Time to Board the Balance Train…

In weather, some weather patterns can perpetuate themselves.  For instance, a dry weather pattern can “feed” off of itself to create even drier weather.  The same is true with a wet pattern.  Here’s what I mean…  If a pattern keeps producing rainfall over a large area to the point the ground becomes saturated, when the sun finally comes back out, all of that water will begin to evaporate back into the air.  This fills the air with water vapor and can lead to more rains which, in turn, keeps the ground saturated.  It sometimes takes months to break these patterns completely.  This happened in the spring of this year out over the eastern Plains and parts of the Midwest.

The same happens with an imbalanced life.  Imbalance breeds more imbalance.  For many who were already on the edge of the cliff financially at the beginning of our current recession (it’s finally officially been called a recession), chances are they’ve now plunged off into the abyss.  There was no room for error.  Heartbreaking.  Many people are now stuck in this rut of perpetual crisis.  Others who balanced their checkbooks and put away money in savings are able to weather downturns much better.  Life is probably pretty good for those with discretionary income these days – gas is cheap, property is cheap and everything is on sale.

Now that there has been such a crash in the economy, we have to learn lessons so that we don’t board this train of self-destruction and imbalance again anytime soon.  It’s easier to make it through a real crisis when you’re not living them day-to-day as a standard.  With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

1.  Never go back to the overspending lifestyle so many of us lead.  Keeping up with the Joneses nailed us.  Forget about the Joneses!  Buy what we can afford…

2.  Pay yourself first.  Put away money each and every pay period so that when a crisis does come, you’ve got some cushion to get through it.

3.  Learn something new.  If you’ve recently lost your job, I’m sorry, but it could be a new beginning for you as well.  Take this opportunity to learn a new skill or further the skills you already have.  This will put you in a better position to be hired at better pay when companies start hiring again (and they will one day).  You might even decide to start your own business.

4.  Exercise.  The stress of what we’re going through can be very tough.  You’re body doesn’t do very well in a constant state of stress.  Exercising will allow you to let some of that pent up frustration out.  There’s a good article in INC magazine this month about the owner of a software company who used exercise to get through the stress of running a troubled company.

5.  Love on your family.  I know this isn’t always easy when you feel like everything is collapsing around you, but your family needs you and you need them.  Lean on each other and take care of each other in these crazy times.  It’s much easier to slosh through the mud of life when you’ve got a real teammate.  Let your loved ones know you’ve got their backs and don’t be above leaning on them when you need to.  Show more grace and mercy with your loved ones that you normally do.  They are probably as stressed as you…

6.  Remember, it’s bad now (and will likely get worse before it gets better) but it won’t stay this way.  Just like in the weather, the economy goes through cycles.  We simply couldn’t support all the things we were buying with credit forever.  It had to stop at some point.  It was a spending bubble that collapsed.  When it’s all said and done, we’ll be on more solid ground and we’ll all be stronger and smarter for going through it.  If there’s a silver lining in what’s happening now, it’s that we’ll change our behavior because of it – and that’s a good thing.

These will probably be some of the most challenging times of our lives in the upcoming months.  We should remember how we feel while we’re going through this to motivate us to never get to this point again.   Those who do stand a much better chance of improving their lives because they became not only stronger but smarter…

How has it changed you?

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Nature vs. Man

Something that I’ve always enjoyed is spending time in nature.  I like the peace, quiet and balance that exists there; it’s cleansing and centering for me.  Nature is a way to be really in touch with God’s creation, and I cherish that.

But I realized something not too long ago.  I thought that being surrounded by nature was the way to be closest to God.  It’s not…  Man is God’s greatest creation.  Instead of running away from people to be closer to God, I should be running TOWARD them.

Do I still need my time in peace and quiet surrounded by God’s trees, blue sky and birds?  Yes.  It remains cleansing and centering for me.  But I no longer see it as the way to be closest to God.  I now see Him more clearly in the eyes of neighbors, friends, family and children than ever before.

Some Things You Can’t Explain…

One of my best friends in elementary school was Timmy Walker.  Timmy was funny, friendly and a great pick-up football player.  We made great teammates; he was the tallest in the class and would block for me and I was the shortest and quickest and would run behind him while he plowed through the defense.  He would stick up for me in arguments and was always there to help out when I needed him.  Timmy was a friend’s friend – a genuinely good guy.  I haven’t heard about Timmy for several years until NewsChannel 5 had a story about a young soldier than was killed by an IED in Iraq this past Saturday.  It didn’t dawn on me that it was the same Timothy until a mutual friend e-mailed me.  You probably didn’t know Tim, but you should have.  He signed up to fight for you and his country and from all accounts was a fine soldier, family man and American.  I’ll miss Timmy.  Say a little prayer for his family today…

Here’s more information on my elementary school friend…

From the TENNESSEAN.com

By: Harriet Vaughan

FRANKLIN — Tuesday’s Veterans Day celebrations made Melissa Claiborne’s pain of coping with her cousin’s death much more difficult.

Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker, 38, was killed Saturday in Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded next to his vehicle.

The Primm Springs native graduated from Fairview High School in 1988. In 1990, he joined the Army. Most recently, he served as a medic with the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stationed in Fort Carson, Colo. Walker, one month away from returning home, was finishing his second tour of duty in Iraq. His unit was assigned to secure Sadr City in Baghdad’s northeast region and he was providing training for the Iraqi army and Iraqi police officers at the time of his death.

Walker had also done a tour in Bosnia and Kuwait.

His remains were expected to arrive in Colorado on Friday, after an autopsy.

He is survived by his wife, Dawn Walker, and two children, Gregory, 7, and Madison, 3. The couple, married for 14 years, met when he was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Walker’s family learned of his death early Saturday afternoon.

“It was very upsetting on Saturday and Sunday. I was a little better Monday, but they ran a story about him on the news, and then the whole Veterans Day has been rough,” said Claiborne, who lives in the southwest Williamson County community of Primm Springs next door to Walker’s childhood home.

Walker’s only sister, Shelly Taylor of Burns, Tenn., notified family members of his death. She says the past few days have been long and tough. The help and support of the community is helping her and her family make it through.

“It’s just an outpouring. I’ve experienced gratitude, but this one hits me so close to home and it’s emotionally overwhelming. It’s almost emotionally exhausting. I’m not complaining. It’s wonderfully a lot,” she said.

Barbara Shearer of Franklin, Walker’s mother, is in Colorado helping Dawn Walker prepare for the funeral. Wayne Walker of Nashville, Timothy’s father, is in Tennessee awaiting funeral arrangements. The two divorced shortly after Timothy Walker graduated from high school.

Walker was two years shy of retiring from the army after 20 years of service. Taylor says he planned to move his family back to Tennessee.

During his career, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, six Army Commendation medals and dozens of other medals and citations.

It Doesn’t Take Much…

I like to leave my sweet wife little notes in her office when she’s not looking.  She then finds them when she returns to the office after I’ve left.  They are usually little notes of encouragement and affection that take me about 30 seconds to write.  The last time I was in her office, I looked above her desk and was suprised to find that she’s kept all of those little notes.  I asked her why she has not thrown any of them away and she said she likes to have them to remind her how much she’s loved.  She said she would never dream of throwing them away.  I then thought to myself, “What if I didn’t take the time to write those little notes?”  What is just a little gesture on my part goes a long way.  I get a much bigger return in how those notes make her feel than my time invested in writing them.

What if we all did that?  What if you did little things each week for your family and close friends to let them know how much they mean to you?  How much stronger could those relationships be?   If a fundamental need for us as humans is to know we’re loved and appreciated (especially our kids), how can we fulfill that need for others?  For me, I was suprised to find out how little time and effort it takes to make a lasting impact.

So, over the next few days, try doing something small for someone special to let them know you’re thinking of them.  If you get a chance, let me know how it worked for you.   I think you’ll be glad you did…