Friday, October 31, 2014


Beyond the Mask

As a child, I dressed up as Tinker Bell and Cinderella for Halloween. Back then, there was less emphasis on realistic depictions of fictional characters. There was the plastic-y kind of “costume,” resembling more of a picnic tablecloth than fairy or princess attire.

And then, of course, there was the cheap plastic mask, with a painful elastic band keeping it in place. But somehow, it seemed to hang uncomfortably around the ear area and snapped with slingshot ferocity each time one tried to adjust the mask. I have many memories of my mask’s eye holes askew as I tried not to bump into the other kids and the neighbors’ front doors.

There were mixed results.

If any of you have had similar childhood Halloween memories, you know that those cheap plastic masks were not fooling anyone. No kid ever looked like Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Batman or the Incredible Hulk; no one was fooled into believing the child was a particular character. It was obvious. It was a mask.

Years later, dealing with my personal recovery from eating disorders, the mask issue takes on greater significance. We’ve heard about masks; we wear different ones to function in society and our individual life roles. In fact, for a lot of us dealing with addiction and recovery, the masks contributed to our choices and our problems. And, as is the case so often with addiction, we, the mask wearers, were often the last to know and see it. As we struggle to navigate our lives, trying not to bump into calamities of our own making, others look at us, unconvinced of the image we try to project. We may believe we’re presenting a together person, but other people only see our confused eyes poking through askew eye holes.

Like John Lennon once sang, “one thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.”

The dictionary definition of mask is as follows:

“face covering to hide identity: a covering for the face, worn by somebody to conceal his or her identity.”

But how many of us get that confused with our real selves? And, in doing exactly that, how many of us encounter relapses in our recoveries, that is, if we even start one in the first place?

This time of year is a reminder of masks; Halloween is all about pretending to be someone or something else. But there’s a difference between pretending and lying. When it comes to our recovery from addictions, pretending, to the point of lying, never promotes health and healing. We may see or believe the image, the lie or the relapse appears in a certain light, even a flattering light. We look out of askew eyeholes, never quite seeing things accurately. However, sooner or later, the entire story surfaces. Scripture states…

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known...”

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Truth pops up. So, then, what would ever make us think we could see the entire, accurate situation concerning our addiction and recovery?

Answer? Pride. Ah, yes, one of the subtlest threats to any recovery- our own pride. Pride convinces us we don’t need to stay on our programs, connect with our sponsors, attend meetings or be honest. No. Pride reassures us we’re in great shape, we’re doing okay on our own. Pride tells us to be lone rangers; pride shames us by condemning the need to get and maintain help in our lives. Pride keeps telling us, “You have it under control. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

But pride always overpromises and under-delivers. The famous scripture about pride itself warns us…

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18

Back when I was in a manic bulimic phase of my eating disorder behavior during college, I believed no one else could see what was going on with me. My increasingly puffy face and my one hundred pound weight gain were, certainly not obvious. Oh, no. Pride kept telling me I was doing okay. After all, I was still regularly keeping up with my classes and making the dean’s list. So, no problem, right? Meanwhile, my desperate behaviors caused me to not only binge and purge, but also steal my roommates’ food and dumpster dive for garbage when my compulsion for food ran rampant. How do you convince others you really have it so together when you’re caught scrounging the garbage for food? It’s not such a believable mask then, is it?

But all is not totally hopeless. For as much as we may have wrongly relied on our addictions, disorders and deluded, masked states of pride, we can also make another choice. The Book of Proverbs is often regarded as a book of wisdom in the Bible. And, one of the things I love about it is that it isn’t just a list of “don’t do this” instructions, it also contains a healthy, positive “do” option.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

Proverbs 11:2

Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”

Proverbs 18:12

Humility is mentioned more than once. Hmmm. There seems to be a theme here.

So, where are we with that reality? Again, the Halloween holiday focuses on masks, and pretending to be someone or something we are not. But how do we live that concept, beyond Halloween? Are we wearing the mask or is it wearing us?

Replace the mask with the truth.  

“…the truth will set you free."

John 8:32

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scary Candy?

It’s that time of year again-the official start of the “candy holidays,” kicked off by Halloween. It can be sheer torture, facing the overwhelming displays of treats now. There seems to be candy everywhere! And, for a lot of us out there, it can trigger disordered eating patterns.

So, what do we do? We can’t stop Halloween- and all “candy holidays” from coming. No, it’s not an easy situation. But, we can look for God’s perspective and help, even considering the temptations and issues we face, dealing with candy and “trigger” situations.

“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

Candy, by itself, is neither evil, nor good. It’s inanimate. It has no nutritional value; and yes, it’s loaded with sugar, other preservatives and colors. The “moderation” issue, therefore, comes into play. You and I will not die or have the worst case scenario, (whatever we define that to be for our lives, such as the notoriously dreaded “getting fat” fear) if we eat some candy, from time to time, in our lives.

However, we need to look at eating candy as a choice; it has no nutritional value.  So, according to 1 Corinthians, it’s “lawful,” but does it “edify?”

Candy will not harm us, if, the constant staples in our lives are healthy choices: healthy food, balanced exercise, sleep, relationships, support and numerous daily spiritual, emotional and physiological choices. It’s about an overall healthy lifestyle, not whether or not we ate some candy corn today.

And let’s not forget, each of us has help for our individual, unique lives.

 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalms 46:1

Yes, it’s challenging, facing the overwhelming flavors, colors, choices- and emotional ties that Halloween candy can represent to us. But remember, God has called us to a life that includes enjoyment.

“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”’

John 10:10

Are you and I taking time to enjoy our lives? For some of us out there, that may mean having  some candy today; for others, it may mean choosing another option.

Regardless of what you choose today, “to candy or not to candy” (forgive me, Shakespeare), God is in control and loves each of us unconditionally. He’s there, helping us, wanting us to succeed and to experience His love and blessings.

So, look at candy with some newer eyes today. It’s not your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s candy; that’s all. And God is more powerful than it- and every trigger/disorder/issue surrounding it.

Go to God, then, no matter what you face concerning your struggles/disorders/issues with candy- or any other food, for that matter. He IS there, now, for you! He will be, long after the candy- and the candy holidays- are gone!

“…I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Matthew 28:20
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, October 27, 2014

Faith In the Blinds


Our cat, Glory has developed a new habit in our home. She spends an inordinate amount of time on our bed, looking out our window, getting her head stuck in the blinds. But she seems to enjoy it. Her two little paws grip the window sill as she shifts back and forth, convinced she’s talking to or stalking something outside. We look out the window with her from time to time, just to see what the fuss is all about.

But nothing. No birds or squirrels. Is there some invisible critter taunting her predator instinct (she does that cute “cat chatter” thing)?

Is there something interesting going on outside? We don’t see it; just a boring street and sidewalk.

But there appears to be something.


And it got me to thinking. Should you and I get that excited about what God is doing in our lives? I don’t know about you, but, most of the time, I’m not exactly jumping up and down with enthusiasm concerning things I cannot see. But should I be?

God tells us to expect wonderful things.

“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

He wants us to get excited about our lives lived for Him.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

Sounds convincing, right?  But how many of us are truly excited, getting our faith enthusiasm stuck in our spiritual blinds? Not too many of us, huh?

Let’s face it: life can get tedious. So enthusiasm can get trampled upon. But it still doesn’t change the reality of what God is doing in our lives.

So, indeed, it would serve us well to look out our own window from time to time and dream. Remember dreaming? I don’t think we do that enough today. God is encouraging us to use our imagination to envision an incredible life for ourselves. Have you and I been doing that?

Let’s get our heads stuck the blinds. We may not see the blessings just yet, but something wonderful is out there! God is up to something!!!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Note

(Remembering this from last year...)

With the Halloween spirit in the air, accompanied by a plethora of candy, one woman had taken it upon herself to pass out these gem notes to the overweight children.

This woman plans to give notes to children who appear "moderately obese" in hopes that the message will shame their parents into rationing their supply of Halloween candy.

And we’re off and running with disordered food, weight and body image issues. Fantastic.

Seriously, children are already having a tough enough time with these issues. Check out these stats on disordered eating:

· 10% report onset at 10 years or younger

· 33% report onset between ages of 11-15

Is that the direction we want to go with our children, just to keep them from being “fat?” After all, we never know what is triggering someone. Scripture, again, gives a warning about having insensitivity toward others who may be struggling with Achilles heels of any kind:

“But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.”

1 Corinthians 8:9

“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

And, by making candy forbidden, we subscribe undue added power and temptation to it. When we’re deprived, what do we do? Obsess about the forbidden deprivation object all the more.

God gives us a reality check about that:

“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

It’s tricky, at best, for most of. We already have a lot of warped perceptions, as is.

And a Halloween “fat note” won’t be the quick and forever “fix.”

It’s about eliminating the power/fear/guilt/shame of any food. It’s about refusing to poke and point at a child’s body, demanding perfection or a more “aesthetically pleasing” size or shape. It’s about letting children be children and, if, indeed, there is a real health problem, getting professional and loving support and treatment for that issue.

I don’t know what this woman’s heart motives truly are. I just get extremely uneasy whenever we try, with our own ideas, to steer ANY child in the diet direction. Without knowing it, we’re setting in motion, perhaps, lifelong struggles for these very children.

And that never makes for a “happy Halloween.”

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse





Dreams are powerful...

Psalm 46:10 still holds up...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grace and Glory: A Feline Education About God


In my years as a Christian, I’ve hopefully learned some things about God. I’ve taken classes; I’ve read the Bible. I’ve lived life.

But one educational tool I did not count on was feline. God will even use cats to teach us something about Who He is.

Years ago, my husband and I adopted two kittens from a shelter. We scrolled through the adoptee profiles and immediately, two litter mates’ photos caught my attention: Grace and Glory.

They were part of a “G” named batch of kittens. It’s difficult to say what reached me first- their photos or their names. A lot of people who know me assume, because of my faith, I purposely named them. Nope. They came that way.

 “And he said, ‘I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.’”

Exodus 33:18

Glory was a calico, a beautifully glorious coat of white, black and rusty splotches. And her photo caught a scared little face looking over her shoulder. Check it out; who could deny that little sweetheart?

“And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

John 1:16

 Gracie, described as a “diluted calico,” or a “tortie,” was a lavender grey swirl of rosy highlights, freckles and, based upon her profile picture, she appeared to have a cross, “fleur-de-lis” marking along her forehead and the bridge of her nose.

This photo right here. See?

So, we were besotted. Long story short: we adopted them. Happily ever after, right?


Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t regret adding them to our family. But, in adopting them, we were not prepared for the bumps (learning lessons) along the way. And, it’s been these learning lessons that have given me some insight into God Himself.

First, as shelter kittens, they were infested with fleas and incubators of ringworm. Fun.

So, that meant medications, which cats, of course, absolutely love receiving.

And that medication process had us collide violently with their calico natures. We learned about the feisty personalities of the calico species. We were completely ignorant of this reality going in. But man, did we ever get an education on the job!

Growling, charging and hissing protests were par for the course as we had to administer their meds at least four times a day four two months. Wonderful. My husband, Russell often wrangled Glory in a towel, just to keep her flailing and swiping legs at bay. She still was furious, but it did help somewhat.

Gracie was slightly easier. The tactic we employed the most with her was the element of surprise, grabbing her and dosing her as quickly as possible. The thing about her personality was that she, at least, was an easy purr. She purrs constantly, a happy and friendly type.

 And that’s what made her hisses and growls so startling. She was quick to hiss or growl if irritated. And then she’d be back to purring. She forgives instantly and goes along her way.

Strange little critter.

And that taught me about grace, the concept. It’s constant, even if/when things are less than ideal. It just is; it is not affected by what is going on.

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:8

 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

And yes, Glory also educated me about God as well. It all starts with her amazing coat. Yes, it’s glorious. But again, there’s something more to that glorious coat and what it actually means.

“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.”

Numbers 14:21

Yes, on the surface, she looks like a cute kitten with beautiful tri-color fur. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Just like God’s actual glory.

“And one cried unto another, and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.’”

Isaiah 6:3

 It’s been a process of establishing and reassuring trust with these two cats over the years.

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

2 Corinthians 4:17

Both love to hammock on oversized shirts. Both have their favorite toys. And we’ve had some wonderful bonding moments. Glory, especially, is a cuddly, loving lap cat.

That, however, still does not change their feistiness. When they are irritated, they let it be known. There’s no changing that. We have to accept those terms.

And I believe, likewise, there are similar terms to God’s attributes of grace and glory. We need to approach them for what they are, no what we may want them to be.

There may be unpredictable moments in our lives, even with our pursuit of and relationship with God. He’s gracious and glorious. He’s feisty and fierce.

And, with these two felines, God reminds me on how they are very much His creation and a reflection of Him:

“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

And that’s an incredible fact, Jack!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse








He's in control...

It's not just about beauty...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Get That Nut!

What’s on your mind lately? Is there something you know you should be doing? Are you putting something off?

Check out this little guy. Literally, he has a nut on his mind. This nut rests on his head; yet he’s obsessed with getting it. So close and yet, so far…

But he states something critical: today.

Yes, he’s going to get it today. Does that sound too simplistic or even foolish? Why should it? After all, God says He’s with us.

 “What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 8:31

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

Psalm 32:8

But we can become so intimidated with today, can’t we? There, indeed, is a school of thought out there which states that, concerning any given goal, we’re one of two mindsets regarding it; we’re either motivated or intimidated? Which one are you when it comes to that “thing,” that nut which is resting on your head, taking up your thoughts?

God is with you; and there is tremendous power in your now. Don’t let it pass you by…

“‘…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

2 Corinthians 6:2

Is there something you need to tackle? Do you need to get a relationship with God today? Jesus is your bridge to Him- and He never changes.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

Take a step of faith in pursuing that which is on your mind; get that nut today.
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Cats' Purrs...

Say No To a Blind Spirit...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Jairus' Daughter, In Stained Glass...

Mark 5:35-43:
"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."

Such a point of...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Think In Moderation

One of the hurdles I’ve been working on overcoming has been the extreme, all or nothing, kind of thinking. This approach to life can often lead to eating disorders and addictions. It certainly did with me.

If I wasn’t astonishingly beautiful, I was ugly. If I wasn’t impossibly rail thin, I was grotesquely obese. If I wasn’t completely perfect, then I was a miserable failure. Extremes.

But none of it was healthy or orderly. And, like the scripture goes…

Let all things be done decently and in order.”

1 Corinthians 14:40

Yeah. That wasn’t me.

Neither was the scripture…

"Let your moderation be known to all men".

Philippians 4:5

Nope, not me either.

Recently, I came across this image and quote from the late Marilyn Monroe. You know, the beauty icon and pop culture symbol.

And she makes a great point. While there’s nothing wrong with doing our best in life, each of us needs to be careful not to cross the line into believing we need to attain unrealistic standards of perfection. There’s no doubt Marilyn was beautiful, flawed and had a good heart. That comes through in the images and the stories about her.

But she recognizes her inability to attain the impossible perfection does not, however, disqualify and cancel her already existing qualities.

And how much more would God’s Word and His beliefs about us do the same thing…if we let that happen?

God says the following about us:

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.”

Song of Solomon  2:14

“…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

We’re not to have super-inflated ideas of ourselves. God doesn’t want arrogant or prideful thoughts. But we’re not to have a poor, wretched sense of self, either. The point to our lives is not image and perfection; it’s about relationship with God.

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Micah 6:8

We need to keep in check what are attainable Godly requirements versus what are our own oppressive, rigid rules.

Moderation. Balance. Healthy perspective.

And no, not easy; it’s often a lifelong, work in progress which is, yes, imperfect.

But it can be done; it can be started, now, wherever you and I find ourselves in life.

God’s inviting us to think differently about ourselves and our lives? Will we?

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse