Today I am welcoming back Shellie Arnold. I wanted to touch base with her after the release of her third novel in The Barn Church series. I loved The Spindle Chair, adored Sticks and Stones, and got my hubby hooked on them, too. Abide With Me does not disappoint, a powerful story. Shellie, thanks for stopping by.
Hey Cindy! Thanks for having me back.
For my readers who have never read any of your books (shame on them) can you give us an overview of The Barn Church series.
I write about the perfect storms in marriage—what happens when your weaknesses hit mine head-on, and we’re both left wondering if anything can be salvaged. The Barn Church series follows several couples who attend the same church, Rowe City Gospel Church in Rowe City, Alabama (a fictitious church in a fictitious place). The church is literally a huge, converted barn. Very welcoming. Very rustic. Each book is about a different couple within the church, so each story stands alone. It’s a series, but a reader wouldn’t have to read them in order to enjoy the stories.
Now let’s focus on your new release Abide With Me. Here’s the back-cover.
After ten years of marriage to the only man she’s ever loved, why is Angelina so unhappy? As a wealthy yet lonely wife, Angelina Rousseau pours all her emotions into her paintings. Desperate for affection and attention, she finds herself willing to do almost anything to feel loved. Her husband Nick is determined to provide everything Angie could want, including finally giving her what she’s asked for most—time with him. When what seems to be the perfect real estate investment turns sour, he’s arrested for fraud, but soon learns being accused of multiple felonies is the least of his worries.
Once again, Nick’s choices negatively affect Angelina. This time she’s forced to part with cherished possessions to finance his defense and protect her future. When Angelina’s carefully built walls begin to crumble, both husband and wife must examine their emotionally bankrupt marriage. Yet even if they discover what went wrong between them, Nick could still spend the rest of his life in prison.
Could “having it all” cost Nick and Angie more than they ever imagined?
How is this book different than the other two?
Great question. Let’s see…The Spindle Chair looks at how wounds from our past can directly affect a marriage, especially if that wound is tied to a trauma. I believe when God spotlights a wound or pain in us, it’s because He wants to heal it. Hopefully I showed healing is indeed possible in The Spindle Chair.
In Sticks and Stones I really wanted to show how enduring a crisis can take its toll on a marriage. Coping mechanisms often reveal bad habits, things we learned wrong before marriage, things we didn’t learn at all. I wanted to show a couple confronted with the fallout from handling a crisis, then rebuild with healthy habits.
I admit, Abide With Me is a bit different than the first two. It contains the message I wish I could share with every married couple, and hopefully the work speaks for itself. I wanted to show how every choice we make, every time we choose to listen (or not) and follow (or not) God’s promptings, we’re either sowing or refusing to sow into our marriage. I wanted to show how a couple can drift apart over time, why that happens, and the key to coming back together.
How is it the same?
It’s the same in that I show both points of view, address what can be a fundamental problem in marriage, and show my characters stumbling through changing their spiritual and marital lives.
What do you hope readers gain from reading Angelica and Nick’s story?
As with all my stories, I have three main goals: 1) that readers see God is always at work, always reaching for them, always offering growth and an opportunity to draw closer to Him and each other, 2) that readers will consider their own spiritual and marital lives, and 3) that readers will receive hope and believe no matter how difficult or strained their marriage is, if both of husband and wife listen to God, He can redeem, restore, and heal anything.
Your novel’s characters feel so life-like, so real. How closely do they mimic life experience? Either yours or someone you know. Or is this a big stretch of the imagination.
Thanks for that! Honestly, some part of all my characters is me, and all the struggles in my stories are struggles I’ve had or still have. I write from experience and try to share what I’ve learned the hard way. I know how difficult change can be, how daunting growth can be. I know what it’s like to be afraid of God seeing my sin and weaknesses—dark places are something I’m well-acquainted with. I’ve also been the recipient of His mercy and grace and kindness and gifts I don’t deserve. I want to show all of that in my stories.
I know you recently moved and that you are a home school veteran. How do you find time to write and keep up with your busy life?
Yes, this time last year we were in the process of buying a home and moving. A stressful, but exciting event.
My family comes first. Always. Finding time to write has been a tremendous challenge for many years. For decades I felt overwhelmed from home schooling and trying to write. Bottom line, there are no easy answers when managing family, and a calling or job of any kind. My youngest is now a senior in high school, so my home school responsibilities are much less than they were in previous years. Right now I’m learning how to proactively manage my time—a new feeling and experience for me.
What is the one thing you have learned about yourself as you’ve traveled this writing journey?
Honestly, I am constantly learning how much I need God for all the broken places inside I’d not noticed before. Almost daily I realize there’s no end to God’s love and mercy, to the provision provided by Christ’s death on the cross. That love, mercy, grace, patience, provision—all the things God has for us—really is endless. I can’t really wrap my brain around that, the idea God is always more, always has more, but it’s always true. When I need more—which is both again and always—He is more.
Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope my readers grab a copy of Abide With Me. (Readers, check below for a chance to win a free e-book version.)
More About Shellie Arnold:
Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily even after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that. She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. Shellie is a mother of three and has home schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.
Shellie is giving away an e-book version of Abide With Me. This book is easily a stand alone if you’ve never read the other two books in the Barn Church Series. Click the comment button at the top of this post and let me know you want to be placed in the drawing. If you re-post this blog on your social media and mention it in the comments I’ll give you an additional entry. Friday I’ll announce the winner.