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