June 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Change is inevitable.  How we respond to change is our choice.  This month’s newsletter is full of ways to help you flourish in seasons of change.

One thing we can be certain of in a world of changes, is that God does not change. He is constant and faithful.

“I the Lord do not change…” Malachi 3:6a

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Flourishing Story: There is a Season

By Josie Leyva
Fairbanks, AK Corps – Alaska Division

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to breakdown and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to castaway stones and a time to gather stones together. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to castaway. A time to rend and a time to sow. A time to keep silence and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

What a privilege to be asked to share my testimony. Four years ago, I had a major heart attack, and I needed a new aortic valve. That changed my life. I have been a servant of the living God for many, many years. I was raised in a church and my life was changed, and so it was in the season of change. It was a season that has taken a toll because when you’re not feeling well, or you can’t do much of anything, it kind of brings you to a standstill, and the Bible speaks about that a time to keep silent or to be still and now I had the opportunity that God has given me to be useful for Him with the women’s ministries here at The Salvation Army in Fairbanks, Alaska. I have found a way to flourish, to share what God has given me. I really miss the activity of going here and there but oh just a time to be still and to meditate and to share and to flourish and have that imparted to the women of my age, or women that have been through health issues is, I think, a very wonderful way to keep it going.

I praise the Lord that He has healed me! I have a new valve and some other issues going on, but God is taking care of them. A time to heal, and that’s where I’m at right now. I really enjoy sharing to others as at my age in the 70s, here I am. Sometimes we feel that we are neglected, bypassed, ignored, or that we just don’t have anything else to contribute. But God tells us here in His word, there’s a time for everything, for every season, and I am in a season right now to be still, to be silent, but then to flourish in sharing what the Lord has done, and is doing, and will do because that is His promise to us. I know that our goal is that one day we’re going to see Him face to face and walk those streets of glory! Well there’ll be a season of joy and peace, and no more sorrow, no more sickness! Hallelujah! And so, I look forward to that. Those seasons to come around in the time that is allotted to me.

Do you know growing up in church and just being around people, we kind of get into this state of mind that everybody else is growing old but we’re not. Then all of a sudden, here we are, but I want to encourage us, my age, our age group, here that we have much to do. The Bible instructs us to be women that will mentor the young women. How will they know if no one has told them or explained it, or love them through it ? That is our responsibility, and so as we battle many things, we can stand. God changes not and He has a purpose for each and every one of us. During my time when I was convalescent, I would write letters, or right cards to people, and of course I had my phone. I learned how to text, and I can text with one finger like maybe 40 miles, I mean 40 words a minute. I got pretty good, but things that I didn’t think I could do, and I’m not computer savvy, but I do use my phone to text and communicate with people. But, you know, to say that we are done, what is the purpose in my life? Lord, and get into that state of ”I don’t know what else I can do. “ You just ask the Lord, and He will guide you, direct you. He will open doors that no man can shut! And you walk through them, by faith!

You share what God is doing. You can remind people, you know I used to be a young girl, I went through those things, and God has secured me all the way through. Even in sickness and in health, here I am. So, when doubt comes into our hearts and minds, we must remember that there is a season for everything. I just thank the Lord for this season, a time to “flourish.” I want to be planted like a tree in the waters, that will just flourish, that shall never, never, run dry! The tree will flourish, and it will give its fruit in season (Psalm 1:3).

June 2023 Craft: Seasons May Change Painting

By Captain Heather Pope
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Alaska Division

This is the perfect project to remind us that even though things around us may change, God’s love is steadfast and true. He is with us through each and every moment. In times of uncertainty we may cling to Him and find peace.

First you will need to choose a piece of paper or a canvas to paint on. The paper in the picture is a 12×12 piece of cardstock. You will then use painters’ tape or any other tape that is easy to peel off. Put a piece of tape around each of the four sides. I used a wider piece on the top to leave enough space to write after painting. Now use thin pieces of tape to section off the paper into four equal parts.

Choose four colors that you would like to use to represent each season. I chose to use darker colors at the top and then gradually fade into lighter tones. You can lighten the dark colors by adding a little white paint. Acrylic paints worked the best.

Next you will use black paint to paint your tree with branches. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Once you add the leaves in the next step it will look great.

Now is the fun part, you get to paint the different seasons on their branches. Add flowers, green leaves, a bright sun, fall colored leaves and lots of snow.

Once your masterpiece is dry, remove each piece of tape to reveal your four sections of seasons.

Now you can add your favorite quote or scripture that will reflect how God never changes.

Download printable instructions of this craft:

June 2023 Devotional: Praise Changes Things

By Captain Michelle Josephson
Hoonah, AK Corps – Alaska Division

Praise is incredibly powerful and far richer, far deeper than we tend to think of it. What comes to mind when we think of praise? Singing to the Lord? Our praise is tied to our faith and our understanding of God. The more we understand and know of God the more we Praise Him.

Our praise is tied to our relationship with Him. The better our relationship the more our Praise. Are we in a right standing with God and others? Our praise is tied with faith. It moves mountains, armies and it can silence our enemies.

What enemy are we combatting right now? Yes, the invisible enemy in the spiritual realms. We also battle the fleshly fallen nature and the world around us. We battle negative self-talk. We may find it hard to change our perspective.

As He put Praise on my heart, I began to meditate and study. It brought such joy to my heart.

You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies! Psalm 8:2 TLB

How wonderful and amazing is our God that through the praise of little children the enemy is silenced. And it is God teaching them praise!!! This is something so natural for our children, so pure and innocent as they praise God it silences the enemy, and a hedge of protection is built around them.

I like to see the good in things; the blessin’ in the lesson. I trust the Lord through all things. I can tell you my life has not always been that way. Trust was always a hard road for me, but faith was a beautiful process with the Lord. When we praise the Lord through our circumstances the enemy is defeated, we are encouraged and uplifted. Praise changes our perspective as we look to the Lord.

I looked further, He showed me praise is also a tool/spiritual weapon. Praise could stop enemies in their tracks! Does God really do that? I mean, I know God uses unusual weapons but just praise? You better believe it!!!

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: Here they are facing this vast army and what does the Lord say: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. The battle is not yours, but God’s. He gives them some very specific instructions. He tells them where they will find the enemy. And again: You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17a

Where is God telling you to take your positions? Stand firm! See the deliverance He will give you!!!
Again the Lord reiterates: Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Go face your enemy tomorrow. The Lord will be with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17b

What battle are you facing? Praise the Lord. Have faith. The Lord is with you.

And they all fell down in worship before the Lord. Some Levites stood up and praised the Lord, with very loud voice. In the morning they left. As they set out, Jehoshaphat said, “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” Men are appointed to sing to the Lord and praise Him for the splendor of His holiness. 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Do you need upheld by God? Do you need God fighting for you? Praise changes things. Invite the Lord into your circumstance and praise Him as He fights for you.

They go out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against them. The enemy was defeated.
2 Chronicles 20:21b022

He defeated their enemy without raising a single manmade weapon. They fell down in worship. Men were specifically appointed to sing praises. Everything hinged on what? Their praise and faith.

Hear their praise: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” They praised God’s love and faithfulness. God loves us so much. He wants to be in a relationship with us. Part of that relationship is submission. We submit our will to His, that it might go well for us.

We need to do things right and in order. We do not put the cart ahead of the mule and expect that the field will be plowed. Where do you need to trust God and start praising Him?

Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds-his name is the Lord-and rejoice before him. Psalm 68:4

How will you Praise God today? In the days to come? He is faithful, and His love endures forever.

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high. Psalm 7:17

With Praise to God and faith in our heart we can silence the enemy, move mountains and even armies. Nothing is impossible with God.

I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Psalm 146:2


June 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in Times of Uncertainty

By Major Rachel Chouinard
Anchorage Citadel – Alaska Division

Flourishing means to grow in a healthy and vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.  At first thought, I picture flowers so beautiful and fragrant, but that could be because my brain wants to grab the most obvious first two letters of both words! 

Flourishing flowers are lovely, but with deeper thought, I think of my most favorite spot on planet earth (so far!) the Redwood Forest on the coast of California.  This forest is home to some the world’s tallest and oldest trees. Many of them more than 2000 years old and reaching heights well beyond the Statue of Liberty.  Just standing at the base of one and tilting your head back as far as you can looking up, up, up, gives perspective to the height of these trees which touch the heavens.  It is a sight to behold!  The still-standing trees keep growing 3 to 5 feet a year, though they have no mind of their own to do so, they were meant to be a tree unlike any other! They began the size of a tomato seed and wowie! to see one now, one will think, how could you have ever been so small and insignificant?

Some of the most memorable trees to me since my last visit were the ones still standing amongst the devastation of their tree community.  Trouble was not so far from them, some had scars of trouble themselves, lightning struck, disease struck, burl poachers struck, lovers with a pocketknife struck, or strong wind that huffed and puffed till it blew them down.   The trees still standing just kept doing what they do, grow, grow, grow and get this; it’s origin is from about the size of a tomato seed!  From seed to tree, it remains on the same trajectory- to become a Redwood tree!   The only way it was able to remain the same yet flourish was by growing into the gigantic wonder it was meant to be. This is flourishing! 

God intends that His creation grow and flourish.  Every foundational truth in the Scripture is meant for our flourishing. Redemption in Christ, and abundant eternal life through Him.  The forest around us may be uncertain, and at times full of trouble, but we know what we are meant to do! Flourish!

In this Bible Study, I will like to guide the participant through 3 spiritual foundations given by Scripture that promote flourishing in times of uncertainty.      

PART ONE: (Surrender) 

When I stand at the bottom of a Redwood tree, looking up and seeing the tops of the trees bend and sway with the wind I wonder what would happen if they didn’t?  The force of the wind would break their tops off. But instead, they surrender, they let the wind blow as it will and when it is over, they are still standing, still growing, still flourishing.  They have surrendered to the process.  As Christ so lovingly calls us to surrender as well.   

READ Isaiah 45:9.  What does this verse indicate about the way in which God flourishes us? 

READ Jeremiah 29:11. Describe the flourishment that comes from surrendering to God’s plan.  

READ Romans 12:2. In what ways does conforming to the world hinder our surrender to God? Describe what flourishment comes from a mind transformed by God? 

So much of life is us growing without any say in the matter whatsoever.  Can a baby keep herself from growing? Can a mid-life adult stop herself from aging?  I see more spiritual, emotional and mental growth in myself from my surrendering to the process far more than my trying to “fix myself” or “figure it out”.  When we are doing this, we are relying on ourselves, not Christ.  It is vital that not only seek God’s will and way, but to surrender as well.  Surrendering can feel like a precarious place to be, but it is an act of faith which leads to our flourishing!   

“He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6  

PART TWO: (taking Dominion) 

The seed of a Redwood would not have grown if it had been thrown on concrete, instead, in a damp and nutrient rich forest, protected from danger, it flourishes!  Flourishing happens in a favorable environment.  The opposite must happen in an unfavorable environment.  Biblically, we can track that flourishing is the way life is supposed to be!   In the beginning, God pronounces everyday of creation leading up to the creation of mankind GOOD! And every day topped the previous day, culminating with the creation of man, and then the Garden of Eden where he placed His final creation- woman.  God created the Garden of Eden as the perfect home for His children to thrive and flourish. He charged them to be fruitful, multiply, and take dominion.

It is evident that God has granted us freedom to exercise our sovereignty over our little corner of the world through His charge to mankind.  Why wouldn’t you do the best you can to create an environment for yourself in which you can flourish in?  I mean, if a Redwood tree had legs, do you think it would plant itself in the middle of Death Valley.  Sometimes we do this! We ignore Gods intention for us to flourish and instead go off and suffer on purpose that we may be a martyr-a victim. I think often of the Scripture of which Jesus says “greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world”  As we grow in consciousness by His light in our lives, we become increasingly aware that choosing flourishing, choosing to thrive, and choosing to be victors in our lives will very often be regulated by our ability (or lack thereof) to take responsibility for as much as we are responsible for.   We have the power and the responsibility to set-up our lives to thrive and grow in the best soil possible.   This also means that we are responsible for our soil as well.  I choose as much as I can to fill mine with the Holy Spirit, with discipline, with good friends and family, with purpose, with learning, with creativity, and with plenty of play!  This is a flourishing environment for me.  What is a flourishing environment for you in which you can take dominion?  

READ Genesis 2:4-25. Describe the environment, or home, that Eve was in?  In what ways was she set up for success? 

READ Psalm 23.  Describe the flourishing relationship taking place in this passage between David and his Shepherd.  
PART THREE: (support of one another)

The Redwood trees flourished because they were in a complex community of other living things.  Every living thing played their part. We flourish when we help others flourish! 

READ Jeremiah 29:4-7. In which way must God’ children surrender here?   Describe the environment they are creating.  What two things must they seek and what is the benefit? 

READ Matthew 6:1-4. Who is flourishing here?  Why? What will hinder the flourishment? 

In closing, discuss what additional Scriptures came to mind during this study. Share the evidence of flourishing (vigorous growth) and thriving in your life.

Pray for one another.

Download a printable version of the Bible Study: