Saturday, October 31, 2015

Haunted (Eye Hath Not Seen)

The month of October, leading up to Halloween, has emphasis on ghosts and haunted houses. Indeed, the telling of ghost stories is common as we approach October 31st.

I have a few of my own ghost stories, of sorts. They involve the mystery that is my family.

I’ve shared much about my dad’s abusive nature; that is familiar to me.

What, however, is NOT as familiar, is knowing about him. Like many immigrant families, the past was not discussed. I know very little about the exact country my family came from. Likewise, I don’t know much about my dad, apart from his rages and his obsession with farm work. The unknown reality, therefore, has left me haunted, especially within the last few years. I now have the responsibility of clearing my childhood home, a house in which my dad, his siblings and parents all resided.

The house, itself, is one hundred years old, filled with decades of memorabilia. And, in organizing, clearing and cleaning the house, I have stumbled across some relics, like his dog tags, which create more questions- and yes, ghosts.

So, it is fitting that, earlier this month (again, the Halloween month of October), I discovered a long lost photo album, devoted to my dad’s time in World War II. Up until then, I only had a few photos of him; he was camera shy.

But, now I’ve come across a brown leather photo album, with its black pages filled with photo after photo of my young dad, in his early twenties. There were various shots of him on his battleship, as well as many images of him hanging out with his fellow army buddies. Now I have many photos of him. Still, there is no resolution to the mystery of who is was.

Therefore, this housecleaning has taken on a deeper meaning. As tedious and overwhelming as the clearing of my childhood home is, there is significant value to the process. No, I have not learned the answers to my ever expanding questions. Yet, having these scattered puzzle pieces is something I’ve come to view as buried treasure.

It has yet to be determined what- and how much- I discover about him, about where I come from. The haunted feeling could lead to despair, if it were not for the reality God has every answer and is in the process of revealing, all in due time.

So, until that time, I endeavor to remain thankful for what I do have, be it photos or God’s perfect grace and mercy.

 “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

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

 “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Acts 20:24

Know ye that the LORD he is God…be thankful unto him…bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Psalms 100:3-5

Yes, I’d love to know ever answer, but Jesus’ words on knowing everything echo in my mind…

 “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

John 16:12

“Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.’”

John 13:7

What about you? Can you relate?

It can be tempting to believe we are the only ones going through a haunted, painful experience. But many of us have unresolved questions and issues concerning our loved ones. It’s far more prevalent than we think.

“…time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Ecclesiastes 9:11

There can be some traumatic experiences, hushed secrets and missing puzzle pieces, driving us from one painful, self-destructive choice to another.

 Are you haunted? Or are you too aware of something, desperately trying to forget it?

Whatever the case may be, God is keenly aware of its entirety. And He knows how to best deal with the situation when it involves what is most precious to Him: us.

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

Isaiah 43:4

Perhaps, concerning our finite selves, it is better we don’t know everything, absolutely right now. God knows if it has the potential to destroy us.

Yes, I know, “the truth shall set us free (John 8:32). And that still stands.

However, it doesn’t guarantee things will be painless. Far from it, often times.

I do want answers. But am I ready for them? Well, that’s uncertain.

 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:9-12

What you and I can do, however, is place faith in where we are now, as well as where God is leading us. And He is leading us…

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

John 16:13

In the meantime, we need to trust we are becoming who God has created us to be…

“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

No, it’s not easy or pain-free. God never said it would be.

Nevertheless, there is reward for staying connected to God, loving Him, in spite of our flawed selves.

“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

God has, not only every single answer, He also has help for every haunting we experience in life.

So, right now, wherever we are, however we’re haunted, let’s make the choice to go from ghosts to God. And, with that, with God, happy Halloween!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse


Friday, October 30, 2015

Unbreakable Grace


Featured in October 30th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse discusses the liberating and healing impact God’s Grace can have on our imperfect recovery processes.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pretty Iris


I recently caught an incredible documentary on style icon, Iris Apfel.

Don’t know who she is? Take a gander...

Born Iris Barrel in Astoria, Queens, New York, Apfel is the only child of Samuel Barrel, whose family owned a glass-and-mirror business, and his Russian-born wife, Sadye, who owned a fashion boutique. Both were Jewish.

She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. As a young woman, Apfel worked for Women's Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson. She also was an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.

In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. Two years later, they launched the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. Through their business, the couple began traveling all over the world where she began buying pieces of non-Western, artisanal clothes. These clothes were the ones she started wearing to the high-society parties of their clients. From 1950 to 1992, Iris Apfel took part in several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

At age 90 in 2012, Apfel was a visiting professor at University of Texas at Austin.

Apfel consults and lectures about style and other fashion topics. In 2013, she was listed as one of the fifty Best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian.[5]

Apfel's husband of 67 years, Carl Apfel, died in August 2015, just three days shy of his 101st birthday.

Part of what struck me, apart from her incredible accomplishments, was her perspective on the word, “pretty.”

“I don’t like pretty. I don’t feel badly and I think it worked out well.”

It further underscores one of my favorite quotes on the subject matter…

Yes! And that’s what we, as females, need to be more focused on. Pretty what?

Pretty for pretty’s sake or a more complex pretty, comprised of interesting components to who we are?

Pretty smart…pretty clever…pretty kind…pretty wise…pretty talented…pretty spiritual…

Let’s take our cue from Iris. Let’s become pretty incredible masterpieces!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Where the Magic Happens (Outside That Comfort Zone)

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ”
Goldie Hawn

We are creatures of comfort. We don’t like pain and uncertain circumstances. But unfortunately, that is what life is all about- uncertainty. We cannot control all of what we experience while we live. And that’s troubling.

Comfort zone is an oft used term in our culture. Let’s face it, we all want to be in that zone.

Yet, true growth, change and meaning are not found in that comfort but rather outside of it.

I heard about how the majestic eagle deals with its offspring. When helpless eaglets are just hatched, the parents create a cushy nest, safe and warm. There’s no need for the young to get their own food; it is brought to them. They have a luxurious life.

However, as they grow, edging ever closer to adulthood, that cushy nest starts to change. It is no longer the warm and comforting bed it used to be. Gradually, the parents start adding sharp pieces of bone, twigs or even thorns, all for the purpose of encouraging the eaglets out of it. Uncomfortable, the offspring learn it’s best to get out of this prickly nest, fly and soar into their lives.

Discomfort- it can move us into all we are supposed to be in life. However, it’s up to us if we go kicking and screaming or if we embrace the awkward pain of uncertainty. It’s okay to have questions, to feel out of sorts, to stumble. That is human.

“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


And that is where the magic does happen.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse


Monday, October 26, 2015

Memories: Ouch!


Featured in October 26th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse discusses the challenges memories can play in our lives and recovery journeys.


Can’t Do His Will My Way

“Not my will, but Thy Will be done.”

Mark 14:36

I recently came across an inspiration post which declared the following:

“I Can’t Do His Will My Way.”


And this automatically sends images of Gethsemane to my mind.

Gethsemane: Code for...

“I don’t want to do this.”

 We’ve all uttered that statement frequently in our lives. It deals with two sticky things: willingness- and obedience…

“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.”

Isaiah 1:19

Indeed, as each of us lives our lives, we eventually realize nothing just happens.

And, with that realization, we’re back to Jesus in Gethsemane.

For, it is here we see willingness and obedience in full force. He had a night of decision. And, hours away from being crucified, there was a real moment; He didn’t want to do it.

 “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.’

 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”

Mark 14:32-36

Nevertheless, Jesus obeyed. He placed God’s Will over His own. This was a life and death matter.

And this would have been a wonderful time to see how He was rewarded for it. But things got worse...

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”

Mark 14:37- 42

And yes, it gets still worse from there. We know what happens. And that is extremely important.

But we often bypass the Gethsemane moment. And we need to view that instance with equal importance. After all, Jesus could have said “no.”

What is it in your life and in my life which makes us respond with, “I don’t want to do this?”

There is something.

Let’s also examine our lives, what we do- and do not want - to do.

Gethsemane- what is that to each one of us?

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse






Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Genius Calling Card


I’m a huge fan of classic cartoons. The Roadrunner, in particular, always makes me smile.

Recently, I stumbled across an image, featuring Wile. E. Coyote’s “calling card,” which read “Genius.”

And it immediately reminded me of a famous Albert Einstein quote…

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

All of us, to one degree or another, have been affected by incorrectly viewing ourselves and our worth. And there are many of us who have experienced this at its most extreme. Traumatic abuse and mistreatment can convey the message we are worthless and stupid because of (fill in the blank with any personal reason given by the abusive person)…

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

Proverbs 18:21

This scripture is there to instruct us on the power of words in our lives; they can either heal or wound. And it’s within the wounding where we often internalize the wrong message on our calling cards. We do not see our incredible genius or value; we only see the worst.

But this is not who we are. First of all, we are made in God’s Image…

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 1:26-27

Furthermore, we also need to keep in mind we are created for purpose.

“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

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

John 1:3

“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Romans 11:36

And, because of those two things, we can, therefore, experience the ridicule, the oppression and the rejection of this thing called life.

“…Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!' Yet they will be put to shame.’”

Isaiah 66:5

After all, look who experienced it first?

“If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

John 15:18

 “You will be hated by everyone because of me...”

Matthew 10:22

 “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

John 1:10-11

Again, it has to do with our self-image. What is on our calling cards? Is it “genius” or “worthless?”

Let’s all be card-carrying members of that first option!

“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

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

Psalm 139:14

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse


Friday, October 23, 2015

Our Reward Driven Selves


Featured in October 23rd’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse discusses the motivation reward can play within the addiction and recovery process.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Reaching Perfection?

The artist, Salvador Dali is famous for stating one of my favorite quotes:

"Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it."

Indeed, if you look at his art, there was a challenging of the perfect, of the “normal,” of the expected. Surreal images were not about depicting something as it occurred in life. Stretched out clocks and manipulated human bodies captured that artistic representation.

If one cannot find his depiction of perfection in his work, the same, however, cannot be said about the existence of excellence there. It is pervasive. Imagination, bravery and human imperfections are all there. And, I believe, that’s part of why we identify so strongly with his art. We can relate to him; we can relate to the images we see.

It’s just a shift in thinking.

And that leads me to the perfection issue itself. It really is a defeating word, isn’t it? “Perfect.”

What if we changed our perspective on it? What if we chose to embrace the messy, constant and imperfect process as excellence?

What if being imperfect didn’t cancel out our excellence and value? What if being imperfect, in fact, made us much more interesting?

Indeed, if we look at the process of process instead of a finished end product, there certainly is a more fascinating story going on.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”

Psalms 19:7

God never told us we wouldn’t go through a process. And that definitely covers our focus on Him. Just because God’s in it, doesn’t mean it’s painless or easy.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

And, it’s often in this messy, imperfect and painful journey that we find out who we are; we can discover meaningful purpose.

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:12

Having a perfect, unchallenged life, however, would rarely afford us this same result.

Honestly, I like the sound of the word, “excellent.” There’s more to it, in my opinion; it’s more interesting.

It’s a challenge to us all, then, to have no fear of perfection. Being who were are is so much better.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse






























Tuesday, October 20, 2015

“Stay Out of It”

Again, one of my favorite television series, “Mad Men” offers up this scene in which one ad mad conveys this message to another ad man:

“Stay out of it.”

Hmmm. Sometimes, that is spot-on spiritual advice, isn’t it?

Meddling or helping- which one is it each of us are doing at any given time?

This becomes an especially valid question when it calls into question our own self-interest. And, c’mon, be honest, most of us are EXTREMELY self-interested.

The entertainer, RuPaul is known for stating one of my favorite quotes:

“Someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business.”

This quote can be an incredible lifeline in the context of people pleasing, versus effective recovery and a purposeful life.

Yes, in an ideal world, everyone would love us, think highly of us and have nothing but the best things to say about us. But, do we live in an ideal world?

So, there will be chatterboxes, gossips, critics and even enemies out there. And guess what they’ll all come armed with? Offenses.

“Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

Yep, those critters often don’t feel great to our egos, our feelings and our outlook on life. And we can get ourselves in an incredibly unproductive, self-flogging snit, obsessing about why “so and so” thought or said what about us.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. After all, reality check, Jesus had more than His share of naysayers, critics and enemies…

“Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.”

Matthew 26:4

“Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.”

Matthew 12:14

“And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety and kill him.”

Matthew 26:4

“Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”

John 11:53

You get the point.

So, why should we expect to glide easily and unchallenged through life?

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Matthew 10:24

God’s Word, therefore, is an important filter, screening with accurate perspective, what is the true intent of a thought, word or deed…

“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”

Deuteronomy 30:6

“But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.”

Jeremiah 11:20

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

Bottom line: our lives are far too important to worry about each and every opinion out there. We have too much to do.

So, concerning the next offense which breezes your way, ask yourself if God really wants you occupied with it? Test the spirits…

“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.

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.

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”

1 John 4:1-6

Perhaps, God would rather you “stay out of it.” Perhaps God has better ways for you to be blessed in how you spend your time.

In all of our “staying out of it” then, let’s remember there’s a quite helpful “do…”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Less “busybody,” more productive child of God. Let’s all choose well.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse