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.

Brenna Simonds

Don’t know where to start?

Buy the book Learning to Walk in Freedom.

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

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.

LTWIF.front.cover

Think or Trust? Coffee with Brenna

This post contains affiliate links. Read more about it here.

Are you part of the club “Overthinkers Anonymous”? Then you’re in good company! David was in the club, too. And so was I! Listen today to find out how I found freedom from overthinking.

Scriptures Mentioned 
Psalm 13

Books Mentioned
Quest Bible

Learning to Walk in Freedom: 
Kindle
Paperback

Loving Intentionally: Coffee with Brenna

I will be posting these Coffee with Brenna videos with a brief intro and then the show notes.

Today’s Coffee with Brenna walks us through the process of loving God intentionally, loving our selves intentionally and loving others intentionally: all others!

intentional: done on purpose, deliberate
John 3:16
Isaiah 53:10

FIRST we love God intentionally.
Positioned to Receive
1 John 4:19
Matthew 22:36-38

SECOND we must love ourselves intentionally.
Matthew 22:39

THIRD we love others intentionally.
John 13:34-35
John 15:5
1 Corinthians 13:2

FOURTH we love ALL others intentionally.
Beloved Unlovely
Matthew 5:43-47

Pat Benatar Song: Somebody’s Baby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK68KvmM6Aw

Coffee with Brenna: So You Want to be Healed?

You asked, and here it is! Coffee with Brenna talks about my 2 experiences being miraculously healed, hindrances to healing, and why God sometimes doesn’t heal. Grab a cup of something, and enjoy!

Does Healing Still Happen?
Matthew 15:29-31
John 14:12-14

My Two Stories of Healing
Back, chest, wrist and elbow healing
IBS healing

Are there hindrances to healing?
“Before you can heal, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to give up the things that are making you sick.” https://www.instagram.com/p/BxuTfkiFpZV/
Joyce Meyer: Pray for healing but also pray if there’s something I could be doing.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Romans 12:1
1 Corinthians 10:31  

Why doesn’t God heal?
“Faith is trusting in the character of God when life gives you reasons not to.” Corrie Ten Boom
Jesus Heals the Paralyzed Man (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12)
Ask God what you can do.
Was I going to trust God in the meantime?
James 5:14: prayer for the sick
John 9:2: man born blind
John 15:15: Jesus calls us friend

Books Referenced
Learning to Walk in Freedom: Kindle: http://amzn.to/19kbG6t Paperback: http://www.learningtowalkinfreedom.co…
Quest Bible: https://amzn.to/37orRBl


Read about my affiliate links here.

Monday Morning Meditation: Directly Ask God for Help

I wrote this blog post almost 5 years ago and never posted it. I have no idea why! Because it’s very good 🙂 Something to think about this Monday morning.

One of my kids has this habit. He gets frustrated easily, and rather than ask for help, he grumbles. He mutters under his breath, just out of earshot. It escalates into crying and hysterics, utter desperation and frustration, statements of “why doesn’t anything go my way?” with an occasional audible declaration of “No one is helping me!!!!!”

A few weeks ago, I sat him down and explained that if he needed something, he needed to come up to his dad or me, make eye contact and say, “Can you help me with something?” Otherwise, from this point forward, I would no longer be rushing in to rescue him unless he actually asked for help. Up to this point, I had repeatedly helped him by giving him a script of “Can you please help me?” He knew the words to say, but it seemed difficult for him to choose to use the script.

He’s learning. Now, he is more apt to yell in his frustration, “CAN SOMEBODY PULEEEESE HELP ME????”

Progress, not perfection 🙂

(That’s another joke in our home. My other son is always asking for “somebody”‘s help. “Can somebody get me a piece of toast?” to which my husband and I jokingly reply, “Somebody! Where are you, somebody???”)

Today I realized I do this with God.

I get all frustrated with a recurring trial or situation. I feel sad that the struggle is on-going and unresolved and difficult and seemingly insurmountable. It takes me way too long to realize that I haven’t actually verbalized that I would like God’s help.

Ouch.

So, that’s what I did. I asked for God’s help, and while He has yet to swoop in and rescue me, solving all my problems with a neat, little bow, He did do a little something that made His presence known, reminding me that He is still interested in being involved in even the smallest detail of my life.

Thanks, God.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'” Isaiah 30:15

Why do we struggle to receive what God has for us? To ask for all He might have to offer us?

Related posts:
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
Eeyore Complex: Pooping on God’s Plan

Tackling the New Year with Intentionality

It is 2020! Does that sound futuristic to anyone besides me?

I’m already getting asked if I’m making New Year’s Resolutions. So here are some posts from me and others on how to tackle the New Year intentionally.

Reflect on the Past Year
Look at your journals, sermon notes, the Scriptures you’ve read, and the songs you’ve downloaded or listened to on YouTube. Reflect on any common themes, or repeated verses.

Focus Roles
I started talking about creating focus roles rather than resolutions end of 2010, where I shared about my “breakout year” and how you too could have one. This post includes making “SMART” goals.

In 2012, I shared more about this concept as well as my focus roles for the year and created goals around that.
Creating Focus Roles
My Focus Roles for 2012
Why Make Goals At All

Psalm of the Year
In 2013, I choose Psalm 25 as my “Psalm for the Year,” and basically studied that for the year.

God’s Character
In 2014, I wrote this post “Wherever You Go, There You are” where I shared about shifting our focus from the “Change Your _____, Change Your Life!” game to “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life” where we focus on who He is in order to become who He created us to be.

On October 8, 2014, I had a baby (my Jordan River Assignment) who had developmental delays and well, I kind of stopped thinking about much else 🙂 As you could tell by my sporadic blogging for several years!

Song for the Year
In 2017, I chose a song for the year, focusing on the theme of “Make My Life a Prayer To You.”

Word of the Year
The past several years, I’ve chosen a “word” of the year, something I feel summarizes what I need to work on or what area of my life God is currently speaking to me about. I honestly don’t know where I heard about it, but Crystal Paine talks about it a lot.

My word for 2018 was “present” as I strived, with God’s help, to simply stay present with my kids. I also read the whole Bible that year.
My word for 2019 (well, 2 words) was unstuck/beloved. It was also a year of digging deep into God’s Word, as well as working on improving my health after being diagnosed with a chronic (but not life-threatening) condition.

Here is a post from end of 2018 about why you should choose a word of the year from Crystal Paine, or an article from elsewhere about 4 Tips on Choosing a Word for the Year. I’m fairly certain I have my word for the year for 2020, which I might share in the future 🙂

So you see there’s a lot of ways to go about being intentional with our time and attention in 2020. Prayerfully consider picking one or several!

An Image from This Church


Some New Media For You All

Hey, friends!

First, here’s a family photo for you all 🙂

The Simonds Family, Nov. 2019

Yes, my 1st child is now much taller than me at age 12!

Second, I’ve been recording videos about once a week entitled “Coffee with Brenna” where I share a 5-15 minute word of encouragement. Please go to my YouTube channel and subscribe. There’s even a song I sang with the choir last weekend!

Third, I realized since I let go of an old domain, many of my songs are not posted anywhere. I put my 2001 “album” (recording on a minidisc player in the front row of a concert I gave – how’s that for dating myself?) Alive & Radical up there. You can see that here:

I posted other songs as well.

I am working on several writing projects that have me busy, but I miss writing here for you all! Have a listen to some videos, including my most recent video “God With Us!”

Monday Morning Meditation: God is in the Details

God is in the details.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23

I slept in a little today (for me, at least), and I didn’t think I had time to get to the gym (given I needed to be at church at 10:30). About a week ago, I took my oldest’s bike out for a spin and noticed it was a good workout (despite only about 6 out of 20 gears working!). An early-ish morning bike ride sounded great!

During my neighborhood travels, I saw a free couch. The owner of the house was outside with her son, said there were no issues with the couch but they couldn’t fit it in the new place where they were moving. I rode home, got my husband Roy, and we went back to check it out. It mostly fit in the van, and someone else at the house had some bungee cords. I mentioned our find to a friend, and she sent her husband over to help us get it in the house.

God is in the details.

We just HAPPENED to discuss yesterday that we would be comfortable taking a free couch if we had a little information about where it was from.

I just HAPPENED to sleep in and decide to take a bike ride.

I just HAPPENED to ride by this couch.

It just HAPPENED to be in good shape and the type we hoped to buy.

It just HAPPENED to fit in the van.

The view from the front seat

There just HAPPENED to be a guy sitting outside the house AND a guy coming out of a neighborhood house that helped us fit it in the van.

We just HAPPENED to hang out with new friends last night, and one came over to help get the couch inside.

God blesses His children.

The most beautiful thing about this story? He blessed us with a perfectly good couch even though we have the money to buy a new couch – we just haven’t had the time to go and look. His love for us decided to bless us today by making our lives easier.

The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.      Psalm 34:10

I am God’s favorite, after all! And so are you. God is in the details.

Monday Morning Meditation: Accommodating A Limp

This weekend, I got:

A new laptop
A new blender cup for my Blendtec
A new top to my coffee carafe

I used both the coffeemaker and the blender earlier today. It’s amazing how much easier it is to use both appliances now!

For months, my coffee carafe has been inconsistently working. It has a special top, so that when you pull the coffee carafe out from the coffee maker, the coffee stops pouring. This is a great feature – except when the coffee stops actually flowing into the coffee carafe. I never could figure out exactly what was wrong with the coffee carafe that stopped the coffee from properly flowing into the carafe. I finally realized I could get a new top for the carafe, and now the pot works fine.

I’ve been using a blender cup for my Blendtec that I got years ago at a Border’s closeout sale. That tells you how long ago it was. I got it for $5. It’s a commercial blender cup, so it’s not exactly built for my blender. But it worked pretty well. The only drawback is it is so loud. When the bottom started cracking, I moved to using my Nutribullet instead. Well, that thing is so old it stopped blending my green smoothies smoothly, so they are more like “green chunkies” due to lack of thorough blending. I made a green smoothie with my new blender cup today. It was so smooth!

And now I’m posting this blog post from my new laptop. My old laptop is nine years old and so, so slow. Like, SO SLOW. I would sit down to open a spreadsheet, and 10 minutes later, I would still be waiting. I had to download some PDFs on Friday to send via email. 3 PDFs and 20 minutes later, I got them sent.

Painful.

All of this left me wondering: what have I done in my own life to accommodate my own deficiencies? My weaknesses and inadequacies?

I love my coffee pot. I got it for $10 at a thrift store several years back. It’d be well over $100 to replace it. Because of this, I’m willing to stand at my coffee pot every morning, let a little coffee drip through the machine, pull the carafe out and stare at the top, willing that coffee to please drip into the carafe!

My husband thought of the word kludge, which means a haphazard or makeshift solution to a problem. My kludge was to stand there, shake the carafe, poking and prodding the top until somehow, the coffee dripped down inside!

What have I done in my spiritual life to accommodate areas I could improve on or grow in, but have chosen not to or perhaps didn’t even know that I could?

Now, why would I choose not to grow? Perhaps my inadequacies have become comfortable. I’ve become accustomed to their familiarity. As I wrote in my book, I’ve worked around my limp. Maybe I’ve assumed my limp would always be there. But have I really taken this to God? Have I asked if this is something He wants me to work around, or if I could access His help? Have I asked for His insight and His input?

One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:2b (NLT): “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

Here’s the thing: while I needed a new laptop, I didn’t need a whole new coffee maker. I didn’t need an entirely new blender. I needed to make some tweaks in order to get these things working as they were intended to work in the 1st place.

It’s God’s job to transform us, not our own. He does this when we partner with Him in making small changes in a positive direction.

Ask yourself: are there modifications you are currently making in your life to accommodate your own areas of shortcoming, modifications God never asked you to make? Are there ways you could change your thinking or your perspective in order to allow God to change those areas of your life?

Freedom Friday: Twenty Years

Twenty years.

Twenty years ago this week, I finally noticed that Jesus had been walking with me for twenty-three and a half years. Twenty years ago this week, I began to try to walk with Him.

As I look back over my life, I can see time after time Jesus tried to get my attention. I learned about Him at the church I grew up in – not a Bible-preaching, Gospel-centered church, but still, we talked about Jesus. We sang songs about Him and I memorized the 2rd Psalm. I saw faith in my aunt and uncle who were born-again, going to church with them occasionally. I had a good friend in junior high and high school who was a “hardcore Christian,” as I labeled her. I could see that her faith in God was very, very different than mine.

I heard snippets of truth in the cult-like church that tried to suck me in after high school, as I did from my 2 LDS friends. I felt His love from a Baptist minister and his wife every Saturday night when they ate at the restaurant where I worked in my early 20’s. And I began to really feel His presence when Christian friends prayed for my health at age 23 when the eating disorder ravaged my mind and body, causing me to lose 35 pounds over the course of a summer.

Jesus became real to me through the music and life of the singer/songwriter, Keith Green, and on January 4th, 1999, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

Twenty years.

It’s easy for me to look at my life and see the deficits. I see my continual besetting sins. I see the idols in my life. I look at others and all they have been able to accomplish. Keith Green only followed Jesus for about 7 years before his death, and look at the impact God enabled him to make. Oswald Chambers was my age when he died, and yet his book  My Utmost for His Highest is one of the most well-read devotionals of all time.

I could list many other “successful” Christians, as well as so many other personal flaws. But that’s not what God sees when He looks at me. He looks at me and thinks, I’m so glad you’re Mine.

It’s not about what I’ve done or accomplished. It’s not how many times I’ve read through the Bible, or how many books I’ve written (or even how many books I have in me, waiting to be written). It’s not how often my songs are sung or heard.

God looks at me and loves me. He is honored in my daily decision to once again surrender my life to Him, to ask Him to be the center of my life, my every day, my trials and victories.

He is glorified in my imperfect obedience. His power is perfected in my weakness. He is honored in my decision to choose to surrender to Him, day by day, for two decades.

Twenty Years.

Monday Morning Meditation: Marked with a Seal

There are a lot of ways we identify ourselves throughout life.

We identify ourselves by our families: for instance, I am a Simonds.

We identify ourselves by age or grade: I am 42, and I am not in school 🙂 But my children are in 2nd and 4th grade (and preschool!).

We identify ourselves in college by major: I was a music major (but then, at the conservatory I attended, so was everyone else!).

We identify ourselves by our jobs (isn’t this one of the first questions we ask when we meet new people?): I am the director of a non-profit ministry.

As I walked around my neighborhood praying this morning, the following Scripture came to mind, and I reflected on the power and weight of these words:

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13b-14

There were a lot of different marks to identify people throughout time, some positive and some negative. We’ve all likely heard of the Scarlet letter. While fictional, history did include other “badges of shame,” as they were called. Jews were forced to wear a yellow star of David during the Nazi era. People of various ranks in the armed forces can be identified by the various insignias on their uniforms.

In times of the early church, a wax seal was commonly used as a mark of ownership or identification (IVP NT Commentary).

Having believed in Jesus Christ, we have been marked – the Holy Spirit has sealed us as a promise guaranteeing that we are His – now and for all time.

The New Living Translations puts it this way.

“And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”

The God of the universe has identified you as His own! He has called you by name, and said “You are Mine.” He didn’t just leave you here on earth to figure things out on your own, but He gave you the Holy Spirit – not only as a guide and a comfort and a counselor, but also as a seal saying, “I’m coming back for you.

Friends, I pray you are encouraged today by this truth. Whatever struggle you are facing, you belong to God! This is not the end of the story. You’ve been identified as God’s, now and for all time.