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We have been in a transition for a long time now and I’m happy to announce that we’ve arrived to the United Kingdom! This is my excuse for not posting my weekly Tips & Tricks for the last two Fridays! Or has it been longer than that?

Moving is always a frustrating thing, but in the process of moving, we’ve learned a lot and have actually adjusted our style of living in the last three months! I’ve read that English people make friends when they’re young and are not really interested in making new friends, but I haven’t found that to be the case. The people I’ve met are very friendly and have exchanged phone numbers to meet up and get to know each other! Anyway, here are some pointers that you might consider if you are planning on moving from the US to the UK:

1. A language barrier. Though both Americans and Brits speak English, there are a couple different words along the way. The highway or thruway is called the “motorway.” A stroller is called a “push-chair,” or “buggy.” Cribs are called “cots” and shopping carts are called “trolleys.” I have yet to learn all of them, but for the most part, people have no trouble understanding me and I don’t have much trouble understanding them. Thanks to the media, they are very used to the American accent and I am used to their accent from watching a lot of British television while we were in the States.

2. Driving. I consider myself a good driver. I learn to drive with a stick-shift when I was 16, and I’ve never been in any accidents (but one time I rear-ended someone). However, driving on the left side here with the small streets really got me nervous. Though it seems like you never see any speed limit signs, there are general guidelines that everyone knows about even if there are no signs! The neat thing is that they use the mph system and not kilometers here, so that’s something we have in common. The motorway speed limit is 70 mph and local speed limits are generally at 40 mph. When you get into the smaller local streets, it goes down to 30 mph. They’re upped their usage of speed cameras, so just watch out for those signs!

3. There’s a license or tax for EVERYTHING. There’s something called a TV license. This means that if you have the ability to watch broadcast television in your home, you must pay the TV license of £145 per year! If you don’t pay it and you get audited, then they’ll find you £1,000. Their council tax is also very high and must be paid yearly on top of the hefty 30% or so taxes that you pay from income, and about 12% taxes on purchases.  We’re so grateful that we decided not to get a car and try living without one because we know there are probably fees for licenses, petrol, car registration, car insurance and the works!

4. There’s a process for everything. We’ve been attending a local parish church that needs a little more enthusiasm and life in it! We’ve made our willingness to help known, but like most of England, there is a process. Things take more time here to change. If you mention that you’d love to sing in the choir, people aren’t jumping in and inviting you to rehearsals. They seem to take their time, put that little note in their head and wait for another time to mention anything.

5. Everything is more expensive here. The exchange rate between dollars and pounds is the pound is worth about $1.50. That means if I want to buy a soda from a machine and it says £1, I’m really paying $1.50 for that soda can. However, things are priced seemingly exactly the same here as in the US, however, they are in pounds! For example, instead of the dollar store, you have the 99p store (99 pence), which means that toilet brush that goes for $1.00 in the States costs $1.50 here! Same thing with restaurants and everything. If you want to buy a $6 McDonald’s meal here, it’ll cost you £6–which means you’re paying $9 for it here! Get it?

6. Bring power adapters, converters or transformers. Even better, get rid of all of your electronic appliances and just buy them here! We didn’t realize how many converters we needed to be able to use our XBOX, blender, kettle, food processor, and phones. They also have different telephone line jacks, so you’ll have to buy them here.

7. Don’t expect you can continue streaming videos on your devices. Region codes for your electronic devices don’t allow you to stream videos from the US (we can’t even stream Amazon Instant Video using our XBOX 360 due to the region code that you can’t change). Also, your US DVDs aren’t playable on UK DVD players, so you’ll have to bring your own US DVD player if you want to keep watching them. There’s also a huge difference between Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime ( vs in the cost and selection of items. The company also doesn’t seem to have experts who know how to handle when people move and what happens to your digital content. (You can’t watch your purchased digital content in another country unless you use a VPN that makes your device think it’s in another country). We were also very disappointed that our Roku doesn’t work here due to the same region code error.

8. Secondhand stores and Craigslist aren’t the same. Secondhand stores here are called “charity shops,” and are all over the place! The stores themselves are mostly small and mainly sell clothing. They all seem to be competing for the sake of their own charities and it is very common here for celebrities and networks to endorse certain charities. People don’t use Craigslist here, but Gumtree. That basically acts the same as Craigslist.

9. The Church of England seems old and tired. The local parish church we’ve attended is small and only elderly people attend. There’s not another ‘young’ couple with small children who attend regularly and the general approach to religion here seems hush-hush. It is not regular for people to speak openly about their faith, and even church members have been caught saying that their vicar (the church rector) is “too spiritual.” British history is so rich and long that the mentality we see here is that though society is becoming more and more secular, the church thinks it’s just a phase and society will come back around.

10. Life is more simple. It seems I’ve listed a whole bunch of negatives, but though these things I’ve listed were somewhat of a disappointment for me, life here has been wonderful. It is peaceful and simple. I’m able to get my groceries delivered to my house, since we don’t have a car, and many things are within walking distance: the water, many restaurants and pubs, co-operative food stores, a bank, the bus stop, the train station, the fire station, the local preschool, a large and lovely park, and more that I haven’t yet discovered!

Previous Tips & Tricks:


How to Pray (Part 3): Using the Daily Prayer App (Step-by-Step with Pictures)

DPmock_up-620x491Welcome to part 3 of How to Pray! If you’re interested in the background and reasons to read and pray every day using the Daily Office, check out Part 1. If you need the schedule and resource links for when and what to pray, check out Part 2.

This post is the detailed elaboration on Option 1 of the ‘Simple Plan’ with Morning, Evening and Night Prayer discussed generally in a previous post here.

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How to Pray (Part 2): Adapting the Daily Office to Home Prayer


I posted previously about how to read & pray every day using the Daily Office and explained the importance of praying and reading the scripture daily. Remember that the Daily Office was written for daily church services, and now that we don’t have the ability in the modern day to go to church every day, I’m adapting it to fit the needs of family daily prayer. And now here’s the nitty-gritty.

The structure of the Daily Office breaks down into four parts: the Opening, the Psalms, the Readings, and the Prayers. These four parts fall under one of two categories: the Ordinary and the Proper. The Ordinary parts of the Office stay the same all the time, while the Proper parts change according to the day or season of the Church Year (includes different psalms, readings and prayers).

How do we implement the Daily Office into family prayer? How frequently in the day should we pray as a family?

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How to Pray (Part 1): Read & Pray Every Day with the Daily Office

art detectives young woman kneeling prayer desk david wilkie

In centuries past, it was easy to walk to your parish church and attend daily prayer services. People could pray and hear the scriptures daily. Today, with our busy schedules and churches many miles away, going to church every day just doesn’t seem possible. This places a heavier burden on individual families to be diligent in their commitment to prayer and scripture at home. I found this to be especially hard in non-denominational and baptist circles, where I was just told to read and pray as the spirit led. Or, pick a devotional among the hundreds of thousands out there. How do you go about picking one?

Let’s be real. It’s hard to pray and read every day if you don’t set up a routine.  Even when you set up a routine, life happens and disruptions occur, and the temptation is to leave praying and reading for ‘when you have the time’ and truthfully, it’s easy for it to slip from your mind and then feel guilty on Sunday mornings when the sermon reminds us to pray and read scriptures every day. But left to our own, how do we do it? My solution is to make it a family routine based on the Anglican church’s “Daily Office.”

This post is the first of a series of three parts that include 1) the explanation of why to use the Daily Office to pray and read at home, 2) how to adapt the Daily Office for home use and 3) step-by-step instructions on how to use the Daily Prayer App for home family prayer.

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