If you’ve been following us, by now you may have heard or seen us talk about Connect Retreat. If not, you can catch up on old posts here! Connect is honestly the best thing we’ve ever done for our marriage AND for our business. Four days away on a retreat with other couples that are also in business together is something we look forward to all year long! It goes without saying that being in business with your spouse is a unique circumstance so we definitely bond almost instantly with people each time we go! WinShape Retreat is absolutely stunning, the staff are amazing, and the atmosphere is unlike any other! But more importantly, the Lord is so evidently present there, and he shows up to do BIG things there every year. Looking back we always see milestones in our marriage and business from Connect, and this year was no different! In fact, I think this year was the most powerful yet! We personally feel like we’ve been in a big season of growth in our marriage. It’s been painful, as any growing pains can be, but we’ve been the most vulnerable with each other during this season than ever before! And the Lord has been so faithful to grow us together and continue to refine us.
So without further adieu, here are some of our thoughts on our biggest takeaways from the week!
Ok here we go! So much heart coming out here. Honestly, I’ve been putting off writing it because it’s so vulnerable and gut wrenching!
We learned that we needed a total money makeover. If you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, then you know this lingo! One of the break-out sessions we attended was all about managing your finances. We felt so convicted to change our habits that we bought the Dave Ramsey audio book Total Money Makeover and literally listened to the entire book in two days! We restructured our monthly budget and built a plan to attack our debt with “gazelle-like intensity” as Dave would say! We definitely still have a lot of steps to go, we’re only on Baby Step #2 in his book, but it felt so good to know we’re following God’s design for money. There is so much biblical truth in managing your money well, and we highly recommend this book, it’s literally life changing!
There is so much beauty in vulnerability. The Lord does some amazing things when our walls crash down and we open up – open up to him, and confess and repent with other believers. I found so much freedom when I shared that one of my biggest insecurities is not feeling good enough or smart enough. Several of the speakers shared how to discover the things that motivate your desire to control. I’ve honestly NEVER saw myself as someone with control issues. And on the surface, I don’t. But boy did the Lord have a different message for me! I saw so clearly for the first time how my heart responds defensively to criticism from Tyler because it strikes that cord of insecurity. The Lord is definitely still working on this in me, but it was a profound moment when I made that connection!
Another thing that really resonated with me is that nothing on this earth that I “have” is mine. The Lord entrusts things to us, but we are merely stewards. This is something I’ve known to be true, but it really really hit home for me for the first time and began to overflow into every area of my life. My sweet husband is a gift, that the Lord has given me and if I let him be that, he will be the biggest blessing in my life, as the Lord teaches me more about himself in our marriage! Our finances are not our own, our business is not our own – everything belongs to the Lord, and he gives and takes away. And He’s not evil, or bad or wrong for taking away. My struggle with my mom really devastated me more than I even realized, and Connect was a huge turning point in seeking healing from the Lord. I realized I’ve been living in paralyzing fear. Fear of losing her, fear of losing Tyler, fear of losing everything. Realigning my heart to see everything in my life as a gift from the Lord has begun to set my heart free to love more openly and freely.
As Lindsey mentioned, we read (or listened to) Total Money Makeover, following Connect, and it was so rewarding! Honestly though our money habits weren’t bad. They weren’t horrible, or self-destructive, but they also weren’t the best we could do, and I’d known this for awhile. In the book, Dave says that the enemy of the best is just fine and that’s exactly where we were at – just fine and with debt, because it’s ‘normal’. So it was time for improvement! The best thing that the book confirmed for me is that a total money makeover is not just a makeover of your checkbook – it’s a makeover of your heart. Poor choices at the heart level is what leads a person into financial ruin, not poor financial know-how. As Dave says, winning with money is 80% behavior and just 20% head knowledge. And so through the book, we renewed our thinking and assumptions about money and debt, and in doing so, we realized we had been blessed without even knowing it. Very quickly into married life, we outgrew our 2-bedroom apartment. Ever since then, we’ve looked to bigger living areas, and for awhile thought that buying home was the solution to our size issue. Through one thing or another, it still hasn’t happened, and we still live in our first apartment. We’ve been bummed, but actually it’s been a blessing. We don’t owe debt on a home and we don’t have any car payments. So the two biggest debts that Dave often advises to downsize, we were already without. If Burns Incorporated were a stock, now would be a perfect time to buy considering how much potential for growth we had in front of us! While we’d been looking at what didn’t have, it was actually a blessing because we now had the opportunity to go into those things with our ducks in order, or rather, with great money habits! Maybe there was a reason God never gave us the house we wanted…sneaky Jesus ;)
So that was our financial breakthrough! Personally, I got to dig much deeper into my need for control at the retreat. Confession time! I have a need for control. I can’t make a decision without looking at all the options. Anyone else there with me? I mean how can you know that Option A is really better than Option B if you haven’t examined both?! No, I’m not going to take your word for it! I’ve got to experience it myself…or at least read every review I can find on Amazon. I knew this about myself. It’s nothing new. But the hard truth that I got to put into words was that I was doing this with God. God/the Bible/church/whoever, would tell me, this is the way to life. But having grown up in the church, I had to take it by faith, which given my personality didn’t sit well with me. I needed control, even here, especially here. God says, this is life, and I answer back, well yeahhhh, but have you seen this over here? Seems pretty close, and maybe even better! Hah! As if I had stumbled upon a way better than that of the creator of the freakin’ universe! Which, if I held to be true, was something I had to stop believing. I’m not gonna walk onto a job site and tell the architect how he should or shouldn’t build a wall. I’m not an architect. None of us are architects, though we like to think we’ve studied enough to be. So while this issue didn’t come to a close, it did come to the light. And great things are done in the light!
We didn’t take a ton of photos because we spent a lot of time unplugging, but here’s a few that show the amazing campus!
These are just a few of the amazing couples that spoke!
We seriously loved this year’s t-shirts!
On the last night we enjoyed a beautiful dinner outside!
On Wednesday night after dinner, it’s become a tradition with as many photographers as there are for everyone take photos of each other. It was funny seeing everyone scattered out across the campus!
Ok pause. Fan girl moment. This woman taking the picture right there is Katelyn James. She’s a huge photographer in the industry, and we adore the way she not only shoots her clients but serves them so genuinely. She even snapped a few photos of us that we can’t wait to share!
Miss these guys already!! These folks were our amazing small group!
After the retreat, we stayed in the North Georgia mountains in this beautiful cabin! Tyler did such a good job finding this gem! It was the perfect way to unwind and unpack all that we learned at Connect. We also used that time to listen to the entire Total Money Makeover audio book, and we left feeling so pumped up about the changes we were planning to make!
After a few days we got cabin fever (pun intended) and ventured out and found downtown Ellijay which apparently is known for antiquing…which we love!
And now a new tradition. I’m calling it “random photos of Lindsey.” Tyler’s dad does this too with his mom, and it’s ridiculous. Tyler is notorious for making me take awkward photos by myself, and I hate it.
Tyler here: I know I’m not alone here, guys! Every time I go on a trip, I just take pictures of things, so I figured, hey, I might as well put my wife in them to show that we were there! I can’t be in the photo cause I’m taking it, and while we’re great at our DSLR selfie game, all you end up seeing is our faces.
Lindsey on the cabin porch.
Lindsey in the antique store.
Lindsey in downtown Ellijay.
Lindsey on a mountain. Which leads to…
On the way to the airport, we literally made the most spontaneous detour and stopped by Stone Mountain per recommendation by Tyler’s mom! We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into – it was a huge theme park that we could have spent a whole day at! We only spent a few hours there, but we rode up to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view before getting back on the road!
The carving shows Confederate figures Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.
And last but not least, our trip to Georgia would not be complete without our annual stop in Senoia, GA to see the set of Woodbury and Alexandria from The Walking Dead!