Participant Profile – The Smart Family
After hearing about the idea for a few years, Peter and Beth Smart gave Rice & Beans Month a try for the first time in 2015, together with a group of friends from church. They discovered that the spiritual and practical elements of this event are truly intertwined…
by Beth Smart
Honestly, Rice & Beans Month first piqued my interest because I was tired of planning and executing our weekly meal plans within our tight budget. There, it’s out. My initial step into Rice & Beans Month was purely selfish.
Of course, I knew the purpose of Rice & Beans Month extended deeper and farther than budgets and meal planning, and it’s poignant that I was “burdened” by the luxury of a meal budget and meal choices. My life was filled to the brim with activities, work, food, and a generally busy schedule. I had a hunger for simplicity and depth. If I was willing to step out in obedience to God’s call on my life for simplicity, then another’s physical hunger could be met. It was a win-win. I proposed the idea to my family, we prayed about it together, and felt called to go for it.
Our family of four (two kids under 6) chose to eat four meals a week of rice and beans. Interestingly, we usually ate more than four meals a week of rice and beans because we always had leftovers! My kids aren’t very picky eaters, so eating a multitude of rice and beans wasn’t an issue for them. Really, once we made the commitment, the biggest challenge was the paradigm shift in prepping for meals. Instead of throwing some chicken and vegetables on the grill, I needed to soak beans well in advance. We used the recipes at eatriceandbeans.com, we created a Pinterest folder of recipes, we read devotions from A Common Meal, and we watched the videos online. We also joined together periodically to share a meal with a group of families and individuals we knew through church. Our ages ranged from 3 to 70 years, and the group size ranged from 4 to 25 people. As the month went on, we could tell it was impacting our hearts and drawing us closer to Jesus.
In early February of this year, an out-of-the-blue statement from my four-year-old son made me realize just how important Rice & Beans Month had become to my family. We were running errands at a local store, and he noticed the Easter decorations already on display. Immediately, he exclaimed with indignation, “Easter decorations already? We haven’t even had Rice and Beans month yet!”
To him, and to all of us, it is akin to a holiday. Our favorite holidays are those that have purpose, tradition, and stir our souls at the core. Rice & Beans Month is all of those things. It is an opportunity for our families and communities to come together and be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. It is an opportunity to be aware of our riches and our hunger. And for our busy family, it is an opportunity to slow down and drink the everlasting water that Jesus offers.
Along with the Smart family, many of us could testify that God “piqued our interest” in Rice & Beans Month through some form of practical frustration or spiritual hunger. Yes, we want to make a difference in the lives of hungry people, AND we sense that there is something God wants to do in our hearts and homes in the process. Blessings to all of you who are growing spiritually through this endeavor.
Thank you, Smart family, for sharing your story with us!