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Jilted Cover Reveal

November 28, 2015

Book three in the Mended Hearts series is set to release June 1st. THAT’S A LONG TIME, and I’m soooo tired of waiting, but things are better now that I have the cover to drool over while I wait.

Jilted continues the story of Trapp, Texas, but this time, the West Texas wind fields are a major setting. Don’t you love how the cover artist included them? I also like the look of all three books side-by-side.

But still … I can’t wait to hold the real thing in my hands. :)

Varina Denman Jilted Cover 3D

A little about Jilted

Jilted is the story of a woman abandoned fifteen years ago, the man determined to rescue her heart, and a mystery that throws their quiet Texas community into a tailspin.

Lynda Turner spent more than a decade putting her life back together after her husband left, but true happiness remains just beyond her reach … until Clyde Felton, a local ex-convict, begins to care for her. Yet many in their small town refuse to leave the past in the past, especially when long-hidden secrets resurface.

To pre-order Jilted, click here.

7 Marriage Books Worth Reading Twice

November 10, 2015

VarinaDenman marriage books

Over the years, I’ve read quite a few books on marriage, always looking for the one book that will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE. I haven’t found it yet (at least not in any form other than the Bible), but if I were to pick my faves, this list would be them. Some of these I’ve read twice, some I refer to whenever I get in a crunch, and some I ought need to re-read weekly just for the gentle reminders.

Boundaries in Marriage, by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

The Seven Best Things (Happy) Couples Do, by John and Linda Friel

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, by Sheila Wray Gregoire

PicMonkey Collage

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, by Laura C. Schlessinger

His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard F. Harley, Jr.

The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian

The Love Dare, by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

PicMonkey Collage2

What marriage books would you recommend?

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Five Reasons To Stick With Your Marriage

October 27, 2015

Whoever says “marriage is hard” is grossly understating the situation. Not only is marriage tons of work, it’s also painful. But it’s worth it.

Fortunately, my husband and I haven’t had to battle the really difficult issues. In fact, if you don’t count job loss, depression, massive debt, five children, church issues, emotional addictions, and health concerns … then our marriage has been a walk in the park.

But whether or not you’ve been through the hard stuff, it’s no secret marriage is super-duper difficult. So why do it? Here are a few sticky-glue reminders that have helped me keep my marriage cemented in place during the tough times.

  1. God says it works … and He should know … He invented it. Marriage, with all it’s hurdles and heartaches, was God’s idea. It’s His way of teaching us … about relationships, about serving others, about love. And it’s one of his many gifts to us, because marriage, in spite of its bad reputation, is fulfilling.
  2. I love my husband. And I don’t mean the he’s-so-dreamy-I-can’t-live-without-him love of Facebook posts and Nicholas Sparks movies. Even though my man is pretty awesome, he’s not perfect, but years ago, I made a promise to him and to God. Now I’m determined to keep loving him … when I have that warm fuzzy feeling … and when I don’t.
  3. My husband knows me better than anyone, and he loves me regardless of my flaws. We’ve been through a mess of strife, but now we know each other very well, and when we use that knowledge to bless instead of wound each other … it’s the best feeling in the world.
  4. I don’t want to let my kids down. My husband and I have invested twenty-five years in our kiddos, and they’ve seen us at our best and worst. They understand marriage is hard … but worth it.
  5. Marriage makes me happy. In spite of all the difficulties, I enjoy loving my man and being loved back. Even in the tough times.

Love each other, as I have loved you. John 15:12 NIV

 What about you? Why do you stick with marriage?IMG_4482

Here’s my people being weird. You can see why we’ve gotta stick together.

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Insecurity Can Be Tempting!

October 13, 2015

This post first appeared over at

Insecurity Can By Tempting!School was my first experience out from under the shelter of my mother’s wings. Since I was a mommy’s girl, it took me a while to recover from separation anxiety, and even longer to fit-in with the other first graders. But soon, I realized that when I completed an assignment, my teacher was pleased, thereby recreating the sense of safety I missed from home.

Mrs. Hallowell hung a poster on the front wall next to the dusty chalkboard, and every student’s name was neatly written down the left side. For every book read, she would place a gold foil star next to the student’s name. Before long, my row of stars stretched way past the others, and the teacher praised me in front of the class.

That row of foil stars gave me confidence in myself. Even though I was timid and shy, I perceived that my abilities proved I was worth something, and I felt good about ME. Little did I know I was developing a bad habit. Even though the teacher’s intention was merely to nurture a love of reading (which she did), I also learned to seek praise for my accomplishments.

In fourth grade, I became Mrs. Baughman’s “teacher’s pet” because I was the quietest student among a rowdy group. In seventh grade I won first chair in the orchestra, beating-out the eighth and ninth graders. In high school, I excelled in academics and graduated valedictorian of my class. And with each of these achievements came a boost to my confidence, reminding me that I was something special—the one with foil stars by my name.

It wasn’t until I left college, married, and had children, that those hypothetical gold stars began to tarnish. At that time, I was home with my kids all day long, and there was no one passing-out awards. Even though I had wanted to become a mommy ever since I crawled out from under my own mother’s wing, the mundane tasks associated with housework shook my self-esteem. My husband praised me for the love I showered on our little ones, but it didn’t feel the same, and I began to doubt my worth.

Those bad habits I had accidentally fallen into as a child began to take their toll, and I realized I was giving-in to the sin of insecurity. All women yearn for worth and value, but we become unhealthy when we look for it in the wrong places. For me, it was the temptation to lean on my own accomplishments, my behavior, even my appearance, instead of leaning on God and His promises.

Through much prayer and Bible study—not to mention the example set by a slew of spiritually-mature friends and family—I began to realize that God alone holds the key to granting self-esteem. When I put my worth in Christ instead of my own accomplishments, I have value each and every day.

It’s been forty-two years since I earned that string of gold stars in Mrs. Hallowell’s class, but I still struggle with the temptation of seeking worldly pursuits to make up for my insecurity. I must continually remind myself that God is forever faithful to His promises, and He’s all the security I need. As a child of the King, I am treasured. I’ve been given purpose, and I am loved and accepted. All I need to do is get out of His way and trust Him to love me as much as He said He would.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

Justified CoverCheck out my latest novel, Justifiedthat tells the story of a young woman fighting her own insecurities.

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

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Tweetable: Insecurity Can Be Tempting! 

A Peek Into The Mended Hearts Photo Album

September 29, 2015

Swimming SceneMy edits for book three, Jilted, are due soon, and I’m frantically scrambling to finish in time. After working around the clock, I’ve determined that deadlines are appropriately named, because I’ve witnessed the death of several of my favorite pastimes. Like sleeping, exercising, even family time.

Another hobby that has died a painful death is blogging. I know this madness is temporary, and soon my life will be back to normal, but for now, I only have time to share pictures from my photo album.

These are some of my favorite West Texas shots which have inspired scenes in the Mended Hearts seriesCan you identify any of them? (for answers, see below)

Wind Farm

Background Favorite

Scenic Overlook




Where are these scenes in the books? Here are explanations:

  1. The holding tank in Ansel and Velma’s side pasture. JohnScott was baptized here in Jaded, and in Justified, he and Fawn had a heart-stopping encounter while swimming.
  2. This wind field plays a major role in Jilted, and Lynda spends a lot of time staring at the slow, rotating blades because they sooth her trouble nerves.
  3. The Llano Estacado Caprock Escarpement. In Justified, Fawn’s house perches on the edge, and she has a splendid view for miles around.
  4. The scenic overlook where Tyler hangs out in Justified. This is where he carves Fawn’s name in his arm and watches her house through binoculars. *creepers*
  5. Random pump jack. In Jaded, Ruthie mentions the odor … I think.
  6. Flat Top Mountain. In Justified, Fawn has a fleeting memory of her father’s ranch hands riding here. (I have a fleeting memory of riding here when I was a young girl.)
  7. Random pasture. This could be part of Ansel’s back pasture where Dodd and Ruthie had their date (dinner, movie, and dancing) in Jaded.
  8. Downtown Abernathy, Texas. But let’s pretend it’s Trapp!

For pictures of the CHARACTERS in the Mended Hearts series, check out my Pinterest boards.

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Media Credits:

  • Llano Estacado Caprock Escarpement – Wikimedia Commons, Leaflet
  • Concrete Water Trough (holding tank) – Manna Precast Concrete
  • Big Spring State Park Picnic Table – Wikimedia Commons, Leaflet

Click to Tweet: A Peek Into the Mended Hearts Photo Album 

Do Christian Romance Novels Cause Unrealistic Expectations?

September 15, 2015

From Varina Denman's blog: Do Christian Romance Novels Give Women Unrealistic Expectations?

I’ve blogged about this topic before, HERE, but I have new-and-improved thoughts, so I’m hitting it again.

There’s a lot of talk about the pros and cons of Christian romance novels, especially whether or not they give women unrealistic expectations of men. In these books, the heroes are often depicted as near-perfect specimens of masculinity—which leaves real men lagging in comparison.

First of all, I want to say … I get it. I hear the argument, and it’s valid.

Even though most Christian novels bless me, I’ve struggled with a few titles just like I’ve struggled with a few PG-13 romantic comedies. (even some PG) I find myself comparing my husband to fictional perfection, and not surprisingly, he begins to look sort of pitiful.

But my unrealistic expectations began in childhood when I read Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Then came scores of other books, movies, TV shows, commercials, songs, even stories in school textbooks. A lifetime immersed in happy-ever-afters has left me perplexed with real-life relationship issues, so I tend to be cautious about what I read and watch.

But not everyone is the same.

I have friends that are not affected that way and never have been. They read a story with a typical alpha male hero while they live out their own dream with their non-perfect significant other, and they never think twice. They’re happy, and the story seems to solidify that happiness, reminding them that their man is perfect for them by their own definition of alpha male.

Novels that are meant to be a brief getaway from reality often pull readers away from their worries and remind them that love is worth the trouble of real life. They give readers hope. The same book, movie, or song that damages one relationship, helps another.

So I’ve determined something about novels, which can also be applied to movies, videos, TV shows, magazines—or anything else that puts information into my brain—and that is this: We’re all different, and we’re all influenced by different factors. Christian romance novels have blessed thousands of lives, but if I find one that’s not for me … by all means, I’ll shut the book. If it takes my thoughts where they shouldn’t be, or if it seems that the characters (especially the hero) are giving me a false impression of real Christian men, then it’s MY responsibility to put the book down, just like I need to eject the DVD, or change the channel, or turn my eyes away. It’s my responsibility to guard my heart no matter where the influence is coming from.

So is it true that Christian romance novels cause unrealistic expectations? Sure. Some of them. For some women. Some of the time. But those books are also a huge blessing to many readers because the underlying stories of hope help women see the good in their own lives.

What about you? How are you affected by Christian romance?

From Varina Denman's blog: Do Christian Romance Novels Cause Unrealistic Expectations?

Justified CoverRead about my latest novel, Justified, (a Christian romance!) in which the heroine’s expectations are so mixed-up, she can’t make sense of any of the men in her life.

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Tweetable: Do Christian romance novels give women unrealistic expectations?

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That Icky Back-to-School Question I ask Myself Every September

September 1, 2015

From That Icky Back-to-school Question This Mom Asks Herself Every Year

My social media threads have been flooded with first-day-of-school pictures from friends and family. Snaggle-toothed first graders defying gravity with backpacks larger than themselves, high schoolers sitting behind the wheels of first cars, college freshmen moving into dorm rooms miles away from home.

As I admire these picture-perfect scenarios (and compare my parenting skills), a nagging question creeps into my brain concerning my own little chicks. Three of them have flown the nest, but I still have two under my wing (though they insist on stretching their fuzzy feathers to make routine test flights—but that’s another story).

The icky question gets louder while a negative-talk meanie (in my vivid imagination) crosses her arms, narrows her eyes, and asks: Are your children learning enough? Are they getting enough exercise? Enough love and encouragement? Enough spiritual direction? Are their extra-curricular activities enough? Are their friends enough? Are YOU enough?

For five seconds or five minutes or five days … I listen to the meanie voice, and I doubt my choices, my actions, my abilities. But then I yank myself out of the pessimistic stupor I’m wallowing in and tell the meanie to hush up, because … of COURSE, I’m not enough for my kids. I’m human, therefore I’m going to mess up. It’s a simple fact of life, but on the bright side … my two youngest children have a far greater advantage than did my older three because I’ve learned from my mistakes—and my kiddos are turning out all right in spite of me.

I wish I had known years ago what I know now (which I should have known years ago because it’s so in-my-face obvious), and that is this: God makes up the difference. As a human mother, all I can do is my best. I literally can’t do better than that, but God takes my offering and makes it into what my children need. He fills the gaps with His Spirit, in the form of family, friends, mentors, ministers, and even books, movies, and online media, and this is SUCH GOOD NEWS for me as a mom … because I don’t have to be Superwoman. In fact, I can’t be. All I can be is me.

And that’s enough.

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NIV

Justified CoverNow that the kids are back in school, maybe you’ve got time to read. If so, check out my latest novel, Justifiedthat tells the story of a young woman dealing with her own insecurities about parenting.

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Varina Denman Newsletter Sign-up

Tweetable: That Icky Back-to-school Question Mothers Ask Themselves Every September.


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