2013…Choices, Chances, and Change

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Life is so strange. Sometimes the big things in life are little…and the little things are very big!
Something as small as a rusty nail can make a huge difference, my friend….Remember the old saying: ““For want of a nail, the shoe was lost?…For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the rider was lost. For want of a rider, the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the War was lost. For want of a War, the nation was lost.””

The calamity that ruined a nation began with a rusty nail.

The truth of this adage was driven home to me, last month, when I learned of a local family who lost their lives due to something very ordinary. It was a STICK….That’’s right. An ordinary stick of wood that wasn’’t worth two cents.

How in the world did it happen?

It was a Holiday weekend…a happy day in the life of this close-knit family. A mom, dad, son, daughter, and the family dog were out for a walk. They were doing what they had done a hundred times before–—laughing and chatting as they sauntered along the beach.

They had no idea that the beautiful day was about to turn tragic…, or that they were living the last moments of their lives. They were not being careless or foolish. They were merely caught up in a scenario that spiraled out of control.

On that fateful day, the father of the family reached for a stick lying in the sand. It seemed of little consequence….

How long the Dad held that stick of wood in his hand we don’’t know, but when he raised his arm and tossed the stick toward the water, he set into motion a chain of events that would utterly destroy his family.

As the stick hit the water’’s edge the dog gave chase, and the incoming surf swept over the animal, carrying it out to sea.

The son went after his beloved dog, and soon they were both floundering in the raging surf. Dad jumped in to save his son. Mom did the same and was immediately overcome by the pounding waves.

Panic-stricken, the daughter would have gone after them all, but someone grabbed her arm and hauled her to safety. She watched in horror as her entire family perished before her eyes.

Why would I relate such a heartbreaking story to you? It’’s because we can all learn something by it. Believe it or not, the lives of our own families can be similarly affected.Our tragedies may not come about suddenly, but when we view them from a distance, we’’re startled at our own foolish choices that end up destroying us, our relationships, our families..Even our entire lives.

Friendships don’’t disintegrate in a single moment. Family break-ups don’’t occur overnight. Divorces don’’t occur in a day. They are caused by a downward spiral of offenses that go uncorrected and unforgiven.

They are caused by pride and lack of wisdom…Unwillingness to communicate and to learn new ways of doing things. …Unwillingness to heed others’’ advice. These are all serious errors in judgment.

You and I make decisions every day…… Small, ordinary choices that can eventually lead to heart-break. If we take an honest look at ourselves, we’’ll see the mistakes we are making….

At any time during the downward spiral of events, we can say: ““Stop! Timeout!

If we don’’t do something drastic, we are going to lose what we have…and it will be tragic!””

Unfortunately, most folks don’’t do that… And families are destroyed as surely as the one that came to a tragic end on the West Coast.

As we enter into the New Year, it’’s wise for each of us to examine the choices we’’re making…To consider the consequences of our decisions. We don’’t have to blunder on through life, sabotaging our families and our own happiness!We don’’t have to become embittered, cynical people who bypass joy, while blaming others for our woes. It’’s not too late to undo the damage, if we are willing to make hard choices.

The consequences of our decisions will always be with us, just like the tragic outcome of that family on the Coast. When I think of that tragedy, I am stricken afresh by the irony of it all….

There at the Pacific beach, the Father threw a stick and the family’’s joyous holiday went from happy to devastating in just a few moments of time.

The outcome was so preventable. If the family had decided to let the dog fend for itself, every one of them would be alive today. And everything would be fine. Just fine!

For you see……While the family was floundering and dying in the surf, the dog made it back to the shore alive.

The dog survived…… But the family did not. It is a solemn warning to us all …and it’s well worth remembering.

Next time you make “minor decisions” that could have enormous consequences, stop and think…before it is too late.

The lives that you save could be your own, and those of your loved ones. To a large degree, you get to choose how your New Year turns out. You get to choose whether you will have a happy family.You get to decide whether to forgive or to continue holding grudges.

It’’s up to you what kind of a Year and what kind of a life you will have…. Make it a successful and happy one…. to the best of your ability!

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