A Visit with Shellie Arnold Author of the Barn Church Series

Shellie Arnold has graciously agreed to visit me again. Her books always speak to my heart on some level. Welcome, girlfriend.

Shellie Arnold

Hi Cindy. Great to be back here.

Let’s start with a question I love to ask. When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

Honestly, when I first considered writing I was in the eighth grade. I wanted to help marriages. I wanted to help people avoid the pain of divorce. I had no idea what the writing process would look like, no idea what to do to pursue publication. Only that I wanted to give people what they needed to have healthy marriages.

I actually confided this in the one person I thought would support me—the key word being “thought.” That individual’s reaction “Who would buy it?” crushed me. For years I didn’t talk of writing. I set it aside figuring that person knew what they were talking about. Then someone else I trusted (and there weren’t many) encouraged me to consider writing. She didn’t know of my conversation years ago with another. My desire to help marriages had only strengthened, so I let myself begin.

I for one am glad you didn’t let the naysayer crush your calling.

Now share with us how you do research for your books?

For the Barn Church series books, rather than trying to accurately describe and document a setting or town, I created my own. I did have to research maps and other details to make that town fit where I wanted it to, but I think creating my own setting decreased the stress of writing a series. If I wanted a water tower outside the town, I could put one there! LOL

As far as non-fiction, I’m working on my first marriage topic book regarding sexual intimacy in marriage. That is requiring a lot of research and time, because I’m pulling from many resources to support my approach to the subject.

You mentioned the Barn Church series, your first three novels. How does your non-fiction tie in with the series?

Great question. My burden is for marriages and families. As I said earlier, my original intent with regard to writing sat on the non-fiction side. I’ve only been pursuing fiction over the last decade or so. But my desire to offer tangible, actionable help for hurting marriages never left. To me, in my fiction, I can talk about the feelings and background and thoughts of my characters, as they process their dilemnas. The non-fiction books I hope to complete, and the teaching materials we are currently producing all deal with the subjects, issues, and problems presented in my fiction.

So, if a reader wants to read a great story, hopefully I’ve delivered that. But if God uses my stories to speak to them about a particular area of their marriage, I want to provide resources and materials that can help them. That’s what I originally started out to do. While I hadn’t planned to get there through fiction, it makes sense to me God would also want me to use story to help marriages. After all, Jesus often spoke in parables.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Yes. My favorite verse(s) are Isaiah 1:18, 19 NIV. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord. “[a]Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the best of the land;”

I love these verses because they tell me God is willing to discuss my sin with me—why I do certain things, think a certain way, where the lies I tell myself come from—when I approach him with a willingness to be obedient in the future. He doesn’t simply demand a certain standard of behavior from believers, although many people think He does. No, He comes alongside us and will teach us why we do the things we do, and how to live differently. I need that. I don’t want to be the same person today I was yesterday, and I don’t want to be the same person tomorrow I am today. Knowing God is with me for the long haul, no matter how long it takes to teach me and heal me, is critical to my life.

Does this verse correspond to your writing in any way?

Yes! Absolutely. Each of my first three novels deals with one specific problem that can be present in a marriage. I show both viewpoints—husband and wife—and they each have their own problems and issues, like we all do. Hopefully, the message of my favorite verses resonates throughout all of my novels. That God will forgive. He will make new. He will teach us and change us and guide us. He will lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. God will help all who ask. He’s always right there, no matter how big a mess we believe we’ve made of our marriage.

You sound like you’re speaking from experience. Would you care to tell us about that?

My husband and I had everything stacked against us when we married. Neither of us had learned how to resolve conflict. Neither of us had learned how to communicate effectively without anger or shutting down. We are both sexual abuse survivors. My parents divorced when I was a teenager—statistically, we probably shouldn’t have made it a year.

Consequently, we made so many mistakes of the years. Stupid mistakes. Mistakes from stubbornness and ignorance. From thinking we were doing the right things, and even demanding our own way about different things. But we didn’t want to let go of each other. And because God put love in our hearts, we wanted to honor and grow that love, even though we didn’t know how.

Learning to walk with God through repentance, learning, and change has not only made our spiritual lives rich, it’s saved our marriage over and over again. God isn’t stingy with wisdom, discernment, strength, or His love. All we have to do is ask with the right attitude, listen, and respond.

About Shellie:

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  http://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.

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Buy links:

Amazon link for The Spindle Chair: https://tinyurl.com/ybfz46kd

Amazon link for Sticks and Stones: https://tinyurl.com/ybqbfx4k

Amazon link for Abide With Me: https://tinyurl.com/y7njecln

Shellie it is always a blessing to have you stop by. Hope to have you again in the future.

Visitors if you enjoyed this post and would like to recieve Jubileewriter in your email each time I post a new blog subscribe before you leave.

 

Shellie Arnold discusses Abide With Me

close-up-for-webToday 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.

Abide With Me 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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shellie.arnold.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShellieArnold1

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ShellieLArnold/

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.