Friday, January 31, 2014

Spelling Believe

This article, appearing in the January issue of Serene Scene Magazine, explores the influence belief has in recovery.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ten Steps To Positive Body Image

Compiled by Margo Maine, Ph. D.

One list can not automatically tell you how to turn negative body thoughts into positive body image, but it can help you think about new ways of looking more healthfully and happily at yourself and your body. The more you do that, the more likely you are to feel good about who you are and the body you naturally have.

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you --running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-10 list of things you like about yourself -- things that aren't related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about you.
  3. Remind yourself that "true beauty" is not simply skin-deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you -- as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not "right" or that you are a "bad" person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message.
  9. Do something nice for yourself -- something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.


Reprinted with permission from the National Eating Disorders Association. For more information:



Verbal Abuse (Break the Plate)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Proverbs 18:21

When I say the word, “abuse,” what first springs to your mind?
Broken bones? Bruises?

Unfortunately, there are many different kinds of abuse out there. The most obvious is physical abuse. But there’s also sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse. And, when it comes to emotional and verbal abuse, the impact is not so easily seen. Yet, the damage is devastating.
Hence, the broken plate point…

Brilliant and on point.

So, below, I’ve attached an article by Beth J. Lueders about emotional and verbal abuse.

Emotional and Verbal Abuse
by Beth J. Lueders
Denying someone access to other relationships. Taunting on the playground. Yelling degrading remarks. Downplaying accomplishments. Threatening to take the children away.
From bullying and manipulative mind games to sexual harassment and elder care neglect, emotional and verbal abuse is rampant in our society. No one is immune from encountering abusive people, but everyone can make healthy choices to end destructive relationship patterns.
Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is difficult to define and many cases are never reported; nevertheless, it's clear that this form of destructive behavior is based on power and control. An emotionally abusive person may dismiss your feelings and needs, expect you to perform humiliating or unpleasant tasks, manipulate you into feeling guilty for trivial things, belittle your outside support system or blame you for unfortunate circumstances in his or her life. Jealousy, possessiveness and mistrust characterize an emotionally abusive person. Widely recognized signs of emotional abuse include:
Rejecting or denying a person's value or presence and communicating devaluing thoughts and feelings to another person.
Degrading, ridiculing, insulting or name-calling to lessen the self-worth and dignity of another person. Examples include humiliating someone in public or responding to a senior as if he or she is not capable of making decisions.
Terrorizing by inducing intense fear in someone; intimidating and coercing; or threatening physical harm to a person or a person's loved ones, pets or possessions. Stalking, threatening to leave and forcing someone to watch violence toward a family member are all types of terrorizing.
Isolating, physically confining or limiting another's freedoms. These restricting behaviors include denying a person contact with others and controlling someone else's financial affairs.
Exploiting someone's personal rights and social needs or using another person for profit or advantage. Enticing someone into illegal activities for financial gain (drug selling, prostitution) is an example of exploitation.
Detaching and denying emotional care or affection. Shunning a person's efforts to interact or neglecting someone's mental health needs are forms of this type of psychological abuse.1Although emotional abuse can occur on its own, all types of abuse involve some form of emotional abuse. Similar to other forms of relationship violence, emotional abuse happens most often to individuals with the least power and resources. Over time emotional abuse brainwashes the victim. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, it is clear that for many, emotional abuse is even more devastating than physical abuse.
Emotional abuse tears at a person's self-esteem and can greatly impair psychological development and social interaction. In children, emotional abuse can hinder attention, intelligence, memory and the ability to feel and express emotions appropriately. For both children and adults, emotional abuse can manifest itself in social withdrawal, severe anxiety, fearfulness, depression, physical complaints, avoidance of eye contact, self-blame and substance abuse. Emotionally abused seniors may feel extreme guilt, inadequacy, depression or powerlessness. Unfortunately, many psychologically abused elderly people are labeled "senile" or "inept."
Because emotional abuse is not as regularly reported as other forms of violence, statistics are sparse. A Canadian study on abuse in university and college dating relationships revealed that 81 percent of male respondents admitted they had psychologically abused a female partner.2 According to a 2000 report by the National Institute of Justice, an estimated 503,485 women are stalked each year in the United States. Emotional abuse is a worldwide problem for people of any age and any sex.3
Verbal abuse
The well-worn chant, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" is just not true. As Dr. Grace Kettering writes in her book Verbal Abuse, "Cruel names and labels can hurt us — dreadfully! Many times the emotional damage is unintentional. Crippling comments may seem so trivial to the speaker as to be soon forgotten. But at a crucial moment or from an important person, certain words spoken to a vulnerable, receptive individual can make or break a life."
Verbal abuse takes on many forms including criticizing, insulting, degrading, harsh scolding, name-calling, nagging, threatening, ridiculing, belittling, trivializing, screaming, ranting, racial slurring and using crude or foul language. Disparaging comments disguised as jokes and withholding communication are also examples of verbal abuse.
Hurling hurtful words at another may sound like: "You're a nag just like your parents!" "You don't know how to do anything right." "It's your fault!" "You're too sensitive." "Come on, can't you take a joke?" "That outfit makes you look fat." "You're worthless in bed." "Who asked you?" "You don't need that second helping." "All you do anymore is go to church stuff." "Your ex sure screwed you up emotionally." Verbal abuse can happen anywhere, at any time. Individuals who are teased and pressured at work or school may in turn take out their pent-up frustrations at home. "Kicking the dog" is not enough; instead, they verbally attack their spouse, children, parents, close friends — no loved one is safe.
Wounds that typically accompany emotional, physical and sexual abuse must not be ignored. Both men and women inflict verbal abuse, but women tend to be more often on the receiving end of this destructive behavior. What may seem innocent and infrequent at first can escalate. Verbal abuse frequently plays a major role in violent crimes. According to a 1998 U.S. Justice Department report on violent crimes, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.4
All forms of abuse follow a pattern that, left unchecked, will only increase over time. Injuries from verbal and emotional abuse can run deep and leave lasting scars. Many emotionally and verbally abused people reason that, because there are no bruises or broken bones, their abuse must not be serious. But it is. Fortunately, support and resources are readily available to guide individuals into safe, loving relationships. In their well-received book Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend state that, "Our pain motivates us to act." If pain motivates you to act against emotional and verbal abuse, then listen and act. You may be saving more than your life.
1 The National Domestic Violence Hotline,
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
Copyright © 2002 Beth J. Lueders. Used by permission.

See yourself here? There is help and hope. God never wants you abused in any way! He loves you and has blessings for you instead:

“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      
“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

God wants to restore your broken plate!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, January 27, 2014

That Adoration Look

Recently, I saw of photo of a clouded leopard, lovingly gazing into its trainer’s eyes. There was unconditional trust and affection in that gaze. At least, I hope it was and not an entrée selection.
But, looking at that leopard’s face, I was struck by that adoration look. It could be unconditional love or a food craving, but the emphasis is still the same. It can be person, place or thing. And that’s the thing about addictions; they can also be person, place or thing. But the adoration answer is definitely there somewhere. It’s the magic solution to our lives. It’s the promised fix of “happily ever after.”
That adoration look frequently shows up on Harlequin romance book covers. Someone is in a pirate’s outfit; someone’s in a bodice and petticoats. But when you look at that the cover, there’s that gaze, that kind of “my life is now complete” gaze.
And that’s addiction. It’s addiction because it is a substitute for God, the spiritually driven hunger for connection with our first love. We may not even know He is just that. After all, God started the whole thing…
“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
Love- adoration- desire- God invented it.

“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    
So, where does it go wrong then? Answer: when we get involved (big shocker there). We get it confused, taking our own eyes/attention off from God and having it traipse somewhere else, to…I don’t know…to our chosen object of addiction…and BOOM! There we are, staring at that thing lovingly, obsessively and, sooner or later, destructively.
We believe the lie we have found our reason to live and therefore, go on living/breaking a notorious commandment:

“Then God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.’”
Exodus 20:1-3

We believe our answer is found independent of God.
Big mistake. In fact, it’s deadly.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
James 1:13-15

Fun, fun, fun. We insist that, sooner or later, our addictions and compulsions will deliver. God has become obsolete. But God is where it’s at. That’s the real promise...

“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
 Psalms 37:4

No Harlequin book cover or leopard required. Being connected to God as that first and true love is the answer. And it’s the only thing that will work. God loves us and is enthralled with us…

“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
At the core, with God...
“Love never fails...”
1 Corinthians 13:8
And without God...

“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. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”
Habakkuk 2: 18-20.

So, it’s do us some good to love God, as we’re instructed to do...
“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Luke 10:27
It takes just as much time, energy and focus to devote our adoration look to God as it does to our addictions and compulsions. We may believe it’s not fun or too difficult, but God is the only working focus of our adoration.
And, on top of that, we have His help...
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalms 46:1

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”
Psalm 32:8

So, let’s ponder our adoration. Where does it lie? “Oh come let us adore Him” isn’t just a lyric from a Christmas carol. How do we respond to it?
Again, God responds to us THIS way...

“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
Let’s focus on reciprocating!
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grumpy Cat

By now, you’ve probably encountered several images of this painfully cute feline with the pout. 

I have spent a lot of time sucked into Grumpy cat posts; it’s a great distraction from actual work.
Anyway, with all of this emphasis of grumpitude, I started thinking about how scripture repeatedly tells us to be joyful. You know, not grumpy.

“A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.”

“This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118: 24

There are experts who study facial expression. According to them, we give ourselves away by our face. Our words may lie, but not our body language.
Yet scripture tell us to put this stuff on.
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,  throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Ephesians 4:21-24
What are we supposed to do with that? Fake it ‘til we make it? Or recognize that joy is different from flaky, temporary- happiness.
“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
And, while we’re waiting, let’s not forget God…
…the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
Zechariah 4:10
So, while we’re challenged, let’s try to remember it’s not hopeless. 

And then, go to Grumpy cat images, if needed.
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

To the point...

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”
—The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jeremiah 29:11's still not cancelled

                                          “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

It's a good day (Self- Care)

“Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”

1 Corinthians 3:16

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Everyone falls for the bad guy

Yep, that about sums it up. A lot of you ladies know exactly what I’m talking about.

We see him, the rebel, complete with dreamy bedroom eyes, tousled hair and a certain taboo nonconformity, brooding in a dark corner somewhere; we’re smitten.

There’s something alluring, dangerous and promising about the bad guy, isn’t there? Its intoxicating argument of an exciting, romantic and perfect life, however that’s defined, leads us into taking the bad guy up on his offer. We make some choices- and, let’s face it, they’re not exactly great choices for us, are they?

I’m not talking about the boyfriend on the motorcycle, the latest “it boy” celebrity or even the famous rebel, himself, James Dean. No.

I’m talking about Sin.

Have you been properly introduced? I bet you have been.

Sin is irresistible. It promises us the world, whatever that world means to us. Yet it fails to deliver. And it’s not like we haven’t been warned. It’s just like our mothers or our girlfriends, trying to get our attention about “that boy” with the bad reputation.

Scripture, itself, likewise, also tries to caution us about sin:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

James 1:13-16

But it’s still so appealing. It looks good; it sounds good. We’ll be happy, only if we take a chance on this opportunity set before us. Besides, we reason, we can “change him,” right?

Stop laughing. You’ve thought it and said it too at some point.

But that’s the seductive power of sin. It made the apple look delectable. It makes the bad choice look like the answer. There’s nothing new under the sun about anything we choose to be that “end all, be all” thing for us. Evil is still the core of it all. Temptation is the vehicle used. And guess who is doing the driving?

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”

2 Corinthians 11:14

Nothing new. It can look attractive, beautiful, sexy, decadent, promising, comforting, validating or even good, possibly holy.

But, really, do we test its spirit?

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

1 John 4:1-3

Is it “too good to be true?” Do we poke under the hood and look around a bit?

What is “it,” really?

Are we falling for the “bad guy?”

It’s not to be hopeless and negative; it is about being realistic- and empowered in the process.

And let’s not forget a very big element IN that process: God.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

1 John 4:4

We don’t have to fall for every sin, every kind of bad guy which crosses our paths. We can, with God’s help, see him for who/what he is. And we can stand, in God, instead of falling for everything self-destructive. It is possible, even if it’s imperfect, via our human condition.

So, let’s not fall for that bad guy; God, after all, IS the ultimate “Good Guy.”

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse


Bad guy...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All Women!

Words Be Few

As someone who’s had instances of writer’s block, this scripture frequently comes to mind:

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2

Granted, it doesn’t always feel conducive to the writing process; words are kind of important. Nevertheless, I suppose it is worth pondering.

“The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 18: 21

I remember, as a kid, having some cutesy stationery with babies, spouting statements like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me” and “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” That one really stuck with me. And, it was only years later I discovered that cutesy slogan was, in fact, scriptural.

“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 17:27-28

 Furthermore, there’s a little thing called consequences:

“The lips of fools bring them strife,
    and their mouths invite a beating.

The mouths of fools are their undoing,
    and their lips are a snare to their very lives.”

Proverbs 18:6-7

Yeah, that’s not appealing. I don’t know about you, but being ensnared does NOT sound like a party to me.

I keep thinking about Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet going on a tear about “Words, words, words…” and we know how well THAT went. (If you don’t, please feel free to look it up).

The point is, words carry results with them, either positive or negative; they’re not neutral.

“The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 18: 21

Do we get it right? Most of the time, probably NOT. Yet, that’s no excuse not to pay attention to the principle at all.

So, worth considering, words be few.

There’s some merit to the writer’s block condition after all.

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Zechariah Mountain on Tumblr...('Cause Blogger can't post photos now)

This is how I wanted to post it in the FIRST place!


Please check out Zechariah Mountain...

Since Blogger is not enabling me to post photos...

I asked for the situation to be fixed. Still waiting. So, Tumblr will be getting more of my assorted thoughts and pictures.
Please check out at the following:

What about Coincidences? (CIR)

This article, appearing in the January 10th issue of Christians In Recovery, discusses the relevant reality of God as He involves Himself in our daily lives.

If only...

“Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.” Jane Smiley

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Zechariah Mountain

I must confess, I’m not the kind of person who would get a thrill from mountain climbing. As far as I’m concerned, the ground is quite challenging enough, thank you. Nevertheless, the mountain theme pops up a bit in scripture. For instance… “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17:20 “‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.’” Matthew 21:21 It’s relevant to each one of us, even for us ground dwellers. Recently, however, I had a shift in thinking about mountains. It wasn’t so important to climb them as it was to SPEAK TO them. No gear required there. Check it out: “…‘This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, ‘Grace, grace unto it.’ Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.’” Zechariah 4:6-10 I think, for those of us in recovery especially, there can often be a tremendous emphasis on doing, on earning worth, goodness or even a “cure.” But this scripture focuses on the power of words, SPEAKING TO, not CLIMBING the mountain. And then, God takes it from there. The results are God’s business, not ours. Again, reality check: What are we saying to the impossible, to the mountain? “…‘This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ saith the LORD of hosts.’” Zechariah 4:6 God doesn’t leave us speechless OR powerless. No mountain is too difficult for Him! “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 Be encouraged; that mountain of yours is coming down! Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, January 3, 2014

Containers Of Power

Expect Problems (Not a New Year Failure)...

All right. We’re a few days into the new year. And resolutions? Eh… By now, there may be a great temptation to believe we’re failures; we’ve blown it. Life is ruined. You get the idea. And here is where a reality check comes into play. Resolution has perfection attached to it, doesn’t it? Perfectly done, perfectly changed, perfectly transformed are usually the messages we believe as we make and break those pesky resolutions. We set ourselves upon for perfection; ergo, we set ourselves up for failure. New year film at eleven. But, resolution or not, we need to face certain facts: problems will come. Did I burst the bubble? We nod our heads, assenting to the reality of problems. But somehow, no better time of year than this one, we hop on the perfect fantasy rollercoaster, believing this year will be different. This year our lives with be perfect and pain free. But it won’t be. That, however, doesn’t make it- or us- failures. It makes us human, living the life experience. And, even in our imperfections, rough starts and blatant failures, we are still empowered: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 That scripture is not a flaky resolution; it’s Truth. And even though we may feel we’re only eating failure for breakfast or any other meal, for that matter, we still aren’t hopeless, BECAUSE we’re not God-less. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 God is for us. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 A refresher course when resolutions inevitably fail us. So, happy new year, even in spite of the problems, issues and tribulations! Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lived Forward!

Nothing Personal

This piece discusses the triggers of personal comments and questions, especially those made of eating disorder sufferers during holiday festivities. It appears in the January 2nd, 2014 issue of Christians In Recovery Magazine.


I love this quote by Mr. Einstein. How true it is! When we think of the word, “coincidence,” we tend to think along the standard definition’s description: a chance happening: something that happens by chance in a surprising or remarkable way; happening without planning.” Ever had one of those experiences like that definition? You know, those weird, in sync, “hmm” kinds of moments which just seem to be too timely/helpful to be believed? If you call yourself a human being, more than likely, at one time or another, you probably have had a few. Meet God, being anonymous. I myself have had a number of those weird in sync moments. Back at the height of my anorexia when I was nineteen, I had come across a girl who went to my high school, post high school. In the cliché line of thought, “it takes one to know one,” she, a recovering anorexic herself, had first approached me in a college history class we shared during the spring quarter of my freshman year, calling me out on my already too thin frame. Of course, I lied and denied, spooked by her allegation, desperately believing I could talk myself out of the uncomfortable encounter. At that point and time, she left it at that. Whew! Dodged a bullet there! I thought I was home free. After all, beyond sharing the same high school, the two of us had no real contact with one another. We weren’t in the same circle of friends. So, I thought I was in the clear. Not so fast, Sheryle! Just three months later, during my summer break, I ran into her, yet again, seemingly “out of nowhere.” I was at the mall, nothing earth shattering. But the store, of all stores, to run into her, was a bid odd. Because of my already intense eating disorder behaviors, I was trying to occupy my mind with anything I could think of. One of my latest “answers” was crafting. Yes, that’s right. I said crafting. I guess I believed pipe cleaners and cross stitch kits could save me. So, I was a regular at the mall’s hobby store. How many college kids honestly frequent that place, right? I remember I was close to my lowest weight, attempting to keep from passing out, while looking at a dollhouse miniature section (really?), just trying to occupy my highly disturbed mind when, low and behold, once again, out of seemingly nowhere, appeared this same girl. Talk about feeling busted! We had the initial nervous chitchat, but, c’mon, we both knew the score. She was gentle as she could be, but eventually, came the moment of getting real. She again, brought up the dreaded curse words of “eating disorder” to my attention. And I had no where I had to be. I had no class I needed to escape to, nothing pressing I had to do. I just had to stand there in front of the dollhouse miniatures and converse with her. The coincidence of this situation was that I was at a point in which I fully believed and argued with God that I was the only one who was grappling with my struggle, especially in this relatively small town rural area. No one else would get it; no one else would understand. It’s such a cunning and cliché lie, isn’t it? So, that was an awakening to the reality that no, I was not the only one. There were others. I was nowhere near healthy or in recovery mode, but this “coincidence” was a timely event which was relevantly needed by me. It was God. And then there was the time when, after missing my bus, I was privy to a conversation between two strangers about a recent change to the bus schedule starting the next week. There would have been no other way I could have found out that information, other than to miss my connection at that time. Really? God’s involved in a bus schedule? Isn’t that too unimportant for God’s attention? No, God tells us about His thoughts for us… “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” Job 42:2 “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” Psalms 40:5 “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.” Psalms 139:2 And that leads me to a third coincidence. A few years ago, which attending a church Christmas raffle, one of the winning prizes was mentioned: two tickets to a ballet performance of “The Nutcracker.” Being a theatre fan (heck, I was a theatre graduate from college), I have always loved the arts: drawing, painting, film, stage productions and dance. So, this was right up there in my “heart’s desire” alley. I remember quietly talking to God in my mind, saying, “It sure would be great to win something like that.” “But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time...” Psalm 69:13 So, do I need to tell you what happened next? Uh-huh. Guess who’s name was called for that particular prize? Coincidence? Not noteworthy? Not important enough? Or God at work? “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” Psalms 119:59 It’s a question worth pondering in the circumstances of our lives, whatever they may be, don’t you think? God is a relevant God, not just a loving God. Scripture, in fact, tells us… “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Matthew 6:31-32 But God encourages us to start with Him, by being in connection with Him first, in prioritizing Him… “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 And part of that means recognizing and respecting that God is not just a thing or an irrelevant coincidence. He is a very loving involved God and Father to each one of us. Which way do we choose to see Him though? Is God timely with you? I’m sure you’ve heard the famous passage from Ecclesiastes. It’s often used at funerals: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Indeed, seasons, “coincidences” and time impact every single one of us… “…time and chance happeneth to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 But what’s more important than that is that God happens to each of us, in myriads of ways every day, whether or not we recognize or accept it. So, what will we do with the reality of both coincidence and God? Are they the same thing or is it, indeed, all God? Ancient Hebrew teachings reveals there is no such word for “coincidence” in their vocabulary. Does coincidence exist for you? Or is it all God, working intricately and relevantly on your behalf? Are you focused on God whenever something in your life syncs up? What if God is touching your life and connecting with you right now? What will you do with that? A loving, connected and involved Heavenly Father to us all? “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:6 “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 Hmmm… I think so! Coincidence? I think not! Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Your Only Resolution...

Whatever Happened...

Hallway Power

What do we do when life is not what we want it to be? How do we handle waiting? Our cats, Gracie and Glory are obsessed with playing in our hallway. Whether it’s fetching mouse toys or stampeding/chasing each other up and down the floor, there’s something to be learned from these felines. Observe: I’ve often heard the definition of patience is having a good attitude while you wait. Thrilling. So, that’s the challenge, the test, the life lesson, huh? Patience? “In your patience possess ye your souls.” Luke 21:19 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” Romans 5:3-4 Thanks, God. Sounds like fun. Nevertheless, patience is a part of life. “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:25 We can embrace it or fight it; it’s our choice. Yay. And we can apply what God says about navigating our lives TO our lives. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 Yes, we can, while we’re waiting, choose to seek, praise and thank God. We WILL have hallways in life. That doesn’t make us worthless failures. It makes us human beings, living this process called life. Celebrate yours in whatever hallway you’re in. The hallway is not the end of the story. God, and His plan, rather, IS!!! “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 “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 © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse