Dear Younger Me: Remember That Life Really Does Have Seasons

The other day my Mom wrote a blog post titled Dear Younger Me. Something she said struck a cord in me and made me want to write a similar post. She said “Life really does have seasons, and each one will bring its own responsibilities of time and energy, of commitments and interruptions.”

Yes. It’s so true! So with that in mind, here is my letter to a younger me, or anyone who is maybe graduating high school and branching out on his or her own for the first time.

Dear Julie,

I know you’re leaving High School with big plans for the future. The sky’s the limit right? You’ve been told you can do anything you put your mind to, and you aren’t one to give up easily so there must be nothing that’s impossible for you to attain.

If there’s one thing I could say to you before you set off it’s this: Remember that there really are seasons in life. You tend to want to do everything, RIGHT NOW. But in reality that doesn’t always work no matter how much you want it, how much effort you put into it, how many prayers your pray. Ecclesiastes is right – there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Eccl 3:1)

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The Day My Life Changed Despite COVID-19

Two weeks ago today, my life suddenly changed. And I didn’t even know it was coming.

No, it wasn’t a spiritual transformation. But it did have elements of water baptism….let me explain…

Fed up with this COVID quarantine, one afternoon our family snuck over to a friend’s house to have some much needed face to face time with other human beings.

Fifteen minutes after our arrival, the kids all went down to the “swamp” on this friend’s property and the adults stayed up at the house discussing the deep and funny things of life.

Needing some sunshine, the adults decided to walk outside and talk gardens and chickens and tractors. I guess there was a lull in the conversation and my friend had the bright idea to go find the kids. She asked if I was up for it, and naively I said, “Sure! I’d love to see this famous swamp my kids always talk about.”

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How Did We Know This Was It?

A few weeks ago a friend asked me a thought provoking question. We were talking about dating and relationships among teenagers and she said, “So how did you and Adam KNOW this was it? I mean did you really know the first day that you would get married? What did all that look like?”

Good question right?

Those of you who know our story know that Adam and I met when we were 16 – summer of our sophomore year. We dated the remaining 2 years of high school and then married two months after graduation.

That being more than 20 years ago, I had to blow some dust off the old memory files to properly answer my friend’s question.

How did we know we had something special?

In a way, relationships are like panning for gold. At first glance the gold nuggets look like all the other pebbles around it. It’s not until you shake off some dirt and rinse them off that you discover that little pebble of dirt is really gold!

I hear people say it was love at first sight and I knew from day one we would get married. And maybe they did. But I think some of that is easier to say in hindsight. For me, I didn’t know that first day.

What I did know was: this guy is cute, there’s a twinkle in his eye that says he likes me and I’d like to get to know him more.

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The Bell Doesn’t Dismiss You

In High School, I had an English teacher whose classroom was right across from my mom’s class. Now my mom was an art teacher, and everything about her classroom epitomized art.

It was messy. It buzzed with the sound of laughter and conversation. The desks were not in a row. Artwork hung on the walls, clay footprints guided the way from the spinning wheel to the sink and my favorite….the box of paperclips, were all hooked together, making it impossible to grab just one.

Sounds fun right?!

Well, the English class across the hall was a completely different story. There students sat quietly at their desks in full attention. They raised their hand when they had a question. They did not leave their desks without permission. And the most important thing. The thing the teacher made clear on the first day of school: THE BELL DOES NOT DISMISS YOU. I DO.

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Am I a Patient Person?

Adam looked at me over his phone as we sat in our his-and-hers-chairs in the cubbie-hole office room of our house, “Am I a patient person?” he asked.

I put down what I was doing and looked back at him. “Yes.” I answered.

Then, like we were playing catch I threw the question back at him… “Am I?”

We instantly cracked up together, knowing I am not!

Feeling the need to defend myself I said, “I can be patient when someone says, Julie BE PATIENT! It’s just that otherwise I think my job is to keep kicking the ball down the road towards the goal line no matter what obstacles are in the way!”

I may not naturally be a patient person, but I’m thankful God is. Even before all this COVID virus stuff, the Lord taught our family a lesson in His patience – how He waits for us to see and understand things from His perspective.

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Do What You Can and Don’t Do What You Can’t

The other day Adam and I were getting ready to go workout and Adam said, “I’m just gonna do what I can and not do what I can’t.”

We both laughed at that very simple yet true statement. Adam has a bulging disk in his lower back that he is trying not to aggravate yet at the same time stay active. He knows the exercises that enflame the area, so as best he can, he doesn’t do those. I admire how Adam quickly summed up the situation, then at workout did what he could to the best of his ability.

I on the other hand, struggle with the should-haves and the should-bes:

I should be able to do that even though I have a bulging disk in my back.

I should be able to run a 15K as fast as her!

I should have said more to encourage that girl I talked to at Brookshires.

I should have known this would happen and done something different!

My mind rolls the scenes over and over in my head like a football coach looking at film. I strategize what I should do next time I see that play called.

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Who Knew Slowing Down to Speed Up was a Thing?

So I have signed up to run a 15K race in about three weeks. I have never run that far before. My running career up to this point has been 3-5 miles.

There was something about this race that challenged me. Actually it doesn’t take much to challenge me. One day a friend of mine said Hey, you should run the Fresh 15 with me. That’s all it took. Challenge accepted!

Being more of a short distance runner I had no idea how to train for long mileage except to just run longer. So I tried that. Just running longer. At the same speed. And guess what happened….I couldn’t do it. I thought there is no way I can run 9 miles. I’m gonna die!

I did a little 15k training research online. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had been pushing myself too hard. (My husband laughed when I told him this!) The only training methodology I had was go as far as you can as fast as you can. And for short distances, maybe that’s OK. But for running over 9 miles…I was right…I couldn’t do it.

As I researched further I learned the trick. The trick is to slow down. To not run every day at 90-100%. Run at 60-70% and train your body in that middle endurance heart rate zone. It’s totally counter-intuitive to me but I see it working! Who knew the key to speeding up was slowing down?

Well life feels about like that right now. For 20 years Adam and I have operated on go as fast as you can as far as you can each day. That’s what’s been required. But now, especially after our Independence Day, it’s like God has slowed down the intensity level and is developing something different. Developing the middle ground endurance zone.

And just like how running at half speed is hard for me, doing life at what I consider half speed is hard for me. It feels like I’m not doing enough. I’m used to pushing myself to failure, as Caleb calls it. He’s a heavy weight lifter, and failure is that rep that you can’t get up. He says it’s not healthy to hit that point at every workout.

I hate to admit it, but that’s what I naturally do. I push myself – both in running and in life – to failure, or the breaking point, regularly. Somehow I’ve trained myself to go and go until I hit that point and that’s how I know I’ve given 100%, because there’s nothing left. Honestly, there’s a satisfaction in knowing I gave 100%.

And now, the Lord is asking me to be OK with giving what I think is 60-70% and saying this is OK. You can’t live all of life in heart-rate zone 5. That’s for sprinting. Short distances. It’s not sustainable over a marathon. WHICH IS LIFE!

The Lord’s asking me to find joy and satisfaction with the less exciting things of life. The things I perceive as less effort but in reality are just less crisis and stress.

And I’m struggling why?

Because I’m crazy and what I call a closet adrenaline junkie. I’ve caught myself thinking up ways to create a crisis just so I can attack it and feel the adrenaline again. But then I asked the Lord to take those thoughts away! Haha.

I know not everyone shares this struggle, and I have put off sharing this post for weeks because I didn’t think it would be relevant for others to read. But the Lord keeps bringing this struggle back to mind and using it teach me, so I have to share.

This is one reason I love running. The Lord has used it so many times to teach me and speak to me. It’s not just the physical training that matters, it’s the inner heart training. What is that in your life? What are little life examples that God uses to speak to you?

 

Come and See What God Has Done: The Conclusion to our Independence Day Story!

In December 2017, with full down payment money in hand, Adam and I signed papers declaring us as the new owners of the building in Sanger. With the help of our friend’s investment that I mentioned in Part 2 of this story, we were able to purchase this property WITHOUT the bank’s involvement and on a non-recourse / non-surety basis! (just as the Lord had said!)

The plan was to hold onto the property for a year to avoid a major tax bill, then sell it and invest the cash into the company. Because of how Southwest began, we have always been low on cash!

The funny thing is, in January we starting getting phone calls from people asking if the Sanger property was for sale. It wasn’t even on the market! We turned down the offers because we needed to sit on the property for a year and the buyers weren’t able to wait.

But one day in March a guy called. He had looked at the property back in January but didn’t think he was able to wait a year to move his business.  As he looked at other potential properties to move his business into, he decided that our place was indeed the best fit for his business to move into.

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Our Independence Day Story: Part 2

So after our coil supplier cancelled the agreed upon consignment program without our knowledge and called several invoices due now, Adam made a phone call and asked what was going on. He wanted all the facts on the table. (To recap part 1 click here!)

Basically he was told we owed them too much money and things weren’t being paid off fast enough and they don’t trust us anymore. By the end of the conversation, we learned not only are the full invoices due, the whole past balance is also due. Now.

Sell what you have to and get us up to current was the gist of the conversation.

Adam tried reason and logic. He recapped how we had done everything they had asked us to do. When they changed the pay-off plan, we agreed, never trying to get out of paying off the entire balance. And our account was current according to the agreed upon arrangement.

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Celebrating God’s Faithfulness: Our Independence Day Story!

It is Celebration time at the Steck household! For on January 4th 2018 God did something amazing in our business, Southwest Metal Systems. We have marked that day Independence Day and decided each year we will commemorate by throwing a shindig to remember!

Celebration

Our office party Celebration!

I had dinner with a friend the day before the Celebration, and told her this story I’m about to share. At one point she said, “Why have I not heard this before?” I told her it wasn’t a story I told often, because number one, it’s so long and involved, number two it takes a lot of energy to share, and number three until January 4th of 2018 it really wasn’t worth telling! It was just a bunch of hard stuff we had to walk through. And who really wants to hear that?!

By God’s grace I finally had the time and energy to sit down and write it all out. I’d love for you to come and see all God’s done in our lives and in the lives of the people who work at Southwest Metal.

It’s a story of God’s amazing love and faithfulness and a real life example of how He parted the Red Sea for us and allowed us to walk on dry ground to the other side. I’m still amazed and humbled at His strength and power that He displayed on our behalf.

This will span over the course of a few blog posts, so I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Here we go-

One year ago anxiety hung heavy in the air of our home. We tried to pin it up. Tried to pop it. We prayed and trusted and knew God had a plan, but just didn’t know what that plan looked like. We weren’t scared, just holding our breath. Waiting. Wondering what would happen.

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