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.

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Marriage Blog: It’s Not Her Fault

prefix: Becca and I have been overwhelmed in a loving way at those who have read and commented on our posts dealing with our journey through Becca’ postpartum depression. We’ve both talked about how we don’t want to write to “capitalize” on that readership (hence my monday blog was this) but at the same time, we’ll open up a bit more from our story with Becca writing from her experience and I from a naive husband’s perspective. That being said, I will still talk about my amazing beard too, among other things that I like to talk about. But today, the postpartum story continues. And do look out for Becca’s blogpost as they come.

I have often heard that it is wrong to kick someone when they are down. I know this to be true but for a number of months I didn’t practice this in my own home. During my wife’s pregnancy and especially during after Liam’s birth, i did this. It’s hard to admit but I did. How? But quietly getting angry at Wifey without knowing what was going on in her. And I didn’t realize that in my actions that i was making things worse.

I saw her sadness and thought, “why can’t you snap out of it!?“. I saw her fatigue and thought, “maybe we (but really meaning her to be honest) should eat better…” and I saw her frustration and thought, “Life is good, why complain?” At the time, Becca was driving long hours to work and the drive was killing her. It always had but at this junction in our lives, it was worse. Her sighs were louder, her sadness more pronounced. Truth be told, she loved who she worked with but didn’t love her job and it was really getting to her. And at home She wasn’t able to play with Ellie. And after his  birth, she was always mad at Liam. He didn’t feed like Ellie or sleep like Ellie, or cry like Ellie…and she would let him know that. And I saw this…

And I kept it in. And grew in anger towards my wife.

*Let that sink in, Chris. 

I remember Becca mentioning on night, “I think you should read about postpartum depression…” and getting defensive. I mean, I KNEW about it. I read books, studied it for classes…but much of what people know in theory means nothing if it’s not practiced out when the time comes. And at that moment when healing should have taken place, my anger push her away…deeper into her depression. And there is nothing worse that being alone when you already feel alone.

My worst moment came during an extended family situation where the end result was me kicking a piece of furniture in front of my wife and daughter. Everything boiled over: my sadness, my feelings of failure as a husband, my naiveté, my embarrassment…

…There is no worse feeling than the ones you love seeing you at your worst. Nothing like embarrassing yourself because your own pride was wounded. And there is no bigger bittersweet moment then when you have to say, “I was wrong, I am sorry, what can I do to help?”

It took me a lot of time, counsel and tough talks with Becca to realize something that all husbands need to know:

It wasn’t her fault. My wife didn’t ask God for the test of depression to prove his glory. She didn’t get herself tangled into darkness to then find herself bound by something. No. Her body failed her (As ALL our bodies will in some form at some point) and she hadn’t received the medicine and counsel to be her again. She was unable to love us as she wanted to, not unwilling. And there is a big difference there.

So what did I do when this revelation came about:

Parent Real Talk: Feeling Sucky

If you’re a parent, you’ll understand this feeling: inadequacy.

This isn’t what we’d project on Facebook with our fun family pics or on Twitter with our happy 140 character notes, but more often than not, behind the front door of our homes, we sometimes feel this way. Especially when it comes to how we raise our kids.

The other night, Ellie was taken by SOMETHING. She was kicking her brother, crumpling her face while crossing her arms, cry screaming (which is a mixture of both crying and screaming) and just not listening to us at all. The night ended up with her in bed crying at 7:00 with no snack, me standing outside her room angry that I yelled at her (there is a difference between being stern for her sake and simply yelling because I lost my cool) and Liam picking his nose.

That night I felt like…I wasn’t a good dad. I know I am but there are days where I just feel…inadequate.

Question for Parents: Ever known that feeling? What seems to trigger that for you?

It’s worse when you’re out somewhere and you kids seems to…dare I say “embarrass” you. You know those times when they are the only kid who throws themselves into a foam-at-the-mouth, roll-in-the-dew (#seewhatIdidthere, Cobourg Camp peeps?), punch-kick-claw-yell-cry state while other parents look on with that face? You know the face…that smug look that says, “If that was my kid that would NEVER happen!” And it is so embarrassing, isn’t it? I know it is for me.

The real talk truth is that every kid has moments like that, whether we want people around us to know it or not. If a kid doesn’t:

– Sleep long enough or sleep too little
– Eat enough or sleep too little
– Play enough or play too little
– Feel the sun or to the moon
– Find out there is no Santa or some fictional character
– Suffer from first world problems like “Sorry no McDonald’s, kiddo” or “No Ellie, we’re not getting Starbucks banana bread (told you…first world yuppie problems)”

…They will freak out. And the younger they are, the harder it is to explain to them why they can’t have what they want and why they shouldn’t respond they way they do. So there are only a few things I can do.

1. Pray a lot. Becca and I picked up a cool booklet by Mark Batterson called “Praying Circles Around Your Children“, based on his book “The Circle Maker.” Without giving away too much of the book, the main gist is to help give parents direction on HOW to pray for their kids on a regular basis. The other night, I made a list of things I will speak over my children. For Ellie, kindness and honesty (among other things). For Liam, humility and love.

2. Apologize. I lose my cool sometimes. If you’re a parent, you know what that’s like. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to say sorry to a three-year-old who would rather play than listen at the time but if I live a life of apology, maybe when they are older, they’ll learn that being wrong and admitting it is okay.

3. Say “I love you” a lot. Today Ellie asked me, “Daddy, do you still love me when I do bad acts?” I told her that I could never NOT love her no matter what she did. Out of that, on her own, my three-year-old said, “Daddy, I’m sorry for hitting and yelling…”. She apologized for something she did the last week. Love brought out honesty from her, not my yelling.

4. Still discipline. Sometimes my kids are going to need to be disciplined and as a good dad I have to do that. But I have to talk afterwards.

5. Not compare myself to other parents. Hey other parents: I know you have sucky days when you get mad at someone else because you had a bad day at work or something. Because I know that, that face don’t mean nuthin! People without kids, know this: Your kid will mess up. Your kid will do dumb things. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It just means you’re like every other parent, whether they say so or not:)

6. Remember that kids remember. Today I saw a tweet from Mark Driscoll that made me pause (Thanks Taigan Bombay for retweeting him). It said, “Men, we need to be the kind of men we want our sons to become and our daughters to marry…because they will.” I think that goes for all parents. Our kids will be like us no matter what, so let’s all aim to be the best we can be.

…Tonight when I got home, Becca and I had to have a long talk with Ellie about her recent behavior. It was crazy to see Ellie embarrassed and saddened by her actions. She even tried to hide, reminiscent to two people who tried to hide from their own discipline so many years ago. Yet when all was done, we had a dance party.

Thankfully when things are done right, the ending is always sweet and filled with awkward attempts at dance moves meant for teenagers and NOT 30 year olds.

Parents: Please pass this along to other parents to hear their thoughts! How have you dealt with your own feelings of inadequacy?

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

Do You Have Your Shoes On? (Thoughts on this Maundy Thursday)

This is a thought based on a reading of Exodus 12:1-14.

You should really read it…

The people in this story were to celebrate this Passover fully clothed prepared to leave to go to their new home. They would be chased, hunted but they were going to a place that would be theirs (albeit for a season due to their attitudes. Nevertheless…). God was setting them free to go home and protecting them through the blood of lambs.

For Jesus, today (Thursday) would be a horrible day. It’s the day before his death. He’s hours from betrayl, condemnation, ridicule, loneliness, and above all else, seperation from His father due to the magnatude of sin place upon him. And so he celebrates Passover with his closest friends preparing to go home. He’s ready. It sucks and it will hurt but he is ready. He’s also preparing a home for them. They can’t go yet but one day they will. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

…Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him,God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” – John 13:31-36

Looking at both stories on this Maundy Thursday (Maundy is Latin for ‘commandment’. Just learn that. Kinda cool) wonder if we should live our lives this way today. For starters, this world is not our home. Yet when we serve God, we do so symbolically in our home clothes and slippers, as if we are comfortable right here IN this world. This world becomes our living room or family den. Serving God has no urgency. There’s no “I need to get out of here and bring people with me” attitude. The blood of the lamb has, for lack of better words, “done its job” and now we are free to lounge.

But what if we lived with an urgency? What if we live thinking that we need to be getting ready to leave? And we prepared ourselves knowing that the enemy will love nothing more than to keep us here and will run after us and hunt us to either bring us back OR destroy us? What if we live knowing that One had to die so that we’d be protected so that we COULD run? What if we lived EVERDAY in light of Good Friday and Easter Sunday because of thisTthursday? Because of this reminder…?

And what if we did like the Lord commanded the Israelitesto do and made sure that those in our church community and even maybe in our “community” community had enough to eat for the journey? What if, like Jesus commanded his closest friends on the night he was betrayed, we loved one another and others, so the world would have another reminder that Jesus is real?

I love how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New by the shed blood of Jesus. He is OUR Passover lamb. He’s the reason I should keep my shoes on because I need to get ready to go home.

He’s also the reason why I should invite someone else along for the journey.

(New addition) Just got back in from a walk…the significance of the next 24 hours is so big and so heavy. I just saw a tweet that wrote that while we sleep, Jesus would have been betrayed, illegally convicted, tried and beaten. And it’s true (pending time zones and whatnot). I pray that we don’t just focus on this because of this weekend but next Wednesday at your job/class/dinner/church/etc you remember that Christ took the worst and gave you the best by giving his life. If we only celebrate and think on this until Sunday, then his death was in vain.

Also, my friend Brendan Witton came up with a better name for this blogpost. So I changed it! Check out his own blog here!

May the cross and resurrection push us forward to be the church we ought to be IN LIGHT of what was given. And may that be the truth every day until we are finally home.

Letter to Ellie – Dealing with Friendship

Hey Ellie,

At some point in your life, someone will call you a bad friend.

It’s happened to me a couple of times. And it sucks.

When it happens, you won’t be ready for it. You’ll think everything is fine. You may be in the midst of a laugh together. You might be at their house for a sleepover and then the mood will shift. Then the talk will happen. You;ll find out that your friend has felt that you’ve ‘dissed/pulled away/not cared about them. And you’ll be crushed. And it’ll never be the same after that…it’ll change and you may get along but that sting will never leave.

 So as your dad, I want to give you some friendship thoughts to help you navigate through this messy maze.

1 – Friendships require work.

The things that you love will always take a lot out of you and friendship is no different. As you get older, things like making plans, phone calls, emails…what seems easy. But to keep one moving, it takes work. And at times, it can be taxing, especially if you need times by yourself to recharge. Then there are different forms of friendships that do different things to you. There are some that by the end of your time, you feel drained. Then there are others, where you (knowingly or unknowingly) will drain them. And then there are others where you feel completely refreshed and can’t wait do it again. But to get there takes work.

2 – Some friendships have unvoiced expectations

If someone says to you, you’ve been a bad friend, in most cases, you simply didn’t meet their expectation of what they either though friendship is OR what they thought YOU’d be as a friend. And because you’re friendly, a lot more will be put on you. And if you have that attitude towards someone else, they didn’t meet YOUR expectation. Now I’m not saying when you meet people to give them a form with all that you can provide as a friend and what you can expect. That would be weird. But in your heart and mind, know who you are and what you can do, what you need and what you bring to the table. Then when a friendship ends its course, you’ll be able to look back on expectations. The flipside to this is that, if you have expectations on them, it’s not a friendship, it’s a service that someone is providing for you.

Remember expectations, Kid. If you don’t, then you’ll get mad when people don’t live up to yours (when you’re the taker) and you’ll be thrown off when you’re in the blame (when you’re the giver). If you know what’s expected of you (emails, phone calls, hang outs everyday, etc.) then you’ll know whether you can live up to it or not. And you’d think that this is only for high school people. But there are 40 year olds who fall for this too (I tend to think that people never graduate from HS in their brains when it comes to friendships and relationships…you’ll hear me say that a lot as you get older.

3 – There are different TYPES of connecting relationships

Now this is simply MY opinion here, kiddo but This will help you soooo much. First, there are relationships where you are the giver. By this I mean, someone is expecting you to lead the relationship. Second, there are relationships where you are the taker. This is where you’re in need of someone helping or leading you. And at the get go, things will go well. Then over time, communication will fall and it might end. This is tricky because in both of these ‘types’, it’ll end and you’ll be confused. If you’re the giver, you’ll ‘get tired’ and because you’re like me, you’ll just space out of it. The person will be very mad with you. And you’ll be crushed. And when you’re the taker, it’ll end and you’ll be mad and hurt.

Then the last type is the best type. I call it “friendship“. It’s messy, it’s hard but it’s where both people give and take. Conversations are always about making one another better. You look out for how the other person is doing before how they are helping you and in return they do the same for you. It become effortless. Those types of friendships are the ones where you might not see someone for years but when you do, it’s like yesterday. It’s awesome. Those ones are worth investing in. Those ones are worth preserving and having messy convos. As you grow up, those friendships will help you and carry you through some tough times.

4 – Your number of friends will shrink as you get older.

When you’re a kid, everyone is your best friend. Then in high school, you’ll have your ‘girls’ and that one guy friend. I will hate him, by the way. Then you’ll get older and you’ll have 2 or 3 sisters. That’s okay. It’s okay to have a close circle. A teacher once told me that Jesus had 3 besties, 12 homies, a bunch of close associates, a 72 crew and then a lot of people he knew.  Be careful with the crowned title of best friend. That title is earned. And there’s nothing worst than thinking someone is your best friend and they don’t feel the same way. (You’ll feel that about boys too but that’s a blog I’m not ready to write yet. Boys are dumb. And smelly.)

5 – Good friends try to give the benefit of the doubt.

If you’re in a friendship and the relationship runs its course, don’t waste time thinking about how they hurt you. Instead, think more about how the relationship has changed you and made you a better person. Every relationship you’re in (close to acquaintance) can be a blessing, if you have the right perspective. If you don’t, you’ll always be the victim. If someone isn’t able to connect with you for a time, check up on them rather than expecting them to check in on you. This helps with the focusing on others more than wanting it for you. You never know, they may be going through something. OR, maybe the friendship is ending and they don’t know how to say it. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Think kindly and speak highly of them when asked. And if  they get mad with you, give them the benefit…speak highly of them. If someone is your friend, don’t judge them. Talk to them. Ask questions when it’s right. Be silent when it’s right. Grow together.

6 – Friendships require wise honesty

Trust is a careful commodity. And some people can’t carry it. They are good people but they can’t keep secrets. If someone talks a lot, be wise. If they speak bad about others in front of you, chances are they do the same about you when you aren’t there. Just who they are, kiddo. Be smart with who you tell what to and how much you tell when you tell. Be smart, kiddo. And if you know that you haven’t been a good friend, be honest and ask for forgiveness.

7 – Lastly, don’t look for in PEOPLE what only JESUS can provide.

People will let you down. And you will let people down. Expectations suck. But never live off of the words of others. Live off of God’s promises and encouragement and balance everything else on what his spirit is telling you. If you’re being crummy, He’ll tell you before someone else needs to. People will unintentionally judge (though most times, it’s with full-on intention), categorize and say things that hurt you without even knowing it. People will expect much from you and you’re only one person. When they are nice, focus on Jesus and stay wise and humble. When they aren’t so nice, remember WHO He’s told you YOU are. I hope you learn to hear him from watching Mom and me…He loves you more than I ever can. And I love you a lot! He will always be honest with you, kiddo. Always. And His word let’s you know what his motives are. There’s no shady, selfish needs in him. He’s not like people. Which is cool!

Ellie, if you love and serve your friends with all you got (using wisdom as you do it…you don’t want to be a doormat either), the right type of friends will come your way. And they’ll return the love.

And on the days where you come home from school sad because you’ve been ditched or called a bad friend, I’ll be here. We’ll eat ice cream, watch your favorite movie and get through it together.

Ellie, Dora, Diego & Kissing Cousins

My daughter is pretty observant. She gets that from her mom. She learns by watching.

Becca and I really want her to learn well from us in multiple areas of life, one in particular being affection. We often say ‘I love you’ ‘I love you too’ and ‘I miss you’ to one another and now Ellie has the habit of saying it as well to us, her bear, her bunny and friends. It really is the cutest thing. Becca and I also give each other hugs and small kisses too, simply because we fancy each other AND because we want Ellie to see that it’s normal for mommy and daddy to be that way.

Funny tidbit: The other day when we were being lovingly affectionate (and thinking that Ellie was busy in the living room) we heard a small voice say ‘what doin GUYS?!? (said exactly like this!)’. This leads into the following story…

Last night (Sunday) right after Resonate (APC’s Post-High Ministries to 18 to 24 year olds), I checked my phone and Becca had sent me a twitter message. Here’s what it said:

No more kissing in front of The Kid (Ellie’s nickname). She made Dora and Diego kiss in the bathtub. She said ‘mommy daddy kiss’.

I laughed out loud and shared the message with our group, who laughed as well while each proclaiming “Aren’t they cousins??!?” When I got home, Becca explained Ellie’s ‘play‘ in detail (from saying hello to hugging to…) and it made me laugh, cringe, worry, laugh and marvel at her smarts. Kids know so much and my job as a dad is to help our little Eliana grow and learn and know even at this age. I’m glad that I have that responsibility. I’m also glad that if she’s gonna learn anything, it’s not from TV or from a friend, but from Becca and I. What a job! What a calling!

I also have the responsibility to let her know that cousins don’t do what she was…um…getting them to do…

That’ll be fun =)

sigh…High school as a dad is going to be a blast (insert sarcasm here).

At least she said “mommy daddy kiss”, though…that’s pretty cool, if you ask me!

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?