October 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Welcome to the second year of the Flourish Newsletter. Last program year, we focused on flourishing in and through different seasons that we all go through. This year we want to flourish by being “Deeply Rooted in the Spiritual Disciplines.” Each month we will focus on one spiritual practice that will help us to establish deep roots, grow and flourish in our walk with Jesus.

For October we are focusing on the practice of Sabbath Rest. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, defines Sabbath as “God’s gift of repetitive and regular rest. It is given for our delight and communion with God. Time for being in the midst of a life of doing particularly characterizes the sabbath.” The desire of observing sabbath is “to set apart one day a week for rest and worship of God.”

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2

Inside you find a devotional, conversation starters, a prayer idea, a monthly Bible reading plan, and some other resources to help you incorporate a weekly Sabbath into our spiritual walk with Jesus.

Download this month’s issue:

October 2023 Craft: Sabbath Smash Book

By Captain Amber Ohl
Bozeman, MT Corps – Intermountain Division

For me Smash Books are just a more beautiful journal. I think of it as a doodle pad, journal, maybe even a scrapbook; but it doesn’t have a set plan. It can be messy, it could be overstuffed, and most of all, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

When it comes to Sabbath, we might be stuck in the idea that it is a rigid day of rest with all these rules and such. But Sabbath is a day to focus on who God is and to be able to be refreshed. That is my hope for this smash book, that we are able to compile all these different amazing ways to be able to focus on God, but also to refresh ourselves. One of my favorite examples is found under the “T” section and that is take a nap, listen. Sometimes we just need a nap.

1. Gather some supplies. I recommend that the journals would be an 8 1/2 by 11 size. Michaels is a great place to get them as they are either on sale or you can find a coupon through their rewards app. Other supplies include the printable pages attached, scissors, mod podge, brushes, scrapbooking paper, stickers colorful pens, wasabi tape, and anything else that your women might light. This might be a good time to clean out some drawers or leftover art supplies.

2.With this activity, they can work at their own pace. It’s easy as explaining what to do and let them have at it. They can cut out the letters to the word “SABBATH,” some of the ladies just did a rough cut, while others cut on the lines; both works. I would encourage that the letters are placed about 10 to 15 pages apart. This will allow for when they do engage in their Sabbath activity provides that extra space.

S – Sing/Songs. Write lyrics that help you connect you to God

A – Attributes. What are the attributes of God? OR A – Actively Rest. How can you actively rest?

B – Bible – Book by Book

B – Be in Nature

A – Art. Doodle in these pages while spending time with God, search online for Bible art that can be pasted in these pages to color, or pick up a craft that you have not done in a while.

T – Take a nap. Talk with a friend.

H – Hobby. Whether it is a hobby that you have not done in a while or it’s something you wan to try.

3.One thing we did was add an envelopes so that we could use that to tuck away some small notes or cards.

4. I added extra pages that are some examples of a word to associate to each letter of “SABBATH.” I would encourage your ladies to add in their own that would help them on their Sabbath.

5. Also, Pinterest is a great resource if you ladies would like some extra pages. Maybe they want to add in some coloring pages or look up verses to color.

6. Remember it does not have to be perfect; that is what’s fun about smash books!

Prayer for you: For this moment of Sabbath may God help you engage in true Sabbath rest. May you unattach from the daily burdens and the concerns that are yours. May you pause long enough to pray, be present enough to enjoy, and slow down enough to rest. But most of all, I pray that you may worship the One who gives us Sabbath.

Download a printable version of these directions. It has also has extra printable pages and quotes to include in your Sabbath Smash Book.

September 2023 Flourish Newsletter

Every Christian faces times of spiritual battle and struggle. We have an enemy of our souls, the devil, who wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). However, we have victory through Christ, and we don’t have to let the enemy win in our lives. That’s what this month’s newsletter is all about – flourishing in and through the times of battle.

This month’s verse promises us triumph – because of the shed blood of Jesus and by speaking our testimony of what the Lord has done for us!

They triumphed over him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11a

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September 2023 Craft: Lamp Shade

By Major Gaylene Yardley
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Southwest Division

This month’s craft is a little different. No written directions, but Major Gaylene has created a video of how you can make a lamp shade from old slides.

This month as we focus on flourishing in the battle season, we need to never forget that the light defeats the darkness.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5









Flourishing Story: Flourishing through the Battle

By Lisa Garcia
Director of Loss Control and Compliance
Risk Management Department – Territorial Headquarters

When I think of an example of flourishing, my first thought is something that is showing evidence of success. Maybe a plant that is growing tall and healthy with beautiful blooms or someone who has it all together and never seems to be struggling. By that definition, I was always resentful of those who were flourishing. Those who had it all together, did everything expected of them with minimal effort or was just thriving. I was never thriving – I was always in crisis or surrounded by drama and most of that was my own making. I was living by the seat of my pants and attempting to manipulate everything to be on my terms. So many times, that translated into not caring what happened to anyone, especially myself. I fumbled on that way until May of 2005, when I begrudgingly walked into The Salvation Army, Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena and decided to try something different. I was going to, the first time in my life, try and not be an alcoholic and drug addict in active addiction.

Once I had some sobriety under my belt, I realized that I am a very proud alcoholic and drug addict.  You may be thinking that proud is a very strange way to describe an addict or addiction, but to understand why I am so proud, you would have to know where I came from and more importantly, where God has led me since then. 

I was raised mainly by my grandparents because of my parent’s addiction problems.  I always swore that I would never end up like my parents and I ended up worse. I started drinking socially in high school and loved how it made me feel. I was smarter, prettier, more personable. I went on to start college at USC and that’s where my drinking and using career really took off and I eventually had to drop out without one credit. My life with drugs and alcohol were not without brief periods of employment, stability and some happiness that came with the birth of my children, but they were always followed by lower lows.  I had brief periods of being clean from one substance or alcohol but was never completely abstinent from everything. Not exactly sure when it happened, but things progressed in a way that I could not get ahead of my addiction and started to spiral.  My spiral lasted several years and during that time, my life consisted of getting and losing jobs; being arrested and eventually, serving jail time; having utilities disconnected and being evicted; and the worst was my kids being removed from my care, more than once, due to my drug use.  I would do what I needed to do to get them back and then use again.  It was such a vicious cycle that I couldn’t see my demise or the damage that I was doing to those around me.  I never thought about making a change to improve my life, I just kept living a lie and telling myself that I was ok and everyone else was wrong.    I could go on and on about how low I had sunk but that is less important to what I choose to focus on today.

Thanks to my friend Jill who called a family friend who was a judge, and he recommended The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena. Jill arranged to pick me up at 7 am and all I had to do was stay sober. At 6 am, before she picked me up, I drank 2 beers. For the first time in a very long time, I was honest when they asked me when the last time that I drank was and sure enough, they turned me away. They turned me away but promised that if I stayed sober for the next two days, they would hold my bed. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but God did. Under Jill’s watchful eye of Jill, I did manage to stay sober, entered the program and have stayed sober since 5/25/2005.

While in the ARC, I was presented with a crash course in God, but I was ready to learn how to live again, or even more importantly, to find out how to live like God would want me to. I didn’t know about the faith-based aspect of The Salvation Army when I agreed to go and it is probably a good thing because I may have chosen not to go because I had no connection with God other than to pray to get me out of my messes that I got myself into…like being arrested, DCFS hearings, failing drug tests and so on. Based on my past, a relationship with God scared me, like maybe I wasn’t worthy of his goodness, because after all, I had done some horrible things while in my addiction and God’s grace wasn’t for people like me. Boy, was I wrong – I am exactly who God’s grace is for. When I kneeled for the first time to pray and accept Jesus into my life, I knew, from that moment, that my life would be infinitely better from now on, I didn’t know how, I just knew that it would be. I felt a love in my heart that I had only heard about and been skeptical of.

My relationship with God is something that I never take for granted. I am far from perfect, as my family and co-workers will attest to, but with God on my side, I was able to begin to forgive myself for the things that I had done and when I was able to begin to forgive myself, I was able to love myself and that is what has truly helped to heal me and allowed me to love others and accept their love for me. I share often about the feelings of love that my ARC Administrators Majors Dave & Gaylene Yardley instilled in me. The love that they showed me was the first real love, with no strings attached, that I had accepted in so long. Sometimes that was tough love, but they made sure that I knew the difference. To be told that I am a trophy of grace and God loves me, no matter what, was powerful. God opened my heart and allowed me to believe them. In turn, I gave myself a little chance and started to love myself. I learned that my calling is to love on those until they can love themselves. I don’t have to love their actions, but to love that they are a child of God and deserve a second chance is what I do to give back. My most important life lesson thus far has been that God loves me and there is nothing I can do about it.

Majors Gaylene & David Yardley (Southwest DHQ), Leslie Zimmerman (Veterans Family Center, Cascade Division) and Lisa

Is the person who has struggles but keeps on going thought of as flourishing? Do we think of the ugly weed growing up in the sidewalk as flourishing? Maybe not by some standards, but the Bible tells me differently. Job 8:7 “Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish,” is my constant reminder to keep on thriving and encouraging others to do the same.

I was able to return to the school that I failed out of nearly 30 years ago, University of Southern California and get my Master of Public Administration with a Nonprofit focus in 2019 and did that while getting treatment for breast cancer. I mention that to say that even while life is showing up on life’s terms, I will remain faithful and flourish during every season. I am thankful to God for all that he has done for me, but more importantly, that I can share with others about how great my God is.

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).

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 towl
  • 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

August 2023 Flourish Newsletter

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

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

Download this month’s issue:

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

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/

August 2023 Craft: Desert in a Bottle

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

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

PREP TIME: 10 minutes


TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes


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


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


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

Download a printable version of these instructions:

Flourishing Story: Walking With the Best Guide

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

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

Caminando con el mejor guia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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