Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Little Muddled?



I love this irreverent version of the classic Dickens, “A Christmas Carol.” And right now, I’m feeling a little like this ghost of Christmas present when she declares, “I’m a little muddled.”

The thing is, this time of year, we’re all, to one degree or another, feeling like we’re sharing this creature’s boat.

To and fro, getting, buying, going, here, there, everywhere…

And, oh yeah, we’re simultaneously dealing with the forced upon reflection this time of year brings: discouragement, regret, sadness and uncertainty for the future.

“I’m a little muddled.”

Is anyone else, besides me, hitching a ride on this sprite’s wings?


This time of year, it’s natural to look back, with as much 20/20 vision as we may have and look to all of the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” stuff. Yep, we all could have made different choices. And yes, some of those possible choices could have resulted in better, more positive results.

But, no matter what opportunities have passed, it’s still not hopeless. We have God, Who is never confused, especially when it comes to our muddled lives:

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace...”

1 Corinthians 14:33

Whatever has happened this year, it’s not too late for you, even if you are muddled now. God tells us we can ask Him for wisdom, help, guidance; He is loving and faithful to give it.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him.”

James 1:5

“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

Even here, even now, your life and future looks bright! As long as God is never muddled, we’re more than conquerors!

“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

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse



Just say the word.


Do ya want the moon?

Don’t tell Santa what you want; tell God.

Yep, back at “It’s a Wonderful Life.” All of these beloved Christmas films; I think I’m starting to bug my husband with them. But what can I say? I’m a sap.

Anyway, this scene involves our character, George Bailey, “trying to impress the girl.” And so, he puffs up his chest, talks all kinds of bravado and asks the character, Mary, what she wants.

What do you want?                                                                                                                            

That’s a question that gets even more attention this time of year, isn’t it?

What do you want for Christmas?

You may have a bad taste in your mouth about the “gimme/want” thing, but God, Himself, is asking you what you want.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13

“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 18:19

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Matthew 21:22

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

John 14:13-14

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

John 15:7-8

And, unlike George Bailey’s inability to give Mary the moon, God’s not limited by what He can do.

Can you believe it, receive it and tell Him? Go ahead; God’s waiting on you!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

If we could only truly live this...

Tell 'em, Judy!

Is This Centered?



“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

Albert Einstein

I love this quote by Mr. Einstein. How true it is! When we think of the word, “coincidence,” we tend to think along the standard definition’s description:

“a chance happening: something that happens by chance in a surprising or remarkable way; happening without planning.”

Ever had one of those experiences like that definition? You know, those weird, in sync, “hmm” kinds of moments which just seem to be too timely/helpful to be believed? If you call yourself a human being, more than likely, at one time or another, you probably have had a few. Meet God, being anonymous.

I myself have had a number of those weird in sync moments. Back at the height of my anorexia when I was nineteen, I had come across a girl who went to my high school, post high school. In the cliché line of thought, “it takes one to know one,” she, a recovering anorexic herself, had first approached me in a college history class we shared during the spring quarter of my freshman year, calling me out on my already too thin frame. Of course, I lied and denied, spooked by her allegation, desperately believing I could talk myself out of the uncomfortable encounter. At that point and time, she left it at that. Whew! Dodged a bullet there! I thought I was home free. After all, beyond sharing the same high school, the two of us had no real contact with one another. We weren’t in the same circle of friends. So, I thought I was in the clear. Not so fast, Sheryle!

Just three months later, during my summer break, I ran into her, yet again, seemingly “out of nowhere.” I was at the mall, nothing earth shattering. But the store, of all stores, to run into her, was a bid odd. Because of my already intense eating disorder behaviors, I was trying to occupy my mind with anything I could think of. One of my latest “answers” was crafting. Yes, that’s right. I said crafting. I guess I believed pipe cleaners and cross stitch kits could save me. So, I was a regular at the mall’s hobby store. How many college kids honestly frequent that place, right? I remember I was close to my lowest weight, attempting to keep from passing out, while looking at a dollhouse miniature section (really?), just trying to occupy my highly disturbed mind when, low and behold, once again, out of seemingly nowhere, appeared this same girl. Talk about feeling busted! We had the initial nervous chitchat, but, c’mon, we both knew the score. She was gentle as she could be, but eventually, came the moment of getting real. She again, brought up the dreaded curse words of “eating disorder” to my attention. And I had no where I had to be. I had no class I needed to escape to, nothing pressing I had to do. I just had to stand there in front of the dollhouse miniatures and converse with her.

The coincidence of this situation was that I was at a point in which I fully believed and argued with God that I was the only one who was grappling with my struggle, especially in this relatively small town rural area. No one else would get it; no one else would understand. It’s such a cunning and cliché lie, isn’t it? So, that was an awakening to the reality that no, I was not the only one. There were others. I was nowhere near healthy or in recovery mode, but this “coincidence” was a timely event which was relevantly needed by me. It was God.

And then there was the time when, after missing my bus, I was privy to a conversation between two strangers about a recent change to the bus schedule starting the next week. There would have been no other way I could have found out that information, other than to miss my connection at that time. Really? God’s involved in a bus schedule? Isn’t that too unimportant for God’s attention? No, God tells us about His thoughts for us…

“I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”

Job 42:2

“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”

Psalms 40:5

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”

Psalms 139:2

And that leads me to a third coincidence. A few years ago, which attending a church Christmas raffle, one of the winning prizes was mentioned: two tickets to a ballet performance of “The Nutcracker.” Being a theatre fan (heck, I was a theatre graduate from college), I have always loved the arts: drawing, painting, film, stage productions and dance. So, this was right up there in my “heart’s desire” alley. I remember quietly talking to God in my mind, saying, “It sure would be great to win something like that.”

“But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time...”

Psalm 69:13

So, do I need to tell you what happened next? Uh-huh. Guess who’s name was called for that particular prize? Coincidence? Not noteworthy? Not important enough? Or God at work?

“I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”

Psalms 119:59

It’s a question worth pondering in the circumstances of our lives, whatever they may be, don’t you think? God is a relevant God, not just a loving God. Scripture, in fact, tells us…

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

Matthew 6:31-32

But God encourages us to start with Him, by being in connection with Him first, in prioritizing Him…

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Matthew 6:33

And part of that means recognizing and respecting that God is not just a thing or an irrelevant coincidence. He is a very loving involved God and Father to each one of us.

Which way do we choose to see Him though? Is God timely with you? I’m sure you’ve heard the famous passage from Ecclesiastes. It’s often used at funerals:

 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Indeed, seasons, “coincidences” and time impact every single one of us…

 “…time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Ecclesiastes 9:11

But what’s more important than that is that God happens to each of us, in myriads of ways every day, whether or not we recognize or accept it. So, what will we do with the reality of both coincidence and God? Are they the same thing or is it, indeed, all God? Ancient Hebrew teachings reveals there is no such word for “coincidence” in their vocabulary. Does coincidence exist for you? Or is it all God, working intricately and relevantly on your behalf? Are you focused on God whenever something in your life syncs up? What if God is touching your life and connecting with you right now? What will you do with that?

A loving, connected and involved Heavenly Father to us all?

“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Ephesians 4:6

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”

1 Corinthians 8:6

Hmmm… I think so! Coincidence? I think not!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse





The Problem With Ethereal


“ …‘the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.’”

1 Samuel 16:7

This time of year assaults us with the obvious “too much” of the holiday season: red and green, Santas, nativity scenes, silver bells and sensory overload at every turn.

This time of year, we also see the abundance of angels. It’s almost as much of an association with Christmas as the Baby Jesus Himself.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”

Luke 2:13-14

Indeed, angels are everywhere throughout Scripture:

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Psalm 91:11

“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.”

Matthew 13:41

“And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

John 1:51

“Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

Isaiah 6:2-4

Yeah, angels, angels, everywhere.

 And, in and of itself, that’s okay. However, things can go wonky when we come to the table with our own thoughts about anything, angels included.

Now we’re in my domain. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been obsessed with angels. It had nothing to do with them being messengers of God. C’mon, let’s be real. It did, however, have everything to do with their beauty. As a little girl, what wasn’t to love about them? The silky, (usually blonde) flowing hair, the beautiful glowing faces, the exquisite wings and gowns, often trimmed with gold. Angels are beautiful. We’re drawn in, transfixed. And some of us even create beauty templates based upon those images. I did.

At the height of my anorexia, I strove to weigh as little as possible, to embody a fragile image. Emaciated equaled fragile; fragile equaled ethereal. And ethereal equaled beautiful. There have been, after, no overweight angels (with the exception of cherubs), unless used for some kind of comic effect. Indeed, when it comes to reverential depiction of holiness and all things God, angels are beautiful; they are ethereal.

 Again, in and of itself, nothing wrong with that.

But all ethereal is not good ethereal. Or, as 2 Corinthians 11:14 puts it…

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”


Yes, for some of us out there, a beautiful, delicate appearance may hide an ugly and dangerous reality. Especially when it concerns anorexia. For me, it did not take long for peoples’ comments of “Sheryle, you’re thin” or “Sheryle, you’ve lost weight” to go from a compliment to worried statement. And a delicate aesthetic soon turned into a life-threatening reality. If 100 pounds was ethereal, how much more would 90 pounds or lower be? You see the mind game in full effect, don’t you?

And I played that game, never realizing how I was already amazing, beautiful and destined for God’s purpose.

…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

“Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.”

Song of Solomon 1:15

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

Song of Solomon 2:14

“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”

Song of Solomon 4:7

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

No angelic resemblance required.

And speaking of angelic resemblance, look again at what Scripture has to say about that:

 “You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor.”

Hebrews 2:7

Not too shabby.

It’s no secret human beings are attracted to beauty. After all, we take after God Who creates beauty.

And this time of year, with dramatic displays of such glorious beauty, spectacular angels included, we will come face to face with the luster of the ethereal. Some of us may, therefore, need to heed the caution of being triggered by these, our image issues. Let’s, the, leave the ethereal to the angels, while remembering and reveling in our own incredible value, worth and, yes, beauty.

We ARE fearfully and wonderfully made, as is, right now, period. God’s decided; it is so.

Let’s agree with Him and enjoy not just the holiday season, but our entire lives, fully realizing and celebrating how beyond ethereal we truly are!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse





Miracle on 34th Street Lesson


“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Mark 9:23-24

I love Christmas films; “Miracle on 34th Street” is one of my favorites.

 In this classic movie, the little girl character of Susan is precocious, wise beyond her years, perhaps even a bit cynical. It’s these traits, in fact, that each of us can relate to as well, as we see how Susan responds to her own turn in the “Santa Line.” She’s probably no more than eight years old, yet she’s humoring the adults, Santa, himself, included. Initially, she’s skeptical in believing that he is who he says is, but begins to change her mind as she tugs at his beard.

How much more evidence, then, has God given each of us to believe Him at Who He is? Just like the Santa character’s ability to easily speak Dutch to the little Dutch girl in the story, how much more can God overcome your problem?

Wherever you are this Christmas season, wherever your faith may be, with whatever issues you possess, like Susan did with Santa, try God (Mark 9:24)! He is real!

…“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse



Monday, November 28, 2016

Deception and Recovery


Featured in November 28th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse illustrates the role deception can play in the addictive process using both the adorable lipstick puppy social media image and the cautionary tale of scripture’s Ananias and Sapphira.


The Ever- Changing Image


Featured in the Winter 2016 issue of In Recovery Magazine, Cruse explores how image standards have fluctuated throughout history. Knowledge of these ever-changing beauty aesthetics, indeed, is a necessary tool in disordered eating and image recovery.

The Winter 2016 issue is available on newsstands in all Barnes and Noble bookstores December 1st, 2016.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Traditions: No Effect


“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Mark 7:13

The holiday season is all about traditions. Families build their own, everything from the food to the decorations to the outings.

Traditions can be wonderful. However, seen through the prism of eating disorder rituals, they can be imprisoning.

“Rituals are both a tactic not to eat and also a piece of obsessionality associated with anorexia. When eating disorders are starting, people will try to make it look like they are eating by cutting things up and shifting food around on the plate so as to not draw attention to how little they are eating.”

Cynthia Bulik, PhD, eating disorder specialist at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Traditions, rituals- it all represents the same unrealistic expectation: perfection, happiness and a sense of safety.

These rituals can be anything such as counting to a specific number how many times one chews his/her food before swallowing, meticulously counting calories or eating from the same bowl and spoon. There’s an exacting precision attached to keeping these behaviors- and a dreadful fear if one is unable to do so.

It certainly doesn’t make the holiday season very joyful. And God has desired abundance for us:

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

John 10:10

Furthermore, God has given us freedom to choose:

 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

1 Corinthians 10:23

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Corinthians 6:12

For someone struggling with disordered eating, however, that’s easier read than lived.

Yet, if we face our own truth about why we do what we do, fully aware of perfection’s demanding and impossible nature, we can ease up on ourselves and be fully present with the holidays as they occur.

“It may be helpful to realize that the "picture-book" holiday sense is not a reality for many people. Some cannot afford it, there are many single people who are not close to their families or do not have a family, and there are many families that do not fit into the dominant cultural model of "family". Do not blame yourself for family or friendship conflicts. People are not different during the holidays than any other time of the year. Remember that you are responsible only for your own actions and for taking care of yourself.”

NEDIC Bulletin: Vol. 7, Coping With the Holidays

National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC)

Used with permission

And that’s more powerful and life-giving than any ritual!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse



Language Barrier?


It’s that time of year again: Christmas, with all of its Christmas themed films, like “Miracle on 34th Street” here. It’s one of my favorites.

 And one of my favorite scenes in this classic is when a little Dutch girl, who doesn’t speak English, sees Santa Claus in the Macy’s department store.

At first, it looks like the language barrier will pose a communication issue- until, low and behold, Santa starts conversing with her!

It’s a great reminder to all of us who feel intimidated by the big spiritual relationship with God out there. Often, we make it so much more complicated than it needs to be, don’t we?

For one reason or another, we convince ourselves that we simply cannot- or should not- talk to God. We may believe things like, we’re not good enough, it’s too difficult, God doesn’t understand or God doesn’t love us. Anyone been there?

Yeah, thought so.

It’s in these highly intimidating, discouraging moments, we need to remember God is unlimited; there are no barriers for Him. He will work with, work in spite of, whatever He needs to, just because He loves us that much and wants to be in our lives. He speaks our language, even when we, ourselves, feel speechless and befuddled.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Romans 8:26

Wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, holiday season, in, holiday season out, God loves you and is able to connect with you.

Right now.


In spite of who you are.

It’s not hopeless for you. Even if it seems too difficult for you, please remember God’s take on it…

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

Jeremiah 32:27

God will speak your language, no matter what. It’s called love.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse





Holiday Stress-Busters: 18 Sanity-Saving Shortcuts


How to enjoy the season, not simply endure it.

By Paula Spencer Scott,

The up side of the down economy is that scaled-back events now feel more right than ever. So if the fast-approaching holidays fill you with visions of stress and dread rather than dancing sugarplums, family and friends, make an early New Year's resolution: Vow now to simplify your life; don't wait for January regrets to kick in.

How: Greet the season with easy shortcuts that shift the focus away from rote obligation to what really matters — those you love and care about.

Holiday stressor: Overscheduling

De-stressor: Shortcuts that preserve "me" time

It might sound counterintuitive to cram in time for yourself during what's supposed to be a season of loving your fellow man. But regular time to regroup, without distractions, gives you both energy and calm — making you more fun to be around. Too many people lop self-time off the list in the busy season.


  • Check in with your body first, every time. Before answering an invitation or building a gingerbread house, pause to notice whether you feel excited or tense, relaxed or headachy, calm or vaguely nauseated. If you're not good to go, don't go forward. Don't worry about what others will think.
  • Take a mid-party break. Step outside. Look up at the stars. Or find a quiet corner where you can listen to music alone for a few minutes or do some deep breathing, even if it's just in the bathroom.
  • Say "yes" to the bigger gatherings. Attending events where you'll see lots of faces in a short period may help you feel less obligated to attend lots of smaller events over successive evenings. Big parties can be exhausting, but then you're done.

Make entertaining easier

Holiday stressor: Entertaining

De-stressor: Shortcuts that spread the burden

Do you dread playing hostess, doing all that cooking, making sure your house looks "perfect," worrying about having enough space for guests to sit or mingle? Go easy on yourself with entertaining ideas that focus on relaxation and good cheer.


·         Host a cookie exchange instead of a big party. Invite eight or ten friends to each bring that many dozen cookies to share. You see your pals without having to fuss over a sit-down dinner — and you get a billion cookies by only having to bake (or, pssst, buy) one recipe.

·         Spread cheer to others. As a family, find a volunteer outlet that needs help and do something together: Work in a soup kitchen, deliver meals, wrap gifts, shop for needy children.

·         Revive the potluck. Ask everyone to bring a holiday favorite. You supply the wine, cocoa, and gingerbread men.

·         Eat out. Make having a festive dinner at a restaurant your new holiday-season tradition — no cleanup!

·         Amuse one another. Take turns reading greeting cards and reminiscing about the senders. Have a tree-trimming party. Sing along to corny holiday songs. Buy a big bowl of nuts in the shell and hand out nutcrackers.

Downplay the decorations

Holiday stressor: Decorating

De-stressor: Shortcuts that go green

All those lights, all that razzle-dazzle — it takes effort, not to mention energy and resources. Downshifting to a more ecologically friendly holiday is a simple way to get a simpler look.


·         Skip the lights in front of the house — and maybe even the tree. Fewer watts to burn, fewer strings for you to get tangled in.

·         Decorate with natural elements. Fill bowls with pinecones. Let the kids stud oranges with whole cloves. Bring red berry branches and pine boughs indoors (or snip boughs from the bottom of the tree). Bonus: No hauling boxes of decorations down from the attic. When the season ends, you can just pitch everything on the compost pile.

·         Wrap gifts in paper you already have on hand. Ordinary newsprint or paper grocery bags look festive tied with string in red or silver. No newsprint in this digital age? Try recycling some of those holiday catalog pages or smaller gifts.

Buck tradition

Holiday stressor: Following tradition

De-stressor: Shortcuts that make new memories

At the root of a lot of holiday stress: doing certain things, in a certain way, in the name of tradition. Maybe you want to please aging parents or carry on in their memory. Or maybe your focus is on creating the same traditions, so your kids will know them, too. Either way, the effort often creates more stress (for you) than bliss.


·         Shift your focus. Decide to make happy memories, rather than continue traditions for tradition's sake. The more relaxed an event, the more likely everyone will want to keep it up, making future holidays easier, too.

·         Don't assume, ask. Find out which parts of the holiday truly mean the most to your loved ones. You might be surprised by what others really like. Caroling? A special feast? Driving around to look at the lights and decorations? Keep one or two of those traditions — period — and do them up.

·         Or just decide to wing it this year. Do what feels festive in the moment. Plan meals on the fly after seeing what looks good in the store. Invite guests on the spur of the moment, even new acquaintances you don't know well. Plan nothing. Often whims and accidents are the way beloved new traditions are born.