A couple of weeks ago I shared with you that my word for 2018 was connection. I wrote about the frustration I've felt about how busyness and schedules and how life seems to keep me from what I most crave: connection.

I told you that I wanted MORE when it came to my friendships and how our home was used to build community.

It was a bold intention, I suppose, and I had no idea how it would all play out. But, as I stand here at the beginning of February, I'm excited. Connection is finding me.

Here's 4 things I'm learning. I'd thought I'd share because maybe it might be of help to you too. 

Ask someone to dinner. 

So many of us wait on the invitation. We don't take initiative. We forget our home can be used for good. Or that meals can be part of the sacred everyday.

Not everyone has the time and space of life to do this, I know. But, I am. Having a small child means that my evening routines are full of structure and predictability. I cook more than I ever had in my life. Why not include one more? (And no need to make it fancy. Home cooked meals are so rare after all even if it came from a box!)

In the past couple of weeks, our supper table has included friends and colleagues alike. Though it of course means more dishes to clean, I'm always glad the night happened. 

Travel to see people if you need to. 

Costs. Work. And schedules mean that we can't always travel. But if you were to ask me one thing that I want to spend my extra income on, it's always travel. I will spend money on travel any day if it takes me to visit someone who builds up my soul.

Two weeks ago I did just that. When Kevin asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said, "a trip to Oklahoma" and with a whisper I also asked, "By myself?" And that's just what I got: a couple of days to be around people who feel like family to me without the distractions of caring for anyone else.

And I was all the better for being HOME. 

Notice those who care about connection like you do. 

Isolation is an easy disease to take on (as I was doing). It's so easy to think "you're the only one" when to comes to your longings. But if you open your eyes to conversations and spaces you find yourself in you might just notice new people. Or people who were there all the time who are hoping for what you are too.

In the past two weeks, I've sat across the table from two friends, both of whom I've known for a long time, sharing with me their same frustrations about the "I'm busy" culture. We've nodded our heads together. And we've echoed how much we want more for our how we spend our days with delightful people in them!

So what a great place to start: the people I don't have convince that connection is so important!

Surround yourself with art.  

Art can often say what we do not yet have words for yet. Go to any play. Read poetry. Watch a documentary. View an art show and you'll often walk away with breathless awe of what you're feeling.

For as much as I knew "I wanted more connection" I wasn't really sure what it looked like.

But, recently I've found myself watching a lot of the BBC show, Call the Midwife on Netflix. Though I've watched seasons of it before, I'd never finished the series and I'm glad that now I am. Each episode is full of people working together, depending on each other, wading in the deep waters of grief, loss and love without limits.  Though it's set in the 1950s and 60s and so much about our culture is different, I can't help but watch it and long for what is present in the show in my life too. This seeing is exactly the gift of art! We see.

What about you? How are you living into your intentions of the New Year? And if connection is something you're hoping for, how is it going?

XOXO

Elizabeth

P.S. Like what you've been reading with me? Want to share with a friend? Here's how. 

Do you have a word for 2018?

I'm not sure when the tradition started but I love beginning each new year with a word. It's a spiritual practice to let my intuition take the lead and hover in a particular place.

I can remember one year when my word was "abundance." I was coming out of a long, hard season and abundance was God's invitation to me to accept goodness in my story again.

I can remember one year when my word was "surrender." I'd been struggling for a long time with some very clear ideas of what I wanted my life to look like. And the word of surrender was God's invitation for me to stop all my planning and just be.

But what about this year?  What will my word be? 

For now, I'm leaning into the word "connection." I think connection will be my word for 2018.

I believe I arrived here because the final months of 2018 have been filled with lots of frustration about the difficulty of creating community.

I've felt frustration with how complicated schedules keep local friends of mine from ever actually seeing each other. I've felt frustration with how following each other on Facebook becomes the only way I  "keep in touch" with people I love so much. I've felt frustration with how hard it is to do life with a group of people besides those who actually reside in my house.

And as much as I love doing life with the two awesome people who share my last name, I want more. I want more authentic community.

I want people to show up as big for me and my family. And I want to do the same for them.

I want our home to be more of a gathering point for more laugher and rest for those who need it the most.

I want more friends with whom have regular dates, traditions and "come hell or high water" we will hang out with one another evenings no matter if we have kids at home or not.

And I don't think this feeling I'm noticing is unique to me.

Back in September, I took on a new pastorate. I'm currently at the helm of a Washington, DC church. Such a role gives me a front row seat to people's lives, schedules and values related to community building.

And I have to tell you, what I'm finding all over again (as I did in other congregations) is that it's not just my household that struggles with connection. The temptation to isolate ourselves in our over stimulated age is very real especially in the Washington, DC area where I live.

We travel a lot.

We work a lot.

We have extra commitments that ask a lot of us.

And, in all of this: we're exhausted. Working on deepening our relationships just feels like one more thing. Showing up regularly for community building is something we don't have time for . . .

But as for me, I want to chart a different course. I wan to say to the universe, to God and to any of you reading this blog post right now that I want more connection in my life.

I want to host more weekly dinners around my dinning room table. (Who wants to invite themselves over?)

I want to be more intentional about hanging out with those who want to be intentional with me.

I want to open up my heart to new relationships that are full of soul-ful connection.

I want more. 

And I want more for the church where I'm serving too. I want them to know and love each other in deeper ways too. I want them to be community that becomes even more committed to each other in 2018.

What about you?

What's are you hoping for in the year to come? It's ok to long for more!