November 21, 2017

What do you seek to achieve? Do you tire of inadequacy? Complacency? Do you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe? -A message of greatness that rests heavy on my heart.

I saw this video yesterday, and it has resonated with me ever since that original viewing. I think I watched it six or seven times just today. Capture the inspiration of finding more inside of you.

Someone close recently hurt me several months ago without much extended explanation for a decision that impacted both our lives in my opinion towards our detriment. While I do not think this person intended to make me feel inadequate as a human being, the feelings of rejection did….like I was not good enough to be in the relationship with.

I truly do believe that God works for the good of those who follow Him, but I also believe that will power in the choice to sacrifice time, effort, sweat, blood, tears, relationships, fun, sleep, and other opportunity costs weighs in. I am not entirely convinced that those who will and work less achiever greater, trusting that God will do all the work for them. The question for both you and me stands: what are you willing to give up now to reach your destination point later?

In fact, I think we come to a breaking point at valleys in our lives whether we decide to truly want something bad enough to reach for it, or to just let it go and give up. Are you willing to try again? Are you willing to step up? Are you willing to endure?

I think most give up because with the responsibilities of everyday life, what appears impossible just seems too hard. We settle for survival to pay bills with a job we each hate to go to everyday. Then in the back of each of our minds, we negotiate with ourselves that we are doing what is right….it is okay to live in misery if I provide for my family. I am a grown up. I am too old to go back to school. I just do not have time. My kids need me, and I cannot work full time while I finish the book I always wanted to write.

Some of my goals: Right now I seek a new job where I actually want to go to work each day (first goal). Right now I seek to start a second Masters degree online (second goal). And right now I seek to meet a polite, educated girl who wants to start a family, living within close proximity of our families (third goal).

At some later point, I seek to become a nationally known speaker and author, advocating for the disabled, and I will earn a doctorate in addition to two Masters degrees, not because I have to but rather because I want to.

It does not matter what others perceive of your goals. It only matters whether you perceive if you can achieve them in your desires to accomplish.

I ask myself as I write this entry – “why can I not be the most successful man the extended Cartee family ever witnessed?” I again ask myself like Derek Rose in the above video, “Why can I not be the most successful in the league… everything there is, in everything I am, in everything I do, in everything I want to become?” I am my own worst enemy, and I determine the outcome of the predicament I find myself in. For me, this is not a pride question. On the contrary, it is a question of whether I choose to live in mediocrity or the greatness before me?

Sometimes you have to get up and realize the cost of the achievement you seek. When you lay on your backside, the only direction to look is up. Do you sulk in the downwards spiral of depressive clinginess? Do you excuse and explain every act of inaction? At some breaking point, you decide to give everything, everyone, and God your very best, or you live crumbled in feelings of inadequacy that someone else caused you to feel. I choose to reach for higher heights today because I do want to be the most successful Cartee who ever lived not just because I can but rather because I will.

Can I Get a Break, God? A inspired reminder through a friend’s story of heartache….

I met Fredric Gray at The Florida Christian Writers Conference in March of this year at 2:15 am EST in the morning when he woke me up in the criminal offense of breaking down my conference center hotel room door. Mark Hancock, director of the conference, forgot to instruct me that my con roommate would wonderfully disrupt my dream of meeting Tinker Bell in a fantasized REM slumber that I, James Cartee, would soon change the world. While surrounded in the Floridian swamp lands, I thought a serial killer banged on my door. After an unexpected wake up call so early in the morning, I thought I might soon kill Mr. Fredric Gray that early morning.

I soon realized that Fredric was no felony offender with a belly laugh that would do God proud. He profusely apologized, and when I finally awoke, I came back to my senses that his encouragement would further boost my writing career forward for higher heights.

Fredric’s example in Christ would further illustrate the peacemaker resemblance of Christ to rejoice in tragedy. His natural inclination keeps me motivated in down times when I seem to hourly ask God, “Can you please give me a break already?” People like Fredric remind me that in times of good and bad we bring Glory to God, even if we do not want to. That should innately become the response of any believer. His message posted on Facebook below still resonates with me even 10 days later.

So, our fifth child went to be with God. Heather called me on Wednesday night on my way to our church Bible study and told me she was bleeding a little bit, kind of like the spotting that so many pregnant women experience, but a little worse. She convinced me not to come home, and things got better. When it continued Thursday, we called our midwife and she came over Thursday night with concerns of her own. She scheduled us for an ultrasound for Friday. At this point the bleeding really wasn’t that bad.

But Heather woke me up at 4am telling me she felt like she was giving birth. It all was so surreal. I was part in empathy mode, and part denial. She kept telling me, “this is it. we are losing our baby.” I just didn’t want to believe it, even though I knew it could happen.

About 5am, she labored the baby, along with a whole lot of blood out. It was very hard for us. Well, it was hard for me. I think she was having a harder time before, and I had a much harder time afterward.

She continued to bleed for short time, and we prayed and went to bed. She said the most encouraging thing to me. She casually, and warmly, said “this is our first baby that is with God.” I never thought of it until she said it, but I found it SUPER-ENCOURAGING!

As that thought guided me while going to sleep, all I could think about were people that lost their children, either through miscarriage or after they were born.

While working, Heather called me on my cell phone around 9am telling me that she was bleeding badly. I came home and helped her, and almost ended up taking her to the ER.

Noelani and Maleia just kept bawling their eyes out, in ways I have never seem them do so. Malachi and Amairah were oblivious. In the midst of crying, Maleia, cute as can be, held up both of her hands and said, “we don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl!”

Because of that, Heather and I had already named our baby a gender neutral name. When Maleia said that, we were happy to tell her the baby’s name–Noah Christian.

Noah means rest, or repose (often with God), and Christian is a reminder of how we get to be with our baby again one day.

So, I have tons of work to do, and many messages to respond to, and we have kind of let discipline go out the window for now. But we have been praying a lot, and having unforgettable conversations with our children. Heather has needed to be on bedrest, just like a woman who gave birth and is at risk of losing more blood.

So, I just wanted to share this. If you read this far, thanks for reading.

Noah Christian Gray.

Yeah, a gift from God.

Fredric Gray, 4/6/13

I wrote the following poem in response to Fredric’s testimony in the midst of tragic events. This poem will more than likely become published in my next poetry book with thirty-three poems and photographs.

Noah Christian, The Journey Home

Our loved one
Our lost son
That nothing remains undone
For Noah Christian
Traveled the journey home
Solace knowing
He passed not alone
Settled into the arms
With our Loving Sheppard
He sleeps well
As our gift from God
Surreal in the state
Felt as a prevailing reality
We live to worship
In the tragedy of loss
To know better yet to come
Children cry
To never forget
Always miss
The sibling never known
But always remembered
Noah at the meaning of rest
Another challenge
Another test to faith
Grace present in a bled state
Loss pours into grief
Perhaps with some relief
In the heart of the matter
To know our loved one
Our lost son
That nothing remains undone
For Noah Christian
Traveled the journey home

JLC iii, 4/9/13

While inspired with words of my own from the life of Noah Christian, through Fredric Gray, this song by Jason Mraz further motivates believers in Christ why we cannot give up on the dreams before us. Like Fredric’s example to glorify God no matter the circumstances, we press forward to inspire those around us in our examples.