Anyone who's been to CONNECT will tell you it's a special place. You alway hear how amazing it is, but if you were like us, you aren't sure what to expect.
We learned about this incredible retreat after sending Kris to training at Zac and Jody's home in Tennessee. While he was there, they spoke about how special CONNECT was, how it changed them as followers of Christ, a couple, friends, business owners and parents.
When Kris told me about it, I searched and searched seeking why we needed to attend CONNECT. After searching I didn’t know "why" we needed to be there, but felt God placing this on our hearts. We figured we’d gain incredible insight into being better business owners and in turn able to connect better with God and each other. Boy were we wrong…..
As every parent knows, leaving your “littles” is so hard, but it’s much needed. You need to be able to walk away, invest in God and each other! When we got to the airport we were so excited. Who wouldn’t be? Five days with just the two of us? Sleep, uninterrupted conversations, we didn’t have to worry about meals (our kiddos have lots of food allergies). Did I mention it was just the two of us for 5 whole days?!?!
After arriving in Georgia, we made the hour and half trip to WinShape Retreat Center. A trip filled with 90’s music (aka high school music), the two of us laughing together, loving life and excited to experience the unknown!! The moment we pulled up to the security check point at Berry College, I (Lindsay) had an incredibly unsettling feeling.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m outgoing, I LOVE people and I love new experiences!
I wanted to leave. I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to meet new people. I wanted to curl up in my room and never leave. I was literally TERRIFIED. I looked at Kris and said, we need to go home, we can’t do this and started crying. The enemy was working so hard to separate us from what God had called us to do.
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” - Romans 2:4
Oh how I wish I knew what we’d walk through over the coming days.
We were welcomed by Jordan with Amy & Jordan. Normally, I’d be freaking out that a photography super star was checking us in, but all I could think of was wanting to hide. I doubted everything about why we were here, who I was, our relationship... you name it, I doubted it.
I felt like I was outside of my body watching this thinking, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” Next step was meeting Zach and Jody…HELLO!!!! Who wouldn’t be excited to spend a few days with legends in the business?
I wanted out.
I couldn’t get to our room fast enough.
Our first event was dinner. I remember saying “Lord help me get through this.” I didn’t want people to see that I couldn’t be me. I didn’t care about anything.
“Don’t let people see me like this. Don’t show my vulnerability. Don’t feel this way. Don’t break.”
I fought everything in my head that God was trying to change in my heart. God was pulling me closer as the enemy was drawing me away. I was being pulled in two directions, one that was breaking my heart and making me feel in ways I’d never felt and the other was pulling me closer to depression and self doubt.
CONNECT had Kris and I talking about things we’d never thought about, it made us realize we had feelings, emotions, pain that we held and never opened up about. We broke in ways we never thought possible.
The days we spent at CONNECT changed us forever.
We listened as friends talked about their deepest, darkest pain or shared how they overcame incredible obstacles and grew as a couple. Every moment the enemy tried pulling me away, God continued pulling me back. I’ve never experienced anything like CONNECT in my life and I don’t know if I ever will. I pray that I will. I pray that I will because it was real. Broken people, sharing their brokenness with each other. Fully exposed, completely real moments and I’m forever grateful.
As we prepare for CONNECT 2017, I’m brought to tears each time I think back to that week. I’ve never felt so broken, so alone and so filled and loved at the same time. It was in the time we were at CONNECT that God stole my heart yet again. God made it clear that He wants me, He loves me and He has something great in store for me. My self-worth has completely changed, our marriage had grown to new heights, our relationship with our children has completely and forever changed and our hearts are softer through it all.
If I could give one piece of advice to a first timer as a former first timer, it would be to prepare your heart for something bigger than yourself. The time you’ll spend at CONNECT will change who you are to the core. It’ll change you as a person, a follower of Christ, spouse, parent, business owner and friend. Be open to breaking. Be open to speaking and letting go. Be willing to share things you’ve never shared before. Open your eyes to growing and seeing new opportunities. Open your heart to loving strangers like never before and most of all, be open to allowing God to work in your life.
What God does through CONNECT is so special and we cannot wait to see what this year has in store for everyone attending.
Huge thank you to Mistry & Scott for your amazing photos!