Cinnamon Orbit


Do you have those things that take you back to a place or a person or an event? Maybe it’s a song (this time that’s NOT what this is!), a smell, a place, a piece of clothing? Or maybe, like me today, it’s something totally weird. Like a package of gum. GUM, y’all.

In the big middle of HEB today, I straight up lost it. Like had to walk away from my cart and have a moment. See this gum? Cinnamon Orbit? In high school, this was my favorite gum. And knowing me back then, I was probably a gum snob and turned down anything that wasn’t Cinnamon Orbit. I haven’t even seen this gum in YEARS.

When I was in high school, and for some years after, this was my favorite gum. Because it was, my Grandma kept me well stocked in this gum. Like Sam’s Club bulk boxes. I seldom, if ever, had to buy it for myself.  That’s what she did.  If she knew there was something you liked (hello, Starbucks bottled fraps), she made sure you always had it. And more of it than you’d ever possibly need.  Because that’s how she gave and how she loved.

I distinctly remember opening the last packet of Orbit Cinnamon that she bought me before the first time brain cancer tried to take her from us. By the time I got to that last packet of gum, a second round of brain cancer had already taken her from us. I almost didn’t open it. Because it was the last pack of gum I’d ever have from her. But I did.

Honestly, I think that may be the last pack of Orbit Cinnamon I ever had. I remember at times, looking in the check out line for it and never finding it.  I guess time has a way of burying things in your memory. Because I honestly forgot about this gum…until today.

I made a wrong turn down and aisle at HEB, then stopped to answer a text. When I looked up, there it was. Right in my face. Cinnamon Orbit. In a split second, I was in that old blue Chevy Lumina with my Grandma (Grandpa, too, I’m sure) getting gum. I lost it. I didn’t totally hit ugly cry, but I certain hit unattractive cry. Over gum. GUM, y’all. After I walked back to my cart and regained by composure, I grabbed that package of gum.

As soon as dinner is done tonight, I’ll be popping a piece in my mouth. I don’t know if I’ll still love this gum like I did in high school, but I know I’ll love thinking about my Grandma while I’m chewing it. She loved fiercely, generously and lavishly. She passed that on to my mama. And as I look at that gum, I hope I’ve picked up some of it, too.


Weeds and flowers

We’ve all heard that phrase “grow where you’re planted”. It’s a nice thought, right? You’ve been placed in this “soil”, so grow while you’re in it.

But recently, looking at a little note at my friend Christy’s desk, God gave me a new perspective on that. The note was a simple, handwritten note that said “Bloom where you’re planted” with a little flower drawn on. Bloom. Not grow.

Is there a difference?

Here’s the thing. A weed grows where it’s planted. It grows, and chokes out the life of everything around it. It grows taller and taller and spreads itself all around until it can choke out the life of a once beautiful garden.

A flower…well, a flower grows where it’s planted. But then it blooms.  It blooms into the beautiful, colorful flower that God designed it to be. It’s not only beautiful to look at, but it gives life to things around it. Other things in its garden depend on it for its life giving pollen.

A weed is never picked and given as a token of affection or gathered and placed in a bouquet. A weed is never simply cut with the hope that it grows back again next season. A weed can only be removed by digging up it’s roots and pulling every part of it, then throwing it away.

A flower though, is picked by a small child as often a first gift he gives his mother. A flower is given as a token of affection and love. Flowers are gathered and placed as centerpieces in our homes or placed in bouquets for our most special occasions. A flower, once cut, can leave its roots. Because those roots will again grow and bloom into life. Beautiful, flourishing life.

Right now, right where you are, are you living as a weed or as a flower? Wherever you are, God has placed you there for a reason.  And probably even only for a season. Maybe it’s a hard place. Maybe it’s an unwanted place. Maybe it’s an isolated place. Maybe it’s a place of hurt, confusion, loss, frustration, anger. But it’s where you are.

So are you choosing to live there as a weed? Are you allowing bitterness, resentment, anger, negativity be the source of your growth? Or are you living there as a flower? Allowing grace and love and mercy and peace and God’s promises be the source of your growth?

Whether you’ve made the choice to be a weed or a flower, you’re growing. But one grows and brings death, choking out the life around it. The other grows and blooms and brings life and joy to everything around it.

It’s a choice. Sometimes a daily choice. So today, choose. Choose to bloom as the beautiful flower God made you to be.

vicTIM or vicTOR

“Who can separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or hard times or harm or hunger? Can nakedness or danger or war? It is written, “Because of you, we face death all day long.  We are considered as sheep to be killed.” NO! In all these things we will do even more than win. We owe it all to Christ, who has loved us.  I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love.  Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that.  Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.”  Romans 8:35-39

We hear the word “victim” a lot in our society today. It’s become a label.  Sometimes we pin it on ourselves, other times it gets pinned on us.  Sometimes we choose to grab hold of that label and drown in it. Everything is someone else’s fault. Everyone else should take responsibility. Our past & present hurt is no doing of our own and we’re always the victim.

Friends, that’s such a dangerous place to live.  We know because of what Christ endured on earth and what the Bible tells us that we will all have troubles.  None of us are exempt. Not a single one of us. And senseless things absolutely will happen to us. Things that are truly out of our control. Things that come without warning, without provocation, without our contribution much less our consent.  We will have trouble.

Can you imagine if Paul had just gone through that long list of the “troubles” that Christ followers of his time had faced and answered his “who can separate us from God’s love” question with “Yeah, we always have this stuff. We’re always the victims. It’s always hard. We’ll muddle through somehow.”? What an encouragement that would have offered to the future church…or not.  He spoke victory in Christ over those things and declared himself more than a winner in the big middle of all of the ugly.

I heard one of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing say recently that she refused to call herself a victim. Others calling her that was almost offensive to her. Because, as she said it, “a victim is defined by what happened to them.” That hit me SO big. But she went on to say that a survivor…a victor…is defined by how they won that battle, how they fought that fight, how they overcame that adversity.

She completely personified what Paul represented in Romans 8. Paul was a victor. The present troubles, the hurt, the circumstances were not going to define Paul. He was more than a winner.

Sometimes the difference in moving from vicTIM to vicTOR is as simple as speaking the small beauty in the present trouble. Finding the little God bits that are there for you and embracing those, celebrating those. Yes, you’re still facing trouble, but focusing on the small ways God drops reminders of His presence will take your eyes off of the storm and onto the one who calms it.

Sometimes the difference is big. Sometimes it takes looking hard at yourself and seeing that your actions, your circumstances are of your own doing.

During my senior year of high school, my parents divorced. And with that came the slew of indiscretions in my father’s life coming to light. Yep, I was innocent. His choices, his behaviors and how they impacted me…I had noting to do with any of it. I was helpless. I was a victim. And I allowed myself to stay that way.

I spent several years letting trust issues, hurt feelings and anger impact all of the relationships around me. A few brave souls stayed put and loved me through it. But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties or so that I stopped blaming my dad for any conflict I had to face. I wasn’t being a good friend? It was his fault. I wasn’t being a good daughter? It was his fault. Not a good girlfriend? Thank my dad. See the pattern there? Instead of allowing God to heal me, restore me and grow me, I was content to stay a victim and blame my dad for any bad behavior on my part.  It took a complete God sized work to allow me to heal and to forgive. And also to see that no matter what my dad had done, I and only I was responsible for my actions.

God really brought beautiful things from such an ugly circumstance. And had I chosen to be a vicTOR sooner, He could have revealed so much more.

Friend, I want to challenge you. If you find yourself in the middle of “present troubles” like Paul wrote about, look for the little God things while you wait for God to bring you through.  If you feel like you find yourself constantly in the midst of “present troubles”, always feeling like the victim, I challenge you to approach your Father with a open heart. Is there something He wants to heal and restore in you? Is there a rough edge that He wants to smooth in you? That process isn’t always easy or fun, but it is so very worth it.

Today, friend, find the God things and focus on them. Choose to be a vicTOR in your present troubles.

If I told you…

Mugs Of Coffee On A Table Close Up

Oh this song. It hits me right in the feels every.single.time. If I told you my story, what would you hear? I don’t really mean the things, the ups, the downs. The struggles, the victories, the losses.  If I told you my story, would you hear Jesus? Would you hear too much me and not enough Him? Would you wonder if I’ve ever really met Him?

This song, y’all, is my heart. Thank you, Big Daddy Weave, for putting my heart in a song.

If I should speak then let it be of grace that is greater than all my sin…Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in.  To tell you my story is to tell of Him.

Our Story

A couple of years ago I added a little page and told a little story about Juice Plus+.  Because this space has always been about how God speaks to me and how I hope you can hear Him through my words, I promised to not post a lot about Juice Plus+.  I’d say a couple of years between posts is pretty darn good 😉

I recently needed to put our story together in a “presentable” way.  And because I feel like our story is worth sharing, I’m sharing it here. If you’d like to know more, let’s talk.