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).

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#beardwatch at one week

So the quest for the greatest beard ever started a week ago. It’s been 7 days and so far so good. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about it already which have been fun along with a challenger who believes his beard, in a year, will be better than mine. Well Drew Oliphant, consider yourself the silver medalist in this two person beard dance. Love you, dude but you’re gonna lose. Don’t believe? Check out the site bro!

So I thought in this post, I’d talk a little bit about my rules, my hair process and my upcoming difficulties because of my beard. Let’s go!!!

1- My Grooming Rules:

On Sunday, one of my buddies asked me if I had cut my beard at all since I started and I told him yes. His suggestion was that I should then start from scratch from the day I cut my beard. My good friend failed to understand what is known by us urban folks as “Goin’ for a touch up“. What is that you ask? Well I will tell you!

A touch up is simply cleaning up the lines on the face to keep the main parts looking neat without actually cutting the girth of the beard off. Kids used to do this when they wanted to grow their hair out for braids or huge fro but still look good and not bruck up (def: unkept). So with my beard, I will never cut the goatee portion or the hairs closest to it. However the sideburns area can be trimmed to keep with some neatness. The reality is, I have a job where at times I need to stand in front of people and so I should look somewhat decent…even with a HUGE face carpet!

2 – My hair:

The hardest thing about this beard will be that black hair will never grow as fast my caucasian friends. And my hair is curly and not straight. Knowing this, I spend a lot of time combing out my beard. I know how weird that sounds but I do it at LEAST 6 times a day. Now I can do this while typing this blog, watching TV, reading a book, throne-ning it…you name it, I can do it! I’m always picking this thing out. I remember way back when I grew out my hair to have braids and it went from tight curls to straight. That is what I am anticipating. It’s already happening in the chin region…now for the jaw!

I also have to shampoo it too, which is a weird feeling. Soon…conditioner. I’m three steps away from a curling iron.

3 – Upcoming Difficulties

I have a black tie wedding in December that normally I’d be clean-cut for…and I will be tempted to cut it. Also, I always get poutine cheese stuck in this thing. And I have a wife who will hate this more and more as this continues. Lastly, I will be venturing into hipster territory soon (the large frame glasses, color jeans and nonchalant rapport doesn’t help either). I’m not trying to be a hipster…which is again venturing to hipster territory. Also, I made fun of a friend named Mitch Pitt for having a thick beard. And when he sees me, he’s gonna throw it on me in a bad way. And lastly, Easter plays…

I’m sure more will come up but we’ll see.

____________

Well, that’s all for now! I’ll save more stuff for next week as the #beardwatch continues!!!! I’d love, if you’re a reader, for email questions that I can answer here on some posts. Email me at cchase101@apchurch.com and maybe your question might get picked!!!

Did I Just Sing “Friday??” – A Lesson From #EODYC (Read and RT!)

This past weekend I came to the sad realization that I am getting older.

Maybe it’s the gray in my beard. Or the fact that everything is loud or too bright. Maybe it’s the fact that I always make reference to something (Music, especially…) from years ago to let kids today how bad they have it now. I’m rambling here…let me explain.

My friend Jeff asked me a few months ago to be the co-host/emcee at our annual Senior High Convention, where students from all over the eastern churches of Ontario come together to be encouraged and to encourage others in their relationships with Jesus. I had an idea to open the event with a rendition of the Rebecca Black musical monstrosity known as “Friday” that I saw Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert collaborate on. I knew that it would pop (meaning go over well with the majority of the crowd because of its random placement and overall hilarity) if we did it right so but that if it didn’t, it would be a loss that we’d be unable to retract.

Life is risk.

So as the event is getting closer, I’m quietly stressing over the song, the duties, etc. We’ve never had someone do what I’d be doing before. Urgh. Thankfully, Matt Robinson, our event’s worship leader and all around great man and friend, helped on the musical and creative end to make the song work with his band. But something was missing.

The “Friday” rap.

On Wednesday, by way of Twitter, I contacted a student I knew and asked him if he’d be willing to do the rap, a mix of the original HORRIBLE lyrics and his own swag. The student jumped at the chance, wrote his verse and was pumped for the opportunity. I, on the other hand, thought about the logistics, the response, the spacing…technical crap. On the actual Friday, we did a run through and sound check. Again, I was really in the technical zone, PLUS I was sick with a cold and losing my voice (as if having a voice would make the worst song in the history of poetry OR prose or caveman writings better, but alas…) so I was in a pretty crummy mood. But then I would look at Ian, (aka Creo) as he was waiting for his mic check. He was so excited. He just wanted to rip the stage UP! He couldn’t sit still! Up the minute before he was to get in position, he look at me with the “Should I go up NOW?” face and I’d say, “I’ll let you know, man, don’t worry on it.”

Such a grown up.

Finally the night kicks off. I get into that “There is no one better at this job than me”-zone and go for broke with the hosting gig, dappered out in my Don Draper suit. I’m still not having full fun yet but I’m getting there. Then we start “Friday” (…in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, if this fails, oh man…) and the kids are having fun as the Shakespearian call of “7 AM, waking up in the morning, gotta be fresh gotta go downstairs…” penetrates through the speakers. Ian then has his shinning moment and the kid kills it. He really does, all swagged out as he ran the stage (he’s seen lot of rap videos, I guess!). Then the song went into high gear as Batman, Spiderman, a sumo wrestler and guys in unitards hit the stage for the finale. You had to be there, I guess (any videos of it out there…?)

It popped. It killed. It was epic. It was actually FUN!

Right after the song (Catch you on the flippity flip!), I went, changed and got ready for the next segment, really forgetting what just happened. Back to tech stuff. No time for roses.

Not Ian. His twitter was a-blazing, excited to perform in front of the “biggest crowd of his life”, truly finding his purpose as an entertainer and rapper. He tweeted on it all nite! I read them and laughed with joy, pride and hint of “okay, cool it down, son!”

…And then I realized that he had something that I, and many adults, have lost due to social media, 24 hour news channels, broken promises, lack of encouragement, bad high school experiences (which we’re still trying to break free from), dad issues and more: DREAMING. He still believes, and rightly so, that what he can do will change the world. I was like that once, excited to stand on a stage, be it at church or school…whatever. NOW? I think about wording, time, people’s perceptions, “could someone else do it?”, speaking to the influencers, etc. Ian reminded me that having fun is okay. It’s cool to get lost in the moment and simply BE. It’s okay to dream about being better. It’s okay to actually believe you can change the world, be it through a rap, a dance, a story, a conversation or a smile.

I just wished the lesson came from a cooler song.

Or a mime.

Tough Talking Over Thursday Nite Tacos (Working on Honesty)

Ever have a day where everything just clicks?

Today was, to quote now has-been Charlie Sheen, winning.

From getting work done (Resonate), to laughing with friends (way too many to count), to chats on twitter (Special shout outs to Saj & Kathy! Felt like the three of us were in the same room all day!), this day has been awesome. Plus I got Bon Iver’s latest tunes. Such amazing songs (though his music is utterly depressing!).

But the best part was being home for two reasons. First, I was able to leverage my way into getting tacos for supper. Now unless you hate God’s green earth, you have a deep love for tacos, both hard AND soft shell. And me nah taaakin bout Taco BELL tacos. I taaakin bout some meen at hooommme tacos (saw what I did there? Got all west indian on the blog!). And boy were they good. Even Ellie had two full tacos on her own. I mean who doesn’t love TACOS!

The second reason was because Becca and I had a great convo. This happens often but not on the subject. Becca was talking about some research found in her job about people and their addictions and her discoveries led to a loving and honest conversation about ourselves as individuals and as a couple. What was cool about what remembering how much we know each other and our warning signs. Becca knows when she needs to get hold of my attention and vise versa. It was great to talk about where I am at and where I want to be and know that she understood and wasn’t condemning. It was also cool to be able to know that I could come honest in my short comings and know that even though she’d be upset or even hurt, she’d be understanding. It’s taken some time to get there but it’s nice to be here.

And all the while, Ellie just peacefully ate her tacos like a big girl.

And today she FINALLY wore her Jordans, too. Swagger on a HUNDRED, SON! And it rained and she still kept them things white.

You feel that? I just blew your mind. Boom.

Some days, everything just clicks.

Gents, even when it sucks, be honest. If you’re not honest with the ones you care for, you’ll never be honest with yourself. As awkward as it is, even if you can’t make eye contact, do it. Then do each day one at a time.

D.N.A. of a Man of God…What Does it Even Mean??

That guy is a man of God!

Lately I’ve been thinking about that statement and its significance. What does it mean to be a man of God?

What defines someone as a man of God? It is an Old Testament term used often to describe someone who represented God’s voice to his people. Here’s how I’ve heard people describe it along my travels in life today:

  • Someone who preaches well.
  • Someone who leads well during adversity.
  • Someone who knows their Bible and prays a lot.
  • Someone who acts with integrity.
  • Someone who “looks” like Jesus.
Now I don’t have a PROBLEM with these definitions per se but I wonder if our definition is more “cultural” than “biblical”. I mean…
  • I know people who preach REALLY well on a variety of subjects but are really mean once they are off the pulpit. Is that man of God-ish?
  • I know people who lead well in front of people but can’t lead their bank books. Is that man of God-ish?
  • I know men who can quote scripture and seek the face of God daily but in their reading and seeking, they justify their prejudices and hurtful actions. That is definitely NOT man of God-ish, right?
  • I know men who look like Jesus but don’t act like him…is acting man of God-ish?
I’ve also noticed that much (not ALL but a lot) that has to do with being a man of God has to do with LEADING or something that many others can see. What about the guy who isn’t an upfront person but is never late when they are needed to serve? Or the dad who spends time teaching their kid a hobby or skill? Or the man who quietly opens doors for someone or buys someone’s lunch just because? Or the man who is able to successfully manage his checkbook, taking care of their tithing and bills with precision? Is that man of God material or is it only leading someone to Jesus over coffee? What of the man who cares for his wife or lives right until his wife comes? Or who is a good friend?
If you had to build a man of God template or a book of ‘skills towards man of God-ism’, what would be in it? Ladies, if you were building a man of God, what would he carry? What would he be like? Is it enough for him to be a man of God outside of the home but not kind inside? Or vise-versa? I’m rambling here now…
The reason I’m writing this is because at some point, my Ellie (and quite possibly my second daughter if Becca’s prediction of a boy is wrong) is going to bring a boy home and he might ask for her hand in marriage. Before all of that though, she’ll ask me (and her mom) what kind of guy she should be looking for…eek. And even MORE scary is that he might be a bit like ME…
So then, what should a man of God look like in our current culture? What’s top on YOUR list? What’s not so important? Please comment, share and ponder with me.
P.S. – I’ve also noticed that my generation (and younger) throw around terms that we heard growing up (like man of God) without really knowing what they mean. Like it says in Rococo by Arcade Fire states, we’re “using great big words that we don’t understand…”
P.P.S. – My fellow men, don’t worry about being crowned a ‘man of God’ by someone. Just serve…Micah 6:8, yo. Last
P.P.P.S – Maybe I’m just venting because I’m tired of seeing guys think that if they read a few verses, they are good. Without purposeful intergration of what one reads but way of action, it’s words. And I’m TIRED of seeing people put their families on the back burner for ministry things, cool tweets quotes and the like.

Vacuums, Santa, Clowns & Dread: These are a few of the scariest things (Letter To Ellie).

I think that once a child discovers fear, the slow burn to adulthood begins.

Once fear shows up, it is like “innocence” begins to pack up room after room until it is forced to move out.

Most kids first meet fear around a new person, or in moment of separation from their mom.

Not you, Ellie. You’re way too strong and independent to cry when you’re not near mom or dad.

Instead, you first met fear by way of a singing toy penguin. You cried, kicked and kicked and KICKED until it was far from you. I think it was the sound it produced that got you. You are petrified by loud noises. You can’t walk by the bathroom when mom is blow drying your hair and god-forbid we put the vacuum on in your royal presence! You hate that thing even though it keeps us clean. And unlike other kids, you hate Santa. Oh you love him from a far but once you’re two kids from him, the abyss of disturbance rocks you to the core. Like a hurricane…(too sooooooon?)

I hate that you know what fear is. I wish I could erase it from your mind. I wish you didn’t have to live in a world with fear. That being said, if you didn’t have fear at ALL, here’s what you’d be doing:

– Running in the middle of a busy road without looking both ways.
– Walking up to someone bigger (or smaller) than you and smacking them in the face.
– Putting your hand on the stove.
– Running away from home at age 15.
– Breaking the law without fear of consequence

Stuff like that.

So in that regard, fear is a good thing (maybe it’s fear that turns into wisdom…) but here’s what I don’t want you to be afraid of:

– Making friends as you go through the awkward preteen phase.
– Trying new things like a sport or instrument or simply dreaming big.
– Love. It’s work, it brings out the best in you while killing the worst. But it’s so worth it.
– God’s voice. As of now, I wouldn’t want you to do what I do. That being said, if God calls you, listen to him as the PRIMARY VOICE. I’m 2nd…maybe even 3rd.
– Being yourself. I never want you to be afraid of becoming you. Don’t try to be like the status quo. Start a new one.
– The Vacuum. Seriously, Eliana, it’s cleaning. I know it’s loud but it is helpful.

Kidlet, fear is always going to be around. It’ll get your adrenaline up, give you quicker problem solving skills and hopefully make you wiser. But don’t be a slave to fear. If you are, you’ll miss that job, that friendship, that love, that call. God is bigger than your fears. He’ll walk with you through your fears and help you get past them.

There’s a story in the Bible that you’ll probably hear forty times by the time you’re 10 but it fits well here. A bunch of guys are on a boat when they see Jesus (the same Jesus who lives in your heart) walking on the water. (P.S. Jesus is a G! You’ll hear me say that a lot…). One of them, Peter, asks Jesus to invite him to walk on the water too. Jesus does. And so the guy GETS OUT AND BEGINS TO WALK ON THE WATER.

No tricks. No graphics. Just walking.

After a few steps, he realizes what he’s doing, gets scared and starts to sink. But Jesus is right there to take his hand.

And when you feel like you’re sinking in fear, he’ll do the same for you. He promises.

Love you, kiddo.

Da-ddy

P.S. And I still deal with fear too. I fear clowns. And zombies. And the event decline of Kobe Bryant.

You Just Never Know…

You can never predict how your life will turn out.

At 18 years old, I was in my second year of CEGEP at John Abbott College (That’s college for you Ontario and American readers, not university. That comes after…) studying Liberal Arts. I was in a singing group (our name was C.R.I.M.E. Seriously…), working on my rap game, wearing imitation Timbs and a giant orange bubble jacket. Yes, orange…bright orange. I worked at The Gap, made money, was loud ALL the time and was very obnoxious. I kinda knew what I wanted to do but didn’t know how to get there.

I remember being in classes thinking ‘This is NOT what I want to do.I don’t wanna be here. I don’t care about  modern philosophy or 18th Century art or Problems of Math and Logic.  I don’t care…”. I don’t wanna be like these nerds in class, reading all the time. So I had fun…stayed involved in church for Godly and attention reason, forgot about school and simply just DID, if that makes any sense.

…I turn 30 in less than a month. I’m a husband, father, good son (who really should call home more often), brother, friend. I’m all those things because of who Jesus is to me and what he’s done for me. I work with the greatest people on earth at 2885 Kennedy Road, both staff and volunteers (the church should always work together, not work for people…at least I think so…). I’m not as loud as I was (at least in the eye of the writer I’m not). I read constantly (I’m the nerd I hated on…). I’m not a rapper (though my freestyle skills still be nice/like a glass of coca-cola chilled down with ice…bow!) nor a singer but that’s okay!

Why the nostalgia? Well, today, a friend of mine opened up his own cafe in my town of Ajax (Cafe Moka…check it out yo!) and asked me as a pastor and friend to pray a blessing over it (He loving calls me Reverend…he’s only person I’ll let do that too. It just sounds weird. He also calls me his priest. That I hate…lol!). I was honored to do so. I thought that while people mingled in the front, we’d go to his back office and pray. Nope. Instead he shut the music down and asked me to pray in front of a bunch of people i didn’t know (and in my head I was like “did I cut anyone off on the way in? Did I smile at everyone as I walked in? Was I on Twitter the entire time?”. So after saying some choice words, we prayed, laughed and celebrated his new business. When I sat down, someone who was in class with me at 17-18 and saw me in the bubble goose, trying to sing and rap, loud as can be said something really cool. They simple smiled and said “I’m not surprised to see you doing this…I could see it then…”

I thought that was cool because I never did. Honestly.

Then I ate a sandwich. Best one I ever had in my life.

‘This is your life/are you who you wanna be…'” – Switchfoot. Well? Are you?