Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Budget War

Hi Everyone!

I have a treat for you today. Andrea Merrell is an incredibly talented author and editor. Her new book, Marriage: Make It or Break It released this summer.
Andrea Merrell

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of keen observation, years of studying God's Word, and a lifetime of trial and error. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis. 

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

I'm thrilled to welcome Andrea to Out of the Boat today!


Who then is that faithful and wise steward?
Luke 12:42 NKJV

“You want us to do what? You’ve got to be kidding!”

That was my response when my husband first suggested we live on a budget. We were barely getting by, our paychecks spent before we ever saw them. The thought of taking our meager income and slicing and dicing it into categories seemed ridiculous.

After many discussions about this new financial strategy, I finally relented. I was willing to give it a try, if only to prove it wouldn’t work. When I sat down with my checkbook, calculator, and notebook—stretching a few dollars into categories such as tithe, housing, utilities, food, insurance, car, and miscellaneous—the numbers were comical.

“This is crazy,” I said. “We’re in worse shape than ever.”

My husband just smiled that knowing smile of his. “Be patient. It may take a few weeks to get us on track, but we’ll be better off.”

Better off? Right. Be patient? Easy for him to say. How was I supposed to pad those pages and pay our bills at the same time? I balked. I complained. I wrung my hands. Then I did what I should have done in the first place—I prayed. Lord, if this is the right thing for us, please show me what to do.

It’s amazing what God will do when we invite Him to get involved in our stuff. In less than a month, the balance in our checkbook went from less than $100 to over $1,000. Our bills were all paid on time, our other needs met, and there was even money left over toward the next month’s expenses. We could also see exactly where our money was going, eliminating a lot of waste.
What appeared to be financial bondage actually turned out to be financial freedom. For the first time in our lives, we didn’t have to wonder where the money would come from. In a very short time, my categories were full, and I even added savings and vacation. My years of worry over having enough money to survive had come to an end—thanks to God and my wise husband.

It’s been over thirty years since I created that notebook, and I still use it to this day. In fact, I can’t imagine not being on a budget, especially in this crazy economy.  It has provided tremendous peace of mind.

If you’re in a hard place financially, living paycheck to paycheck, give budgeting a try. It might be difficult in the beginning, but the benefits will be well worth the effort.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Unglamorous Life of a Writer

If you’ve hung around the writing world for long, you’ve heard it before . . . 
  • Being a published author does not magically fix all your problems.
  • Being a published author does not mean you’ll spend your days fending off random fans when you’re buying groceries.
  • Being a published author does not mean you’ll spend your days in a lovely office overlooking a serene pastoral setting as you churn out novel after novel. 

But . . . come on. It has to help. Right? It has to be more good than bad. At least when you get “The Call” or reach new writing milestones, there will be parties and well-wishes and celebratory balloons falling from the ceiling. Right?

Well . . .

I did hear one story where an author went to check in for a flight and the ticket clerk looked at her license, and then looked at her, and then promptly bumped her to First Class after telling her that she reads everything she writes. 

So, it happens! But my highly (un)scientific research has revealed that these kinds of events happen about as often as a total solar eclipse traverses the entire country

In the interest of bringing you the true side of the publishing life, here are a few representative samples of the real, (un)glamorous lives of published authors.