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.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Act Now! This Blog Has Moved.

Hey, folks!

I warned you a few months ago that this blog would soon move. It has happened!

Living Unveiled has moved to its permanent location.

If you have been receiving updates via email, please re-sign up here. You will not be spammed. I'm the only one who sees the addresses.

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See you over there!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Learning to Walk in Freedom: Free Today Only for Kindle!

Learning to Walk in Freedom is free today for Kindle!

Front Cover

It's my and Roy's 11th wedding anniversary! So I'm celebrating by giving you the opportunity to download my book for Free!

Back cover
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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Freedom Friday: Get Learning to Walk in Freedom for Free Tomorrow!

Learning to Walk in Freedom is free tomorrow for Kindle!

Front Cover

It will be my and Roy's 11th wedding anniversary! So I'm celebrating by giving you the opportunity to download my book for Free!

Back cover
I'll remind you again tomorrow! Help me spread the word :)

Here's an excerpt from Learning to Walk in Freedom:

Freedom is my anthem—it has been my life’s theme. The questions that come with the word freedom are questions I continually ponder. The answers did not come easily.

I became a Christian at age 23. I came to Jesus with a lot of problems: an eating disorder, same-sex attraction, emotional dependency, self-injury, self-loathing, and chronic low self-esteem. My life was controlled by and revolved around my issues and trying to get rid of them.

I felt like I was drowning.

Why, if I had become a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), did my life not feel all that changed? Why was I still dealing with the same issues? I had a crowd of people continually praying for me. I fasted for long periods of time. I devoured the Word of God and prayed my heart out, including interceding for complete strangers whose prayer requests I found on the Internet! I went to church, led Bible studies, and sang on the worship team. I was writing songs for God and serving Him every way I knew how.

And I was still drowning.

I remember the moment vividly. It was May of 2004 at a campus ministry conference. I was one of the leaders, the teachers, the ones with the knowledge—the answers. Still, I was gasping for air.

Drowning.

Is this it, God? 

I was walking around the old campus. There was a castle, and in the castle was a piano. I sat down at the piano to sing, to write, to think. (I sometimes think best while sitting at a piano.) I began to play, and this is what came out:

There must be more than this 

Over and over, I sang this to my Lord. Deep down in my soul, I expe- rienced God’s fingerprint. I knew He was real. And because I had already seen Him working in so many ways, I had to believe that there was more. I desperately needed to hear His voice tell me that all this striving, all this seeking wasn’t for nothing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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

Learning to Walk in Freedom has been published!

Front Cover
Back cover

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

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 here. 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


*****

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.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation: Gratitude

This weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Choices conference in Hershey, PA with some ladies from my church.

Wow.

I was most excited to go to this because Sara Groves was going to be there.

From http://www.campforestsprings.org/blog/sara-groves-in-concert
She led worship at each session, and then she'd sing a couple of her songs after. It's a surreal feeling to sit and listen to songs that you have memorized from listening to them in your room, in your car, on a run. Songs that have carried you through trials and victories, through post-partum depression and questions about whether God is really who He says He is. Songs that have walked with you through major marriage struggles, loved ones dying, songs that have run with you as you trample on child sex trafficking for 26.2 miles and all the training before.

Songs that have brought much healing to your life.

I sat through those songs at that conference, just grateful. My life with Jesus flashed before my tear-filled eyes, and I was once again amazed at all that He is and all that He has done.

Are you grateful today?

I've written a lot about gratitude here.  If this is something you struggle with, now is a good time to read some of those posts.

Lord, help us. Help us in the midst of grief and celebration to cultivate gratitude. Your Word implores us to rejoice always, and so help us to choose joy, to choose thankfulness. Keep our eyes open to all the things God has done and will continue to do. In the words of Sara Groves, "He's always been faithful - He will be again." Thank You, Jesus.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Freedom Friday: The War for Your Identity

I've been thinking a lot about spiritual warfare.

Part of the reason for this is I've had several opportunities to share Freedom Step 4 from my book  Learning to Walk in Freedom lately with groups of people. Freedom Step 4 is Think Like a Free Person. Freedom Step 4 states that most spiritual warfare takes place in our minds.

As humans, we walk through different types of spiritual wars. There is a war for our souls. There is the first battlefront. Jesus said "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36). Satan tries to convince us that there is no God, and even if there is, we don't need Him. We can be successful in life through accomplishments, strong relationships and power or wealth.

Once we come to believe in Jesus, there is a second battlefront. This battle concerns the obstacles we face, and our struggle with sin patterns in our lives. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full," said Jesus, as recorded in John 10:10. Jesus didn't want us to know Him simply so we can go to heaven when we die. He desires that we live life to the full, throwing off the "sin that so easily entangles" as mentioned in Hebrews 12:1-3.

And yet there is another battle, one that is far more insidious than the others.

It is the battle for our identity.


Even after I laid down my sexuality at the cross and chose to walk in obedience in that area, even after I stopped starving myself and began to be more at peace with food (a much longer and more painful process), even when the urge to self-injure had mostly subsided, I was still left with - well - me.

I still experienced quite a bit of self-loathing, insecurity, worthlessness, depression and deep core beliefs that maybe God really wasn’t who He says He is. I was still left with all the ways my thoughts and perceptions and speculations affected me.

God led me through a process of learning to recognize the lies I believed and how they impacted me. He taught me how to go to war against my false beliefs and make them obedient to Christ.

Yet the battle continues.

I no longer struggle with self-loathing and worthlessness to the degree I did in the past. Now, I struggle with self-limiting thoughts.

Those self-limiting thoughts that say things like, What have I gotten myself into? I thought this dream was from God, but nothing is turning out the way I planned. I should be safe and keep my hopes reined in. 

But here's the thing. You're not really limiting yourself; you're limiting God.

Years ago, I set part of Isaiah 49 to music with an intro I added. I sang this today as I went to war in worship and praise for some friends who need Jesus to show up in a mighty way. This is sung from God's perspective.

I gave it all up for you 
So I wouldn’t have to live without you 
(repeat) 

Zion says, “The Lord has forgotten me.” 
Oh, they say, “The Lord has forsaken me.” 
(repeat) 

Can a mother forget the child 
who is nursing at her breast? 
Will she have no compassion 
on the baby that she has given birth to? 
(repeat) 

Though they may forget you, 
I will never forget you! 
(repeat) 

Look; you are written on the palm of my hand! 
 
Father God and His Son Jesus gave up everything for you. And yet we tell ourselves we will never be able to walk out the dreams God has put on our hearts. We tell ourselves we are too weak, too insubstantial. 

Those are lies from the pit of hell.

Where do we find our identity? Where do we find our worth? We find it as declared in the cross and nowhere else. 
 Jesus fought the battle for us so that we could walk in the fullness of all He created us to be.

Where do we find our potential? In the God who is able to raise from the dead.

Peter, when addressing the crowds on the day of Pentecost, stated, "But God raised him [Jesus] from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (Acts 2:24).

That is what God is capable of doing. In your life.

"We deem ourselves too inconsiderable to be used even by a God capable of miracles with no more than mud and spit. And thus our false humility shackles an otherwise omnipotent God." William J. O'Malley, SJ

We need to stop limiting God by believing the lies the enemy has told us. We need to go to war for our identity.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Freedom Friday: I Saw You in Whole Foods Today

If you have struggled with an eating disorder, this post might be triggering to you. Please pause and pray before you read this if that is a concern.


I saw you at Whole Foods today.

I noticed you pretty quickly. The clothing you wore, the way you held yourself, the frenzy in which you ate.

I wondered if you had an eating disorder. 

I watched you out of the corner of my eye as I reviewed some work on my laptop. I lost sight of you as I packed my things, stopping at the restroom as I left.

There, I saw you. With your drink. Going into the handicapped stall.

Then I heard you vomit.

This is clearly a skill you have mastered. You were quiet. But I knew.

I knew because I've been there.

I had an eating disorder for 14 years. Borderline anorexia with an addiction to laxatives (ED-NOS did not exist then). I know the tricks of the trade, even for the behaviors I never engaged in.

I saw you. And I knew.

I spoke to you in the dining area minutes later, after I fumbled with my wallet to find my card. I told you I had an eating disorder for 14 years. You replied that you had yours for 11 years, and you loved it.

As if it were a pet or possession. Or a lifestyle choice.

You took my card and turned to leave, and I followed, searching for words. I asked if I could say one more thing. You paused and I told you that Jesus loves you and wants a different life for you. You thanked me and left.

I have a different life now. And I remember vividly the moment when everything changed.

I was in LA. I had been "in recovery" for over 4 years, continuing to starve and abuse laxatives while receiving treatment. I thought in that moment, I could live the rest of my life like this.

Suddenly, I keeled over in pain and weakness, as my muscles cramped and stomach revolted. And in that moment, I had clarity for the first time.

Something inside me quietly said, You will die if you keep doing this to yourself.

My treatment team and my friends had been telling me this for years. I finally believed it. 

After several more years or treatment and its ups and downs, I finally began to make choices to move toward recovery. I wanted a different life for myself, no matter the cost, and I was willing to do the work needed to have that life.

I also came to know Jesus as friend and Savior a week after that moment in LA. With the strength that He provides, I have been symptom-free from starvation and laxative use for over 11 years.

And I wouldn't trade any of it for a number on the scale.

11 years ago, as you took your first steps toward your eating disorder, I took my first true steps away. I chose life, and continue to choose it every day.

My wedding in December, 2002
My 2 boys at the start of school this year
What I don't know if you can see is that you don't have an eating disorder - your eating disorder has you. It controls you. It is not a lifestyle choice; it's a choice to die. It's a choice to never fully live.

Today, I saw you. I saw your pain, hidden under your baggy clothes and bloodshot eyes. I saw your pale skin and yellow, worn out teeth. But more importantly, God sees you; that is one of His names (Genesis 16:13). He sees you as you are and as He created you to be - and He loves you. He loves you so deeply and passionately that He allowed His Son to die for you, so that you could live a different life.

I don't know if you will ever use my card to find this blog. If you do, know I'm praying for you. I'm praying you have a moment, as I did, where you realize the truth about your eating disorder. And when you face that truth for what it is, I want you to know that there is a friend who can be there with every tear cried, through every painful step toward health. There is a hope offered for a new life, a fresh start. You don't have to hide behind your eating disorder anymore. 

It's OK to be seen.

Related posts:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pregnant with a Dream

A year ago yesterday, we started our lives in northern VA.

3 weeks later, my father passed away, and 2 weeks after that, we moved into a rented townhouse.

We still don't have complete clarity as to why God brought us here, nor do we have steady employment. Despite that, I am still 100% convinced God is up to something amazing.

Sunset behind our home 2 days ago
How can I be so convinced?

Because I am pregnant. Not in the typical sense, though.

I am pregnant with a dream.

God has stirred something up in me, and I'm even more excited to see what our 2nd year here holds.

Above all else, I deeply trust Him. 

I asked my 6 year-old son what he learned about in church today. He learned about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River into the Promise Land. I asked him if they talked about the Jordan River being at flood stage, and what that meant for the Israelites - how scary that would be.

I blogged two and a half years ago about stepping into your Jordan. A year ago, we stepped into ours, trusting that the Promised Land was on the other side. We are still in the throes of labor, the flood stage, birthing this dream God has given us.

We are still waiting, still trusting. It's been quite painful at times, but full of anticipation.

Thank You, Lord, for this adventure that is life with You! 

What Jordan do you need to step into today? What frightening step do you need to take?

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Edits on my Book are Done!

Are you ready for Learning to Walk in Freedom?

This book that has been a word in my heart will soon be a reality.

From the first draft back in June, 2012:


To a finely tuned booklet with a beautifully illustrated cover by Rusty & Ingrid Creative (which I'll share soon enough). 

We have refined and tweaked this thing for the past 15+ months. And now we're declaring it done.

In just a few weeks, the eBook will be ready for purchase through your favorite retailer. A print book will follow within a couple of months. We will also be doing some giveaways here on the blog and on my Facebook page. And my blog will be moving to permanent hosting by the end of the year.

You do not want to miss out! 

A couple things you can do to prepare for all this excitement:

1. Subscribe to the email list. That way, I can more easily send you blog posts and book updates.  I will not spam you :) IMPORTANT: If you already receive blog posts in your inbox, you will still need to sign up for the email list. Your current updates come directly from Blogger (my current host), not from me. Thus, when we move the blog to permanent hosting, you will no longer receive blog posts in your inbox. So right now, go to http://www.livingunveiled.com and on the top right where it says "Get Living Unveiled updates via e-mail," put in your email address. This is through MailChimp, a service used by most bloggers. In fact, you probably get other blog posts through them.

2. Follow my Facebook page. I have a page on Facebook where I post updates on a regular basis, including my (almost) daily Bible-reading haikus. I will be posting my main book updates there.

3. Follow me on Twitter. I have a Twitter profile where I (can you guess what I do there?) tweet. Shocking, I know!

Why should you do any of the above things? Because for each one that you do, you will get an entry into each of my giveaways! So if you do all 3, you get 3 entries! Party!

Friends, I do believe this book has the potential to radically impact your life. Pray with me that it will be a blessing to many.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Freedom Friday, Tools for the Journey: Fitting Concentrated Study into a Busy Life

I have an occasional series in my blog entitled "Tools for the Journey." Today, we're talking about concentrated study.

Before I dive into this tool, I must mention how much God loves you. The God who spoke the universe into being loves you so much that He sent His Son down to earth as a man - to live as we live, to experience life as we have, and to even face the same temptations we face. That's how important it was for this God to connect with you.

When I talk about studying or reading the Bible, often what we hear through our filter is, "I need to read the Bible to be a good Christian." I hope today what you will hear instead is, "God loves me so much that He desires to connect with me all day, every day. One way I can connect with God is through His Word. There, I learn about His character, His promises and His heart for me."

So, that said.....

I was recently listening to some teaching by Ian Green (he did some leadership training for Chi Alpha campus missionaries back around 2004, and then more recently at my church). He mentioned how, when he was younger, he took one night a week to spend concentrated time with God. He would read the Bible for 30 minutes, pray for 30 minutes, read a Christian book for 30 minutes, and then repeat.


I used to do something similar when I first became a Christian and wondered if I could somehow find a way to do this again. On a smaller scale :)

So for the last 2 weeks, I have been doing this in 10-minute increments. I read the Bible for 10 minutes, pray for 10 minutes, read a book for 10 minutes, and then repeat (if I have time). I set a timer on my phone for each increment, and keep my journal close by to jot down any thoughts. I use the prayer time to mostly pray for the needs of others. Sometimes, I send them a note of encouragement based on my prayers if I feel led to do so. This type of rotating study has been a welcome relief from the type of reading I normally do, which is much more academic.

You could also do this on a smaller scale. If you only have 10 minutes, you could do each segment for 3 minutes each. For your book reading, grab a devotional like My Utmost for His Highest, Spurgeon's Morning and Evening (a favorite of mine, and only 99 cents for Kindle), or another I've been using lately, John Maxwell Daily Reader (a book my mentor Mike Olejarz gave me on the topic of personal and leadership development).

One of the warnings Ian Green gave is that when he began to set aside time for this purpose, all of a sudden, everyone wanted to visit him on that night. The phone would ring, and lots of things would cry out for his attention. He was living with his parents at the time, and simply told them to not interrupt him, no matter what.

It is easy to put our time with God as a secondary priority. There are other priorities that seem more immediate, more pressing (like little kids, dirty kitchens, incomplete work assignments). As we begin to be more purposeful about study and spending time with God, we need to guard that time. Block it off on your calendar. Ask for His grace and favor in getting that other stuff done as well. You will find the investment of time to be well worth it.

What methods do you use to make sure you get in your study time? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation: How Do You Start Your Day?

Good morning, Living Unveiled readers! I have a very important question for you.

How did you start your Monday?

Did it start it quietly soaking in God's truth in prayer and Bible-reading?

Or did it begin with frantically grabbing something to eat as you ran out or pushed your kids out the door?
How your day begins sets the tone for hours to come.

I posted something on my Facebook page last week (have you "liked" my Facebook page yet?). I have been in the habit of almost-daily Bible reading for about a year now. This consistency is new for me. Recently, I thought I missed a few days due to work, etc. and had felt "off" as a result. I sat down to read that night, only to realize I had missed just one day. My heart is now so accustomed to the daily bread that every day missed impacts me.

I used to read the Bible regularly because that's what good Christians do. I now recognize a difference in myself when I read the Bible, process it and pray through it, even if it's only for 5 minutes.

Have you consumed your daily bread today? 

Start your week with true humility. Dive into the Word and find out what your loving Father says about you. Read about all that Jesus died to give you. Soak in the Spirit's presence. Ask God to fill you again.

For Freedom Friday this week, I'll be sharing an exciting method I've been using to structure some of my study time. See you then!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Freedom Friday: Are You Being Honest?

We have a serious problem in the church today.

We lie to each other.

We lie every time that we feel deeply broken and in pain, and yet we say we're fine.

We lie every time we skip church because we don't want to face the question, "How are you?"

We lie every time someone opens up about a struggle and, because of pride and fear, we pat them on the back, saying, "I'll pray for you, friend!" rather than sharing how we've faced a similar struggle.

We lie to each other.

In Russell Willingham's amazing book, Relational Masks, he addresses the core beliefs that make us feel as if we must put on our smiles and act as if everything is OK.

One major core belief is this: If I am honest, I will be abandoned. 

Shame runs deep. It began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve tried to cover up the truth for their all-knowing Creator. If Adam and Eve struggled with honesty in their relationship with God, how much more so do we need to fight against this tendency in our lives.


Russell Willingham stated this in a teaching I once heard: we demonstrate the above core belief by always putting our best foot forward and never letting anyone see our weaknesses. We have this secret fear that if we’re honest about how deep the brokenness goes, we’ll be thrown out on our ears.

A lot of these core beliefs are based on experiences we’ve actually lived through. Some of our families would shut down our honesty. We've shared our struggles and experienced rejection. Thus, we don’t risk with people. We’re always respectable. We act like we have it all together.

Paul address in the church in Ephesus. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25). You can read the context of the passage here. Paul was giving the believers instructions on new ways of living and interacting.

Paul was basically telling Christians to stop lying to each other. 

Because that’s our tendency. Our tendency, since the Garden, is to hide. Hide our sin, hide our brokenness, hide our shame. Act as if we've got it all together and we don't need help.

Russell Willingham states that we need a commitment to truth-telling in our lives.

What have you gained, spiritually, by being dishonest?

With God?
With your friends?
With those around you who can help you?

Why do we put on our smiling faces and go to church when we are totally broken inside? Or worse yet, skip church all together during those tough weeks?

I know from my own life and years of ministry, we have a desperate need to be seen. That is the imprint of God within our hearts. He did not create us for isolation. He created us for love, acceptance and support in the safety of authentic, healthy community. He deposited in us a need for affirmation, for honesty, for the freedom that is found when we bring our struggles to the light.

Here's the thing: not everyone can handle honesty. And not everyone has earned a place of trust in our lives that we should tell them our struggles. Remember Jesus' example of 3 intimate friends and 9 other good friends. So you may have to go to a number of people before you find a safe place to share your heart. But it's worth the risk. You were created for relationship. God designed freedom, healing and growth to happen in the context of community.

Will you take a risk today? Would you risk being honest, and, in the process, risk finding the freedom you long for?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation: Undistracted Devotion

This weekend at church we sang:

I don't wanna talk about You like You're not in the room
I wanna look right at You, I wanna sing right to You

We sang these lines as part of the song, "You Won't Relent." When I looked up the lyrics, I realized the lines are actually part of another song entitled "Dove's Eyes." It's quite mellow and introspective compared to the passion (and volume!) of the other song, but there's another line in the song that grabs my heart.

Give me undistracted devotion to only You

Oh, how easily I am distracted from my devotion to God! Every worry that comes my way, everything that's not part of my plan, every stumbling block and obstacles takes my eyes off my Lord and on to my troubles.

It's Monday. I hope you gathered with other believers this weekend. I pray you dove into the Word of God and soaked in His Spirit this morning.

Many things will cry out for my attention this week. The cry of my heart is to have undistracted devotion to my Lord, that my response to all else will be tempered by my love for Jesus and my passion to know and serve Him.

Will you pray for undistracted devotion to God today?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Freedom Friday: The Battle for Your Gifts


There is a battle raging.

It’s a battle for your gifts.

It’s a battle for the unique things you have to offer the world.

We hosted a guest worship team at church a few months ago. The worship leader shared something that I’ve been thinking about since then:

“The enemy wants to destroy the call on our lives.”

Oh, friends, how I’ve felt this intimately over the past few months.

I was certain 2012 would be “the year of the book.”

Then, I was positive that it would be done by my 2013 birthday (almost 4 months ago now).

I have lots of excuses.

As I try to grieve the loss of my father in the midst of life carrying on…
As I fill out death-related paperwork that I’ve put off until the last minute…
As I once again try and stuff my emotions with food (something I’m quite good at, apparently)…

And God is His faithfulness keeps poking me, every month or so.

You know, my love, I still want you to finish that book.

Sometimes He’s not so gentle. In fact, He told me in December (yes, almost 9 months ago) to get over myself because the book isn’t really about me anyway. It’s about Him. It’s not about how awesome I am (because Lord literally knows that apart from Him – yeah, not much to impress anything); it’s about how awesome He is.

Well, the book is at the copy editor, and all I have left to do is write the back cover.

It has been a battle.

God has given you something unique, something particular that He wants you to offer to the world. 

What is stopping you? The enemy? The negative self-talk? All the excuses about why we'll do it later?

Here's the thing about your gifts: they're not for you anyway.


You may not think you have much to offer. Well, that's a lie. That is where the battle rages because that's exactly the position Satan wants you to stay in. Satan easily convinces us that we can't make an impact and thus paralyzes us from doing the little (or lot) that we can do.


"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 (NLT)

What is standing in the way of using your gifts today? What can you do today as a step of obedience toward God and what He might be calling you to do?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation: Is God Writing Your Story?

Steve Saint is the son of Nate Saint, a man who was killed in Ecuador alongside Jim Elliot and 3 other missionaries by the Huaorani Indians in 1956. I learned of Steve and his father Nate through the film, End of the Spear.


In many ways, Steve has continued the work of his father through his organization I-TEC. The organization's focus is "opening doors to the gospel by meeting needs with innovative tools." In the testing of one of these tools in June of 2012, Steve was seriously injured by a falling piece of equipment. He was partially paralyzed from the neck down. He has made some progress since then, though he is still quite limited in many ways. I-TEC recently posted this challenging video with a one year update. Grab a tissue - it's worth watching all 7 minutes.



Here are a few excerpts of what impacted me.

"None of us knows what our life is gonna be like. I wouldn't mind dying, but I'm gonna stay here longer. I want it to count. And I want my grandchildren to see that life isn't good when everything is fitting together right. Life is good because we know that we have a hope when this life is done."

"My theme has been 'Let God write your story.' He doesn't promise all easy chapters, but He does promise that if we let Him write our story, that in the last chapter if not before, He will make sense of all the other chapters and then He will take us to live with Him in paradise."

"I want God to still write my story."

Are you allowing God to write your story? As a song line I love states so clearly*, are you opening your eyes to let Him rewrite even tragedy?

As your week progresses, as you find yourself confused or frustrated about how God is allowing things to play out, shift your perspective. Surrender to God, the all-knowing author and perfecter of your faith. Believe He has what is best for you.

Let God write your story.

*Sara Groves "Rewrite this Tragedy"