Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What "Fearless" Did to Me in 2013

Out of my 18th floor apartment, against the night sky, a thousand square window lights glow back at me.  It strikes me on this night.  It's one of those, “Is this really my life?” moments.  And I have to chuckle.

Because sometimes the very thing you fear becomes that which you love. 

This past year was my year of “Fearless.”  I stepped into 2013 with fears riding on my shoulders.  So I chose the word fearless as my One Word, as a way to battle those fears. 

I feared the stress and change that our global move would cost our family.

I feared that my nature-loving, Colorado soul would wither living in the big beast of a city called Beijing. 

After two years of amazing Southern California weather, I feared/dreaded the bitter cold kiss of winter.              

I feared that this dream that burned in my heart would perhaps not grow real. 

I feared that I wouldn’t have the time or talent to make this dream actually happen.

But as 2013 unfolded, and as I came head on with each of these fears, here’s what I learned:

Fearless is not the absence of fear.  It’s moving forward in the face of fear.  One step and then the next. 

I simply kept doing the next thing, gripping the hand of the One leading me.  I never once felt fearless.  But somehow moving head on into those fears, step by fearful step, allows me to look back on those fears now and marvel. 

Because we made it through the global move.  And it was every bit as hard or harder than I imagined it would be, but it was through that heart-stripping time of transition that God drew me to his heart, and to the heart work he wanted to do in me. 

And now, nestled in the heart of Beijing, I am finding that I (shocker!) LOVE this big city.  I love the pulsating life.  I love the depth of the history, the opportunities, the influence, the draw that has brought millions here.

And I love that we have memories in this place.  Memories of arriving here as a fresh, young and clueless couple.  I love driving by the store where we bought our first pregnancy test.  I love pointing out to our daughter where her first home was.  I love telling my son, this is the man who drove us to the hospital.  You were almost born in the back of his car.  

And now here in the full-blown frigidness of winter, I’m finding that, no, I don’t love the cold, never will, but really it’s not THAT bad.  Because look!  Long johns (two pair!), and ear muffs, and scarves, and gloves, and a big puffy coat, and furry chaps, and bike mittens, and a bike blanket!  They make a difference.  And I’m not even embarrassed to be seen like this.  Call for a fashion intervention, please!  And yes, this is what I actually drive...and I love it.

And then there’s my dream that became real.  I wasn’t really, truly afraid that this dream would fail, because it had been so ordained, so clearly meant to be.  But partway into our launch fund last summer, when our funds sat frozen for days and days, fear began to creep in.  I began to think about the fact that if it did fail, it would be an incredibly public failure for me.  Because I had told literally EVERYONE I’ve ever known about Velvet Ashes. 

That’s when I realized that the pain of not realizing this dream would be greater than the pain of failure.

I told my husband that as we were driving down a California freeway.  And I was surprised at the quiver in my voice, the tears that sprang to my eyes.  I knew how deeply this dream had been planted in my heart. 

When I looked failure in the eye and said, “I’d rather have you than to not try at all,” then suddenly fear lost its grip.  I was free to move forward.  Free to watch the gift of it all happen. 

And it is happening.  Women serving in corners around the globe are coming to Velvet Ashes and saying, “I’m so glad to know I’m not alone.”  Women are clearing their timid throats, they’re finding their brave voices, and they’re offering up their hearts.  I am one of them. 

Here’s to living Fearless. 

Coming soon, my One Word for 2014.  Happy New Year, friends!  How was 2013 for YOU?

Photo credit: x72.xanga.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

Expectation - The Real Joy-Killer?

They say curiosity killed the cat.  But I think not.

No, “expectation” - that’s the real killer.  The killer of joy, the thief of peace, the weight upon my back that can drag me down heavy and slow.  

When I expect results in my work…

When I expect my Christmas day to look and taste and feel just like it did back on the other side of the world…

When I expect my children to be the model TCKs, friendly, flexible, gracious, and generous in all situations…

When I expect there to be butter on the shelf at the store …

When I expect my teammates to be my BFFs…

When I expect to sleep on a plane…

When I expect my marriage to be Hollywood romance

When I expect everyone to understand my choice to live in a land far away…

When I expect hot water…

When I expect the plumber to show up with tools, not just a flashlight…

You really have no idea how much you expect until you step into a world where your expectations fall flat, one after the other. 

Read more over at Velvet Ashes...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Power of Taste

No matter how many tricks I tried, I could not for the life of me get my little counter top oven to bake that pie all the way through.  Finally, I threw my arms up, said, “Forget it. Let’s just eat.” I sliced pieces onto our plates, crunchy apples and all.  And then I took a bite.  One taste was all it took.  One taste brought me back to warm memories, to family gatherings with tables stuffed full, cousins running wild through the house.  I looked up at my husband and saw it did the same for him. We both nearly cried.
We were a few months into our first year overseas.  Winter was settling in, and so was the fear in our hearts.  Are we going to make it?  
Happy Thanksgiving from China!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today's the Day!

Remember when I told you that dreams really do grow real? And then remember when I unfurled the dream to you? It was no longer this "thing." It had a name, "Velvet Ashes."

Then came the summer and those crazy four weeks we called The Launch Fund, which ended in a big teary finale the last day.

Then the curtain was pulled back down, and the dream needles started clicking, knitting together, stitch by stitch, the essence of this dream.

Here we are today, the big day. Velvet Ashes goes live! 

Stop on by and see the dream grown real. Know any ladies serving overseas? Pass a bit of encouragement their way?

 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.

Read more at Velvet Ashes...

Friday, October 25, 2013

So I Dropped My iPhone in a Canal

Picture an idyllic Beijing day with crisp autumn air and the rare bright blue sky.  The grandparents are visiting so we’ve taken the day to enjoy the Summer Palace, the centuries old escape from the bustle of the city.  We walk where emperors once strolled, round the lake ringed with graceful willows. 

Grandparents delight the kids with a boat ride.  

We make our way through back canals lined with quaint shops/tourist traps.  Grandma is happy to oblige her granddaughter’s love of all things princess. 

We continue to make our way along the canal, careful to keep the kids away from the railing-less edge that drops four feet to the water.  I snap a few pictures on my phone, trying to capture the kids with the Chinese storybook backgrounds.  

Suddenly my chilled fingers fumble, phone slipping from my hand.  A frantic swiping motion only succeeds in making it bounce, pell-mell, tumble, bumble, slow motion horror, right over the edge into the murky water below. 

My father-in-law across the canal hears me shout, turns and snaps a picture, thus capturing my forehead-slapping anguish, my full-faced grimace.  

As with anyone who loses a phone, my mind races to all that is lost.  I feel incredible guilt over all the trouble my dear husband went through to get me this phone, searching for a good price, getting it all legally unlocked for use in China.  This is, no joke, my first smart phone, the only phone we’ve actually spent money on (an iphone 4s if you must know).  I am, of course, all ready completely dependent on it, and berating myself for not going with the waterproof case.   

We can actually see the phone sitting at the bottom of the canal.  I rush to a shopkeeper nearby, asking if she has anything to scoop it out.  She tells us to wait.

Ellie is at this point in tears, so upset for me.  I try to calm her (and myself) down a bit while we wait.  It would feel utterly wrong not to try to get it out, but, we lament, what good will a completely submerged phone be if we can get it out?  Still I refuse to give up hope (sometimes beyond reason), and a prayer pleads in my heart.   

We wait and wait, the chance of recovery growing dimmer by the minute. 

Finally, this guy comes paddling up the canal, rowing with the rescue net. 

By this time a crowd has gathered.  I’m pushed to the back as everyone points out the phone to the rescuer. 

He scoops it up along with a good glob of scummy muck.  But there, peering through the slime and leaves is a screen glowing with Aiden's smirking face.

Yes, after fifteen minutes completely submerged on the bottom of a canal, my phone is working.

Oh, happy, happy day.
We notice a bit later that the camera has fogged up.  So we go home, put it in a box of rice for 24 hours, and wa-la, camera is good as new.

There’s no explaining it really.  The case clearly said it wasn’t waterproof. 

So I’m just going to accept the gift, add it to my thankful list – my iphone miracle.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Then and Now, a Photo Series

I thought it would be fun to do a little "Then and Now" photo comparison from when we lived in China before.  One of the reasons we were thrilled to be back in Beijing was that we have a history with people here.  It's a new home in a new location at a new school, BUT we're able to be with friends, former students, and teammates that we've known for years. I can't tell you how good it feels to move to a new place and already be known.  Here's a little taste.  

Aiden and his buddy then...

And now...

This is one of my favorite pictures ever.  Ellie and her best Chinese friend, Missy, with baby Aiden.  Then...

And now... Aiden was not about to hold still for this, and clearly, Missy was "not impressed."  

I had to put this one in for pure cuteness.  Ellie at the Beijing Zoo with her favorite, cotton candy.  Then...

And now...

When I was pregnant with Ellie, we went to her ultrasound to find out her gender.  Our teammates waited for the news, wanting to know if their daughter, Sydney, would have a best friend or boyfriend.  Turns out, it was a best friend! Baby Ellie on the left with Sydney.  Then...

And now...  Makes my heart happy that Ellie has a friend that spans all the change in her life.  

Ellie has always had a connection with "Uncle" William.  Then...

And now...

The guy on the right was my student during our training class our very first month in China back in 2006.  We became friends with his family, and his twin sister became my language tutor.  CRAZY that these kids are now grown, graduated, have jobs, and she’s married.  So fun to watch them go through these life phases over the last seven years.  Then...

And now...  Aiden was a big fan of her husband, likely overwhelmed him a bit.  The young couple was planning to have a baby in the near future.  After an evening in our home, I think they may have changed their minds.

This is where we had our last meal before leaving China in June 2011.  This restaurant, nicknamed "The Green Umbrella" was near where we stayed when Aiden was born, meaning we ate LOTS of take-out from this place, which we didn’t mind since the food is a-mazing.  I dream about their lemon chicken.  The restaurant then...  

and now...

or at least where the restaurant used to be, knocked down into a pile of dirt for Beijing’s next building project.  The rate at which Beijing is building, expanding, is really quite astounding.  Housing prices have tripled, yes, tripled in just the two years since we’ve been gone.  (Thankfully, our school provides our apartment!) It’s all about the demand.  Across the world’s most populous country, everyone wants to move to the city.  Beijing is the crowning capital city, offering the best in education and jobs, creating the current population of over 20 million, and a city under constant re-construction.  And now, tragically, no lemon chicken.

So there you have a taste of the change between then and now.  

I'm planning to do a blog post showing people our home here.  Check back for the grand tour!  But I'm curious to know what people are interested in seeing or reading about our life here.  Leave a comment and let me know!

ALSO...lots of work has been going on behind the scenes.  Exciting news coming about Velvet Ashes!!      

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In Which We're Back at the Altar

Remember that day, seven years ago now, when you and I went off to Bei Hai, the lake in the heart of Beijing?  It had been, what, six weeks since our arrival?  Six weeks of training, and meetings, and learning to eat, and kidney stones, and what-the-heck-have-we-done. We went out for the day, all by ourselves in great big China.  Remember how we wandered around, taking it all in, the wide-eyed clueless kids that we were? 

I remember the clear blueness of the sky, the willow branches gracefully sweeping the water’s edge, the boiled corncobs that smelled deceivingly good.  We stumbled upon sculptures older than America, while fresh baby bums peered out of trousers nearby.  Old people stretched their limbs.  Dancers danced.  Musicians strummed.  Children frolicked. 

I remember on that day feeling, for the very first time, a few sparks of love for this place.  You felt it that day too.  We grasped on tightly to those bits of love, those whispers of hope, thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, we might make it here.  We marked that day in our hearts and in our China journey.

Now seven years and three babies later, we’re back at the lake.  Back to celebrate nine years of married love. We’re not the same kids that walked round the water that day. Lines have begun to peer out around my eyes.  You’ve got hints of grey in your whiskers now.  And I think how we grew up in this place.

Back then we meandered round the edge of the lake, quite unsure of ourselves, our lives.  But today we boat.   Today we’re out in deep waters, living out our dreams.  

In the midst of this dream-building, the child-rearing, the globe-trekking, the always busy, always tired, we sometimes lose each other, don’t we?  Funny how sometimes you can’t find the one who’s in the boat with you.

But today we found each other, just like we always eventually do.  Sometimes it’s over late night chocolate waffle dates.  Sometimes it’s catching each other’s eye, smiling proud over a child of ours.  Sometimes it’s squeezing past each other in our tiny box kitchen.  But we find each other again, and when we do, we’re back at the altar, crazy in love. 

Happy 9th Anniversary, Love.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

That Day We Went to China

21 days on Chinese soil ... or more accurately, Chinese cement!  

Thanks for understanding the silence over here on the blog.  As much as I’ve wanted to write, I operated purely in survival mode during our first several days, clouded by the fog of jet-lag.  The goal was simply to make life livable.

We’re settling in now.  I’m feeling my feet under me again (which is nice after all that flailing.)  Here is a snap shot one of the kids took unbeknownst to me sometime the week before we moved.  Really, it says it all.

So much I could write about.  But first off, I want to share about our trip here.  I know many of you were praying for us, coordinated by a prayer sign-up my dear friend made.  Thank you, thank you!! 

Here it is ... that day we went to China. 

In the dark, before dawn hits the palm leaves of So Cal, we load luggage and sleepy kids into the van. 
We make our way to LAX, pull up to the curb, and...Aiden vomits in his car seat.  Reeaally?  I turn to inspect the damage and realize that since it’s still crazy early in the morning and he hasn’t eaten anything, his stomach was blessedly empty.  Very minimal damage.

We pile onto the sidewalk.  Then my parents squeeze their grandbabies, their hearts breaking right open.  I seriously consider calling the whole thing off. 

We make it aboard the plane only to sit on the runway for over 90 minutes due to weather in Nor Cal (did I mention we only had a two-hour layover?)  We get to San Fransisco and look for our stroller, desperate to get to our next flight before it leaves.  We wait and wait, still no stroller.  We decided Aaron would wait for the stroller while I try to get to the next gate with the kids. 

Hey, kids, do you know anyone that’s a super runner??  Really?  YOU’RE  super runners?  Great!  Let’s see how fast we can RUN!!

Titus bounces, strapped to my chest as we jog, walk, stop, jog, walk, stop. YOU CAN DO IT!  We’re almost there! 

We DID IT!!  The gate is nearly empty.  Last call passengers boarding now.  I corral the kids to the counter at our gate, explaining my husband is on his way.  How much longer, they ask.  I don’t know.  Soon.  I think.

Kids, stay right by Mommy.  Aiden, no, come back here!

Then our angel appears. 

A mom of three little ones herself, she’s traveling alone (smart woman!).  On a bit of a vacation from kids (no jealousy here).  Upon seeing me and my hooligans, she doesn’t hightail it out of sight (as I might have done).  No, her mother heart beats for me, as one who knows.  She immediately starts grabbing backpacks, taking hands, earning the all-around-hero-of-my-life award. 

Then Aaron appears, sweating from his mad dash (when the stroller eventually did come out, it was in five pieces).  We maneuver everyone and our way-too-many-carry-on’s on board.  

That's when I think we have mistakenly entered a sauna room rather than the airplane.  It was about a thousand degrees in there.  We make our way towards the back of the plane, stuff and wedge our carry-on’s, and get us all seated.  Big, weary sigh of relief.

Then we wait. And wait. And sweat. And sweat.  The plane doesn’t move. 

An announcement is made that the air conditioning is broken.  Yeah, no kidding.

Then another announcement is made, first in Chinese. We don’t catch it. All the Chinese  people groan, stand up and starting grabbing bags. WHAT is going on??

Then the English announcement.  “Sorry folks, because of the broken air conditioning, we have to have everyone get off the plane, taking all of your things with you.”


But yes.  So we do.  Flight attendants see us ladened with children and bags, wrestling down the aisle, sweating of course. 

"Here!  Here’s water for you!" 

Sorry. No hands to take the water.  

"Let me put it too your mouth!"

I think someone was trying to avoid the headline/lawsuit: “Parents pass out from heat stroke aboard United flight.”

Or maybe they were just compassionate. 

Anyway, we make it off the plane, wait and wait, do multiple laps up and down escalators to keep the kids occupied so that will stop doing this:

Then finally, a few hours later, we get back on the somewhat cooler airplane.  As soon as the plane starts taxiing, all five of us fall dead asleep.  No one has any memory of take-off. 

We rouse to consciousness a while later.  I take stock of our fellow passengers.  All Chinese.  I am very glad I had our Chinese friend translate the note we put in our fellow-passenger-treat bags.  It went like this:

Hi There Fellow Passenger!

Here’s a little gift for you.  You are a lucky passenger traveling near a family with little ones!  We’re moving to Asia today with three kids ages 5, 3 and 1.  As parents we will do all that we can to keep our kiddos happy and quiet.  If at some point we should fail, these earplugs might come in handy.  Thank you ever so much for your grace and understanding, and please enjoy our little “thank you” treat.


The family of five traveling near you

Ellie passes out the bags, and we have instant friends.  She buddies up to a sweet ten-year-old girl in front of us, who entertains all the kids with a rousing game of peek-a-boo.  Aiden made a pal across the aisle, a fellow three-year-old.  Fits of giggles ensue.  Everyone coos over Titus.          

I chat with a Chinese student behind us, who thanks me for the treat bag and says, “I think your plan will works.”

Perhaps it was the way he said it, but suddenly my heart warms all over, reminded of the countless students we’ve had, of all the precious moments we’ve shared.  I needed that.  I needed right then to be reminded of why we were putting ourselves through all this craziness.  Why we said all those heart-wrenching goodbyes.  I look around at all the passengers loving on my children.     

My eyes all misty, I turn to Aaron and I whisper, “I love Chinese people.”  He smiles knowingly.  It’s not a matter of loving them more than anyone else or loving China more than America.  They are both forever entwined within us.  Because of that, our journey has us back and forth across the globe.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  But that heart warming was the millionth confirmation that for us, it is right, and it is good.  We grasp hands for bit and breathe, reminded that we will, in fact, make it through.    

Monday, August 12, 2013

The HOW of it All (And Winners Announced!!)

You know it's coming.  You know he's got the ring.  Maybe you even know what the ring looks like.  But what makes you really sure of it all, is knowing down to your toes that this was meant to be.  So it's no surprise that he proposes, it's the HOW of it all.  It's the HOW that takes your breath and woos your heart.  

That was the way of Velvet Ashes.  I think I always knew the money would come.  I think I knew because of each divine fingerprint that was pressed into every step of this whole journey.  (Confession: in spite of all that, I do have to admit to a FEW moments of doubt.  Sheepish cough.)  But really, it came as no surprise when Velvet Ashes reached it's launch fund goal.  

It was the HOW that left me gasping and teary.  The beautiful, glorious HOW of it all.    


Sure it would have been cool if a rich person approached me on the first day of the Launch Fund and said, "Hey, I'll pay for it all!"  But hands down, I would rather have it happen the way it did, with people from everywhere stepping out and linking their hearts with this dream.  Everyone gave their bits to say, "Yes!  We are for this!"  The co-editors and contributing writers rallied their people, who responded by saying, "Yes! We want this for all of you!"    

People with teeny tiny budgets sacrificed to give big and grand.  Others said, "I've got literally no money to offer, but I am with you in this."  Some people gave saying, "I'm going to bless this out of my abundance."  

Bit by bit the numbers grew, ending with a dramatic flair on the very last day.  GOAL REACHED.

Maybe I should say I squealed and clapped and did a happy dance.  But no, this was the sacredness of deep down glowing warmth, of washing dishes through tears, of breathing quiet after birth.  

Because something has been born.  In the aftermath of money raising, a community of ladies now lays fresh on the Father's chest.  And as my co-editor Patty says, "It appears He is crazy in love with this."  

And to that I reply with a hushed whisper, "Yes, yes, I believe he is."  

So to all who gave, to all who are believing with us, "Thank you."  Thank you from the depths of my heart.

Now you can click on over to VelvetAshes.com and subscribe to updates and launch news.  You don't want to miss this baby's first steps!

And the winners of the gift cards are:

Kimberly T. - $50 Amazon card
Amy J. - $20 itunes card

Congrats, Ladies!  I'll be in touch!  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get back to moving across the world.  Our departure day is August 21st! China, we're comin' at you.  Pray for us and these coming crazy days?  Thanks!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In Which I am a Last Minute Girl

My hubby and I both love the last minute.  Try as we might to "plan ahead" and "get 'er done" in advance, that just....NEVER HAPPENS.  It's all about the last minute.  When we moved out of our apartment in China two years ago, we may or may not have been frantically throwing things in bags while the hired taxi honked impatiently outside.  (We're trying to avoid a re-enactment of this when we move again next weekend.)

All you people who are so on top of things that you saunter peacefully about when the last minute arrives,  yeah, you make me a teeensy bit jealous.  After years of fighting this tendency of ours, I am learning that maybe this is who we are.  And maybe that is okay.  

I'm not saying it's okay to disrespect other's time.  That's something we always strive to avoid.

I'm talking about understanding and accepting how we are wired to function.  We are our most productive when the pressure of a deadline looms.  That's when we get 'er done.


There's nothing quite like the pressure of an international flight departure, like the one we have looming on August 21.  (China, here we come!)  So, as you can imagine, it's "GO TIME" around here.  Boxes are everywhere, piles of clothes lie sorted and resorted after the kids knock them over again.  I'd like to hang a "closed for business" sign in my kitchen, but those needy kids of mine keep asking for three meals a day.  Almost time for "creative concoctions brought to you by the back of the pantry."  

But in the midst of all the chaos, we're getting a lot done every single day.  Because we HAVE to.  There's that deadline. 

And there's another deadline, the one for Velvet Ashes Website Launch Fund, and it happens to be TOMORROW.  (I know, where did the last four weeks go??)  

If your life is anything like mine, you first read about Velvet Ashes, and you thought, "Yes!  This sounds incredible. I want to give to make this dream happen."  And then the baby pooped, the three-year-old spilled, and the five-year-old asked for the thirteenth time, "Mom, mom, what are we going to do NOW?"  Life happened, right?  And like me, maybe you need a deadline to remind you.  

Here's the thing, tons of people from across the globe have caught wind of this dream, and they're excited. Overseas women are saying, "I need this!"  Their loved ones are saying, "We want this for you!"  And people are giving.  Four thousand dollars already.  These are those "on top of things" kind of people that make me jealous.  

To all of you people, THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for giving, for sacrificing so this can be real.  Thank you for spreading the word, for laboring to birth this dream with us.  

For all the rest of my fellow last minute people, now it's our turn!!  Let's reach our goal of $6,600 so that women serving overseas can tap into a lifeline of community.  

And if you love the literal last minute, then the campaign will close Friday 11:59pm EST (So 8:59pm, my California peeps!).  :)    

P.S. If you missed my co-editor's post about Velvet Ashes, it's amazing.  Check it out here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What’s with all the MONEY {for Velvet Ashes}?

Velvet Ashes – we’ve unfurled the dream, we’ve struck a chord. 

The ladies are gathering, the sisterhood forming.  Hearts are primed, ready and hoping. 

But one question remains, circling about. 

So…uh, what’s all the money for?

I’ve heard this question enough now to realize I haven’t been clear enough about the money business.  I’ve given you the short answer: $6,600 will cover the cost of the creation and maintenance of the sight.

But I know this can be confusing.  In a world where anyone can put together a blog, why pay someone four figures to do it?  Why not put Velvet Ashes on blogger for, you know, free?

If we did this, it would be a bit like building the Great Wall out of blocks in your backyard.  Or the pyramids in your sandbox.  It would be such a dim shadow of what it’s meant to be. 

Here’s where you need to know that Velvet Ashes will be SO much more than a blog.     Envision a book club dynamic, where ladies dialogue over soul-food.  Imagine link ups, where women are connecting their own blogs.  Think of Velvet Ashes as not merely a website, not just a blog, but as a community hub. 

And picture all of this done with ease, in a space that feels like home. 

This is why we need our partner, Contemplate Design.  They bring to the table creative genius, savvy expertise, and a wealth of experience in vibrant online communities.  You simply have to check out their site to see their work for yourself.

But let me tell you about the very first email I received from them.  You see, I had written to them, spelling out the dream of Velvet Ashes, asking if this was a dream they could help make real.  This was their response:

“What you’ve written here taps into so many things we hold dear.  We’ve spent many hours with overseas people who are struggling to hold it all together. What you are describing is so near to our hearts. I cannot tell you how moved I am.  We absolutely see the deep need for this.”

Did you get the same goose bumps I did?  Clearly, they get it.  They get us. 

After phone conferences and countless emails, I am only more convinced that Contemplate Design is a trusted partnership meant to be.  

They are here, ready to offer their time and skills to make Velvet Ashes more than we could ever make it on our own.  They are offering us a generous 25% discount, enabling us to create the site for $4,275.  Then for a contract of $150/per month for one year, they will maintain the site, dealing with all of the technical glitches and adjustments that a website requires.  Add up the 3.9% to use Fundly as our fundraising platform and 3% for credit card transactions, and that brings our total to $6,600.

So that, my dear friends, is what the money is for.

Thanks for asking.  Thanks for wanting to know. 

Your giving will forge this partnership, and then, then Velvet Ashes can become...reality!

See also:

Dreams Really Do Grow Real