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: http://www.thewellspringfoundation.com.  You’ll be inspired.

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

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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: http://www.jet-7.net/

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 http://www.hungryforlife.org) 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.

DAY 6

July 26, 2009

Almost done! One more day to go…

But this is only the beginning — I can’t go back to my old way of life now and forget what I’ve learned and experienced.  Ben and I are talking about different ideas for how we can live out these lessons in the future.

Still, I am looking forward to eating chicken and fruit and cheese and yogourt again.  🙂

Yesterday (Day 5) was the easiest day so far.  It’s amazing how our bodies adjust.  The hunger pains have subsided quite a bit from what they were in the first few days.  God is giving me strength, and He helped me to get a lot done at work yesterday, which I was really praying about.

The one thing is that I’m feeling a tad moody.  I think that’s the most difficult part right now.  I had a bit of an emotional incident today (should I admit that?).  But God always gives us encouragement right when we need it.  One of our friends who just came back from Swaziland was telling us about his trip and meeting the awesome people there, and how his heart and perspective has been changed by them.  He said impossibilities don’t matter; people pray instead of worry, and God does miracles in their midst.  He also said the orphans there are an inspiration to him.  They are thankful for even one meal a day.

Wow.

Lord, thank You for all that You have given us.  And thank You even more that joy, peace, love and laughter don’t depend on our bank accounts or the food we eat.  Thank You that You have placed beauty and wonder all around us if our eyes are open to see it.