December 2023 Devotional: Celebration of God’s Promises

By Captain Felicia LeMar
Hilo Temple, HI
Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

In the book of Zephaniah, we find beautiful promises that are worth celebrating who we are in Christ. These beautiful promises are so needed for us today, especially in the world we live in. With the demands of our daily lives, we can become easily overwhelmed. We find ourselves juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, which leads us to find validation and love from the world around us. This leads us down a path filled with insecurities and hurt. But in Zephaniah 3:17, we can celebrate the promise of knowing God is with us, He takes delight in us, He no longer rebukes us, and He rejoices over us with singing.

The Lord God is With You

As we celebrate the birth of our loving Savior, we can be assured that God is with us every day of our lives. Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). God’s presence is always with us and is a reminder of His love for us through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. This means no matter where we go, God’s presence is with us always. In fact, God is already there and waiting for us! We learn this through Psalm 139:7-10.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

Knowing God is always present, provides us with comfort through our joys and sorrows. Through these times, He is celebrating us in our joys and comforting us in our sorrows. As Christians, we can be confident in knowing we are always in the presence of God.

God Delights in You

The Creator of the Universe takes delight in us. What an amazing thought! Our Heavenly Father sees us as His beloved daughters and takes delight in us. We are all unique in our own ways. No one in the whole entire world is exactly alike! Psalm 139:14 says, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Sisters in Christ, when we are feeling unworthy, celebrate the promise of how God takes delight in each of us individually!

He Will No Longer Rebuke You

Our God is a gracious, loving Father. We see this through the birth and death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was born to redeem us from the sin and brokenness in this world. Isaiah 9:6 says, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We no longer live in the darkness of our past mistakes, failures, and sins. These no longer define us, and we can celebrate the freedom we have in Christ. We are daughters of God who are forgiven, redeemed, and made new.

Rejoice Over You with Singing
Our God rejoices over us with singing! The meaning of the phrase “rejoice over you” literally means “dance, skip, leap and spin around in joy.” He loves us so much, that it brings Him all the joy that we are His daughters. I imagine God rejoicing over us, just as the angels rejoiced over the birth of Jesus in the book of Luke. The angels sang praises to God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) Today, let’s celebrate God’s rejoicing over us as His beloved daughters.

Dear sisters in Christ, let this verse be celebrated and remain forever in our hearts as a beautiful reminder of God’s promises!

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Dear gracious heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word. We are so humbled by your love for us and how you take delight in us. We praise you for how amazing your love for us is, that you will no longer look at our past mistakes and failures, instead you rejoice over us with singing! Lord, we ask in our times of doubts, feelings of unworthiness, and uncertainties that we continue to praise you as our Mighty Warrior who comes to save us! We love you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

December 2023 Bible Study: The Lamb Who Was Slain

By Captain Victoria Mercer
Kaneohe, HI Corps
Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

Before reading the passage of Scripture, it is always important for us to look at the context of the whole book of Exodus. We should look at who wrote it, why did they write it, to whom did they wrote this for, any key themes in the book and what was the culture like back then. The reason we should do this is because it can be very easy for us to look at a Bible passage and try to relate to it from our current culture and our own understanding, when really, back then, culture was very different, and this will help us to see why God did what He did and how it can relate to us today.

Exodus was written by Moses, whom God used when He set the Israelites free from their long 400 years of slavery to the Egyptians. The audience that this was written for was the people of Israel, and it was written to record the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their development as a nation. It was written in the desert during Israel’s wanderings (somewhere in the Sinai peninsula). The key theme we see is Redemption in the book of Exodus.

God sent Moses and Aaron (Moses’ brother) to speak to Pharaoh and for him to let God’s people go (anyone else thinking of the movie Prince of Egypt and the song? No…just me…haha). Pharaoh’s heart becomes hardened, and he refuses. He refuses not just once, not just twice, but nine times! One, that shows how hardened his heart was and two, it shows how many chances God gave him. There were nine plagues that hit Egypt before our passage: the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague of livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts and the plague of darkness. This is a good transition for us to read our passage of Scripture for this study.

Read Scripture: Exodus 12

What about Jesus
You may be wondering what the Passover has to do with Jesus being born (it is Christmas time after all). Also, what does it have to do with the spiritual discipline of celebration that we are talking about this month? It has so much to do with it!

Our God is so amazing! Before He created our world, He knew His amazing plan of redemption. During the time of the Exodus when God saved His people from slavery to the Egyptians, He knew His plan of ultimate redemption from our sin. All along, He orchestrated every detail. How did He do that with regards to the Passover? Passover was a Spring holiday that took place between March and April and was followed by the Unleavened Bread Feast and the First Fruits Feast (all took place three days within each other). The way the blood was placed on the door looked something like this:

Blood was placed at the top and the sides of the doors, sort of looking like the shape of the cross (hmmm…I sense a foreshadowing coming on!). Passover took place on a Friday and then the other two feasts took place on Saturday and Sunday. How does Jesus fit in with this? He was the Passover Lamb for us! He was perfect, God Himself, and He willingly chose to come and be fully human (tempted as we are yet He did not sin) and die a criminal’s death, taking on so much physical, mental, and emotional pain on our behalf. It doesn’t end there. He also took on the FULL wrath of God against the sin of the whole world! And, as someone wrote on the festivals of the Jews: “…the Passover pointed to the Messiah as our Passover Lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening,” (Holy Land Site).

Now we see how Jesus fits in with Passover, but what about our theme for the month on the spiritual discipline of celebration? Where does that fit in with all of this? Simply put, our God is a God of Joy and Celebration. He is the One who created it! It was His idea all along. The people of Israel had many holidays and feasts they were told to celebrate, and they always did it in community. The focus of all of these was God Himself, whether that meant giving to others, remembering all He has done for them or sacrificing sin offerings for the wrongs they have done. In Nehemiah, when the walls were built and he was leading the third group out of captivity, Ezra read the Law of the Lord and the people starting mourning and grieving: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” …Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” …Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly,” (Nehemiah 8:9-10, 18 NIV).

In The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, a quote that really struck me was this: “The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day,” (29). Throughout God’s Word, we see how delightful His commands are, how He gives abundant life, to rejoice always, to always give thanks, and to praise the Lord. The more we dive into His Word, the more we get to know His character and who He really is and not just what we think we know about Him.

Other Passages to Read:
Some other passages to read and dive into that discusses more on the festivals and holidays, delighting in the Lord and His Word, and rejoicing are these (this is not a full list of all that there are): Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy 16, Psalm 48, 106, 119 and 150, Philippians 4:4-8, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Christmas can be a hard time for some of us who have lost loved ones and has been a time of grieving. For any of you reading this who have lost someone you love dearly, I am so sorry for your loss and know that you are not alone. When we look Biblically, the people celebrated together and not alone and we see celebration happening regardless of circumstances, such as Paul when he wrote the letter Philippians and was in prison (the main theme throughout it was joy). Here are some questions for all of us to ponder:

  1. Where do I see the character of God in the Exodus 12 passage? What characteristics do I see?
  2. What was the importance of Passover to the people of Israel?
  3. Why was it so important for them to observe Passover annually?
  4. Why was celebration a community thing and not to be done alone? What does this say of God’s heart?
  5. How do I see true joy found throughout the passages discussed above?
    Now, some personal application questions to ponder:
  6. Is my focus on Christmas on God and all He has done and celebrating Him, or is it about something else?
  7. Why is it important to celebrate with others? What good would it do not only for my faith, but also my relationship with others?
  8. Has the true Christmas story of Christ coming become habit and routine, or do I see the how amazing it really is? (Something that may be helpful for this is not just looking at the passages from the New Testament about His birth, but also looking throughout the Bible to see the whole picture and all God orchestrated for Jesus to come at just the right time and just the right way).

I hope and pray this was helpful for those reading and that God uses it to give all of us a deeper love of Him and His Word, and a deeper gratitude for all He has done for us. God bless.

Download a printable version of this Bible Study:

December 2023 Craft: Holiday Centerpieces

By Major Jasiel Tumale
Guam Corps
Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division


  • Pinecone (Big)
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Clear bowl
  • Tea light
  • Glue Gun with glue sticks

1.           Glue the pinecone in a clear bowl.
2.           Decorate the pinecone with assorted Christmas ornaments.
3.           Turn on the tea light (battery operated).

December 2023 Flourish Newsletter

For the month of December we are focusing on flourishing by being deeply rooted in the spiritual disciple of Celebration. In her book Spiritual Disciplines: Practices That Transforms Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun defines celebration as, “a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward worship, praise and thanksgiving. Delighting in all the attentions and never-changing presence of the Trinity fuels celebration.”

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

Inside you will find a devotional, conversation starters, a prayer idea, a monthly Bible reading plan and other resources to help you incorporate the spiritual discipline of celebration in your walk with Jesus.

Download this month’s issue:

January 2024 Bible Study: Journaling

By Captain Joy Groenleer
Assistant Training Principle
College for Officer Training

Prior to her retirement, College for Officer Training Officer, Major Millie Bearchell, shared a testimony about her excitement as she began planning her new ministry with her future congregation. In this testimony, she shared that one of her most prized possessions is a journal written by her late mother. This love for journal writing was passed on from her mom to her as journaling became an important part of her daily quiet time with the Lord. When entering retirement, Major Millie planned to continue journaling, and instead of just writing in her own journal, she committed to ministering to her new congregation – her 6 grandchildren – by starting individual journals for each of them to one day receive at a still-to-be-determined time. What a beautiful ministry!

Share Your Experience: Do you enjoy journaling? If so, describe what you include in your journal. What are some important things that you record? Prayers? Prayer requests? Prayer victories? Daily thoughts? Recording of daily events? Poems? Quotes? Drawings? Do you share these journals with others?

In her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun includes a chapter on the spiritual discipline of journaling. She defines journaling as “a tool for reflecting God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings.” Journaling is an effective spiritual discipline that many choose to do to draw themselves closer to the Lord as they articulate how God has been moving, what He has been teaching, and how He continues to be faithful. Journaling gives us an opportunity to sit, meditate, listen, and to write what is on our hearts as we reflect and remember. Calhoun states, “This practice includes keeping a written record of God’s ways in your life.”

“[Journaling is] a tool for reflecting God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings… This practice includes keeping a written record of God’s ways in your life.”

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

For today’s Bible Study, we will be looking at passages of Scripture from an author who loved to keep a written record of God’s ways in various people’s lives. In fact, his journals gave us two New Testament books – the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Let’s turn to Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-2 to see who this author is and what he wrote.

Read Luke 1:1-4.
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The writer is Luke, who was a physician by trade (Colossians 4:14), which meant that he certainly focused on details. Luke is mentioned in Philemon 24 as a fellow worker of the Apostle Paul, joining him on some of his missionary journeys. In this passage, we can see how and why Luke wrote his Gospel.

In verses 1 and 2, Luke states that there were many who wrote about the things that Jesus did and said as writers unfolded the Lord’s life and ministry as the Messiah. He also shares that the gospel was handed down to them by those who walked with and talked with the Lord. These eyewitnesses saw with their very own eyes what Jesus did, and heard with their ears what Jesus said.

Questions for conversation:

  1. Discuss the impact that gospel writers have made because of their journaling of Jesus’ life and ministry. How would we understand the Good News were it not for men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to write what they witnessed?
  2. What are some pros and cons about reading others’ eyewitness written recording of events?

In verse 3 and 4, we read how and why Dr. Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name. First, he stated that he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning.” Scholars believe that Luke had not met Jesus personally and was not an eyewitness to the things that Jesus said or did. However, Luke shared in this Gospel that he thoroughly investigated everything, which would have included interviewing many eyewitnesses to put together a complete historical and gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke starts from the beginning, even before Jesus’ birth, as Luke starts his book with Zechariah’s story and Mary visiting Elizabeth. Jesus’ birth doesn’t happen until the 2nd chapter of his Gospel. Luke also includes Jesus’ story as a 12-yr.-old speaking with religious leaders. He carefully researched everything from even before Jesus was born to his childhood to his life as a teacher, preacher, and our Savior.

Luke also mentioned that “he decided to write an orderly account.” Luke described Jesus’ life after thorough collection of accounts, evaluation, organization and putting the pieces together in an orderly fashion.

Finally, he mentions the purpose of his writing, “so that you may know the certainty of the things that have been taught.” Luke addressed this orderly account to “most excellent Theophilus”, who some believe was a wealthy donor and convert who paid for Luke’s literary work. The term “most excellent” was used to refer to high-ranking noblemen, and thus, Theophilus may have been such. In addition, other scholars believe that, since the name means “friend of God”, could have been written to any Christian reader.

Questions for conversation:

  1. Knowing that Luke wrote his Gospel after careful investigation from the beginning and writing an orderly account, what are your thoughts about this Book of the Bible and the accuracy, effectiveness, and power of its message?
  2. Luke was a highly educated and gifted writer. However, God does not expect us to be as gifted as this author when it comes to the spiritual discipline of journaling. We simply need to be open to the Holy Spirit in sharing our thoughts, prayers, and writings. Discuss this.

Read Acts 1:1-2
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

The writer of the Book of Acts is none other than Dr. Luke himself. When Luke refers to his “former book”, he is talking about the Gospel of Luke. Notice the person that Luke addresses in the verse above. We see here that Luke is writing to the same person, Theophilus, as a continuation of his former book.

As a fellow worker with the apostle Paul, Luke now shifts the attention from Jesus in the Gospel of Luke to the effects of Jesus’ ministry in the Book of Acts. We see Luke giving another orderly account of the early church and the works of the Holy Spirit as the gospel continued to be spread not just to Jews but to Gentiles as well. The Book of Acts continued with the narrative that Luke began, and furthermore included narrative accounts of what Luke and other apostles experienced firsthand as the Gospel spread throughout all the world!

Questions for conversation:

  1. Discuss some significant events and stories that stand out to you in Luke’s recordings of the early church and the ministries of Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts.
  2. Discuss how Luke left a legacy for others because of his journaling, recording, and remembering God’s ways and works.

As we’ve studied both passages, we learned that Luke may not have been an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus, but he carefully investigated the things that were fulfilled, and he decided to write an orderly account. Why? He decided to write because he wanted Theophilus to know the certainty of the things he was taught. Through the investigating, collecting, analyzing, organizing, journaling of Luke, we too can know the certainty of the things that we have been taught.

Challenge and application:

  1. Read the Books of Luke and Acts in their entirety to understand the Gospel fully and to reflect on the beginnings of the early church.
  2. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun includes some things that we can do to practice journaling:

a. Keep a written record of God’s ways in your life; journals can include a collection of clippings, drawings, collages, articles, poems, quotes and so forth.

b. Journal daily or weekly or during significant events and transitions.

c. Making journals and scrapbooks for children or others (like Major Millie is doing in retirement for her grandchildren).

Note: Check out Major Millie’s devotional where she writes about journaling for her grandchildren. Check out this month’s craft for an easy journal you can make.

d. Record prayers, prayer requests, answers to prayers and responses to God in all of this.

Happy Journaling!

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January 2024 Devotional: What’s All This About Journaling

By Major Millie Bearchell, Retired

Growing up in a rather large family, 7 kids and two parents, we lived a life that was by today’s standards, “lower middle class.” We didn’t have a lot of material items, my 3 sisters and I shared one bedroom, and we had just one station wagon to get us places. I look back and the memories I have are good ones. We may not have had many worldly possessions, but what we had was enough.

When my parents were promoted to glory and it was time to clean out their small apartment, one of the items I desired the most was one or two of my mother’s journals. I enjoy from time to time, randomly picking up one of her journals and reading what she wrote on a specific day. Even to this day, my eyes tear up when I see her beautiful handwriting, making my heart ache for her. I love to read what she had to share, a special scripture on her heart, a hymn she was thinking about, commenting on one of her children or grandchildren. There was nothing philosophical or deep theological thoughts, just sweet musings of her blessed life and her gratitude for all she had.

I believe I have inherited her love of journaling. I journal almost every day and much of my journaling takes place in the early morning, with my cup of coffee, my favorite pen, my current journal, and my Bible. So much of what I journal has to do with Scripture verses that have spoken to me, what God is doing in my life, and just random thoughts. My journal is also where I keep my prayer lists. I love to put names, situations, that have been given to me to pray for, but also those things that come to mind. I love to refer to past prayer lists and see how God has been so faithful in his answering those requests according to His will and time.

Last year as Brian and I were planning for retirement, I was grieving over losing “my” flock. One morning in prayer and journaling, I asked God where my new flock in retirement would be? The answer I received so clearly was, “your grandchildren.” I have 7 amazing grandchildren ranging from 16 years to 3 months, and each one of them precious to me. God told me to get them their own journal and to begin journaling to them in their book. January 2022, I began to write in 6 of those journals, adding the newest one in February of this year. I do not write every day, but I do write in their journal on their birthday, when they have done well in school, or excelled on their sport team. I always write that I pray for them constantly, that I’m proud of them, and that I love them.

The legacy that was left to me by my mother has been the impetus behind this new endeavor for my new flock. My desire is that when my grandchildren read their personal journal, see my handwriting, they will treasure the words and sentiments I have given to them. I have not decided when or what age I will give it to them, or if it will go to them upon my promotion to glory. But for now, I will write to each of my flock, making sure they know how special they are to me and more importantly how special they are to Jesus.
Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen said, “writing can untangle thoughts, express our emotions, and give artistic expression to life.” Writing is a spiritual habit: Writing can be a true spiritual discipline.

“Writing can untangle thoughts, express our emotions, and give artistic expression to life.”

Henri Nouwen

Journaling helps you declutter your mind, which leads to better thinking. Writing in a journal also sharpens your memory and improves your learning capability. There’s a reason why when you take the time to pen your thoughts, plans, and experiences, you remember them better, while also feeling more focused.

I love what Psalm 5:1-3 states, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, My king and my God, for to you I pray. My voice You shall her in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”

Journaling is a way of slowing life down for even a few moments. Covered in prayer, and saturated with God’s Word, journaling can be a powerful way of hearing God’s voice in the Scriptures and making known to Him our requests.

I came across this anonymous quote which adds value to the idea of journaling. “One of the more effective acts of self-care is also, happily, one of the cheapest.”

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Download a printable version of this devotional

January 2024 Craft: Let’s Make a Journal

By Major Stacy Cross
Director of Education & Continuing Education
College for Officer Training

Journal Pages

  • Create the journal pages in MS Word
  • Use 8.5 x 11″ paper landscape
  • Print lines on both sides of the paper
  • Fold 5 pages in half together

Journal Cover

Use scrapbook paper or any heavy weight decorative paper to make cover.

  • Cut the paper for the cover 8 3/4″ by 12″
  • Fold it in half
  • Add decorative binder paper

Be creative!


To hold the pages inside the journal:

  • Use a sharp object to make holes through the journal pages and cover
  • Thread craft cord thorough a needle with a large eye
  • Sew the pages to the cover and tie the ends inside the journal

Download a printable version of these instructions

Find Joy

By Major Beth Desplancke

Every morning when I walk into Territorial Headquarters to begin my workday, I am greeted with these words: “Find Joy.”

What a great reminder as I start each day. No matter what the day holds -meetings to attend, emails to read, reports to generate, people to talk to -whatever I encounter that day, I need to find joy in all that I do. I am going to be honest; some days it is easy to find joy in what I am doing, and other days, not so much.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so the Christmas song proclaims, but often during this season of rejoicing, that isn’t always true. With all the holiday hustle and season stress, comes the blues of busyness and instead of being filled with joy, our hearts are more pulled toward the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “Bah Humbug!”

Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. The birth of our Savior isn’t just joy but GREAT joy! The angel declared to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born:

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

The shepherds heard this announcement of a baby being born that will bring great joy to everyone, and of course they must go and see for themselves. They must consciously choose to leave their routine and go and find this baby that would bring great joy to all. After seeing the baby, they leave and must share their joy with others. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:20).

Later, when the Wise Men were searching for the King of the Jews, they followed a star that led them to Jerusalem, and an encounter with King Herod. They learn of a prophecy that declares this king would be born in Bethlehem. After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where they child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed (Matthew 2:9-10).

We all know that the Christmas season is busy: Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, kettles, nursing home visitations, food drives, Angel trees, preparing toys and food for families in need, parties, baking, decorating, cooking holiday dinners… the list is endless. In all the busyness, we can miss the opportunities to find joy.

How do you find joy in it all? It is a matter of choice! The shepherds and the wise men had to consciously seek out and find the joy. Yes, the calendar is full, and there are lots of activities taking place. Yes, some things are non-negotiable and must be done, but other things we can choose to say yes or no to.

Finding joy might mean saying no to something so you can have one evening at home a week, where you sit down with the family and enjoy a home-cooked meal or spend the evening baking or watching a Christmas movie.

Finding joy could mean saying no to buying things on credit and only spending what you can afford.

Finding joy may mean driving home the long way after a busy day just so you can enjoy the lights of a beautifully decorated neighborhood.

In the busyness of the season, I must plan joy breaks once a week. I usually enjoy iced drinks (which I normally consume faster) but I find joy going to a coffee shop, ordering a hot drink and sitting at a table and savoring each sip. As I slow down, I listen to some of my favorite Christmas carols, or simply enjoy reading a book for fun. After a chapter or two, or after I finished my hot drink, my joy is restored, and I am ready to face the rest of the activities and things that must be done.

In addition to the once-a-week joy breaks, when I find my attitude is in need of an adjustment, and I am not able to find joy in the moment, I close my office door and listen to a favorite Christmas Carol that brings a smile to my face. One of my favorites (I think the video is what makes me smile) is Born is the King (It’s Christmas) by Hillsong Worship. Another favorite of mine (not a Christmas song but is sure to put a smile on your face) is Joy by For King and Country.

In all of the busyness of this season, may we seek out and find the joy that comes through a child’s smile, a thank you for your service, or baking homemade goodies to bless someone else. Challenge yourself to find joy in each day. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24 NLT).

May you have a joyous Christmas and a joy-filled New Year!

Territorial Project 2023-2024

Every year the women of The Salvation Army USA Western Territory are always so generous in raising money for our Territorial Project.  This year we are raising money for:

Nuuk, GreenlandGroup Participation Meetings & Weekend Camps for Women & Children
Ensenada, MexicoShelter for Victims of Violence
Las Vegas, NevadaSEEDS of Hope Anti-Trafficking Program for Women

Watch the Rooted in Christ video which gives details of our project.

Other resources for your use:

Download the video

English Territorial Project Brochure


English Logo

Spanish Logo

November 2023 Craft: Gratitude Cards

By Captain Jennifer Swain
Administrator of Program
San Diego, CA Adult Rehabilitation Program


  • 8.5x 11 watercolor paper
  • Crayola watercolor palette
  • Blue painters tape
  • “Thank you” stamp
  • Ink pad
  • Glass of water
  • Paper towel
  • Plastic tablecloth

*Most supplies can be purchased inexpensively at Amazon or the Dollar Tree!

How to…

Cover your surface with a plastic tablecloth to ensure paint does not get on your work surface. Cut watercolor paper in half (vertically or horizontally) then fold in half to give the look of a greeting card. Open paper and lay flat. Place a piece of painters tape along the folded seam to ensure paint does not bleed.

Pick a color from your color palette. This will be your focus color. Wet your brush and dip it in the color you’ve chosen. Once you’ve wet the paint, make three matching paint puddles on the inside of the lid. Rinse your brush and add a small amount of black to one of the color puddles. Rinse your brush again and add a lighter color of paint to one of the two remaining color puddles. At this point you should have three shades of paint.

Starting close to the painters tape, and using the darkest shade of color, brush the paint left to right. You’ll want cover about one-third of the card surface space. Without rinsing the paint start using the next lightest shade of paint on the middle third of the card. You will want to blend the colors together where they meet to create the effect of shading. The lightest color should be at the based of the card and be blended with the center color.

Allow the paint to dry, gently remove the painter tape, and then stamp with your “thank you”. Write a personal note inside and give to someone who blessed you! This kind of tangible gratitude blesses the one who receives, and the one who gives, it!

“In everything give thanks…”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 TLT