Life as a Fan Is TOUGH!

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Life as a fan is a bittersweet thing.

For one, you’re not the one on the field/ice/court taking the hit/shot/pass at the last second. Nope. You’re on your couch in your living room watching (and possibly imagining being in that situation yourself…OBVIOUSLY doing a better job…) and hoping for a win, while anticipating a loss.

Secondly, if you’re a big fan and people know it, when your team loses…your enemies will let you know it every time. For example: imagine cheering for a team like the Montreal Canadians in a city like Toronto…not fun when a loss takes place.

Lastly, if you’re a real fan, when your team (notice how we called them OUR team as if we’re partial owners?) loses can ruin your day (or night) and shake you up more than the actual players. Like, imagine being a fan of the Red Sox of Boston before they FINALLY won the world series. The people in Beantown would react to playoff loses like there was a death in the family. I remember when my favourite basketball team lost a championship game (worth the watch). I sat at the edge of my bed and sulked like a small child without a toy. I don’t have any ownership, any stake in them but MAN, I was rocked.

Now I know that we shouldn’t get caught up in things as these, as those who don’t have any cares for sports would say, but man I do. Each year. Hoping for wins, expecting some loses and looking forward to the next season.

Why talk about this? March Madness? Nope. Here’s why?

I am a fan of people! I work with students who I believe in whole heartedly and I can’t say that there haven’t been a few nights where I have sat on the edge of my bed heartbroken at a decision that a few have made. And while I have been heartbroken, I have been hopeful for “next season“, the next opportunity where they could do it right. And as a husband, there have been moments where I have led someone to sit on the edge of the bed, disappointed in me, hoping for the “next season.” Whether we know it or not, we’re all fans of someone…hopeful misfits, believing in a last second shot that’ll change the tide of someone’s existence.

Also: A real fan doesn’t jump off the bandwagon when their team loses year after year (or decision after decision). Instead, they keep on believing, risking their hearts, investing their time (and coin) and energy to hope, to dream and to one day celebrate in one of those championship parades.

And with everyone I have in my life, I hope to be able to do the same thing.

I am your BIGGEST fan!

P.S. Go Lakers, Canadians, Blue Jays (and since I no longer have the Expos…I guess the Nationals), 49ers (and sadly the Cowboys), Wolverines and Man City.

Question: Who are you believing in? Who is believing in you? How does this affect how we should live?

Under Pressure

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Dum dum dum da da dum dum
Dum dum dum da da dum dum
Dum dum dum da da dum dum
Dum dum dum da da dum dum

In 1981, this baseline opened up the classic Under Pressure, written and performed by David Bowie and Queen, fronted by virtuoso vocalist Freddy Mercury (it was later on sampled and used in 1991 by Rob Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice. If you don’t know what song I am referring to…that makes me sad…).

The opening lyrics to the song are:
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets”

We can all relate to that sort of feeling. Well at least I can. Even the coolest cucumber among your tribe of friends feels some sort of pressure, a downward sense of “I don’t know what to do here.” Pressure comes from multiple sources. Here are mine (see if you have any that are similar):

Family – being present when present (which I am currently contradicting by writing these thoughts while Ellie and Liam play at my feet), being a leader in my home, serving my family through my actions.
Work – helping people reach new levels of potential, menial tasks that still matter in the long run, long term planning and short term actions.
Financial – paying off debt, saving, investing
Physical – resting, working out, staying groomed (though #beardwatch continues, suckas!!!)
Spiritual – Growing in my faith intake, making moments for faith outputs
…And more and more and more…

I’ve learned that pressure comes from inside (we know what we NEED to be doing and we want to get there) and outside (those who watch us either place on us expectations OR we, out of insecurities, try to impress others through living for them) but its born out of a need to make ends meet and make due. When we are kids, it’s the pressure for grades and accomplishments planned out by parents and coaches. When we are older, it’s bosses, spouses and other achievers. It is always there. And those pressures, when left alone or added to can kill a job opportunity, kill a family and ultimately, kill a person.

This fall, I felt that sort of pressure in a way I never had before. Some staff changes had me move into interim roles that added to my workload, left me with less home time and pulled me way beyond my regular threshold. So to keep myself ALIVE, here are some things I have tried to incorporate into my life, especially as this fall turned into a winter with more responsibilities on my plate (knowing that all of these things start with a heart to live out Mark 12:29-31 as my launchpad).

My Problem With Forgiveness

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Forgiveness sucks. I have a HUGE problem with it. Forgiveness? More like forgiveMESS. 

Dumb pun. My bad.

Here’s my issue…

Forgiveness forces me to get over something I’ve gotten used to holding on to…like a favourite shirt. The shirt is ugly, it’s embarrasing and no one likes it but it’s my shirt.

Forgiveness forces me to realize that the person who hurt me may never actually find out that they hurt me…and be okay with that. (There’s nothing more annoying that not knowing you hurt someone only to have them come up to you and say, “You know…I forgive you.” You reply, “For what?” They reply, “It doesn’t matter anymore because I forgive you.” And they the separation of friends begin. Been there?)

Forgiveness says that justice and revenge isn’t in the card…and that retribution isn’t mine but rather Someone else’s.

Forgiveness says life isn’t fair nor is it about winning, in fact, forgiveness is about losing.

 Forgiveness is something that has to, yes HAS to, be given. It’s not something that’s a PROCESS or an “over time”. It’s a right there and now.

Forgiveness can’t be earned like a pay check or promotion. It is a gift that can’t be begrudgingly given but rather offered no matter what. (If I are make someone earn your forgiveness, I am being what they call…revengeful and spiteful.)

Forgiveness is a human choice enabled by Spiritual power and sustenance. It sucks because it means depending on someone other than myself.

Forgiveness is about other people and not about me…and when I am hurt, it’s all about me. Unforgiveness when not treated is narcissism at it’s best.

Forgiveness means someone gets another chance, when they really should get a backhand.

Forgiveness means following the example of one who was rejected by many, turned on by many, spat upon, mocked and later killed for his beliefs but said, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force (Dr. Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream).”

Forgiveness means, “I am not right and you are not right” but rather “I love you and let’s move on.”

Forgiveness means forgiving someone not to be an example to them but to simply do it.

Forgiveness takes guts and doesn’t allow for glory.

Forgiveness heals and allows for repeated hurt.

…forgiveness sucks mainly because it means being like Jesus when I really want to live like the devil.

But without forgiveness, I might as well be dead…and I like living.

Urgh.

So today. I choose. To Forgive. To let go.

And I when I wake up tomorrow, I plan on relying on the strength to do it again.

Because I still am human you know. And bearded.

What does forgiving someone mean to you? How has it changed how you look at yourself? Others?

#Beardwatch: Shot to the BEARD & You’re to blame…

                         It’s been 4 months since I first decided to grow my beard for a full year and this last month has been the best one yet. Why? Christmas jokes! I’m hearing a lot of “You should be Santa Claus/Black Santa” comments and while the majority of them aren’t creative, they are still quite funny. My barber has never worked on a beard before of this magnitude (pop POP!) before so he’s quite ‘jazzed‘ by this challenge and my now 1-year-old son takes to my beard like rope to pull himself up from whatever mess he has made in our home.

There are still some beard haters, though…the ‘You should look clean-shaved‘ people.’ Example:

          But to quote the quotable Sean ‘Puffy/Puff/Puff Daddy/P-Diddy/Diddy’ Combs, “Can’t nobody beard me down/Oh no/I gotta keep on moving!” Haters will beardhate© (copyright pending) all day, so you know what I say? Hate the Haters…With love. Boom. I just bearded your mind. Even Wifey*is warming up to the beard life.

(*Okay, she’s not but she’s much better now that she was at the beginning.)

Things I need to do more of in the meantime:

  • More Flickr pics. I think I overshot doing it all the time everyday, as I started to, then fizzled out. My friend Steffan advised on that I should have listened. There you go, Watson. You were right. And if the Spurs win the NBA Finals, you’ll hear me say that again.
  • More #beardwatch tweets. Quotes, thoughts, beard stats…I have to keep the #beard alive.
  • Start working out. That has nothing to do with #beardwatch. But I start at the gym tomorrow. Please pray.
  • Buy some lumberjack shirts. And a thermos. And become more outdoors-y. I know I look like a hipster wannabe, but inside me is a person who wants to camp, cut down trees and who am I kidding, I’m writing this while waiting for a Gingerbread Latte.

All to say, the beard life is a good life. It IS weird though to grow a beard  during Movember. Movember is a great cause to raise awareness (and funds) towards research for prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives where men of different races, ages and stages of puberty look like creeps by growing moustaches for the month of November. And so because I have a beard, many people ask “Are you doing Movember?”, to which I have to reply “No”, which signifies I’m sure: “Yes, I love facial hair. Yes, I am a narcissist. No, I do not care about Movember’s mission…I just look like a hobo because I WANT too.” (And for the record, I am a major fan of Movember and why it exists. Check out my latest blog on mental illness and it’s affects on our family here.)

But the thought of growing my beard FOR something other than my own resolve has struck a chord in me since attending Catalyst in October (I can’t shave it now…I made WAY too much of a deal when I started!). And so my second quest, apart from the beard, is to find an organization to support with my #beardwatch. Because I think there’s something cool about using everything about you to be able to help someone else.

Even your beard.

So send your suggestions here!

Chris

Question: what part of you life have seen as unusable to help others? How can you start making those areas available?

PS: Here are some cool beard sites and links provided by great #beardwatch supporters. Check them out!

#beardwatch update – 2 months

I never thought this would happen but I have something in common with women.

Ladies, you know that point where you wanna grow your hair out just a bit to have it at that style you want? But that in-between time is the worst? Cause your hair isn’t what you want it to be just yet? And so you ponytail it? Or wear weird beanie hats? Or get hair extensions?

Yup. I’m there. Except it’s not my hair, it’s my beard hair(?) and if I try to pony tail my beard it wouldn’t be pretty.

Yes, it’s been two months since my weird project of growing my beard out for the sake of growing my beard out. At home, it’s simply become a part of what we do so much that we don’t really mention it unless Liam grabs at it for fun. My sister came into town and when she saw me she said, “You look like James Harden“, which as you know is the inspiration for this project, and I simply smiled and said, “yup.” Don’t get me wrong, I still love it and can’t wait to see how it turns out, but the in-between time is…well, boring. At least it was, until I attended Catalyst in Atlanta, a Christian church leadership conference that houses 13,000+ people. Pretty cray.

Now why would Catalyst inspire my #beardwatch non-vanity project (cause a beard ain’t vain, y’all!), you ask? Simply put: there were SO MANY COOL BEARDS THERE!!! I mean it was amazing. It was so crazy, I started going up to random dudes and asking to take their picture so I could add it to this blog. My line would go like this:

“Hey, I love you beard! Can I get a picture with it? My wife thinks growing a beard is stupid and this will show her that it’s not!” 

And they would. And it was awesome. I had 15+ pics. My APC friends and I would, by the end of the day, look for people and judge their beards on whether they were blog worthy. I even met a guy who was growing his beard for missions (He’d cut it when he raised a certain amount of money for a worthy cause…made me rethink my efforts. More to come on that thought). It was so much fun. Until I lost my phone. With all the pictures.

Now it sucks for two reasons: 1) Now I look like a creeper who just wanted weird beard pics (I told them about my Flickr account AND my blog. Oops!) and 2)…no, I think the first one covers it all. But just seeing those beards on white and black men alike helped me in a great way. The in-between stage is the time between the valley and the mountain and its the journey that makes the story, not the destination.

And now, I can appreciate the journey. And the loads of grey hairs I’m finding in this thing. Crazy.

Over and Beard,

Chase

PS. The conference itself was amazing. I tried to do a full on recap blog but my brain is still trying to work through all the info. Here’s what I know: God is good, a lot of people want to serve him and share him with others, Tripp and Tyler are one funny comedy duo, I have a new found love for Kid President and Michael W. Smith, I liked the labs more than the arena conference (and the Arena part was amazing…at full one hunned, son, so that is saying A LOT!) AND Americans REALLY love doing the Cupid Shuffle.

And now so do I…and my daughter.

PPS. I did email Becca ONE picture while I was away at Catalyst to show you what dudes were carrying. His was a year old. A year.

Sent From Above…What a Gift!

It’s not what you think.

This is not a heartfelt blog about someone/something that has been a blessing to my life. This is not a God-blog. You know what I mean, right? The ones about how “heaven is close & the kingdom is near“? Yeah, not that type of blog. Not that I don’t like ’em or even can’t write em. But this ain’t one.

At all.

Unless God was sending me a sign.

Here…let me explain.

Last week, I did something  I rarely do. I went downtown. Now this is not because I hate downtown or anything but moreso because I have no reason to ever go downtown, plus I ain’t got no extra coin to spend on downtown swag (except for the NEW ERA hat store…that is a piece of heaven, for real.). Anyhow, as part of my new responsibilities with my alma mater Master’s College and Seminary (I’m co-teaching a class on Pop Culture and Media. It’s cool. Cool cool cool.), we went downtown for a pop culture tour to see a TIFF movie, a taping of George Strombo (on whom I now have a slight man crush on *blushes*), a taping of Much Music’s New Music Live (60 mins, 2 videos…TWO.) and a red carpet entrance (no stars…).

At the start of the morning, I was feeling excited and nervous at the same time. See, I’m a 31-year-old going to spend a day with a bunch of 20 somethings whom I don’t know well and I never do well in those situations. I’m the “try-too-hard-to-be-funny-only-to-come-off-awkward-type of guy”. I work with a bunch of 20 somethings  every week who are like family to me so they get the awkward guy part and accept me for who I beeez, which is awesome. But in a new setting, it can be off-putting…which is even worse when you know it! So I get dressed (tried to hard to be hip…Wifey thought I looked…how do you say “less manly” without offending someone who accidentally googles ‘Chris Chase Girly Man’?), get on a school bus, memorize 24 names and get over my internal fear of embarrassing myself.

When we get downtown, I connected with some of the students who I already knew over The Office and Simpsons references (it IS a pop culture class…) while waiting in line for Great Expectations. Around high buildings.

Filled with birds.

And as we walk into the theatre, my body feels several droplets of what I thought was water on my chest and arms.

And my face.

Then I heard gasps and some laughs. And I smelt what I can only describe as Liam after eating prunes.

Yup…from above I was crapped on. By a bird.

I imagine it had been following us from Ajax, waiting to hurt one of us with its deadly dangers of poop. And it struck me with such force that I smelled bad. And was terribly embarrassed.

Yet, the poop was a great ice breaker for me…I didn’t have to worry about being cool, because I was crapped on. I didn’t have to worry about what I was wearing, because I was crapped on. I could be me. With no worries. AND it missed the beard by this much!

What a gift. What a crappy “crappy” gift!

#seewhatIdidthere?

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

Married to a Mumbler (A Marriage Story)

THIS IS A CONVO THAT HAPPENS OFTEN IN THE HOME OF THE CHASES

Chris: Hey hon…where the ________________? (choose whatever)

Wifey: mmh meme muummgmn, mhm memem mhemmm.

C: Pardon me?

W: mdmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmmmm

C: (To himself) …uh…umm…ooo-kay…I’ll just…dang…

Liam: Da-da-da-da (fart)!

____________________________

This summarizes many of the conversations I have with Wifey on a daily basis. Now not all of them are like that. A lot of them are full-voiced and filled with beautiful syntax, structure and substance. Some end with laughter. Others, with meaningful pauses and lingering gazes. And still others with loud points made and the cries of “Ha! I win!” that follow.

But yeah, in a lot of them, I have no clue what Wifey is saying. Here’s a summary of why this is (or rather why I believe this is):

  1. Wifey has a naturally soft voice. I THINK I’ve only heard her yell at me once. She’s been justifiably mad a bunch  but yelling isn’t her thing. Which makes me very afraid for the day she breaks and yells out.
  2. Wifey has a naturally higher voice. Now when I say I don’t mean squeaky high or chalkboard high, just higher.
  3. Wifey is a “baby of the family”-last of three child. I think that all younger siblings develop that “Talk under your breath”-thing so they don’t get beaten up or something. I’m no clinical psychologist but that’s my opinion. It’s easy to say whatever you want (good, bad, nice, mean) in a lower grumble.
  4. I am naturally hard of hearing. This is both in being stubborn AND in what I hear. Years of big headphones and loud base filled tunes have wrecked my ears. As for being stubborn…I got nothing.

So you can imagine the frustration Wifey must feel when she asks something of me and I can’t respond because I’m not sure what she said. ALSO: She, like many people, hates repeating herself! So that’s never fun to say, “What?” (Ever notice that when people repeat themselves, the tone is much more “You’re a deaf dummy!!” Or is that just me?)

So with every mumbled statement made, I have different responses that I can make, with each have different results.

  1. Pretend Like Nothing Was Said (Times used: 25%. Fear of reveal: 80%. Percentage of wifey’s anger: 90%). So in this scenario, I just walk around FULLY knowing she said something but out of either fear of asking again OR being too lazy/tired at the time to re-ask the question, I say nothing. This then consists of me walking around or strategically playing with the kids, who are always loud and therefore blocking my ears. This always works by leaving the room.
  2. Guess what was being said (Times used: 15%. Amounts of times incorrect: 60%). This is a good one if you’re not worry about being wrong. My natural response is to often say, “I thought you said…” which is responded with a “Why would I say that?!” Which is always true.
  3. Stand, Pause and Wait for a Repeat (Times used: 30%. Frustrated glances from Wifey: 70%). How annoying would that be? Just having me stand around you, not doing anything waiting for you to say, “Did you HEAR me?!” Never a good one to choose. I really should change my approach here.
  4. Get sarcastic and mad (Times used: way more than I should). This is when I’m tired at my wits and I’m thinking “Just a bit louder, puleeze!” Any negative response I receive based on this when I’m called out on it is fully deserved. Plus, it’s a bad example for my kids to see, Wifey to feel and me to be. Trill
  5. Respond by saying “What?!” (Times used: It’s my default! Classic response: eyeroll and repetition). This one has  the right intentions but wrong delivery.
  6. Mumbling back. This is never a good one. This is when it get really immature on my part. I tend to do this more when I know Wifey may be saying something that she actually doesn’t want to say allowed.
  7. Just asking (Times used: 5 to 7%. Residual effect: Minimal). I get nervous about asking, which is dumb because she is my best friend but when I do, while there might be some annoyance, getting the task done is better than not. Plus, I know that she knows that she mumbles at times, so I should give her the fairness of simply asking. PLUS, I have MANY more hangups than that! I am talking many.

Being married to a mumbler is “tough“, and by tough I mean funny enough to blog about, but not as tough as other issues found in marriages. I think it’s fair to be real about stuff like this though. Just like she would be on how I didn’t help her find her keys, once. We, and by we I mean couples, never talk aloud about the little things, which often makes openings for the BIG things. And in  my doing so here, it’s not as a complaint (trust me, I told her about this post and she laughed at it and said okay, especially since I’m showing off my immaturity) but more in a “You know a funny thing Wifey does that I feel fine sharing with you is…”-type way. I do know that I am very fortunate to be with someone as funny, talented, forgiving and creative as her. In two weeks it’ll be seven years of her accepting and putting up with me, not the other way around. We do get on each other’s nerves at times (as other young couples do at times) but in the end, Chase loves Brown (maiden name) For Life.

Even if many-a-times I have NO clue what she’s saying.

More than likely, she’s talking about the beard.

PS. Ellie is a lil Mumbler too, which makes for fun moments too!

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase