Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hope for a Weary World (Merry Christmas)

For as many years as I have listened to my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night, I heard one of the lines more clearly than ever before this year.  I'm always intrigued when this happens, how we can listen to something hundreds of times and then all of a sudden hear it a different way.  Maybe it was because I was listening to John Legend belt it out :)  but it was truly like hearing it for the first time:

And in His name, all OPPRESSION shall CEASE...

After a year of news screens plastered with injustice, I cling to this promise of a new world someday.  It's something I can't imagine, as it is so far from our current reality, and that makes it even more mysterious and praiseworthy.    

A thrill of HOPE... 
                     the WEARY WORLD rejoices...

To you and your loved ones, 
may this season be a season of deepened HOPE and JOY 
in the promises of a redeemed world! 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Be Careful How You Pray

My heart is so heavy watching two good friends watch their newborn baby fight for her life.  People are praying for their sweet daughter all over the world, for God to intervene in what would at this point be a miraculous way.  

Meanwhile a friend from college posts that "prayer works" because they were able to sell their house in less than a day.

I feel sick.

How is it that we pretend to know the workings of God?  That if a "prayer" is answered in our favor, God is faithful... and if it's not, then what is God?  Where is God?  

I do believe there is a deeper purpose to prayer than God merely changing us.  I believe as co-laborers with Christ, we have a responsibility to pray for God to change things (and us) and that the Bible does show God intervening differently due to man's petition: Abraham asking God to save Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses asking Him not to destroy the Israelites, Hezekiah being healed and getting to live another 15 years. 

I believe we should pray with faith, ask God for what we want, be honest about where we're at.  But when the answer, or lack thereof, comes back, let's please not attribute it to God being a certain way, as if His character can change dependent upon our circumstances.  Our faith cannot be defined by seeing the results we want in this world. 

Pray doesn't "work" or "not work."  We are not kids putting coins into candy machines and waiting for a favorable result; we are partnering with the Creator of the universe in a purpose far beyond what we are capable of perceiving.  And yes, that is crazy, and doesn't make sense when you try to figure it out with our own limited knowledge, but that is the point.  It is faith.  

If your prayers are answered the way you want, praise God.  If they aren't, praise God.  If we are truly praying prayers of faith, our response can only ever be gratitude to the God that hears our prayers and has the power to use every response, or lack thereof, for our good

Please continue to pray, to believe in prayer, to lean on a fellow believer when you start to doubt the power of it (This is why we were made for community....), to ask God for the miracles and mundane, and to grow your faith and relationship with Him through the interaction and events that take place because of that prayer.  I pray, for you and for me, that our prayers for others and all the good, bad, and ugly things in our lives that we are lifting up would only impel us to live more grateful lives of true faith in our Father.   


Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Just had an 7.9 (or 8.3?  Still seeing 2 readings) earthquake hit about 70 miles from our house here in Santiago.  We are all fine!  They are evacuating the west coast with a tsunami warning so please pray for everyone to evacuate in time.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life as a Toddler

One of the things I love about being a parent is gaining such a deeper understanding of God's relationship to me through the interactions I have with my boys.  Throughout these interactions, I have come to realize that I am very much a toddler in God's eyes:

I long for independence, when that's just not my role. How many times do I try to live my life by my own strength and wisdom?  I get so used to my job, the season, the routines that get the things checked off the list, that I subconsciously believe I can do it on my own.  

I have irrational fears when I don't need to be afraid. As frustrating as it is to explain x amount of times that you don't need to be afraid of the garbage truck or the barking dog, Coen often remains unconvinced.  But I have to remind myself that small fears overwhelm a small world, and as large as I feel my world is, it's still so tiny in the eyes of God.  He tells me not to fear, and I often remain unconvinced. 

I think I'm pretty mature.  I think there's a reason that Jesus loved kids so much.  Probably the same reason I enjoy teaching kids (in general) more than adults - While I do know that more years and life experiences can bring wisdom, it often brings an overconfidence that inhibits learning.  I want to share the wisdom God has given me, but never become so sure of myself that I miss out on the infinite amount of learning opportunities that await. 

I want to be noticed.  We haven't quite mastered the difference between "thank you" and "you're welcome" around here, so Coen will tell you "Thank you Coen" whenever he does something you ask him to do.  His lack of language knowledge is cute and innocent, but I always humorously see myself in the gesture to be acknowledged and appreciated for the things I do.   

I long to be understood and communicate clearly. Because, who doesn't?  If you ever want to empathize with your nonverbal child, go live in your second language.  There are few things more frustrating than not being able to connect to someone you love because of your inability to communicate.  So many times my prayers end up being more felt than spoken somehow; I am so grateful my connection to God doesn't depend on my ability to articulate. 

I require so much patience.  Everything is baby steps, practicing, redoing, trying again... and repeat.  As often as I have to remind myself that Coen is only 2 1/2, I am humbled by the thought that God has been dealing with my practice/redo/repeat for almost 32 years.  And His patience is perfect!  Mine entirely limited.     

I need so much grace.  I imagine this lesson will become much more profoundly dear to me as my kids become old enough to "fall short" beyond temper tantrums and misdirected emotions, but it is already such a powerful realization for me.  No matter how great my kids are, they will never be perfect.  I have already proven to be an imperfect parent.  This whole business of being a mom has shown me that even the deepest human love will fall short.  

I couldn't possibly be loved any more than I am right now.  This is the one that overwhelms the deepest part of me - I think about my boys, the way I love them, and then remember that this love doesn't even compare to the love God has for me.  It overwhelms me because it's truly unfathomable...  And yet somehow so easy to forget, easy to feel distant, easy to feel like I am disappointing God by my actions or lack thereof, as if His love for me was conditional upon my character...  

And then I look at my boys.  And I remember the kind of love He has for me.   

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for such profound love!  And thankful He uses my 2 year old to keep me in check.


Monday, June 22, 2015

An Exercise in Receiving Grace

It's so much easier for me to give than receive.  

Giving makes you feel good about yourself.  You are the one in control.  You get the praise and recognition.  

Receiving is just that: receiving.  You can't control it.  You don't get the credit.  You are the one in a vulnerable position.  And if you're prideful like me, you will feel indebted no matter how small the gesture and/or how many times you say thanks. 

It's for these reasons I try not to put myself in situations where I have to ask for help.  This may be disguised as independence, strength, or self-sufficiency, but really it is just sin.  A.W. Tozer refers to them as "self-sins": self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-admiration, etc.  I experience all of these and more when I do things on my own and start to believe that I don't ever need help from anyone else.

This morning I had to take Makai to the other side of the city for his 4-month vaccinations, which involved a bus and a metro ride in rush hour traffic.  I always have to psych myself up for public transportation with babies and/or a toddler because it will most likely involve awkward moments of waiting for someone to help me find a seat, carry a stroller up stairs, or help me lift the stroller from the bus down to the pavement of the bus stop.  I remember the first time I learned that not all metro stations have elevators; Coen was too small to walk up the steps on his own and too big for me to carry him in the stroller.  So I waited at the bottom of the steps, feeling powerless and pitiful, until a charitable stranger offered to help me carry him up.    

In spite of my prideful aversion to asking for help, it always leaves me a better person.  Anything that produces humility and gratitude in me is something I always need more of.

This morning I watched a FULL i08 bus fly by the bus stop, crammed too tightly to offer any more commuters an open door.  Right around the time I began wondering what I should do since we clearly were not going to fit on one anytime soon (not to mention without squishing Makai in the Ergo) a smiling woman helped me up the back door of the next one.  I was immediately offered a seat (this is a luxury on a packed bus) by a boy in a high school uniform.  The woman continued to hold my diaper bag for me because it is livianita, even though I was the one with extra space.  

An older man held my arm to help me off the bus and I made my way down to the metro.  I thought that since we were so far outside of the city that the crowd wouldn't be so bad, but I was wrong.  I stumbled to find a hanging loop to grab on to when I heard an old man shout "Can anyone please give up their seat?  There is a woman with a baby."  (Side note: This kind of thing used to embarrass me; now after 2 pregnancies and 2 babies I am way used to it and so thankful!)  A woman offered me her seat as another helped me keep my balance on the moving train.

I don't know any of these people, but I am grateful for their kindness and the truths God speaks to me through their actions.

It reminds me that people are good.  That in a world full of evil actions, we are all still made in the image of God.  That people do want to help.  And if they don't, they must be going through something on their own.   

It reminds me that I am not supposed to do it on my own.  We were created for community, for leaning on another, for needing God and having that need met through the actions of friends and strangers.  

How is it possible to give grace to others when we refuse to receive it ourselves?

How can we feel deep, life-changing good gratitude when we never put ourselves in a position to need grace?  

Years of self-sufficiency and independence can lead to a scary facade that we can do it all on our own.  It can make us calloused to the grace God gives us.  It will lead us further from gratitude and humility, the very things of Jesus. 

As any other discipline, it must be an intentional practice.  Are you living your life in a way that allows you to remember that you need God?  That you need others?  It can be a small thing like taking your children on public transportation, or something bigger like quitting your job and raising support to serve as missionaries; God shows up in both the big and the small, we only have be intentional about it and look for Him, expect Him to show up, because He will.    

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Small Moments and Simple Gifts

It is the simplest moments that I have found myself most grateful for recently.

For being a major metropolitan area, Santiago does a pretty good job of having green areas. It reminds me a bit of Savannah, GA, where there are green little squares of trees and park benches in the middle of a concrete jungle.

We live in a section of the city that is on the very edge, so we get even more glimpses of the "campo," or country, especially in the house we live in now.  There are various plazas or parques throughout the streets and neighborhoods, all containing different types of playground equipment and the bigger ones with a concrete baby soccer field next to it.

We try to get out of the house and into one of these parks every day at some point.  When it's the morning, we get to chase the garbage truck or enjoy the tranquility before the city workers and students fill the streets on their way home. We look for gatos, camiones, and on a good day will even spot a caballo. We don't have to look for perros because they are everywhere.

A late afternoon ride has perks of its own.  There are consistent friends that await us as their mamás and papás come to buy their bread for once/dinner that night.  There are kids to play with, moms to chat with, and always soccer to watch. The autumn air is crisp and the sunset is beautiful.

In the midst of this concrete jungle, there is a warmth I have found by slowing down and bring present.  Slowing down and noticing.  Slowing down to smile and make myself available for interaction.

We manage to go to a new park two days in a row and the second evening one of the women asks "Are you new here?  We haven't seen you here before."  They are as warm as the bread they are waiting on.  I can't help but feel grateful for being seen in such a big city.

I greet the older gentlemen who is watering the grass.  He has been at the same park every morning and every afternoon since we have lived in this neighborhood, watering, raking, and greeting the faithful children and street dogs that roam the playground.  He was watering during all our play dates with a good friend and her three littles. He was watering every morning when I walked with my iPod and pregnant belly week after week, waiting for Makai to make his appearance. This morning he looks up and waves as Coen pulls up to park his bike at the usual bench, Makai bundled up in the Ergo with only his legs hanging out.  I am thankful for familiarity and kindness.

The garbage man with a gap in his smile gives a big wave to Coen as he waits expectantly on the side  of the street.  He knows that little red bike and his rider well. "Hooooola, compadre!"  Coen looks away bashfully, but as soon as that trucks turns the corner, he takes off on his bici in its pursuit. As happy as he is to see one of his plastic trucks in real life, I am even more overjoyed just watching him.

Thank you Lord for simple gifts - for park day and sunshine, for chasing after garbage trucks and fresh baked bread, for familiar smiles and slowing down.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Keitt Update - May 2015

Did you think we gave up blogging?  

Nope!  Just had a newborn and started grad school, but we're back!  Here are some things that have been going on in the Keitt household this fall (or Spring for you Northern-hemispherers)

Makai is already 3 months old!  We can't believe how fast it has gone already.  It did NOT go this fast with Coen (no offense, bud) so it took us a bit by surprise.  He is still such a happy boy, and is pretty chill about everything, except for the cold we are beginning to find out.  Takes after his momma in that area for sure :)

It's cold again.  It has actually been a pretty mild autumn this year.  Last year by the middle of April we were donning tights and winter hats, but this year it waited until this past weekend to get real here.  If you want to know what I mean, just set your indoor thermostat to 55 and pretend like it's 65 outside.

Oranges from our front yard - Ready to pick in August

Can you tell who's who?
We got to mini-vacation to the south!  Southern Chile is breathtakingly beautiful - lakes, volcanoes, forests, mountains.  We haven't been since I was pregnant with Coen, so we have really been missing it (and thankful we were able to squeeze in so much traveling that first year here before we had kids!  No offense, bud.)  We were able to take in some of that beauty and fresh air while we visited two good friends who are serving at one of our churches in Lautaro.  It was refreshing in every way imaginable!  And it gave us a lot of peace for our travels this summer as it was our first road trip with Makai and a very active Coen.

We are going to the States!  We will get to visit our families this summer in July and could not be more excited.  Coen has changed so much since we last saw them, and Makai will get to be held and loved on by his extended family for the first time.  I will get to be a part of two dear friends' weddings.  We are so grateful!

Coen is changing and growing visibly every day.  We are getting to know more of his personality by watching him express himself with new vocabulary, imitated mannerisms, and various new interests.  He loves trucks/camiones, riding his bici, singing, dancing, and anything related to cooking or using appliances that have lights and buttons.  He is speaking mostly Spanish but understands both.  Some things come out perfectly, like "caballo" and "auto"... and then others contain the basic idea, like "ca-moi-ye" for camión or "mo-ca-na" for música.  

 Favorite room of the house

Favorite activity

Birthday fun at the water park  

Tracey has almost completed his first of four semesters in the Applied Linguistics Masters Program at la Universidad de Católica here in Santiago.  This degree can be used for many things, but he will use it for teaching foreign languages.  It has already been incredibly useful and practical for teaching English here, and even though the schedule and workload is a bit rough, he really loves it so far.  

goEnglish is running more smoothly than ever!  Tracey and Claudia are both teaching full time and I have two classes a week on Skype with the same girl I have taught for almost 3 years now.  We are working as a team to improve both our teaching strategies and administrative procedures.  Claudia has been teaching with us for over a year now and has been a really wonderful addition, both professionally and personally. 

As far as our other ministries, Tracey has officially stepped down from leading Sunday School at church, although he wants to continue teaching periodically if that's possible to do without everyone still thinking he's the leader.  I have been to House of Hope with the boys twice now, but mostly just to visit with the Tias.  Even though I can't go there to do classes like I did before, I am still trying to find ways to help out from a distance.

We celebrated 5 years of marriage!  It has been an adventure we could have never imagined or come up with on our own that April day.  And it's been a good one :) 

Overall, we are just really grateful.  Grateful for our family, the season we find ourselves in, and the work we have been given.  Parenting has given us more joy and more reasons to be humble and thankful for God's grace than ever before, and it just leaves me speechlessly grateful.  

We are also so very grateful for you who are reading this, for your steadfast and constant support, even when we have lapses in blogging :)

May Prayer Requests 

1 - For opportunities to encourage others, specifically coworkers and neighbors

2 - For continued direction with goEnglish

3 - For wisdom and patience in parenting