I sit here in my rocking chair watching my belly tumble and shake. She stretches and moves within me. There is nothing like it. My hips ache with the weight of new life. Every twinge, every pain begs the question: “Is it time? Is this it?”
I know my story is about to change. A new chapter will begin any day, any hour now. Likely by the time you are reading this, I will be holding my daughter in my arms (Lord, have mercy, and let it be so!). You can check here for updates.
But as I write this, I’m sitting in the anticipation.
December is a month for anticipating the story. It’s a time to enter into the waiting, the longing, the mystery.
Immanuel, God with us in infant flesh. History forever changed.
December becomes the natural pause to our year. It’s when we step back, look at the chapter of our story that was the past year, and we look ahead, wondering what the next year will bring.
Can I have an honest, vulnerable moment with you all? As I reflected and looked ahead to 2017, I experienced a hefty amount of fear. “How, Lord? How can I walk into all that the coming year holds for me and my family? How can the Velvet Ashes team walk into all that the coming year holds for our community?”
Because some days, it feels like too much.
I prayed a lot about this personally, and our team prayed and talked about it a lot too. And do you know what word God gave us?
It’s both a promise and a challenge. It’s his promise to us that he will be our Sustainer. He’ll sustain me as a mother of a new little one, living a full life. He’ll sustain us a community.
It’s also his challenge to shift gears. For the last three years, since Velvet Ashes was born, we’ve been on a blazing trail of growth and ideas. This community leapt to life in November of 2013 and has been growing in depth and breadth ever since.
It seems that nearly every idea we’ve tried, women have responded with “yes, we need this!” and God has touched and moved in amazing ways. Just look at what has happened at Velvet Ashes in just the past year:
Last December we Dreamed Big, tripled our budget, and raised it in 40 days.
In April we held our second ever Online Retreat, nearly doubling our participants by having 1,300 women in 121 countries join us for an incredibly rich and renewing time. Many women did the retreat as a personal experience. But this year, we offered a Host Guide, and had 110 groups that gathered to do the retreat in their areas.
In July we launched a brand new version of our site that offers…
- A Prayer Wall – offering three avenues of prayer support
- Better search-ability – so women can find our material
- A Resource Page – to connect women to invaluable resources available to them
- A Promo Video – Now when people ask, “What is Velvet Ashes?” THIS, is our 1.5 min answer.
In July we also launched our two new “Leaving Home” and “Returning ‘Home’” series designed to walk people through the two major transitions of moving overseas and moving back. Nearly 170 people are receiving personally timed material and a community of support through these series.
In February we began the long and intricate process of applying for official status as a non-profit organization with the federal government of the U.S. This fall we received our approval from the IRS! This is a huge step and blessing. We now no longer have to go through a middleman organization to function and raise funds.
In November, our team attended its first conference, where we hosted a booth with actual printed brochures. It was a really fruitful time to network and grow awareness among organizations that Velvet Ashes is here for women.
Our Book Club continued to be a place where our community loves to dialogue and grow together. This fall, for the first time ever, we created and offered our own Bible study companion to go along with our book for this fall.
Our Connection Groups continued to be in high demand this year, as women are eager for a safe, weekly place to connect and share with other women living similar lives. This year we had 61 groups, made up of 362 women in approximately 53 different countries encouraging each other weekly.
Wow, right?! It’s been an amazing year. Behind all these numbers and events are the stories of women who have been touched and changed by what God is doing here. He’s spoken hope and truth into the lives of women around the world, and in doing so has empowered all of the kingdom work to which he’s called these women.
That is what spurs us to continue what we’re doing into 2017.
Then we circle back to that question, “How? How are we going to have the resources to continue doing what we’re doing?” God is the Sustainer, the Provider. But what is our role? What are we supposed to do?
His answer has been simple: “Tell the story. And then ask.”
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re telling the story of what God is doing in Velvet Ashes. And then we’re asking for people to partner with us in making it possible for us to continue.
Will you join us in this?
Will you tell your story of how God has touched or moved in you through Velvet Ashes?
Will you give financially, so Velvet Ashes can have the resources to continue its ministry? We need $28,000 to be able to continue doing what we’re doing as a community and ministry in 2017.
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Will you join us in asking? We have a brand new video here, perfect for casting the vision for what Velvet Ashes is and how people can partner. Will you share this on Facebook? And then will you go a step further and personally ask a few people that you know who have a heart to support and enable ministries like us?
You don’t want to miss the faces and stories of women you’ll recognize in this video!
Velvet Ashes wants to be able to continue offering the life-giving avenues that God has started here. This year, our team is committed to sustaining. We’re pausing on new ventures. We’re committed to building a sustainable structure that will allow this community and our team to thrive and flourish long-term.
Like all things here at Velvet Ashes, you are the heart of it. It doesn’t exist without you.
So will you be a part of telling the story and asking?
Share in the comments, link up your blog posts and share on Instagram with #VelvetAshes and #VelvetAshesStory.
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Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesStory. You can add yours!