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BLOGWORDS – 26 June 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – VARINA DENMAN

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – VARINA DENMAN

 

Does Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge Really Make a Difference?

 

I suffer from depression, but fortunately, it only hits me every few years. And usually it’s triggered by something that happens in my real world: the birth of each of my babies, a move to a new town, marriage troubles, etc. I don’t typically spiral into the dark places unless I have something that triggers the initial rotating vortex. But then? Wow, do I go into an out of control tornado!

 

It’s been more than ten years since I was in my worst “episode.” But I remember the feels like it was yesterday. Overwhelmed. Hopeless. Desperate. And oh, so negative. I felt like I was worthless, and because of that, I developed a horrible habit of negative self-talk. Let me tell you, a bad case of depression doesn’t need negativity on top of it. Whatever miracle cure I tried was thwarted by my internal thoughts. Eventually, I was able to overcome, but it took much longer than was necessary because my brain was adding fuel to the problem.

 

Of course, there is no miracle cure for depression. It just takes a LOT of work and possibly some medication. In my case, I was in therapy, I was reading lots of self-help books, I was talking to friends who had been there, and I was medicated. The combination worked, but it took a long time. Years, in fact.

 

And to tell you the truth, each of the tiny parts of my recovery seemed miniscule when I was doing them. I wanted a quick fix to make it all go away, so I would be back to my normal self. My therapist would give me assignments to do at home, but they seemed incredibly shallow, like a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Little did I know that even Band-Aids will eventually staunch the flow of blood if you use enough of them.

 

One assignment was for me to write down all the things I’m thankful for. When I received this assignment, I’m sure I thought it was pointless. What difference could it possible make? But I did the exercise regardless. I’m a rule follower and a good student, so there’s no way I could leave a task incomplete.

 

I grudgingly snatched my spiral notebook and scribbled down each of my children’s names. So there. Assignment done. But even in my shadowy state, I knew my therapist wouldn’t want me to stop there. I added my husband, my parents, and in-laws. Then I added numerous other family members and friends. But still. Probably not what he had in mind. I looked around the room and jotted down my soft bed and pillows, then the antique furniture that had been a gift from my parents, then the kids’ artwork on the walls. I looked out the window, and realized I was appreciative, not only of the sunshine and blue skies, but also the rain the day before.

 

Next, I wrote down our back yard where the kids were playing on their playfort, and I jotted down our house which—even though it had its problems—was spectacularly snug and comfortable. We struggled with finances, but our refrigerator and pantry were always full, and we had two cars in the driveway.

 

But those were just things and stuff.

 

My family loved me. A lot. So did my friends. So I wrote down love. And once I started thinking about intangible things, I got on a roll. Forgiveness. Tolerance. Grace. Mercy. Kindness. Health (even though my mental health was in question, my and my family’s physical health was good). Spirituality. I had God in my life. I was leaning on Him … no, clinging to Him like a lifeline, and even though I couldn’t always feel His presence, I knew without a doubt, that He was there with me, holding me, and leading me back to safety.

 

I glanced down at the now full page in my spiral. The first few items had been written with a hard hand, denting the paper. Not that I was angry at my children, but I was angry at the assignment, and the depression, at the need for writing things down when I just wanted my quick fix. But after the first few items, my hand had lightened, and the writing was softer, hesitant, almost questioning whether or not the list could be real. And by the time I had reached the bottom of the page, the words were messy and scribbled, because I had been writing so quickly. There were so many things for which I could be thankful.

 

I leaned back and inhaled deeply. That’s what my therapist had been planning all along. To show me that my world was larger than my current problems, and that I would eventually dig my way out of the hole I was in, and find myself back in the sunshine. And my world of happy blessings would be waiting there for me.

 

It’s been over ten years since I wrote that list. Probably I still have it in the bottom of a closet somewhere. I’m not sure, but no matter. I remember it. Even now while I’m walking in sunshine, I think back to that exercise and many others. All the lists I made, all the miniscule exercises I completed, all the Band-Aids I stuck on my wound … they all made a difference in my recovery, and each of them healed a tiny part of me, and helped me to be less critical of myself, less negative, and far more gracious to myself and to others. And I thank God for those little assignments.

 

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, released 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

https://varinadenman.com

https://shameonshanty.com

http://amzn.to/2qgELz6

http://facebook.com/varina.denman

http://twitter.com/varinadenman

http://instagram.com/varina.denman.author

http://pinterest.com/varinadenman

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Special Feature, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Varina Denman, Looking Glass Lies, #forNina, Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge

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BLOGWORDS – Sunday 25 June 2017 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – IN HIS IMAGE

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – IN HIS IMAGE

 

I’ve been doing a week long feature on the topic of shaming—and overcoming that shame. Varina Denman’s novel, Looking Glass Lies, is a profound look at shaming, specifically body image. This book impacted me more than perhaps any other work I’ve ever read.

 

And today, I go to the Source of our image, our identity, and our recovery from all the world’s affliction—the Word of God.

 

 

Let that sink in. We are created in the image of God Almighty. He made us like Himself. I am not God, we are not gods, but we are like Him.

 

 

That’s a line from my new novel, The Long Shadows of Summer. God sees us as royalty. The world tells us otherwise.

 

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.

 

 

I posted that last week. Lies embedded in me for years, decades. But God. His Word, and only His Word uprooted and unseeded those lies.

 

And have replaced them with Truth.

 

 

I.am.wonderfully.made. Father didn’t just throw some old scraps together and say, “Yeah, that’s good enough. It’s just Robin. It doesn’t really matter…”

No, He made me with excellence and consideration, intention and purpose.

 

 

I am the work of Father’s hand, his handiwork, His masterpiece. Or as a tagline from years past, God don’t make no junk. Everything He creates is a masterpiece, done in excellence and perfection.

 

I can walk tall and proud because that’s who He made me to be. That’s who He created each one of us to be. The enemy will never quit trying to pull us away from Father, out of His hands. But the good news is, neither with our heavenly Father quit holding tight to us, even when we turn away from him. Even—perhaps especially—when we believe the lies.

 

Truth prevails. God’s Word prevails and triumphs. It always has, and it always will.

 

I leave you with this, which is part of my daily devotions and confessions.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Special Edition, In His Image, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #4Nina, #vulnerable, Genesis 1:26-28, Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10

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BLOGWORDS – Friday 23 May 2017 – FIRST LINE FRIDAY – LOOKING GLASS LIES by VARINA DENMAN

FIRST LINE FRIDAY – LOOKING GLASS LIES by VARINA DENMAN

 

 

Reading is My SuperPower

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 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!

 

 

 

THE BLURB:  

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.

 

THE FIRST LINE:

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

 

MY THOUGHTS:  

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.

 

GENRE:

Christian Fiction / Women’s Fiction / Romance

 

STARS:

 

 

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

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 20 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – LOOKING GLASS LIES

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – LOOKING GLASS LIES

 

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

https://varinadenman.com

https://shameonshanty.com

http://amzn.to/2qgELz6

http://facebook.com/varina.denman

http://twitter.com/varinadenman

http://instagram.com/varina.denman.author

http://pinterest.com/varinadenman

 

  • 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

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