This morning, I attended a small business networking meeting here in my town. I’ve been part of the group for more than a year now, and when I walked in five minutes late, it was immediately my turn to hand out business cards and tell a little bit about my work. Most members just repeat their name and the basic services they provide month after month; that’s why nearly all of the 25 or so attendees were already finished introducing themselves by the time I walked in. I took my full 35 seconds … or two minutes, who’s counting … and even handed out flyers about some workshops I’m offering here in town.

After the meeting, I began to quickly gather my things because I already had an appointment scheduled with three business owners in the group, a husband, wife, and son who work together, to help with a brochure they are creating. I met them at a networking meeting months ago and have become friends with their family. Before I could even get my coat on, another woman I know came up to me and registered for one of the workshops. Then, a man I’d never seen at one of the meetings before came up and began talking to me about his work, ministry, and community service here in our city. He’d like help with his writing and is even interested in writing a book.

“It’s like you said in your presentation, I’d like to write but I don’t even know where to start,” he explained. We exchanged cards and planned to talk more in my office in the next week or two. But as we were wrapping up, I shook his hand and said, “I’m so glad we met today. I think you are a person I am supposed to know.” It was a connection I’d been praying for but could have never predicted. Not there. Not then. Not like that.

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A couple of weeks ago as I was finishing out one year and thinking about a new one, I considered whether or not to choose a word of the year. I’ve done this in the past, when the Lord seemed to give me a word that predicted and made sense of what was about to happen in my life. More recently, I’d been writing about a word each week, and a word for the year kind of got lost in the shuffle. This year, however, life seemed ripe for my old practice, and as I prayed about what word God might have for me, the word “connect” came to mind.

At first, I thought about how I long to connect more deeply with people: family, friends, colleagues, clients, neighbors. I’m a relative newcomer to my church and my community, and I haven’t had time yet to forge the deep relationships that happen over time. When I came here after I married, I also moved further away from friends and family, and my connections with them suffer, too, by the distance and busyness that separates us. Plus, I work alone. The word “connect,” a verb, resonates so deeply with me because I have realized that I have to do something about this isolation and disconnection I feel. I need to connect with people, and already, I am seeing some changes.

That’s one way God is using the word connect in my life. It’s the most obvious way. But I it’s not the only way. Suddenly, the word “connect” is everywhere, and the connections I’m making are important and helpful. As I read, I am connecting ideas and images to things going on in my life. When I pray, I am reminded of my need to stay connected to Jesus for strength and growth, abiding in him as the branch stays connected to the vine. And throughout the various areas of my life, I am seeing how they connect to each other. My body suffers from the stress of work. My work goes better when there is peace at home. My relationships are stronger when my mind is clearer.

Over the past few months, I spent a lot of time and money trying to separate my work from my home and separate the work I do for clients from the work I do for myself by launching Frankfort Writers Center. I needed to get out of the house more, largely to connect with other people. I needed to identify myself as a spiritual writer separate from my work as a marketing specialist, editor, and writing coach. Professionally and personally the separation made sense, and I still think it was a good decision. But just because these aspects of my work and personal life are physically or digitally separate doesn’t mean they aren’t connected. Intentionally maintaining those connections in my mind and spirit seems like another important application of my word of the year.

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As in the past, I suspect my word of the year will reach much further than it already has and in ways I could have never predicted, just like the chance encounter this morning. But I’m ready for it. I’m ready to connect with God and others in new and more intimate ways this year. And I look forward to connecting with you to tell you all about it.

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What about you? Do you choose a word of the year? If so, what’s yours?