Monday, November 26, 2007

Let's Hear It For the NHS

This morning at Superdrug I pulled out my wallet to pay for antibiotics for little Sophie's chest and ear infections, when the pharmacist informed me that prescription medication for children (and pensioners) is FREE in the UK. She looked at me like, "How could anyone even think of charging money to treat the very young and the very old?" Hm. She's got a point.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And Speaking of Blessings

In the Berge family, at Thanksgiving we always go around the table and each name something we're thankful for. These three top my list.

Three Times Today I Was Stunned Into Silence

1. Standing at the checkout line at the grocery store this morning, watching the cashier do a price check on four packs of green beans for our Thanksgiving dinner. (The holiday is obviously not observed in England -- everyone goes to work and school as normal -- so we’re celebrating on Saturday.) To get the attention of the store manager at her desk at least 50 feet away, the cashier raised her hand. Just raised her hand. Imagine! She didn’t shout into a microphone, “Price check on register three, please. Price check on register three.” She didn’t even wave wildly to get the manager’s attention. Instead, with perfect confidence and dignified calmness, she simply raised her hand. And yes, somehow, in the midst of morning mayhem and spite of looking down to read something on her desk, the manager was at the checkout assisting me in less than 60 seconds. I was shocked, first of all, that that was protocol and secondly, that it worked. Call it a small but significant triumph for British restraint and reserve.

2. Walking away from Jack’s school at noon, chatting with one of the other mums and inviting her to come next-to-next Friday for a Christmas coffee morning. “Please bring something traditional from your home country (Italy) that you would eat at Christmastime,” I said. Her response: “Please don’t be offended, but we don’t celebrate Christmas, so I won’t be able to come. Thank you for thinking of me.” I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say. She came to our house one morning earlier this month and seemed to enjoy herself. The other mums coming are either Hindu, Muslim or English (nominal, “cultural” Christians at best). I sure wasn’t expecting to encounter a refusal based on the religious aspect of Christmas. And besides, who declines an offer of coffee, tea and international holiday food among friends?

3. Watching Matt and Jack play ConnectFour tonight while Sophie played peek-a-boo with Matt behind his back. I ask you, is there anything that warms a mother’s heart more than the sight of her husband playing with their children and the sound of their combined laughter? I was blown away in that moment. On the eve of my favorite American holiday, I’m thinking about the various aspects of our life together and counting the many, many blessings. Truly, my cup overflows.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back From Where I've Been

There are weeks when I’m flooded with things to write about, and when I have the physical and mental wherewithal to write about them, I do. Then there are weeks like the last two when our daily lives are packed full of great, blog-worthy happenings, but after being in high gear all day, when I finally get the kids in bed -- especially when Matt is traveling -- well, I barely have it in me to compose a coherent sentence. Ditto when I come down with a massive head cold within hours of Matt walking through the front door. So here I am today, looking out at the drizzling rain and feeling much better, thankyouverymuch, thinking about the many posts I’d like to write:

• About having three of Jack’s friends (and their mums and their younger siblings) over to our house on the Saturday afternoon Matt was away

• About the boys playing quietly (Warning! Warning!) upstairs until I discovered that they were taking turns holding Jack’s goldfish

• About letting Jack decide which fantasy character he wanted to be and making the costume for him to wear to his nursery school party

• About my ongoing conversations with Francis, the Ugandan man who washes cars in the parking lot of our Sainsbury’s so he can save up money to return to his home country and start his own business

• About sharing the story of God’s faithfulness in my life with the senior citizens’ fellowship at our church

• About spending the afternoon with a South African mum friend from church whose daughter is just six weeks younger than Sophie and how being with her feels like we've known each other all our lives

• About demonstrating how to make an apple pie for an Indian mum friend and the smile on her face when she took it home to share with her family

• About Sophie sounding a little less like r2d2 and starting to say distinct (but not always distinguishable) words and the happy-happy look on her face when we repeat them and she knows that we know what she means

We’ve had a great time these past two weeks. But since I don’t have time or energy enough to write about it all, I’m going to send you to a post written by my friend and former student, Michelle. Dealing with some of the challenges of being an authentic witness for Christ among the younger generation, her entry of November 12 is worth pondering.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

You Don’t Say

“A person is not rewarded for having a brain but for using it.”
(Cameroonian proverb)

Friday, November 9, 2007

It's About Time

Matt’s away this week, on assignment in a country with less-than-reliable internet access, so I’m finally learning how to send text messages from my mobile phone. I know, I know... The things we do for love!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Have Audience, Will Speak

On Friday morning I invited a few mums of boys from Jack’s class back to our house while the children were in school. Among us we spoke four languages -- English, Hindi, Italian and Polish -- but not one of us could understand Sophie.

My little sweetheart babbled on and on all morning while singing songs, looking at books, taking her baby doll for a walk in the stroller and bringing toys to the other mums. Deliriously happy to have not only free reign of the toys but also our undivided attention, she spoke at length with each of us.

I can only imagine all that she was talking about, but she clearly enjoyed herself -- which is the main thing, I guess. Talking with girlfriends and drinking tea... Sophie’s practical education is starting early!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Commission Stories

There's a new website in my sidebar under Making A World of Difference: Commission Stories. This site features multi-media presentations (photographs, stories, video clips and audio slideshows) of current ways God is at work among the nations. The site is still young, but it won’t be long before there are stories updated weekly from around the world.

Matt’s work runs in a variety of places, and this will be one of them. But don’t just look for Matt’s images — go there to see and hear the reports of the many other talented writers, photographers and videographers within our company.

You may choose to subscribe to receive notification by e-mail when new stories are published, subscribe to receive iTunes podcasts, join the Commission Stories YouTube group or add a link to Commission Stories on your blog. Just go to the Feeds & Sharing page for more information on how to do that.

Another neat feature about this website, as stated on the About page, is that every piece of media on this site is available for download and use. Below each feature is a “Download” button that provides various sizes and formats of media to fit your needs. We hope you will use the photos, video, text and presentations to educate and inspire others. Join us in sharing how God is moving today among every nation, tribe, people and language.

Check out the website. Watch the videos and read the stories. Keep checking back in weeks to come, and tell your family and friends. We want to spread the word!