When I heard the words, I felt like all of the oxygen had been sucked out of me.  It was the end of the day, two months ago, when my daughter called me as I was wrapping things up to go home.  “Bethany Brown passed away in her sleep last night.”  It took me a while to really comprehend what she was telling me.  I had talked to Bethany on Facebook just three days earlier, and she told me she was not feeling well.  It was not anything different than I had heard so many times.  When someone tells you they are not feeling well at the end of the day you are not surprised if they miss work the next day, but you know you will see them again soon.  You don’t expect that at age 29, a vibrant person will pass away in their sleep.

I wrote an article recently about a group of young people that I worked with many years ago.  At the time I left that ministry another local church asked me if I would work with their Bible quiz team.  We had a lot of success the first few years and eventually the idea hit me that we should take all of this book knowledge and put it into action.  We bought a house from HUD, the kids helped me rehab it, and we used the profits from the sale to fund a trip to work at the Atlanta Women & Children’s Shelter.  In subsequent years, we took trips together to an Indiana reservation and to rebuild homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

We spent a lot of time together throughout the year studying, camping, traveling across the country and working on projects.  The team was like a family and Beth was everyone’s older sister.  After graduating from college she moved to Fort Wayne where she taught at a Catholic school for a few years until she got the chance to move to the Dominican Republic where she taught at a school for at risk teens.  I knew that she had a medical condition, but did not know how serious it was.  She had come to a point that she knew she did not have a lot of time left on this earth, and she asked herself what she could do to make the most impact on the world that she would be leaving behind and thus made the decision to move to the Dominican.

We talk a lot within our company about life balance and giving back.  The ten core values of Mackey Advisors revolve around the idea that life is fuller when it is about more than just ourselves.  Bethany did not just understand those concepts, but she lived them every day.  I never knew anyone who got as much joy out of life or as much satisfaction from using her talents to help others.  Most of us won’t be called to work in a third world country, but we will all live fuller lives when we find a way to give back to our communities and to a certain extent live like we are dying.

As business owners we are at a time when we are going through year-end planning for 2012 and laying out goals and objectives for 2013.  While you are going through the 2013 planning process for your company be sure to ask yourself what you can do to enhance the lives of your employees, your customers and your community.  If you can achieve this next year, you will feel more personally fulfilled. Your business will prosper as well because continued patron support and employee loyalty involves more than just the bottom line dollars and cents of the deal.

All of us here at Mackey Advisors hope you all have a special holiday season and a prosperous 2013!