A Haines Home Companion: Christmastime

It’s not really that we’re counting down to Christmas Day. It’s that slow week of being together that we love, sitting in the lights and eating foods we’ll regret later. Leading up to the starry night, we take in the story. I love the way each of us relishes a different way.

This time around, joy isn’t this conjured-up thing from the depths of my soul. I’ve let go. Stopped trying. It’s what they call surrender, I think. Freedom. Satisfaction is an eternal thing, and then there’s this temporary meantime where I let my matryoshka santa dolls make me happy and also the pencil sharpener on the desk. I’m letting myself be okay with my excitement for the Christmas toffee, and I’m singing songs just because of happiness. It doesn’t all have to be deep stinging complex.

Joy, on the other hand of happiness, it’s directly tied to faith. It’s the eternal happy that sees 10,000 miles over circumstance. This season comes with so many reminders of JOY.

We’ve been in a season of rest. When we told our circles that we were pulling in and finding rest, it took us maybe four weeks to even feel like we had slowed the ball down, as if the ball had been rolling full steam. Now we’ve been at a near stop for a few weeks, and things look different from here. I’m relearning discipline. Seth and I are craving time together, long for it.

An interesting thing to note is that we rarely fight, though we often aggravate one another. As we began to slow down, we began arguing on a regular basis, and it scared me, left us both frustrated all the time. Slowing down was extremely uncomfortable. Now that we’re slow, I feel like we’re better than ever. I feel like I know him and he knows me.

We learned that community is not community because we’re there. Real friends are still friends when we can’t manage dinner dates for a while, and pretty much everyone is in this hard stage, fighting to see their own children and to keep their marriages healthy. There are a close few who have come to make sure we’ve worshipped together, the ones who know we need to laugh and do all our verbal processing.

In our culture, Christmastime seems an odd one in which to slow down. It’s easy to fail expectations – the gifts, parties, cookie-making, and decorated houses. I guess having a sick one has made things a touch clearer. I just want to see you healthy, Christ bringing peace and JOY. That’s really all there is.

Titus had his hernia surgery on Wednesday, and he only needed one dose of tylenol afterward to bring him back to his cheerful self. He’s already climbing on the dining room table.

The day we left for that cystic fibrosis test/, after we realized he hadn’t grown at all in 8 weeks, so many of you began praying. I got emails from strangers and texts from long-lost friends. So many were praying. The sweat test didn’t work because he didn’t sweat, and I was so discouraged, but the next day he had gained 5 ounces. Friends, over the following two weeks, he gained an entire pound!

A while ago, I wrote here that we had found out that his immune system isn’t working, and we chose to immunize him again to see if somehow his body would create an immune response. We prayed for healing and had to keep away from church and community, anyone who could be sick.

We retested for his immune response this week, and y’all, it’s working perfectly fine. He now has an immune system! We can be together as a family anywhere we want to be! I hope I won’t take it for granted again.

I don’t know what else to call it but healing, especially of my own heart.

I pray it for you, too. Tidings of Comfort and JOY.


  1. What a joyous Christmas gift! The gift of healing. SO happy!!
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  2. This my my heart happy.

  3. This my heart happy.

  4. Slow is good. Yes. And I loved hearing the happy Titus news all over again!!!
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  5. ” It doesn’t all have to be deep stinging complex.” Thanks for the reminder! So glad to hear that Titus is doing well. Glory to God in the highest!
    Rachel recently posted..Life Goes On

  6. just a little teary-eyed at this one. i feel a sense of relief for you….
    kendal recently posted..shooting the half

  7. Crying tears of joy for you my friend. Love you all so so much! So very thankful!!

  8. What wonderful news…and yes, Christ bringing peace and joy, we all need that more than anything.
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  9. Robin Troxell says:

    what a wonderful post, and reminder that joy can only be found in God, not in whatever we do for xmas (or any day). So glad that you and your family are getting some slow down together time, and esp thankful for the good news of Titus’ health!

  10. Oh, I’m celebrating with you for the good news about Titus, and nodding along about the slowing down and the tensions that rise to the surface when we do, and the goodness of pressing through to a quieter, deep-knowing, joy-marked kind of place.
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  11. Our boy is healed. Praising our God.

  12. Weeping big ole tears here in sunny and chilly Santa Barbara. Thank you, Lord – for healing, for your praying people, for Seth and Amber and for that amazing photo of this little boy who has tugged at our hearts for months now. OH, AMEN. MERRY CHRISTMAS, AMBER.
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  13. So thankful Amber. We have never met in real life, but you and your sweet little one have crawled into a little place in my heart. Oh that sweet little face – such joy!
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  14. Giving thanks for Titus’ precious life, for his healing, for God’s light in this world through you and your family. Sending love.
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  15. Oh the joy in this good news…this healing story…praising thanking Him with you. Thanks for the privilege of sharing your joy!!!

  16. What joy you must be feeling!! So happy for you!
    Margaret recently posted..Where Are the Boots? The Danger of Losing the Wonder This Holiday Season

  17. I let go of “Christmas” a few years ago and now I really do enjoy it. And WOW our God heals.
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  18. Amber, I’m so happy to read the news about Titus.

    And as always, your writing really speaks to me. This *is* the phase of hard – of working for time with kids and to keep marriages healthy. So much more than that spoke to me in here, but that’s what I’m pulling out to highlight right now.

    xo Merry Christmas, Amber.

  19. I’m probably one of those perfect strangers you mentioned.
    Just feel like I’m watching from the sidelines to see what happens with your sweet baby. Because I have two with CF, and it ain’t no picnic.

    Stopped by today because I had been thinking of you . . . wondering at the outcome. And I find this wonderful news. So glad for you. And for yours.

    Bless you in the slowing and resting. These are holy.

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