Sunday, April 27, 2014



'Real Answers' by Pastor Bruce Sofia'



There are two kinds of hope, the world's and God's.  When the world speaks of hope they do so in the sense that what they wish for may come true; when God speaks of hope it is a done deal.

Romans 5:5 tells us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.

So, where does one find hope after someone you love has died?  In the only source that "does not disappoint."  Consider these promises: (There are 157 verses in the NIV Bible that contain the word hope, I am only going to give you five.)

Psalm 25:5 - guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 147:11 - the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Jeremiah 31:17 - so there is hope for your future.

Romans 5:3-5 - ... we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; (4) perseverance, character; and character, hope. (5) And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.


What is the reality of these promises?  When you put your hope in Him, He will be your guide, He will see that your future is secure and blessed, He will develop your character when you think it is beyond developing, and He will give you a love that will open your eyes to your value in Him and the inheritance you have in Him - not in your husband, or relative, or son or daughter, or anyone else - but in Him.

Your value in life, your contribution to life lies in who you are in  Christ and what you do for Christ, not in identification with a loved one.  It is not wrong to identify with another person, to model or imitate another who brings honor to God, but the reality is "your worth and value, your ‘hope’ is in Christ."  Place your hope in Him in whatever you do; you won't be disappointed.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our after Easter meeting luncheon for FNF south


Good afternoon dear ladies ~ I hope you all had a lovely Easter.

The week before Easter is always a time of reflecting on what Jesus did for us, when he died on the cross. He was innocent, He took on our sins, shed his blood, was in agony, all for us. His last words were ‘it is finished’.  He paid the price and we have been set FREE. Our sins are washed away.

Easter day is a day of rejoicing because our Jesus rose from the grave. Now we look forward to life eternal spent with Him in a place more beautiful and wonderful than we can even imagine.

Our Easter meeting luncheon down south here was a time of celebration and joy. Dotti has told us on more than one occasion ‘to leave our baggage at the door’. Our meetings are times of love, encouragement and happiness. Monday’s meeting was a happy one as you will see by the photos.

In Ecclesiastes we read:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

This is what we try to do each month.


We had an Easter hat competition and somehow I missed getting a photo of the lady who ended up being the winner of the most beautiful hat. I apologized to her and asked her to bring her hat next month so that I can take a photo of her. If I missed anyone else I apologize to you here, oops, I just realized I did miss someone else, she didn’t have a hat though, so I don’t feel as bad.  I still apologize though.

We also had another great guest speaker, from the States Attorney’s office, Bill Minton.  He spoke on white collar crime ~ fraud, financial and theft. We learned a lot and really appreciate his time and tips to help us be aware.


Sue D. also gave a great talk about the persistent widow. Something we all need to be, so as not to be taken advantage of.

Now here are the happy photos.




I think Ramona’s hat won for the most original.


Her hat was like a wrong side out Easter basket. The front eggs spelled egg and the back eggs spelled centric, eggcentric.

Eccentric = unconventional and slightly strange. Really cute!!














This was the funny hat, if I remember correctly.



Look at the cute color co-ordinated purse.


Here we have Josie the head hostess for our luncheon.

Thank you Josie for the work you and your ladies do.


Here’s a group shot.


I’ll end this post with the next two photos. Ramona made up these sweet jelly bean gift bags with the ‘jelly bean prayer’, which was enjoyed by everyone. Not just the jelly beans, but the prayer. So meaningful.



Thank you all for coming out and growing in God’s grace with us.  We had a great time.  We look forward to seeing you all next month.

Have a lovely week ~ Rainey

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter


Good Easter morning to you dear Ladies,

What a glorious celebration Easter is! Jesus, our Great King, Lord and Savior rose from the grave, triumphant over death and sin.

Easter time is spring time here in the US, a time of life breaking forth, a time of growth, flowers filling gardens and fields with their scents and beauty. Fruits and veggies growing and  eventually giving us good things to eat. Birds and animals mate, and little ones are born. This is a time of rejoicing in life.

We see God in all of His creation and we have so much to be thankful to Him for.

Let us rejoice and be glad in this day of celebration of our Lord’s great love for all mankind. He died and rose again to set us ‘free’ and give us life eternally with Him. Where there will be no sickness, pain or death, no more evil, just joy, pure joy and all is goodness and light.

~ Happy Easter ~



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Learning from Mary, the mother of Jesus, How to Suffer Loss


Today we have more encouraging words from Shari Hervold.  May God speak through her words and bless our hearts.


We are all familiar with the account recorded in the gospel of Luke of the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. Mary’s response to this was simply, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Keep those words in your mind as we look at Mary in another setting in her life.

Jesus, though the son of God, was also Mary’s son and she loved him with the heart and devotion of a mother. When he was sick, she nursed him back to health, when he fell and skinned his knees, she tenderly washed them and administered healing oils to them, when the children in the neighborhood called him a bastard, Mary’s mother-heart ached for him, comforted only by what she knew to be the truth, yet could only reflect and ponder on silently.


This month we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. By this time Mary is a widow without Joseph to comfort her in her grief and heartache. She has experienced the death of her husband and the loneliness that accompanies it and now her precious son is enduring a public travesty. Throughout his public ministry Jesus had thousands following him. Yes, he was despised by the religious leaders, but he soared above them in popularity with the people and I’m sure that Mary could take great pride in her son, the popular rabbi. But now, even many of the people who had hailed him just a week previously, totally turned against him, and those that didn’t were too afraid to speak up. Mary had to watch from the sidelines as her son endured a mock trial and a death sentence to crucifixion. She observed him endure the scourging that cut deep into his flesh and nails being hammered through the tendons of his feet and hands, all of this coupled with the shame of being stripped naked, as Roman soldiers mocked him. Remember, this is her son, not just her Messiah. It is impossible to imagine what Mary must have been feeling as she observed all of his sufferings, unable to assist him in any way, but relegated to the sidelines to watch the cruelest execution one can imagine. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was so battered that he was unrecognizable. Could Mary have possibly had any idea what she too would have to suffer when she uttered those words to Gabriel, “Let it be to me according to your word,”? Why could Mary stand and watch her son endure an agony no other mother would ever have to endure with calmness, without making a scene by shouting epithets at the soldiers or throwing herself prostrate at the foot of the cross? (Who could have blamed her had she?) May I suggest that Mary was able to exhibit such strength because her life was emotionally centered in God.

You widows know the pain of the loss of your spouse and many of you have endured the grief of losing children. Some days I’m sure that your losses have made you just want to give up on life. But, you haven’t. I encourage you to look at the example of Mary as she calmly accepted the worst that life could give so that the whole world would have the opportunity to have the best that both life and death could give. God knew what He was doing in choosing Mary to mother His son. He saw a young girl with a heart fully surrendered to Him. While there will never be a need for another “Mary,” God desires that you surrender your life to Him and allow his strength and succor to be yours as you live with pain and loss. Though the tears may sometimes flow, I encourage you to say as did Mary, “Let it be according to your will.”


Shari Hervold


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Intro: ~ ‘Real Answers’ by Pastor Bruce Sofia


Dear Friends,

Each year I have been invited to speak at our widow’s support group, Friends Needing Friends.  The group has been meeting since June 1988 at Geet’ Diner in Williamstown.  Today they meet every fourth Monday at Wedgwood Country Club.

Friends Needing Friends has extended its ever increasing ministry to another chapter that meets the third Monday at Palm Beach National Golf & Country Club, Lake Worth, Florida.

At one of the “FNF” meetings, the ladies were asked to write a question concerning widowhood and I would answer one question each month that would be published in their monthly newsletters and now in the Friends Needing Friends blog.

I pray as you read the different answers to the many questions that were presented, God will speak to your heart as He helps you through your time of grieving.

In conclusion, the Scripture is clear. “God defends the cause of the widow,” Deuteronomy 10:18. If you ever find yourself doubting the truth, as “Higher Ground” so beautifully sings, “Just say the name of Jesus!” Yes, there is comfort, healing and strength in the name of Jesus.

Very truly yours in Jesus,

Pastor Bruce Sofia

Founder & Director of

Gloucester County Community Church


Friday, April 4, 2014

A new series ‘Widows Witnessing’


Good morning Ladies ~ Here it is April already and Easter is just a couple of weeks away.  Easter is the season of rebirth and restoration.

God in His great glory and wisdom has saved us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, so that we will be FREE.  Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.

Our lives did not end when we lost our dear husbands, they just took a turn, a turn closer to Jesus as we depend on Him and grow to love Him more as He works in our lives.

We are starting a new series on this blog.  ‘Widows Witnessing’. These will be stories of how God has worked and is working in your lives.

We want to publish your stories right here in this blog.  Your stories will touch lives. Whenever we read about what God does in a real person’s life, we rejoice and our faith is strengthened.

No story is too small to tell. Sometimes the smallest stories can be some of the greatest. May God bless you as you share with us what God has done in your life.

So, let us hear your story.

We are going to start with our founder Dotti. Her story is the beginning of how we are here today. May you be blessed and encouraged as you read her story.


Several years ago while living in New Jersey, Pastor Bruce Sofia of Gloucester County Community Church, called and asked me to speak at their Wednesday evening meeting. Pastor Sofia was giving a series of meetings titled, “Till Death Due Us Part”.  Pastor asked me to speak on “How did I cope when my late husband died”. At first, I held my breath and then I remembered Pastor’s words, when he said, “I thought of you first when I was organizing this topic for the class”. Well, if Pastor thought of me first, God must have spoken to him; therefore, I must do this and depend on the Holy Spirit of God to help me.
Of course, Satan was right there telling me so many lies. You can’t do this, what if I stutter, forget my subject, and many other lies. But inside of me, I knew I had to do this.
The next day, I called my girlfriend Rita and told her about Pastor Bruce’s request. I needed her advice on how she remembers and prepares for the many times she was asked to speak at different churches. Her excellent advice was to remember to give God the Glory in everything He has done.
I prayed and asked God to guide me and my thoughts as to what He wanted me to say. God brought back so many memories that I thought I had forgotten. When I was finished writing the speech, He spoke to me again and showed me the many times that He provided and protected me, telling me of His love and that He had never forsaken me.
The Psalmist wrote, “write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him” (Ps. 102:18 TEV)

You owe it to your loved ones to pass on to them how God helped you overcome your problems and fulfill His purposes through your life. Think, what you write will be a witness that continues to speak long after you are in heaven!

What an honor that was to be asked to give testimony of how God helped me. To be able to speak of His miracles to over 300 people was very exciting.


The date now is April, 2014 and we are doing articles by our FNF groups, titled “Widows Witnessing”.  These widows will be writing their feelings of widowhood.  As the last line of the above Bible verse reads “Think, what you write will be a witness that continues to speak long after we are in heaven!”

What a wonderful God we serve, God’s Blessing!
Dotti Ackerman


Founder & Director of Friends Needing Friends

Est: 1988