We can tell you how amazing Velvet Ashes retreats are, but don’t just take our word for it!
Today you get to hear from three women in the Velvet Ashes community—a single and two mommas with kiddos, living in different parts of the world—who have been encouraged by their retreat experiences. Check out their stories in our fun interview post today!
Angie grew up in small-town USA and has lived for a total of 10 years in urban South Asia, which was a big leap for this small-town girl. She has since fallen in love with the people (and the food), and is always open to coffee (or chai) and good conversation.
Amanda is in her fourth year of ministry to teens and moms in Costa Rica. Her family consists of a loving husband, spunky four-year-old daughter, and busy one and a half year old son. Originally from the Midwest, she loves connecting with others in her beach town, drinking coffee, attempting surfing, and watching her children consume unmentionable amounts of sand.
Mel lives with her husband and four kids in Asia, where her husband works for his own business in design and manufacturing and Mel homeschools the kids. It was a hard adjustment moving there a year ago, but they have come to love and enjoy their new culture and all the ups and downs that being an expat family brings.
1. How many Velvet Ashes Retreats have you done?
Angie: I’ve done all of them, except for last year’s Unplugged retreat, which I still plan to get to at some point! It’s sitting in a folder on my desktop waiting for me.
Amanda: This will be my fifth Velvet Ashes retreat.
Mel: I’ve done one retreat.
2. What were your thoughts going into your first Velvet Ashes online retreat?
Angie: So, I actually went back to my journal to see because it’s been awhile since my first one, and I couldn’t really remember. I was in a spiritually dry season and in the midst of transition. I knew I needed to do something to change things up in order to refresh my soul and reconnect with God as well as just process the transition I was going through.
Amanda: I went into the first retreat a bit skeptical. My first retreat experience was only a few months prior with a group called Azmera. It was so dynamic, but it was in person, so I was unsure how it would work virtually.
Mel: I was excited to be with other women who shared my overseas experiences and to be refreshed and encouraged.
3. Did anything surprise you about the retreat?
Angie: I was surprised by how perfectly the retreat fit where I was and was exactly what I needed to hear. All of the retreats have been like that, and somehow it surprises me every time.
Amanda: As an extrovert, I was shocked at how refreshed I felt after spending an entire day and a half by myself. The worship, testimonies, and studies provided me with something I had been lacking on the field. It was not just another Bible study or spiritual growth book; it was a new space where my specific spiritual needs as a cross-cultural woman were being addressed.
Mel: That it was more fun than I expected. Also I was surprised that I had a lot of time to be alone with God, which was a nice surprise.
4. What has been your overall experience with Velvet Ashes’ online retreats?
Angie: I have loved the retreats. Often, my favorite parts are the extended time with Scripture, the testimonies, and the “at home” spa fun. Occasionally, the “exercise” portion is something that isn’t really what appeals to me normally, but I still like trying something different. Like I said, I have always been impressed with how there has been a key takeaway (or several!) that have exactly fit the situation I was in.
Amanda: Every year I have done the retreat, I have been in a different season: recovering from a trauma, preparing to leave on a long furlough, nine months pregnant in my host country, ministering during a pandemic. No matter what condition I was in spiritually during those seasons, the Velvet Ashes retreat was like a cup of cool water in the desert. I felt not only encouraged in my faith and drawn closer to God, but I also left refocused on the ministry before me and reminded that I am NOT alone.
Mel: My overall experience has been a great one! I really enjoyed watching the testimonies and singing/praying with others who know what I’m going through. It was a blessing!
5. What would you say to someone who is considering but unsure about doing a Velvet Ashes’ Retreat?
Angie: Do it! Even if you have limited time, you’ll get something out of it. And even if you do it alone, you’ll find it refreshing. There may be portions of the retreat that are out of your comfort zone in some way, but for me, I find that is exactly what I need: to get out of my box and experience God in a different way. I have loved all of the retreats I’ve done, both those I have done by myself and those I have hosted. Even when I haven’t hosted, I’ve encouraged others to do it as well so we can discuss it afterwards.
Amanda: Just do it! No matter what season of life you are in, you will leave closer to the Lord and refreshed in your vocation. I look forward to this every year!
Mel: I would encourage them to try it. I would say that it’s rare to find a pocket of time to really slow down and process this crazy life with God and with others, so it’s really recharging.
Okay, how about you? Did anything surprise you about your first Velvet Ashes retreat experience? What has been your favorite part? Tell us in the comments! If you haven’t been a part of a Velvet Ashes retreat before, what questions do you have?