CONNECT 2016 HIGHLIGHTS

Not even sure where to begin with this blog.  We are always amazed at God's good gifts to us. He always does more than we can ask or imagine, and He did so again, by allowing us to attend this retreat this year.  It was quite unexpected, but we were so excited at the opportunity!  We attended it in 2013 and 2014 and it rocked our world!  Totally changed the way we think about business.  It helped us focus on what's really important and taught us how to balance life better- our business, our family, our friends, and our ministries.  Last year, we were unable to attend because God had different things planned for us. Instead we had the opportunity to minister to Carol's mom - fighting her cancer battle, and also had the opportunity to host an orphan from the Ukraine.  Both opportunities were amazing and life-changing. We are forever grateful that we were able to have the time to invest in those relationships.  Knowing the impact Connect (which is a marriage retreat at Winshape Retreat Center - for couples in business together)  had on our lives several years ago, we were delighted and jumped at the chance to attend again this year! 

It's been a bit of a crazy year, so we were looking forward to "escaping" for a bit and relaxing.  We of course received so much more than we expected.  We spent most of the time just absorbing all we were learning - grateful to be in a "Spring" season in our marriage, and learning how to proceed when the Seasons change - because they inevitably do, and that's ok -because the Winter storms make us even stronger! One of our favorite things that was shared is that "the frozen waters will flow again".  Now that's something to hold onto in the winter, friends!  It was a beautiful thing though to just catch our breath together and reconnect with each other - discuss our visions, hopes, dreams - and even heartaches - all beautiful when woven together.  In addition, we got to draw from the deep well of our leaders' experience, vulnerability & wisdom as they navigate the seasons of marriage as well.  Here are just a few a few photos from the gorgeous and peaceful Winshape Retreat Center, owned & operated by Chick-fil-a. Truly when you step foot on that place, you feel a peace wash over you.  It's un-explainable!  If you're a husband and wife team running a small business together, you won't want to miss this!  There is a waiting list already and this fills up fast, but as soon as the registration is released, we'll post it on our Photography Facebook Page. So be on the lookout for it!

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THIS PLACE IS SO MAGICAL! YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE IT TO UNDERSTAND.  JUST BEING ON THE CAMPUS IS SO SERENE.

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ALLEN ENJOYED PRACTICING AT NIGHT WITH SOME LONG EXPOSURE SHOTS... AND WHAT A PLACE TO PRACTICE!

THESE WERE SOME OF OUR LEADERS - AMY & JORDAN DEMOS - A HUSBAND/WIFE DYNAMIC PHOTOGRAPHER TEAM.  THEY ARE TOP OF THE INDUSTRY AND SPENT THEIR TIME TO SHARE BY SPEAKING INTO OUR LIVES AS PARENTS AND SPOUSES, RATHER THAN TELLING US HOW GREAT THEY ARE - WHICH THEY COULD HAVE DONE, BECAUSE THEY SO ARE! BUT THAT'S WHAT MAKES THEM SO ATTRACTIVE - THEY ARE HUMBLE & WOULD RATHER POUR INTO OTHERS THAN BOAST.  WE MET THEM THE SECOND YEAR, BUT GOT TO KNOW THEM EVEN MORE THIS YEAR AND GREW TO LOVE THEM VERY QUICKLY!

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AREN'T THEY JUST THE CUTEST COUPLE?  AND IT'S GENUINE - ALL OF IT!

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AHHH! KATELYN & MICHAEL - AKA: KATELYN JAMES. THEY ARE ALSO A DYNAMIC HUSBAND/WIFE PHOTOG TEAM, WHO ARE NOT ONLY VERY SUCCESSFUL AT WHAT THEY DO, BUT ALSO SPEND THEIR LIVES INVESTING IN OTHERS - PHOTOGRAPHERS (US) AND THEIR CLIENTS. WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THEM AND THE TIME & ENERGY THEY SPEND ON ALL OF US AT THE RETREAT AND IN THEIR DAILY LIVES.  BEAUTIFUL SOULS! (please excuse the blur, as we just nabbed this quick sided shot of them having their photos done -couldn't resist ;-)

COPPER LILY - STEPHANIE & TIM!  THESE TWO LED OUR WORSHIP AND POURED THEMSELVES OUT AS A FRAGRANT OFFERING TO THE LORD ALL WEEK.  WORDS CAN'T DESCRIBE THE WAY THEY TOUCHED OUR SOULS WITH THEIR GENUINE WORSHIP.

UMMM...HOW DO YOU INTERPRET A BIG SIGH ON THE KEYBOARD?  THESE TWO....THEY ARE SO PRECIOUS TO US! THEY HAD THIS VISION FOR THIS RETREAT AND BEGAN IT 4 YEARS AGO. WHEN WE ATTENDED THE FIRST YEAR, WE REALLY EXPECTED TO HEAR MORE ABOUT RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS (AS THEY CLEARLY DO), THAN ABOUT MARRIAGE, BUT WE WERE SURPRISED TO INSTEAD HEAR THEM SHARE FROM THE DEPTHS OF THEIR SOUL -ABOUT MARRIAGE & LIFE - IN HOPES OF ENCOURAGING OTHER COUPLES WHO ARE RUNNING A BUSINESS TOGETHER.  IT IS BEAUTIFUL BEYOND WORDS! WE HAVE BEEN LEARNING FROM THEM IN THEIR BUSINESS FOR YEARS, BUT HEARING THEIR HEARTS AND GETTING TO KNOW THEM IS PRICELESS!

NATHAN & JENNIE OATES - WOW!!!  SO, NOT ONLY ARE THEY EXTREMELY DISCIPLINED, SUCCESSFUL & IN INCREDIBLE SHAPE (THIS PHOTO DOESN'T DO THEM JUSTICE - SORRY), BUT THEY ARE SOME OF THE KINDEST PEOPLE YOU WILL EVER MEET.  THEY HAVE SUCH HEARTS FOR ENCOURAGING ALL OF US AND HELPING US SUCCEED IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS FIRST, THEN IN BUSINESS.  WE LOVED GETTING TO KNOW THEM A BIT THIS YEAR!

LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST - JEFF & JULIA WOODS.  AMAZING PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELPED CHANGE OUR LIVES!  BOLD FOR THE LORD, CRAZY SUCCESSFUL IN BUSINESS, AND WILLING TO LAY IT ALL OUT THERE SO OTHERS CAN LEARN FROM THEM.  COULDN'T EVER THANK THEM ENOUGH FOR THEIR VULNERABILITY AND ENCOURAGEMENT! LOVE THEM DEARLY!

Photo credit: The Beautiful Outcome

Photo credit: The Beautiful Outcome

THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE ON THE CAMPUS.

THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE ON THE CAMPUS.

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THIS WAS OUR LAST SHOT, AS WE WERE PULLING OUT, OF BERRY COLLEGE.Β  THE PLACE IS BREATHTAKING!

THIS WAS OUR LAST SHOT, AS WE WERE PULLING OUT, OF BERRY COLLEGE.  THE PLACE IS BREATHTAKING!

BONFIRE NIGHTS ARE ALWAYS ONE OF THE FAVORITE NIGHTS! A TIME TO RELAX AND CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER AND CHEW ON WHAT GOD IS DOING IN OUR LIVES.

BONFIRE NIGHTS ARE ALWAYS ONE OF THE FAVORITE NIGHTS! A TIME TO RELAX AND CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER AND CHEW ON WHAT GOD IS DOING IN OUR LIVES.

SOME OF OUR NEW FRIENDS - I'M CONVINCED THEY PLAN THE BONFIRE SO WE'LL CUDDLE WITH OUR SPOUSES. SO CUTE!

SOME OF OUR NEW FRIENDS - I'M CONVINCED THEY PLAN THE BONFIRE SO WE'LL CUDDLE WITH OUR SPOUSES. SO CUTE!

MORE NEW AND PRECIOUS FRIENDS.

MORE NEW AND PRECIOUS FRIENDS.

EACH YEAR ON THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT, THERE IS A FANCY DINNER, WHERE WE ALL GET DRESSED UP AND SWAP PHOTOS OF ONE ANOTHER. IT'S SO MUCH FUN!  HERE ARE A FEW PHOTOS OF FRIENDS WE MET A FEW YEARS AGO AT CONNECT!

THE ENTIRE GROUP!Β  MY, HOW IT HAS GROWN!Β  MAKES ME THINK OF THE VERSE:" NO EYE HAS SEEN AND NO EAR HAS HEARD WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM" - 1 COR. 2:9

THE ENTIRE GROUP!  MY, HOW IT HAS GROWN!  MAKES ME THINK OF THE VERSE:" NO EYE HAS SEEN AND NO EAR HAS HEARD WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM" - 1 COR. 2:9

WE END ALL OF OUR POSTS WITH "ENJOY THE JOURNEY" AND THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS WE ALWAYS LEARN AT CONNECT - TO ENJOY LIFE WITH THOSE DEAREST TO YOU AND NOT NEGLECT THE ETERNAL FOR THE TEMPORARY.  SO - CLOSING THIS LONG POST TO GO CHERISH OUR KIDS!

ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

ALLEN & CAROL