Great Article: “The Pastor’s Wife Who Went Crazy”

This popped up on my Facebook feed this week: The Pastor’s Wife Who Went Crazy

I so appreciate her honesty in sharing her story of mental illness, suicidality, and self-injury. The world needs to hear what she has to say.

While I never really tried to take my life, I frequently toyed with where the line was. How many aspirin could I take and still function? How skinny could I be without dropping dead? How deep could I plunge the razor without doing permanent damage?

In 2008, I “came out” on Focus on the Family’s webzine as a cutter. It was definitely one of the most difficult articles I’ve written.

As I read Heather’s article, I knew I needed to take my confession a step further.

I then shared with my husband several incidents where I experienced what Heather Palacios, the author of the article, describes: epsiodes where it was almost as if I lost all control of myself, where I didn’t even feel as if I was inside my body any longer. I was a animal desperate to harm myself, desperate to numb the emotional pain I felt.

As  a high school student, I hit myself so hard and so many times with a meat tenderizer, I gave myself a horrible black eye. Just imagine the rage that is required to hit yourself over and over with a hammer, and you will get the picture. I lied at school that week, saying I tripped in a dark hall and hit my eye on a doorknob.

A few years later, I got into a fight with my married girlfriend. As I was leaving the house, I took the boot I was putting on and repeatedly hit myself in the eye/forehead with it. I don’t remember feeling pain. When my girlfriend realized what was happening, she ran over and gasped. In my frenzy, I didn’t notice that I had been hitting myself with the sharp corner of the boot’s heel. I was covered in blood.

There were other episodes, some less frenzied, some more calculated. While many of my scars have faded, I will forever wear on my body evidence of one of the last times I self-injured: a “W” carved into my thigh. “W” is for worthless. I was a Christian when I marked myself in that way.

All I can say to close is God is able. Seriously, guys. When I began to allow Him to, He poured His very life into me and birthed a new freedom inside of me. Just because He loves me.

He loves you, too. And He can do the same for you.

So that is my confession. Now go read Heather’s article. It’s important.

The photo was taken from this article at Christianity Today.

An Interview with Abby Kelly, author of “The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story”

Several times on this blog, I’ve mentioned Abby Kelly, author of The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. Abby is a joy to know! She has really allowed God to work in her life in so many ways. Today, I’m thrilled to be sharing my interview with her here at Living Unveiled.

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If you’d like to read her interview of me on her blog, here it is 🙂 My answers might surprise you!

So without further ado, here’s Abby!

Brenna Kate: Tell me your book title and publication date.
Abby: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. The paperback was released in early March. The ebook is currently available in most formats.

BK: One word that sums up this book…. (and then why?)
A: Rescue. I like to use that word instead of recovery because “recovery” makes it sound like I did most of the work myself—I recovered. But in very real terms, Jesus rescued me. I had nothing to do with it. I had tried to “recover” from anorexia using almost every method out there. And truly, at least half of me really wanted to get better. I got over the denial pretty quick, but something else kept me stuck. It’s like Paul talks about in Romans 7, I kept doing what I didn’t want to do. But after years of trying, when I finally broke, Jesus stepped in and rescued me. I think that word also applies because I can tell you the exact day my eating disorder was triggered, but I can’t tell you the exact day I got “well.” It kind of overtook me by surprise.

BK: Is this your first book?
A: This is my first book-length project. I currently write for a lot of Christian publications, both physical and online, but those are short devotions and articles.

BK: Who is your intended audience, and what do you hope your readers take away from your work?
A: When I first concluded the book, the last chapter addressed the three demographics that I imagine will benefit most from this book: an individual personally struggling with an eating disorder, a parent of someone struggling with an eating disorder, or someone whose marriage is crumbling due to an eating disorder or another type of addiction. That said, anyone and probably almost everyone is connected to someone who has food and body image issues. Anyone in that position will benefit from this book.

I want people to feel sorrow and fear when they’re in the middle of the book. The point is to reveal the gravity of eating disorders—anorexia is the most deadly mental illness. Because our culture is so adjusted to fad diets and the term “obesity epidemic” we’re often blinded to the dangers of weight loss tactics.

At the end of the book, I want people to be buoyed by hope and feel like they know where to go next to find help for their own struggles. I want them to see Jesus as their first and last resource and to understand His love for them even in the middle of the mess, even when they’re “sick.”

BK: What was the hardest part of writing this story? What brought you the most joy?
A: The hardest part was actually asking about and listening to the honest accounts of the pain I caused other people in my illness. I wrote to each of my sisters and asked for their memories of that time—how they felt and what they thought. I knew my eating disorder had affected them, but in the process of treatment, most of the focus was on me. I was constantly searching internally and being asked what I thought or felt. But it was eye-opening and a little painful to listen intently to how others were hurt in my chaos. The most joy was definitely the end and not just because I was done writing. But the book ends at “now.” And now, I’m discovering each day afresh. Now, I am walking in freedom. Now, I am enjoying Jesus. Now, I am engaged in relationships. And now, I enjoy food 🙂

BK: Who has inspired you most in your writing career? Personally and professionally.
A: Personally, my mother. No one else in my life has been so open and honest and vulnerable with me about her mistakes, finding forgiveness, changing and growing in the Lord. From the time I was little, she showed me what it’s like to be a woman after God’s own heart. Also, when I was the most rebellious and hateful, she never turned her back on me. And when my husband was struggling, she always honored our marriage and respected him and gave us grace.

Professionally? Well, this is an eclectic list, so bear with me. First, my dad. He’s the consummate professional. He respects everyone, absorbs every opportunity to learn, innovates and leads with kindness. Second, my husband. He’s an incredible leader which is something I’m always told I “should do” and I’m never comfortable doing. Patrick is an Army officer. I’ve watched him lead humbly, from the front, fearlessly and consistently. His time management skills, creativity and innovation amaze me. He can see third and fourth degree consequences and anticipates both the best and the worst.

And yes, there’s a writer mentor too. 🙂 Bethany McShurley has edited several of Beth Moore’s Bible studies. At one point, I sent her an email because I loved her words at the front of the study. She replied to me and offered encouragement in my current writing projects and even sent me some opportunities. I want to have the characteristics of all those people in my personal and professional life.

And now, some random little things about Abby…
• Nickname as a child (and story behind it) Oh-so-many! Squilly (who knows, my dad came up with it) Abs, Ab-ner (that had to happen) Jenny (one of my sisters) even shortened my name to “A” for a while.
• Favorite color (and why) Again…so many! Green first, I think. Then blue, brown, orange—can I keep going?
• Preferred writing attire? Yoga pants usually, or if I’m coming in from a morning dog walk and the idea simply struck, then it’s my tennis shoes, jacket, whatever I have on!
• Tea or coffee? Coffee! I’m like you, Brenna, mostly decaf. I get really jittery with caffeine but I LOVE the taste of coffee!
• Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? Starbucks all the way! I worked at Starbucks for a while when we were stationed in Washington State. Now, I’m more hooked than ever!
• Favorite author? I have no idea! Actually, wait—C.S. Lewis. That’s not because I’ve read all or even most, maybe not even many of his books. However, I am unceasingly amazed by the beauty of his writing. How he manages to combine that beauty with such deep, raw thought is beyond me. It’s like he takes questions that have never before been posited and then tumbles and spins and polishes them, providing an answer that gleams like expensive jewels.

Thank you so much, Abby, for allowing me to interview you! Mostly decaf for the win! 🙂

You can read my review of The Predatory Lies of Anorexia here (I loved it). Get the paperback or the Kindle for yourself or someone you love today!

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.

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#FreedomBook is Here!

It has been one challenge after another in getting my paperbacks of Learning to Walk in Freedom to actually arrive at my home. After a long string of issues, I was told my books would arrive Monday. When I checked the tracking Sunday, it said the book would arrive 1/28 (6 days prior). I called Monday, and the terminal was closed due to weather. They are supposed to call to schedule residential delivery, so when I hadn’t heard anything at noon Tuesday, I gave them another call. They said my books were out for delivery! I turned to tell my husband, and he said, “I think I hear a truck.” Don’t you know – it was my books!

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My 4 year-old JJ is guarding the goods.

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Don’t worry. It wasn’t loaded.

18 boxes of #FreedomBook!

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Order your copy today!

Merry Christmas! Download “Learning to Walk in Freedom” For Free on Christmas Day!

Tomorrow, for Christmas Day only, I am offering Learning to Walk in Freedom for free!

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If you or a friend receive a Kindle for Christmas, download away! If you have an iPhone or iPad, there is an app that lets you read books for Kindle. That’s what I use.

If you already downloaded Learning to Walk in Freedom, why not grab some other resources to help you start the year strong? Here are some of the resources I reference in Learning to Walk in Freedom.

 Relational Masks by friend and mentor Russell Willingham talks about more about the concept of core beliefs and how these false beliefs impact our relationship with God and with each other. He wrote another great book entitled Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction & the Healing Power of Jesus.

 Think Differently, Live Differently by friend Bob Hamp addresses how the way we think impacts our choices and the truth we live out of.


The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg is an easy but challenging read with a new take on spiritual disciplines. Learn how to work spiritual disciplines into your everyday life.

And then some personal favorites, also referenced in Learning to Walk in Freedom:
Healing Is a Choice: 10 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life and 10 Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them by Steve Arterburn. There is an accompanying workbook.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives with Bonus Content by Richard Swenson.

Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas – finding your spiritual temperament with its traits, strengths, and pitfalls.

Enjoy! And spread the word 🙂

Learning to Walk in Freedom: Here What People Are Saying

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Read some new reviews of Learning to Walk in Freedom:

“Brenna has written a wonderful gem and a terrific resource. In almost 15 years of college ministry, I have witnessed students’ struggles with addiction, sexual brokenness, and controlling habits. This book provides an inspiring and holistic approach to helping us find freedom. She aptly encourages the reader towards intimacy with the Father, study of the Word, authenticity in community, and practical changes in behavior. I’m excited to use this as a resource with students on my campus.” Joseph Gavin, Chi Alpha Vermont

“I am privileged to have known the author since her college days and have seen the growth and maturity that freedom in Christ has developed in Brenna. This is a story of inspiration, rescue, and hope, but not just for the author. Like the traveler in Pilgrim’s Progress or Hinds Feet for High Places, Brenna leads the reader on a journey to meet the One who can help anyone learn to walk in freedom. Join her on the journey and find out for yourself.”
Mike Olejarz, National Chi Alpha Training Team

“This is a tremendous book, with so much depth and strength. It thrills the heart to read Brenna Kate’s testimony in the back of the book. Her journey in five steps is an easy read. God is so good to His children. We just haven’t truly let Him give us the freedom in our walk with Him, that He desires for us. This book will help the one seeking to walk in God’s freedom. Thank you, Brenna Kate. I will reread the book and will be sharing thoughts from the book at a local support group. Thank you for your obedience in writing this for the rest of us. For those who have not yet read the book, you’re in for a very special blessing. Again, THANKS.”
Nora S.

This excerpt is a continuation from yesterday:

Later that week, as I continued to cry out to God, He spoke clearly to me concerning some of my questions and struggles. Most of all, He called me to choose to trust Him, to rest in Him, and to allow Him to teach me. He beckoned me to go on a journey with Him, a journey to further whole- ness and freedom, choosing to believe He is who He says He is.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

Thus began this journey into my current understanding of true freedom. (You can read a full testimony in the back of this book.) I’m sure it’s not over. I invite you to join me where I am now.

Wherever you are on this journey, there is something to be learned from Him. Even if you’re not generally a praying person, I encourage you to pause. Pray the following for yourself as inspired by the Scripture above and prepare to dive into a new level of freedom in your life:

God, I come to You. I am weary, burdened, and I need Your rest. God, I lay down my heavy burden and take Your yoke upon my shoulders, whatever that means, because You say I can learn from You, in Your gentleness and humility of heart. Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. God, help me to receive that, and prepare me to really hear from You as I read this book. I surrender to all that You have for me as I learn to walk in freedom. Amen.

Get your free copy of Learning to Walk in Freedom today!

Cover and interior design done by Rusty and Ingrid Creative

My Book "Learning to Walk in Freedom" Available for Kindle!

Learning to Walk in Freedom has been published!

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The Kindle version is now available! The paperback will take another month, but yes! There will be a paperback for my Kindle-less friends. Read what people are saying about Learning to Walk in Freedom (including the long versions of the reviews from the back cover):

“LEARNING TO WALK IN FREEDOM is just what is says—a guide to freedom. This booklet says more in its 80 pages than dozens of larger books I’ve read on the subject. It’s practical, field-tested, biblical and Spirit-taught. After working for over 20 years with sexually broken people I can heartily recommend this powerful little resource!” Russell Willingham, Director of New Creation Ministries and author of Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction and the Healing Power of Jesus and Relational Masks: Removing the Barriers that Keep Us Apart

“Jesus said in John 8:36, ‘So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.’ That verse always gets a great reaction because we all desire to truly walk in freedom! Through 24 years of ministry and 40 years as a Christian I have observed that most Christians struggle to walk in the true freedom that Christ has made possible for us. In this book, Brenna Kate Simonds lays out five insightful and powerful points that will help any Christian expe- rience and walk in true freedom. I wish I had read this book earlier in my Christian life. It would have saved me years of wondering if I would ever be able to please God. I strongly recommend this book for any believer at any stage in their spiritual journey.” Jeff Jacob, Senior Pastor, Word of Life International Church, Ashburn, Virginia

“Brenna Kate makes it easy and approachable. It makes sense that her writing would be like her personality. With clarity, and honesty Brenna Kate shares both experience and truth providing an easily understood, and easily followed path in the process of living in Freedom.” Bob Hamp, LMFT, Author of Think Differently, Live Differently and Executive Pastor of Pastoral Care at Gateway Church, Southlake, TX

“Learning to Walk in Freedom is a small book that packs a mighty punch! The author throws light on the shadow that often exists between what we know to be truth and the reality of living in that truth. To know about freedom is one thing, but to live from a place of freedom requires the courage to engage with others and expose those shameful core beliefs that keep us imprisoned in wrong thinking and behaviour. Using her own journey away from lesbianism, an eating disorder, and other damaging behaviours, Brenna Kate Simonds succeeds in offering the reader opportunity to access their own expedition through life and use some of the checks and pointers as they pursue that promised abundant life in Christ.” Jeanette Howard, Director of Bethany Life Ministries and author of Out of Egypt: One Woman’s Journey Out of Lesbianism and Into the Promised Land: Beyond the Lesbian Struggle

Get your copy of Learning to Walk in Freedom today!

Cover and interior design done by Rusty and Ingrid Creative

Freedom Friday: What I Have, I Give

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6

I’ve always loved the story of Peter, John, and the man lame from birth at the temple gate called Beautiful. At a campus ministry training event in 2001, I chose it as my passage from which to lead a Bible study. This week, I needed to lead a class in a 5-minute devotional. Since the topic of the class is the book of Acts, this passage seemed a natural choice.

One thing I love about Scripture is how it can speak different things to you depending on where you are and what you need. I originally loved this passage because I loved the story of healing. Oh, how I wanted to see God work in that way in my life! I also love the change in Peter after receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But what it spoke to me this week was very different.

“The grass is always greener” mentality infiltrates so many areas of my life. I wish I had her house, his fame, her job, or his joy. But I found lately that envy has taken root in a surprising area of my life.

Anyone who knows me for 10 minutes knows I’m a Christian. I love Jesus, and because of that, I talk about Him. He naturally comes up in conversation. And yet, I have never actually watched anyone become a Christian.

Whenever I take those spiritual gift tests, no matter what the variety, the gift of evangelist/evangelism never even makes the top 10. Teacher? Yes. Exhorter? Yes. Compassion, music, encouragement? Yes. Evangelism? Never.

Do I sometimes feel bad about this? Yes, to be honest. In fact, 2 weeks ago in class, I asked my pastor if he thought everyone has the gift of evangelism. The answer was a bit complicated, and not the point of this post. As I read Acts 3 again this week and reflected on that discussion, this came to mind:

Thou shalt not cover thy neighbor’s gifts.

I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s writings concerning the body.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-18

Just as He wanted them to be.

I cannot give what I do not have, but I still have a lot to give. I may never be gifted at evangelism, and I’m OK with that. Instead of being envious of the skills of others, I will continue to declare as Peter declared, “What I do have, I give.”

I wrote a song some years ago called “You.” You can hear a rough recording:

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Some lines from the song are particularly relevant.

I know there are songs to be sung,
And there are wars to be won
And there are wrongs to be undone

I know there are songs to be sung, 
And there are wars to be won 
And there are wrongs to be undone 

And I don’t have that much to give
But there’s no other way to live

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God, I do not have that much to give – but I know that living a surrendered life is the only way to truly live for You. And so what I do have, I give.