Tag Archives: things i’m thinking about

the one that’s not quite so heavy. (link love)

lest we all panic and think that sam is falling apart (i promise, i’m not! i have just been thinking ALOT and feeling even more. that combination results in copious amounts of word vomit … and since i process by writing, and you clicked the link … here we are.), here are a few things i’ve been enjoying lately:

A Broken Hallelujah (jen hatmaker)

In Which We Leave a Little Room (sarah bessey)

This is the Part Where We Lose the Keys (emily joy allison)

the pioneer woman’s cauliflower soup– i’ve made this every week since lent started. never was a huge fan of cauliflower til now … and now i can’t stop.

justin timberlake’s 20/20 experience album.  (megg, you were so right.)

matt redman’s song Jesus, Only Jesus from the new passion album.

zechariah 9, specifically vs. 9-17 as we begin Holy Week.

attending services at The Summit Church and falling in love with the church all over again.

Pitch Perfect. just watch it … you can thank me later.

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the one where i tell you a secret

its funny how this is really about that.

a little over two months ago, i resigned from lifecity church.  the reasons are multiple, complex, and personal.  some of those reasons are directly related to the church, but some are external-ish.  if you’ve lived long enough, you’ve been hurt a few times- and you know that every hurt builds on the ones before it unless you have really honestly gotten down in there in the depths and faced it and let Jesus really heal you.  and one thing that has become crystal clear to me is that i’ve never really allowed him access to those places in my heart and let him cut out all that dead stuff.  what i’ve done is minimized pain and emotions, tried to dress my wounds in church and seminary and church planting and new jobs and new clothes and fun haircuts, and preaching to so many women that which i could not bring myself to believe.

it will be ten years this fall since i sat in the office of a man i worked for and listened to him tell me that i that i wouldn’t amount to anything, and probably would never get married unless i changed pretty much everything about who i was.  it will be ten years this fall since i believed every word of what he said and let it take root in my heart.  and i have spent the last nearly ten years trying to prove him wrong, yet watching myself sabotage my relationships with men and always at the end of the day coming back to the whisper inside of me- he was right, sam. no man is going to want a girl who is loud. you are not enough. you are not pretty; you are definitely not beautiful. you are not smart. you are too much. you definitely didn’t hear God right if you think you’re supposed to be in ministry. He would never call someone like you. you will never amount to anything. and on and on, and on, and on.

yes, i did go to college and major in youth ministry.  and i did go on to earn two master’s degrees from a seminary. yes, i have taught and led and been part of building a church from the ground up.  and i bet not many people had any idea that all of that was me trying to prove an old man wrong when he said i would never amount to anything.  i can think of at least 4 ‘relationships’ that i actively sabotaged.  i allowed these men to use me and my heart in ways that i never would have, had i believed that i could be loved or that i was even worth loving.   and when we eventually had the you’re just too much … or the you’re just not enough … conversation, it reopened and dug a little deeper in the old wound.

last year i fasted for three weeks in january.  i had just come through a season of moving to NC to start a church, home was a minefield, and i was desperate for God to speak something- anything, to make me believe that He heard me.  it didn’t go the way i planned, as is the way with most things we do out of desperation.  i ended up on my face one thursday night during that fast with the corner of a blanket stuffed into my mouth so that my roommates wouldn’t hear me crying and screaming at God.  “i don’t believe that you’re good.  i don’t believe that you love me.”  most of last year was spent trying to rebuild my belief that God is good, and that He does love me.  and like all stubborn people do, i tried to rebuild those beliefs in my own way, without digging up the bitter root, still denying its very existence.  but since i didn’t deal with the source, it didn’t go away.  and every stray word, every criticism, every time i was misunderstood or overlooked or shushed or told that i was too something fell like acid rain on the bitter root and it would blossom again.

i tried numbness next, and apathy. then self-medicating, then anger.  all of this ‘feeling stuff’ was taking a toll on me, and i didn’t recognize or like the girl in the mirror.

i told God that i was about ready to throw in the towel … but i knew that there would be no meaning to anything if He wasn’t who He said he was, if He couldn’t do what He said he could do.  so i asked Him one more time to please speak, to say anything.  and He did.  He had heard every word i had prayed in anger and desperation, He had seen every wrestling in my heart, He had caught every tear i cried.  psalm 56:8 says “you’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights; each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.”  you’ll just have to take my word for it when i tell you that He broke through that night.  some things are too precious, and too powerful to be put into words- some things are just for me.

i’m definitely still in progress.  i still have to decide every day which voice to listen to, and what to believe.  but every day that i choose to listen to Jesus’ voice and every day that i choose to believe Him, i recognize the girl in the mirror a little more.  i laugh more often.  i know that eventually i will see what He sees, and i’ll understand the way He works.  i don’t know why i came here, and i don’t know what’s next.  i do know that He won’t waste any of this, and that He works all things together for my good and His glory, that He is wise, that He sees me, and that He loves me.  and that is more than enough.

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the one where i don’t know what to say

its been awhile.

it feels strange to be clicking keys and stringing words together in an attempt to form coherent sentences that try desperately to tell you things i have no idea how to say.  it feels foreign to be the girl who was never at a loss for words, and to now be the girl who is fighting every way she knows how to learn to speak again.  it is startling to hear the jaggedness and feel the razor sharpness of my words.  it is agonizing to pull myself to my feet and realize that i haven’t been standing since i can’t remember when.  it is surreal to watch myself as i put every ounce of me into putting one foor in front of the other.  it is terrifying to look in the mirror and not know the person in the reflection.

but i am slowly, painfully, messily re-learning-  how to speak, how to walk, who He is, who i am.  i am and have been deconstructed. i am and have been broken-

ohhh, the brokenness.

but i am speaking again.  i am walking, slowly, in painful awkward baby steps.  i see glimpses of the girl i knew in the face of the one in the mirror.  i even laugh sometimes.  i am being remade, rebuilt,  revived, reawakened.

i realize that this may sound dramatic to you … but i make no apologies.  life has been more heavy than sweet the last several months.  i won’t sugarcoat it, but neither will i spill all and rehash every tiny detail.  the circle of people that i trust has shrunk considerably.  there has been unspeakable pain, more tears in three months than in 30 years, the death of dreams, the questioning of callings, relationships ended, hope deferred.  there have been dark nights, and dark days too.  there have been weeks where i could not pray, and there have been weeks where the only words i had for Him were curses.

sorrow may endure for a night (or many nights), but joy comes in the morning.  joy may take her time, but she always shows up when invited.  sometimes she arrives slowly, like a sunrise.  sometimes she is there faster than turning on a bright light.  but she does come, and is coming.

my life has read like a psalm lately- mostly the beginning of many of david’s psalms, asking God where he is, demanding answers, despairing and despondent.  but like david, it doesn’t stop there.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love,
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.  
{psalm 13}

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here and there.

ever end up in one of those seasons where there is so much to write about, yet at the same time there is nothing to say? or where you feel like you’ve been going 7 trillion miles an hour, yet at the same time you haven’t done anything worth mentioning? where it is the best … but also the strangest?

i’m so there right now. i feel like a quagmire of juxtaposition; a walking contradiction.  so i suppose i’ll just summarize the last few months to get it out of my system … in a good way.

i’ve lived in NC for 3 and 1/2 months now- the permanence is settling in. we have jobs, an apartment, an electric bill; i don’t use the GPS every time i leave my house anymore- there are places i frequent now! i have had my first girls night (with some sweet girlfriends from church!), attended my first wedding here- someone i met here!, and grocery shopped a few times. paying the rent makes it feel like home.  overall, i would say that i’m getting pretty settled here and loving life.

our team meets weekly- loving that! the longer i’m with them, the more i love them and am content that the lord brought us together. i love our team as a family, and the way we share life and wrestle through the tangible theology of the church. being in community with people who care deeply about the fame of Jesus is beautiful. we all have alot going on in our personal lives, and since we are family, we are all affected. pray for us often!

i celebrated my 29th birthday about a month ago … it was the first time i’d been back to lynchburg since i moved! my sister and my best friend threw me a pretty epic surprise party, complete with open mic, photo booth, and the most crazy mixture of my friends i’ve ever seen. it was sweet to have the little bit of time with my family and friends. also, brentwood did a prayer and commissioning for our team that sunday- what am inspiring thing to have your fellow believers behind you! i served in that church for 5 years … it was bittersweet to leave. it feels weird to be 29 … i’m in a catch 22, because while i love my life, it doesn’t look ANYTHING like i thought it would … in good and bad ways. i never imagined that i’d have two masters degrees, teach online classes, move to north carolina to help plant a church … etc. i also never imagined that i’d drive an 11 year old car, work at a coffeeshop, and still be single.

currently reading:

  • the pursuit of god (tozer). a major buttkicker.
  • jesus wants to save christians (bell). an … interesting … read.
  • colossians. (and one of moo’s commentaries on colossians)
  • son of neptune (riordan- the heroes of olympus series).

songs i’m obsessed with:

‘before the throne of god above’

adele’s ‘turning tables’ 

drew holcomb and the neighbors ‘fire and dynamite’

i also got a new haircut. booyah.

i realize this post makes no sense. and i’m ok with that.

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homesick. (faith my eyes)

i’m not usually the girl that gets homesick, but i’m feelin it right now.

my mom called me this morning around 8 to ask if i’d heard from my grandparents after hurricane irene went through (since i’m an hour from them vs. her 4 hours from them), and just hearing her voice made me feel like i was a little girl again, away for a week at camp.  like i would be home again in a few days, and she’d make homemade pizza and we’d watch a girly movie.

the lunch menu in the karr household was grilled chicken … which ended up tasting awesome, but was quite the saga to get ready (interesting story there … it was a fun afternoon 🙂 ).  i always think of my dad whenever i or anyone else grills, and today was no exception. the last few years, my role has been grill helper … i hang on to the meat platter, the tongs, the umbrella (yes, we grill in the rain! we’re hardcore.), whatever it is that dad needs me to hold while he works his grillmaster magic.  we have some of our silliest and memorable conversations while manning the grill …. so i really missed him this afternoon.

college life kicked off this evening … without me, for the first time in two years. serving as a college life leader ranks in the top five things i loved about my life in lynchburg, so this was hard.  my best friend and her boyfriend are leaders this semester, and my co-leader from last semester has a new sidekick now. my students are now someone else’s students … i am not the one who will cook them dinner every other week and go on coffee dates and have sleepovers and hear about God working in their lives. i mean, there are some relationships that have continued, and i still love and hear from those girls, but my role in their lives has changed.

sunday night is skype date night with my sister. i get to see her face via the interwebs, and we tell each other everything and laugh alot. of all the people i don’t see every day anymore, its sarah that i miss the most.  and this week i wasn’t there to be the big sister when her car battery died.

please hear what is underneath all of this- i know the lord has brought me and the rest of the team to raleigh for a reason, and at the right time. i am settling in well and loving the new relationships that i’m building.  most of the time i am too busy to miss anything or anyone too much- there is too much to do here, and too many people to meet! i’m not wishing i hadn’t moved, or that i was back in lynchburg … but i am acknowledging that i miss it.

like almost everything else in life, there’s a caedmon’s call song for this.  this time, it’s “faith my eyes” …

As I survey the ground for ants
Looking for a place to sit and read
I’m reminded of the streets of my hometown
How they’re much like this concrete that’s warm beneath my feet

And how I’m all wrapped up in my mother’s face
With a touch of my father just up around the eyes
And the sound of my brother’s laugh
But more wrapped up in what binds our ever distant lives

But if I must go
Things I trust will be better off without me
But I don’t want to know
Life is better off a mystery

So keep’em coming these lines on the road
And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load
And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
And I’ll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

Hometown weather is on TV
I imagine the lives of the people living there
And I’m curious if they imagine me
Cause they just wanna leave; I wish that I could stay

But I get turned around
I mistake some happiness for blessing
But I’m blessed as the poor
Still I judge success by how I’m dressing

So I’ll sing a song of my hometown
I’ll breathe the air and walk the streets
Maybe find a place to sit and read
And the ants are welcome company

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monday monday.

am i the only one who likes mondays?!?

monday cheer, in the form of the things i’m obsessing about right now:

  • some stuff we covered in the last week of the old testament class i’m teaching- we talked about malachi 3, and the fact that God keeps a ‘book of remembrances’- a diary! of the good things we say about him; our vocalized affections for him.  that chapter goes on to talk about the fact that those who speak well of the Lord and obey him are viewed as ‘treasured possessions’- the KJV uses the term jewels to illustrate how valued we are when we are loving, obedient children of God. that term is also used in exodus 19, where Israel is told that if they keep his covenant, God will consider them his treasured possession, even though he has all the peoples of the earth to choose from. holy crap … boomsauce.
  • this song: whoa. i listen to this song on repeat just about every day.
  • this funny video: sweet lobster babies!
  • skyping with my sister and my best friend. hallelujah for technology!

carry on.

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by definition.

samantha ….

  • daughter
  • sister
  • friend
  • student
  • ex-girlfriend
  • former employee
  • leader
  • servant
  • follower
  • writer
  • reader
  • mentor
  • teacher
  • imperfect
  • impatient
  • unfocused
  • lacking
  • tired
  • unlovable
  • too much
  • not enough
  • complicated
  • beautiful
  • blessed
  • loved
  • funny
  • sarcastic
  • critical
  • short
  • ………..

the list continues.  some of these are ‘hats’ that i wear; some are attributes; some are words i would use to describe myself- others are words other people would use to describe me.  while some are true and others are not, those words don’t define me.  this is something i’ve been thinking about alot lately, especially in light of recent events in my life.  (for more on that, see previous posts :)) but awhile back, jon acuff (author of the ‘stuff christians like’ blog) wrote about this topic- so timely and just what i needed to be reminded of.  i won’t elaborate other than to tell you to read the post here.

i wrote several months ago about the fact that my tattoos help me remember who i am- they are all words that describe my position or identity in christ.  but he is the only one who is qualified to answer the question i’ve been asking myself- the question we all ask ourselves- “who am i?” the one who created us is the one who gets to answer that- no one else.

i know this. i mean, i KNOW this. but sometimes i still forget, or i let that knowledge get a little fuzzy. what i’m learning now is that while i know who gets to define me, and even some of the words he uses- that definition is never complete (at least not this side of heaven). as long as christ keeps conforming me to his character, and as long as i keep walking this crazy journey known as life, i am ever changing. ever growing. ever learning. ever deepening. ever becoming.

this means that i might not ever know myself fully. while i’m not a huge fan of this idea, the flip side is that there is still the power to change, improve, and surprise.  those are good things. because its disheartening to be 28 years old, have two master’s degrees, and still not know what i’m doing with my life. i know i’m working out of a funk, so all of this is coming out of a place i shouldn’t be in anyways. but my state of mind (and heart) right now does serve to make me glad that the rest of my story is yet to be revealed. who i am, by definition of sanctification, isn’t nailed down yet. there is hope for me, and for all of us.

oh christ, be the center of our lives

be the place we fix our eyes

be the center.

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obligatory new year’s post … and 2010 in review.

oh 2010 … you were a good year.

i finished a master’s degree, went to new york city for spring break, served at the orange and catalyst conferences, did relief work in haiti with a team from my church, moved twice, went on my first vacation as an adult (where i had my first trader joe’s experience!), joined an amazing community group, learned to make quiche, hung out with a bunch of awesome college students every week, attempted to make homemade yeast rolls, drank ALOT of coffee, watched the least amount of TV in a year than any other year in my life, watched God work in our family through dad’s accident and praised him for such an amazing display of thankfulness, had my car broken into and my ipod stolen, made quick trips to nashville and charlotte (where i had my first ikea experience!), attended my 10 year high school reunion, turned 28 … and alot more.

but while it was a great year, i didn’t accomplish all that i wanted to. i don’t make new year’s resolutions, but i do take advantage of the opportunity for a fresh start.  and of all of the things i wanted to start fresh last year … let’s just say most of them were a bust and leave it at that.  i can honestly say that i made some great strides forward last year- i can’t write any of that off as a loss; but i know that i also took some giant handsprings backward.  which leaves me feeling like any growth i experienced last year is negated.  i know that i’m not a disappointment to God; i know his work in me has not been without effect- but i get so discouraged when i look at where i am today compared to where i was a year ago and the distance is so small. i wanted 2010 to be a year of growth by leaps and bounds! and i feel like it was growth by baby steps and sideways bunny hops.  i am distinctly lacking in understanding of the necessity of living in the tension between dependence and maturity.  none of the growth that i want to see in my life can be accomplished on my own- my willpower is not strong enough to say no to ice cream, much less spend the time i’d like to in the Word.  i MUST have the grace and power of the holy spirit at work in me if any real change is to be made.  and i cannot manufacture that!! its a tough pill for ‘little miss independence’ to swallow.

but it is a pill that i must swallow if i ever want to leave the spot i’m standing in.  so while i am about to hit the job search pretty hard, i am carving out a few days this week (and next week, if necessary!) to evaluate, assess, and pray that the lord will show me the areas we need to work at this year. i know some things that i’d like to work on, but i’m not my own so i figure if this is going to be a good year i should concentrate on following him and let him decide what to do.

a friend tweeted this quote today by the estimable c.s.lewis- it fits the way i feel right now, and sums up the trepidation with which i enter 2011: “We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

but jesus offers me this: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (matthew 11:28-30) unforced rhythms of grace. whoa nellie. THAT is what i want to walk in this year, and every year following. how’s that for a new start?

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you probably don’t want to read this, but maybe you should.

These words from Deuteronomy 7 were like balm on my tired heart this morning:

God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations.

If we’ve talked at all over the last couple of weeks, you know that its been a rough month for me.  I found out that I was losing my job right before I left for vacation last month (my last day of work is tomorrow); my dad had a pretty bad motorcyle accident; my car started giving me problems (like the i”m-scared-to-even-drive-it kind of problems); and getting my school stuff nailed down for this semester was as dramatic as a bad soap opera.  On the up side, I get to do CollegeLife again at Brentwood this semester; I’ll be leading a serving team for the evening services; Dad is home and resting well- we’re all adjusting to the ‘new normal’ pretty well I think!; my kids and my girls are all getting back and I freakin can’t wait to see them all; and God’s still good.

I recognize that there are times life is rough because God is getting ready to do something big.  And while Satan knows he can’t have me, he is still going to do all he can to keep me from being ready to go or recognizing God’s hand moving.  I told my small group a couple of years ago that I wanted us to be the kind of women who, when we woke up, Satan cursed “Oh no! She’s awake! I gotta get back to work now.”  I know that I struggle with dependency on the Lord and humility for when I need to ask others for help.  The situations happening recently in my life are working on those areas, and Satan is fighting back pretty hard- throwing all the forms of discouragement he can muster straight at me.  I had a couple of days where I was ‘too busy’ to spend time in the Word, or ‘too something‘ whatever it may be …. and I felt myself drifting into a funk where I didn’t see God working or ask for His help/guidance/perspective etc. on anything going on.  I tried to blame it on the weather, or on PMS, or the fact that my new hairdo didn’t turn out the way I pictured it in my head. We are so blind when we don’t look through truth.

The truth is, I’m having a rough month. I won’t sugarcoat it- and its ok for me to have rough times. If anything, I should have more of them! Christ said over and over, and Paul taught over and over, that we would know hardship- that we would be intimately acquainted with pain and sorrow.  But the presence of hardship or sorrow doesn’t equate with an absence of Christ- if anything, it magnifies it! CS Lewis once said that “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world”.  My roommate gave me a ride to work this morning, and we were talking about how we get in funks, and how our hearts long for more of the presence of God, but we are too stubborn and sometimes too near-sighted to ask or even know what to ask for. But then we rejoiced in Romans 8, where Paul teaches:

” … God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our  condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:26-28)

Not only does the Spirit understand our heart’s groanings, he translates them to the Father- ‘he does our praying for us … and keeps us present before God’.  I’m actually crying as I write this- the thought that my groanings are understood, and that I am kept present before God is too much for me. But those facts are ‘why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good’.

I can’t write anymore, other than to say that I’m choosing to consider my present stress in light of what God is up to. When that is revealed, the stress will seem like nothing. And I would rather have the stress than not have it, because the presence of rough stuff in life is indicative of the presence and working of God. I’d rather have Jesus in my stress than an a string of easy, happy but not joyful years.

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snowglobes.

there are things i want to write about, even talk about right now that i’m overwhelmed by and a little scared of. but i’m a sissy, and i can’t seem to get my head on straight enough to formulate any kind of coherent …. anything.  i feel like the little character inside the snowglobe …. someone bigger that him, that he can’t see picks up his globe and shakes it for no reason he can fathom.  everything that used to be solid is now flying around and hitting him in the face, blinding and overwhelming him. he’s maybe experienced this before, and he knows that everything will eventually settle, but the lines of his life will change, and everything will drift for a while before it settles.

i just hope i’m in the drifting stage and not still in the shaking.

let me also say that i know the one doing the shaking, and i know he’s not doing it just for kicks.  every season and every storm will make sense someday, and i’ll laugh at myself and at how dense i was that i couldn’t see the very obvious point the lord was making.  my humanity causes me to quake in the face of so much change all at once, but my theology doesn’t allow me that luxury.  if i believe that everything comes from the hand of the God who created me, gave his son for me, and does all things for his glory and my good- then i know things are getting shaken up because they need to.  and i also know that every piece of snow- every detail in my world- will land right where he wants it to. i’m thankful for that …. and now i’m trying to be thankful (and faithful) IN it.

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