Silly Kid Dreams You Never Forget…

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As a kid, I loved baseball. I mean loved it. And based on my french neighbourhood in Pierrefonds, Quebec, I looked like that kid in the picture above. But it was cool because of how much I loved this sport! More than I loved the Lakers. So you know I’m serious:)

My friends and I would play for hours in the park, until it was dark outside and our parents were calling us in to come home. We looked like kids from the Sandlot or from the greatest Keanu Reeves movie EVER:

As you can imagine I was a huge Montreal Expos fan, even though our team sucked most of the time and our stadium looked like a really weird upside-down european version of the starship enterprise. See?

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Whether it was cheering Dennis Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez or others, it was about dem Expos and MAYBE the Jays, especially during the World Series days. While I never would have wanted to play professionally (the whole A, AA, AAA system was taxing on my young mind) I loved it.

Now? Not so much. Three main reasons:

1. There is no more Expos. Well, there is but they are the Washington Nationals. I no longer have a team to call my own. And while I live in Toronto and enjoy the Jays, it’s just not the same. The strike of 1994 completely destroyed my team and my thoughts there. (Though I JUST read this that brings me so hope. If it happened to the Jets of Winnipeg, why not La Belle Province?)

2. It’s too easy to predict. Only 10 teams could actually win it all every year. Boring. That’s no difference then cheering for Bron and the Heat.

3. Have you EVER watched a baseball game on TV?

That said, I still have one baseball dream that I want to confess to you:

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I want to visit Fenway Park in Boston, Mass cause I wanna watch the Red Sox play. And this dream was only heightened by the effects of last week’s horrendous attacks. Funny how even the silliest dreams return during times of tragedy. Even the selfish ones.

Why? It would be so stinking awesome! To sing “Sweet Caroline“, see the Green Monster and to work on my Bahston accent (Oh man, Big Bahpi’s wicked smahrt with his bat!)…too much fun. Right now, it’s an improbable dream (money, time, two kids under 4 who wouldn’t appreciate the trip) but still, I dream and wait until it’s possible. And one day, it’ll happen!

Now, I don’t know if that’ll reignite my heart for the game…too much has happened between us. But maybe, just maybe it’ll open up a door to reconciliation. Not saying “Move over Basketball and Football and the Olympics” but who knows…maybe it’ll come true.

And as a grown up, I hope that my willingness to hold on to this silly dream will inspire Liam and Ellie to do the same when they be grown.

Daht be Whicked Smaahrt.

Other dreams: Go to Europe, Go to Israel, See a live Lakers game IN LA, buy Wifey a really nice new engagement ring and a better wedding cake (she wasn’t a fan of the last one…)…more dreams to share…more to come…

Still A Slave…

A while back I was at the mall, attempting to buy a baseball cap to cover my now thinning hair and to promote whatever team the hat highlighted.

It was my luck when the store I was in had a two for one sale; two hats for one price is a steal! I knew I wanted a new Jays cap to join my collection of Jays caps and my renewed allegiance to our local team (note: this was before Reyes & Dickey…) but I couldn’t choose the other as easily.

I knew I couldn’t wear a snapback so that was out of the question (I’m old enough to remember when snapbacks became uncool and were replaced by the now-known fitted caps. I also remember when toques with pompoms were so uncool that I cut my off so I could fit it…oh, to have my authentic Expos toque again…). So it was another regular fitted…but which one? As I looked at my options, my eyes moved to the black and white newly minted Brooklyn Nets logo hat. So I tried it on. And it looked great. My mind went to every Jay-Z song where he referenced “his” Nets, the new craze that everyone had to rep this swag and how much I actually didn’t like the Nets. At all.

It reminded me of when all the rappers would where Yankees hats, even if they were from anywhere BUT New York. Suddenly, the Yanks were EVERYWHERE, even as people couldn’t tell you if Don Mattingly was still on their team! The culture of music videos, magazines and such made a logo WAY more popular than it already was.

And so I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wear something because a popular figure said it would be cool to; plus, those who know me well know my basketball colours run purple and gold  and so I compromised and got a black and white Lakers hat (The colors of the Nets, the power of the Lake Show.).

But I realized something that day, and everyday since. While I am a free man I am a slave. A slave to public opinion. A slave to culture. A slave to my own selfishness and desire to have. And you are too…even if you say you ain’t, in some way you is. Whether clothes, shoes, popular Christian author, type of person you date, how you DON’T spend money, we’re all slaving somehow to someone else’s idea of what works best. And at worst, we’re telling others how they should be like US, as opposed to how they should be like their Creator’s view of THEM. This is even worse when you have kids; to help them be themselves is delicate dance of both pressure and grace.

And the only way to be free is to say no. No to the Jay-Zs and commercials. No to everyone else’s opinion and ideas (or at least the non-helpful ones). Now does that mean we can’t be inspired? Not saying that. But there is a difference between inspiration and influence and I hope I’m inspired to be me and not influenced to be like someone I’m not.

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?

A Love-filled Fool (An Ode to ResonateAPC)

Plaid Night @ #InsideOut13 with Resonate (Agincourt Pent. Church's Post-High Group

I have just returned from a great time away with 30+ of the funnest, funniest, truest people I have the privilege of knowing. While tired in my body and weak in my mind, I have stopped many times to think over the blessing each of them are to me and to each other.

You see, this group is a family. Not in the way of how people say “I love coming to __________ because we’re like a family.” They are a family in that they don’t have to say it but people know it. They are all unique persons but they’re united in the main things (for starters, a deep rooted faith in God, through Jesus Christ, revealed by the Holy Spirit and grown in healthy community…sorry…HAD to preach there!!), which keeps them (and me to them/them to me) constantly connected. We laugh, cry, grow, learn, agree, disagree and serve together. And we’re all better for it.

And we’re a family that takes risks together.

For example…one night during our retreat, while taking a group picture, an idea was sprung up by one of younger brothers that then RESONATED through everyone. I, being the eldest, wasn’t the most excited for said idea. But I truly love these ones, and so I added my two cents to our creative potluck. The results are now being slowly viewed by friends of friends through various social media outlets, but what was captured in the room, can’t be defined by a 30 second clip.

In that room, a few hours prior, was laughter due to games, stories and pictures. Later on, tears, support, songs and prayers. And then following THAT?  A fun dance party. None were exclusive from each other but rather like a real family, they bled one into the next, a beautiful mosaic of stories, lives and excitement. And while I didn’t shed tears, I was moved. And here on my couch, retelling the stories to Wifey, looking a vast array of pictures, I still am.

And so, like the song Endless Love says, not only would I “…be a fool…” for them for dumb things (and for smart meaningful things too), I can’t think of a better group of people I’d be a love-filled fool for. I do love them a lot.

And as we move towards the #nextadventure we take together, like Max from “Where The Wild Things Are” proclaimed:

Let the wild rumpus start!

#plaidtobepentecostal

Mine Eyes Beheld The Beauty

Today while walking, I remembered a memory that made me smile to myself while bracing the force of winter’s strong breath.

I stood on a set of stairs, high above many…not because I was ABOVE them in stature or esteem but literally above them because I was at the top of the stairs and they were at the bottom. Makes sense? I’ll go on:)

From there I saw one with long hair…very long. Not so long that it would be unkept or so long that it would rival Crystal Gayle and be really “weird”. But long enough to be attention carrying. In this hair were highlights, subtle ones that would remind a passerby of summertime and playing in the park or going for a walk. Earrings, capri jeans (remember capris?! Are those still a thing?), flip flops and freckles. Oh the freckles. Not a lot, not too many but to quote the Baby Bear, they were “just right.”

That day I said “wow”. That day, a good friend became the “object of my affection.”

Years later, that memory still makes me smile. At times the smile is shortened when I think  of how I’ve treated that memory and more sadly, the person behind that memory…to the point of not deserving it. But today, in the bleak winter, I smile. And I laugh.

And I hope that on that day I didn’t embarrass myself.

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).

#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!