For When You’re Trying to Adjust + Plus New Community Builders! {The Grove – Adjust}

My family and I are in a season of major adjustment. June, July and August were all about uprooting, traveling, and change. Now we’re midway through September, and the proverbial dust is beginning to settle. Now is the time we’re supposed to be adjusting and finding our new normal. Or whatever normal looks like when going through re-entry and living in temporary houses for a one-year home leave.

Somedays I feel like we’re catching our stride. Life is grand. We play a family game of hide ‘n seek in our OWN PRIVATE BACKYARD. And it is glorious. Other days, life feels like it’s caving in, and we’re all a mess. I bite back tears and tell myself, “Nope. Not here. Do not loose it in the middle of Wal-Mart.”

Re-entry is like that. A roller coaster of highs that make you squeal with delight and twists and turns that make you want to throw up. (Please excuse the drama queen in me. She’s going through re-entry.)

I don’t know what kind of adjustment you’re facing right now. You may be fresh on the field, in re-entry like me, adjusting to a new team or a new season of life. Sometimes (speaking from experience) it’s the little adjustments that catch us by surprise and leave us stressed and floundering.

Whatever your adjustment, I want to share what’s helping me right now.

Psalm 23.

Yes, cliché. But not. Not for me right now.

Have you ever focused on the verbs of Psalm 23? Here are God’s verbs: He makes me lie down, he leads me, he refreshes me, he guides me, he comforts me, he prepares for me, he anoints me.

And my verbs? My job? To lie down, to walk, to fear not, to dwell.

That’s it. That’s the shepherd-sheep relationship.

You guys, we have a Shepherd who is absolutely there for us every step, who is tenderly concerned with our well-being, and who promises to lead us through every rough and rocky part of the journey.

If that isn’t hope and comfort, then there is none. Sometimes we get so busy serving and doing for God, we forget he wants to take care of us. When is the last time you laid down and let yourself be tended to by your Shepherd?

Secondly, we have a flock. We are not alone. The Shepherd gives us the joy of togetherness with others. We are part of the great big, beautiful herd of God’s people. But also we have this sisterhood flock of women who are living the same kind of life, who understand on a soul level the adjustments required of cross-cultural living.

You know what I do on those days when the adjustment is hitting hard and the fears for the future are piling high? I text my friend who is states away and also going through re-entry. And she says, “Yeah, me too.”

There is so much comfort in solidarity; so much consolation in knowing this has to be normal because she’s feeling it too. We wallow together for a while. Then we nudge each other to walk on, to lie down, to fear not, to dwell.

Maybe you’re longing for this kind of camaraderie. Maybe you’re excited to be finding it in your new Connection Group. Maybe you’re super bummed you missed out on Connection Groups this session.

We feel like there are so many of us here at Velvet Ashes that lap up the sweet community and sharing that we have here. And yet we’re hungry for more. We want more “this is me and what’s going on in my life” kind of sharing.

Well, guess what. We’re creating ways to do just that. Distance doesn’t mean we can’t have togetherness. We can be this sisterhood spread out across every nook and cranny of the globe, but living alongside one another in sweet, everyday community.

Let me explain. Lauren Pinkston, our beloved Instagram Manager has been pressed to the max with PhD work, motherhood, and ministry. So she stepped out in obedience and is passing the baton onto our new Instagram Manager, Tawni Sattler. (Don’t worry! Lauren will still gift us with her amazing writing and remain at the heart of our community).

Tawni is here with a heart to create more avenues of connection for our community. We’ve dubbed her our Creative Community Builder.

Here’s what we’re going to do:

Every Friday, starting today, we’re going to introduce ourselves on Instagram. If you’re not on Instagram, trust me, it will soon become your favorite (or only?!) form of social media. Be sure you’re following @velvet_ashes.

Whether you love or hate selfies, take one and post it. Do it so we can see your made-in-the-image-of-God face. Tell us about yourself, and check out @velvet_ashes for a prompt question. Then, here’s the important part, use the hashtag #FridayIntroductions and #VelvetAshes. That’s how others will be able to find and connect with you.

Then throughout the week use the hashtag #VelvetAshes to let us into your world. This could be anything –a picture of your favorite local market, your daily commute, a favorite recipe, the cockroach you killed today, or a picture of you buried under a pile of smiling students. Share glimpses of what your Velvet Ashes moments look like — the joys and the sorrows — we want to know you and support you!

Plus, we want to introduce some brand new hashtags that will allow you to find and connect with women in your region of the world. We LOVE our big global community and all the same issues that we face regardless of where we live. But we also know there is a certain level of understanding, issues, and camaraderie that exists for people within their own regions.

So IN ADDITION to using #VelvetAshes, also use one of these seven new hashtags to identify your area: #VelvetAshesEurope, #VelvetAshesAsia, #VelvetAshesAfrica, #VelvetAshesME (Middle East) #VelvetAshesOceania #VelvetAshesNA (North America) #VelvetAshesSA (South America).

We can’t wait to see the tribes form and bond within these seven different regions of the world!

Finally, we want to invite you to open up your everyday life and share it with all of us, by taking over our Instagram feed for a day! You’ll post 4-6 images as you walk us through your day. This is so fun, both to do and to see! Come sign up for a day here and check out the guidelines.


So what are you adjusting to this September?  

How is the Shepherd and the flock comforting you and helping you adjust?

Are you raw and overwhelmed today?  Do share!  We’ll remind you we’re here with you…  

Will you join us on Instagram?


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions


  1. Lindsy Wallace September 17, 2015

    Danielle your breakdown of those verbs is SO good. We are currently trying to sell our house so we can get onto the field – our toes are at the starting line of adjustment, but we can’t take off until this house sells. So, it’s a strange place to be. Thank you for the reminder of my Good Shepherd and Fellow Sheep!

    AND, I’m pumped about the new hashtags and connecting on IG:-)

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 17, 2015

      Oooh, that’s gotta be such a tough waiting game!  We’ve only ever been renters, but I know there’s a whole herd of women out there that know the pain of waiting for a house to sell.  Praying right now for buyers for you!


  2. Lindsy Wallace September 17, 2015

    And I’m excited to take over the VA IG when we get on the field! 😉

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 17, 2015

      Yay!  You should do a day in the life of pre-field too!  Then we can all encourage you through the stacks of paper work! 😉


  3. Therese September 18, 2015

    I’m right there with you in the ups and downs of adjustment. Most of the time, it’s going well and then the smallest thing will just hit me.  So thankful for the Shepherd!

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 19, 2015

      Yes, it IS the smallest things that surprise and hit me during adjustment too.  Glad to know I’m not alone. 🙂

  4. Kim September 18, 2015

    I’m a latecomer to Instagram (just started an account a week ago so I could see more photos of the grandkids 😉 but love this idea of connecting on another level with the VA ladies!

    I don’t think we ever stop adjusting, do we? I’ve been on the field 7 years and there are still things that come up that throw me off, and leave me scratching my head and saying “Whaaaat?!” I have mentioned to my husband a number of times over the past few months that I’m just so grateful for how God has been sending just the right posts and books at just the right time this year.

    I’d been reading Communicating Across Boundaries for a while, and somehow from there I found A Life Overseas — and then Velvet Ashes. Exactly what I needed at that time, when we were undergoing a huge transition on the field. We weren’t moving, but our focus of ministry completely changed, and very abruptly. The truth spoken here, the encouragement and connection groups have helped SO MUCH. And I cannot say enough good things about the virtual retreat! It could not have come at a more perfect time! God has been using His people and His Word to comfort, to give grace, and to remind me of my position as His beloved daughter.

    Also very thankful that our home church has been putting the messages up online so we can watch and listen. Our pastor is going through Colossians and early on in the series, Colossians 1:9-14 really stood out to me. A reminder of both the need for prayer and the surety of knowing that He is working in and through us. When it seems like we’re spinning our wheels, we need these reminders.

    A really big help has been reading (and learning) together with my husband. We started out just a few months ago, and have read a number of books together so far. Some days we don’t have a chance to read at all; other days we might get through two or three chapters. This month we’ve been reading books by Brené Brown (“The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Rising Strong”) and they, too, have helped tremendously with the adjustments we’re going through.

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 19, 2015

      Kim, you’re right, I don’t think we ever stop adjusting!  And it makes me smile big to hear all the ways God is meeting you, encouraging you, and to know that Velvet Ashes has been a part of that.  Thank you for sharing.

      And “Rising Strong” is on my “to-read” list!  🙂  So neat that you and your husband are reading together.

  5. Adelaide September 18, 2015

    Thank you for this reminder. We leave for a new field location in less than a week and I am more terrified than excited because I know how hard it is and how long it takes to learn a new language and culture and to just find community.
    Just over a year ago I was in Budapest, completely depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I had fled a bad team situation a week earlier than my planned depature and was trying to wrap my mind around all that had happened in the previous two years on the field – deportations, moving countries and teams, completely new ministry far beyond my capacity. God’s word to me that week in Budapest was Psalm 23: “I am making you rest” breathed the still small voice. As I sank into His rest, this is the poem that flowed out of it:

    The feathered wing and gated fold

    The places where You make me rest

    Green valleys where we have and hold

    Fail to keep me tamed, but pressed

    Wild runs this tattered heart

    These streams of glory blaze within

    How can I hold each shattered part

    When sirens sing and wear me thin

    So deep upon the raging sea

    I plunge each swell beneath the wave

    Tethered tight, oh hear my plea,

    Bring me home, my Shepherd, save

    By nature dark, a crooked plumb,

    I hide again beneath Your wing

    Forgetful child, wrath-worthy scum

    To breathe the fragrance of Your Spring

    Still You call and whisper low

    My daughter, I will hold you here

    The swirling lies of darkness blow

    Away, for Truth has triumphed clear

    Come near, my darling, sink in my arms

    Lay here upon this hallowed hill

    The grass grows soft, the lilies charm:

    The rugged Tree of Sorrow still.

    1. Jodie September 18, 2015

      Adelaide, love your poem!

    2. Danielle Wheeler September 19, 2015

      Adelaide.  Oh my.   This poem.  What emotion and beauty and truth.   Praying right now that as you embark to a new place, that the Shepherd would hold you secure in the fold of his arms.  Fear not.  Walk.  Dwell.  And let him lay you down.

  6. Sarah Gomez September 18, 2015

    I’m with Lindsy and we are in prep with prayers to be in Nicaragua early 2016.  This VA place has been invaluable and I’ve loved the insight and feel so humbled to have so many ladies speaking wisdom and giving guidance and lessons for those of us starting! Will there be a Central America #? 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 19, 2015

      I’m so glad, Sarah.  I know before I went to the field, I was so hungry for the wisdom and voices of others who were living that life.  Love that you’re finding that at VA!  And yes, we’ve added #VelvetAshesCA! 🙂


  7. Monica F September 18, 2015

    You have no idea how much this post just blessed me.  I was sitting at our table (in the States) with piles of my kids homeschool homework, to do lists, and several work emails screaming at me in the face. I decided to ignore everything and read this post- and just started crying- a good cry!  We finished our Sabbatical year in June, and returned to our home in East Asia over the summer to shut down our home there and say ‘goodbye’ to our team mates and local friends.  It was good, and right, but one of the hardest things we’ve ever done in our 15 years of overseas work.  We just got home less than two weeks ago and I already feel incredibly behind with all the things TO DO now that we are back in the States and heading into a new school year and new work roles with our organization.  AND we ‘think’ we are going back, but we aren’t ‘sure’, so there is a very unsettled feeling in my heart.  Do I make this place my home or is it only temporary?  So, thanks for this post on adjusting.  So good to know I am not alone.  Would appreciate prayers for this adjustment and my heart that is broken in two because I can’t be in two places that I love at once.  Will look forward to following on IG!

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 19, 2015

      Oh, Monica!  My heart is aching and resonating with you SO much on so many levels.  Yes, prayers for you, sister.

  8. Ashley Felder September 20, 2015

    Love the verbs in the Psalm. Gonna dig deeper into that. Thanks for sharing your insight!!

  9. Marie September 22, 2015

    Danielle and other VA sisters, thank you for sharing your heart with our corner of the world. I’m in a season of life (with homeschooling, starting our business and ministry in Costa Rica, and transitioning stateside for a few months) in which writing has had to take a reluctant back-seat for this portion of our adventure ride with God. This particular prompt, however, got me writing about how my adjustment is more of a repeated recalibration to what God has for me – sometimes minute by minute! Our first two years on the field were full of wonderful things AND horrible things. Thank you for giving my heart a chance to process much of that these past few months in this amazing community. You are a very safe place for me. I love that about you/us!

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 23, 2015

      Marie, I am so, so thankful that Velvet Ashes has been a safe place for you.  That’s exactly what we pray it will be.  And I’m so glad you let us in on your conversation with God and your keyboard.  I didn’t see a place to comment on your blog, but I read it and truly can relate to what you’re going through right now.  I’m right there with you in repeatedly recalibrating to our only True North.   I love that this prompt got you writing again.  Writing is where I’m wresting out all that re-entry is.

  10. Amanda September 22, 2015

    Adjust is perfect for us right now. In late August we said goodbye to the only other American family on our team. They are home visiting family and deciding if they will be coming back to our city again or moving to a new location. They’re the one’s who helped us settle in when we first arrived and our sons are more like brothers than best friends. This leaves just us and an old single lady on the cusp of retirement. Soon it’ll be just us. Yikes! Sure there are other people in town we’ve made connections with but it just won’t be the same.


    And I have an Instagram question: I live in what we call a “creative access” country and we have been taught to be very paranoid. I don’t visit your site unless I’m using a tunnel. Is instagram a security risk or not? Is there anyone out there technical enough to know? It sounds like so much fun. I want to play along but I’ve also been well trained to err on the side of caution.

    1. Danielle Wheeler September 23, 2015

      Amanda, that is a huge adjustment to grieve through…  Praying for your heart, both for the pain of separating from a friendship of your own, and for the ache you feel for your kids’ loss.  Father, I ask you to provide for Amanda and her family the connection and community they are longing for.

      As for Instagram, we are sensitive to those in creative access countries.  For that reason we avoid using certain terms.  We are open with spiritual/Christian language as it relates to our own personal lives.  We leave it up to each person to follow the guidelines or policies for their orgs/locations.  Some options you might consider: 1.  Not listing your location.  2.  Using a pseudonym.  Hope that helps!

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