December 17, 2017

Where did James Cartee go? An update on life….

But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 24:13 (NKJV)

I have not officially written a text for this blog since January 18, 2017. That is quite a long time. Many things have changed since then. This entry is my gallant effort to write again, perhaps rebirthing back into life.

Lisa, my wife, and I are still settling into Nashville as our home and maybe even the future city where we will raise our children. We both have jobs that pay the bills but by no means satisfy desires of the soul. As some Christians often say, God has a larger mission for both Lisa and I in mind. One might say that I feel brighter days ahead in my bones at the core of my soul.

Writers rise out of the darkest places one word at a time. My story encountered a silent place where sickness encompassed my body and mind. I was definitely not feeling like myself, and nearly after one year later, I showed signs of my own discovery and with no intentions to rhyme, my own recovery.

We rise from the ashes when our minds come into the presence of the Lord in the form of resurrection. I start again.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have accepted within myself is to lower my expectations while heightening my hopes. If you saw my list for one day’s activities to complete, it would overwhelm almost any person. I separate myself from those very lists. I celebrate what I have accomplished in a day’s time, rather than beat myself up for what I could not do, which leads to my second greatest lesson coming to life in the past year….

I will not and cannot beat myself up. The shame, inner blame, and guilt that results becomes self-destructive to the point of no return. Negative thoughts lead to more negative thoughts where depression looms, keeping one from moving forward to enjoy the moment of now as a newly-wed, as a new man, and as the new beginning awaits me.

I strive for more because I believe I am more than I previously accepted myself to be. While circumstances buried me, I survived once again to tell of my journey once more and to write another day for many more years to come.

James L. Cartee, III, returns as a better person for the valley I have leaped across. I will be back more often as I hope to complete at least one blog entry a week. For the betterment of my own existence, I am back!

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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Lisa – My Only True Companion – Like A Cold Beer, Baby!

In the previous three blog entries, I have dedicated those pieces to my father, mother, and sister, Allison.

Perhaps most significant of events in my life, I am getting married to Lisa Ciuffetelli in October of this year, and at this point in my life, she will become my best friend and closest companion.

Lisa and I talk at least twice a day, as we continue to carry forward a long distance relationship, for just a few more months. She lives in Texas and I in Nashville, Tennessee. Our communication methods also include Skype calls and of course, plenty of texting throughout the entire day.

This morning Lisa texted me something about a sarcastic comment with seasonal employment, something about working. Honestly, it was one of those long, late night conversations. I did not even remember her comment, seeing that I no longer hold onto little things I cannot control. It simply speaks of her character – she was fearful she had hurt my feelings. She cared enough to make a point of it this morning.

I am convinced Lisa is the most compassionate person I have ever met in my life, which is such an amazing quality to have. For better or worse, this personality trait also makes her a sincerely sensitive individual as well, someone who tries to empathize with those hurting from hard circumstances.

I recently wrote this poem about Lisa. She is my family’s new sibling. She is sweet. She is tasty. She is like a cold beer on a hot day, baby!

Like a Cold Beer, Baby

I like my women
Like a cold beer.
Whether a blonde, brown pilsner,
Pale, or IPA,
I am good with clear hops.
Smoothe, tasty, and tall to drink
Like anything that doesn’t think too hard,
Doesn’t go too fast,
Doesn’t chill too quick,
A beautiful sight makes me thirsty.
While quenching my need,
I drink another to rest,
To watch a good game,
And to relax after a day’s work.
The pretty refreshment makes me smirk.
Like my baby girl, it is pure enjoyment.
A good woman is like a good beer.
It is something to savor
And something to appreciate.
The love of a woman is to be a blessing
Like any moment with a beer.
Memories of community are irreplaceable.
Beer provides excuses for social enjoyment
As my lady lover stands in my corner.
The simple things are the best things.
I grab my beer. I grab my lady’s hand.
We remember a shared bliss.
I receive a sweet kiss.
For a brief minute,
It is my beer I no longer miss.
It is her touch.
It is her smile.
With a beer in my hand
And my lady on my shoulder,
I am as happy as a Georgia Peach.
I am the luckiest man in the world.


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


“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

The Engagement Story – James Cartee and Lisa Ciuffetelli


Lisa and I originally met online through a dating website named OKCupid. We have had a blessed journey while getting to know each other in the last two years. There have certainly been some growing experiences up the point of our engagement. I will admit this truth – Lisa is the first and only woman I have ever dated who fought to keep our relationship healthy and intact. With a personal spiritual revelation, she always showed, in many ways, that she wanted to be with me!

In addition to her relationship with Jesus, her never-ending passion to become a better person is certainly one of her finest and most attractive qualities. Her strong will towards self-fulfillment therefore also inspires me to be a better man for her and a future family with children as a father.

Many people keep asking the story of our engagement. So I decided to write a blog entry about our Memorial Day weekend adventure.

Lisa arrived on a plane from Austin, Texas, where she currently resides, into Birmingham, Alabama at approximately 3:30 p.m. Lisa enjoys a good shopping experience. We had planned a photography session for Monday morning. Of course, we did what every couple does for an engagement photo session; we went shopping. I bought Lisa a jean skirt, a boutique green dress (the one in the pictures included in this blog entry), a formal navy blue dress, and a new pair of tan sandals. I wanted her to feel appreciated for all that she does to support me in my own goals and personal endeavors.

That Saturday evening, May 28, 2016, Lisa and I went to eat at Flemings Steakhouse, located in The Summit shopping mall, where I ate a shrimp and scallop delicacy with a Caesar salad and grilled asparagus. Lisa ordered tuna filets with a shared vanilla crème brulee. Of course, we also had some wine to top off a wonderful evening. We went home to watch a movie afterwards.

After a brisk walk the next morning in Homewood, Sunday, my sister, Allison, and Mom surprised Lisa by taking her to lunch and to get her nails done for the photography appointments, a manicure and a pedicure.

At approximately 5:00 p.m., I took Lisa to the Vulcan Statue Museum and Park – a landmark for the city of Birmingham, much like the Statue of Liberty in New York City. While Brendon Pinola, one of the best wedding photographers in Birmingham, took pictures from a distance of approximately 50-60 away, with the city skyline in the background, I specifically planned to propose to Lisa at sunset here at this location. I hired Brendon to shoot both this occasion and an engagement session the next Monday morning on Memorial Day. Lisa was unaware that Brendon would be shooting us in the distance with his zoom lens in addition to a brief photography session that evening in her new green dress and sandals.

We toured the museum and went to the top of the viewing tower to then eventually come back down. As I pretended that we needed to go over to the side of the park viewing platform for the best view of the city, I quickly bent down on one knee. Lisa nervously asked, “What are you doing?”

I replied, “I have been thinking about this question for a long time. Will you please marry me? Will you please be my wife?”

While Lisa hesitated for a few long seconds, I grew a little worried in anticipation. She whispered, “Yeeeesssss.” I breathed deeply in relief, thankful for the answer I had long hoped for. Even with all my planning and special treatment, Lisa was unaware this would be her long awaited weekend. She was crying almost uncontrollably. It was difficult for her to spew out an answer in the overwhelming feelings of the moment. She knew an engagement question was coming soon, just not this past Memorial Day.

After the actual question of the hour and our first photo session with Brendon, we went to eat at The Village Tavern, where my Mom, sister, Allison, and five other mutual close friends waited to surprise Lisa in celebration of the occasion when we arrived at the restaurant. Three mutual friends drove all the way from Atlanta, Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama just for the dinner and then back in the same evening. While I cannot remember what Lisa ate, I order and relished a fresh trout fillet, lightly breaded and fried in bourbon sauce.

After a late dinner, I was exhausted. I had spent the previous two weeks planning Lisa’s visit. We were not quite in the mood to go out further to another bar restaurant to extend the party. Instead we chose to relax and watch another movie at my apartment.

The next morning we met Brendon for our second engagement photography session, continuing with more Birmingham landmarks, including Morris Avenue, The Peanut Depot, the Rotary Trail, and Railroad Park.

In addition to celebrating the event with close friends and family, the photos with Brendon presented a frozen moment in time. We recorded the special moment for just Lisa and I. Our eyes locked both in shock of the moment but also assurance we had each found our soul mate. Sharing the photo sessions was probably my favorite part of the experience, especially when Brendon was so cleverly able to catch the moment when I actually proposed to Lisa.

I look forward to spending the rest of my life with Lisa Ciuffetelli, soon to be Mrs. James L. Cartee, III!





*Special thanks to professional photos were taken by Brendon Pinola of Brendon Pinola Photography. He is a great photography if you seek such services.

“I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.” A Motto from Captain America that will change your life!

At the end of this video, listen to the line that makes this blog post powerful for those who step on the little guys (or little girls)!


 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3 (NLT)

I have watched the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, more times than I can count, and the main character and superhero, Captain Steve Rogers, never backs down from a bully and fight, sometimes at his own detriment, saying “I can do this all day.” He keeps getting back up time and time again even with blood spewing down his shirt out of his mouth, depicted as the fool who will not go down without fighting time and time again. I admire his-never-back-down attitude.

Rogers constantly seeks to serve his country in the allied war against Germany. He continues to be denied by doctors to pass the military physical (so he can inevitably go to war), using several fake names and home states in the process. His small stature eventually transforms into the muscle-bound Captain America, and his dreams come forward to go to war. When finally successful to attain an approved appointment with the health clearing exam to join the military, a doctor behind the super soldier campaign asks Rogers, “So you want to kill Nazis?” He then responds admirably, “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.” Through a series of tests at boot camp, Rogers takes risks for the “little guys,” the underdog you cannot help but root for as an audience member.

My cowriter and close friend, Tim the Upbeat Retired Guy, believes that I write too critically of others in my life sometimes on this blog and then in my book, One Flight Short of a Cuckoo’s Nest. I must personally admit I have never really liked bullies (guys and girls included). I do not really care where that bully comes from. I am not one to give a free pass to any leader who uses authority to push other people around. The range includes all kinds of individuals from all walks of life, politicians, academic institutional deans, stewards, and presidents, and perhaps even spotlight ministers. Like Captain Rogers, I am not looking to hurt anyone or ruin someone’s reputation. I will simply not tolerate those who bully others around.

An example in my life comes to mind: While in high school, I wrestled on the 2000 Alabama State High School 6A Championship team. Our team grew close in extraordinary ways, and we really had each others’ backs, all for one, and one for all! When one person stood in trouble or in the line of fire, we all did. No one messed with our girlfriends or with each one of us. We especially had no tolerance for a guy disrespecting or bullying a girl. There is just no room for that on my watch! While in the hall one day, one of my best and closest friends, Elizabeth Sanders, was picked on and degraded verbally by her boyfriend, Patrick, at her locker, whispering condescending comments into her ear while she frowned to the point of tears. Her boyfriend was a real jerk, and I never really liked him anyway. In fact, had I been the man I am now, I would have asked Elizabeth out when she was single. I told her boyfriend to back off and stand down. My good friend, brother in Christ, and wrestling team mate, Jonathan Dobberman, stood there by my side when I faced Patrick. Patrick responded, “Who is going to make me?” I said, “Me and my wrestling army!” That was the end of the conversation. He walked away, and with a grateful hug for me around my shoulders and slight smile on her face, Elizabeth quietly said, “Thank you!” What can I say? Some of us have bigger mouths than others. And Patrick even later that day apologized. Those who stand for what is right often reap the rewards (and sometimes the costs) for doing so.

Where am I going here? Scripturally as soldiers and warriors of Christ, we are not meant to back down for a just cause as men of God. We are meant to defend the cause of the orphan, the disabled, the widow, the homeless, and those who cannot stand up for themselves in any way.

I recently have dwelled on yesterday’s excuses, reasoning, and mind doubts of why I so often lack to take action today, not against bullies, but moving forward with life. Yesterday is gone and so are those excuses!

We excuse ourselves from the hard struggles, challenges, adversities, and tasks in life and remain okay with that. Well, I am not okay with a subpar existence, and I will never be okay with a bully. While words written hurt the bully who takes action, the narrative of God’s soldiers triumph every time. When you play the political game to drown one who suffers, I cannot simply stand by and let that go. I will write. I will fight. And I will speak out.

I don’t want to kill or hurt anyone. I just don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.

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THE BOOK TOUR – one small step at a time….Auburn, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Corpus Christi

I often grow impatient with myself and where I think I should be in life, instead of where God has me, right now in this very moment. I overlook the obvious blessings and the successes currently in front of me. My two newly released books, through Woodson and Knowles Publishing Group, titled Twenty-Three Deeply Rooted Confessions and Thirty-Five Virtuous Blueprints, illustrates movement forward, going somewhere instead of nowhere. The first text contains 23 poems and 23 photographs and the other, 35 poems and 35 photographs.

While most never get rich off poetic words combined with photography, there is still pride in the creation of a traditionally published book. It is one more step in the right direction….an eternal direction where dreams eventually await me. The greatest of achievements in life involve climbing over the highest of mountains one step and hand hold at a time.

I have scheduled the following book tour and signings in the next month for the two books mentioned before. I would very much like for you to attend and celebrate this recent accomplishment with me.


Thursday, October 2, 2014, 7:00-9:00 PM
At The Gnus Room
108 S 8th St
Opelika, Alabama 36801



Thursday, October 9, 2014, 3:00-6:00 PM
At McKay’s Bookstore-Chattanooga
7734 Lee Hwy
Chattanooga, TN 37421



Sunday, October 5, 2014, 7:00-10:00 PM
At the Inman Perk Coffee Bookstore
240 North Highland Ave., Suite H
Atlanta, GA 30307



Saturday, November 1, 2014, 2:00-4:30 PM
At Lori’s Booknook
1005 E Concho St
Rockport, TX 78382

“The Roth Chronicles” – Quote the Raven Nevermore (Excellent Conclusion)


The Roth Chronicles

“You are the worst writer I know,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
From an antique approach lonely and depressed.
Your words mean nothing in the guise of the suppressed.

“You are insane,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
The crazy contributed to the best poetic works of our times,
Even in the criticism of projects failed with your negligent crimes.

“I do not work under deadlines,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
Your professionalism soars to higher heights
As you claim you serve the best at Roth writes.

“I am not willing to listen to learn,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
With clients you have much still to process.
In your own venture and word, you make no progress.

“I need several months to edit a few poems,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
You portray a commitment of a flake’s notice.
You nauseate my conscious with your slowness and lack of focus.

“I always keep my word,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
Even with services paid in full upfront with no return,
You failed to follow through with writers you burn.

“I was recommended by another writer,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
In good due time, what comes around goes around.
You continue to play the role of a dramatic diva crowned.

“I do not know how to use PayPal,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
Technology and digital media breaks a reputation
For those who live in constant negation.

“I am worth your investment. I will deliver,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
For the oldies but goodies, I suggest you now retire
Because you cannot break those you disappoint to inspire.

“I know everything there is to know in the subject of poetry,”
Quote the Roth, “Nevermore.”
The educated provide lessons to teach to the ignorant
For those who fail to appreciate individuals clearly brilliant.

JLC iii, 5/28/14

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


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


He said, She said, What did you say? – PART 1 of 2 (A Monday Mayhem Special Edition)

He said, She said, What did you say? – PART 1 of 2 (A Thursday Mayhem Special Edition)
Jointly collaborated with James Cartee and Avily Jerome

As a regular contributor to many magazines, James Cartee and Avily Jerome team up and cowrite a male versus female perspective on relationship breakups. “That’s not what I meant.” – YES, this is BETTER than a TAYLOR SWIFT BREAKUP SONG!

James: A good while ago an old girlfriend broke up with me with an excuse that frustrates many men, what I call The God Card – using God as a reason to cover up the real lack of commitment to a person, a cause, or a dream. I believe God speaks to all of us, and this Holy Spirit filled experience affects most Christians and their decisions. Certainly include God in the breakup of a relationship, but do not solely use Jesus as the reason for that breakup. “God told me to end this relationship, but I am not sure why God told me this.” –that is worse than your classic Herbal Essences commercial above where shampoo fulfills the needs of a female.

Avily: Women are not logical. I’m just going to say it. We think with our hearts, and sometimes we don’t really have a good reason for why we do what we do. I’m a big believer in Women’s Intuition, and in many cases, even if we don’t know why we feel a certain way, some things just don’t feel right. In some instances, it saves us from walking into a parking lot alone because we just don’t feel right about walking past that guy holding the cigarette and leering. In other cases, though, as in the case of your relationship, it may not even be something we can pinpoint, but she just wasn’t “feeling” it the same way you are. That said, her excuse was a poor one. Now, I’m not denying that God can speak to people and give them direction, but to use that as an excuse is more of a deflection so we don’t hurt a guy’s feelings. I suspect she genuinely didn’t want to hurt you more than necessary, and using her faith as a reason was the best one she could come up with.

With so many good qualities among many other compliments, I further felt disheartened from the breakup. For instance, “James, you offer all these positive attributes to our relationship, but I still want to break up with you for reasons I cannot pinpoint.”)

James: The worst part of this particular old school, God Card breakup was that this individual complimented I was her best kisser, cuddler, and communicator ever dated. I always try my very best to clearly communicate my heart, my feelings, and my own life testimony. In the confession of this former significant other, I felt she never communicated the real reasons for her decision. In fact, when most implement the God Card excuse, they fear to share the real motive behind a choice, in this case more than likely another guy in my stead or fear of commitment to something amazing.

Avily: While I can’t comment on her motives since I’m not her, I can suggest from experience that she may be holding out for something better. Whether that’s a real guy she knows and is waiting for him to notice her, or whether she has an ideal in her head that you didn’t fit, she has decided that you’re not “the one.” But, rather than just come out and say that, or tell you she doesn’t feel the same way, she instead falls back on this excuse of God telling her you aren’t the one, because, really, all the logic in the world can’t argue with what God said to her.