About Me

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I'm a wife, a mom, a singer/songwriter, an author, a public speaker, an abolitionist, an encourager & freedom coach, a seminary student, a worship leader, a lover of life and joy, and most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Theme Song from the Conference

OK - so this is my 2nd final conference update :) I reserve the right to post more!

The song that I walked away from the conference singing is "Overcome". How appropriate! I just couldn't get this song out of my head, and for good reason. Besides being an awesome song, the lyrics & the scripture that it's based upon seem especially applicable to the group of people attending the Exodus conference.


Seated above enthroned in the Father's love
Destined to die poured out for all mankind
God's only Son perfect and spotless One
He never sinned but suffered as if He did

All authority - every victory is Yours

Savior worthy of honor and glory
Worthy of all our praise
You overcame
Jesus awesome in power forever
Awesome and great is Your name
You overcame

Power in hand speaking the Father's plan
You're sending us out light in this broken land

We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony
Everyone overcome

And Revelation 12:11:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

After attending a conference like this, it's "normal", for lack of a better word, to walk away, feeling as if you can conquer anything. It's also "normal" for that feeling to fade within a few days and to plummet into complete doubt & unbelief. Why does this happen? I believe part of it is human nature, but most of it is a spiritual attack. When God speaks truth into our lives, Satan will do everything he can to make us question that truth. This has been the case since the Garden of Eden. God told Adam & Eve, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Then Satan came along with the same questions he has been asking ever since, ""Did God really say?" And you can fill in the blank. The purpose of his question is to cause us to question the goodness & faithfulness of God. In this case, he asked if God really said they couldn't eat from the tree. He then want on to convince them that God was withholding good things from them.

So after attending a conference like this, it's "normal" to walk away, doubting & questioning those things God has spoken to you. But this song & Scripture reminds us that Jesus overcome, and so can we. As I reminded people when I shared my testimony, we can't overcome in our own strength & power, but in the power that is available to us through Jesus Christ & the Holy Spirit.

He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20

The world would try to convince us that by saying homosexual behavior is a sin, God is withholding good things from us, and that we are in fact doing harm to ourselves by being unwilling to embrace a gay identity. I would have to disagree. So often, we allow the things that appear "good" to us, like the fruit of the tree, to crowd out God's best for us. That's where faith comes in. We have to trust God when He says He has an awesome plan for us, plan to prosper us & not to harm us - plans to give us hope & a future.

God is the Superhero. He is able to do the supernatural - to take our natural & make it super, as one speaker said :) So I pray that all would continue to stand firm in the truth that was revealed to them at the conference. God is able. Amen.

Final Day Conference Update

I want to make sure to write my final conference update while it is semi-fresh in my mind. A Baptist pastor named Bob Perdue shared a very encouraging testimony. After the testimony, we sang some awesome worship songs, and the worship leader, Marianne Adams, encouraged us to come down front & dance. Guess who was one of the first ones down there? :) Me!

The enemy has been defeated
Death couldn't hold you down
We're gonna lift our voice in victory
Gonna make your praises loud

Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
Shout unto God with a voice of praise
Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
We lift your name up, we lift your name up

Amen!! I love that song! I danced so hard my calves hurt the next day :)

Then Randy Thomas talked about his journey of healing as it related to singleness & celibacy. He quoted Revelation 3:5, 12-13:

5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

12Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

I could write a bunch about what Randy said. He's quite knowledgeable & wise & funny & I always enjoy hearing him speak. But he mainly just shared his journey :) I have to admit also that I had to leave early because we had to drive to Charlotte to catch our flight, but I ordered the DVD :)

Over all, I personally walked away from the conference encouraged, as well as challenged & convicted about the importance of the work that we do. I attended the International Conference in the summers of 2004 & 2005, but had not been able to attend a national conference since January of 2006. With all the changes in my life & the challenges of trying to balance motherhood & ministry, I was feeling rather disconnected. There isn't really a model that I have seen within the Exodus network of how to be a mom & a ministry director. Most ministry directors who have children are either men or women whose children are grown. I don't know of any other directors who are trying to balance having a small child at home with working part-time, directing a ministry, while their husband works a full-time job in another field (as many couples do ministry together). So I definitely needed the encouragement of reconnecting with my ministry colleagues.

I was also encouraged because we brought the baby & worked it out so that I could attend the conference, and Roy could enjoy parts of it as well. Most of the other moms with small children who were attending left their kids at home, which isn't possible for me as Bear is still breastfeeding. Plus, that's a long time to be away from your kids! So I've wondered how, as we keep having more children (God-willing), will I be able to continue to do ministry. How will traveling work? Will the kids come? And I see that it can work - we just might want to bring a nanny as they get older so we can both attend the conference together :) Thankfully, the Bear had fallen asleep in the Bjorn, so Roy was able to hear me share my testimony.

I did order the DVD of the testimonies, as well as a copy of my workshop on CD. The final DVD's will be mailed to me, so I'll let you know how I feel it all turned out when I get a chance to watch & listen to them!

And now, Roy's back to work & it's back to the daily grind for me :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back Home

We're home. Our flight was delayed about two & a half hours due to the rain storms in Boston. So we sat on the runway for 2.5 hours! Bear did very well, all things considered.

I have to say first that while I had an amazing time at the conference, I'm happy to be home :) I had eggs and a mostly decaf americano for breakfast for the 1st time in almost a week. And we missed Noodles so much! I've never seen him so happy to see us.

I'll try to post a wrap-up from the conference later today if I have time. You can check out some other conference update at Randy's blog or Laura Leigh's blog (including a picture of me sharing my testimony).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Conference Update

On Saturday morning, there was a panel discussion involving Alan Chambers (President of Exodus), Randy Thomas (Vice President off Exodus), Terri Brown (Director of Exodus Membership & mom to a gay man) & Janet Boynes (she had shared her testimony of overcoming same-sex attraction that morning). People in the audience wrote questions on index cards, handed them to the panel, and then the panel answered different questions, such as, 'Would you attend same-sex marriage?” “How do I know if I'm called to singleness or marriage?” and “How do I interact with my loved one's partners?” It was quite interesting.

After lunch, I went to a workshop entitled, “Building Ministries on Solid Foundations”. Ron Elmore from “Beyond Imagination” was the speaker. I did have the opportunity to ask a couple of questions, so that was good. After that, we attended a Special Interest Group for those who attend Assemblies of God churches, to hear updates on what's happening in the denomination as it pertains to this issue.

In the evening, Dale Evrist, pastor of New Song, a Foursquare church in the Nashville area, spoke on “Stepping Into a New Day of Intimacy & Freedom”. It was based off of Luke 7:36-50:

36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

His 7 steps we need to take are:
1. Authentic Humility
2. Thorough Brokenness
3. Abounding Love
4. Extravagant Giving
5. Selfless Servanthood
6. Honest Assessment
7. Rapid Response

It really was inspiring. I wish I could write more, but it's time for breakfast & then we're off to hear Randy speak :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Internet in & out

There was a power outage yesterday, so the internet hasn't been working very well. There's not much to update on yesterday. It was Freedom Friday, and we had no scheduled activities, so we hung out in Asheville for a while. I ate at Earth Fare, and most everyone else ate at Sonic :) Not only did I find some healthy, filling food at Earth Fare, I found gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free donuts! They are made by Kinnikinnick, and oh my goodness, they are so good.

Though Ridgecrest has been very helpful at making me special meals, I'm hungry all the time.
I realized yesterday that it's because most of my meals have almost no fat. Lunch & dinner is always steamed or boiled meat with potatoes or rice & a steamed veggie. At home I'd put olive oil or something like that on it, but here I don't have access to any oils. So yesterday, I ate a bunch of Bear's avocado :)

So off to lunch, and then the Assemblies of God Special Interest Group is this afternoon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Morning Conference Update

I didn't go to a workshop yesterday afternoon. Instead, I hung out with Bear & took a nap :) Then for the evening session, Bear was quite tired, so I only caught bits & pieces. A neat thing that Alan Chambers shared was that a conference attendee had heard about Exodus on an episode of Queer as Folk. He looked it up on the internet, never having heard of Exodus, and is attending this conference for the 1st time How awesome is that!

I didn't get to hear the main speaker, Michelle McKinney Hammond, but I heard she was really good, so I plan on getting the DVD. I also missed Andy Comiskey this morning, as Bear was antsy & Roy seemed as though he would like to hear Andy. So Bear & I played outside for awhile and chatted with a woman from CrossPower in Midland, TX.

Today is called "Freedom Friday" because the time after lunch & throughout the evening is free time, so we are going into Asheville to hang out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Conference Update

Last night, Anne Graham Lotz (yes, Billy Graham's daughter) spoke on the person, power & priority of the Holy Spirit. I caught most of it, but I was tired & having a lot of trouble focusing, so I left early.

This morning, Clark Whitten of Grace Church spoke. He, as always, was amazing. I met him earlier in the week and had the opportunity to share with him how his teaching from the Exodus Freedom Conference in 2004 on "Grace" & "The Law" were really transformational for me (they are available through Christian Audio Tapes). The MC announced that Clark's life message is grace, so of course, he spoke on grace. It was also interesting to hear how he was introduced because I'm pretty sure my life message is freedom. (Side note, the MC introed me by saying I drink green smoothies & am a recovering hippie!) Anyway, Clark spoke on Hebrews 6:13-20. I'm including it here because it's so interesting & so much of it, I had never thought about before.

"When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, 'I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.' And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised."

(I had never thought about the fact that God had to swear on His own name since there is no one greater.)

"Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

As believers in Christ & His saving grace, Jesus is our High Priest who lives forever. Whereas in the Old Covenant, there were many high priests since death prevented them from continuing in office (Hebrews 7:23), Jesus now holds that position permanently. "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Hebrews 7:25 Wow.

So judicially, we are fixed. Experientially, we may not be.

We tend to be more conscious of our sin than we are conscious of God's grace.

If we are living in the knowledge & reality of God's grace, we ought to be happier than we are.

All covenants are conditional: you do your part, and I'll do my part. The New Covenant is between God & Jesus for me. My part is to believe.

We got a good deal :)

I always enjoy hearing Clark speak. I wanted to ask him after he spoke what, if any, books he recommends on the topic of grace. I always struggle when I speak because I do believe having a correct understanding of grace is absolutely essential in our journey toward freedom. In fact, that was one of my points in my workshop yesterday :) At the end, I recommended some resources & wished there was a book on grace that I could wholeheartedly recommend. Instead, I recommended getting Clark's teachings on Grace & The Law. Anyway, there was a long line of people waiting to talk to him after, and I was headed to a workshop, so I might write him a note or something.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Workshop Done

My workshop is done; it went well. Sitting in the car with Bear, who feel asleep while riving around with Roy, and the stayed asleep while we went to the grocery store. Gotta love the Asus!

Roy is off playing laser tag :)

I've had a killer headache all day & could really use a coffee. I'll wait until Bear wakes up.


My testimony went well; it was well-received, and I got a lot of positive feedback.

Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today
spoke after me about many good things, including "The Fig Leaf Conspiracy", which he has written a book on.

A couple of his thought-provoking points:
The devil has corrupted our understanding of sex.
The devil left man alone until he got married. He uses our sexuality to pervert our relationships.

Get the book:)

I really wanted to goo to Randy's workshop, but we needed to come back to the room for a quick diaper change & baby refuel. I sent one of my ministry friends in my place. My workshop is at 1:30. I'll let you know how it goes later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We made it!

And in one piece! Bear did great on the plane & in the car ride after.

And we have wifi in our room, which is good because I needed to re-read my instructions about sharing my testimony in the morning.

It's great to be here, reconnecting with friends I haven't seen in a while.

And now Bear needs me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Right before the conference...

We got rear-ended today. And Bear was in the car :(

It was minor, but I saw it coming & braced myself.

It made me realize that every time I've been rear-ended (this is #4), it's within a day or two of an Exodus conference.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

Prayers for safety would be appreciated.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coming Out

I'm taking a short break from our preparations to share something that has been on my heart for a few days.

Some of you know me as friend, cousin, family member, singer, songwriter, worship leader, random blogger, crunchy treehugger, spinach-chugging cook, gentle hippie mom, food enthusiast, minister, encourager, pray-er.

What you may not know is that I am what some people refer to as "ex-gay".

You may have figured this out long ago if you clicked on some of the links on my blog. Or maybe my recent posts about the upcoming conference gave it away.

The reason I've been hesitant to bring this up is - well, there are quite a few. But there are 2 main reasons.

1. This is not an "ex-gay" blog. My purpose for starting this blog was to talk about my life, which of course involves the ministry that I do & am very passionate about, but that's not the only thing, or even the main thing, that I wanted to talk about.

2. I don't like putting that out there as the 1st thing people know about me.

That may sound as if I'm ashamed of my past or my present. No, I'm not ashamed, though I wish sometimes that I had made different choices. The problem with sharing with people what I do for ministry is that they jump to conclusions based on it. I won't dive too deep into that, but I am many things, and the fact that I was gay-identified for a decade is just one of many things that has shaped on some level who I am today.

I'm bringing this up now because I may be live-blogging from the conference. And I figured it was as good a time as any :)

Really, I just want people to know me as Brenna Kate Simonds, not based on some label and the baggage it carries. I tell people when they ask about the ministry that I'm really just an average person. I don't have an agenda; I just help people who want my help.

End of story :)

If you didn't know this about me and it bothers you on some level, I hope you will give me a chance. I really am just an ordinary person who serves an extraordinary God.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm Famous!


Another of my articles was printed over at Boundless today:

The Gift of Freedom

I'm actually quite happy with the way it came out. When I wrote it, I wasn't sure I liked it as much as the other 3 that have already been printed, but reading over it again, I think it's quite good.

Enjoy :)