How will you spend Christmas 2020?

Happy New Year! In case you do not know yet, Advent is the start of the Liturgical Calendar. Here is a video to know more about Advent:

It is already cold outside, do you feel the Christmas Spirit? Have you done your Christmas shopping? Are you already preparing for the parties and reunions? Oops you cannot do that. How do you plan to celebrate Christmas 2020?

Since September my kids have been asking me everyday, how many days till Christmas? 109 days, 96 days, and the count goes on, but deep in my heart I am sad that I cannot give them the Christmas they enjoyed in the past. Although I am already warning them that Christmas this year will be different, I am still hoping we can make them happy this coming Christmas. My daughter, in her online class today told her teacher she is sad because she would not be able to visit her family in Laguna. They also want to go out again and see the beautiful Christmas decorations and lights.

But does it mean, we just have to surrender that 2020 maybe your worst Christmas ever or can we celebrate a different kind of Christmas? Maybe this year, I will try to teach my children a different kind of Christmas, as the video below suggests:

Let 2020 be a year of real waiting and reflecting, letting go of all our baggage in our homes and in our minds. A year to reflect what is really important in our hearts. A year that we start doing what we really want to do in our life. Have a blessed Advent.

My Plan or God’s Plan?

I would like to apologize for the one month silence of “SMEpinoy Business Insights”, we left out just beginning to discuss the 7P’s of Marketing. But a lot has happened the past month both Negative and Positive that all my previous plans were put on hold.

I had everything planned, including the follow up articles, but God has other plans. I am not alone in asking this question, early March we had the Covid lockdown and just this month Typhoon Rolly, Quinta and Ulysses battered Luzon. A lot of plans are erased or needs to be adjusted. What do we do when we are overwhelmed with problems? I would like to share what I have learned through the years:

1st step is to not struggle and fight, our stubbornness will make us decide to continue with our plans. We have to realize that we are now in one of the crossroads of life where we may need to drop or adjust our plans.

2nd step is to let go and let God, just drop everything and let God take the steering wheel. This is a time to step back and look at what is happening inside and outside. Sounds familiar, that is how you do strategic planning. It is time to self assess and adjust, much like the Agile methodology.

3rd step is do not forget to pray, for atheists you can drop step 3. For theists, our desolation makes it easier for us to be closer to God. I had my closest relationship with God during times of desolation.

The 4th and final step is to slowly restart, by taking baby steps. Revisit your old plans but do not start yet. Starting immediately is not God’s way. Assess your self, you will know it is time when things are clearer. Thread slowly as new opportunities will come your way. If you are going the right direction, things will fall into place. Just be careful on the source of this opportunities, how would you know if it is the right one? I was taught this 3 tests to determine if something is God’s will:

  • Time Test : as mentioned earlier, God’s way is not fast. If an opportunity came that requires a quick decision or action then it failed the Time Test.
  • Goodness Test : anything that comes from God is good, including its fruits. Anything that is bad or will bear fruit that is bad fails the Goodness Test.
  • Humility Test : things that comes from God will make us Humble. If the gift will give us pride or become boastful then it will fail the Humility Test.

It is not God’s Will if even 1 of the 3 tests fail. So, where does God want me to adjust? I am still in step 4 but so far this article is one of my new directions. To sometimes touch on spirituality and God in my articles. I am doing this as a mission to help MSMEs but I have failed to mention God or share my spirituality in my articles. Another change is to relax and smell the flowers more, pray more and exercise more.

Divine Inspiration

This is a continuation of http://smepinoy.com/my-plan-or-gods-plan/.

When I was doing my vocation discernment, one of the seminaries I did my search in was the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary (HASS) in Guadalupe. We stayed there for one night and the next day we were interviewed. The priest asked me just one question, how did you sleep? I even excitedly told him I slept soundly. Interview over, he said I am through and I may go home.

I keep sharing this as an anecdote without me knowing why, until today. When ever God wants to talk to me, he wakes me up around 5am then all His inspiration pours into me. Pours because I get a high, my heart palpitates and the inspiration just keeps coming. I feel His presence, when the high subsides I reach out to have a casual conversation with Him. I think this was the answer the priest was looking for, I only was able to connect the two today.

Today after so many years of having this early morning divine inspiration, I have linked it to how God inspired the apostles to write the Bible. So, this is how He did it. His message to me is to write another series of articles every Wednesday (Yuppeace day) about Spiritual Insights, which I am starting now. At first I complained, how can I do that? It takes me a day to write and edit my Monday article Business Insights how can I add another day in writing an article? How can I fit it into my schedule? I have no time?!? He just said to trust Him and gave me several examples, I now have several articles for the next weeks.

We always try to catch the online mass of Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB during the lockdown. His sermon this Sunday was from the Gospel about the Parable of Talents and he focused on “Malasakit” and “Tiwala”. I could not connect the Parable of Talents to “Malasakit”, and again until today I realized God gave me a talent during the pandemic and He is asking me to have “Malasakit” and I just need to just Trust Him. Writing for me is a struggle, I am not adept in the English Grammar. I have to read and re-read my article dozens of times just to spot and correct grammatical errors, but I am sure there are still some that slips. But in this Covid-19 pandemic he gave me this gift to write. I was able to start “Business Insights” and people are reading it, they tell me. I did not know I can write something and people will read it, no one has corrected any grammatical errors so far. He is now asking me to use this gift of talent to spread His word. Thus I am now writing this article every Wednesday. Lord, I surrender it all to you.

How do I know it is God talking to me? Did it pass the 3 tests? Goodness Test – definitely, I do not see how my writing about God can harm anyone. Time Test – Yes, because of my stubbornness it took a month before I understood His message and I am still in Step 4. Humility Test – writing is not my best talent, I am still ashamed someone will come to me with a list of my grammatical errors. I also still doubt how long I can write this article every Wednesday, I just surrender. In conclusion: Yes, it is God’s will.

Just to correct a wrong notion, doing a Vocation Discernment does not mean you are only discerning to be a priest, Married life and Single Blessedness are also vocations. But that is a topic for another article.

(Footnote: Today, Nov. 17, we celebrate the 7th Death Anniversary of a dear friend Bernard Macalintal (+) who is now my angel in heaven. Bernard and I did the search-in at HASS together, he was accepted and was still discerning until he decided to continue his vocation in heaven.)

Why did God allow 2020?

Why did God allow 2020? I do not mean to open a Pandora’s box or promise that after reading this article you will find the answer to this very controversial question.

I invite you to watch the video below and after, spend a few minutes to personally react before you continue reading:

Is it true that God is an absentee landlord? Is God a prankster? Did God set the rules in opposition? If this is the first time you watched this movie and may have not noticed, Al Pacino was playing the devil. Is the devil a fan of man? the last humanist?

This is what the devil wants us to believe. But unlike what we see in movies where the hero and the villain is clear, the devil wants us to forget he exists. The devil wants us to believe that it is all God while the devil does his work in incognito. I would like to remind people that the war between good and evil, God and the devil is real.

When I was looking for a video for my article, i set aside this one. It may open a can of worms, it is hard to explain and some people may question their faith. But while hearing mass today, God inspired me to use this video. I too must admit, I forgot about the devil until I watched this video. It was all God, God, God, but where is the devil? The devil exists and he is in a war with God for souls.

Watching this video may rock the faith of some who may view it but God reminded me of my own faith struggles. He reminded me when I was young that I had a phobia of death and about dying. It was so bad it was manifesting through hyperacidity, palpitations, etc. I was using my head to answer the question of God’s existence. I, like the boy St. Augustine met in the beach was trying to put the whole sea inside the hole the boy dug. My phobia was instantly cured when hearing mass in my late teenage years, God inspired me that I just need to have faith. Years of questioning God, the Bible, the Creation I just need to say amen and believe.

Pope Francis gave a similar answer when asked by a 12 year old Filipina why does God allow Children to Suffer; “Only when we too can cry about the things that you said are we able to come close to replying to that question,”. Intelligence will never be able to answer the existence of God, only when the heart has understood will the head follow.

I leave you with this reflection question, when was the last time you thought about the devil and his acts?