A One Word for Velvet Ashes 2016 {Plus Save the Date!}

Four important things are happening here at The Grove today. For all of you “cut-to-the-chase” people, here are the bullet points:

  1. We have big news about our Dream Big fund!
  2. We’re announcing a One Word for our whole community, a Velvet Ashes One Word. (This may or may not involve me spilling my guts, fair warning.)
  3. We announcing a Save-the-Date for Velvet Ashes Online Retreat (THE highlight of the year at Velvet Ashes!)
  4. We inviting you all to link up and share your One Words for 2016. (My personal favorite link up of the whole year.)

Dream Big

We did it!  HE did it!  The Velvet Ashes Dream Big fund is fully funded!  Goal reached.  Can you believe it?  I want to go back and tell my November self (the self that choked on our new quadrupled budget) that nothing is too big for Jehovah Jireh.  Our team has been texting back and forth these last few hours sharing the wonder and awe of it all.

Thank you, thank you to everyone who dreamed big with us.  Thank you for your prayers and sacrifices and overwhelming generosity.  And to every single one of you, I hope this stamps an affirmation on your heart, that God sees you.  He sees your soul, he sees your struggles, and he wants to breathe his life into you through this community. I hope this tells you that you matter, that people love you, people believe in you, and people want you to have the support of Velvet Ashes.

As one of our generous donors said, “God is up to something big with Velvet Ashes.”  With awe and joy, we are walking into 2016 anticipating all that he will do.

Sad you missed out on being a part of this dream?  It’s not too late to join.  Every donation given to VA goes to furthering this ministry.  The Dream Big fund at Pure Charity is open until midnight U.S. EST.  And at any time you can give to Velvet Ashes here.    

This is God’s work. We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted— let’s celebrate.” (Psalm 118:23-24 MSG)

One Word

Submit. Listen. Nourish.  Keep your soul well.

This week we’ve been reflecting on our One Words for 2015, the word (or phrase) we each felt God pressing into our souls at this time last year. We’re sharing our new words for 2016, that which we feel the Spirit calling us into.

This year, we’re doing something new.  We’re announcing a One Word for our whole community, a Velvet Ashes One Word.  Because a few months ago, our leadership team met together in person.  And we prayed over you.  We prayed over this gorgeous community of authentic women, and we asked the Father what he wants for us.  We said, “We are here and we are yours.”

And he gave us a word.

He gave us a word that I believe beats at the heart of his desire for us.

I think it’s a word that encapsulates what each of us are desperately hungry for.  I know when I peel back my fears, my hopes and desires, this is what I really want.  I want to… commune.


commune 2

To connect in a deep, daily and intimate way with the Maker of the universe, the Knitter of my soul.

To break bread and sip wine with the Man who can banish my every fear, cleanse my darkest shame, heal my deepest wound.

To be filled to overflowing with the Spirit of peace, joy and love.

Isn’t that what we were made for?

But let me ask you something, does this describe the life you’re living or the life you long for?

How many of us teach and preach the freedom and intimacy that is available to all in Christ, yet fail to live in it ourselves?

How many of us have gotten lost in a whirl of service to our King while missing out on the sweet abiding life of communion with our King?  

I’m not sure how to describe what’s been going on in me these last few months.

It’s been… tender and intimate. Slow and building.

Tearfully dramatic and gloriously ordinary.

Thousands of words typed in my journal.

My face on the carpet in prayer in the dark before dawn.

I’ve been in this Jesus relationship for a few decades now, the journey of growth and learning that never ends. But these last few months, I’ve been circling deeper, tasting a communion with my Jesus that it is making a marked difference in how I live, and I am oh-so-hungry for more.

Are you hungry too?

Can we together as a sisterhood say that in 2016 we will together journey in communion with Christ? That we will help one another pickaxe our way through the barriers between us and him?

Can we be there for each other in those moments of utter failure, when all seems lost? Can we be there to wipe off the shame, to tilt our faces again toward his grace that waits for these moments?

Can we be there to share with each other the small victories? To rejoice in growth and change that we thought would never be ours?

Friends, I think he wants to take us into the deep this year, into a depth of connection with him that we long for.

One thing I’ve become convinced of, this communing with God, it takes time and space in our lives.

Yes, he is with us in busyness, in the rush of to-dos and the stress of the daily grind.

But he has a work of transformation that he wants to do in each of us that can only come in the quiet still space.

I know, I know. My list of excuses runs long like yours.

And yet I am hungry. And he is calling… Calling us to get away with him.

What if… what if we set it up for you? What if you just set aside a day (or even a half day) this spring? And we bring a personal spiritual retreat to you?

A time designed just for you to connect and commune with Jesus… right where you are.

Last year, in our first ever retreat, 700 women in 92 countries participated. And the response was… well, you can read for yourself:

“I was blown away by how timely and amazing this retreat was.” – Kim A. 

“I cried. A lot. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for Velvet Ashes hosting this retreat.  So.Much.Good.Stuff.  Words fail.” – Kim 

“I’ll be honest I was skeptical at first as to how this would actually work and would it be refreshing.  I can say proudly YES, yes it has been beneficial and encouraging. I enjoyed the easy step-by-step journal of what to do and followed it, not skipping over anything.  I love how God spoke to me in the quietness and made this day truly a Sabbath day.”  – Kathy

“Thank you so much for this breath of fresh air!  I really connected with so many women in the videos!  It was a breath of grace to hear them speak and know that we connect in similar struggles.” – Mauren

“Ladies, I would like to tell you what an AMAZING retreat experience I had with some of my co-workers.   It was beautiful time individually with Jesus…and also for the 3 of us to experience together with Jesus.  

I left with my soul refreshed and also FULL.   FULL of knowing Jesus was with us.  FULL of the vibe that we had experienced Him together but also separately.     FULL of the feeling that I RELEASED a bunch of expectations flung into the air falling down a cliff.  

My only question is….when is the next one?” – Nicole E.  

We’ve got an answer for that question!

This year’s Velvet Ashes Retreat is coming to you April 14-18.

va_retreat_2016 save the date

We’re letting you know early so you can be sure to block off a day (or half-day) to experience this spiritual retreat that comes to you!  You just log in from wherever you are to receive all the resources we have planned for you.

And let me say that if you thought last year’s retreat was amazing… just wait.  Details to come.


Can I just tell you how much I love you all?  How much I love being in community with you?

Here’s to where he’s leading us in 2016.

Here’s to filling ourselves with the only thing that ever satisfies… communion.

May we walk daily together in him, into the richness of the life he died to give us.


Anyone excited about the Retreat??

Celebrate our Dream Big fund with us in the comments!

And finally, we want to hear all about your One Words!

Happy New Year, friends.


  1. Laura December 31, 2015

    Wonderful to see how God has provided for Velvet Ashes!!!

    1. Danielle Wheeler December 31, 2015

      Isn’t it though?!  The way he carries us is just so beautiful!

  2. Kim December 31, 2015

    Woot! So excited about ALL the news today 🙂 Have already blocked off the retreat dates on my calendar! The VA Word for 2016 speaks deeply to me; it’s been my heart’s cry for a long time. Cannot wait to see what He will do in the months to come!

    1. Danielle Wheeler December 31, 2015

      So glad to hear “Commune” resonates with you.  Looking forward to the journey!

  3. Amy Young December 31, 2015

    I’ve got a lot going on on my blog, so the post that goes with this word will probably go live in a few weeks . . . which is so appropriate as my act of believing I am abundant and won’t miss out on anything if I don’t get the post up right now :). BUT I can’t wait to read all of your words!

    1. Danielle Wheeler December 31, 2015

      Abundant, I love it!  He truly is a God of abundance.  Looking forward to hearing more from you, no matter when that is. 🙂

    2. Malia January 2, 2016

      What a great word for 2016! I look forward to reading your post whenever you get to write it. In the meantime, it’s lovely that you’re living out your word. ^^

  4. Julie B December 31, 2015

    Dancing here with joy to see God’s abundant provision for the Dream!  Keep up the great work you all!


    1. Danielle Wheeler December 31, 2015

      Thanks, Julie!  He really is providing abundantly.  So grateful for you.  Thank you for your partnership.

  5. Melissa Toews December 31, 2015

    My link-up is actually about last year’s word, which was thrive. This year’s word is NOURISH. I want to learn to nourish myself and my family – spirit, soul, and body.

    YAY for Retreat! It was a turning point for me last year, and I’m excited to see what God is going to do this year!

    1. Danielle Wheeler December 31, 2015

      So cool to hear that the Retreat was a turning point for you last year.  We feel such an anointing on this event.  And “nourish” is such a great word.  May you be blessed abundantly with his sweet nourishment this year!

  6. Jennifer Ott December 31, 2015

    So excited to see what God is going to do through your willingness to be used by Him!  I know this ministry has been a lifeline for me these past few months.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 1, 2016

      The word “lifeline” seems to be a theme around here. 🙂  We love the image of VA being a line of connection to Him, flowing His life to each of us.

  7. Michele Zintz January 1, 2016

    First thing in my email today was the message from Pure Charity that the goal was reached!  What a great way to start the new year!  Getting connected with this community is one of the greatest gifts of 2015.  I spent much of this past year also relearning to ‘commune’ and am so happy to have that be a focus for this year too.  I’ll be doing a lot more travel this year, so I’m sure I’ll need the reminders to stay grounded in that word!

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 1, 2016

      Yes, such a great way to start out the New Year like this!  So glad that you found VA this year.  You’ll have to share more with us as we delve in “commune.”  Yes, it’s is definitely something to center on again and again.  Happy New Year!

  8. Beth Everett January 1, 2016

    Great News Velvet Ashes!

    I’ve not been able to blog for months – it’s just not in me during this season. But I’m reading! I have so appreciated this community and look forward to seeing how God continues to grow and use this place. My OneWord last year was Joy. I think I need to extend that one into this new year. So I do so with quiet anticipation.

    Happy 2016 Velvet Ashes!

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 1, 2016

      We’ve missed hearing from you, Beth, but I absolutely understand those seasons of quiet.  I also understand needing to extend a word into another year.  Praying joy sinks deep in you in 2016.  Thank you for always being such an encourager to VA.  Happy New Year to you!

  9. Kelly January 1, 2016

    Yay for retreat! I hosted a dozen women last year, and it was such a sweet time!

    Hoping I can blog my word, but if it doesn’t happen- I’ll leave it here: lean in. Okay, so it’s two words. But I not only want to be in relationship with God, I want to lean into His presence. I want to lean into authentic community and not hang around the fringes. I want to lean into every moment, and actually embrace this season. I toyed with other words- commune comes close, embrace was another, so it may evolve over this weekend, but that’s where I’m at.

    Looking forward to journeying with velvet ashes this year.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 1, 2016

      We’d love to get more details from you about how your group retreat last year.  It would be great to offer your ideas/suggestions as a resource to those wanting to do a group retreat this year.  We’ll be in touch! 🙂

      And “lean in” is so good!  Obviously I love “commune,” and “embrace” was my word in 2014 and is still dear to me.

  10. laura r January 1, 2016

    Happy New Year!!

    What wonderful, affirming news!  Amazing.

    I’ve not decided what my One Word will be this year…. I was leaning toward release but have been challenged to consider the word play- which does not come easily to me at all.  Love the community word of commune.  I recently got the new Sacred Ordinary Days journal/day timer and am really looking forward to the daily periods of commune set out in there.

    Love this place!  Wishing everyone a great new years – may each day see you catching a fresh revelation of Emmanuel.

    1. Amy Young January 2, 2016

      Laura, I ordered it too!! I’m waiting for mine to arrive, but I’m super excited to get my hands on it! 🙂

      1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

        Oh, that sounds really good.  Gonna have to check that out!

        And we’re so glad you’re here with us, Laura. 🙂

  11. Martha Lester January 1, 2016

    Happy New Year!

    Excited about the Dream being fulfilled abundantly.

    Have the retreat dates on my calendar.

    My One Word for this year…God-picked…before I even knew there was such a thing as One Word…Free…still waiting to see all the facets of this unfold, along with abiding and communing.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      Ok, I know that I say I love everyone’s One Words, because I do.  But “free” really strikes me.  What a beautiful, powerful word to focus on this year.

  12. Kimberly Todd January 1, 2016

    I really love our community OneWord. Seeing it in art and print, and hearing how you’ve carried it these last few months may have made me all teary.

    I’m sure I’ll write about it eventually, but just to get it out there on this first day of the new year, my personal OneWord for 2016 is “Flow.”

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      Thanks, friend.  These last few months really have been incredible stirring among us.

      “Flow” is so good, it’s a word/idea that has been resonating with me these lately.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

  13. A January 1, 2016

    I love Velvet Ashes! It has been such a huge encouragement to me over the last year and a half. So excited to see how He is going to continue to use it in the lives of so many women like myself who are/have served overseas.

    My word this year is “willing”. I have to admit that it both excites and scares me. Last year my word was “adapt,” and I did a lot of that, but I had my fists clinched through much of it. This year I feel like he is asking me to open my hands and be willing to accept all He has for me.


    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      Love the imagery of open hands.  And I think that’s the power of One Word, when it excites and scares you. 🙂

  14. Keri January 1, 2016

    VA Team!  I rejoice with you over the father’s work in providing the funds to meet this new budget.  He delights over you and your efforts to tend to women all over the globe.  My word for 2015 was resilience and I am thankful to report that He helped me do a lot of “bouncing back” this year.  My new word is:  Beloved.  This is humbling to write in print to share with all of you.  I realized that I often speak self deprecating words over myself and he has reprimanded me.  About 3 weeks ago, he gave me this word.  I am my Beloveds and He is mine.  I receive it and I am going to dwell in this truth.

  15. Malia January 2, 2016

    Yes! Thank you for sharing this word and your heart, Danielle. I so appreciate how you and the rest of the VA team lead by (transparent and genuine and lovely) example. Your work here is valuable and appreciated…and the word “commune” definitely speaks to the aching of many overseas women, including me.

  16. Anna January 2, 2016

    Amazing to see God’s provision. 🙂  Commune is a great word for this blog.  For my word, I chose purpose.

  17. Michelle S January 2, 2016

    I too love that word, commune. As the hymn says, “Thirsting for more and deeper communion, yearning Thy love more fully to know.”
    I haven’t done the “One Word” before, but I feel like God placed a word on my heart for 2016–sparkle. Through some of the challenging transitions of the last few months God has been impressing me anew with the need of wholeheartedly rejoicing in Him, always. I’ve realized what a blessing and a witness it is to others and what an honor to God, when I have that sparkle in my heart and in my eyes, through every circumstance and situation of life–and how impossible it is for me, of myself, to keep that sparkle there. This year I want to learn to sparkle for the Lord, through the bright AND the dark times of life.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      Sparkle, what a delightful word!  And thank you for that hymn quote – so good!

  18. Meagan January 2, 2016

    As a follow on from my 2015 word of “hope” God has laid it on my heart to cling to the word “chesed” or “lovingkindness” this year. Unfortunately 2016 begun with a difficult start and it is all to easy to feel forgotten, unloved and neglected because of the burdens my fragile heart carries. Yet God’s covenantal love is something that stands firm, despite circumstances, and it is His ongoing promise to all His beloved children.

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      Spoiler alert – this word is an theme for an upcoming week!  Because wow, such power and promise in this word.

    2. laura r January 4, 2016

      Two years ago I chose this word for my OneWord.  At the time of choosing, I had no idea that I was walking into one of the most intense and challenging seasons of my life.  YET, His chesed carried me and although it wasn’t easy, the shaping that happened through it all has been a gift.  Asking that you know chesed each step of the way…

  19. Rachel January 2, 2016

    Love the word “Commune”! I was humbled at my lack of “Contentment” which was my word for 2015, but I have hope that God will keep working on that in my life over the next year as well…but I have decided on “Nurture” as my 2016 word. I’m in a season of raising 2 littles (both under the age of three), and realized that this year I really want to focus on 1)nurturing MY soul, which needs a bit of TLC, 2)nurturing my children and really pouring into them in this phase of their lives (the 15 month old was just adopted in July and so we are still even in the adjustment phase of him feeling safe and secure in our family), and 3)nurturing a new ministry of adoption advocacy and adoption resources where we live. So hopefully lots of nurturing going down in 2016! 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      What a perfect word for you, your family, and your ministry this year.  And “contentment,” that’s a word sure to humble us all!! 🙂

  20. Elizabeth January 3, 2016

    Just like you, I’m in crazy transition mode right now (packing up the next two days and then heading out on January 6th), so I don’t have much time to spare, but I think my one word for this coming year is Steady. Last year’s was Peace/Shalom, which did end up bearing some fruit. My favorite year is still 2011, whose word was Listen. That year the word braided itself through almost everything, as opposed to many years, when it’s sort of a first-couple-months-last-couple-months thing. LOL!

    1. Danielle Wheeler January 4, 2016

      Yes, feeling you in the craziness of transition!  Thinking of you as I get back to packing now.  🙂

  21. M'Lynn January 5, 2016

    Instead of a word, I have a phrase and a prayer to go along with it.





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    “Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.” Psalm 51:10 The Message
    That’s my prayer as I begin a new year. When I’m in control, it’s chaos. God, I invite you enter into my life, hover Your Spirit over mine and bring order. Not just in a “get my stuff organized” sort of way, but in a deep place in my heart. Make something new out of the negativity that swirls in my thoughts. Bring about newness in my relationships…even in the ones I’ve messed up.  Set my everyday routines in order so that they serve You and not just myself. Blow me away with your unfounded creativity, Lord. Let me embrace your power to live each day. Let me see you through the muck and see you in the madness and see you in the magical. Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Come and create and it will be good.  Amen.

    1. M'Lynn January 5, 2016

      Umm…I think I broke it with copy and paste!? Help, please 🙂

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