UpRooting and Re-rooting Well

For military spouses and others who uproot your family in service to others: I am in awe of your sacrifice and grateful for the hard work you do to establish roots where ever you go. Your ability to LIVE and LOVE no matter where your home may be located, inspires us to make the most of what we have. You uproot and re-root and do so with beauty and strength.

You are heroes too.

I spent this weekend with my sister Melissa, her husband Tim and their beautiful daughters in Lexington, Kentucky. They have been in the city less than three months and this is the fifth move their family has made for the Army since they got married ten years ago. But as we celebrated my niece's 4th birthday with an outer-space themed party, the house began to fill with people. And when it was all said and done there were twenty people in their home loving on that sweet little girl. Twenty people that, three months ago, my sister did not know. I was in awe. My sister re-roots well.

These are three things I've learned from Melissa and Tim about people who uproot and re-root well:

*They just start living. They don't wait until their houses are perfectly put back together or the moving boxes are all cleared out or they are completely settled in. Settling takes time, and their time is precious. People who re-root well hit the ground living for the day at hand.

*People who re-root themselves well don't have the luxury of picky perfection. I leaned over this weekend and asked Melissa where all these people had come from. Had our dad paid them to come to his granddaughter's birthday party?!? She laughed and said, "Nope. They are all from our new church!" New church already? It's taken us three years to find the right church here in Nashville. Maybe that's because when time is of no value, we often get lost in our freedom. But for people who uproot every three years, time is of the essence. And people who uproot well value every second they have. When Melissa and Tim arrived in August, they located churches near them, wrote a list, and began to visit the first Sunday they were in town. As it turns out, they didn't need the list, because the very first church they attended- they liked. And decided to stay. And it doesn't always happen that quickly- sometimes it takes a few months. But people who re-root well don't have time to laboriously comb through churches with their mile-long lists of needs that must be met. They hold some standards tightly and the non-essentials loosely. Knowing you have three years- or five- means you don't have the luxury of looking for a perfect family, you look for a good family with open arms and jump all in. We may all do well to follow this example. There is no such thing as a perfect family. But there sure are a lot of good families out there. They may not fit all of our needs or fulfill all of our dreams and wishes- but that was never supposed to be the church's job in the first place. People who re-root well don't wait for a perfect church family, they find a place with open arms and just get to it.

*Finally, those who re-root well are open to befriending a wide range of people. When we moved to Nashville my biggest concern was Annie having friends at her birthday party. I was a *wee* bit scarred by my own third grade birthday party, which happened several months after moving to a new city, and no one came. Consequently, I did not want my own daughter to experience the same thing (although she was only turning 4-years-old and probably wouldn't remember!). I lasered in on any human that had a child in their possession. And what followed was an unlikely group of women who graciously invited me and Annie into their lives. We were all VERY different, but I wanted friends and more importantly I wanted my daughter to have friends---so I was grateful for anyone with open arms. I still am. People who re-root well are not too picky about the open arms; they are grateful for each set and willing to befriend the most unlikely people. They make friends at the library, Starbucks, church, the playground and in their neighborhood. Currently, my brother-in-law has weekly tea with the new friends he has made in the program he is studying for-they are all from the Middle East. My sister has friends who are absolutely nothing like her, friends perhaps she would never naturally be drawn to, but has been welcomed by and that's what matters.

I sat at a birthday party this weekend in awe of those who uproot and re-root well. They don't wait to "feel" settled, they aren't picky about new faith families and they are open to befriending a wide range of people. Most importantly, they don't shut down and retreat---waiting with dread for the next move, not investing because they are afraid of the good-byes, hiding because it's easier than living. They bravely, boldly, sometimes just-for-their-kids'-sake start living the minute their feet hit the ground on new soil. As we honor Veterans this week- we also honor the spouses who fight for their families to have LIFE abundant in each new place they are stationed. Your ability to LIVE and LOVE no matter where your home may be located, inspires us to make the most of what we have. You uproot and re-root and do so with beauty and strength. You are heroes too.

(PS: Apparently people who up-root well know the potential a moving box has to become a spaceship. You up-rooters rock those multi-purpose packing boxes!)

A God Story

I recently received the weekend outline for an upcoming women's conference I am leading worship and speaking for. I have been a part of this conference, at this church, with these people before. It's the kind of place you want to come back to and invite your friends- the ones who don't like church (or most Christians for that matter)- because you know your friends are safe there. They will be treated like family and prayed over for months before they arrive. They will take in thoughtful, excellent content and be exposed to Jesus in the best possible ways. I trust these ladies and this church. And if you know me personally, you know that is saying a whoooooole lot. After having only been with them for a few short days two years ago they have remained my people and several of them have been deeply impactful voices in my life since that time.

So they asked me back and being asked back is always such a gift. And last week they sent me the outline for the weekend. The weekend's theme? Embrace the Life You Were Meant to Lead. Friday night starts off withRebekah Lyons and I. She wrote an amazing book called Free Fall to Fly and it's about being brave enough to fall so that you can eventually fly. It is beautiful and vulnerable and freeing. The first session? Embrace Brave.

That session starts with an interview, the outline says. An interview with me. The outline actually reads, "Becky interviews Jenny Simmons focusing on her life since her visit in 2013; asthma, death of her sister’s babies, loss of grandparents, etc." Then the outline references a blog from this year where I wrote, "How many times have I not done something simply because I wasn't brave enough to stick one foot out over the ledge into the unknown?"

I read the outline and thought, "Gosh. Brave. Who am I to talk about being brave? Sarah should be on that stage. She's the one that lost her babies and she's the one that has been brave enough to wake up each morning and take another breath. Brave enough to keep living. Brave enough to keep calling God her good and faithful friend. Brave enough to get pregnant again. She should be on stage. Not me."

I got teary eyed as I still do when I think about the loss of Maggie and Ellen. Almost a year later and I still cry at the tiniest thought of their short lives and the utter hell our family walked through this time last year.

I put the computer down determined not to cry. I got a text from Ryan a few minutes later saying he needed to go ahead and get airline tickets booked for that conference- were these the right dates?

October 2nd-October 3rd

My heart nearly stopped. October 2nd, the day I am going to be on stage talking about how God makes us brave? That is the one year anniversary of Maggie and Ellen's short lives and deaths. The day I flew to Oklahoma in a fury and mom and I sat with Ray and Sarah as those baby girls pushed their way into earth and then straight into heaven. 


No wonder the Holy Spirit told me only moments earlier... Sarah should be on that stage.

And so I called her and said, "I have no idea how you want to spend the girls' first birthday. I really don't, and any way you choose is perfect. Maybe at the cemetery? Maybe quietly at home? Or maybe in front of 1,000 women telling them how it is possible to live out your worst nightmare and find God to STILL be present, near, gracious, compassionate, merciful and full of love? What it looks like to keep living and how God keeps meeting you and making you brave? You probably don't want to do that. But Sarah I trust this church. I trust them with our story and with you. And you don't have to but..."

"There's no where else I want to be..." she interrupted.

"I don't even know if the church will want that..." I said quickly not wanting to make any promises.

And she repeated the same thing. "There's no other place I want to be. Yes. The answer is yes. I want to worship that night."

And the ladies at the church felt the same thing in their spirits immediately. This was bigger than us. This was orchestrated by God himself.

God continues to weave tiny glimpses of redemption and beauty into our stories. There are very few places I would entrust my sister to on this incredibly monumental "1st." It is no accident that I am at The Hills Church on Friday, October 2nd talking about what it means to stick one foot out in front of the other, taking God's hand, and choosing to be brave. No accident that I will lead women that night in the very songs that Matt Maher sang at the girls' funeral...

Lord I need you, oh I need you.
Every hour I need you.
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God how I need you...

No accident at all. Just another gift from a faithful God who shows up in the brokenness of this world and redeems and redeems and redeems. God restores our souls. God MAKES US BRAVE.

So on the one year anniversary of Maggie and Ellen's life you will find my family worshipping (with all kinds of tears). And women of all ages- consider this your personal invitation to join us that night in Dallas/Ft.Worth. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world that night. I am in AWE of how God has once again divinely touched our story with his mercy, grace and presence.

For more information regarding the Embrace Brave conference on October 2nd-3rd visit: thehillsembrace.org/home/

Pre-Order The Road To Becoming Today!

Hi Friends,

My first book, The Road To Becoming  (updated and revised edition!), is now available for pre-order on AmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBooks.com, or wherever you buy books. I could not be more excited about the release of this book and I hope you will join me in the celebration by being one of the first to pre-order your copy!


It’s about that moment in all of our lives when leaning into the unknown becomes our only viable pathway forward. For me that moment came after an intense year of loss, and the abrupt ending of our band, Addison Road. As I watched my plans fall apart and my dreams crumble I had to ask myself, "Do I believe the Storyteller knows better than anyone else how to repurpose my story?" The Road To Becoming is my journey through those seasons of dead ends and detours, burying and lostness, waiting and watching as I was led into the unknown, God-designed future. The road to becoming is not easy, but it is here you'll begin to discover that new life—life abundant—is always, ever among us. Dancing on the horizon. 


Your support continues to mean the world to me and I could not do any of this without YOU. So as a big “thank you” I want to offer some incentives for you to pre-order my debut book #TheRoadToBecoming.

Pre-order The Road to Becoming at AmazonBarnes and NobleChristianBooks.com or your favorite retailer.

Email a copy of your receipt (screenshot works, too) along with your name, email address, and mailing address to [email protected]

Once we have your pre-sale info on file, you will be invited to a private online concert and book reading direct to your living room. Date is still TBD, but we will email you the details soon!

Autographed book plate, quote card, and a bookmark (handmade by yours truly) will be delivered to your front door!

Seriously, thank you. I'm honored to share these words with the world and I could not do it without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Extra Credit: If you want to further help spread the word (and I could really use your help!) just use the hashtag #TheRoadToBecoming and TheRoadToBecoming.com on social media to help get the word out. For the direct link to Amazon, you can use the link: bit.ly/TheRoadToBecoming-Amazon


As always, thank you so much for all your support. I am forever grateful to make music and books that have somehow, someway found their way into your stories. What a gift. 

Much Love,


"Pre-order #TheRoadToBecoming, @jennysimmons's new book, and get some fun freebies! Details at theroadtobecoming.com"

Ripped Hearts and New Beginnings

Here's the thing about being a parent- it will RIP your heart out.

And chances are, your babies will recover faster than you. Their hearts bounce back, springy like tiny balls from quarter machines. My heart bounces back like putty. Slow and sticky and defiant.

You watch them pray all summer for a certain teacher. Then, they enlist others to pray, and this is how you know it is serious: they have involved the grandparents in this elusive thing called prayer that they don't quite understand yet but are willing to attempt under the circumstances. And the day comes to find out the teacher and the friends from last years class, or from the playground, that might hopefully be in the new class. And she wakes up giddy. She spends an hour- AN HOUR- putting on fake Lisa Frank press-on nails. Scouring jewelry buckets for the perfect bracelets. Brushing her hair and putting on her prettiest dress because soon she will go to the school and find her name on the list next to her friends and that one teacher she prayed she would get all summer. And you warn her: God doesn't always answer prayers the way we hope he answers them. And some things in life aren't answers to prayers at all. Some things are just life and God is with us in the midst of it all, but not every single thing bears the mark of God's divine intervention, even when we pray for it to. Weighty matters for little girls and for momma's and for all people who pray. And no matter what happens, it's going to be good. It's going to be ok, you tell her. And she brushes you off, confidant that the list taped to the red school door bears the things her heart has longed for. 

And for an hour she has gotten ready. So beautiful. So giddy. So much older than first grade. And this parent thing will rip your heart out. Because you walk to that school door and scour the list for your baby's name. And then you look up. It's not the right teacher. And there is not a name you recognize, except that one boy who hits and tells her she is stupid. And all the friends? They are together in a different class. All of them. And this class? This class she didn't hope for at all... you have to tell her about it and watch her little spirit crumple right there in front of the school door. And you would just about rather die than have to bear up under your baby's crumpling of heart. And she is strong, fighting back tears until we get into the car and they begin to slip down her face but even still she holds back until the house, where she quietly says she needs alone time, runs to her room, throws the fake nails off and sobs for nearly thirty minutes uninterrupted. 

And this is what the beginning of first grade will feel like. Sadness and bravery and broken dreams and promises of new ones instead. And I hold her two tiny fingers that she slides underneath the door for me. And we sit there, on either side of the door, holding fingers, both crying. Because this parent business will rip your heart out. And she marches into class the first day, willing to try. Brave and without bitterness. And I fight the desire to schedule a meeting with the principle to tell her that my daughter *might* be allergic to her new teacher and the new classroom and the new classmates. Terribly allergic. I fight it and bounce back, slow, like putty. 

She doesn't secretly need me to alter the course of her life because I am afraid for her or believe she deserves special privileges. She doesn't need me to make excuses for why her prayer wasn't answered the way she so desperately wanted it to. She just needs me to stand by her side while she faces reality and needs me to whisper to her that she can do hard things and she will never do them alone. But she already knows this. She said when she walked into her classroom for the first time she felt like someone was really close to her and hugging her. It was God, she says matter-of-factly, hugging me in my new class. And she knows Tessa now. She has decided they will be best friends and her teacher seems nice. Her birthday is next week and she is thinking she probably likes Target because "what teacher doesn't love Target gift cards mom?"

She bounces back springy and beautiful and strong and teaches me how to let go and move forward and be brave. Oh, this parent thing. It will rip your heart out. But when the heart mends back together it is rich and sturdy and lined with the spirit of our children who surprise us time and time again with their beautiful becoming. 

We're All Living Two Pictures

This time last year- this very week- I buried my grandpa. Three months before that I buried my Mamaw. In-between those major moments of loss I recorded an album, edited a book, found black mold in our rental property and had to find a new place to move into quickly, and a few other special life moments like finding out I had asthma. When Ryan and I's anniversary rolled around on August 10th we both sat on the couch innocently sipping coffee having NO IDEA it was our 12 year anniversary. We were exhausted and oblivious. As we sipped coffee, the Yahoo calendar reminder on our phones went off at nearly the same moment. We looked down, realized it was our anniversary, and both secretly sat terrified, convinced the other one had remembered and we were "that spouse." The one who forgot. Eventually I cracked. "Ryan- did your phone just tell you it was our anniversary? Because mine did and I HAD NO IDEA. I AM SOOOOOOOO SORRY." We breathed a huge sigh of release and we both died laughing. 

During Addison Road days we were always on the road on our anniversary. Usually playing for a festival and celebrating with all-access passes to porta-potties and our bandmates.  It was all kinds of romantic. This year we decided we would get away. We had more than a few missed anniversary years to make up for and I didn't want to wait for our 15 year anniversary because I am the most optimistic-fatalist you will ever meet. What if I don't live that long?!? I routinely tell Ryan that there are at least five reasons why, on any given day, I think I am dying. He tells me "Go in peace," and then smiles that cute, mischievous smile at me so I can't hit him.

So this week we snuck away to the beach. And it was almost perfect. The food, the drinks, the room, the weather, the rest, the time spent alone together. But the beach? The beach was- well- let's just say I concocted 15 different diseases that one could have acquired from that beach. At least. The usually turquoise water, was brown. Each wave weighted down with unending globs of seaweed. The seaweed, said the staff, was washing to shore by the ton. And the smell. Oh, the smell. Some mornings it was strong enough to make me gag out loud. Still- beaches are my thing. Like the ONLY reason we traveled to this place. So I refused to give up on it. Each day I sat under a cabana that was far enough back so I didn't have to make eye contact with the seaweed. My enemy. Each day I held my breath and convinced myself I could live with the smell. And each day I felt a bit sad about it all. Just a bit. I'm a beach girl. And this was not how I fully envisioned my "beach" vacation.  

I took pictures of the ocean each morning because there is always a way to find, shape, frame or create beauty. And today I woke up wanting to post about the trip and found myself picking the most beautiful pictures to show you. And then it struck me--- if I only show my pretty pictures, I am only telling half the story. The story I want to believe so badly for myself. The story I want to give everyone. The pretty version. The one where I spent a lot of saved up money to go to a beautiful beach and actually got to get in the water and enjoy the beauty of the beach. 

But the truth is- it was all very brown and sea-weedy. There were bulldozers hauling off the globs and guys with wheelbarrows and pitch forks working around the clock to remove seaweed as it washed up. The country has been dealing with it for 9 months nows. And for the first time in my life, I went to the ocean and didn't so much as stick a toe in the water. 


There will be more oceans. (Hopefully- you never know.) (Says the fatalistic-hypochondriac.) 

But what it got me thinking this morning and what I want to say about it all is this: Everyone is living in two pictures. The beautiful one they instinctively want to put on display. And the other one. With beaches full of seaweed and guys with pitchforks and wheelbarrows. 

No one wants to talk about the second picture. Maybe because, like me, I want to believe a different narrative. I wanted so badly to enjoy the beach. Maybe because we want people to think something specific about us. Maybe because we are truly optimists seeking to elevate the beauty and not the shortcomings. So we slap the first picture up there. The one that makes it look like we just had a *dream* vacation to the beach. And we don't talk about the seaweed. 

And then everyone walks around thinking that everyone else is living a perfect life. But the truth? We're all living in two pictures. Trying to make the most of the beauty and the disappointments. 

If someone only shows you one type of picture, be wary. 
Don't take too much stock in all the perfect pictures you see. Measuring your life against pictures that don't tell the whole story is dangerous. Because a single picture is never the whole story.

Chances are- somewhere in there- they have pictures of seaweed, too.