I’m  starting to hate getting my nails done.  Not because of the $15 it costs me every 3 weeks, but because of the incessant live CNN coverage of the stock market that plays on the 60″ flat screen in the nail shop.  The stock market is not relaxing viewing, lately. 

Most of the time, I don’t pay attention to daily fluctuations- but during that 45 minutes?  I feel like I’m on a roller-coaster at some fly-by-night- here -today- gone- tomorrow- before- you -can- sue- for -damages, carnival. 

It’s not that we’re not being affected by the economy.  We live in  Michigan, and have extended family who invested their lives in the automotive industry in hopes of it’s paying them back in the form of pension insurance and stock investments in  their golden years. 

In addition to our extended family, my husband- while working in the computer industry- has specialized in automotive manufacturing software, for over 19 years.  Let’s just say…If there are 6 degrees of separation between everyone and Kevin Bacon.. there are 3 degrees of separation between everyone and the automotive industry.

EVERYTHING is connected. 

The 401K we were planning on rolling over into a new account?  Oh… it rolled over alright- and it’s NOT PLAYING , dead.  It is dead.

And yet- with the exception of that once in a while visit to the cheap nail place at the mall,  I’m not freaked out by the economy.  Am I in denial?  Am I ignorant?  Am I independently wealthy?  (Ummmm- no, I worry about my kids financial futures, (So far a job at McDonald’s- the ubiquitous first job rite-of passage- has evaded..even that is affected by the economic crunch. I drive a car so old that it is no longer manufactured, I have a kid in college (ka-ching!) and am a SAHM without income, along with most homeowners- my house has lost all the equity we’d made on it in the 9 years we’ve lived here.  None of which, equates to independent wealth. Like the rest of the world- we’re affected.)

But-  my primary investments are not in or dependant on the stock market.  No, I do not have gold bars or silver coins stock piled in my basement.(Unless the collection of empty or never unpacked from 3 moves- packing boxes could be considered gold.) I do not have a mattress stuffed with cash. (But, there might be a few missing socks in there…)

My primary investments, are in people.  I invest in my family- of course, but also in the people I meet.  Both IRL and URL.  These are investments that NEVER lose their value.  It isn’t always cash investment, (Although, I help with that when I can)  much of it is “sweat equity.”   Time and work I’ve invested in others:  helping, caring and sometimes, just being there.  It might be a note, a phone call, cookies baked and shared or help with life coaching or a problem that needs some perspective…sometimes?  I’m just good for sharing a funny story.  Things that matter and make a difference to one person at a time.

The bummer is, these investments don’t show up in my stock portfolio. (If I actually had one.. does an almost valueless 401K count?  Hmmm…can your 401K actually turn into 401 “D”…for DEBT?  I’m starting to wonder… ) Or maybe- that’ not such a bummer.  Could I really place a cash value on these things? I’ll tell you…the care- support and investment others have made into MY life, could not be valued in terms of cash.  If they could – I wouldn’t be able to afford the debt load, that’s for sure.

While I was sitting there watching the stocks dip and climb like a mountain range, I couldn’t help but wonder what a NYSE or Dow Jones Industrial Average of Human investment would look like…. I wonder what my portfolio would look like?    Honestly-I feel much more confident in my investments in people than in my financial investments. I’ve got a pretty diverse and strong portfolio there. I’ve done some risky investing that has really paid off- not just for me- but for the people I’ve invested in.

A peek at my personal investment portfolio:

1) A calculated risk nearly 20 years ago to choose to be a SAHM.  (This risky investment, I will never regret.. but like most investments -might not be right for every portfolio)

2) An investment in my marriage- to work and stay and choose to love regardless of the economic climate of the day…

3) An investment in ministry either part or almost fulltime for most of my adult life- whether in MOPS International where I help moms survive and thrive and connect- or as a pastoral counselor or writer… these are investments of time and heart that have never declined in value.

4) Diverse small investments in people I meet on-line, in line (at stores, the gas station the pediatricians office) and all the time… these are investments of all kinds- from a word of encouragement to a mom with a crying toddler to a coffee bought for a cold “going out of business” sign holder on the corner…

5) Well thought out, long term investments of resources (emotional, physical and spiritual) to special people God brings my way… these could be the sharing of a talent I have (anything from baking to photography) to help someone else, or the extra time and attention that a supportive relationship costs to help grow, encourage and build another human.

Youmight be feeling a little ripped off at this point. Maybe you “Googled” investments and found yourself here… reading the raving of a lunatic mother who think she’s making a difference.  Maybe you feel like this is a pompous , self righteous do-gooder touting her own horn. 

Well- the only horn I’ve ever played is the one on my steering wheel and the one with the red rubber bulb on my purple tricycle when I was 5.  It’s not my style… however- sharing my hope- is.

I believe the reason why I’m not constantly (but do have moments of that stomach dropping to your feet feeling)  riding the rickety roller-coaster of economic emotional turmoil- is because I  invest in people… not the Dow Jones.

If’ you’re tired of riding the roller-coaster…my advice to you is to change your investment plan.  ALL of us have resources we could share. Not just cash.  We have  skills, time, talents, love and care that could make an incredible difference to someone else.

Let’s not wait for an economic turn around, let’s MAKE one.  One person at a time. Sometimes people ask me why I do the things I do…. I have this as my answer….People matter to God.. and they matter to me… ALL people. They are His treasure… and what I chose to invest in.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.