Category Archives: Faith

$2.85 per day- reflections on Living Below the Line for a week


That was quite a rough week. Living below the global poverty line was much harder than I thought it would be, in a lot of ways, and there were some really great moments too. I will share some of the important things that stood out to me over the week.

One thing I realised this week was that I must have a pretty high-energy lifestyle, because I spent the whole week feeling quite weak and exhausted. I didn’t quite realise the impact it would have to have less energy input, with the same energy output. But then my next thought was; I think MY life is high-energy!?! How about those people who work 10-16 hours per day doing hard physical labour, and live on $2.85 or less… I just have absolutely no idea what it’s like to really be exhausted and hungry. Doing this challenge certainly gave me insight, but I am aware that I still had it much much easier than many people in the world do.

Whenever I convinced myself that I couldn’t bear to eat one more lentil or grain of rice, I suddenly felt guilty, embarrassed, and ungrateful. Even living on $2.85, I was still eating more variety and probably more nutrients than most people in extreme poverty do. You know you’ve got life good when you’re complaining about the TYPE, not even the amount, of food you’re eating.

I had quite a few angry moments. I just can’t accept that people are dying of malnutrition and deteriorating from extremely hard labour for very  little or no monetary gain, while I am freezing my flat’s leftovers and getting paid $25 for sitting down in a library and tutoring a high school student. I am angry that there is enough food, safe water, and resources for shelter to go around the whole world, but that us Westerners are hogging it for ourselves, and pretending that dying, starving, over-worked humans are not our problem.

Since finishing the challenge, and going back to eating pretty much whatever I want, I am suddenly appreciating little things I’ve never appreciated before! Like, being able have tea or coffee instead of water, or being able to add flavours to my cooking, or being able to have something different for dinner than what I had for lunch. I actually got so in the habit of just not doing these things, that I was suddenly consciously making the decision to do them, rather than just doing them as if there was no other way. And oh the luxuries!! On Saturday morning when I could have a coffee when I woke up!! And an orange with my breakfast!! It was like I was in a five star hotel!! My fear is that I will go back to not appreciating these things again. That has already started to happen. I much prefer being appreciative of these small pleasures- it keeps life in perspective, as well as lightens my mood so easily and frequently!

Finally, I will add a more personal note. Another hard thing I found during the challenge was having to fight a lot of disordered-eating thoughts/voices/triggers. Friends had expressed their concerns, and I was aware of the possibilities of this happening, but I was feeling like I was in a good space and I hadn’t struggled with eating for a good few weeks, so I thought it would be okay. But, when consciously restricting my intake  for consecutive days, and feeling nauseous and tired from energy deficit, it was probably inevitable that unhealthy thoughts would present themselves to some degree. Luckily I am blessed with self-awareness, and processed my experience with a friend, and managed to (mostly) work through it and (mostly) avoid unhealthy behaviours. 

Overall, to those of you who have supported me towards this cause please know that your support (both in donations, and support of me doing the challenge) has not gone unnoticed. Not only have you given me encouragement and motivation to do what I committed to doing, but you have allowed TearFund to maintain the sustainable enterprise opportunities they are offering in Ethiopia, India, Phillippines, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu. Because of you, women are joining self-help groups, where they feel empowered, collectively save in their groups, learn how to start small businesses, and loan small amounts of money for their children’s school fees or healthcare. Because of you, people are joining farming co-operatives, where they work together to improve techniques in agricultural production, and provide each other the opportunity to take their products directly to markets, providing them with more control over the prices they receive.

If, after reading my reflections, you feel inspired to donate, you’re not too late!! Follow this link, and it will take you through the necessary steps:

Arohanui xxx


I do not accept.

It is funny how

while we are small and insignificant

in relativity to the earth

we are also more significant than we could ever imagine…

There is much more to this life than me

but I am important

or so He says…

I must be humbled by my tininess in perspective of this vast and powerful earth

but I must also accept my mighty significance to the One…

And this is the problem.

I do not accept.


For months my faith has been held at a stop sign

unwilling to reverse

unable to select another route.

I have misplaced my spiritual GPS

been forced to practise my faith at the confinement of the stop sign

and God is there

patiently waiting for me to remove the restrictions myself

(Typical God!)

But for months I haven’t known how.

And we cannot resolve an issue before the issue becomes known to us, can we?

and so I have waited

with less patience than Hers

for the issue to reveal itself.


And now I have found it

I have finally found what is holding me back

I do not accept.

I want to, but

I do not accept my significance to the One

I know I should, but

I do not feel significant

I do not feel worthy of Her love

And this lack of acceptance of His love

lack of embrace on my part

is actually an unintended disservice to my Creator


Which is why I’m held at the stop sign.


Isn’t it crazy how we can know something in our minds, but not in our hearts.


Good things come to those who wait

so the Bible says

so everyone says

and this realisation

though sad

surely is good.

a breakthrough

but just the beginning.


We cannot resolve an issue before the issue becomes known to us, can we?

Let the resolving begin.





God Speaks

“Don’t you remember the promise I made? I will never let you down.”

I was caught off guard as I briefly closed my eyes in Mass yesterday. The second my lids shut, a bold image of a rainbow appeared to me. My eyes flew open again before my mind registered what was going on.

Was that a vision?

I closed my eyes again, and sure enough, the rainbow appeared again, accompanied by the words,

“Don’t you remember my promise? I will never let you down.”

Classic God. Blatantly and directly speaking to me right in a moment when I am not making any effort to intentionally listen to Him(sorry God!). In fact, I was doing quite the opposite- I was completely zoned out in my own silly universe(God forgive me. And at MASS too! DISGRACEFUL!). Yet there are plenty of times when I am totally and utterly listening to God; desperate and eager to hear what She has to say, and I struggle very much to gain any understanding of what God might be wanting me to hear or see.


I will unpack the vision itself in just a moment, but first I would like to discuss the question that was circling my mind as I drifted off to sleep last night:

Why do we so often have clear encounters with God in the mundane; in the moments where we are doing very little; in the moments that could be considered relatively “God-less”? And why do we so rarely experience these encounters when we are supposedly doing the “right thing”, doing what is considered “Godly”, or intentionally following the societal norms of the Christian cultures and communities?

Maybe it is because God couldn’t care less about the humanly rules and expectations we have suffocated Christian communities with. Maybe He laughs at us when we get hung up on which songs to play during sung worship. Maybe She cries when we forbid someone from attending our churches because of their ethnicity, sexuality, or walks of life. Maybe He frowns when we restrict freedom of speech in a church to only a select few. Maybe She rolls Her eyes when we insist on rules around when we should sit or stand, what we should wear, who we should interact with, or what order the proceedings of a church service should be in. Why should God make an effort to only speak to us in moments that are human-approved as “Godly”? God will make and go by His own rules, thank you very much!

Maybe it is because God likes it best when we are able to just be. Maybe we are more in touch with the true essence of our being in God’s eyes when we aren’t being “try-hard Christians”; caught up in a tornado of humanly expectations. Maybe all God really requires of us is to love, to listen, and to be. Maybe we are more receptive to God’s guidance and love when we are making no effort to be anyone else but authentically ourselves. Maybe this “being a good Christian” thing is taking us further away from God’s truth, rather than fulfilling our intentions of drawing nearer. Maybe finding God in the mundane is more raw, authentic, and personal than any other setting.

Maybe it is because when we’re zoning out and thinking of ourselves, God likes to shoulder tap us from time to time- gently reminding us why we’re here and where our priority of focus needs to be. “Helllloooooooo?” says God!


“Don’t you remember the promise I made? I will never let you down.”

What first came to mind in the seconds after this moment was the Bible story of Noah’s Ark, and the rainbow that God sent after the flood to promise that She would never do something like that to the earth again. I was confused. Why this reference? God obviously hadn’t done anything to destroy my life, and I certainly wasn’t worried that He would suddenly flood the earth or anything.

But after some pondering, it all began to make sense. As much as I know in theory that God is always by my side(growing up in a Sunday School and attending a Catholic secondary school definitely made sure I remembered that!), I very often forget to fully adopt this concept into the circumstances of my life, and I don’t always fully trust that all will be well in the end.

I was also prompted to reflect on the past few days and how bad my mental health has been. For a couple of days last week, Anxiety and EDNOS came back to bite me very hard, and I managed to convince myself that I was giving up. That it was too hard, and I was never going to reach the end point of wellness I’ve always aspired to achieve. I was adamant that nothing and nobody was going to convince me that I could possibly keep going. I just didn’t feel strong enough. A wonderful friend of mine’s loving and gentle consolation reminded me that I needed to trust in God’s strength to keep me going, but I must admit I wasn’t entirely convinced that it would work(sorry God!).

Why do we so often recite these universally-known truths about God, but then fail to fully embrace them in the times we need to do so the most? Maybe because our humanness craves full control over everything ourselves. Maybe because it is difficult for us as earthly beings to trust in something that is not materialistically visible.

However, in this moment in Mass yesterday, God brought me back down to solid ground.

“Don’t you remember the promise I made? I will never let you down.”

There is nothing too hard for God. If it feels too hard for me, God will give me what I need to make it doable. Brokenness and trial is part of the human condition, but through Christ we overcome.

And as for the Noah’s Ark reference, I suppose it is a reminder that nothing will crash and burn forever, because God promised us that He would never let pure tragedy happen ever again.

“Don’t you remember the promise I made? I will never let you down.”



Letters to God

Dear God,

Reverend Bryan gave me your address so please don’t think I’ve been stalking you. That’s still stalking, isn’t it- getting your address off someone else- especially when I’ve never actually met you. Reverend Bryan says he’s met you. He says you’re really nice and I should get to know you too. He says you already want to be my friend, which I must say, God, is very trusting of you! Anyway, I think that’s cool so Reverend Bryan told me to write to you to get this friendship started.

So, I don’t know much about you, and you probably don’t know much about me either (unless Reverend Bryan has told you about me). My name is Lily, I’m ten years old, I’m red house leader at Dominion Road Primary, and everyone says that Sam Gibbons likes me because this one time he bought a giant cookie from the dairy, ate around the outside to make it heart-shaped, and gave it to me at morning tea (gross aye?).

Please write back soon and tell me about yourself. Reverend Bryan told me you live in this place called Heaven, and Sally Muffit in my class said Heaven is in the sky. So if you live in the sky, how does the postie deliver my letter to you?

Yours sincerely,



Dear God,

I haven’t received a letter from you yet, but maybe you’re busy. I hope your letter hasn’t been lost in the post. That happened to Sally once. She sent me a letter and I never received it and we thought maybe it accidentally fell off the back of the postie’s bike.

Reverend Bryan told me to write to you as often as possible, even if you don’t reply. He said the more I write to you, the more I’ll get to know you. I don’t really see how that works, because how do I get to know you more if you don’t write back?

When I write to Sally I tell her what I’ve been up to, so I’ll tell you too. On Saturday Mum was grumpy again, so Dad took me out for ice cream. I chose my usual goody gumdrops and Dad chose his usual orange chocolate chip. Whenever we choose those flavours, Dad always says that we’re “true kiwis”, which is weird because I didn’t think birds ate ice cream.  On Monday Sally told me that she talks to you about anything at all and that I can too, but I don’t think she’s right because me and you don’t even know each other. No offense or anything.

Yours sincerely,




Dear God,

Why aren’t you replying? You better watch out or I’ll have to use Mum’s grumpy face on you. I’m not going to tell you anything else about me until you tell me about you.

Please write back soon. Miss Wilson taught us a new word today: “mysterious”. You’re very mysterious, God.

Yours sincerely,




Dear God,

You sure are mysterious. Today I couldn’t see my maths book properly because my tears were getting in the way. Reverend Bryan told me I should tell you about Mum. I wouldn’t tell you if he hadn’t told me to, but everybody always does what Reverend Bryan says.

So, Mr Silent Man, Mum is getting grumpier and grumpier. She made me not see my maths book properly because she threw my favourite Christmas bowl at the wall at breakfast this morning when I forgot to wash it. I think my breath stopped when she did it.

If Dad read this letter, he would laugh and tell me to stop whining like the toddler over our back fence! At least mum didn’t throw the bowl at me! She’d never do that. It was my fault for not washing my bowl anyway.

Are you going to reply?

Yours sincerely,




Dear God,

You’re nice to talk to even though you don’t reply. I need to tell someone that mum threw my milo cup at me today when I left it on the coffee table, but I can’t tell anyone who can see my tears. Reverend Bryan told my class today we can ask you to help us with anything and you always will. For the millionth time, this doesn’t make any sense since you don’t even reply to my letters, but Reverend Bryan is never wrong so I’m going to trust him anyway. He better be right.

My shoulder is bruised but I think the bruise on my heart is bigger. Can your heart even bruise?

Whenever mum gets grumpy and my tears come, Dad teaches me how to forgive other people when they do things I don’t like. I’m sure mum didn’t even mean it because she didn’t say sorry. I don’t say sorry when I didn’t mean to do the thing I did, even though mum and dad always tell me I have to say sorry whether it was an accident or not. There’s no way she will do it again.

Yours sincerely,





Dear God,

You’re a better friend than Sally and Esme, because when I tell you stuff you don’t run away from me and tell everyone that I’m a liar. Sally and Esme asked me why I was late to school today, and Dad and Reverend Bryan say to always tell the truth, so I did. I told them that mum told me in a very loud voice to get out of the house this morning before I had even had my Nutella on toast. Her loud voice made me shake a bit so I decided to do what she said, and then she locked the door and never unlocked it again. So I walked to school, which took a million years.

If you’re a better friend than my best friends, then I suppose that makes you my best friend now.

Yours sincerely,




Dear God,

I’m writing this letter in the car and I think I am only half-awake so I’m sorry if you can’t read my handwriting. Actually, this could just be a dream. But if this is real, I’m in the car and it’s dark outside and my eyes keep wanting to close. When Dad woke me up a few minutes ago, he whispered at me to choose my favourite toys and books quickly and then quietly go outside and get in the car. I keep asking him if he’s okay because his eyes are red and he’s breathing funny, but he isn’t talking to me. I don’t know where we are going and I don’t know when we are going to go back home.

I’m kind of glad that mum isn’t coming though.

Yours sincerely,




Dear God,

I just found the last letter I wrote to you under the seat of the car when I was cleaning it out this afternoon. I never ended up posting it. But I know now that I don’t need to post my letters to you for you to get them. In fact, I don’t even have to write them down! I can just think them up and you know what I’m thinking. But I thought I’d just write one for fun.

That terrible night was just over three years ago now. It’s kind of weird that I haven’t seen mum in that long. The apartment that Dad and I live in is nice because it has a swimming pool I can use whenever I like. But I have a question for you, God: why do you make some cities more interesting than others? Hamilton is so boring compared to Auckland. I miss Reverend Bryan too, and I sometimes wonder whether he misses me back.

But life is better now, because you’re my best friend. Even though I don’t write paper letters to you anymore, I write them in my heart. And I know you get them because you answer them by looking after me and keeping me safe. I wasn’t safe before, but now I am. And I know you’re always right beside me, even when my tears land on my maths book. I just know it. I can feel it.

When I think about life back in Auckland, I think about how lucky I was to have you to talk to. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I now know that you were always loving Dad and I, even when it felt like Mum wasn’t.

You probably already know this, but you are really awesome, God.

Yours sincerely,




–Cara Adler