MEet Michael Baer

Michael Baer

As a kid, I am fairly certain my grandfather was my best friend. He certainly was in my top three. It was so easy to get along with him and to enjoy time together, so much so that he earned the nickname of Buddy. That is what I called him, my mother called him, the whole family, all the friends… Everyone referred to him as Buddy because it spoke to his personality perfectly. My mother and father would pack us into the mini-van and drive to their house to help with house and lawn work all under the guise of an afternoon in Grandmom and Bubby’s pool. We would take family vacation trips with our campers up and down I95 along the east coast.

I learned so much from him and these incredible memories. He served our country and then became an engineer, which is perhaps where I learned my affinity for spreadsheets… He taught me the value of working hard for a goal by living below our means but never giving up time with the family. So much of my personal memory bank is filled with experiences on his sailboat with a fishing rod in my hand, in their modest beach home that had no television or internet, only boardgames and puzzles, and in his carpentry workshop that was once a garage. I cherish these memories to this day.

Now that I have my own family, I reflect and see two very distinct principles that I learned:

1) Life is too short. God has his own calendar and we do not know when it will be our time (see Proverbs 19:21).

2) More is caught than taught with children.

To the first point, Buddy would always articulate to his grandchildren and family that he had a vision for his retirement: he was going to pack up with my grandmother and move to Orlando, Florida to work at Disney World (a very different company then). He worked hard and always explained this vision to us, painting a picture of free trips to the theme parks for us!

Unfortunately, a cancer diagnosis cut all this short. My grandmother is still in the same house in Pennsylvania about 20 years later. They never moved to Orlando and the job of his dreams never came to be. I was not then where I am now in my walk with Christ, so it made no sense to me. I was confused. I watched Grandmom and Buddy get so close only for it to fall off at the end. We all make plans, but God has the bigger picture in mind and His purpose always rules the day.

To the second point, I now have four children of my own, all within a span of under 5 years. If that is not evidence of the fact that I love my wife, Jackie, I don’t know what is. Or maybe that she can’t keep her hands off me… perhaps both. She is the strongest woman I have ever met and does a phenomenal job with our four beautiful children. As the oldest, Lily, continues to grow, I see where the phrase “more is caught than taught” stems from. She picks up on almost everything we say or do, even when I think she is miles away in her own imagination. Emma is also picking up on this as she grows as well, even on the smallest of mannerisms. Our twins (yes twins!), Aden and Ava, are still developing but I am sure they will follow suit.

Fun fact for those of you that have grandchildren, this copy-like behavior is much more evident from the grandparents. I know I was guilty of it as a kid as well, but children seem to listen and learn more from the grandparents than from their own mother and father. Keep that in mind as you spend time with them. But I know that much of what I do now has come from my time as a child, largely impacted by my grandparents. Buddy taught me to have a goal and work hard for it. He taught me to love my family and cherish the little moments together. He taught me that you don’t need lavish things to have a good time. He taught me about patience in doing puzzles, fishing, sailing… The list of values goes on and, honestly, I believe a lot of these values are being lost in today’s society. Work hard? Live below your means? Spend time with family? Who does this nowadays?

This is what motivates me every single day. Jackie and I are raising our children to be contributors to society, not reliant on the government handouts. I pray that they would be Kingdom Builders and impact God’s plan in some way, however big or small. One soul retuning to God is celebrated by the great cloud of witnesses. I am proof that He leaves the 99 to find the 1 that has gone astray.

The blessing of helping families just like yours is one that is not lost on me. Our team lives to help families retire comfortably, often much sooner than ever thought possible, and have the peace of mind to live in abundance. Abundance in love and time spent with loved ones, not a big pile of money. I am here to remind you that the legacy you leave behind that is far more valuable is like the one Buddy left with me: a memory bank of experiences that impact my every day. He instilled in me values that need to

be replicated in my opinion. Proverbs 13:: reads “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” (NKJV). I challenge you to leave the kind of inheritance that Buddy left, not one of a big pile of money.