Monday, January 11, 2016

Live Below The Line Challenge--Day One of Five Days

We're club joiners, my sisters and me. What I mean is, we turn all challenges and inspirations into clubs for each other. This time, Holly decided to take the Live Below the Line Challenge and invited us--and a couple hundred people on Facebook :)--to join her. Since we three sisters experienced poverty for a time in our childhood, we understand that perspective. However, as parents organizing, budgeting, worrying, praying about what to feed their children, we can only sympathize. For that, I am exceedingly grateful.

We didn't always know where our next groceries were coming from as teenage girls and a single mom living in a subsidized town-home, but somehow we never felt totally destitute. We had a gracious church that brought us food hampers and we always knew God would provide what we needed... because Mom told us He would. And, He did. When my mother couldn't make ends meet, Jesus brought us our basic sustenance--His Word at work, through His people, walking in a choice to listen to what they read.  

As a result of the Challenge invitation, I gathered my reluctant children and showed them how many verses in Scripture expound upon the importance of God's people caring for the needy. There's a lot. Do a search yourself and be amazed. He cares for them immensely and He requires we do too:

"'He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know Me?' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 22:16)

I desire that my family knows God in that way. And we do, for when we give, there is no more gratifying and blessed emotion than when sharing with fellow humans who are equal to us, but merely in a less fortunate position. Still, my kiddos were quite concerned that they might starve. They were all for giving, but feeling the pain of the hungry? Now that was another story! I assured them that they would not die, but that experiencing hunger pangs was probably a good thing. Our gratitude is directly related to our attitude and theirs needed to change--and so did mine. De-cluttering our home of unwanted things and donating a little money here and there doesn't lead to the true thankfulness that empathy does. And so, they agreed and we began this morning.

(Molly, journaling her response to the Challenge)

Live Below The Line is an organization that raises money to end extreme poverty and human trafficking. My sisters and I and our families are living this week on $1.75 per person per day. This includes all we eat and drink. (We did not join the actual group because we each have charities we are presently working with.) With seven people in my home, our allotment is $61.25 for all of us for the whole five days. That is the average for the poverty line for Canada. I'm sad to think that it's lower in some countries. I wondered, how would I continue to feed my family healthy options? Did we have to say goodbye to organic food? Is it true that we would succumb to Mr. Noodles and potatoes every day? I was concerned only about quality, not quantity. Eating less would be something we could (and should) all get used to.

So, I rolled up my sleeves, tapped on my calculator and got creative with our menu. I began by writing down items that were "unbudgeables", such as, eggs, milk, greens, of some sort, and apples. The rest would be "gravy".  The greatest challenge was the shopping! I've never stood in front of the grocery store shelves for so long, price-checking and comparing. Of course, as a newly-wed I weighed everything and carefully collected groceries that added up to my last dollar, but thankfully, recent married years have been overwhelmingly blessed and not penny-pinched. Finally, I arrived at home with the necessities and deducted food we already had that I didn't want to waste. And, if I purchased a large bag of rolled oats, for example, I divided it according to what I thought we would eat that week. I did not include condiments, olive oil, spices, salt and pepper, since I already owned these. I reconciled with myself that this budget could represent a needy family who may also have acquired these items as well. Perhaps I'm wrong.

The reality of it all began to sear my heart as I stood there between the soup and canned beans. I hadn't thought about soap, shampoo, toilet paper, medicine... and the list went on and on in my mind. I closed my eyes and prayed God would show us exactly what our lesson should be in all of this. I was already begin to feel it coursing through my veins. It was less about buying just the right groceries, less about being part of a new challenge, and more about awareness of the mothers who stand in that very aisle and nearly cry in their plight. Ashanti's desperate whining shook me from my thoughts. "Mommy! I neeeeed fishy crackers!" And I hurt for that poor momma all over again.

This morning was the beginning of Day One and my children began with a muffin--leftover from Sunday breakfast. Tomorrow, I warned them, would likely be oatmeal. (A couple of them don't like it, but if other kids don't have a choice, they don't either :)  There was no snack after math time. That was difficult for them. Lunch consisted of naan bread smothered in tomato sauce, grated cheese (on sale), melted in the oven and a few slices of veggies. I was able to swing a pretty tasty shepherd's pie for supper. I think six out of seven approved and so I am a victor :)

 (a nice, filling snack)

A few things I heard from them today:

"Mommy, I don't like porridge. What else can I have?"
"Do I have to do this challenge?"
"But, I have to be physically active today. I can't afford to not eat well!"
"What's for Snack?"
"You're not going to starve me, are you?" (Daddy, who agreed to this :)
"I think this is a very good idea."
"I'm really learning to be thankful."
"Are you going to eat that?" (gazing at sister's food longingly)
"I think we should do this all the time!"
"We don't really need more food than this."
"I'm happy with just a little."
"Don't forget Mommy bought popcorn kernels and that will last a long time."
"I'm glad you're making us do this."
(In prayer) "Lord, please help us to feel the pain that others feel when they're hungry."

And that was just one day.


Holly Leis said...

Yes, Ben was "starving" two hours into it with a belly full of oatmeal. Habit of looking for snacks more than hunger. This week will be good to break that habit some. And myself. And those apples just sitting on the counter, practically taunting them all day that were ear-marked for something else later in the week? Don't even get me started on the angst those apples caused. :) Sam is concerned that this is going to be FOREVER. Clara finished off Sam's soup when he wasn't looking. And they ATE today. A LOT. I think it was mostly in their heads, knowing we were doing this challenge. Tomorrow should be interesting.... Glad you're doing it too!

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather said...

Too funny, Holly... the way you wrote that :) Glad it's not your kids' reality every day!