Meet Jayna Gallagher + An Amazing Giveaway!

Today for our final Better Together post, I want to introduce you to another special lady. Some of you will recognize her as our retreat leader in 2017. What many of you may not know is that Jayna Gallagher now plays a vital behind-the-scenes role as a Velvet Ashes board member. We want to share her story with you and let you know about an incredible opportunity she is offering.

First, let’s go back to the day Jayna first heard about Velvet Ashes. I remember the day well. I had just found out I was pregnant and was questioning how I would be able to do the upcoming Velvet Ashes Retreat. Jayna just happened to show up at my door. While our husbands talked, Jayna and I started the usual introductory small talk. I asked her what she did, and when she replied, “I’m a spiritual director, and I lead retreats for cross-cultural women,” my jaw about dropped to the floor.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. This has been the story of Velvet Ashes from the beginning. God brings just whom we need, right when we need it, sometimes directly on our doorsteps.

Jayna, tell us what drew you to Velvet Ashes. What inspires you to serve as a Velvet Ashes Board member?

As Danielle has already shared, my first introduction to Velvet Ashes happened in a very unlikely way. To this day I still smile, and am warmed by the awareness of God’s deep love for me as these events transpired. I believe that the Lord orchestrated my introduction to Danielle and Velvet Ashes.

Traveling down from Chicago with my husband Rob to visit Danielle and her husband Aaron we stopped to get gas. I remember standing on the side of the gas station weeping on my husband’s shoulder at the loss I was facing. I was coming directly from a hurtful ministry conflict, and I was very discouraged. My reputation had been maligned for standing up for biblical truths, and I could see my opportunity to minister closing down.

As I think back I am not really sure why we were traveling to visit Danielle and Aaron, but our connection was to be the beginning of a relationship with Danielle and Velvet Ashes that I could never have imagined or planned for myself. Little did I know that in a few short hours the Lord would open up a different ministry possibility. An opportunity that stretched far wider than what I had been doing. Once again, God showed me that he knew my address; seeing all that I was facing and changing the direction I was headed, to enter into a most delightful and joyous beginning with Velvet Ashes.

I believe what inspires me to serve as a board member of Velvet Ashes is closely connected to their mission statement; Velvet Ashes exists to provide global support structures for women serving in cross-cultural contexts. My heart for women serving in cross-cultural contexts stems from my early years spent with my parents in Nicaragua. They were cross-cultural workers teaching and building medical facilities. I remember the isolation of living in the little village of San Jorge. There was little to no support for the women of that community. I saw those around me struggle through depression and loneliness, not knowing the customs, and far away from friends and family. Had we been able to be a part of a Velvet Ashes type community, I believe it would have allowed us to stay in Nicaragua longer and in a more productive way.

As I mentioned, Jayna is also a spiritual director. Jayna, can you briefly share with us what a spiritual director does? And specifically what does a spiritual direction session looks like?

To answer this question I have to tell you about the first time I met someone who said they were a spiritual director. I distinctly remember rolling my eyes. Not so the other person could see of course, but I remember thinking, how pretentious of them. I believe many people have the idea that a spiritual director does just that, directs. This is quite far from the reality of what spiritual direction entails.

True spiritual direction is sitting with and walking alongside someone to help them better see who God is, and where he is showing up in their life. In this process the Holy Spirit does all the directing.

What makes spiritual direction so special is the intimacy that is fostered as the Holy Spirit leads each session. The space is a gift from God of time and relationship. As busy women who are constantly caring for others, it is not often that we have an opportunity to be listened to by someone else. The directee shares, the director shares, and the Holy Spirit shares. This interactive listening space allows for conversations about life in the light of our faith, and as this happens there tends to be a clarity that bubbles up around the issues that are being discussed. Oftentimes inner spiritual healing occurs as a result of our time together.

Typically, I approach a spiritual direction meeting with no specific agenda. I come prepared and ready to listen not only to the directee, but to the Holy Spirit. Many spiritual directors call this, listening with three ears; one tuned to God, the other to the directee, and a third ear to our inner heart. Spiritual directors rarely give advice, and graft their time by asking questions that lead the directee to think deeper and move in closer intimacy in their journey with God. The directee is expected to come to each session with something they would like to discuss. Frequency is determined on an individual basis, but meeting for one hour once a month is normative. The rest we leave up to the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, Jayna. Spiritual direction is something that has greatly impacted my own life, and I am excited for the opportunity that you are offering.



We will soon be sending every one of you an Ambassador Digital Package. In this, you will find that will equip you to share your heart for Velvet Ashes with your people, inviting them to join our Better Together Giving-Initiative.

Every person who completes one of the initiative suggestions will be entered into a drawing.

From this drawing, there will be four winners.

#1 The Ultimate Soul Care Package – 3 spiritual direction sessions with Jayna Gallagher, a past Velvet Ashes Retreat, AND a registration pass to the 2019 Velvet Ashes Retreat. $220 value!

#2 – The Life-Giving Soul Care Package – includes 2 spiritual direction sessions with Jayna and registration pass to the 2019 Velvet Ashes Retreat. $135 value!

#3 – The Retreat Package – includes registration passes for a group of 4 to the 2019 Velvet Ashes Retreat. $60 value!

#4 – The Book Club Package – includes kindle versions of the next three books for Velvet Ashes’ book club! $29 value!

Be checking your inbox and Facebook and Instagram to find out how you can participate and win these amazing prizes!

Do you resonate with Jayna’s story? Have you experienced a time of loss while God was unknowingly preparing a new opportunity for you? What questions do you have for Jayna about spiritual direction? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments.  


  1. Karen Carlson December 13, 2018

    I have been hearing from a variety of friends about having a spiritual director and how helpful that has been to them. So I signed up in September after an on-line search. We “meet” over FaceTime once a month. Since I’ve only had three sessions, I can’t say much yet, but they have been pleasant.

    1. Jayna December 18, 2018

      Karen so wonderful to hear that you have had a chance to meet with a spiritual director. Praying that this relationship is long lasting and leads you to the Divine in new and refreshing ways.

  2. Grace L December 13, 2018

    Jayna, when you shared how you were struggling because of the hurtful ministry conflict you had been experiencing, my first thought was that you would be the kind of person who would understand and empathize with others in ministry who were going through similar situations. I was thinking how God must be using those hurts to be able to use you more effectively with those you would minister to. My husband and I have been going through a year of hurtful ministry conflicts, and my first thought was that you would understand our hurts; that God would use you through your painful experiences. And then I had to turn the tables and tell myself that God can and will use me to minister to others because I could relate. I found myself feeling challenged to thank God for allowing us to have these experiences instead of grumbling and struggling so much about them. I do think this could be a case of “What Satan means as a stumbling block, Jesus will use as a stepping stone.” Thank you for sharing your life experiences and for your ministry to us in the Velvet Ashes Retreat.

    1. Jayna December 18, 2018

      Grace, thank you for sharing a bit of your journey. Sixteenth century, Ignatius of Loyola had a radical conversion toward God. He wrote something called the spiritual exercises. In these exercises he states that everything that happens to us in life is a gift from God. A gift to better praise, reverence and serve Him. I know when I am in a difficult situation I find myself on my knees trying to put these three things into practice. May the Lord be especially near to you.

  3. Sarie December 13, 2018

    I stumbled upon Velvet Ashes one day as I was scrolling through social media. I immediately felt a connection with the ministry as I have been a cross-cultural worker and for the past 22 years in Spain and before that was an M.K.who grew up in Senegal, W. Africa. I saw how much my own mom struggled with loneliness on the field and I believe if the internet had been around then, a community such as Velvet Ashes would have been so life-giving to her.

    I was not able to do the 2017 Velvet Ashes as I had just begun the connection, but I distinctly told myself the following year I would. And I was sooooo blessed by the 2018 Retreat and can’t wait for the retreat in 2019. Spiritual Direction is something I have been blessed by and have considered being a Spiritual Director myself. Maybe now that I am returning to Spain as an empty nester, the time will come for me to pursue this. Who knows?

    Thanks for all the behind the scenes work that get into this ministry. It is a life-saver to so many!

  4. Jayna December 18, 2018

    Sarie what an encouragement to hear how Velvet Ashes has blessed you. Often I get similar comments, and I never get tired of the stories behind them! I would pay attention to this desire you have to be a spiritual director. I believe that could be the Holy Spirit within you stirring up that inclination. How awesome!

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