One Hundred Six

untitled-2I have the.best.timing.

In February of 2003, I sat across the table at a Mexican restaurant from my friend, Charles. He was about to leave for a semester in Germany, and we were enjoying a just-as-friends date before he left. We had been good friends for a while, had been on one disastrous actual date a few months prior, after which he had shared that he wanted to get to know me better. I had idiotically responded that I liked his best friend and we endured a few hellishly awkward months. Now, he was leaving for five months, so the timing seemed perfect to let him know that my heart was changing towards him and maybe I do like him like that, okay, see-you-in-five-months-bye.

It all worked out. We’re married.

But I still have a tendency to drop bombs on the guy at the worst possible times: home for lunch for 25 minutes? Let’s rehash the last 3 months and talk about our issues. A long-anticipated date day? Let’s be miserable and talk about our issues. Middle of the night and I can’t sleep? Let me wake you up and talk about our issues.

Sometimes it can’t be avoided. Sometimes, too much time has passed in between face-to-face time and we have to seize any and every opportunity or we will inevitably coast forever. We could do that; we’re stubborn people.

So this morning, as I am wont to do, approximately 7 minutes before he needed to leave for work, I asked him, “So Love, how are we doing?” Unlike usual, I didn’t have anything specific in mind. I wasn’t trying to corner him. I just wanted to hear his (brief) thoughts.

And here’s where we are: right on the edge of another huge life change. Our 4th (and final) baby is due in about 6 weeks. We feel as though we’ve literally just come up for breath after moving and settling in. Right after we moved in I was sick for a solid month. Then we faced a hard summer filled with questions and doubts concerning potential health issues with this baby. Now we are knee-deep in 5th and 2nd grades and Kindergarten and projects and doctor’s visits and deadlines and no time off work and groceries are expensive and…some of that feels almost, blissfully, normal. We can coast here. We can breathe here. Sure, we’re often exhausted, but this is an exhaustion that at least feels familiar.

What does life look like 2 months from now? What does that exhaustion look like? What does that stress look like?

I could lose sleep over questions like those. (I have. It doesn’t help.) What helps is rehearsing what I already know to be true. God is good. God is sovereign. God is not surprised. God has not forgotten me. God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. God’s plan is good, pleasing, and perfect.

I need these reminders because I am so forgetful and life is so distracting sometimes. In his grace, God has allowed me to learn this lesson alongside my youngest son. Remember his hard days of Kindergarten drop off? We are still facing those in 2nd grade. And so, every day before I leave him, we pray. And we remember, rehearse, and remind ourselves of those same simple yet profound truths. God is good. God has not forgotten you. God is always with you. God has placed you here with this teacher, in this school, with these friends, for a reason.

And it helps. It helps him, it helps me, it helps my not-so childlike faith to grow.

My timing stinks, but his timing is always perfect.

One Hundred Five

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“And while we may not always believe it or feel it, he continues to hold us in his hand as we stumble blindly through the wilderness.”

I wrote those words yesterday and they’ve been echoing in my head ever since. I’m reading through Exodus right now as well as the book “The Red Sea Rules” and my husband and I are indeed walking blindly through the wilderness. I’ll probably have my Christian card revoked for saying this, but there’s not much I hate more than walking by faith. It’s so hard, y’all!!

I love hindsight. I love looking back on a period of time and seeing God’s gracious hands at work all over it. I love to tell those stories of rescue. But drop me down in the middle of the trial and I will whine and complain and doubt and fear and lose sleep and have heart palpitations and get shingles. I mean, it’s been known to happen.

I’ve been in one haunted house in my life. I was probably 10 or 11 and my softball team went as a group. I’m pretty sure my eyes were closed the entire time, but I still managed to get so scared at what I couldn’t see lurking in dark corners, that I begged my mom to get me out of there and she had a zombie open up a side door and let us out. I don’t like being scared. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like the unknown.

I’m 34  years old and I’m still learning that life doesn’t present itself in the way I want. I don’t get to see the end result. I just get to live day by day and moment by moment. And as a follower of Jesus, I’m expected to walk moment by moment in complete dependence upon him. I’m called to a life of faith and trust and rest. I’m so bad at it.

Maybe that’s why God keeps presenting me with opportunities to practice. He keeps asking me to follow him into the unknown. He keeps asking me to trust his guidance and his plan. He keeps asking me to believe the best, and believe what his word says, and believe that the day will come when I will look back and see his gracious hands all over this time.

Gracious God, I’m so ready for this story of rescue.

One Hundred Three

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Much to my husband’s chagrin, when I first saw Les Miserables, I was Team Eponine. I was supposed to be all romantic and root for Cosette and Marius and passion and “love at first sight.” But I was rooting for the established friendship of childhood friends and wanted Marius to see her devotion to him. Because here’s the thing: I don’t believe in love at first sight. Sure, I believed in it as a college freshman, and for a while I attended every function and every class fully believing that I would meet my future husband. That never happened, and my skepticism about all things romantic began to grow.

I recently watched a video of a musician describing the day she “fell in love with Jesus”. Not for the first time in my life, I was jealous of another person’s story and experience. It seemed more important and impactful than my own. After all, I’m one of those good girls who literally grew up in church and rarely missed a Sunday service. I can’t remember “falling in love with Jesus.” Loving Jesus was always just a given. I was safe in a bubble where it was assumed that I did, and you do, too.

As I reflected upon all of this, I thought about falling in love with my husband. While in my past I impulsively told a handful of boys that I thought I loved them (can you say unrequited?), it wasn’t until Charles that I actually loved a man. But if you know anything about our story, you should know this – it wasn’t immediate. In fact, I was completely against the idea of even dating him. We were just friends who became good friends who became inseparable. It was a gradual process for both of us, learning to trust each other with our stories, spending lots of time together, until eventually we couldn’t imagine life without the other.

So I can’t remember a lightning bolt moment with Jesus. I can’t remember him sweeping me off of my feet. I simply remember his constant presence and friendship throughout the entirety of my life. The relationship and grown and changed and I often take it for granted. But scripture states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So I’m the one growing and changing. He’s the one faithfully walking along with me, revealing truth and softening my heart and opening my eyes. His is a “love that will not let me go,” and the fact that I’ve had it forever? That’s certainly not a bad thing.

One Hundred Two

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I told a friend recently that I thought I would be a different person once we were moved and settled into our new home. Turns out, I was right, but I’m not such a fan of the new person I’ve become. I’ve been angry, self-focused, and a recluse. As good friends are wont to do, she gave me a better perspective, and told me to extend myself some grace. I’ve been dealt a lot of change in 2016. And while I still refuse to acknowledge it, stressful situations cause me stress! I’ve experienced a lot of death so it makes sense that I’m now experiencing a time of grieving.

We had good plans in place. Good plans that we felt were going to glorify God and help us to enjoy Him. And we have watched as plan after plan has crumbled and died.

Just this week, I wrapped up a reread of Genesis and took special note of every occurrence in which the people of God put their trust in their own plans and it didn’t work out. The great fathers of the people of God – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – at times? They all acted like total idiots. Sitting in my comfy chair in the year 2016, knowing the entirety of the story, I can comfortably judge them as they simply did what they thought was best. I can point my judgmental finger at them and shake my head as if to say, “Dude, just trust in the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this!”

(Just another plank in my eye situation.)

I have been grieving and angry as all of my best-laid plans have turned out to be different from God’s. And to be completely honest, I’ve resented that his perfect plan includes another baby for our family. I’ve been confused as to how a solid month of completely debilitating headaches have been best for me and for my family. I’ve wondered how on earth he will provide for our family when, instead of our growing our income, he’s expanding the number of mouths to feed.

Of course, a reread of scripture always points to the faithfulness of God. When his people act like idiots, he makes a way. He rescues. He redeems. He’s not surprised. He brings all things together for their good. When the Green Door House disappeared, God provided the Triangular House, and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful we are that we are here instead of 20 blocks south, where we wanted to be. I wake up and spend my days in a concrete reminder of God’s faithfulness to our family and a testimony that his plans are better than my own. The great cloud of witnesses is surely watching and saying, “Dude, just trust in the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this!”

I still miss it. I still doubt. But this morning I woke up and peeked at my sleeping children (who always look like cherubs when asleep) and felt in my soul, “We can do this. We can add one more person to this crew. This is going to be so good!” I hadn’t felt or believed that even once during this pregnancy. Of course, I knew we didn’t have a choice – we do have to do this, but today, I knew that we could. Not because we are amazing parents and not because all of our questions are answered and our financial burdens have been lifted, but because God has declared that this is his plan. He has always been faithful. Through some of the very scariest times in our lives, he has provided. He’s the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this.

Amen.

 

 

 

Ninety-nine

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For such an epic next page of my story, I wish this could be post 100, but seeing as how this story is no where near finished, a nice uneven 99 will do.

A few weeks ago I asked my small group to pray with me as I felt God opening my hands in a very real way and helping me to release my (illusion of) control on my life. There were so many things my family and I were facing that were completely beyond my control and I was really stubbornly struggling.

I had been offered a job teaching at the school where my sons attend. Though intimidated at first, I began to feel a strong desire for teaching and was really looking forward to it, when it became clear that it wasn’t a sure thing. I was even looking forward to trading in my sweatpants and mom jeans for a more professional wardrobe.

Our house finally sold and we moved on the last day of February into a room at my grandma’s house. We were still in communication mode with John about the Green Door House and were finally able to talk numbers and timelines. A few days after we closed on our house, we got John’s final asking price and it was $40,000 higher than anything we had ever discussed with him. It was completely clear that the Green Door house, for which we had prayed fervently for almost an entire year, was not the home for us.

To say we were confused is an understatement. To say we were hurt is an understatement.

But there is more to the story.

There is a job change in store for me, but it won’t include a classroom.
There is a wardrobe change on the horizon, but it will be more stretchy than tailored.
There is a new home for us, a wonderful home for us, with a bit more square footage than we knew we would need.

Team Steger is adding a new member to our roster. 

In His infinite wisdom and goodness and perfect timing, God has blessed our family with a new baby.

To say we are shocked is an understatement. To say we are being stretched is an understatement.

But what else can we do but give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and kindness and favor?
What else can we do but laugh (Isaac is at the top of the list of boy names.) and shake our heads and marvel at the way God has orchestrated this crazy story?
What else can we do but trust that He continues to do great things in and through our story?

He has done great things, indeed.

 

Ninety-four (5 Popular Posts from 2015)

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https://keelygsteger.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/eighty-one/

“And so I did the next thing and I repented. And I thanked God for the grace he gives abundantly. The grace to do the next thing.”

 

https://keelygsteger.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/eighty-eight/

“Everyone needs someone to remind them that they’re not alone. Everyone needs to know that everyone’s got their shit.”

https://keelygsteger.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/eighty/

“So while that means I might have to locate our fall/winter clothing in the boxes in the garage, that also means that we still don’t to have to stress, worry, or fret about our situation. Our home will sell. It will. To the right people at the right time. And we have confidence that when it does, the green door house will be ours.”

https://keelygsteger.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/seventy-nine/

“Young moms (by young I mean new to the gig…not necessarily young in age) need one thing more than anything else.
Grace, ladies.”

https://keelygsteger.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/seventy-one/

“As we spent a few precious hours alone together yesterday, my husband and I admitted that we’ve stopped praying diligently for the green door house. We’ve let worry, doubt, fear, stress, anger, sadness, and impatience reign in our hearts.”

Thanks for reading this year, friends.
I look forward to sharing even more with you in 2016!

 

Eighty-seven

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I’ll be honest; not much has changed since I wrote about needing to look on the bright side of this in between time. It’s still a constant struggle, and it’s only made worse every weekend, when, whether for church or just a trip to the city, we eventually have to leave.

I drove home from church yesterday listening to Sandra singing that “Whatever my God ordains is right, to Him, I leave it all,” (“Sweet Comfort,” song 5) and with tears streaming down my face. My husband and I are so tired of leaving the city. We are tired of feeling cut off from the church and the community surrounding it. We feel like our motives for moving are good. We truly feel called to be there. When I got home, I texted my pastor: “Why hasn’t God moved us yet?” He replied, “I wish I knew.”

Remember last year when I changed my prayer, and God answered in a major way? I think it’s time to change my prayer. I won’t stop praying for our house to sell. I won’t stop praying for the green door house. I won’t ask you to stop praying. But more than our house to sell and the green door house to be ours, we need to pray for contentment. 

In my bible study, my leader shared a story of a girl with alopecia who, instead of only praying for God to restore her hair, started praying for God to give her peace in the midst of her circumstance. He answered that prayer. That struck me right in the gut. I won’t stop praying for God to take away my son’s diabetes. It will be my impossible prayer every year, until it happens. But I also won’t stop praying for God to use diabetes to increase my faith. I have often said that diabetes has changed my prayer life for the better. It’s so true. There’s not much in life that makes you feel more helpless than watching your child suffer and not be able to change it.

In college I had a friend undergo brain surgery. I remember praying so hard for her and learning so much about prayer and faith and helplessness. I remember feeling a bit guilty that something good was coming into my life while something so awful and difficult was happening to her. It felt selfish to feel thankful for how God was working in my life because Rachel was suffering. But as God spoke and my first grader recently memorized, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

So why hasn’t God moved us yet? “I wish I knew” as well. But this is a fruitful time. This is a time of learning, and trusting, and praying, and sharing, and crying, and asking, and searching, and waiting. It is God at work in his mysterious ways and I trust that it will all make sense someday.