Where does a mother with five children at home find the time and the energy to write a book, much less four of them within one year?  Author Ellie Kay, who says she has always had a high energy level, attributes the other aspect to one source: God, she says, has redeemed the time.

Ellie Kay had never had anything published – not a column, not an article, not even a letter to the editor.  Then came her first book, "Shop, Save, and Share," published by Bethany House in 1998.

"Most writers start writing articles or columns or they start getting into major periodicals and then eventually they have a speaking ministry or something, and then they branch out beyond that   – and they get a book, eventually," she explains.  "Whereas with me, I got a book first."

While "Shop, Save, and Share" – an updated version which hit the shelves in January 2004   – offers practical advice on family budgeting and "coupon clipping," it emphasizes the Christian's unique call to stewardship and sharing with others.  The book went on to become a best-seller, surprising both the author and publisher.

"God had a plan for that," she says, explaining that her contacts at Bethany House sat down to evaluate why a book written by an unknown author with no huge national ministry sold so well, "and there was a 1 percent chance that I would even get published, much less have the book go on to become a best-seller," she adds.

The publisher's explanation?  "The people at the publishing house were talking about it and they said, 'Wow, it must be God.' And I thought, 'Yes! That's the right answer – it is God.'"

And it's apparent that God has continued to bless Kay's energetic endeavors and to redeem her time. "Shop, Save, and Share" was followed by "How to Save Money Every Day" (2001), "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees: Teaching Kids the Value of a Buck" (2002), "Heroes at Home: Help at Home for America's Military Families" (2002), and "The New Bride Guide: Everything You Need to Know for the First Year of Marriage" (2003) – all published by Bethany House.

When Kay's first book was published, she had five children at home under the age of 10 and was home-schooling. She recalls telling God at that time she wasn't sure she was supposed to write books – and she wasn't sure she had heard Him correctly.

"I can't do this. Even being extremely efficient [which her husband attests to] and having a high energy level, I don't know how I'm going to do it," she remembers telling the Lord. "But if You want me to do this, I'll be faithful and obedient. So You're going to have to do this through me.”

"And the Lord said, 'Good! That's right were I want you,'" she says, adding that she believes God wants her to depend completely and totally on Him to redeem her time and allow her to write.

But Kay, the wife of a recently retired Air Force fighter pilot, sees her calling to write as something she is just supposed to do. "I really spent a lot of time in prayer and before the Lord [while writing the books], and what He said to me in my heart and through my quiet time was, 'The days are evil and the time is short,'" she says.

That's why she believes God is calling out people from all walks of life who are obedient. "He is calling out home-schooling moms, He's calling out scientists, He's calling out plumbers ... to do a specific work that He has preordained for them for such a time as this," Kay says. "And He's got a plan and purpose for all of us."

She explains that as she wrote "four, 200-page, fully-researched, non-fiction" books in one year (2002), her prayer always was, "Lord, anoint my pen – and redeem the time." The Lord, she says, never failed her.

"Every time I've sat down to write – don't get me wrong, it's been plenty of hard work – the Lord has brought me exactly what I need," she testifies. "A bit of research there, a bit there, a phone call there,
statistics and true-life examples. He just brings me all these things that I need. And He truly does anoint my hands and my fingers – and He redeems the time, because the days are evil and time is short."

God's Timing

Kay says she has learned to trust God's timing. The military wife shares the story of her book, "Heroes at Home," which she describes as a "book of hope and help for military families."

"That was a book that had been on my heart for a long time, and I wanted it to be my second book," she explains. "But my publisher said there was no market for it and it wouldn't make any money. So we waited for God's timing."

Before continuing, Kay explains that a book typically takes at least six months to write – usually eight or nine – and anywhere from 18 to 24 months after a contract is signed for it to be on bookshelves. Such was not the case for "Heroes at Home," a best-seller that was a finalist for the 2003 Gold Medallion.

"Because God anointed the pen and redeemed the time, ['Heroes at Home'] was written in 30 days," she says. "It went from contract to shelf in six months – and it was where it needed to be when the war [in Iraq] broke out." The book that took 30 days to write, she says, "has been all over the place because God had a purpose and plan for it. It shows that the 'God factor' is really strong."

Family Finance Is 'Real-Life' Finance

Ellie Kay, who carries the trademark as "America's Family Financial  Expert," earned that moniker through the success of her first book, which among other things showed readers how to reduce their expenses by saving 50 to 85 percent on grocery bills.  The former broker says that the really amazing thing about developing a household budget is that most people think it will "just work out."

In her most recent book, "A Woman's Guide to Family Finance," Kay combines her professional experience with her real-world know-how as she talks to wives about how they can partner with their husbands in contributing significantly to their family's finances.

"I don't think women always understand that they can make the difference between sinking or floating in their [family] finances," she says.  "And it's not just the stereotype of going to the mall and shopping till you drop and that's how a woman can contribute either positively or negatively – by no means is it that."

Instead, she says, "A Woman's Guide" empowers women to understand "what an incredible contribution they have."

"There are no easy answers [to building a secure financial future]," she says.  "The only thing that really works is to spend less and save more."  But she acknowledges that many people get burned out with traditional budgeting techniques and give up on being better stewards of God's blessings.  "Life is too short for that," she says.

That's why Kay has taken a fresh approach in this latest book, with offerings such as her simple "$50,000 Money Pyramid" model that allows for fun, three kinds of savings (long-term, retirement, and short-term), and expenses.  That approach, she explains, is modeled after the short-lived 1980s TV game show “The $50,000 Pyramid.

"[My model] has three general areas of budgeting rather than the eight to ten very specific categories that can become so restrictive that all you feel like you're doing is just watching every single penny – and you can get burned out because of that," she says.  "So we've brought kind of a fresh approach to budgeting that's still a biblical model, but one that may be a little bit easier for families that have never budgeted before."

The book also helps individuals identify their "money personality" so they can guard against bad spending habits.  "We talk about personality types so that you can understand if you are one of these 'born spender' personality types or one of the 'born savers' – and what if you marry someone who's different," the author says.  "We talk about how all those dynamics fit in so you can understand why your family's finances are the way they are, and how you can take steps to make it a little bit more healthy if it's not healthy already."

Other chapters in the book include "The Debt Diet," a discussion on credit card usage called "Paper or Plastic?," "The Pink Slip Blues," ("What do you do if your family is suddenly out of work and you have to make some dramatic changes for nine or ten months to a year out of your life? How do you handle that?" Kay asks); and "The Seventh-Day Rest."

Kay explains that the chapter on "Seventh-Day Rest" emphasizes how it is important to build "wiggle room" into a budget – not just for entertainment, but for splurges as well.  "If they're budgeted and they're part of your finances, it just gives you a tremendous amount of freedom," the financial expert says.

The broker-turned-coupon-clipper strongly believes she is filling a niche toward which God has directed her.  "I don't do a lot of higher finance," she says.  "I write about real-life financial issues, and I do real-world finance for real people - and that's family finance."

The average American family, she says, does not have an expansive investment portfolio – so that's the area where she tries to help.  "In some ways, this book ["A Woman's Guide to Family Finance"] is kind of like a book for soccer moms to help them make ends meet and do it with style. I hope it helps them go above and beyond what they ever thought they could do to give their family a better quality of life," she says.

Soccer moms – and other women, no doubt – are grateful to get sound, godly advice from America's Family Financial Expert, whose family has reaped the benefits of her good stewardship and generous sharing of the bounty that follows.


Author and speaker Ellie Kay, "America's Family Financial Expert," is the mother of seven children - five still at home – and is married to a corporate test pilot who recently retired as a Lt. Colonel from theU.S. Air Force.

© 2004 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.