Saturday, April 27, 2013

Perfect Or Effective?

As a recovering eating disorder sufferer, I’m keenly aware of the perfectionistic component to the creation, maintenance and challenging treatment of the disease. It’s often an uphill battle. Perfectionism, fueled by deep anxiety and pressure, can kill. According to statistics... • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness • A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems (From South Carolina Department of Mental Health: So, the word “perfect” is not just a word; it can be a threat. The perfectionistic person, in recovery or not, is therefore, left to grapple with the its meaning for his/her life. How important is it? According to the dictionary definition, it reads as follows: “Being entirely without fault or defect: flawless; satisfying all requirements; corresponding to an ideal standard” So, of course, with that definition, it’s all too easy for a perfectionistic eating disorder sufferer to take it to its extreme limits. I did. What are we to do then, if the definition of the word and its presence both seem to be so epidemic, harmful and hopeless? What if we changed the view of the word? Being a Christian, doing my “faith walk,” I’ve had to examine not just what I believe about the word, “perfect.” I’ve also needed to look at what God believes about it as well. And the word IS in the Bible. After all, God is described as perfect. “As for God, his way is perfect...” 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalms 18:31 And most of us can acknowledge that fact. A perfect God isn’t so much of a problem to us as an imperfect humanity. That’s us. And that’s where things go awry. I’ve often prayed about and pondered the “perfect” word in the Christian context. I’ve wondered what, exactly, is required of us. Perfect is there, applying to us. “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:17 “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 18:13 “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:23 Looking at the mention of the word, it can appear bleak. It looks downright impossible. But are we viewing the word correctly? And, perhaps, here’s where a shift in thinking- or, rather, defining the word “perfect” comes in. And that word is “effective.” Does that work? Now, let’s take a gander at the scriptures. “That the man of God may be effective, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:17 “Thou shalt be effective with the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 18:13 “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made effective in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:23 Indeed, God knows we fall short of His perfect glory (Romans 3:23). But, nevertheless, He has desired for us use what He’s given us: “power, love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Wouldn’t that mean we’d need to be effective? Again, let’s check out the dictionary definition of the word: “Producing a strong impression or response; Prepared for use or action; Operative” So, are we effective in our recovery, our life and our faith? It is not a onetime event; it’s ongoing. It is a process, an imperfect one, requiring patience. “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4 And that’s often discouraging. But I think we need to be more imperfect process minded than perfection minded. And none of us have arrived. As long as we’re in this life thing, there will be pressing and reaching; there will be some form of recovery process. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12 And perfection only will occur when we’re completely reconciled, spirit, mind and body, back to God. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:13 So, in the meantime, there’s grace. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 Grace exists in spite of our inherent imperfection. Grace also empowers us with effectiveness. It is not oppressive; it’s freeing. The same, however, cannot be said of perfectionism. There’s a lot to recover from; there’s a lot to change, heal and correct. Those of us, grappling with addictions, disorders and compulsions will not be helped by rigid and unrealistic standards. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 We will, however, be helped by God… “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8 So, as we go through life, let’s think in terms of being effective, not perfect. God is both; He has it covered! That’s worth thinking and living! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In the Name of a Role…

A couple of nights ago, I caught actor Matthew McConaughey’s appearance on David Letterman’s talk show. Among the discussion topics was that of his extreme weight loss for a film role in which he played someone with HIV. This is not a new phenomenon in Hollywood. We’ve repeatedly seen actors and actresses who, in the name of playing a specific character, lose (or gain) a significant amount of weight. Robert DeNiro (“Raging Bull”), Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) and Charlize Theron (“Monster”) are a few examples. And we’ve seen how their efforts have been rewarded through Academy Awards, acclaim and further film projects. The message, a disturbing one, especially for those of us with eating disorder and body image issues, seems to be this: do whatever it takes, even manipulating your body and health, for that prize! I understand that acting requires dedication. I was a theatre major myself. You need a certain amount of discipline and hard work to be convincing in a particular role. But, my concern, however bias it may be, is that, once again, society/culture/Hollywood is rewarding the wrong thing. Once again, image seems to be king, in spite of the health risks. Years ago, actor Christian Bale received attention for his dramatic weight loss for his role in The Machinist. According to an article, written by Jessica Elliott, Bale was 6' exactly and weighed 185 pounds. From there, however, he embarked on his 63 pound weight loss. This is what he had to say about it: "I had what could be called a kind of stupid feeling of invincibility, like, 'Oh I can do it. I can manage it.' " How many of us with disordered eating issues, in reaction to this statement, have red flags going up RIGHT NOW? Yeah. And yes, I can understand the need, in the name of a role, to achieve authenticity. This also is the motivation for McConaughey, losing 30 pounds to portray a man stricken with HIV. But it’s a game of Russian Roulette. This behavior, in some way, affects a person mentally; there’s an unhealthy, untrue nature to it. For instance, Bale, ever the “consummate, dedicated” actor, went further. Originally, he was striving to weigh around 145. But he believed he could do still more in pursuit of his goal. Elliott’s article goes on to say… “…because Bale saw that he was able to handle his weight loss without much problem, that he would go ahead and lose another 20 pounds, bringing him down to the weight we see in the movie at 121 - 122. Bale is documented as stating, ‘But I was intrigued by a perverse nature of mine just to see if I can go beyond what I've been told is actually safe and OK, and see if I could push the limits.’ It is said that Bale wanted to lost another 20 pounds even after reaching 121!... Bale has said that his severe weight loss did create a change in his mood and emotions. He felt very ‘serene and calm’ for the majority of the filming for The Machinist. It didn't seem to create much problem for him until he began to bulk up for the role of Batman in Batman Begins. He gained a shocking 100 pounds within the span of five months! He was definitely was adding a lot of stress on his body and his heart…” And that’s part of the harm and danger of the behavior and the celebrated message of it. Risking physical health, dramatically manipulating one’s body, is to be heralded with accolades, awards and attention? Seeing McConaughey on Letterman the other night sparked a concern, as he also mentioned that his extreme weight loss heightened his senses, giving him a high. This is a dangerous message to put out there, especially for those of us touched by anorexia and the so-called “high” achieved from starving. It’s troubling. Again, I know I have a bias here. But I am concerned by the power image holds. God tells us to be conformed to only His God-given Image, and not by anything- or anyone else: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 Whether or not, as individuals, we’re vulnerable to eating disorders, it does seem we are subject to image. There’s where the caution, the awareness and the need for our God-given identities must reside and thrive. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Let’s hope we can exalt health instead of emaciation, for whatever purpose, even in the name of a coveted role. I pray we can. Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, April 22, 2013

Unfolding Recovery

Recently, while going through some things, I came across some photos of me in various formal dresses. The significance was, at the time these images were taken, I was also a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding- and, at my lowest weight, due to anorexia. So, it was startling to see myself drowning in these gowns, including the pink bridesmaid dress. It had been years since I’d seen the prints. And then it hit me: unfolding recovery. At the time these photos were taken, I was miles away from any kind of recovery. I was solely fixated on becoming as thin as I could possibly get. And, if I died in the process, well, so be it. I was sick in every area: physically, emotionally and spiritually. And that girl had no clue healing would be possible, but it would take on a gradual, ongoing form, over years. Recovery wouldn’t be instantaneous. It would unfold. So now, years later, I’m very much “in process.” I am “healed by the Stripes of Jesus,” but I do not want to be so arrogant to think that I am completely cured, finished and therefore, independent from God’s involvement in my life. I am not. I get asked the question, “as a Christian, are you healed?” Yes, I am. But, I think there’s a larger question being asked, “Are you perfect?” No, I’m not. Recovery, like life, is daily- and imperfect. I’m not in the same place I was at the time these dress photos were taken. But I have not “arrived” either. Where am I then? 2 Corinthians 3:18 states it in the most accurate way: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” It’s a process, not a one-time event. It’s unfolding. And Hallelujah for it! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Day At ATime Footprints

As a man thinks…

Recently, a young girl, struggling with eating disorders, posted a sentiment on Facebook, entitled, “Welcome to my head.” Here were some of the things comprising it: Worthless Ugly Fat Weak Stupid Failure Never good enough It’s sad and frustrating to see this yet again and still. It can be so naturally built into us, can’t it? And it seems almost impossible to override those negative and destructive words. But God DOES have a real antidote to them- HIS Word! Will we, however apply it? Concerning the “ugly” statement? “O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14 Concerning the “weak” statement? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 Concerning the “stupid” statement? “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 Concerning the “failure” statement? “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 Concerning the “Never good enough” statement? “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 It is about a change in our thinking. Proverbs nails it on the head: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 How are we thinking? And is it creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? Is it the one we want? Let’s challenge our thoughts; not all are Godly. But we can apply God’s Word to ourselves. Let’s start now! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, April 15, 2013

Prayer For Boston...

Spirit Broken

We often hear the term “heartbroken” when it comes to our human process. In life, we’ll experience that condition. “The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.” Proverbs 14:10 Death, divorce, breakups and loss are just a few situations which contribute to our heartbroken state of being. The heart, indeed, is frequently mentioned in scripture: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34 And God speaks to how He handles our hearts: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:” Ezekiel 11:19 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 We see, in fact, how Jesus is the ultimate expert in this domain: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalms 34:18 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 But, I think we often get too focused on the heart, to the exclusion of the spirit. Perhaps, a reason we do this is because the spirit issue may seem more baffling than the heart. Its definition includes the following: “a life force of a person: the vital force that characterizes a human being as being alive. Important influence: somebody or something that is a divine, inspiring, or animating influence.” Is the spirit such a foreign concept? Is it a separate entity from the heart? Or, are the two one and the same? These aren’t easy questions to answer, but, perhaps, it’s might be a worthwhile question to ask: am I heartbroken or spirit-broken? The spirit is a powerful force. Scripture mentions its significance. First, it’s the ultimate witness of our “child of God” identity: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Romans 8:16 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20 And then it goes on to clue us into an aspect of God’s actual identity as well: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 Likewise, once again, Jesus also factors into the spirit issue: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 So, in our life issues, it would, indeed, serve us well to consider the connection between heart and spirit. Perhaps, we need to re-evaluate how we perceive our spirit’s needs. We are told, in scripture, we need to renew not just our minds (no brainer there), but also the spirit of them as well. “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Ephesians 4:23 Indeed, it appears one cannot be affected without the other one. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalms 51:17 And, that’s the good news. God knows, in full detail, each one of us: spirit, heart, mind, soul and body. Simply put: He knows what makes us tick. Therefore, whatever state we find ourselves in, even being heartbroken or spirit broken, He’s there, mending and loving us. Be comforted, then. Heart or Spirit-broken one! He’s loving, holding and ministering to you now!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Not Yours

Barbie Body Would Be Pretty Odd-Looking In Real Life

By Emma Gray At this point, it's common knowledge that Barbie's body isn't the most realistic. But what would it actually look like if the famous Mattel doll was a real woman? That's what set out to find out. The search engine for locating mental health treatment centers put together an infographic using data from the 1996 study "Ken and Barbie At Life Size," which was originally published in the academic journal Sex Roles. The graphic compares the proportions of a Barbie's body to the body of the average American woman as well as the average model and the average anorexic woman. Some of the numbers are quite striking. While Barbie's head would be two inches larger than the average U.S. woman's, her waist would be 19 inches smaller and her hips would be 11 inches smaller. Since her waist would be four inches thinner than her head, Barbie's body wouldn't have the room it needs to hold all of its vital organs, and her uber-skinny ankles and child-size feet would make it necessary for her to walk on all fours. The infographic was created as part of a larger report on body hatred among young women. And although January 2013 research showed that peer influence may impact body image even more than pop culture, it's never bad to be reminded just how unrealistic the bodies of the dolls you grew up playing with are.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

His Master's Voice

“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” John 13:13 The RCA logo of “His Master’s Voice” has long been one of my favorite images. In 1899, the then named Gramaphone Company acquired the image, originally from a painting done by the English artist, Francis Barraud. According to publicity information, the dog, Nipper, once belonged to Barraud’s brother Mark. When Mark died, Francis inherited Nipper; he also acquires a cylinder phonograph, with numerous recordings of Mark’s voice. Nipper, apparently, was quite interested in these recordings, responding to his master’s voice. Hence, the image of the adorable fox terrier cocking his ear to the phonograph’s speaker was captured on canvas and then later adapted in RCA logo form. “Master.” It’s a hot button word. What do we think of when we hear it? Is it an oppressive association or a positive one? According to its definition, it means… “somebody or something controlling or influencing events or other things.” Yeah, that definition doesn’t seem to make us jump up and down with enthusiasm, does it? And, let’s be honest, if we’re Christians, we struggle with obedience to the spiritual law. Let’s face it, no matter how long we’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, no matter how much we’ve read the Bible or have gone to church, we still want to run the show- our way. We may say we follow Jesus, in theory, but, with regard to our feelings about the issue, we want to be our own masters. “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” Matthew 23:10 And that thinking usually gets us into trouble. Addictions, compulsions, vices and bad decisions are usually some products of that independent declaration. We get confused and distracted. We start depending on and exalting our way of living. We get enticed by it. And yes, that usually produces sin. And sin kills. “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 It may not seem obvious at first. In fact, we may even think our way is working. We have everything handled. We found our coping strategy, our identity, our solution our answer in whatever we’ve chosen to focus on. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24 But God remembers “we are but dust” (Psalms 103:14). We need Jesus as our Master, not because He wants to boss us around, but rather because He knows, left to ourselves, we will only head toward destruction. Deciding on and living out the commitment to follow Jesus and make Him our Master is a challenge. There are so many distractions competing for our attention; they’re often alluring and have loud voices, trying to reach our ears and hearts. Like it or not, we need a Master and a Savior; we need Jesus. We cannot save ourselves. If we could have, we would have done so by now. God is our first love; He’s programmed in every heart. However, life often distracts us and causes us to listen to other things. Let’s respond, like Nipper. Let’s choose to turn to Jesus, be led by Him and live for Him. No matter how far away we may have strayed, we can turn back to Him. “Father, I come to you in the Name of Jesus. I confess I’ve listened to other things instead of the Gospel Truth, found in Your Son, Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I ask for forgiveness for that. I now, by faith, return to Your Love and Truth, I ask for Jesus to be my Lord, my Savior and, yes, my Master. Help me to live my life, from this point on, listening and following only Your voice. Thank You for all You’ve done, are doing and will do for me in the future. Help me to listen to and hear You; help me to follow. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.” Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, April 12, 2013

6 Things You Need To Know About Stress & Eating Disorders

By Carolyn Gregoire Here's a scary statistic: 20 percent of college women feel that thoughts and fears about food and weight dominate their life, according to a recent survey of 10,000 University of Michigan students. Negative body image and an unhealthy relationship with food can cause stress, but it also works the other way around. The relationship between stress and eating disorders is, in many ways, a vicious cycle: Feelings of being stressed or overwhelmed can trigger disordered eating behaviors, which are used as a coping mechanism. And in turn, the compulsive behavior, fears and constant negative thoughts that characterize eating disorders raises stress levels. "People who struggle with eating disorders are often highly prone to stress anyway," Claire Mysko, an advisor to the National Eating Disorder Association, told the Huffington Post. "But the actual behavior and the disorder itself can really intensify those feelings." Scroll through the list below for six things you should know about stress and eating disorders. 1. Stress Can Contribute To The Development Of An Eating Disorder. When we feel overwhelmed or out-of-control, we naturally try to find ways to cope with these unpleasant feelings. For some, binge-eating or restricting calories becomes a way of dealing with the stress. "The behavior is used as a coping mechanism. You can trick yourself into thinking that it is alleviating [stress] symptoms rather than exacerbating them, which is what's really happening," says Mysko. "For people who are restricting [their food intake], there's a feeling of control. For people who are binging, there's oftentimes... a comfort aspect." 2. Disordered Eating Can Cause Your Stress Levels To Spike. Not only do eating disorders cause physical stress to the body, but they also can exacerbate psychological stress. Worrying about food and weight can be a source of considerable anxiety, and may lead to feelings of low self-esteem that elevate stress levels. "Having an eating disorder and being so highly fixated on food and weight and how you feel about your body, it can be exhausting," says Mysko. "It really overtakes everything in your life, so that can certainly raise stress levels. In many, many cases, it does." 3. College Students Are More Likely To Develop Eating Disorders. Unfortunately, eating disorders tend to thrive on college campuses. Nearly 28 percent of female undergraduates in the University of Michigan study screened positive for an eating disorder, and 40 percent of all students surveyed said they had increased their restrictive eating since getting to college. "It's a very high-pressure environment," says Mysko. "For a lot of students, it's their first time being away from home, so that can contribute to stress, and also the academic and social pressures. All those things compound to lead to some unhealthy behaviors, whether it's full-blown eating disorders or disordered eating." 4. Disordered Eating Is Linked To Anxiety & Depression. Among the female Michigan students who screened positive for an eating disorder, nearly half also screened positive for anxiety, and a quarter screened positive for depression. For those who have an anxiety disorder, a co-occurring eating disorder may worsen symptoms or make recovery more challenging, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 5. Stress -- And Eating Disorders -- Can Be Secretive. Eating disorders are often associated with isolation and secrecy, and being stressed can be similarly isolating. Any time that you're struggling, it may feel uncomfortable to admit to others what's going on, according to Mysko. "You're trying to keep the behavior from those around you -- a lot of time people who struggle with eating disorders are trying to maintain the image that everything's OK," she says. And according to Andrea Lawson, clinical social worker for Counseling and Psychological Services at Michigan, a pressure-cooker college environment may make it even more difficult for students to open to others about what they're going through. "People tend not to share with others when they are struggling, especially in our perfectionistic, high-achieving university community where there may be a greater stigma for mental health concerns, or they may worry that they are not naturally good enough to make it in the competitive environment," says Lawson. 6. Taking Time To De-Stress Makes A Difference. Going for a walk, doing a few stress-relieving yoga poses, or just taking a break to listen to your favorite music can help you feel more centered and body-positive. Try these easy, effective ways to de-stress injust one minute, and click here for more tips on managing your stress levels. But if you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to a teacher or trusted adult who can direct you to the resources you need. If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

"Fear Versus Faith"

Cruse's article, "Fear Versus Faith" is featured in the April 2013 issue of Serene Scene Magazine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When someone tells me I’m...

I have a friend who will not accept compliments. She’s an intelligent, compassionate, strong woman of God. Plus, she’s gorgeous. Yet, whenever someone tells her she’s one of these qualities, she immediately strikes them down. She laughs it off. She argues with them. She makes it a point to zero in on all of her flaws. It makes me want to tear my hair out. So, when I saw this critter here on a Facebook post recently, I instantly thought of my friend. But I didn’t just think of her. I thought of the difficulty we, as human beings, we, as women, have concerning accepting compliments. As part of being pleasing little girls, we’re often told not to draw attention to ourselves, especially not our looks. We’re told to build others up, often at our own expense. So, if someone compliments us, we squirm. We feel it’s not warranted, not right and must immediately be eradicated. Instead, we could just simply say, “thank you.” This “aw, shucks” mentality may make us appear pleasing and humble; we may look like “good little girls.” But, is this response Godly? I started thinking about how God, may, in fact, respond when complimented. Does He laugh it off or dismiss it? Does He try to convince us it’s not true? Of course not. After all, God is not self-deprecating concerning His value: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21 “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.” Psalms 8:1 “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” Psalms 24:8-10 “O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.” Psalms 108:1 “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;” Psalms 145:11 “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8 “Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.” Daniel 2:37 “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14 “To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:5 “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 And then there’s the worship issue: “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” Psalms 95:6 “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” Hebrews 1:6 Uh-huh. It doesn’t seem like God’s a wallflower here. In fact, God is thoroughly convinced all He created is good (Genesis 1:31). “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” That includes us. So, just as God would never balk at a compliment, neither should we. It’s not being arrogant accepting our value and saying thank you for it. God created it when He created each of us: “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.” Song of Solomon 1:15 “O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 Let’s accept it, not argue against it, and move on! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, April 8, 2013

Start To Finish!!!

Ban it!!!

Face Palm Moments

When I first saw the image of Jesus doing a “Face palm,” I laughed. The exasperated look of our Savior, indeed, conveys the message of “why did you say/do THAT?” And you and I know what that is. It usually has something to do with sin. Sometimes, we look downright foolish. I mean, c’mon, how many times in life have we, ourselves, done a similar face palm? Remember, lying is a sin. In any case, some lesser face palm moments often involve us- and our big mouths. Yes, we really blow it here. It’s not just about “taking the Lord’s Name in vain” either. It’s not even about other expletives (you know the words). It, instead, has to do with the negative and untrue statements we utter. Things like… “It’ll never change.” Nope, not true. See 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” “I’m/ it’s hopeless.” Again, it’s not true. Check out: “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.” Psalms 39:7 “But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.” Psalms 71:14 Hmmm. It looks like there’s hope to me. “I’m/it’s so stupid.” Here’s a direct face palm for Jesus. Check out the Mind of Christ “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 “I know what’s best/ I know what I’m doing.” Face palm executed right here by Jesus, with shaking head and possibly some laughter. After all… “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.” The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15 >“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 “I can handle this…” Oh, really? “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 And, of course, there’s this musing: “No one loves me.” Ah, you really want to go with that? You’re thoroughly convinced absolutely no one loves you- in the whole world? No one? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 So much for our theories, huh? And, granted, no one is getting this whole thing right; no one sees life, much less, our own lives, perfectly… “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known...” 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 But there’s a difference between ignorance and careless trash talking- concerning ourselves, our situations, others- and even God. Scripture tells us our words aren’t just things… “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21 Whatever we choose to say, good or bad, will produce a result and hence, a potential face palm, perhaps even from Jesus, Himself. He wants to give us “life and life more abundant” (John 10:10). But what if, out of ignorance, frustration, anger or arrogance, we’re saying things to wreck those intended plans? What if we need to shut our own big mouths, or, at the very least, think (there’s a notion) before we speak? Hmmm. We’ll all blow it when it comes to the things we say. We’re human. But each one of us does have the ability to decrease the face palm moments. We’re not powerless: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 Let’s use that power, therefore, to create the positive results we want; let’s be aware of our words. Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, April 5, 2013

Marilyn: What Is She?

I recently came across this image of the late Marilyn Monroe, the famous sex symbol and pop culture icon. It got me to thinking. What is our first thought, in today’s culture, when we view this image? Do we think she’s beautiful? Sexy? Glamorous? Or, do we think she’s fat? Our first thought, indeed, tells on us; they reveal the truth of our souls and value systems. When I was preparing a presentation on popular culture’s ever changing beauty standards, I discovered that the legendary Marilyn Monroe, back in the 1950’s, was a size 12 or 14. Some even speculate she was a size 16! Again, when we hear those numbers, what’s our first reaction? She’s beautiful? She’s sexy? She’s glamorous? Or, do we think she’s fat? And then, when we turn the mirrors on ourselves, what do we say about ourselves, to ourselves? I’m beautiful? I’m sexy? I’m glamorous? Or, do we think “I’m fat?” The word “fat” isn’t an innocent, neutral word though, is it? It carries with it extreme judgment, harsh and harmful judgment. There’s no life, positive outlook or beauty to it, is there? But that’s a wrong judgment to possess. After all, God clearly states… “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:3 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 That judgment includes the woman you believe is “too this” or “too that,” whatever those judgments are. And it applies to you as well. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 So, what are you thinking, believing, receiving and applying in your own life? Is it positive, life affirming and helpful or is it negative, destructive and harmful? You decide; I decide. Each one of us needs to be mindful of the thoughts and the judgments we entertain. It’s not about looking at this photo of Marilyn and thinking she’s fat. It speaks to what we believe, value, reject and hate. Let’s think on God’s things! “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 That’s the challenge; that’s the choice. And it IS achievable! Achieve it today! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Monkey Mind

I just finished reading “Monkey Mind” by Daniel Smith. Whew! I thought I had anxiety! That’s the exact emphasis of the book: anxiety and its paralyzing effects. And, while the book is “salty” in spots, it still hits home the difference between fear and anxiety. Fear is the natural response to a threat of danger. Anxiety, however, is the feeling, the “sky is falling” attitude to it. And those of us Chicken Littles know, all too well, how scary that sky can be. Looking at what scripture has to say about fear, we see all kinds of things, especially about “the fear of the Lord:” “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” Proverbs 10:27 “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.” Proverbs 19:23 And then there’s the fear of man… "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe." Proverbs 29:25 But, the gripping terror so many of us experience, again, that, anxiety, is mentioned in Proverbs 3:25: “Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.” That perception of sudden terror can make us feel hopeless and helpless. But is that terror real or is it, instead, the feeling of anxiety? No matter what state our minds may be in, monkey or otherwise, God is still our answer: “And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou was made to serve.” Isaiah14:3 “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 “Fear not: for I am with thee…” Isaiah 43:5 Let’s remember that when monkey mayhem strikes.

Appreciate the uphill days people

Sounds like the Village People, when we speak of our "Uphill Days" people. But God has given us what we need for our lives, people included. Who's been with you in your uphill journey? Thank them- and thank God for them today!!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

You Don’t Have To Support Me

Frequently, young girls and women approach me concerning their disordered eating issues and the recovery processes. And, quite often, they want support. However, my perspective is that the word “support” is often code for something else instead. It is code for approval of their choices and even help with self-destructive behaviors. Recently, a young woman approached me. Let’s call her “Sissy.” I have known her for years and have tried to support her recovery. She approached me, beginning with the following: “Can ask you a question?” My first reaction to that question, already, contains great trepidation. I usually brace myself for some question asking for weight loss or secrecy tips. It’s happened like that too many times before. So, I said yes. And, sure enough, Sissy asked me if I would help her calculate her BMI (body mass index). I asked some why questions, trying to get to the root of its importance. At that point, she became defensive, adamantly stating she was “recovered,” had finished her treatment and was not going back. At one point, she also stated, “It’s okay. You don’t have to support me.” It was here, the following scripture was ringing in my ears: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15 That’s what I was trying to do, repeatedly expressing my concern for her well- being and the subtle triggers which can affect eating disorder behavior and recovery. And it’s a delicate line to walk because I know God is powerful, a miracle working healer; I also know each individual’s recovery story is unique. But, all too often, I think, as human beings, we mistake support for approval or endorsement. It’s akin to asking for advice as well. Do we really want to hear the truth? Or, do we want to hear what we want to hear? In my own life, I’ve had a few “intervention moments.” During college, especially, family and college roommates tried to express their concerns for what they saw in me: disordered eating, weight loss, followed by extreme weight gain, stealing food, eating out of the garbage. The list goes on and on. And, as they expressed their concern, my reaction, of course, to that concern was defensiveness, anger, feelings of betrayal and hurt. But, I wasn’t in a healthy place to see anything but those things. I bought the subtle lie of my eating disorder behavior and because of it, I would/could not hear anything, God included, which opposed that line of thinking. Again, scripture states: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 The truth is only God fully knows what our issues are and how they’re affecting us. Each of us, however, in life, is vulnerable to temptation, to imperfection and to sin. There may, indeed, be incredible miracle deliverances. But, for most of us in addictions and disorders of any kind, it, more often than not, is a daily process, requiring our attention to healing and healthy choices. And support, in real terms, may not always feel great, warm and fluffy. We may not always hear what we want to hear. And, even God doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear. Yet, He still loves us: “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Proverbs 3:12 So, we need to remember that truth, in the context of support. Do we want something to tickle our ears and tell us everything’s okay, or do we want the truth and real help? It is a challenge for any of us. What does support really mean? Are we getting it now or are we even rejecting it? Let’s examine what support means, is and is not to our own recoveries and life situations. And let’s never say, to the true, helpful and healing kind of definition, “You don’t have to support me.” Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse