Thursday, January 28, 2016


Today, I am stepping out of my comfort zone. 

I would like to share with you a reading from one of Joyce Meyer’s devotionals that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to serve the Lord.
 Joyce Meyer wrote: “All I know is that God has always used and still does use women as leaders and teachers, preachers, ministers, missionaries, authors, evangelists, prophets, and so on. Just remember that God loves you and wants to use you in powerful ways to help other people. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that God cannot or will not use you, just because you are a woman. As a woman, you are creative, comforting, sensitive, and you are able to be a tremendous blessing. You can bear a lot of good fruit in your life. You don’t have to merely pass through life unnoticed, always in the background. If God has called you to leadership, you should lead. If He has called you into ministry, you should minister. If He has called you to business or as a homemaker, you should boldly be all that He has called you to be. When you have made your choice to go on in life…pray…ask God where He wants you to serve.
This advice from Joyce Meyer should encourage the widow as she decides to step out of her comfort zone and with God’s help to go on with life to be what God wants her to be.

 Now let’s take a moment to check our Bibles to see what was recorded from several of the widows as they took their giant step out of their comfort zone.
Naomi & Ruth as they traveled to Bethlehem.
 After Naomi’s husband and two sons died she knew she had to go on with life. God led Naomi to choose to return to Bethlehem her home town.  This would be a major step for Naomi traveling many miles with her daughter-in-law to reach her destiny.  They both prayed to God for help and protection as they began to travel this long and dangerous road.  Please take the time to read the whole story of what happens to Naomi and Ruth in the Bible - book of Ruth. Naomi was taking her first step-out of her comfort zone to where God wanted her to be. Naomi had no idea what God had in store for her but she had faith and took that first step out of her comfort zone to what God had for their future.

Rizpah protecting her sons.
Rizpah, another widow in the Bible had to become a very brave woman when her life changed.  You can find the whole Bible story about Rizpah in II Samuel 3:7.  It was a very difficult time for Rizpah when her two sons were murdered and hanged.   Rizpah watched over their dead bodies from barley harvest until fall rain.  All she wanted was for her two sons to have a proper burial. As Edith Deen states in her book “All the Women of the Bible” – “Certainly no woman had ever shown greater endurance or stoicism amid such tragedy. When Rizpah was King Saul’s wife and was living with royalty, did she ever think her first step out of her comfort zone when she became a widow, would be so tragic. And yes, God was with her, and answered her prayer.  Finally together with Saul and Jonathan, Rizpah’s sons were all buried in the family grave at Zelah.  

One of our widow ladies at the meeting of Friends Needing Friends stepped out of her comfort zone when I asked her to help me with the message in front of the other ladies. With God’s help she did step out of her comfort zone.  God gave her the courage to do just that and I wouldn’t hesitate to call on her again.   

Now to put this whole message altogether….. Watch out 2016 – with God’s help – I’m on Fire and once again ready to step out of my comfort zone.  Are you? Remember to pray first and keep God’s promises as your guideline.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound  mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Message by Dotti Ackerman
Founder & Director of Friends Needing Friends
Est. 1988

By Chris Tomlin

By Chris Tomlin

Friday, January 15, 2016

Vowing to ServeGod in 2016, Part II

Vowing to Serve God in 2016, Part II

In part I, I challenged you, as older women, (The principles apply to younger women too.) to vow, or a solemn promise, to God to serve Him in specific ways in 2016. I encouraged you to ask God in prayer what it is He would have you to do to be of service to others this year. Lastly, I gave you some examples from Scripture of women who dedicated their time and talents to serving others.

Don’t ever put limits on what, how, when, and where God can use you. And, lest you think to serve God you must do something that demands a special talent or gifting, Matthew 25:35-40 gives us these words of Jesus spoken to his children, “For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me…When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”  I think our problem is that we don’t always really believe this. We think only the cleric or specifically gifted people truly do meaningful service to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Frederick William Robertson, nineteenth century minister, stated,It is not the possession of extraordinary gifts that make extraordinary usefulness, but the dedication of what we have to the service of God.” These words of Christ clearly are written about any act of kindness done by any child of God to anyone in need.

I recall the notes of encouragement that a woman whom I knew only as Anna would give out to friends. In her younger years Anna had been the visitation pastor of her church where she would minister to the sick and shut-ins. After her retirement and living on a very modest income, Anna would write notes of encouragement and leave one at each lady’s plate at the monthly meetings of Friends Needing Friends. She would leave one by my plate too, and I treasured them and kept one for years, even after God called Anna Home.  She simply wrote notes, something not requiring a particular talent, yet something that served to encourage her fellow widows when such words were often too few in their lives. Anna relayed that when she couldn’t sleep at night, instead of watching television or reading, she would write her cards. Age may have slowed Anna down, but it didn’t stop her and until her final illness, she faithfully blessed her fellow widows with her sweet notes.

Another excuse common to older women is that they’re too old and don’t have the strength and good health they used to possess. I know the reality of diminishing physical strength. It’s just a part of the aging process. But the one thing I never want to be guilty of is using that as an excuse to do nothing, and I pray the same for you.

  In Philippians 4:13 Paul reminds us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You will find that true too, as God will never ask you to do anything that He won’t give you the ability to accomplish.

 I’m reminded of two women that most of you know: Dotti Ackerman and Mary Lou Tweed. Dotti is the founder of Friends Needing Friends and the director of the Florida chapter and Mary Lou Tweed is the director of the New Jersey chapter. From the time that FNF was established, Dotti planned her vacations around the month of August when there was a hiatus from the meetings. And, in over 27 years, she has only missed one or two meetings. Even this past year, when she was undergoing chemo and radiation treatments, Dotti continued to work from home during some of those difficult days doing the newsletter and the FNF blog.  Mary Lou, who underwent knee surgery this past year, scheduled it during the month of hiatus, thus not missing a meeting. They may not have been 100% well and strong, but they planned the timing of medical procedures around their ministries. I know that isn’t always possible, but I use them as examples of how dedicating yourself to service and seeing it as a solemn vow to God will inspire you to even work around physical challenges, instead of using those challenges as an excuse to do nothing.

The “why” of your service to God should be evident by now.  Scripture is full of admonition to serve and examples of those who served God through service to others. Jesus is our greatest example for this. Remember when he washed the feet of his disciples, he was doing a slave’s task, and by dying on the cross for our sins, he was treated as a common criminal. Matthew 20:28 reminds us, “Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve . . .” I encourage you as “mature women” to not give in to the temptation as Cynthia and Robert Hicks put it “to become idle. . . A woman of mature strength does not use this time in her life to waste, sitting around the house, eating and watching television all day.” Contemplate the words of author Debra Evans, “Like the women saints who came before us, our value to the Lord is not measured by the size of our paycheck, the sum of our earnings, the status of our position. Kneeling before Christ’s throne – with nothing to offer but ourselves – by God’s grace we are sent forth in His service. I wonder: Where will He lead us?”

Make the widow Marta Felber’s prayer your own as you look forward to 2016.

Dear God, There is so much distress and need in the world. 
Guide me to the place where I can be of service, and help
 me to minister in your name. Amen 

 Message by Shari Hervold

  Congratulations Shari and Thor Hervold on the arrival of their first grandson. The parents named the boy Valbjorn Magnus Mehring and made his appearance on 1/6/16.  Kaara (Shari’s daughter) is comfortable and she and Richard are delighted . . . and we have a new hand to hold and life to cherish.  

Isn't he beautiful! I just love this picture. 

This is the perfect time in our FNF blog to offer
"Praise and Worship" to our God for His many blessings.

Now relax and enjoy the special praise music by Michael Smith.