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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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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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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Three Years Ago…

It’s been three years. Three years since I’ve held my Papa’s hand. Three years since I stayed awake most of the night. By his side. Administering medicine at the needed time. Watching, listening to his labored breath. Wiping his fevered forehead.

I sang a few hymn choruses to him that night. I read from the Psalms. I journaled. But mostly I just watched him, drinking in the time with him, knowing these would be my last memories.

Aerosmith’s song played in my mind –

“Don’t want to close my eyes
I don’t want to fall asleep
‘Cause I’d miss you, babe
And I don’t want to miss a thing…”

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Wait….Marriage Isn’t Supposed to Make Me Happy?

Recently, the Lord showed me a freeing revelation. One that I think is worth sharing. So here goes…

It started at Bible Study last week – the one I haven’t been to since November and was wondering if it was worth going to because I’ve missed so many weeks and chapters!

But I went… and may have listened to the last few minutes of the chapter on Audible as I drove.

Marriage happened to be the topic of the night. A topic I’m not currently struggling with and didn’t come with any deep message to share or heavy question to ask.

But the Lord had something to share with me. One of the stories in the book was about a couple who struggled in their marriage. The woman had filed for divorce. Before it was final, she received a letter from a widowed friend saying humble yourself. She decided to try it. The more she willingly humbled herself the more she grew to love her husband and saw him as a wonderful man. She actually enjoyed being his wife. Then, close to Christmas, he died.

I don’t know if it was sudden or expected but she was thankful for the restoration God had brought in her marriage! She had no regrets. (Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free pages 189-190)

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Grief and the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But when you’ve lost a loved one, grief can grip even the jolliest of moods.

Here’s my story:

There we were, circled up to give thanks just as we did seven years ago. The turkey was carved by the oven with care, in hopes that our family soon would be there.

But this year two special seats were empty at our table. As my dad led a short devotional about the source of our Thanksgiving, my eyes started to blur.

How can I be overcome with thanksgiving and sadness at the same time? Like paper clips strung together, memories flashed one by one through my mind and a few tears slipped down my cheek.

The strong man’s hand I used to hold, and the meek woman’s hand that would hold me were missing.

My grandparents.

Please finish reading this story over at East Texas Moms Blog.… and discover how you can grieve with hope this Christmas!

Mack Trucks, Minivans and Rear-View Mirrors

Driving home one day I came to the light about 2 miles from my house. As I sat there waiting to turn right I stared into the back of an 18 wheeler. Expecting to see the reflection of my homely, tan minivan in the somewhat warped metal, you can imagine my surprise when instead, I saw a massive yellow Mack truck. I sorta gasped and mumbled, Whoa, where did that come from? When did my minivan turn into a big yellow truck? 

I almost caused traffic to pile up as I ignored the light for a minute and glanced in the rear-view mirror to see if the Mack truck was a figment of my imagination or actually behind me. In this instance I wasn’t seeing things. There was a yellow Mack truck towering behind me, hogging all the mirror space of the truck in front of me.

It was like I had looked in my bathroom mirror and instead of seeing my petite 5’2” frame, I saw this 6’7” body-builder-muscle-woman who could scoop up the couch with one hand.

Uh-huh, I may be a simple minivan but I’ve got a Mack truck behind me. Don’t be messing with me!

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Failure is NOT an Option. Or Is It?

Adam broke the silence of our family dinner with a bang, “So what is something you failed at today? And what did you learn from it?”

Gulp. And gulp again to swallow my food.

I studied his eyes to see if he was serious. He was.

Silence hung in the air as the four of us contemplated his words, not really appreciating having to think about the areas in which we failed today.

In our Facebook, perfectionist, everyone gets a trophy culture, we generally frown on sharing our failures because it is neither a trophy or worthy of shares. We feel ashamed when we fail, which evokes in us the need to cover the evidence, not display it.

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My Grief Observed (Part Two)

Sunday was a hard day for me. I don’t know what goes on subconsciously, but even simple tasks like going to the grocery store and putting lotion on your hands can evoke such emotions that lead to tears.

On Sunday I did my grocery shopping for the week like I usually do. And what did I see there? Lays potato chips, bottles of peanuts, rotisserie chicken, cranberry limeade juice – all things Papa stored in his kitchen, some for him and some for my kids. A lump began to form in my throat as I pulled into the checkout line. So many times I stood in this line, checking out these items for him.

After I got home from the grocery store, Adam and I snuggled down to watch a movie. But before we hit play Adam grabbed some lotion to put on his hands. He took his wedding ring off so the lotion wouldn’t glob up inside it, and when he did, my mind instantly went to Papa.

When mom and I sat at his bedside the day before he died, she slipped his ring off his finger and as she did a pang hit my gut. That ring never came off. It couldn’t. It had a worn a permanent divot underneath his knuckle and couldn’t escape. That moment was when I knew it was for real. He was leaving me soon. Going somewhere I couldn’t go…just yet.

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My “Grief Observed”

Yesterday was the first day in 10 that I haven’t cried. Today is the first day in just as many that I actually put mascara on. Why put something on that will just drain down your face?!

It’s interesting to me how our brain processes. Every day is different. C.S. Lewis says in his book A Grief Observed, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”

I see new landscapes each day, some more beautiful than the day before and some not so beautiful. Every night, my brain sorts and files the days information, trying to process this brick of grief. It puts all the day’s events and thoughts and emotions in a manila folder, slaps a label on it and files it away under the corresponding heading. I tend to wake up feeling better each morning, but as the morning turns to afternoon, the grief looms over me again.

I’ve heard it said death is like an amputation and I would agree. It seems to be after lunch I notice this gaping hole where a leg used to be.

Life just isn’t the same. Papa used to live next door to me and call me daily about silly things like how to work the microwave. My kids used to ask continuously to go to his house and play in the shop or fish at the lake. My dog would even run to his front porch if he happened to escape out the front door. I blocked off certain days from our schedule so we could spend time with him.

Now there’s just this void. I can’t believe he isn’t here for me to share this life with anymore.

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