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Connect 2015 | A Marriage Retreat

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You may remember our post about Connect Retreat last year – it was amazing, and we knew by the end of it that we would be returning this year.  Our biggest takeaway last year was putting into places things that helped us maintain a solid work/life balance.  Even though we work from home and thought we had business hours established, for the first time we stuck to it and stopped conducting office work over the weekend or into the evening.  We also learned that despite not being a church-affiliated entity, our business could (and should) be leveraged as a ministry tool for His kingdom.  I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t done the best job at putting that into action over the past year – itty-bitty baby steps were made – but we were excited to dive deeper into this calling at this year’s retreat!

This year’s takeaway, I think will be discipleship, which I’ll speak on in a second.  To recap though, Connect is a retreat for Christian couples in business together (mostly photographers), and it has been an incredible blessing to us. It’s like our own annual business/marriage/life retreat!  This relaxing getaway is four days long at the Winshape Retreat Center, which is tucked away in the foothills of the Ridge and Valley Mountains just outside of Rome, GA.  Winshape itself is specifically built around hosting marriage retreats, so the campus is a perfect setting for this type of event.  The week is put on by another photography couple Zach and Jody.  They’re a powerhouse husband and wife team, who have mastered their craft and now devote their time to helping others do the same!  See why we were there?  Also leading the trip this year was Michael and Katelyn Alsop, a photography duo based in Richmond, VA, Jeff and Julia Woods, another couple, who like Zach and Jody, have leveraged their life experiences towards helping others, and finally Nathan and Jenny Oates, the creators of BURST Club, an extreme workout regimen.

I know we experienced a similar feeling last year, but it was honestly so refreshing to learn from other couples who are either in a similar stage of life as us or who have been where we are but are now 20 years down the road.  Michael and Katelyn summed it up well when speaking about their relationship with the Woods.  Because of the guidance and wisdom shared by a couple who is further down the road from where they are, they’ve been blessed to avoid many pitfalls that could have potentially snared them.  And this is what we were so blessed to experience as well.  Even though have heard them all speak before, we were still nodding our heads in agreement when listening to Zach and Jody talk about their working relationship as spouses and hearing about Katelyn and Michael’s life journey.  Like Proverbs 27 talks about, just as we were sharpened by the shared guidance of these couples, our prayer and goal as a business and in our marriage is that we will be able to sharpen and help in some way the couples whom we work every day.

So now that we’ve talked enough, I guess we’ll let you look at some pretty photos from the trip!  We didn’t take a ton because we really were trying to unplug during this time (Tyler brought his laptop, but it didn’t even make it out of its bag!), but it’s impossible not to take a few in a place so beautiful!  You’ll see what we mean!

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We flew into Altlanta early on a Monday morning and were exhausted after a full wedding weekend, but there’s something about this place that puts you at ease. It must be the Chick-fil-A mints everywhere, or the 24hr access to ice cream!  Did we mention that Winshape Retreat Center is owned by the CFA family?  So yes, the food was great!

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This year there were four couples that spoke on various topics from business planning to communication in marriage.  Topics included how we deal with our current issues based on past events in our lives (yeah we went deep), communication within your marriage, parenting techniques, ministry in the workplace, and even a Q&A that covered some healthy business practices.

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Just look at how beautiful this place is!  Four days just isn’t enough!

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This was our amazing small group that we got to know over the course of the week!  Like I said about being surrounding by couples with similar perspectives, we all were similar in age and didn’t have children yet – we even found out we all had one dog!

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On the third and final night we dressed up for a special date night and had the opportunity to swap photo sessions with another couple.  Huge thanks to Ryan and Alyssa for these shots of us! :)  And check out Tyler’s new hair!

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Fun fact: I am a giggler in front of the camera.  So if that’s you too, I totally get you.  It’s like I suddenly start laughing and just can’t stop.

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This next portion will really click with our Walking Dead fans.  We planned lots of extra time on our last day between check out and our flight home to explore the little town of Senoia, the town known for being home to Woodbury and many other well-known Walking Dead sets!

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Literally right across the street from Senoia’s main street, which was the setting for Woodbury, is the set of the Alexandria Safe Zone from the current episodes.  The wall (KINDA SPOILER ALERT: and some new ones) could be seen from the street.  Not gonna lie, we probably drove around the block about 4-5 times peaking at all that we could without getting kicked out, which mayyy have also happened as well.

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