Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember ... We All Do!

It was a typical day at the office. My job at LifeWay involved developing presentations for church clients, and I was diligently working away on the most recent topic when my boss, Mike Priest, came down the hall looking for a TV. When he popped into my office, he said, "The World Trade Center has just been hit by a plane." In my disbelief, I responded, "Mike, that's not funny." He went to say that his wife, Carolyn, had called and that he wasn't joking. I called Stephanie and told her the news. She hadn't seen it and tuned in to see what was going on.

Across the hall, Wayne Poling offered his TV. Reception was not the best on our floor, but we managed to get a clear enough picture to then see the second tower hit, people jumping from the towers, and then the two towers collapse. It was an awful day. Work came to a screeching halt; eventually I called it a day and went home.

On the way home, I called home and Stephanie and I talked about the day's events. We agreed on what and how we would tell our children. When I got home, the TV was still on, and Stephanie and I watched the news in horror, fear, and shock. It was almost surreal. The building that I had once been in, enjoying an amazing view of one of the world's greatest cities was now just rubble and history. By then, two other planes had been cited, one damaging part of the Pentagon and the other wrecking in Pennsylvania.

We gathered our children in the living room and we told them that some bad men wanted to hurt our country. We explained that they had overtaken planes and had driven them into the buildings. We didn't have all the answers to their questions. But as best as we could, we comforted them and explained that God was still in control. We ended our family meeting with prayer for our country, the families of those who had been injured and killed, and the safety of all of us here.

Over the next few weeks, all we could do was stay glued to the TV and radio. We could not get enough. What? Who? Why? How? All questions unanswered then, but eventually answered over time. Planes had been grounded, rental car companies were out of cars given to people trying to get home, and we knew that life, as we once knew it, would never be the same.

I remembered back to my childhood and my grandparents and dad talking about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I remember, even 40 years later, the horror in their voices and the gasps in their words. It, like 9/11 for us, changed their generation forever.

The real heroes of 9/11 were those who took control of that plane intended for Washington, DC. The heroes were those police officers and firefighters who risked their lives to save the lives of others. The heroes were those family members who survived the devastation of the loss of their loved ones.

As a nation, we're resilient. We survive. We persevere. This would be no different. Ten years ago today, we remember ... remember the horror and devastation, and the lives that were lost to the anger of a group of people who wanted to hurt innocent people. But also the lives that we can celebrate who were saved because they arrived late to the office, or like the husband of my friend, Cheryl. Sam escaped death by volunteering to get everyone breakfast for his morning meeting at the WTC.

Today, even with that horror fresh in my mind, I am grateful to live in the greatest country in the world. Yes, we have problems, but as a nation, we come together in a crisis. I'm very glad that we have been so blessed.

Will you take a few moments to remember? I remember ....

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Little More Than You Want to Know?!

Recently reconnected to an old college friend through FaceBook, I got inspired to do a Google search on her. My former college friend is now a Personality Trainer and an author. And Danita is mighty good at what she does! You can read about Danita by clicking HERE.

When we were friends at Oral Roberts University back in the 1980s, she actually introduced me to my first serious girlfriend, Shauna. For some reason, I was the "token male" at an intimate birthday party for a mutual friend, Cheshire, where we all had a blast. Needless to say, Shawna and I didn't work out (because I married Stephanie), but after all these years, Danita and I have reconnected and are enjoying remembering a little about the past, but more importantly, sharing what's going on with us in the present.

Reading Danita's blog got me thinking about what people know about me. Yes, most know that I'm in real estate and that I was once married and that I have two kids (one is a senior and one is a sophomore in high school). But do you really know me? After a very messy divorce, I made the choice to become guarded. Fortunately, over the last few months and weeks, I've been challenged by friends to let that guard down a little. So, here goes ....

- I like peanut Skippy Natural Peanut Butter right out of the jar. In fact, I've always had my "own" jar. Never used for sandwiches or peanut butter and crackers, it's exclusively for eating with a spoon. I like it best with organic skim milk that I've mixed with Hershey's Syrup.

- I live in a condo in Franklin, TN. It's the modest part of town. Convenient to downtown Franklin, I walk to the Starbucks at Five Points for a Skinny Vanilla Latte on cold winter Saturdays, sometimes when it snows, or on rainy holidays like today. I always have a scone with my latte, and while there, I peruse The Tennessean to find out what the local headlines say.

- I didn't choose real estate as a career; it chose me. Our family moved to Middle Tennessee in 2000 so I could take a job as a ministry consultant at LifeWay Christian Resources (no, not the store) and loved it. The church pastors and staff that I worked with were phenomenal people. After leaving LifeWay, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I did know that I didn't want to work for anyone else. Real estate became the natural choice after talking with my former agent, Jan Page (she's the broker at the Crye-Leike Hendersonville, TN office).

- I love rain because it feels cleansing to me. The music of the rain in the morning seems to clear away any low times I may have been experiencing, and sets the tone for a brighter day ahead.

- As a kindergartner and first grader, my best friend was David Shearon. David's family moved to Laurinburg, NC when I was six and I cried over that. We visited them in Laurinburg a few times, then they moved to South Florida. The Shearons came by to visit once when I was about 14, but I wasn't home, so I missed them. With the invention of the internet and advent of FaceBook and Craigslist, I've been trying to find David, but no luck so far.

- I was never a morning person until I married to Stephanie in 1988. She taught me how to be more disciplined from the first part of the day until the last part of the day. I miss her stability like that and her confidence in me.

- My mother-in-law died of lung cancer in 2003. Losing her was like losing my own mother. She and I were alike in personality - outgoing, enjoyed people, etc. We were very close and I'm very glad that I had a wonderful relationship with her and that my children knew her before she passed away.

- I've lived in seven metropolitan areas as an adult: Tulsa, Richmond, Chicago, Erie (PA), Virginia Beach, Jacksonville (FL), and Nashville. The two places I'd love to live: Dallas (TX) and San Diego (CA), but they're too far away from my children. My favorite place? Jacksonville, FL because I love the ocean.

- On my Dream List: backpacking across Europe. If I couldn't backpack, I'd take a European trip and stay in hotels. Either would be fine. Another dream? To own my own restaurant in an old church building. It would be fine dining, so to speak, but with really great menu items, some of which were passed down from relatives. Other things on my Dream List: write a book, go to law school, and start a charity for divorced parents who have suffered at the hands of the courts.

- The best chocolate chip cookies I've ever eaten are from a recipe that Stephanie and I tweaked. She got it from the mom of a childhood friend. Everyone loves them. And the best chocolate pie in the world is the one that my mother makes. The recipe is from Peggy Shearon, our next door neighbor when I was about five or six back in Williamsburg, VA.

- I like to cook, and I'm pretty good at it, but don't like to cook for just me. When I do, I cook enough for multiple meals and take leftovers for lunch. Leftovers are much better than sandwiches or eating out.

- My kids (Annie and Hunter) are my proudest accomplishments. I've always told them that if I had to pick out any kids for the "Kid Grocery Store" that I'd pick them out every time, no questions asked. I dream about them about three or four times a week.

- When in college, I changed my major seven times. I started with Accounting and ended there, too, but experienced communications, biology, chemistry, marketing, music, etc. all along the way. If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken a break from college for a year to work, then would have returned to major in Marketing with a minor in Communications.

- Seven years ago, a friend challenged me. He said, "Jack, you have such high expectations that you are robbing yourself of joy." I didn't like the comment, but I seriously contemplated it. The next day I began my "Gratitude List". At first I didn't think I could list even 50 items over a lifetime, but I had that many within the first 10 minutes. They flooded out of me. I now have about 2000 things on my list. That list keeps me going because it's a constant reminder that God is in charge and that I can always have hope.

- I play several instruments, and enjoy playing piano the most. I haven't played in a while because I don't have a piano any more. My favorite piano I've ever owned was a baby grand that was in our living room. Hunter can play by ear, but Annie and I play solely by note. And, no, I won't play for your wedding, your Christmas party or your dinner. My piano teacher (Mrs. Garrison) was always on my case because she said I had loads of talent, but wouldn't practice enough.

- If I could do any job without getting paid, I'd do what I'm doing now - real estate. I love it that much, but have to get paid to live. I miss the ministry, though, at times, but have no desire to go back to working on a church staff. One day I'll return, but in a different capacity.

- As a kid, I was intimidated by sports because I was awkward and gangly. My interests today are backpacking, hiking, camping, working out, swimming, and running. Notice they're all basically individual sports. In college I took backpacking five times, even though I only got credit for it twice. I also took volleyball, tumbling and trampoline, and badminton. Looking back, those were actually fun to play.

- I grew up in a dysfunctional family, but we've made it through those tough times. Looking back, they helped me to be a better man.

- My dad taught me two very significant things: (1) Never make a decision when you're down; (2) Always be the best you can be in business - offer the highest customer service. Those two things have helped me greatly in life.

- At 50, I'm looking forward to a tremendous decade. My forties were challenging, so I welcome the change. I now know that I know less now than I ever did!

- My best friend is Richard Landry. Richard lives in New England, but we've been friends since we were sophomores at ORU (age 19). Richard has a great heart and has always been a friend to me, no questions asked, even in the most difficult of times. While not typically confrontational, he's confronted me when I've needed it, and he's joined me in celebrating joys in my life.

- I work at Crye-Leike, Realtors in Brentwood, TN (the corporate office) because I believe in my company and love the professional service that we choose to offer. While other firms are closing their doors or merging, we are opening offices and are still selling more real estate than anyone around.

- My clients are wonderful - I have been truly blessed. Most are referrals these days where past clients I've had are sending me wonderful new ones. I love it when a client trusts me to help them with their largest investment. And I enjoy seeing the "light bulb" go on when they either sell their home or find the one they want to buy.

- Lastly, I'm learning not to ask God, "Why'd this happen?" but to ask, "What are you teaching me about You and/or myself through this?" It's really tough to ask those questions, and sometimes I don't like the answers, but I figure I need those experiences to grow.

Wow! Now you know a little more ... maybe too much?! Thanks, Danita, for inspiring me to do this!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

10 Hot Spots for Real Estate Agents

If you still tune into David Letterman, you enjoy those top ten lists that he does. Well, Inman Real Estate News has it's "Top 10". But these are the top 10 best real estate markets for real estate agents to work.

Nashville made it into the top 10. Actually, we're number 10, proof that there is some stability in our local real estate market.

I still hear remnant remarks such as, "I'll sell when the market turns around." And the most frequently asked question, "Is the market starting to turn ?" still echoes in conversations at church and at the gym. The fact of the matter is that the market is what the market is, period.

Over the last few years, real estate agents have left this business because "the market was so bad". But a good agent knows that to survive, they have to be flexible and move with the market. However, Inman's article gives us great hope. It's not a false hope that implies that we will experience the market of 2006-2007 in a very short time; instead it's hope that we have left the bottom and are returning to a more stable market.

If you're interested in the article, it can be found HERE. Check it out. It's an interesting read.
For help with your real estate needs, give Jack a call at 615-373-2044 or email him at You can check out his listings at He's here to help.