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April 4, 2014

CONNECT 2014 | A Recap

Last year was the first time anything like this had taken place.  And I remember emailing Jody before it had even happened to see if we could go ahead and sign up for the following year!  Of course they had no idea how the first one would go, but from everything we heard this past week, after last year, there was no choice BUT to do it again.  And everyone is already anticipating CONNECT 2015!

We’ve only been married for two and a half years but we have been SO BLESSED by all of the teaching and council and wisdom that we’ve sat under since before Ben and I even met.  So, it really shouldn’t surprise me that we were blessed to be able to attend CONNECT this year which is designed specifically for photographers who are in business with their spouse.  It’s kind of amazing that there’s even a need for this, but I’m SO SO thankful that Zach & Jody and Michael & Katelyn listened to what God was leading them to do not all that long ago.  And because of them being obedient, a retreat was made possible and a safe place became available for couples to come, worship, lean into God and each other and GROW in ways we weren’t necessarily expecting.

Jeff & Julia Woods started out the retreat with their talk and they didn’t go easy on us.  Their bottom line was to not just pay attention to each other, but to dream together!  It’s when you stop dreaming as a couple that your lives become mundane and you begin to get too caught up in things that may not even matter in eternity.  One piece of advice they gave was to find a mentor couple that dreams and dreams big.  A couple that we can sit under that is moving and growing and shaping lives around them because they aren’t afraid of adventure!

Zach & Jody talked about not letting the pursuit of success become our purpose in life.  How many times have you heard athletes who chase the dream and reach it – they get fame, fortune, and lots of playing time – only to find out that they aren’t satisfied at all?  While we may not all be on that large of a scale, it still applies to each of us.  Our God created us to chase after Him.  And since He’s the only one that will never leave us or forsake us, He’s the one we should be pursuing in everything we do.

Finally, Michael & Katelyn closed out the week with their first official talk together.  They’d led a smaller class the day before, but this was in front of everyone and she kept saying how nervous they were just because this was new for them.  But by the end of it – when all of us were in tears – it was so clear why they spoke on the last day.  Their story of finding balance & boundaries in business and combining our careers with our calling is powerful.  God is using them in really big ways and it’s so exciting to watch!  Ben and I are so clear that these businesses we have are 100% from God.  We wouldn’t have them if not for the talents and dreams that He’s given us.  But ever since Katelyn spoke on some of this at the Pursuit 31 Conference back in the fall, I’ve been so much more intentional with how I pray for this business, my brides, their marriages and how Ben and I can relate to and encourage them.  And it’s amazing to see Him working!

So – to all of the speakers, all of the couples, our wonderful small group and the sweet friends we made, thank you.  Thank you for loving our Creator.  Thank you for sacrificing to be in Rome, GA for a week.  Thank you for loving on us.  And thank you for each of your examples of how to love God and each other as we work side by side!

Walking into Winshape is like walking into a small piece of Europe.

Getting to spend time with this man laughing, eating, riding bikes, talking, or going for walks was by far the highlight of my week!

We had breakout sessions on Tuesday and we went to hear Michael & Katelyn’s discernment process that they used when deciding whether Michael should join the photography business full time.  It was such a good session… not to mention being able to watch them interact and speak together for the first time ;-)

We also had a session called 5 Minute Marriage on Wednesday morning where couples from last year had the chance to stand up and share ANYthing for 5 minutes.
Two couples from our small group shared so we cheered extra loud for them!  Josh and Danielle are below…

And this is Amber and Chad!

Wednesday afternoon was the Experiential Couples Activity and we weren’t really sure what we were in for.  But we knew a ropes course was somehow involved!

Katelyn really is a gem.  And she did a recap on her blog today so you should check it out too!

We started out with a huge group game and then broke off into groups of 5-6 couples.  Our smaller group games included a version of “Never have a I never”, a form of dodge ball, building blocks, and then the small ropes course.

I’d like to take this moment to point out that each couple took a turn in the center. The wife started out inside the hoola hoop and the husband had to protect her from the balls being thrown at her.  That part was ok.  The part that all but terrified me was when we had to switch and I had to protect Ben!  I’ve never been good with any type of ball being thrown at me… no matter how soft and plush they are!  Needless to say, we did not last the longest of everyone in the center!

Then the block game.  We thought this would be easy but oh my goodness!  We were split into guys and girls and each given a bag of blocks.  The girls had 3 minutes to build something with our blocks and then – in 30 second intervals – we met our husbands in the middle to describe to them what we had built. They then had to take what we said and replicate it on their side of the building.

On the left is our original structure and on the right is what they built according to what we described.  It worked out way better than we were anticipating half way through that!

Then it was time for the ropes course.  Clearly I have my “determined game face” on.  We had to work our way from each side and meet in the middle with a kiss!

So thankful for Nathan for getting these for us!!

Other groups were doing all kinds of different and similar activities.  So thankful for the Winshape staff for all they did for us!

And then… quite possibly one of the biggest highlights of my week was meeting sweet Jaxon.  Oh my goodness, he’s a doll!  And seriously one of the most joyful little boys I’ve ever met.

And when Katelyn’s group came back, she got photos of him too!  You’ll have to see her blog to see the sweet photos she got!

Wednesday night was date night.  We ended up having a mini session with Laura Yang and then after dinner, we did a mini session for Nathan and Ashley!
Obviously with a conference of photographers, things like this happen :-)

Oh goodness, I love these.  I don’t want to share them all because they’ll be using them for their new website soon!

And these cuties?  Well, this is Melonie and Kelly, our small group leaders.  So thankful for them!!

I only got one photo of Katelyn and Michael speaking the last night, but I love it.

Already looking forward to CONNECT 2015!

  1. I love this recap! And you two are SO cute! It was great to meet you and Ben, and such a blessing to have you in our small group. Looking forward to keeping an eye on your blog, and staying connected throughout the years. <3

  2. […] the topics each of the speakers spoke on, please see the recaps by our friends Chad & Amber and Ben & Sabrina. They did far better at summarizing than I could.) It was incredibly refreshing to spend time in […]

  3. […] of Rome, GA for the fourth time in the last three years.  I’ve been to Winshape once for CONNECT and this will be my third time at the Pursuit Conference and I could not be more excited about this […]

  4. […] a marriage retreat specifically for photographers who are married and are in business together.  (You can read about that trip, here!)  It’s a super small niche, but it was so incredible to have that time away with others who […]

  5. […] Two years ago, Ben and I attended the Connect Retreat that some of my favorite photographers were hosting.  I remembered seeing posts of Zach & Jody and Michael & Katelyn at Winshape and knew they were up to something fun but didn’t quite know what until they told everyone about the retreat for married couples who are in business together!  We signed up, we went, and we loved it.  You can read all about Connect 2014 HERE. […]

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