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

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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

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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


  • 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.

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October 2022 Craft: Ordinary Truth Affirmation Cards

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


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


  • 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

September 2022 Inspire Newsletter

Welcome to the last issue of the Inspire Newsletter. This month’s newsletter is all about the hopeful and expectant sunflower, that looks up and follows the sun. What a great reminder to Christ followers to be hopeful and looking up, expectantly waiting for the Lord’s return.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13

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Need previous issues of the INSPIRE Newsletter?  They can be found at the following links: August 2022, July 2022, June 2022 May 2022April 2022March 2022, February 2022, January 2022December 2021, November 2021October 2021September 2021August 2021July 2021June 2021May 2021, April 2021March 2021February 2021, January 2021 December 2020November 2020October 2020September 2020August 2020July 2020June 2020May 2020April 2020March 2020February 2020January 2020December 2019November 2019October 2019October 2018-September 2019

Although this is the last Inspire Newsletter, do not fret. Starting October 2022 a new monthly resource will be able that will help you to “Flourish” in your Women’s Ministries and personal walk with Jesus.

She Leads…By Starting Her Day With Jesus

By Major Dina Graciani
Director of Special Services, Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command

I wake up every morning and roll out of bed to see a sign up on my wall that says, “Start each day with a grateful heart.” I head to the kitchen with my phone in hand, laying it down on the end table, now for my coffee and time with Jesus. Another sign by my coffee maker says: “In the morning when I rise give Jesus and Coffee.” I then sit down in my favorite spot in the house next to yet another sign on a small easel that says, “Pray together often.” Everywhere you look in my home and office, you will see inspirational signs that I have chosen to inspire me and others. Some are scripture verses; others are positive things we should do every day, like “You have filled my heart with GREATER JOY.” I now enjoy my morning with my favorite cup of coffee and time with Jesus. I have found devotionals by Greg Laurie have become by most common go-to in this season. I enjoy reading and listening to them. I typically then proceed with “Minute with John Maxwell.”  It continually amazes how he takes just a minute to talk about a word and its meaning, yet what is shared is so profound. 

Every day I wake up looking forward to this time. In fact, it’s what gets me up in the morning.  It centers me. I LOVE MY COFFEE AND JESUS TIME. I genuinely believe this helps me lead with purpose, intentionality and helps provide a Christ-like lens from which to see the world.  Without Him, I am not as effective, enjoyable, loving, focused, and complete. My time with the Father is what keeps me grounded, love His people, listen to His people, and disciple His people.

I recently was shopping at one of my favorite stores, “Bed, Bath and Beyond,” and they had some really great greeting cards by the register. One said, “Find out who you are and do it ON purpose.” Said by the infamous Miss Dolly Parton. In my current appointment, my title is Director of Special Services.  Years ago, my husband and I were stationed in Missoula, Montana, along with our three children. After serving as Corps Officers for 14 years, we began to feel the nudge from the Holy Spirit that perhaps it was time for something new, a different challenge. We had some wonderful friends and mentors encouraging us for quite some time to join the ARC ministry.

Both Henry and I were curious and began to ask questions. I asked a good friend of mine what her role looked like serving as an Officer in the ARC?  She shared she was to provide and create extraordinary experiences for the ARC’s men and women, to make them feel cared for and loved. Birthday celebrations, special family activities, holiday events, spiritual counseling, Bible study, and planning and leading worship services. Hundreds of men and women would walk through our doors each year, and my job would be to welcome them home.  I love having and fulfilling that purpose and title.  It has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I am so pleased to now, years later, continue to carry that title.  My time serving in as the Director of Special Services consistently brings this quote to mind, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” These words couldn’t be truer for me.   

I love to make others feel loved, appreciated, and taken care of.  I thrive under the word “SPECIAL!”  Recently we had what we call Round Table in the ARC instead of Officer councils.  One of our Lieutenants that I have been mentoring had to set up this special meeting at her center.  I was unable to attend due to being out of town. She set up, decorated with a theme, planned great refreshments, placed everything where needed, and ensured everyone who attended had whatever they needed.  She called me after the event and said someone came up to her and said “Lieutenant this is event would have been Major Dina approved”. She would have been so pleased with how you took care of every detail of today’s meeting.  Thank you! She said, that means a lot to me.  We just never know how we will impact another person to lead their own ministry.  People are constantly watching, evaluating, judging your every move as a leader.  You never know what kind of impact you will make in their life. Why do I start my day with Jesus? Because He leads me, guides me, and my hope is that people will always know that I loved and cared for them like Jesus would.