Saturday, February 28, 2015


Put Your Mourning Aside: It’s Time to Celebrate

The two chapters of Friends Needing Friends International have decided to celebrate two fun holidays, Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. Both chapters have worked very hard during the year serving the Lord by helping other widows. The New Jersey chapter turns 27 years old and the Florida chapter celebrated their 3rd Anniversary in February. Also our blog has over 15,600 “hits” in twelve countries to its credit. While all the praise for every accomplishment for this ministry goes to God, I think there is Scriptural precedence for celebration and partying. One only has to look in the book of Nehemiah to read of such celebrations.

The rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem is recorded within this book. It was not an easy process. The workers became discouraged and wanted to quit, their enemies taunted them, and Nehemiah had a lot to contend with in leading the people in this process. Once it was completed and the beautiful city of Jerusalem was again well defended, those Israelites who had been taken captive and were now living elsewhere began to come “home” to Jerusalem which once again began teeming with people.

Then Ezra, the priest, called the people together to read the Law of God aloud to them as it has been so long since that had occurred. They were so happy to once again hear God’s Word that they wept openly. The eighth chapter of Nehemiah tells us that Nehemiah told the people to stop their weeping, for the joy of the Lord was their strength.  Then, he told them to do something that might seem a little curious to us: he told them to
 “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks…” Ladies, that’s a celebration.

Your ministries have been developed with tears, moments of wanting to give up, and discouraging remarks by outsiders, but FNF, as well as the blog, is stronger than ever.  To God be the glory!  This calls for a celebration.  It’s time to party!

The twelfth chapter of Nehemiah records the joyous occasion of the dedication of the wall.  I think it could well serve as a model for what Friends Needing Friends will be doing.  Verse twenty-seven tells us that they celebrated with songs of thanksgiving.
 It is fitting that you women give thanks to God for FNF, not forgetting to be thankful for Dotti, the founder, and Florida director, and maintains the blog.  And don’t forget all those who work so hard each month to put on the lovely meetings that you enjoy.  I also note that the Scripture states that they celebrated joyfully. There is a difference in merely being happy and being joyful.  Happiness comes from without, but joy comes from within. These folks were happy, taking pleasure in the moment, but they were also joyful, which is long lasting. I encourage you to not go light on the fun, food, and frivolity. After all, the whole of this ministry is dedicated to you women who have endured mourning accompanied by many tears. Take to heart Nehemiah’s words: “Do not mourn or weep…Go your way, enjoy choice food (don’t even think of counting calories) and sweet drinks…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Congratulations to FNF, its blog, and each of you ladies who minister to each other faithfully month after month! God is celebrating with you.

By Shari Hervold                        

Reflection:  If you are reading this blog and have not asked the Jesus of the Bible to become your Lord and Savior, I implore you to do so now.  If you long for a lasting joy in your life, I ask you to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life made available to you through His death and resurrection. Jesus Christ himself said that if you come to him, you will become a child of God and a joint heir with him in all the wonderful things that God has prepared for those that trust in Him. It is the best decision you will ever make.

On February 16, 2015 FNF did exactly what Nehemiah said to do: "Go your way...and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks"

But you all must remember that Dotti, Monique and Vella are drinking sweet Sprinkling Ceder Drink.  Now ladies how sweet can you get.....(Smile). 

Our sweet ladies that greet all the ladies each meeting. Thanks Mary Lou, Monique and Vella. God Bless you. 

A special thank you to my daughter-in-law April who not only took all these great pictures at our celebration, but she is helping with the set-up of the FNF blog.

The table settings are street signs of the different streets in New Orleans.


Thanks you Lord for all that you have done for our special group of ladies at Friends Needing Friends International Widow Ministry. We love you dearly.  


Friday, February 20, 2015


Part II

In part I we described the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Rizpah’s two sons at the hands of the Gibeonites. We left them hanging on gallows above a rock in the mountains. (II Samuel 21: 1-15) A plan had fomented in the mind of Rizpah that, followed to its conclusion, would not bring these young men back to life, but at least would remove the shame of their deaths.

And so, Rizpah went to the field to join the ghastly sight and protect the bodies no matter what it cost her. As stated in part I, they were just pawns of the Gibeonites, and once they were hanged they weren’t given a second thought. This dehumanizing action was tantamount to breaking God’s laws and was unthinkable to Rizpah.

So, Rizpah had to put her own grieving on hold in order to protect the dignity of her sons. And, as Scriptures tell us, she spread sackcloth, the cloth of mourning in her culture, on the rock and made a public humiliation of herself to defend her loved ones and she was determined to remain there until the drought was over and she could get some assistance in giving them a proper burial. She knew that nothing would be done until the famine was over.

One woman told me recently that she considered the scene of this grief-stricken mother with these seven bodies, the second most ghastly scene in the entire Bible; second only to the crucifixion of Christ.

 Think of it, she literally watched the bodies of her precious boys shrivel and decay in death before her very eyes. Most likely she kept a small fire burning at night, protecting herself from the chill off the mountain, and perhaps a lighted torch ready when a wild animal would prowl too close, drawn by the stench of the decaying bodies. Perhaps she huddled under the sackcloth during the daytime hours to protect herself from the scorching sun. Sleep, of necessity, was broken – awakening at the first sound of an animal. 

We aren’t told how she obtained food and water. I’d like to think that some family member or close friend provided it for her. One thing for certain, she didn’t pick up a cell phone and call for delivery from a local grocery store! Her neighbors as well as the Gibeonites must have thought her mad. I don’t think it out of the realm of possibility that she was mocked and verbally abused. Yet, she didn’t budge from her vigil. Her soul was occupied with the single goal of saving her children from this final disgrace and complete disregard for God’s law.

 One month passed, then two, three, four.  The bodies now were almost skeletons, but Rizpah continued to guard them. Finally, after almost six months, according to most sources, the rains came and someone reminded David about these seven corpses and of Rizpah. David, perhaps shocked about this, did the honorable thing and had these bones buried with those of King Saul and his son Jonathan.

Rizpah’s actions had done more than just assure dignity in death for Saul’s sons. Her persistent courage gave meaning to her sons’ deaths and helped the nation of Israel deal with the sin of its leader, King Saul.

“What is her legacy to me?” you might be asking.  First off, her firm resolve in the face of considerable odds is a lesson for the widow when life gets messy and she wants to give up on life. Have you had days when you would rather not get out of bed? Death has a way of taking some of the life out of the survivor too, doesn’t it? Psalm 73:26 say, My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Rizpah could do nothing to stop the deaths of her sons any more than you could prevent the death of your spouse, but even in the midst of your pain, you can, in God’s strength, move out and offer assistance to others.

Second, Rizpah is an example of one way to deal with grief. In her I see a woman who really didn’t have anything to give except her grief and suffering. Unbeknown to her, she used that to bring about the healing of her country. Widows through the ages have found that in helping others, they help themselves to heal. Rizpah’s experience is proof positive of Romans 8:28 that in all things, no matter how great the tragedy, no matter how deep the pain, God can work through it.

Rizpah did what she must do. She gave. Giving unlocks one’s heart to God’s comfort and His plans for their lives after tragedy and grief have done their worst. God wants to use even your pain as a catalyst in your life to reach out to others, righting wrongs, and fulfilling God’s plan for your life.

Thank you Shari for a very powerful story of Rizpah
     God bless you my friend!


This beautiful song "But God" sung by Gilead Taylor, described the only one she needed to help her sons was God. I believe the "someone" that reminded David about the corpses was sent by God to answer this widow's prayer to give meaning to her sons' deaths and helped the nation of Israel deal with the sin of its leader, King Saul. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Woman Of Extraordinary Strength and Resolve


Part I

There is a widow who is briefly mentioned in the Bible from whom we can learn much. Her story is told in II Samuel 21:1-15. Let me summarize it here for you:

The land of Israel was in the midst of a severe drought that eventually lasted for three years. David was the king and was divinely informed that the reason for the drought was the slaughter of the Gibeonites by Saul when he was king, thus breaking an oath to them. You may remember the Gibeonites as the group who had successfully deceived Joshua into thinking they had come from a long distance, evidenced by their tattered garments and moldy bread. 

Joshua had thoughtlessly made a treaty with them stating that Gibeon could not be destroyed by the swords of Israel. They were allowed to live within Israel’s borders, and Israel kept their treaty with Gibeon throughout the ensuing years…until Saul. He personally concluded that the Gibeonites should be destroyed since they were a heathen group living within Israel’s borders. He didn’t completely annihilate them, but he completely routed them, and by that act, he totally disregarded the oath made to God. Now, here it is, several years later and King David knows that compensation must be made for this broken treaty. So, he designated the two sons of Rizpah, whom she had as a concubine of Saul’s, as well as five of Saul’s grandsons. These seven young men were handed over to the Gibeonites and they were duly hanged upon the gallows.

This brings us up to the point in this story that the widow Rizpah makes her appearance. Although Scripture doesn’t tell us much about her, we can surmise much about her life, as it followed the scripted one for a concubine of a king of Israel. She was a beautiful woman, lived in the palace, dressed in the designer dresses of the day, and had all the luxuries of life available to her. Even though Saul was now dead, she was still the mother of two of his sons and that was an honor in itself. Her sons gave her joy as well as status and she took great pride in them.

Now, her sons were hanging from a tree above a rock in the mountains. It would make sense to us if that was the last we heard of this older, grieving mother of two princes whose father’s disobedience resulted in their family’s loss of the kingdom and now their own deaths as well. I doubt there were many in Israel who gave Rizpah a passing thought, except for her close friends and family members. I’m sure they expected her to behave in a circumspect manner, grieve her sons privately and live out the rest of her life in quiet dignity. These people hadn’t reckoned with the strength of character of this woman and that’s why I think it’s important to see what her actions might say to present-day widows.

The Gibeonites had not only hanged these young men, they left their bodies to rot on the trees from which they hung. What shame and disgrace for any human, but to Rizpah’s mind, especially Israelite princes. There was no thought for a proper burial, no thought to the disrespect this showed to the lives they had once lived. Here they were left to swing in the open, easy prey for animals and the natural process of death.

 She knew the customs and laws of the Israelites. She might have even been familiar with Deuteronomy 21:22.

If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, then his body must not remain all night on the tree, but you must bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accurse of God) so that your land may not be defiled, which the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

 But what could Rizpah do? The deaths of her sons had left her in a particularly vulnerable position; she was now only a widow and a childless one at that. Her sons were the property of the Gibeonites. She couldn’t ease her pain and grief by the normal tender ministrations of washing the bodies, wrapping them in oils and spices, followed by a burial in a family grave. Her sons were just left to be fodder for the appetites of vultures or large animals. This became unthinkable to her, and a plan formed in her mind.

 We will look at what she did in our next lesson, and contemplate the mercies
 of God to her by preserving her memory and actions as a lasting testament to what can
 be accomplished through His strength when we choose to do right...regardless of the cost.

By Shari Hervold

After reading part one of the above story "Rizpah", this song came to my mine. Rizpah is a special mama and is trying so hard to protect the bodies of her two sons. Sit back and listen to the words as Lynda Randle sings this beautiful song " 'Till The Storm Passes By"

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I became a widow twice in my life, therefore, I can definitely relate to the feelings of being in a “fog” after your mate has passed. There were times people would be talking to you and you wouldn’t be paying any attention to what they were saying. Or people would be doing things and you didn’t realize what they were doing or why they were doing it.

A time later you might remember a friend or two that did do something very nice for you.  My definition of all of this is it was God, He was there all the time.  Our God loved us so much, He supplied all our needs before we even knew we needed anything.

God sent people to help us widows. He sent His angels to care for us and I believe when we cried, He cried and felt our heartache.

At our last monthly meeting of Friends Needing Friends, we all took the time to recognize the love of Jesus at our point of need. We wrote down how God shared His love for us through others to meet these needs.

The following are some of the examples that our ladies shared.

Terry wrote: The year my husband passed was a very snowy winter. I hired a man to plow my driveway but I had to shovel the walkway and the mailbox at the end of my drive. Each snow storm I would shovel the mailbox and the plow would come by our street and bury it again. My neighbor saw this and kept my mail box clean for the rest of the storm season. God sends us angels in all kinds of outfits, including snow boots and snow blowers.

Carolyn wrote:  My brother and sister-in-law flew me to San Antonio for a week of fellowship, prayed with me and encouraged me. They also introduced me to “Yellow Ribbon” an organization that reaches out to veterans. Yellow Ribbon” helped me to focus on others.

Marie wrote: My family and neighbors filled my home with flowers and food and were with me through all the long days until the unreal was over, and stayed close by after giving support and love.

Sue wrote:  All of my small Bible class group came over with food, fellowship, love and shared a laugh of funny memories of Bill as he was in our Bible class. 

Rita wrote:  Friends in the neighborhood would stop by just for a short while. Just to make conversation and to see if I was doing alright. How nice that was.

Carole S. wrote: My friends would call me and then they took me out for lunch and keep me busy doing things with them. I would call them at any time just to talk or cry and they would be there for me.

Susan wrote:  My friend from Palm Beach County took a day off work to drive my dying husband and me to the cancer center in Miami – in my car. She took the tri-rail back to Palm Beach County and several other friends did the same to help us before he passed. My husband died 7 days later.

Another lady wrote: A friend went with me to church the week after my husband died. Another friend help me prepare my taxes, Another friend help me sort through his clothes and another friend helped me find a new car and sell the old one.

What else is there to say, the above is proof and evidence that our God loves us. Our God was there all the time, wanting to help us widows even before we knew we needed His help.

By Dotti Ackerman

Founder & Director of FNF
Est. 1988