A Portion of Primitive

Primitive can be tricky.  It often connotes a rustic atmosphere, maybe a setting that lacks comfort and convenience.  But, the rustic qualities of primitive go hand-in-hand with the pastoral beauty of rural settings.

The same dichotomy applies to the un-paved aspects of life.  Primitive can be heartbreaking and painful, full of trials and obstacles.  But, the rough roads we traverse are often what yields the most abundant spiritual harvest.  Primitive produces eyes that see beyond circumstance, a joy that is not bound by daily pressures, and humble spirit that could only be brought on by a bumpy path.

Because I am reading One Thousand Gifts, gratitude is continually on my mind.  In the midst of irritation and frustration, I can’t help but hear the echoes of eucharisteo in my heart.  Sometimes, when all I want to do is wallow in my bitterness and cross feelings, I envision Ann running across a field, her apron flying behind as she chases the moon.  She is wanting to touch the beauty of creation, to feel a part of this life God made.

I know I have a responsibility to chase after my own moons, to reach out at all costs to find the eucharisteo in all life’s circumstances.  I choose whether to accept or whether to reject what God has so freely given.

I’m beginning to see eucharisteo is both the rustic and rich parts of life.  I see the beauty in primitive and I am thankful.

I look at rain and am thankful for the pines towering above in puddles below.

I sense the cold outside and am thankful for my cozy blankets and mugs of hot tea.

I participate in conflict and am thankful for grace and forgiveness.

We have each been dealt a portion of primitive.  We choose whether it is a source of burden or beauty.

How do you respond to your portion of primitive?

I’ll be featuring A Portion of Primitive occasionally to spotlight the primitive in my life.  My primitive this week is the natural beauty that surrounds our home.

Sometimes woods and trails are hard to traverse.  Just last week, Tim and I had to turn back from an attempt to hike because of icy conditions.  I was deeply thankful to see the trail overflowing with green this weekend, even in the middle of Winter.  

31 Day Challenge

I had no idea what people were talking about.  I kept seeing things on Twitter about 31 days, writing everyday in October, The Nester, etc.  I was a bit lost; but then again, I am kind of new to this blog thing…

It didn’t take much googling to figure out what all these bloggers were talking about. The Nester, whose tagline (It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful) I absolutely adore, writes every day during October.  She isn’t writing willy-nilly but focusing her posts on one topic.

The best part about it… she’s extending the challenge (er, opportunity) to everyone!

In a nutshell:

Basically anyone can join in, just pick a topic and write about it every day for the month of October–we all come here and link up on October 1st.

I liked the challenge and the idea of having added focus for my writing, so, as of yesterday, Primitive Roads is in the 31 Day Challenge pool.

My focus for the challenge is writing letters.  Sometimes, what I most want to articulate is best expressed on paper (in this case, a keyboard).

I had already been stewing on an emotionally charged letter I wanted to write to someone i’ve never even met (which will show up during the first week*.  Come back and check it out!), so I decided I would just continue the theme and post a letter a day here on Primitive Roads.

Everyone participating will be linking up tomorrow over on The Nester.  The pool of topics will definitely be worth exploring!

Day 1: Dear #217 – shall we be partners not enemies?

Day 2: Dear Jen Hatmaker – can we be friends?

*Day 3: Dear Jackie – a letter to my husband’s ex-girlfriend

Day 4: Dear Thomas Hammer – rhapsodizing over my favorite coffee shop

Day 5: Dear God – a plagiarized letter

Day 6: Dear Sarah Rose – a letter and apology to a dear friend

Day 7: Dear Cold Weather – a letter to the sudden Fall chill

Day 8: Dear J.A.G. – a letter for my future baby boy

Day 9: Dear Eustace – a letter to a reformed dragon

Day 10: Dear Southwest – a letter to my favorite airline

Day 11: Dear Tim – a letter to my husband on our 5-month anniversary

Day 12: Dear J – a letter to a modern day Joshua

Day 13: Dear Emily – a letter to about a lesson I’m still learning

Day 14: Dear Kenya – a letter without words

Day 15: Dear Weekend – a lament against Monday

Day 16: Dear Brother – a letter about new seasons in sibling relationships

Day 17: Dear Wedding Well-wishers – let’s brainstorm a better way to ask questions

Day 18: Dear Ash – a letter about my longest standing friendship

Day 19: Dear Gramma – a letter to honor a legacy

Day 20: Dear Jesus – a letter of surrender

Day 21: Dear Autumn – a letter of reflection

Day 22: Dear Browned Butter – a letter and recipe

Day 23: Dear Jane Austen – a letter to one of my favorite authors

Day 24: Dear Paul – a letter to the Apostle who gets me

Day 25: Dear Christmas – a letter in poem form

Day 26: Dear Older Women – a letter of encouragement

Day 27: Dear Legs – a request to keep going strong

Day 28: Dear PB – a letter to one of my favorite foods

Day 29: Dear AJG – a letter to my future baby girl

Day 30: Dear HS Gals – a letter for single ladies about waiting

Day 31: Dear Mr. Owl – a letter to my kitchen timer

Vine Life: Abiding

For church bred folks like me, the fruit of the Spirit are nine attributes we are taught at an early age.  I could recite all nine in order with ease after learning a catchy song about them in VBS.   However, the personal challenge lurking behind those attributes (which I hadn’t quite internalized in first grade) isn’t in memorizing, but in doing – putting those fruit to the test on a day to day basis.

Coeur d’Alene Bible Church started a new series called “Vine Life: Attitudes and Attributes of Spirit Filled Living.”  Pastor Kurt is  taking an in depth look at Galations 5:22-23 and started off with an introduction of sorts to the vine life concept.  One of his comments in this primer has really taken up residence in my heart.

The spiritual life is the abiding life.

I’m a word nerd, so immediately went to the dictionary when we got home from service to unpack the meaning of abide.  The basic definition of abide (thank you, dictionary.com) is to stay, remain, continue, endure, or wait.  The abiding life continues to be present, maintaining unbroken fellowship with Christ.  He dwells in us and we remain steadfastly in Him.

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  {John 15:4}

Abide is a pretty fancy verb – one that can be both transitive and intransitive.  (My degree is in English and I still had to look up the difference…)  A transitive verb applies its action to one or more objects.  An intransitive verb expresses an activity that can be done but does not attach its action to a specific object.

Maybe the differentiation is only significant to me, but I love that there are two distinct ways to abide.  One takes action and the other takes consistency.

Abiding is remaining fixed in Christ, leaning in to His life giving spirit.

Abiding is continuing on the journey, accepting His provision and presence along the way.

Abiding is enduring the bumps in the road, withstanding the pressures and detours  with His help.

Abiding is bearing the burden of an unpaved path with patience, pushing forward with joy.

The Christian walk is certainly primitive – full of potholes, loose gravel, and narrow shoulders.  It isn’t enough to simply be spiritual.  Primitive roads take commitment.  Most of the time, there aren’t many off-ramps or exits to take along the way.  You have to get back on the same road,  traversing the terrain with only trust to keep you moving forward.

We can only do that by abiding in Him, receiving life giving love and sustenance from the One who travels with us.  There is shelter and comfort in being connected, rooted deeply in Christ.

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  {1 John 2:6}

Music to My Heart

For the longest time, my car’s CD player has been defunct.  Woe be unto you if you hit the eject button.  A concerto of discouraging noises will announce that your request has been rejected.  Not only does the player hold my six CDs hostage, it also refuses to play them most of the time.

However, yesterday was one of those joyous occasions when I pressed the CD button and music started to play.  Changing the CD is also a no-no, so I was pleased when JJ Heller began to sing.  A friend of mine introduced me to her a couple years ago and I’m a huge fan.  Her songs are infused with vulnerability and an emotional insight that generally leaves me sniffing instead of singing.

Music and I have never had an overtly intimate relationship.  It’s more of a pastime than a passion, but, as the inevitable JJ Heller sniff fest ensued, I realized there were certain artists I gravitated towards when traversing particularly primitive roads in my life.

Here’s a few of my go to artists and songs that, for various reasons, stir something deep in my soul and keep me going when I feel bummed out:

Reality San Fransisco – Songs Of Our Youth: This EP is a collection of 4 worship songs written or rearranged by the worship team over at Reality San Francisco in their beginning stages as a church.  Psalm 23 could be them most moving worship song I’ve heard. I can’t listen to it on the treadmill anymore because closing my eyes throws me off balance…  Bonus – you can download the EP for free!

You prepare a table in the presence of my foes and You anoint my head and my cup it overflows.  Surely I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  {Psalm 23}

The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset:  My brother introduced me to The Kinks and this song.  He generally tears up when listening to it, which I never understood until I witnessed a Waterloo sunset.  Both of us studied abroad in the UK and have a special place in our hearts for England.  There’s something about the melody that I find hauntingly beautiful and I am instantly transported overseas to a fun, growth filled season in my life.

People so busy, makes me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright.  But I don’t need no friends.  As long as I gaze on waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.   {Waterloo Sunset}

The Beach BoysI can’t help but smile when I hear The Beach Boys playing.  I am a Southern California girl, after all…  Just a few chords and my feet tap, my voice sings out, and my primitive road doesn’t seem so daunting. Tim and I exited our wedding ceremony to the triumphal strains of Wouldn’t It Be Nice. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up in the morning when the day is new.  And after having spent the day together, hold each other close the whole night through.  You know its gonna make it that much better, when we can say goodnight and stay together.   {Would’t It Be Nice}

JJ Heller: Like I mentioned before, Mrs. Heller knows how to craft meaningful and honest songs.  Her lyrics make me cry, laugh, Amen!, and sigh.  I own Painted Red and Only Love Remains.

I’m losing my vision, I’m fighting the doubting with all that I am.  It’s been awhile since you last gave me something to go on.  Tell me it’s not the end.  {Everything Is Changing}

What music gets you though the days that seem particularly unpaved?