For the past several days, since Danny and I left WinShape‘s quaint, almost Alpine-esque village in North Georgia’s rolling hills, I’ve been struggling to explain exactly what happened last week. A handful of people have asked me, “So how was that retreat?” and I’ve stammered to articulate a response more coherent and specific than, “Amazing!”
What happened last week was amazing. It was life-changing — again. We stepped away from the world for a few days and settled into a routine of being intentionally present and savoring every moment together, surrounded by some truly wonderful people, and simply enjoying a state of rest and constant conversation with God.
This was a mountain top experience. Well, hilltop, if you want to get literal. But it was one of those experiences where we felt as if we had left all of life’s problems behind, and as we stood there on that mountaintop (yes, hilltop) we could see things so much more clearly than we had for some time. We came to the CONNECT retreat worn down but content with our life and optimistic for the future; we left CONNECT refreshed and excited to the point of giddiness for whatever comes next.
Going to CONNECT, like going to the Pursuit 31 Conference, looks almost nothing like going to a standard photography industry event. Building a bigger client base, structuring packages and pricing, developing artistically — those are the usual photography conference topics. But at CONNECT the first two really weren’t even mentioned, and the third was addressed in the context of living our lives fully for God. While photographers need to learn how to find clients and how to structure their packages, the truth is that those kinds of things don’t have much to do with our lives.
The way we spend our time, the things we prioritize, the way we view our businesses and our gifts — those are the things that truly define the way we live. At CONNECT, the speakers, all of whom were photographers (and not just any photographers, but some who have hit pinnacle after coveted pinnacle in our industry) stood up and said that achieving success is not and cannot be enough. What do you think would have meant more to us, and to the other couples at the retreat: a.) listening to the speakers talk about how God has shaped and is refining their lives, or b.) simply hearing them tell us a few more tips to make our businesses a little more profitable?
I might be going out on a limb here, but I think you probably went with b. Which is correct. These people, who understand exactly what life is like for couples running creative businesses together, poured into us their personal experiences, their learning processes, and the joy they find not from running a business, but for living their lives for God — which in some cases, like ours, entails running a business.
And which is why Danny and I will be going back to CONNECT every year, unless we’re physically prevented from attending.
(PS: I want to shout-out a HUGE thanks to the wonderful people who poured their heart and soul into making CONNECT such a wonderful experience! Zach & Jody, Katelyn & Michael, Jeff & Julia — you are such a blessing in our life.)