Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Do We Talk About Now?

After publishing three articles on divorce and how it affects families and finances, I received many, many emails and comments via my Facebook page. At this point, I just don't what else I can say about the issue. Honestly, it was a very emotional post for me, and those who commented did so with emotion as well.

I wish I could tell you that I did everything right when I went through my divorce, but I didn't. I made many, many mistakes. I wish I could take those back and re-do that period of time in my life, but I can't. What I can do now is move ahead, hoping for the best for all four of us.

When people are separated, the emotions are high and the environment is tense. People say things they don't really mean, all as a means of self-preservation and self-protection. The best analogy I can think of would be that of a man who had endured the battlefield during an intense war and later suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS). I can elaborate on this, but you probably get the point.

With this in mind, it's easy to say that people should and can forgive and move on, but some just find it hard to do so. I did. It has taken me several years to forgive the actions of the other parties - my former spouse, friends who took sides, and acquaintances who barely knew us but had an opinion about it all.

It's very difficult to start over when your life as a married couple was what ours was. Overall, we had a good marriage and a great home life, but pride, arrogance and unforgiveness just got in the way and we couldn't get past those things.

In retrospect, I've learned a lot from the divorce: how to forgive when it doesn't feel good to do so, the importance of letting some things go that won't matter a year from now, centering on the positive things in life, striving to do the best with difficult situations, and more. I guess the biggest thing I've learned from all of this is that I have to be authentic, honest. No secrets. No hidden agendas. No facades.

Without revealing confidential things that caused our divorce, I will say that I am mostly to blame. Selfishness was the biggest thing that I am guilty of, manifested in several different ways. I did not cherish my wife enough to put her ahead of myself and my own selfish desires. It was during this time that God was not first, as I desired and said He would be. If I had to do it all again, I'd definitely make major changes in my life to put God first, followed by my spouse and family.

Divorce does put things in perspective. I'm in the business of helping people find homes and helping them sell their homes. But in all reality, bricks and mortar and wood and nails don't mean a whole heck of a lot if there's no one there to enjoy it with you.

Our divorce was a painful one and while it was, it's been one of the best things I've had to endure. It changed my life for the better because of what I've learned and what changes needed to be made. Thank goodness God gives us second, third, fourth, .... one million, two hundred fifty-six thousand, nine hundred thirty-three chances, and more. How blessed I am.

I've shared this today, not for you to feel sorry for me or to have pity on me, but to share where I've been as a hope that you won't find yourselves there. I am blessed beyond imagination and am grateful for the relationships with you that I currently have. Blessings to you all .......


Monday, June 22, 2009

When Divorce Hits Home (Part 3)

My friend, Robin Crecink, in Virginia Beach, sent me this email today. I asked her if I could print it here on my blog and she agreed. I think Robin shares some significant insight into the present and future divorce situations. The goal in this series is not to whine about divorce, but insights need to be shared to help parents cope with the situation at hand, whether relational or financial. The insights Robin shares are from the relational side of the divorce. I wish I'd had these insights when we divorced three years ago.

Thanks, Robin, for sharing:

I enjoyed the insight of the divorce series. Just thought you might be interested in a few more nuggets of wisdom to share.

If children are involved, do everything in your power to stay involved in their life. Call frequently just to chat. Know their friends and their parents. Do activities that involve their friends. Go to Parent Teacher conferences. Help them with school projects. Make it a point to get to all performances and games. Be a soccer mom or a softball dad. Sign up to bring snacks. Volunteer in their activities. Offer to keep sick children. Take them on vacation with you. The majority of your vacation time should be spent with the people most important to you.

Never let your feelings for your ex get in the way of being with your children. We all deal with people on a daily basis who are not our favorite yet we work with them to accomplish some given task. Nothing is more important than your children. Get used to being with your ex for the sake of your kids. Don’t make your kids choose between parents on holidays and birthdays. Either parent should be welcome in whatever location the children are in.

Resolve never to discuss financial issues in front of the kids. Do not make your children messengers. Conflicts need to be resolved between adults and should not involve the children.

Teach your children to honor and respect the other parent. This means taking them to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day gifts, as well as birthday gifts and Christmas gifts for the other parent. It means helping them write notes of appreciation for special things. Nothing makes a child feel more important than presenting his parent with something he picked out. The respect you teach them will come back full circle to you.

Give extravagantly of your time and resources to your children. This is not about buying their love or spoiling them excessively. This is about expressing your love and building up a relationship with them. Investments of time can be as frugal as talking a walk in the park with a picnic lunch. Quality time is not sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time.

Remember child support is just that -- money for your children’s basic needs. When you write that check, think about your children, not your spouse. There are abuses on both sides of this issue, but more often than not, it is the children who suffer. Providing for children is expensive and involves far more than just clothing. Don’t expect your children to have a change in lifestyle because of your divorce. They should not have to give up for their parent's mistakes.

Take your child out to buy school supplies or other needed items without asking. Even if you can only get a pack of paper and crayons, your child will remember how their parents spent their time and money.

Remember, children are children long past the legal age of 18. Expect to help with college or career training. Neither parent's role ends on a birthday.

Plan on being involved with your ex for the rest of your life. As long as there are graduations, weddings, grandchildren and family celebrations you will want to be involved.

Divorce can be avoided IF the two parties will humble themselves and forgive the other person for their wrong actions. If you're in the early stages of separation or divorce, find a very wise family counselor who can help you iron out the issues before they get worse. Be selective and find one who WANTS to help you mend your marriage. It will save a lot of heartache in the end.

While this agent wants to help you sell your home, if you HAVE to sell it due to divorce, my heart's desire is for your marriage to remain intact. Bottom line: divorce is just not worth it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

When Divorce Hits Home (Part 2)

Divorce takes such a toll on families everywhere. Sometimes the filing spouse may think that the relationship will end when the divorce is final. However, that's not the case, especially if there are children involved. The final date of the divorce is just the beginning of more and more headaches, if the two parties will not communicate.

While we've explored a little about the relational aspects of divorce, let's take a look at the financial challenges of divorce.

In Tennessee, the house may be in only one name of the couple, but Tennessee law dictates that BOTH parties have claim to the property. However, when both names are on the mortgage and the deed, a quit claim deed does not suffice enough to remove the quit-claiming party from ANY mortgage responsibility. Automobiles are the same way. Even though one name may be on the deed, it's considered joint property in Tennessee.

While I am not a financial expert, I am recommending some things that divorcing couples should be aware of:

1 - When quit-claiming the house and other real property, include a deadline date (in the divorce papers) for the receiving party to have the property refinanced into his/her name solely. This is the same situation for vehicles.

2 - When dividing other property like dishes, furniture, etc., be amicable. Nothing is worth fighting over.

3 - Check details on credit card obligations and pay off everything you possibly can before the divorce is final. Carrying debt is a huge burden that only gets bigger and worse.

4 - Mediate as much as possible and do not allow an attorney to tell you that you have to go to court. Things end much better if the parties will mediate.

5 - Get everything in writing. If one spouse is taking on all of the marital debt, have in writing that the other spouse is not responsible for it. This will save time and hassles down the road when applying for personal and mortgage loans.

6 - Talk with a CPA and an attorney who can advise you of the laws in Tennessee. Several friends have told me that they are just going to do whatever their spouses wanted, but when they received the papers, they changed their minds. Do your homework before making any decisions.

Before making any rash decisions, take a good long look at yourself. Explore yourself inside and find out what problems you have brought into the marriage. It's easy to focus on the other party's flaws, but both of you have brought issues to the table.

Divorce is never a pleasant subject to discuss, but because it's so prevalent in our society, it cannot be ignored. My heart's desire is for every couple to reconcile. Nothing is worth divorcing over when forgiveness can be given.

Why not think about it ......

While divorce is unpleasant, sometimes it results in the sale of real property. Please give me a call if I can help you to get your current home sold and to help you find a new place to live.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Divorce Hits Home (Part 1)

Nobody really likes it, but our culture has come to accept the "D" word as part of our everyday language. Most people in the US know someone who has been divorced or has been affected by divorce. Never did I ever imagine that we would divorce, but we did three years ago.

Just last week, in my men's Bible study, three men shared that they were going through divorce. For some reason, I can't stop thinking about the pain, anguish and disbelief I saw on their faces and heard in their voices as they shared the latest developments in their failing marriages.

Alone in my house, I began to contemplate about the what these men shared and it made me think back on the pain of my own divorce and all that we went through. There are some things that I learned and maybe those will be helpful to others who are going through the same things.

1 - RECONCILE, if at all possible. Even when things seem their darkest, it's best to "stick it out" and try to reconcile. Emotionally, divorce rips apart the two marriage partners and their children. Going through the divorce is far worse than the pain of reconciliation.

2 - MEDIATE, even when the temptation is to just go to court and let the judge make all the decisions. Communication is essential, but when or both parties refuse to communicate, the couple basically turns their lives over to the court. When the divorce was final for one of my friends, her attorney turned to her and said, "Congratulations, Mrs. So-and-so, you've just turned your children over to the State of Tennessee." In all truth, when this happens, the parents are little more than court-appointed guardians. Not only does mediation allow the two parties to retain control over their decisions, it's far less expensive than going to court.

3 - FORGIVE the other party, even when you don't feel like it. By forgiving the other party, the chains that keep the unforgiving person bound to bitterness and anger are broken. To forgive, you'll have to let the other person go.

4 - DO NOT DEFAME the other party. Doing so only accentuates and roots the bitterness and anger that the defaming person has. It not only hurts yourself, but also your children, extended family and friends. Early on, I made the conscious decision to not speak negatively about my ex-wife. To this day, I have honored that commitment and because of it, I am able to sleep peacefully at night.

5 - Surround yourself with OBJECTIVE FRIENDS. Too many times, people play the role of the victim and surround themselves with people who take their side in the divorce. The better situation is to find friends who can, and are willing to, challenge you to "do the right thing" in the divorce. Unfortunately, too many people enjoy watching the couple divorce as if it's a true-life reality TV show.

6 - Above all, HUMBLE yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you've done something wrong in the marriage. There is also nothing wrong with asking forgiveness from the other party. It takes two people to make a marriage and two people to break a marriage. No matter what the legal filings say, both parties are at fault.

7 - FIND AN ATTORNEY who is not going to battle it out in court. Divorce is a money-maker in Tennessee. Anyone can get divorced on grounds of "inappropriate marital conduct". This means that a wife can divorce her husband for being rude to her at the breakfast table. Divorce attorneys enjoy dragging things out, but that is often not in the best interest of the client or the client's children. Find an attorney who will encourage the parties to work things out together.

There's more on divorce next time with discussions about how real estate is impacted by divorce and what couples should do to protect themselves.

This real estate agent has experienced personal divorce and has also represented clients who have gone through divorce. While painful, things can be worked out for all parties. For help with your real estate transactions, please give me a call and I'll be glad to discuss the process of selling and/or buying real estate as the result of a divorce.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Great Chow in Brentwood and Green Hills

My insurance guy, Chris, called me today and we arranged to eat lunch at Zoe's Kitchen in Brentwood. Having been there several times, it's always a great place for a crowd.

This unique restaurant chair was the brainchild of Zoe Cassimus, who spent a lifetime cooking for family, friends and neighbors. Always fresh from the garden, the food at Zoe's is healthy as well as delicious.

For me, today's choice was a pimento cheese sandwich with fresh fruit and Baked Lay's potato chips. The melted pimento cheese inbetween those two slices of grilled rye bread really hit the spot. The fruit (I ordered it without melon) was fresh and perfectly ripe.

Today we ate inside where it was a little cooler. On milder days I prefer to eat outside. Whether you go for lunch or pick up dinner at either their locations, you won't go wrong. Always fresh. Always delicious. Give it a try.

Zoe's can be found online HERE. Locations are at 101 Creekside Crossing, Suite 1200 (Brentwood) or at 4015 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 110 (Green Hills).


To talk with a realtor who knows the area well, give me a call. I'm here to help you buy or sell real estate and can answer your real estate questions.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Got Blood? Then How About Donating Some?

Did you know that less than 10% of all eligible blood donors actually give blood each year? According to The Red Cross, there is a great need for blood all around the world.

Today is World Blood Donor Day. While there are no open Nashville area Red Cross donation centers today, you can find donor sites for other dates by clicking HERE. Have you ever had surgery? Have you, or someone you love, ever needed blood? Why not donate today? Many people need your help.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taylor Made Delicacies

Yesterday's meeting with a client took us to the Taylor Made Cafe, a little cafe just north of I-40 on Mount Juliet Road. An institution in the "new" Mount Juliet, this cafe has been open for just a few years.

The first time I went in there was in the summer of 2006. My clients and I were famished after house hunting for several hours that morning, and the food quenched our hunger and thirst. Several other subsequent meetings brought me back to the Taylor Made over the course of the following years, always welcomed back by great food and entertaining staff.

A few months back, I noticed the business was for sale, but not long after that, the "for sale" sign was replaced with a "sold" sign. Since I wasn't in Mount Juliet like I used to be, I never found the time to get over there for lunch until yesterday. My meeting with a Mount Juliet client made it easy to plan our lunch meeting there.

Once inside, I noticed a totally different environment. Replacing the multiple rooms of gifts and home accessories were rooms of tables and chairs. The new decor gives the place a contemporary, yet quaint feel that welcomes in newcomers and regulars alike.

Yesterday's highlight was meeting new owner Annie. Annie's pleasant personality and full-service attitude made me feel very welcome. It was like being greeted by my sister when coming home.

Still there are the fantastic menu items like the Chickadee Wrap, the Ham Slammer Wrap, the Turk it Up sandwich, and more. For dessert (or breakfast) the sumptuous muffins like Lemon Sunshine and Low-fat Blueberry, will just hit the spot.

If you're not a Mount Juliet resident, it's worth the drive over there just to enjoy the quaint atmosphere and the food, and to meet Annie. Go and be blessed!

For a real estate agent who knows the Middle Tennessee market, give me a call or find me at I'm here to help you sell your current and/or to buy a new home.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

National Strawberry-Rhubard Pie Day

Today is National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day! There's nothing better than a strawberry-rhubarb pie made with fresh strawberries and rhubarb. Everyone knows that strawberries are a fruit, but what is rhubarb? If you're a savvy rhubarb fan, you know that rhubarb is a vegetable. With it's stringy texture, it's definitely a unique vegetable.

Combined together, strawberries and rhubarb make an incredible pie. My favorite pie is just a regular Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie and here's the recipe:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pastry for 9" double-crust pie
1 egg, beaten


In bowl combine first 6 ingredients. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1/2 of the pastry and line pie plate. Spoon in filling. Brush pastry rim with egg. Roll out top pastry. With a pastry wheel or a knife, cut into 1" wide strips. Gentley weave strips over pie to form lattice. Trim and flute edge. Brush with egg. Bake on a baking sheet at 425F for 15 min. Reduce heat to 375F and bake 50-60 min, or until rhubarb is tender, filling thickened, and crust golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 servings.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Spread a Little Sunshine

I LOVE sunny days. In fact, I love them so much that if my fair complexion could stand the intensity of the sun, I'd be outside 24/7. But, that's not possible, so when I am outside, I drink it all in. Today's Quote of the Day makes me think about living a sunny life.

Today's quote is from Normal Vincent Peale: “The way to happiness: keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised."

How's your life going today? Are you thinking good, positive thoughts? Or are you dwelling on the negative and the difficult challenges that you face. Life is all about perspective. What's your perspective today? If you haven't started that gratitude list that I mentioned a few months ago, today is a great day to start.

It's never too late to start a life of positive perspective. Maybe there's someone at work who has caused some problems. And maybe they need a helping hand or just a little compassion. And you're probably that person who is there to encourage them. It's time to spread a little sunshine. This is your day. Have a great one and make it count.