Monday, September 30, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
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!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The legendary sex symbol and movie star, Sophia Loren recently turned 79 a few days ago.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
When I first saw this image, I chuckled.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Thursday, September 12, 2013
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.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
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?
Monday, September 9, 2013
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Friday, September 6, 2013
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) 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.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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
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