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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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.

Epic Fail Blog – Getting Left Behind!!!!

This is one of my FAVORITE stories.

Yes, it details one of my MANY, MANY embarasing moments but the outcome was awesome!

Becca was preggers and Ellie, in her independent nature, was taking a while to come out…by a few days.

We did everything you’re supposed to do to get that kid out, including long walks, raspberry leaf tea and nothing was getting The Kid out of her warm home. It wasn’t stressful but thoughts go through your mind…

“Is she okay?” “We still haven’t pick a name…” “Maybe she needs another month…”

Either way on March 24th, we went for the walk, drank the tea (we finally got our own tea-pot) and went to bed to watch a movie. Now, Becca is normally the sleepy one but on that night, I fell asleep first while she watched the movie. I then was awaken to this:

“Baby…? I think my water broke…”

(Becca never talks with “!”s. It’s always quiet and call with room for more in the sentence. I always get in trouble because I think she’s saying more but her sentence was done. But I digress…”

So I jump out of bed (There’s no worse mental pain then literally jumping out of bed after a deep sleep. It’s not fair to anything or anyone.), help her get ready, run and grab our bags, get her in the car, lock the car and get to driving. Becca’s contractions are very close and very painful so I’m kinda freaking out (nothing like seeing your love in pain and being able to do nothing…) while driving. She can’t even sit on in the seat, so she kneels in the passenger side facing the back of the car so she can hold the seat for comfort. It’s a funny scene looking back on it but at the time, it was nuts. I’m tired, she’s in pain, our baby is coming and I keep on thinking to myself:

“I wonder if the hospital has wireless internet…”

Stupid, right? I’m a boy…what can I say? I wish I had that calm nature bit but I don’t sadly…

So we get to the hospital and here’s where the fail comes in: In my haste, stress and nervousness, I grabbed every bag, especially my laptop (for fear of theft at 1:00 AM) and ran into the hospital and forgot one thing…

BECCA!!!!!

Poor Becca had to struggle her way out through contractions and a messed up way of sitting on her own. By the time i noticed (along with EVERYONE else in the waiting room) I got the “contraction eyes of death“. I was in the dog house, as you can imagine. A fail of epic proportions. I left my pregnant wife in the car but made sure my APC-lent laptop was safe! Dummy.

Well as the story goes, after 12 hours of back labour pains, on March 25th our daughter Eliana Dorothy Chase (aka Coffee Bean) was born. Good news cancels out epic fails, i guess.

And fortunately, I’m a lot calmer NOW than I was then. I least I HOPE so.

I guess this November we’ll find out…

 Opperation “Cocoa Bean” is in full effect! And we can’t wait!!

 

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, do me a favor and spread the love by pressing one of the share buttons so more will tune it to read! Or better yet? Subscribe!!!! 

Thanks! 

New addition:

So I’m here in my office after a long, busy yet productive day. The best part of it was going to the doctor for our first ultrasound appointment. Becca and I had front row seats to see little Cocoa Bean jump up and down, spin about and show off their Chase DNA. We even heard a heart beat. A reall strong one! It was surreal. We’ve been there before but it was all new.

Over lunch, we looked at pictures of our Cocoa Bean and then pics of our 2 yr old on my iPad while thinking about how cool it’ll be to do this all again. Becca kept on saying “He’ll…” or “His…”. She really wants a boy! I’m not so sure yet. I guess I’m used to having a little girl around the house and since we already have so much girl stuff. I’m really cheap=). And knowing my extreme nature, I’ll play dodgeball with him at 2 months just to over compensate.

We still have a long way to go but we’re excited! Thanks so much for the love, dear readers!

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.

More Than A Voice (A Note to Becca)

Happy Mother’s Day, Becca!

I gave off the wrong impression…

When I first met Rebecca I wasn’t trying to prove anything to her. Normally when I liked a girl, I would show off and am to be cooler than I already was at the time. Lots of loud jokes, extra hand movements (I grew up among the French in Montreal) and looking to see if she was watching.

But I wasn’t thinking that when I met her. I was thinking, “That girl with the Capstone shirt is really quiet.” She thought of me, “wow, he is a a beautiful man.” Okay, she actually thought, “why is he sooooooo loud????”

Over time, we became acquaintances then friends. She could always sing and everyone knew that but she was always more than a “voice” to me. She was quirky, smart, funny, driven, hard-working (ask her if you know her about how long it took her to write a paper. Then after laughing, ask her about the average grade she’d get. Then kick yourself.), and pretty darn cute (that’s a whole other blog…). I remember being nervous about leading worship in front of our peers at school and how she was like, “you got this” and how she would teach me about worship leading, speaking, etc.

When we got engaged, Becca was pastoring somewhere and doing a great job at it, despite the many roadblocks in her path. I remember calling her to let her know about the position availability at APC and while she didn’t say it, I know that in her head and heart, she knew that her days of doing ministry on her terms were over. She’d never say it but she felt it. Yet she gave up her job and that life to be my wife and be my partner in what we do now.

That role has gone from being right with me week in and out to whenever she can because of our little one Ellie and her beautiful propencity for drawing attention to herself but she’s always supported, always corrected when I needed stand and always reminded me of the call and the mission. My first four years at APC wouldn’t have been half as fun if we weren’t at it together.

I typed this because in two instances (well, TECHNICALLY three, if you count two services) Becca sang at APC. And well. Well, better than well. Awesome. And I know that the majority of people who sat under her talent and ministry would have only seen a voice (something that always worries Becca), I saw the mother of my kid, the love of my life, the one who gave up her dream to partner into mine and I was her biggest fan.

Sacrifice, when it is properly recognized, should remind us of what we have and what we’ve been given (Maybe that’s why people hit churches up on Easter like lineups for iPad). It should cause us to do more than be happy but cause us to see where we would be without it. Also, it should bring out of us heartfelt thanks, gratitude and desire to pay it back somehow. I see and know how much Becca has given up for me…and for that, I say thank you. I will never be able to fully repay you for it but I will work my life to try.

You will never be just a voice to me. You will be my best friend, my equal, my love, my joke tester, my honesty reader, Ellie’s mommy, my dance partner, my same TV show lover, my teacher, my compass and my reminder of a Greater Sacrifice.

And you will always be the reminder that i don’t know where your keys are.