About the Author

Amber C Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow, hasย 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. Dear Amber,

    Thanks for some really stimulating blog posts. I very much like the line “The greatest gift our community has given us is the gift of presence”. I think that is actually the truest definition of community and also the deepest longing of many hearts! I live and work in Europe and it is very true here.

    It has been sad to hear so many comments on your blog of people who have felt so hurt by church experience. That is the flip side of community and how to journey with a community that,rather than avoid hurt and pain (we are too broken not to hurt each other from time to time) but instead is able to love, cover over offences and bring healing is not easy to know how to do.

    We are at the beginning stages of the journey here in Brussels. I have been writing about what we are doing here: http://www.incarnationalgraffiti.com/?p=608. Would appreciate your prayers and comments!

    Blessings,

    Kevin Colyer

    • “rather than avoid hurt and pain (we are too broken not to hurt each other from time to time) but instead is able to love, cover over offences and bring healing is not easy to know how to do.”

      Oh Kevin, you got that right. So good. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, this is beautiful. So true, we think we need clever comforting words and deeds, but it’s the PRESENCE that matters and the little things that arise from that. This is definitely a ‘keeper’ for me to return to again and again.
    Bless you as you give to others in similar ways, when and if you can. I’ll do it too!

  3. Our sweet southern community came together in unbelievable ways after the death of my husband in mid-September. Our church was too small for the large crowd expected for his funeral, and several different churches and community groups all came together and provided everything that was needed, and more… tent for overflow, chairs, food, video equipment, etc, etc…. We feel so humbled to have had such an ourpouring of love and support. My prayer is that in the future, our family can do the same for others. What a wonderful thing it is when the church is indeed the “body of Christ”, not separated by denominations. Believers are all brothers and sisters in Christ. God is so good. He is good all the time – every minute of every day. Our family is missing our husband/father/grandfather, but we are overcome with such thankfulness for His goodness, blessings and mercy, and that gives us joy in the midst of sorrow!

    • Nana, it’s such a wonder how we seem to find community is very unexpected ways.

      I am so very sorry about your loss and grateful to God that He surrounded you how He did.

  4. I, too, have experienced this, and it’s amazing. I don’t think we can understand how powerful until we have been the broken, needy, lifted-up ones. It’s an excellent reason, in the end, for suffering: that we might understand what relief can be proffered by human hands and become–with greater joy–those hands, in the future.

    • And sometimes, too – not to be Debbie Downer – the human hands won’t come and we have to wait on Jesus in His coming, in the timing He chooses. He’s coming, and I know that, and really that’s not bad news at all.

  5. I think we’d often be surprised how little it takes to actually BE community for someone else. Just knowing someone else is “there” for us, even if it’s from miles and miles away, is comforting. Thanks for reminding us to give what we have. It’s why God blessed us, after all, so that we can share with others! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I have lived my whole life in a place where everybody minds their own business and everybody’s fine and well, they should just pull their boots up by the bootstraps and keep their chin up…By God’s grace, He saw fit to move my family to a place where I learned about community-how to be it and how to receive it. Receiving it is mighty tough sometimes, but I’m learning. After 7 years of AMAZING community-the Lord has seen fit to move my family back to place that made me. We are trying to model the way, but it is tough!!!! Thank you for your transparency in how you have received the gift of community. Great follow up to last week’s story!

  7. This whole community thing, I still struggle with, because having to live in a bubble is far different than most folks have to deal with. Guess I believe community is over rated because I have had to learn to survive without it. But then I know that is not so, I have not thrived in areas where humanity is concerned. Guess this is just another place to leave in the hands of God and pray for Him to move.

    It is hard for me to come back and see all the comments, as I am limited by the time I can spend at a computer before I start to have seizures, so if someone wants me to see their comment they may have to email me.

  8. I’m sobbing because I am so needy right now, and have no community. I’m not used to being on this side of the table… I’ve always been one of the community before who reached out to lift up others. Then I left for a job that was not what I expected it to be and the stress caused my fibromyalgia to be off the charts – it nearly killed me – literally. I sought escape by returning “home” only to find out that my home no longer existed. Now I am one knock at the door away from being homeless, without a job, without a car, and with cancer (I believe stress contributed to it). But my refuge has been in God, and I believe that this has humbled me to where I can finally hear His voice. Thank you for your beautiful posts. You are in my prayers and I pray that Titus is thriving.

    • Cindi, now you’ve gone and made me cry. MERCY! I do pray for mercy on you, but really really isn’t it God’s mercy that He would open our ears to hear His voice. What grace He has given you in this needy time. I pray you experience it in tangible ways, too. I pray you continue to hear Him and follow. You are His lamb, and so am I, sister.

    • Don’t know you, Cindi, but your raw comment touched me. How I wish I knew how to extend community across cyberspace that feels as good as having someone bring homemade chicken and noodles!

  9. Wow! I am truly impressed with your community. What a wonderful bunch of Christians they are and such a shining example. I hope I find one like that some day to belong to. I pray that your son, Titus, is healed by the Lord.

  10. Oh this is excellent. This is how my husband and I have always dreamed community to be. Unfortunately, even when we have given the little bit we have had, it has not been reciprocated. I am encouraged to see that this can work the way we envisioned it could. Now, Lord, please lead us to that group where we can know and be known and care for the souls of others, spurring them on to live out the gospel as we live it out ourselves.

    • I think maybe community isn’t always going to look like our group does right now. Even for us I see it as temporary. Even if you only have one, I pray that your eyes are opened to it, even if it’s an elderly woman in a nursing home. God pours into us in very strange ways, I’m starting to think.

  11. I love this so much. The body of Christ is so beautiful — to be able to give sacrificially, even if it doesn’t seem like much, and to receive in return. I’m so glad you have a community that was able to support you through those hard weeks, and now. Your story inspires me to open myself up more to those hurting around me.

  12. All I can do is cry in hearing about God’s love being poured out in this community. Indescribable!! I want this so much for my Community of fellow believers so I will get on my knees tonight and ask God to show us how.
    Thank you for sharing God’s love.

  13. I experienced this when my husband died. The coming alongside of the special friends. Words are never necessary – the knowledge that they are there – present – alongside – this is what counts so very much. The groceries which appeared. The box of tissues. The answering of the never ending phone calls. The love and care is beyond price, and I am so thankful.
    And now, I try to be present too for them. Life has so many storms and yet so many thrills, and we get to share them all.

  14. Amber, thank you! I have similar stories of friends holding my boy when the feeding pump was so new I hold them tight. Now that he’s older and in a wheelchair…it’s tough and it makes the friends that stick closer that much sweeter.
    I feel so hurt by all the slights…all the hard blows that fall on us in silence…but in it all I feel challenged to reach out to the community of others on their own special needs islands and challenge other believers to see how God can use them in this vast mission field of special needs…if to do nothing more than change a stare into a smile! http://wp.me/p2rf0b-qs

  15. Amber, thank you for fleshing out one way ‘community’ can look. I think half the time people just don’t know WHAT to do, so don’t do anything. I LOVE how you detailed all that was done for you guys, it gives the rest of us ideas for how better to reach out…and hope, because even in the ‘smallest’ offering, grace and love were poured.

  16. The focus of my church this year is Being Church at Home which speaks to community. Thanks you for your stories. Your family in our prayers as you struggle to find answers for Titus.

  17. Ambrer,

    Thank you for being so open & honest. It is true that the best “community” we can be is to go sit with someone–don’t talk or say anything–just be there for them.

    I often try to do that for friends. A lot of times I will just go visit people and let them tell me what they want. If they just want to cry on my shoulder–that’s ok!

    Great post!

  18. How blessed you are ๐Ÿ™‚ What a gift to have love surrounding you. I have to be honest, I often struggle to know what {exactly} to do for someone in need. I struggle with waiting for someone to tell me what they need. How do i see what they need when it is not clear to me?

    • Jimmie, your comment really caught my eye, as I have asked myself this same question many times. I too have struggled to know what to do in different situations. I realize that I have learned a lot by watching others, asking a lot of questions, and reading as much as I can on topics like these (posts like this one really help with that!). It seems that the people who are the most helpful don’t wait to be asked, but just try to carefully/gently insert themselves into someone’s life in order to be there (I love what this post said about presence) or meet any other practical need.

      I observed this in action when my friend’s daughter died, and I looked around at the people filling her home and thought to myself, “How do they all know what to do right now?” It was really amazing to watch. I also take mental notes when I go through something and people care for me–I try to remember what it was that really comforted and encouraged me. I decided to start a blog to put all of those thoughts and ideas into one place, both for my reference and for anyone else out there searching for “what to do.”

      Sorry for such a long reply when you weren’t even really asking me (!), but I just wanted to share the things that have helped me. It’s so good that you are asking the question–it shows that you are sensitive to needs and wanting to help meet them, even without knowing exactly how. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Email me if you want to talk more–this topic is near and dear to me!)

  19. This is your humble gratitude poured out in beautiful worship. Right here, Amber. And your telling of it…it’s the most important.

    Blessings, friend. Rich ones.

  20. Pure painful beauty from pain. That cup of cold water brought to you in your time of need will stick with me for a very long time.

  21. This is absolutely beautiful and so helpful. Thank you for sharing the practicals and for what you said about presence. And that tall glass of water! Wow, I could come back to this post over and over. So, so helpful and encouraging. Thank you!

  22. Thank you for sharing. It brought deep sobs up and I am so grateful for you and your community! I want to be like that – to take your example and what I’ve found to be helpful and pass it on. Our family has been/is needy: father- an invalid for 20+ years and needing caretaking 24/7. It’s tough. Folks can be really wonderful after a surgery, but those who are in long-term need tend to be forgotten. Folks can also be really hurtful. I have been asked WHY don’t you ask for help? The answer: I have. I was told: (1) you can do that yourself; I only want to do things that you are unable to do, and (2) sorry, I have plans.
    I so appreciate a very tiny group of senior citizens who call my mom occasionally and keep her posted with happenings at church and community, the two folks who showed up a couple of times with lawn mowers, the food that comes in occasionally, and that person who called and asked if we could help with food for a funeral. That last sounds really odd and presumptious, but mom said it made her feel like she was still useful for something, still part of the church and not totally forgotten. She prepared something and someone else came and picked it up since she couldn’t leave the house. For us, it’s more helpful for someone to call and say, “do you need your yard mowed? Is there something around the house that needs fixing?” “I’m at the grocery store, can I pick up something for you?” “can I sit with him/her for an hour or two while you run into town?” ..and that sort of thing, rather than “if you need something, call me.”

  23. What a beautiful story to share.
    Reminds me of the verse in the Bible that says …
    “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” ~ Mark 9:41
    The concept of community is not enjoyed much in our present day. Everyone with their own belief systems, values, interests, and priorities have stolen that house-to-house fellowship of breaking bread that helped you in your time of great need.
    What a treasure.