COH Food and Water Challenge – Day 3


Good Morning, Friends!

We are at the halfway point, and if you’re anything like me, the lack of food and the monotony of meals are probably getting to you. If it is any consolation, I haven't talked to anyone who has had an easy time with this challenge. This week, I've talked with all types of people: a woman on a trip in California
who is eating her rice and beans, a child who has been eating rice and beans at school, and a businessman who just had his rice and beans during a lunch meeting at a swanky restaurant in the Sears Tower. And they were all struggling. Others are just plain grumpy without their morning coffee! But I have good news. Once we make it through today, we are in the home stretch.  

If you are tempted to quit the challenge or to cut a few corners, just focus on getting through today. In places like Zimbabwe, people often have nowhere to turn when they are desperate for food. I was told recently about children in Zimbabwe who go along the side of the road with old plastic bottles, looking for corn kernels, green soybeans or anything else edible that may have fallen from someone's food sack as they were walking along. Even worse, I learned that some are so desperate, they pluck undigested corn kernels from cow dung. They wash the kernels, pound them out, and cook them.  We really have no idea what it is like to be hungry.

I long for the day when the promises of Revelation 9:16-17 are fulfilled: "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore . . . for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes."

Until that day, may we live out our call to be the Church in this world.

In Solidarity,


P.S. We are in this together, so I encourage you to lean into others you know who are taking this challenge. I have been hearing funny stories and lots of inspiring ones. This week we are creating memories and instilling values in our families, our church, and our community. Check out this story written yesterday by Shauna Niequist:

Rice and Hope and Creativity

It’s only Day 2 of the Celebration of Hope Food and Water Challenge…but it hasn’t taken long for me to realize how dramatic a change it really is. No huge cup of coffee this morning, and no second pot (yes, pot) at 10 a.m, because it’s cold and cloudy and snuggly at home, and because I love the smell. No glass of wine with dinner last night, and no day dreaming about what we’ll serve our dinner guests tonight. We’ll serve them beans, rice, and tap water. The part of me that loves cooking for dinner parties is going crazy over this.

I’m realizing that hunger is just one part of this—the most important part, of course. But there are some other things I notice, too. I’ve noticed the boredom, and the lack of creativity. I love food—I love thinking about it, preparing it, planning menus. I love what happens when a fresh herb hits hot oil in a pan, that bright release of sound and smell. I love slicing and thinking through tastes and textures.  

And to prepare food without being able to taste it feels like being blind. My son is too young to understand the Food and Water Challenge. For the record, he also doesn’t understand why anyone would use a potty when they can just wear a diaper, either, so we have a long way to go before he grasps things like solidarity and global poverty. Last night when I made his dinner, it felt strange to serve him a sliced apple I hadn’t tasted, or a new kind of vegetarian mayonnaise without trying a bite of his little sandwich. I felt cut off from a large part of my life and my senses.

As I planned a few errands for the day, I added, “Buy flowers” to my list.  I’m not really a flower person, generally. I don’t garden at all, and I don’t buy myself cut flowers to have around the house. My husband knows that I’d like a glass of champagne and a novel more than a bouquet of flowers any day. But today I’m thinking about flowers, thinking about a little life and beauty and color and creativity—the things that usually come from our kitchen, but not this week. The kitchen is clean, certainly, no bowls of fruit, no fresh loaves of bread on the counter. Again, I know that the core of the issue isn’t creativity. I know that thousands of people all over the world aren’t dying of lack of culinary creativity, but lack of nutrients. I understand the science of it.  

But today, I also understand the art of it. I imagine a woman who has never felt the joy that I feel when I stand at my kitchen counter, slicing, listening to the hiss of rosemary and garlic releasing their smell into the air, harsh at first, and then mellow, the sound of gentle sizzling.  Or maybe she has experienced this at one point, but doesn’t anymore. Which is crueler? A lifetime of the monotony, or memories that you can never recreate? I don’t know.

Another errand I added to my list is “Food Pantry.”  I went through the pantry in my kitchen last night (certainly some sad attempt at being involved with food, even if I couldn’t consume it), and found all sorts of things we won’t really eat, or multiples of strange things. How many bottles of mustard should one have on stand-by? Probably three is two too many.  And cake mix: I don’t bake. Ever. But I bought a few mixes at some point in case I ever change my mind. In the meantime, an actual person could have actual cake. And actual mustard. And actual tuna. So we have a few bags of soup and pasta and vegetables, and we’ll drop them off at the Food Pantry, and then we’ll go buy some flowers.   

Or maybe, in the spirit of things, we won’t buy anything at all, but we’ll start to notice flowers all day today, and this week, signs of beauty and hope and creativity all over the world.

Category : Celebration of Hope


Just a thoght as a long-time ex-smoker… I remeber going for a smoke after a great meal or with cocktails, a glass of wine or even a ‘cold one’! Maybe now is the perfect time for folks still wrestling with smoking to gather strength as a solidarity group AND QUIT. Could be a real God Moment for those who do.

Great post/blog entry COH team! Thank you for your hard work to support the rest of us.
I was just laying in bed last night when I realized how crazy it is that I have so much excess resources in food, bed, clothes, home, etc while there are so many people in this world does not have any food, any water, or even a place to call home to sleep at night or stay warm in. If we are all God’s children, I wonder how God feels when one child is eating all that he wants and sleeps in a nice comfortable bed when His other child is starving to death…

Food… it is all around us in abundance here, yet on the other side of the ocean, there are people picking food off the road or worse just to eat. Here we throw out uneaten burgers and fries at the fast food shops because they are too old to serve, while those in Zimbabwe struggle for a few kernals of corn. As I head into the thick of day three, I am becoming acutely aware of what is missing and how much I am truly blessed to live where there is food all around me.

I get really tired at times and spacey and weak. I feel older, too. Yesterday, my husband said I looked really wiped out, really wiped out when he got home. He accused me of getting into the ice cream, but
I try not to even look at the food in the
refrig, because it will be too beautiful to look at. Have you ever heard of the glory of a tossed salad blinding you???
I feel like I am actually growing spiritually, and I like that feeling, because, so often, I feel like I’m maintaining course. Talking with people helps me take my mind off it. Being in the Word is always good. God is always very good.

Went out to the garage to pack up some of the 6000 shoes we are collecting for a project where the shoes when sold turn into a farm for our kids orphanage in Ghana Africa where my mom is a missionary. Upon looking for the next box my kids have left a chocolate bunny from Easter. Ohhhh I want that bunny but will eat like my kids in our orphanage. Lord give me the strength and compassion to make a difference for you

This was sent out by a teacher at our school today.
“Noodles and Company at Old Orchard is hosting special Niles North High School appreciation days today and tomorrow. From 10:30am-9pm, allstudents and faculty can buy a soup, salad, or TRIO and get one of equalor lesser value for free.”
Free food…… what would those in Zimbabwe think when they have to struggle for a few kernals of corn? We ARE given so much here!

Last year I was impacted by the monotony of the food and after getting a headache, the thought that those without food probably have no ibuprophen or other simple medications to relieve the pain of a throbbing head.
This year I have thought more often about water. My thoughts have been about growing up as a young girl having to lug water (and not even clean water) several times a day. All I have to do today is a simple turn of the faucet and out comes cool, clean water in abundance. What a humbling thought. How is it that I have been given so much and others so little?

Today is very hard for me. I woke up early and ate at 5:30, so it will be 6 hours before my lunch time. I’ve lost 7 pounds, and I have weak legs and I feel jittery. I am praying a lot more for those who are starving and literally falling over dead for a lack of food and water.
I really want to quit, and it’s very hard for me to feed my 3 year old and 1 year old and not eat their food! 2 and 1/2 more days! We can do this!

For those of us with medical conditions that preclude full compliance (diabetes is one) we can still participate. Just make certain your carbs are where they need to be. Boredom with food and hunger are still present. Lack of coffee is still present. And all this makes me remember those who can’t increase their food intake to enable them to feel better. I realize if I lived in Africa in the manner of many, I would be dead by now without my medical help/food and water. Makes me wonder why I’m so blessed while a child starves. I’ll never look at my food and water the same again. I am becoming much more passionate about prayer and resources for the hungry.

Selected Bible Verses on Hunger & Justice
Genesis 1:29-30 God gives the world’s food
Exodus 3:7-12 Moses asked to go to Pharaoh
Exodus 16:1-12 The manna lifestyle—economics of enough
Leviticus 19:9-11 The law of gleaning—leave food for the poor
Deut. 10:17-19 God executes justice
Deut. 14:28-15:11 The law of tithe helps the poor
2 Kings 4:42-44 Feeding the 100
Psalm 72:1-14 How to pray for a just government
Psalm 82 Justice to the weak and destitute
Psalm 140:12-13 God maintains the cause of the needy
Psalm 146:5-9 God is just and feeds the hungry
Proverbs 14:20-21 Happy are those who are kind to the poor
Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to
the Lord
Proverbs 21:13 Listen to the cry of the poor
Isaiah 1:16-18 Seek justice – correct oppression
Isaiah 3:13-15 Why do you grind the face of the poor?
Isaiah 5:1-7 I expected justice but found bloodshed
Isaiah 10:1-4 God’s anger at unjust government
Isaiah 58:1-12 The fast that I choose
Jeremiah 22:13-16 To do justice is to know the Lord
Lamentations 4:9 It is better to die by the sword than by hunger
Ezekiel 16:49 Sodom was guilty of neglect of the poor
Ezekiel 34:16-22 God will judge between the fat and lean sheep
Amos 5:10-24 Let justice roll down like waters
Amos 8:4-7 God will not forget those who trample on the needy
Micah 6:8 Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly
Matt. 6:25-34 Seek first the kingdom of God and righteousness
Matthew 14:14-21 Feeding the multitude (also Mark 6:30-
44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14)
Matt. 23:23 You have neglected justice, mercy and faith
Matt. 25:31-46 I was hungry and you gave me food
Mark 8:1-9 Feeding the 4,000
Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s magnificat—He has filled the hungry with good things
Luke 6:20-26 Blessed are you who are poor
Luke 10:25-37 The story of the good Samaritan
Luke 12:15 Watch out for all kinds of greed
Luke 12:35-48 To whom much is given, much is required
Luke 14:12-14 Invite the poor to your dinner
Luke 16: 19-31 The story of the rich man and Lazarus
Luke 18:18-30 Give to the poor
Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus’ radical generosity
John 13:1-20 Jesus washing disciples’ feet
Acts 2:42-47 Sharing in the early church
Acts 6:1-7 Dispute over the distribution of food
1 Cor. 11:17-34 Selfishness in the Christian community
1 Cor. 16:1-2 Put aside for the needy each Sunday
2 Cor. 8:12-15 A balance between need and abundance
2 Cor. 9:6-15 God loves a cheerful giver
Galatians 2:10 Remember the poor
1 Tim. 6:17-19 The wealthy are to be generous
James 2:1-7 God’s bias toward the poor
James 2:14-17 Faith without works is dead
1 John 3:17-18 Love in truth and action, not just word
1 John 4:19-21 Loving God means loving neighbor
God’s perseverance to us all!

I, too, am wanting to quit… but I am going to remain committed 1 day, 1 minute, 1 second at a time, which is what this takes. Last night when I made dinner for me and my 2-year-old I sliced her a pear with her dinner. She does not eat the skins of pears – she eats them like she was eating melon off a rind. As I cleared the table after we ate, I almost cried throwing those pear skins in the trash. I wanted to eat them SO badly.
My husband and I have been going to bed between 8 and 9 (no energy to stay awake past then) and it has been a struggle to get out of bed even after 10 hours of sleep. Also, we are not being friendly with each other. We are not fighting, but we’re just not talking much. We didn’t enjoy American Idol as much last night – the usual highlight of our week 🙂 And the dog and the toddler irritate us much more easily. How can people ever feel happiness living like this?

no wonder there is so much fighting in the world my kids will agree I am not happy and even much quicker to get angry when I am hungry!

All I know is that every time lunch time comes around I really look forward to it expectantly. Currently, my strength is not what it was and my concentration is wearing thin.
Each time I eat I try and savour each mouthful because I know that I have a long way to go before the next meal. So this is humbling. However, I am relieved that it is not a 5-day fast of liquids only. However, we must look to not only provide physical nourishment but a combination of both spiritual and physical Bread to a starving nation. Christ is the Daily Bread for all of us in the long run. Now I really have awesome respect for those missionaries that are out there in these developing nations trying to be the body of Christ and have been doing it for centuries. Many times they also have to subsist on what local food there is along with the native people of those countries for long periods of time. It does remind me of how blessed I am to even have a choice of what I am going to eat for a meal.

Today is Earth Day, so I wanted to cheer you up with a little side note. Have any of you noticed yet how much emptier your garbage can is this week? It is astounding how much garbage our food creates, from the packaging to the food scraps. So by participating in the Challenge you are contributing also a little to ease the burden on the Earth, God’s creation, this week! And I hope that this week will teach all of us to be less wasteful with our food, as we realize how precious food really is.

Well said, Shauna. Really enjoyed your words (even if your effective use of descriptive language did make it that much more difficult to hang on tight ’til Friday, good writing is good writing).
I think what I enjoyed most about what you wrote is the reminder that 5 days living like this is, for most, admittedly difficult, but also a challenge. There’s an element of novelty to it. Can we do it? Can we last? Isn’t it great that we’re all doing this together? But the reality is that we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the backs too much, at least not yet.
It’s one thing to cut back for a few days. It’s another thing to scrap together even less food than this simply for survival.
And let’s not forget that there’s nothing fundamentally different about any of us that qualifies us to stop eating this way once Friday passes. We don’t deserve what we have any more than those without deserve to lack.
We just… have. And many just… don’t.
I’m so thankful for your reminder, as an artist, that this is about more than just “chemistry” as you so poignantly put it. It is not simply about caloric intake or the food pyramid. In fact, I would even extend your claim further, to suggest that perhaps it is not in fact primarily about those things at all. Certainly they are significant, but I think you’ve hit on the central thing stripped from so many of the “have-nots” in this world, and that is a piece of their very humanity.
Man wasn’t made to walk along dirt roads searching for the left-overs of those with more, and when those with more don’t freely give to those without, we diminish our overall humanity as a global community. And on a personal level, what good is food without some more fundamental sense of dignity and value in God’s creation?
In any case, just wanted to say thank you and well done.
In Christ,

Will someone please help clear a little confusion. Didn’t Pastor Hybels say that he looks forward to dinner on Friday (like after 5 or something)? I ask because there are different understandings in our household and even among some other people taking the challenge. Some remember him saying that and others are claiming “no way, 5 days is 5 days. You have to wait until Saturday morning to break fast.”
As I write this I am almost embarrased because it sounds like I am just waiting for it to be over. While I won’t lie, it will be nice to eat again, my family understands the most important part is clearly to relate to the hungry which I would like to say we are, but I think the truth of the matter is unless you are truly going through this on a daily basis with no end in site; you can’t really relate. This has been a truly humbling week.
May God bless,

Yes, I remember Pastor Hybels saying (either on Easter or 2 weeks ago): “on Friday you are so desparate to eat. You cannot wait for 5:00 to hit so you can stop and get a pizza. Then, it hits you like a ton of bricks… the starving people out there don’t get to stop.” So, yes, it seems it ends at 5:00 on Friday.

Day 3 actually finds me not feeling the hunger pains as much (and down 4.5 lbs). I confess to using a variety of foods (rice, couscous, various types of beans, and even Zattarans). I do however think about food constantly. As I measure my cup of rice onto my plate, I have begun to do what is the norm for so many and I take the extra time to get every grain. Even those that fall on the counter must be put back on my plate. As we continue in our self imposed food shortage, wasting any part of food seems unspeakable. The amount and variety of food that we have in our home is incredible and the amount that we throw out in our garbage is probably more than many families have to begin with. I say lets do FMSC monthly or at least quarterly. Meanwhile, get your group of 10 or more and register to serve in Aurora at

I too am struck by our excess. Have you seen the book Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel? I vacuumed our car today –I sucked up enough to feed a small family!!!
Thanks for the support as I head out to a function centered around food that I can not miss.

So, I like oatmeal and cream of wheat. I like beans and rice. I feel guilty about liking this food. 🙁
I only ate cream of wheat for breakfast and oatmeal for lunch today. I didn’t cheat at all today! But, how can I even say “only?” To the kids who are scooping corn kernels out of cow dung, those 2 meals are heavenly!
I’m not as hungry as I was at first. I haven’t even craved sugar really. I know that God is helping me to be okay with this. But, then Friday it’s over! For people in Africa it may likely never be over. So, why? Why can it be over for us and not them? Why us and not them? Why are we in the “Land of Opportunity?” Don’t mothers in Africa and Haiti pray for food for their starving children? Does God not answer them? He hears them, though!
I’ve asked this over and over before. Everytime I ask God why he doesn’t feed these starving people, He asks me the same thing. Why don’t I feed them? Good question!! I mean, we do, with sponsoring children from World Vision and stuff. But, what else can we do? What more can we all do?!
That is the question tonight as I go to cook our piece of chicken breast, rice, and broccoli. Boy, are we lucky?!

I’ve also been noticing how clean the water is that I’ve been pouring out of my tap, albeit through an osmosis filter. (I heard Lake in the Hills water is undrinkable. Anyone know?)Sorry, how ignorant do I sound?!?!
This is something that has really caught my attention this week, clean water. What a tru3 luxury?! Thank you jesus!

Day 3 is a bit different that 1 and 2 for me – my first two days I was quite focussed, today…not so much. I am irritable as well, and had a few situations at work due to my tension, I’m not proud of. Tomorrow, I’ll need to be more cognizant of that and certainly more prayerful. I need to hand this over to God. It feels really weak to not ‘handle’ this type of fast, when those in poverty never get the releif that we will have at the end of the week. It is really an eye opener.

Naughty Shauna, teasing us with the thought of “rosemary and garlic releasing their smell into the air.” We are definitely at the top of the pecking order of food. First it is do you have any, then do you have enough to survive, then enough to thrive, to where we are at; food as an art form, food as entertainment. I’ll echo what others have noticed about not being as hungry today. Also, I have refrained from weighing myself as I don’t want it to be about me. Soon enough I will know about that. I will continue to contemplate my role in this issue. When a problem seems unbelievably daunting, and an individuals actions useless it is easy to not do anything. I was typing that I would have to find a way to do something, and that isn’t really true. God is using these days to do something to me. I’m not sure what it is yet and it may take awhile, but I had better continue to listen, even when I break fast.
P.S. Shauna, to us bakers opening a box mix doesn’t really count. You have to open a book and make it from scratch!

Day three is over, and I feel suprisingly good. I stared at my rice and carrot today and thought, how boring and then I scolded myself and thought how many children in this world would be thrilled with that carrot and my clean glass of tap water and my comfortable home and my health. Thank you God for all we have, especially the fact that we have such a loving Father who watches over us always. Even when we sound like spoiled children whining about our meals. God bless all of those who are sharing this experience.

I am learning so much about God’s abundant blessings this week – especially learning how to find something beautiful in the mediocre.
I wasn’t able to bring rice and beans to work on Monday, so I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch. I was SO hungry and tired when I got home that I ate my rice right out of the pan. That first bite of hot, sticky, white rice was one of the most beautiful things I have ever tasted. When I serve rice with a meal, I rarely taste it because it’s covered by other flavors. What a blessing it was to taste that rice.
On Tuesday morning, I woke up with a sore throat. I might be getting a touch of the flu. What a fortunate coindidence it is to have the flu because along with the sore throat, it has also decreased my appetite. For the last two days, I haven’t even really felt hungry. What a strage blessing it is to have a sore throat.
I only eat one tortilla per day, and I save it for my dinner. After two identical meals for breakfast and lunch, I really look forward to the third meal that includes the tortilla. It adds another texture and flavor to an otherwise monotonous meal. What a blessing it is to have a tortilla with dinner.
I am starting to feel a bit dehydrated. I’m not sure if this is from the flu or from the diet, but either way, I woke up very thirsty this morning. I am 100% committed to this challenge, but don’t want to hurt myself, so I filled up my COH cup with cold tap water. Then, I filled it up twice more, and felt much better. What a blessing it is to have access to safe drinking water.
Normally, I cook with canned beans. Tonight, I decided that cooking dry beans would be more appropriate for this challenge. After a few hours of soaking and boiling the beans, I snuck one bean out of the pot (cheating, I know.). I love the texture of cooked, dry beans, and am so excited to eat these with my breakfast tomorrow morning. It’s going to be such a blessing to eat these beans.

So I’m going to admit here that my family caved tonight. After a 24 hour headache, brainfog and weakness, we lost our willpower to see it through. It makes me really sad to think we couldn’t even challenge ourselves to two whole days – much less five. After reading the blog tonight and realizing it affects everyone in very similar ways, I’m going to give it a go again tomorrow – sans the family.
I am amazed with how strongly you each are committed to seeing it through – thanks for your example and encouragement!

Sandy…don’t feel bad. We caved too. Now I feel embarrassed and ashamed. Will begin again tomorrow.

Thank you LORD for letting me experience what hunger really is. I will never look at foor, portions or water in the same way.

Thank you LORD for letting me experience what hunger really is. I will never look at food, portions or water in the same way

We caved too. I feel bad but I’m trying to learn from it and not just let guilt motivate me.
My husband has a labor intensive job and I have some medical conditions that just made us unable to continue. But we did make it two straight days. It was becoming impossible to do good work at work. So we gave up. We’re still mostly sticking to the water challenge though. Had a small relapse at my MIL’s birthday dinner when Grandma practically forced fed us iced tea.
Some things we learned:
*What it’s like to feel hunger every minute, to think about food all day long and not because you are planning a fabulous party but because you are truly hungry.
*What it’s like not to be able to anticipate a good meal at the end of a long day’s work. My husband struggled to keep up at work knowing that his only meal would be beans and rice AGAIN. But still it was a choice for him and it most certainly is not for too many.
*We were exhausted without the calories (perhaps sugar and caffeine too) we normally eat. Too tired to do much else after 8pm.
*How truly blessed we are to look in our fridge and see food, to be able to share that food with family and friends.
I feel that this challenge has changed us for the better already. I pray that we always remember how it felt and try it again from time to time. It is only a small picture of what many people are going through every day. I pray this will keep us from being wasteful and from following a culture that tells us it’s ok to just throw away things because you’re sick of them.
Also a friend at work asked me why I was so tired. I was trying to hold it together but I just couldn’t. In the end she said, “sounds like a cool church” and that she was glad I told her about it because she needed the reminder herself. Awesome! Thanks, Willow! for the opportunity to challenge ourselves and the support! This has been a great experience!

Well, my family caved last night. It was my birthday and we were all hungry and the prospect of rice again was daunting. That not only makes me sound like a spoiled brat trust me when I say it has made me feel like one too. I am embarrased and ashamed. I feel guilty, but I know God has already forgiven me because He is amazing. I am truly blessed thanks to God. He has provided my family with plenty of food & clean water not to mention the means for so much more. My prayer today and everyday will now be for God to show me how to use those means to help his hungry and poverty stricken children.
May God Bless you all.

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