Our Fall Retreat with Cru at Davis was this past weekend. We had a great time. We just took two kids (Isaiah and our foster daughter), while Judah and Bethany had a sleepover with their cousin. It was just two days/one night, in order to encourage students with midterms coming up to still come—and they did; we had about 100 students there. It was great to have some time to get to know more Davis students, as it has been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get to know the movement here, and challenging to remember names. We enjoyed hearing from Matt Mikalatos and his wife, Krista, as our speakers. In his unique powerful and funny story-telling style, Matt brought to life for the students what God’s love means in terms of both responding to it on a personal level as well as responding to it by wanting to tell others about it.
It is funny how different the retreat was than our NAU retreats. In Flagstaff we had a smaller group of students, we knew every one of them, Jeremiah and I had our hand in every aspect of the retreat, and we often were in an informal setting—camping or at a church in a nearby town. This one was at a retreat center, and I didn’t have to focus on preparing food at all…
One of the ways we were able to serve at the retreat was through leading worship. It was fun to be able to play my violin with Jeremiah leading. In the last few days I have been reflecting on why I love to worship with my violin. There is something about playing my violin with worship music that allows me to stop focusing on myself and my surroundings and allows me to enter into worship more fully. In a sense, it allows me to feel like I am in the music—part of the praise drifting up to the Lord’s ears. It is hard to explain why it is more intensely personal for me than when I am singing with the group. I think it is because it allows me to bring my own expression to the songs, joining with the beautiful corporate praise and adding a new layer to make it more complex, more full. I also hope that, as I pour myself into those little notes flowing from my fingers and focus my heart on seeing and being in awe of God’s beauty, that it also allows others to see His beauty more fully—for it is He who made music and designed expression itself for our enjoyment and His. Another thing I love about it is that each time I play and improvise, following Jeremiah’s lead, I am weaving something a little bit new and different, listening and reacting and feeling the movement of the song—building with it, driving forward with it, melting away as it resolves… Moment by moment worship.
Another thing I was reminded of at this retreat is how having a baby with you breaks down barriers. Not being an extrovert, that initial approach to new people is still not easy for me. But when I am holding a baby (in this case our little foster daughter), girls just approach me and smile at me. This reality reminded me of the Spring Break trip to the Dominican Republic when Judah was a baby—I had no trouble finding Dominican students to talk to. The girls here also loved meeting and holding the baby (when she wasn’t trying to get down to crawl around the floor), allowing me to talk to them.
Overall, I think the students had a great time, and were encouraged to see God more clearly. Isaiah’s favorite part was seeing Banana slugs, with listening to the talks coming in as a close second.