A Taste

Often I think about how privileged we are to live in this beautiful area of northern Michigan. We have the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan surrounding us along with many beautiful streams, lakes, and dunes. Every season of the year has its own unique look and is filled with exciting activities and things to do. As I think about this, I realize that God's word tells us that all of this that we enjoy is nothing compared to what he has in store for us as his children.

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Jenn Bander
Joy

There are approximately 214 uses of the word joy in the Bible.  Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words happy and happiness about 30 times, while joy and rejoice appear over 300 times.  I recently asked a friend what does she do to feed her soul; what brings her joy?  My friend mentioned going hiking in the woods or curling up in a hammock to read her Bible.  I began to think about my own spiritual journey. What do I do to feed my soul?   I would have to say my list would be similar.  I find joy in a sunrise run, curling up with a good book in a quiet place, playing board games with my kids.  Those are exactly the type of things that recharge my batteries when I am feeling stressed or overtaxed.  Is there a difference between happiness and joy?  Some would say yes, as happiness can be momentary, whereas joy is a more innate and long-term feeling.   Psalm 105:3 (NIV) 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. I rejoice in the Lord when I run into the sunrise on a 60 degree summer morning, and glory in His creation as I listen to the sounds of the birds and see rays of sunshine streak through the first pink clouds of dawn.  Do these moments make me temporarily happy?  Yes.  So how do I differentiate between happiness in the moment and soul-fulfilling joy?  For me, that question is answered in the following scripture. Psalm 104:34 (NIV) 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. I find temporary happiness in what make me happy.  I know that sounds a bit repetitive, but it’s true all the same.  A warm chocolate brownie can make me happy in the moment that I eat it.  Does it feed my soul?  I doubt my meditation over the gooey goodness of melting chocolate would be considered pleasing to God, just pleasing to me!  However, if the situation were different, say I make warm chocolate brownies for the stressed out new neighbor in my sub, and walk them over on moving day.  I feel lasting joy in giving them a moment of respite and letting them know God asked me to bless them today.  The joy found in serving someone else, giving credit to God, not taking credit myself, is innate.  I also feel those sunrise runs spent with God are pleasing to him as well.  Why?  Because when we are hustling through our busy days, running kids to school or lessons, or sports practice.  Skipping lunch at work for this meeting or that project, we aren’t taking time to be quiet and seek God.  I’m much more likely to have a daily conversation with Jesus while I’m in the shower on some days, than I am to find a quiet 15 minutes to reflect over a daily devotion.   However, when I can squeeze in a 30 minute (or 2 hour) run when the rest of the world is still asleep, I know he is pleased with me.  I can feel it in every inhale and exhale, a peace with my Father in Heaven.  That peace when there are no cars yet on the roads, and the only sounds are the birds, the cows, my breath, my shoes reverberating on gravel or pavement, and my conversations with God in my head. Do you know what I mean?  That is joy.  That feeds my soul.  What feeds yours?

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Jenn Bander
Quiet Time

Summer is in the air peeps! In addition, it is hard to believe this week wraps up the last week of school for the 2016/17 school year! If you are like me, you may have found yourself running like crazy from concerts, to awards, to ceremonies, to sports activities and so forth. The last few weeks of school are always madness in my house and I actually found myself bartering with my children the other night about being too tired to pray.

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Jenn Bander
Gardener

I grew up with a big garden in my back yard.  Rows of green beans, corn, squash, raspberry bushes, tomatoes… looking back, it was a wonderful thing.  So a couple years ago my wife Emily and I were inspired to start our own garden.  Nowhere near as large as the garden I grew up with – something more “manageable” I thought.  My job growing up was weeding and picking – so I had no first-hand experience with the work of actually preparing the garden.

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Jenn Bander
Rest

Right now, I’m sitting at my house after just having three families over.  Tonight, it was six adults, eight kids, 12 bottles of water, nine soda cans, 18 sandwiches, and 3 bags of Doritos (Nacho Cheese because there is no other kind).  It was small group night at our home.  As always, it was an incredible night with people we love, but it was a long day for me.  Our team traveled to Detroit, which means I spent 8 hours in a van for a 3-hour meeting.  I got home 15 minutes before the small group started and then after helped Emily put Henry to bed.  

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patrick holden
The Small Things

Many of us have heard the phrase at some point in our lives that “nothing is too big for God”.  That’s a good reminder.  It looks good on a Facebook post or hanging in our house.  It is a nice reminder when a friend is going through a hard time or trying situation. While I believe it is true, there are times I wonder: if nothing is too big for God, is God too busy for the small stuff?

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Jenn Bander
Embrace The Crazy

The last couple of times I was asked to write a blog post, I think I mentioned change. It’s funny because, as I am thinking about this season of my life, change is a repeating theme for me. And here I am, ready to share more about this word change, again, with all of you. In just three short weeks my husband Joe and I are expecting our very first baby.

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Jenn Bander
A New Season

Spring has finally arrived – boy it sure seemed to take its sweet time this year!  There is something magical about that first sign of spring - the smell of soil (I happen to love this), the birds singing, earth worms everywhere (don’t like this so much ) and the first sign of the color green and new life.

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Jenn Bander
The Joy Of Servanthood

Serving together with others for the joy of the Lord has been my experience since December of 2016 at Kensington Church.  In just a few short months I’ve seen and witnessed this amazing joy serving together with the staff and leaders in many beautiful ways!

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Jenn Bander
Earth Day

You might be aware that Earth Day is this weekend.  The land is coming alive with spring all around us.  Even for fans of winter, like myself, there’s something about seeing the grass greening up and leaves starting to bud on the trees that’s exciting.  Scripture tells us that God’s creation shouts His praises.  

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Jenn Bander
Look Up

Have you ever had one of those days where all of your brokenness is laid bare before you, and you find yourself in a mental boxing ring taking punch after punch?  Maybe it lasts for a week, a month, or more.  Every thought and interaction just brings up more evidence that you don’t measure up, that you have a long way to go.  You long to be kinder, more selfless, more gentle, more patient, more loving, but it feels so far out of your grasp and the situation feels hopeless.  Have you ever been there?

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Jenn Bander
Share Your Story

You know the saying “everything happens for a reason”? I wholeheartedly know it to be true, but I have not always believed or understood it. There was a time in my life where I strayed far from Jesus. There were things happening around me and in my life that caused me to doubt God was good. I even doubted God’s existence.

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Jenn Bander
All Is Forgiven

Lately the word forgiveness has been coming up everywhere.  In conversations, in my Bible readings, and even in our KKids Elementary curriculum.  In KKids they have been studying the parable of the Prodigal son. What I love about this parable is, despite the fact that the son squandered his inheritance and shamed the family name, his father loved him so much that he forgave all and accepted him back as if nothing had happened.

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Jenn Bander
Love Like Christ

Hello Kensington Family! 

In follow up to my last blog I wanted to bring you up to date with some of the amazing things happening in and through our local outreach as well as share some stories with you. For those of you who don’t know, we just finished hosting Safe Harbor and it was incredible! I had the chance to serve with so many new faces and reconnect with familiar ones as well! Moreover, I was completely humbled by how I saw volunteers love on and serve our guests this year! One story that comes to mind is an amazing volunteer that did an overnight shift (meaning from 8:30pm until 6:30am), then took a sink bath, got dressed in his Sunday best in preparation to serve on our Sunday volunteer team, only to find out we needed help loading a few large items onto the big Goodwill truck and jump back into action to help in his nice church clothes without hesitation. He went above and beyond the call to serve and did so in such a humble manner that I felt honored to be able to serve with him. It was such a reminder of what it means to serve from the heart and by way of Jesus’s example. It was incredible and inspiring!

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Jenn Bander
The Lions Den

Many times in my life and my walk with the Lord I have heard sermons, messages, and read in the scripture how I am supposed to handle conflict and anger between me and someone else.  But I also have found that being gifted, or wired naturally, to be a peacemaker makes it very hard to confront conflict. In my toolbox of spiritual gifts those that rise to the surface more often than others for me are encouragement, mercy, and helping others.  So my natural tendency is to run from conflict or hope that it will be resolved somehow without my involvement.

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Jenn Bander
Just Enough

When we last shared life with all of you, faithful blog readers, we were closing out a hellish 2016 and hoping for a brighter 2017. We shouted from the rooftops that you aren't alone and we're WITH YOU (Check out Blog Post #15: With You). Well, I'm here to tell you that 2017 has been moving along at a frightening pace for a couple of months now, and we seem to be following the same kinds of bizarre life trends. Highs and lows. Victories and defeats. Because of this pattern we seem to be in, I've started the habit of shutting down my social media "presence" for the final week of every month, creating a fast of sorts to allow more space and time and breath. A time to close my eyes and ears and heart to the noise of the world and open them to hear the voice of God. It's been convicting. It's been joyful. It's been downright weird. But as I sit at the keys thinking through what I'm going to share, I see how it's been just what I needed. 

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Jenn Bander
Instruction Manuals

Do as I say, not as I do.  We have all heard the phrase meaning, “Don't imitate my behavior, but obey my instructions.”  When Jesus left his home in heaven and took on the burden of humanity, he became the antithesis of that statement.  Jesus descended into this broken world to save us all and to be the most-perfect example of love in action.  Parents can struggle sometimes to not be a hypocritical example.  I may tell my daughter not to use her cell phone during dinner, but will find myself perusing Instagram or reading text messages if we are out at a restaurant. 

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Jenn Bander
Family Dinner

It’s one of those things I took for granted as a kid – even dreaded some days… not sure why.  Really, it’s pretty amazing the job my mom did in gathering us all up, my dad, my older sister, me, my two younger brothers, and my grandpa.  We’d sit around a ten foot long rustic table made from a late 19th century work bench - my mom knew what was cool even before Joanna Gaines : )

We’d gobble up a well-balanced dinner, and listen to stories from my grandpa’s time in World War II, or talk about how school was going.  My mom would then open up her devotional, or we’d read a passage of scripture together and discuss.

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Jenn Bander
God in the Impossible

Every family has stories that get told, retold, then told again.  In our family, there is one in particular that shaped me from the time I was a little kid.  When my Mom was in her third trimester, she went to the doctor’s office for a routine visit.  The nurse came in to do parts of the check-up and then brought in the doctor.  Both looked alarmed.  After several minutes, the doctor sat down beside the bed and told my Mom they were unable to find a heartbeat.  He told her to try to stay calm, but that they wanted to run some more tests.  After several other tests, the doctor came back in, sat beside the bed and confirmed “your baby has died.” 

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Jenn Bander