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From the Editor A Woman's World
Featured Article
Am I Not Still God?
By Criss Bertling

"Remove your belt, sir."

James hadnít thought about his belt buckle setting off the alarm when he dressed that morning. He had remembered to empty the loose change from his pockets and put his pocket knife in the glove box of his Toyota. He took off his belt as he watched his keys, wallet and Bible make their way through the surveillance machine.

"Step over here, sir."

James dutifully walked through the screening device and stood erect as the officer ran a security wand up one side of his body and down the other, searching for contraband.

"Thank you. Donít forget your personal items, sir."

At least I didnít have to take off my shoes.

"Family and friends to the left, lawyers and clergy to the right. Keep moving, please. Next."

Grey cement block encased him. Cold. Barren. Lifeless. James Miller was visiting a 25-year-old murderer today. A man who had kidnapped, raped and tortured a 16-year-old girl before discarding her battered and abused body in a creek bed.

"Sign the register, sir." The bark came from the mouth of a vacant-eyed female sitting behind a steel-reinforced window.

"Who you seeing, Reverend Miller?" She warily eyed him over the top of her glasses as she made note of the inmateís name. "Ainít too many folks come to visit that one. I know thisíd be the last place Iíd spend a Saturday morning if I wasnít getting paid to be here."

She was right. His chest tightened at the thought of being in a room the size of a closet with such evil. "Canít say I blame you. But itís Godís work Iím doing here." James wondered whether she believed him. He wasnít sure he bought it himself.

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Minister: Do you know what's in the Bible?
Little Girl: Yes. I think I know everything that's in it.
Minister: You do? Tell me.
Little Girl: OK. There's a picture of my brother's girlfriend, a ticket from the dry cleaners, one of my curls, and a Pizza Hut coupon.

(Mark Brown, "Comedy Comes Clean")
Stepping Onstage for the Second Act
By Sharina Smith

I recently turned 41. With horror, I realized I was now closer to age 60 than age 21. The first act of my life was over; the second act was well underway. This hit me pretty hard. I'll share my epiphany with you.

On my 41st birthday, I wasn't too comfortable realizing that I was now closer to age 60 than age 21! Ironically enough, I felt more grown up when I was 21 than I do now! I don't feel old enough to be middle aged!

I once read a description of the stages of life that split our statistically projected years on earth into three acts. Act I, Birth to 40; Act II, 40 to 60; Act III, 60 to 80. As I step onstage for the second act, I hate to admit that I wasted most of the time I was given in Act I. Many of those years were spent chasing the elusive promise of happiness in a man's arms or at a chair in the bar.

Now the pursuit of happiness seems even more complicated than those romantic happy hour dreams. Our world promises that if we forty-somethings only have more of the right stuff and spend more of the right kind of highly interactive time with our children and spouses and careers and workout routines and spiritual growth plans, then and only then will we be happy.

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MomsChick Tips

According to studies, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep nightly. Insufficient sleep has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, decreased productivity, negative behaviors and bad moods. I am sure you already know this but a friendly reminder to busy, tired, overworked chicks is a good thing. So hereís my "Top Five for the Sleep-Deprived."

Thou shalt go to bed and get up everyday at the same time.
Thou shalt establish a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Thou shalt not have work material, computer, or television in the bedroom.
Thou shalt finish eating no less than 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Thou shalt exercise regularly and complete any workout no later than three hours before bedtime.

Pleasant dreams!
MomsSpring Chickens Canít Fly
By Donna G. Morton

There was a time when I could stretch out on the sofa, yap on the phone, map out my life and contemplate anything. I could do it for hours without uttering a yawn. These days, if I stretch out on the sofa, I go to sleep. If I want to get through a night of "Must-See TV", Iíd better be sitting up. Or better yet, standing up and multi-tasking.

Forget the Tylenol PM. For me, thereís no better sleep aid than a sofa and a DVD Iíve been dying to see.

When did this happen? When did I get so tired? When did I startódare I say itógetting older?

I always thought Iíd die young. I did this because I couldnít imagine myself getting older, but here I amódoing just that.

Now, at 40-something, Iím not ready for soft-food-onlyÖand with my children yet to hit the high school years, I pray there are some miles left on my Mommy Running Shoes; however, thereís no denying the truth: Father Time ainít moving counter-clockwise.

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MomsChick Challenge

How is the joy thing coming along? Did you accept last monthís challenge? How many Dee Dah Days did you have? Keep it up Ė itís addicting.

July is here and I have another challenge for you Ė a much bigger one. Close your eyes and count to thirty. Really. Iíll wait.

Did you see a color? An object? A scene? A person? Maybe all you saw was a black-and-white negative of your computer screen Ė or nothing at all.

Okay, letís start over. It takes about 20 seconds for the imprint of your computer screen to disappear from your Ďeyeball screen.í So this time, take sixty seconds and ponder this question: If money were not an issue, and you could choose to do whatever your heart desires for the rest of your life, what would that look like?

No cheating; close your eyes and really think. Use your imagination and paint a picture with you right in the center of it. Ready? Go!

60, 59, 58, 57, 56 . . . . If youíre reading these numbers, one of two things happened. Either you have already finished or Ė dare I say it Ė you didnít shut your eyes yet. If you skipped that step because you just couldnít wait to read whatís next, Iím flattered, but, please, take that sixty seconds now.

What did you see this time? If you have a dream that is so real you can almost touch it, then you experienced a technicolor-big-screen moment. But if your sixty-second dream screen was grey, confused or nonexistent, I suspect you have a dream problem. Donít fret or feel discouraged. Everyone has a dream or has had at some point in their lives. As a child you may have dreamed of being an actor or dancer. Or you imagined becoming an Olympic gold medalist. Maybe you were a more serious-minded child and visualized becoming a doctor, a lawyer or an architect.

The truth is, the longer we live and the more of lifeís difficulties we face, the easier it is for our dreams to become so faint that they nearly disappear. But they donít. Not really. Deep within each of us is a unique and passionate dream, waiting to be freed and pursued. Bruce Wilkinson explains in his book, The Dream Giver, "Nothing within us is more powerful than the dream, except the Lord who placed it there and gave it His power. He knitted its delicate threads into the very fabric of your soul."

Wow! God knitted the threads of a powerful dream into the fabric of your soul. Do you feel that way about your God-Given Dream?

As a writer, you are compelled to express in words what your heart and mind experience. It is who you are, what you must do. Your joy and fulfillment come from putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). But you may also have a much bigger dream, one that you donít share often because it seems unattainable. So you keep it to yourself; it is your secret dream. If you share it, someone might discourage or ridicule you. Worse yet, you might have to do something about it and risk failure. Maybe you have already attempted to pursue your big dream but stopped short.

Some women tell me they donít remember ever having a dream or they donít know what it looks like anymore. Their lives are not what they had planned. Some tragedy or trauma destroyed their dream and they donít know where to begin. Some have set aside their original dream for another. Others have dreams they are living right now. Then there are those women who have reached their dream goal and wonder, "Whatís next?"

Each of us was created by God for a purpose. And in order for us to live out that purpose, He implanted deep in our hearts His Great Dream for us. Wherever you are on your dream path Ė looking for the dream, living in your comfort zone, afraid to move forward, or stuck behind an obstacle, I highly recommend Bruce Wilkinsonís book The Dream Giver (Multnomah Books).

One of his questions really hit me between the eyes: "Are you living your Dream? Or just living your life?" This small-yet-powerful book is "for anyone who has ever hoped or believed they could achieve something remarkable with their lives." Chicks and girlfriends, that is each one of us!

My challenge for you this month is to do some heavy-duty soul searching, spend time in meditation and prayer. Ask the Dream Giver Himself to show you the Dream He designed specifically for you. Then set your feet on the Path He reveals to you and just go for it!

Please send me an email. I am praying for you and would love to know what God is doing with your Dream. Iím living mine and it gets bigger every day!
Criss Bertling is published author, freelance newspaper columnist, inspirational speaker, Director of Women's Ministry, and Director of Communications. She is a mother, grandmother, "auntie" to numerous children, and mentor to some pretty spectacular young women. Criss resides in South Florida, where a 24-hour day is never enough time to work, play, read, write, rest and pray as much as she'd like. But somehow God makes it all come together in His perfect way!You can find out more about her at www.crissbertling.com.