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…

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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.

Hope and Disappointment (An Ellie Lesson)

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My daughter is a hopeful person.

She wakes up every single day at around the same time excited for whatever the day will bring. There is never a sad, “Oh man, what will I do?” moment with her. Each morning, she awakes not remembering the day before but anticipating the joy that is to come.

Ellie’s hope is SO big that when she gets bad news, she falls hard. The other day we noticed that her eyes ACTUALLY well up before a single tear falls. Just like in the movies. Ellie will stare off into the vast distance and those green eyes just go. (Side note: that will get me every time…).If Ellie finds out that she can’t go to a friend’s house or that a trip is postponed, her life is OVER.

Until the next day when she awakens to new hope. New chance. New possibilities.

Today, she was hoping that her friend could come over for a playdate. Wifey and I weren’t sure it could happen and wisely said, “we’ll see…we don’t know…” because we’ve been bad at telling her we’d be doing things only to take it back because of broken plans (funny how adults shape disapointment in their kids through the little things. A little, “I know I said we would BUT…” goes a long way.)

So we didn’t place any hope in the situation. But Ellie did. For over an hour, Ellie sat on the couch with her play backpack on…waiting in anticipation for the arrival of her friend. And when her friend came, she responded with a defiant laugh and jump of “I knew it!” At that moment, hope won the day. And it was awesome.

Now I know she’s 3 and that one day she’ll be older and possibly miserable as only a teenager can be. But for today? I love that she’s filled with hope. Hope that we’ll always go to McDonald’s. Hope that her favourite sitter will come over and take her out to buy a fish. Hope that Sid The Science Kid will come on TV JUST when she says so. Hope that the sun will come out so she can play outside (or snow for winter). Hope that everyone will like her and be her friend.

I pray she always “keeps” her playdate backpack on as she gets older. I pray that as she puts “…childish things…” away that she never loses the hope found in believing “…like a little child…“*

And God help the person who ever ruins that.

Meaning? God help me.

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*Scriptures found in 1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV) & Luke 18:17 (NIV)

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

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).

Netflix, TV and My Kid – A Parent’s Tale

“It’s not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day.” – Homer Simpson, B.A. and father of The Simpsons.

This, for many people, is their unspoken motto. A life filled with sitting in front of a flat screen/laptop watching hours of episodic television, 24 hour news TV or March Madness. That statement is much of my life’s story (minus the troubled Bart-like kid), for growing up I had 3 parents: Mom, Dad and TV. Much of my pop culture nerdish quotes and ideas come from hours as a kid, teen and at times, adult, watching and learning from TV. From Perfect Strangers to Community, Summer to Winter Olympics, from Lost to Fringe, from live to PVR/Netflix and online, TV had been a part of my framework and a part of how I see things.

Now I’m not writing this blog to tell someone to turn off their TV and get to running outside or fasting or something.  Nor am I writing to invite that for myself from a loving commentator. I think there’s someone much Bigger than I am who can do that. I’m writing because I have a daughter who like her father loves TV. And because she loves it and we let her watch it (with we hope, wisdom), it’d be good to talk through how we do it and hear from other how they walk their kids through it, if at all. So here’s how we’ve done TV with Ellie and what I’m learning in the process.

  1. Some cartoons aren’t good for her. At first we simply left a Canadian channel called Treehouse on all day while she played for background noise. And in all honesty, sometimes we did it for a break too (any “Oh man I’m not alone!” chants starting?)! And what we would hear would most often by fine but some shows, even for kids, would promote behaviors that we didn’t want her to see as approved. And this goes for me (and you) too. I talk about that on number 4.
  2. Know the limits. Winters are the worst for this. It’s not like you can go outside at minus whatever to ride a bike and Lord knows craft time, if you’re not a craft person, can be draining. So the easy decision is to simply turn on the TV and walk away. And for a time we would do that. Now we let her watch some educational stuff for a bit then turn the TV off and enforce play time. And that might be in her room with toys, might be coloring, but it is something away from the ‘tube.
  3. Talk with her about what she sees. I think good parents know when to simply say no and when to explain a no, even to a 3-year-old. The reason to explain isn’t to get them on your side or even the Lord’s side but instead to help them start to think critically over what they take in. This past summer Ellie was watching a kids show on my iPad through Netflix when a character said something I found inappropriate. My initial instinct was to take the iPad and walk away. Instead, we had a short talk about being nice and kind with our words. Did it stick? She’s three. But I do believe that the seeds are there.
  4. Set an example. Man this is hard. Am I on my phone in front of her all the time, checking emails (not tweets, if you remember)? My iPad? Even a book? Am I paying more attention even to writing this blog than to playing with her and her brother? It might not be a TV but if it’s something and it’s for a long time, it might at well be a TV. I have to take my own breaks, even when she’s sleeping. And I also have to constantly reevaluate what is appropriate and not. As I read today through Jon Acuff’s Quitter, “Discipline begets more discipline.” How I do things will affect her greatly, to make better calls, take better breaks and know when something shouldn’t be in her life.

So, thoughts? Ideas? Do you own a large TV but never use it because of different principles (side question: then why have the TV? But I digress…)? Was TV never a big deal for you? If not, what do you find is? How do you help your kids think while they do? If you don’t have kids, how to figure out what you watch and how much is too much?

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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