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Happy New Year!

A confession: New Year's Eve is my least favorite holiday.

In our younger years, Harry and I celebrated New Year's in many different ways. Parties with lots of friends. Dinners at restaurants in Chicago, including a meal in Greek Town, memorable for its complete lack of fun, "Opa's" notwithstanding. Inevitably, the nights ended with everyone sipping their drinks and waiting for midnight to Finally come, so we could kiss and call it a night!

I suppose one could argue that we just didn't pick the right parties or the right restaurants. But if there was lots of fun going on somewhere, we just didn't find it.

As we got older, we tended to spend a quieter New Year's Eve, at home with friends. Less exhausting, less expensive, but ending the same way. Waiting.

Of course, when we had children, what they wanted most of all was to get to stay up late. The goal was to stay awake to see the ball drop in Times Square (though it actually happens at 11:00 our time-a fact their dad and I chose not to share with them!).

New Year's Day is a different story. The end of one year, the beginning of another...these are significant moments, and the tendency to look back at the blessings and the challenges of the past year is both understandable and, I think, a healthy spiritual practice.

For many of us, this examination results in resolutions. You know, those pledges we make to ourselves to lose weight, exercise, eat healthy, stay in touch, forgive hurts, study scripture, be a better spouse/friend/grandparent/parent/person. The problem, as you also know, is that we often create impossible expectations without considering how we might actually make our resolutions happen.

A few years ago, I learned of a different way to effect a change in my life during the days and months ahead. Rather than making a resolution, I ask God to place a word on my heart-a word I can call to mind each day, allowing it to influence my actions.

Some people use a noun, a word like Love, Forgiveness, Discipline, Kindness or Faith. Last year, I decided to use a verb, the word Choose. I realized that for me, a word that required a specific action was more likely to be effective. A dear friend had given me a daily planner, in which I often wrote my choice for the day.

I choose to be patient.

I choose to be joyful.

I choose to be positive.

I choose to be kind.

I used this practice as a tool to provide focus as I went about my day. Did I record a choice every single day? No. Sometimes I forgot. Did I allow my choice to guide my behavior, whatever the circumstance? Sadly, no. But I believe it did often impact both my outlook and my actions.

In fact, I think "Choose" may again be my word as I move into 2020.

As you celebrate the New Year-in whatever way you choose to celebrate!-may you be blessed with the promise of the year ahead. May the Holy Spirit place upon your heart a word, a resolution, or simply an inspiring thought, to guide you through your days.

Happy New Year, friends!

Lou Ann Karabel

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