We don’t know about you, but when we think of a marriage retreat, cheesy games, introspection, and some talk about marriage comes to mind. Maybe even a little bit of this. When we first signed up to attend our first Connect Retreat back in 2014, we were expecting maybe some of those things, but we NEVER expected our lives to turn upside down and for us to discover things about ourselves that we didn’t even know about and to make the lifelong friends that we did! And every year when we come back, we always say, “Ok…last year was amazing. What could Connect POSSIBLY have to offer us this time???” And every year we are BLOWN out of the water. This year was no different!
It really all starts for us when we arrive on the Winshape Campus. We posted a picture on Instagram last week with the Bible verse that says, “…for you are standing on holy ground.” And friends…that is EXACTLY what it is like as soon as you start driving through the trees to get there! It’s like you can breathe a sigh of relief and just an overwhelming peace comes over you. And it is amazing. It is by no accident either! The wonderful people at the retreat center actually take the time out to pray for EACH INDIVIDUAL PERSON and lay hands on the seats in the auditorium. The time and prayer and preparation that is taken out by everyone involved is so incredible!
We arrived Tuesday afternoon and had our first main session with Zach & Jody. They talked all about the value of vulnerability. And boy, where they vulnerable with us! They opened up about their lives and their marriage, and it was so inspiring to hear how they worked through their issues, where those issues come from, and how to start the healing process. Stephanie was crying pretty much from moment one! We met with our small group after that (and you guys….OMG we love you all so much! FACEBOOK GROUP SOON!) and really got to know one another in some very deep ways! The tears were so contagious! The next morning we had a session with Michael & Katelyn and they talked about how God isn’t done with you yet! They shared with us 5 steps toward transformation…and the real, good kind of transformation that comes from deep down in your soul! Then that afternoon we had our experiential activity, which is always a good time! We got to throw balls at one another, play with mouse traps, walk across ropes, and blindfold one another! It’s super cool to see how the staff at Winshape takes these activities and makes them relate to your marriage and relationship with your spouse. That evening our main session was with Nathan & Jenni. They talked about losing control in your marriage…but in a good way! They talked about the ways we control others in our communication and how shame starts to become a definitive part of your identity, how to break that, and how it causes you to let go of your control. Talk about life changing! The next morning we heard from Amy & Jordan and they talked about hurdles we face as married couples and how to get over them. We talked about expectations, conflict resolutions, priorities, and that terrible little green monster…the comparison game. That afternoon we attended a breakout session with them about money (which was SO eye opening!) and a session with Nathan and Jenni about effective communication tools to use in your business (Pearl and Ruby over here, what what!!). That evening Jeff & Julia completely blew the entire retreat out of the water with their main session talk: The Turn off of Shame. Holy Moses. We can’t even begin to explain how this utterly obliterated us and really tied the entire retreat together. It is so amazing to see how God works…none of these speakers knew what the other was going to be speaking on, but the order they went in and the topics they talked about were simply orchestrated perfectly! Fear and shame were definitely common factors in what everyone had to say, and it really allowed us to look at ourselves and see how they affected us personally, in our marriage, and in our business!
We really feel like NOW is the hard part. We’re no longer surrounded by the same couples who had the same experience right along side of us. We are thrust into every day life. Business, church, kids, money, and all the little things life throws at you. We are so excited to implement everything we learned in our lives, and friends, if we could just ask for your prayers, positivity, and good vibes that we are able to continue to make our marriage a priority, and to allow the work that started in our lives to come to a completion! Summer is on its way!
And to the couples in our lives that we know that are in business together…you know who you are. 😉 Whether you’re a photographer or not. Whether you go to church or not. Whether you think you’re marriage is wonderful or not. Whether you’re struggling in business or not. It really doesn’t matter! ANYONE can walk away with ANYTHING from this amazing retreat! We can truly say our lives are DEEPLY effected in one way or another every time we go, and we would love for our dear friends to experience the same things!