November 21, 2017

The Journey of James and Lisa Cartee (….the story that will go down in the history books!)

Believe it or not, Lisa and I met through an online dating website, known as OKCupid. Perhaps online matches do work for some couples, despite the debates that continue forward about internet-based relationships. It worked for me!

I married this hidden gem on Saturday, October 22, 2016, at The Tannehill Ironworks State Park country chapel, located just outside Birmingham, Alabama. We were engaged in May of 2016, where I proposed at The Vulcan Statue Memorial Park in Birmingham, hence our fondness for the city and these southern geographic areas.

In addition to my own mother and sister, Allison Mills, Lisa might just be the most compassionate and servant-like individual I have ever met. Of course, in addition to her righteous hot fox figure, her most attractive quality is her relationship with Christ.

I can honestly admit that when I wanted to give up on our relationship, Lisa persisted. She pursued me. She never gave up on us, stating with confidence that I was her “best friend.” And eventually, her persistence paid off, a persistence that I had never before experienced with any girl, won my heart! Lisa finished the race and got her man. Perhaps this is again a lesson to remember for all of us – to never give up – as Lisa so warmly and kindly reminds us to do.

When I felt that my life had ended in the midst of clinical depression, I realized it really had just began, with my own love and better half in the form of a wife.

The included photos are compliments of Brendon Pinola Photography – a friend and great man of talent. The photography session took place on the Friday before our wedding in a personal meeting that reminds all of our mutual story, a journey that I will continue to write and publish my own memoirs about.

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My Mom – if given a superhero identity, her name would be “CiCi, the Defender!”

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“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” -George Washington

Moms have a special place in the hearts of those they protect and defend, a son, more specifically.

For example, in my own life story, when attending a home Auburn game, my second year as a graduate student in 2009, my favorite team played West Virginia (WV) in a tsunami Saturday night game. Before the game, a drunk WV fan advanced towards me in a harmful stance after some exchanged innocent smack-talking. At five foot even, my mother, Diana Cartee, stood in front of me with a pointed finger towards the assailant, like a student suddenly in trouble in an elementary school classroom. That index finger waved in front of the drunk fan’s face with the tenacity of a tiger, and for some reason, he ran away in fear of my mother’s wrath.

It downpoured the entire first half of the game, with a given rain delay. My Mom stood the entire time in the student section, drenched in water, to spend time with her son, in an ever so stylish navy blue poncho. Now that is expressed love beyond measure….to cheer the Auburn Tigers onto victory with a historic win of historic memorable proportions.

To the displeasure of my relatives, including immediate family, I have seen my Mom get into fights with family when wronging her son and possibly even verbally taunting me. It is almost like a common emotion shared….when hurting, my Mom hurts for me and with me. When happy, my Mom is the first to celebrate with me when sad, the first to cry with me. When I am angry, my Mom’s mutual anger intensifies beyond the reaches of the famous Avenger superhero, the Hulk. Her green madness expands beyond superhuman strength. Her fight to avenge the weak, in my defense, is a powerful force! Like protecting her own children, she will do the same for her own grandchildren, Ayden and Brogan, to whom she is better known as CiCi. Yes, moms defend the weak when the weak, in our vulnerable state, are unable to defend ourselves.

Moms rescue those who need rescuing in vulnerable mental states. At one point, in my life, when suffering from a down spell, I wanted a dog more than anything in the world to distract me from the hate of those who prejudicially judged my mental illness, including my own family members. Thus, I bought a purebred Boston Terrier who I just so happened to name King David. He was never given away. Because Mom loved me and noticed the heartache of her son (something other dumb family members could not recognize in their own ignorance), King David stayed with us for the majority of his lifetime, eight years in all.

Moms sacrifice. Moms give. Moms defend. Mother’s Day, as a single twenty-four-hour period, does not necessarily suffice to recognize the daily blessings a Mom brings to a son’s life. Sometimes you have to stop, like smelling roses, to see the impact made in continual service.

Nothing brings Moms more happiness than seeing their children and the spouses of their children enjoy life, and my Mom will do whatever it takes to assist her son and daughter with the challenges that come forward. She defends her children, no matter what the circumstances. That is just what my Mom does. It is natural to her. It is what makes her CiCi. It is what makes her Diana Cartee. It is what makes her a great Mom that other female counterparts could emulate and learn from….someone who loves and gives unconditionally.

Thank you, Mom, for your continual acts of kindness, especially for those who really need such acts in times of desperation.

Your son,

James L. Cartee III

Legendary Grandparents – Heroes We Always Hope to Be (Poppi, Guy Allison)

The photograph below was taken at Poppi’s last Christmas this past year in 2013 with my sister, Allison. I thought the image depicted the warmth of a unforgettable hug.

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To honor my grandfather in addition to his previous dedication blog post, I also wanted to add this poem. I think the words for the piece speak for all us who have lost a loved one.

Poppi: The Moments Missed

I stare into open space before me in the Corpus Christi sunset skies.
Oh my, I think to myself, how quickly all time flies.
Then in the moment of unsettledness, I remember the warmth
And the gentleness expressed in your last words spoken by your side.

I think of the moments with you missed.
I think of my wedding day, the girl of mine, you never met
The love expressed through my forever wife kissed.

Two more graduations with degrees I continue to earn
The ceremonies you never made with recognition that
I will never stop to study and never stop to learn.

As a man of mature stature, tall, and farmer tanned with one good eye.
He and my blind Boston Terrier, King David, could play the pirate’s patch.
Poppi portrayed the wisdom of a Mister Miyagi and well-formed bonsai.

He served our country in the navy, raised five spirited girls,
Managed a business, adopted a son, ranched a farm,
And often complimented my great good looks and hansom curls.

Like my grandmother from the Cartee clan,
I continue to admire and wonder if I will ever be compared
To the Jesus example set and legend I met in this man.

Some knew him as a friend in his familiar name, Guy.
I knew the grandfather figure of silent strength called Poppi.
Without his presence in our lives, we still fail to say good bye.

He was the stone in our family foundations
As many continue lost in the journey
With no destination in the renewal of Christ inspirations.

The spark between us continues in my heart to electrify
In the angel around I know sitting still on my knees
As reality reminds me of your loss in the tears I cry.

In your honor, I will continually reach for my higher height.
Some doubt me. Some hate me. Some ridicule me.
Grandparents potentially speak beyond the dark with words of light.

After a long fight with demons and the suppression of cancer,
I asked for a miraculous healing for many nights of prayer,
But God planned differently in the spoken words he chose to answer.

I could not appear at your final burial where my heart aches.
My reality cannot accept the truth before me that you are gone.
The moment’s peace before ocean waves crumbles in the water breaks.

I stare into open space before me in the Corpus Christi sunset skies.
Oh my, I think to myself, how quickly all time flies.
Then in the moment of unsettledness, I remember the warmth
And the gentleness expressed in your last words spoken by your side.

August 24, 2014

The Solo Stray Dog with Dark-Hued Angels (Poem Title) – Entranced by a remarkable individual!

Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

I would like to honor someone I recently met who continues to change my life on almost an everyday basis, with a poem I worked on throughout this past entire week. I believe the piece to be one of my recent best.

 

The Solo Stray Dog with Dark-Hued Angels

With truth in the hopeless romantic journey of another blogged poem,
Most cannot keep with the broken clock of lost time to the finish line,
But somehow, somewhere, and something within you gazes into my spirit.
You realize there is nothing you want more than to join me in relationship,
As the dark-hued angel joins her hand gently with mine.

I stray through ocean bay city walls searching for security and shelter.
Fresh from a grooming salon my shadowed angel arrives to rescue me.
She whispers sweet quotes of affirmation into my heart for safe self-keeping.
Her voice soothes the unrest that lays dormant in the chambers of my soul.

I never seek to be your excuse to cry. I never seek to upset the balance
Of our adventures through island beach scenes and Ugandan adoptions.
We find a way to make it through the periods of dry deserts
When we both know we never walk away from the hope of eyes staring.

Your brown beautiful circle gleam into my own shining blue sparkles
As I awe struck, under my breath, thank God for the angelic being before me.
With kisses so sweet and so serene, I stand captivated with smiles in this scene
As I barely wrap my head around the sinking ships sitting still in your memory.

You found me through cupid’s arrows on an internet search engine
To discover the deeper meaning of the darkness in a soul I long embraced.
With no judgment or negative thoughts present, you remembered the good
Of my narrative to save the world through the power of words in a pen.

What do I do when I lose the sound of the spring that fills my soul?
I scratch at chalk board screeches to wonder when the next prayer fulfills
The wish of your call to my ear, listening intentionally to concerns
Expressed from the depths of your heart resounding with harps so loud.

I hear you. I fear losing your presence, worried with what’s wrong
Inside from the outside looking in, with no words murmured to me.
Your grace in glamour presents a symmetrical body others jealously glare
At fine legs and slenderness models die in hopes to attain.

Always on my mind, stars eclipse in failure to shine in the bewilderment
Of love occurring close behind with short hair, body art,
And symbols that resemble miraculous meanings to strengthen the elegance
Of your name, personality, and aura of amazing wonders in light shining.

The girl with the dragon tattoo captures my attention unlike any before her.
In our name, I finding meaning so I am still holding onto you
With every effort, sweat soaked, tear, and blood drop I give
To further strengthen you’re okay with broken lights on the freeway.

This stray dog never forgets his way home to your arms in omnipotent
Love with arms wrapped around to collide sin to sin, connection
Stronger than we ever mated in dire and drastic circumstances before.
I am still holding onto your hand as I cliff dive into your life full board.

With truth in the hopeless romantic journey of another blogged poem,
Most cannot keep with the broken clock of lost time to the finish line,
But somehow, somewhere, and something within you gazes into my spirit.
You realize there is nothing you want more than to join me in relationship,
As the dark-hued angel joins her hand gently with mine.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Below you will notice some angelic artwork pictures that awed me and the words you read in this pieced blog entry. Please realize these images are not original works with the given citations and websites below.

 

1_Even_Angels_Cry_by_robinqm

2_spiral-enslaved-angel-i10930

3_angels-244743-480x320

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1- (http://naesnest.me/2012/02/06/angels-cry/)

2- (http://www.europosters.eu/posters/spiral-enslaved-angel-v16404)

3- (http://walls4joy.com/wallpaper/244743-angels)

4- (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/448671181597669937/)

5- (http://mattstone.blogs.com/photos/angel_art/dream-woman-dark-angel.html)

The Marvel of a Risen Child – We remember Easter through the eyes of little ones!

Children Quote

A few years back I was asked to speak at a southern church on resurrection life experiences, with the message that we all fall, in adverse times, and eventually resurrect again as better people.

As I remember and look back on the last six months on my own Texas adventures, this message of my own resurrection story stung true with me today, in remembrance. I spoke with my father over the phone for our usual brief Easter talk, and he constantly reminded me of the blessings before me in this new chapter of my life. Yes, with gentle reminders, I can witness that the fortunes, evident in my life, are expansive.

Today I constantly seemed to be reminded of my nephew, Ayden. He holds a special place in my heart as an Easter miracle. Family members and close friends celebrated his fourth birthday this weekend (inevitably and ironically also the Easter holiday). Just three years ago, we constantly remained steadfast in prayer because my family and I never knew just how long Ayden would reside here on Earth.

Ayden was born with a rare condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome where “the left side of the heart can’t effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must pump blood both to the lungs and to the rest of the body” (Mayo Clinic Website). You can read more about Ayden’s story on my sister’s blog.

Ayden’s constantly smiles, giggles, and laughs to remind us that resurrection occurs to all of us, children and adults. We wake up, and we rise each new morning. Two years ago when learning to further his developing speech skills, Ayden practiced his nightly routine with one of my favorite videos here, to tuck his friend into bed. “Night, Night.”

While I possess my own revival story to tell, something about children and their own survival stories fascinate and inspire most individuals of any culture and lifestyle. We sometimes only mention resurrection on the morning of Easter with church services all over the country, each usually with a brunch and Easter egg hunt to follow.

Your resurrection experience need not wait until Easter of next year. Find peace on your knees today. Ask a loved one to remind you of all that is good in your life.

A dear friend of my family says this continued thought best on her own personal Facebook post today –

“All of my life Easter has been a purely celebratory day- always feeling happiness that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection I’m reconciled to God. Yet today as I worshiped with my church family I couldn’t quite summon the pure joy I was used to experiencing on this day. My heart is no longer innocent to the reality of grief, and the seeming finality of death. But Death is NOT final and I have a new reason to celebrate- and this new reason both humbles me and causes my knees to bend at the enormity of His mercies. I’m a new kind of grateful today. Grateful that He hears our hearts cry and JUBILANT that our Savior became the Lamb slain for all of us. HE IS RISEN!”

Even when Jesus wanted all to conclude on his walk to the cross, I believe Christ persisted up to the hill of his death.  He believed in a greater risen purpose.

This video, at the bottom of the blog entry, illustrates the impact of Christ since his arrival on Earth. If you live today in this present moment, reading this very blog entry, resurrect into your given vision of life. You live for a reason, because you wake up each morning, breathing. Pursue something greater than what you could accomplish on your own.

Embrace Easter. Embrace the challenge before you. If you forget the good in front of you, then remember the miracle of a child, perhaps with a survival of the fittest mentality. For me, this Easter, it appears that Ayden has been my constant reminder….

That often the best things in life come after the greatest tribulations, one resurrection at a time.

San Antonio Skies Still Streaming – a poem about a new presence (by James Cartee)

date3_editedIt has been a good while and long time since I met anyone who sparked any interest to date and know more on a deeper level. Who knows? – perhaps this changed at this moment described below.

I currently write a new book of thirty-five poems to release in the fall. While not in that publication, this new piece comes from deep down in my own heart. The good emotions in life are certainly to be celebrated in the moments they occur.

San Antonio Skies Still Streaming

Astonishing to the veins pumping of my usual existence,
You appear in the San Antonio midst of museum masterpieces.
I smile without what to know, think, or do.
You breathe hard as your cool body suddenly raptures with heat.
As the tall figure of beauty steps forward, one inch above my height,
I awe in the rush of lustful thoughts at the kiss near our goodbyes.

Nobody lands perfectly upon the earth at our day of creation;
However glamour in well-curved shape brings unexpected grins.
We think constantly of each other after our greeting at the river walk.
I persist in temptation to ask that my sweet sin be purged again.
Everything will change the minute you decide that nothing stays the same
With a new direction in determination that you seek to stay with me.

I catch the glimpse of moonlight that captures your legs
Embraced in the race to my own intimate relationship.
When you cling into one with the blood of orange and blue,
You honor the decision to trust that change brings betterment
For something more close than you imagined before now.
We two-step into a new life to understand that hope floats.

The heart of Texas beats to a new story fairy tale song
With the start of a professor and nurse in ministry joined together
To change the world in the face of dark times without fear.
A sleek thin model with dark but still naughty eyes
And short hair with an image compared to the girl with dragon tattoos
Stares into the bottom of my own brokenness to discover more.

She takes my gentle hand to start a new step, with one concern at a time,
In the second before our magical moment of a first kiss.
We entwine longer than creative minds depict in artwork.
Rainbows light the morning sky. Sunsets dawn the shadow of lips sealed.
I prepare my heart for yours in the daylight of any disaster
Because I have been waiting decades of endless minutes for your arrival.

JLC iii, 3/28/14

My Grandmother, Dot Cartee, In Passing and In Memory….The poem that shakes the southland!!!

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Over ten years ago, I wrote this message to my Grandmother Cartee (my father’s mother), who died late last night, February, 27, 2014. I will be writing about her memory over the next several days, but I believe this poem will serve as a reminder of how I remember her, as a college student and even now as a real world working adult.

To My GrandMa:
A Valentine’s Message!!!
February 14, 2003

Grandmother, you must know how special you are to me.
Your Christ-like desire to serve is what I love to see.
My back is starting to itch; can you scratch it?
I am getting so skinny; as Grandfather says, my jeans no longer fit.
But that’s okay; some don’t understand my own style.
Today I hope this rhyme sure makes you smile.
I have love to encourage; I love to see happiness in others.
I guess that is a quality that Grandsons inherit from Grandmothers.
Prayers to God, and his blessings He sends.
With my Grandmother, there never seems to be an end…
Cooking real good food, doing some laundry, getting some rest.
With love and support, I will always pass life’s long test.
More patient than perhaps I will ever be;
Thank you for being the person you are, and thank you for loving me.
Prayers I send to heaven, and let me tell you God will talk.
In His presence, I am starting to learn and walk.
Learning from his standards, learning from your ways,
Love thy neighbor as thyself; my name is James. My name is not Ray.
Common mistakes and common miscallings;
I know that you are there to catch me if I am falling.
To have my Grandparents still around, many would say this is not fair.
For me, I know you truly care.
Me and the man that I am are just about all I have to give.
With God’s love, I continue to live.
Through me, His blessings continue to be bestowed.
Every day I am taught, and every day I grow.
Only through Christ, sufficient Grace He gives so much of.
I hope through these Valentine words and actions that you know…
It is the person that you are that I love.

Your Grandson,
James III

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The Significance of Community – My Thanksgiving Blessings, Make It Be Yours As Well!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

As many of you know or may not know, I am moving to Corpus Christi, Texas, for a new job in development with one of the United States’ largest nonprofit organizations. I am both nervous and excited about the move and growth opportunity. While everything typically works out for our betterment, I must admit I am stressed with packing and numerous wondering thoughts.

What I have come to realize and remain extremely grateful includes my faith communities, many mostly through Grace Midtown Church, located off Northside Drive, near a neighborhood known as English Avenue. I truly never experienced a relational congregation like this one. This Thanksgiving I realize the vital importance of friendship and the blessings I received from those friendships this past year.

I will miss Grace and my fellowship base of believers here in Atlanta! However I remain thankful for each of those I encountered there in the past year.

While I underestimate the power of living, socializing, and experiencing true life with others, Grace Midtown Church serves as a reminder of this breathing source of fresh air in people’s lives, especially in the midst of active adversity in life. To feel the Holy Spirit in communion with others still invigorates me to higher heights.

The following video illustrates the doldrums of a life journey alone. If missing out on the faith community experienced by others, I challenge you to rise out of your rut and come home to a faith family unlike anything you will ever witness before. As we simply say in the south, it will change your life!

Again, watch this video, and let it serve as a test to see where you lie in the spectrum of really living or just existing.

Tallulah Gorge, Tallulah Gorge – Stillness speaks in nature! BE FREE!

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Right now the world is a scary place without much certainty. People break our hearts. Rejection lies more prevalent than ever. And without the aid of The United States Government, finding a job of interest can seem near impossible. While we celebrate the image of freedom in this country, it is a rare instance to actually feel and realize, in a true surrendering to let go of all we cannot control.

We persist to be busy, busy, and busy, without much time for margin. Somehow we correlate busy with the peace our daily checklist accomplished creates. We find self-worth in being productive and “getting stuff done.” As I get older, I realize most of that “stuff” does not even matter. We worry and stress over realities we often cannot control.

You will see some of my photographs of Tallulah Gorge and the waterfalls that settle on the canyon’s bottom below.

After descending over seven hundred stairs to the bottom, I sat alone in stillness with a breakdown moment of prayer and hopeful cries that God listened to my simple requests. After months of struggling with heartache and breakthrough, something transcended to release the pressure valve.

With a broken romantic relationship, a stiff and competitive job market, and several family members fighting deathly ailments, I simply let it all go with my hands opened towards the sky.

I experienced freedom for the first moment in a very long time. Stillness, in the presence of God, still speaks. I think it becomes a matter if you willingly listen, spread your arms in submission, and say, “Okay.”

You let go of what you have no control over. You experience freedom because you give up. When you breakdown with nothing left to lose, in that moment of surrender, you become free.

Nature enters as the gateway to heaven. You may not hear the audible voices of thunder coming, but the sprinkles of a rushing waterfall might just be enough to bring tears to your eyes. Hearts break. Life goes on. But new found freedom rings true in the soul of a new faithful steward.

Begin again. Experience freedom. Press forward. And know that God will never leave your side. He cares just that much. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Your friends are family! Friends matter! The journey more than the destination…#THREE

John 15:12-15 (MSG)

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.”

This third of three series sums up our final entry on family, faith communities, and friends that matter, because these relationships are all that matter most in life. You can read the first and then the second entries, before completion of this one if you wish.

Even today, I was reminded of a close friend when I called him to ask for his help on some web projects, specifically with starting my business and volunteering for a nonprofit-geared magazine, Splickety. Without question, he gladly assisted me in the stress of a grind with meetings until late. I love my life, but I also love the friends who back me up….again we see this theme constantly emerging in the past week and a half. We never turn our back on families….never!

Many individuals are not as fortunate as me to have a biological family that supports and constantly spends time with each other. Even today, I spoke with my father for a good while on the phone to inform him of a recent interview. A new friend and I journey to Clemson University, who play Wake Forest, for a Homecoming football game this weekend.

When biological family is not present, you lean into your friends, into what I called before a faith family, in the name of Jesus. Some have no other choice, than to lean into friends, because they have no biological family…orphans sometimes for instance.

I challenge you today, to realize that life becomes more fulfilling with our family, friends, and faith communities surrounding us. If not connected outside of your cell phone and social media technology, get out into the real world. Shake some hands. Make some friends. And visit family if you have some. With relationships, make the rest of your life the best of your life! With relationships present, you will find the best of what is to come.

Enjoy Alan Jackson with his classic on why Jesus makes the best friend one could ever have – what a friend indeed.