A Suttle Pursuit

One Step At A Time

Don’t Panic

My family and I chose a very interesting time to make the move back to America. It is quite something to take your run of the mill culture shock and mix in the outrageousness that is the current election. Then, imagine compounding that with our reintroduction to the 24/7 news cycle, the non-stop debates between a surprising number of new experts on our social media feeds, and the return of doomsayers that seem to show up every four years or so. It is enough to make us question our decision to leave the simple village life of southern Spain behind.

I have debated with myself whether it is even worth adding another voice to the din, but I feel compelled to remind people that, at least in the Christian context that I am operating in, it does not really matter what happens and everything is going to be okay. Is it important to vote and inform yourself and engage in the political discourse and take a stand for something? Absolutely, but if all of your hopes and dreams or all of your doubts and fears are wrapped up in our Presidential candidates or in America or in any form of earthly government, then you are investing them in the wrong place.

One of the best things about this election and these candidates is that it serves as a reminder that they were never supposed to be our ethical standard or the key to solving all of the problems that we face today. Even if the perfect Christian candidate became President, they would not be able to change everything for the better or force the rest of the country to fall in line. In fact, historically, when Christianity and government have become one, it has led to some of the darkest periods for both.

Morality, behavior, and faith cannot be legislated or coerced in order to have any lasting impact or lifestyle change in people. One of many things that I took away from the founder of our school in Spain, Andrew Shearman, is that prophets must precede politicians.

To bring about real change in this culture or society, we do not need to elect someone in office to force everyone to believe the same thing on threat of punishment. We need to be people that are willing to ask questions and listen and serve and love the people around them. We need people to see Jesus in our lifestyles, and then we need people to have an encounter with Jesus himself. That is the only thing that will actually begin to bring about change, and then as that spreads, all of the politicians, systems, and government agencies will have to follow suit, or realistically will not be necessary at all.

America was never meant to be a Christian nation. The President was never supposed to be our savior. In fact, Jesus never intended to change or save the world through might or rule or from the top at all, but in the exact opposite manner from the bottom, as a servant.

One of the musicians that I enjoy and am challenged by is Derek Webb. He has a song titled “A King and A Kingdom,” and his chorus puts it like this:

My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood. It’s to a King and a Kingdom.

As proud as I am to be an American and call this country home, we are not called to only make America Great Again. It is too small, too egotistical, and too lacking of the only thing that really matters. We are called to introduce people to a new King and to walk with them as they become citizens of a new Kingdom.

The Suttles’ Next Adventure

Since October 2010, the majority of our life has been overseas. Dustin and I went on the World Race for 11 months, were interns for six months at G42, then found our home here in Mijas, Spain, where we have spent the last four working and teaching with G42 Leadership Academy. In the past six years, we have met so many incredible people, seen some beautiful countries, had an amazing baby girl, and made memories that will last a lifetime.
Tough Mudder

G42

Maternity Pic

DSC_0320

Now, we are ready to make some new memories…back in good ol’ Texas! That’s right, we are moving back to the Lone Star State at the end of the summer. I (Traci) finished my English teaching commitment in May, and Dustin is currently transitioning out of his Director of Operations position with G42. If everything runs smoothly, we plan on being back on American soil by mid-August. Yeehaw!!!!!

Our future plans are simple at the moment. We want to come back to the States and reconnect with family, friends, and long time supporters who have continued to pour into us these past few years. We want to share stories and catch up face-to-face, and we want London to meet her family. After that, we are planning to settle down in the Dallas area, but you never know 😉 ! With all of that, we will absolutely continue to be a part of the growth and development of G42 and the message it carries in whatever way that we are able.

It’s a little daunting not to have the next step completely planned out. However, if we have learned anything, it has been that God is faithful, and as long as we are willing to listen and serve Him, He will direct us in His will for our lives. We know this is the right move for us, so we are trusting God and His plans for us.

We are headed into a bittersweet transition, so we would appreciate your prayers and love over the next few weeks. Mijas has been our home for over four years, and we are going to miss the people, the culture, and the ministry a great deal. We have been incredibly blessed by those who we have worked beside and lived life with here, and we will miss them immensely.

Grad

At the same time as we say goodbye, we say hello to something new. We are overjoyed to get back to Texas. We have friends and family we are excited to live life with, and we are looking forward to our new adventure in a familiar place as a family of three.

Suttle Family
Trevathan Family Pic

So that is our big news! Thank you to everyone who has prayed with and for us, fought for us, believed in us, and surrounded us in love and support.  God has blessed us in so many ways, and we are excited to continue to serve Him wherever we go from here. We love you all!

Love Is A Choice, Not A Feeling

Hopeless romantics, enter at your own risk. I am married and a father, and I am more and more convinced that love is not something that you feel but something that you choose. That might make me cold or distant or emotionally challenged, but I believe that a sober-minded choice is far more powerful and loving than any raw feeling, emotional high, or chemical reaction.

For love to be worth anything, it cannot come and go like our other emotions. It cannot be “fallen into” or “fallen out of.” It must be bigger than our feelings and not dependent on our circumstances, so it must be chosen even when it is felt the least.

We live in a world where dating and marriage relationships are in pursuit of this overwhelming feeling of love that makes everything worthwhile and tells you that you are with the right person. We are also inundated with the idea that your children will complete you, and you will fall head over heels with them from the first moment.

In my experience, I have not found either to be the case, and I think that we are setting people up for failure and disappointment by continuing that façade.

It was never love at first sight for Traci and I. It was a choice of circumstance in high school, and then another choice much later on when the first time did not go so well. In both cases, and in all the years after, we have felt joy, happiness, attraction, passion, trust, admiration, compassion, and gratitude.

However, we have also felt anger, annoyance, sadness, worry, fear, and boredom. 1 There is not a feeling of love that overpowers the negative emotions, but there is a conscious decision of love to choose each other despite those emotions.

As we were preparing for London’s arrival, I received some amazing advice from one of our friends and teachers here at G42. He told me not to necessarily expect some magical switch to click on once she was born where I would feel this incredible connection that would change everything and bring completion to my life. 2

I am so thankful for that advice because that was my exact expectation from the stories and ideas that I had seen in the world around me, and I would have been completely lost when it did not happen.

Seeing her for the first time and holding her and watching her grow, I have been full of pride, joy, awe, thankfulness, and so many more wonderful emotions. However, again, as time has gone on those feelings have not been a constant, unconditional wave because there have also been times of exhaustion, stress, helplessness, and frustration.

In addition, there have been a lot of times in the middle where everything is fairly neutral, but the decision to choose her is ever present.

The same friend told me that, as a father, there is little that we can do to connect with a newborn. It feels much like being her servant who is on call with the understanding that she will not provide me anything in return.

Surprise, surprise, that seems to be exactly how we are called to love everyone. We are not called to love people based on a feeling or for a return, but to choose to serve their needs above our own in all and through all.

I want to reiterate that I do not believe that this is a more depressing or worse version of love than the one we get told about every day. In fact, I think it is infinitely more beautiful. If we received some magical feeling of unconditional love when we got married or had children that compelled our every action, it would be the weakest form of love imaginable and maybe not even love at all.

When we choose someone else above ourselves, regardless of how we feel or the circumstances that we find ourselves in, it is the most profound thing that we can offer.

It is the same in our relationship with God. Love is not just a feeling that He has for us. It is who He is, and He expresses it by choosing us, despite the circumstances or what we provide in return. Incredibly, when we come into relationship with Him and receive that love, we do not obtain some mystical, unconditional feeling of love for Him in return. He allows us the even more precious opportunity to  choose Him back.

An Update From The Suttles

After over a year of giving up the blog world, Dustin has pulled me back in.  I will, therefore, uphold my end of the deal, and while Dustin gives you nuggets of wisdom to chew on, I will occasionally post an update about the Suttles.

Let’s see… where to begin?  I want to hit the highlights of the last several months as best as I can. This is going to be a doozy of a blog, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

April 2015 – One of our best friends, Julie Wivholm, came to visit us in Spain during Semana Santa (Holy Week). We packed in as much as we could in seven days, and had an amazing time reconnecting with her.

Julie Collage

Also in April, Dustin celebrated his 30th birthday, so we hopped over to Ireland to celebrate with some of our friends in Dublin.  What a beautiful place with incredible people.

Cliffs of Moher

May 2015 – London Grace joined the Suttle team late in the month, and life hasn’t been the same since then.  What an wonderful, humbling, stressful, perfectly imperfect experience it was to bring a human into the world.  Our incredible G42 family helped us so much those first few days with London; decorating our nursery (and our whole apartment for that matter!), writing letters, making meals, etc, and we are extremely grateful for all they did for the three of us.  But it didn’t stop there!  It has been incredible to have them as our second family, especially when ours was so far away.

Newborn Collage

Summer 2015 – Both sets of parents arrived in June to help us get our feet under us as we began our journey into parenthood.  There is something extremely comforting about having family around at such an important time in life.  We made so many memories including picnics on the beach, long evenings on the terrace, playing dress up with London and her pretty new clothes, and hours of quality time soaked up to the brim.
Parents Collage
October 2015 – Chelsea and Coltin Wester came to Mijas to meet London and to visit some of our favorite spots in Spain.  We were so thankful they took time out of their busy schedules to come and see us.

Suttle | Wester Collage

December 2015 – Stroller…check, baby…check, Texas bound…check check!  For the first time since we moved to Spain, we traveled home for Christmas and made some memories to last a lifetime!  The Trevathan clan packed 17 adults and kids into my brother’s house for 7 days to celebrate Christmas all under the same roof, no FaceTime needed:).  We also welcomed Drew and his son Logan to the family as we celebrated Tiffani and Drew’s wedding just two days later.  Such a fantastic couple of weeks with family and friends!

Trevathan Collage

Along with that personal update, we are still enjoying every minute of the work we are doing at G42.  We have made lasting friendships and seen the beginnings of some beautiful plans God has written for the interns here.   And although I had to cut down my time at the English School to be a mama, I am still with the kids everyday, and it is a joy only teachers feel to see the growth in their students.  Since our last update, we have had 50 G42 graduates, and taught 80+ students in the English school.  London Grace was the first ‘G42 baby’, but it seems we have started a trend!  Steph and Martin had baby Sophia Celeste in January, and we are all waiting on pins and needles with Daniel and Kaitlyn as baby Bear Davis gets ready to make his debut this month!

We have been so incredibly blessed by our supporters, family, and friends, as we continue our work and life in Mijas.  Your belief in what we are doing and the encouragement you send our way is something we will never take for granted, and we appreciate it beyond words.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Graduation - March 2016

Cake or Death?

In my last blog, I wrote about one of my graduation speeches, “10 Pieces of Advice to My Unborn Child.” One piece of advice needed a little realignment, and I should probably give another entry the same treatment.

#4 – If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

As before, this is something that I heard time and again growing up, usually because of something that I decided to say to my little sister. Also, as before, I have come to appreciate this lesson more and more as I have grown up.

I have seen and been a part of the damage that negative words, complaining, slander, and gossip can do to a person, a relationship, a community, a ministry, and a church. Yet, as I continued to grow and hold fast to this concept, I do believe that it has saved me and the people around me from much worse heartache.

Now, here is the shift. That advice is only a half measure. It is a good starting point, and start there if you are not there yet, but it is not enough.

When we keep our mouths shut and make the mature decision to not say something negative, we do not hurt other people. However, we do not help them either. On top of that, that negative thought is still in your mind and still in your heart and is having an impact on you whether you say something or not. The only way to change that is to create a new thought.

If the tongue has the power of life and death3, there is something really good about not bringing death. But, there is something far more profound about introducing life, and if you are not speaking, then you are not doing it. Once you do start speaking, it might surprise you when that ‘life’ does not just affect the person that you are speaking to or about, but changes something inside of you as well.

There is something beautiful and unique in everyone that you encounter, and we desperately need to have grace for people for wherever they are on their journey. Every person on this planet has been created in the image of God. All we need to do is point to those characteristics and speak them out loud.

With that in mind, words of life are not always sunshine and rainbows. There is love and life in celebrating where someone is and where the have come from, but not in letting them stay there.

Sometimes people need to hear some ‘harsh’ truths that do not seem life bringing in the moment but prove to be in the long run. People need us to see things in them that they cannot see in themselves and to call those things forth. We can help people move from death to life and from life to abundant life.

Here is something else for you to consider. If you have that power in your tongue, and you do not use it to bring life to people and circumstances, then you are actually robbing them of it.

#4 [Revised]: If you don’t have anything nice to say, try harder, and speak life.

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