Category Archives: Rice and Beans Challenge

2012: Challenge, Opportunity and Growth

I was sent a very encouraging card today by a friend and colleague with this very image/quote on it. It came as a huge encouragement as I feel that I am facing quite a number of challenges as well as opportunities. 2012 has been a year of significant challenge but also significant growth in my life. After a season of comfort and convenience this year has not been that. Although tough and at times (many times) I have felt utterly out of my comfort Zone, I have also been really grateful to learn lots and grow lots as a person.

I am going to be speaking on this theme tomorrow (only briefly for 6-8 mins) and if honest am feeling daunted at the prospect. But its also a great challenge and a great opportunity.

From beginning the year doing the Rice and Beans challenge and realising just how utterly little I really know and understand about what it truly means to be hungry, to right now where I am nearer the end of my journey and feeling very daunted and challenged, Its been a significant journey.

I have been really struck by the challenge of Poverty in the UK and the amazing initiatives that are seeking to address these needs. I was humbled and inspired by being at the Tearfund UK conference last month and to interact with great initiatives captured so well in these brilliant films.

I have been really challenged by my children. There zeal and energy, their lack of inhibition and fear, their profound and hungry questions! And also by the incredible responsibility and privilege it is to be their Dad and be entrusted with this joy and this role.

So here is to a life that is full of challenge, adventure, opportunity and learning, which leads to growth and transformation, even when that feels slow or really tough!

I did a great course this year which kick started all this for me in this season called Growing Leaders. One of the things we explored in the course was the importance of living life more and more in the learning zone! The comfort and terror zones are ok in small doses, but if we really want to flourish and be fully human then learning is where its at!


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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Passion, Rice and Beans Challenge


Journey 1 Day 21 – Celebrations

Today its my amazing and beautiful wife’s birthday. It has provided some great opportunities to express some creativity in terms of plans, celebrations and presents.  There is also the opportunity to create quality time as an immediate family and time with family and friends. Our younger son has become very taken with Wallace and Grommit so it was great to be able to make a Grommit cake (with some key help from Hazel) as part of the plans for a birthday tea!

Having completed the Rice and Beans Challenge it was also nice to have that freedom to be able to make choices again about what to eat. Something I know all to easily I take for granted… and to be honest have already started to take for granted even after this week. However I did approach todays choices with a definite sense of gratitude and thankfulness that so often I easily forgot to really do!

But today is a day not for so much reflection but celebration and gratitude for family and the many blessings and joys of life.


Journey 1 Day 19 – Unexpected Clarity

One of the unexpected outcomes of my Rice and Beans challenge this week has been the clarity and focus that it has brought to a lot of my thinking. Mainly because at times my energy levels have been quite low!!

I think it actually began for me last Friday when I watched Rob Bell’s Nooma 18:Name. A brilliant and profound reflection on Identity and the importance of living and being as our true self. It was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks.  It highlighted for me how much I can struggle to live out of that true identity. The film and this week has also challenged me about what is really important and where do I get my significance and fulfilment from. Its inspired me to explore this a lot more during my 2012 Journey.

We were reflecting as a team today about the Rice and Beans Challenge. We talked about how in reality we have no real idea of what it really feels like to be hungry. This challenge has impacted us in many ways. A small insight into people’s everyday living. A greater sense of gratitude for what we do have. The amazing generosity and support we have received in donations and encouragements. Thanks to people how have given and encouraged!

Another bit of clarity hit me today. Life is also about celebrating and cherishing what we enjoy. Today I read a simple bio of someone and it finished by saying they Loved Curry, The West Wing and Knitting. It might sound strange but it really impacted me. There is a reason, a deep and profound reason, why I Love what I love…. I need to celebrate that and enjoy that more. Life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

I’ve then come full circle on this issue of identity by being stopped in my tracks with a blog post from a colleague at work who was simply sharing a brilliant piece of writing by Henri Nouwen from his excellent book ‘Bread for the Journey’. These words are so incredible. Now I need to explore living them out!

“Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now. We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!”

Amen to That!


Journey 1 Day 15 Challenge

This is me preparing my food for the next 3 days on the eve of the Rice and Beans Challenge. I will be eating a very basic porridge every day for Breakfast (made only with water and approx 1/2 my usual portion size) and then just living of 70g Rice and 60g of beans over 2 meals per day and drinking only water.

Its going to be a challenge, but I also hope it will be an experience that will reconnect me with the reality of how many millions of people live from day to day and expose just how much I do have to be grateful and thankful for.

I also hope it will raise awareness and also some money for the work of Tearfund.

You can sponsor me by visiting my Journey fundraising page.

My Journey as a whole is continuing to go well. I’ve been exploring creativity in terms of forthcoming birthdays and other events in the past few days. It brought back great memories of preparing for our Wedding and the opportunity to be creative with a big event, which was brilliant.



Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Journey 1, Rice and Beans Challenge


Journey 1 Day 8 Food Pt 2

The day of food creativity did not quite live up to its billing! But collectively we did make a good Carrot Cake and also some great home made bread rolls. We also did clear out the Cupboard! Stollen and Biscuits are the plan for today’s creations!

The Rice and beans challenge has also been postponed by a week so I along with all of my fellow team members will now being doing this from Monday 16th – Friday 20th January. More details will follow but the plan is to still raise awareness and money for Tearfund as well as experience albeit briefly what life, in terms of food at least, is like for so many people living in Poverty.

The Rice and beans challenge is something that Tearfund are encouraging people to do this February as part of this years One Voice Prayer week. If you would like to take part or find out more you can do so here. I will also be doing the challenge again in February as part of this week of prayer and also to link in with my Journey 2 which is on the theme of Simplicity.

I’m also very grateful to Rev Mark Poulson, My Vicar at St John’s Southall who gave me the opportunity to be interviewed briefly this morning about this Journey that I am on! Welcome to anyone from St John’s who may have heard me speak today and come to visit the blog.

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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Food, Journey 1, Rice and Beans Challenge


Journey 1 Day 7 – Food

I absolutely love food and love the fact that it enables great opportunities for great social occasions and creativity. For me, food is very much linked to family, relationships and so many great events, key experiences and memories in my life. Today we are getting creative with food in our house by clearing out the cupboards and making some savoury and sweet treats with lots of leftovers! Should be fun. May post some results tomorrow!

My wife Hazel is someone who is very passionate about food and certainly has a great deal of talent, knowledge and creativity when it comes to all things food. She is a state registered Dietician but also a brilliant baker and all round creative genius! She has recently launched a blog which will be well worth checking regularly for recipes and top tips!

Its also been amazing to be a very small part in a community based food growing project where we live in conjunction with the charity A Rocha at a local allotment. We have only been to a couple of working days and some community events and celebrations but its been brilliant to see lots of people from quite diverse backgrounds come together and be creative and celebrate with food at the heart of things!

I’m also aware that much of the creativity and taste I experience and also produce when it comes to food is very often a luxury and a great treat that I so very often take for granted. For many people food is simply a means of eating for survival or to sustain energy. For many food is something that remains a significant challenge.

I was humbled and amazed on my last trip with Tearfund to Malawi where I spent a week living with a family in Northern Malawi. Their resources were limited but their creativity and generosity to prepare food for me and the extended family was simply amazing. I will always cherish and remember the meals we shared together and for the spirit and resourcefulness in which the meals were prepared and shared together.

So in honour of this generosity and to stand, albeit briefly, in solidarity with those who so often do not get to eat very much at all me and my colleagues in Tearfund’s Transform team are going to live off rice, beans and water for a week from 9th – 13th January by taking the Rice and Beans Challenge.  Its part of a Christmas fundraising initiative that we have instigated to raise funds for the amazing partner projects that Tearfund support.

I also plan to repeat the challenge next month on my 2nd Journey ‘Simplicity’

To sponsor me as or to give to Tearfund please visit my Tearfund giving page

Anything you can give will make a big difference. Here’s to a week of cooking creatively with rice and beans!

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Posted by on January 7, 2012 in Food, Rice and Beans Challenge