We Are Women Who…

My foot pauses, resting on the bus’ gritty step. I’m about to climb on, but I’ve just caught sight of her. She’s alone, ladened with groceries. I can see in an instant she’s like me, making her way, her life, in this land not her own.  Our eyes meet, the light in hers reflecting in mine, and we smile.

Then the driver yells for me to board, so I do. The bus chugs off, leaving her in a puff of exhaust. I grasp the rail, leaning loose for the bumps, and I smile at all the waves of understanding that just passed between me and this stranger yet friend. With one smile we know.

We are the same kind of people, she and I. We’ve uprooted our lives, and here we are re-rooting in a land not our own. Planted all around the earth are women like us, our own unique kind. Given the chance we’d talk hours on end of this path that we share.

This space right here? Well, it’s been made just for us. A place to be who we are, to be real about the life we live. A place to come and grasp hold of hope.

So let’s break ground here today, declare who we are.  

We are women who…

We are women who love Jesus.

We are women deeply moved by the great big needs of our world.

We are women who pack bags weighing exactly 50 lbs.

We are women who take risks.

We are women done with mediocrity, complacency too.

We are women who live once, so we live large.

We count the cost, face our fears, wetting airport floors with our tears.

We are women placed on pedestals, admired brave and strong.

We are women who, when we’re honest, enjoy that a bit.

Until the days when we don’t, when it all feels wrong.

The days when we murmur, “If only they knew…”

We are women who want to do BIG things with our BIG hearts for our BIG God.

But some mornings we wake, put our feet to bare floors, and feel really quite small.

We look at our walls, hear the sounds of outside, and wonder how we came here at all.

We are women needing to know we are not alone.

We are women needing the soul bond of others on the same rocky path.



We are women belonging to each other, and this our space to be understood.

To sing out our stories, and to whisper them too.

To give and grasp hands, pull each other along.

To find in each sunrise the mercy that dawns, the glory that’s there, the grace that awaits.

Are you one of us women? 

Does the idea of a community like this spark something in you? Do tell. 

Introduce yourself. Begin to be known. 

As we share let’s not mention our orgs, so all can feel safe and welcome.

The door’s open. We’re here waving you in, so thrilled that you’re here.    


  1. Patty Stallings November 13, 2013

    How beautiful! Thank you, Danielle, for sharing your heart, your gifts, your vision with the daughters of the kingdom!
    I so resonate with those “waves of understanding” that pass between women who serve cross culturally. And I can’t wait to see old friends and meet new ones in this online community.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      Thank you, Patty! Couldn’t have done it without you! Yes, so excited for old friends and new!

      1. Patty Stallings November 13, 2013

        Well, actually, I think you could have done it without me quite well, but thank you for choosing not to!

  2. Ashley Felder November 13, 2013

    Rejoicing with you today that this is finally launching! Excited to see how He uses this community to encourage and inspire others!

  3. Heidi November 13, 2013

    I am so excited for this launch! Thank you for branching out into the unknown to encourage so many others serving with you in the same cause.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      Branching out! That’s why we love the name Velvet Ashes. So many layers of meaning. 🙂 And yes, praying encouragement will pour out of this space!

    2. Amy Young November 13, 2013

      Oh Heidi, you are a clever one 🙂

  4. Amy Young November 13, 2013

    We are women who go big or go home 🙂

    (but not by our own strength, duh!)

  5. Elizabeth November 13, 2013

    As a young woman who will soon (January 2014) be going overseas for a year, I’ve been excited about this site launching! I’m going to study abroad but fully believe that God is also sending me to share His love! I hope y’all have room for a college student who wants to serve Jesus! I’m excited to learn about living overseas from y’all!

    1. Morielle November 13, 2013

      And I can’t wait to hear about your experiences in the school you’re going to, Elizabeth. Even though I’m teaching college students English, many of my students are older than me, so I often just feel like another student on campus who happens to be trying to share her English skills (and the love of Christ). 🙂

      We are women who pray from the depths of our being, “I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our time revive it; in our time make it known.”

    2. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      Yes, Elizabeth! Our door and arms are open wide for you! So glad you’re here with us!

    3. Patty November 14, 2013

      Elizabeth, we not only have room for you, but we are enriched by your presence! Welcome!

  6. Wendy November 13, 2013

    Thanks Danielle,
    (and the many other women who have helped, encouraged, and inspired)

    Just reading this article has blessed me and reminded me of all the feelings that come and go with this lifestyle. And it is all worth it now, and will be in the end when we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and rest.”

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      Loved that this blessed you, Wendy. Yes, looking forward to hearing those words!

  7. Kristi November 13, 2013

    Oh, so beautifully said. I’m sure I will find mercy, glory, and grace here. Thank you!

  8. Kimberly November 13, 2013

    This is a beautiful introduction. Danielle, I rarely read something you’ve written without at least getting misty. This is a big day. Congrats and thank you for dreaming, risking, persevering and inviting. I am one of us and I am here to commune.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      Oh, such an encourager you are!! Thank you. Thank you for being with me in this.

  9. Grace November 13, 2013

    This is so GREAT! Just saw this posted by Lisa-Jo on Twitter. Well done, ladies, for making a dream a reality! I’m an American on a God-adventure in the MidEast, “well-chuffed” (as my Brit husband would say) that I’m living a story like the ones I read about as a kid.
    I started a blog magazine called ToWinSome in August around cross-cultural topics, and have enjoyed following A Life Overseas since they started up last year.
    Doesn’t it seem like God is doing something, as people in different parts of the world start to connect people like this? We can do SO MUCH MORE together than apart. Exciting!!

    1. Morielle November 13, 2013

      Thanks so much for sharing about your blog, Grace! I just read your posts about prayer and the feast of the sacrifice. Both were very encouraging to me — I live in the Northwest part of China where the locals belong to Muslim cultures. I have been hungering to hear from other Christians in similar places. Also, the title of your blog is so perfect.

      Isn’t so wonderful how God is using technology to connect and strengthen us?

    2. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      So great to connect with YOU, Grace!! Yes, I’d say God is up to something! Thrilled to have you here. And love that Morielle was encouraged to find you.

  10. Megan November 13, 2013

    I moved to Cambodia about six months ago and have been waiting for this site to launch! Thanks! I love the introduction, too. (:

      1. Megan November 13, 2013

        Well… some days are awesome. Other days suck. It is what it is. God takes care of me, regardless of how I perceive the day. (;

  11. Joellen November 13, 2013

    Thank you for all the hard work that went into starting Velvet Ashes. I am already blessed by it.

  12. Cyndi November 13, 2013

    I am so excited that this has launched! I’m a wife who has lived and served in Ecuador for 10 years. Some days I wouldn’t change it for the world and some days you couldn’t get me out of here fast enough. Looking forward to connecting with women living and serving cross-culturally!

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 13, 2013

      I hear you, sister! We all have both kinds of days! Ecuador has a special place in my heart. I lived there for a year in 2000-2001. Looking forward to connecting with you!

  13. Carolyn November 13, 2013

    I’ve spent more time than I should today exploring your beautiful site, Danielle… it’s lovely! Like the other commenters, I’m excited too about this new place to meet, laugh, learn, connect and serve one another with listening.

    I have a blog called “The Art of Sojourning”, and I’ve been living overseas ever since college. I married a New Zealander whom I met overseas, and we’re currently living and ministering in Central Asia with our three kids (just started homeschooling this year!). My first year overseas – maybe my favorite year – definitely the year I grew the most! – was in your city, Danielle, on Patty Stalling’s team! I love to write and blog about the art of sojourning gracefully, and I’m really looking forward to connecting with other women living in similar situations.

    1. Amy Young November 14, 2013

      Carolyn, so lovely to see your comment and know what you and your hubby are up to. Glad that we are back in contact 🙂

    2. Patty November 14, 2013

      Carolyn, seeing you here warms my heart!

  14. Katrina Henshaw November 14, 2013

    I am absolutely delighted to see this community come to fruition. My family and I head to the red soil of Africa in 12 days. This is our first overseas adventure as a family. We are excited to serve our big big God and the beautiful people of Uganda. But right now I face the mountain of packing, closing up shop and saying goodbye. So thank you for creating this community. I know I am not alone.

    1. Amy Young November 14, 2013

      Remember you and your family. The next 12 days will drag and fly. And then the dragging and flying in Uganda will start. Have you gotten had some preparation for this transition? I mean some sort of formal prep?

      1. Katrina November 14, 2013

        Amy, yes and no. We have spoken to several overseas workers and have been doing some reading to prep for the transition. Especially mindful of our two littles and their adjustment (although I’ve been told it will be much harder for us than them). Any suggested resources?

        1. Amy Young November 14, 2013

          Katrina I’m going to email you off line to get some more information so my comments will be more helpful :). Once I’ve got a better picture I’ll list the resources here for everyone 🙂

    2. Danielle Wheeler November 14, 2013

      Oh Katrina, the mountain of packing, closing up shop and saying goodbye is still very FRESH in my heart, having just moved back to China (with little ones) in August. Pure exhaustion- emotional and physical! Hang in there. And rest assured, you are not alone! We’re here for you!

  15. Bonnie McDonald November 14, 2013

    Beautiful. I will be sharing this with my friends so that they might be in community with you all as I support them with prayers, conversation and friendship in their current locations. Although we can be far apart, we are all bound together in the love that binds like no other.

  16. Liz K November 14, 2013

    Yea!!! I love the line “we are women who pack bags to 50 pounds” Got that down to a science!! Excited to see this community grow. We’ve been in Costa Rica for about a year now and although I live in the rain forest, it’s been a dry dry year here for me. Thankful for the internet!

    1. Amy Young November 14, 2013

      So glad you’ve found us and we you! May this be a season of refreshment for you. And I look forward to the conversations we’ll have 🙂

  17. Natalie M. November 14, 2013

    Ugh, it took me 2 months to pack all those 50lb bags, and they only weighed 1 of them at the airport. My husband, 3 kids under 4 yrs, and I have been on the ground for almost 2 months in eastern Europe. Starting to get into a new routine with language learning. Life definitely changes when you have to carry all your groceries in a backpack and stand on a bus for half hour. Or when you’ve got the baby strapped on in a carrier and your toddler falls asleep right before you reach your bus stop.

    1. Patty November 14, 2013

      Natalie, may every grocery-hauling, child-laden step be filled with His grace as you establish your new rhythms of life there! So glad you are joining us here!

  18. Christy J November 14, 2013

    Thank you for creating this space! I have lived overseas for 9 years (in Asia) but this year moved to a new continent, now I’m in Ghana. I’m currently going through a very difficult time, so I am happy to be able to find encouragement here. Looking forward to hearing people’s testimonies about how God is working.

    1. Amy Young November 14, 2013

      Time of uprooting and then replanting are NOT for the faint of heart :). I’m in the midst of my biggest uprooting to date. So, here’s an air fist bump to you :)!


  19. Nita Kulesa November 13, 2013

    Amy … What a wonderful site to provide these courageous women an opportunity to share their successes, fears, tears and joys! Danielle’s intro was a superb piece of poetry! N.

  20. Amy S November 13, 2013

    Hi to all the lovely editors, the people with the big dreams and overflowing hearts. THANK YOU for hearing us and for responding. I pray this community will be like water to thirsty souls. I can’t wait to BELONG, somehow, to this group of women. I really need this.

    1. Patty November 14, 2013

      You are more than welcome here, Amy! We need you, too!

  21. Emily Thomas November 13, 2013

    Woo hoo! So excited about this and am wondering where this was 4 years ago?! 😉 Just sayin.’ I’m overjoyed to be a part of it now even as we’re back in the States because we are all really not “home” yet.
    Beautiful words, Danielle.

    1. Morielle November 14, 2013

      True words. They make me want to add to Danielle’s beautiful litany, “We are women who have a particular understanding of what it means to be strangers and foreigners on the earth, and also what it means to desire a heavenly country.” Of course, I’m not saying we’re the only ones who live the the words Hebrews 11, all Christians do in their own beautiful and unique ways. But our understanding of those words will never be the same after livng overseas. And it’s so cool to have a community that shares this perspective! 

  22. Rebekah Warren November 14, 2013

    Velvet Ashes has already spoken to my soul! Thank you gals for going with your hearts and vision for this community. The beauty is already tremendous.
    My husband and I got on a plane for China a few months ago when our baby boy was just 7 weeks old. To say this has been a transition is a massive understatement! I’m not sure which has been more challenging, parenting or China, probably the two together. 🙂 We are thankful for the journey though.

    1. Patty Stallings November 14, 2013

      Rebekah, your courage and willingness to do the hard thing is going to speak volumes to those around you – both where you live and here in this community!

    2. Danielle Wheeler November 14, 2013

      Transitioning to motherhood AND a new country, that’s a huge wave to ride, Rebekah. So glad you’re here. We’re a safe place to say, “This is ridiculously hard!!” We’re here for you!

  23. Rebekah Warren November 14, 2013

    Also, I’ve shared this site with friends in Romania, Australia and Mozambique!

  24. Holly Dove November 15, 2013

    I may be in a unique position to others on this site as we are not m’s. But I have uprooted and moved to my husband’s country of New Zealand, where we have had four children. Despite the lack of language barriers, it is very far from my [very large and very close knit] family. I look forward to the encouragement I know I will receive through this site and all you lovely women.

    1. Sara Wurgler November 18, 2013

      I can relate to your “very large and very close knit family” Starting my second year as a mom (I served 2 as a single in this same place and met my husband here) serving in East Asia and I miss my family so much. We moved here last August with a three year old, 1 year old, and 3 month old and I am sad that my family is missing out on so much of my kids growing up phases. How can being in the place that God has put you feel so right and so painful at the same time?

  25. Sara Wurgler November 18, 2013

    I am a survivor of 2 “first years.” One as a single back in 2005 and one as a mom of three small children just this past year. When I say survivor… I mean SUR-VI-VOR… by the skin of my teeth… It is by His grace that we are still here. Sometimes I ask why the timing of it all? Our oldest was 3 and the youngest was only 3 months. Going from 2 to 3 kids would have been transition enough for us but an international move on top of it? I have no answers and I wouldn’t recommend the timing of what we did to anyone. He was there last year… breaking me… BREAKING me… bringing me to a place where I couldn’t grit my teeth and make it happen, where I couldn’t gut it out anymore. This fire burned in me, “I will do East Asia or it will kill me” Some days I thought it would. I’m still experiencing the tidal wave of pain and emotion over moments of helplessness and failure and the moments where I experienced His provision so clearly. The second year is going better but has brought trials of its own- it’s always something living overseas. He is still breaking me, keeping me in a place of weakness. It is a painful place and though at times I want to run from it, there’s something that keeps me here. Something deeper than comfort and convenience… something like true joy, hope, and love that is being born in me through Someone who left His own land to come to a broken place and die for me.

  26. Heather N November 18, 2013

    Hi all, Thanks so much for developing this site- I have needed something like this for a very long time! I look forward to reading more! My husband and I serve in Mozambique ( for just over 5 years now) and we are parents to two little ones, our oldest we adopted here in 2010 and we are in the process of adopting our second. Its nice to have a place where other folks wont judge us for the thoughts and questions we have! Ive struggled with many things- just realized recently that I need to be more open on my blog about the struggles of our journey, and also that I need to be less concerned about posting pictures of my kids having fun in a pool or away for the weekend for fear our support will drop when people see we dont live a miserable existence in a mud hut. Anyone else feel that guilt? God Bless!

  27. Stacey November 24, 2013

    Hi ladies! So excited to join you all here. My hubby and I have been in Myanmar since 2008. We went with a one year old, who is now 6, and we’ve since added our 4 yr old and 9 mos old to the mix. We’ve been in the US, living with my parents, since Jan of this year; and every month after March we were unsure what we would be doing the next month. We now have plane tix back to our other home, leaving Jan 3 to re-enter a city that has been changing as rapidly as our 9 mos old. Due to finances, we are still unsure what will happen come May 2014. That’s the nut “shell” – looking forward to sharing the more nutty parts later! 🙂 Danielle, so glad God made our paths cross while we sorting out life together in CO for a few days back in 2011.

  28. Ashley December 6, 2013

    Just found this site tonight and am so excited! My family of six (husband and four boys) are headed back to Asia for our second term after Christmas. I know this will be a place I visit often. Thank you so much. (By the way, Amy, I found your blog through a friend from grad school, Meghan L.)

  29. Kris TAT December 15, 2013

    Thank you for providing for a nice visit as I explored your site this afternoon. Living the exciting journey the Lord planned for our family in Haiti, now remarkably year 15. Interesting how time can both fly and drag all at the same time, sometimes. Currently our family, son 16 and daughter ‘almost’ 13 wait with us to hear who the Lord plans to graft onto our family tree through adoption. Keep up the good, encouraging work!! Will be back. God Bless.

  30. Melissa November 17, 2014

    I too am one of these women. I’m just back from serving 2 years in the Philippines, and looking forward to where God will send me next.

  31. Yaya February 8, 2015

    Thank you for starting this site! I am only finding out about it today but it has already blessed me immensely!

    I am a single woman and have been serving on the field since 2009. I have been full time in Cameroon West Africa since 2011. I love my life here most of the time. It’s filled with excitement and challenges.

    I have struggled with finding a good support system and people who actually “get me.” I HATE that people at home (US) think I’m a “rock star” and find it hard to believe that life can get hard when you are doing God’s work.

    I’m so grateful to find a community of people to share my heart with and I look forward to getting to “know” many of you!

  32. Joanna May October 16, 2015

    Thank you so much for starting this site Danielle. And thank you to everyone else who’s now involved.  I’ve just discovered Velvet Ashes. It’s wonderful! I identify with everything I have read so far. My family and I are into our 7th year overseas. That has come with many challenges and struggles, but also many blessings. I so look forward to connecting with you all in days to come. I wish I’d found you sooner!

  33. Caroline September 22, 2017

    My eyes are blurred with tears of gratefulness as I read this. It tells my story so beautifully. It is so rare to feel so understood. Thank you!

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