Day 4: clarity

April 15, 2010

Today was really good. We were encouraged by some friends, and had great times of prayer and worship.  God is good!

The food wasn’t an issue today, and we felt very refreshed overall.  What a beautiful day outside, too.  🙂


I’m remembering this now.  Lethargy rests on me like a drizzly Vancouver day, and all I want to do is sleep. I have to overcome it with a walk outside, something to get me going again. Otherwise I find myself staring aimlessly at the floor, thinking nothing, or twirling my hair with my fingers and watching natural light patterns dance on the wall.

Must… wake… myself… up.

It’s funny how many times today my mind has defaulted to the idea of having a snack. It usually takes me a few seconds to remember that there are no snacks. I normally eat a lot of fruit.  I think my body is looking for a sugar high.

I have a much easier time overcoming hunger when I’m excited about something, or busy with something.  Right now I am staring at the computer screen trying not to think about dinner.  🙂

Two things have given me extra motivation today:

– Erin and Livio have taken the challenge to a whole new level — including not using electricity, using one bowl and spoon each all week, and letting go of other luxuries we don’t even think about.  But I will let Erin describe that to you when she starts her blog.

– I visited the website of an organization called the Wellspring Foundation, and they’re doing exciting things in Rwanda — building schools and working with teachers there to educate and encourage the next generation of Rwandans.  Take a look:  You’ll be inspired.

God is good.  He gives us strength when we need it!

Day 1: Confession

April 13, 2010


I’m a wimp when it comes to hunger.  Seriously.

Cause really, I’m eating like a queen — this week included.  That’s the crazy thing.

I’m healthy, I can drink clean water, and this time around, the food even tastes good (thanks to green onions, tomato sauce, and chicken soup base!).  My stomach hurts, but I don’t have parasites.  I crave food, but I have everything I need.

For those who are curious, today’s menu:

Breakfast – oatmeal with cinnamon

Lunch – lentil soup (water, lentils, tomato paste, carrots)

Dinner – brown rice, egg, green onions

What amazes me the most about many people who live in poverty is their generosity.  It’s easy enough to be generous when there are no painful aftereffects, but these people are generous when it hurts.  I remember having dinner with people in Mexico who voluntarily spent their year’s savings on a meal for our team.  Similarly, Craig Kielburger told a story about a young beggar girl who received an orange from a foreigner, and shared it joyfully with the other children.  And those are two stories among many.  Talk about role models.

I learned today that I can be quite selfish sometimes.  When I’m feeling hungry, sharing food with someone else is very difficult.  The desire to share is definitely not a natural response when it means my own needs won’t be covered.  And that is merely at a level of discomfort.  For some, the consequences of giving are much more severe.

I once read a book about acting that said, “True character is revealed under pressure.”  That’s a tough one for me, because I tend to get irritable when my stomach is growling!  But it makes me think of the impoverished people I’ve met with a profound level of respect.  I am inspired by their strength, by their enduring joy, and by their capacity to love selflessly — a capacity I can hardly begin to understand.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – Jesus (John 13:35)

Lord, teach us how to love.

our menu for the week

Wow, here we go again!  We have been so encouraged, challenged, and inspired by others who are doing the one dollar a day challenge both in North America and abroad.  Friends in Cambodia have blogged about their experience here:

So, round 2.  We’re doing the challenge with our close friends, Livio and Erin.  Erin will probably be blogging about it as well, so I’ll provide a link to her site when she starts posting. We’re starting tonight, and ending next Sunday night.  Today all four of us got together in the bulk section of Superstore and selected what we would need for the week.  We have a bit more variety this time around, learning from last time that we didn’t need as much rice as we had thought and some flavor was probably a good thing.  Getting really technical (I’m reading this off the receipt so I can remember for next time!), Ben and I ended up with 1.2 kg of brown rice, 1.1 kg of green lentils, 130 grams of red lentils, 0.5 kg of quick oats, 50 grams of cinnamon, 35 grams of chicken soup base, 2 cans of no name tomato paste, a dozen eggs, 5 lbs of carrots, and a few green onions.  It’s actually pretty incredible what you can get for under $14, if you know where to look.  Once again we watched the items go through the till with a twinge of nervousness, hoping we wouldn’t be over-budget and have to put something back.

It’s funny how our human pride is wrapped up in little things sometimes.  I thought back to times when I have measured my own self worth by expressions of wealth, such as steering clear of the “no name” brand, avoiding the bulk section because it’s less sanitary, not sticking to a rigid budget, and feeling a slight sense of embarrassment at informing the clerk, “If it’s over $14, I’ll have to put something back.”  Money makes us look accomplished, makes us seem mature, makes people think we really have life figured out.  What funny assumptions we buy into.

A friend of mine shared with me yesterday that in her days as a salesperson she once visited the home of a multi-billionaire.  She walked up the long driveway to his mansion and felt dwarfed by his massive entranceway.  Inside, she and her sales partner were amazed to see a beautiful swimming pool, grand halls with elaborate rooms, and shelves of museum-worthy antiques and artifacts — all sitting unused and unadmired.  The lonely billionaire explained that he had no family and no friends.  He could trust no one.  He had no companions except the neighbor’s cat, who came over every now and then for a dish of food and then left.  His servants and housekeepers avoided him as much as possible, taking off immediately after their work ended.  My friend said she felt a deep sadness for the man, who seemed excited that he had visitors even though they had only come to sell him something.  He had sacrificed relationships for wealth.  She walked back down that driveway with the renewed realization that she would rather have very little and be surrounded by love than own all the world and enjoy it alone.

Of course that is the extreme, but it reminded me to check myself.  Where are my priorities leading me?  If I keep walking down this path, where will I end up in ten years?  What’s the next step?

Both Ben and I are asking that question right now.  Our work has slowed down along with the economy, so we are spending more time at home praying together about what God is calling us to do — and, more importantly, who God is calling us to be, including how we should respond to the situations around us and in the world.  We want to know Jesus more, and thus to have our hearts stretched and broken for those in need, to trust God’s leading (though sometimes it may seem crazy), to refuse a life of fear.

As the Apostle Paul says:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  – Philippians 3:7-14

This is what Christianity is about.  Knowing Jesus.  Sharing and experiencing the abundant overflow of His love in the context of community.  Erin shared this letter with me — she found it in a book called Hungry for Life, by Dave Blundell.  (It’s a GREAT book, by the way! Definitely worth reading.  You can learn more about it by contacting the staff at The letter is written by an advisor to the Roman Emperor in 137 A.D. and reads as follows:

“It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their smallness. Anyone of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. If they see a travelling stranger, they bring him under their roof. They rejoice over him as a real brother, for they do not call one another brothers out of the flesh, but they know that they are brothers in the spirit and in God. If they hear that one of them is imprisoned or oppressed for the sake of Christ, they take care of all his needs. If possible, they set him free. If anyone among them is poor or comes into want while they themselves have nothing to spare, they fast two or three days for him. In this way they can supply any poor man with the food he needs. This O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.”  (Aristides, In the Meantime, 2009; quoted in Hungry for Life, p. 62)

Wow.  That’s the fruit of lives transformed by the Living Christ.  Lord, transform us with Your love.

I need it

August 10, 2009

This weekend has been very humbling.

On Friday Ben was reading through a chapter of John Ortberg’s book, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted,” and he shared a few thoughts from the book with me.  The chapter was about recognizing and celebrating our smallness.

From our conversation I have a better understanding of why we did this challenge.  We did not do this challenge because poor people need our money, or because other people need this challenge.  We did the challenge because we need it.  I need it.  I need to have my eyes opened, to have my heart humbled and broken, to be in a place where God can work on me.

The truth is, God doesn’t need our money, our prayers, or our devotion.  He doesn’t need us at all.  But we need Him.  And He knows that.  We pray, not because God needs our prayers before He can work (after all, Jesus said even “the rocks will cry out” if people don’t praise Him), but because we need to focus our hearts on God and abide in Him before we can hear and respond to His voice.  Because we need to know God hears and responds, not due to our own worthiness, but due to His very nature of love, mercy, and grace.

And here’s another truth.  People in poverty don’t need our money to be happy.  Most of them are, shockingly, happier than the average millionaire.  God can work miracles in their lives whether we are part of them or not. But we need to give to the poor, and we need to love the broken and outcast.  Otherwise our hearts will shrivel and our faith will wither.  Our selfishness and greed will overcome us and choke out any capacity for love.  We will miss out on what God is doing.  We will not be able to call ourselves His followers or even have a basic understanding of what that means.

I am just starting to get this.  I am nothing — worse than nothing — apart from God.  On my own, I cannot supply anyone’s needs, or give anything of value.  But God leads me through the challenges I need in order to make my heart receptive to Him.  Then, when He works, He calls us to have the privilege of being part of it.

Lord, lead us on.  Humble our hearts so we can respond to Your voice.

When the dust settles

August 8, 2009

It’s been over a week now since the challenge ended, and I’m finding it difficult not to swing back into my old routine.  At the same time, I feel restless in this lifestyle.  I want more. Not more stuff, but more reality.  Not more money.  More faith.

What’s Step 2?

August 1, 2009

hey everyone,

So now that our first $1 a day week is over, I am going to use this blog as a way of telling you about simple challenges, organizations and projects that you can get involved with on various levels.  The goal is to counteract the paralysis of information overload by providing… (drumroll please) more information!!!  ha.

Seriously though, I know what it’s like to read a book about poverty or watch a gripping movie about social injustice and walk away thinking, “Wow, that was sad. I don’t know how to begin to respond, so I think I’ll go home, have a snack, and try not to think about it anymore.”

Today we have more opportunities than ever before to make a positive difference in this world — and we also have unprecedented opportunities to get totally distracted from life with all kinds of toys, addictions, and fantasies imaginable… and miss the whole point. It’s a constant struggle for me to stay focused on Christ. To give up my comfortable routine, my convenient luxuries, my immediate concerns and emotions. To take up my cross and follow Jesus when people around me tell me I’m crazy, I’m risking way too much, it’ll never work. Faith often seems ridiculous to spectators and critics — but then again, so does dancing!

I have a small challenge for all of us today. It seems easy, but it will take a concerted effort. I promise I’ll do it too.

Instead of reading this and then going on Facebook or checking your email or playing games or going to the fridge for a snack, or whatever else you were planning on doing, put down everything in your hands right now. Find a clearing on your floor (which, if you’re anything like me, may be difficult), and kneel down. Close your eyes (after you finish reading this!) and ask God: “God, how do You want me to respond to all that I have seen, read, and heard today?”

Then wait. Be silent. If God puts something on your heart, some way that you can reach out to someone or help another person, do it. It may sound silly, or it may sound difficult, or it may be very humbling. It may also be incredibly simple. Take one step at a time.

Ready… set…

Let’s go.  🙂

“…let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”  – Amos 5:24

“Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”  – Proverbs 21:13

I’d like to share the words for a song I’m in the process of writing.  It’s still quite a work in progress (and it looks a bit funny here on paper without the music), but it’s the best way I can capture what I’m feeling about this whole journey.

For those of you who are non-Christians: “the body of Christ” is a phrase commonly used to describe the church, in part because our calling is to reach out to broken and hurting people in the same way Jesus did — and thus be His hands and feet.


(by Vanessa Dyck)

How do I fit you in
To my world of business suits and office chairs
To my two-storey house on a cul-de-sac
And my idea of what is fair
You live so far away
From my chocolate cakes and coffee breaks
But I think of you when my stomach aches
Of your dark eyes and the storms inside
And your tiny hopeful face

And I’m hiding, cause I’m troubled by what I see
But I’m seeking, cause it doesn’t make sense to me

How could we be the body of Christ
And not answer
The cries of a world that’s pleading
for the hope that we can give

How could we be the body of Christ
And not rescue
The widows and the orphans
With the abundance we’ve received

When will we be the body of Christ?

Let’s play hide-and-seek
I’ll hide you in the TV screen and flip the channels aimlessly
Or take a different road when you’re bleeding in the ditch
Sometimes I hear a preacher speak
About your needs and how you’re unreached
But I don’t know what to do
Cause there’s so much stuff I’ve got to lose
And this Good News I have makes me nervous too

So I’m hiding, cause I’m troubled by what I see
But I’m seeking, cause it doesn’t make sense to me

And I wonder will God forgive us for our closets full of clothes
For our overpriced expansion plans and the starving nation’s bones
Will we pray He looks the other way while we build our fancy homes

Or will we be the body of Christ
And answer
The cries of this generation
With the hope that Jesus gives

When will we be the body of Christ
And let go of
Our money and possessions
To find the life we’re made to live

When will we be the body of Christ?

Last night we watched the movie Faith like Potatoes. It’s based on a true story about a Scottish farmer in South Africa (Angus Buchan) who has what most of us would consider ridiculous faith in God. But the problem isn’t with him; it’s with us!

He prays for things and they happen — not because he’s anything great, but because he simply asks God and trusts in Him.  That humble yet courageous faith inspires me.  I think we would see a lot more miracles in our lives if we had two things: true faith in God and true dependence on Him. I’m not saying suffering and difficulties wouldn’t happen — but when they did come, we would see them much differently.

I find it so amazing that God listens to us.  And all we need is “a broken and contrite heart.” Humility. No wonder God loves the poor and the outcasts so much.


July 27, 2009

Yay, we did it!!!!!  Thank You Lord!!!!!!!

Today has been awesome.  We were feeling weak, but God is strong.  There were many times today when we truly had to rely on His strength.

By the way, Gospel for Asia’s website is very informative and easy to navigate — check it out at  (And I promise, they aren’t paying me for saying this!) You can choose from a wide variety of specific areas to give to, such as outreach programs to help the Dalit people, funds to support the native missionaries, etc.  The other great thing is that 100% of the money will go to what you specify.  You can donate online with your credit card (but not with someone else’s… just thought I’d throw that in there).  There’s also a Canadian office, so if you’re sending a cheque you can mail it to a Canadian or US address.

I’ll let you know more later… right now I’m getting ready to eat dinner!!!!  How exciting!!!

So what will change in our lives?  We are committing to specific ways of giving more and spending less on ourselves.  We are also going to be a lot more thankful for our meals, and thank God every time we are able to go grocery shopping.  Plus we want to keep praying for the poor overseas and in our own community, and find ways of reaching out to them.

We don’t want to just pig out now that the week is over; that counteracts the whole point.  So we’re going to eat at home and keep it simple.  But we also have a bit of a treat to celebrate — some blueberries and ice cream!

sidenote: If you’re looking for a sustainable way to keep giving, GFA has a program where you can support a native missionary for $30 a month.  Many of you probably already have sponsored children with various organizations, and that’s a great way to go too.

I hope you all have a great evening.  Thank you so much for your time, your heart for God and for the poor, and for encouraging us and inspiring us.  There are hundreds of you out there who have taught us by example what it means to love God and devote yourselves to Him.  We thank the Lord for you.

Praise God.  He is good!

Then what?

July 26, 2009

So what happens when these 7 days are done?

Stay tuned on our blog for updates about the challenge, as well as advice, resources, and recipes that can help you if you are interested in joining us.

Eating rice, lentils, oats, and carrots for a week really isn’t that difficult.  Yeah, there are challenging times, but the experience is well worth it.  Worth every dollar. (ha)

Seriously, if you’re at all interested in doing this, let me encourage you to go for it.

Here are a couple simple tips to get you started:

– we realized a few days in that we could have bought less rice and spent the money on other food.  Tomato sauce, salt, and garlic would have been very helpful.  Chicken boullion would have been nice too.  We found that a cup of rice each was enough for lunch and dinner for a day (more than enough for me, but not quite enough for Ben, so it balanced out), and oats in the morning was really cost effective.

– lentils are a GREAT idea.  They are an easy source of protein, and if you’re trying to get a sense of what people eat overseas, lentils or other beans/legumes are often a staple.

– soup is also a great idea.  Some friends of ours recently sent aid packages overseas, and they said each package was a soup mix that included rice, lentils, a teaspoon of dried vegetables, and a teaspoon of chicken boullion.

– the bulk section at the grocery store may become your close friend.

– when rice and lentils start to get a little boring, try boiling about half a cup of dry lentils with lots of water and about 4 chopped carrots.  Then puree the soup mixture, add a tiny bit of salt, and pour the mixture over rice.  On about Day 5, this tastes AMAZING.  Special thanks to Erin for telling me the idea!  We appreciated that a lot.  🙂

– we chose dried foods that don’t need to be refrigerated because we wanted the experience to be as close to people’s experiences overseas as possible.  If you would prefer to choose other foods, though, that’s totally up to you.  A dollar a day will probably get you a lot further than you expect, as long as you use your creativity!

Cheap-yet-satisfying foods:

most of these are pretty obvious, but we wish we had thought of some of them at the time…

– canned tuna or other canned fish

– dried beans and lentils

– pasta, oatmeal, and rice (any food that expands in water is a very exciting concept when you’re living on a small budget)

– tomato sauce/paste/etc.

– garlic

– carrots

– bread

– refried beans and tortillas