Flourishing Story: Joyfully Serving

By Envoy Belsy Martinez
Bellflower Temple, CA Corps – Southern California Division.

God always answers our prayers.

I was born in Colombia, South America and came to the United States in the year 1998 seeking a better life for my family. I am completely sure that God by his never ending mercy and love brought us to The Salvation Army where we have been serving Him together ever since with my husband Manuel and our daughters Angie and Kelly.

It was always my prayer to God that He would guide us to a ministry where we could serve people in many different areas, meaning not only in their spiritual needs but also through counseling, emotional help as well as material assistance.  God answered my prayer, and that is how He guided us to Santa Ana Temple Corps where we were welcomed by the Officers and remained serving the Lord there for 11 years. 

I am grateful because Santa Ana Temple Corps has been a place which the Lord has used to equip and prepare Latino believers to serve Him in ministry. It was a wonderful time and opportunity that the Lord allowed so we could get involved in ministry. Not long after, we became Soldiers, and we started to receive training and the opportunity to help in different programs and activities at the Corps.

I still remember the first time I rang the bell as a volunteer; it was a great challenge, but it was the program which the Lord used to make me fall in love with our great Army. When I understood the importance and the outreach of the Christmas Kettles I never stopped helping. Praise the Lord, mission accomplished, soon it’ll be 25 years supporting this great program.

My family also served in different ministries at Santa Ana Temple and through those ministries we were able to learn better the different challenges that Latino families faced. I have been greatly blessed because after our time at Santa Ana Temple, the Lord sent us to serve Him as Ministry Leaders at the Santa Fe Springs Corps and at Bellflower Temple Corps, where we currently serve Him together with our daughters, our sons in law and our four grandchildren. These have been beautiful and enriching experiences in the pastoral ministry as well as in the social service ministry. 

As a leader I have been able to help women in a personal way, as a minister, a friend and a counselor. I have been able to witness how the Lord tends to the needs of many families through women who are willing to allow God to use them as an instrument to bring His love, His word and His promises into their homes.

It’s not about providing them with help to fulfill their material needs, but also
about listening to their life experiences, learn about their struggles, being aware of their worries and knowing how to guide them to trust in God’s promises. Now I can say that more than 50% of the women in our congregation have been reached through our Social Services programs. 

When women come through our doors seeking assistance, I have been able to pray with them, and invite them to join us as volunteers, and later to be part of our women’s meetings. By the grace of God some of them have become soldiers y continue serving God as active members of The Salvation Army. 

In the same way, in my personal experience being involved in our social services, I have been able to see day after day God’s hand working in families and individuals. It has been a beautiful opportunity to interact with the community in helping to fulfill their material needs and also help with their spiritual needs. It’s great to see one of our well known motto come to life in giving “Our heart to God and our hand to men” and see the impact it has on people. 
I am very grateful to God for bringing my family to serve Him in this great Army as we have been greatly blessed throughout these years serving in all the different communities. 

April 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Spring has sprung and this year we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior in April. It is a great time to be filled with joy. Flourishing in the joyful season is the focus of this month’s newsletter.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…” Matthew 28:5-6

Download this month’s issue:

Need previous issues of the FLOURISH Newsletter? https://usw-womensministries.org/march-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/

April 2023 Craft: Floral Letter Decoration

By Lt. Stephanie Philpot
Inglewood, CA Corps – Southern California Division

Spring is near, and it is almost time to bring out the spring décor. Floral letters are a great way to bring a pop of color into our homes, and together we are going to create something beautiful. The best part about this project is majority of these supplies needed can be found at your Corps/ Home League closet. If you are unable to find these supplies you can easily find them at your nearest Dollar store, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby.

Materials Needed
⦁ Wood letter of your choice or if you want you can trace out your letter from carboard/foam board.
⦁ Faux flowers, colors of your choice
⦁ Scissors or wire cutters
⦁ Glue gun
⦁ Ribbon or picture frame command strips


Step 1: Get your wood letter and let’s get started! however if you do not want to purchase one. You can cut out your desired letter using carboard or foamboard.

Step 2: When using faux flowers, it is easy to pop the bloom off the stem, if not you can use your scissors/wire cutter to cut the bloom from the steam.

Step 3: Once all your flowers and greenery is cut, you can start gluing them on to your letter. Using your glue gun place a small drop of glue on your flower and place your flower on your letter, holding it down for a few seconds. I started off with my bigger flowers and then repeated with the smaller flowers, until my entire letter was covered.

Step 4: Once my letter was mostly covered, I went and added greenery in some areas for extra filler.

Step 5: Once complete and everything was dried. I cut some ribbon to my desired length and glued it to the back of my letter. This step is optional since you can hang your letter, or have it propped up and if you do not want to use ribbon you can also use command stirps for picture frames.

Download printable of instructions of this craft:

March 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Life can sometimes be hard and painful. Flourishing through the tests and trials seasons is what this month’s newsletter focuses on.

And we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Download this month’s issue:

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

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

March 2023 Craft: Mosaic Tiles

By Major Beth Paugh
Intermountain Division

When I think of “Flourishing in the tests and trials season” two things came to mind, the first was a flower breaking through the winter snow. It fights so hard to get through the snow and to show off it beauty. The second thing is how God can take the brokenness that we experience through tests and trials and turn them into something beautiful. So why not combine the two and create something beautiful to remind us that God can create something beautiful through our trials.

Garden Mosaic Tiles are actually very easy and inexpensive to make. And the great thing is that no two are alike, just like us.

Supplies List:

  1. Stones or White Plaster Mix
  2. Shape or mold to hold plaster
  3. Something hard to set the mold on while it hardens
  4. Gloves
  5. Safety Glasses
  6. Hammer
  7. Large Ziplock Bag
  8. Popsicle Sticks
  9. Sponge
  10. Design pattern
  11. Pieces of tiles. Size will depend on the size of the shape or mold you use. You can also go to a Thrift Store and buy dishes to break into pieces. Thus, the need for the Ziplock bag and hammer.


STEP 1: Decide what design you want to use with your tiles. It is helpful to draw out your design on a piece of paper. You will use this for two things. The first is to use this pattern to trace onto the plaster. The second it to help you lay out the tiles to figure out any pattern you wish to use. Make sure that your design is not bigger than the mold or shape you will be using.

STEP 2: Mix plaster per directions. It should have a batter type consistency, you don’t want it to be too runny. You will need enough plaster to fill the mold or shape.

STEP 3: Pour plaster into the mold or shape. Tap it gently on a surface. This helps to evenly spread out the plaster. Once it is level, set it aside to allow it time to begin to harden. Place on a hard surface that you
can easily move.

STEP 4: Trace your pattern into the plaster.

STEP 5: If using precut tiles, begin placing them around your paper pattern. This gives you a chance to play around with colors and shapes of tiles.
If using dishes from a Thrift Store, place them into the Ziplock bag and break into pieces with the hammer. Then when you have the desired sizes, begin placing them onto the paper pattern.

STEP 6: Continue arranging the pieces onto the paper pattern until you have a design you are happy with.

STEP 7: Begin transferring the tiles one at a time from the paper into the plaster. You can either use your finger to press them into the plaster or the popsicle stick. Continue until you have transferred all the tiles into the plaster.

STEP 8: Tap gently on a surface once again to make sure all the tiles are securely into the plaster. The plaster should come right up to the top edge of the tile to make sure they don’t fall out.

STEP 9: Set aside for approximately 24 hours to allow time to fully harden.

STEP 10: Using the sponge and warm water, wash off the tops of the tiles to remove any unwanted plaster.

Step 11: Remove from the shape or mold and enjoy!

Download printable instructions of this craft:

Flourishing Story: God’s Blessing in the Seasons of Life

By Major Deborah Greene (Retired)
Intermountain Division

God always supplies what I need just when I need it. There is an idiom which says, “Into every life a little rain must fall”. But God is my umbrella who protects me from the downfalls, discouragements, and trials I face. As I was thinking about sharing words of encouragement regarding the “Tests and Trials, in the Seasons of Life” a song came to me “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carol King. It’s a secular song but to me it speaks of Jesus.

[Verse 1]
When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

As I take my journey through the winters, springs, summers, and falls of my life, I always find my friend, Jesus. When I am down, I try to stop, close my eyes, and think of Him being near and ready to brighten my circumstances. This past year has been a challenge and opportunity to experience God’s presence
anew and afresh.

I share with you the winter journey in my life. As a 71-year-old retired officer I never dreamed I would again oversee a Salvation Army unit. But as things happen in The Salvation Army, a breakdown occurred four hours from where my husband and I retired. One day, after Home League, I heard from my Corps Officer that a change of officers was necessary in our division. Regular moves had already occurred, and the Intermountain Divisional Headquarters were at a loss to find a replacement. I went home and said to my husband, “We could do that!” So we called the Divisional Commander and said if they needed us, we would be willing to go. The Divisional Commander responded with “I shall get back to you”. Shortly after our conversation ended, he called us and said, “You are an answer to prayer. We shall send the necessary paperwork and you are to report August 4th”.

We were sent to the St. George Outpost to continue the beautiful work the Lieutenants began 3½ years before. They had been assistants at our home corps, and this was their first appointment in charge. Having retired eight years ago I did not realize how overseeing a Salvation Army Unit has changed. In the first few months I experienced feelings of frustration, bewilderment, and exhaustion. Technology is way above my pay grade! “Smash Lab”, a business across the street from the St. George Outpost, has axe throwing. When I saw that I said to my husband, with tongue in cheek “That’s what I need, axe throwing to relieve my stress.” However, I went for the tried-and-true method of calling on the name of Jesus, running to Him, and He came as He promised. He has my back. Our God is a God of miracles! As I trust in Him, He provides strength, encouragement, and wisdom to complete any task I am given.

The greatest blessing of this appointment is the loving people who attend for worship. They are a family. Every Sunday we have Praise and Prayer time. The congregation is a mixture of homeless individuals and working people and I am amazed the way our “family” steps up and helps with projects. My husband and I had to be away for Easter because of the death of our son-in-law. Two women stepped up, offering to oversee the Sunday activities. My husband asked the gentleman who collects the Sunday offering to preach. He accepted the responsibility with no reservations.

The springtime of my life was our appointment out of Training School. As our Commissioning Day approached, my husband and I conferred with each other and said we would go anywhere but our home division, Southern California. We did not want to raise our children in the hustle and bustle of the area. Our Training Principal asked what we saw as our ministry in The Salvation Army. My husband said we would like Harbor Light Ministry. Commissioning Day arrived. We saluted and were given our assignment, “You are assigned to be Youth Team Leaders for the summer to the Southern California Division.” What?! It was where we said we did not want to go. We did not consider ourselves as musically inclined to supervise four teenagers and conduct meetings in ten different Corps.

At the Santa Monica Corps we met a wonderful soldier who sang a song for us “The Hornet Song.” This song helped us to realize that God “does not compel us to go ‘gainst our will, He makes us willing to go.” During our tenure in Southern California, we discovered corps we would be willing to serve in. By the end of the summer, we were willing to stay. But God had other plans. Our 34+ year career covered three other divisions, but not Southern California.

Our tenure as officers has been challenging, rewarding, and sometimes discouraging, but never dull! My encouragement to you reading my testimony is, no matter what season of life you are in, remember your calling. God has called you and He will equip you.

The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24, NIV 

Always trust God.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6,NKJV

May God’s peace and blessing attend all your seasons.

February 2023 Craft: Easy Macrame Rainbow

By Major Nancy Ball
Divisional Secretary for Program – Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

Tools & Supplies:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters
  • cotton rope – inside (smallest) row cut 12 strands to 14″
  • Yarn in various colors (medium weight)
  • Glue sticks
  • Floral wire – 22 gauge (doubled for each color of the rainbow – smallest one 11″)
  • Painters tape


  • Lay doubled wire onto 12 strands of cotton string. Secure ends with painter’s tape. (See picture below)
  • Begin wrapping desired color of yarn around the string and wire until the desired length is covered with yarn. (See picture below)
  • Cut off exposed ends of wire. Glue all 4 rows together in the shape of a rainbow. Trim ends of cotton string about 2 inches below rainbow. Brush out the strands of string. Hot glue a length of string to the back as a hanger.

Download printable craft directions:

February 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Although we would love for all our life to be “mountaintop experiences,” we know that is not true.  Flourishing while in the valley is what this month’s newsletter is all about.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Download this month’s issue:

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

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

Flourishing Story: Flourishing in the Valley Season

By Liane Vierra
Kroc Center, Kapolei HI – Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

This is the scripture that my youngest daughter, McKenna, used in her first testimony at our church when she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Large B-Cell Lymphoma cancer in July of 2020. She shared in her testimony that she sat in disbelief for a moment and asked God, “Why me?” But then she heard Him say, “Why not you?” As a 26-year-old flight attendant and licensed private pilot, God was calling McKenna to have confidence that He was faithful to His promise in Romans 8:28 and requiring that she would trust Him completely with the six rounds of 120-hour chemo treatments that she would soon endure.

Liane’s Ohana (Family)

The treatments began in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when health care facilities were implementing “no visitor” policies. McKenna would need to remain in the hospital for five days at a time, just her and God. She expressed that some days were literally so difficult that she had to close her eyes and imagine Jesus sitting at the edge of her hospital bed or rubbing her back when she needed it most. She acknowledged that it was God who got her through every single day, one day at a time. McKenna also shared a quote in her testimony that stated, “Maybe you were assigned this mountain to show others that it can be moved.” And it couldn’t be any truer she said, because after all, faith can move mountains.

God healed McKenna halfway through her treatment in October of 2020. The softball sized cancer that was located near her heart had vanished. Simultaneously, in His strength, McKenna also obtained her instrument pilot’s license. And in her second testimony at our church she humbly declared, “God did that.” Her prayer was that her life would be used as a living testimony for His glory.

McKenna was advised to complete the second half of her chemo treatments and was now working on her commercial pilot license. It was on July 26, 2021, that my whole world literally changed in an instant. McKenna went on an exploratory flight while on a trip to Alaska. She was a passenger on a single-engine Cessna that tragically crashed in a steep mountainous area of upper Eagle River Valley. We were informed that her journey soaring the skies disconcertingly came to an end, McKenna had been promoted to glory. My heart broke and shattered into a million pieces. How could God allow this to happen?

The Coronavirus disease struck my family shortly after McKenna’s passing which caused my oldest daughter, Taurie, to be admitted in the hospital. As if Covid wasn’t enough to conquer, Taurie was also diagnosed with pneumonia. I found myself once again, in the middle of a pandemic, with another daughter in the hospital. For seven days Taurie fought to get better, while I wrestled with God, begging Him not to take her from my family. She was a wife, and a mother to three young boys. In all the 20 years I served God, there had always been weapons thrown at my family. None quite as sharp as death, and now sickness. How do I flourish in a dark season such as this?

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

God knew beforehand that these afflictions were heading my way, and in His kindness, guided me to places and people where I would be supported and loved, and able to thrive amidst adversity. The Salvation Army was one of those places. He surrounded me with an army of prayer warriors who prayed fervently, gave generously, and loved extravagantly.

By God’s grace, He sustained me. I eventually realized that lovers of God are not excluded from tragedy and even though I did not comprehend everything I was going through, I needed to trust the teacher. God instructed me to seek His perspective and revealed to me that His purpose was greater than my pain. He educated me about how He could use storms to sift my faith so that particles of unbelief would fall out. God conveyed to me that what I cultivated in tears would give rise to an abundant harvest. That He would use my suffering for His glory, and that He would come through.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Taurie recovered from Covid and pneumonia and returned safely home to her family. My God is good indeed.

He is life. Although I faced the devastation of losing McKenna, I have grasped that this earth was not her final destination.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25

There is an eternal hope because Christ’s resurrection power has the final say. In eternity, death doesn’t win, Jesus does. McKenna is alive in Heaven, and her testimony will live for His glory. Is she a world changer? God knows.

When I focus my life from the standpoint of Truth, it is only then that I can flourish. I have learned that Jesus doesn’t want to be explained away, He just wants to be invited in. He doesn’t ask me to be perfect, just perfectly surrendered to Him. In this valley, and complementary to McKenna’s prayer, God has been providing me the opportunity to display His glory. When I am weak HE IS STRONG. In Truth I can be set free and remain unwavering in my faith.

Behold I have refined you, but not with silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10

There are days that I wake up and wish that this season was all a bad dream, and there are days that I sit to pray and have no words. In the stillness, nothing but anguish. Then God breaks through the silence and whispers that He has not dropped the pen that He is using to write my testimony. He advises me that when the pen remains in HIs hand, my testimony remains perfect.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Heaven knows that I would rather have my circumstances be changed, but I know that right now, God wants to focus on changing me.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Liane leading worship

January 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Happy New Year! 365 days to fill with lots to do. This month’s newsletter reminds us that in all the busyness to be still. May 2023 be the year where we make stillness a regular part of our routine with God.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Download this month’s issue:

Need previous issues of the FLOURISH Newsletter? https://usw-womensministries.org/december-2022-flourish-newsletter

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