Perhaps someone at a conference or training mentioned Velvet Ashes to you. Maybe you saw a friend like a Velvet Ashes Instagram post, or you read a blog post, which linked back to this site. Whatever the case, you are here, and we are thankful for you!
Overseas life is hellos and goodbyes, transition and change. What you find in this space, however, is community, encouragement and growth. When I first heard about this site, I was feeling incredibly lonely, adjusting to my third country of service, and focusing on growing in my relationship with the Father. God brought Velvet Ashes into my life exactly when I needed a safe place to share and to be known.
A sense of community developed gradually as I became more involved in Velvet Ashes. As I read and commented on posts, I felt my thoughts and opinions mattered. I began sharing my own words each week at The Grove, and the sense of belonging increased. My involvement in Connection Groups gave me the deepest sense of community. Moving from “Hi, my name is ____” to “Let’s try to Skype after our group is officially over” in a matter of weeks amazed me. Women I never would have crossed paths with became women I prayed with and for during and after our group. I belonged to this beautiful community of women from around the world. Velvet Ashes replaced the loneliness I felt with friendship and laughter and belonging.
While serving overseas I regularly read an extensive list of blogs and websites. I enjoyed reading a variety of posts, but only a few of these entirely related to me. At times I struggled reading articles for women because I felt as though they were written to a club I didn’t belong to. Yes, I could understand and relate to some of what was shared, but the words didn’t connect with me as cross-cultural worker.
The posts at Velvet Ashes, however, address the struggles and joys for women serving overseas. Each writer understands what life far from family and the familiar looks like, and their words encourage and strengthen me. I wasn’t the only woman who struggled to find her place on a new team. I wasn’t the only woman who loved living overseas and missed her passport country too. I wasn’t the only one who battled through reentry. God used the words of others to help me persevere through a rough situation on the field and to keep my eyes focused on the eternal not the temporal.
Growth is a natural result of being a part of the community here at Velvet Ashes. From reading to writing posts, God has grown me in spiritual and practical ways. I love learning about the various cultural differences each of us experience, and I’m thankful for the variety of perspectives on overseas life which are shared. The posts challenge me in my relationship with the Father and in my views of cross-cultural life, while leading Connection Groups helped me grow in my ability as a leader and strengthened my prayer life.
As you become involved in the Velvet Ashes community, you will find yourself surrounded by women who understand your life, women who are living (or have lived) a similar life. You will find a community where growth and encouragement are priorities and a place where your gifts and abilities can be used to strengthen others. My prayer for each of us is that we will continue to love and serve others in this community – to encourage each other to pursue the Father, to be a safe place for those who are hurting, to build friendships not bound by geography.
How has God used Velvet Ashes in your life? What has helped you to grow and/or how have you found encouragement and community in this space?
This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesWelcomeToTheField. You can add yours!