The Deep Down Things

Practices for Growing Hope in Times of Despair

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There's no escaping it: everyone experiences seasons of pain and despair.
In 2019, when Amber Haines resigned from her position as church curate and walked out the church doors for the last time, she entered her own season of pain and despair. That season taught her--and her husband, Seth Haines--that the journey toward hope starts with recognizing "the deep down things."

In The Deep Down Things, Amber and Seth point to a simple truth: even in the darkest times, there are tangible signs of hope all around us. The authors demonstrate how tasting, touching, feeling, holding, and participating in these tangible acts of hope picks us up, builds our strength, and moves us into beauty, even in times of despair. They invite readers to participate with those signs of hope and thereby experience the divine love of God, even in the struggle of their everyday lives.

A lifeline for those who desperately need it, this book helps readers overcome despair, find hope, and spread that hope to an aching world.


A Letter to the Reader
1. Know the Hope of Saints
Seth: Eat the Flowers
Amber: The Gothic Middle
Practice: Pick a Patron Saint
2. Tell the Story
Seth: Choose Your Attachments
Amber: Body Talk
Practice: Create a Lifeline
3. Find God in the Stuff of Earth
Seth: Go to the River, the Trail, the Chapel
Amber: Eat the Crackers
Practice: Receive Communion
4. Create Signs
Seth: Cairnal People
Amber: Memorials Everywhere in Everyone
Practice: Build a Cairn
5. Practice Silence
Seth: Flee the World
Amber: Unresisting the Quiet
Practice: Engage Active Silence
6. Name the Knots
Seth: The Knots of a Father
Amber: On Practicing Holy Apathy
Practice: Name the Knots
7. Make Amends
Seth: The Thing about Reconciliation
Amber: Holy Shit
Practice: Repair What's Broken
8. Search for Epiphanies
Seth: Go to the Sacred Spaces
Amber: Under the Art of Monasteries
Practice: Visit a Sacred Space
9. Flip the Script
Seth: How Joy Subverts the War Machine
Amber: In Spite, Take Heart
Practice: Hold a Feast


"In this book, Amber and Seth have written one sacred invitation after another--invitations into deeper honesty and deeper faith, more beauty and more grit, bolder raging and bolder praying. This book is beautifully written and heavily sense-drenched--if you love gardens and music and fishing and old homes and stories and families and land and silence, you'll treasure these pages. And if your heart has been broken, you'll find a kind companion in these pages too--as I read, I began to feel both more human and more beloved. I want to press this book into the hands of every person I know who is suffering and also seeking something sacred, which is basically all of us."

Shauna Niequist, New York Times bestselling author of I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet

"Amber and Seth Haines give us a powerful testament to the human spirit and the power of the Spirit we can tap to overcome adversity and despair. With honesty and vulnerability, they share their personal struggles and the discovery they found as they leaned into pain, sickness, and disappointments. As Amber so eloquently states, 'This book is a light along the way' for those feeling a little lost or unseen. The practical advice and inspiring stories will offer hope and motivation to all who read them. This book will draw you closer to your own strength in God and leave you feeling empowered to face whatever challenges life throws your way."

Latasha Morrison, author of the New York Times bestseller Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

"This book, a memoir laced in pain, is a mirror and a balm and an invitation to think truly and critically and kindly on your own story and your own faith."

Annie F. Downs, New York Times bestselling author of That Sounds Fun

"In The Deep Down Things, Seth and Amber Haines, with their stunning writing, light a torch and guide you into the deeper streams. The vulnerability, accessibility, and invitation to try on what they write about in each chapter makes this more than a book; it is rather a holy experience. What you hold in your hands is special and timely, and if embodied, it can do wonders within."

Steve Carter, pastor and author of The Thing Beneath the Thing

"The Deep Down Things is no regular, feel-good story. It is a modern epiphany of forest sounds and mud-caked hearts, gripping and transcendent. Amber and Seth Haines, at their shimmering best, nurture hope (and humor) from our darkest nights. Held in the sweet spot where honesty and faithfulness collide, this book will rattle your bones. It will shake your secrets loose. It will lead you to the feast."

Shannan Martin, author of Start with Hello and The Ministry of Ordinary Places

"Every time I sat down to read this book, it felt like my body was taking a deep breath. To be guided with such authenticity, to be led by two modern Ozark mystics who have been in the tall grass of despair and grief, to be seen in such a deep-down way . . . you will not regret one moment spent inside this work of thoughtful love and spine-straightening hope."

Erin Moon, resident Bible scholar on The Bible Binge podcast

"Honest to the bone, Seth and Amber dig deep to name the pain that has marred their stories, yet they artfully share that even in the darkest of seasons, hope blossoms and healing is our divine right no matter what we've lost or when we lost our way."

Tiffany Bluhm, author of Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up

"Amber and Seth Haines challenge the narrative of despair that hangs in the air all around us, not by dismissing the darkness but by staring defiantly back with the love-light of hope in their eyes. In these pages, the faith, forgiveness, and healing the Haineses share are hard-won and costly. By offering their story, this book will remind you of an even deeper story: the foundations of the universe rest not in the chaos of despair but in the nail-pierced hands of love."

Haley Stewart, author of The Grace of Enough; editor of Word on Fire Spark

The Authors

  1. Amber C. Haines
    © Kelly Sauer

    Amber C. Haines

    Amber C. Haines is the author of Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home and The Mother Letters. She has experience speaking at conferences and events and lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her husband, Seth, and...

    Continue reading about Amber C. Haines

  2. Seth Haines

    Seth Haines

    Seth Haines is the author of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith (winner of a Christianity Today Book Award of Merit) and The Book of Waking Up: Experiencing the Divine Love That Reorders Life. Together with Tsh Oxenreider, he cohosts the...

    Continue reading about Seth Haines