With the Obamacare penalty-tax scheduled to go into effect and private insurance rate hikes, many are looking for an alternative: consider Samaritan Ministries. Thanks to the dedicated work of a handful of people and God’s goodness, health sharing ministries like Samaritan meet the requirements to avoid the penalty. That’s only one of many reasons why I’m glad we have Samaritan Ministries….

Nearly in tears from frustration, I picked up the phone to call Samaritan Ministries.

The problem? They require that you provide an itemized bill when you submit a medical need to get reimbursed. It seemed so simple. How hard can it be to get a bill with exactly what it you’re being charged for?

Apparently, pretty difficult sometimes.

Despite an amazing OB and wonderful nurses, I could not get an itemized bill from the hospital I’d visited during my pregnancy with Meg. I called numerous times. Waited for weeks for an itemized bill to be mailed. It never showed up. I trekked to different offices with two little kids in tow trying to get someone to give me an actual real bill. Just a bill. All to no avail.

Then I called Samaritan Ministries.

As I explained the situation, frustration clearly evident in my voice, our team leader said, “Anna, don’t worry about this anymore. God loves babies. So do we. Stop worrying about getting an itemized bill and let us take care of it for you. You’ve tried but now it’s time to just focus on the baby that’s about to enter the world and let us take over.”

I got off the phone and did the only logical thing a pregnant mama would do. Cried. For joy.

It’s not every day that you call to get a medical need covered and get such a clear reminder of God’s love for you and for new life: but that’s only one of the many reasons why I love Samaritan Ministries (SMI).

Biblical model of care of Christians for Christians

Christians are supposed to care for the needy and hurt everywhere, but we have a special duty toward fellow Christians. The Bible is pretty clear on that. (Gal. 6:10)

SMI is set up on that foundation. Christians send money and encouragement to fellow Christians with medical needs. Small needs (under $300) that a family cannot afford, are assumed to be the responsibility of the local church. Needs larger than $300 get shared around the globe.

Isn’t that exciting? It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it because it seems like this is how it should be.

(SMI leaders are also heading up an exciting new ministry to provide free top-notch maternity care to women in the inner city called the Morning Center.)

Low monthly cost and good “coverage”

The cost of insurance is high and getting higher. According to Kaiser, the average cost of insurance for a family in 2012 was $15,745. Even if the employer paid the bulk of the cost, the out-of-pocket premium was still $4,316 on average.

That’s a lot of money. Especially for young healthy growing families.

When Joshua started his job as a Federal Judicial Clerk almost three years ago, we had a choice: regular insurance or stay with Samaritan. It didn’t take long to decide.

Our portion of the insurance premiums was still more than our monthly share at Samaritan… even though the tax-payers would have covered 75% of the premium. Plus, the plan only covered 80% of costs until a fairly high threshold was met.

On the other hand, Samaritan covers 100% of medical needs over $300, assuming needs aren’t prorated. (The company operates on a cash basis. If more needs come in than money from members, needs are pro-rated. As far as I know, every time that this has happened in the past, God has provided through lower needs being submitted the next month, negotiations with hospitals, or extra donations from members. It happened with our bill from Meg and it’s so FUN seeing God work!)

Not only did we want to save tax-payers money (you’re welcome), I’d way rather send our monthly check to pay for fellow Christians’ medical needs than pay into a system that covers things I don’t believe in and has incredibly high overhead costs.

Incentive to pursue a healthy lifestyle (plus flexibility of treatment)

When you know your health decisions affects won’t just affect yourself, they’ll affect the pocketbooks of Christians around the globe, choosing a healthy lifestyle becomes even more worthwhile.

And, when you do need treatment, SMI offers way more flexibility than insurance companies. A friend from church was recently diagnosed with cancer. Rather undergo chemotherapy here in the States, he asked if SMI would pay for him to travel abroad for alternative treatment that has a good track record of efficacy. SMI agreed.

Excellent maternity coverage

As I’ve already said, SMI adopts God’s attitude toward children: they love them. This is reflected in their maternity coverage.

Plus, if you choose to use a midwife or have a VBAC, they waive the initial $300 you normally would be responsible for covering since your choice saves SMI members a considerable amount of money.

(There are, understandably, some restrictions if you become a member while pregnant. Read about them here-page 28.)

Tired of regular insurance? Make the switch.

If you are sick of health insurance, I encourage you to consider switching to Samaritan Ministries It has been a huge blessing to our family.

[If you decide to use Samaritan Ministries and would like to bless our family, you can put down "Feminine Adventures" as a referral and we will get a discount on upcoming "shares". If you prefer not doing that, I totally understand! I share about them here because they have been a genuine blessing to me and my family and I hope to see the ministry continue to grow.]

 If you use SMI, I’d love to hear what you think! Have you had as wonderful an experience as we have? 

  Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking RedeemedGraced Simplicity, & Proverbs 31

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Keep To-Do Lists Short

One of the first things Rose did after she could piece together words was write lists. She made her own morning to-do lists, evening to-do lists and all-the-fun-things-we’ll-do-tomorrow lists.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a list sort of gal too. Lists help me focus, keep important things from falling through the cracks, and give a sense of accomplishment. (Yes, I’m even one of those list-lovers who will add things onto my list I’ve already done, just for the joy of crossing them off.)

The trouble was, my lists were so long that getting to the bottom of them generally required a 48-hour day, uninterrupted effort (hah!), or some other impossible stroke of luck.

Enter the short to-do list.

Short to-do lists have all benefits of a superwoman to-do list, but have the added benefits of forcing prioritization and actually being attainable.

Instead of starting out the day with unrealistic goals, now each morning I pick out three of the things I’d like to accomplish that day. Things that are already worked into our morning or lunch routines (like washing breakfast dishes), do NOT make it onto the list.

Picking only three things and then concentrating on finishing them, helps ensure that the important things actually get done.

Some days things don’t go anything like what I planned. No big deal, the list can usually wait till tomorrow. But often by focusing on just three things, the list is knocked out by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon free to tackle three more things, read a book, or take a nap.

If you’re overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list, ditch the long lists. It’s exhilarating!

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking RedeemedGrace Simplicity, & Proverbs 31

photo credit

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CLEP Interview

 A college we didn’t go to (photo credit)

As many of you know, Joshua and I both pursued our degrees non-traditionally, through testing and distance learning.

My dear friend Jessica, who is pursuing her degree this way as well, did an interview of my experiences with taking CLEP exams.

Jessica: Have you graduated from college?

Anna: Yes.  I graduated from Excelsior College in 2009, with a degree in Literature in English. I took a semester at a local college, but completed the rest of my courses through online classes and examination.

Jessica: Which CLEP exams have you taken?

Anna: A lot. I honestly don’t remember them all: Biology, College Mathematics, Micro/Macro-economics, World History, Humanities, and many more. I also took several Dantes exams. 

Follow me over to her blog, Uncommon Student, to read the rest. 

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If you’re interested in reading more about how and why we pursued our degrees this way, here are the articles in a series I did called, How to Get Your Bachelor’s in Less Time, for Less:

 

November’s goal was simple: to get ready FIRST.

What does that mean?

It means getting church clothes laid out and the diaper bag packed Saturday night.

It means collecting the stuff we need for our trip and making sure the kids have shoes on and have gone to the bathroom before I throw the dishes in the dishwasher.

It means getting all those odds and ends (like the copy of Making Babies a friend wanted to borrow [enter to win a copy here!], the book I borrowed, and the shoes that my sister left) gathered and placed by the door right away, instead of waiting until it’s time to head out the door.

It’s amazing how much less stressful my life has been by implementing this one simple habit! We’ve been on time more regularly, and at least when we’re not it’s usually because of something out of my control.

photo credit

December’s Goal: Drink More Water

Anyone else have trouble with dry skin during the winter? As soon as the cold, dry weather hit, my hands started to looking like deserts. Putting raw shea butter (or coconut oil) on my hands right before going to bed has really helped.

But, that’s just taking care of one of the symptoms. My real problem is not drinking enough water. So that’s my goal this month: to drink at least 8 cups of water or fresh herbal tea a day.

The children are doing much better about answering adults audibly, so this month I’m going to have them join me on my habit challenge!

What about you? Have you been working on any new habits lately? How are you doing?  


 

Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Poor in spirit. The phrase puzzled me. What exactly does it mean to be poor in spirit? And why is it a good thing?

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It wasn’t until we were discussing the Beatitudes one Sunday that it finally made sense. A dear friend of ours, who grew up “in the projects”, explained it this way.

Self-reliance is one of the hallmarks of middle-class America. When we need something, we buy it. If we’re in trouble, we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and figure out a solution. We’ve been taught to take care of ourselves.

Growing up in the projects it was different. If you had a car, you often were out of gas. You never filled up your tank all the way. Sometimes you’d run out completely and have to push the car to the gas station.  When you got five bucks, you put five bucks into the tank, hoping it would take you were you needed to go.

In many ways, you could not take care of yourself, and you knew it.

And that’s what being poor in spirit means: knowing that spiritually, we are beggars. We cannot save ourselves. 

The image of a car with an empty gas tank comes to mind often. It reminds me that, even though I can fill up the gas tank in my van all the way, I cannot save myself. Jesus must save me.

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