As the year is about to end and I ponder upon what the Lord has done this 2015, it goes without saying that Pursuit Manila is high up on my gratitude list. If you follow this blog and my stories about Pursuit Community this year, you already know what a crazy journey 2015 has been for me, for us. More so, if you’re part of Pursuit Manila, you know that God has done something extraordinary this year—in our personal journeys, in our creative pursuits, and in this community.
We started this year a little bit clueless but extremely excited about what God is going to do. The year progressed with God expanding our borders, leading us to unknown territories, surrounding us with women who share the same love and passion for creativity and for the Lord. I’m still pinching myself, really. I mean, people would refer to me as the “founder” and leader of Pursuit Manila, but the truth is, I’m just like everyone else, watching everything unfold in front of me like I can’t believe my eyes. How did it all happen again?
To say that it’s been a great year is an understatement, and the Pursuit Manila team thought it was just fitting to end the year with a thanksgiving celebration.
Here’s my Pursuit Manila gratitude list to wrap up this epic year. (And you know I don’t use the word “epic” lightly around here.)
Pursuit Manila Gratitude List 2015
1 | Knightsbridge Residences
I don’t think the management of Knightsbridge Residences knows how blessed we are that they opened their doors for us this year. It’s where we had our first Pursuit Manila gathering, the first ever Pursuit Manila Fair, and to make it all the more sentimental, we just had to end the year where it all began.
And so we were back at the Knightsbridge Residences for our year-ender Thanksgiving slash Christmas gathering, on the first week of November, just before the holiday season got into full swing.
Thank you, Lord, for Knightsbridge Residences, for being the perfect “Pursuit Manila-esque” background to many of our milestones as a community.
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Elle and Hannah leading worship
2 | Worshipping and Seeking the Lord together
There are many gatherings and art communities out there, but one thing unique about Pursuit Manila is how Christian creatives can come as they are and worship together. As creatives, we connect well through art and music; and no matter how different our backgrounds and seasons are, one thing for sure—we speak the same language of worship.
I find that there’s no better way to begin our gatherings than by honoring Him, seeking Him first above all. Everything in our program just takes off from there. And what a blessing to have several worship leaders amongst us—shout out to Julie, Hannah, Elle, Jam, Jem, and Allison—who are always ready and willing to serve and lead and share their gift of music.
Thank you, Lord, that we are united in our desire to worship you.
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Sheila, my co-leader, welcoming everyone.
3 | Sheila
Let me tell you a little something about Sheila Catilo of the great Catilo couple. Sheila and I go a long way back. We went to the same high school and college, and she’s one of the first people I messaged at the start of the year about Pursuit Community. The funny thing is, God seems to always find a way to get us working together! From Manila Science glee club, Inter-School Christian Fellowship; to UP Diliman, State Varsity Christian Fellowship; and now Pursuit Manila.
How the Lord lead her to take on this role of leading this community with me is her story to tell (and what a story to tell!), but as for me, I just don’t know what I’d do without this person, and I’m so blessed to call her co-leader, partner, sister, friend, and kumare.
Thank you, Lord, for Sheila, that I could journey through life and ministry with her.
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Rica, our speaker, lead us to do a Gratitude List where we listed down the top 10 things we’re grateful for this year. You can do that too by downloading the Gratitude List PDF.
4 | Carla
Carla (Rica Peralejo to many of us, Ang TV and TGIS generation) is one of God’s surprise blessings to me this year. I never thought our paths would cross, let alone that we would be working closely together and that she would be a very dear friend. We did a back-to-back speaking engagement last November, me speaking at her “Leveraging New Media” session at Every Nation‘s staff summit, and her speaking at the Pursuit Manila gathering.
During the pursuit gathering, Carla challenged us to develop an attitude of gratitude, and gave us a crash course to her month-long Gratitude devotional series on her blog (you can find it here). What a relevant theme to end Pursuit Manila’s first year as a community!
Thank you, Lord, for Carla, her family, for the divine way You allowed our paths to cross, and for the years of friendship ahead of us.
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Left to right, top to bottom: Madz, Hannah, Karen, Love, Sheila, Carla, Elle and Jamie
5 | The Pursuit Manila team
I said this before, I’m going to keep saying it. Pursuit Manila wouldn’t exist if not for a team of passionate creatives who have sacrificed time and effort and sweat and tears, sometimes even money from their own pockets, to keep this community going. If it was just me, I would have thrown in the towel even before it all began!
Mind you, these people are very busy managing their own small businesses and jobs and yet, their dedication to this ministry is just over and beyond the call of duty. I’m so grateful and humbled that the Lord would bring us all together for this cause, and how friendships have bloomed through long days and sleepless nights of praying and planning for Pursuit Manila. (You guys, you know who you are, I LOVE YOU! Alam nyo yan!)
Thank you, Lord, for these women who believe that You’re doing something huge here in this community and therefore have been so generous with their time, gifts, and sacrifices all for Your glory. Always for Your glory.
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Can’t expect anything less from Passion Cooks
Everyone went home with a box of curated gift items, from Pursuit Manila members and friends, some of which have been supporting our movement from day one.
The Pursuit Manila box contained (1) Customized sugar cookies from Cuki Confections, (2) Cake Jar from Sweetness Overload, (3) Kraft Notebook from OMF Literature, (4) Handmade Necklace from Signetura, (4) “Pursue What is Lovely” frame from the Pursuit Manila Team, (5) Leather Envelop from Lulu Swing, (6) Wood Stump Card holder from Ashes to Beauty, (7) Passion Cards from yours truly, and (8) Mint Brownies that were so delicious it didn’t make it to this flatlay haha, from From the Kitchen of Chris
6 | Generous Supporters and Friends
Over the course of this year we have met and partnered with passionate brands and businesses who share our desire to be a blessing and inspiration to others. Whether providing us a place to gather, baking yummy (and pretty!) treats, or sending us giveaways, tokens, gifts—one thing for sure, the generosity is just overflowing whole year ’round!
For the year-ender gathering, aside from the items that were inside the gift boxes, we also have the following giveaways:
Thank you, Lord, for leading us to these passionate brands who share our desire to bless others and to be a blessing.
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7 | Passion Cards
But you already know the story of these passion cards, the first set of DIY (manually printed and cut) passion cards, or when I reopened the Chasing Dreams shop to have the cards sold online. I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am that these cards made it to other people’s homes, offices, planners, gifts, and Instagram feeds! So much love was put into making these cards, and I’m just so honored that they were also received with much love. :)
Thank you, Lord, for letting these cards reach places I never thought it would reach; but most of all, thank you for every thing you taught me in the process of creating them.
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8 | These women!
Here’s a quick statistics:
- 16 women came to our first gathering
- 52 women came to our last gathering (let’s just say, it’s roughly the most number we can accommodate in one intimate venue)
- 25-40 women signed up for our gatherings all year round
- 184 women currently in our Facebook group page, plus about 90+ waiting to be approved
The thing is, I don’t really care about numbers. I’ve always cared about quality more than quantity, and for me, less is always more. But I wanted to mention the numbers because to be really honest, 16 women coming to the first gathering was already mind blowing for me. I was only expecting to welcome a handful of women to our house, and was totally unprepared to open my life to dozens. So imagine my amazement (and panic!), every single time more than 30 people would sign up to our gatherings all year!
To think it was just last year that I was feeling alone in my journey as a creative (and as a mother!), wondering if there’s anyone out there who can understand me. Well, who’s feeling “alone” now? :)
Thank you, Lord, for these women, for bringing us all together for a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves.
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9 | Karen Stott and the Pursuit Community
I never thought the Pursuit Community staff would pay attention to someone outside of the United States when I signed up to bring Pursuit here in Manila. With over 80 (?) local groups across the US and Canada, I almost expected no one would have time to entertain someone from halfway around the world.
I would have totally understood if no one responded. But Karen Stott did, and what a blessing this community has been since that first email. Your obedience is someone else’s answered prayer, I would always say. And I’m grateful to Karen because her act of obedience and leaps of faith beginning 5 years ago when she founded Pursuit Community is an answered prayer to many of us today.
More so, I’m grateful that she would open the door and welcome those who believe that there’s room for all of us in this community.
Leading a (relatively) small group here in Manila, I couldn’t even imagine all the crazy Karen has to face leading a global community, and no, she doesn’t claim to be perfect in managing everything. But her faith in God’s sovereignty, her humility and her obedience to keep going in spite of everything is just.. making me inspired to keep going as well, trusting that He who began a good work in us is able to complete it.
Thank you, Lord, for Karen’s life, and for Pursuit Community.
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10 | This journey
I thought I should say that during our year-ender gathering I tried to keep my composure the whole time, but deep inside I couldn’t stop screaming, “Wow, Lord, wow!”
I know God’s plan for Pursuit Manila is massive, and it involves more than just pretty gatherings, or Instagrammable flatlays, or getting like-minded women together. On a personal note, this journey has changed me more than I imagined it would, and opened up a lot of doors for me I never thought possible. And I want to think that this is true for all of us who have been part of this community, in big and small ways.
Which is exactly how the Lord works, don’t you think? :) He answers our individual prayers and is mindful of the littlest details of our lives, our needs, our desires, our dreams. And then He brings all of these “little” dreams together for a greater purpose, for His greater glory. Amen?
And this is precisely why I know Pursuit Manila is God-sent in every way.
Thank you Lord for Pursuit Manila, and for how You have moved in this community, the dreams that came true, the friendships that were built, and for everything that we’ve seen this year that’s beyond what we hoped for or imagined. Thank you, thank you.
Pursuit Manila, year 2015. Over and out. :)