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If we could see the ripple effect our decisions made on the world, what decisions would we make?

We have the ability to make our choices but we do not get to choose the consequences or the results of our actions. 

At 24 I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that left me often in much physical pain, and I struggled with being able to have children. Out of all the procedures I could’ve done to release myself from this pain, none of them would have allowed my body the ability to bear children. I opted out of all of those treatments, I felt so strongly my children needed to be here. Instead of having the pain eased, I chose to bring my kids here.

We were in the hospital, having waited four years for this moment, and we welcomed our new baby boy to the world. The feelings I had this day were unforgettable: the tiredness, the immense love, the worry and concern with learning how to feed and care for a brand-new human being, the way my husband stepped up and became a father helping in any way that he could. I received the greatest compliment I’ve ever received there in that hospital room. The nurse turned to both my husband and me and said, “You guys are a great team.” Of all the times to hear this compliment, that was the time when it mattered to me the absolute most.

Here at Big Ocean, we talk about the impact our choices have on generations. It is easy to forget why we matter, why our choices matter, and what influence these choices have on those who are to come.

I received a painting of an ocean scene from my great-grandfather that sits by my bedside, and whenever I look at it, I think of the waves of influence that our choices have on generations. I have thought so often of the story behind the man who painted it, much of which has been a great mystery to me most of my life. Burt was born in Colorado in 1905, and after his previous marriage ended, he married Orla. They had three children. The rest of the facts are foggy as I’ve heard his story told in a number of different ways. I heard that they argued in their marriage, then in WWII when Pearl Harbor was bombed, Burt decided to leave his family to go and join the navy. Orla said he wasn’t required to, due to the fact that they had three children, but that he wanted to get away. Some say that while there he had an affair, others say he just didn’t like raising children or that Orla was too hard on him. When he came home, he filed twice for a divorce, and when Orla counter sued, he was requested to pay $20.00 a month per child for child support. Their eleven-year-old daughter, Doris, asked one evening, standing in front of him while Burt sat at the piano bench in the dining room, “But where will you go, if you don’t stay here with us?” He traveled to one of the three states in the union that didn’t make a father pay child support at the time. Orla, with bitterness, never trusted men again. She became a secretary with the little schooling that she did have and raised her children in poverty. There have been stories of her getting scraps to feed the family from the dumpster. Burt remarried and had a few more kids. Some say that he abandoned other children also. His daughter Doris, as an adult, knew that there were two sides to the story and decided to go meet him and said she had a good experience. Interestingly enough, at the end of his life he left all of his possessions to Doris, including the ocean painting, the one that now hangs in my room. She went through so much, but had the faith eventually to marry a good man and raise a family. Whenever I see it, I think of my blessings, and I think of the different things that my family went through to learn the important lessons they needed to in order for me to have what I do today, an amazing and supportive husband and our children we love so much.

We can learn from the past and be made better for it. We can take the heartaches our ancestors went through and turn them into great blessings by choosing differently because of what we have learned from their examples. Their lessons do not need to go on in vain. In order to not repeat the past, we must come to an understanding of what has happened, but not dwell there. Let’s be grateful, learn from it, and be better because of it.

We choose who we become, and the choices we make influence our future generations. The decisions we make now are for their benefit or detriment. Let’s choose them. Let’s make choices that will bring our children here, will protect them, and will influence them to become who God intended them to be.