Making Room {The invitation of Lent}

I have always been drawn to the church’s observance of Lent; the 40 days prior to Easter that is usually set aside for prayer and fasting in preparation to Celebrate the hope and resurrection life that we have in Jesus.

I can remember in my teens when I was not a follower of Jesus at all, and my friends and I would have our annual conversation about choosing what to give up for those 6 weeks.  Chocolate usually won out, and we would agree to give it up for a time. Just because.

Now that I have come to know Christ and have begun to learn a bit more about the significance of this season of Lent, I realize that these 6 weeks aren’t just for giving something up, nor for trying round 2 of failed attempts at our New Years resolutions. No, this time is set aside to ‘make room’ within ourselves  that we might be prepared to be filled with the hope, joy, peace, and presence of our resurrected King.

But if Jesus has already rose again from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God is it really necessary to go through this season of preparation?

As I ponder this question, I think of my sweet little one being knit together in my womb; our miracle baby that is just now the size of an orange and the one we’ve been waiting for, for 5 years. Even though God has answered our prayer and this babe is all cozy and growing within me, we still find ourselves in a season of ‘waiting,’… in a season of ‘preparation’ for their arrival.

I wonder if Lent is a similar kind of waiting. We know that Jesus has rose again, is victorious, sitting at the right hand of God, and will one day restore all things to Himself. And yet like this season of pregnancy – where Gods promise has been answered, and there is life growing in my womb – there is still a sense of waiting for the fulfillment of the JOY and Celebration that is yet to come when this little life that God has made will be born and placed into my arms.

As we ‘give up’ something as an offering  before God in this season of Lent, the point is to give Him more room in our hearts. We don’t “give up” something for the sake of giving something up as a test of our will,  or  as a ‘spiritual’ act. We give up what has taken up space within us that Christ should be filling, and we allow Him to enlarge a sense of our ever growing need for Him in our own lives.

We posture ourselves in the waiting; making more room for Him and expecting to be filled.

…And after our season of waiting – we celebrate.
We celebrate our Lord’s obedience to the Father to love us unto death and we celebrate His resurrection. We celebrate His victory over death and the gift of life to the full NOW and Eternal life with Him forever. We celebrate the way that He made for us to be adopted as children of God.

And after our celebration?
Well,  God will continue to invite us to wait… He will continue to invite us to prepare.
For Easter is only a taste of the celebration that is still to come.

We will continue to wait like an expectant mother with anticipation and expectation for that day that will come as He promised – when our resurrected King comes back a second time to put an end to sin and death forever and make all things right again.

What a day that will be.
And until then – He will meet us in our waiting.
He will be our joy here and now, and one day that joy will be complete.

Prepare your hearts sweet friends and make room. You will not be disappointed.

— Jalene Elsa

For Further Reflection:
[ Questions/Scriptures/ & Resources to help you ‘ Make room’ for Jesus in this season of Lent ]

What is an area of your life/mind/heart that you  might feel God is inviting you to make “room” for Him in this season?

Have you given up something for Lent (food/caffeine/etc.) that was simply to “give something up” for Lent that really isn’t helping you to make more room for Him in this season of Lent?

If you answered “yes” to the question above – would you be willing to pray and ask Jesus if there is something else in your life that He might want you to lay down for this season to help you draw closer to Him?

Scriptures:
Luke 10:38-42
Luke 12:22-34
John 16:17-33
Phillipians 2:5-11
Philippians 3:7-11
Colossians 3:1-4
1 John 3:1-3
Revelation 22:1-7

Resource: [ One of my favourite devotional books I have read through Lent: ]

40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole #40Fasts www.40Fasts.com @aliciachole

Our Duo is Becoming a Trio

Many of you know our story.

We have been married for 9 years but have no children, which has not been by choice. When we got married at 19 we never would have imagined infertility being apart of our journey; that doctors would tell us that we had less than a 1% chance of ever being able to conceive. But miraculously – we did. Then we miscarried at 7 weeks, and another four years went by.

In this past season we have known grief and anger. We have pounded our fists on the doors of heaven and wrestled with God and our understanding of Him in the midst of infertility. Yet in all of this we have always had the blessing of His presence; He has been both our joy and peace.

He has been our feast in the valley, and has done a deep work in us. God has become our firm foundation; our cornerstone. Like a tree in a barren land our roots have dug deep and spread vast to find water. The pain has not broken us, fear has not overcome us. Jesus has been sufficient, sustaining, and has met us in our grief.

And now He has added to our joy in Him and given us the gift of a little life which He is knitting together.
As we write this post we are overjoyed to share that we are  12 weeks pregnant – God is so good.

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This feels like a new season for us; of learning to receive that which we felt we would never have, continuing to trust, and knowing God in this place of joy after becoming so familiar with Him in a place of struggle.

We are rejoicing in the God who hears, the God who heals, The God who makes what was deal alive again. He is putting a new song of joy and praise on our lips.

Thank you to all who have prayed and walked alongside us on this journey. Your prayers, support, love, and friendship have meant more then we can ever put into words.

We excitedly await the beginning of August and the arrival of our little one!!

Love,
Jalene Elsa & Adam Foster

[We] waited patiently for the LORD to help [us], and He turned to [us] and heard our cry. He lifted [us] out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire.
He set [our] feet on solid ground and steadied [us] as [we] walked along.
He has given [us] a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to [our] God.
Many will see what He has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40:1-3 NLT 

{These verses have given us hope through our journey. Through this season, God has continually heard our cries and lifted us out of the pit of despair; not necessarily by answering our prayer – but by giving us Himself. It is this knowing of Christ that places our feet on solid ground, and knowing Him that gives our lips a new song.
We are so thankful for the certainty that we have in knowing Jesus.}

A Long Overdue Update

Hello dear friends! It has felt like way too long. We wanted to write a quick update for all of you who may have been wondering why ‘Elsa & Foster’ has been a bit quiet over the past months.  There have been a lot of changes going on in the last 7 months in our world.

April brought the beginning of a new season for us as we began our transition from Three Hills back to Edmonton, AB. After a wild ride and nearly a decade away it has been good to have our feet back on “home soil.”

Jalene started a job with Hope Mission working with women re-building their lives again after completing a year long addiction recovery program. She had the privilege of working alongside 10-14 women; helping to provide a safe community, one-on-one coaching, and spiritual mentorship. Jalene left Adam in Three Hills to finish up school and to join her in Edmonton in the following months.

At the end of April, Adam graduated from Prairie College with his BA in Pastoral Ministry (& as the recipient of the ‘Delta Epsilon Chi’ award – recognizing him for Intellectual achievement, Christian character, and Leadership Ability… yes, this is Jalene writing, and I can’t help but brag on him a little bit. I am so proud!)

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Adam’s Grad 🙂
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The beautiful Prairies that we had to leave behind
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BlueBird Cafe!! (Yes, I think we had the best seats in the house!)
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Grand Ole Opry

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After graduation Adam was able to get out and swing a hammer again while helping a friend build his house before starting his new job in Edmonton at Terwillegar Community Church. Adam is now an Associate Pastor there, working with small groups, mens ministry, music & worship, and alongside a great staff team that continually invites our community to meet with Jesus in an ever deepening way.

Thanks to our awesome parents, we were able to crash with both sides of our family during our transition and bought our first home in September! Things were going well, but very busy as we settled into our new “normal.”

Soon after our move, a random job offer came up for Jalene that has helped to shape our heart & path for ‘Elsa & Foster’ and the ministry that we feel God is leading us into. Although Jalene loved her job working at Hope Mission – she also knew that giving 100% there meant not having the emotional energy or time to invest into ‘Elsa & Foster’ in the way that we hoped. After a lot of prayer & consideration, we decided that Jalene would step back from Hope Mission & pursue part-time work as a Psychologist Assistant (getting to administer Psychological Assessments and work with a variety of clients), while being able to pour into & better manage ‘Elsa & Foster’ part-time as well.

Shortly after making this decision, we were able to head South & visit Atlanta, GA & Nashville, TN – partaking in a leadership conference , enjoying the music scene in Nashville (Grand Ole Opry & the Bluebird Cafe were two of our favourites!), and being able to sit down with fellow worship leaders & singer-songwriters to share our hearts and journeys of pursuing music and God’s heart. The time spent there really helped us to press into the desire that we have to not only share our music & stories, but also to inspire & equip others towards the heart of Jesus.

As we look ahead with ‘Elsa & Foster’ and the ministry that we hope to continue in with music, speaking, and writing – we would ask for your prayer and invite you to partner with us.
In the weeks & months to come, we are excited about having more intentional time set aside to invite you deeper into relationship with Jesus and to continue to write and share music with you. As you learn more of our heart, maybe there is a congruency with your own & you might be interested in having us come to minister alongside you at an upcoming event at your church, a retreat, or in your home? We would love to hear from you! (or please feel free to send a quick note, an update about what is new in your life, or just letting us know how we can pray for you! It would be a pleasure)

All our love,

Jalene Elsa & Adam Foster

PS – we also became an AUNTY & UNCLE this past September and decided that our sweet niece is too cute not to share. Here is miss Ava Rose!

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The one thing we are all looking for

She throws wide the door in our office, with bags on her shoulders and a big arrangement of flowers all wrapped in plastic to keep them safe from the bitter cold outside.
… This woman with the beautiful smile and courageous spirit that I’ve had the privilege of working alongside for only mere weeks – and she thrusts the flowers and their sweet fragrance of spring that is still coming towards me with a grin. I catch a glimpse of the name on the card. My name.
“I thought you might need a little ‘pick-me-up’ this week,” she says and continues unloading her things.

…I stand there quiet holding the arrangement of purple’s and yellows, gently unwrapping the plastic that has kept them safe on their way to me. My heart is quiet, and full, and uncomfortable, and delighted all at the same time… someone with whom I have only rubbed shoulders with for such a brief time thought of me? I thank her for the third or fourth time and my words seem flat compared to the emotion in my soul. I didn’t realize that a simple gesture of kindness could stir such deep places within me.

It is only a few nights later that I sit with my broken-legged husband, snuggled close watching ‘Hacksaw Ridge.’ Silent tears stream down my cheeks as I watch in all its raw horror and glory the bond between men at war…none is there for his own gain…all for the brother beside him, and them for him. And this film based on the true life events of one Desmond T. Doss, a pacifist who refused to take life, but who willingly risked his own in order to save others… his story presses on something deep within me. In the midst of enemy territory, fighting exhaustion, fear, and trauma – he continues to push himself to the frontline of battle praying ‘Please Lord, help me get one more.’

And with my sweet husbands arms around me and holding me close, my eyes look to the arrangement of flowers in the kitchen, and my mind is ushered back a few years before when I cried out in prayer before God. I can still taste the bitter tears that came in the midst of pain and uncertainty… when anxiety and depression threatened to close in on me, and I remember between sobs uttering a deep fear that masked a holy longing.

I don’t want to be alone.

… Because even when we are surrounded we can feel utterly desolate. Pain and fear and brokenness all tempt us to build walls around our hearts like a fortress that enables us to engage with life only from the watch tower but never to enter in.

And isn’t that the one thing that all of our hearts are desperately searching for?
… to belong?


Isn’t this the very longing that Christ fulfills absolutely? He cried out in intercession on our behalf before He laid down His life for us saying,

“…I pray for those who will believe in me through [the disciples] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me… may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
-John 17:20b-21,23NIV-

Beloved, you belong.
(I speak this to myself today too…  Lord knows this weary soul needs to hear it)
Because this life in Christ isn’t lived out individually. He is the head, and we are His body. And everyone searching for ‘something’ in this life, is really just searching to know that they belong… to feel the arms of Christ wrap round, His hands reach out, His voice whisper love, and His feet guide the way. And friends … we are those arms and hands and voices and feet.
… and sometimes we live like we are all alone in need of no one, yet desperately longing for someone.

The gift of flowers? … a simple gesture of kindness that has the power to tear down walls built up round our hearts. The kind of gesture that stirs deep longing and whispers the Truth that is often forgotten but one desperately needs to cling to.
you are seen.
you are loved.
you belong.

And the prayers of that courageous soldier? … an invitation to enter in… to walk beside… to lay down our lives for the brother that walks beside and to receive the laying down of another life for us… We are not our own… but part of His glorious body. Isn’t it the same blood that pumps life through our veins?
We belong to Him.
We belong to one another.

And those who are still searching? … home is where He is, and where He is, is where we are. And His arms, hands, voice, and feet… they look an awfully lot like yours and mine.
We are the Beloved of Christ that we might Be Love to those in this world.
I pray that today you would remember that you are a member of the body of Jesus.
Go therefore and give yourself away today in love to the brother next to you… and may we echo the prayer of Desmond T. Doss… “Please Lord, help me get [help me love… help me give grace… help me reach] one more.” …. that we might all know what it is like to truly be home.

— Jalene Elsa

Broken

What if we weren’t afraid to be broken?
What if we stopped hiding, stopped pretending, stopped averting our gaze from the brokenness all around us… the brokenness within us?

These questions whisper in the depths of my own broken heart and I wonder if this is even possible…

… To tear down the white washed walls that I have built up around my broken heart, that shield my eyes and deaden cries that testify of my being worn, and torn… apart.

I place the guitar in my lap and scribble these words on a blank page… and the rawness of them feels like a bright light in the eyes of my soul that has grown accustomed to hiding in the dark.

We war against the imperfections, the disappointments, the losses… all the chards of brokenness that mar these hearts in which eternity was set… and yet we forget that our King is both Lion & Lamb… that His risen hands still bear the scars that offer life and life abundantly… and we turn our eyes from following steadfastly in the footsteps of the Servant and Master that we follow… as if to say that because He is Risen, we no longer have to die.

Yet His voice beckons us to follow… through the narrow gate… the road that is narrow and difficult, the Way that calls us to lay down our lives again and again, that we might be raised again with Him. We cannot rise if we do not die. And death no longer has the final say.

I have lived white knuckled holding on to my life; fearing the brokenness of my own wayward mind, body, and soul and trying desperately to grasp for some bit of control.

But if we cling to our lives… we. will. lose. them.
Yet, if we let go of our lives for the sake of Christ… we will find them. We will find Him.
and those nail scarred hands are big enough for all of our brokenness put together and able to form a cistern that is filled with living water.

And those cracks within our hearts?
… maybe their jagged edges will allow water to trickle down like rain on those who are thirsting for the life to the full that was promised and draw them to the One who is whispering to their own broken hearts to come and cast themselves fully upon Him.

— Jalene Elsa

Psalm 23 – a Feast in the Valley

It has been ‘full’ in our household these past weeks. With many house guests coming and going, Adam hitting the books again as he finishes off his degree in Pastoral Ministry at Prairie College, and myself starting new programming for families in the surrounding communities with my job as a family coach – things have been busy. Then add our preparation for upcoming events with music & speaking that we are greatly anticipating, and you can see why it has been awhile since we have updated.

… When things get busier, I am always thankful for Psalm 23 – the Psalm of David that ushers me back to a place of quiet – that paints beauty and rest with the imagery of green pastures and quiet streams. It reminds me of the beauty that Adam and I experienced when we lived in the little town of Huntly in Aberdeenshire in Scotland seven years ago.

The air was moist, the trees thick and beautiful, and the path by the nearby stream that led to pastures where baby lambs grazed and played. We spent a lot of time walking, exploring, and resting in the quiet of the hills in which we lived for nearly a year. This was a season of quiet and restoration in our lives; of learning much of who Jesus is as our Shepherd as we entrusted our new marriage and adult lives to Him.


Often when we think of Psalm 23 -this is the only imagery that comes to mind; the lush green pastures where we can be quieted before God. While this is a beautiful picture, this is not nearly the entirety of David’s song. No, though he is led to lie down in green pastures, he is also led down paths of righteousness and into a dark valley, yet unafraid of the evils around him and comforted by the rod and staff of His Shepherd.

And right in the midst of that valley, David says this:

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23: 5-6)

Right in the midst of our busyness in the past weeks, a day past that reminded us of one of the darkest valleys that we have walked – and often feel like we are still right in the midst of.
Three years ago this month we lost our first little one in a miscarriage, and we are coming on 5 years of longing for a child of our own to be added to our family. This has been a valley of many tears, lots of questions, and a battle with hope and belief in the goodness and love of our Shepherd.
… and yet.
and yet – in the midst of the cover of darkness in a valley that seems utterly threatening and whispers doubt into my ears – I have stumbled upon a table that is lit by the presence of God and set with the richest of fare. For so long I assumed that I would feast as soon as I got out of the valley, when my hopes were realized and my prayers answered.
Instead the goodness and love of my Shepherd has met me right in the midst of this place and set a table before me in the presence of doubt, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, and as I have chosen to sit with Him and to taste His grace, His Word, His presence- my cup has begun to overflow.

Just as Habakuk said,
” Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce on food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” (3:17-18)

Friends – please do not think that these words are a trite answer or have come easily to pen. Those who have and are journeying with us know the many tears, deep ache, and hard questions that have enveloped our hearts over this season. And yet, as I have allowed Him- God has opened my eyes to the table before me right in the midst of the hardship of the valley. Like in the verses above, He has been my strength and enabled me to tread upon the path that He is guiding me on and He has been sufficient in this place – and more than helping me cope- He is restoring my JOY. 

Whatever valley you might find yourself in today, I pray that God would open your eyes to see the table that He has set before you right here in this moment – not when your prayers are answered the way that you long for, not when circumstances change, not when you clean yourself up or sort things out – right now. There is a feast before you. Can you see it?

— Jalene Elsa

Though trouble will meet you along the way and suffering will greet you face to face – do not be afraid.
Though the valley seems so dark and bare, you’ll find a table set with the richest fare. He will be your Peace.

Together you will feast.
{Lyrics from ‘Restored’ by Jalene Elsa}

Elsa & Foster – a New Year

Three Hills was quiet this new years eve, and knowing our tendency not to make it until midnight to welcome in the coming year, we decided to follow suit and have a quiet night in.
… While we would be quick to admit that we aren’t necessarily the life of the party, we would scoff at the accusation of not being any fun just because we can’t make it to midnight. (Hence our turning our dining room into a dance floor and spinning vinyl to welcome in 2017!… even if it was at 10 o’clock )

In-between dancing to the musical brilliance of Ray Charles, Norah Jones, Emmy-Lou Harris, and Taylor Swift (yes – guilty pleasure for us both!) we, like many of you, took some time to reflect on the year past and dream about the one ahead.


It has been a very full 2016, and 2017 only seems to be gaining speed. This past year, Jalene graduated from Prairie College with her music & worship arts diploma after 2 intense years of writing, learning, growing, and healing. Adam is now entering his last semester of his undergraduate degree in Pastoral Ministry and beginning to start the journey of seeking out what is ahead for our family as we move towards vocational ministry.

2016 was also the beginning of ‘Elsa & Foster,’ the re-branding of our music & speaking ministry to which we have felt God calling us into. (Want to know more about the heart behind Elsa & Foster? click here)  As we look back over the past few years, we have felt a continual call to be faithful with the gifting of music that God has given us. This birthed our first album, ‘Only One Thing is Needed,’ in 2013, and prompted Jalene to begin formal education in music & songwriting in 2014. In the past few years we have had few opportunities to share our music with others, and in the midst of a difficult season for us a few years ago we had little reserves and energy to try to ‘push’ making something happen with music. Yet, as we have continued to be faithful to God’s leading & stewarding our gifts in each season, this past year we have seen doors begin to open before us with music that we are excited to walk through.

In this past year, we have had the privilege of recording Jalene’s solo EP, ‘Still’, which has been playing on Shine FM in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer AB, as well as having the opportunity to speak & share our music in various settings. Adam was able to spend a few weeks out at Camp Caroline this summer, teaching God’s word to Grade 4/5/6 campers, high school students, and staff, as well as preaching in multiple rural churches near our home in Three Hills and Steele Heights Church in Edmonton. Jalene was thrilled to be able share her heart and music from a difficult season with a group of women from Calgary, as well as with women recovering from addiction at Hope Mission in Edmonton. Elsa & Foster have been able to lead worship in camp & conference settings and meet some really amazing people this year.

As we look ahead to 2017 we are so excited for doors that have been opening with music & pray that we can continue to be diligent and faithful in stewarding music & writing well in this season as we anticipate the changes that will come with Adam finishing his schooling.
See some of our upcoming events in the new year here.

We want to thank all of you for your support and love as we have walked this journey in music & teaching. Our heart is that we would authentically be able to minister the hope and promise that we have in Jesus to hearts that need refreshing in this wilderness of life that we walk through. Christ has been our sustainer and our joy in the valley, and the glory that we bask in when our feet stand firmly atop the mountains in this life.

We pray that alongside all of you that we would know…

‘…the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ…For it is by grace [we] have been saved through faith, and that not of [ourselves]; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’ 
   — Ephesians 1:18-20,2:8-9 NKJV

All our love,

— Jalene Elsa & Adam Foster

 

Be Still: A Reflection on Psalm 46

Recently I was reading Psalm 46, carefully and slowly. It has come to be a familiar Psalm, not nearly as famous as Psalm 13 or Psalm 23. Yet one of its verses has obtained stardom and been placed on many living room walls, Facebook posts, and in our Christian songs. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. I am sure you have heard this or read this before. It has become a pretext to times of mediation and silence and is often read out as an instruction to groups of people who all too often have trouble being still; me being one of them.

Normally I read this Psalm skimming for its celebrity verse, scanning the stanzas looking for verse 10 so that I may feel comfort by its beckoning and familiarity. Yet during this particular reading I was struck (as many of us often are struck with scripture) by the verses context. Here is why:

I am guilty of placing stillness in the context of retreat and vacation or, in its most accessible form, a Sunday morning worship service. I view stillness as a privilege within specific time which has made it a commodity. I feel that many can relate to me as I look at a culture which defines success in terms of busyness. This observation of stillness only being found in retreat led me to ask, “what if I cannot retreat?” It is the day to day busyness, the demands, the chaos of getting out the door in the morning that often lead us to ache for retreat, for stillness. But lets get back to Psalm 46.

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God’s instruction to us to be still (verse 10) comes in the most unstill of contexts. We have times of  trouble mentioned (1), mountains being tossed into the sea (2), roaring waters, and trembling mountains (3). Each of these a metaphor for the uncontrollable chaos we encounter in our lives, a chaos that we can not simply get away from. How often do we find ourselves facing such situations where things we thought couldn’t change, changed? Health disappearing from you or a loved one, finances which were always there somehow depleted, family which was always there to rely on being a source of deep hurt and frustration, a stable career being threatened… the list goes on and on. Each of these leaving us longing for rest, retreat, stillness, but feeling as though we can not even visit these until the dust of the crashing mountains have settled. Stillness has become a privilege.

Notice though that there is no call in this Psalm to retreat or run away from the surrounding chaos. There is no instruction to seek an all-inclusive resort nor to escape for the Majestic Rockies for a personal retreat. There is very simply an instruction to be still. God instructs us to take whatever sliver of time we can find in the midst of chaos, and to be still and know that He is God. These slivers of time are times of reorientation, times of taking ones focus off of chaos and placing it on God. It is the sliver of time which God is pointing out in this Psalm. When mountains are crashing into the sea, when trouble is closing in, God has allowed for slivers, moments in which to be still. It is these moments which he commands us to enter into, “Be still and know that I am God.”

My prayer is that God will help me to see these slivers of time, these opportunities to be still, if only for a moment, and to engage with them. If sitting in traffic, by a hospital bed, running to the bathroom between terrible business meetings, these slivers of time beckon us to stop thinking that keeping the mountains from crashing into the seas is somehow all our responsibility.

Retreat or holiday is not always an option, though I wish it were! This Psalm invites to see that our stillness is not dependent on retreating, but rather on taking moments, moments surrounded by chaos, to be still and know that God is God. God’s invitation in this Psalm is an invitation we need to hear within the chaos of our lives. If we cannot do that, we will continue to reserve stillness for specific contexts and consequently miss out on stillness in the midst of chaos.

This Psalm ends with a joyful cry. There is no indication that trouble has gone, or that the mountain’s devastating dust has settled. No. The only indication of change we read about is that the Psalmist has heeded God’s command and chosen stillness. From this place of reorientation he cries out, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Perhaps such an assurance is one which you need today.

-Adam Foster

Autumn {Spring is Coming}

I sit in the light of the morning autumn sun, mesmerized by the steam of my coffee dancing like the leaves out my window.

Fall captures my senses like no other season; leaves turn vibrant colours, the cool air feels crisp on my skin and fresh in my lungs, and all gets quiet in preparation for winter. It is a season of hot beverages, crunching leaves, and giving thanks for the flutter of activity in farmers fields as the harvest comes in.

… It is both a season of great beauty & a season of preparation to be covered up by the cold of winter. Can it be that a season marked by the perishing of all that summer sustained can be so beautiful?

I can’t help but parallel our lives to this Autumn season; characterized by both beauty & brevity.

We often live in one of two extremes when it comes to the reality of the brevity of this life.

We ignore it.
Or
We fear it.

Both of these perspectives rob us of the beauty in this brief season, enslave us to fear, and render us ineffective to walk in the destiny that God has for us right here and now. Is there another way?

Beloved One – consider how the leaves loosen their grip on the branches they once clung too, dance to the ground upon a breeze, and are covered by the white of winter.

Likewise, the Spirit of Truth whispers like the wind and invites us to continually ‘let go’ to all that we desperately cling to, to trust that God will gently carry us, and cover us in His Grace & Promise.

The world around us shouts the message that right now is all that we have. (Y.O.L.O sound familiar?) But there is another voice of greater consequence that whispers another message.

Right now is a gift; a season of preparation that is of great importance.
… but it is only Autumn.
Indeed, Spring is still on its way.

‘Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.’
[1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT]

Lord Jesus – My prayer for us today is that You will open our eyes to glimpse what You see. Our perspective is so finite & limited. We fear so easily…and You know that there is much to be afraid of when our focus is on the things of this world. Remind us today of the story that each of us is apart of – the story You have been writing since the beginning of time. Remind us that we do not walk alone, but in the footsteps of so many who have gone before us – and for thousands of years! ‘We know that we [belong to You], and that the whole world lies under the sway of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is TRUE; and we ARE IN Him who is True, in His Son Jesus Christ.’
(1 John 5:20 NKJV)
– Amen

May you walk with me today, like a leaf among the breeze, trusting in the care of our Heavenly Father and letting go of all else that we cling to that we might hold tightly to the Truth of who God is & the hope that is ours who have put our trust in Him.

Spring is Coming.

— Jalene Elsa

For your further study:

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
— Revelations 21:3-5

“Because God’s children are human beings-  made of flesh and blood- the Son [Jesus] also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”
— Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me [Jesus]. There is more than enough room in my Father’s house. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going….I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
— John 14:1-6 (NLT)

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you…You have been chosen to know me, believe in Me, and understand that I alone am God…For I am about to do something new. See I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland…so my people can be refreshed”
— Isaiah 43:1-2,10,18-20 (NLT)

 

Only One Thing is Needed

I lay on my couch in exhaustion; throat burning and head throbbing. Lately it has seemed that every day off I have my body gives out and is in desperate need of recovery. Ever since I had a ‘hitting rock bottom’ experience two and half years ago, my tank has seemed more limited than it used to. As I have walked down this often bleak & difficult path of grief, anxiety, and fears, days of tiredness have come more frequently as a warning that I am pushing myself too hard. So, there in the comfort of blankets and pillows, my eyes drift upwards and become fixed on the wooden sign that is central to our living room.

“Only One Thing is Needed.”

I remember back to three years ago when I was writing and recording the song with the title that inspired this piece of art, spoken first by Jesus in the well known scripture story about Mary & Martha. It doesn’t cease to amaze me how many more layers have been carefully peeled off my heart since that time and how much more etched into my being this concept has become since first penning those words.

Words, that seem magnified all the more when my body feels broken; when I don’t have the energy to over analyze or tick off another box on my ‘to-do’ list, when I can’t deny my own weakness and I willingly give myself over to the Truth that I am in desperate need of the life that God offers.

It hasn’t always been this way.

Like a horse determined to be its own master, I have run stubbornly in circles refusing to yield until I have collapsed in sheer exhaustion. And then only to find that yielding wasn’t unto my slavery but actually unto my freedom. Unbeknownst to me I was a slave to the running. The One who graciously ran me in circles was not trying to be cruel but was instead readying this exhausted heart to receive: not His mastery, but His love.

Just as Jesus quieted the anxious heart of Martha and encouraged Mary in her sitting before Him, He also gently invites me into the ‘One Thing Needed.’

…Having a heart that is irrevocably His; willing to rest in His presence and to live in the light of the words that He speaks, despite the clammer that surrounds our outside world.

For just as Martha was well aware, dinner preparations have to be made, the dishes pile up, plans are thwarted, disappointment looms, hope seems but a distant prayer, hearts are broken, and bodies don’t work the way they were supposed too. And yet in all of this and more: we can be like Mary. In fact we are invited to do as she did; resting at His feet in the midst of it all.

In those moments when I am reminded of my weakness, I will choose to give thanks to God rather than curse my own insufficiency. For sometimes it is only when circumstances or our own striving that leave us levelled with the ground that we are quiet enough to hear His gentle invitation to truly come and rest; to receive His love, to be made new in His presence, and to enter into the secret place of joy of the ‘One Thing Needed.’ 

In His Grace,

— Jalene Elsa

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