Friday, September 30, 2016

Looking at what your neighbor has...


Ready-Aim-Fire!!!


 

When I was a kid in school, we studied archery in P.E. There were mixed results for me, someone is already challenged in the sports area. Nevertheless, one thing I did take away from the archery lesson was the importance of “ready- aim- fire.”

It doesn’t sound that revolutionary, does it? Yet, it so often gets missed.

As does the spiritual lesson equivalent. And that comes into focus when we don’t know what to do next.

We’re not hopeless; God has promised to guide us:

“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

And part of that guidance is His wisdom:

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

James 1:5

Also known as Ready…

From there we are to focus, or Aim…

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

Proverbs 16:3

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.”

Psalm 37:5

And then we are to fire…

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Just because the weapons, be they wisdom, prayer or anything else, for that matter, are not seen by us, doesn’t mean they aren’t in existence. Just like this adorable cat here, we are empowered by God’s amazing weapons to deal with your life circumstances. We aren’t helpless or defenseless. God has given us the equipping we need. The question is, however, do we take it?

We are instructed to put on the full armor of God: But again, do we?

“Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:11-17

 

We all fall short; we’re imperfect. But each of us, on a daily basis, can strive to be mindful and practice the God-given help offered to us.

Will we say yes or no to the opportunity?

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

The Most Beautiful People...


Beauty (Something to look forward to?)


When I saw this Elizabeth Arden ad, I wanted to scream.
 


That was after I did the long frustrated groan. Here we go again- or still. With all of the enlightenment, feminism, self-empowerment and emphasis on individuality, we still come right back to the beauty thing. Is it truly that important? Is it the only thing which is important? Beauty- it’s insidious. It’s subtle. And it pervades our lives from little girlhood on.

It did mine, anyway.

I can’t remember the exact point in which beauty was such an emphasis for me as a little girl. I was exposed to fairytale princesses, Barbie dolls and dress up, just like most little girls.

There’s nothing new under the sun about that.

But at some point, it became increasingly vital to my existence. And then there came the reality that I didn’t adequately meet its standard. This was mostly through the message that I was a fat, not a beautiful little girl. And yes, that message first emanated from my mother.

Struggling with her own weight and body image issues, dieting and weight loss became commonplace. And it was accompanied with the “someday” promise of beauty. “Someday,” when this or that happens, when we’re both at our “right weight,” then, oh yes, then, we’ll be beautiful. That was something to look forward to. It wasn’t when I am smart, articulate, creative or a unique individual of God’s creation. Nope, it was beauty, end of story. That’s as far as it seemed to go.

It seems like some cliché 1950’s mother/daughter dynamic of a mother giving her daughter some stifling advice about how to be pleasing for a man and catch that husband. We’d like to think those were the “good old days,” long gone, replaced by such equality and enlightenment, we’re advancing with incredible leaps and bounds in humanity.

But the reality is still little girls everywhere want to be beautiful; we want to grow up to be the fairytale princess, who’s perfect in her “happily ever after” life.

And how many of us have woken up to a reality check nightmare pursuing that dream? Yeah.

Look, beauty isn’t evil. God created it; and He calls each one of us innately beautiful already.

 “Thou art beautiful, O my love...”

Song of Solomon 6:4

But we cannot limit our value to JUST that; we are MORE! We can aspire toward incredible lives and purposes. I believe beauty is in there, but it shouldn’t be the only thing “to look forward to,” like this ad says. We should look forward to our unique, purpose-filled, God-given lives.

And that thought begins in childhood; let’s help each little girl think this way!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

On my own ground


Some great news...


...Until They've Done It


It's so hard to be a woman...


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pointless or Pointillism?


 

When I was in high school, my saintly art teacher tried her best to give us rural hooligans some culture. The jury is still out on the results. But, in the study of different styles and artists, we learned about pointillism. The definition reads as follows:

“a late 19th-century style of painting in which a picture is constructed from dots of pure color that blend, at a distance, into recognizable shapes and various color tones.”

 

The artist, George Seurat is one such artist who incorporated pointillism. His famous work, “Sunday Afternoon On the Island Of La Grande Jatte,” has made its way into popular culture, as well as into the Art Institute of Chicago.

It also appears in the John Hughes film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

In that film, in fact, one of the characters, Cameron, has an existential crisis moment as the audience sees back and forth shots of his concerned face and the dotted face of the little girl within the painting.
 
 
 

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about pointillism and Seurat’s famous painting, especially concerning adversity, trials and tribulations which often occur in our lives. Scripture tells us they will, indeed, happen:

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

1 Peter 4:12-13

I have a friend who is going through extreme challenges within her family. I’ve had many conversations with her in which she feels hopeless and pointless about her circumstances, in spite of the scripture of Jeremiah 29:11 being prophesied numerous times over her life:

“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.”

At first glance, it’s easy to judge when we have the luxury of not being in her moccasins. But, haven’t we all, at some point in our lives, questioned the reason for our existence? Haven’t we asked the “why” question? There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:11). After all, Job in the Bible was famous for his lamentations:

 “My spirit is broken,
    my days are cut short,
    the grave awaits me.

 God has made me a byword to everyone,
    a man in whose face people spit. My eyes have grown dim with grief;
    my whole frame is but a shadow.”


 “My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
    Yet the desires of my heart
 turn night into day;
    in the face of the darkness light is near.
If the only home I hope for is the grave,
    if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,
if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
    and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope—
    who can see any hope for me?
Will it go down to the gates of death?
    Will we descend together into the dust?”

Job 17:1; 6-7;11-16

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.

He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.

 Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?

If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

 The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.

 But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.”

Job 14:1-2;9-10;14;19;22

“I loathe my own life;
I will give full vent to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
 “I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me;
Let me know why You contend with me.


 ‘Your hands fashioned and made me altogether,
And would You destroy me?
‘Remember now, that You have made me as clay;
And would You turn me into dust again? ‘Did You not pour me out like milk
And curdle me like cheese;

‘If I am wicked, woe to me!
And if I am righteous, I dare not lift up my head.
I am sated with disgrace and conscious of my misery.

‘You renew Your witnesses against me
And increase Your anger toward me;
Hardship after hardship is with me.

 ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb?
Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! 

“Would He not let my few days alone? Withdraw from me that I may have a little cheer
Before I go—and I shall not return—
To the land of darkness and deep shadow,
The land of utter gloom as darkness itself,
Of deep shadow without order,
And which shines as the darkness.”

Job 10:1-22

Yeah, we get the point (no pun intended). Perhaps, what’s such a great challenge is to possess perspective when we’re smack dab in the middle of a problem, crisis or difficult situation. We can get myopic about it, seeing only distorted dots, rather than getting some distance, stepping away from the dots to see it is, indeed, like Seurat’s painting, a little girl, or, even more powerful, a beautiful painting.

Again, I use the analogy of the tapestry. On one side, we see all kind of threads, all kinds of zigzag chaos going on. But, if we turn it over, it’s this incredible woven, detailed and intricate design. It has beauty, uniqueness and it makes sense. Perspective. It’s easier to say the word than it is to live it. Nevertheless, it’s available to us. And most importantly, there’s spiritual significance to it:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

You are not a mistake; you’re not in vain. And, no matter what your current circumstances may be, God has created you on purpose for great reasons:

“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

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

Romans 11:36

There is a point to you! Look at it through pointillism; look at it through God!!!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

No repainting...


Secondary Thoughts...


While you're in the hallway...


Not A Lost Cause


 

“It’s hopeless.”

Most of us have uttered that statement. Our issues, addictions, disorders and problems drive it from our mouths. That’s probably why scripture warns against saying just any old thing which pops in our heads:

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

Luke 6:45

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.”

Proverbs 4:23-24

Most of us would probably agree cussing or perverse words aren’t great choices. But the power of our words speaks to bigger matters than that.

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

Proverbs 18:21

And that, unfortunately, does include the statement, “It’s hopeless.”

It’s beyond positive thinking practices; it’s about faith- negative OR positive faith.

“…According to your faith be it unto you.”

Matthew 9:29

Now, before we fall into a deep pit of despair, let’s look at the big picture, the GOD Picture…

“Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”

Psalm 119:89

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."

Isaiah 40:8

So, yes, there’s hope. God’s “big picture” is full of it.

"Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.…

Isaiah 46:9-11

Sounds comprehensive, doesn’t it? However, too often, we look at our lives, without God’s involvement in them. We often underestimate Him.

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

Jeremiah 32:27

We look at what we see and determine that’s how it is and always will be. But, what if it was a temporary situation instead?

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

One of my favorite quotes is “don’t put a period where God puts a comma.” Why do we insist on the wrong punctuation? Are the things we’re saying- out of fear, frustration or hurt- really the things we’re wanting manifested in our lives? Do we really want our lives to be hopeless?

You aren’t hopeless, regardless of what you’ve done or what you are or aren’t seeing in your life currently. You’re more than your life right now; God has incredible things for you. You’re in process, again, in the middle of one of my favorite scriptures, 2 Corinthians 3:18

“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.”

Will you allow God’s powerful scriptures to trump any negative thing you feel tempted to utter?

You’re not a lost cause; you’re God’s child. Live it, speak it and believe it today!!!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

If the words don't add up...


Patience: Are we there yet?



Visualize this scenario. There’s a car ride going on, containing one or two parents/adults and at least one child in the backseat. The child’s view consists of the following: the back of the driver’s and passenger side seat, perhaps, some toys, games or word puzzle books, strewn throughout. Maybe, depending upon the vehicle, there’s even a Disney film being played on a television screen, just above Mommy or Daddy’s head. We should be hearing the voice of an animated character or the chirp of an irritating child’s song. But, instead, what do we hear?

 “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

Does this sound familiar?

If you have children or remember being one yourself, you’re probably familiar with this nagging, repetitive question:

Are we there yet?

We want to get there already, wherever “there” is.

“Unto a land flowing with milk and honey...”

Exodus 3:8; 33:3

It’s the Promised Land, filled with conscientious manners, harmonious relationships, well-behaved children, realized dreams and no bad hair days.

Yeah.

So, when we’re reminded of 2 Corinthians 3:18, we rarely feel enthusiastic about the process…

“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.”

In the pursuit of arriving “there,” you and I often bypass one crucial place: patience land.

No, it’s not an amusement park.

“In your patience possess ye your souls.”

Luke 21:19

We’re even less enthusiastic about going there! But, isn’t the word “patience” that journey we all experience?

God knows we need patience MORE than we need to be “somewhere.”

 “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Romans 8:25

But there is a reward for it:

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

Hebrews 10:36

Patience: not a warm fuzzy, but a reliable thing, nevertheless.

“And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.”

Joshua 23:14

Doesn’t seem like it? Well, it probably has something to do with our spiritual nearsightedness.

“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

Just because we are not “there” yet, doesn’t mean we’re a hopeless failure. And it certainly doesn’t mean God’s ambivalent or a myth. He’s real and relevant, working in the middle of our blindness, obstacles and circumstances. Scripture tells us about the reality of a season:

 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

It happens to everyone; there are, indeed, certain experiences we need to go through as individuals. Whether it’s a patience or character building exercise, our individual recovery process or simply laying the groundwork for even more spectacular blessings, we need to get over our egos and realize our finite beings, despite our desire to know everything, simply would not be able to deal with it.

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

John 16:12

Our ego says, “Are we there yet?” God responds, “Not yet.”

 

“He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

We’re not there yet, but we are getting where we need to be with God.

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”

Isaiah 46:10

Relax…and enjoy the ride.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

 

Not Drilling Holes...


4 Wise Pieces of Advice...


100% Dependent Upon You...


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Reinvention Chameleon


When I was a child, I remember learning about chameleons. I was fascinated with how these creatures could pick up the colors of whatever surface they were connected to. It was beautiful to see their melting of one color to another.

 

Years later, this chameleon concept takes on a deeper meaning for me. It’s not quite as simple, beautiful and natural as it once was. Disordered eating and image issues have changed my perspective.

Within this culture, we have a daily reminder of image’s power and presence. Beauty is a minefield to navigate as we are screamed at from every corner how we need to be more of this and less of that.

We have the principle of “reinvention” dangled in front of us, promising if we just adhere to this archetype, then we’ll be “new and improved.” This was a core belief at the center of my assorted disorders.

“Just change. Just change because who am is not enough.”

This updated chameleon principle of reinvention is, quite frankly, dangerous. It can be Russian Roulette for some people, especially those who are sensitive and self-conscious.

Complicating matters further, there is also some credence to a predisposition to addiction and disorder is certain people. In some, there can, in fact, exist “the eating disorder brain,” possibly lying dormant until a circumstance may trigger it awake.

The reinvention chameleon, with its “happily ever after” promises assures us of desired results if one just conforms accordingly.

 “And be not conformed to this world...”

Romans 12:2

This can often persuade someone, possibly, to just lose another five, ten or twenty pounds. Then, all will be well.

Then there will be no more pain or problems.

 “Don’t bother to look beyond the surface,” it advises. “Just concentrate on the outer image.”

“Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.”

Judges 10:14

Yet, look what happens when we focus on that image, looking for it to solve our lives...

“What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols...  And there is no breath at all inside it.”

Habakkuk 2:18-19

The reinvention chameleon cannot produce pain-free lives and content perfection. Indeed, if we follow Romans 12:2 all the way to its end, we see our transformation only comes via the Most High God; nothing and no one else can do this.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

And yes, there is some hopeful truth to us, even in the reality of our flawed selves...

“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

Indeed, meaningful significance and necessary, empowering change do not arise when we lean on our manmade chameleon idols. It is leaning only on the Most High...

“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

Therefore, it would do us all tremendous good to do this leaning. And watch to see the most astounding changes, rivaling the most beautiful colors!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Life Versus Me


 

I love this gif.
 
Just seeing the dog’s tail whack that poor cat over and over and over...

Yes, one can say it exemplifies life itself.

“Ouch!”

Whack.

“Ouch!”

Whack.

“Ouch!”

Whack.

Unfortunately, yes, pain in life is inevitable. And often, so is our typical “woe is me” response.

Just like kitty.

As much as each one of us may feel we’re “the only one,” in truth, we are not.

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. “

 

Ecclesiastes 9:11

 

God does not cause pain; our fallen world does that. However, God has firmly decided, even in spite of our circumstances, what He wants us to experience...

 

“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

 

And one other thing. There is a difference in suffering also...

“For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”

1 Peter 3:17

I mention this little reality check because, so often, mired in our whacked kitty self-pity (yes, I know, that rhymes), we often fail to assess if we are dealing with the negative consequences of a poor choice we made. Often, that is the situation.

And what if it is not? What if we are whacked by Poochie’s tail for no good reason?

Well, there is this...

“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”

1 Peter 2:20

And there is, once again, this perspective as well...

“... time and chance happeneth to them all. “

 

Ecclesiastes 9:11

 

No one is immune from life’s tail whacks. We all get a dose sooner or later. So 1 Peter 2:20 is a significant challenge.

But it is doable.

Right where we are, tail whack or no tail whack, let’s determine to do something agreeable with that scripture.

It is not Life versus Me. It is life and it does, indeed, happen to us all.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse