Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Guy That Inspires Me

One of my most valued friends is Jaime Woodall. I met Jaime about four years ago when I started attending First Baptist Church in Hart. My family and I were new to the church, and Jaime was the youth pastor there at the time. Jaime and his wife Kris welcomed us into the church family, and Jaime and I really connected.

coffeeOver the first year or so, Jaime and I would meet for coffee, and talk about some seriously deep stuff. I'd never had a friend I felt so comfortable talking with. Jaime opened up new doors for me, and encouraged me to build my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jaime is not your typical pastor, at least not the way I came to expect pastors to be. I grew up in Southern Kentucky, where I attended Southern Baptist churches, and never established a real relationship in any of those churches. Jaime is laid back, easy to talk to, and has a very approachable personality. He is a great listener, and doesn't push his opinions on you.

As we became friends, Jaime encouraged me to do some public speaking to other churches' youth groups. With my Marine Corps experiences, and the struggles I have had with my own faith, he helped me reach the conclusion that I had something to offer young adults. I have done a few of these speaking events since, and the rewards have been amazing.

In August of 2007, Jaime and I both announced that we would be leaving First Baptist. I had been given orders to deploy to Iraq, and would be gone for a year. Jaime felt called to do missionary work in Northern Michigan, planting churches. It was a tearful Sunday when we stood in front of the Congregation together and said our goodbyes. We didn't know if we would ever see each other again.

I stayed in touch with Jaime while I was in Fallujah, and we encouraged each other in our endeavors. Jaime was dealing with the upheaval of his family, and I was dealing with my family's sense of loss with me being deployed. Jaime guided me to seek strength in Christ, and I hope I helped him do the same.

I returned from Iraq last September, and returned to First Baptist Church. Jaime was having some success up in Petoskey, and I was happy for him. I missed him and his family, but I knew God was using them for His work.

Today was missionary Sunday, and Jaime came to town to speak to the Congregation. He shared with us how his ministry in Petoskey had grown, and the lives that he and his group had touched. It was amazing. Now Jaime is preparing to move to Boyne City, to plant a church there.

I love the way Jaime ministers. It is a message of love and salvation. He doesn't push, and allows you to come to Christ at your own pace. He fosters a desire for you to want you to learn more without you even being aware of it. Then when you have questions, he is there to answer them.

Jaime is affiliated with Genesis. Genesis has stripped away the dated religiousity that hinders so many from seeking out God's word. Genesis seeks to encourage building a relationship with Christ, fostering goodwill, and community service. Please visit their website by clicking the image below.

Genesis Wired

Please include Jaime and his family in your prayers, that he may continue to do God's work, and change peoples' lives like he changed mine.


Meet me at The Cottage and Lakefront Living Show!

Come and meet me in person Saturday, March 28 at the 3rdAnnual Cottage and Lakefront Living Show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, MI. I'll be showcasing some of our finest lakefront and vacation properties from 1pm to 4pm. This is a great chance to connect with Lake Michigan property owners and prospective buyers.

Cottage Show Banner

The Cottage and Lakefront Living Show is held in downtown Grand Rapids each year, and is attending by dozens of exhibitors from across the state. You can find me at the Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt Booth. In addition to real estate professionals, some of the other exhibitors include:

•· A wooden boat building class

•· Camping and hiking outfitters

•· Wildlife artist

•· Sandcastle building (and demolishing!)

•· Home improvement contractors

•· Builders

•· And more!

For exhibit times and ticket information visit

Kids JumpI'll be bringing along information on some of our team's spectacular lakefront home listings, and answering questions folks may have about the Oceana County area. I've been a resident here for 15 years. In that time I've fished nearly every hole in the county, and I'm a regular at the beach in the summer. I can also tell you where you can find the best meals around. Stop by and let me brag up the area, it's one of my favorite past times!

Oceana County is a premier destination for vacation living, and has many activities for all ages. Off-road enthusiasts come from all over to ride the dunes at the Silver Lake State Park. The dunes open April 1st, so start planning your vacation now. You can get permit information HERE.

Sliver Lake ChamberThere are many other attractions in the area, as well. To find out more, visit the Hart Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce. You can also visit, where I'll be posting current event schedules throughout the summer.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Thank goodness I learned to preview listings before taking my clients to see them!

A fellow agent and I took part of our day today to preview some homes that we were preparing to show our respective clients. Of the six that we looked at, two were actually worth showing and met our clients' prerequisites.

One of the homes was a particular disaster. It looked like a good deal on the MLS, but the next thing we know, we are on a muddy, rutted, seasonal county road, in the middle of nowhere, wondering if we were about to drive off the face of the earth.

The listing said it was conveniently located near town. I suppose this would be true if the buyer owned a helicopter, or a teleportation device. My car would have never made it out there, and my friend's Explorer was a mess by the end of our trip. I would have been in an awkward spot with my buyers waiting for a wrecker to come rescue us.

Anyway, we got there, and the outside looked great, just like the picture on the listing. A quiet, country setting, with acres of trees surrounding. My mood was starting to lift, and I thought maybe this wouldn't be a total loss, after all. I was wrong.

We open the front door, and begin looking around the home. Overall, the home was in good shape except for one minor detail: someone, presumably the foreclosed upon previous owner, had ripped the electrical wiring and fixtures from the wall. Notice I didn't say "removed", I said RIPPED. The home's wiring was completely trashed, so my Rural Development possibilities were drifting away...

Instead of showing six homes tonight with my clients, I showed two, and they are putting in an offer on one of those. When I told them that I had already previewed the homes earlier in the day, they were shocked, and thanked me for putting in the extra effort.

The moral of my little story is that had I taken my clients there without checking it first, I would have looked pretty foolish. Instead, my colleague and I had a funny story to tell back at the office, and I had something to blog about tonight!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Foster Care Licensing

My wife and are currently in the process of obtaining our Foster Care License here in Michigan. Today we attended our first six hours of mandated training, and it sparked some interesting questions for me.

Did you know that to care for a foster child, you have to submit to background checks, fingerprinting, interviews, and a mountain of paperwork centering around your belief systems and your own childhood? In addition, an applicant must attend twelve hours of training for state licensure, plus additional training from the supervising agency. Continuing education is also required on a yearly basis to maintain the license.

What blows my mind is that we have to do all this work to take care of someone else's child, but there are absolutely NO requirements for just anyone to have children. This is especially frustrating considering that I already have three wonderful children that Amy and I have cared for for over twelve years. Our kids are great students, active in the church and community, and are just all around generally "with it". Now all of a sudden, we have taken in a six month old little girl, and we have to take parenting classes?

I wish the biological parents of these foster kids had sat through these classes before having children. We learned today that in Muskegon County, they receive 3500 calls alleging child abuse each year. Of those, 75% are deemed to be valid complaints and are investigated. Our instructors further added that there are about 400 children in foster care in Muskegon County today. 20% of these children are eligible for adoption, and just need parents to adopt them.

We are more motivated than ever to do what we can to help provide a safe home for some of these children. The rewards of providing a safe haven for a troubled child are worth the frustration. If you are interested in adopting or providing foster care, please visit Bethany Christian Services at This is one of several licensing agencies, and happens to be the one that we are working with. We live in Oceana County, but Bethany has offices in several locations, and their workers will come to you.

You can also inquire at your local Department of Human Services for your county. If you are thinking about getting into foster care, and don't feel comfortable contacting an agency, contact me, and I'll be happy share our experiences with you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Young Engaged Couple Pursue Home Ownership

What a great evening! I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with a great couple in their early twenties this evening. I talked with them over the phone last night, and they agreed to come in to my office today. Before our appointment, they had already scheduled a visit with a local lender. The lender went over various payments on different loan amounts, and analyzed their budget to tell them what they could afford to spend per month. Overall, I agreed with the lender's numbers, as I had done my own calculations based on a conversation with them. He even suggested a Rural Development Loan for them, which I was happy about, since so few people are knowledgable about this loan. I was a little disappointed that he told them prices of homes to look for, rather than explaining to them to buy based on what they wanted their monthly payment to be, but I went over it with them, so they understand now. For those of you reading this that haven't bought a home before, knowing what the millage rates are for the municipalities in your area are is of great importance. The difference in what you pay in taxes from one municipality to the next could equal tens of thousands of dollars in purchase power. Now, instead of looking for homes not to exceed $80,000, we are looking for a home in a municipality that will allow their PITI payment to stay under $650. We will find homes in one municipality that are 90,000, but has low taxes, and still be able to come up with the desired monthly payment. It's all about whether you want to spend your money on taxes, or put it into equity in your home. These folks left my office armed with some valuable knowledge, and are excited to see some homes this weekend. I'm excited for them, and can't wait to help them buy their first home. I love my job!

Semper Fi!

OK, Let's get blogging!

"THEY" say you should blog to keep pace in today's social networking world. Who am I to argue? Besides, anyone who knows me already knows that I have something to say about pretty near everything under the sun, so why not put it in writing? I had a great conversation with a fellow agent today who recommended blogging regularly, so I guess he is now part of the infamous "THEY". Pretty soon, I guess I'll be one of "THEM", too. So if you're reading my first blog, be sure to bookmark this site, and return often. I'll keep writing, you keep reading, and please feel free to comment. Semper Fi.