Welcome to Living Unveiled, the blog of Brenna Kate Simonds, Author of “Learning to Walk in Freedom”

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Welcome to the blog of Brenna Kate Simonds, author of Learning to Walk in Freedom.

Don’t know where to start?

Read Brenna Kate’s story, straight from the back of Learning to Walk in Freedom.

Check out Brenna’s new series: Breaking Up with Food

Read Living Unveiled’s 3 most popular posts:
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
Do I Still Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction?
Remind God of His Promises

Check out Brenna Kate’s speaking page.

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Afraid of the Promised Land

Some days, you sit down to read the Bible out of habit – because it’s what you do every day. You don’t expect anything particularly special to happen. Maybe you don’t even think to pray before you read.

And some days you’re surprised at the strength of your own reaction.

Numbers 12 was up next in my reading. I usually read anywhere from 1 to 4 chapters, depending on how much time I have and whether I stop to study something. After completing 1 chapter, Numbers 13 begins with the following verses:

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

And I stopped. To say I hesitated would be a major understatement. I felt as if I really couldn’t go on.


I just didn’t want to hear this story again.

I didn’t want to hear about the failure of the 10 spies.

I didn’t want to then read about another 40 years in the wilderness.

I didn’t want to see them wander around the same mountain, complain about the same things – and long for the slavery of Egypt.

I didn’t want to face these things because I knew I would see myself in the story.

Which part of it all gives me pause? Is it the 10 spies who couldn’t, really wouldn’t, look past the challenges long enough to remember what God had already done? Am I so blinded by my own perceived giants that I can’t remember God’s power and faithfulness? Am I so focused on what I know happens next because I, like the Israelites, look back longingly at all the food I had to eat and how, at times, life seemed so much easier, completely ignoring the fact that I was also in slavery?

Do I struggle to even imagine a world where I can instead be like Caleb and Joshua, to be able to look right past the challenges because I know exactly what God is capable of? To be able to state emphatically as Caleb did, “Let us go up at once and possess it for we are well able to conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30).

Because honestly, a lot of the time, when I look at the big struggles in my life like my battle to break up with food, it’s hard for me to envision the Promised Land. It’s near impossible for me to imagine myself moving past this Romans 7 existence (where I continually do what I don’t want to do) and into Romans 8 victory (where I am walking in freedom).

Am I afraid of what the Promised Land might bring?

Only Jesus knows me well enough to answer that.

Jesus, I submit myself to You – over and over and over and over. I am Yours. I do what I don’t want to do, and yet I know I am free from condemnation. Help me to not be afraid of the Promised Land and the battle that is required of me in order to walk into that place of freedom and victory. Because I know Who wins in the end. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.


Gold Meant for God

Imagine, for a moment, that you are God.

You have a desire, an overwhelming desire, to be near Your people, to draw close to those created in Your image – You want to live among them.

You tell Moses, the leader of the people, about this desire.

You have a vision for this dwelling place – a very specific picture of what this Tabernacle will look like. Finally, Your dream of this home of Yours is coming to pass, and I imagine Your eyes lighting up as You pour out Your vision, Your passion, Your very heart. One can tell by the details this isn’t something You just threw together; it’s been stirring within You for some time.

The attributes of this place, the elements and pieces are so particular that what You share takes up 7 chapters of our current Bible. You tell Moses from the beginning of Your words to ask the people to bring various materials to help as an offering – just those who want to. Materials such as specific types of cloths, certain animal skins and hair, spices and stones, and gold. Lots of gold.

It takes 40 days spent with Moses to pour out Your heart to him, during which time You also shared 10 important directions with him:

“Then, as God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18

Moses is then ready to descend down the mountain and share God’s vision with the people.

What should have transitioned into a time of worship and giving after Moses shared the instructions for Your dwelling place turned into something very, very different. After Moses was gone for so long, the people panicked.

“When Moses didn’t come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. ‘Look,’ they said, ‘make us a god to lead us, for this fellow Moses who brought us here from Egypt has disappeared; something must have happened to him.’” Exodus 32:1

Aaron did not seem to hesitate for even a moment before asking for their earrings to create a golden calf to “worship.”

Oh, God, how Your heart must have broken when the gold meant for Your House, the place that would allow You to always be near those You love, was instead used to break one of Your precious laws, the very commandments You wrote with Your own finger.

How my own heart broke as I read this today! Oh, how recklessly I have used my own “gold” to fashion false gods. My gifts, my time, my heart, my own running to other gods when God seemed distant. How quick I have been to use my gold meant for God however I see fit. Lord, help me to have a soft, teachable, obedient heart before You, that my “gold” would be for You and Your glory alone!

Day 43: In the Beginning

Rough weekend, food-wise. I need to plan better. And the pizza place needs to stop emailing me gluten-free pizza deals!

Today has been good, though I am a bit headache-y and low energy. And a little “blah” emotionally.

I finished 2 Corinthians yesterday and didn’t know what to read today. Then I couldn’t find my reading glasses. I could still read on the computer, but I hate to do that. Finally found some reading glasses and decided to just go back to the beginning.

So I read Genesis 1.

I feel gross after not-great choices this weekend and need to remember this feeling. Not as a punishment or with condemnation, but as a reminder. I’m dragging physically and spiritually today because of it.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 12-13 (Sunday), Genesis 1 (Today)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 41: Awe for Jesus

Saturdays are hard. I work very early in the morning (6 AM arrival) and don’t feel as if getting up an extra 30 minutes earlier will be beneficial. After work, I grocery shop, come home, have lunch and then I’m exhausted! So getting my Bible reading, etc. in is difficult.

I switched my material for daily reading today. I had been reading the book called “Sugar Fast.” Even though I am not fasting from sugar, I found it extremely helpful and relevant. Since it’s been 40 days, the book is finished! I’ve moved on to the classic, “My Utmost for His Highest.”

From today’s reading in 2 Corinthians 11:1-3

I hope you will be patient with me as I keep on talking like a fool. Do bear with me and let me say what is on my heart.I am anxious for you with the deep concern of God himself—anxious that your love should be for Christ alone, just as a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, for the one who will be her husband. But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden.”

The middle of this passage especially struck me. I want my love for Christ, my longing for Him alone, my heart’s devotion for my Savior to be as pure as a virgin waiting for her husband on her wedding night. As Leeland sang, “He’s coming for a pure bride.” Eve was deceived not only by Satan but by the beauty of the fruit itself.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Genesis 3:6

Ugh, I don’t want to be swept up in the beauty and allure of food calling my name. I want to swept up in awe for my Savior who gave His everything for me, who spared no expense, who held nothing back.

Oh, my beautiful Lord Jesus, food calls my name loudly and often. It’s almost impossible to hear Your still small voice. Tune my heart to listen, Lord. I turn my eyes to You. You will win my heart.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 11
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 40: The Fire Doors to My Heart

This is day 40.

Many years ago, I read in Scripture for the first time that God is a jealous God, an all-consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). I don’t know if I came up with this or I read it somewhere (a quick Google search turned up nothing), but I imagined fire doors. You know those big heavy doors in buildings? The ones that have a sign “Must remain shut”? The think, heavy doors would contain a fire to a room and not allow it to go any further?

I imagined that parts of my life were behind fire doors, that there were areas I wasn’t sure I wanted to let in to now that I knew He was this all-consuming fire.

I think of the Misty Edwards song:

All consuming fire
You’re our hearts desire
Living flame of love
Come baptize us
Come baptize us

40 days ago, I let God into an area of my life where He’s been before. I would crack the door open a little with my prayers of “I don’t want to struggle with this any longer!” but I would eventually slam the door shut again, thus shutting out the fire. This time, I have tried to prop the doors open to God. That’s one reason I decided to share so publicly about it.

Today’s Bible reading contained one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NASB)

For 40 days, though I am walking in my fleshly body, I have been fighting a new battle. I’ve called it “breaking up with food,” for lack of a better phrase. I’m not warring against my physical body. This is a spiritual battle. It’s a battle for my heart.

I quoted it before, and I will quote it again:

You’re after my heart and You’re gonna win it
You’re after my heart and I’m gonna give it
And every piece, and every part
You’re after it all, oh, You’re after my heart

Some days I give Him all of my heart, and some days I only crack open the doors. But no matter what, He will win it, every piece and every part.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 9-10
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 39: My Hiding Place

After last night’s song, I was inspired to talk about the following verse for tomorrow’s “Coffee with Brenna” (it posts at 6 AM on Fridays):

“You are my hiding place;

you will protect me from trouble

 and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

In reading a commentary, I found I love what it says in the KJV: “thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

The famous song goes on to say, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

This is why choosing to trust is in my daily checklist. God is so faithful to us. Even when we don’t understand, even when we are terrified, God protects us from trouble. And as if that wasn’t enough, He then goes on to surround me with songs of victory and deliverance.

Thank You, Jesus, for being so present in this journey. I’ve done it imperfectly, but You have remained steadfast the whole time. May I continue to choose You above all else in days to come.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 8
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 38: How I Want to Know You More

Rough day – not in terms of breaking up with food but a friend losing her adult son to COVID-19.

This song has been on my heart for a few days and it seems especially appropriate today.

Hide me in the shelter of Your love
Deep in the center of Your heart, my Lord
How I want to know You more
And keep me in the shadow of Your wings
Safe in the secret place of holiness
How I need You more and more

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 6-7
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Book Review: Washed & Waiting, Updated Version

Washing & Waiting, Updated Edition” is book #23 of books read in 2020.

I listened to this book several years ago, as many of the guys in the ministry I lead recommend it. We just read it in one of our groups, and so I read the updated version.

I’ll start with the positive. Wesley Hill is extremely honest! If you’re looking for a book where your feelings of loneliness and intense struggle are validated, look no further! I think one of the reasons so many people like this book (David Bennett mentions it in his book) is the brutal honesty and vulnerability with which Hill writes.

By the way, Wesley if you read this review, 2 of my cousins and 1 of their husbands go to seminary where you teach 🙂

Each chapter reads like a long psalm of lament. Hill shares transparently about many of his struggles! He eventually comes around to the hope that Christ has to offer believers who seek to walk in obedience as it pertains to their same-sex attraction.

Hill is absolutely spot on concerning one thing: the life of those who are same-sex attracted can be very, very lonely. One of the things I appreciate the most about this book is his talk about community and how the church needs to rise up and surround those who are living celibate lives in the midst of their struggles with sexuality. I think the church likes to pat people like Hill on the back and say, “Good for you for walking in obedience” and leave it at that.

The antidote to this is to be part of intentional community, whatever that might look like for each individual. What the same-sex attracted or gay celibate Christian really needs is the church to surround them and invite them into their daily lives. I’m not talking about just having someone in your small group; I’m talking about having them over for Sunday dinner and maybe Monday dinner and Tuesday dinner as well. I have a friend who is same-sex attracted, and she lives with a family. I think that’s an awesome idea! I see from Wesley Hills’ Instagram that he is a godfather. Fantastic! This is exactly how the church should be being intentional about including all single people in everyday life.

All that said, I found the book to be rather depressing. OK, really depressing. I will say as someone who struggles with hopelessness, it was difficult for me to get past the depths of despair that Hill describes. He also (like many others his age) does not seem to believe that transformation is possible in his sexuality (which I expected). But I see a couple other reasons the book felt depressing to me:

The first thing I see is that Hill seems to buy into what Russell Willingham refers to as “romantic orthodoxy.” Willingham defines this as a belief that “romance or sex will meet my deepest needs.” Hill eventually comes around to the truth that only Jesus can meet these needs in all of us, but it seems clear to me in how he views marriage and romantic relationships and how often he comes back to this belief that this is truly a core belief he holds (you can read more about core beliefs in Willingham’s book or in my book Learning to Walk in Freedom).

The second thing I see is that Hill seems to believe same-sex attracted Christians are uniquely lonely. Loneliness is a core theme throughout the book. Hill seems to fail to recognize that many opposite-sex attracted Christians never find a spouse (I can think of many in my circle of friends), that some Christians are stuck in unhealthy marriages that (I believe) are likely far more lonely than singleness, and that many others are lonely for a whole host of reasons.

All that said, I can absolutely see why this book is a good starting point for many same-sex attracted and gay Christians. That said, I feel “The War of Loves” by David Bennett or “Born Again This Way” are better reads in this genre of books in the category of same-sex attraction being a fixed orientation/books that lean away from transformation being possible.

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Day 37: What can I do to please You?

Years ago, I wrote a song called, “What Am I Living For?” (video above). You can read the full story of the song here.

As I read 2 Corinthians 5 today, a line from the song began to repeat in my mind: what can I do to please You?

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

“He died for all so that all who live—having received eternal life from him—might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

How relevant this is to breaking up with food! Do I want to live to please my flesh, my earthly desires, or do I want to live to please Jesus Christ? I will stand before Him, life laid bare, and He will ask for an account of what I’ve done in my body and to my body.

“Hey, Brenna, what that session or season or month or year of overeating worth the distraction it brought you from what I’ve actually called you to do?”

The answer is a gutt-wrenching, hearting-convicting, resounding NO.

What am I living for?

What will I leave behind me?

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4-5
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 36: Future Victory

I was not very focused last week. I checked all the things off the list, but my heart wasn’t really in it. And as a result, I ate more than I should.

The sermon at church yesterday was called “Engage God’s Slow Growth.” I’ve definitely felt the weight of that in these 5 weeks of breaking up with food. Some days it seems easier to stay on track. Some days are a big struggle.

I am viewing this as a journey, not a destination. As a process of being pruned and refined, or stumbling and falling at times, but then getting up and following through with this commitment I made.

I read in 1 Corinthians 15 on Saturday that future victory is sure, so we should “be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work” (v. 58).

Lord, help me to continue to trudge forward, to choose You, to cling to You and abound in whatever work You have for me.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 16, 2 Corinthians 1 (Sunday), 2 Corinthians 2-3 (Monday)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check