When I signed Caleb & I up to attend the Connect Retreat we weren’t really sure what it was all about. All we knew was that it was a retreat for couples in business together. I saw that several of my favorite husband/ wife photography teams ( including Amy & Jordan, Katelyn & Michael , Zach & Jody) would be speaking and figured that it’d be awesome to see them! The Connect Retreat was held at the Winshape retreat center and it was gorgeous. But not only that it was just so peaceful. It was tucked 3 miles out from Berry College in Rome, Georgia. The moment we got out of car we were greeted by warm hellos & embraces! Everyone was SO friendly & welcoming. I’ve never been in an environment where I felt like everyone was so genuine and caring. We met so many amazing other couples most of which were wedding photographers too! At each meal we would sit with different people and get to know them. I know that sometimes I can be an introvert and feel super awkward when meeting new people but that wasn’t the case at Connect.
I have so much I want to share about this retreat I really don’t even know where to start. So let me back up to the week before the retreat when I received a survey. One of the questions was, ” Would you be a small group leader?” I checked the box, “if I have to” without thinking.. Well a couple days later I get a text from Caleb, “you signed us up to be small group leaders?!” Of course I had no idea what he was talking about until I saw the email saying that if we checked the box,”if we have to” that we would indeed need to be small group leaders. So you can imagine how nervous Caleb & I were since this was our 1st time attending, we didn’t know anyone else going & we weren’t 100% sure what the retreat was all about! Plus the fact that we were now going to be small group leaders!
I think we both felt like we weren’t “wise enough” to be small group leaders. Usually in large group settings, we both do the following; Caleb doesn’t talk much because he’s much more of a listener. What do I do? Well, I nervous ramble and usually share too much info because I get excited/ nervous. So the 1st night of the retreat we sat at our designated table with our small group leader picture, anxiously waiting to meet our small group for dinner. However, to our relief we discovered that our group only consisted of 3 other couples. Then once we got to know the couples in our our group we felt much more comfortable. Our small group couldn’t have been a better fit for us! We all had so much in common. This was all our 1st time attending so we were all in the same clueless boat! We were all under 30, no kids ( several dog parents though) and married for 5 years or less. Plus all of the women in the group were full time while the husbands helped out part time while working a full time job.
Our first official small group meeting was after Zach & Jody Gray spoke the 1st night. Let me just say that their session was SO incredible. In that moment, I knew why God wanted me to be at this retreat. They were so vulnerable and open about their own personal struggles. It was inspiring to hear!!! I held back the tears because I could relate to SO much of what they were sharing. Once their session was over, we started leading our 1st small group meeting. We didn’t have any questions to help get us started so of course I was nervous and started oversharing/ talking too much! But once everyone else started sharing it created such a comfortable & safe atmosphere. I’m so thankful that God challenged us to step outside of our comfort zone and be small group leaders. We left feeling like we gained some really awesome new friends!
I feel like I could talk about this retreat for hours but you don’t want to read that long of a post. ( Sorry it’s already so long!) I can’t really even express to you in this post how it all influenced me. It was packed with so many amazing speakers that shared their own personal struggles in marriage. God was really in that place changing lives. But not only did we listen to amazing speakers but we always did some super fun things. During our free time, Caleb & I rented bikes and rode around the beautiful Winshape area which included this gorgeous old chapel! It was such a fun afternoon. We also had one afternoon we did some fun experimental couple activities. Which included being blind folded and having to find your spouse by listening for the animal noise you both decided on. We didn’t know why we needed to pick an animal noise so we chose a snake.. well it turns out it’s kind of hard to hear the hissing of a snake when there are bunch of people making loud animal noises around you. hahaha Caleb said he just listened for my laugh! Another activity we did was we both stood on a tight rope and had to try to use another rope to allow us both to get to the middle. Thankfully we had a group of spotters around us so we didn’t fall but we still didn’t make it to the middle because it was quiet difficult! Wednesday night was date night where we all dressed up and ate outside. After dinner we swapped pictures with our small group which was super fun! We had to be quick though because it was about to storm! I’ll be sharing some of my favorites below!
Sorry if this post seems all over the place. That’s kind of how I feel when trying to describe it because it’s just one of those experiences that I can’t really describe. It showed me things in myself that I never really knew. It enabled Caleb & I have to some of the most real & honest conversations we have ever had. I know that the Connect Retreat changed our marriage for the good and that’s why we signed up for Connect 2017 as soon as we left. Because sometimes you need to just get away from life and focus on your marriage! I have never felt so close to God like I did at the Connect retreat and I know it’s because I was taking the time to be silent & listen to him. This retreat was way different than I could have imagined it was going to be and I’M SO GLAD! We didn’t focus on how to better our business but instead how to better our marriage! So if you’re married and in business with your spouse I can’t recommend this retreat enough. I promise it’ll change your life! I can’t wait to go back next year!!!
In His Love,