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:

May 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Life isn’t always a bed of roses. Into every life, a little rain must fall. How do you flourish in the times of grief, sorrow and tears? That is what this month’s newsletter is all about. Even through the tears we can flourish in our relationship with Him.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Download this month’s issue:

Need previous issues of the FLOURISH Newsletter? https://usw-womensministries.org/april-2023-flourish-newsletter/

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/

Flourishing in the Tearful Season

By Colonel Genevera Vincent

It seems very natural that we would flourish in the seasons of joy and the happy times in our lives. Joyfulness and happiness just seem to lend themselves to growth and beauty. We don’t typically couple flourishing with words like grief, sorrow, and tears. However, as children of God, we know that when our lives are rooted deep in Christ, we can flourish despite the season we find ourselves in. It may take a little more reliance on God and less on self. It may take many moments of contemplation and seeking God but flourishing in the tearful season is possible. It most certainly has much to do with our perspective. As believers, if we look at a healthy perspective as our “up look”, how we view God in the seasons of our lives as well as our “outlook”, the things that are happening in and around us, our lives would be so much more blessed and balanced.

We would be so much better served if we viewed the seasons of our lives as opportunities to flourish, rather than always questioning why. It’s natural for us to ask questions and I’m grateful that God is never thrown off course with my questioning. He created me, He knows me, and He knows the types of questions I will ask and the things in my life that will cause me to question. The real beauty I find in serving God is that he can take all the seasons of my life and create his beautiful masterpiece! I give him my joys, happy moments, ordinary moments, contentment, peaceful moments, busyness, my valley seasons and like a patch work quilt, he puts all the pieces together and our lives become a thing of beauty. How good God is!

“God is never thrown off course with my questioning. He created me, He knows me, and He knows the types of questions I will ask and the things in my life that will cause me to question.”

Colonel Genevera Vincent

Less than two weeks after I moved here to the Western territory, a very precious aunt, who is more like a second mom to me was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Just five weeks after she was diagnosed, she was Promoted to Glory. During the weeks following her diagnosis, I will admit I asked some questions of God. Why, after six years living only one hour away from her, is she taken away so quickly when I am on the other side of the continent? In this time of sorrow and grief however, I have been grateful for Facetime, which a few years ago would not have been a possibility. So, I had the opportunity to Facetime with my Aunt Becky and tell her how much she meant to me, how much I loved her. I was able to pray with her.

My flourishing during this time has really been tied to memories. Memories of my growing up years and the love and nurturing I received from my aunt. She gave her heart to God as a child and for her 81 years she loved God and it showed! In addition to many positive childhood memories, I also have memories of heart-to-heart conversations after I became an adult, these I cherish. My parents and my aunt, prior to her passing, lived in a senior’s residence not in the town they lived in and raised their families. However, family homes still exist and this past summer, I was able to enjoy three weeks in our family home with my parents; with my cousin in the house next door with my aunt. We shared many lovely moments, sharing meals, sitting on the patio, enjoying the sunshine and good conversations and a few…well, maybe more than a few good laughs! I realize now what a gift God gave us, as this was the last time we would physically be together. In that tearful season, God has been showing how faithful he is!

The Scriptures give us many beautiful pictures of God. I think none more beautiful though, than a God who keeps account of our tears. Psalm 56:8, in the Message paraphrase reads, “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.”

That verse encourages me to believe that none of the seasons of my life are wasted. God is constantly at work, using the joyful seasons as well as the tearful seasons to shape me and make my life to flourish. May God help me always to recognize him in every moment of my life!

Flourishing Story: Flourishing in Grief

By Lt. Colonel Sherryl Van Cleef (Retired)
North West Valley, AZ Corps – Southwest Division

“And my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (KJV) is the first of three individual yet connected verses from God’s Word that have provided the foundation for how God is growing me in my season of grief.

The second was given me at 6:00 a.m., July 8, 2019, and at the time seemed like a very strange verse for the occasion: Psalm 90:1-2 (NIV) “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

The third verse was given me specifically for the events of July 2019: Psalm 91:1 (NLT) “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”


In my late teens I became aware God was calling me to serve Him as a Salvation Army officer. It was in those days of questions and searching for understanding God gave me Philippians 4:19. It’s been a significant life-verse.

From the time that I became aware that Philippians 4:19 was for every area of my life, I have been discovering “all” means “ALL”! It meant “all” as God’s plan for me to be a Salvation Army officer unfolded. It meant “all” when He provided me a wonderful partner in ministry. It meant “all” as God gave us children and guided us in their rearing. It meant “all” in equipping us mentally and spiritually for the roles to which He called us! In short, “all means ALL!” To this very moment God IS the supplier of ALL my needs, including those for this journey through grief.


One of the thoughts that first came to mind when asked to prepare these devotional thoughts was that grief is probably the most common human event: everyone grieves at some point in life. And yet, grief somehow seems very solitary…like you’re the only one experiencing it. The reason for that is that grieving is a unique journey, marked by the myriad circumstances of each person.

At 6:00 a.m., July 8, 2019, the most terrifying day of my life, in a hospital emergency room the Lord gave me these words: Psalm 90:1-2 (NIV) “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

Our son was visiting and earlier that morning he had left to go meet his daughter at the airport. Just after his departure I heard my husband screaming out, “I can’t move!” I’ve never awakened faster! I was at his side just as quickly, and almost without thinking I called 911 because I was profoundly aware “this” was way beyond me! Within minutes of his admission to the ER, the doctors, shared that he was in desperate straits… that he very possibly could die! That was the moment God gave me those verses — the profound, unspeakable assurance that I could trust Him with whatever happened in those minutes and hours!

I cried out to the Lord, “I’m not ready for him to be gone—please don’t let Al die right now!” All the while those words of who HE is kept repeating in my brain and heart!

Shortened version of the story is that Al had surgery and after 47 days of hospitalization and rehab returned home! What a precious gift that was! The ensuing months included many doctor appointments and learning new ways to “do” life. “Normal” was redefined. It included doing simple things together, enjoying each other’s company.

Also, God reminded me of my earlier prayer, that I wasn’t ready. Now was the time to “get ready.” That preparation included learning to manage our finances, keeping up our home, accessing community resources and, speaking with medical professionals realistically.

It was in those days from July 2019 to March 7, 2021, that God refreshed and reassured me often with the words of Psalm 91:1 (NLT) “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”


I have “lived” in the shelter of the Most High since I was a young girl. In the weeks and months of this grief journey, begun on March 7, 2021, I have LIVED in that Shelter, not unlike the way that we live in our homes.

Truth be told, when it comes to living in my home, some might say I am a bit OCD. I like everything to be in its place. At the beginning of this grief journey, I wanted to understand how it would proceed and when I could expect to be “done”. But this journey of grief can’t be ordered and put into a tidy box. This was very disconcerting to me. Just when I thought, “I’ve got this under control.” WHAMEE ! I’m ambushed with floods of tears, seemingly from nowhere. I’ve learned that the tears, even the ambush tears, help my healing, so I let them happen. As a result “Living in the Shelter of the Almighty” I’ve come to really KNOW THE REALITY OF HIS REST!

As with every turn in life’s journey there has been/is much to observe and learn along the way. God is always true to His promises, He supplies ALL that is needed to navigate the twists and turns. I have gained a new appreciation and understanding of The Psalms; those songs in Scripture that record for our benefit the experiences of fear, anxiety, anger, fear and joy, wonder and awe of the God we serve and who loves us beyond our comprehension. I’ve learned with fresh awareness that staying in God’s Word keeps me steady and able to move forward in this journey, not necessarily through some in-depth study, but reading slowly and absorbing all God has to tell us about Him and us. Writing in a journal daily has been of great value to me as well; allowing me to get the words out of my head and on to paper.

I’ve learned a lot about being honest with myself, about not only letting, but inviting the help and support of other people. God has gifted me with an incredible family, and equally incredible friends, without whom this journey would be more difficult. He has placed people in my life who have helped me beyond their knowing. I’ve also become aware of a variety of Christ-centered resources. Journeying through Grief, produced by Stephen Ministries affirmed that my journey is not unusual, with suggestions for ways of thinking and doing. One of my friends made me aware of an international bible-based grief recovery support, GriefShare, and this group is a big help and blessing.

It’s a little over two years since this part of life’s journey began for me. I have learned these words: of “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations,” (Psalm 90:1 NIV) “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Psalm 91:1 NLT) and “… my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 KJV) are certain truths. I can live in them joyfully

Lt. Colonel Sherryl Van Cleef


Stephen Ministries
2045 Innerbeelt Business Center Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63114

Church Initiative

May 2023 Craft: You Turn My Mourning Into Dancing

By Commissioner Debi Bell (Retired)
North West Valley, AZ Corps – Southwest Division

Note: This can be used as a Mother’s Day or Women’s Tea Craft.

You turned my mourning into dancing. You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my whole being may make music to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I thank you forever.
Psalm 30:11-12 EHV

Every major holiday is a mixed bag of emotions for people. They bring joy and sorrow depending on the life experience of the individual. Mother’s Day is especially hard for those who have lost their mothers, were not blessed to have been mothers or have been hurt by either a mother or child. The majority of people are celebrating and enjoying the day and nobody wants to take away from their joy. It is important to recognize there are women and men in your congregation and groups that will be grieving the loss of mothers, children, and the opportunity to be able to enjoy either. Personally, Mother’s Day is awkward for me during the gift giving time when they ask all the mothers to stand so gifts can be distributed. I do not stand because I was not able to give birth to a child. Then the gift distributers are confused because they do not know my story. Would it not be easier on all to have all the women stand give them a gift no questions asked? It should be the same for the men on Father’s Day. Then nobody is publicly humiliated because of an empty womb or an empty nest.

This craft is one that can be adapted in so many ways to suit the needs of a group and their age or ability. The basic idea is from Pinterest. Credit has been given and the website is listed so that you can go see the pictures to get even more ideas. Following the craft instructions are ideas on how you can adapt the craft for your needs.

This Ballerina Craft Idea is from Pinterest. https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/

You can get free ballerina silhouettes from this web site and adapt different tutu materials or use the coffee filter idea below depending on how sophisticated you want the cards and what age your craft group. These would make great table favors for a Mother/Daughter tea. Program cover idea as well. Go to The Best Ideas for Kids to see pictures and a video demonstration.

Adapt this idea for your purpose.

Supplies Needed to Make a Ballerina Silhouette Craft

  • Liquid Watercolors
  • White Cardstock or Watercolor Paper
  • Coffee Filters
  • Free Printable Ballerine Silhouettes from Best Ideas for Kids

How to Make a Ballerina Silhouette Craft

  1. First, print off the ballerina silhouette templates on your white cardstock. The template is available to subscribers as a gift.
  2. Once you have your printouts, apply a light color wash to your paper, and then let this dry. You can use regular watercolors or we prefer liquid watercolors. With liquid watercolors, you can use just a little drop with water and dilute the drop of color as much as you want.
  3. While your paper is drying, you can decorate your coffee filters with watercolors. Lay out some wax paper to protect your surface for this step. Apply two different color watercolors to each coffee filter. You can paint with brushes or use droppers to drop the colors on the coffee filters.
  4. Your coffee filters will need to dry overnight. Let them dry on a paper towel over your wax paper.
  5. Once dry, fold over until you get a triangle shape. Then cut off the tip to match the size of where you are going to place the ballerina’s tutu.
  6. Get another coffee filter and make it the same size.
  7. Now glue the coffee filters to your paper and you are done! We left the top coffee filter flat but you can also flare this a little bit to create a more ruffled look.

How to adapt for your groups’ needs:

Add a complimentary color of ribbon around the waist of the coffee filter tutu for an extra flourish.

Use tulle and ribbon instead of coffee filters.

To complement the program covers, table favors, you can purchase bud vases from a discount store, glue colorful tulle around the middle of the vase, and add a complimentary ribbon. Put cut flower bouquets into your “ballerina” vases.

Use the ballerina silhouette as clip art if you are going to make program covers, table favors, or greeting card using the theme, “You Turn My Mourning into Dancing.” You can also go a different direction by changing the spelling of mourning to morning. (You Turn My Morning into Dancing.) The theme is about dancing and joy when you make that change. (Did you dance for joy this morning?)

With this theme, you can use silhouettes of many kinds of dancing where there is some kind of skirt or costume. The ballerina idea is easy and easy to adapt by using different costumes. Celebrate different cultural dances by using material to look like the Jalisco dress from Mexico, the Hanboc from South Korea, Clogging, or Square dance dresses, Mumus from Hawaii, Grass skirts, Dashiki from Africa, Vyshyvanka from Ukraine, and you get the idea.

You could have a monthly program feature of different cultural dances using the theme “You Turn My Morning or Mourning into Dancing.” Each month features a different dance costume. Tell of its history and learn a few steps. Feature food from that culture. If anyone in the group is familiar with the costumes because it is their culture or they lived in the country, have them share memories. Learn a few steps from the dances if you are able to do so.

Have fun and make memories. Share the joys and sorrows of your group members so that all can acknowledge that God does turn our mourning and our mornings into dancing when we give Him permission.

Download printable directions for this craft:

May 2023 Bible Study: Processing Grief

Submitted by the Southwest Division

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

We know that God never promised that life would be easy. Never in scripture do we see The Lord and creator of the universe communicating that if we accept and love Him that we would coast on easy street. Our logical brains know that to be true, but so often our emotional brains start to creep into the mindset of prosperity gospel and that if we love Jesus’ life should be exclusively full of blessings and sunshine and prizes.

When I was a teenager the first time I heard God communicate with me through scripture was in reading from the beginning of Romans 5 that I should “rejoice in my suffering because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope”. Context matters, and in this context in my life I was a 15-year-old kid in foster care and my birth mother- the only family I had- had just kicked me out of the house. I’m sitting on the bed of my group home; I turn to this passage of scripture, and this is what I read.

My 15-year-old brain thought that if God was real, he was either a jerk or a joke. If he could see me, know me, love me, and want the best for me- why would He point to this passage? I am thankful that God is so good. That He knows just what we need in the dark night of the soul, even if it’s drastically different than what we might think we need.

The Lord was telling me that my struggle was not just mine, and that I wasn’t the only one with struggle. That God can use our grief, and pain, and suffering for His glory; but for that to happen we have a part to play in addressing the struggle. We can’t ignore it. We must look our grief and pain dead in the eyes and say, “I belong to the Lord. You are real, and you hurt, but you do not define me, and you cannot separate me from my creator”.

We can’t just “pray it away”. We might need to talk to a trusted person or go to a professional counselor. We must be honest about the struggle, move through it, and on the other side we will find healing, a strengthened character, perseverance we didn’t have before, and a hope that God really is who He says he is. That is a promise we can hold tight to. I’m glad that God showed me that truth in my adolescents because it has shaped my whole life. It’s not too late to claim that truth in your life as well.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What are some things in your life that cause grief, pain or sadness?
  2. How does the Lord fit in those tough seasons?
  3. What do we need to do to partner with Jesus in the healing and restoration of those things?
  4. How can we use those situations to be a support to the body of Christ?

Jesus never tells us that we will be without struggle or grief, but He does say that He will be with us in the storm. With Jesus, life will for sure still be hard, but we will never ever be alone again.

May 2023 Devotional: Mourning into Dancing

By Lt. Jayerica Tumale
South Mountain, AZ Kroc Center – Southwest Division

There have been mornings, evenings, nuggets of time, and even extended seasons where we have wept and mourned. 

We have mourned over a death of a loved one.
We have mourned over disappointments.
We have mourned over illnesses.
We have mourned over tragedies.
We have mourned over sins that we have made. 
We have mourned over all kinds of things that we love.

Mourning is the state of being in deep grief. We mourn over a profound loss. We mourn over our mistakes and sins as we strive for a pure heart. Though painful, mourning is a part of human life. 

Throughout scripture, we witness people mourning. Ezra mourned over the sins of his people (Ezra 10:6). Nehemiah mourned at the news that his beloved Jerusalem lay in ruins (Nehemiah 1:4). Naomi was introduced as she displayed the depths of grief and mourning (Ruth 1:20-21).

Throughout the book of Psalms, David writes about his season of mourning. Amidst the loss, grief, and mourning, God promises to comfort and turn our mourning into dancing and great joy.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalm 30:11-12

When David wrote this portion of scripture, he had been going through a painful time. He had been weeping and crying out to God for His mercy. God heard his prayers. David put on new clothes of righteousness that brought about joy in his life. The purpose of the new clothing was to give God praise and tell others about what God had done. 

Life will always be filled with overwhelming situations because of the unknown. As I reminisce about my life, the Lord has always comforted me. He has turned my mourning into dancing and provided the most unexpected miracles! Mourning is a process that we all encounter. Although painful it can help us align our hearts with the heart of God, scripture reminds us: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) We need to lean on God and trust Him and His process as He comforts us. But while we wait for our situations to change, let’s sing and dance before the Lord just as David did. We have such an amazing God who redeems us and that is worthy of dancing about!