The Legacy of My Dad

Every life that is lived is followed by a legacy that remains. It can’t be voided and it can’t be erased. It’s there forever for all to see.

In his 71 years, CJ Speers left a legacy few even realized and most won’t be able to repeat. He was born in Dallas to my grandparents, Jack and Kathrine Speers. He was the oldest of four, sisters Sudie and Janet, and brother Troy. After graduating from Grand Prairie High School, he was the first in the family to graduate from college after attending Letourneau University where he eventually ran into a beautiful young woman named Fern. They fell in love over some King’s Pizza and soon got married and she later became my mom. The groundwork of his legacy was laid…and as Paul Harvey, one of his favorites used to say, soon you will “know the rest of the story”.

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My dad probably never spent one second thinking about the word “legacy”. I know he didn’t sit down and right out annual goals or even consciously think about how he could improve on his legacy each and every day. He just wasn’t that kind of person.

Rather, he simply went out there each day and treated people with kindness, gentleness, and love with a caring, servants’ heart. He did what came naturally and tried to be like Christ to everyone he came across.

If I took the time to write out all of the amazing things my dad did for people and what he meant to them, I’d probably be writing until my own memorial service was being planned. He was just that kind of man and touched so many lives, the way Jesus said to…one at a time.

I can’t tell you how many times he left at the drop of a hat to go help someone fix something, move something, or install something. He was the handyman of all handymen. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t repair, build or do. He managed and led an engineering department, fixed cars at night and at one point nearly single handedly built a church building from the ground up. He was a true servant. Most don’t even know he played the organ for multiple churches, ran the sound system at another, mowed the grounds and did anything and everything he could to repair things and keep the buildings in order. He visited many in the hospital and didn’t hesitate to stop and pray with mom and about anyone that needed it. This was all on top of being a husband and a father giving my sister and I one of the greatest childhoods anyone has ever had.

He was dad to me. He was daddy to my sister. He was “poppy” to my kids and “poppy” to hers. He was just CJ to many and he was “Honey” to just one. But there is no doubt he will forever be a hero to us all.

There are so many things I will forever cherish about my father. The times watching the Cowboys on Sundays after church. The dozens of times he took me across Houston to watch the Astros play and driving home late listening to Milo Hamilton call the game when we left early. He wasn’t the sports fanatic I am but he did it because he loved me. The times we ate lunch together at Wyatt’s Cafeteria, Harvey’s BBQ, or Pizza Inn. The times we worked on cars together at night after work. The times we drove to work together in the summer of 1989 listening to Paul Harvey and getting me hooked forever on talk radio.

He introduced me to conservative politics and sports. He was my biggest cheerleader along with mom and countless times helped me in business when times were tough. And of course he was also just a phone call away when it came to something I needed to figure out or do around house. Lately we talked nearly every day and now I wish I could have just one more. In many ways he was still my security blanket even as I had my own family and myself closing in on 50 years old.

These last few years dad got weaker and weaker but his faith never wavered. He knew what mattered most and we talked about it a few times as it became reality that his life here would be coming to an end. He gave me incredible advice on loving my wife and charged me to take care of both my mom and my grandma. I was honored and I will. His last words to me were “Love you Brady” as I walked out of his hospital room not knowing the next morning he would be in Glory. Oh how blessed I was.

The biggest legacy my dad left us all was making sure my sister and I knew Jesus. He made it possible and was the biggest example of God’s love a kid could ever have. He wasn’t a Jesus freak either. He was just CJ…real, honest and genuine.

In his last words to my kids, he told them, as he struggled to stay awake and breathe….”the most important thing is your relationship to Jesus”.

When it is all said and done, none of the things the world tells us creates a legacy are true. In 100 years, everyone reading this will be dead and gone and none of this worldly pain, suffering, drama or violence will even matter. We will all soon find ourselves facing our own mortality and being asked this one most important question; What did you do with Jesus?

See everyone reading this has a relationship with Jesus. Everyone. You are either his adversary or you are his ally. You either believe in him or you don’t. The Bible says in Philippians 2:10-11 that every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. That means me. That means you and it has nothing to do with whether you believe or not.

Dad wanted everyone to know God. He knew that knowing and living for Jesus was the best legacy a man could ever give his family.

You might think just going to church here and there or just saying you believe in Jesus makes you a Christian and gives you assurance of being in heaven when you die. But it doesn’t and I want you to hear this loud and clear. The Bible says that you must do three simple things to be saved.

  1. You must recognize that you aren’t perfect and that you have sinned.
  2. You must recognize that you need a savior to make you holy so you can enter into heaven and
  3. Finally, you must pray with words from your mouth…to God …that you believe Jesus died for your sins, rose from the dead and ask him into your heart.

Romans 10:9 makes it clear… “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It’s not just about believing this in your head. It is about knowing it in your heart.

It would sound something like this: “Jesus, I know that I have screwed up and I have sinned and I need you to save me. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead for me. Please come into my life and save me. I believe in you. Amen.”

It’s that simple. So do it. Now. Do it…for yourself, your family and for my dad.

If there was anything my dad would ask of each of you it would be to make sure you too can one day enter into heaven so he can see you again.

Now that’s a legacy we all can celebrate.

(Dad, it’s all I can do to stop the tears. I miss you. I always will. But thank you so much for making sure I knew Jesus. Tell Papa and the others I said hi. I will see you soon!)

Summer of Transition – My Why is My What

Life has its ups and downs. No doubt about that. Try working for yourself for three decades and you’ll know real fast. There is time of plenty and time of want. We have experienced both and this summer is proving to be another exciting time of facing such challenges head on in faith.

Last fall, after years of dealing with a professional battle of tremendous proportions, I made the decision for a career change. The battle I had waged wasn’t over, but I was done fighting it out in that arena. As an entrepreneur I had learned long ago that my career would likely follow the path of the many others before and like me. One thing would lead to another, and then another, and maybe another…and then one day it would finally land me where I needed to be.

For me, I believe I am living in that moment now.

Because of the egregious acts of a company I contracted with as an independent agent called Conestoga Trust, led by the scandalous likes of executives Hector DeLeon and Michael McDermott, I was basically forced out of business without much choice to go on. (I am not even at liberty to share all the goodies publicly, but buy me a beer and I promise you one heck of story of Hollywood proportions).

After two years of prayer and debate, my former business partner and I, long time friends, decided to go on the offensive and drop a huge ass lawsuit on their front door just a few weeks ago. (If only I could have been a fly on the wall as they were served those papers.) God knows what the result will be, but my name was ruined, my career taken from me and my livelihood and finances turned completely upside down. They misled me, then threw me under the bus and me and my family paid for it dearly. It’s time they pay us back and what a relief it was to make that decision! I am thankful God brought us an amazing attorney to help us proceed at the least cost possible too.

I wish I could say my self-employment career has been a straight line of success. But for most like me, the journey is one that includes many twists, turns, betrayals, bankruptcies, and more losses than wins. I’m not ashamed of it either. Most people take the path of least resistance and work for another and I get that. Trust me. There are times when I ask myself why in the hell I didn’t. I’m tired of getting the rug pulled out from under me.

But the strength of us entrepreneurs is we rise up and carry on.  And so are we.

Our 4th child, and second adopted son, Zane, has been home now for 8 months and for the last 6 months of that time frame I have been working like a mad man on something new. Something that is more me than anything ever before. Something Julie and I can do together, that can create a lasting legacy for those I love financially and professionally. I have never been more excited in my entire life. I have started and run businesses since I was in my teens. Many have failed and some have been pretty darn successful – at one point I had a business that had 60+ employees and revenues of about $5,000,000 a year. But like many entrepreneurs I made some bad decisions and in the end didn’t have much to show for it.

I have had to borrow money from family. Friends have stepped in a supported us.

It has been hell at times. Pure hell.

But God always has a plan and I certainly have my “why”.

I recently got to spend 2 solid days in Phoenix, AZ, with a room full of very successful and experienced men and women in the real estate investing world. Some were making well into seven figures and most others were running their REI business full time. I was beyond excited, having launched into this arena myself at the end of 2016, to be around people really doing it day in and day out. No internet hype. No sales pitch. No gimmicks. Real people, making real money doing something that frankly is REALLY hard.

The very first speaker of the summit, Kent Clothier, told us frankly that money better not be the reason for seeking success. It better be about something bigger than yourself. He too had at one time seen success and watched it fall nearly over night. He asked us to consider our “why”. Define it. Know it. Study it. Think about it. Pray about it.

Why were we all entrepreneurs? Why were we ok with getting kicked in the groin time and time again only to stand back up and go back at it? Why had we decided to jump into one of the most hotly competitive business worlds ever, real estate? Why?

I came home and chewed on that for days. Sure money…being able to pay the bills….was important. Having enough to enjoy a Disney trip or Vegas trip here and there would be fantastic, and having enough to give extra to our church is vital, and having enough to attend my Cowboys games each fall was practically top of the list.

But in the end none of that will do. Motivation lasts for a moment. A real why lasts forever and I needed to pin that down. The why becomes the what and the what leads to the how. A+B=C.

Legacy. That’s my why. And legacy starts with my family…my wife and my kids. Taking care of my parents and those I love means more to me than anything I could go buy or do. Seeing the joy on their faces as we walk along the beach, or walk through the streets of Seoul in a future homecoming trip just light my world.

Memories are an investment all to their own. I am blessed beyond words to have already had many great ones both as a kid thanks to my parents and as an adult with my family. But I want more. I want my legacy to be more about what we did, who we helped and the lives we touched than anything else.

Real Estate investing (wholesaling, wholetaling and flipping homes) is WAY harder than you ever see on TV or hear on the radio. As a matter of fact, it is nothing like that at all. It is by far the hardest business I have ever started from the ground up. The amount of stuff you need to know, do and put in place is unreal.

Especially when it’s basically you doing it all. Mailers, data mining, creating direct mailers, website content, Facebook and Google advertising, education, documentation, answering calls, follow up systems, working with title companies and attorneys, dealing with lien issues, mortgage companies and emotional family members, negotiating with sellers, finding buyers, analyzing comps, repair estimates, and rehab profit potentials, KIPs and reporting, call tracking software, setting up and training virtual assistants. raising capital (yea, try asking people to invest with you when you have never had to before…that’s real fun), networking and building relationships with others…..and I better stop there. I think you get it. You really want to do this now? It’s no TV show.

So my why better be big. It better get me up in the morning  keep me moving throughout the day.

God gives us opportunities. He will make the path in front of us clear, if we seek Him and ask Him to. But He isn’t gonna walk us down the path to victory. He will walk with us…but not for us.

I started this year with Proverbs 16:3 as my verse for the year. I have given this to Him completely. And yes there have been times when I have taken it back and gotten scared, worried, and felt completely powerless and overwhelmed. But overall, He has led me into the discovery of amazing things, not only about this business, but about who He is and what He wants from me. I have a long way to go on both fronts.

I do believe I will look back one day, on that perfect day, standing on the balcony at a Disney World resort preparing for a day of amazing fun with the family, and humbly smile at how God did what He always seems to do. Take something bad and turn it into something good.

I know I can do this. This is me. It’s hard yet it’s fun. It’s fast paced, intense, and competitive. You better be good at everything – reporting, marketing, negotiations, sales, business management and administration. If you aren’t the odds are stacked against you.

But one day I will stand on that balcony with my why’s in hand and others will be running the show for me. I will have arrived and I will be fully devoted to that legacy.

I may be 47 closing in on turn #4 on the way to 50. But, many successful business men hit their stride about then too. I’m not done yet. And my why’s make the what alot easier.

Now I get why the why is so important. Let’s go do this.

#timeisnow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs Are Their Own Breed

I’ve been an entrepreneur for 25 years now. It’s not easy. It’s late nights of planning, taking risks, putting it all on the line, with no assurance of success.

Many people get stuck in the rut of working 9-5 for someone else and sometimes even I have to admit I wonder if I had just taken that road if life might have been a little less complicated. Let someone else take the risk, spend the money, deal with attorneys and mean people, and stay up at night worrying.

But I wouldn’t trade it.

I might not be rich financially, but the time I have had to spend with my loved ones and enjoy the journey of life as a business owner has made it all worth it.

If you are on your own small business journey, hand in there. It can happen and if you let go and let God take control (Proverbs 16:3) you can find success too!

Tony Romo or Dak Prescott?

In a year that has seen the Cubs win the World Series and Donald J Trump become our next President, it’s only fitting that Jerry Jones would once again strike gold with the accidental find of new rookie QB Dak Prescott.

Mid way point in the year and and  he is 7-1 and has the team in first place in the NFC as he took over at the start of the season for often injured Tony Romo.  He is confident, poised, skilled and smart. He plays better than most veteran NFL quarterbacks….as a rookie. DakAttack. TouchDak. Dak to the Future…I could go on and on. He’s grabbed everyone’s heart and support.

In a recent Facebook poll, most of my friends made it clear – Dak or Romo? Dak. No doubt about it.

Now there is no doubt I have been an avid Romo supporter his entire career and would love to see what he could do if fully healthy with THIS team. But most importantly, I have been a Cowboys team fan since I was a kid. QBs will come and go but the team will always remain and the magic taking place with this team right now simply cannot be messed with.

Combined with amazing rookie running back Zeke Elliott, veteran Jason Witten, star Dez Bryant and the rest things are looking up for my team finally.

It’s our year and maybe Dak will be the first rookie quarterback to take his team to the SuperBowl and win it all?

No need for mojo here. I’m calling it.

Go Cowboys.

Is This the Next Generation of Cowboys?

It’s been an amazing start to the year for my Dallas Cowboys. Romo got hurt in pre-season and I worried it was already over before it started.

But over the last five weeks we have gotten to taste what Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott are going to bring to the table and man does it look at taste good!

I have been a huge Romo fan forever, and still am, but sitting here at 5-1, without Romo and even without Dez Bryant, I am starting to think that the new era may have already begun. What these two are doing behind this amazing offensive line is unreal.

Jerry Jones has a huge decision to make. Romo appears ready to roll and rumor is he is looking awesome in practice. But how do you stop what’s going on now to get him back in there?

I believe Romo deserves his chance at a ring and his chance to pay with a team like this. Zeke is unreal and this offensive line finally has it figured out.

Once Dez comes back here in a few weeks, we could be seeing the beginning of the next wave of Boys to cheer on; Dak, Dez and Zeke. Dak broke Tom Brady’s no-interceptions to start a career NFL record last year and Zeke broke the NFL rookie rushing record of five games with 100+ yards last week at well.

This is gonna be fun…but is it over for Romo?

Either way, it’s an amazing problem to have that Jerry Jones accidently walked into by drafting Dak!

Zane’s Two Week Report

Everything will be a first for our family from this point forward. Family of six and Zane is a superhero. That’s how I would describe the first two weeks home in simple terms. Everything we feared, and I mean everything, was taken care of by the Lord. It has been amazing.

In his first two weeks, he has met nearly everyone and seems to be a real people person. He has played like mad outside with the local kids and even been to his group at church and school co-op. It’s like he just took over the “slot” in the family destined for him. He has had his moments of sadness to be expected, but he has been happy, talkative and downright fun! We got an email from his foster mom too which was exciting.

We have gone out to eat a bunch, been shopping, gone to his first Rangers game, met his Grandma Kat,  started taking baths and brushing his teeth, watched his first Cowboys game, been to the State Fair, and life has been pretty normal. He slept with us for a while but now he is sleeping upstairs already with his brother. He has gotten into eating some new things, learning some English and enjoying some Pororo time on YouTube too. He’s really an easy kid and listens well too. We have set some boundaries he has likely never had and it has been fantastic. He is a joy!

He turned four and we had our first birthday bash too and that was fun. We are quickly become a true family. He has even bonded well with me and the kids and starting to come around with Julie too. It’s just been amazing!

Zane Turns 4!

Though we wished we had gotten him home before his 3rd birthday a year ago, we are very thankful the delay didn’t push it past his fourth!

Family came over as we had a small celebration for our first birthday with him as his forever family. He was all smiles and had a blast opening his presents and playing with his bubble machine among other things. We even had a family give us a motorized car for him and he really loved that!

He is fitting it perfectly and we are all adjusting. He is a such a cute, loving child too. Makes it all easy.

Happy 4th birthday Zane!

Brady Speers new adopted son turns 4!

Brady Speers new adopted son turns 4!

Riding the Korail KTX Train From Seoul to Busan

Since we have an adopted child that was born in Busan, we felt it was important to take a day out of one of our trips to Seoul during the adoption process to go see his birth-city.

Wow, so glad we did! It is an amazing city and absolutely beautiful. Stunning bridges, beaches, landmarks, and views all around the coastal mega-city make it worth the effort! It’s one of the gems of South Korea and a nice change of scenery from the flashy, glitzy Seoul. Truly, you could spend a week there and we only had about 10 hours, but we made the most of it and below are some things you might need to know about getting there and getting around.

KTX train routes from Seul

KTX train routes from Seul

Of course, the most fun way to get there is by jumping on the popular bullet train from Seoul to Busan called the Korail KTX! With a top speed of about 187mph, it seems to “fly” effortlessly across the country and makes a 5-6 hour trip by car only a 2 hour journey. Plus, it is a fantastic way to see the Korean countryside as you fly pass or go through numerous cities such as Gwangmyeong, Daejeon and Daegu along the way.

Getting tickets:

The process, as a foreigner, to get tickets for the KTX can be complicated. The simple way is to pay full price and purchase them directly at Seoul Station. However, a round trip runs about $80 which for four or five people, this could be expensive. Thankfully, the Korean government created a program for foreign travelers that saves riders almost 50% off normal tickets. Though it is a process, it is well worth it. Children’s tickets are 50% off the adult price and adult prices are half of the normal ticket window prices.

Three steps:

  1. Purchase ticket vouchers online via the Korail website for foreigners (must have passport info when buying).
  2. Print vouchers and bring them to Information Desk at Seoul Station before you plan to travel along with credit card used to buy them and passports. They will give you ticket receipt.
  3. Exchange ticket receipt for actual tickets with assigned seats at KTX ticket counter at Seoul Station.

Sounds easy enough, but step one is the biggest challenge. They must be purchased on a special page of the Korail website. However, that website has issues with VPN outside of Korea. This means from the U.S. or other countries it may not be accessible and may time out without pulling up. This is what kept happening to me. So, I spent some time learning how to trick their system and changing my VPN to a Korean VPN. I ended up using a cheap website tool I felt safe with called IronSocket. I am not a computer expert by any means but this was pretty simple. Once my VPN was temporarily changed I could access the Korail website and everything went smoothly from there. You also can try a friend in another country that might can purchase them for you, or even better a contact inside Korea.

Another easy option: If all else fails, as soon as you land in Korea, go to Seoul Station (if you haven’t been there it is fantastic!) and make your way downstairs (two levels down) to the area where the Express Train that goes to the Incheon Airport departs (it is down on the backside corner of the station – meaning furthest back from the main entrance). If you take a subway train there, get off and go up into the main terminal area, walk all the way across, past food court, towards the back entrance in the far back corner. There is a large money exchange service right there just before you head down the escalators. Keep going down all the way to Express Train. Just ask if you get lost.

Downstairs, around the corner from the escalator, you will find a business center called the “Premium Travel Center“. These people are great and you can use their computer for about $5 and buy them on their system. Takes about 5 minutes per ticket keep in mind. We didn’t know this until we got there, but it is an easy solution. You just might consider doing this a few days before you intend to take the KTX, especially during peak travel seasons.

Once on the Korail website, you will have to navigate around some to find the correct area to buy the tickets, find the correct schedule, and the types of tickets to buy, but it is pretty simple. We bought a one day pass, but you can buy multiple day passes to use on the entire Korean system or one day passes for just the KTX. Lots of options. Just make sure you put in all of the information requested correctly. There is no correcting it later. I learned that the hard way when we missed a number on one of our children’s passports. Ugh…

One more thing – they will charge your card at purchase online but if you ended up not exchanging them at the Information Center or somewhere else because you decided not to go, the charges will not complete and you should be whole financially. This happened to us with the one ticket we messed up on. We had to buy another one, but the charge for the original one never completed.

After arriving at Seoul Station (be on time…they will leave without you!) and seated on the train, enjoy the silence (yes it is even more quiet than the subways! These people don’t talk!) but have fun and soak it all in. Riding the KTX and being from America where we don’t have bullet trains was certainly one of the highlights of our trips to Korea!

Getting around Busan:

You will arrive a little more than 2 hours at Busan Station, which is a little smaller version of Seoul Station. Super nice, clean and modern. (There is a really neat viewing platform on the third level on the backside of the station that faces the neat suspension bridge out in the bay. It’s a great view to start the day! To find it, cross through the main terminal area and go up the escalator. There is a Lotteria right there at the top and the viewing platform is to the left.)

There are two main ways to see Busan. A self guided tour via taxi and subway trains or the Busan City Bus Tour called BUTI. We decided to take the easy, effortless route since our time was limited and took the Busan City Bus Tour. Easy to find. Just walk outside the main entrance and you will see the BUTI buses parked over on the road to the left of the main station. Make sure to pick the right tour bus (Blue or Red) and pay the driver your $10 for the ticket and you are good to go. Around $10 for the entire day!! Crazy cheap! The bus will stop at certain cites and you can get off and on as desired. Buses come to each stop every 30 minutes too.

It was fantastic!! There are two routes available. We took the RED route and loved every second of it. It will fill up an entire day easy! Cites like the Busan Harbor Bridge. We got on a open topped bus and it was a wild fun ride across the bridge and through the tunnel! Kids had a ball! The weather was so fantastic we hoped for open topped buses all day long. Other places included Art Museum, world’s largest department store – Centum City, UN Memorial, Cinema Center, Gwangan Beach area (loved this), Dongbaekseom Island, Haeundea Beach, and others. We couldn’t even get them all in much less the blue line. Give yourself about 45 minutes from where you are to get back to the station for your KTX train back to Seoul.

Overall, we are so glad we took the time to do this and we plan to spend more time down in Busan on our next trip to Korea. We love Seoul too, but Busan is a nice contrast and great way to have another neat experience of the amazing country called South Korea!

(I wrote this blog post because I found trying to get KTX tickets to be somewhat of a hassle. Korean websites either didn’t work from the U.S. or were not very user friendly. I tried communicating with them via Twitter, Facebook and submitting emails, but I either got no responses, or generic ones days later. So, I felt the need that once I figured it out I would share my findings here for others to use as a guide.)

Other helpful links:

http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Information/Trans/ktx.cfm

http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfKrPassAbout.do

Brady Speers is a married father of four living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He has twin girls and two adopted sons from South Korea. Brady works as a retirement income planner, helping retirees in the Houston and Dallas markets plan out their golden years. He is also an amateur photographer and huge Dallas Cowboys fan!

Zane is Home!

Finally, after two years, we are officially a family of six as we got home with Zane this last Saturday afternoon to a welcome party of friends and family at DFW.

Everything went so well, it was truly remarkable. Zane handled it beautifully and has made the transition so far better than we expected. We still have a long way to go and life ahead of us, but we could not be more excited. Now we can settle into our new normal.

Adoption is such a magical thing for everyone involved. It’s God’s way of taking a bad situation and pouring his grace all over it. Zane’s life is in front of him now as a Korean American. I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

For now, we get ready for the fall and the holidays we are just around the corner!