Athens, here we come.

I walked out of the room Wednesday night with a sigh of relief and a bittersweet feeling in my heart. I completed my final oral exam for Women’s Development, which meant the release of anxiety that comes with any testing situation but also the end of a life-giving and life-changing season. This year I feel like I have experienced what it means to live life closely to the way God designed it. I am a naturally independent, stubborn, introverted and untrusting person. Through WDP, God has blessed me with the opportunity to deny all of those parts of me and live, serve, learn and love alongside my community. It has been hard living this way: having constant accountability for my sin, processing through what God is trying to teach me week after week, learning to give up my time and energy to counsel and serve others, trusting God’s Spirit in others. But despite all of the uncomfortableness and difficulty, this season has been for my good. I’ve come to know God in ways I never could have imagined, and I am so grateful for that.

I know God is calling me to lead in some capacity during this next season of my life. I feel such an unnatural desire to lay down my dreams (and I have many…) for his glory and to bring others to know of his love. Not that he wouldn’t use my dreams to do that, but just that I find myself more willing to sacrifice things that are for my selfish glorification for his kingdom. I definitely don’t feel equipped most days to do this. I feel tired and weak and ready to run from his calling every day, but by the miracle of the Spirit, I have the strength to keep going. I want to see this city and the world changed by the gospel, and I want God to use me to do it.

What’s up next for me is to travel to Athens, Greece to share the gospel with women who have never heard. As a part of the Women’s Development program, we are required to take a mission trip this summer. My missional community and I were assigned to go to Athens for a little over a week. There we will talk with women about God and serve and love them as Jesus would. I am incredibly excited for what God will do, and I cannot wait to share the gospel with the women I have been living life with all year.

I am currently support raising for this trip, and I still need $2000 by May 5 in order to go. The dates of my trip are May 15-24. I know that this is so soon, but I am trusting that God will provide the finances for me to go. If you would like to contribute, please visit: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=2f1935 or email me for more information at mcbrunson@gmail.com.

In Philippians, Paul, speaking in regards to the generosity of the Philippian church, says,

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

I too trust that God will abundantly bless those who give to him, and I pray God will richly bless all of you who do so.

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Finding God in the city.

As I boarded the plane one week ago, many thoughts and fears and anticipated dreams swarmed my head. I was headed back to my beloved NYC, to lead, learn, discover and love.

Soon after I returned from my trip to the city in January, I was offered the opportunity to co-lead a group of college students to learn about church planting and engage with the artist community in New York. As a creative, I have been wrestling with what it looks like to both create art and glorify God, and the idea of leading college-aged girls in what this could look like in NYC was exciting and scary at the same time. I hadn’t felt equipped or adequate to lead these girls when I boarded that plane, and really, I wasn’t. But God, in his grace, made my weaknesses his strength (2 Corinth. 12:9) and allowed me to experience him in extraordinary ways this past week.

The list of places we saw, people we met and paths we traveled is extensive. Just to name a few, we partnered with Apostles’ Church, a church planted by fellow Texan, JR Vassar, explored the city, visited with artists from other colleges across the country and also those living in the city, learned from faith-based work programs and engaged with our brothers and sisters who are living missionally in New York. My co-leader and roommate, Callie, and I led four creative girls in our group, and it was a blessing to see them experience the city and God in ways they never had before. A few of the girls are seniors, facing big changes and processing through what it looks like to integrate their passions and talents with God’s calling. Having recently experienced this life change, I was able to encourage them with what God taught me. As children and heirs of Christ, we are always called to bring praise to his glory. We can glorify our Creator while sitting at a desk, making copies, running errands, applying for jobs. Even amidst struggle and hardship, we can bring praise and glorify him with our hearts. I used to think that one day I would reach the goal. One day, I would have the “job” God had always been calling me to. One day, I would reach the pinnacle of being a godly woman, and I would have it all figured out. But God doesn’t want our perfection. He wants our hearts and he welcomes our struggle and brokenness. I’ve been realizing more and more that God will always be refining me, and I will always be struggling with something. My call, however, is to worship and belief that God is better than any job or success or failure in my life. Encouraging my girls and being reminded of this truth was such a blessing.

I see so much of God in the city of New York. He breathed his life into humanity and gave us the ability to reflect his majesty through our talents and passions. I see him everywhere- in the beautiful, old walk ups of West Village, in the gleaming sky rises, in the busy, humming sound that pulses through the air, in the smell of warm pretzels wafting from the street carts, in the brightly tagged underpasses of Brooklyn. The city sings his name and is filled with people who are searching for their call. It is my prayer that one day every one in NYC will know the call from their creator and father God.

 

 

 

 

A January Update.

It’s been quite awhile since my last post and much has happened in the past couple months. Most recently, I traveled to NYC with nine of my fellow interns to share the Gospel with Bangladeshi people living in a neighborhood in Queens. I prayed for opportunities to disciple and share the Gospel, and God certainly provided.

Our team was in Queens for five and half days, and we returned to Austin last Friday. I experienced God’s guidance and clarity through prayer and His blessings through obedience to His word. My team and I were able to tell others how Jesus has changed our lives and loved the Bangladeshi people living in Queens. We partnered with an organization called Global Gates that serves and loves unreached people groups living in New York City. 22 million people live in the New York metro area, and 4 million of those people are unreached, meaning there are none or little indigenous Christians to share the Gospel among their people groups. By living among the Bangladeshi people for about a week, we were able to share the Gospel about fifty times to people who would probably have never heard it otherwise.

Waking up early every morning, stepping out into the blisteringly cold weather and striking up conversation with women I didn’t know was uncomfortable and tiring, but ultimately for my good and God’s glory. In Romans, Paul declares that followers of Christ are children and heirs of God and co-heirs with Jesus. With this magnificent inheritance, however, comes suffering for God’s glory. We suffer in the present, here on Earth, so that one day the glory of God will be revealed in us. I was reminded of this truth over and over again in New York. I had to rely on God’s strength and trust that the joy of obedience is better than my tiredness, the -10 degree windchill and the discomfort of carrying on conversations with strangers. I learned a lot about myself and my Father during the trip, and I am still processing through it all. If I could bundle all of my wandering thoughts and package them somewhat neatly, I think I would say that God used my time in NYC to teach me that:

He is never frustrated with me.

Prayer is more powerful than we dare to imagine.

God is always listening and waiting for me to run to Him.

Big cities and bustling crowds of unknown faces awaken a creative spirit in me.

I need and want to write more.

I fear failure.

I have so much more to say, but this is it for now. I am happily back in the office, and I feel right at home surrounded by people who inspire, encourage me and point me towards Christ everyday.

Below are two pictures from my time in NYC. The first is a picture of the girls on my team (Me, Rachel, Court and Holly), and the second is a picture of me and my new, dearest Bangladeshi friend, Sadia.

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The Battle between Work and Faith.

Every morning, I settle into my desired workspace for the day (I have my pick between a desk, shared table space or comfy chair) with my laptop in front of me. I check my email and task list and get started on the projects before me. Design and order signage, manage social media accounts, post a blogpost to the website, create slides for Sunday, send out the weekly email, update the website using our CMS, etc… These are the tasks I happily tackle on a day to day basis. I love my job, because I am able to equip and enable others. I enjoy the “to-dos” of my everyday, and I could not feel more assured that I am in the exact place I need to be right now.

However, I’ll let you know that I struggle feeling adequate enough for God. Through Women’s Development this year, I am further realizing that I believe God is pleased with certain tasks and spiritual gifts more than others. Somehow, I have prioritized sharing the Gospel, preaching, having spiritual conversations, and other things of that nature more important than other tasks that are equally pleasing to God. This, of course, is a lie. I shouldn’t believe this, but because I do, I have been feeling like I am not “doing” enough for God. So many of my coworkers spend their days meeting with people in the community, counseling them, getting them connected to the church, sharing the Gospel… I am quick to believe the lie that I am not as “good” as them, because most of my work is in front of a computer screen.

In Romans 4, Paul declares, through the example of Abraham, that our righteousness comes from faith. God justifies us not on what we do, but our belief and faith in His Son (and thank goodness for that, because we cannot earn His justification ever)! My heart is that I would glorify God and help more people to know Him. I have freedom then, according to the Bible, to believe that God, my Father, has approved, justified and considered me righteous because of my faith in Him. I trust that He is honoring my faith and is working through me with His strength and power.

While I am gaining confidence in glorifying God in every activity and task, even those apart from the ones I have elevated in my mind as “better,” I still have a desire to disciple and share what God is doing in my life with others. Not because I feel like it will make me “better” in God’s eyes, but because I genuinely want to talk with others about what He has done and is doing in me. This morning, my boss reminded our team that true, deep joy comes from discipling. He encouraged us to not forget that truth as we go about our daily tasks. I love working with people who consistently remind me of God’s will for my life.

The God of the universe has called me his own daughter and has given me life and freedom through Christ. It does bring me joy to allow God to work through me to tell others about this and disciple others to know Him better. Pray for opportunities of discipleship in my life, and pray that my desire to disciple would not come from feeling like God’s approval depends on it but from the joy that it brings me.

Story Sunday.

Last Sunday, a ministry within the Austin Stone called The Storyteam produced a video of three short stories that display God’s glory and how He is moving in the city of Austin. I physically work in the same space as these guys every day, and I can say that God has gifted them in amazing ways. God has given The Storyteam the creativity, skill and ability to bring people’s stories of the amazing ways He is working to life onscreen. The Storyteam works year round on making these types of films to connect our church with the tangible examples of what God is doing. 

Enjoy and be encouraged today.

The Excitement of the New.

With the arrival of autumn comes changing leaves, brisk mornings, game-day-Saturdays and mass advertising for pumpkin flavored coffee drinks. I could not love this time of the year more, and this season has brought many new, exciting changes for me. Since my last post, I have started working in the offices, grown closer to my new roommates and missional community girls and have learned more about God’s character through studying theology. Although my days are long, they are fulfilling, and I have great comfort in knowing that I am right where God has called me.

This week in the Operations office, I was able to work on a design project for the new website for the Austin Stone. I helped create web banners for the sermon series pages.  It felt incredible being able to create and have the freedom to work on a project that can be viewed by everyone. I am slowly grasping all of the tasks that go into making a church like the Austin Stone work! It is amazing to see all of the individuals, performing hundreds of tasks, come together to allow God’s glory to shine in this city. We all work hard on different things, in various ways, because we know the incredible blessing of the Gospel. I am constantly reminded from other interns and staff members that all of our work is for our Holy and Gracious God. It has only been about a week, but I love being a part of this family and body so much.

My ridiculous and fun-loving roommates, Holly and Callie, both work for the Austin Stone as well. They are interning in the Connections department, and it is such a blessing to both work and live with them. We celebrated our one-month “friendaversary” on Tuesday, but it feels like we have known each other for years. We are planning to make dinner for our neighbors soon to get to know them. We are all excited to share the love we have been given with others in the apartment complex and in the city.

I am experiencing more and more of God’s blessedness this season, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. I still have not reached my final goal for support raising, but I only have about $200/month in order to reach that goal. Please share my story with others, because I definitely need to be fully funded as soon as possible. I love talking with others and sharing about what God is doing through the Stone and in me!

An Inexpressible Gift.

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift.” (2 Corinthians 9: 10-15)

To recount all of what God has done and is doing in me since my last post is, again, an impossible task… Firstly, I am beyond thankful for everyone’s prayers. I believe so much in the power of prayer and know our Father listens to every word we speak to Him. I can attest to this power, because I have overwhelmingly felt the prayers from all of you these past few weeks. In keeping with His will for my life, He has blessed your prayers for me and has given me the faith and strength to completely lean on Him and keep on raising support. As of yesterday, I am officially 87% funded.

Let’s just take a full minute and thank Him for this!

None of me was able to do this, but it was Him who moved in the hearts of my new supporters. He gets all the glory! I talked with several of my peers this week, and they were given such an excitement for what God is doing through the Austin Stone and through me that it could only have been from Him. I prayed for this excitement for my partners, and God gave it to them for the ultimate purpose of His glory. The gift of being united for one purpose through the giving of ourselves and possessions is truly indescribable, and I cannot thank all of my prayer warriors and supporters enough!

I am spending the next week aiming to reach 100%, so that I can fully focus on my ministry at the Austin Stone. I cannot wait to update you all with the work being done there. I only need $331/month in order to be fully funded! Keep praying for me as I trust God to provide this last 13%. I am realizing more and more that God just wants my faithfulness. He wants me to believe that He knows what is best and to give my entire life to Him. It has been an amazing journey of being in a place where I feel that is my only option, and I am excited to trust Him more, even if it is painful and difficult.

Just as I had promised, here are pictures of my roommates (Holly and Callie) and women in my Women’s Development group (Helen, Ellen, Melissa, Rachel and Rowen)! I love all of them so much 🙂 … More to come about them and our adventures together!

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