Saudades do meu Pai

O meu Pai e eu

Saudade is know as an untranslatable word. The meaning?

“A feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese
temperament.”

That is how I would describe myself today, with a feeling of longing and nostalgia for my father. Yesterday would have been his 82nd birthday and I wish I could hug him and show him just how much I’ve been blessed. There are many things I’ve learned to appreciate in life but I feel like I could have shared those thoughts with much more courage and confidence now than I did when he was alive.

Like any relationship ours was one that had its ups and downs. Mainly because there was such a generational gap – he had turned 50 when I was born; a complete surprise to him; a wonderful surprise he would often correct me.

When I was young I knew the boundaries he created for himself and for others. He was an older man and strict to his core. A good friend to the ones closest to him, still his best companion was his memory. Conversations about his youth were scarce but every now and then he would share about his adventures. His love for history was pure and he lived during iconic times but the stories he would share were more about life’s lessons than about his ego. Still, these stories, weaved through historical moments I read in books, taught me much of who I am today. And while I didn’t notice then, I know for sure that he left a lasting impression on me. Some of these stories have mirror mine…
How my father left his small town to come to the Portuguese capital in search of a better life. I left my own country in search of a better life for me and my family.
How my father chose to forgo an educational path in order to care for his family while building a relationship with his teachers to share about their discontent for the old regime of censorship. He claimed this to be his best education. While I have a degree, my first job in the US was as a forklift driver for a Florida nuclear plant and later I worked in a call center doing things I was overeducated to do. Still I built relationships with people from all walks of life that still impact me today.
How my father traveled Europe during the Portuguese dictatorship and lost his passport in Italy, only to be called every month for a meeting with the Political Police (PIDE). Since I moved to this country I did have my passport expire and going through immigration offices is definitely not something I would wish on anyone. But that experience taught me to respect everyone, no matter where they are from.
But my favorite was more sensational than character builder: how he met a young Sidney Poitier at the opening of a club in Ibiza, Spain. I got nothing on that.

Those were incredible life lessons that have shaped the person I am today – sacrifice, hard work and respect.

But it wasn’t always pretty with us. Not all of his convictions matched mine and we had our fair share of disagreements. In a moment of defiance he took a stand against my maturation process and said no to my wedding. That would be his greatest regret. Not being there on the most important day of my life was difficult and I’ve learned to cope with it.

In the later years before he passed, sickened by cancer, I saw what he must have looked like when we was younger. While definitely with less energy, the outer layer come out and his ability to love and care became more evident. They were always there but not as visible as now. I might have doubted he was able to do it so freely when we were going through our rough patches. But when he asked for forgiveness to me and my bride for missing our wedding, that example of courage made it all worth it. To acknowledge your wrongs. To be bold in accepting your convictions as wrong. To make that transformation known through words. I didn’t see that often from my Dad. Still, I will never forget it.

I miss him. I miss his conversations about soccer. I miss his simple compliments. I know he would have loved to see the wonderful family God has built for us. I know he would have loved to see the relationships we have built in our community. I know he would have loved to see his grandkids growing-up.

The feeling of saudade is inserted here… in the nostalgic remembrance of how much I loved him; of how much I indeed learned from him. I think there is great motivation for me to learn from his life. While I didn’t admit at first, there is much more of him in me. And I’m proud to admit it.

Celebrating Mother’s Day on a regular day

Yesterday was a great day; it always is. Every year we take the second Sunday of the month of May to celebrate Mother’s Day in the States (a week later than in Portugal). 

On this day Mom’s are supposedly able to take a day off and relax under the sun, while the rest of the family does their best to match the level of comfort only a mom can bring to the home (most of the times the husband just tries to contain the children and make quiet enough while avoiding getting the house on fire). We do this because we love our Moms! We appreciate the continuous giving of themselves even when there is little to no praise in return. The pouring of their heart through the ups and downs of life is an always present, always ready, and never-say-no quality that makes a long-lasting impression on a child. I’ve been blessed to witness that with my wife and she is an inspiration to me and our children.

Her motives are pure and her desire is clear: to raise our children in the way of love, confident in themselves and aware of others, knowing that they can make a difference in every circumstance. She is not working for her praise. She is working for something greater then herself.

So today, the day after Mother’s Day, much of the excitement will go away. Mother’s will take the behind the scenes approach and step back from the lights that once a year shine on their work. Still their work won’t stop. It never did; not even on Mother’s Day. Today they will continue their craft of love, pouring more and more of themselves to the growth of their children. Today they will…

make meals,

take children to school,

work around the house or in the office,

pick up groceries,

help with homework,

do baths,

and tuck children in bed.

Most of the day’s hard work and sacrifices will go unnoticed and that is okay. The rubbing off of character will continue and make a difference in the life of a child. Even if it does go unnoticed, she is making a difference.

My goal, and every one’s goal should be to remind them of that labor of love. Motivating them to know they are making a difference. So today I say again, as I said yesterday and as I’ve forgotten to say so many times, Happy Mother’s Day!

Getting you Pumped Up

He believes in you! He is your biggest fan! He cheers you in public when the crowd roars with excitement! He pulls you up when loneliness sets in! No matter what may come your way; no matter how big the challenge; no matter how high the mountain may seem; He is there for you!

Who?

The father in the lounging chair?

The neighbor sitting on the front the porch?

The teacher standing in the hallway?

The student hanging out in the playground?

The co-worker filling out paper forms?

YOU!!! Get up and move! This is your chance to make a difference. To make an impact. To pump someone up and see the effects as it spreads out! 

I was a reminded of this power as I saw a motivational calendar my team and I created for our sales channel. I made the cover page based on some of the expressions that inspire me. And as I look at it again, I feel inspired to be better myself. To get up and move. To lead at home. To lead at work. And to lead in my community. As a husband; as a father; as a son; as a brother; as a co-worker; as a mentor; as a friend.

Pumping you up

Let these words pump you up!

Stepping up to the challenge

taking a step

What does work changes, family health and extreme weather have in common? You have no control over either of them. That is basically what I experienced in the last few weeks.

It first started with increase work-related projects that needed my undivided attention as our business grows and reaches for additional success in a new year. My business trips started adding up to my calendar as each day unfolded a new opportunity for me to provide guidance and leadership. While all of this is happening a winter vortex fast approached the southern states that I’ve come to enjoy for their early spring. And because in a perfect storm it doesn’t simply rain, my wife and kids all got the flu at the worst time possible.

In that moment I remember thinking of what I could do to accommodate all the areas that were pulling for my attention. Have you ever had a moment like this? Where when you least expected the perfect plan becomes… well, not perfect at all? In these moments many of us tend to be stressed by the demands instead of being excited by the opportunities it poses for personal and professional growth. The way one juggles all responsibilities does provide a window to share on the demeanor and focus needed to overcome a challenge.

So that was my situation. I won’t deny that at some point I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and simply wish for all to go away. That lasted for about 1 minute… I didn’t have time for much more; in reality there was no time do stand still. My role as a husband, father, family leader, committed worker and team member required me to step up to the challenge. In moments like this I embrace the adrenaline and take in the opportunity to shine and grow. Will I make mistakes? Yes. Could I have done things differently? Yes.

But instead of getting bitter I want to get better.

We all go through moments like this, where our plans don’t go according to our…well, plans. To step up to the challenge all you need to do is take that first step. There are no manuals in handling unexpected challenges and so my main direction in these circumstances is to push through and take that step. I didn’t know all that was unfolding until it actually happened. Still, I took a step. With flexibility I changed by work plans to re-arrange my traveling. With commitment I took the time to be present for my family and take care of their needs. With engagement I made up my work time by working earlier mornings and later nights to handle all my responsibilities at the office.

I didn’t plan my last three weeks to be like this but I took a step to face my challenges head on. What challenges are you facing? You may not know what is coming up but all you need to do is take that first step.

Reality check – my recent story of understanding my place and the blessings around me

emergency

It can happen to anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, your gender or social status. It can happen at home, at work, in the park, in the grocery store. To me and my family it happened in the emergency room. When reality checks in, you pay attention.

Two nights ago I found myself in the emergency room as my oldest son was taken in for a head scan after he fell head first on a concrete floor. We had just arrived at a friend’s house and when he fell his cry expressed real pain. I remember checking his eyes and checking his head, but from that point until we arrived in the emergency room it is all a blur to me. All I know is that in that moment I stood as a pillar of strength and comfort to my wife, who cried with concern for our child, and to my oldest son who showed some discomfort when arriving at the hospital.

I stood strong but not on my own: family and friends lifted prayers and assisted us when needed; medical staff showed expertise and sensitivity to our concern; God was present! After a CT scan the results came back with good news that all was okay with our 7 year-old. In that moment I found relief. But today, I found peace. Not so much in the passing of 72 hours since doctors encourage you to monitor your child (all is well thankfully). But because of all that I have learned. Reality check!

I stood tall and strong in a moment of despair for my family. But to be honest, it all happened so quickly it was natural and unexplainable. All I know is that in that moment I was ready. I felt the calling of my position as a husband and father not based on rushed adrenaline but because of who I am. In that moment the projects and reports at the office didn’t matter, the plans for our backyard didn’t come up, and the desire for a shiny new toy this Christmas didn’t even cross my mind. In that moment I understood my place on this earth. No, the trivial didn’t matter but the experiences of past prepared me to be a better husband and a better father. The intentional acts prepared me for the natural ones. And today’s peace is encouraging for the future. A motivation to focus on what is important.

I was ready and I delivered. So many years and months caring for them, loving, nurturing and being there for them. It was all natural. I won’t take the blessing of having my child with me each and every day for granted. I’ll enjoy each moment of fun with a healthy family by my side. I’m a husband and father, and I’m blessed. And this reality is much more fulfilling than the neighborhood you live in, the car you drive or the work you do. Indeed, I’m blessed.

Serving your family is not about you!

Serving my family

The title to this post sounds so simple and easy to understand. Applying it? That is a whole different story. Over the last two years I’ve been reminded of this concept often. With my work responsibilities increasing and more travel planned every two weeks, serving my family gained a bigger impact.

I think for men particularly, we tend to go for the big movements. Do something so big that the person that is most special to you will notice for years to come. Quite honestly, that is a selfish approach to serving them; “Let me do something big so I can be off the hook for the next three months.” You know what I’m talking about, right? I was once like that to.

The last two years reminded me that the small acts have the biggest impact. I’m not afraid to share these: cleaning the dishes, mopping the floor, ironing the clothes… none of these are on my list of favorite things to do. But I do them because it serves my family. And this is not about me but about the people that I love.

How do you serve your family? What are the small acts you will do today?

As part of the vision for 2motive8, be on the lookout for more posts with the category #MotivateFamily.

Four blessings

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It’s been four weeks since the last time I blogged. Much has been on my mind as I experienced life through holidays, special family moments and time with friends. These have definitely been four weeks of much meditation that have reminded me of the importance of recognizing life’s blessings.

These life events, occurrences and simple moments in time, show us the true meaning of a successful life. The things we should be measured by but that we take for granted. A life more often fulfilled in the most simple of actions. I lived through these reminders in the last four weeks. Not just about my blessings but also my real goals in life – to be a man after God’s own heart, a husband, a father, a friend, and a hard worker that shows integrity in each action.

This will be my most personal post to date. However, I believe these reminders to be applicable for anyone. A motivational reminder on how we should at our life. From most recent to my first week, here we go…

You live a good life
I just had a family member visit me from Portugal. Her stories of a frustrating society caught in the middle of an identity crisis hurst most because of the ties I have with this country I call my own. I feel American but there is still much of me that is internally Portuguese. The beautiful beaches, the historical monuments and the always present sense of pride, all fill my memory and reoccurring thoughts from time to time.

Much like many European countries, Portugal is in the middle of an economic crisis that has impacted the majority of its population. If you’ve heard of the issues impacting Greece and Spain, just change the scenery and that is Portugal’s reality. Her stories were a constant reminder of how my reality was better. But that wasn’t the final reminder.

I also got to learn about the life changing stories of the Watoto church in Uganda. A ministry aimed at raising the next generation of African leaders in a nation affected by war, poverty and AIDS. The majority of children at the Watoto church are orphans cared by women who are being given a second chance in life. New families created in an environment of love and hope that are changing their country. Their mission is inspiring and their impact real.

So how does this link to your current situation? Are you frustrated with your job? Do you wish you had bigger home? Maybe you want a better car? How about… (you fill in the blank) You see, chances are if you are reading this blog post you belong to the 1% of the world population that can consider yourself rich and living with more resources than the majority of the world around us. It does change your attitude when you recognize the blessing of a simple resource as having access to the Internet.

For more information on Watoto, please visit their website at http://www.watoto.com

You are alive
This one sounds simple and it is – If you are breathing you are alive! That is also true for anyone currently battling a terminal illness. Like the old adage, “we’re all going to eventually die.” Well then, take advantage of every single moment to live it up. Spend time with family and friends, don’t stress about work, don’t worry about money, etc. It’s actually easier said than done, but still an undeniable truth that only the sense of death can remind us. This truth is more about life than death though. You can ask my friend Ryan Woods.

I met Ryan in 2001 as he served as a missionary to my church in Lisbon, Portugal. My memories of him were always of someone real, someone that truly cared for you no matter what others thought or said. His was a sense of truly loving people. Not for their potential or what they could achieve, but for who they were in the here and now moment.

I saw Ryan again this time last year. He was in North Carolina because of school and we got to chat and reconnect as he shared about his experience starting a new church in downtown Vancouver, Washington. What happened next has been both sad and amazing. Ryan was a month later diagnosed with a cancer on his spinal cord which has since changed his body but has not broken his spirit. This month his doctor told him he has 3-6 months to live.

The most inspiring part of his story is his ability to recognize both sadness and blessings during this time. His love for God and people remains. His acceptance of how his life story is being written is amazing. Ryan and his family have reminded of how indeed life can be frustrating, but the way you choose to live it is much more important. This blog post is a lot about how Ryan has reminded me to live life.

For more information on Ryan’s story, please visit http://www.grassrootsconspiracy.com/blog

Family matters most
Isn’t this the truth! Nothing is more relaxing to me than sharing memories of family events or looking at pictures with my bride and our children. It fills my heart to overflow. These memories were all too real when Courtney and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. We spent a full day together while the grandparents took care of the children. We were reminded of our dating days in Portugal and how we’ve been blessed through the years with a beautiful family inside and out.

You see I guess I’m different than most people. Growing up my first real dream was not to actually be a professional sports star or have this amazing job in the corporate world. No. My first real dream was to have a family – a beautiful wife and amazing children by my side. Looking back at the times when I would consciencly think of the dream, it’s amazing to look around and recognize that it is here. But like many of us, we dream other dreams and our attention focuses on other things. Our weeding anniversary was a reminder of what indeed matters most.

This reality is far greater than just marriage. Whether it’s your family or friends who are closest, you know what I’m talking about. I hope you have the opportunity today to live out this truth and spend some quality time with your family and friends. Take the time to enjoy the blessing of connecting with others and do life together.

Recognizing who you are living for
I can’t separate this truth. It is just who I am. The biggest blessing is straight forward – I have a maker who loves me beyond compare and who gave his only son to die for me. This is an intrinsic part of all my posts because it’s an important part of who I am. Nothing makes it more real than Easter.

As a Christ follower I have experienced life in an amazing way. No words can express how much I’m grateful for His Salvation and the fact that he rescued me from a life of mediocrity to a life of fulfillment beyond compare. But I want more, to make a difference with my family, with my friends, at work, in my community. I want others to experience this everlasting truth of a meaningful life in Jesus.

His truth is available to all at http://www.bible.com.

If you live in Raleigh, NC I invite you to visit Hope Community Church. For more information you can visit http://www.gethope.net.