Monday, February 29, 2016

Internalizing the Wrong Messages?


 
Featured in February 29th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse explores the impact harmful names and messages can have on our psyches.

Let yes’s and no’s be that


 

Choice is an often used word today. Let’s face it; we have a lot of choices at our disposal.

Experts say, on any given day, we think 60,000 thoughts daily, 48,000 of which are negative. We choose to do that.

Yikes.

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

And, while it’s dangerous and foolish to believe we’re all powerful, it’s just as dangerous to believe we’re all power-less. Yet how many of us do that?

Each day, we think 60,000 thousand thoughts. Things like, “I’ll wear this,” “I’ll drink that,” “I’ll believe of doubt this bit of information,” “I’ll have this attitude.” The choices span the mundane, to the extraordinary, to the life- altering variety.

Yet each thought has this in common: it has a yes or a no possibility attached to it. That’s no small thing. If we say yes in one particular thought, we also answer no, and vice versa.

Recently, I had a situation in which a collective family opinion did not accept my unpleasing “no’ of an answer. That’s not surprising. After all, how many of us enjoy being told “no,” especially if it’s in regard to something we REALLY want?

Exactly.

Yet, for those of us in recovery, blurred boundaries, conflict avoidance and healthy self-mage are all challenging for us. We want to be pleasing, be a rescuer and be considered a “nice person.”

But that’s not always the healthiest choice for us; it’s not the best choice.

Scripture gives us the permission to say “yes” or “no.”

“Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Matthew 5:37

There are results from either path. And we need to accept that. Our thoughts will produce something. Is it something we really want in our lives? We need to think about that carefully.

And, make no mistake about it, there are no free passes when it comes to the results of our yes or no decisions. Something will happen. We, therefore, cannot choose both options simultaneously. To do so is to be “double minded.” And let’s see the results of THAT choice:


James 1:8

We are to be good stewards, not perfect stewards, of our lives. God has given each of us free will. Will we choose well?

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

Sinking Ships...


A Gentleman?





We Believe You


A Voice Within Us...


Remember...


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stop Adding People...


When you're wrong/right...


When a thing hurts...


Take Your Brain Along For the Ride


But, But, But… (Imagination- Fear Or Faith)



 Fear and faith are two universal issues in life. To one degree or another, we all encounter them. Yet, for most of us, it’s probably a safe bet to say we feel fear is the more acutely experienced situation. It’s often easier, it seems, to “feel” fear rather than to “feel” faith, isn’t it?

Yet, each of us, according to scripture, has the capacity for faith:

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."


However, we, all too often, experience our capacity for feelings. And those pesky feelings can often go in the wrong direction for us. Those feelings have us pursuing negative faith stuff, not necessarily faith in God stuff.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

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

Jeremiah 29:11

Indeed, God has some differing thoughts…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

The problem is not God’s thoughts; it’s ours (what a shock). That’s where the fear comes in, the negative faith which tries to convince us doom and destruction are the only things headed our way. The often used acronym for fear goes as follows: False Evidence Appearing Real. Ever hear that?

Yes, indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s our own creative imagination that runs amok with worst case scenarios and fuels our fears and phobias. But again, God has a different perspective…

"Don't be afraid; just believe."

Mark 5:36

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

Do we really believe God can handle our lives? Do we really believe He’s bigger than any fear or threat? The ideal response is “yes,” but what’s our actual response, more often than not?

No, our wonderful imaginations are bigger.

Yet, once again, God offers us a solution…

 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5

It’s about the final, bottom line. Is it God? Or is it an imagination, disguised as a lie, a fear or a worst case scenario? We all need work in this department. Faith is an ongoing, work in progress kind of thing. It isn’t about a one-time perfect result. It’s daily, like breathing.

It’s our response to God and His Word. Is it “amen” or is it an argumentative, “But, but, but?”

The choice is up to us. However, regardless of that choice, God is still an amazing, powerful and loving God.

Imagine that!!!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

A Very Important Thing...


Rumors


Problem Instead of Solution?


Your Choice


Change the World...


And Action!



I was a theatre major in college. Yes, I was “one of those.”

And part of that involved studying directing. As a director, I was in charge of the lighting, the staging and the actors involved the scene. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I was able to play God, be all powerful and call the shots. So, it’d be no problem whatsoever for control freak me, right?

Yikes.

For those of us with addictions, disorders and compulsions, it can be tempting to believe the answer is if we’re just in control enough, perfect enough or powerful enough, then life will be solved. And so, we chase playing God, often using our vices to propel us to such a state in which we feel in control of our lives, comforted and confident. But we aren’t. The exact opposite occurs, actually.

And that’s where, yet again, we come back to God and His Word; we can’t do anything without Him:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

John 15:4-5

That’s the cold hard truth, whether or not we want to accept it. In fact, God’s fully aware of our vulnerable condition.

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

Psalms 103:14

And that’s precisely why we need Jesus. We cannot “get it together” enough in our own strength.

But, with Jesus?

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Philippians 4:13

We must never forget we are not alone in life; God’s always there, always offering to help us.

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

Psalms 46:1

“Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.”

Psalm 73:23

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

Psalm 32:8

But HE is the ultimate Director, not us! Are we insisting on calling our own shots? God knows better.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

“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 allow Him to do better by us, call action and direct us to incredible lives and blessings! It is possible!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crawling Stage


The Same One...


Before you assume...


All the Best People Are


Queen, about Your Crown...


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Again, a Reminder... Marilyn: What Is She?



I came across this image of the late Marilyn Monroe, the famous sex symbol and pop culture icon.
 

It got me to thinking. What is our first thought, in today’s culture, when we view this image?

Do we think she’s beautiful?

Sexy?

 Glamorous?

Or, do we think she’s fat?

Our first thought, indeed, tells on us; they reveal the truth of our souls and value systems.

When I was preparing a presentation on popular culture’s ever changing beauty standards, I discovered that the legendary Marilyn Monroe, back in the 1950’s, was a size 12 or 14. Some even speculate she was a size 16!

Again, when we hear those numbers, what’s our first reaction?

She’s beautiful?

She’s sexy?

 She’s glamorous?

Or, do we think she’s fat?

And then, when we turn the mirrors on ourselves, what do we say about ourselves, to ourselves?

I’m beautiful?

I’m sexy?

I’m glamorous?

Or, do we think “I’m fat?”

The word “fat” isn’t an innocent, neutral word though, is it? It carries with it extreme judgment, harsh and harmful judgment. There’s no life, positive outlook or beauty to it, is there?

But that’s a wrong judgment to possess. After all, God clearly states…

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”

John 1:3

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

Psalm 139:14

That judgment includes the woman you believe is “too this” or “too that,” whatever those judgments are. And it applies to you as well.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

So, what are you thinking, believing, receiving and applying in your own life? Is it positive, life affirming and helpful or is it negative, destructive and harmful? You decide; I decide.

Each one of us needs to be mindful of the thoughts and the judgments we entertain.

It’s not about looking at this photo of Marilyn and thinking she’s fat. It speaks to what we believe, value, reject and hate.

Let’s think on God’s things!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

That’s the challenge; that’s the choice. And it IS achievable! Achieve it today!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close Some Doors...



What to do about Time...


Who you are requires no apology...


Explore...


An Everlasting Love...


Day 7:

Piggybacking Romans 8:38-39, we are further reminded of how God’s love is so thorough and passionate, it outlasts time. It is everlasting.

 “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             

We are that wanted.

That trumps addiction, disorder, compulsion, failure and our very humanity. I say this, not to give excuse to sin; rather, it’s to reassure and remind us that there is hope for the hopeless condition: God and His love.

We underestimate that reality much of the time. We can get negative, distorted tunnel vision, convincing us we are too far gone. We are not.  Wherever and however we presently are, we should feel the freedom to tap into God’s love and what that individual, unique expression of means for each of us.

It starts with God thoughts concerning us. Love is at the center of those thoughts...

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalms 139:17-18

Anyone and anything else telling us otherwise is operating from a place of deception, not truth.

And so, when it comes to God’s “how do I love thee” reality, God wants us to bask, accept and explore just what that means. He is not annoyed when we do so. Rather, He feels the honor and excitement of reaching a closer relationship with Him.

And we are all on that continuum.

 Don’t be discouraged or intimidated with your current circumstance or your past failings. Likewise, don’t be dismayed concerning your future. Yes, with God, there is always more.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

And that’s a good thing.

“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.’”

Ephesians 3:20

How does God love you? Start counting the ways in your own life right now!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Friday, February 26, 2016

In case you need a love note...


How we look when we fight our help...


Your Question...


What Cracker?



 

“He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

Denial: it’s a ridiculous looking thing.

I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine’s square shape. And the tag line attached was “What cracker?”
 
 

It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates’ food and dumpster diving.

 “…I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I’d stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock’ before they came home to notice…

…It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game… I knew their schedules by heart. I’d wait for them to leave for class. I’d hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone… I had to eat as much as I could before they came home…

… I’d be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies’ I’d thrown out...

…Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual… I’d rummage through other people’s trash bags...

…I was caught on more than one occasion. I’d try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class… I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural’ and disguise the truth…”

I was asking, “What Cracker?”

Transparent honesty is a big key to our recovery, especially when it comes to the addictions, compulsions and disorders which thrive on deceit. The old adage, “You’re as sick as your secrets” screams an unflinching truth: we can’t get better unless/until we get honest about what we’re doing.

And yes, it’s also in the Twelve Steps:

1.      We admitted we were powerless over a substance or behavior ─ our lives had become unmanageable.

  1. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  2. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  3. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  4. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  5. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  6. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  8. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  9. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  10. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  11. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These steps confront our cracker-eating, caught on camera, busted mouse behavior. A mirror is held up to us, demanding we own up to what we did.

So why is it we still ask, when all is said and done, “What Cracker?” I offer my theory. I believe we, at our base natures, can come up with our own twelve excuses to those twelve steps.

1.      We want to believe we’re powerful and in control. We have our lives figured out, including the substances and behaviors in them.

  1. We know what is best for our lives. We don’t need God.
  2. We’re certainly not going to waste our time or give up our vices pursuing God. We’re fine, really, we’re just great.
  3. Again, we’re good. Mind your own business. We know what we’re doing.
  4. We’re fully convinced we’re doing nothing wrong. We’re certainly not hurting anyone else. Our behaviors are harmless.
  5. We don’t want to change. Everything’s fine.
  6. Indeed, our lives are fabulous, requiring no change whatsoever. If you can’t handle what we’re doing, that’s your problem, not ours.
  7. We don’t owe anyone any apology or explanation. We’re living our lives as we see fit.
  8. If anyone challenges or disagrees with what we’re doing, we’re done with them. No one tells us what to do.
  9. We are never wrong, never responsible. We have every right to go on living our lives as we want.
  10. Again, we don’t need anyone else’s help, including God’s, here. That’s just for weak people. We’re great.
  11. There’s no need to do any unpleasant, tedious or hard work. We certainly don’t need to help others. All we need to do is mind our own business, be left alone and live the lives we want.

Thinking those excuses are a tad exaggerated?
C’mon, you and I, at one time, have thought and lived those things. We have forsaken right for wrong, responsibility for pleasure, accountability for excuse and recovery for disease.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death...”

Proverbs 16:25-26

 

And denial is at the epicenter of ALL of it, isn’t it?

Still, John 8:32 holds true:

“The truth shall set you free.”

Denying the evidence of our real cracker situation does nothing to promote freedom, let alone, health.

Where do we stand on our reality? Do we believe our own denial?

Is God catching us, all puffy cheeked and startled? When we’re caught, perhaps we should respond this way instead:

“What do you want me to do about this cracker, God?”

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Intervention...


The Pledge...


If someone needs help...


Sometimes, To Heal...


Nor Any Other Created Thing...


Day 6:

Romans 8:38-39 is such a healing and reassuring scripture; it’s been critical within my own recovery.

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It shows us how we are never disqualified from God’s love; it is constant.

And, again, for those of us dealing with harmful disorder, this unconditional, constant Truth can apply to each of our personal issues.

In my book, I offered this scripture as an individual “fill in the blank” exercise.

Using Romans 8:38-39 as a guide, fill in the blanks as they relate to your life and situation.

“For I am persuaded that neither ________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor __________________, nor any other _________________ shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The purpose for doing so was to challenge anything which falsely erects itself as “too hopeless” for God.

The exact opposite, in fact, is true...

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

No matter what the disorder, compulsion, problem or issue, it is not beyond God. Whatever our circumstances may be, God will work with, in- and even in spite of them. He does this because He loves us beyond our finite understanding. He makes our issue His issue.

And He never gives up on us while He’s tending to it.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse