were our job to uphold the morality standards of Jesus for the world, rather than to be embodied by the actual Spirit of the living God.”

Ideas Expressed

I loved how she started the book off with what we’d notice about her. It made me wonder what I’d first notice about you when we meet.

She had several powerful, locating metaphors. In the introduction she said, “I long for a place to fit in, and sometimes I forget and become desperate for a sense of peace . . . All the striving to regain such feelings of him, even as I create home now as a wife and mother, I know none of it will do to give me peace. Home here really is a mere metaphor, but it’s one that anchors me.” We get it Amber! We’ve even had “Home” as a theme of the week and touched on it again and again.

Amber wrote beautifully of how shame entered her story and lead her to write, “I give up.” As she wrote about her abortion and all that lead to it (both what she believed about herself, her family, and the impact on her siblings), it was so beautifully written I could picture God sitting with us in some bathroom floor in our lives, holding our hair while we vomit from poor choices and sin. From lies we believe and the truth he wants to bathe us in. I know some reading this have had abortions or carry the stories of those near to you. Because it is so hard to talk about, especially in a public forum like this, I just want you to know you are seen by God and by us (even though we don’t know your name). We know you are here and are better for knowing you.

I loved that “the first of many births” she witnessed was her own. I love hearing people share their stories of how they came to faith. If any of you want to share in the comments, that would be great! And all of her writing of Eden, well, she’s speaking my Spiritual Love Language! More later this week :).

Oh my word, I just looked at how long this is. I wanted to also touch on identity shifts (for me page 43), trying to get something from community—be it church, an organization, or team–that it can’t offer (from page 49-50), and the process of maturity going from rules to listening to the spirit. Lest this become a book itself, I’ll stop here.

Obviously, we’ve got a lot to talk over! See you in the comments.


Chapters 5-8 next week.

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


  1. Elizabeth January 4, 2016

    I don’t have much time right now, what with packing to move across the ocean again, BUT. I need to tell you it’s ok that you’re not poetic!! I know that because I’m reading through your Looming Transitions book, and it’s EXCELLENT.

    You know, I’m non-poetic too. 🙂 I used to think that was a bad thing and that only poets could reach people’s souls; now I just want to be who God created me to be. And apparently, that’s non-poetic. 🙂 But I did have to laugh at your statement “I’ve been likened to Ann Voskamp never”!! You may be non-poetic, but I’m pleased to inform you that you’ve got a great sense of humor. 🙂

    Love ya!

    1. Michele Womble January 5, 2016

      Elizabeth and Amy: I haven’t given much thought as to whether either of you is poetic or not, I just know that I look forward to each of your posts, and always get something out of them, so….it’s really about communicating and you both communicate truths well. 🙂 In your own voices.

      (Does that mean Looming Transitions is released already?  Am I THAT behind?)

      1. Michele Womble January 5, 2016

        Just zipped over to Amazon and answered my own question.

        I missed the “release party”!

        But picked up the book 🙂

        1. Elizabeth January 5, 2016

          You didn’t miss it; the party’s just starting! 🙂

          1. Amy Young January 5, 2016

            You guys . . . what so funny is I’m planning to launch it next Tuesday but the word is getting out. :). Which I realize is so appropriate. I thought I knew when the book would be born, but God is saying “Nice plan, now here’s an updated one :)! Surprise!” And I’ll show you all!! I just got home and this box was waiting for me! I hadn’t seen the back of the book formatted correctly before today!!! I’m superexcited. Not to bore everyone, but some day if you want to hear about the process of publishing a book, it IS a bit more interesting than it sounds 🙂

          2. T January 6, 2016

            This is really in reply to Amy’s book pic post below, but I can’t reply there…  Wow!  🙂  We are soooooo pleased to see your book out!  I personally feel really proud and famous just to know you!  (and we haven’t met in person!!!!)

          3. Michele Womble January 6, 2016

            That’s so funny.  I don’t know if releasing a book is similar to releasing an album, but with the album – you can “plan” a release date, but you can’t control  when it goes up on the different platforms (and it never goes “live” on them all at one time, of course) – so you kind of have to wait til it’s live SOMEWHERE before you “release”….

            I would love to hear more about the process of publishing a book.  🙂  It’s so exciting that you have the hard copy in your hands – they are beautiful!

            So…when are we going to read your book in the book club? ;-D

          4. Amy Young January 7, 2016

            T! this cracks me up :). I cannot wait for a VA party in heaven when we all get to meet in person!! And Michele, it sounds like releasing an album and releasing a book have a lot in common :). The plan is for May (unless I chicken out because of a vulnerability hangover!!). You all are my friends and I don’t want it to be weird :)!

          5. Michele Womble January 7, 2016

            oh, I’m so glad we’re going to do your book in May in the book club!!! I can’t wait!  It won’t be weird, it’ll be awesome!  You’re not allowed to chicken out.

            and I CANNOT WAIT for a VA party in heaven, too!  Who’s planning it?!! (Not me, I don’t have very good planning skills. 🙂

            They probably do have a lot in common (album vs. book), it would be fun to compare notes.  BEFORE the party in heaven, though.



          6. Kiera Duncan January 7, 2016

            Amy, I had no idea you had written a book until this conversation! Do not chicken out! I want to read it in May. 🙂

          7. Michele Womble January 8, 2016

            She can’t chicken out NOW, Kiera, we’re all waiting for it. 🙂

          8. Anna January 11, 2016

            I didn’t know that you had a book coming out either.  I think you’re on for book club in May. 😉 The word is out.   Too late to chicken out now.

      2. Sarah H January 5, 2016

        I agree! I also love how God speaks through both of you, Elizabeth and Amy, to communicate His truth in fresh and beautiful ways.

  2. Michele Womble January 5, 2016

    Absolutely beautiful writing.  I found I was highlighting everything. (Not very effective!) But I think if I had to choose, it would be this:  “Had God pulled me from Adam’s rib and placed me naked in the garden, the story would be no different.  Let’s not blame Eve anymore.  If she hadn’t eaten the fruit, it would most certainly have been me. I would have eaten it again and again, and then I would have given you a bite.”

    I haven’t pondered it enough to say anything about it, but that’s what I’m pondering.

    1. Amy Young January 5, 2016

      Michele that line stood out to me too :). I know the truth of it . . . I would have eaten and offered some to you too. 

  3. Sarah H January 5, 2016

    I just started reading the book today so I’m catching up still- but wow! Not only is the author’s writing beautiful, but she draws me in to make me feel like this is somehow my story too. And it is in a way. We can all identify with Eve, like the quote that Michele shared above, eating the fruit and longing for the beauty of Eden and home. I’ve been thinking a lot about that longing for home this week before starting this book and so I’m resonating with a lot of what she has said, about the home of my childhood and longing for a place to be known, to be valued. That safe place.

    I also loved this from the last page of chapter 2: “The God of the universe filled me at my very lowest, my emptiest. Light ruptures dark every time”. It reminded me of Micah 7:8 “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

    1. Amy Young January 5, 2016

      Sarah, I so glad you said this. That’s how I felt too . . . but I don’t want to presume everyone will have this feeling :). And I’d missed that last bit of Chapter 2. You’re right!!! So good 🙂

    2. Michele Womble January 6, 2016

      I’ve been thinking a lot about “home” lately, too, Sarah.

  4. Kiera Duncan January 5, 2016

    If anyone is interested in background on Amber Haines and her story, she was interviewed on the Mudstories podcast (episode 54) by Jacque Watkins. (That podcast has come a few times before on Velvet Ashes because of connections to Emily Thomas.) Not only that, but Jacque also had Amber’s husband, Seth on the podcast in episode 67. It was also on the podcast that I found out that Amber reads her own book for the audiobook edition on Audible (not all authors read their own stuff). Anyways, I decided to try out audiobooks and have just listened to Amber read the first four chapters. It is gorgeous to hear it all in her own southern voice. 🙂 The only downside is that there are no pages to highlight and underline. haha

    Amy, you mentioned the chapter titles. As I was listening, the chapter four title – Harnessing the Wind – caught my attention. I think that was because I wasn’t sure where she was going with it. I love how the last words of that chapter tie back into that theme.

    I just love, love, loved her description of her Ma-maw (I don’t know how it is spelled in the book) and how her Ma-Maw loved her. What a beautiful description of the way God loves us, unconditionally and always.

    I’m excited to keep listening! 🙂

    1. Elizabeth January 5, 2016

      The Mudstories podcast is how I first heard of Amber! (And decided to read her book — we have the same denominational background.) I had listened to Emily Thomas’s first, and somehow saw that one later one. I will have to go searching for Seth’s — his book is on my to-read list this year 🙂

    2. Amy Young January 5, 2016

      Kiera, I listen to so many podcasts I dont tend to listen to books . . . but you’ve got me considering it. AND I have found those podcasts and am going to listen to them. Thank you!!!

      I loved how she talked about Ma-Maw too. Oh for everyone to have a ma-maw!!! 🙂

  5. Judy January 5, 2016


    Great book review. I’m putting it on my reading list! Some days I feel like I am back in grad school, with books to read stacking up! It’s like I can’t get enough of learning. Perhaps it is because I am searching for an authentic Christian life, devoid of all the cultural baggage. Some goal, eh? Maybe I should scale it down to just losing one bag this year. Perhaps two.

    Seriously though, some days being a follower of Jesus is terribly confusing! Belief and living authentically seem so far apart and yet I long to see my faith shine through strong, clear and bright in this culture of spiritual relevancy.

    I am looking forward to reading Amber’s book. She sounds like someone who has trodden the hard, rocky path and is honest that life is messy, non-linear and full of twists and turns; like a good novel, with unexpected plot twists!

  6. Melissa January 7, 2016

    I totally missed that there was a new book club starting! What is the plan for reading the book – how many weeks will be covered through the book? I don’t think that I can fit it in this time around…unfortunately! But now the book is on my Amazon Wish List!

    1. Amy Young January 7, 2016

      Hey Melissa! We’re doing 4 chapters a week :). So, next week is 5-8. Would love to have you join!!

  7. Anna January 8, 2016

    Don’t have time to write much, because I’m on another ROAD TRIP. 🙂  I agree with you on the beautiful writing.  I’m enjoying this book so far.  Hoping to get more involved in the discussion next week.

    1. Amy Young January 11, 2016

      I love road trips! do you mind if I ask from where to where?

      1. Anna January 11, 2016

        Eastern KY to Northwest MT with some stops along the way to see family & friends. 🙂  We’ve arrived now, and are settling in for a few months.

  8. J January 10, 2016

    Hi Amy and everyone.

    I haven’t been able to join in the book club recently. Apart from family and 3 kids we have just moved house (in the same city) and I am doing an on-line master’s course which takes a lot of time. However, I just happened to be on the website and thought I would check in. So excited to hear about your book, Amy. I will have to get a copy and find time to read it. A big source of stress for me, since we came to South Asia (3 and a half years ago), is not knowing how long we will be here and where we will go next. But I’m learning to trust God, day-by-day.

    I don’t have the time to fully participate in the book club at the moment but I plan to read your book, Amy, and join in for the comments on that.

    Thanks to you and the rest of the VA team for your work and most of all to God for His faithfulness.

    1. Amy Young January 11, 2016

      J, so glad you popped in! Feel free to check in whenever … with moves, three kids, and on on-line MA you have got your hands FULL. But no pressure to feel you have to participate. You can just read what people are saying to keep connected (or not!). What I’m trying to convey is this is a full-filled, guilt free zone :). Are you enjoying your MA? xoxo Amy

  9. Spring January 11, 2016

    oh man now I’m behind.. Thanks Amy for posting about there being a sale on the book!  So exciting!

    Looking forward to reading your book in May!

    1. Amy Young January 11, 2016

      You’re not behind . . . you’re right on schedule for YOU! :). No worries. Enjoy the read!! Savor it :). We’ll still be here.

  10. T January 12, 2016

    Hey, so excited that the book was only $1.99 on kindle!  whoo hooo!  reading it on my laptop now!  So, I just finished this section, and one of my fave parts that hasn’t been mentioned (I think) is the comparison with Mary and us and God growing inside of us in the same way!  “He called me good (pg32).  How is it that He chose to grow within young Mary.  How is it that He chose to grow within me?”  Maybe you guys have all thought thru this and heard sermons on Mary’s song being our response, but it has always seemed to me that when I’ve heard those, they’ve been from the angle of us being willing to DO what God asks of us.  Not the amazingness that He chose us to live in, just as He lived in Mary, but more.  whoa.

  11. Spring January 14, 2016

    I am also behind T.. 🙂 Just got finished myself.  What I love about the first few chapters is her descriptive experience of God.  She didn’t just see the rules she came face to face with a living being, who rescued her.  I had been in a quite dry period of my life. It was so good to remember what Jesus can do

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