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Chick Chat with Criss
By Criss Bertling

"Good morning, ladies. Welcome to Celebration of Learning! Stand up and hug your neighbor."

The new Director of Womenís Ministry choked back a chuckle as she observed her "chick flock" from the stage. The word transformation did not begin to describe the sum of her life experiences. Old photos of a slender young feminist bore no resemblance to the pudgy, menopausal blonde now responsible for the spiritual development of hundreds of women. "Letís pray." She would share her story soon enough.

Her conservative childhood, rebellious youth, and failed marriage formed the bedrock of an obsessive drive to succeed. As a professional, few were better. As a mother, friend, daughter and sister, she was abysmal. Relationships were secondary and that priority took its toll. Her son became a face on a milk carton and her 18-year-old daughter married a stranger. Then her second husband announced, "Iím in love with someone else." Her world imploded and she crashed.

After weeks of sleeping all day and crying all night, she picked up her fatherís old Bible. Could God forgive her? Would He hear her prayers? Did she even care? But still she read. She tried to pray. She continued to wallow in her pit of depression and self-loathing. Suicide was scary but how much longer could she live this way? God, are you there?

The incessant knocking at the door became louder. Just leave me alone! Day after day her persistent friend knocked at precisely 5:10 p.m. She would continue for five minutes and then ultimately give up. But she never drove away without leaving a note of encouragement, a Bible verse, and a container of food. Doesnít she know itís useless?

Hours blurred into days. Loneliness and despair tightened their grip. Yet that tattered Holy Bible kept calling to her. So she read. Then one rainy afternoon a silent whisper spoke to her heart: Talk to your friend. Go with her to My House. I am waiting for you.

God?

5:10 came and so did the familiar knock. But something was different. This time I opened the door.

Looking back on my life, I know it was only by Godís mercy and grace that He changed me and restored my family. My son came home safely and my daughter gave me two precious grandchildren, Today I have a job that I love Ė I get to hang around with, plan events for, teach, talk to and mentor hundreds of girlfriends! All because God wouldnít let my best friend give up on me.

Chicks need each other. We canít help it, weíre wired that way. We sit in a room full of strangers while someone we see every couple of months cuts our hair. Do we talk about investments or who won the game on Sunday? Of course not. We spill our guts about intimate details of our lives! Weíre chicks; itís our job. We can connect with each other at the check-out counter.

I believe God loves the way generational, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic lines blur when we embrace each otherís similarities first and do not focus on the differences. We are women and women have universal and shared concerns, interests, heartaches, problems, needs, dreams and experiences. Donít you love it? Girlfriends are Godís special gifts to women. Iím convinced that if Eve had had a best girlfriend, she would have had no spare time to chit-chat with that serpent!

We are the sum of our experiences, our relationships, our heredity, talents, gifts, personalities and dreams. And God, if we let Him, will take the whole of who we are and make us better than we can imagine. Then He will use us in the lives of others so that they and we can live an abundant, fulfilled life.

If that sounds too lofty or unattainable to you, I am here as proof that it is not. My life has been filled with disastrous consequences as a result of my choices. I have grieved the deaths of more loved ones than I ever imagined. I have watched a child I adore be destroyed by perverse evil. I have felt helpless as disease stole the normalcy from my girlfriendsí lives. I have cried with women living lives of quiet desperation. Yet God has given me indescribable hope and inexplicable joy. I have a life filled with purpose. I trust in a God who still performs miracles.

I have talked with hundreds of women whose lives have been totally transformed by Godís love. I am one of those women. I suspect you are too. Your journey is unique and your transformation may be more gradual than radical. But you have something to say and youíre compelled to write about it. Thatís why all of us are here at FaithWriters. So, girlfriends and chicks, I call on you to unite in spirit and purpose and write your hearts out! Then encourage each other.

A Woman's World has changed a bit. You've already noticed that, I'm sure. In addition to Chick Chat and the featured articles, we've added some new regular features: "Chick Tips," "Feminine Funnies" and the "Book Bag." I shall also give a gentle monthly nudge to empower your spiritual walk through the "Chick Challenge."

There will be months when A Woman's World will focus on topics and issues unique to a particular segment of women, such as you single gals or working moms. You new empty nesters are facing your own changed-life-circumstances that we want to discuss. My Boomer girlfriends define the words opinion and transition so you know I'll be going there! And you wiser, more mature chicks most certainly can teach the rest of us a thing or two.

Together with God we will accomplish great things. So let's get to it, girlfriends!

Suggestions, questions or comments? I love e-mail!
Criss Bertling is a published author, freelance newspaper columnist, inspirational speaker, copy writer, Women's Ministry Director 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 24 hours in a day is never enough time to work, play, read, write, rest and pray as much as she'd like. But somehow God makes it happen in just the perfect way! You can find out more about what she's up to at www.crissbertling.com or write to Criss care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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