When Life Gives You Jalapeños

We’ve all heard the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – but what if life hands you a pile of jalapeños?

That’s the situation I faced earlier in the month when I was preaching a revival near Austin, Texas. The host pastor took me out for lunch after the first service and, as Texans are inclined to do, we chose Mexican. My colleague decided not to eat his entire meal, so he asked for a to-go container. Later that afternoon, he remembered that he had left his food on the table back at the restaurant.

Evening services came and went, and afterward, the church served a brisket dinner. I was still full from lunch, so I decided to load up a styrofoam container and eat later that night at the parsonage. The pastor did the same. “I’ll grab your dinner so you don’t forget again,” I said slyly. He agreed with a nod and smile.

Back at the parsonage, I was getting hungry, so I strolled into the kitchen, grabbed my box and opened it. My eyes took in the unexpected sight, and my brain took a split-second to process it — I had mistakenly grabbed a box of sliced jalapeños. Lots of jalapeños. The spicy peppers were leftovers from the church dinner. Needless to say, I didn’t want jalapeños for a meal.

The pastor and I had a good chuckle over our absentmindedness that day, and then we wondered who would be the first to weave it into a message.

I think the great philosopher, Merle Haggard, said it best: “Life always gives you what you don’t want.” Ain’t that the truth? We carefully plan our day; we make goals for our career; we nurture our dreams — and then life bashes us with something unexpected. We’re at the plate expecting a hard fastball, but the pitcher throws a nasty curve.

What do we do in these situations? We can cry or complain. Some people take the hit and stuff their feelings. Others become stuck, immobilized with fear.

The thing we have to remember is this: none of us are immune from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” There are times when we get a lovely enchilada dinner with rice and refried beans, all washed down with a refreshing margarita, and there are other times when we get nothing but fierce, peppery trials.

Accept the fact that life is unpredictable and sometimes unfair. But also embrace the reality of God. If anyone went to hell and back, it was Jesus. But He survived. More than that: He rose. With faith and hope in Him, you can, too.


  1. Reply
    Steve Moss says

    Yes, a styrofoam container filled with delicious jalapeños can help bring a laugh but as you’ve commented Mark, when reflected upon, as with everything in life, God can help bring wisdom, clarity and meaning even out of the mundane…even out of container loaded full of jalapeños…

  2. Reply
    This is a GREAT story! says

    Mark, this warms my heart today!

    • Reply
      Mark Winter - One Man Show Ministries says

      It’s a “hot” post, for sure! Glad it warmed you up – thanks for reading!

  3. Reply
    Dianne Anthony says

    Truly a great story and so applicable to my life! Thank you, Mark for your ministry!

    • Reply
      Mark Winter - One Man Show Ministries says

      Thank you for reading!

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