“to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish”

A new year, a clean slate and a new word for the year. I love the concept of choosing a word that encompasses goals and desires for the future. As I sat a few down a few weeks ago and began to make lists of words that spoke to me, one word rose to the top of my thoughts. PURSUE. At this season in my life as I venture deeper into the upper twenty somethings (EEKS!), I feel like there are so many ideas swimming around in my head that I can be in pursuit of. For me, this word just encompasses a great deal- pursuit of personal and profession growth, big or small gains and internal and external impacts.

2016 was full of victories and joy, but also filled with heartbreaking loss, anxiety and fear. I said goodbye to my first post-college job, began a new career, traveled, started grad school, welcomed new friends and explored this little town of mine in new ways. As we all know, life is full of bends in the road and we are given experiences that are meant to challenge us too. So that brings me here. Sitting in my favorite coffee shop, tearing up as I reflect on blessings and challenges, with hope that this year I’ll pursue life.

Pursue relationships. In the past, I feel like I’ve always thought of relationships as being a quantity to strive for. The more relationships I could have in motion, the happier I would be…when in fact I have found that the more I can invest, the more fulfilling life is. I know this seems like a novel concept, but for the first time I have felt peace in believing this. At 27, I have began to learn to embrace insecurities and open myself up to relationships and allow people to see the side of me that was shut off for fear of being inadequate. Grace is a wonderful gift, y’all. So here’s to a new year of coffee shop days and nights, watching silly reality TV shows, city park walks, acting on the “we should do this” moments and pursuit of lasting memories.

Pursue professional relationships. In a staff retreat this past week, I asked our team what we could do to take our work to the next level this year. In thinking through that question, I thought of the students that I have the chance to work with and how I see glimpses into their lives, but desire to know more of their stories and how I can invest in them and their experiences. This concept fills me with such JOY, but often the rat race of to-do lists stands in the way of just stopping and listening. I shared with my two accountability partners my strategy for how to step back and take a few minutes each week to learn and strengthen relationships in a focused way. Is the to-do list important? Yes. Will the ten minutes spent away from it matter even more? Definitely.

Pursue relationship with God more fervently. I’ll be honest, this year it felt as if there was a constant battle in my head with seeds of doubt being planting and my faith being challenged and tested. I spent the better part of the summer and fall learning to feel at peace with decisions and understanding the plans that God had for me. In August, I joined a new Life Group and cannot tell you how big of a blessing that was and how this group of people came into my life at a time where it was most needed. This year, I am so excited to pursue more quality time with them.

As the season of thanksgiving approached, God called one of the greatest friends and difference makers in my life home. I never could have imagined that the day we spent going to his new church and seeing Wicked to celebrate our birthdays would be the last time I saw Kyle. Exactly a month later, November 23rd, we lost Kyle in a car accident. In days and weeks to come, I honestly don’t think there was an emotion I didn’t feel. At the center of this was “Why?” Kyle was the embodiment of what it meant to pursue life and his calling with passion, and was the greatest inspiration of what it means to be a follower of Christ and how to pour into others. There will never be enough words to describe the impact his friendship had on my life, and how more than anything I want to pursue a life that reflects the way Kyle lived every day. I miss his laughter and joyful spirit always, as do so many people around world- his impact was so vast. There is peace in knowing that Heaven received him.  As I’ve reflected on this loss and processed through emotions, I have felt the Holy Spirit moving in me and found comfort in knowing that we weren’t meant to go through loss alone. Psalm 34:18 tells us that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” and I whole heartedly believe that. One of my sweet friends, Taylor, recently wrote on her blog so eloquently about her year and the impact Kyle had on her life as well. I really encourage you to check it out!

I know God is pursuing me, and I can only fervently do the same more and more this year.

Pursue passions. I recently finished reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Y’all. Go pick up this book if you haven’t read it. Heck, I’ll loan you my copy! In her book, Shauna discusses living in the simplicity of life and slowing down to enjoy the moments. My favorite line she writes is “It’s about rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.” Ugh, so perfect. This year, I plan to purse more quality time with my camera, doodles and TALLGRASS MUSINGS! How on earth did I let 454 days pass between regular blog posts and today’s much overdue post. Eeks! Life is about living well rounded, and I fully intend to due so.

Moral of the story? I can’t wait to pursue 2017.

best, courtney
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