1 – Make a list of things you like about yourself. Name at least five.

1 – My (warped) sense of humour. I love to bring a smile to someone when they’re having a rough day. Or when they’re not. Any time, basically.

2 – Piggy-backed on that is encouragement. I spent so many years depressed and in despair I can’t stand to see someone else there, even for a moment. I offer a kind word or a smile, or God’s Word when the opportunity is there. (by the way, bashing someone with Scripture is not encouragement.)

3 – I am tenacious and resilient. Watching a movie years ago, I thought if I found myself in the situation the character was in I’d give up. Even then, Holy Spirit whispered to me, “No you wouldn’t.” Okay then!

4 – I am kind and generous. I share what I have when I can. Funny thing about that, though. Father always gives more back to me.

5 – I am an empath. I’ve known this longer than I even knew what empath means—a person with the paranormal (I prefer supernatural as in Holy Spirit) ability to comprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual. I’ve said for years I can “read” other people, I “get” what others feel and why they think or feel as they do.

6 – I am talented. Wasn’t long ago I couldn’t have said that publicly. Of course I’m biased, but I love my writing. My design projects in college received recognition and accolades. (one is on the college website still) I’m a hella actress, and have the accents to prove it. (also the empath bit) I’m aces with the memes.

7 – Maybe my favourite—I am confident. I didn’t used to be. I didn’t used to like me, but I can say without conceit, I’m pretty cool.




2 – Write and tell yourself you are beautiful and amazing. Then tell yourself why.



3 – Write about a mistake you made and how it impacted your life in a positive way.

There is a plethora I could choose from but I’ll take the biggest and most notable: I got married. That in itself was not the mistake; the mistake was (at least) two-fold: I was too young and I married the wrong person. If that sounds simplistic, it’s not.

It wasn’t my age so much as my need to be liked—I thought it was love but didn’t have a clue what love truly is. And if I thought my self-esteem was low… let’s just say I married down, meaning my husband’s self-esteem was lower than mine. However veiled my vision, I did have faith and I did have some knowledge of God’s Word in my head if not my heart.

I ended my marriage after six and a half short years. But not before Father gave me the three most precious and priceless gifts I could ever have—my kids.


Do you remember the show, Fantasy Island? Visitors to the island were granted a visit to an alternate reality and at the end of the show, they had the option to keep the life they had, or step into the alternate. Of all the episodes, only one stuck with me. A young woman had married one of her two best guy friends, and was now a widow. Her fantasy was to see what life would have been like if she had chosen the other guy. (it had not been a love triangle, the three had all been friends) At the end, she was walking through the jungle from her cottage to tell Mr. Roarke she wanted to have the alternate life, in which her husband didn’t die, in which they had an exciting and exotic life together. As she walked along the path, she reached to idly fidget with the locket she always wore. But it wasn’t there. It wasn’t there because it held a photo of her daughter. A child she didn’t have, wouldn’t have had, if she had married the “other” guy. Her decision took on a new weight, and she chose to live with her grief as a widow because to do otherwise meant choosing not to have her daughter. (I’m weeping as I write this)

I have felt much the same way. For all the times I’ve wished I had been wiser, had waited—had been more mature, had been a different person entirely, not to mention my husband—all those wishes wished away my children. (and now my two beautiful granddaughters.) For all the hell I’ve lived with and been through, nothing—nothing—could make me wish my kids away. Nothing could make me regret being their mother. And nothing will make me give up fighting for them. (and no I don’t mean custody, they’re grown. I mean spiritually)

See, the insecurities I dealt with (or failed to deal with) transferred to my kids. I didn’t know communication, therefore I couldn’t teach communication. I didn’t have healthy self-image, therefore I couldn’t teach them to have a healthy self-image. I had no confidence, therefore I could not pass long any degree of confidence. Nor did I have the confidence to talk to them about things that matters: sex, drugs, faith, God. I didn’t have confidence to face conflict.

But God. He is and has always been by my side. And as I have come into identity in Him, not only has faith taken off to soaring heights, but so has confidence. And so, too, is my family being restored. Broken foundations beget broken, well, everything. For all the years I “patched” the brokenness, the dam finally broke and my family fell apart.

But God. Again. I am witnessing restoration, things I could never manufacture. Things that aren’t my job to manipulate. But God. He can and will and does. And I know that what He is knitting together, the patches and broken pieces renewed, is more beautiful than what I tried so hard to preserve under the guise and pretense of “I’m okay.”

See, now I am okay. And now I can let go and let God. And now, I know without a trace of doubt that the three most precious and priceless gifts I could ever have, are still mine. And nothing can take them away from me.




4 – Make a list of people who have committed offenses against you. Then forgive them.

NOTE: The first Scripture that spoke to me way back when I was 12 years old was Matthew 5:43-48, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

That’s kind of the epitome of forgiveness, and I have chosen to forgive each of these. Guess which one is the hardest?


My mother

My father

My ex husband



the guy who raped me


My second grade art teacher (see below)





5 – Write about a time in your childhood when you didn’t feel good about yourself.

A time in my childhood? How ‘bout all the time in my childhood? The first episode I remember was in second grade art class. It must have been December because we were making snowflakes, you know where you fold the paper then fold it again, and snip out bits. I was so excited I jumped up (raised my left hand) and told the teacher I knew how to make them. Her response cut me deeply and left a scar that took years to mend—she said, “Fine, do you want to come teach the class?” And it wasn’t an invitation. It was a “Sit down and be quiet, you’re bothering me.” So I sat, and be’d quiet… for years. I felt no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I felt that nothing I had to say was of value to anyone else.

Holy Spirit has healed that wound, and as I mentioned above, I now have confidence in who I am and what I do.


There’s this Cinderella moment—I was about 12 years old and it was my job to wash dishes after supper. Not so unusual, I was the oldest. And I’m a girl. But while I was in the kitchen up to my elbows in dishwater, my brother and sister were in the living room being silly with our parents. By the time the dishes were done it was time for our TV shows (in the days before cable) and then it was time to get ready for bed. One night, I had a hang nail and I deliberately cut my finger with a knife to get out of doing [the rest of] the dishes. Funny thing, now I like myself I’m okay doing the dishes!



6 – Close your eyes and think about self-esteem for a while. Write whatever comes to mind.

Confidence. It’s the first thing that comes to mind. Knowing my own worth sounds like a clinical definition, but it’s true. And for me that is wrapped up in knowing my identity which is only found in Christ. I can only explain self-esteem by sharing how I have come to love myself and that is in learning who He created me to be (a writer by the way.) As I grew in my identity as a writer, I have grown in confidence. And that goes beyond “just” my writing. I am not intimidated to speak to a stranger when I need to, I’m good to offer random words of kindness to people I don’t know. And I’m astoundingly comfortable talking about my stories—to complete strangers!

You see, as I grow in my spirit, my soul and flesh follow suit.

As Holy Spirit pours into me, all trace of self-doubt, self-recrimination, self-hatred dissipates and vanishes. It’s like the dark—it can’t exist in the Light.




7 – List things for which you are thankful. Keep going until you can’t think of any more.

My kids.

My grandgirls.

My friends

My kitties

Seafood, ‘specially scallops

Pasta, rice, bread, potatoes – my four basic food groups


My health, even with the RA and struggles

My new knee (February 2016)

My writing

My faith and my journey

My church

Irises, Shasta daisies, poppies

Trees and rivers and mountains

My dream house (that I designed)

The promises of God

The Word of God (which is basically the same thing)



Indoor plumbing!


Rain #amapluviophile



Also green



Basically all modern conveniences and technology

Long hot soaky baths

Grab bars so I can take long hot soaky baths (technically so I can get out of a long hot soaky bath… )

Essential oils and bath salts for the long hot soaky baths

Chocolate, did I mention chocolate

This list is infinitesimal…

8 – Jot down the names of three people who could use a hug today.

Maggie (my daughter)


Donna (BFF)


9 – Draw a picture of YOU, being as kind to yourself as you would to your best friend. (although I am an artist, words are my best “brush” and I chose to draw a word picture, like describing a character in one of my stories)

Joy radiates from her, and her smile lights up a room. It’s the first thing you see when you see Robin. Unless it’s her crazy purple-red hair. She says her hair is psycho, has a mind of its own, but it’s so cute. Short little bob that curls one way then the next, maybe it is a little psycho. She’s tall and while not skinny, she is not a cow as she sometimes claims. She has curves that are well earned with years and childbirth and no small bit of hell thrown at her. Her hands are crooked and bent (she says they’re ugly) but she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she wants to do. She finds or makes a way—or something entirely new to Robin, she asks for help. Time was, she couldn’t do that. She stands tall and walks tall because she had learned, is learning, who she is; she walks with confidence. Also because she has a new knee—total knee replacement last year—and she can walk tall and not hunched over. (or in pain)

Confidence looks good on her, best dress ever!

10 – Write about something that made you happy in the past year.

Another from a long list—Father has just opened up those windows of heaven. But the most precious moment in the past year was when my son came to see me. As I mentioned above, my family has been broken; my sons have not spoken to me in over three years. #1 big guy has conceded some via Facebook, and primarily significant events, like when he moved and his new job. He doesn’t live far from me, maybe 20, 25 miles. So when he was out my way with a friend several weeks ago and #1 son mentioned how close they were to my house, said friend asked how to get here. I didn’t know until I saw the truck pull up outside. They didn’t stay long, but it was IS one of the most precious, priceless moments of my life.

Oh, and yes, I got a great bear hug from the man child.


I challenge each of you to take Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge. Share with me if you’d like, let me know you did it, and share any part of it you feel comfortable sharing.


My friend, Amber, gets pretty transparent over on her blog as well. Stop by and give her a shout out.




#Blogwords, Special Edition, Looking Glass Lies and Shaming, #BEYOUChallenge, #vulnerable, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty







Reading is My SuperPower

http://cafinatedreads.com  |   Singing Librarian   |   Bookworm Mama

Faithfully Bookish   |   Radiant Light   |   Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names Are Taken   |   Fiction Aficionado   |   Bibliophile Reviews

Kathleen Denly   |   Lauraine’s Notes   |   https://joyofreadingweb.wordpress.com/

https://abakersperspective.wordpress.com   |   With a Joyful Noise   |  

http://momentsdippedinink.com   |   http://cjaneread.blogspot.ca



 If you’d like to join us on your blog for First Line Fridays, shoot Carrie @ Reading is My Superpower an email and let her know!





For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.



I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk in closet. Again.



Few books have impacted me as deeply and personally as this one. Shame, whether body image or otherwise, cuts deep and leaves scars. I have devoted this whole week to this book and its topic, and tomorrow, I post my answers to Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge.



Christian Fiction / Women’s Fiction / Romance





#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty, #BEYOUChallenge





“Carrying a burden that’s too much to handle? On the edge of the cliff looking down with no way across? Focus on God and His word for the answers. He’ll give you the power you need.”


“Pearls lie not on the seashore. If thou desirest one, thou must dive for it. (Chinese proverb)”



rem:  Hullo, Angie, welcome to my little nest—and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ANGIE:  I was born in a small town outside Rock Hill, SC and now I live in a smaller town north of Columbia, SC.

rem:  You are SO close to me! Tell us three things about yourself.

ANGIE:  I have a degree in Art and was a commissioned pen-and-ink artist. In addition to that, I’ve been a science teacher, a corporate trainer and curriculum designer. At one time, when I was going back to school for my master’s degree, I had three part-time jobs: a teaching assistant, worked in the proof department (before machines did it) in a bank, and worked in a hardware store on the weekends.


rem:  Busy.lady.  :-O  (P.S. I’d love to see some of your pen-and-ink work!) Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ANGIE:  Coffee, all day long. Splenda and creamer, please.

rem:  What is your favorite quotation and why?

ANGIE:  It’s a verse, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might, as to the Lord and not unto man.” Ecc. 9:10 KJV It’s always been my favorite because it’s what my parents taught me to do, give it everything I’ve got. Do the best I can, no matter what I do. I still try to do that.

rem:  Much better mantra than perfection. Much. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

ANGIE:  I love NCIS. The puzzle that they have to solve and the character development of the team is the perfect combination.

rem:  Favorite season? Why?

ANGIE:  Autumn. I’m a red-head and besides the fact that the temps start getting cooler, the changing leaves accentuate my coloring. (Ha!)

rem:  Autumn is a very close second (to spring, it’s a *ahem* robin thing… ) for me. Hugs or kisses?

ANGIE:  Hugs. From everyone.

rem:  Great.Big.Cyber {{{{{HUGZ}}}}} If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

ANGIE:  I know everyone says, Billy Graham, but there’s a reason. His obedience to God has been responsible for leading so many people to Christ (including me). I would just like to hear what he’d say, about anything.


rem:  That would be an amazing time! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ANGIE:  As a writer, Christian fiction is the best opportunity most people will have to introduce Christ to a large audience. Stories, told correctly, are the best way to teach people. They pull people in so that the readers experience the same thing as the characters. And, as Allen Arnold says, I have to lean on God to write those stories with Him.

rem:  Oh, Angie, I so agree with this. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

ANGIE:  Flat characters.

rem:  Which is more important: plot or characters?

ANGIE:  Character development makes or breaks the story. If the story’s characters are flat, the story is flat.

rem:  As a designer, I can very much rsee the difference between plans on paper—two dimensional—and 3-D renderings which add depth and life to drawings. Same as with characters in stories. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

ANGIE:  Honestly, I don’t know. Whatever God wanted me to do.

rem:  Hard to imagine, isn’t it? What are you reading right now?

ANGIE: I’m one of Beth Vogt’s first readers. Y’all, she’s got a good one coming out soon!

rem:  Ooohhh, SQUEEEE!!! What do you munch on while you write?

ANGIE:  I don’t have a favorite snack, but I drink coffee or my Splenda lemonade, all the time.


rem:  Lemonade sounds lovely. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ANGIE: When I was a corporate trainer, I became unable to stand all day, so I became a curriculum writer. I began to feel led to write fiction and attended the Christian Writers Guild conference. Later when I stopped working, God kept leading me from one writing opportunity to another. I’ve been very blessed.

rem:  I do love those stepping stones, and how nothing is wasted in Him. How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

ANGIE:  That is a very good question that I had to look up. The answer is 2011.

rem:  That’s a good while! What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

ANGIE:  The team. We care for each other, pray for each other, celebrate our successes and commiserate our “oops.”

rem:  The epitome of teamwork. How often do you post on the blog?

ANGIE:  On Seriously Write, every Tuesday I write or host someone who writes a post encouraging our readers to aspire to persevere. On my personal blog, http://www.angelaarndt.com, I post every Sunday.

rem:  The banner on your blog is one of my favorite ever. Tell us about your theme of back roads.

ANGIE:  Thanks so much! When I was a corporate trainer, I felt as though I was on the highway, but when I became disabled, it felt as though life was flying by. Suddenly it felt as though I was on, not a detour, but a bumpy back road. I learned that if I was going to find any joy on that back road, I was going to have to learn to trust God and lean on Him.

rem:  YES and AMEN! Angie, I can so relate to that, disability and back roads and all. You write about strong, independent women. Why did you choose them for your main characters?

ANGIE:  Because that’s what I want to be! I Seriously, I doubt that anyone – man or woman – would want to be weak or dependent. But the hardest part about being strong and independent is admitting that you can’t do it all. That’s when you have to lean on God.

rem:  Sweetie, that’s what you ARE. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ANGIE: I get up at 5:40 every morning, have a cup of coffee and read my Bible. After prayer time, I write. I know that sounds sanctimonious, but I can’t write until I get my “head on straight” by getting it off myself.

rem:  There’s a reason to start our day with Him. What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ANGIE:  Because I started writing late, I struggle with almost every aspect of writing. But I handle it by giving the whole process to God. When I forget to do that, I really struggle!

rem:  Truth! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ANGIE:  I love it when I solve a problem in my story. A lot of times, I’ll write, write, write until I get stuck. But when I figure out the “stuck” part, that’s so cool!

rem:  #nods in avid agreement! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

ANGIE:  If you’re called to be a writer, I would recommend: 1) join at least one writers group, like ACFW; 2) take classes, such as ACFW’s online classes or Novel Academy and 3) write! You’d be surprised how many writers don’t write!

rem:  How do you choose your characters’ names?

ANGIE:  I have a list of unusual names. I use BehindtheName.com (rem: gotta check that one out) and I still have trouble. Eventually the name fits the character I have in my mind, but it takes a while.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

ANGIE:  I have an idea of what I want to happen but then I use a version of the character journey to make sure I have all the ups and downs that make it a good story.

rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

ANGIE:  Injured firefighter Sabrina Honeybee Turner battles small town politics and natural enemies while struggling to keep her late father’s bee farm alive. But the conflicted memories of her childhood may prevent her from ever learning to love her father and embrace the legacy he left her.

rem: I was hooked already but that last bit just dug it deeper! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ANGIE:  I love Sabrina. She’s gutsy, stubborn and will push herself to do what needs to be done, even if it scares her to death. Everyone faces a time in their life when they’re scared. I hope that after they read my book, they’ll see that they can always trust God. We may not like where He takes us, but it’s always be where we’re supposed to be.

rem:  Ya, I’d say fits your “strong, independent women” persona to a T. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

ANGIE:  Well, I’m injured, like Sabrina, and my life is nothing like I expected it to be. My husband is a beekeeper, was a volunteer firefighter and was a ready resource for my many questions.

rem:  So life mimics fiction… Please give us the first page of the book.



Sabrina Honeybee,

            The day you turned five, you asked to go into the beehives to get the queen’s crown. You wanted it for your own. Well, honey, here’s your chance. No one else can do it.

                        – Dad


May, 2017

            Sun-washed banners swayed between the double row of faded aqua, green and yellow shop buildings in tiny Crossroads, South Carolina. According to her phone’s GPS, Sabrina Turner’s inheritance stood one short block away, on the other side of the proverbial tracks.

            Ever since she’d received the lawyer’s letter, she’d ransacked her mind, trying to remember anything about her father, her hometown. But all that surfaced were Mom’s words, communicated loud and clear, even from her deathbed: Crossroads is a dump. And your father? He’s a no-good bum—the biggest mistake of my life.

            What little cancer had left of her Mother’s things had been easy enough to divide up between her and her sister. Thank goodness her father had a will. Even so, it was still too tempting to downshift and peal out.

            Buck up, Turner. Where’s your mettle?

            She could almost hear her battalion chief’s deep voice, graveled by a steady diet of smoke and fire. Avoidance is not an option, he would say. Too many people depended on them.

            “Fine. I’ll do it.” Speaking the words out loud always settled things. Didn’t it? Best she could do was gather up those painful memories while she was here and bury them.


rem:  You packed a lot in those 241 words! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ANGIE:  That they can trust God with their life and that Christ died to save their souls.

rem:  Where can we find you online?











rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

ANGIE:  Whew! I don’t think so, although my favorite color is green. 😉

rem:  Oh! Can’t believe I missed that! 😉 Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

ANGIE: Thanks for having me! J




“Angela Arndt writes women’s fiction with a thread of romance, telling stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations set in small Southern towns. Her biggest hope is that she will encourage others to overcome their “back roads” and find their own joy in the Lord.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Angie Arndt, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, Back Roads, String of Pearls




Source: Wednesday Wisdom – SWEET

BLOGWORDS – Wednesday 21 June 2017 – SPECIAL EDITION – LOOKING GLASS LIES and SHAMING – PART II – the great clean up




Talk about vulnerable! Of all the things in my life, this is perhaps the one that embarrasses me the most—my messy house. For an Interior Designer, I sure do have a pitiful place to call home. I mean, it’s cute n all, as houses go. But it’s tiny, very little storage space, and needs some work. (I’m renting, and I give kudos to my landlord ‘cause they’ve been good to me.)


But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the Storage Locker Décor. I could say I come by “pack rat” honestly; my grandparents lived through the depression. I could say I’m an artist, I can use “that,” whatever it may be (and “that” could include literally anything) to make art… someday. I could say “a place for everything and everything in its place—if I had a place for everything. I could say it takes money to have nice things, like shelves and storage container type things.


I could say any / all of those, and they’re true. I could also say that the silent disease in my body saps my energy levels. Also true.


But that’s not the reason my house was languishing on the edge of disaster zone.


The reason was… it didn’t matter.


Remember the other day, when I mentioned I asked God a little question? Remember it took a few years to dig up the lies I had believed for so long? Remember I said sometimes they sometimes brush my conscience and [try to] taunt me?


Seems I missed one. Two years ago in January, near the anniversary of that epiphany, I sat in my office-nest (aka my sofa) and looked at the CRAP piled in my living room. My line of vision carried into the second bedroom, aka spare room, aka JUNK room. It was worse in there.


As I sat, looking at this accumulation of stuff, piles of things, papers, personal artifacts and mementos, I wondered when my house got so bad. Now, I confess I have never been Suzy Homemaker, and for my BFA in Interior Design, my house is not nor has it ever been House Beautiful photo op ready.


But it didn’t used to be THAT disgusting either.


And I asked myself, or God really, “When did it get so bad?”


The answer devastated me. It got “so bad” when my kids grew up and left home. There was no one here but me anymore so it didn’t matter what my house looked like. Never mind that I almost never have anyone come visit or stop by.


But it hit me with like a gale force wind, doubled me over inside—it didn’t matter because I DIDN’T MATTER!







I am loved and I am worthy.


I pulled it ALL out of that room. #vulnerablemoment



And that’s not the worst of it… What pics I may have had I’ve mostly deleted. I started sifting and sorting and culling through ALL | THAT | CRAP. That box front and center? Trash, junk. The polka dotted basket next to it, “shredables.”


Progress is hindered by my limited physical stamina. And limited space and options for what to do with what I keep. Last summer my neighbor got rid of two tables. I snagged them and put them to use in “the room.” Repacked my china—no china hutch, but someday… I got out a couple of the plates and I use them on Sundays.



Progress is stop-n-go, start-n-stop, but it’s progress. There’s a bed in the room now, so it’s officially a guest room. I’ve hauled a box and large bag of clothes to Goodwill. (that’s a biggie for me, ‘specially some of the favorites I don’t (ahem) fit it anymore. Several business-y type things that’s just.not.my.style.)



I’ve thrown out SOOOOOO MUCH ridiculous paperwork, junk mail, and crap—old grocery lists for crying out loud! The shredable pile is now enough for a small bon fire… :-O  I’ve sifted and sorted through kid stuff, things my grand girls [can] play with when they’re here, and I’ve given away or donated or tossed the rest.


It’s a slow process, but I’m making progress. I’m gradually switching from corrugated to plastic, so that what I do keep is a little more protected. It’s not all in glommed piles, but is in at least loosely organized clusters and piles now.  😉 Bins for scrapbooking supplies. A drawer for fabric and one for ribbon. Towels and blankets in the armoire (which I will also refinish eventually… )


I mentioned I’m an artist, right? I like eclectic and unusual. Same neighbor got rid of an old dresser and the kiddoes scored the drawers for me. Haven’t yet, but I’ll paint and/or refinish them to use for storage, some to hang on the wall as shelves for books and bric-a-brac. I have one picked out that will be for my books only.


Point is, I matter. I’m important. And if no one ever comes to my house again (hush, don’t even think that!) I’m here and I deserve a pretty place to be every day. I deserve to be able to find what I need when I look for it. And I deserve to have my pretties out and on display, whether my own artwork or store bought or gifts from someone else.


And one day, I will build my dream house. I’ve designed it, and there will be plenty of space for pretty things, and people. For family and friends to gather and hang out. Because I matter, and I’m worth it. And I deserve a pretty home to live in, wherever it may be.





#Blogwords, Special Edition, Looking Glass Lies and Shaming, The Great Clean Up, #vulnerable, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty, #BEYOUChallenge, #IMATTER, #IAMWORTHIT, #dreamhouse, #ONLYGOD





For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.


I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet. Again. For a moment, I enjoyed the wispy memory of a not-yet-forgotten dream, but then I realized the plush carpet had become solid rock while I slept, its gritty fibers pressing against me as though I were wedged into a sandstone crevice instead of willingly tucked against the back wall beneath my hanging clothes.

Pressing my palm against the ivory carpet, I dragged myself out of the corner, sat in front of the mirror, and squared my shoulders as though I no longer needed to hide from reality. As though I’d be all right without Brett. As though his divorce papers fit neatly into my fairy tale.

“You can handle this,” I said to my reflection. In a few short hours, I could start a new day, build a new life, create a new me.

I could go back home and start over. People in my hometown wouldn’t be surprised things hadn’t worked out between Brett and me—they had said as much when we’d started dating in high school. After a while I could settle into the complacent solace of small-town life, lick my wounds, and become invisible among the laid-back community that Brett had always deemed unsophisticated.

“You go, girl.” I lifted my chin, but the girl in the mirror didn’t seem convincing.

No matter. That’s what I would do tomorrow . . . or next week . . . or maybe next month. Okay, so it might take a while, but at least it was a plan. And it was a heck of a lot better than crying in a closet. Like a baby.


rem:   Hullo Varina, congratulations on your new book! What a powerful story! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

VARINA:   I’d love to visit Europe around 1800, but only for a day or so. Actually, I’d like to step directly into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Wouldn’t that be fun? But not for long … no indoor plumbing or central air. 😊

rem:   Right, for all the romance portrayed, some bits were not so lovely… (can I go with you?) Where did you find this story idea?

VARINA:   I’ve struggled with low self-esteem for years, so the idea for Looking Glass Lies came from my own journey. However, the specific details of Cecily’s life are nothing like my own. Instead, her plot is a combination of sad twists that I’ve heard about over the years.

rem:   Then you know why this resonates so with me. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

VARINA:   Cecily was the easiest because I totally “get” the whole self-esteem thing. Marinda was the most difficult, probably because of my insecurities when I’m around strikingly beautiful people. It took me a while to relate to her.

rem:   See above response… It took me years of progress to reach “low” self-esteem… What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

VARINA:   Granola bars, apples and peanut butter, nuts, sugar-free chocolate

rem:   Oh such discipline! Oh so healthy! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

VARINA:   I sleep late, catch-up on house cleaning, and redirect my creative energy toward all the Pinterest projects I’ve been putting off while on deadline.

rem:   What lovely recovery treatment! Thank you again, Varina, for visiting my blog—and for writing your wonderful stories.


Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.


LGL book trailer: https://youtu.be/L4K-bolCE2k









  • Not only did I still believe the lies … they consume me, heart and soul. – Cecily Ross
  • The barbed wire tattoo, coiling and circling my arm, was just like his vibrant personality that had tightened around my heart until it drew blood. – Cecily Ross
  • I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet again, while my husband slept soundly in our pillow-top king, just on the other side of the closet door. Good grief, I had to stop doing this. – Cecily Ross
  • He pressed his cheek against my forehead. “Your heart is full of love for Nina, and disgust for the people who hurt her, but still … you need to pay attention to what’s happening in there.” He tapped my chest. “Respect your feelings.” – Cecily Ross and Graham Harper
  • I wanted to tell him I was sorry, that I had been a silly fool, that I understood now. But none of that mattered, and for the first time, I could truly say, This is not about me. – Cecily Ross
  • Shanty looked the same, but different. Her creamy brown skin (a mixture she got from her African American father and Asian American mother) was set off by frosted makeup. I had forgotten how pretty she was, but surprisingly, I didn’t find her intimidating. – Cecily Ross
  • I hated that phone. Despised it. It was full of videos Brett didn’t want me to see, websites he claimed he hadn’t visited, pictures he made certain I never had access to. I couldn’t compete with all that. Evidently. – Cecily Ross


A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.


Few books have impacted me as deeply as this one. What woman, at some time in her life, has not looked in the mirror and questioned something, everything? And what woman has not believed those lies, at least once…


Cecily Ross believed those lies. Not only when she looked in the mirror, but every time her husband looked through her. Every time he looked at “perfect” images online. The scars on her body were not at his hand, but her own.

Through the strength of desperation, Cecily flees her marriage and returns to her home town. But solace eludes her—the lies have followed her and her battle continues.


Will the encouragement of her father and an old friend be enough to pull Cecily from the mire of self-hate? Will the support group help her see past the lies to the truth? The truth that all women are beautiful?


The story and characters on the pages are fictional but the reality of it is not. Cecily—and Shanty and Nina—could be any woman. The depth of the wounds is very real and this reviewer knows the devastation of self-hate. Ms. Denman has portrayed Cecily’s story in a very real light, the struggle she faces with every thought, the determination to get better—and the hopelessness of the seeming impossible effort.

This reviewer—I have overcome this battle but at random moments those thoughts creep up, trying to take me down again. I am armed with the Word of God—I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am His masterpiece, created in His image—in my arsenal. And I take that stand for every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and believed the lies.



I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.


#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #forNina, Shame on Shanty






“That’s nice but you can do better.” The standard of perfection. And the voice that haunts me to this day.


Oh, I’ve learned that perfection is an impossible task master, cruel and demanding more, ever more. I’ve learned that no matter I give 100% it’s never enough for a standard of perfection.


Never enough… Not good enough. And I believed it. As a child, as a young woman, wife, and mother. As me. I. was. not. good. enough.


A failure.


I don’t like to point a finger or lay blame (because truly, the source is the father of all… LIES.) I’m an empath and see the why of another person’s faults, including my mother. For all her good intentions (push me to do better) she shoved me in a box I didn’t belong in: her standard of success. (weeping as I type)


I tried, oh! I tried. Tried to measure up. Tried to be… what she wanted me to be. I tried to be what she wanted to be—but never had the chance.


That’s nice but you can do better translated into everything I did fell short, everything I did wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough.


I wasn’t good enough as a daughter. I wasn’t good enough practicing piano. Wasn’t good enough as a student, wife, mother, friend… person.


And of course, I didn’t look right, either. My hair was too long, my clothes were “dowdy,” and of course, I knew I weighed too much. No matter I’m tall and my height camouflaged my “fat,” I was always thought I should be thinner. No anorexia or bulimia, but I was never satisfied… with me.


And I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be ANYBODY else but me. I hid behind faces, and although I never split off, not completely, I totally get the phenomenon of multiple personalities. (incidentally, me being an actress? ON STAGE in front of dozens of people??? Sure, because it wasn’t me they saw. It was Dr. Armstrong and Anne Frank’s mother and Aunt Eller… I was another person.)


My journey? Accepting me. And twenty-two years ago, when I asked God why my life was so far removed from his promises, He said, “Sit down. This is gonna take a while.” And it did. Counseling, a couple of years on Zoloft, unlearning and relearning. Uprooting the lies, lies that kept coming back like stinging nettles. So subtle, barely a brush past a leaf and it burns. No mark, no trace of anything. Just the burning.

Lies do that. So subtle, barely a whispered hint from a comment unaware and it burns. Spirals you down to the mire again.


The cure? There’s only one that’s lasting, only one that truly has the power to uproot those lies. And that’s the Word of God.


I remember vividly a counseling session with a pastor friend. The lies were so embedded in my mind, in every fiber of my being. Lies spoken through my mother’s voice. Mother. The one who is supposed to nurture us. The one voice we instinctively trust.


Pastor Stan held his hands out in front of me, cupped as though he was holding a grapefruit in each hand. “The Word of God,” he said, and placed one hand over the other. Then he switched them. “Your mother’s words.” He quickly reversed them again, “The Word of God.” Back and forth he went a few times. His illustration drove home the idea—the truth—that the lies, what I had perceived for nearly forty years as truth, was not the final word. Only God’s Word is the final word.


Is it easy? Hell to the no. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Have I “arrived?” No. Won’t happen in this life time. But I can say I’m me now. I’m not a new person. I’m the woman God created me to be. I’m happy, I’m confident.


And yes, I’m beautiful.




I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!


I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design.  I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.


I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.


I have three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I am currently working on The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, Book Two in my new series, Seasons. It releases in November, following The Long Shadows of Summer, which releases in August. Books 3 and 4 in the series will be out in 2018.








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