I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Gumdrop Theory

I don’t know about you, but I have certain memories from my childhood that are indelibly engraved in my mind. One such memory is the Gumdrop Theory. (Which really should be more of a Gumdrop Principle, or axiom…it’s impossible to turn off the scientist in me.)

Anyway, the Gumdrop Theory was relayed to me during a children’s sermon using an empty baby food jar filled to the brim with dried rice. My pastor sifted his fingers through the rice and said, “Each grain of rice represents the things you do every day.”

Looking back, I think he should have just told the theory straight to the grown-ups, because at ten, my “to do” list consisted of five things: study spelling words, don’t get caught tormenting younger brothers, play outside, set the table, go to bed.

But I stopped picking at my band-aid when he pulled a gumdrop out of his pocket. He tried to cram the gumdrop into the jar full of rice, asking us if it would fit. Not a chance.

Then he emptied out the rice and placed the gumdrop at the bottom of the jar. He asked us if we thought he could get all the rice back in atop the gumdrop. Not likely. After all, he’d already proved the grains wouldn’t all fit with the gumdrop inside. But when he poured the rice back into the jar, miraculously, each and every grain fit. He twisted on the cap. I sat amazed.

“This gumdrop represents God,” he said. “When you try to cram God in after everything else in your day, He won’t fit.” He held up the closed jar. “But when you put God into your day first, everything else will still fit.”

Looking back, God must have known that memory would take up permanent residence in my heart. How often in my writing, in my life, do I put God in last, then ponder why He doesn’t fit? As we spend time developing our God-given gift as writers, remember to spend time with Him first each day. The Gumdrop Theory proves if you put God in first, the rest of your life, and your writing, will always still fit.

Blessings as you write,

Amy Lindberg

P.S. Don't forget to click on our Contest! tab for details about the August contest and PJ Sugar, one of my favorite series from Susan May Warren!


  1. Amy, I love this story, and I'm so glad you shared this memory from when you were 10. I'm going to do this with my children. I know people who spend time with God at night, but if I don't meet with Him in the morning and fit Him in first thing, I'm too much like that rice. My good intentions don't happen.

  2. Gumdrops--probably my all-time favorite candy, next to jelly beans. And now they are a visual for God.
    Good column, Ames!

  3. First of all, is it kinda spooky that I've been working on tightening a scene in just the past couple days in which gumdrops play a vital role?

    Second, great post, Amy! It's a sweet (ha!)theory (or, principal, axiom, whatever the proper scientific term)...has me thinking over the two hours I've been awake so far today. It really stinks that in the rush to get to work, the thing I probably thought most about was my hazelnut coffee. Need to work on that...gumdrop FIRST, then all the other "rice" around it...

  4. Love that, Amy. It's amazing how something so simple can make such a profound statement.

  5. Thanks Roxanne. I used to read at night, but so often I want to read a novel then, that my Bible time gets cut short (because I usually read until I can't hold the novel open!) I'm trying to get better about the morning thing, so it was a good reminder for myself!

  6. Beth, thanks! Now I know what candy to buy you next time I see you. Gumdrops and jellybeans. Do you realize you have both Christmas gingerbread houses and Easter baskets covered?

  7. M-Tagg, amazing you are working with gumdrops now in a scene, I can't wait to read that one! As for Hazelnut coffee, just pair it with your Bible. (That's what I did all last week with my hubby's birthday cake...Bible and cake, first thing...good thing I run some!)

  8. Thanks Brenda. Simple for sure, but it definitely stuck! (And it was good practice telling a little story in a blog-sized post, usually I'm one big run on sentence!)

  9. I'm with Bethy--I love gumdrops, especially the spice ones. Oh, and the midget ones have less calories. Less calories=less guilt. Oh, but I digress...

    I love this analogy, Ames. So fitting no matter how we fill our days. I'm so guilty of trying to fit the gumdrop into the rice, especially with writing. I have a toddler mentality--"Me do it." When it doesn't work, God's shaking his head and smiling. "See, if you would've let me in, I could've helped and you wouldn't be in this mess now, would you?"


  10. Amy, this was great. Do you know what I thought of first this morning? Checking my email and blog posts. I should have remembered to check my GOD-mail first. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. LJ, you work with toddlers...I bet it's tough to get away from the "me do it" mentality!

    I don't have kiddos, but I bet one of the best times as a parent is when your kids come back to you running for help. Ergo, even if God loves it when we start with him, I think our running back is precious to him, too. (okay, I'll admit it, I just wanted to use ergo in a sentence.)

  12. Ames, I used this illustration with my basketball girls only I used beans and ping-pong ball. Having them salivate over a gumdrop would have made it much more memorable!

    I've prayed more over the novel I'm writing now that I have over any other novel. That did not make the process any less strenuous, but I hope there's a profound message there somewhere even if it just for me or a critique partner.

    Embarking on this writing journey without the Lord (even for one day) would futile!

    Thanks for a timely reminder.

    Um...gum drops, chocolate mint malt balls, jelly beans . . . I don't know if I my weight can take another MBT retreat!

  13. MMMMM, Gumdrops! These are near the top of my faves list, after Junior Mints (or other sweets with a dark chocolate and mint combination). I, too, loved the analogy you shared, and how sweet it was that you heard it at such a tender age! What an important concept to ponder (can I end a sentence with "ponder?")

    You lovely ladies have really brought home to me the necessity of and the beauty that comes from seeking to grow in my relationship with Jesus. Already, I see it impact my attempts at writing. It has been tricky for me to "get in" consistent quiet times with Jesus this summer, especially in the mornings, but when I have had both "Jesus time" and "writing time," I have found some of these days that the ideas flowed almost effortlessly from my mind to the computer screen. I love how God gives inspiration and He enables His people to give encouragement.

    Thanks for sharing your post, Amy!

  14. Teri,
    That you can do this with a ping pong ball and beans definitely makes it a principle, not just a theory!

    I can't wait to see what God does with your novel. Your daily word counts on facebook inspire me.

    And I agree, we have way too much candy in our Ponderer lives!

  15. Jeanne,
    I loved it when you talked about God giving inspiration and allows us to encourage others. Praying that your writing is effortless today.

    P.S. I don't even think I could pick top 5 candies...sour patch kids are probably up there, and cookies and cream hershey bars...after that, it's just a free for all.

  16. Okay, so first it occurs to me that I must be one of the few people on the planet who don't like gumdrops, lol! I hate how they get stuck in my teeth. But, Amy, I am totally with you on the cookies and cream hershey bars as I am a BIG fan of white chocolate!

    Annnnnnnyway. I saw this done at a Bible study probably ten years ago, with a walnut and rice. And one of my Bible study partners made us pretty jelly jars with the walnut and rice sealed inside and the top covered in fabric and ribbon. I had it for the longest time, but I have no idea whatever happened to it. It was an awesome reminder to put God first. I have long been the "I'm not a morning person so I read my Bible at night and God is good with that" person, but I have since discovered that putting God first in my day does not require me to rise at 5am, I just need to do it when I first get up. Still, I am like many of you today...I thought first of my coffee and then of my facebook, email, and Ponderer Blog.

    Thanks, Ames, for getting me back on track!

  17. Thanks for the great object lesson! I've seen it done with rocks and sand, but it makes it so much more applicable when you use something that "hits the spot" that resonates with us!

    Thank you Amy for reminding me as to what is important!

  18. Regina,
    I know what you mean, I always think of checking email and facebook first...

  19. Heidi,
    Great reminder that first thing doesn't necessarily mean 5 am!

  20. Hey, Doc, remind me to tell you my gingerbread house story sometime . . .

  21. Ames, I had an article deadline this week and somehow literally lost a day this week, wondered why the garbage collector was coming a day early until I realized... And fell behind in reading these posts. I am amazed afresh at what truly good writers y'all are and the excellent content. Well done, Amy, and Ponderers!