January 2023 Craft: Finding Your Peace Painting

By Captain Jan Pemberton
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Cascade Division

When we are looking for peace or a break from the ordinary in our lives, we often gravitate to a hobby that gives us peace and lets us disconnect from the stresses of the world in which we live in. Some of us love the great outdoors, enjoying activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing, and some of us enjoy the outdoors in other ways, such as watching nature from the comfort of our homes or campsites. However, not everyone is cut out for the great outdoors, some due to mobility, health, and such. When those of us who are not outdoorsy look for something to give us peace, we turn to other activities such as playing an instrument, coin and stamp collecting, sewing, embordering, and painting.

Today we are going to explore the world of painting. Remember, we don’t have to be Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or any other famous painter to enjoy our hobby. All we need are some simple tools, inspiration, and time.

Below are instructions to paint a simple background with your favorite memory verse or inspirational quote.

Supplies needed:

  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Primed Canvas
  • Pencils
  • Paint Markers, if desired
  • Ruler or stencil
  • Paint remover for brushes
  • Table covering

Instructions:

  1. Paint the entire canvas with desired background color

2. Draw the intended image for the background and paint the image with desired colors.

3. Add your favorite scripture verse or inspirational quote.

4. Have fun with this craft. Make it your own and put your personal spin on this project. Remember, no matter your interests, allow God to use them for His glory and use the talents He has given you.

Download printable craft directions

Flourishing Story: My Testimony

By Major Erica Yang
Federal Way, WA – Northwest Division

Note: Recently Major Rutendo Masango interviewed Major Erica Yang. This is her testimony.

When do you become a Christian?

I was born into a Christian family. My parents were Salvation Army officers in South Korea. I was dedicated to the Lord as a baby at The Salvation Army corps in Seoul. I accepted Jesus in my heart as a little child from Sunday school. At the age of 18, I committed my heart to the Lord. I was ordained and commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in the Western Territory on June 18, 2002.

Tell about your family.

My parents are the best examples of faithfulness. As active officers, they did their best to serve others in God’s name. Growing up, we had family worship time at 9 pm in the evening. We sang hymns, read the Scriptures, prayed and my father shared the Bible message. Even in her retirement, my mother continues to be a prayer warrior. People always ask her to pray for them.

How are you growing in the Lord?

I am growing in the Lord through many prayers by our church members, family members, and fellow Salvation Army officers. Prayer is powerful in my life.
I also take time to read the Bible, study God’s word, pray, and take a quiet time for daily devotional time. I also take time to rest and enjoy the Lord’s presence.

What does the word “flourish” mean to you?

I googled the Christian meaning for the word, flourish and it says, “Flourishing life gives peace, blessings, maturity that reveal God’s loving purpose for people to experience the very best form of life.” Hallelujah!

The word flourish to me means that God is working in my life and helping me grow. It also means growing together as the church family. The Federal Way Corps members are very faithful and dedicated to the Lord. It gives synergy for each other to grow and spiritually flourish as the church family.

How are you currently flourishing in your life?

I am currently flourishing in my life through the help of the Holy Spirit. My mind and heart are closer to God. My life has become simpler and easier because I know God is in control. When I empty myself and trust the Lord, God helps me to flourish.

Share about what God is currently teaching you.

God is teaching me to “Be still.” This means I do not have to worry about anything. I do not have any struggles in my heart. God is also teaching me that He is the “same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” He never changes.

Share about the Federal Way Youth

The Federal Way youth are a blessing to me. They are hungry for God’s Word, they are attentive, they want to be involved in the corps, they volunteer, they want to work at Camp. They are truly a blessing from the Lord.

The Youth recently received the leadership training by Captains Pavlakis from the Youth Department, here in the Northwest Division.  I noticed that it helped with their spiritual maturity. The leadership training helped them to take more ownership of the corps.  I recommend every Corps provide leadership training for both youth and adults. 

 Our youth Praise and Worship team recently participated in the Territorial Encore Final Competition during Commissioning at The Salvation Army Tustin Ranch Corps. 

They showed commitment and dedication as they practiced their songs.  Even though they did not win, to them that did not matter. They were blessed to be able to take part in the competition.

 The youth are mature enough to enjoy the real purpose of participating and praising God with fellow God’s young people.  Some of them are interested in joining the mission work of The Salvation Army, working at the Camp, and becoming Salvation Army officers in the future.

 I truly appreciate all our spiritually mature adults at the church who continually support and pray for our young people. The corps is also blessed to have fantastic youth workers, Jesse Hodges, Farnaz Nisha, and Debra Doty who pour daily into these kids.   

Share about the Federal Way Women’s and Men’s Ministries

Our women’s and men’s groups are serving God in many ways. Our Corps members are a multi-cultural group. It started as a Laotian ministry, and now we have people from various multi-cultural backgrounds.
One would think the corps would have trouble communicating, but not the Federal Way Corps. Even though we have many different languages and cultures represented, we have not had trouble understanding each other. This is truly a blessing.

Some of our church members have vegetable gardens at home. They always share the vegetables with the Corps members. They also bring the vegetables to our Corps food pantry to give to the needy people in the community.

Prayer is huge part of the Federal Way Corps. We operate a 24-hour prayer line. We are connected to the 24-hour prayer group via on Facebook messenger. We also take prayer requests from Social Services, or through telephone calls. We share the prayer requests, and actively pray for everyone who asks to pray.
Both women’s and men’s groups meet once a week to study the words of God. The women’s ministries puts together a quarterly food auction to raise money for the World Services.

Men’s ministries is also busy. They take care of the Corps building needs, and do small projects, to keep the corps building in good shape. The men also do Community Care Ministries which includes visitations and phone calls. They also volunteer for kettles during our busy time of the year at Christmas.

Our women’s and men’s group members come every Tuesday and Thursday for the sewing club to make shopping bags and aprons. These are auctioned quarterly at the World Services Auction. Our bags and aprons have become very popular, as people from various places ask to purchase our shopping bags and aprons. We have already mailed shopping bags to Alaska and Los Angeles and received donations. We even have people from New Zealand asking to purchase the aprons! The sewing group also make blankets to give to the homeless through Social Service.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Yes, I have many Bible verses I love, including Psalm 62: 6 which says: “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

God is my only rock, my salvation, and my fortress. I will not be shaken by this world.
As a young person, before maturing spiritually, I was shaken easily. Now, I know that God is my Father, who is in control. God is the creator of this entire universe, and He created us to be His children. There’s nothing to be afraid of and be shaken by in this world.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about doing everything I do in God’s name. I love people and want to share the love of God with anyone I meet in any place.

At present, I love our church members at the Federal Way Corps. They are all God’s beautiful people, and I feel blessed to serve at this amazing corps.

I am also passionate about the homeless ministry, social justice, and helping those dealing with depression and mental illness. There are many homeless people and mentally challenged people in our society. I pray for them and provide necessary items for them (for example, clothing, food) and share the message of God.

December 2022 Flourish Newsletter

December is a busy month and it is easy to get so busy doing all the activities of Christmas that we miss out on the reason we celebrate in the first place. This month’s issue will help you slow down and flourish even when life is busy.

May we make time to slow down, and to savor our Savior during this busy season.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4:4-5

Download this month’s issue:

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

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

December 2022 Craft: The Victorian Top Hat

By Captain Gin Pack
Centralia, WA Corps – Northwest Division

There are so many things I love about the Christmas season. For me, it feels like an all-senses adventure; there are beautiful sights to see, smells to breathe in, special treats that bring us back to special memories. Nearly everywhere you go, little whispers of Christmas carols play in the background, and there is certainly no shortage of things to do during the grinding season of Christmas in The Salvation Army.

Merriam Webster defines flourishing as to “grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment”. Sometimes during what we longingly call the “busy season” may feel like we are just grinding along, surviving and not flourishing.

However, I have often found that even if the season feels like we could not jam one more thing into the schedule, the one thing that is like a balm to a tired, existing, toy sorting, kettle counting, bell ringing soul, is the gift of time with a friend or two. If you have a regular group that meets through all seasons, this is a fantastic opportunity to find a place to flourish even in the busiest of seasons.

The wonderful thing about this project, is not only is it budget minded, but it allows for a time of fellowship and creative freedom, it also is wonderful display piece as a center of a table or even just around to add a little décor to your space. This project is also an excellent opportunity to gather supplies and spend intentional time with one another and all it requires is a little preplanning.

The supplies you will need are:

  • #10 can
  • A lager ceramic plate or a plate charger, or any other item such as foam board or wood cut into a circle that is about 50% greater than the mouth of the can
  • Black matte spray paint
  • Inexpensive embellishments such as Christmas tree picks, pinecones, sparkly snowflakes, I often find the perfect ones at dollar tree or other similar stores.
  • Wide ribbon
  • Hot glue
  • An additional item I really love, and I think it brings a beautiful element to it is a product called “SnowTex”. I purchase mine from Amazon, but it can be found it local stores as well. It adds a snow texture to any medium you’re working with.

My husband and I have been blessed to serve in our community where we serve a hot meal a few times a week. Because of this, we often find ourselves with those large #10 cans. If you do not have access to these cans, feel free to check in with local restaurants, places who do serve community meals or head to your local stores. Many of them carry certain items in those big cans. You will want to collect as many cans as you have people or as many as you need for festive decorations and centerpieces.

Once you have collected the cans, make sure they are clean, the label is off, and any excess adhesive or buildup has been removed. Once they are dry, take your plate, making sure it is clean and free of debris. Then glue the can to the plate using hot glue or something like E6000 and then spray paint. Once the paint is dry, it’s time to decorate!

I prefer the look of the Victorian top hat with a large ribbon at the base of the hat, felt or other textured material is a nice touch. After the ribbon is glued into place, the rest is really up to you how you want to decorate it. I tend to prefer a “theme.” Some really easy but beautiful ones are:

  • woodland (use berries, twigs, pinecones, and a little bit of the snow-tex),
  • frosty (use a little glitter either in white or blue and attach glittery snowflakes),
  • or even something like a pre-purchased little church ornament can make it look spectacular. It really is that easy and your hat can be as unique as you!

Corrie ten Boom said: “If the devil can’t make us bad, he will make us busy.” If that quote does not cut a little too deep and meet me toe to toe. I, myself am so guilty of waking up, a day full ahead of me and before I know it, I am headed back to bed having only checked off half of my list and offering my meager offering to the Lord of a whispered prayer before I drift off to sleep only to lather, rinse, repeat.

My sweet sisters, the Lord delights in you! Psalm 149:4 says, “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Take this very sacred time when the whole world is grinding along. God calls us to flourish and delight in Him, to be intentional and mostly bask in the gift of creation as you too, create something masterful. I have always found that some of the most beautiful moments have been when I have planned ahead, and then let creativity develop. I pray that in this season, you do not just get swept away with all that there needs to be done but that God calls to you flourish.

Download the printable version of the craft

November 2022 Flourish Newsletter

November – the season of Thanksgiving – the perfect to time to focus on flourishing with contentment, in the season you are currently in. That is what this month’s newsletter is all about.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise HIs holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Psalm 103:1-2

Download this month’s issue:

Need previous issues of the FLOURISH Newsletter? https://usw-womensministries.org/october-2022-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 Contentedly in the Season I Am In

By Captain Taneya Garrett
Administrator of Program, Long Beach, CA Adult Rehabilitation Center

Sometimes I move through my day holding onto the edge of my seat. I am a mom, a wife, a grandma, a Pastor, an administrator, and I have around 60 men who rely on me for support. I have a lot on my plate. Some days, days like today, I am doing my best. Life isn’t always easy, and I have been in seasons that are easier than others.

Taneya and her family

Often, I have tried to make the season the way I wanted it to be or how I thought people wanted it to be. All this did was stress me out. I didn’t know how to just be me. I can remember when my journey with the Lord started. I smile as I write this because it’s funny how God works. I would watch women, good Godly women and compare myself to them. They just didn’t wake up one day and be the person they are today. It took them time, but I didn’t understand that. All I saw was amazing women. They never seemed stressed. They seemed to have it all together. I remember saying to myself, “how can I be like them?”

I played this game in my mind for so long. Just when I thought I had it all worked out, something would trigger that thought again. A crazy cycle of comparing myself with other people. I can remember, just wanting to be a good Godly woman. I would allow myself to believe that there was no possible way, God could use a person like me. Today, I laugh at myself, but I remember thinking, if only God really knew me.

Little did I realize at the time, God knew me. God knows me and understands me better than I understand myself. It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I finally understood. I can only be who God created me to be and that I just needed to do the best I can. I was only able to come to this realization in His timing and by doing the work needed to grow and understand God more. The only way to understand God is to dig in His word. Jesus said, “she did what she could.”

I have found contentment, trusting in the words of Jesus and every day I do the best I can. This has allowed me to flourish, not only in my walk with the Lord, but also as a mom, a wife, a grandma and as a Godly woman. Yes, I am a Godly woman! Now,, I am not saying that I don’t still have seasons when I struggle, but I have learned to trust God for who He is and believe, that I am exactly who He created me to be. Do I still hold on very tight to the edge of my seat? The answer is Yes! That’s how God created me. Some days I am a mess and somedays I might have it together, but I learned to trust Him in whatever season I’m in.

“I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation..” Philippians 4:12 TLB

November 2022 Craft: Handmade FLOURISHING Paper

By Captain Jennifer Swain
Administrator for Program for the San Diego, CA Adult Rehabilitation Center

Supplies*

  • recycled paper
  • large bowl
  • towels
  • sponge
  • seed packets
  • 2 small wooden frames
  • grease splatter screen
  • blender (should be exclusively used for this project)

*Most supplies can be purchased inexpensively at the Dollar Tree, but the blender is a great
opportunity to shop at your local Salvation Army thrift store!

How to…

  • Create your paper mold by cutting the wire mesh out of the splatter screen and stapling it to one of the frames. The other frame should remain loose to work as your mold. You’ll hold them together to use them in the mixture.
  • Tear your recycled paper into 1inx1in pieces. Fill your blender threequarters full with water and then add a few handfuls of paper.
  • Blend until the paper is pulpy and wet.
  • Pour your mixture into your large bowl and repeat the process.
  • Add as many seed packets as desired to create texture.
  • Once your large bowl is full of mixture, which should be mostly water, dip your frame into the bowl and move it around. Lift it from the bowl, ensuring all of the mesh is covered with the pulp mixture, and allow some water to strain before moving it to your towel.
  • Once placed on the towel, press on the mesh with the sponge to remove excess water (squeeze water from the sponge back into the bowl).
  • Remove loose frame and turn frame with mesh over onto the towel and gently pull paper off onto the towel.
  • Leave paper to dry for 24-48 hours before cutting into fun shapes to give away!

You can encourage yourself, and others, to FLOURISH by planting these, or framing them, as a reminder that God can use all there is of us to create something BEAUTIFUL!

“I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation…” Philippians 4:12 TLB

Download printable instructions of this craft:

Flourishing Story: Flourishing in the Ordinary Seasons

By Captain Jessica Stevens
Family Care Director – College For Officer Training

I am a creature of habit. I take the same route to work and to church every time I drive. My daily walk traverses the same route, I buy multiple pairs of the same jeans or Target t-shirts, and reread the same books over and over again (I see you on the shelf, Where the Crawdads Sing!). An introvert and homebody, when I fold my laundry, sip my mug of French Roast, or read to my son before bed I feel most at peace.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that after five years of nearly daily use my Birkenstocks needed replacing. I hunted through multiple department stores to find the same pair, to no avail. I finally caved in and bought a NEW style. I’m still getting used to them, and frankly, wish I could have found that same trusty pair of black Birks.

As a pragmatic box checker, a calendar keeping gal who also struggles with anxiety, my head does not get stuck in the clouds. My brain and my heart get stuck in the details and the plans and the to do’s. A few years ago, during a season of stress and significant personal and professional upheaval I became fixated on checking enough of the boxes, nailing down the plans, or finishing the to do list.

I was so focused on WHAT MUST GET DONE that my perspective became warped. Slowly but surely, my lens was limited, and spirit became closed off from connection. I was so wrapped up in what was on my plate, or my calendar that I began to miss moments where I was needed.

I began to resent the things that used to bring me joy. Because was my heart was focused only on temporal tasks, I found them feeling like drudgery. As I bogged myself down with duty, my joy swiftly exited stage right. Resentment brewed stronger than my morning cup of joe.

As He has so many times throughout my life, the Spirit lifted my eyes and gave me a new perspective through the very ordinary routine I went through each morning. Coffee? Check. Chair? Check. Scripture? Check.

But this morning in particular, my heart was tender. My head ached from too little sleep, and my thumb was cramped from too much social media scrolling. (Ok, not really or actually. 12) I felt hollowed out, because I’d been distracted by the shiny promise of approval from others.

My Bible fell open to the words of Jesus in Luke 12: “Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.” (Luke 12:24, The Message)

Free. Unfettered. Carefree. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt any of those feelings.
I’d been dragging duty around, depending on myself rather than on my Savior. So, on a weekday morning before work, I paused the productivity train. I felt the presence and peace of the Spirit reminding me “You count far more.” Not because of my achievements or calendar commitments, but because of Jesus. Because of his love, his grace, his peace, his forgiveness: I can be “carefree in the care of God.”
I’m still a box checker, and a sucker for a good planner or calendar. But I’ve been able to refocus. What matters most for me, is the people behind the productivity. When I remember who is behind my tasks, what relationships and people are behind my ordinary obligations they become sacred. Paul reminds me in Romans that all of my life is to be an offering before the Lord, and that when all of it is surrendered to Christ, each boring bit, maturity will result. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1, The Message) I have so far to grow, but I remain thankful that the peace and presence of Christ go with me on each ordinarily beautiful day.

Captain Jessica Stevens

October 2022 Flourish Newsletter

Check out the premiere issue of the Flourish Newsletter. New name, new format, more pages, but still it is a great resource to use in Women’s Ministries or personally.

This month we are focusing on how to flourish in the ordinary seasons of life, with the reminder to seek out God in the ordinary, routine and even mundane days, with a devotional as well as a focus on practicing the presence of God.

Inside you will find conversation starters to help you to connect with others, a prayer idea as well as a Bible reading plan to help you to flourish in your connection with God. This month’s reading plan is a guide through the book of Proverbs. Also included are some fun activities to help you flourish in the month of October.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Just like in the Inspire Newsletter, every month will feature highlights of various activities of Women’s Ministries around the USA Western Territory.

Download this month’s issue:

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

October 2022 Craft: Ordinary Truth Affirmation Cards

By Captain Jessica Stevens
Family Care Director – College For Officer Training

Materials:

  • One set of affirmation cards per person. Download the affirmation cards
  • One ordinary container (mason jar, Tupperware, takeout box, bowl, recycled tissue box)

Directions:

  • Cut affirmation cards out.
  • Customize blank cards according to individual need.
  • Place cut out cards in ordinary container.
  • If desired, decorate container.
  • Place in an ordinary place in the home: kitchen sink, nightstand, near bathroom mirror.
  • Choose one affirmation card a week, and speak it out loud to yourself at least once a day. Let the truths of God’s love become more real to you in ordinary time.

Questions for Connection:

  • Which of these Scriptures and affirmations resonates most with you?
  • Are any of these truths hard for you to believe?
  • Who in your lift might benefit from hearing one of these messages? how can you speak truth into their life?
  • Describe a time in which you needed to hear one of these messages. How might this message have changed your situation?
  • How can you modify your thoughts or response to draining duties?

Download printable directions of this craft