What We Are Doing For Advent This Year (The Last Minute Version Of Preparing!)

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December 1st always comes before I’m ready. Since we own businesses, Black Friday and Cyber Monday take a lot of our energy, and before I know it, Advent is upon us. I love spending the month of December with my children, doing fun activities like making paper snowflakes for art, reading, baking, and singing Christmas hymns around the piano together!

Advent Resources for the Whole Family!

Advent and all these special memories don’t happen without planning, though. You might be like me and are just now getting it all pulled together. So this post is for all those moms who are scrambling to get ready for December! ūüôā

Advent Ideas

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word¬†adventus, meaning ‚Äúcoming. We spend this time looking forward to the time when we celebrate¬†Christ’s birthday, even though we tell our children that we don’t know when Christ was born. It’s a time to stop and focus on this important part of our Savior’s life. Without His birth, there could be no death. Without His death, there could be no salvation. It all ties in together. We talk about all of this during the month of December.

Churches start the advent season on the last Sunday in November. As a family we just start it on December 1st. Like I said earlier, I have to get through Thanksgiving and Black Friday before I can focus on advent. ūüôā

This year I’m really feeling the need to feed myself, and not just my children with the familiar yet powerful story. I want to experience again the fear and then joy that Mary must have felt, the shock that Joseph experienced, and that long journey to Bethlehem which leads them to the stable.

If you are like me, you might be wondering what resources are out there to help you and your family celebrate the birth of Christ. Thankfully I found a few that I’m excited about using!

A Moment Of Christmas Book

I kept hearing online friends talk about this ebook, and when I went to read the sneak peak I knew this was just what I was looking for! Here is the description:

This book is for the woman who craves a less crazed-feeling Christmas, who longs for a season that is intentional and full of joy. Including 25 devotions, each of them guilt-free, inspiring, and able to be read in 10 minutes or less! As you prepare your heart for Christmas by reading through these pages, you’ll be inspired to drop the pursuit of perfection and chase holy.

 

The great thing about this book is you can just get it to read on your computer or tablet, since time is short on being prepared! ūüôā

Along with this, I’m going to be doing the #HeartinHandChallenge with Mackenzie Monroe (Cultivating the Lovely). It’s a free download, I printed it off, laminated it, and I’ll be using it along with a travel notebook.

Heart In Hand Challenge

If you haven’t discovered planners and notebooks and such, Blitsy is an awesome place to look! I’ve gotten planners and stickers from there, and next on my wishlist are some cute Travel Notebooks. They have really good deals ‚Äď it’s like Zulily for planner people!

Reset Girl Planner and stickers from Carpe Diem

This whole line from Carpe Diem, called the Reset Girl is calling my name! They have stickers that go along with this line. I LOVE it! Ok…totally not Christmas related. Where were we?…

Advent with the children

There are a lot of creative, fun ways to involve your children in Advent! Here are some things I have planned.

The older children will write the scriptures from the #HeartinHandChallenge down with me each day, for copywork.

We are doing a Jesse Tree for real this year! It’s actually happening people. Stop the press! Front news headline!

We always try to start, but life happens and we don’t get our paper ornaments colored and it all falls apart. When I went to our local homeschool convention this year, a 13 year old boy was there with a booth selling all the homemade Jesse Tree ornaments he had made. They were $40, but it also came with a devotional put together with scriptures and hymns to read. I ordered a set and it just came in the mail last week! The children don’t know about it yet and they are going to be SO excited! We’ll put all these ornaments on a small tree.

Jesse Tree

If you are crafty, you could totally make these. It was worth the $40 to me because I would never find the time to put this all together! And I loved supporting a homeschooling student.

I don’t know if he will have any to sell for next year, but here is a Facebook group he has!

Music is very important in our home, and we love singing all the Christmas Carols together. We will be using this ebook and picking some of the activities that goes along with it.

The Stories Behind the Music features 15 Christmas Carols and a lesson to go along with each carol. This is great for family devotions!

Each lesson includes:

  • A story about how the carol was written
  • Lyrics to the carol
  • A scripture reading
  • An explanation of the Bible passage
  • Discussion questions for the family
  • A short prayer
  • Sheet music for each carol
  • A craft that can be completed together as a family (We will not be doing every craft!)

There are a lot of other resources out there, but that’s what we are doing this year! I know better than to plan anything else besides this. ūüôā I’d love to hear what you’re doing this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How We Saved Thousands With Christian Healthcare Ministries

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Sean wrote this post to share about our healthcare plan with you all. We waited until we had personal experiences to share, because we wanted to be able to recommend this program 100%. I can’t stop raving about how wonderful this program is, and we are so thankful to have it! Enjoy the review, and let us know if you have any questions! ~ Caroline¬†

Healthcare ‚Äď what a terribly distressing topic.

Whether you’re talking about the many things that could potentially put you in the hospital, how shockingly expensive such visits have become, or the increasingly convoluted ways in which our government has become involved the whole process, it’s not anybody’s idea of fun to talk about healthcare.

How you can save thousands of dollars with a Christian Healthcare Insurance plan! It's been such a blessing to our family.

However, it’s not an issue we can, or should, avoid. Everyone is more or less concerned about their health. Much as we would like to, none of us can peer into the future at will and foresee the injuries or illnesses that will or will not befall us. Even if we could and we knew ahead of time that we would break a bone or contract a serious ailment, there would still be questions to answer, like, “How will I pay for this?”

I’ll admit that I hadn’t put a lot of thought into the issue of healthcare until the past two or three years. Two things changed that. One ‚Äď Obamacare; and two: unforeseen illnesses and injuries (never saw ’em coming).

For all of our married life, whether I’ve worked for other individuals or run my own businesses I’ve received about the same amount of healthcare benefits, as in none. Yes, this has raised some eyebrows and we may have been called crazy a once or twice, but during that time our family was blessed to avoid many of the incidents that incur substantial medical costs.

Then came Obamacare and for us and every other uninsured self-employed family in America, it was no longer a matter of ‘if’ we were getting healthcare but when.

There were a lot of people running around then (or simply running ‚Äď know what I mean?) who wanted us to sleep easy on this one. “Don’t worry,” they said, “we’ve got you covered.” They promised just about everything to just about everyone but given their track record on so many other issues, and since our health was (and is) important to us, we weren’t comfortable turning this area of our lives over to them.

Obamacare mandated that we purchase healthcare for our family by a certain date or pay a fine. From the beginning we knew we’d eventually have to purchase health insurance, but the fine was manageable the first year so we paid it. Finally our accountant told us that the fines could be so large¬†that we figured we might as well go ahead and spread that amount over an entire year and buy insurance.

We had been researching various options during that time. We knew we didn’t want to go with government provided healthcare, so we looked at some Christian based alternatives and finally decided on Christian Healthcare Ministries.

We don’t regret it for a minute.

Actually, we couldn’t have joined at a better time. We hadn’t been members with Christian Healthcare Ministries for very long when Caroline was hit with a strange illness earlier this year. She had a very high fever and became incredibly weak, so much so that she couldn’t walk or even stand on her own. It came on in the middle of the day and by 5:00 that afternoon we were in the ER.

As you can imagine, they ran all sorts of tests and eventually had to perform a spinal tap in order to rule out meningitis (even after all that they still weren’t entirely sure what caused her symptoms). All told, we were only there for 5 or 6 hours but that was enough to rack up a bill that would have wiped out our savings had we attempted to cover it on our own. Thankfully we didn’t have to.

We worked to reduce the overall cost of the ER stay and then filled out all the necessary forms to turn over to Christian Healthcare Ministries in order to receive reimbursement. In about 3 months they sent us a check in the mail to cover the all of the medical expenses associated with Caroline’s stay in the ER. We didn’t end up paying one penny of the bills, and we were so relieved!

But our story doesn’t end there. A few months later I was riding my bike to go pick up our van from the repair shop about 4 miles from our house. I was heading down hill and going at a pretty good rate when I attempted to make my way onto the sidewalk and somehow lost control of my bike. (I say “somehow” because I have no recollection of exactly how I lost control). The next thing I know I’m waking up on the sidewalk with a bad gash on the side of my head and a broken wrist, not to mention a bunch of other bad scrapes. Apparently I knocked myself out when I hit the concrete. I still don’t know how it all happened (the last thought I remember having before blacking out was, “This is going to be bad,”) but needless to say we ended up in the ER again.

We’re in the process of filling all the required paperwork with Christian Healthcare Ministries, but given our last experience with them we have every confidence of receiving our money back for this hospital bill as well.

If you are headed into the new year looking for an insurance plan, I would highly recommend Christian Healthcare Ministries! It is a great deal cheaper than many other plans, and definitely worth looking into, especially if you are not dealing with a lot of health issues.

If you are curious, our family is on the Silver plan right now. That means we have a $1000 deductible, but if we can lower a bill down $1000 or more, we don’t have to pay that deductible. What an awesome concept, and it motivates you to call the hospital or doctor and see what you can work out! A husband, wife, and then all the children are each a unit. So you could have the wife on the gold plan if she is childbearing years, and have a cheaper deductible, and keep the husband and children on a higher deductible plan if you want. I love how it’s all flexible!

Christian Healthcare Ministries has a really awesome referral program.

If you recommend the program to someone and they join, after three months you receive a free month!

We have been members for a year now, but I have waited to write a post sharing about this program until we had a personal testimony to share.

If you do join, you can use our Bring A Friend Link, or when filling out your application, simply put Sean and Caroline Allen, member #211899 down as a referral. Thanks! 

 

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Gratitude Tree Free Printable For November!

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Thanksgiving is such a great day to stop and remember all our blessings, but what about taking it a step further?

What about focusing on being thankful the whole month of November? 

We created a fun way for your family to do this! The Gratitude Tree is super easy to print off and use. If you don’t like crafty projects, this one is already done for you!

Our Gratitude Tree Printable. Write something you are thankful for each day and put on the tree, and be thankful the whole month of November, not just on Thanksgiving Day! A great craft to do with kids.

Simply print it off.

Our Gratitude Tree Printable

Cut out the leaves and put the tree on your wall.

Our Gratitude Tree Printable. Write something you are thankful for each day and put on the tree, and be thankful the whole month of November, not just on Thanksgiving Day! A great craft to do with kids.

Each day write on a leaf and tape it to the tree!

Our Gratitude Tree Printable. Write something you are thankful for each day and put on the tree, and be thankful the whole month of November, not just on Thanksgiving Day! A great craft to do with kids.

By the end of the month, your whole gratitude tree is put together.

It’s a fantastic family project!

Our Gratitude Tree Printable. Write something you are thankful for each day and put on the tree, and be thankful the whole month of November, not just on Thanksgiving Day! A great craft to do with kids.

To get this free printable, click on the image below. 

Get this free Gratitude Tree Printable and use the whole month of November!

If you are looking for more fall items, here is beautiful fall sign that my husband hand drew! I have it framed in my living room and love it!

In Everything Give Thanks Fall Printable.

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Stop Running On Empty: An Amazing Resource To Help Busy Women!

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Physical and mental exhaustion is something I am far too familiar with. Trying to juggle being a wife, a mom of six children, homeschooling, homemaking, running a business, support my husband as he currently is the pastor at our church, and be a sister and friend as well, can be a bit overwhelming!

Now, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I am so blessed and thankful for my amazing family…but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had to learn a thing or two these last few years about¬†taking care of myself.¬†

You see, I stink at it. I don’t often get enough sleep, I struggle to drink enough water, I struggle to get in my¬†exercise routine (even though I know I desperately need it), and tend to just push myself to do more and be more.

Does this sound familiar? 

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone in this. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most women stink at really taking care of themselves and investing in themselves.

But the thing is – it’s vitally important to stop every once in a while, even for 5-15 minutes, to refresh ourselves, fill ourselves up, and maybe even spend a few minutes reading a book or sitting outside in the sun.¬†As women, we have to stop and refuel. To pour back into ourselves so that we have the energy and the JOY to pour back into serving our families and the Lord.¬†

And that’s why I’m so excited to share with you about this brand new¬†7 part audio series all about investing in yourself…all for God’s Glory! (Find out how to get it for FREE below)

stop-running-on-empty

Taking the time to invest in myself, to care for my body, and invest in my spiritual life are all vital parts of being a homemaker. I need to take a little bit of time each time to invest in myself so that I have the energy and joy to pour back into my family…otherwise I might just face some severe burn out and face my days with a begrudging attitude instead of joy in the Lord!

Do you crave a little more energy, joy, and enthusiasm when facing your day? Do you wish that when you hear the kids stirring after their nap time, that you had the energy and focus to greet that sound with joy and energy to tackle the rest of your day instead of the dreaded 3 o’clock exhaustion?

This all starts with taking just a little bit of time to invest in yourself. I have learned this the hard way after years of running around like a mad woman trying to get everything done…and then hitting a wall of fatigue and despair.¬†I want to greet my day with joy and energy!¬†

Throughout this 7 part audio series, Jami Balmet (a dear blogging friend!) will be diving into all the aspects of taking care of ourselves (and why this truly matters if we want to have a thriving home and relationship with the Lord). In the series she will talk about:

  • Avoiding burn out and letting go of GUILT when we do invest a little in ourselves
  • Making time for what you love (in 15 minutes a day)
  • Taking care of yourself – exercise and eating well
  • Investing in your Spiritual Life
  • Giving yourself GRACE…especially when life falls apart
  • Wrapping it all together for God’s Glory!

brand-new-audio-seriessm

When it officially launches next week, you can purchase it for $25 and get access right away to go through it. BUT when you purchase a premium ticket to this year’s Homemaking Ministries Online Conference through October 20th, you will get FREE access to the audio series!¬†

The conference officially kicks off next week (October 25th-28th) and when you register by Thursday for a premium ticket not only will you get free access to this audio series but you will also get a full ticket to the conference (you can listen to the sessions anytime…you get to keep them forever!) and a brand new goal setting course (which you get immediate access to).

Find out more & sign up today! >>

This year’s conference is shaping up to be incredible!! We’ve got 17 amazing speakers lined up to deliver 20 conference sessions throughout the four days. The theme for this year is¬†Finding Balance in Your Home and each session addresses various aspects of how to find and achieve balance in your home…all for God’s Glory!

Here’s the incredible line up we’ve got:

Session #1: Achieving Balance in Our Lives (A Definition) РJami Balmet
Session #2: Cultivating the Lovely in the Everyday РMacKenzie Monroe from Bold Turqious
Session #3: How to Create a Lasting & Loving Marriage РJolene Engle from Joleneengle.com
Session #4: Balance in Spending Time Online РMandy Hoffman from mandyhoffman.com
Session #5: Balance in Housekeeping – Hilary Bernstein from No Place Like Home
Session #6: Finding Balance in Spiritual Disciplines (What’s Really Important) – Jami Balmet
Session #7:¬†Balance in Meal Planning (So You Won’t Go Crazy) – Stacy Myers from Humorous Homemaking
Session #8: Finding Balance in Healthy Living (Or, how to be crunchy without being a nut) РTrisha Gilkerson from Intoxicated on Life
Session #9: Balancing Priorities for Greater Joy in Your Home РJennifer Ross from The Focused Homemaker
Session #10: Balancing Homemaking and Homeschooling РTauna Meyer from The Proverbial Homemaker
Session #11: Focusing on the Gospel Throughout the Week – Jami Balmet
Session #12: Balance in Motherhood РChristy Fitzwater from christyfitzwater.com
Session #13: Creating Balance for the Working Homemaker РCaroline Allen from The Modest Mom (Me!)
Session #14: Finding Balance in Relationships – Angie Tolpin from Courageous Mom
Session #15: Living a Life of Ministry (Even When You Can’t Leave the House) РKatie Bennett from Embracing a Simpler Life
Session #16: Making Scripture Memory a priority in your day – Carlie Kervechal from Today’s Frugal Mom and Fulfilling Your Vows
Session #17: Balance in Planning РMarlene Griffith from A Diligent Heart
Session #18: Balance in Healthy Eating РKelly Smith from The Nourishing Home
Session #19: A Startup Guide to Simplifying Your Stuff – Elsie Callendar from Richly Rooted
Session #20: Finding Purpose and Cultivating Joy in Your Home РJami Balmet

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Bonus #2: Goal Setting Course and Workbook

Do you still need another reason to sign up for the conference? When you purchase a premium ticket you also get access to our brand new Goal Setting Course and Workbook all about setting priorities for you day, effectively planning, creating a family mission statement, and more!

goal-setting-course-and-workbook

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