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

“Born Again This Way” Book Review

“Born Again This Way” by Rachel Gilson is book #15 of 2020.

This was a fantastic book about Rachel’s journey of coming out as gay, coming to know Jesus Christ as her Savior, and how those two things impact her life today. I read a lot of books in this topic, and appreciated how many new and fresh ideas she brought to the conversation. She also brings a theological depth that other books lack, but she writes in a way that makes those concepts accessible to anyone.

A couple concerns brought up and several addressed:

Conversion Therapy

She speaks against conversion therapy without ever thoroughly defining it (to the best of my recollection, she only gives a general idea on pg. 83). Why is this concerning? When conversion therapy is not defined, many things are lumped into that term that don’t even resemble therapy or conversion. Many in the type of ministry I do are accused of doing “conversion therapy.” Recently, when Massachusetts proposed a ban on conversion therapy to minors, there was not a single Massachusetts resident testifying who actually had undergone conversion therapy (the ban passed). So I am VERY leary of this catch-all term, which feels like a red herring in the conversation for me.

Transformation

A concern I heard from others is that Rachel does not believe in transformation (i.e that God is able to change one’s sexual attractions if He so chooses). Because I heard this concern prior to reading the book, I kept my eyes open to what she did – and didn’t – say. On this point, the overarching theme of the book is 0n obedience, not sexual orientation change. I actually commend her for this. I have seen WAY too many people give up this fight because God did not take away their struggle. As I state in my book #learningtowalkinfreedom, same-sex attraction (SSA) is a form of temptation. If we expect to live a life free of temptation, then we expect to be more free than Jesus. So I actually appreciate very much her focus on obedience rather than sexual attraction change. She does share a story from a woman who was same-sex attracted and is now opposite-sex attracted. I also do not recall her speaking against transformation. I actually write in my book that if we focus only on sexual attraction change, we are missing the point (freedom step one).

On-Going Same-Sex Attraction

Another concern was that Rachel wears her on-going SSA as a “badge of honor.” I did not give this one much weight, and here’s why. I speak openly about my on-going SSA. I share about the presence of on-going temptation in my life because I feel it’s important. Church leaders need to know that someone who experiences SSA is just as free and healed and changed as the person who know claims a heterosexual identity.  state that I “experience” SSA rather than I “struggle” with it – because it’s no longer a struggle. Rachel and I also agree that calling oneself a “gay Christian” is problematic. Here is my post explaining why.

I highly, highly recommend this book, despite a few concerns. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Buy “Born Again This Way” here.

Two Decades of Imperfect Surrender: Coffee with Brenna

In March of 2000, I reached a pivotal moment in my walk with Jesus.

I make it sound as if we had a long history! I had only been a Christian for 14 short months. Jesus, however, had a long history with me. Almost two thousand years before I was born, He saw my sin, my shame, and my struggles and set a rescue plan in motion that would change everything.

Despite surrendering to His call of salvation in January of 1999, some things took a lot longer to work their way out of my life. My identity was firmly set in that of a lesbian-identified bisexual – what did the gospel have to offer someone like me?

In the fall of that first year following Jesus, I met a young woman I call Annie. Annie had been raised in a Christian home but due to a horrific tragedy, she and her family members walked away from God. Well, I was positive I could help Annie to find Jesus again!!

As you can imagine, this did not end well.

I had no reason to think there would be any issues in our friendship because Annie did not have a history of being attracted to women. But she was needy and so was I. Our mutual neediness led to a physical attraction which eventually turned into a sexual relationship.

I feel stuck. Overwhelmed. In love. Desperate – for Annie AND for God. I had built so much of my life and my identity around being gay. Could Jesus really be enough for me? If I left behind everything I’d ever known, would God keep His promise to never leave me? Because almost everyone I loved, all those I clung to and felt I desperately needed – they had left me. How could I trust that God wouldn’t do what they had done? I didn’t know who to pick, which direction to go, or even how to go about deciding. But God knew. He saw my struggling heart – and He decided for me.

At the beginning of March, right before Spring Break, Annie dumped me 🙂

A few days later, I stood at the bus stop, waiting for my ride to arrive. I remember specifically throwing my hands in the air and saying, “Fine, God! I give this all to You!” Thus began my journey of walking in imperfect obedience as it pertains to my same-sex attraction and so many other things.

This month marks two decades since that day at the bus stop. God has been faithful in ALL things. I have come to Him, over and over, surrendering all that I am to all that He is. 20 years ago, I never would have dreamed I’d be where I am today, and I don’t mean married with a family, the director of an organization serving people just like me. Am I amazingly blessed? YES. There is no question. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s about the peace that comes with surrender. It’s about the hope that comes from trusting in Christ. It’s about the joy that is deposited into a surrendered heart.

On the day I’m completing this blog post, the daily topic of My Utmost for His Highest is “Total Surrender.” Ha! Oswald Chambers states, “Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.” He ends the entry with these thoughts: “Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.”

Watch today’s “Coffee with Brenna” video to explore this concept more!

Trusting in Your God-Given Identity: This Week’s “Coffee with Brenna”

How do we learn to trust and rest in the identity we have in Christ? Today’s Coffee with Brenna addresses this important question!

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1. Trust in the Identity Giver.

Two things that help people to grow:
1. Knowing who God really is.
2. Knowing who we are in Christ.

2. Ask for help.
James 1:5-6
Psalm 37:4

3. Practice silence and solitude.
Learning to Walk in Freedom:
Kindle: http://amzn.to/19kbG6t
Paperback: http://www.learningtowalkinfreedom.com/buy/

4. Rest in Him.
Isaiah 30:15-18

Conclusion
John 16:13
Hebrews 4:12
2 Timothy 3:16-17

God’s favorite video: https://youtu.be/YVFuLzF-EpQ
Rest video: https://youtu.be/BUCdmD1ihxA

Scriptures in Prayer
Psalm 139:13
Isaiah 43:4
Song of Solomon 6:3
Jeremiah 31:3
John 15:9
Matthew 10:31
Matthew 7:9-11

So You Want to Hear God’s Voice? Coffee with Brenna

The Means Through Which We Hear God’s Voice
1. God’s Word
2. Holy Spirit
3. Books or devotionals I’m reading
4. Conversations with believers/Godly council
5. Song lyrics or worship songs

The Obstacles to Hearing God’s Voice
1. Noise
2. Not making the time
3. Not listening
4. Fear of approaching the Father.
James 4:2

Practical Tips for Hearing God’s Voice
1. God wrote you a love letter: Read the Bible
“If you want to hear His audible voice- read your Bible out loud.” Barry
Here is one of Barry’s videos.

Christians who say they read scripture at least once a week: Majorities of Jehovah’s Witnesses (88%), Mormons (77%), evangelical Protestants (63%)
In 2014, about four-in-ten Christians (42%) said reading the Bible or other religious materials is an essential part of what being Christian means to them personally.

2. Making the Space
Pausing to hear
Quieting the noise
Christians must really develop their private devotional time with Christ.
Sitting in silence.
Luke 24:31-32, 45

3. Trusting His leading
John 10:27
Marked with a Seal blog post
Ephesians 1:13
1 Corinthians 3:16
John 14:26

4. Journaling
Patterns: A theme emerges in certain verses, topics, or conversations around me, leading me to consider, imagine, or grow a certain way.

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!”