November 21, 2017

When you decide not to settle, you decide to face more adversity. The decision to overcome….

The above video illustrates a creative musical expression that Jennifer Nettles (lead female singer of Sugarland) never plans to settle in terms of life ambitions. If you research the background story of her career and the band, Sugarland, you would know the narrative for any artist to rise almost never comes easy. However if you seek to become more, the decision to become what you seek has a price.

That decision to reach for higher heights brings more challenges, almost guaranteed to create adversity. Those who settle for a day job and survival mode stay in the comfort zone of no risks taken. The individuals who face their fears to overcome them triumph to accomplish wonders that extend beyond imagination. Some historians believe that Thomas Edison tried over 1,000 different configurations (and some hypothesize even more than 2,000 times) to eventually discover the right construction with his invention, the light bulb. His persistence with this experiment and other accomplishments changed scientific history from that point forward.

When we reach beyond ourselves, we will face unforeseen difficulties, but it is those struggles that define the greater character within. It is those trials that teach us to hope when no light remains visible in our future. The talent to hope, no matter the circumstances, develops with experience and some might even say age. When we hope forward to become more, we soon achieve endurance to chase after any dream before us.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to never settle. The words of specific Biblical Scriptures and music like Sugarland’s song, Settlin’, inspire me to reach beyond myself. I will be discouraged. I will fail more than I succeed. I will pick myself up when I fall flat to the ground, maybe literally and figuratively. I choose the path of greater because I will be a better person for it.

The greater in my future guarantees I will encounter more hardship than most. However that is the choice I choose to make. I cannot be subpar. I cannot only be average. I strive to change lives and do great things. In the chase to struggle well, that is where I must find my satisfaction in the midst of the storm.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sugarland – Settlin’ Lyrics

Fifteen minutes left to throw me together
For Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Forever
Don’t know why I even try when I know how it ends
Lookin’ like another, “Maybe we can be friends.”
I’ve been leaving it up to fate
It’s my life so it’s mine to make
Chorus:
I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high
“Just enough,” ain’t enough this time
I ain’t settlin’ for anything less than everything

With some good red wine
And my brand new shoes
Gonna dance a blue streak around my living room
Take a chance on love, and try how it feels
With my heart wide open
Yeah, you know I will
Find what it means to be the girl
Who changed her mind
And changed the world

Repeat chorus

I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high
“Just enough,” ain’t enough this time

I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high

I ain’t settlin’
No, no, no, no, no, no
So raise the bar high, high

BE STILL and know you are good there.

Today I sat for approximately four hours in the waiting room at the Volts Wagon Royal Dealership in Birmingham, Alabama, while work performed corrected basic fixes still subject to warranty with my new-to-me, 2012 VW Jetta. On a quick note, I am very happy with the automobile and recent purchase.

The dealership provides a free shuttle service to anywhere you might need to go or be (understandable for those who need to go to work). When asked if I needed a ride anywhere, I mentioned with full contentment that I would sit and wait. A female patron and even the driver himself laughed at me, like “you are just going to sit here and wait.” At first, I guess they did not think I was serious, but to their shock, I stayed, read, worked on my second major book, played on Facebook, and enjoyed a few minutes rest, waiting. It was like these two individuals could not believe someone would just want to “wait.” I believe this illustrates a surefire, constant dilemma with American culture. People, often including myself, do not want to wait on anything, yet sometimes in patience, we learn our most difficult and prosperous lessons in life’s waiting periods.

It is okay to wait. It is okay to sit. It is okay to be still. And know you are good there. In fact, in these still times, we are most likely to encounter God in a very real and personal way.

I constantly speak with a guy over the phone, through text, or Facebook at least a few times a week, if not more. He constantly tells me, “I really need to go. I have so many things to do. I cannot talk right now.” And since I am a gifted gabber, this need to chase chickens often annoys me.

I regularly want to say to him, “You live in the south. We are never in a hurry to go anywhere. Drink some sweet tea in enjoyed chillness of this fall weather, and let’s talk.” I find the thought of him sitting still almost impossible to imagine. And while extremely productive, I am not sure I envy the possibility of not being able to stop, sit still, and smell some roses, son.

Find five minutes to be still today in a waiting room, in your office, outside, or perhaps even in your car. And confidently know it is good to be there. In fact, with a new still moment every day, you might just find in that silence your life is never again the same. You might even fall asleep.

When down and out, I crank Florida-Georgia Line’s “Cruising”!

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In the last month, I faced opposition in simple, annoying ways, but surprisingly, I am not discouraged or down in that opposition. In fact, God provided me with the ability to roll with the punches and make lemonade on many of these instances.

First, a serious relationship ended with the excuse that “I was not the one because I did not meet qualifications on a list,” literally word-for-word excuse.

Second, my transmission exploded, not literally, where the car required a trip to Memphis, Tennessee. In Memphis, a mechanic fixed the transmission under warranty. I traveled to Tennessee in third gear from Atlanta, for ten hours. That is a long, slow drive.

Third, I traveled with a close friend from Auburn, Alabama to southwest Canada and Washington State, and approximately $6,000 of personal items (including my camera equipment) were stolen from a broken-glass-shattered rental car.

Fourth, I took a first date to the Luke Bryan/Florida-Georgia Line/Thompson Square concert without tickets to purchase counterfeit items, even though at a great price. Then we danced in the rain, soaked walking back to our cars. Finally, I needed a ride home because my car got stuck in the mud on a hill, which I later that night needed to retrieve.

My thoughts transitioned with the following: I should date someone who wants to be with me. The car took care of itself. Insurance will hopefully take care of the stolen goods in Vancouver. And I heard Florida-Georgia Line outside of the amphitheater “Cruising” in the mud, covered in rain, and still made the most of a first date with a beautiful girl. We laughed together at the incident.

I am convinced that we choose joy, no matter what the circumstances. Pain is inevitable, but it how we react to that pain to see the joy of Christ that still prevails.

Let’s cruise with Florida-Georgia Line when the good and bad times come forth! How we view life is our decision.

A Pair of Star Crossed Lovers – True Love Celebrates! To Joe Friday and Matteye Monday…

I believe these lyrics by Rascal Flatts seem all too familiar for this couple. In fact, Joe Friday might capably play the cover song version better than the Rascal Flatts version.

Bless the Broken Road
Rascal Flatts

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you

[Chorus]

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

[Chorus]

Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

I heard this past weekend through a text message that a pair of star crossed lovers aligned in their mission to serve God in a promise of an engagement, my dear friends and relatives, Joe Friday and Matteye Monday. I hope you endorse my creative code names here, but you know who you are.

This pursuit of a young man perhaps remains only comparable to that of a new version of the modern plague of Romeo and Juliet where family, distance, and the attempts of a feeble few meant to separate what in my heart I always knew to remain true. Manic and protective of that which I loved, I once warned through belligerent text messages that those ignorant opposed back off from a wounded heart. I hated to see someone I loved hurt so much by close family members claim to know what’s best in a world of love when separation through example demonstrated anything otherwise with poor choices. Our actions speak louder than words.

The feud behind the scenes of this performance between the Montague’s and Capulet’s makes my stomach well up with knots to think of deviousness and pressure in claims to do what is best for my offspring. Intended well or not, the hypocrisy of an elder sometimes becomes blinded by truth when faced with questions in the mirror. Intentions lose their purity in the pursuit of selfishness over Christ-like wishes for the well-being of those served.

As I looked through my playlists on the ITunes program, I found no love song mixes. To portray my own brutal honesty, I do not much like to think of love because I believe that millennials prove to be more selfish than servant-like. In the newfound culture of the “me-complex,” many lose and misinterpret the true meaning of love. However few like Joe Friday and Matteye Monday in the youthful pursuit of true feelings stand to face the worst of circumstances only to strengthen ties and bring out the best in each other. True love is not a fairy tale. Their story shows that true love still exists, but proven here it is not for the light-hearted. I admire those who pursue with conviction this ideal of true love when I gave up on such a notion a long time ago. With my life, the other persons never included serving another in the acknowledgement of Biblical leadership. Selfishness will always trump any chance of something special occurring, like Joe and Matteye possess. In a world of evil, they understand service as it relates truly to Christ. I both admire their wisdom and continue forward with feelings of my own envy for the love they share hoping to find that myself. I believe Friday and Monday learned to be content without before with each other. Their testimony inspires my scars to heal in the pursuit of true love like we see in my favorite saga of Romeo and Juliet. Our scars and mistakes do after all make us who we are. I think Joe and Matteye while forced through so much unnecessary wrong-doing understand this more than most. Their example of love is what I continue to seek and what in my wildest dreams I hope to become and be like.

To Joe Friday and Mattye Monday, I raise my glass full of prayers to wish you the very best that dreams unite and God’s Kingdom radically celebrates as together you accomplish life’s journeys in heavenly driven purposes. Even when others failed to support you, on bended knee, I prayed that God pierced each of your hearts for true love regardless of what everyone else thought. I always raised my voice up to God and against others when misspoken. I am the one pillar you can lean against any time you need, and with God’s new inspired ambitions, I cannot and will not ever fail you in my own passion for the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I hope through the common passion of eternal music our paths cross to one day touch thousands through ministry, a calling only few understand in the masses. Until then for the moment, I celebrate with you the union of star crossed lovers that until this day no other understood. You withstood all the adversity and trials to stand side by side in ways our family cannot begin to fathom with the wisdom of love for Jesus. I admire you. I commend you. I wish to be like you! And with my sincerest of desires, congratulations from the bottom of my heart! May God bless you forever!

I believe this scene from my favorite movie, the 1996 modern version of Romeo and Juliet, seems appropriate.

Thirteen (The Final Segment in a Series of Thirteen Poems) – Blown Away as I Barely Breathe

Perhaps the moment we all have been waiting for finally arrived.

I confidently now know that I believe in the Presence of His Grand Grace.
I stand in the veil of the Spirit as mercy falls down in overflowing measures.
Tears flow in eyes down my cheeks as I realize the only blessing
Of eternal measures stand in the sacrifice of Sons and Daughters martyred.
I believe in the musical message of thirteen because your beauty compares
To nothing physically measureable I have encountered.
God appoints special talents with the blessed voice of an angel
To speak to millions with an example worth the standard to follow.
Country halls and the ole’ Opry open to your plucked strings
As fans scream at the image of thirteen on a wrist come across a screen.
From the back of the curtain I smile thanking my God for the delivery of a dream.
“Why can’t you see? You belong to me.” Remember there is only One James Cartee.
Oh Blessed Thirteen of all numbers, join my hand in the promise
To never hurt, to never wound, or take for granted the wish blown true
To date the person I believed capable of infinite possibilities in you.
I am a man of my word who like David walks in the shadow and heart of the Spirit
Who on chariot wings lifts to higher heights in the blessing I bring.
I do not deserve but in His Grace I fall into the arms of your hold.
With the words of thirteen poems you stand awe-bound without words to say.
The lyrics come so natural but in return the love and care seems short.
Now remains the time to stand in the wind, twirl in circles, for the heart you stole
Because aligned the relationship two connections bound in the middle of two souls.
All proclaimed the impossible outcome never would happen in only what I believe.
I knew in dreams God sent the epiphany for His Will in our relationship to achieve
The improbable of all odds because I never surrendered to the lies of an enemy.
I refused to give up. I refused to stand down. I refused to surrender
Because I knew your heart would melt to open with a blessed common plan.
Revealed in the peaks of my journey I kissed your lips in the shadows of white
With the blissful presence of bubbles blown by kids in cheers
Because thirteen wishes the guy got the girl in the words of a blog and book.
I stole her heart as she stole mine when my genuine authenticity came to breathe words deep
With imagination because of His Grace in which I live to find my inspiration.
Together we stand. Together we triumph. Together we live.
And together we sing lyrics with the celebration of harmonicas, banjos, guitars, and tambourines.
This is a fairy tale because I read the Word and forever in firm faith believed
That with my White Horse I could never be stopped in the blessings I received.
I am and forever will be the man who stands and stares into the eyes I see
Blown away as I barely breathe in the miracle of your words and angelic beauty.

JLC iii, 6/24/12