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!
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.