Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New


 

With the new year here, with new year’s resolutions hovering and with the hope of a new, better life, let’s remember the God of the new:

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

It’s not a new diet, a new plan or even a new year that makes a life changing impact; it is only God!

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Be hopeful, yes. Be optimistic, yes. Be new, yes. But be mindful of God Who creates any and every new beginning. He’s doing something new for you now. Are you catching it?

Happy New Year; Happy 2015!!!

Embark upon your life, this year, full force with God!!! Let God lead you as the incredible Shepherd He is…

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”

John 10:14

 Be, likewise, the new lamb, going forth, trusting Him.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Psalms 23:1

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

Isaiah 40:11

 

The past is gone. Your life proceeds forward! May you experience all of the incredible new life God creates for you!!!

 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Don't let the greatness die inside of us


Steps To The New Year



My new year’s resolution is… or was (fill in the blank)…

Sound familiar?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The infamous New Year’s resolutions have started and/or have been broken by now. How many of us feel “what’s the point?” Adding to that already negative experience, those of us in recovery can often feel all the more hopeless pressure and failure if we “resolved” to stop a behavior which relates to our addictions, compulsions and disorders. Be honest: what did you swear you’d do or never do again?

So, we’re into a brand new year. Are we already off to a disappointing start?

The old adage states a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, what does that say about each one we take in this new year?

Some steps in the recovery journey are steps of progress. But what hits us with devastation are those other steps, right? Sometimes, in recovery, the step we’re taking feels like one of failure or relapse. We may even feel like the best we can hope for is to trudge and sink our footsteps into barren cold snow.  How are we to regard those kinds of steps? As hopeless? As final? As paralysis? No. they are just as much a part of progress as any victory, “good day,” or “good step.”

Motivational speaker, John Maxwell, wrote a book on a wonderful concept to consider, especially in moments of failure and relapse: “Failing Forward.”

Think about that.

In life, unfortunately, we often will fail. Recovery is not immune from that failure reality either. But there is hope; with each failure; whether you feel it or not, you and I are moving forward, making progress. One of my favorite scriptures, encouraging me through many dark, trying steps, has been that of 2 Corinthians 3:18:

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Recovery means going from step to step, glory to glory and even, sometimes failure to failure. But please know that God’s in control of our every step, regardless of our feelings about where we’re going. We are moving forward; God is too wonderful to allow us to be left.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

It may be at a snail’s pace, this progress we’re seeking. But that snail; gets a bad rap. A hugely inspiring quote is from the 19th century English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon:

“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”

We need to keep that slow movement in mind. Slow movement does not mean no movement. And the end result for the snail was the goal, the ark. Did the snail have obstacles, rough terrain and dangers along the way? Probably. Did that stop the snail? No. The snail moved slowly, in small increments. As do we.

“For who has despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice..”.

Zechariah 4:10

Yes, progress seems slow, if it can be even seen at all. You don’t see any positive results from all of your efforts, tears and pain. You feel like you’re going nowhere, nowhere good, anyhow.

But there is meaning in this tiny, gradual step each of us may be taking, whether it be in life, in recovery- or in both, at the same time.

Taking these tiny steps, one by one, does have a cumulative effect. It builds upon our future and individual destinies. And yes, that applies to the new year, resolution or no resolution.

We need to remember that God is our loving Father, seeing us as His children. Because of that perspective, He’s always helping and preparing us. It doesn’t matter if/when we fail or fall. He’s still our loving Father, who desires to bless His children. In fact, scripture tells us…

“So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who keep on asking him!”

Matthew 7:11

So, take that next step. Remember Jeremiah 29:11. It includes- it never excludes- you!

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It’s all in how we look at it. How then, are we choosing to look at our recovery processes and our lives? Do we see beauty, value and potential? Or do we see ugliness, worthlessness, failure and a pointless existence? We can choose.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19

The fact is, just because we feel a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s truly the way it is.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child,I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put awaychildish things. For now we see through a
glass, darkly; but then face to face: nowI know in part; but then shall I know even
as also I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:11

We may feel hopeless or like a failure. But those are feelings. God’s Word, instead, is the Truth! And yes, once again, here’s what God says about us:

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

Isaiah 43:4

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”

Isaiah 41:9

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

Jeremiah 29:11

Let’s see ourselves differently. We may feel we are one way, but why limit ourselves to that, especially if it’s harmful? God has more for each one of us than just our present situation, perception and condition.

We’re in a brand new year right now. What kind of step are you taking today in this new start? Whatever it may be, please realize that it is one which is lovingly guided by God. Having a great step today? Wonderful! Thank God for it! Having a struggling step or a “failure” step today? Please recognize that God’s allowing it to move you to another place of victory, recovery, success and help. You will get there; you ARE getting there. Remember your journey, not just today’s step. There’s more to your life, more to God in your life than you realize!

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful, healthy, grace-filled journey this next year and beyond, step by step.

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Take the Time...


Resolve


 

New Year’s Day. Calm down; breathe. It’s not hopeless. Yet, really, how many of us out there approach this day with despair? Whether or not we have some resolution going, the challenge is to view this new day, representative of this new year- and NOT get overwhelmed by it.

We hear the word “resolution” a lot this time of year, but how about the word, “resolve?” After all, it’s a part of the infamous New Year’s word, isn’t it?

Its definition, in fact, reads as such:

“to make decision: to come to a firm decision about something, or cause somebody to do this”

“to solve difficulty: to find a solution to a problem”

 

And that’s where we get tripped up. We insist on the solution, the answer the remedy to happen, magically, all at once, on this one day, representing this new year. It’s all or nothing, perfection or failure. And, with that attitude, failure is EXACTLY what we’re setting ourselves up for.

That irony does nothing to help any hangover whatsoever.

2 Corinthians 3:18, then, to the imperfect mortal aid, if not the perfect rescue:

“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.”

Notice there’s nothing in there which states it happens instantly, in one day or even in one year. Nevertheless, it IS occurring; it’s ongoing, whether or not we’re aware of it.

Resolve, then to believe God is more powerful than any other thing we resolve ourselves to be or not be, do or not do. It’s not all about us, anyway. It’s God.

“…‘This is the word of the LORD…saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ saith the LORD of hosts.”

Zechariah 4:6

Let’s resolve then, to let God be God and handle this day- and each day- of our lives. There could, indeed, be a happy new year if we just get out of the way!

Happy New Year and God bless!!! May we be resolved to that, Yes and amen!!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day After Aftermath


Is anyone out there feeling like this after Christmas Day?
 
 

In the name of “overdoing it,” it’s probably not too far- fetched to feel like this 1922 horror film character, Nosferatu. We can wake up on December 26th, feeling rather undead, as we nurse all kinds of hangovers, regrets and indulgences.

And we’re not even at New Year’s yet. Yay.

But, before we lose all hope and retire to our despair coffins, it would probably do us some good to remember and apply God’s Word, which is very much anti-undead. There is still hope, still promise and still renewal, beyond that of even New Year’s resolutions.

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:15-16

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

Isaiah 40:29

Wherever we are, however merry or regretful the holidays have found us, it ain’t over yet. God’s still very much alive, in control- AND in love with us; thank God for that!

So, be renewed, even it’s in the tiniest of baby steps. God wants us to have life more abundantly, after all (John 10:10).

Shake off that Nosferatu then- and live!!!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

 

When someone advises dieting as a new start for New Year's to someone recovering from eating disorders...


Spelling Believe


If you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, you may be frustrated with who- and where you are in your life right now. Questions like, “why aren’t I (fill in the blank)?” or “when will I ever get there?” may be rolling around in your brain. Ah yes, negative self-talk. And this time of year is the perfect time for that kind of negative chatter: New Year’s, with all of its promised- and- on- the- way- to- be- broken resolutions.

Years ago, the scripture Mark 9:24 helped me so much as I struggled and doubted not just myself, but my own faith in God. It was simple, real and to the point:

“Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

A zinger- and a sentence which changed my life!

But, much like the excitement around making a New Year’s resolution, after the thrilling dust of that impact settled, tedious life came into the picture with not as much dramatic evidence of powerful transformation as I would have liked. Nope. I wanted “presto, change-o;” God wanted my trust, a slower, gradual, deep kind of thing, built up over time. A long time. A long, long time. Years.

Enter the next little scripture ditty:

“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.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

Yeah, somehow, this one wasn’t quite as thrilling as Mark 9:24. And that was the mistake on my part. It wasn’t grabbing onto the scriptures that was the problem. The scriptures are Truth, relevant and powerful. The issue was affixing my impatient “quicker than a microwave popping out popcorn” expectations to them. It’s just like the instant promising lie of a kept resolution, huh? Classic. And I fell for it. I wanted things done in my timing not God’s timing. Because my timing was such great hot stuff, right?

Yeah.

And so, my little noggin ran away with the thought, “it’s not working.” Are you thinking that about your own resolutions, however successfully kept they may be? I just couldn’t seem to make the connection that God had a much better handle on me, on my life and the situations going on than I did. I was too busy… with what? With my study of God’s Word and will? Nope. With the study and the practice of being more patient with the process? Nope again.

So, what was the deal?

Me, me, me. That’s what I was so busy with. That was the deal; that was the problem. And that was part of what was blinding me to my ability to believe- or at least blinding me to a healthier perception of believing, anyway.

Again, classic.

I mentioned the microwave earlier. In popular culture today, the word “microwave” doesn’t just refer to the oven that’s in most homes; it refers to instantaneous results which require no time, no waiting and no patience. Hurry up! Hurry up!

(I hear that Queen song of the same sentiment playing in my head).

“I want it all. I want it all. I want it all. And I want it now!”

But faith, perseverance, belief, recovery and life are all about being actively in process. All of these things are ongoing, living organisms. They’re alive. We, as human beings, often have a way of creating what we believe, for good-or not so good.

“…Because of your faith, it will happen."

Matthew 9:29

Yikes!

This new year, are you in process or have you, instead, imposed an oppressive, perfectionistic and harmful deadline on yourself? An impossible resolution? There are even those of us in eating disorder and addiction recovery process who just transfer the same perfectionistic tendencies which got us mired in our struggles into our actual recovery. There is no such thing as a perfect recovery; there is no such thing as a perfect life! All of us fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23)!

We will blow it. It’s not a case of “if,” but “when.” But God knows this- and He still is calling us to believe, nevertheless.

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.”

Mark 5:36

“… ‘Fear not: believe only...’”

Luke 8:50

Just because we don’t see something we want instantly happening, doesn’t mean the entire thing is hopeless. What if it was all just simply “in process?”

Maybe, right now, the word “believe” isn’t spelled out completely, satisfying our wishes for a brand new perfect life in this brand new year. But believing is powerful. And what we put our attention to is powerful. What do you want to believe? The best or the worst?

God has not- and will not- give up on you as you’re going through your life, trying to spell everything out.

God is on your side!

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 8:31

Choose then to tweak your believing. Instead of believing that you have to be perfect, that you’re hopeless or that “it’s never going to happen,” believe that you are getting there, with God’s help every step- and breath- of the way!

You’re in process; faith is being spelled out for you and indeed, you are going “from glory to glory.” And this new year is, indeed, a part of that process.

No microwave required. Only God.

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Good News Of Great Joy...


 
 
 
 

Baby Jesus- He’s not just another Christmas ornament, created to make our home d├ęcor prettier. You and I know the familiar passage from Luke:

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’ When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’"

Luke 2:10-15

Did you catch that last bit? Let’s see this thing that has happened that the Lord has made known to us, as noted in Luke 2:15. So, what does that mean to each one of us? Is this Baby Jesus, indeed, our Savior? Or is He just a decoration?

 Matthew 1:23 describes the birth of Jesus, stating that His very Name, Immanuel, literally means “God with us.” How do we feel about that? Can we believe that God is really with us? We come now to the close of another calendar year. It’s a time of “new beginnings.”

Dare, then to invite God into your life now; dare to invite Him into showing you what a new beginning means to you.

He’s so much more than the statue of a baby. He’s real, He’s alive- and He IS with you and for you! Therefore, dare to tap into what Immanuel means, uniquely, personally, for you!

God bless you all, Merry Christmas and much love from our family to yours!

 


 

King Size Bed


Ignorance and Want


One of my favorite holiday stories is “A Christmas Carol,” the timeless classic, written by Charles Dickens. I’ve seen many adaptations of it; there have been numerous stage and screen versions, rolled out each December.

One of the constants in the story, however, is that of the boy character, Ignorance and the girl character, Want, introduced to the Scrooge character via the Ghost of Christmas Present. They’re portrayed as creature-like, snarling, hissing and clawing for attention. They make their dramatic appearance, hidden underneath the Ghost’s robe.
 

And, the drama queen in me loves that poignant, uncomfortable scene because it’s a wakeup call reality check for humanity. According to the literature classic, here’s the exchange between Scrooge and the Ghost:

"Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."
 

(Merry Christmas, how’d you like some social justice?)

And Scrooge chimes in, ever so reasonably, with the following response…

"Do they have no refuge, no resource?"

To which the Ghost sends a zinger, using Ebenezer’s own thoughtless words from earlier against him…

"Are there no prisons, no workhouses?"

Ouch. Talk about having your tuchis handed to you!

Anyway, as I’ve been making my way through at least four versions of the story this holiday so far, I’ve been struck by the power of the Ignorance and Want words and what they represent- and not just in social justice issues either. I’ve been viewing them through the prism of recovery. First, let’s look at Ignorance, defined as being…

A lack of knowledge or education

An unawareness of something, often of something important

 

That’s quite direct, isn’t it?

How many things, even such horrible things like injustice, abuse and addiction, have been done in the name of ignorance? Yet the wreckage is still apparent and devastating.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge…”

Hosea 4:6

I know that for me, personally, this lack of knowledge- this ignorance- was the gradual descent into my eating disorder behavior. Already mired by food, weight and body image issues since childhood, an “innocent” diet led me down a dark path. When I started the diet as a teenager, my goal was not to develop anorexia and bulimia; my goal was to be thin. But I was ignorant of exactly what I was doing. And, before long, I was ensnared. It’s since been a continuous and imperfect extrication, now, years later into my recovery.

The ignorance was built on the lie that my determined “answer” of being thin would make everything right, perfect and pain-free in my life. Indeed, using the word’s definition, I certainly was not aware of the truly important real significance to my issues. To paraphrase the Ghost of Christmas Present, “Doom was waiting for me.”

Goody.

Like Dickens’ classic, the Ignorant creature in me was snarling and hissing, clawing to get away from Truth.

Can you relate in your life? What are you ignorant of, right now, in your family, your recovery and your personal issues?

But wait, we’re still not done. Let’s head on over to Want.

Ah, yes, Want. The word is defined as such:

To desire something: to feel a need or desire for something

To wish something done: to desire to do something or that something be done

To miss something: to feel the lack of something

 

Want and hunger are often represented as the same animal, aren’t they?

And so, like the character from “A Christmas Carol,” the want is the parasite which drives its host to obsession and compulsion. It won’t stop until “it” gets what “it” wants.

 Is anyone else recognizing themselves here?

In issues like addictions, vices and drives, there’s this never ending black hole element, promising us-lying to us- stating we’ll be satisfied once “this or that” happens.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. A worker's appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on.”

Proverbs 16:25-26

 

And so, we turn to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, relationships and self-destructive choices, hoping our pursuit of that chosen thing will make us feel complete and healed.

“Everyone's toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied.”

Ecclesiastes 6:7

And cue the snarling, hissing and clawing creature of Want. Isn’t she adorable?

Each of us needs to get real with that greedy, grabby, selfish creature within us. We are fallible human beings, after all. Hate to break it to you.

“For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”

Psalms 103:14

Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge those unmet needs- or perceived unmet needs which drive us; we need to deal with our creatures. And then, to use an often quoted statement, we need to “check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.”

It’s not always perfectly accomplished; we fail repeatedly. Again, hate to break it to you.

But, let’s allow “A Christmas Carol” serve as a reminder concerning Ignorance and Want: yes, they are creatures, but they are children as well.

That’s part of why they are, indeed, so relatable. At the end of the day, that is who WE are: we are children…children of God. And Dickens, himself says about that reality…

“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”

Ignorance? Want? Are these creatures actively in our lives? Join the club. And don’t despair. We can be mindful of them and tend to them as needed in our lives WITH God’s help.

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

Psalms 46:1

In the meantime, as Tiny Tim says…

"God bless us, every one!”

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Snail on a Turtle Thing about Glory


 

Appearing in the December 2014 issue of Serene Scene Magazine, Cruse discusses the slow, often frustration process of recovery, one largely involving that challenging element of patience.


 

And fit us to Heaven...


 

The Christmas carol, “Away In A Manger” has always been one of my favorites since I was a child. I remember first seeing it in a songbook with drawings of the Baby Jesus. I always viewed it as a soothing lullaby.
 

Years later, I love hearing and singing it. But recently, I was struck by one of its lyrics: “And fit us to Heaven to live with Thee there.”

I paused, noting the phrasing- “And fit us to Heaven...”

Are we being “fit” for eternity with God?

It sounds like a big question. But I think it’s a reality check reminder of, once again, the process of our lives, as opposed to a “one-time event.”

And again, I roll out one of my favorite scriptures…

“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.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

From glory to glory… being made fit for Heaven…dependent upon Jesus…

It’s not about our perfection, our unrealistic standards, our “good person” status; it’s about ongoing process, through our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who once was the little baby in a manger.

Thank God for that!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

How you made them feel


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Discovering God's love is unconditional...


At This Time Of The Rolling Year...



“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”

Proverbs 3:27-28

One of my favorite Christmas stories is, of course, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I think I’ve seen most film versions of the piece. This time of year, the cautionary tale is shown often on televisions, hopefully, giving us all a refresher course in decency and concern for our fellow man.

 And it all gets started with Ebenezer Scrooge’s dead friend, Jacob Marley.
He gets the reality check off to an unsettling start, when, as a ghost, he warns Scrooge of his own selfish mistakes which have cost him dearly for eternity…

 

 “‘At this time of the rolling year,' the spectre said ‘I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never
raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise
Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to
which its light would have conducted me!'

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the
spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake
exceedingly.

`Hear me!' cried the Ghost. `My time is nearly
gone.’”

“‘At this time of the rolling year…'”

I love that phrase. It reminds us all about the certainty of time passing. Most of us need that reminder, as, so often, we get caught up in the busyness of our lives, neglecting to stop and take note of present opportunities to do good deeds.

We may have 1001 excuses for not getting/staying connected, helping others or working on our relationship with God Himself. Nevertheless, each of us are equipped with the ability to do those things.

“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

It’s not about trotting out or imperfection as an excuse; God already knows that reality, anyway.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

It is, rather, about making the decision to love and commit to what we CAN do, not what we can’t do. And yes, we all can do something.

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”

Proverbs 3:27-28

So, while we’re each doing our own individual self-reflection, let’s also examine what we can do for others, how we can connect and reflect God’s loving inclusion, not exclusion. As this year now rolls by, what will we do to show all of humanity is, indeed, going from glory to glory?

“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.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse