Saturday, August 31, 2013

To the point (I am a Christian)

Remembrance (Beauty For Ashes)

I remember where I was when Princess Diana’s death was announced. My husband and I were up late watching movies. When we finished, we turned CNN on, to discover “breaking news” of her death. I suppose you could call it my “JFK moment." Princess Diana has always meant so much to me. As a little girl, her engagement and royal wedding to Prince Charles captured my fairytale dreams.
Her beauty, style and glamour was the stuff of aspirations. And then, when the media revealed a troubled marriage and her struggles with eating disorders, I gained a different view and respect for her; she was human, even while being a princess. She was fragile and imperfect. Struggling with eating disorders myself, I watched how she dealt with the international disclosure of such personal matters. Secrecy and shame were such huge hindrances to my recovery; I only saw the ugly stigma of the realities I was living. But Princess Diana, by example, illuminated another possibility through her choices: empowering hope. It’s been years since her tragic passing, yet Princess Diana has left a substantial imprint. Her legacy is in her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.
She’s also known for her charity, for her intuitive response to people and for her transcendence of seemingly hopeless and painful circumstances.
I reflected on my life as I viewed hers. I see how God can take anyone and anything, creating hope and redemption from the blackest of situations. He still is in the business of beauty for ashes… “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn, and…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3 He’s still in the business of restoration… “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. You will…praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame.…” Joel 2:25-26 And, of course, He still heals, not just bodies, but lives, reputations and legacies… “…I am the LORD that healeth thee.” Exodus 15:26 As we mark another anniversary of Princess Diana’s passing, let’s allow her legacy to remind us of God’s power, love and hope for each of us. Addictions, disorders, traumas, loss, death and failure may touch our lives, but they never determine our incredible value and hopeful possibility for prosperity, love, joy and restoration. God does that. And His determination always is as follows: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, August 30, 2013

Mistakes! Nah! Birds!!!

That Mirror

As a little girl, I had one of those pink girly hand mirrors. This mirror here is similar to it.
Its back had a girl’s face on it, a pretty one, naturally. She had blue eyes, blond hair and an upturned nose. It wasn’t exactly diversity. Years later, I think back to playing with (looking at) that mirror; which side was more harmful to what eventually became my bad self- image. Was it that girl’s face- or was it my own face staring back at me? Vanity’s not really a great Christian character trait... “I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.” Psalms 26:4 “Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompense.” Job 15:31 “Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.” Job 35:13 “Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?” Ecclesiastes 6:11 Yeah, it’s not exactly “mirror, mirror,” is it? I’ve heard a lot of discussion about how eating disorders are about vanity and extreme narcissism. I have mixed feeling about that assessment. I know that, as a little girl, I was too preoccupied with image; I desperately wanted to be the beautiful girl. And fairytale princess, Barbie dolls and this hand mirror fed into that desire. But it wasn’t because I wanted to be self-absorbed “when I grew up.” No one wants to be that kind of unflattering character trait. However, my self-obsession was rooted in insecurity and fear, not so much image. Image was the promise, the solution, the “happily ever after” carrot to chase in life. And, through the diet and cosmetic industries, isn’t that what we still chase? So, what are we to do with vanity? Do we break all of the mirrors, stop wearing makeup and pay no attention to our physical appearance? No, of course not. But it comes down to what has the final authority in our lives: God or man’s opinion, the temporary or the eternal perspective. Which mirror do we trust? I’m not suggesting we have it entirely figured out. God knows that’s impossible. After all… “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 “For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” Psalms 103:14 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 Please hang in there. It’s not as hopeless as it looks. It’s about perspective…and priorities. We need to look at ourselves and what we truly value. It’s easier said than practiced. No one enjoys dealing with the complex issues which underscore eating disorders, low self-esteem, addictions and compulsions. We’d much rather look at “something pretty” instead. It is hard work: spiritually, emotionally and physically; it takes deliberate effort, all stemming from a decision. Do we deal with “it” or not? Which mirror dominates our lives- God’s perfect reflection or our imperfect, issue- riddled version? God tells us the benefit of choosing His mirror… “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:23-25 It’s not about being perfect or even following, with precise accuracy, the letter of God’s Law (again, the reality of 1 Corinthians 13:12; Psalms 103:14; Romans 3:23). It’s about a value decision; it’s a decision that God’s perspective on us matters more than any other opinion or trend. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (King James Version) “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (New American Standard Version) And that often is a lifetime process (the good and the frustrating news). Life and recovery issues are not “instant cures;” they are process oriented. And God’s quite involved in our lives and life processes. “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.’” Isaiah 30:21 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 “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 What if we reflected on these Truths of God? Mirrors will break and warp; beauty aesthetics in the fashion, cultural and diet worlds change. But we, as God’s beloved and created children, will retain our value and our beauty. We cannot change how God views us: “Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…” Isaiah 43:4 “I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” Isaiah 41:9 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 “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 What if, next time we looked into the mirror, we reflected on that? Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Thursday, August 29, 2013


When I was a kid in school, we studied archery in P.E. There were mixed results for me, someone is already challenged in the sports area. Nevertheless, one thing I did take away from the archery lesson was the importance of “ready- aim- fire.” It doesn’t sound that revolutionary, does it? Yet, it so often gets missed. As does the spiritual lesson equivalent. And that comes into focus when we don’t know what to do next. We’re not hopeless; God has promised to guide us: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.’” Isaiah 30:21 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8 And part of that guidance is His wisdom: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 Also known as Ready… From there we are to focus, or Aim… “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” Psalm 37:5 And then we are to fire… “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Just because the weapons, be they wisdom, prayer or anything else, for that matter, are not seen by us, doesn’t mean they aren’t in existence. Just like this adorable cat here, we are empowered by God’s amazing weapons to deal with your life circumstances. We aren’t helpless or defenseless. God has given us the equipping we need. The question is, however, do we take it? We are instructed to put on the full armor of God: But again, do we? “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17 We all fall short; we’re imperfect. But each of us, on a daily basis, can strive to be mindful and practice the God-given help offered to us. Will we say yes or no to the opportunity? Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"I have a dream"

50 years go today... The speech, in its stunning entirety: I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Princess" (In Recovery Magazine)

Cruse’s article, “Princess” is featured in the Fall 2013 issue of “In Recovery Magazine,” discussing the “princess” buzz word of the toxic “thinspiration” movement. God is good!

See your shadow this way!

Love yourself today; God does!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hitting Bottom - A Neely O'Hara Moment: God-d-d-d-d!!!

Hitting Bottom - A Neely O'Hara Moment: God-d-d-d-d!!! discusses the relevant Divine Intervention reality during the recovery process. It appears in the August 22nd issue of Christians In Recovery.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pointless or Pointillism?

When I was in high school, my saintly art teacher tried her best to give us rural hooligans some culture. The jury is still out on the results. But, in the study of different styles and artists, we learned about pointillism. The definition reads as follows: “a late 19th-century style of painting in which a picture is constructed from dots of pure color that blend, at a distance, into recognizable shapes and various color tones.” The artist, George Seurat is one such artist who incorporated pointillism. His famous work, “Sunday Afternoon On the Island Of La Grande Jatte,” has made its way into popular culture, as well as in the Art Institute of Chicago.
It appears in the John Hughes film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Specifically, one of the characters, Cameron, has an existential crisis moment as the audience sees back and forth shots of his concerned face and the dotted face of the little girl within the painting.
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about pointillism and Seurat’s famous painting, especially concerning adversity, trials and tribulations which often occur in our lives. Scripture tells us they will, indeed, happen: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 I have a friend who is going through extreme challenges within her family. I’ve had many conversations with her in which she feels hopeless and pointless about her circumstances, in spite of the scripture of Jeremiah 29:11 being prophesied numerous times over her life: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” At first glance, it’s easy to judge when we have the luxury of not being in her moccasins. But, haven’t we all, at some point in our lives, questioned the reason for our existence? Haven’t we asked the “why” question? There’s nothing new under the sun. After all, Job in the Bible was famous for his lamentations: “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.” “My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near. If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope— who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?” Job 17:1; 6-7;11-16 “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man. But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.” Job 14:1-2;9-10;14;19;22 “I loathe my own life; I will give full vent to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. “I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Let me know why You contend with me. ‘Your hands fashioned and made me altogether, And would You destroy me? ‘Remember now, that You have made me as clay; And would You turn me into dust again? ‘Did You not pour me out like milk And curdle me like cheese; ‘If I am wicked, woe to me! And if I am righteous, I dare not lift up my head. I am sated with disgrace and conscious of my misery. ‘You renew Your witnesses against me And increase Your anger toward me; Hardship after hardship is with me. ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! “Would He not let my few days alone? Withdraw from me that I may have a little cheer Before I go—and I shall not return— To the land of darkness and deep shadow, The land of utter gloom as darkness itself, Of deep shadow without order, And which shines as the darkness.” Job 10:1-22 Yeah, we get the point (no pun intended). Perhaps, what such a great challenge is to possess perspective when we’re smack dab in the middle of a problem, crisis or difficult situation. We can get myopic about it, seeing only distorted dots, rather than getting some distance, stepping away from the dots to see it is, indeed, a little girl,
or, even more powerful, an even a beautiful painting.
Again, I use the analogy of the tapestry. On one side, we see all kind of threads, all kinds of zigzag chaos going on. But, if we turn it over, it’s this beautifully woven, detailed and intricate design. It has beauty, uniqueness and it makes sense. Perspective. It’s easier to say the word than it is to live it. Nevertheless, it’s available to us. And most importantly, there’s spiritual significance to it: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 You are not a mistake; you’re not in vain. And, no matter what your current circumstances may be, God has created you on purpose for great reasons: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Colossians 1:16 “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36 There is a point to you! Look at it through pointillism; look at it through God!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

“Fine, if others know about it…”

Surrender. It’s a big power buzz word in matters of recovery. It’s the shift in thinking from disorder/addiction to wellness. And it’s deeply personal and unique. How much more, then, is the surrender issue concerning God? However, often the assumption is that “surrendering” is some King James English version of falling to one’s knees in a prayer posture.
Well, that may be the case for some individuals, but not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I had every bit of the exhaustion, despair and shame going on. I had reached some moment of truth.
I discuss it in my book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.” “I was on a spiritual merry-go-round... Did God hate me? Did He think of me as a hopeless failure? I now thought in terms of ‘Am I saved or am I damned?’ Did I lose my soul somewhere because of these eating disorders? Had I gone too far? Seeing myself as His daughter seemed impossible. I couldn’t do that with my father, how was I going to even start with an omnipotent Creator? But now, in the midst of all of this disorder, anger, guilt, shame, ugliness and desperation, I found myself tired and wanting Him more than anything I’d ever wanted before. I wanted God to be real for me, but I felt that the eating disorders stood in my way… I felt constantly surrounded by evil that was seeking to destroy me. Weird stuff, I know. And all this from dieting, you may ask? For most people, the issue of dieting is a simple, harmless one. But for some people, it is a dangerous risk. It’s like Russian roulette. You can choose to play the game, but you can’t guarantee how it will turn out for you. I had no idea that the innocent diet I initially started would bring me to such agonizing, paralyzing lows. I had no idea that when I started this whole diet merry-go-round, I would find myself at the mercy of these evil lies. Be careful. Be careful what you allow yourself to believe. Know this: any strategy, plan, and certainly any disorder are not your answer. God is. ‘For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.’ Psalm 139:13 …I had to make a decision. The merry-go-round and the endless yo-yoing were too much. I made a decision that gradually impacted everything in my world. I decided ‘Fine God, if others know about this, fine. I’m tired.’ I now felt deeply excavated, lying dormant, and waiting for death. As I was lying in bed, the picture of Jesus with Jairus’ daughter flashed back to me. Like her, I was dead to so many things. I remembered all the times my thin self, my overweight self, and my every-in-between-stage self felt like nothing more than a hopeless, dead girl. I was tired on so many levels and dismissed it, at first, as just being exhaustion on my part. And then, I remembered… ‘Little girl, I say unto you, arise.’” Yes, the scripture passage of Mark 5:35-43 has altered my life and relationship with God. “While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.” It made things “real” to me in a way it had never been before. God wants His Word and His relationship with you to also be real. The point to surrender, recovery and relationship with Him, indeed, is to be real. He knows exactly what’s going on. He’s waiting. He’s inviting. But we need to accept His invitation. Will we? Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Gracie Stretchy (Everything that has breath...)

I know God has a sense of humor. My cat, Gracie is evidence. For anyone out there who knows me, follows me on social media or reads my blogs and articles, Gracie has been the subject matter of many musings. God captured my attention with her when Russell and I went to a shelter site. This was one of the photos that hooked me. Yep. Done for.
And, in the four years we’ve lived with she and her sibling, Glory, we’ve become acutely aware of her quirky nature. She, for instance, plays fetch… She “hammocks” on me (I am the hammock)…
And she does this stretchy thing. I haven’t yet been able to capture it on film because it happens in the form of a greeting. Gracie sees me, acknowledges me and proceeds to stretch against a wall, as if to say, “Pick me up.” (I usually do). I started thinking about how God instructs us to life our hands in worship to Him: “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.” Psalm 134:2 “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8 “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place Psalm 28:2 “Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.” Lamentations 3:41 Yep, there’s a theme here. In fact, scripture further expounds on the praise and worship theme… “Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” Psalm 150:5-6 Everything that has breath needs to praise God. It’s not just people; it is also dogs and cats, beings of any sort? Hmmm… I see God’s personal relevance all over Gracie. I’m sure those of you animal lovers will understand how our beloved pets, indeed, are family, giving us so much love, amusement and comfort. Gracie has; she’s a little enthusiastic, loving love bug of a critter. And, whether it’s her name or her personality quirks, like her stretchy thing, she’s a reminder of God, His love and His Word. It’s a reminder, furthermore, of how involved God is in our lives. He is the great “I am.” “…And God said…I AM THAT I AM…this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” Exodus 3:14-15 With God, we’re reminded it’s never hopeless. All that from a cat? Yes, all that from a cat. Amen. Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Tempory Versus Permanent

In Every Day

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Teeter Totter Thinking

When I was a kid, I loved the teeter totter.
Because of my weight issues, however, I was acutely aware of how my weight differed from most kids. The teeter totter was the scale; whoever was the heavier had the strength to hold the other occupant stranded in mid- air for however long he/she desired. And usually that person was me, much to my dismay. After all, I wanted to be the dainty princess of sugar and spice and everything nice; I didn’t want to be a bruiser or a brute. I had a completely distorted and unhealthy perspective. And one incident, in particular, captured it. When I was in the second grade, playing on the teeter totter during recess, I was hurled through the air with the greatest of ease as my teeter totter partner, a boy, was heavier than I was. We kept going back and forth, trying to outdo each other in the forceful slams with each landing. Eventually, however, he slammed a little too hard and, there I was sailing through the air.
Next thing I remember, I was surrounded by kids and teachers; I was then sent home. I suppose I “should have” broken my neck from this incident (let’s hear it for God’s guardian angels). I was okay, just feeling a bit of a headache. But my head had larger problems. I was thinking the wrong thing (not the first time or the last time, by the way). I was so happy that someone heavier was able to hurl me through time and space. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 And later in my life, that wrong childish thought followed me into eating disorder thoughts- and behaviors. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12 It started me thinking of how warped we get in our ideas of what is aesthetically pleasing. How many of us as little girls, choose to downplay our strengths, our intelligence and worth, simply because we believe that being pleasing, accepted, tiny or cute is the “better” way to be? We buy into the thought that we, as little girls, need to be helpless, weak, dainty, pretty and pleasing, to our own detriment. And so, eating disorders, gossip, competition and low self- esteem choices all come into play. We tear ourselves- and each other- down instead of building ourselves up and becoming who God has created us to be. And this is a sampling of God’s thoughts about us: “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 “I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” Isaiah 41:9 “Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…” Isaiah 43:4 “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 Do we believe His Word? Or, are we teetering more towards our own destructive thoughts, thinking we’ll be better, even if we put ourselves in harm’s way, compromise ourselves and dim our own light? I believe confusion happen because, as inherently valuable spiritual beings, God’s Truth already resonates within us. But, with life being what it is, that Truth bumps into other deceitful, harmful and mixed messages, like “beauty matters more than brains,” “being strong isn’t attractive” and “his opinion counts; mine doesn’t.” You matter. As is. As you are right now. You are an incredible being who deserves to shine your light. Don’t dumb it down, sell yourself short, compromise yourself or harm yourself in the name of being cute or pleasing. It’s not worth it. It’s not who God has limited you to be. You are more than you realize. Find out exactly who God says you are and how His determination teeters on nothing else to make it real! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

"The Race Is Not For the Swift" (August 2013 Serene Scene)

“The Race Is Not For the Swift,” an article written by Cruse, appears in the August 2013 issue of Serene Scene Magazine, discussing the ongoing and often marathon-like process of recovery.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

“Alice in Wonderland Solutions vs. Biblical Solutions”

Cruse’s article, “Alice in Wonderland Solutions vs. Biblical Solutions” appears in the August 14th issue of Christians In Recovery Magazine. It addresses how substances, disorders and addictions often appear to be our solutions and coping strategies, unhealthy as they may be.

Think Think Think

Even Winnie the Pooh is perplexed about the issue.
Thinking. That’s often times where we get into trouble. It’s not the thinking process itself, but rather the focus of our thoughts. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 I’m sure you’ve done, said and worn things in which, later, you exclaimed to yourself, “What was I thinking?” The eighties fashions are just one example of the face palm we give ourselves. So, what are we to do? Stopping the thinking isn’t exactly an option, because, after all, the mind tends to wander. But knowing that we mere mortals are not the only creatures doing the thinking around here can give us some perspective and, let’s face it, relevant help. Yes, fortunately, God’s doing quite a bit of thinking. And a lot of it is even directed towards us: “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” Psalms 40:17 It’s the ultimate challenge to get ahold of our thoughts. Many of us have executed some downright dumb ones in our lives. So, when we encounter a God thought, it may seem strange and even irrelevant. “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 We get confused, frustrated, dumbfounded or defensive. And yes, we argue with God about all sorts of concepts and instructions. None of those responses, however, really work to help our situations though. And our thoughts, in and of themselves, won’t get us out of jams we’ve created. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” 2 Corinthians 3:5 Yep, time to get real. What are we thinking- really? What are you coming across? And how are you dealing with what you find? Scripture gives us some helpful advice… “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 We’re not left utterly defenseless. Scripture reassures us of that Truth… “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 Yes. That’s you. Right now. Do you accept that invitation? Do you practically apply that Truth? Today, challenge your thoughts. What are you thinking? Could you be thinking a God thought instead? Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Your Present Situation...

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Get rid of can't- we have God!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

The Power of First

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “First things first.” And the concept of first seems significant, often intimidating. What do you think of, say, first thing in the morning? What is your first thought? What is your first deed? Is it success? Failure? Acceptance? Rejection? The first issue seems to bring up the matter of priority. Scripture emphasizes it as well… “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 “And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, ‘If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.’” Mark 9:35 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Luke 14:28 There’s order, deliberation and purposeful thought when it comes to the issue. And there’s a tremendous blessing in that. “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:16 Think about your first thought of the day. Does it set the tone for chaos and stress or for peace, prosperity and wellbeing? And, God views us in a “first” context. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 “We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Therefore, shouldn’t we pay some attention to the principle? Let’s reevaluate what makes “first things first.” Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, August 12, 2013

More than emotionally ready

I love this clip from the film, "Pretty In Pink." It seems to summarize our feelings of preparedness for life itself. Most of the time, we feel ill-equipped, don't we? But check out God's Word: “...we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 That's who we are, feelings or no feelings. Furthermore... "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37 That's who we are. It's more powerful than any feeling of insecurity. God's in control. Dare to live life in spite of emotions. God believes in you. Now start believing in yourself! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, August 9, 2013

Self- Image: The Bagel Forehead

"Self-Image: The Bagel Forehead," written by Cruse, appears in Christians In Recovery August 9th issue. The article explores the ever changing and sometimes extreme lengths we’ll pursue in the name of beauty.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Golden Honey Bear

An innocent looking honey bear, isn’t it? Most of us are familiar with the Biblical account of the golden calf the Israelites worshipped, just before Moses arrived with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32:1-35).
Impatient as they were, waiting for the blessings to hit their lives, they concluded if they created their own visible god, they’d be happier and finally have the lives of their dreams.
Eh… not so fast… And that brings me to the innocuous honey bear.
At first glance, I’d never view it as an idol. As a child, I remember it was there with the maple syrup and the strawberry jam, sitting on my family’s kitchen table. That’s all. But, as I spiraled into my eating disorders, as I reached the paralyzing lows of anorexia and frantic desperation of bulimia, I turned to an off the wall strategy: the honey bear, or more specifically, arts and crafts with the honey bear. Please bear (pun intended) with me. As I was struggling with my eating disorders, painful issues and stressors on full blast, I had the idea to distract myself. Yes, that was my answer. If I could just keep myself occupied enough, I’d be okay. So, after my college classes, I turned to a honey bear I emptied on one of my recent binges. I thought I’d do something creative with it and keep myself busy. I decided to spray paint the bear gold. That’s right, gold. And, over time, that gold bear turned into several. I remember one Saturday, when my roommate’s boyfriend dropped by, the confused reaction as he saw me on the newspaper-covered floor, with at least ten honey gold honey bears drying out around me. Just another college girl, huh? I truly believed if I created enough of these artsy crafty gold bears, my problems would go away; I could be happy. I was desperate… and horribly wrong. I was no different than the calf worshipping Israelites, believing their created idol would answer their lives with happily ever after. And then that didn’t happen. It was never the answer. You’ve probably never spray painted a honey bear, but you’ve reached for something: alcohol, drugs, relationships, achievements, for example. All are idols of some sort, because all of these attempts try to replace God in our lives. And He’s quite clear how He thinks about that approach: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6 Years later, I see the futility and the insanity, believing my focus on the honey bear’s seeming artistic possibilities were the “cure” to my anorexia, bulimia and pain. I kept looking in the wrong direction. “Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” Judges 10:14 “What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.” Habakkuk 2:18-19 And isn’t that really what addiction is, in the context of idolatry? The wrong direction? Meanwhile, there is a RIGHT direction- and a RIGHT God… “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Psalms 73:26 “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Psalms 73:28 “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” Isaiah 46:9 And there’s God’s response to our lives, struggles, addictions and disorders… “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalms 107:20 To what are you seeking your deliverance? Is it your version of the honey bear or is it God? Whether it’s a gold calf or bear, idolatry of any kind never works. God, however, always does. Let’s choose Him for our lives. It bears considering now, doesn’t it? Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse