July 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Whether we like it or not, we all have times where we have to wait. God often uses the waiting times to grow and strengthen our faith. This month’s newsletter is all about how we can flourish in the wait. It isn’t about killing time in the waiting, but filling our time in the waiting.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

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Previous issues of the Inspire Newsletter are still available on our website: Previous issues of the Inspire Newsletter are still available on our website: https://usw-womensministries.org/september-2022-inspire-newsletter/

July 2023 Bible Study: Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty

By Lt. Helen Reyes
Executive Administrative Assistant – Women’s Department
Del Oro Division

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “wait? Rush hour traffic, waiting in line from a popular shave ice store, waiting for test score perhaps, or waiting for an expectant child.” The word “wait” is used in the Bible which means “to look forward to.”

I am sharing my daughter-in-law’s personal experience in waiting; read below.

I tend to be a very anxious person.  When I want or “need” something, I’m not one to sit and patiently wait for it.  I always feel that I must seek it and obtain whatever it is as fast as I’m able to. 
In high school, a great friend of mine gave me a copy of his book of prayers.  It was a little blue book that was titled “Pieta” and on the cover was Michelangelo’s Pieta statue depicting Mary holding Jesus in her arms, close to her heart.  My friend’s hope was that I’d find solace and peace in the prayers found within that tiny booklet. 

Since then, that little book has been my talisman of a sort and it’s something I keep close with me.  In it, I have a tiny sheet of paper that lists all my prayer requests and as I peruse through that little book and pray, I’m reminded to lift my supplications to God and to pray for others as well.  It’s been about 20 years since I’ve received that book and that list has gone through many changes.  Through the years, I’ve prayed to God for guidance through college so that I could make my parents proud; I’ve prayed for my marriage, and I prayed to God for the gift of my rainbow baby after suffering a loss.  I prayed and I continue to pray.  I review my list of supplications from time to time and much of what I’ve prayed for has been answered, many of which have been beyond my wildest expectations.    
As I reflect on this now, I’m reminded of the cover of my little booklet of Michelangelo’s Pieta.  Michelangelo’s masterpiece symbolizes peace and hope.  That statue on the cover is fitting then, in that when I take those quiet moments to pray, I’m filled with God’s peace and faith in His perfect timing.  That, while I am anxious and always eager, God already has a plan in store for me and most, if not all, of what I’ve prayed for has been answered.  All that’s needed is a little bit of patience, a little bit of hope, and complete faith in God’s promise. 

In Genesis, we find that Sarai needed patience, a lot of hope and complete faith in God.

Read Genesis 11:27-32.
The writer introduces his readers to the early life of Sarai. What do you learn about Sarai from these verses?

Using the following verses (Genesis 17:15,16, Genesis 11:30) write a short description of Sarai.

Read Genesis 16:1-6.

Verse 16:1-3 How does this verse speak to you about Sarai’s decision who gave Hagar to Abram as a substitute wife? Discuss her idea and the emotions she might have experienced.

In verse 3 Sarai took matters into her own hands by giving Hagar to Abram. Due to Sarai’s lack of faith came a series of problems. What happens when we take over for God? Time was the greatest test for Abram and Sarai’s willingness to work in their lives. Sometimes we too must simply wait.

Verse 16:5 Although Sarai arranged for Hagar to have child by Abram, she later blamed Abram for the results. It is often easier to strike out in frustration and accuse someone else than to admit an error and ask forgiveness. (Adam and Eve, the same thing in 3:12,13.)

Verse 16:6 To whom did Sarai took out her anger? Were her actions justified?
Review and re read the verses above, in what specific way does the testimony of Sarai minister to you?

Read Genesis 17:17-21.
What covenant did God give to Sarai and Abram? God changed Sarai and Abram’s name – what is it and what does it means? What changes in Sarah’s life after her name change?

Read Hebrews 11:11-12.
Sarah’s faith enabled her to be strengthened to conceive and deliver Isaac in her old age.

Read 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Sarah’s faith resulted in a changed life when it came to her relationship with her husband.

Tell Your Story: In what areas of your life have you learned greater trust of God? Describe one area more fully in the space below. Please consider sharing this with your ladies at your corps.

Think About It: Someone once said, “God’s plan is completely different from what you could ever imagine and much more glorious than you would ever expect.” Have you noticed this in your life? Is anything really too hard for the Lord?

In the Psalms we find a repository of prayers to God, many of them ask God for help. For example, consider these passages and notice the relationship between waiting on God and finding strength in God.

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Psalm 31:24

“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:5

Quiet patience is an important part of waiting, for it should drive us to hope in God.

Fear can be a helpful response to dangerous situations. But it can also be something that overwhelms us and takes our eyes off of Christ. No matter our situation, however, Scripture shows us that a part of waiting upon God involves avoiding being controlled by fear and worry. The remedy to our fears is God himself. 

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

Here we see the importance that a proper view of God plays in our practical lives. We need to acknowledge God as he is.

After reading and reviewing the study, take a few moments to pray for someone you know to hang in there and never give up. Our Lord God is never late – He is always on time, and He will never forsake you! Reach out for support from your corps officers, and other godly women around you. You are never alone! God loves you!

Download a printable version of this Bible Study:

July 2023 Devotional: Flourishing in the Waiting

By Rev. Teri McClanahan

About the Author: Rev. Teri McClanahan is an Ordained Deacon, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a recent graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary.

Sometimes in life, we are confronted with significant challenges that bring us to an abrupt halt. We face a wall that seems to stretch from horizon to horizon and reaches heights unscalable. There appear to be no doors and windows. We are stuck, waiting for a way beyond the current situation. Try as we may, there is nothing we can do to alter the situation, so we pray and plead to God for an immediate fix. But nothing happens, and time presses on. I experienced such a challenge eight years ago.

There was a waiting period between being told I had cancer and the onset of treatment. There was nothing I could do but wait on the doctor’s report. So much crossed my mind. The obvious questions were what type of cancer? Has it spread throughout my body? Where were my major organs impacted? Was there a cure? Could I survive the treatment? How do I tell my family? The big question – was I going to die?

That was one of the most challenging times in my life. And there was nothing I could do! I had to wait.
I’m a task-oriented type of person. I like to control as many variables as possible. When faced with challenges and obstacles, I charge in and seek solutions. I fix it; I make it better. Not only do I fix my problems, but I also fix others’ problems. People come to me seeking solutions. That was my life before cancer. As Jerry Bridges (2008) says in his book, Transforming Grace, I was not living by the grace of God; instead, I was living by the “sweat of my brow.” I worked hard in life. Somehow, I thought that if I worked harder, I would have success. I was driven, committed, and didn’t bother God with the details of my life. But then I had my “road to Damascus” experience. Like Saul, I was transformed through the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

It took two weeks before I had all my questions answered by the doctor and was placed into treatment. I experienced the most miraculous changes in my life during those two weeks. I prayed that God would change my circumstances, that the doctors had made a mistake, and that God would remove this thorn from my side. As opposed to changing my situation, God transformed me. I went from being a person of little faith to one of great faith and devotion. I stepped out of my mundane existence into the grace and wonder of God. I gave up control of my life and let God guide and direct me. I was free!

Ephesians 2:8-9 says God’s grace saves us through our faith. My transformation extended beyond being saved by grace; I learned to live each day of my life by God’s grace. Psalm 25:5 says, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” As I humbled myself before God, I relinquished all control of my life to Him. God led me to his throne of grace and mercy. God taught me the art of patient rest and the knowledge of His divine plan for my life. I let the Spirit guide my thoughts, and I had peace for the first time in my life. This wasn’t just a one-time experience. I had peace daily. Even when it seemed I could go no; further, I let the Spirit guide me back to that place of peace with my Father.

When confronted with life’s challenges, I no longer contemplate the solution. I seek God in prayer, and I let the Spirit guide me in the path I should take. Sometimes, the answer does not come instantaneously. But as I wait, I do so with the assurance that it is God’s divine plan for my life. I maintain a posture of joyful hope, patience, and faithful prayer (Romans 12:12).

Bibliography: Bridges, Jerry, Transforming Grace, Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love, 2008. NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.

July 2023 Craft: Photo Collage Letters

Submitted by Julee Schmidt
Del Oro Division

You will need:
⦁ Paper mâché letters (I used 12 inch letters found at JoAnn’s)
⦁ Mod Podge
⦁ Craft paint (any color) + paintbrush
⦁ Matte clear sealant spray (poly urethane) optional
⦁ 4 x 6 – 5 x 7 photos (size will depend on the picture): Each letter used about 5 photos. Print extras so you have options.
⦁ Scissors, paper trimmer

The first step is to paint the sides and backs of the paper mâché letters. I used inexpensive acrylic craft paint. You could also use spray paint if you prefer. Allow paint to dry. After it dried, I decided to paint the front side of the letters to help blend the edge of my photos.

Next, lay out photos on top of each letter and determine which photos you want to go where. This took the most time, figuring out how to cut and fit all the pictures together, like a puzzle. For each individual letter, arrange all of the photos onto letter to ensure it looks how you want, before gluing any of the photos down.

Note: I used the letters as a guide to trace and then cut each picture to fit.

Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge over the letter where the picture is going to go.

Place the photo down on the Mod Podge and gently press it down. Keep a paper towel handy to wipe off any excess Mod Podge.

Repeat with more photos until your letter is completely covered. Keep your fingers clean as you work and try not to smear Mod Podge over the photos.

Finally, seal your photo collage letter with another layer of Mod Podge or matte clear sealant spray. If using Mod Podge, just brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface. It will go on white and dry clear. However, it will show brushstrokes. If this bothers you, use the clear sealant spray instead.

Download a printable version of these instructions:

Flourishing Story: In the Waiting

By Ashley Mitchell
Chico, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

My name is Ashley Mitchell. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a Christian and a gratefully recovering alcoholic and addict. A little over four years ago I would not have felt comfortable claiming a single one of those titles. After thirteen years of struggling through alcoholism, drug addiction, multiple failed and dysfunctional relationships, abuse, separation from my children and family and a year of partially self-imposed homelessness, I found myself so utterly lost that I no longer knew who I was. In desperation, I cried out to my Father in Heaven, asking Him to show me how to change my life. The very next day He began the transformative work that has brought my life to where it is today.

With the help of my mother and father, I traveled from Southern Utah and entered the Adult Rehabilitation Program in Grand Junction, Colorado on May 24th, 2018. Three months into my program, we were informed that the program would be being shut down, at which point I was offered the opportunity to transfer to another location. I turned to my Father in Heaven in prayer with what His will for my life was and accepted the opportunity to continue my program at the Chico, California Adult Rehabilitation Program, with the knowledge that I would be restarting my program upon arrival.

Over the next six months, I stepped into leadership opportunities, strengthened my relationship with my Father in Heaven, continued to reform bonds with my children and family, gained community and new family, rediscovered myself and began to see the undeniable power of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Upon graduation from the ARP, I was offered employment, a continuing home at the facility and the opportunity to join the Worship Team with the Chico Corps. I finally had found myself again. Over the next several years, I continued to grow in my faith and my dependence upon my Father in Heaven. Despite joy and complete transformation, I struggled with one aspect of my new life; my children were still residing in Utah. I found myself asking, “Why and how can I be finding happiness so far away from my children? Is this really where I should be rebuilding my life?” Each time I wrestled with these questions, I could feel and hear the undeniable voice of my Father telling me to put my faith in Him. Through the start of Covid and the temporary closing of our local stores and warehouse, needing to find new employment and learning how to worship remotely, God kept telling me to wait for His timing.

A little under a year ago, I was offered the opportunity to join the staff at the Chico Corps by our Corps Officers. I accepted and have watched my life become something I never could have imagined. My daughter just finished the third grade at a local elementary school. She attends weekday youth programs along with youth assembly and church every week. My husband and I attend church and church activities together. For thirteen years, the talent that my Father in Heaven blessed me with sat unused and now, every Sunday I get to stand up in church and sing with our Praise and Worship Team and use that gift to testify of the love of God and the atoning power of our Savior Jesus Christ. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 9:11)

Wait on the Lord and trust the plans that He has for your life. I promise you, what He has in store is beyond anything you can ever imagine! My name is Ashley Mitchell. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and living proof of the redemptive power of grace and how we can flourish in waiting.

Others – IHQ Bible Study 2023

On 14 June 2023, international Women’s Ministries launched a Bible study collection, Others. This publication is a collection of 24 Bible studies developed by women from different parts of our Salvation Army world. Others follows a strong line-up of Bible studies produced and released over the past four years, Time to be HolyLet Justice Roll and More than Conquerors. Since 2020, over 90 women have accepted the invitation to share what is on their hearts and minds as spiritual leaders, teachers and women of faith!

Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries, writes:

I am delighted to be able to present to you the 2023 Bible study collection from international Women’s Ministries, Others. It is my firm belief that God is calling us to walk with others; in confidence, courage, trust and resilience. Our hearts will stay connected to God, but our hands must reach out to women and girls, men and boys, across our world.
Loving others is God’s call to action for our lives! Much more than just talking about others, we must actually step out and join with them in a spirit of intentional community, hearing people when they voice their struggles and their joys.

Go to https://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/news/others-bible-study to download the English Bible study. Translations in other languages will be coming soon.

Where to Focus in Times of Change

By Major Beth Desplancke

Recently, while attending my corps (church) on a Sunday morning, I noticed that the lyrics on the screen were harder to see than they had been before. I was thankful for the songs I knew, so I wouldn’t have to squint as hard to see the words. After way too long of squinting every Sunday morning (and also when going to fast food restaurants where I couldn’t see the screens – once again I was thankful for familiarity), I caved in and made an appointment for an eye exam.

It isn’t the eye exam I struggle with. I don’t mind the eye test. It is the thought of having to choose new glasses; the idea of changing to something new – gulp! I have worn glasses since I was 12 years old, and over the years I have chosen better glasses than others. I make my husband come with me to help me pick out the best pair. To be honest, I can’t see well enough without my prescription glasses to see how the sample glasses look on my face.

The eye doctor had news I was expecting. My distant vision had indeed changed, and I needed more correction in order to see things far away. But I had another change to deal with as well. I had reached the age where I would need bifocals or progressive lens. I was so concerned about the word on the screen on Sunday, I hadn’t noticed I was squinting to read or pulling things closer to my face.
Out of vanity I chose to go with progressive lens rather than bifocals; I despise the line. They told me it would take a few weeks for my eyes to adjust and for me to change habits. I would have to turn my head in the direction I wanted to look at, and actually tilt my chin down to read, rather than simply glancing with my eyes.

I’ll admit the first two weeks were rough. I felt like nothing was clear. It felt I was adjusting the angel of my head constantly. But, eventually, I realized I could see both close and distant things easier than before.
Change at first is hard. But eventually, change is no longer new, and simply becomes normal. Now that I have worn my “new” glasses for a little more than a month, it has become natural to move my head instead of just my eyes. My new glasses taught me a lesson on focus. The secret to flourishing in times of change is choosing what to focus on.

Change is simply a part of life, and the world around us is changing constantly. Where do we look? We look to the One who does not change. God declares, “I The Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6a). The writer declares in Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Psalm 102:27 declares about God, But you remain the same and your years will never end.

While everything around me changes, God is the one and only constant I can turn to. My age changes, my hair color changes, my weight changes, my job changes, my family changes, my eyes change, but through it all God is the same.

Who God is in the beginning of the Bible, is who He is today. What a comfort to know that there is One person in my life that will never change. His love for me is the same today as it was yesterday. His grace, mercy, and salvation are all the same. His promises for a hope and a future remain the same. His promise of salvation through His Son Jesus, is the same. I just need to keep looking to the unchanging One for stability and focus during times of change.

One of my favorite songs (right now) is “Same God” by Elevation Worship. It is a beautiful song of worship that focuses on the fact that God is the same, and we can stand on His faithfulness. The chorus says:

O God, my God, I need You
O God, my God, I need You now
How I need You now
O Rock, O Rock of ages
I’m standing on Your faithfulness
On Your faithfulness

What comfort I can have knowing the God of the Bible is still the same today, and who He was in the past, is who He is today, and who He will be tomorrow. I can stand on that! So, yes, change will come, and there will be times that the changes are a lot harder to deal with than a new style of glasses or adjusting to progressive lens, but no matter what changes comes my way, I can stand on the unchanging nature (the immutability) of God. He is the same God, the Rock of Ages.

Check out the song Same God