3 Opportunities for You This Fall

Dear friends,

This is a special letter to let you know what is coming up this fall at Velvet Ashes. In a nutshell info about book club, Connect Groups, and a special group different from CGs for those in re-entry.

1. Next week Book Club launches into our fall book:  Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible by Debbie Blue. Caitlin Lieder, Emily Smith, and I have written a 10-week bible study spending a week exploring scripture for each bird Debbie Blue writes about. We had a blast working on it and trust it will enhance both book club and Connection Groups. It is optional! and probably will take between 20-60 minutes a week. You can download the study here.

2. Finally Connection Groups are here! Registration starts September 20th at 6 p.m. EST and groups start the week September 25th and run through November 13th (US Thanksgiving very early this year).

As a brief recap, “What is a Connection Group?”

Unlike talking to friends back home where you have to explain so much of your life, when you sign up for a CG, you are joining a small group who get your life, allowing you to go deeper more quickly than you might in other contexts.

  • Each group has a facilitator who will initiate your weekly gathering and keep the ball rolling during your meeting.
  • In general we have three types of groups: Skype, Facebook Live Chat, and Facebook.
  • Skype is our preferred method because it allows for you to actually talk with other people! Many of you are isolated and not able to have these kind of conversations. Skype groups also have a private Facebook group to allow for connection at other times too.
  • We are trying Facebook Live Chat! Some of you want to have a specific time to meet and have grown frustrated with all video chat options (Skype, VSee, or Google Hangout) because they are inconsistent and more time is spent trying to connect than actually connecting. This group will have a specific time each week when you get on line and use FB chat to meet.
  • We also have Facebook groups because we know some of your internet is not reliable enough for Skype or you travel or have other reasons Skype doesn’t work.
  • We will also have one email only group for those of you not on Facebook.
  • In all groups: after hearing about your week, your facilatator will initiate a conversation around either the bible study or the weekly themes and posts, allowing for the discussion to be mildly focused without being prescriptive.
  • Each group is limited in size, which is why if you sign up for a group, we need you. Please know that you may be in a place where you have nothing to offer, but you desperately need a group. That is more than okay! That is why we have Connection Groups. But it isn’t a place to sign up to just watch others be a group. There is a subtle, yet profound, difference between, “I’m going to be here as an observer but won’t participate” and “I’m going to be here. I don’t have anything to offer, but I need you.”
  • Like last spring, we will stagger registration in three waves so that different time zones about the world should have equal access to CGs. Skype groups haven’t filled up overnight, so all Skype groups will be opened when we start registration. Facebook Groups will be staggered in three waves with wave one opening Tuesday, September 20th at 6 p.m. EST, wave two Wednesday September 21st, a little after 8 a.m. EST, and wave three Wednesday September 21st a little after 2 p.m. EST.

Changes made this fall:  two big changes and several smaller ones.

  • The first major change is this letter isn’t taking up one of our weekly posts, but we still wanted you to have information ahead of time. :). Instead of telling you two days before we open Connection Group Registration and creating this false sense of urgency, we are letting you know that in just over a week, on Tuesday, September 20th , 6 p.m. EST we are opening registration. Please be in prayer this week if a Connection Group is something God has for you. We are super, super, super excited about the fall groups! We have nearly 30 facilitators ready to go! Shout out to the facilitators—we love you! We need you. :). We thank you. But we also understand groups are not for everyone and may not be what God has for you this fall.
  • We received the feedback that the week after the retreat, CGs had the richest conversations based on the scripture studied. The request was for more bible and less talking about weekly themes. But some of you love talking about the weekly themes! So, we have both types of groups.
  • We’re also trying the Facebook Live Chat.
  • We also have Skype groups for: those on home assignment, returning “home,” in chronic pain, and leaders. FB groups related to singles, those on home assignment, and those adjusting to “home.” Check out group options here.

3. Melissa Chaplin, life coach and author of Returning Well will host a special group for five participants who are transitioning back to the passport country. Transitioning back to your passport country is one of the hardest we can make, right? Melissa wants to help:

  • Returning Well starts on Oct 27th, Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST and meets every other week for an hour and a half. 10/27, 11/10, 11/23 (moved to Weds for T-day), 12/1, 12/15, 12/29
  • Registration will be early October and will include participants signing (electronically initializing) a disclosure form regarding confidentiality and other coaching particulars.
  • Participants need to buy a copy of her book (purchasing options here) and watch the movie Cast Away before the first meeting.
  • I asked Melissa if this is free (people this is how she makes her living!). She is offering this group to us for free! It would cost you around $250 if she weren’t so generous.

All that is going on is exciting, isn’t it? Will you join me in praying for all that we have planned and dreamed for this fall?

Almighty God, we praise you, we give you our thanks for your grace toward us in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose again, through whom we have life, hope, and purpose. We thank you for your Holy Spirit who truly is our comfort. 

As we think of all that will happen this fall in and through Velvet Ashes, we ask for your leading and blessing. Thank you for the ways you will weave together our endeavors through the weekly themes, posts, book club, Connection Groups, and Returning Well in ways that only you can weave. Thank you for the special lessons and encouragement you have for each person reading this, for the ways that you will form and grow us this Spring. For the ways you will woo and love us. For the ways you will invite us into the deep. 

We ask that your hand is on all that Velvet Ashes does and that love is the heartbeat of our work.

We commission the work in this space for your glory and our good.


Since this is a letter . . .


Amy on behalf of Danielle, Kimberly, and Patty.


  1. Jill September 14, 2016

    Am I the only one having problems with the Book Club Study Guide? I click on the link but it’s not showing up on Amy’s website page.

    1. Karen Dawson September 18, 2016

      I have been trying to get the download book for several days now too!

      1. Amy Young September 18, 2016

        Please see below :). And let me know if you still have problems and I’ll email it to you 🙂

  2. Jill September 14, 2016

    Please disregard previous comment… I think it was just my awesome SE Asian internet! I was able to get to the study guide link! =)

    1. Amy Young September 16, 2016

      Yay! Isn’t it a good feeling when something that wasn’t working . . . works!

      1. Karen Dawson September 18, 2016

        Amy – please help me as I can’t get the link here in Moldova! I go to your blog – but I only see “Looming Transitions”
        Here is the page the link takes me to: https://gumroad.com/amyyoung
        What do I need to do?


        1. Amy Young September 18, 2016

          You’re on the right page!! In the bottom corner, you’ll see the study — just enter “0” for the amount and your email address and you’ll get it 🙂

  3. Jennifer Mellor September 14, 2016

    Will there be another returning well group in the spring? I’m not returning to the states until next summer so could do one in the Spring if others returning sooner need the spots.

    1. Amy Young September 16, 2016

      Hey Jennifer, great question! We’re not sure . . . since Melissa has never offered one of these type of groups, we’re going to see how it goes! Regardless, you could start to budget now (or ask for Christmas) money to pay for the Returning Well process. It is WORTH IT! 🙂

      1. Vivian October 7, 2016

        When is the registration for the returning well group?

        1. Amy Young October 7, 2016

          Vivian . . . good news!! I’ll be announcing it in this weekends HYS — registration will open Monday 6 p.m. EST!!

  4. Carmen Pauls Orthner September 14, 2016

    I would like advice. We are preparing to leave for two years (plus) on the “field” (South Africa) in January. Right now we are in transition – we have finally (after 3-and-a-half years!) sold our house, are in the process of packing up our house in preparation for the buyer’s possession date (Oct. 8), and will be relocating short-term to a larger center while we wait for our visas to come through, and then traveling to apply for visas and meet with our organization’s leadership (Oct. 16-Oct. 28)…. Would this be a good time for me to be in a connection group?? I don’t have any recent experience of living cross-culturally to the group, so I am fearful of being a “drain” on those already serving overseas with all my questions and turmoil, but I could use the support and encouragement of those who have gone through this sort of transition process if there’s a group that would be willing to have me! Right now we are in western Canada, if time zone issues need to be considered. Please let me know what you think….

    1. Amy Young September 16, 2016

      Carmen, first of all, welcome! Oh yes, the in-between phase. Praying that your visa comes through in a timely fashion! While you could benefit from a CG, you might find that you are “listening” more than getting the help that could benefit you at this phase. Instead, I’d recommend you sign up for this special series (we have two: one for those “leaving” for the field, and one for those “returning home”). For a limited time it is free :)! You can read more and sign up by checking this out: https://velvetashes.com/series/

      In particular, I think the private FB group where you can connect with others who are going through this very transition RIGHT now is what you’re looking for :).

  5. Andrea September 17, 2016

    What day/time do the Connection Groups meet?

  6. Jennifer smith September 18, 2016

    Will there be a retreat along with the connection groups this Fall?

    1. Amy Young September 18, 2016

      Hi Jennifer, there will not be a retreat this fall . . . we have one in the works for the spring! But it is in response to the feedback from the retreat and how much people enjoyed studying the bible and then talking about it that gave us the idea for this Bible study 🙂

  7. Deanna September 20, 2016

    Do I have to wait until October to reserve a spot in the “returning well” group? I really want to be a part of it!!

    1. Amy Young September 23, 2016

      Yes 🙂 … We still need to set up all the registration information 🙂

  8. Katelyn Menkhaus September 23, 2016

    I would also like to know if I have to wait until October to reserve a spot for “Returning Well”. I got back a few months ago, got married, moved, and hit hard in America. I have the book already but would love to be able to go through it with a leader. Thanks!

    1. Amy Young September 23, 2016

      Yes … We still need to set up registration 🙂

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