Heart to Heart Gift {The Grove: Gift}

Even if Christmas decorations had been available in our early days in China, we wouldn’t have had the energy or language to find them. We were ill, homesick, and culture stressed after four months in country.

On Christmas Eve, our teammates knocked on the door and asked us to wait in the bedroom. After a few moments, they invited us out. And there stood a two-foot Christmas tree. It was overwhelmingly beautiful with tinsel and ornaments along with a plate of decorated cookies and wrapped gifts for our children. Their kindness marked one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received.

Because they saw our need and met it.

We hope that Velvet Ashes is to you what that little Christmas tree was to us! A gift of understanding and love, generously given.

My guess is you don’t have to be convinced of the value of Velvet Ashes.  But it might be helpful for you to know a few behind the scenes things about VA.

Did you know none of our writers, editors, team members, leadership team receive financial compensation from Velvet Ashes for their work? Each generously shares their gifts with the VA community. Even those who spend hours and hours of work every week to make Velvet Ashes magically appear in our inboxes raise their own support.

But that doesn’t mean there are not costs involved in keeping Velvet Ashes up and running. Paying for video editing, website support and maintenance, software, email management and services subscription add up. Promotional materials, fundraising events, planning meetings, and donor management systems all cost money. Add to that legal and filing fees to complete our nonprofit status, and before you know it we have expenses of about $28,000.

So, even though we have been incredibly blessed with people resources who give generously of their time and energy, we have a financial need and invite you to help us continue to create this space for us to connect with Jesus and with one another.

You can do that here.

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We asked some of our VA community to share how different aspects of Velvet Ashes have been a gift to them, and we hope you will add your own contribution in the comments.

May you be encouraged in the kinship of women who are knit together in this life and meet heart-to-heart at Velvet Ashes.

Feeling lonely, misunderstood, and fearful, I started reading blog posts on VA on a friend’s recommendation and tears wouldn’t stop coming. I finally felt someone understood where I was coming from and then a whole world opened up of women in similar situations! I’m so grateful for the blog posts that often speak my heart when I can’t. (Caitlin)

What really stood out to me from the beginning was the blog posts were so real, so down to earth, and not afraid to say that sometimes it’s just hard and painful. Yet they always give hope as well, and challenge and encourage me to look to the Lord. What really drew me in though was the first CG I was a part of. To discover a group of women I could share my story with, who got it (and me) without lots of explanation was so very special! And it’s been like that with every CG since. Also, I love how, as someone who is not American, I can feel totally part of the community. Not always the case! (Bayta)

One of the first Velvet Ashes book club books I read was The Pastors Wife by Elizabeth Von Arnim. What a treasure that book was to me! I still recommend it to fellow women serving overseas, as I think we can all find a bit of ourselves in the voice of Ingeborg and her (mis)adventures doing life in a foreign culture. (Jessica W)

The post How to Know If You Are A Pre or Post Griever was how I discovered VA while I was preparing to go back overseas, and when I clicked around VA, it felt safer for people who live in countries where communication guidelines are necessary. And it helped me to understand myself and people around me as I was walking through the months of saying goodbye. (Ruth)

I have deeply appreciated The Grove. It gets me thinking about the theme in relation to ME so I end up personalizing both the blog posts and the connections I myself have with the word. It also allows me to hear from others in our VA community. (Malia)

Oh, I could go on for a long time about the different ways I have seen God work through Velvet Ashes. So many in this community have walked alongside me in my journey of healing. It was so important to know I wasn’t alone. One of the critical moments for me was reading “Expectations and Burnout” with the book club. It was the first time I recognized burnout was common and normal, but didn’t need to be acceptable. There was no shame in sharing the ugly parts, but there was also encouragement to make changes to become healthy and whole. (Emily)

How to Welcome Her Back is ONE AMONG MANY posts that helped me through my transition season. Velvet Ashes was there to provide the safe haven I needed to process and walk through my journey knowing there were others who “got it”. The community was just what I needed, and I have continued to appreciate now that we have returned “home”. (Beth)

During our group’s VA retreat I was able to participate in the exercise video (sharing my mat with my squirmy 4 month baby!) and loved the worshipful nature. It was a beautiful place. One of my favorite You Tube instructors suggests you choose your own music to go along with the routine. I always choose the Eine Blume music created for the VA retreat. As I listen, I am reminded of the truths God spoke to my heart during that retreat time. (Ruth)

A friend shared with me Kimberly’s post Re-Stinkin-Entry. I found Velvet Ashes to be a place of real encouragement and understanding, and so many times the posts were exactly what I needed. I wished that I had known of VA earlier when I was struggling through our last 5 years overseas, feeling very isolated from community. I was blessed to be part of a re-entry CG last spring and it was wonderful to connect through Skype once a week with a small group of women around the world. We were in various stages of life and had different circumstances, but all “got each other.” This fall I’ve been part of a CG of women who struggle with chronic pain, and we all speak that same language. We’re continuing to keep in touch through messaging and plan to Skype every two weeks as our schedules allow. One of the women is in England right now staying with and getting treatments from the doctor of our CG friend who lives there. (Jodie)

How has someone in the Velvet Ashes community impacted you? Share in the comments how a post, image, theme, retreat element, prayer support, book, connection group, or comment has been a gift to you.


This is The Grove. It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art.  So join us in the comments.  Link up your own blog posts related to “Gift” so we can visit your blog. Click here for details and instructions.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesGift. You can add yours!


  1. Michelle December 16, 2016

    Velvet Ashes has certainly been a gift to me! Nearly a year and a half ago when I was in the thick of preparing to move overseas, my sister (who had returned from living overseas herself not long before) casually mentioned that she has really appreciated this site called Velvet Ashes and she thought that I might like it too. I was slightly skeptical, but after looking around the website a little, I decided to give it a try…after all, I can always unsubscribe. One of the early articles I received was by you, Patty…I don’t remember what the article was, but one quote stood out to me and I kept it on a sticky note on my computer desktop for months. “In every goodbye you and I whisper, we loudly and clearly declare His worth.” That blessed me so many times through the heart-tearing goodbyes and the first months when the pain of them was still fresh and raw. “A Letter to Singles” this February was another one that seemed just for me. I could go on and on…but suffice it to say that my skepticism vanished and Velvet Ashes has been a gift, like a friend–a whole community of friends–walking through this last year with me. So many times as I read my heart cries, “Yes! Yes!” “She understands!” “You mean that’s normal?! I thought it was just me.” etc. Thank you, thank you to all who put so much labor of love into offering this gift to many of us all over the world!

    1. Amy Young December 16, 2016

      Michelle, I love hearing how we found each other 🙂 and how this is a space that blesses, encourages, and nudges. Thanks for your comment!

    2. Patty Stallings December 16, 2016

      Michelle, you bring tears to my eyes.How encouraging to know that words poured out from my heart onto a computer keyboard have become part of your story. Thank you so much for sharing with us and being part of this community of friends!

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