Abide With Me by Shellie Arnold

Today we’d like to welcome author, Shellie Arnold, to the blog. Her latest book in The Barn Church series, Abide With Me, is a great Southern fiction read. But I’ll let her tell you a little more about herself and her book..

Glad you could join us, Shellie. Do you have any interesting writing rituals?

Shellie: For many years I struggled to write anywhere except at home in my office, when my family was gone. I think my “mommy” brain simply wouldn’t let me concentrate except under those conditions. Then I trained myself to use music as a device to create my writing “environment.” Now, I have a sort of Pavlovian reflex to a few different soundtracks—not kidding. A couple of worship albums, the soundtrack from the movie Solaris, and Islands: Essential Einaudi CD by Ludovico Einaudi. (I love Einaudi’s piano music) With my earbuds in, I can write almost anywhere. 🙂 I always start with worship music to get my heart and mind and spirit in the right place, then usually switch after about twenty minutes.

What are your books about?

Shellie: I write and speak about marriage issues. My passion is sharing everything I’ve learned the hard way about marriage. I want to support and give hope to marriages. My novels are about the “perfect storms” in marriage: what happens when my weaknesses hit yours head-on, and we’re both left wondering if anything can be salvaged.

Abide With Me is the third novel in my Barn Church series. Books one and two are: The Spindle Chair and Sticks and Stones. For this series, I created a fictional town in southern Alabama. In this small town is a church that’s a renovated barn. Each book in the series looks at a different marriage within that church body. I focus on one problem that can be present in a marriage—always an issue I’ve encountered or am still facing—and go deep into why the couple is where they are, and what God is trying to do in them and in their marriage.

Abide With Me is the story of Angelina and Nicholas Rousseau. They’ve been married ten years, they’re both believers, and their marriage is a disaster. Using both points of view, I look at what brought them to this place of unhappiness and discontentment.

What is your favorite part of the book?

Shellie: That’s a tough question! My favorite part of this book…well, without giving away the storyline, I think I have two favorite parts. The first would be the opening scene when Angelina attends a friend’s wedding in Las Vegas. Her heart and emotions have been so suppressed, so controlled, she’s unable to handle so much “happy” around her, even though she’s happy for her friend, the bride. Angie even stuns herself with her reaction, and I really like that image—the idea a wife’s yearnings are such a powerful force.

My second (and equally) favorite part would be when Nicholas is in jail, waiting in an interview room to speak again with his attorney, and he’s just seen Angelina for the first time in months. I take him to a really low place. He “hits bottom,” if you will, which is sometimes what it takes to get our attention, isn’t it? I really enjoyed writing how he begins to see not only the condition of his marriage, but what he contributed to its dysfunction.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?

Shellie: Yes! Honestly, I thought this book would be first in the series, but God had other ideas. Abide With Me is the message of my heart, the message I wish I could say to every marriage. That every time we say no to God, we’re saying no to our mate and our marriage. That’s a tough truth. One God has been teaching me for almost thirty-two years now. But I think it’s the bottom line, the litmus test for every action and decision in marriage: Is my behavior righteous? Am I doing what God wants me to do?

In our everyday lives, I think it’s easy to overlook our mate, or demand our own way, to withhold forgiveness, to hold a grudge—even without realizing. I wanted to highlight how easy that is to do, and what the consequences would ultimately be for two people who were extremely in love when they married, but ten years later have almost nothing to show for their marriage. I also wanted to show how God can redeem that marriage, or any marriage. I truly believe God can redeem, heal, and restore anything—I’m living proof of that. I believe any marriage can thrive when both parties listen to God.

Where can readers find you online?

Shellie: My web site: www.shelliearnold.com (find my blog, FREE e-cards gallery, sign up for my newsletter, view my events page, and learn of new products and teachings soon to be available on DVD)

Find me: Facebook, Your Marriage Resources, Twitter, Youtube: Your Marriage resources, Pinterest,

Link to purchase on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yad6j9ak

Abide With Me

After ten years of marriage to the only man she’s ever loved, why is Angelina so unhappy?

Angelina Rousseau pours all her emotions into her paintings. When she meets a handsome stranger at a friend’s wedding in Las Vegas, she believes she’s discovered why she’s so lonely—she simply married the wrong man. 

Nicholas Rousseau is a highly successful industrial engineer and has the Midas touch with his investments. Only in his marriage is he a failure. 

When Nick is arrested for real estate fraud, Angelina is as uncertain of his innocence as she is certain she should end their marriage. But the authorities believe Angelina is as guilty as Nick. To protect her own future, she must return to the opulent home she abandoned and sell her cherished possessions to finance Nick’s defense. Nick desires to reconnect with his estranged wife, but examining their emotionally bankrupt marriage proves more difficult than he imagined. And, 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? 

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.

To Have and To Hold

By Tammy Trail

I find weddings a wonderful tradition. A chance for families to join and celebrate Tim and Tammy weddingtwo people starting a life together. With this months’ topic being weddings, I had the tendency to think of my own. Ours was a simple affair. I think our whole budget was a whopping $2000.00.

Two years later my cousin Christine was planning her wedding. She was a very fortunate girl. The whole family pitched in with her nuptials. One aunt made her cake. With help from the ladies of the church, her grandmother made all of the buffet food. I did all her flowers, and she found her dress for $100.00 at an estate sale.Christine's wedding 1

My daughter had grand ideas for her wedding. We were constantly reeling her back to reality to stay on budget. Even with all the reminders, there were last minute items like candles that needed to be purchased.Amanda's Picture

Wedding trends change from year to year. According to a few internet sites, this year’s bride will opt for bolder colors; gone are neutrals and pastels. Family style dinners serving comfort foods with no formal seating gives a more laid back atmosphere. The emphasis is having your guest enjoy the celebration.

I recently heard of an unusual event the bride performed for her guests. Instead of throwing her bouquet to a group of unmarried female guests, she gave each of them a single flower from her bouquet. Along with the flower, the bride prayed with each of the women, asking God’s guidance in finding a husband. I thought this was a lovely new tradition, and the bride was a very sweet woman to have been so thoughtful.wedding bouquet

Here are some interesting facts about weddings:

Queen Victoria began the tradition of wearing white for her wedding. Before that time, women wore their Sunday best.

The bodice of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress was made from 125-year-old lace.

The marriage of Sheik Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s son to Princess Salama in Dubai in 1981 was the most expensive. How much, you ask? A grand total of $44 million dollars.

Diamond ringPriscilla Presley’s engagement ring was a whopping 3.5 carat rock surrounded by a detachable row of smaller diamonds.

One of history’s earliest engagement rings was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. She was two years old at the time.

Weddings are a rite of passage. It’s a way to define a family’s course through time. First we celebrate birth, then baptisms, graduations, then finally a wedding. Children grow up, get married to make homes for themselves and begin to follow the same journey. It’s not an easy one. Those of us who have traveled the path must be available to mentor beginners. The trends, words spoken, and symbols may change. The purpose never will. Love must win, every time.

My husband and I are going to be empty-nesters next year. I have no idea what I will do with all my spare time. Maybe finish a novel or two. You might ask, “What will she write about?”  Romance, of course!

Do you have a funny moment you could share from your own wedding? I would love to hear about it!

My December Wedding

by Betty Owens

Why June Weddings?

flowers-1193840_1280It’s a well-known fact June is the most popular month for weddings. By now, you’ve probably read the top reasons for that, if you’ve kept up with our other bloggers here at Writing Prompts. Those have to do with (1) Roman history, and (2) hygiene. A third, possibly more important reason revolved around the fact that children born in the spring had a better survival rate. Farmers would understand that reasoning, since they have historically used similar tactics with their livestock. Kind of puts things in perspective, huh?

BobnBetty1974-PolaroidBWI didn’t put a lot of thought into my wedding. I was on my own. My job as a bank teller didn’t pay all that well. My dad had recently been laid off from his job. I would not ask for their help. Bob, my fiancé, wanted to get married before Christmas so we could spend the holiday together. Made perfect sense to me. We could go to church and stand up with a few of our closest friends and family. It wouldn’t cost a thing, except a small fee to the pastor. Oh, and rings. We must have rings.

Bob’s mother had other ideas about what the wedding would look like. She sewed my dress, rented a tux for Bob, and made arrangements with a friend for flowers. A few of our church friends added their help, which included a wedding cake, and before you knew it, I had an actual wedding.

Oh, did I mention we did this in six weeks?

wedding-571069_1280Just so you’ll know, I never even dreamed of a big wedding. I was actually surprised that anyone wanted to marry me (I had a very low self-esteem). And growing up in a financially stressed household, a big, fancy wedding (like the one in this photograph) was clearly not in my future. So when I found myself on Dad’s arm, sauntering up the aisle of my church, outfitted in a beautiful lacy dress with a long train…well, it didn’t seem quite real.

In those last few moments before that walk down the aisle—I was terrified Bob wouldn’t show up!

Why would a thought like that even enter my mind? Possibly because I didn’t know him all that well. We’d only dated for just over three months. And just in case you’re wondering—no—it wasn’t a shotgun wedding, though we did live in Kentucky. And I wasn’t in the family way. Our first child came along two years later.

Then why on earth would I get married after only knowing a guy for three months? Well, technically, I’d known him longer. We attended the same high school, lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same church. But we ran with different crowds. I was a Jesus freak, and he was a…a redneck. Redneck had a slightly different meaning back in the day–sort of like a hood–like Danny and friends in Grease.

So why did I say yes? What he said to me when he proposed made me believe we were on the right track.

proposal“I believe God wants us to marry.” So why wait? He didn’t say that last part, but his eyes did. I’d gotten pretty good at the “eye read” thing.

Did I take his word for it? No, I spent time in prayer and really gave it some thought. I was still at this point: actually surprised someone wanted to marry me. And flattered. Really, really flattered.

With such a low opinion of myself, it will come as no surprise to you that I didn’t date much. For the most part, I was shy and introverted. My opinion of my outward appearance? I believed I must be homely, because guys weren’t busting down the door. What else could it be?

I was never cool. But I had friends, most of whom dated a lot, and were married before I was. So what was wrong with me? (Besides having a huge, muscular dad with a piercing stare, and a pit bull of an older brother–I think big brother threatened potential boyfriends behind my back).

By the age of twenty-one, I had decided I was headed for spinsterhood. So I was genuinely surprised by Bob’s proposal.

My December wedding happened forty-one years ago. A lot of water has “run through the creek” in the intervening years. We had three sons, who now have families of their own. We’ve been empty-nesters for quite some time. My life didn’t take the path I expected. I always figured God chuckled a little when He saw the look on my face as Bob proposed.

I suppose it’s a good thing I never had overblown dreams about an extravagant wedding. I was pleasantly surprised by the small, but beautiful one I was given. And grateful. Very, very grateful.

Betty O's Wedding collage

Writing Prompt: Judy waited where her boyfriend Blake told her to, while he strode back to the car and opened the trunk. Out popped a single helium-filled balloon–a rather large one. Blake gripped the ribbon as he approached.

What was he doing? Judy’s breath caught in her throat as he let go of the balloon then aimed a pistol at it.

Finish the prompt in the comment section…