The Story Letter


Rusty as I am, I keep sitting down to write a quick, not-too-serious WELCOME TO MY NEWSLETTER, and then I proceed to write a heavy essay that makes me cry, one complete with mixed metaphors and undertoned with the gothic touch of a jobless, southern blacksmith fixing up a puny mailbox. I am rusty, like I said, but the more I write, the more I hear it. The muse still makes her visit, and I appreciate those of you who stick around to hear it.

Then again, with all freedom, I’ve never been everybody’s cup of tea. So if this newsletter isn’t for you, peace to you on your way out the window. Just watch your head.

For those who stay, seriously though, welcome. A lot has changed (more on that to come), but if you’ve known me a while, you’ll still be hearing my same love for my man, my four sons, for writing/poetry, and for women in the church. 

You’ll recognize that I’ll be aiming to write like I’m trying out for the Oxford American, and then it’ll blurt out of me, or rather let’s say: my spiritual sensibilities will rise to the top. I’ll speak in the realm of fingernails, bedsheets, summer dresses, and ibuprofen, but I won’t be able to help the mention of the sacred and holy. What I can help, however, is whether what I’m saying is both true and slant. I can help whether I include the honest grit of my story and my own fitful human condition. I can help whether I begin needing unhealthy approval from you, and I can help whether I show up and do the work.

That’s why I’m here and why I’m grateful for you. You’re the one I’m showing up to, and over time, I hope you’ll understand how much I appreciate you and how sorry I am about my slowness to convey it.

After my first book, there was a long season that I believed I’d never write again. My parents divorced, and I handled it like someone who woke up with amnesia in a different country. I couldn’t find my way back. My memory started skipping out, and I couldn’t tell a story without a solid pause to think of a word that I knew that I knew. I spent months at a time without cracking open my computer. That transition, as well as the unexpected heartbreaks that came with “ministry” over the past five years, left me in a fog so thick that I bought 22 acres and had chosen to disappear into it. My sons would hunt. We’d fish, and I planned to have sheep. This was my honest-to-God plan. I would be a Shepherdess, but I would no longer work at a church, and I would no longer write. I didn’t see how I could. 

Exactly a year ago, just before Lent, I decided Lent would be the season I would dedicate to understanding what I needed to release so I could grieve and heal. At Easter, I stepped down from my dream job as our church’s curate, and slowly from there, as I’ve released more and more, the words have returned to me.

If you’re in a season of re-discovery and restoration (or at least want to be), then you’re in the right place. I reckon I am, too. I have a lot to tell you and will be sending these letters twice a month. After a while, one of the monthly story letters will be paid-subscription only, and one will remain free. When the time comes, you can join me for one or both, but no there’s no judgment here if you stick with the freebies. 

So that’s that, and I didn’t cry! Welcome! Please invite your friends to subscribe. Please also let me know any questions you have. I would love to get to know you. Even after these eleven years of public writing, this is all strangely new to me, and so are you. You’ve changed, too. 

Until next time, if you’re in the process of letting go so you can know what to hold close, or if you’re in the process of desert-wandering because you can’t remember who you are, please be encouraged. This wholeness gig has some bravery requirements, but you can only do today. With consent, of course, let this be the smack on the rear you might need to take the next little step toward your healing today, even if you don’t exactly know what healing looks like. 

I’m looking forward to this upcoming season of Lent with you. 

For the better, I hope,

Amber C. Haines
(Mama of 4 sons with Seth Haines. Author of Wild in the Hollow. Has been. Hot wire. Dents in my minivan. Mother of plants. Prone to belief.)

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