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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Velvet Ashes Strikes a Chord

It's beginning, friends.  Since the Dream Unfurled, word about Velvet Ashes is spreading. 

And here's what people are saying...

"Absolute answer to prayer..."

"Something I have very much been looking for and need... in so many ways."

"This is amazing!"

"I wish I had something like this when I was overseas."

"As I read about Velvet Ashes, I cried...a lot."

"This touched a cord deep in my soul."

Those that have been there and lived through the shadowy days of overseas loneliness are rising up to say, "Yes!  We want to be that hand that reaches out to pull others through that darkness!" 

And those that are smack dab in the midst of the heart ache are crying, "Yes, please!"  

We're ready.  Ready to link arms.  Ready to be heard.  Ready to listen.

A sisterhood is being birthed.  

And family is gathering round to say, "Yes!  We are FOR you!"

So come on over, sister.

And you, join the family.

Let's do this thing!          

So does the idea of Velvet Ashes resonate with you?  How so?  Come on, now, don't be shy.  Let's hear from you!  

See also:  
Dream Unfurled

Dreams Really Do Grow Real

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dream Unfurled

Two years ago, I was lonely. 

My feet were freshly planted in California sand, uprooted from the China life and community we knew.  I was new and unknown, living in the space between, hungry for connection. 

Then someone randomly posted a link on Facebook, and BAM!  There it was.  The connection I longed for.  Someone I didn’t know opened her heart and soul through a blog post.  Her words reached through the screen and wrapped themselves around my heart, and I knew I had found a kindred spirit. 

That was my portal into the blogosphere, my first step into a screen world where people share the beauty and brokenness of their lives.  No small talk necessary, no children hanging and interrupting.  Just the real, meaty, beautiful, hilarious, teary talk about what’s churning in our hearts. 

Click by click, I became connected to the lives of ladies whose words mentored and moved me.  And then, as you know, I began dabbling here in my own little Internet space, unearthing a part of me that had become buried; the me that was meant to write.

On this journey I also found sites that were devoted to online community for women (mainly and  Here I saw the beauty of women offering their vulnerable hearts, their deepest passions, and in return other women rallying around them, breathing hope and encouragement.  These places pulsated with life and richness.  A soul-bond lived amongst these sisters. 

And then God brought sweet memories to mind of another group of soul sisters, the ones I left behind in Asia, the ones I am returning to.  These ladies, like me, had left their American lives to live out a calling across the ocean.  We were separated by countless miles, but forever bonded by the shared path of life overseas. 

On the rare yearly occasion we’d see each other, we’d stay up late sitting in the hallways of Thai hotels while the babies slept.  Story after story would pour out as we laughed and cried, lapping up the community like parched puppies.  Then when we finally laid our heads down upon our rock-like beds, we’d breathe deep sighs of relief, reminded that we are not alone in this crazy life we lead.

After the week together that was never enough, we’d leave each other, hungry for more. We needed more time to share with these sisters who understand our pain and joy, because they live it too.  We needed the chance to sit with that woman who’d raised her thriving family in this life and ask her flat out, “How? How have you done it?”  But there was never enough time, never enough stories.  So much wisdom left unshared.

So when I saw these online communities, this dream lodged itself in my heart.  This.  This is what we need.  A place to connect across the miles.  A place to feed each other helpings of hope. 

Because, people, we have these INCREDIBLE opportunities outside our foreign doorsteps.  But what do you do when you’re too weak and lonely to even step out your door?  Some days you just need a hand (even a virtual hand) to pull you up and say, “I know, girl, I know.  But I am WITH you.  Now GO SEIZE THE DAY!”

So bit-by-bit, I’ve been sharing this dream over this last year with my real life friends and groups, and every time I do, people get excited about it.  And that’s when I know this whole thing didn’t come from my own tired Mommy brain.  It all feels very inspired and God-breathed. 

And that has been confirmed by the incredible ways in which a team has joined forces to make this happen.  We have a team of editors in place, we have ladies ready to write their hearts out, we have the expertise of a design team who is ready to create a beautiful, cutting-edge online space for us, and we have a name that I am in LOVE with. 

We are “” (More on the meaning later)

Everything is set. 

There’s just one last piece: the funds to make this happen.

So today, my people, I am asking YOU to make this dream a reality. 

Would you give so this can be real? 

$6,600 in four weeks and we can have a vibrant community launched THIS FALL to encourage the hearts of women serving overseas. 

You can give by going to our super spiffy site:

Or just click on the "Please Donate" button on the side menu -->

WHEW.  There you have it.  The dream unfurled.

Now be still my beating heart and wait….

Wait for God’s people to do their thing.

For more on this whole story see
Dreams Really Do Grow Real
Velvet Ashes Strikes a Chord
What's With All the Money {for Velvet Ashes}?