My Ekklesia after 292 Days

I have now been a resident of the state of Wisconsin for 292 days… that’s over 9 months! When I created this blog, I meant to start it when I moved to Madison, but 292 days later, I finally found the time to begin. (check out the “about” section to see how/why this blog started!)

Life has a way of taking you by the hand and pressing fast forward, then spinning you around and around until you collapse in a heap of joy and laughter. That’s how I feel today. Overjoyed. Looking back at the path God has chosen for me, I am overwhelmed by how carefully every detail was set in place before I ever got there. Looking forward, I am curious and excited to see where He leads.

I lived in the same house, in the same town, northwest of Chicago, and went to the same church for 24 years. A tiny, family church that taught me God was real, initiated my journey to love Him, and ignited my passion to honor Him with my life.

I moved to Rockford 2 months before I got married, and 3 months before I turned 25. My new church was big. I met my husband at this church, got married in this church, began new ministries, developed new passions to serve, and it was here that my life as a Totten wife began.

Then, on September 22, 2012 we moved to Madison, WI. My new church… HUGE. Unlike any church I was used to. This transition wasn’t easy for me…

It is no coincidence, then, the first sermon of 2013 at our new church was called “Making a Big Church Small.” So perfect. ::high-fives God:: Someone like me, who had grown up in a church that saw 100 people tops on an Easter morning service, felt lost, swallowed, unnoticed at a church of this size.

This sermon has stuck with me. I remember it when I walk in to church on a Sunday morning now and don’t see those faces I recognized. You see, the word “church” in Greek (ekklesia) was not a religious term. It was a common term that referred to a movement of people following something, or loosely, a gathering/community of people, not a building.  Our Bibles have a bad translation of ekklesia, derived from a German word (kirsche) to an English word (church). A kirsche is a location; you can lock the doors of a kirche, not so with the ekklesia of Jesus. The word church is a substitution for the Greek, not a translation. Why am I explaining all this?  The truth is, each of us longs for community and connection, which is extremely biblical, but when we think of the church as a building, that does not help us become the kind of community God wants us to be. This struck a chord with me. How was I viewing “church?” Instead of feeling lost, suddenly I felt FOUND in this ekklesia. The church building was huge, but I am finding my place here by connecting with others. This new way of thinking has helped me take an overwhelming kirsche and form it into an ekklesia.

I am now an engaged member of a community of believers experiencing life together, not just on Sunday, but every day. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” + Romans 12:5

So. Rewind. If you know me, you know my heart is full for high school students. Leaving behind my ministry in Rockford meant leaving behind some of the best students I have ever met. I struggled with that. A lot. So. Many. Tears. Just ask Jeff.

Besides leaving those students, I was leaving my role as a worship leader, and also an ekklesia I called “home.” So many people who knew me, laughed with me, cried with me, and encouraged me, so many Christ followers I had yet to learn from. A family I loved LOVE so much. I never imagined it would be that hard.

But, I am blessed. I have family here, too. Since moving to Madison, I am encouraged daily by the ekklesia I have met, both young and young at heart…The high school students that share the same passions I have, yet have taken those passions to levels I never would have dreamed of at that age. I am amazed at that, God.

…The parents of these students who thrive on knowing a faithful God that I am only beginning to understand; who allow me (ME?!) to be part of their ekklesia by pouring into their children on a weekly basis, and trusting me with their care. God, I am so grateful for this opportunity.

…The couple who sat next to us during one of our first visits to our new ekklesia, introduced themselves out of the blue, and invited us to their home. Thank you, God for these new friends.

…My family. I mean my real, blood-family who is here, loving, supporting, caring;  my aunt and uncle and a boat-load of cousins who are literally minutes away and always leading me toward Christ. They are definitely part of my ekklesia. 

I am truly blessed, God. Truly blessed, and so joyful.

“You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now,
you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” + 1 Peter 1:8

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