Monday, September 30, 2013

Steps- Baby Or Otherwise

I recently came across the baby picture of me.
I’m in one of those bouncy things which, I guess, helps with balance and standing up. Anyway, I started thinking about steps. We all start from humble beginnings in this department. And, likewise, we start out small in our relationship with God and discovery of our calling. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s gradual, built on steps, missteps and, thank God, constant intervention, love and guidance from our God. Nothing surprises, intimidates or overwhelms Him. “For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?” Job 14:16 “Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?” Job 31:4 He’s in every step of our lives. “A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23 So, let’s step, with confidence. Even with falls and mistakes, God is getting us to where we need to be: with Him and in our lives. Step out today! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, September 27, 2013

One Bad Chapter

As I writer, I’ve worked on numerous book projects. “Thin Enough” was my first major project. I spent a great deal of time mining past experiences from painful eating disorder incidents. And, to look at those situations, it did, indeed, appear that life is truly, truly bad. But, as I worked on, what ultimately became the chapters of that book and other chapters of other book projects since, I’ve come to realize that “bad patches” don’t last forever. They may FEEL like it, but, sooner or later, life moves on. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 Life is filled with all kinds of chapters: love, loss, death, pain, success, failure, joy and learning. But through it all, God has a purpose- and it’s not hopeless. "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.… Isaiah 46:9-11 What’s your chapter lately? Is it “the best of times… or the worst?” Whatever it may be, even if it is a bad chapter, there are more incredible blessings to come. Hang on; the page will be turning soon!
Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Such important work...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Most Beautiful People

Most of us have self- image issues. And, beauty is often in the center of them. Indeed, most situations seem to stem from our distorted definition of the word. Its official meaning reads as follows: pleasing and impressive qualities of something: the combination of qualities that make something pleasing and impressive to look at, listen to, touch, smell, or taste pleasing personal appearance: personal physical attractiveness, especially with regard to the use of cosmetics and other methods of enhancing it It’s all external; there’s no mention of soul, spirit, kindness or personality. In fact, the description of an ugly individual is often mentioned as having a “good personality.” Uphill battle, here we go. And, the distorted beauty definitions further single out and exclude. Let’s face it, through fairytales, Barbie dolls, Hollywood or fashion, there is a narrow list of desirable- beautiful- attributes. Mostly, they go as follows: Caucasian Thin Large breasts Slender thighs Upturned nose Blue eyes Blonde hair Full lips Young Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve embraced some diverse exception in skin color, body type and features, but the dominant “ideal is the thin, white blue-eyed young blonde.” And, of course, there’s no mention of real life. And real life contains things like defeat, struggle, loss and imperfection. Furthermore, compassion, sensitivity, gentleness and love are nowhere to be found. C’mon, aren’t those things beautiful? Let’s challenge and redefine beauty to cover more than the external, but the often more complex internal characteristics as well!
Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Mine

Sophia On The Brain

The legendary sex symbol and movie star, Sophia Loren recently turned 79 a few days ago.
And it started me thinking about beauty. And then, late last night, I saw a television commercial of another famous Sophia, Sophia Vergara (from the sitcom Modern Family). She was advertising her Kmart clothing line.
The thing which caught my attention about the commercial was her emphasis on “real woman” figures when it comes to clothing. She breaks into her design studio, breezes by designers hovering over their sketches. She then takes a red pen and draws two sets of curvy bubbles over the bust and derriere areas of the drawings, stating, “you can’t draw a woman with straight lines.” Bravo, Amen and tee hee, Ms. Vergara! Since then, I’ve been having a little “Sophia on the brain.” Both Loren and Vergara have been known as smoldering, exotic beauties with va-va-voom bodies to match. And it’s great to see someone be celebrated who is closer to a “real woman size/shape.” However, we still are obsessed with unnatural, unhealthy and unattainable thinness. Even though statistics and articles keep telling us things like the “average” woman is a size 14. So, what’s the deal? We have lost touch with reality and, I believe beauty. It’s difficult to say anything positive about the subject matter without it sounding trite or cliché. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all beautiful. And yeah, yeah, yeah, beauty is more than skin deep. Even Ms. Loren threw in her two cents: “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” But do we really buy it? Based on the diet, cosmetic and plastic surgery evidence out there, I’d have to say no. Before extreme thinness was celebrated, once upon a time, we did see beauty in curvier- and bigger- terms. Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Jane Russell were just a few celebrated movie stars, beauties and sex symbols. And, even with the inclusion of some curvier nods of approval, like Ms. Vergara, Jennifer Lopez and Kate Winslet, we still seem to gravitate to a thinner beauty aesthetic. And that’s troubling, not because a thin frame is evil, but because we are shortsighted in our beliefs of inherent value, yes, including the characteristic of beauty. If God doesn’t see us as ugly or worthless, why should we? “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 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 Scripture gives us a reality check about our thoughts versus God’s thoughts. And there’s quite a discrepancy between the two: “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 Radical thought: what if God’s thoughts determined we all were great beauties, on par with Sophia caliber? What if He didn’t just stop short at the famous Sophias’ attributes as being amazing, worthwhile and aesthetically pleasing forms? “O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14 If thoughts are, indeed, so powerful, why can’t we think along the line of God’s thoughts, especially when it comes to our own self-image? “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 What if we all had a little “Sophia on the brain,” but what if that was only the starting point of celebrating our fabulousness? What if we truly lived out this scripture from there? “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 We ARE worth discovering and living that beautiful Truth!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marco Polo

Marco Polo, featured in the September 2013 issue of Serene Scene Magazine explores God’s guidance and our attitude concerning it during the recovery process.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vain Imagination (CIR)

"Vain Imagination" addresses faulty emphasis we place on image, especially concerning body image. It appears in the September 17th issue of Christians In Recovery Magazine.

"If God Loves Me" Locker

When I first saw this image, I chuckled.
And then I saw my own less than noble or glamorous self-pity moments. Self-pity- we’re all subject to it. And I’m not talking about the grief or sadness of things like death and loss. I’m talking about the mindset which determines only horrible things will befall us. And that is wallowing- and not believing- God’s Power and great Love for us. Job is famous for intense adversity and self-reflection. Perhaps, he even slipped into some pity. It’s not like he didn’t have reason. He lost loved ones, health and finances. His world crashed around him. And he did his fair share of lamenting: “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility… “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. The upright are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly… 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… 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 17:1-2; 6-8; 11-12; 13-16 “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. ‘Is it right for You indeed to oppress, To reject the labor of Your hands, And to look favorably on the schemes of the wicked? ‘Have You eyes of flesh? Or do You see as a man sees? ‘Are Your days as the days of a mortal, Or Your years as man’s years, That You should seek for my guilt And search after my sin? ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! ‘I should have been as though I had not been, Carried from womb to tomb.’ “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 10:1-6; 18-22 Yeah, we get the point. See yourself here? I know I do. And, again, there are some hard things in life. But if we wallow only in them, we are making a choice to give them all the power, instead of giving God that distinction. We murmur and complain; we wallow… “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” James 5:8-9 Ever hear the statement, “You complain, you remain?” We’re all guilty of that. But, instead of despairing, thinking there’s no hope for our lives, we have the choice to engage the second part of the statement” if you praise, you’re raised.” That’s right- praise. Praise God. “I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” Psalm 7:17 “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 “Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious.” Psalm 66:2 There’s nothing too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27), after all. And that’s an important filter to look through when it comes to ANYTHING!!! What we deem as a too difficult life situation, is an easy locker for God to open. We all need a refresher course in that Truth. It’s about doing the reality check: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11 What’s your locker? Have you focused on God to deal with it? Is it about your self-pity or God’s loving involvement in your life? Make your choice a great one today! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not A Lost Cause

“It’s hopeless.” Most of us have uttered that statement. Our issues, addictions, disorders and problems drive it from our mouths. That’s probably why scripture warns against saying just any old thing which pops in our heads: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45 “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” Proverbs 4:23-24 Most of us would probably agree cussing or perverse words aren’t great choices. But the power of our words speaks to bigger matters than that. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21 And that, unfortunately, does include the statement, “It’s hopeless.” It’s beyond positive thinking practices; it’s about faith- negative OR positive faith. “…According to your faith be it unto you.” Matthew 9:29 Now, before we fall into a deep pit of despair, let’s look at the big picture, the GOD Picture… “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89 “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." Isaiah 40:8 So, yes, there’s hope. God’s “big picture” is full of it. "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.… Isaiah 46:9-11 Sounds comprehensive, doesn’t it? However, too often, we look at our lives, without God’s involvement in them. We often underestimate Him. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 We look at what we see and determine that’s how it is and always will be. But, what if it was a temporary situation instead? “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 One of my favorite quotes is “don’t put a period where God puts a comma.” Why do we insist on the wrong punctuation? Are the things we’re saying- out of fear, frustration or hurt- really the things we’re wanting manifested in our lives? Do we really want our lives to be hopeless? You aren’t hopeless, regardless of what you’ve done or what you are or aren’t seeing in your life currently. You’re more than your life right now; God has incredible things for you. You’re in process, again, in the middle of one of my favorite scriptures, 2 Corinthians 3:18“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.” Will you allow God’s powerful scriptures to trump any negative thing you feel tempted to utter? You’re not a lost cause; you’re God’s child. Live it, speak it and believe it today!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Thursday, September 12, 2013

But, But, But… (Imagination- Fear Or Faith)

Fear and faith are two universal issues in life. To one degree or another, we all encounter them. Yet, for most of us, it’s probably a safe bet to say we feel fear is the more acutely experienced situation. It’s often easier, it seems, to “feel” fear rather than to “feel” faith, isn’t it? Yet, each of us, according to scripture, has the capacity for faith: "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3 However, we, all too often, experience our capacity for feelings. And those pesky feelings can often go in the wrong direction for us. Those feelings have us pursuing negative faith stuff, not necessarily faith in God stuff. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 “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 Indeed, God has some differing thoughts… “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 The problem is not God’s thoughts; it’s ours (what a shock). That’s where the fear comes in, the negative faith which tries to convince us doom and destruction are the only things headed our way. The often used acronym for fear goes as follows: False Evidence Appearing Real. Ever hear that? Yes, indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s our own creative imagination that runs amok with worst case scenarios and fuels our fears and phobias.
But again, God has a different perspective… "Don't be afraid; just believe." Mark 5:36 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 Do we really believe God can handle our lives? Do we really believe He’s bigger than any fear or threat? The ideal response is “yes,” but what’s our actual response, more often than not? No, our wonderful imaginations are bigger. Yet, once again, God offers us a solution… “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 It’s about the final, bottom line. Is it God? Or is it an imagination, disguised as a lie, a fear or a worst case scenario? We all need work in this department. Faith is an ongoing, work in progress kind of thing. It isn’t about a one-time perfect result. It’s daily, like breathing. It’s our response to God and His Word. Is it “amen” or is it an argumentative, “But, but, but?” The choice is up to us. However, regardless of that choice, God is still an amazing, powerful and loving God. Imagine that!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


"How easy it is to mourn when I see tearing down, to fail to see that that is part of building. It cannot, or should not, be separated from building up. For without the tearing down of twigs, there would be no building of nests." Jane Grayshon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

God is an artist


All right, I admit it. I’m on social media- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and of course, my website. In this modern culture, that’s the rule, not the exception. Virtually everyone I know is on social media- and even some of their pets, to boot. Indeed, I have posted my fair share of cat photos. It’s a bit ridiculous how many profile pics are floating out there. Some are obscene; some are funny. Some are glamorous and some are downright narcissistic. Yes, narcissism. Here we go. It’s an easy thing to get sucked into. In a world where promotion is the name of the game, how, exactly, does one navigate social media without a little(or a lot, let’s be real) promotion of self? With all of this “me, myself and I” going on out there, are we, therefore, reaching newer levels of self-awareness? Or, are we just self-interested? Yikes. Did the room just get a smidge uncomfortable? In a sea of profile pics or “selfies” as they’re often called, are we really dealing with ourselves as we should? Is it all just vanity run amok?
If that’s the case, well, scripture tells us we’re deceived and ultimately, we won’t profit from it when it really counts. “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 And sometimes, our self-interest even makes us stumble- literally. Ever hear of the recent phenomenon of accidents while texting? I’m not just talking about the no-no of texting while driving. I’m talking about situation in which people of all ages and backgrounds are literally tripping, running into walls and falling down because they are so into posting, tweeting and communication of their handheld devices, they simply do not see where they are going!!! Before you laugh or judge, think, have you been elsewhere, in social media land when you should have been present in a conversation with a family member or friend? How about talking to God? Have you avoided a present real world situation by getting lost in Facebook or Twitter? I have. You check out one cute photo and suddenly, it is three hours later and you’re still on the blasted site! And meanwhile, we’re convinced by the image of selfies-our own and others. The adage of “nothing is as it seems” fits precisely concerning the social media situation. Let’s face it, we don’t purposely post ourselves at our worst; we shoot, instead, for our best foot forward. And sometimes we blatantly lie about that presentation! We behold social media image as extremely important. And God? Well, maybe not so much. How’s this for a reality check? “Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.” Jeremiah 18:15 We often miss a huge point. In order to truly see ourselves, we have to get over ourselves; we have to seek God. He sees us as we truly are, not just some manipulated selfie profile picture. “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:23-25 Do we value our self-image, our presentation of it to the “outside world” more than our relationship with God? It’s a squirmy question, isn’t it? It’s not about ignoring ourselves or having a poor self-image; it’s about possessing a HEALTHY one. And all of us need some work in that area. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 We don’t need to completely abandon social media or avoid cameras for the rest of our lives. We need to seek God. It’s an easily spouted answer, yet more challenging to put into practice. And we certainly need practice! So, the next time we check in with social media, update a profile pic or tweet, let’s allow that to serve as a reminder to check in with God. He knows exactly what our status is at all times; He sees our “selfie” situation perfectly. Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, September 9, 2013

“Are You Eyeing Some Envy?”

“Are You Eyeing Some Envy?” appears in the September 9th issue of Christians In Recovery. It addresses the impact of coveting in our lives.

Friday, September 6, 2013

It Is The Prohibition

When we think of the word, “prohibition,” what’s generally the first thought that comes to mind? Bootleggers? Drunken people passed out from too much moonshine? The roaring 20’s? Yes, those things have been closely associated with the word. But “prohibition” speaks to much more than alcohol. It speaks to desire, want and our real or perceived unmet needs. “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.” Mark Twain Thank you, Mr. Twain. So, then, what are we to do with the moderation concept? Scripture brings it up, after all. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 But what do we do with that moderation principle if, truly, we cannot handle it? It’s not a matter of condemnation; it’s about sensitivity. Each one of us has weaknesses in certain areas. It can be to food, alcohol, drugs, behaviors and compulsions. These things don’t make someone a “bad person.” These things make us human. Therefore, we need to take an inventory about things which may be “triggers,” either to ourselves or to others. “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9 And, ultimately, let’s be health-minded, working with, not against God in these delicate matters. “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” Romans 14:13 Recovery is about process- an imperfect, individual and important one. It involves identifying and dealing with issues like desire, unmet need, pain, trauma, temptation and what needs to be “off limits” in our lives. God is there to walk us through these matters. He IS there 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 In recovery, be aware of your own prohibition issues. Is it an unrealistic expectation of “never” doing the determined prohibited thing again? Is it about pressure? Is it about punishment? Is it about failure? Each one of us has a different definition of what’s in prohibition. Each one of us also has a loving God who leads, helps and provides. That includes insight, sponsors, programs, support people and healthy outlets of expressing emotions. And, from this incredible provision, there, indeed, comes another word: choice. Whoever-wherever- however we are, we can choose another choice. What will that choice be? Will we say yes to God, life and to our health, no matter how tiny that “yes” may be? What would happen if we didn’t prohibit that? Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Back to School (Eating Disorder Awareness Education)"

Back to School (Eating Disorder Awareness Education) focuses on the potentially vulnerable and triggering element of college and the developments/proliferation of eating disorder behaviors among college students. It appears in the September 4th issue of Christians In Recovery Magazine.

L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Perspective on what we strive for...

Release the Kraken!

When I saw this image, it reminded me of how I often resemble it first thing in the morning. Call it grumpy, cranky or moody, it’s often tempting for me to unleash my bad mood, assorted issues perceived unmet needs (wants) on the world at large. Yeah, pretty, indeed. And, it’s often at these times the self-control issue comes dancing through my mind. Often, I’m not too keen on being a dance partner. Nevertheless, self-control is something God expects of us. Scripture says… “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” 1 Peter 4:7 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14 Yay, sounds like a party, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, like it or not, each of us has the capacity for self-control. However, that’s not the same thing as having the feelings. Ah, yes. Those little buggers. Self-control isn’t about being overjoyed in pursuing our self-edit buttons. It’s about maturity; it flies in the face of instant gratification. And, c’mon, that’s really what we want at our base natures, isn’t it. Whether through compulsions, cravings, behaviors or bad tempers, it’d be instantly gratifying to just let it rip, right? We’d love to “release our Krakens.” But check out what scripture has to say about that choice: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28 Yikes. So, the next time we’re tempted to let it rip, let’s stop, just for a second and do a little forward thinking. Perhaps, then, we’d view our Kraken issues in a different light. Let’s check ourselves BEFORE we wreck ourselves. We are worth doing so! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Impossible

Never give up. God still has the final say over "the impossible." “...'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” Matthew 19:26 Don't despair; God's in the middle of your impossible!!!

“Am I pretty?”

Recently, I watched the 1940 adaptation of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. It follows the lives of its Grover’s Corner citizens. And that includes a young girl, Emily. There was a particular conversation between Emily and her mother which caught my attention; it’s one, to a certain degree, which is echoed between many mothers and daughters now. It’s about being pretty. Emily asks her mother, “Am I pretty enough to get people interested in me?” My ears perked right up, along with many mixed emotions about the question. Having experienced struggles with body and self-image, as well as eating disorders, the “pretty” question is far from pretty. Years later, I’m still befuddled by the importance of it. Is it a real human desire for females or is it learned? Scripture tells us appearance’s importance is a part of life here: “ …‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature… for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 So, God desires us to be “pretty on the inside?” Somehow, however, that doesn’t quite jive by the time we reach adolescence. High school often teaches us numerous lessons on who is pretty… and who is not. Indeed, as a little girl, my mother and I often had discussions or “rating systems” on which of my female peers were “cute,” “pretty” or “beautiful.” It wasn’t just about judging or picking apart facial features. It had to do with being worthwhile. Because, “being pretty,” largely involves acceptance, being chosen. And isn’t that what we long for? We spend our lives chasing that chosen feeling/reality. I’m not against beauty; I understand its importance. Who doesn’t enjoy looking at something or someone who is aesthetically pleasing? But I cringe at the extreme importance placed upon “being pretty,” often to the exclusion or negation of other valuable attributes: kindness, personality, spirituality, talent and intellect, for instance. We’ve heard about the pretty girl who dumbed down and downplayed her own intellect/scholastic achievement, just to be approved of and accepted by a good looking boy or a pressuring peer group. She wanted people to be interested in her. And, instead of letting those non-physical qualities stand out, she believed the lie that all she had to offer was her looks. That’s where her worth resided. As I watched “Our Town,” I encountered a lot of antiquated mindsets, especially concerning male and female roles. It’d be great to think about how far we’ve come since then. It’d be great if we could see advancement and equality, enlightenment for all individuals where intrinsic worth wasn’t judged by outward appearance. Sadly, we’re not there. As sweet and endearing as that mother/daughter “pretty” discussion was, it still rings uncomfortably true to this day as the emphasized factor for a girl’s worth. “Pretty” is still so important. There is an absence of the “smart,” “witty” or “kind” questions when it comes to a female’s value. And that is a shame. We are spiritual beings. We are who our spirit is, not what our faces and bodies look like. “Pretty,” by itself, is an adjective, not an end-all, be all of individual worth. You and I can be pretty, but that should not be where we end. There’s too much more to us. We need to tap into that. God created incredible beings. He wants us to discover ALL of who we are, not just stop at appearance. As inherently valuable creations of the Most High God, you and I are enough, AS IS, to be interesting to others and to be worthwhile, regardless of another’s acceptance or rejection. Valuable… and wonderful, AS IS!!! “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 This is who we are! Fully own and enjoy that Truth today!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse