A few weekends ago Menders led worship at the InterVarsity Shenandoah Area retreat at the Rockbridge YoungLife retreat center in Goshen, VA.  We had a great time, and the mountains were beautiful.  This is the third time we’ve led this retreat and every year we get to know the students and staff better.  It was pretty amazing to see so many college students (around 500) engaging with God in such a powerful way.  This year’s topic was really amazing and I just had to share it with all of you!

It’s very bold of InterVarsity to take on a topic like “Family.” Come to think of it, college students think about family a lot… leaving your family to go to college, coming home to family (or not), acknowledging broken families and relationships.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and be independent when I was in college!  But every time I went home I couldn’t wait to eat my mom’s great Korean cooking and just chill in my room. 

Have you ever said to yourself:

“My family will never be like the family I grew up with.”

“I will never be like my mom.” 

“I will treat my kids the opposite of how my dad treated me.”

I was reminded at this retreat that every family is broken.  Every. Single. One.  It’s because we as humans are sinful and broken.  We drag all of that into our marriages and into our families.  We are trying to control the outcome without the healing work of Jesus over that part of our lives, and without that healing we stick to the only thing we knew growing up.  I’m shocked and ashamed at myself whenever I say or do something to my boys that my mom would have said or done to me.  It reminds me of the parts of myself that still need healing. In the larger Family of God, God sent a perfect son into the brokenness that all might be reconciled or restored upon his death.  We can hope for healing in our families because of the work that Jesus has already done for us.  And that is good news!

Sounds like major work, and sounds like something that we should be able to talk about in our faith communities.  But it’s usually the last place we talk about our family struggles, isn’t it?   That’s why I’m so impressed that InterVarsity chose to engage in this topic at the retreat.

A few more highlights:

Conflicting thoughts on song choice.  Yes, this is a highlight!  I’m hoping to do a separate post on this topic, but we got some thanks and some questions for choosing songs that were different.

Did I mention that we were in the MOUNTAINS?  It was so beautiful to enjoy God’s creation!  And my devotionals all week were about creation.  Is God trying to tell me something?

Rockbridge Camp Mountains

The beautiful mountains of Goshen, VA.

Student Testimonies.  I came out from backstage to see and hear the students tell their stories of family.  The testimonies were powerful, emotional, and holy.  It reminded me of my struggles with my own family.  Will my sons be sharing their testimonies like these students one day?  It freaked me out a little, I have to admit.

Thanks to our guest drummer.  His name is Jonathan Kirven y’all!  He’s super duper talented and he is also a great photographer from Richmond, VA.  I’ve played with him on a few other worship experiences through Arrabon.  He actually provided the gorgeous pics in this post! 

Lots of good coffee, Jesus prank videos, and cup o noodles for band hangout time

Lots of good coffee, Jesus prank videos, and cup o noodles for band hangout time


The camp is nestled in the mountains. What a perfect setting for admiring God’s creation and reflection time


Tomorrow I’ll be posting about our awesome retreat at Camp Thunderbird with the NC/SC InterVarsity Area! 

photo credits: Jonathan Kirven – follow on Instagram: @rhythmic_love91

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