Thursday, February 1, 2024

Days 25-30: Thoughts upon crossing the finish line

Whew, I made it. But not without your support. I've actually done the challenge once without blogging about it, and it's honestly much harder doing it in a vacuum. 

I sincerely appreciate all your dm's, cheers, and comments along the way, especially the genius recipe ideas/hacks many of you suggested.

I feel like I shared a lot of solid reflections on my previous posts, so please do read those if you've landed here first. 

Interesting note for the super-curious: If you view the web version of this blog, you will find a right-side navigation column, and there you can actually breadcrumb your way back through each "view my previous blog" link to peruse each of my six blogs to arrive at my very first challenge blog from 2009.

I am so thrilled that together we met our goal of filling all 25 "monthly" hearts! 

Some of the "filled hearts" consisted of two or more people coming together to fill the total. This is especially inspiring because it demonstrates that people caught the vision of realizing that their humble amount can indeed make a difference!

This means that NINE of our girls in our She Has Hope programs will receive the residential care and scholarships for all their education needs in our programs, year-round, month after month!

And that leads me to remind us of the main points of the challenge:


To create empathy and compassion for those who struggle with extreme poverty and all its terrible repercussions.


To help us realize that small charitable steps add up to a big ripple effect in the lives of those who truly need a lift up.


It also helps us realize that we can actually get by on a LOT less than we think we need. If I can do this living on one dollar of food per day, and the meals look halfway decent, then imagine what we can do if we just shave off 10% of our food budget to sustainably lift up those struggling with extreme poverty?


And here's the final heart-chart, filled by way of love, faith, hope, and compassion...

Love: Caring, selflessness, empathy

Faith: Believing that you can make a difference in this world

Hope: Having enough hope that the world isn't doomed, that we can create change

Compassion: Being moved to action because of the above three values

Simple realization: Students in our Uganda primary school program are happy to get a humble bowl of seasoned beans and rice. After doing these challenges, I now can relate more to why their smiles are so big for such a simple meal. 

When you're truly hungry, a dish as basic as beans, rice, and some seasonings felt like a meal fit for a king to me.

On to show you what I managed to cook up for my last meals of the challenge, for $1/day... along with some thoughts I shared on Instagram...


Thank you so much for following along. Please visit and to keep up with my work there. ♥️

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Days 17-24: A few committed people can change the world

So, I got way behind on the blog. With work at full steam, managing a side hustle, kids on weekends, cooking three meals a day, and keeping social media updated on the challenge, the blog has gotten the back burner. 

But I've been doing a lot of thinking and talking to lots of folks about the challenge and what it means. And about the impact we can make with a humble but consistent effort over time.

I have such a mix of emotions while doing this challenge. 

I have hope, I'm encouraged while seeing people respond to my appeal to take small steps to achieve change together, but I'm also despondent while realizing that there are so many millions of our global neighbors who live in this reality constantly-- not just for 30 days. 

I've faced the boredom of staying mostly home to be near my kitchen 3 times a day and avoiding going out with friends to not be around food. 

And I've faced the reality that more well-balanced food and drink represents happiness, celebration, and in general, good times, which we take for granted instead of viewing it as the immense blessing it is. 

So there's a real depression you start to feel with a lack of food, and not even the occasional glass of wine, if you enjoy partaking.  

And I know these are heavy thoughts that I'm sharing, but it's a reality that so many face on a constant basis, no celebrations, no good times, just work and survival.  

And it compels me to work harder to find new members (you!) of this effort to empower the poor and lift up the vulnerable while we multiply our generosity through sustainable efforts such as our farmlands. 

Because I know it's actually working

And often the feeling we get when we realize the depth and breadth of the crisis is where to begin? How could we ever solve this crisis and its terrible symptoms? 

We begin with each other.
We begin with what we have.
We work hard.
We never give up.
We find others to join us.
We grow stronger in numbers. 

And eventually, we really start to change the world and make an impact toward solving the problem.

The temptation is to say, well, this is such a big problem, only governments can solve this.

Yes, I hope governments will do something smart to make a sustainable change, but I know that at the end of the day, I trust you and me and our community of friends and like-minded souls more than I do any government. 

We alone are the agents of change. We cannot expect anyone else to do the job. Or we will wait, and wait, and wait, and then it becomes too late. 

I truly believe with all my heart that a small group of committed and passionate individuals coming together with a singular focus can truly create a ripple effect that changes the world. 

And that's what we're doing right here with this, our humble "heart chart." 

25 people coming together, overcoming indifference, resolving that anything is possible if we work together, no matter how small we might feel our individual contribution is.

By now you've probably already read about the premise of the heart-chart, but here's another way of looking at it...

🎯 GOAL: 9 girls in our She Has Hope programs need scholarships & residential care expenses covered.

🧮 COST: approx. $20,000/yr

♥️ SPONSORS: 25 people giving the $16-$40 "hearts" monthly = $9,36o/year (about $90/girl per month).

Farmlands basically serve as a matching program, multiplying your generosity to make up the remainder of the cost by covering most of their food expenses ($98/girl per month, $3.28/day).

So, are you ready to join in? 

Ready to be one of the 25 who will equal $780/mo and almost $10,000/year, multiplied even further by our farmland projects? 

Just click the heart-chart, enter the amount of the open heart you want to "sponsor" and follow the steps to sign up!


Tonight I dedicate this blog post to the amazingly resilient students at our schools in Nepal, India, and Uganda... these girls have overcome such overwhelming odds, but only because of the generosity of a small but committed group of givers!



And I have A LOT of meals to catch you up on... here's what I was able to cook up for $1/day the past 8 days... including some stories and thoughts along the way...


Thank you for following along! ♥️

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Days 12-16: Why I highly recommend trying this challenge

My heart in doing this challenge is to help us all see that we can make a difference in this world because of the huge ripple effect our tiny actions can create.

Here's a favorite quote of mine that I think matches this sentiment very well:

“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”
―Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

I would imagine that often times I'm misunderstood in what I'm trying to accomplish here. I would imagine that this challenge would appear to be overkill and the blog perhaps disjointed. You're probably right on both counts lol.

But I'm trying to get down to the heart of the matter for myself, and while doing so, hoping to write about it in an inspirational way that brings you along with me. 

For me personally, I find the 30 days on $30 challenge extremely demanding, very uncomfortable, a huge hassle, but extremely rewarding!

Benefits. And why you might want to try this, or at least a shorter version of it. 

  1. There's a complete reset on all your perceptions of food, period. Every morsel becomes treasured. You gain gratitude for simple pleasures. 
  2. You become connected with those struggling with poverty in a way that is profoundly empathetic and deepens your compassion for humanity. 
  3. You realize you have the ability to create something out of what almost seems to be "nothing." 
  4. You lose weight if you have some to lose. 
  5. And since you're cooking with very simple raw ingredients that are full of fiber, you're by default doing a 30 day cleanse that I think alone might make it worth it. 
  6. It's sort of a body-mind-and-soul reset, a fast with a clear goal in mind; one that takes determination, dedication, discipline and creativity. Those are good qualities to sharpen. 
  7. If you attach a charitable goal to the challenge, you're inspiring others beyond awareness into action, multiplying your "touch" that Buechner alludes to above.

Speaking of charitable goals...

We are now up to 14 of the 25 hearts filled in my "heart-chart"! Just 11 to go!

This means we're up to $369/mo! 

By way of the multiplying effects of our farmlands and gardening projects, these "filled hearts" will create over 2,300 fresh-cooked meals for orphans and human trafficking survivors each month... or 75/day! 

That's just 14 people giving a combined average of less than $1/day resulting in 75 fresh-cooked meals being served every single day in our programs.

Key Fact:

Nutrition (and the lack of distracting hunger) is the bedrock that allows a child to focus on her education, the very thing that will lift her out of poverty and countless other risk factors that lead to trafficking.

Are you ready to join in? 

Ready to be one of the 25 who will equal $780/mo and almost $10,000/year, multiplied even further by our farmland projects? 

Just click the heart-chart, enter the amount of the open heart you want to "sponsor" and follow the steps to sign up!

They will appreciate you more than you could ever know...


On to what I've been cooking up on $1/day...


Thanks for following along!

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Days 8-11: $30 multiplied into over 23,000 meals?

It's been a super busy week while also trying to dream up what to do with 3 meals a day using these limited ingredients, so the blog has taken a back burner. 

However, I'm very encouraged by the outpouring of support, the sign-ups which are starting to fill up the heart-chart, people sharing the blog with friends, it's all making a real difference!

I took a look back at the stats among all the blogs I've ever published about my previous 30 days on $30 challenges, and found it encouraging to see that my blogs have a collective total of over 85,000 visits!

My top referrer is a subreddit on Reddit called /r/Frugal

I think this much traffic from people seeking how to live more simply reveals that there's something deep inside us that tells us we are happier with less.

And speaking of living with less, and making things stretch, that's exactly what we've done in my 30 years of work with the charity I founded, Peace Gospel International, and our She Has Hope programs.

It's all about multiplication.

Thanks to the farmlands and gardening projects, along with other small biz projects our local teams oversee, we're able to get the cost of one meal for the women and children in our programs down to ~$0.16 per meal!

So when you think about our little heart-chart here, with its 12 filled hearts now equaling $310/mo, that comes to $3,720 a year, which would cover the cost of 23,250 meals.

So me doing my little challenge here with $30 and 90 meals is now turning into over 23,000 meals and counting!

That's some pretty awesome multiplication, thanks to a few brave souls coming together to make a difference with what they probably feel is a small amount to contribute, on a regular basis.

And it's all about consistency, slow and steady wins the race, one child at a time, one meal at a time, one heart at a time...

If it's a singular point I want to drive home on this blog, it's this:

Every contribution, no matter how insignificant you feel it might be, absolutely makes a difference, thanks to the power of three things:

  1. Togetherness (addition: the hearts added together)
  2. Recurring consistency (longevity)
  3. Sustainability/farmlands (multiplication)

These 3 ingredients = us being an unstoppable force for good.

My favorite African proverb:

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

Are you ready to join in? 

Ready to be one of the 25 who will equal $780/mo and almost $10,000/year, multiplied even further by our farmland projects? 

Just click the heart-chart, enter the amount of the open heart you want to "sponsor" and follow the steps to sign up!


I'd like to dedicate this blog post to these kids I met in the Thapathali colony of Kathmandu, Nepal. 

The evening I met them they were eating what looked like a very basic soup or porridge for dinner. It makes my meals from today look like a feast in comparison...


On to what I was able to cook up with $1/day during these four days...

Thank you for following along! I'll be back with the next update in a few days.