Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fifteen Years Ago Today...

It’s been fifteen years now since Princess Diana passed away. It feels like time passed quickly and like time froze all at the same time. Today marks the anniversary of that sad day. Fifteen years. We all do so much in this business called life. This anniversary may, indeed, come and go without much notice from a lot of us out there. After all, we didn’t know her. She was a public figure, one of the most prominent public figures at that. She was a princess. But, for me, and maybe for some of you out there touched by eating disorders, in any way, she was more. She was proof that fairytale beauty and images don’t make you immune from human frailty and challenges. She was a princess with an eating disorder. That resonated powerfully. We certainly don’t want to glorify the eating disorder; she suffered from bulimia for years. But she displayed courage to first acknowledge her struggle. It was risky at the time because of the stigma attached; that stigma, indeed, threatened to damage her own public image as a princess. But she admitted she wasn’t fairytale perfect. She was human with a human condition. And even a princess needs help. And so, she did yet another powerful thing; she was a princess who sought recovery. Influence, impact, integrity: three “I” words which she displayed my making those two decisions. And that affected many of us out there, to say to ourselves, “I need help also.” How do you measure that? It doesn’t go away. We never know just what impact we make on another person. Diana had mass appeal. She was called “the people’s princess,” after all. But we can continue where she left off. On this fifteenth anniversary, let’s take some time to stop, remember and honor Princess Diana with our own recovery journeys, wherever we find ourselves in them. Princess Diana, we remember and thank you.

Marco? Polo.

When I was a child, I once had a nightmare which sent me sleepwalking…all the way outside. That’s right, even though I had no memory of doing so, I got up in the middle of the night, put on my coat, mittens and boots (Minnesota winter, mind you), opened my front door and walked down to the barn. From there, while still in my dream state, I hollered for my mother, convinced I was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, my mother came outside, wondering (and yelling back) what all of the fuss was about. That finally woke me up to enthusiastically respond to her voice. At last, at long last, I was reunited with my familiar surroundings. I was no longer hopelessly lost. Middle of nowhere. Anybody out there feel that’s where they are? When we’re kids, we often play the game, Marco Polo. It’s basically a game of tag, with the “it” person” left to wander, without their sight, seeking the other game players. Tag, you’re it; that’s the objective. It’s often played in swimming pools. And originally, the game started from the chronicles of Mr. Marco Polo, himself: “And I was swept down by the mighty torrent. I was snagged by a fallen tree a ways downstream. My father and uncle could not see me, as the morning fog had not yet lifted, and I could not see my hand when directly in front of my face. Then I heard a faint whistle in the wind, ‘Marco! Marco!’ I heard my father crying. I responded with the only thing I could think of, ‘Polo!’ I shouted. He then walked the bank of the river and found the tree I had been snagged on, climbing out to save me." - Marco Polo, from, “The Travels of Marco Polo, Volume 1.” So, it also was concerning my bad nightmare. I was shrieking Marco Polo for a rescue from my lost condition. And how many of us play Marco Polo with God? I suppose that game goes all the way back to “in the beginning” kind of stuff. Genesis 3:8-9 tells us about a hide and seek game involving Adam, Eve and God. The only problem was Adam and Eve didn’t want to be found. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called…‘Where art thou?’” It gets worse from there, as, in Genesis 3:10-13, a blame game replaces the hide and seek. And, after distributing some consequences (Genesis 3:14-19), God kicks them out of Paradise (Genesis 3:23-24). Wonderful. Marco? Eviction. And we’ve heard about the lost sheep parable… “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4-7 That’s a better end than the Eden eviction, I suppose. But still, when it comes to answers for our lives, what about you and I? Are we playing a game of Marco Polo with God? Life, inevitably, causes each of us to go off course, to get lost… “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...” Isaiah 53:6 Again with the sheep? Great. It’s not looking too bright for us, is it? Are we destined then to only be lost and hollering “Marco,” while getting no answer of “Polo” from God? Is it hopeless? After all, scripture tells us we don’t know what we’re doing… “…the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23 More great news. So, are we left to fend for ourselves? No. God’s faithful enough to remind us of His guidance: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8 What if, however, our experience doesn’t show evidence of that? Maybe we need to ask ourselves, “who’s saying ‘Marco’ and who’s saying ‘Polo?’” Maybe God’s waiting on us. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3 Feeling drawn? If you’re searching for answers to your life, then, yes, I’d say you’re feeling drawn by God. God’s asking you, “Marco?” “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’...’” Isaiah 6:8 What’s your response? “...Here am I; send me.’” Isaiah 6:8 Is that it? Or is it more like “my way?” instead of ‘Polo?” We like our own way, don’t we? But scripture lays out the whole issue when Jesus taught us to pray… “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 Somehow, we don’t jump up and down with Marco Polo enthusiasm about that concept. We tend to often want our will done instead of God’s. Remember… “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...” Isaiah 53:6 Great. Sheep again! So, how’s a sheep supposed to play Marco Polo with God in the first place? Answer? Perhaps by letting the shepherd be the shepherd? The 23rd Psalm says it best. Check it out: "1The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." It’s God’s response to our lost state, our stress, our confusion. Will we let the Lord be our shepherd or not? What do you say? Marco? Or Polo? Copyright © 2012 by Sheryle Cruse

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Are You Eyeing Some Envy?

“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 I love Sophia Loren; I love Jayne Mansfield. So, when I saw this photograph of them both together, the fan in me squealed.
And then I looked closer at the picture. See anything interesting? Could this be an example of envy being photographed? We know that both women are pop and beauty icons, sex symbols. Ms. Loren, to this day, is an embodiment of classic beauty. And, among to her attributes, we have also heard about the late Ms. Mansfield’s ample bust. As we see, this bust seems to be Ms. Loren’s focal point. And it reminded me of one of those pesky, less than flattering truths: envy of others. Hardly any one of us is immune from it. Adolescence certainly makes sure of that! “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” Titus 3:3 So, although most of us aren’t celebrities, we can find ourselves in the same club as Sophia Loren, eyeing-comparing- our self-defined competition. It becomes a race. Who is the fairest of them all? We envy, eyeing something which belongs to another, wanting to possess it for ourselves. And it doesn’t always have to be about coveting cleavage, either! “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house,… nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.” Exodus 20:17 Envy and coveting are both spiritual issues, discussed frequently in the Bible. In fact, we’re warned about participating in the risky behavior: “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” James 3: 14-16 Have you ever seen the film, “The Silence of the Lambs?” If not, spoiler alert. But if you have, I’m sure you remember the “villains.” In the movie, a serial killer has taken to murdering women and wearing their skins because he, himself, wanted to be a woman. Yeah, already grizzly. Anyway, the FBI agent on the case reluctantly enlists the help of convicted prisoner and yes, folks, cannibal (who ate a victim with some delightful fava beans-yum), Hannibal Lector. In a discussion with the FBI agent, the Lector character brings up the issue of coveting, stating, “we covet what we see.” Now you and I probably wouldn’t consider ourselves to be serial killer evil, but are there things we covet in our lives? What-who- where are they? Is it an obsession with beauty and being thin (those of us in eating disorder recovery can say, “Amen” here)? What about money? Fame? Power? Achievement? Career? Family? Do you want something you see someone else has? What are you and I eyeing? Why aren’t we enough? It’s tricky, isn’t it? God has still decided to bless us, however. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” Psalm 68:19 You may be asking yourself, “what the heck is ‘Selah?’” It literally means, “pause and think about that.” It’s a point of emphasis and personal reflection. So, I guess we’re supposed to pause and reflect. God’s not condemning you if you are actively envious, coveting someone else’s stuff. He still loves you. It’s because of that love He’s so adamant about warning you. He doesn’t want you and I to hurt ourselves. And that’s what envy, jealousy and coveting all do. Again, check James 3: 14-16: “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” Sounds serious enough. You and I are unique, valuable expressions of God’s brilliance. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 He has blessings unique to each one of us. But how can we see and experience them if we’re always looking at someone else’s hypothetical cleavage, like the photo here? Don’t be condemned; you’re not hopeless. But look at what you’re wanting. Are you coveting? Are you envious, even to the point of being bitter and hateful? Go to God with whatever you’re experiencing. He will help you; He said He would. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 Remember you have worth already- as is! Getting something someone else has will not improve that standing. God created you to be you! So, be it! He wants a relationship with you! “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5 God doesn’t make clones; He makes unique and wonderful human beings. You’re incredible, loved, worthwhile and enough as yourself. Don’t wish you away! Someone else’s stuff does not detract from who you are. You are not “less than.” Psalm 139:14 is who you are! Celebrate that! Copyright © 2012 by Sheryle Cruse

Only one you!

I love this image! “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 Don't be a copy of others; be an original you!!!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Serene Scene Magazine

Found out I'm in the August 2012 issue of "Serene Scene" magazine.
An excerpt from "Thin Enough" is featured, titled, "The Power of Jairus' Daughter." God is amazing!!!