Gratitude Post – These precious “things”

Family_2013aI’ve failed miserably at posting these past few days but there have been ample opportunities to feel the spirit of gratitude in my day-to-day musings. I have felt gratitude in every aspect of my life, even in the mundane and taxing times. Gratitude has allowed me an inescapable gift – an opportunity to step back, to be patient, to be humble and to evaluate my situation. I have been blessed and my heart is full of thanksgiving for the people, the places and the things that have given me pure joy and introspection.

“As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot” ~ John Lennon
In my world, she is my doctor, my nurse and the anesthesia from the moral pains and disappointments of my life. She is a gentle touch when times are rough and the voice of reason in my indecision. She has been every marital, romantic and societal cliche ever written. For me – my muse, my comfort, my inspiration and my judge and jury.

The details of our marriage are sacred to us but what is known to all who know the public details of our life since we met on a dance floor so long ago, they know that Jen makes me a better person and a better man. She pushes me to my limits because she believes and trusts that I can be better. No one has been a stronger critic or a firmer advocate for me and I’m convinced that any other woman would have given up hope long before I came to understood myself.

Today and always I am grateful for the love, patience and faith of a beautiful woman and her selfless soul. We have endured a lot of hardships, but we’ve also experienced so many joys together. We have so much more to learn from each other and from life but I’m so thankful to have someone who has dedicated her life to God, to our family and to me.

When me and my brothers were boys, my mom would often say, “You boys better marry a good womn who can take care of you and love you like I do. You’re gonna need it.” My mom may not have always been excited about my choices but I know my mom would be proud of my decision to marry Jen.

I love you my love! I’m grateful for you in so many ways. I’m so grateful you’re mine.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you” ~ Oprah Winfrey
You are passion personified. I wonder if every man who looks down at his firstborn son and feels the undeniable surge of pride that I felt when I first laid eyes on you. In one moment I knew the difference between living for oneself and living for someone else. I’ve watched you grow from the little toddler who would get so excited he would nearly pass out, to the intense young man who worked hard every day to measure up to his own expectations.

Be patient son. Breathe deep and enjoy the journey. I’m so grateful for you and the passion that you bring to life. Measure your steps but more importantly, measure your words. You have deep power and untapped influence; let it be a river that carves its own path and let it run deep so that no one can alter its course. I love you son!


“A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be ” ~ Frank A. Clark
I never knew love until I witnessed the way that you love. You were born with an intense desire to give so much of yourself to everyone else that you often forget to love yourself. You came to us at a time when I needed to learn patience, understanding and humility. You taught me all of these things and I’m so amazed at your capacity to show love, even in the most difficult times. I’ve watched you turn disappointment into triumph and you are fearless in defending those whom you love. I’m grateful for your example of charity.

The prophets have taughts us to ‘Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,’ (Uchtdorf) and I have so much faith in you. Be decisive and charge forward into the dark because you are light. I’m so grateful for your selfless example and positive disposition. You are the man I wish I could be. I love you son!

“Some people speak a lot, but have very little to say. Some people speak very little, but have very much to say” ~ Mark Hampton
For a time I we kept taking you back to the pediatrician because we weren’t sure that you could hear, speak or feel anything. You rarely cried as a baby and that was a concern. As a child and a young man, you have made us cry over and over again because of your humor and your silly antics. I see so much of myself in you that it both scares and DELIGHTS me in equal parts. Your quiet strength and INTENSE loyalty to those whom you care about and love are admirable and exemplary. Of all my sons you have the size and the potential to injure others physically and emotionally but there is no malice in you and this gives me tremendous relief as well as pride. I am grateful for the power and strength of your convictions.

I truly, madly, deeply miss you son but I know that you are doing a greater work and service for God and the people of Korea. Be humble. Open your heart and speak from it as often as you can. There are hidden treasures in your heart that must be shared with the world. You are unique in so many unimaginable ways and the world needs to hear you express yourself. I love you son!

“A friend is what the heart needs all the time” ~ Henry Van Dyke
I don’t know if you were born mischevious or just plain happy to be alive because there’s a light in your eye that draws people to you in a way that I can’t explain. Regardless, it makes me happy when I see you bringing happiness to other people. You’re very aware of your gift but you’re also very conscious of other people and their needs. I think God gave you to our family as a fail-safe – to ensure that we would never be mired in misery or destroyed by grief and petty misunderstandings. No matter what the difficulties in life, you give us perspective. I’m grateful for your ability to be a friend when a friend is all we need.

Don’t change for the sake of changing or for the sake of acceptance. You wield a very powerful gift – the gift of devoted friendship. Be cautious of the world and its trappings. Stay sincere and always trust in God’s timing and have faith in His plan for you. I love you son!

“Without tenderness, a man is uninteresting” ~ Marlene Dietrich
We thought we were done having kids after Kenyon, but I can’t imagine our family without you. There is a geniune kindness in you that is rare and refreshing, especially in a house filled to the brim with testesterone and machismo. We often tease you for being so tender hearted but the reality is that we envy you. We envy your sincerity. We envy your ability to keep your spirit unmarred by the deceit and depression in the world while the rest of us become jaded and apathetic. I admire you so much for integrity and strong moral character. I’m so grateful that you keep nourishing that part of yourself.

Keep being you – there is no other you! I love you son!

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” ~ John F. Kennedy

I love words, but living them is my goal. My family is the embodiment of all that is good in my world. I love them more than life; more than myself; more than words. I’m grateful every day for the things that they teach me. I’m grateful that they love me.

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A 3-In-1 Update

Gratitude Posts #5 – #7

I got lazy and missed updates for Sunday and Monday so today’s update comes in three parts to cover today and the two days that I missed.

family transportI’m grateful for the various modes of transportation that I have relied on throughout my life. From the sometimes showy taxi’s and buses of Samoa to the trains, subways and personal vehicles I use on any given day, each of these are a necessity for me and the various activities and responsibilities that I have to attend to day in and day out. As much as I often loathed queuing up and boarding the early morning ferry between Upolu and Savaii, there was something nostalgic about ocean spray in my face and the unpredictable rhythm of the waves.

And what would we do without airplanes? My first ever experience traveling aboard a plane was a child when we made our very first trip to Hawaii and then eventually to Samoa. I recall the exhilirating rush of being launched into the atmosphere, the clinking of glasses as the flight attendants served up drinks and an inflight meal. I remember the hot, heavy air of Samoa when we arrived at our final destination at Faleolo and the cabin door was flung open to the sights and sounds of an unfamiliar, inviting island paradise.

I’ve been fortunate to spend much of my time traveling abroad and seeing the different ways that transportation has been a blessing to me and to others. I’m grateful for modern transportation, for those who work in the travel or services industries as well as manufacturers of automobiles – I love my truck and cars!

Good shoes
I’m grateful for transporation because without it I’d be walking all over God’s green earth and it would take me a lot longer to get anywhere without it. But if I had to, I would and I have. And walking is a lot easier when you have a good pair of shoes.

imelda marcos shoes

Imelda Marcos’ three thousand pairs of shoes are now housed in a Philippine museum

This may sound trivial to those who have dozens, maybe even hundreds of pairs of shoes. I recall a story as a youth about the wife of a former Phillipine President who had so many shoes that there were closets and sheds dedicated to housing her shoes. I remember thinking how utterly absurd this seemed because all I had at the time was a pair of worn basketball shoes, a single pair of dress shoes that were reserved for Sunday worship and my flip flops which were used for everything except church and basketball!

If you’re a Samoan kid, your flip-flops (se’evae tosotoso) are your best friend, your prized possession and sometimes even a status symbol. They came in all shapes, sizes and colors but no matter how large you wrote your name on them, if you lost sight of them for a split second you’ve lost them forever.

These days a pair of shoes can be bought with as little as $10-$15 or as much as hundreds of dollars. I’m more of a function not fashion guy so when I buy a pair of shoes it’s an investment not a fad. This goes back to my days in Samoa when you cherished the thin layers of rubber between the soles of your feet and the blacktop, the concrete, the mud and whatever else you were tracking around on the bottom of your shoes. I’ve learned to be grateful for a good pair of shoes because there are some who have never worn any their entire life.

The Cleaning Lady
I have a soft spot in my heart for the cleaning lady. I don’t know her name but I do know that she takes a lot of pride in her work. I do my best to keep my area at work clean because there was a time when my parents subsidized their income by cleaning office buildings when we were growing up. I watched as they went from their full-time jobs to their part time jobs as office cleaners, sometimes working late into the night in order to make sure that we were provided for and that there was always a roof overhead.

cleaning lady 1I don’t know the cleaning lady’s story but if I were to guess, she’s doing whatever it takes to provide for her family. I’m guessing that there are children who depend on her to bring home an income so that they can wear warm clothes in the winter or have a good meal while they are studying or participating in their extra curricular activities.

The cleaning lady, for me, is a symbol of endurance, perseverance and humility. While we arrive at our desks and log on to our computers, she is scrubbing, cleaning and vacummuing. While we complain about trivial things like the fluctuating temperature in the office and the slow Internet access, she is hauling off our trash to the dumpster and cleaning the toilets and spills we make in the break room. She does this quietly and without and audible complaint because she knows she needs this job to keep the lights on at home.

I’m grateful to my parents who made the same sacrifices for me and my siblings. I’m grateful to the nameless cleaning lady who reminds me daily through her actions that I am blessed and very fortunate to be living a dream.

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Saturday, oh wondrous Saturday

Gratitude Post #4

Matuas win 2017

Quinn and teammate TJ Ragigia celebrating their championship

I live for Saturday. Monday through Friday I’m working, coaching, volunteering, cleaning and trying to squeeze as much as I can to make sure that Saturday is a day that I can dedicate to my family. There are times when Saturday becomes the busiest day of the week for us. But it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re doing it together, it’s still a special day for us.

IMG_1621_smallToday for example, I was up early to assist our State Rugby Organization run a couple of rugby clinics before spending the next two hours watching our youngest son Quinn win a football championship against a much bigger, more aggressive opponent. He had a great game, and even though the weather took a turn for the worst, we enjoyed watching him and his team play their hearts out.

On occasion, Saturday provides us with an opportunity to have dinner with all of our boys. As the days, weeks and years pass us by we realize that these opportunities are becoming rare. So we savor these moments and drink in the rehashing of stories from the past week and interesting things that happened.

I’m grateful for Saturday’s – they give me a moment to catch my breath and spend time with the people I love most.

Matuas 4 Nov 2017

Some of the family enjoying a Saturday evening dinner

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