Well hello, world.

Yes, I have reached that point in my pregnancy where I can start doing the things again.

And the hardest part of that is looking back and realizing that I have not been keeping up on, well anything.

The last blog post I wrote was in AUGUST, I just responded to five emails from OCTOBER,

Do you ever feel like all you can do is count the failures in your life?

There are days, sometimes even weeks, where I feel like I just can’t quite get it together. I am supposed to be a missionary, but am I doing enough?

We are finishing up a session at our clubhouse with the theme verse John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Teaching for nine weeks using 9 million different activities and lessons to try to drive this point home has made me realized that I, too, need to learn from this verse.

That’s one of the things I love about what we do, by the way. We learn alongside the kids because Scripture constantly transforms us.

Anyway, focusing on the darkness (my shortcomings, all that is wrong in this world…), is not really worthwhile. The more I focus on those things, the more I give them power, forgetting that the darkness has already been overcome by the Light, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Has my to-do list been accomplished in the past few months? Not really. Have I stuck perfectly to my discipline plan for my 2-year-old? Hardly. Did the two giant jars of Nutella my inlays gifted me last more than two weeks? No comment.

The point? God accomplishes his purposes in spite of us. And to be honest, I think I give myself WAY too much credit for the work He is doing here in HIS mission field.

Of course, let’s continue to soak and rest in His Word so that good works continue to flow out of us… but CHILL for a minute and stop trying to do it all. Doesn’t Ecclesiastes say something about there being a time to do your laundry and a time to lay in your hammock??? 😉

My prayer for all of us today is that in our weakness, we can lean even more on our never failing God, opening our eyes to the amazing things he is accomplishing around us.

Be Still

Ah yes, we are finally settling back into our sweet Costa Rican home after our first furlough in the States.

During those short six weeks, our family stayed in different 12 houses, drove 5000 miles to visit 6 states, and presented at 12 congregations.*

*With a toddler.

God has been so good and I am grateful for the relationships that we have. But let’s be real…

This momma is TIRED.

Almost every sermon, conversation, and even training session seemed to address the importance of resting in the Lord.  Being in His presence. SLOWING DOWN.

And it convicted me just as much as it annoyed me.

Easing back into the mission field, our family has one major goal for the year:

SLOW DOWN.

When our sending organization Mission of Christ Network (shoutout!) interviewed us to help us reflect our our past year and prepare for the next, they diagnosed us with overdoing-it.

All the time.

Even on our furlough.

I’ve always prided myself in my ability to be productive and accomplish lots of tasks, but they were right–it had gone too far.

The prescription?

Be still and know that I am God– Psalm 46:10

But how can I be still when I have 60-80 kids and their families to minister to…and my house needs to be cleaned…and don’t forget the two-and-a-half-foot tall human relying on me for all her needs?

And then it hit me: God is going to accomplish his purpose whether or not I kill myself trying to do it.

Even Jesus had to sneak away to have quiet time to rest in the LORD– and He’s JESUS!!!

So we made a plan to simplify our schedule and FORCE more rest time. Naps are allowed.   An hour or more of time in the Word is encouraged. Work can and will wait.

As difficult as it was, we only worked for two short days when we got back, and then retreated to the mountains for four days to escape WiFi and the work that had piled up while we were gone.

I will be honest, it was hard for my pride to leave for a vacation. After all, I had WORK to accomplish that NO ONE else could do (see the pride?).

The result?

Peace.

After soaking up the presence of the Lord and His word,  hiking together as a family,  and pushing Aubree in a swing for an hour while she watched the chickens, we were renewed, refocused, and ready to hit the ground running.

IMG_3355.JPGYes, we returned to much work to be done, but continue to prioritize our sabbath and time with the Lord. It is not easy because we love what we do and there is a lot of work, but it is so good because God is transforming

And the best part is that our work is already becoming more joyful and focused! Plus- whenever the spiritual warfare gets real, we have already been sharpening our sword and polishing our armor, so it is not nearly as blindsiding.

I would love to write more, but I think I am going to catch a snooze in my hammock before working this afternoon… 🙂

 

Half Empty

**Disclaimer–I found this post on my computer–it was written in March, I think! Ha!**

Half Empty or Half Full

—does it really matter if your cup is not overflowing?

A month ago I had the opportunity to pack a bag ONLY for me. No diapers. No extra snacks. No mile-long checklist.

Just some clothes, a good book, and my yoga mat.

RETREAT!

Yes, for four days and three nights, this momma experienced air conditioning, reclined poolside, practiced yoga on the beach, and rejuvenated.

Before I left, I said to Ethan, “I can’t wait to come back refreshed!!”

Isn’t that how we do life? We run run run because we are busy busy busy and that is just what we have to do. Then a few months down the road, we hit a wall and do things like sign up for retreats or go on vacation, all to fill back up again.

There has to be a better way, right??

Journaling to the sounds of waves crashing, it occurred to me: I have not been letting the Lord fill up my cup.

All day long I GIVE: to my husband, daughter, friends, and those we minister to daily. 

Cooking, cleaning, laundry, lesson planning, counseling, praying with others… lots of days I don’t even run a brush through my hair. 

The reality is that there is always more work to be done, especially in ministry. And because there are so many people that need to know the Good LORD, it is really easy to allow myself to push through weeks and months with very little rest (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical).

The result? A lot of tasks completed and the sound of a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Recently I started reading through the Old Testament (does anyone else struggle through Leviticus and Numbers?!?). 

I love reading the story in Exodus about the Israelites and manna. God provided JUST enough for them to have everyday. They couldn’t double their work load one day, then hang out the next. He even forced them to take a day off by not providing it one day a week.

God wants us to have a rhythm of work and rest. 

Some days I see my cup as half empty, and other days I see it as half full. But what does it matter if it’s not OVERFLOWING? 

No amount of social time, alone time, coffee, yoga, or ANYTHING can fill our cup. Only the Lord and time with Him in His word will satisfy. 

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

(Side note: if you have any missionary friends, I highly recommend Azmera retreats—they do 3 different countries a year. Check it out!). 

Ahorita

Transitioning from a checklist-focused and schedule-oriented culture to a Central American life has been an adventure.

It’s funny, because, I base a fair portion of my identity on the things I accomplish and how efficiently I accomplish them.

And then there is Costa Rica, where even getting daily water takes up to an hour depending on which neighbors are around at the time (Aubree’s favorite chore with Ethan is fetching water–see photo!!).

One of our favorite expressions here has been “ahorita,” which literally translates to right now.

In Costa Rica, ahorita actually means at some point in time, but maybe never. 

So many times we have been confiused:

Gringo question: “When do you want to go surfing?”

Tico answer: “Ahorita.

Gringo response: Runs to room to change as quickly as possible, grabs surf board, practically falls down the steps to see the Tico amigo drinking coffee, still in street clothes, clearly not intending to get in the water for another hour or two.

What??

I’m starting to think that the LORD is Tico in his definition of ahorita.

2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

We want to see things happen when it is convenient for us, but the Lord has his own gauge of time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Sometimes He moves so quickly that we can’t keep up.

At other times we wait.

And… wait.

And wait.

For ahorita.

Lamentations 3:25-26  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

Home

It’s been six months since my family uprooted from the States and landed in a Central American airport with nothing but four suitcases and hearts full of anticipation.

When we arrived here, everything was foreign. Our apartment, although beachside, was not our standard of clean and had a… unique style (Lime green walls. Must I say more?). Not everyone we met appreciated our sarcasm. The students in our program were total strangers to us.
We went from being settled in our established, comfortable life, to being gringos in a totally new world.
Now it is hard to believe that we have been here for only half of a year, because Esterillos has become home to us.

We are surrounded by family, Aubree has an abundance of little friends, we have established a routine, and are really finding a groove in the work we are doing with Seeds.

Recently I have been coming across photos and videos on my computer and Facebook from my four years of teaching high school in Schuyler. Some led to laughter, others to happy tears.

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All of a sudden, I missed those kiddos. They would probably not believe me if I said it, but I think about them often. Teaching them Spanish and dance was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had, and I can honestly say that I LOVED working with them.

In fact, much of who I am now as a missionary comes from what I learned from them.

I learned more about disciplining teens.

I learned what is cool and not-so-cool.

I learned that life isn’t always easy for a 13-18 year old.

I learned how to chill out about some things.

I learned that even the least promising student can reach the highest standards.

I learned that what a student can or cannot do does not determine their value.

I learned that I am not funny.  🙂

I learned how to flip a water bottle so it would land upright.

I learned to never put anyone in a “box” because they can surprise you.

I learned that my passions are to serve God through the Spanish language and teaching.

I learned that it is more about the journey than the destination.

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And as much as I would like to go back to my old classroom and continue on like I had never left, I now have new students that need me in a different way. And, honestly, I am able to focus more on my husband and sweet, sweet daughter here. It is a perfect fit for this season of life. I LOVE where I am and what I have been called to do here.

I am learning that the simple Gospel is immeasurably powerful.

I am learning that God uses me even when I mess up or am weak.

I am learning that I LOVE Ticos and their culture.

I am learning what it means to live in a huuuuge family.

I am learning how to surf.

I am learning how to cook like a Tica.

I am learning the value of saying “I love you” and the power of a hug.

I am learning that my husband and daughter are my favorite people.

I am learning that kids who seem impossibly tough are capable of love.

I am learning that I don’t have to do it all.

I am learning how to see all people through God’s eyes.

I am learning to pray in all things at all times.

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Sometimes change can be good or bad… but for me, this has simply been change. There were challenges and blessings in Schuyler, and there are challenges and blessings here.
If only there were a way I wouldn’t have to miss my friends and family from the States or leave those I love here in Costa Rica.

Part of me wishes I could just do both lives. Continue on as a teacher in Schuyler, but also be a missionary momma here.
But I can’t. And that’s okay.

All I know is that my life is so so SO rich because of it all.

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Failures and Faithfulness

IMG_0362An update from the Hutton household:

Messy hair, don’t care (but actually I kind of do…), dirty floors, wrinkly laundry piles, to do lists that grow instead of shrink, Facebook posts from 2017 still on the main feed, and a whole lot of “could haves” and “should haves.”

Oh yeah… and we have been “surfing.” I’m pretty sure if you YouTube “Costa Rica gringo fails surfing,” we are in the top five videos.

Yes… life is generally not as “cookie cutter” as we would like it to be. Unless, of course, that cookie is in the shape of a hot mess.

Why mention the imperfections? Why not just post about all of the cool things that are happening in Parrita with Seeds of Hope?

People are failures. That’s why.

Yes, I said it.

We are a straight up disaster.

But God has made this mess so SO beautiful.

Lately it has been easy to focus on the messes. How many students are attending the clubhouse? Which family should I reach out to today? Where do I even start in this new community? Am I totally missing the mark? What does God want me to do here?

And that’s just it. When I focus on what I need to do, I drown.

This world is full of disappointments and so many souls that need Jesus. If it were up to us, all that would ensue is absolute failure.

The first several months of mission work have consisted of learning. Learning that we tend to measure success in tasks completed, but that is not possible when working with human souls.

Sure, we have been completing a lot of tasks: Running around asking local businesses for donations for our incentive store. Cleaning the clubhouse. Teaching. Praying over kiddos and families. Doing all of the things to take care of our sweet Aubree.

But let’s face it, GOD is the one doing the work.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Starting today, I am going to stop looking at myself and the work I am accomplishing. That only leads to occasional pride, but more commonly disappointment.

Instead I chose to look to my faithful God who is somehow using my family to bring more into His kingdom. I don’t even know how, but I know He is because he is faithful.

Lamentations 3:22-23 

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Otoño

Chilly air. Scarves. BOOTS. Hot coffee. The Huskers (yeah…I know…). Homecoming. PUMPKIN PATCHES. Leaves.

Fall is my absolute favorite season for so many reasons…but right now, I’m not feeling it.

Heat rash. Swimsuit. COLD SHOWERS. Drops of sweat. Ocean view. SUN FOR DAYS.

Living and working in Costa Rica has been an amazing blessing, but there are some things I just plain miss.

This last week, a small wave of culture shock hit as I scrolled through Instagram, only to see friends and family members doing ALL of the fall things.

Come on, Amanda. Seriously? Tear pricked eyes over a picture of a baby in a pumpkin patch? Infinity scarves and boots are THAT important to you?

What I am realizing is that fall is part of who I am. I grew up loving it. And for the first time since being here, I realized that Aubree will not know it like I do.

So today, I am rejoicing in the things that she WILL grow up with:

A village that is like family. BILINGUALISM. Surfing. Hard rains. GALLO PINTO. Salt water.

Even though October weather feels like July here, and I am covered in mosquito bites, I am excited to develop new traditions as a family here.

Before leaving the states, we chose to name this site Grounded in Grace because no matter what happens in life, God is faithful and we can remain rooted in Him.

So today I hold on to Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying things of this earth, our family will remain focused on the Lord, because everything else eventually comes to an end.

P.S. -Have a pumpkin spice latte for me today, okay?