Monday, February 27, 2023

A Poetic Visit and Reminder of Blessed Fatherhood


(Jace practices his “Wasssuupp” skills in this video. Maybe he will make a commercial one day. Notice how hard Lisa is trying not to laugh.)

CeeCee (Diana) and G-Daddy (Jim Jr.) came this past weekend to visit Knoxville for work, fun activities, and grandchild entertainment. We always enjoy having them nearby and involved so frequently with our kids. Each moment with them is precious and hopefully not taken for granted in the many bestowed blessings they give. I am reminded of how magnificent these tiny humans are through their interactions with my parents. As the observer, I marvel at the reactions of Annabelle and Jace with others, rather than being the person who initiates these interactions. The social reality of their brilliance captivates my attention as I cognitively thank God for my two tiny humans.

Please enjoy the following poem with further refined thoughts and observations of fatherhood.  

A Fatherhood State of Mind

The hero of the night

The hero of the day

I confront their fears.

I wipe away their tears.

The answer seems clear

I resolve the troubles

I never back down

I am right here.


Unexpected but necessary

Annabelle arrived.

Cute, precious, and heart-throbbing

Sliding into the hospital bed

I never saw an infant angel

Before this heavenly encounter.


Two years later

Stubborn but determined

Blessed and yet tested

Patience wearing thin

Then God speaks

“Remember – fruits of the Spirit.”


I hear those magic words:

“Thank you, Daaadddy.”

Daddy’s little girl

Earns her title.

I am growing older

And certainly not younger.


I can barely walk

Exhausted in the responsibilities

Of increasing costs

With no rested relief.

Then another crybaby comes

Who longs to be held.


Never alone

Never missing the action

Jace woos

Jace coos

Jace oohs

I feel needed and loved.


In the most radical

Of relinquished freedom

Children never hold me back.

They inspire me forward.

I push barriers

Released from the stress.


One smile

One jubilant memory

One conscious awareness

One play

One tickle

Another reminder


To feel abundant love.

No longer self-serving

I only have time

To think of you.

No longer just me,

You impact all I do.


Focused attention

On the family,

I feel the majesty

In the vivacity

Of my magic reality

I live forever happily.


To the fathers

That left children behind,

You are missing out.

You will never know

What you lost

When you retreated.


I am not

The coward who gives up

Who fails

Who runs away.

I stayed present

Because I am their hero.


The hero of the night

The hero of the day

I confront their fears.

I wipe away their tears.

The answer seems clear

I resolve the troubles

I never back down

I am right here.



*Below you can view some of our latest photos and moments with our kids and extended family.

(Annabelle helps the employees and learns to work on Daddy’s bike at Harper’s Bicycle Shop in Knoxville, Tennessee.)

(“We celebrate Christmas every day of the year!”)

(Annabelle often likes to wear her toboggans and gloves inside….a fun habit of hers.) 

(Yes, the University of Tennessee beat South Carolina twice this season by over forty points.)

(Dad came to visit for the weekend and went to the game with me.)

(Annabelle loves all things Micky Mouse related, including Donald Duck.)

#daddydestinations #daddy #dad #blog #family #DaddiesAndDaughters #destinations #memories #story #narrative #inspiration #JamesCartee #breathe #rest #timeforyou #lifelessons #NewYears #resolution #resolve

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Take a breather for yourself and others! Take time to refresh….


(The roaring waters at Cumberland Falls State Park in Kentucky)

In order to be the best version of yourself for the people in your life, sometimes you need to refresh and step away from the everyday routine. That might look like practicing five minutes of mindfulness meditation. It might be a weekend away, spending time with God and nature. It might even mean splurging on a reasonable shopping spree to buy something nice for yourself.

My wife, Lisa, and I saw Noah Kahan perform at The Signal in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past weekend. Kahan represents a folk-pop voice that boasts of a New England upbringing and mental health struggles. His music presents real-life scenarios with an authentic voice of pure honesty. Kahan is certainly not afraid to write about personal turmoil in his crafted lyrics. Almost every show on his current tour has now sold out! I felt privileged that I was able to attend his concert when the supply of tickets seemed limited.

We also spent time with my lifelong friend, Jason Coffey. Jason, his wife, and some hired babysitters were willing to watch our kids on this date night out. We hung out Saturday, eating good food, watching movies, and reminiscing about family memories shared with the Coffey’s. I definitely have many evident lifelong blessed relationships, including my friendship with Jason.

On another recent outing a couple of weeks back, I took a whole day to drive to Corbin, Kentucky. I enjoyed the small Appalachian town, Corbin’s version of Main Street, and Cumberland Falls State Park, where I hiked several miles. Cumberland Falls is considered the “Niagara Falls of the South.” It is one of the few locations in the eastern United States where you can actively view a moonbow, a rainbow where light from the moon becomes refracted through water droplets in the air. I would enjoy seeing such a majestic natural phenomenon! This occurrence happens several times yearly with a calendar on the Tennessee State Parks website.

The waterfalls roared with a blissful mist! I took a few minutes to pause and pray in the moment's beauty. I needed some fresh mountain air on this specific day to get away and breathe. Please see the pictures of this fascinating place below.

Corbin is home to the famed Colonel Sanders, who started Kentucky Fried Chicken. In fact, you can eat at the original KFC restaurant in town. Corbin also has a pottery painting studio and a pinball machine museum. After a long hike at Cumberland Falls, I ate at The Wrigley Taproom and Brewery, where I ordered the Harvest Buddha Bowl. This dish consists of grilled chicken breast, charred carrots, red cabbage, pickled cauliflower, crunchy quinoa, cranberries, rice, and maple miso dressing. The meal was a delectable delight to my taste buds. I drank one local microbrew with my fresh farm meal. There were some quaint stores on Main Street Corbin, a coffee shop, and a few other one-of-a-kind dining establishments. It was a jewel of a town on the outskirts of the Cumberland Plateau, where nature meets the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Williamsburg, Kentucky, home of the University of the Cumberlands, is directly south of Corbin. On the way to Knoxville, I stopped on this town’s Main Street to visit the Moonbow Mercantile, where I treated myself to homemade ice cream. I also visited The Suds Barn and Boutique, a shop specializing in individualized crafts, jewelry, and bath essentials (soaps, bath bombs, lotion, etc.). I spoke personally with the owner, Rebecca Lunsford, for a good while. She answered many more questions I had about the region and other undiscovered treasures. I bought a few items to take home, including a butter lotion that has helped Jace with some recent mild eczema. Rebecca makes all these home remedies and highly recommended the cream for Jace.

Regarding these recent events, you have to take care of yourself, and this revelation involves doing things for yourself. Now, some people are not going to like the progressive steps you take to enjoy your days and practice methods of mental health self-care. You are having fun when they might not be. You feel that you should be working or doing something productive. At least, these self-thoughts sometimes plague my mind. While I rarely feel guilty taking a little time for myself, sometimes I need to pause more, put down the work, and remain present. Again, this mentality takes many various forms. This breather might be going out to eat alone. You might seek to take a hike near a beautiful waterfall. It might be spending time with your spouse and/or children.

It is vital to stop and enjoy yourself. To care for your own family, you must care for yourself. That means not feeling guilty when you do so. That means taking action without remorse and without caring what others might think.

God cares for you, and He desires for you to enjoy life. He wants you to accomplish great things but also that you take time to recognize those great moments.

One of these immense moments for me was standing at the edge of some of the grandest waterfall cascades in the southeast. I will remember that prayerful moment at the edge of that canyon river for many years to come. For further long-term appreciation, I will remember Cumberland Falls. I will remember my date night at Noah Kahan. I will remember the vested time spent with my dear friends like the Coffey’s.

These are the moments I seek to cherish. These are the memories I remain grateful for in the experiences they bring. Now, learn to take your own breather and enjoy your life today as it is at this moment!

(Jace cuddles in the arms of Catherine Coffey)

(Noah Kahan entertains the crowd in concert at The Signal in Chattanooga, Tennessee.)

#daddydestinations #daddy #dad #blog #family #DaddiesAndDaughters #destinations #memories #story #narrative #inspiration #JamesCartee #breathe #rest #timeforyou #lifelessons #NewYears #resolution #resolve