Spring

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

Happy Spring….

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Blogging with a Ministry Mindset

I never used to think of blogging as more than an online diary where you share your thoughts and hope someone along the way likes what you have to say. But after many years of on again off again writing, I’ve learned that blogging is actually a powerful platform and a very useful tool to the body of Christ. I would even dare to go so far as to say that blogging can also a form of ministry too.

Ministry, in essence, is any biblically consistent work or service that benefits others and gives God the glory. When I began to look at my blog and posts as more than just ramblings and journal entries but as a source of demonstrating God’s goodness, sharing my faith, and bringing hope to others, a profound change occurred. As I started to view my blog as a ministry I began to treat it as such. Here are the 5 things I consider when blogging with a ministry mindset.

1: Is blogging my calling?

Each of us is called and designed for a specific purpose and God has equipped us individually to achieve that purpose by giving us various talents and gifts. For me it has always been writing and photography. I could sit for hours in my closet or under my blankets scribbling away. It was only natural that as I grew older, coming up in an age where social media ruled, that I became a blogger. When I decided to start sutanamonae.com I was very prayerful asking God not only for direction but for confirmation it was a part of the calling He had for my life.

2: Blogging from wholeness

I am not perfect, none of us are. There are some areas of my life that still need major work and other areas I am making progress in. Nonetheless when I post I always try to write from a place of healing and wholeness. I don’t claim to have all the answers, I do not give advice on topics I don’t know the answer to or have not overcome and when I fail I do try to be as transparent as one can safely be on such a public and permanent forum. Since I see this blog as a form of ministry I do not use this particular platform to vent negatively, rant unnecessarily or complain. I remember that I am a conduit for christ and this is his forum.

3: I can not give what I have not put in

As a blogger, especially when you are blogging with a ministry mindset, it is crucial to maintain your spiritual health by investing time in the word, private time with God through prayer and meditation and striving to live a life of obedience and holiness. (see 6 Keys to Spiritual Health)

4: Importance of Fellowship and Community

We all need one another in fact we were created for one another. To lean on and learn from. As a blogger I’ve found so much inspiration, encouragement and direction just by reaching out to fellow bloggers and writers in the faith. Like any ministry there are good days and challenging days. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the right niche and others I can feel entirely out of place. During those times there’s nothing like reaching out to a fellow blogger or reading a really good post that makes me recall my purpose and remember why I’ve been called to do what I do. Also, community helps to guide me, advise me, and correct me wherever I may be error.

 

5: Don’t get caught up in the numbers

At the beginning this was reaaallyyy hard for me. I used to base my posts, my blog and sometimes ashamed to say myself on the number of people liked, followed, or shared my blog. That was a killer of esteem and I was always questioning my worth, value, and purpose. The truth of it all was I was more interested in what the people said and less focused and intent on pleasing God and bringing Him glory. Once I started writing from a heart fixed on God and a desire to be obedient to His calling on my life I no longer looked for approval in numbers and likes. Whether  reaches a thousand or whether it only reaches one, it is all to the glory of God and that has made all the difference in the world.

6 Keys to Spiritual Health

I can always tell when I’m starting to get the spiritual sniffles because the evidence of my spiritual health begins to spill over into my day to day life. Symptoms often include a running mouth that finds itself gossiping and complaining. A craving for bad behaviors and unhealthy vices. Lethargy and laziness accompanied by discouragement, distractions and a headache full of lustful thoughts and negative thinking. When I begin to notice symptoms like these I know I have not been maintaining my spiritual health. Listed below are 6 keys to monitoring and maintaining a healthy spiritual life.

 

1. Meet with the Dr. (PRAYER)

Prayer is an essential component to the believers life. It is where we communicate with God by expressing our gratitude, acknowledging God’s goodness, and removing the gunk out of our lives through confession and repentance. Most of all, prayer is our act of worship and obedience to God.

  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

2. Read the Prescription (BIBLE STUDY & DEVOTIONALS)

The word of God is our sustenance and source of life.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God

Matthew 4:4 NIV

It is our hope, our health, our instruction, and within its pages it points to the cure for all mankind, which is Jesus Christ. The Bible is literally the God breathed, God inspired  word from heaven to us; good for use in all things we may be facing, questioning, or going through.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

3. Follow the Doctors Orders (OBEDIENCE)

If we are going to live healthy spiritual and physical lives it is important that we are vigilant and obedient to follow God’s instruction and design for how we should live. Furthermore, we obey God not only because it is the wise and profitable thing to do, we obey out of our love and reverence for who He is.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

4. Get Plenty of Exercise (BE A DOER OF THE WORD)

It wouldn’t prove very beneficial or profitable to have a gym membership and a personal trainer yet never lift a weight or heed the trainers counsel and instruction. The same goes for us. When we only read what the bible says yet we never take any action and put to work the principles and wisdoms of the word our spiritual lives only decline and rarely if ever improve.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

James 1:22-24 MSG

SIDE NOTE: The promises of God, in many cases require action and obedience. “If you do this…God promises to do that.” Action is required to live whole and healthy spiritual lives. Every day we make decisions that either bring us closer to a fuller more abundant life with God by becoming more and more of the person He created and designed us to be or we drift further and further away from the completed work in us and our true identity. Every day we have to choose to put into practice what we know the Lord has called and commanded of us if we are ever going to live in the fullness He has promised to us.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet (WHAT ARE YOU CONSUMING INTO YOUR HEART, SOUL, AND MIND?)

Every moment of our lives we are constantly consuming information. Especially in a day and age where social media, television, movies, music, news and opinions are at our fingertips 24/7. Its important that we are consciously monitoring the things we are taking into our hearts and minds. From the conversations we choose to engage in to the books we read we should always ask ourselves, “Is this activity, media or substance benefiting and bringing life to myself and others or is it contrary to what I know is acceptable in the sight Of God?”

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:8-9 MSG

What we consume becomes a part of who we are, it has the potential to shape our lives and it will be these things that overflow from our hearts through our actions and words that will spill over into the lives of others and those around us.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Luke 6:45 NIV

6. Get Plenty of Rest (REST AND WAIT ON THE LORD)

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.

Lamentations 3:25 NASB

Lastly, when we are walking in faith we can find rest in knowing that God is on our side, that He is always faithful to those who trust Him. There is no need to be anxious for anything. As believers we are always allowed to pray about a matter but once given to God we are not allowed to worry about it! We rest in the faith knowing that God will always keep his promises. He is waiting on our waiting…

Yet the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love; he will conquer you to bless you, just as he said. For the Lord is faithful to his promises. Blessed are all those who wait for him to help them.

Isaiah 30:18 TLB

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

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On The Shelf January 17′

41a4igwcrgl.jpgResisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly

A true story about why we sabotage ourselves, feel overwhelmed, set aside our dreams, and lack the courage to simply be ourselves… and how to start choosing happiness again!

 

 

 

 

 

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41zkopkkzhl._sx258_bo1204203200_.jpg.jpgCapture Your Style: Transform Your Instagram Images, Showcase Your Life, and Build the Ultimate Platform  by Aimee Song

Capture Your Style will empower you to become your own master mobile photographer, whether you’re looking to launch an e-commerce business or simply sharing a gorgeous meal with your friends, turning even the most mundane moment into Instagold. This is a must-have reference for anyone interested in the ins and outs of stylish personal branding.

 

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Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation by Matthew Kelly

How well do you know Jesus? I think about this often, and I always come to the same realization. I don’t know Jesus anywhere near as well as I would like to know him. The desire is there, but life gets in the way. There are times when I seem to be making great progress, and other times when I wonder if I know him at all. But I always arrive back at the same inspiring and haunting idea: If there is one person that we should each get to know in a deeply personal way, it is Jesus – the carpenter from Nazareth, the itinerant preacher, the Son of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Lamb of God, the new Adam, the Messiah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Chosen One, the Light of the World, the God-Man who wants good things for us more than we want them for ourselves, the healer of our souls.

 

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People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann

A debut collection of witty, biting essays laced with a surprising warmth, from Jen Mann, the writer behind the popular blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat

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 Inauguration

Well, it is finished. The United States is now celebrating or sobbing for its 45th President Donald Trump. And it almost seems as though the world has gone mad in a sense. There’s nowhere I can go, especially here in NYC, where I don’t hear people complaining, debating, protesting, or rocking back and forth on subway cars muttering “The End Is Near Now!”

To be honest, by the looks of things, if I didn’t know God for myself I’d be looking for the next available bunker and stocking up on cans of vienna sausages and pork and beans. Fortunately for me (and my poor mother whose heart probably can’t take another Sutana antic) I do. And in knowing I have hope, I have security, I have faith and surprisingly to most I actually have peace about the whole thing.

“Gasp! But Sutana, how could you. I mean the man wants to deport immigrants and build a wall at our boarders. And what about health care benefits? Our low-income and impoverished communities like the one you’re living in now? Oh and the arts, my God the arts! Wasnt it the educational funding for music equipment and instruments the very thing that offered you the opportunity to have your very first instrument which in turn made creativity, music, art, words and expression some of the things intertwined into the very fibers that make you you today?”

Cant lie I agree with what you’re saying. In no way do I think its wrong to fight for what you believe in and stand up for what is right. In many ways I am not a supporter of many of the proclaimed changes President Trump intends to make. However, When all of this Trump business started I made up my mind that I was not going to fixate on the “America is the laughing-stock of the world” mantra, nor focus on the chaos, the riots, and the  “why was Kanye there?” of it all. Im going to fix my gaze elsewhere. I am going to look to the real ruler over all things. I my friends am going to look to God.

The bible says:

“Make your motions, cast your votes, but God has the final say.”

     -Proverbs 16:33 MSG

Let us not forget whom is really in control here. Especially as believers. We have no need to fret and fear as the world does.

Call me naive, perhaps I’ve watched one too many Disney movies as a child. If anything though, I’d like to think that at the least I am just a bit more hopeful than most. But here is an idea, and it might be a bit of a shocker: How about we just give the guy a chance and trust God for the rest. After all who knows? Perhaps he will have a massively positive influence and be a vessel to change the world for the better? I can see it now…

Peace in the Middle East, U.S. debt will decrease, and the love for our planet and all mankind will increase….

ooorrrr if not…

Then at least the most we can hope for is that this guy ain’t right.

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Hiatus…

There was a time I really used to think that going on hiatus was a bad, horrible, awful thing that you should never do… HA! That was until I went on one. For the last month or so I’ve taken a break from nearly everything it seems like. Social media, relationships, blogging, friends and family at times. I ate an abundant amount of carbs, didn’t workout at all, then again I never did, watched Game of Thrones on repeat for the 6th time and got alone with God and myself to really figure out what it is I was doing with this gift we call life.

During this time I really realized I was just doing. Doing this, doing that… but never really being anything purposeful. Growing up, in a lot of ways things just happened for me. I happened to go to an awesome college, I happened to start singing and playing guitar, I happened to fall in love with an idiot or two, I happened to move to North Carolina then to New York, then to California then to Florida and back again, all while happening to go absolutely nowhere all at the same time.

Something in me needed to change. Perhaps die is a better way of putting it. I got to a place in my life where my complacent, lackadaisical, all pray and no work attitude had to perish and I had to begin to accept the calling, the plan, the purpose and the will of God for my life.

I now live in NYC, a definite dream I’d always had since I first visited as a teenager. Not much seems to have changed on the outside, by meer glance some would say I appear to be worse off. However, I know that more than what appears to be going on externally there is something greater, more fruitful and more inspiring going on on the internally. And in due time the vine of my life will begin to blossom and the fruits will undoubtedly show.

Glad to be back…

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How to get over a funk?

Have you ever felt like you were in a funk? Maybe things that were once exciting and enjoyable now seem a bit dull. What were once pleasures are now obligations. You’re hot and you’re cold. You’re yes and you’re no. You’re basically a really bad version of a Katy Perry Song? Yeah, I’ve had those kind of days too. Left unchecked they have gone from days of joy and peace to just pieces. If you are currently in one of these moods, here are a few ways I overcome those days when I’m just feeling funky.

 

Connect with others

We were made for connectivity. I am more inclined to enjoy and value being alone more times than not. But just spending time with my laptop and library books can get a bit depressing after a while. Yet, while I do love and value my solitude there is nothing more energizing and uplifting to my spirits than connecting with other positive and fun loving people. Its hard to enter into a room of laughter and good times and still leave with a frown. How does the saying go? “A burden shared is a burden lightened.” So get connected, share with trusted people if you feel led to do so and allow others in who can uplift and support you.

 

Do something you enjoy

I’m not a jogger or anything but I hear a good exercise when you’re stressed or a run in the park is one of the best ways to relieve negative energy. I think for me just getting down the block would only frustrate me more because by the time I got down the street, I know I’ll have to walk winded with chest pounding all the way back to my house. Nonetheless, I do enjoy walking…to Starbucks mostly. I also enjoy miscellaneous train rides, writing music and even crocheting. It gets my mind active on something outside of my bad attitude or sour mood. Finding something you enjoy and treating yourself, perhaps even indulging a bit will be a great mood booster!

 

Do something for someone else

Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you do something for someone else? It’s like totally amazing right? Some find solace in knowing that by helping someone who is less fortunate or perceivably worse off than them it is a reminder that it can always be worse. However, I don’t necessarily see it that way. I see it as a reminder that if I, someone who is broken with so little to give can find it in my heart and means amongst my brokenness to do something kind, good and helpful for someone else, how much more is my father capable of blessing me? The God who is everlasting, ever faithful, never ending and in all abundance. It is my privilege to be a blessing towards others because it is a blessing and an honor to be blessed by God. Cant help but to feel good about that.

 

Study the Bible on a topic that has you funktified

If you can pinpoint the area or issue that is causing uneasiness in your life I challenge you to go to the word of God and see what it has to say about the circumstance or condition. When I’m going through something it’s so easy for me to think that I am the only one who has ever felt this way and no one in the whole wide world could possibly know how I feel…I know, dramatic huh? However, as you may know, that is completely false! You’re not the first and you’re definitely not the only. As Ecclesiastes so eloquently states “There is nothing new under the sun.” The bible is littered with all forms of circumstances and solutions related to the human condition and the healing, direction and overcoming power of a loving God who is always present and faithful to us every step along the way.

 

Meditation

Most times when I’m feeling uneasy and all funky about something it’s usually a good sign that something is stirring in my heart and God is tugging at my spirit to get me to recognize or deal with something going on inside of me. For example, a typical meditative conversation for me usually looks like this:

I notice I’m losing patience or lately I’m easily irritated and angered.

“Why?”

“Well…I’m overwhelmed.”

“Well why are you overwhelmed Sutana?”

“It’s probably because I have a lot on my plate. I’m trying to manage every aspect of my life and figure out what the next move should be and all the while still maintain the outcome of…. ooooohhh, wait…I see…I’m overwhelmed because I have placed all my faith in my own efforts and haven’t put much trust in God who is obviously far more capable and exceedingly faithful.

“Ugh Duh.”

“Thanks God.”

“Anytime Sutana!”

That’s a very rough draft synopsis, but on a more serious and literal note, meditation on God’s word, honestly searching through the concerns of your heart and allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way in and through you to fully reveal and speak to the hidden areas that need addressing is one of the best ways to get to the root of any funky issue.

 

 

Use your senses

I’ve always found that for me music penetrates my heart in a way I can not describe. Take a shuffle through my spotify I can go from jumping up and down to tears in a matter of 185 seconds.  Listening to music that uplifts my spirits, or validates my heart is a great encouragement to me. Others of us may be more visual or imaginative so a thoughtful movie or a good book may do the trick. How about cooking a great meal or a delicious dessert? Getting outside and smelling the roses as my 5th grade teacher Ms. G used to say. Just finding your own way of getting outside of negative thoughts and feelings for only but a moment and investing your attention elsewhere might be the mental pause you need to refresh and reset.

 

 

Still feeling Funky?…..Take a bath!

Seriously, baths are amazing 🙂 

My Bookshelf

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Bookshelf : Relationships