October 12, 2012

on rice

Sometimes our pastors make us do some crazy stuff.

Like the time he announced our huge church garage sale. Except that we were NOT to bring our junk. Instead, we were to bring that "one special treasure" in our life...to sell for the needy.

I actually had a little internal battle on that one.

The nonconformist on my shoulder whispered, "you don't really have to listen to every little thing your pastor says...he's just a man...not God", vs the little angel on my other shoulder "the fact that this is such a hard decision for you means you are holding on too tight and idolizing that treasure."

And on and on 'we' debated, until the more 'we' debated, the more I realized I needed to let that treasure go!

Or the time we were instructed to leave our nice shoes at church next week and walk out barefoot. Good old barefoot Sunday.

So when my pastor announced that he had a 'little something' he wanted our congregation to do, my first thought was "Oh crud! I'm wearing my fav new toms. He's gonna ask me to leave them and walk out barefoot today". Hahahaaaaaa.

But no. He did not ask me to leave my toms.

Instead, he held up a bag of rice.

And presented a challenge.

We were to eat this rice for one entire day that week. 
And the money saved on our regular food for the day, we were to bring back to church next Sunday.
Along with $1.50 per bag of rice consumed.
This money would help feed the Haitians, who considered these bags of rice as gifts from heaven. Like steak.
Each bag fed them 6 meals.
If 2000 people in our church did this for 1 day we would feed 2000 Haitians for 16 days. 

Yowzas. We are piggies.

"We don't just want your money. We want you to eat this and ask yourself "Is Jesus worth it to me to deny myself?", our pastor said. Our sermon that day was from Luke 9:23

"...If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me"

Our pastor continued, "And eating this rice for a day does not make you a super Christian or mean you even have an inkling of what it means to deny yourself!"

"Oh and one more thing" Pastor Jeff said. "This rice doesn't taste good."
We grabbed 6 bags of rice for our family of 6 and went home.

"Let's start at lunch today and finish by tomorrow for breakfast", John said.

The {recovering}perfectionist in me protested "No! I think we are supposed to do it all on the same day!"

But since John is the leader of our house, I went along with it.

I didn't think it would be that hard. But I was aware that I was going to be inconvenienced by this rice deal. I wasn't exactly looking forward to it. I'm a bit of a pansy and often wilt when it comes to food. I couldn't even make it though a 12-hour fast to get my cholesterol checked. At 4 am I caved and ate pb&honey.

But this was different. I had rice to eat, which was fortified with vitamins and soy.

And I was secretly thrilled I didn't have to think about what to make for dinner that night!

So for lunch Sunday we cooked up 2 bags of rice. John looked at me pathetically and asked, "can we add sausage?" to which I shouted "NO!"

Our first bowl of rice tasted just fine.

And I might have felt the tiniest amount smug that I thought the rice tasted ok. "I'm used to eating rocks and sticks", I thought .

You know what they say. Pride comes before the fall.

I looked at our pot of leftovers. "Did it multiply?" I asked John, feeling a bit disgusted.

I ran some errands that afternoon. Walking out of Home Depot I passed a taco stand and smelled the most delicious smell in all the world. (Those tacos are going on my bucket list. Today I realized I have no bucket list. Do you?)

I was getting hungry. And just knowing I wasn't allowed to eat those tacos made me crave them all the more! I never wanted tacos from a food stand ever before! For the first time, I realized, this rice thing was really hard.

I went home and cooked just 1 bag for dinner.

Libby joined us for moral support. "Thank you Jesus for this rice".

I ate as much as I could stomach and started to feel a little sickened by the chunks of soy and strange seasonings. Everything tasted a bit off, shall we say? What I wouldn't do for some plain white rice with soy sauce, I thought.

I mechanically chomped my jaws up and down, willing myself to eat it. And I thought of the days as a kid where my dad made us say "Yum Yum Delicious!" when we complained about food.

Even with 1 bag of rice, we still had leftovers.

"We should feed this stuff to our inmates in prison!", John declared.

"The crime rate would go down instantly", we joked.

Even the poorest of America would probably scorn this rice.

Barefoot Sunday...Treasure Sale...Dragging 4 boys to Mexico for 4 days...these were all a piece of cake compared to eating this rice/soy mush.

That night I went to bed feeling depressed that I would have to wake up to this rice again. But, "Yes Jesus. You are worth this. Thank you for giving us this rice to eat."

I couldn't believe how much food effected my mood! I felt so pathetic that all my joy in life had evaporated that night at the thought of eating the rice for breakfast.

"I'm so spoiled", I thought. "So, so spoiled."
That morning, John made Finn and Cal rice and I dropped them off at school.

Back at home, I prepared rice for Ollie, Twain and myself.

Ollie looked ghastly pale and was laying on the floor.

As I cooked this rice, my stomach turned. I was determined to finish. We had come this far.

Twain walked around crying for peanuts and raisins. "No honey, we are having rice one more time", I said calmly.

And Twain just stood there with his mouth open and bawled.

And my heart just ached. Not for Twain but for the Haitian mothers and all mothers of this world who have to stand by helpless and watch their children cry from actual starvation.

Me and my kids are so spoiled.

From Ollie's room I hear a strange noise of gagging and retching. Apparently he just barfed all over the carpet.

As I rushed to grab cleaning rags, the phone rang. "This is Finn" I hear a small voice say. "I'm at the nurse's office and my stomach hurts really bad. Can you get me?"

"I'll be there soon honey", I answered and hung up.

We picked up Finn and grabbed Calvin too, just in case he started throwing up too.

Back at home, I poured myself a {small} bowl of rice, eyeing it suspiciously. Later that day Twain had diarrhea. I have no idea if we had a random bug or if it was the rice, and honestly it doesn't matter.

I learned such a valuable lesson from this rice experiment.

I am spoiled.
I am so so grateful for the food I eat every day and will never take it for granted again. Seriously every bite of food I've had since the rice tastes like a wild taste sensation.
And I never ever want to see this rice again!

We still have 2 bags left. Any takers?

Ollie has his bag stashed on his bed shelf for safekeeping. Such a hoarder.

I really wanted to save the final bag for the potluck at our church camping trip at the end of the month. John said No.

I have no idea what else is gonna come from this rice experiment but it made a huge impact on us and our church. The conversations I've had in the days since rice, have been completely hilarious yet awesome. We are bonded for life over rice. If you ever get a chance to do something like this, do it! It was worth it. Jesus is worth it.

Has your church or organization ever done anything like this?


  1. That's crazy! I had to go milk-protein free for my breastfeeding baby with allergies and I was so grumpy! It's crazy how much food effects our moods. Our church fasts the first Sunday of the month and gives the money we would have spent on food to the church. It's a really spiritual experience when you give it your all.

  2. Wow, those are some great ideas! We have never done anything like this in church but I like the concept (probably wouldn't like eating rice for a whole day but the idea behind it's fantastic) We are so blessed here in N.America, it's good to be reminded how much of the rest of the world lives.

  3. Do you want to know something funny? I just read this while stuffing my face in a box of ranch flavored wheat thins. Hahaha I'm so embarrassed! I thought, oh I'll just get myself a little snack and see if Davi posted on her blog today! la, la, la... Umm little did I know I was about to be caught in a moment! Here I was mindlessly indulging, and I was instantly hit with the same realization - Wow, how spoiled am I!? Love how God works. Such a sense of humor and timing. (:

    So I had to comment and just say that that's why I adore your blog! I love when you post about God/life challenging you. You acknowledge and document your thoughts through the process, which are hilarious because they're completely relate able, and without us even knowing each other, you help me to look deeply at my own thoughts and life and what I'M doing to serve Him, without being too serious OR condescending OR pretending like you're perfect and have it all down/figured out. Somehow, (sorry, this has gotten serious!) your words are always able to help me move towards God better than any priest or pastor I've ever been to. And I've gone to church all my life up until a few years ago. It's just so refreshing and I'm so thankful for your blog and what you have to share!

    I really love the kitty stories too though, haha (I'm not even a cat person either!) so keep doin what you're doin, Davi! Much love and thanks to you!


    1. hahahahaha about the ranch flavored wheat thins.

      thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement--they humble me, truly.

  4. wow. so convicting.
    i'm just sitting here whipping up a batch of vanilla cupcakes for roman's birthday today, while debating if i should have a cinnamon roll or cereal for breakfast. makes me feel sick to think of how spoiled we SO are....especially in the city with so many choices just around the block. wow.

    on a different note. your eyebrows look amazing.

    love to you davi :)

  5. Davi thanks for posting this. I've been very picky as a result of my pregnancy sickness and this post put things into perspective for me. While I've been obsessing over the perfect nursery, I've lost sight of the circumstances of my less fortunate brothers and sisters. What you said about Haitian mothers seeing their young cry...wow that got me. Thanks again!

  6. thank you so much for sharing. i love when you talk about your spiritual challenges. you are so open and raw and real and it helps me to take a closer look at myself. what an amazing experience. our church hasn't done anything like that but i'm sure that it would change lives.

    p.s. did you get your shoes back or were they donated? i'm so curious :)

    1. oh we never saw those shoes again! they were all donated!

  7. - John looked at me pathetically and asked, "can we add sausage?" to which I shouted "NO!" -

    This made me giggle. That would be SO me and my hubs. Josh says if the meal is without meat, then it's not really a meal. Oy!

    I'm so glad you shared this. It's challenges like this that hit home and bring us closer to understanding things that are beyond are 1st world experience. Just before I was thinking how I need to get to the store because my cupboard is bare, but it's SO not. We could go weeks on what's in there. {I've got a huge big of rice!}


  8. Sounds like a full on lesson to learn especially with the boys joining!

    I live in New Zealand and every year there is a charity campaign called 'live below the line' where you (and your household/group) commit to living on NZ$2.25 for food each day for a week!! $2.25 being the amount to equal the international poverty line. It is crazy how little food that it ends up being! Usually just oats, rice and frozen veges for a week! And yet, people live on less than this for all their needs whilst not having fresh water accessible or anything. A real life lesson. As well as raising money for the charity as people sponsor you and give money if you complete the challenge!

    Ngaio May xx

  9. Beyond convicted by this! I can only imagine how this has affected you and your family. Poor boys sick over rice that is a life saver to others. Seriously- bless their hearts... and yours! Thank you so much for posting this! Certainly makes me rethink dinner, our excess, our "want"s, our excess and our excess... So thankful that our God is a God of mercy!

  10. whoa! that's so cool! we were challenged to do something similar at church years ago & i was full of excuses & didn't participate. [shameful. shutter. pttth.] but what a huge impact. love your heart for Jesus, miss davi!

  11. Great post! So convicting to realize there are people sick all the time, just because they have to eat the only food they have, whether it makes them sick or not.

    And to compound the conviction--when I saw what this was about, I thought, "Why did she have to put this on the Internet? I hope my pastors don't see this. I don't want them to get any ideas."

  12. wow!
    this is pretty amazing.
    feeling pretty convicted here too.
    the hardest line for me to read... "And my heart just ached. Not for Twain but for the Haitian mothers and all mothers of this world who have to stand by helpless and watch their children cry from actual starvation."
    wow... just wow.
    we are spoiled.
    but what a great lesson to learn and glean insight from.
    kudos to you... and to your church leadership.
    what a fantastic idea.
    *thinking about bringing this idea to my church leadership team. hmmmm*

  13. Wow.
    First of all, you have an incredible pastor. There's no better way for a Church to understand the heart of God than by experience. I love that you participate, even when it's hard. So convicting.
    Our church has never done anything like this, and as difficult as it would be, I wish we would. What an amazing lesson to go through as a family. I bet your boys will never forget it.
    (and, I love that you were worried about having to leave your new toms there too! haha, I would have thought the same thing. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts :)
    You and your family are incredible. Really. I just love you guys :)

  14. wow, really eye opening. i need to do more sacrificing and penance.

  15. Interesting! Your church actually sounds like a lot of fun, though I wuold have massive internal battles about some of the things your pastor suggests! The whole eating rice thing would have gone over just fine in Hawaii :) We'd just add shoyu (soy sauce) or furikake (little shredded up seaweed) and be on our way!

  16. love this. so sad but such an eye opener. Our pastor used to say don't give god your junk...do bring in an old beat up toy for the nursery...give God your very best!!

  17. wow. this is incredible. we are so truly blessed in the u.s. and sometimes i think, "God why me? I could have been born in Haiti, or in Africa, or anywhere else and I am here. In a warm house, with a full stomach, with a job, with so much."

    And I know that He has me here to do His will, to bless others. But sometimes it's so easy to forget that and just eat-- without thinking about eating rice and how blessed I am.

    thanks for the reminder!