August 2023 Flourish Newsletter

There are times when we just feel spiritually dry or thirsty. How do we flourish even in the dry seasons? This month’s newsletter is all about how we can flourish in the dry season. We satisfy our spiritual thirst by connecting with God, and His Word.

… Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38

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August 2023 Devotional: Flourishing in the Dry Season

By Major Noelle Nelson
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Golden State Division

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

It is wonderful to be in a season of life when things are blooming, happening, and coming to fruition. God’s miracles seem to be popping up everywhere and there is little that can drag your spirit down. You hardly have to try as you feel yourself…well, flourishing! We’ve all been there, enjoying moments of peace and joy and confirmation that we are on the path God has laid out for us.

This is not where we are setting down our feet this time. Think of a dry, arid desert. Nothing for miles and miles except endless stretches of sand and heat waves visible to the naked eye. Eyes aching from the harsh sun, skin blistering past the point of sunburn, heat radiating up through the soles of your shoes, throat parched and sandpaper-rough. What would you do for a single sip of water? How far would you crawl to reach a small patch of shade? You would cry but for the fact that you don’t have enough spare moisture left in your body to produce a single tear. Have you ever been in a place like this? Perhaps not literally or physically. But what about spiritually? I have. It’s a ‘yes’ to both.

I went to high school in Santa Cruz, California, close enough to the ocean that my surfer classmates would run onto campus just as the bell rang, shoes forgotten in the car and still towel-drying their ocean-soaked hair. If they remembered, they would do the courtesy of dusting the sand off their feet and legs before rushing into class. Admittedly, it was a pretty fantastic place to be a teenager. The summer before my senior year, my Officer parents were appointed to Mesa, Arizona. Mesa means, “An isolated flat-topped hill with steep sides, as found in arid and semi-arid areas of the U.S.” We were headed away from the cool water of the Pacific, toward vast expanses of sand, cacti, lizards, and broiling HEAT. I did not take well to all the jokes meant to cheer me. “Hey! You’re moving to the biggest beach in the world!” “You’ll be able to get a tan year-round!” (I am Danish and English. The ability to tan is not even in my DNA). I found myself, for the first time ever, dreading a move.

There are times in life when we can feel the desert coming; a palpable transitioning from a time of abundance and moisture, into the scorching heat of a spiritual desert. We may fight it, try to delay it, but it still comes. What brings it on? What specific purpose could it possibly have? Even if we could pinpoint the what and the why, how LONG will we be in this dry, hot, lonely, near-uninhabitable atmosphere? It’s an unanswerable question. We do know this: It is hard to flourish in the dry season.

I found myself in a dry season that stretched a span of nearly 16 years as one after another, my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th children were diagnosed with autism. There wasn’t nearly the amount of awareness, information, and treatments back in the day, as there are now. I wanted to praise God for the lives of my 4 children. I wanted to delight in their presence, savor their giggles, and hold silly conversations that only toddlers can provide. I wanted to see them thrive and flourish. That was not God’s path for them or, ultimately, for me. Oh, how I longed to talk with Jesus in the night hours, pouring out my sorrows to Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. But by day’s end I had nothing left. Watching my children struggle to learn, communicate, and use the most basic of fine-motor skills was emotionally exhausting. On the outskirts, our oldest was feeling sorely neglected. My husband was as hands-on as he could be after a long day at the office. My spirit became a dry husk, on the brink of shriveling completely and blowing away in the hot desert wind.

Years before, in training school, I claimed Isaiah 58:11 as ‘my’ verse.

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

During this long, dry season God would continually bring this verse to mind. So many times I shoved the verse away as if it were not a promised cup of cool water, but merely a mirage meant to torment me. I knew it was not meant to taunt me, but rather to remind me He had made a promise, and I should focus on that. But it was oh, so difficult.

It was while visiting my parents in Mesa, Arizona (yes, they retired there!) that my dad showed me the most recent collection of his photographs: desert cacti in full bloom. As we chatted, he shared how amazing it is that these cacti could flourish and bloom in the heat of the dry desert. A cactus is incredibly heavy because it is 90% water, having constantly gathered moisture from the environment, storing it up for the dry season.

Then it hit me, full-on. Be a cactus! If I so immerse myself daily in God’s Word and His presence in each season, I will have ‘hydration’ stored up to keep me alive during the dry season. I would still need to allow God to rehydrate and soften my crackling-dry spirit, but in His loving care I WOULD make it through this desert. He would cause me to thrive once again. I WOULD FLOURISH!

And that is exactly what happened. Years earlier as a teen, I could not escape the physical desert of my new Arizona home. But God was faithful and brought me the gift of my now husband of 32 years. Years later, I could not hide from the spiritual and physical exhaustion that parenting brought me, but God was faithful, and continues to be faithful as I watch my 4 boys grow into fine men who love the Lord, each to the best of their abilities.

When the dry season comes, and we know it will, fall back on God’s promise. He will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and he will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. In the meantime, if you are flourishing in a season of abundance take advantage of those showers of blessing. Soak up the living water into the very core of your being. And when the dry season comes it will be stored up and ready to sustain your soul. You will FLOURISH, like a beautiful desert cacti in full bloom.

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August 2023 Craft: Desert in a Bottle

By Major Noelle Nelson
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Golden State Division

The desert has a lot of beauty. The shades of red and orange, the cliffs, cactus, various trees, plant life, and the variety of animals may come as a surprise! There is more than meets the eye. This craft will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the desert, and even take it with you, without having to brave the heat.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes


TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • Empty clear glass bottle or container
  • Funnel (you can make one with paper taped together into a cone)
  • Various kinds of sand (try to pick distinct colors or textures – from
    outside, the craft store, etc.)
  • Small clippings of desert-type plants, or bits of rough shrub
  • Small rocks (make sure they will fit through the opening of your bottle)
  • Paper towel, plastic wrap, & tape to create stopper (if your container
    does not have a stopper or lid)


  • A bamboo skewer to move items around in the bottle (remember, the opening is small)


  1. Gather all your materials. If working indoors, work over a shallow box or newspaper to catch all the sand and clippings.
  2. Funnel in your sand. If you have gathered sand from outside, made sure to sift out any debris. To create slopes, tilt your funnel to one side for one sand color then fill the gap with the next sand type. You can also use the skewer to swirl the colors together.
  3. Continue to create sand layers, adding pretty decorative rocks between the layers. NOTE: the rock layers need to be thick so the sand won’t cover them.
  4. Keep going until the neck of the bottle starts to get smaller.
  5. Add plants, small colorful rocks, and other treasures! Use the skewer to position them.
  6. Stop the bottle and treat it gently! Fashion a stopper using some paper towel. Cover over tightly with a piece of plastic wrap; secure with clear tape. If you have to transport it, try to make sure it stays level! Too much motion could cause the contents to get mixed together.
  7. Enjoy your Desert in a Bottle!

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Flourishing Story: Walking With the Best Guide

Lt. Matilde Esparza
Gilroy, CA Corps – Golden State Division

Note: This month’s story is provided in Spanish only.

Caminando con el mejor guia

¿Alguna vez ha escuchado a Dios llamándole a seguir su camino pero de lo contrario usted se desvía y se aleja?

Permítanme compartir con ustedes algo que me describe muy bien, me encanta practicar el senderismo (Hiking). Puedo pasar horas simplemente caminando y muchas veces sin saber a dónde voy. Hasta ahora, lo máximo que he caminado en un día son 10 millas, alrededor de unas 4 horas. El senderismo no solo me permite mantenerme físicamente activa, sino que también me permite tener una conexión muy cercana con Dios a través de su increíble creación. He estado en varios lugares y cada uno de ellos es maravilloso y perfecto. Cada lugar tiene detalles que los hace únicos, donde puedo ver claramente la mano de nuestro Creador. Con el tiempo he aprendido a preparar mis rutas de senderismo, siempre me aseguro de llevar lo necesario como agua, bocadillos, calzado y ropa adecuados, mi teléfono con carga suficiente, audifonos, etc. Pero he aprendido que lo más importante que devo llevar es un mapa. Y aun llevando un mapa, no puedo mentir, en ocasiones me desvío por querer tomar desviaciones. Muy seguido, encuentro que estas desviaciones son muy difíciles y hay veces que no encuentro la salida y tengo que regresar y seguir mi mapa.

Igual que en mis recorridos por los senderos, durante mi juventud me desvie del plan del Señor; la primera vez que me desvié de sus caminos fue a la edad de 16 años, cuando tuve la oportunidad de conocer al Señor por primera vez. Él me estaba llamando; me ofreció lo mejor de la vida al caminar junto a El. Pero la terquedad de mi juventud y las ganas de disfrutar la vida me hicieron alejarme y tomé la desviación más dura y dificil de la vida. Reconozco que mi vida fue muy infeliz y muy oscura porque cambié las actividades de una joven de 17 años por una vida llena de problemas emocionales. Viniendo de una familia rota, tomé mi propio camino para encontrar la felicidad y una familia amorosa y perfecta para mis hijos. Pero en lugar de eso, me encontre sin amor abusada física y emocionalmente por la persona que se suponía que me amaba.

Encontramos en la escritura, en el libro Jonás, Capítulo 1 versículo 3: “Pero Jonás huyó del Señor y se dirigió a Tarsis”. Jonás no quería obedecer a Dios; no quiso evangelizar a la ciudad de Nínive. Escapó del propósito del Señor para su vida porque no se había consagrado a Dios. El Señor le habló muchas veces, pidiéndole que evangelizara a la ciudad perdida. Pero Jonás le dijo NO a Dios. Y escapó de la presencia del Señor.

Yo me relaciono muy bien con la historia de Jonás, porque escapé de la presencia de Dios, tomando una desviación muy peligrosa y dolorosa, y aunque después de algunos años regresé, mi corazón quería ser libre, yo quería tomar mi propio camino, lejos de la presencia del Señor. Yo dije NO a Dios muchas veces y jamaz encontre la paz, el respeto, o la felicidad. Nunca encontré el AMOR de los demás para mi. Asi, como la historia de Jonás continúa en el versículo 4: “Entonces el Señor envió un gran viento en el mar, y se levantó una tormenta tan violenta que la nave amenazaba con romperse”. Dios estaba llamando a Jonás; Dios le estaba diciendo: “Vuelve a mí, haz lo que te digo, o nunca tendrás paz. Bueno, al igual que la historia de Jonás, Yo me enfrenté a una gran tormenta en mi vida. Algo que pensé que nunca me sucedería, me encontré en una situación de la que no encontraba el camino correcto, y al igual que Jonás, Dios me estaba llamando no solo a retomar su camino sino a OBEDECERLE, y aceptar su guía, ya habian pasado muchos años desde que tuve mi primer encuentro con el Señor cuando decidí aceptarlo en mi vida.

Entonces todo cambió, comencé a obedecer a Dios, comencé a usar su guianza en mi vida, comencé a usar su maravilloso mapa (su palabra). ​​Y Él comenzó a cambiar mi vida, encontré el verdadero amor en Él porque el amor de Dios es incondicional.

Desde ese día, Dios siempre proporcionó todo para poder sostener mi familia como madre soltera. Fué durante este caminar al lado del Señor cuando tambien me guió a encontrar el propósito en mi vida, durante este viaje no solo encountré su salvación, perdon, y amor pero también encontre el regalo más hermoso hace doce años, fue el llamado al Oficialato. Y aunque sé que tomé el camino más largo, entiendo que deví esperar, aprender, cambiar, y sanar mi corazón roto, y aquí estoy, siguiendo mi viaje, caminando junto al Señor día a día, como dice su palabra en Salmos 18:30-32:

El camino de Dios es perfecto; la palabra del Señor es intachable. Escudo es Dios a los que en él se refugian. ¿Quién es Dios, si no el Señor? ¿Quién es la roca, si no nuestro Dios? Es El quien me arma de valor y endereza mi camino;

August 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in the Drought

By Major Noelle Nelson
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Golden State Division

Bible Study – 1 Kings 17:1-6

“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’ Then the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.’ So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook.” 1 Kings 17: 1-6 (NLT)

The desert is a dry place. Just the word, DESERT, evokes images of dry, cracked earth. Unbearable heat. Parched throat and dry lips. Oceans of sand, with miles and miles of unstimulating brown and tan landscape. Tall, looming saguaro cactus. The occasional scruffy shrub. The desert appears to be in a perpetual dry season with no apparent life forms, other than the cacti and shrubs. And maybe the occasional snake or lizard.

Have you ever experienced a dry season in life? A period in your life when it seemed like few things seemed to be going right? A time when your connection with God was beginning to wane? That feeling of being spiritually disconnected and dried out? Maybe you are there right now. Like a literal drought, we can experience spiritual droughts. It may be because of a traumatic event such as loss of a job, relationship problems, medical issues, grief over the loss of a friend or loved one. Sometimes it is the result of not listening carefully to God’s will. At these times all we see in our heart is a vast desert. We feel desperately dried out and perhaps abandoned. How can we not just survive, but flourish in the dry seasons of our lives?
The prophet Elijah found himself in such circumstances. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was called to be a prophet during a time of moral and spiritual collapse in Israel.

Read 1 Kings 17:1
(“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’ ”)

Many of the Israelites had ceased to follow God. Some even began “hedging their bets” by worshipping many different Gods, just to cover all the bases. The King of Israel was desperate to appease a variety of gods, so he married off his son to the high priestess of Baal. The nation had turned to gods who claimed to have control over the rain clouds. In the midst of all this, God required Elijah the prophet to be the bearer of bad news to the people: There would be no rain or dew in the land until God’s people turned back to Him.

This horrible drought was not a surprise out of left field. God had been urging His people to follow Him, yet they chose their own path. This literal desert season was a result of their own disobedience.

  • Think of a time when you chose your own path, even though you sensed that God was leading you in a different direction. How did that go for you?
  • At what point did you sense that there would be consequences for your choice?
  • Did you see the consequences as a punishment? Or as a way for God to open your eyes and shake you back into reality?

It’s true. Sometimes we bring these desert seasons into our own lives because we aren’t following God. Maybe we find ourselves becoming complacent, just going through the motions. Or, similar to Elijah, we may be surrounded by people who are turning away from God, and we are fighting not to get swept away in despair. It’s during the dry times that we can learn to trust God and not allow negative feelings, discouragement, or temptations to run our lives.

Emotions are powerful things. But our faith can be even more powerful. Ask yourself these questions:

⦁ How much of my faith is based on emotions? Is this a good or bad thing? Read James 1:6.

(“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”)

It is important to have a firm footing in your faith so that fickle emotions are unable to shake you loose when difficulty arises.

  • What is true about God even when I don’t feel it? Read Romans 5:1 & 2, and Hebrews 13:8

(“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom. 5:1 & 2)

(“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8)

Sometimes our emotions get the better of us. But God is merciful. Through Elijah, God demonstrated His merciful provision and unmatched ability. God was looking for people who would walk with faith and look to Him. Elijah, and everyone else who heard God’s message, had exactly two choices: they could put their faith in God to carry them trough the dry season, or they could choose not to. The King, Queen, and many Israelites chose to not trust in God, turning to other gods and their own intuition to try and save themselves. Elijah made the right decision by turning to God and relying on Him. He set the example for the nation.

Most of us don’t turn to other gods when things are difficult, but I’m not sure we can always say that we truly trust in God 100%. Humans tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to these things.

  • What do you usually do when your spiritual life is going through a dry spell?

Let’s revisit the question from earlier in this study: How can we not just survive, but flourish in the dry seasons of our lives?

Elijah knew what to do during this drought, and he came through. We can follow his example by doing these things:

  1. Stay in the Word. Elijah listened to God. It is especially important that we keep our ears open during dry times. Even when it doesn’t appear to be influencing anything in our lives, keep reading God’s Word.
  2. Stay Faithful. We need to follow God even when we feel unenthusiastic or unmotivated. Look back at 1 Kings 17:3. Elijah went to the Kerith Ravine simply because God told him to go. Obedience leads to blessings.
  3. Stay Calm. We all have times that are dry spiritually. So, don’t panic. God has not forgotten about you. Like Elijah, rest in this truth.
  4. Stay Open. God might have an unusual way of providing for you. Elijah was willing to be fed by ravens! Don’t ignore His small blessings and His unlikely resources.
  5. Stay Thankful! In the midst of the drought, offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Do not let your feelings rob you of the opportunity to praise and thank God even when the times are hard. It’s easy to praise and thank God when things go well, but true women of God praise Him through the trials as well.

Do you feel yourself languishing in a dry season? Is your soul parched and crying out for some living water? Trust in the Lord. He has not left you or forsaken you. He WILL bring you through this drought!

Prayer: Almighty God, you know how much I need you. On my own, I can get caught up just following my feelings and being overwhelmed by my circumstances. Please help me to think clearly and made good decisions. Thank you that you always care about me and you can provide in any spiritual drought. I want to stay receptive to Your solutions, directions, and promptings. I give You the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Flourishing in the Dry Season

By Colonel Genevera Vincent

After first moving to California, I was amazed and somewhat amused at how excited people became when it rained! I remember a thunder and lightning storm early last fall, and when the rain started, people ran to the windows, excited to watch the rainfall, albeit very brief. I must confess, I didn’t find it terribly exciting, as I was accustomed to rain pretty much every week where I came from. We usually ran to the windows when the sun came out!

Having been here for nearly a year now, I totally understand the excitement that comes with rain. The land in Southern California is very dry and the rain is needed and very refreshing. What amazes me now are the beautiful flowers in such a dry climate. Even in the dryness, they flourish and fill their surroundings with beauty and an inviting aroma.

It really is a perfect example of what I desire my life to be. Flourishing in the dry season. We all experience the dry seasons…times in our lives when God seems far away, when life is very routine, when ministry seems to be routine and somewhat uninspiring. During times like this, I must remind myself that the change is in me and not in God. God is always present, always powerful, he knows me better than I know myself. These are the times that call for a deep trust and faith in the one who holds me in the palm of his hand.

The Psalms are a great read as we work through the dry seasons of our lives. They are brutally honest about what is happening, how one is feeling. Those feelings of dryness and despair are often resolved as the Psalmist recounts the past mercies and grace of God. That is not always the case, however. In Psalm 137, we are given a quick glimpse of what it was like for the nation of Israel to be in bondage. There they were, sitting by the rivers of Babylon, weeping about what they had lost, having been taken from their homeland. They hung their harps on the poplar trees…they had lost their song…they were experiencing a dry season. When their captors asked them to sing some of the songs of Zion they refused, responding instead with, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (v. 4) I have often wondered, while reading this Psalm, if the people of God had missed a chance to witness about all the amazing things God had previously done for them because they were somewhat self-absorbed in this moment. Their dry season left them without a song, without a testimony. How very sad!

Then I am caused to think about the dry seasons of my own life. How many opportunities have I missed to witness of the power and provision of God because I interpreted the dry season as distance between God and me?

How many opportunities have I missed to witness of the power and provision of God because I interpreted the dry season as distance between God and me?

Colonel Genevera Vincent

In Psalm 77, we encounter another example of a dry season. The Psalmist is feeling abandoned by God and questions if God will reject him forever. “Has God’s promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be kind and compassionate?” There is a remembering of songs sung long ago, but troubles …the dry season…are now keeping the Psalmist without a song. Verse 10 of Psalm 77 is a resolution verse. The verse reads: Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Suddenly the tone of the Psalm changes and the Psalmist is recalling the goodness and faithfulness of God and the dry season becomes a flourishing season!

That, my friends, is the beauty of our relationship with Jesus. When we are experiencing the dry season, the times when we feel spiritually wilted and running on empty, recalling the past goodness, faithfulness, love, and mercy of God will bring about beauty despite the dry season.

Just as the flowers in Southern California bloom despite the dry season, I pray that my life will flourish and bloom with the beauty of Jesus, whatever the season.