The Food Bowl Attack of 2017

Katie is afraid of her food bowl.

That’s just all kinds of not normal.

She hasn’t always been this way, though.  She and her food bowl used to be best buds.

A few months ago, the metal clip on her collar somehow hooked onto the rim of her food bowl, causing it to rise up off the floor as she lifted her head from the bowl.  It was absolutely stuck to her collar and no amount of shaking on her part would set it loose. Panicked, she tried to get away from the bowl only to have it follow her.  Terrifying.

Katie covered a lot of square footage, yelping loudly all the way, bowl bouncing as she ran, before I was able to set her free from her tormentor.

And ever since that day, things have not been the same between Katie and her bowl.  She is showing it zero love, even though it contains one of her favorite things (not her MOST FAVORITE thing…that’s toilet paper.).

She’s super apprehensive, sure that the bowl will jump up at any given moment. (In case you’re curious, we’ve tried LOTS of different bowls…all bowls are currently evil.)

Fool me once, food bowl…shame on you…

These days, Katie slowly approaches her bowl, takes a single kernel of food, and runs away to eat it.  Then she’ll come back, bark at the bowl (a stern I-Have-Not-Forgotten  bark), and try again.

Fool me twice…shame on me…

My dog has trust issues.

I don’t blame her.  Feeling attacked by something you trust is scary.

And even though the Food Bowl Attack of 2017 happened months ago, it feels like yesterday to her.  Fear has a good memory.

So do I.

Sometimes I let the memory of the pain of broken trust or the fear of hurt feelings keep me away from what I really need: people.

I act just like Katie. No, I’m not afraid my dinnerware will attack me, but I do shy away from situations where I might be vulnerable. Given the choice, I’ll pass on pain.

Fool me once, mankind…shame on you…

But, just like Katie can’t completely avoid her food bowl…dog’s gotta eat…I can’t avoid relationships…woman’s gotta love.

See, as one of God’s children, I was created for connection.  My soul shrivels without it.

But the world we live in is messy and complicated and, because of that, relationships get messy and complicated.

Intentions are misunderstood. Motives are questioned. Words are said. Feelings get hurt. Relationships and all that comes with them can be downright scary.  Sometimes we feel attacked when we least expect it and all we want to do is shake free from the relationships and people that caused it.  We start to fear the very thing that keeps us alive…connection.

We risk a lot when we’re vulnerable.  But we also learn more about ourselves and about who our God is when we let people in.  In the process, yes, we might get attacked. Our feelings might get hurt and we might hurt someone we dearly love.

But isn’t it worth the risk?

Don’t we gain so much more than we risk to lose?

And when we give up on being vulnerable, what are we saying about God?  When we wash our hands of even the possibility of getting hurt, who are we believing God is?

Can he not handle it? Will he not help us? Does he not have our best interest in mind when it comes to the people and circumstances he brings into our lives?

I believe he can, he will, and he does.

It is with his help that we are able to navigate our messy and complicated lives. And, y’all, he IS our ever-present help in times of trouble. Scary things happen. Relationships can be hard. But God isn’t going anywhere. He’s with us forever.

Katie is scared of her food bowl, but she eats anyway. She knows she needs to eat. Just like Katie needs her food, we need each other. We keep each other alive…alive to the wonder that is this life with God. We were designed by the God who loves us to love one another.  Our lives are meant to be reflections of his love…reminders of his grace.

Relationships are risky business.

Let’s risk it.

Vul-ner-a-bil-i-ty

Folding a fitted sheet. (Help me.)

Drivers who refuse to merge into traffic. (For the love, MOVE THE CAR!)

Not hitting the snooze button. (Just 10 more minutes x 3…possibly 4.)

These are some of the things with which I struggle.

And way up near the top of the list: Vulnerability. Maybe you can relate.

I’ve heard a lot about vulnerability this year. It seems to be the topic everywhere I turn, on TV and in articles and books. I honestly hadn’t thought too much about it until someone told me this year that I wasn’t vulnerable enough. They felt that I was holding back in situations where I could share more of myself…more of my heart.

It was hard to hear. It stung to be criticized, especially in an area that felt so personal.  But the more I thought about it, the more I understood where they were coming from. As I looked back, it was clear that I was being far more of a listener and much less of a sharer. I’ve always been that way. In my critic’s eyes, holding back made me seem distant and uncaring, which is not how I would want to come across.

At the time, I struggled to understand why I was so hesitant to share my heart…my struggles and fears…but now I think I understand more.

Vulnerability requires risk.

I love this definition of vulnerability (Courtesy of Mr. Google.): the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

That helps explain it. I was in a setting where I feared being criticized or attacked.

Even being exposed to the possibility of attack or harm sounds terrifying to me. No, thank you. I would rather fold all of your fitted sheets.

Truth be told, most people don’t line up for the chance to get hurt or attacked, right? BUT, the truth is when we hold back and are not vulnerable, we lose out on way more than just the possibilities of getting hurt.

We lose out on the possibilities of being known.

See, in being vulnerable, we are also exposed to the possibilities of being loved.  We are exposed to the possibilities of experiencing empathy and care.  We are exposed to the possibility of being understood.  Oh, have you ever wished someone understood you? Mercy, I have.

Are we meant to be vulnerable with absolutely everyone?  Are we to flood the world with a boundary-free vulnerability? That’s a “no.”  There are people who, as Brené Brown says, haven’t earned the right to hear our stories.  Some people are simply not safe.

If your life is a healthy one, though, there are probably people with whom you can safely be vulnerable.  Family (not all…you know who I’m talking about), trusted friends, a good counselor…these are good places to start.

But the greatest place to start…Jesus.

Scripture shows him time and time again exposing himself not only to the possibilities of pain and rejection, but also the realities of being known.  As he walked those dusty, hard roads in the Bible, he was SO LOVED.  Yes, he was also hated by some, but because of his vulnerability…because he opened himself up to the risks of pain and joy…he became known as the truth and the life, the One who would bring people back to God.

Jesus displayed incredible vulnerability.  How brave was he?!

If you struggle with vulnerability like I do, remember this: He gets it. Jesus understands not just THE struggle, but YOUR struggle…MY struggle.

No one knows you like he does. With Jesus you are completely safe, completely known, and completely loved.  You can tell him all about it, knowing he not only cares but is ready and willing to make a way for you in the good times and bad. He will take you by the hand and walk with you through all of it.

What a Savior!

Don’t get me wrong…I still think vulnerability is crazy hard. I have a lot to learn. But I’m understanding more now that vulnerability isn’t just about the possibilities of shame and criticism…it’s also about the possibilities of love and belonging.

Those are things that are worth the risk, don’t you think?

Eulogy for a Roast

Some seasons in life are just hard, you know.

I was feeling so low. My soul had been bruised again and again over the last few weeks and that day had yielded yet another wound. I was so done. So tired of being sad and  tired.

On my way home, I was thankful I had asked my oldest son to start supper in the crock pot earlier that day. When I walked into the house, the savory smells of comfort food greeted me.

Thank You, Jesus, for supper and for the crock pots that cook it. Amen.

As I lifted the lid to start shredding the meat, the baby carrots and tiny potatoes smiled up at me. “Your day stunk. We’re here for you, ” they said.  (Note: the vegetables did not actually speak.  I was sad, but not psychotic.)  But as I started to pull the perfectly-cooked meat apart, something odd caught my fork. I fished around and pulled up a bizarre, foreign blob of some sort. It looked like a soggy ball of melted plastic. What on earth?

Turns out it was the absorbent liner that comes with packaged meat. My son hadn’t noticed it as he prepared the roast and into the crock pot it went. A quick Google search confirmed that the roast and vegetables were now inedible since the liner had been damaged and broken during its 8-hour swim.

Sadness.

As I stood looking down at the ruined dinner, tired and disappointed, I knew I had a choice to make.

I could either lose all of my religion with my son for not noticing and scold him for a ruined dinner or I could somehow make the best of it. I could either lose my temper or give out grace.

Philippians 2:5 says that we are to have the same attitude that Jesus has. (Well, that is specific, God. Thank You for that.)

Pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t lose his marbles over a ruined roast. He would undoubtedly show grace instead.

I called my son to the kitchen to show him what had happened and he was, of course,  mortified.

“I’m so sorry!”

I told him that the good news was that he probably wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

The bad news was that he was going to have to write a eulogy for the roast. I had decided that we would be having a special service for the roast after Dad came home, then we would throw it out. (Note: this is not the norm in the Collier home. Sometimes we need a little humor with our grace, though, right?!)

“What? Are you serious?” (Teenagers…so cute.)

Oh, yes. When it comes to humor, I’m always serious.

So, off to his room he went, a little confused but sure of his assignment.

After David came home, our little family of four gathered in the kitchen, each holding onto the garbage bag that contained the doomed roast.  Even our dogs came to sit in our circle…most likely because they hoped we’d drop the bag, but still…

Henry cleared his throat and read:

“Today we honor the memory of the Roast of 2017. It was a good roast. It smelled excellent as it was cooking throughout the day. It will be well remembered by me, Ethan, and the crock pot for the wonderful aroma it provided for its short life. It was gone too soon, and I’m sure it’s looking down on us from roast heaven.”

Ethan, our youngest son, had a hard time keeping it together (laughter, not tears), probably because I kept interjecting impassioned phrases like, “Fix it, Jesus!” and “We’ll never forget you, roast!”

And with that, we threw out the roast and ordered a pizza, because life is short and pizza is good.

I wish I could say that I always make the best choice…that I always react like Jesus would.  I surely don’t.

But on that day, I chose grace. I’m glad I did, too.

Sometimes humor makes a hard day easier.  Grace always does.

Dancing with Regret

This post was originally published on the blog of my dear friend, Bethany.  She impresses me in a million ways, but especially as a writer. Do yourself a favor and check her out!   http://www.truebedtimestories.com/


“Don’t blink,” they say.
I remember hearing that when he was a brand new baby and I found it super annoying.  

Blink?! Seriously?! How about SLEEP? I would have enjoyed one LONG 5-hour blink.  

There is no tired in the whole world like “New Baby in the House” tired, right? It seemed to me that the exhausting newborn stage was going to last FOR-E-VER. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive it.

I know when folks say “Don’t blink,” it’s meant with good intentions. “Don’t blink” means “you’ll be amazed how fast the time is going to go, so you better keep your eyes open so you won’t miss anything!” 

 They were right. It did go fast. So stinking fast. I don’t know who coined the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short,” but they’re right.

Back when I flipped the calendar over to May, I found myself face-to-face with a date that seemed so far away not so long ago…graduation. He’ll graduate from High School this month. For the life of me, I don’t know how that happened.  

While I find myself feeling a mixture of sad and sentimental that this chapter of our lives is almost over, I’m very excited, too. I’m excited for everything he’ll experience and for the “new beginning” college will be for him. I’m excited about the friends he’ll make and the lessons he’ll learn. I’m excited about how God is going to use this next chapter to mold him into the man He intends for him to be.

But in the midst of all of the nostalgia and excitement, I find myself dancing around with an old, familiar partner: Regret.

Regret and I have danced a few times before. I know this partner well.

Regret is a stupid jerk-face that likes to show up, usually in the quiet of the nighttime, and yell in my ear that “everything is ruined” and “nothing good has happened.” In my experience, regret is loud and bossy and rude. Regret wants me to spend my time constantly looking behind me, reliving poor decisions and actions. When it comes to this particular season of motherhood, regret really wants me to wallow in the times I have failed as a mom. Believe me, there are plenty of instances for regret to bring to mind.

In this dance, I find myself feeling regret over the things I didn’t do, didn’t say, or said too loudly. I feel regret for decisions made, consequences that were unrealistic, and opportunities missed. Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. I can always see what I “should have done” so clearly once the opportunity to do so has passed. Tell me that happens to you, too?

See, if I dance with regret long enough, I get dizzy and disoriented and forget which way is up. And that’s just what regret is hoping for! Regret wants to teach me a history lesson, but not a whole one. A history lesson that only includes the bad parts (the mistakes), but doesn’t include the good (the forgiveness), is really not a complete lesson. Teachers who don’t tell the whole truth should be fired, shouldn’t they?

What is regret’s motivation?  

I think it’s simple.  

Regret lives to steal joy. 

And what is the remedy for regret?

That’s simple, too.

Truth. Specifically, God’s Truth.

See, nothing shuts down regret faster than Truth.   

Regret says, “You could have been a better mother to him.”  

Truth says, “I was chosen by God to be his mother. I’m a human. God’s been aware of that all along. He knew I’d need forgiveness and has granted it through His Son.”

Regret says, “Your son is only going to remember the times you failed/yelled/were distracted.”  

Truth says, “He’s also going to remember the times I asked for forgiveness, showed up when it was hard, and helped him succeed in crazy, wonderful ways.”

Regret says, “This chapter is over. Look at how you failed.”

Truth says, “Yes, this chapter is over, but a new one is beginning. God will be just as much in the new chapter as He was in the old one. In God’s economy, even our failures can be used for His glory.”

Regret wants me to forget the truth and to only see my life through a lens of loss.

God’s Truth just isn’t having any of that.

No, God’s Truth redeems and makes things whole again. His Truth calms storms and heals the sick. His Truth even takes the ordinary, everyday mistakes of a mom in Alabama and uses them to teach and mold a boy into the image of His Son. Go figure. God does amazing things. Held up against that kind of power, regret doesn’t stand a chance!

When regret invites you out onto the dance floor, you have a choice whether or not you’ll go. You can tell regret to take a hike. Truth is what shows it back to its seat.

And if you find yourself out on the dance floor wishing you hadn’t agreed to dance in the first place, remember that you don’t have to let regret take the lead. Regret is pushy, but ridiculously weak. At their core, bullies usually are, you know. You can totally overtake it with truth. In no time at all, you’ll see regret sulk away. Bless its heart…it tries so hard. 

So, whatever season of life you find yourself in, remember that God’s Truth covers every situation you face!  

And regret?

Well, you really don’t have much time for that, do you?

You’ve got too much of a life to live! You’ve got people to love! It’s way more fun to dance with them, anyway.