On marriage, connecting and chasing dreams | CONNECT Retreat 2014
|Written by Amber -|
WOW. Chad and I are feeling incredibly refreshed and inspired this week! Last week, we spent the week in sunny Georgia (where pretty spring does actually exist!) on a marriage retreat with other couples running photography businesses together. It was the second year this CONNECT Retreat has been offered at the WinShape, and also the second time Chad and I were able to attend.
We carpooled from Wisconsin with Maison Gustke and Caleb Engel (who are engaged to be married this August!) all the way to and from Rome, GA. This made our trip, hands down! We became instant friends, sharing so much about love & life. We laughed together, prayed together, talked shop a bit and made the very most of our 24+ hours in the car. It was quite a blessing to share the experience with them!
Last year around this time, Chad and I had just begun working together full-time, as Chad had only been home about 5 months. We were in desperate need of some advice on how to be married while working together, and vice versa. (You can read about our experience from last year's Retreat here.) We applied SO many great lessons to this past year and consider ourselves a whole different couple this year. It's been an amazing new adventure (of course all good adventures include ups and downs...). We were anxious for more coming into CONNECT 2014.
This year, here were our highlights:
1. We value marriage
Yes, we shoot weddings as part of our living, but we know first-hand that a marriage is more important than a single wedding day. We deem it "wise" to go to the dentist a couple of times a year to check up on our teeth and we go to the doctor to check up on our health, so shouldn't we also go to a marriage retreat and/or marriage counseling to check up on our relationship? The nuggets we learned about keeping our love strong and our relationship alive are invaluable—they'll refresh and propel us through this next year. Plus, "unplugging" from responsibility, distractions and media for a week with your spouse to focus on each other and have fun? Priceless.
2. CONNECTing is important
The "husband-and-wife wedding photography team who loves Jesus" genre tends to be a little sparse (or quiet?) in our area. We're even pretty slim on the "I work with my spouse full time from our home" department. Words can't express how important and meaningful it is to spend extended time with couples who can relate on both. Instant family! Like-minded community and outside perspective are of utmost important for our souls. I truly believe that Jim Rohn quote that says, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
3. Dreams are worth chasing
Jeff and Julia Woods opened up the first session of the retreat by reminding us that God is the inventor of all dreams. Psalm 37:4 (NIV) says, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." We are called to delight—to be made complete—in the Lord. We are called to dream, risk and create. So what are we waiting for? Zach and Jody Gray reminded us that "the pursuit of success should never become our purpose." They quoted Neil Anderson saying, "What you do doesn't determine who you are. It's who you are that determines what you do." So who are we and what are we doing? Michael and Katelyn James Alsop used honest, personal examples to prove the need for healthy work-life balance. They said, "We rest from our work, and we work from our rest." So what is throwing off our rhythm? We've already got a whole list of goals and dreams written to help satisfy these questions and we're raring to take action! :)
Here are some of our other road trip & retreat highlights in photo form...
I really did "unplug" for the week, including leaving my camera in my room most of the time. BUT, I did enjoy waking up a little earlier Wednesday morning to capture the pretty dawn light. The 75° air, chirping birds, gorgeous architecture and serene setting just ooze of peaceful delight...
This year, one session of the Retreat was for five couples (who attended last year) to share—in five minutes—the one thing that impacts their life / marriage / business the most. Chad and I were humbled and honored to be selected. We got to use this opportunity to share about our intentional, daily focus on listening prayer and its effect on our lives. We've chosen to make God the "boss" of our business, and so we spoke on that very topic.
Small groups are a big part of the CONNECT week. We get a chance to process through what we're learning and share pretty deeply while swapping feedback and advice to one another. I want to introduce you to my new family, from left to right, Kelly and Loni Langan, Josh and Danielle Menning, us (duh), Maison Gustke & Caleb Engel (engaged!) and Sabrina and Ben Fields. I love them!