Thursday, June 14, 2012

A story for Father's Day

I don't tell a lot of stories about my dad. I love my dad a ton, but honestly, it's my mom that I call all the time. This past weekend, we stayed with my mom's only brother & his family. My husband, who always claimed my out-going personality was my father, changed his mind. "Your uncle is just like you! I see it now -- you two are an extroverted version of your mother!"

So some times, I forget to give my dad a lot of credit.

If you don't know this about me, I hate tests. I have major test anxiety. Give me an essay question about anything -- a subject I know nothing about -- and I'll ace it. Make me fill in bubbles, and well... I freeze up.

When I took my ACT for the first time in high school, I got a crap score. I was a straight-A student, and I never did poorly on anything. My teachers loved me. I played 3 musical instruments. Clearly, something went terribly wrong. I was devastated and embarrassed.

My father saw my score, and very compassionately sat down and said, "What went wrong?"
I had no answer. I couldn't explain what went wrong. My dad figured it out in a heartbeat.
"You were nervous, weren't you? You didn't understand what the questions were asking, did you?" There was no judgment.  No disappointment. In many ways, I took it harder than he did.

I had already given up. The score that I received wrote off any chance I had for being considered for my first-choice colleges. I felt like such a failure, and I certainly didn't think I could do any better.

My dad went out and researched the best prep-books out there. He went out and purchased the best prep-book out there. He offered to go over it with me, but he didn't have to -- I was smart enough to teach myself test prep, and I proceeded to devour the workbook. I then re-took the test and got a fantastic score.

We get thrown a lot of curveballs in life. We have things that we look at a lot like I did that first ACT test -- "what are they even asking?!", followed by "it's over. I'm stuck". It's easy for anxiety and stress to creep in and make our minds and hearts useless.

What did I learn from my dad? Don't give up. Push through that -- count to five, ditch the panic, and start reacting.  If all your options are a crap shoot, find a way to make more options. Work hard. Have faith. Find compassion and kindness for those around you who are hurting or have already given up... and find a way to help them cope and recover. If your first try at it doesn't work, don't write off the whole thing or accept a poor outcome. We are always extended far more grace then we can ever imagine. That grace can change our outcome in a way much, much deeper than a test score.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
Romans 2:4, NASB, emphasis mine

We are not a people who have received fear, bad luck or punishment. We are a people who can choose to find grace, forgiveness and love. I'm grateful, as we approach this father's day, that my dad taught me that lesson.

I just hope I can learn how to live it out everyday. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Safe Space

When I did an Urban Studies semester in San Francisco, I met the "friends from college" that everyone talks about. You know, those people with whom you had all those GREAT times, did crazy fun things, and keep in contact with for the rest of your life. I didn't get that at my alma mater, so this was a big deal for me.

We always called our cozy times together the "Safe Space". Whether it was curled up together in a small room, hiding in the pantry praying, huddled on a sidewalk while the chicken man walked by, or laughing our butts off at a dance party, our friendship was a Safe Space.

This Safe Space did me a lot of good. I have been hopping from Safe Space to Safe Space ever since.

When I was low and had nothing, my sister and brother-in-law took me into their home. The 2 years that followed were some of the best of my life. They gave me a new Safe Space.

When I married Robert, we had to work out how to make our own Safe Space for each other.

This past week, my house became a Safe Space for someone. And while I joke there are no dull moments in the Brack house, it does not take away from our ability to welcome others, love them, help them heal, and share ourselves with those around us. In fact, that is precisely our goal around here.

This is my next chapter in Safe Spacing. And I cannot wait to see what it brings.

**Shameless Plug Time**
Would you like to be a part in creating a Safe Space for a child in need of a home? My best friend from growing up, Kendall, and her minister husband are fundraising for adoption. Pray for them, watch their ministry grow, and follow their journey on her blog, "The New Old Fashioned Way", at