June 26, 2017

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

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

This week for the blog entry on relational mayhem, James Cartee (single) and Avily Jerome (married) wrote a communication entry with issues of straightforward honesty in a perplexing relationship breakup, from the perspective of a male and then mutually a female. I would suggest that you also read the previous week’s entry.

J: Simply be committed to clear communication. So often, I become the subject of guessing foreign language games. As a male, I play no games. I tell you honestly what I want as I want it. So many times, girls hint or indirectly reference whatever it is on mind, whatever it is valued, or whatever it is wanted. Then unfortunately, blame directed towards those who fail to receive the message results. Nothing is more unfair than a unclear message that someone else receives blame for not comprehending.

A: You are rare among men. As a rule, most men say what they’re thinking, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still play games. From our earliest upbringing, we’re taught game-playing in relationships. In junior high, you ask your friend to ask his friend to ask that girl’s friend to ask that girl if she likes you. As we get older we learn the art of flirtation, which may or may not mean we’re interested in each other, just that we want to have fun. Women are taught to follow “the rules” if they want to man-trap a guy. The dos and don’ts of how to get a ring on your finger. Especially as women, we second-guess every interaction. We’re never quite sure if a guy really likes us, and even if he does, we can’t be sure what he meant by whatever he said. So instead of just having a frank conversation, we end up playing more games and running around in circles, communication-wise.

J: While communication sometimes evolves through emotion, individuals possess the capacity to communicate with logic, sense, and even spiritual content. I believe it is a matter of intentional choice to act with a levelheaded approach to speak to one another clearly.

Many of my personal female readers of my blog will turn a blind eye to this topic, especially if communication issues exist in your own relationships. Most social scientists will agree, at least suggestively, that the key to any relationship is communication. If you lack communication as a strength, acknowledge the reality as a personality fault. Work on it. Improve it. Become better than what you lack thereof. And never ever use the God Card as an excuse for your own inhibitions. As the pop culture saying goes, just tell it like it is.

A: I couldn’t agree more. Especially as emotionally-driven women, we need to make a conscious effort to be straight-forward, even if honesty may cause hurt. We need to stop guessing about what we think a guy meant, and just ask him.

By the same token, men need to be aware that women are emotional, and temper their communication with love and gentleness, knowing that women may not have the same logical reasons they do, but that their emotions and feelings are equally valid.

Relationships….The tortoise always wins.

I continue to find male-female relationships both exciting and perplexing. While two people communicate well, different sexes will always communicate differently. Men seem to prefer fast cars and anything that involves speed. Women seem okay with the virtue of a patient process where a turtle-wins-the-race philosophy truly comes into play.

I think the above scenario in the famous television drama show, Everybody Loves Raymond, illustrates the hilarity that ensues with how decisions come to be. While limited in experience, I certainly make decisions differently than my female friendship counterparts. I rarely need to contemplate several days over my schedule when I ask someone to do something. I usually prefer someone check their schedule and let me know. How complicated can planning really be?

Well, I know guys and girls are certainly not made the same way. I am slowly learning patience in the process to wait when one asks for good things to come.

Our Christian sisters are not like their Christian brothers. While not the most obvious when it comes to life’s reality, give what you seek as good its good due time to process, move forward, and develop into something more.

What you seek eventually will come. Sometimes all you have to do is ask, wait, and wonder as God marvels at the patience learned, which brings the best blessings that will ever be, a relationship with Christ and perhaps a relationship with someone your dreams enveloped into existence. Remember, with the fable of the tortoise (turtle) and hare (rabbit), the tortoise did after all win the race.

You faith family matters! The journey more than the destination…#TWO

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

With my last blog entry, I decided to continue from there with a series on the idea of family. While simple to consider, this blog text focuses on discovering community through Christian relationships, through a church if possible.

I currently attend Grace Midtown Church in Atlanta, Georgia, just a few miles from where I live. The church focuses on house churches, or perhaps better thought of as organized small groups. While I live about three hours from my father and mother and then about four hours from my sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews, out of my normal every day reach, I thrive on the next best thing, my second next-of-kin circles at church.

Grace Midtown is unlike any church I ever attended. With my outgoing personality, I tend to be the one who pursue friendships with other people. I find the exact opposite to be true at Grace; others will find you.

As Christians, I believe my current church home sets an example to emulate, how churches should outreach to newcomers and communities who need some light in the midst of adversity.

If lonely and shut-in, I urge you to find a community of believers and connect. Watch yourself never be the same ever again with personal and intentional involvement. If never tried before, give a specific church practicing a real life of abundance (a body of contemporary, relational Christians living in the present) one year of your life, and I promise your life will change forever.

Those who commune in the name of Jesus build an eternal brotherhood and sisterhood, blessed way beyond what a casual relationship will ever live up to. Build a body. Build a bridge. And watch slowly as you grow into the person you always wanted to be simply because you decided to surround yourself with the right people.

I found the following Christian series by Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa, (author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God) extremely insightful as it relates to building meaningful relationships with others. Enjoy!

PART ONE

PART TWO

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…..in 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.

Relationships – What do I know? What do you know? But this is funny, I do not care who you are.

You may have noticed that today I was tweeting through my Twitter account some dating advice provided by Eharmony and even me perhaps just as a joke, but a conversation with a student I am mentoring from Southern Polytechnic University here in Atlanta, Georgia spurred these tweet tidbits.

Naturally as guys, we talk about possible female prospects in our dating life. Well, Martin has been extremely affectionate towards the same girl for about the last three months, really since I first met him. And yes, I have Martin’s permission to write about this!

I have had a leery suspicion with this particular girl from the very beginning. For the sake of anonymity, let’s name her Dolly. Dolly only eats organic food. You should check out the prices of organic food in stores. Dolly also attends yoga classes three or four nights a week, which is also very expensive. The girl drives the priciest 2013 Ford Mustang on the market, which her Dad “momentarily” pays for with the car note. While she did finish her associate’s degree as a physical therapy assistant at Southern Polytechnic, she continues to live at home without a job two years after graduation.

At one point, she moved to San Francisco on a whim with a physical therapy assistant short term contract only to move back after six months because she did not like California. She just happened to wreck her newly bought Silver Ford Mustang on the way out to California. And these are just the details I remember off the top of my head. And never once did Martin mention a strengthened relationship with Christ other than that she recently experienced salvation through a yoga epiphany. As if not enough, she constantly complained on how she could not practice yoga or meditation at home because of her “noisy” siblings. Please keep in mind she lived at home for FREE!

In a final message to Martin, she wrote, “I need you to understand and continue your journey to happiness elsewhere.”

That may have been my last sign of hysteria! Sometimes we see something in someone that at least for the moment does not exist. Chris Hodges, the senior pastor from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, calls this “missionary dating.” We try to save the person from something that we fictionally create in our minds. Please understand I have there as the salvation soldier.

I think Martin finally gave up on this lost cause after four months of frustration and continual perplexed confusion after admitting that there is more to a relationship than just “being pretty.” This is what happens when someone lives in what I call a “make-belief” world. This person has never truly suffered for anything. So everything up to this point in life has been expected and in some ways thought of as deserved.

I believe that relationships are more complex than they need to be these days. I think it is okay to ask a girl out and have fun, but in southern culture, that is rarely the case. Usually from the second you ask a girl out forward or even express an interest, serious takes over. And then nothing fun occurs.

The other night hanging out some extremely cool people from my church, a girl remained perplexed that I had a list of characteristics I look for in someone I want to marry. I simply asked, “Do you want to marry a man with a strong intentional conviction and relationship with Jesus Christ?” Of course, she responded, “Yes.” Then she seemed less perplexed when she also realized she had her own unstated mental checklist in a man she wanted to potentially marry.

I think as Christians we usually know when someone is on fire for God versus stagnantly constantly “trying to figure things out.” With a mutual attraction, that is usually the first sign that peaks my interest. There is nothing complex about my relational approach. If I want to know you, I usually just ask and seek information about the person’s personality. I will ask a girl to the circus. I will ask a girl to coffee. I will ask a girl to throw the Frisbee in Piedmont Park. If she has it going on for Jesus Christ, I got it going on to try and know that person.

But the first signal is and always will be the same for me: does she love God? If yes is the answer to this question, then I ask a few more questions of conversational interest.

The following video dives deeper humorously into Biblical relational dating. I think this preacher is hilarious, but I also think the minister rings true that a relationship with Christ comes before a relationship with someone else. I think Martin finally learned this lesson the hard way. I think whether we consciously admit or not, many believers, including me, learn this lesson the hard way.

We Are Human, and Fear God Only – Holy reminders from a friend.

My friend, Andrew Mannheimer, who I did a special blog series previous this year with his Hip Hop music videos always brings to light the revelation of truth as it pertains to his relationship with God, much like the mirror of his own music expression.

I once asked him about a famous New York Times best-selling author by the name of Donald Miller (author of Blue like Jazz), “How did he write all these books and publish them nationwide?” Andrew’s response remained simple, “He’s just a man, James…human. Whatever he is capable of, you are clearly capable of as well.”

I think we forget, I included, that famous and accomplished people are in fact just human. Some people are famous when they might not even have talent of any sort, maybe because they are pretty, if that is even considered a talent.

A couple of years ago I further spoke with Andrew about my fear of the unknown….perhaps something about the real world after graduate school at Auburn University. Again he stated, “There is nothing to fear but God. When you fear earthly matters, you block God from the light of His glory. I lean into a resource that never reaches depletion: God.”

Andrew is in his mid-twenties, but the truths he expresses are so simple yet amazing. I think Andrew demonstrates that relationships (since he is indeed a great friend), specifically with God, become the most important element in life that matters. We will take our Christian brothers and sisters to heaven, not our stuff.

This past year has been a really weird one. I still remain perplexed at how the end of 2012 fell apart in some ways. God sometimes disguises blessings we do not understand now but later do.

Perhaps 2013 is Our year! It is the year of relationship with God and Cartee! I am not trying to fall into the trap of resolution goals most never follow through, like losing weight for instance. Some go hard for one week and then move on to life as it was before. Sometimes a focus on God is all we need. I feel that Andrew would say something simple like that, a simple truth.

John Piper further reminds the fear of God is the only real fear for the life of a Christian! This is a very short clip…so watch….

Intentional Living through Christ with Intentional Decisions and Communication

“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:4-5 (KJV)

I mentioned on this previous blog entry my new family member through future marriage, Joe Friday. I guess in reality I will call him my cousin-in-law. In truth I always felt like he was family. Joe represents honor in its formidable truest fruit of the Spirit. Psalm 37:4-5 depicts his walk with the Lord almost perfectly. In pursuit of what he believed to be true, he never wavered and thus eventually received the desires of his heart.

He persistently through challenges and in some ways against the odds accomplished a feat that I might have given up on at this point in my life. I perhaps have fallen more than most when it comes to my own love life. I have epic saga stories of one written dramatic performance after the other. The love life narratives provide for an interesting text in my first major book expected to release some time in the next two years. While the stories will make you laugh, they make me cry.

I do not doubt the drive in my life to accomplish; however I do doubt society where Christianity lives in the shadow of selfishness and often corrupt politics to “serve the masses,” through the sacrifice of a few. For two years, I have written, edited, and polished a strong three hundred page manuscript with a full time job while also trying to start a business, not to mention an online presence and constant content generation for this blog. And yet I still have not given up on the dream to become a well-known, published author. I probably will never stop writing. I have come to enjoy the creation of words just that much. I am also dedicated to losing weight as I train for two half-marathons and two full marathons. I consider myself driven in many ways and push myself about hard as I am able in so many ways. The pursuit becomes exhausting. Is the pursuit of a significant other supposed to be so hard?

A while I ago I spoke late into the night with a friend where I feel that I failed to communicate on every level, and I have a Master’s Degree in Communication. I am not sure I will ever claim to understand the complexities of gender communication. I wish I could have had Deborah Tanner’s book, That Is Not What I Meant, in my lap whiling talking to this particular female. It was and is clear in my mind this just may not work out with my most recent attempt to pursue and woo.

Ideally I hope that the pair of two people should just click. Joe Friday and Matteye Monday just clicked even when others tried to separate these star crossed lovers. They stayed the course and prevailed to the dream of a marriage union through engagement.

I believe and even witnessed that Joe made an intentional decision to follow his faith for six years. In my finite mind, that sounds like a really long time. No one else knew his course but him. In fact, many probably encouraged and even perhaps tried to persuade him to give up. Now following your heart when everything else around you suggests to do otherwise (including supposed wise counsel), that is intentional living with an intentional decision. “This is what I am going to do because I know this is what I am supposed to do.” Now that is unwavering faith with an intentional decision! While I pursue such ideals with my own personal direction and ambitions, I struggle to do so with a girl. In fact, nice guys often get stuck in the “give-me-a-chance” syndrome. Since when did good Christian guys need to use consent or permission to spend time with a female? Are men given the ability to lead anymore? Or do girls sit back choosing and selecting the cream of the crop while guys pursue and put it all out there? These questions boggle my mind as Southern Culture perverts the fun of dating and getting to know someone. As mentioned before in Twitter feeds and blog entries, it all has to be so serious all the time. All I want to do is watch lions on a field, or in a better case Auburn Tigers at a football game with someone to experience the absolute most imaginable fun possible.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

Joe certainly lived this verse in its essence in the promise God makes. I would like to think I am listening to hear “the way” wherever that might be with the Lord’s lead.

I do not think Matteye ever needed convincing of Joe’s character. She just knew. I again hope and believe that is how it will work with whoever you or I belong to in a relationship or a marriage. And hopefully even further no one will need convincing. Love or like (loving or liking someone) should NOT be a sought-after bargaining chip where once you do a certain something (buying flowers, writing sincere apology letters, or speaking over the phone for extended periods of time) everything in the world is well again. If someone needs further convincing on why they should date you or whoever, perhaps they miss the God-given chance to something special with someone who loves the Lord with all their heart. There is certainly a getting-to-know you stage, but there is also a chance-to-dance stage. While a good fight for a good gal can bring forth great fruit, make sure your heart remains intact if you make the same decision Joe made for the duration of six years. He knew in his heart this was right. And apparently Matteye did too. If the other person lacks that foresight, then perhaps like me in the past, you are both talking with and pursuing the wrong person. Find another potential significant other who is just as intrigued for and by you as you are for them. God’s promises are evident and clear in His Holy Word:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

If you have thoughts on this on this entry, I am open to feedback and criticism. There is room for comments on what you think, and I am eager to see just who is reading this entry and why.

The following questions remain unanswered on the readers’ part. What do you think about the following?

1.) Is the pursuit of a significant other supposed to be so hard?

2.) Since when did good Christian guys need to use consent or permission to spend time with a female?

3.) Are men given the ability to lead anymore?

4.) Or do girls sit back choosing and selecting the cream of the crop while guys pursue and put it all out there?

The GROWTH Track Series – Reach Out! (Step One)

I. Reach Out

As mentioned in the introduction to the series I sincerely believe this new series will change lives in the process of seeking dreams, remaining persistent, and looking forward (never looking back on the past with regrets). God develops us as we process through present resistance and adversity. In the last two years, I am just now realizing and pursuing ambitions to the point where open doors present themselves that I will passionately enjoy through the concept of joy. I lost joy in the fact that I really never liked waking up to a routine with not much eternal influence as I perceived it. I really seek to change lives without the twist of moral fiber within my heart, and I believe that search will soon become fulfilled with a dream fulfilled, something I desire to do in other words. I recently heard a message with some of the concepts, but I chose to extend the idea further with specific steps I perceived in my personal relationship with Christ and journey to eternity. The principles support themselves with foundations through Scripture. The series will break down into the following portions. I really again firmly believe that researching His Word to discover such standards will change your perspective as it has with mine, often trying to remain patient in a world of stagnancy.

I. Reach Out
II. Connect
III. Grow
IV. Discover Your Passion with a FOCUS on God!
V. Pursue the Dream
VI. Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction
VII. GO and DO!

The first step to reach out helps us realize as believers understand that we are truly better together as teams instead of just individuals.

FIRST Relevant Scripture for these sub-points – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7 (NIV)

A.) If reached through the Body of Christ, reach out and accept.

Take charge to connect with the body. At some point, you must make the decision to step out to receive acceptance and love from newly founded relationships.

B.) If observing one who needs to be reached, reach out!

Not every new believer reaches out so quickly, nervous of rejection. Sometimes as believers we must reach out to them. The relationship dualistically and inversely goes both ways. Someone might say a relationship is a two way street.

SECOND Relevant Scripture for these sub-points – “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV)

A.) Never be afraid to reach out and connect.

I believe as we stand in the Grace of God we never fear to connect or step out in faith often out of our comfort zones. God extends confidence even when not in our element; we find a place of refuge in newly explored opportunities as we reach out to try something new.

THIRD Relevant Scripture for these sub-points –

“Therefore prepare yourself and arise,
And speak to them all that I command you.
Do not be dismayed before their faces,
Lest I dismay you before them.
For behold, I have made you this day
A fortified city and an iron pillar,
And bronze walls against the whole land—
Against the kings of Judah,
Against its princes,
Against its priests,
And against the people of the land.
They will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.”
Jeremiah 1:17-19 (NKJV)

A.) Those who stand against outreach best beware. They will never prevail against the deliverance of God.

This passage sends chills up my spine as God warns those who stand against believers who profess to know him. In life I witnessed many times when individuals turned a grudge or offense into a personal mission to devastate and shatter the will of a devout believer, only perturbed when nothing happens. In many cases with those seeking to instigate a dispute, harm comes onto them with God’s divine protection on His Chosen Ones. Straightforward when we practice outreach to others and for our own sake, God delivers, even when we must rise up in prayer against those who rise against us. We must believe and know that those who stand against us stand no chance because God divinely appointed us as brothers and sisters in communion with a Heavenly family.

The following are two more verses that I find relevant to reaching out to connect with others. Make note and take to heart God’s Word here.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37 (ESV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

I think these are some sermon messages on this day’s chosen topic to reach out, that may potentially touch you. You got to love some Time Square Church with David Wilkerson and TD Jakes classic sermons. The TD Jakes clip is rather long. If viewing it, I would fast forward to the sermon segment.