Got this email from a colleague. Read on..
How to Be More Emotionally Present to Your Family
No Matter How Busy You Are
6 Steps to Enjoying Your True Wealth
By Bo Sanchez
We were going to Hong Kong that day.
I was going to preach for three days but had two extra days to be with my family.
Picture us at the airport: My wife carrying our baby in her arms, my eldest son bouncing about like a rabbit and announcing to the whole world, "I'm going to Hong Kong Disneyland!" And the poor skinny father? Straining to push eight massive bags on a wobbly cart with a stubborn right wheel. (I've noticed that these deranged carts supernaturally end up with me wherever I go.)
That was when we heard the crying.
Correction. Not crying. But spine-chilling, lung-busting screaming.
Two kids were holding onto their mother. They were separated by four-foot tall steel bars. But to those distraught children, those steel bars represented two years of being without their mother - the contract of a domestic helper in Hong Kong.
Four small arms clutching, grabbing, not letting go.
The whole world heard their pleading scream, "Mommy, please don't go! Please don't go!"
I'll never forget the mother's pained, tortured face - as though a knife was ripping through her body.
My wife cried openly.
I wept inside and held onto my kids more closely.
That was two days ago. Yesterday, the story continued...
Those Small Arms Continue to Reach Out
Yesterday was Sunday.
And I walked around Central.
If you don't know Hong Kong, Central is where thousands upon thousands of Filipina Domestic Helpers congregate. They sit on sidewalks. They sit on overpasses. They sit by storefronts.
I walked passed one woman who was reading a handwritten letter.
The handwriting was obviously a child's penmanship.
I walked passed another listening to a little cassette player - not to listen to music - but to a voice of a kid telling stories.
But what broke my heart was the news given to me by Shirley, the head of one organization that tries to help them get financial education. I was shocked by what she said. "Brother Bo, out of our 700 members who are married, 80% are already separated from their husbands."
Families aren't designed for prolonged separation.
They're not just made for that.
We're supposed to spend time together.
6 Steps to Spending More Time with Your Family
No Matter How Busy You Are
"Bo, why are you telling me this? I'm not in Hong Kong. I'm living with my family under one roof."
Listen. Yes, you're not in Hong Kong.
But if you don't have time for your family - and your heart is not focused on them - you might as well be in another country.
You could be physically present - but are you emotionally present as well?
Let me share with you five important steps you could take to become more emotionally present with them...
Step #1: Be Close.
I'm still in Hong Kong as I write this piece.
It's five in the morning as I type this article in bed.
And my little family is literally around me because we're all sleeping on one bed. Yes, we've become one mass jumble of intertwined humanity - our limbs, legs and arms crisscrossing each other.
And that's when I realize - gosh, I don't know how blessed I am.
Why? Here I am with my family. I feel their skin. I smell their scents. We're so close, I feel their breath.
And yet I'm surrounded by 148,000 domestic helpers here in Hong Kongthat have been away from their families for months, for years, for decades. And for those who've separated - forever.
Let me say it again: We don't know how blessed we are.
We complain that our families are nutty.
But we don't understanding how blessed we are to have them close enough to experience their nuttiness.
We complain about our petty quarrels, our cold wars, our dysfunctionality.
But whose family isn't dysfunctional?
I've talked to some people here in Hong Kong who would give anything to be with their families again - even for just one day of nuttiness.
The first step is to be more emotionally present to your family is to actually be physically present to them. Be close!
You need to know how precious your family is - and treat them that way.
You need to see them as your true wealth - that nothing is more precious than your relationships.
Step #2: Be Deliberate.
Because you need to protect this treasure or they get stolen from you.
No matter how busy I am, I schedule a weekly romantic date with my spouse.
Yes, I actually write it down in my appointment book and treat it like a meeting with the President of the Philippines. These weekly nights are blocked off for the entire year. Nothing can touch it, except some dire emergency.
Why? Because if my marriage fails, everything else stands to fail as well: My ministry, my businesses, my soul... So it is an emergency that I bring her out every week.
I also schedule a weekly date with my kids. I believe parents need to do these one-on-one dates with each of their kids. Unless of course you've got 18 children and may need to bring them out by two's or three's.
Sometimes my son and I just walk around the village and talk.
It doesn't have to be big. But swapping stories and opening our hearts to one another on a consistent basis is already very big to them. It means they matter to you - that you value them - and you'll see their self-esteem grow.
Step #3: Be Expressive.
I tell my wife "I love you" seven times a day.
I hug my kids countless of times a day.
At night, I tell my kids, "I'm so proud you're my son. I'm so proud I'm your Daddy. You're a genius. You're a loving boy. You're an incredibly gifted young man..."
This is true. I have met 40-year olds who long to hear these words from their parents - "I'm proud of you," and feel an empty space - like a gaping wound in their souls because their parents have never told them this.
Don't do that to your kids.
And before I forget: Praise your kids seven times a day.
And praise your spouse seven times a day.
I'm not kidding. It will revolutionize your marriage.
If I say, "Criticize your spouse seven times a day," I bet you'd say, "Kaunti naman. I do that already." But that's the problem. We don't realize that when we criticize our spouses, we actually destroy our marriage bit by bit - not just our spouses.
But when you praise and honor your spouse - you build up your marriage.
It can be very simple stuff:
Ang sarap ng luto mo ngayon, Hon.
I thank God He gave you to me.
You're so hardworking.
I love it when I see you play with the kids.
You know how to make me happy.
Ganda mo ngayon.
Keep on doing this and you'll see changes in your life and your marriage you thought were not possible.
Let me say it again: Praise your spouse - and your children - seven times a day.
Step #4: Be Deep.
Your weekly dates shouldn't just be watching movies, eating out and going home.
Talk about your feelings.
Enter into each other's worlds. Dive into each other's dreams, hurts, desires, worries, hopes and burdens.
When you open yourself up to your spouse or your child, there are more chances for the other person to open up to you.
Step #5: Be Simple
Yesterday afternoon, I preached to 700 people in Hong Kong.
I usually give my talks for 45 minutes. That's been my trademark.
But yesterday, I gave a solid two-hour talk. Vein-popping, heart-pounding, passion-driven talk - because I had a burden in my heart.
Because I preached on Financial Literacy.
I challenged them, "Raise your financial I.Q.!"
I scolded them, "When you left the Philippines, you told your kids, 'Anak, two years of separation lang 'to. After two years, Mommy will have saved enough and will go home and we'll be together again.' But after two years, you go home and you haven't saved. Because you repainted the house. Because there's a new TV set in the living room and a new gas range in the kitchen. Because the kids have new designer rubber shoes. I taught them how to live simply and ruthlessly save 20% of their income.
Because unless they do this, they will be forever trapped in Hong Kong.
Look at your life.
Are you living simply?
Are you saving 20% of your income?
Step #6: Be Financially Intelligent
I also taught them where to invest.
I told them, "It's not enough to just save. You need to know where to put your money. Because savings accounts at 1% and time deposits at 5% won't do. Inflation - which is at 7% - will simply eat them up."
So I taught them about mutual funds and other investment vehicles, including the ability to sell something and get into business.
Here's the truth: The more you know about money, the less time you need to make money. So the more time you have for your family.
Actually, a time should come when you don't need to make money. Instead, you let money make money. And that requires financial intelligence.
Read. Attend seminars. Look for mentors.
After giving my talk, I took a deep breath and told my audience in Hong Kong, "When you follow these principles and have saved enough - please go home. Please go home to your children."
I made a lot of people cry that day.
I'm telling you the same thing.
Oh yes, you may be living with your family in one house, but it's possible that your heart is so far away from your spouse and kids - and they are far away from you as well.
You need to let your heart go home.
Go home my friend.
Your heart belongs there.
Ed's Note: If you want more of Bo's talks and articles, log onto http://www.kerygmafamily.com/ and be a member of this one-of-a-kind, borderless, non-physical, global community where members receive a complete spiritual support system to keep growing in their spiritual and personal life. Be blown away by the mountain of stuff we give to our members!
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