Always a Child

This past weekend I had the privilege of having extended family come visit and getting to  spend time with my grandma being taught the art of making her famous pierogis’, pie, and cinnamon buns. We laughed a lot, worked hard, and made memories that I will not forget. My immediate family was also able to come visit too, and it was a gift to have multiple generations of family together enjoying each others company. During my Grandmas stay, she insisted on buying a beautiful fedora as a gift for me, and my dad let me get lost in his embrace a few moments longer than normal before he made the trek home. In both of these situations, even if just for a few moments, I felt like a little child again. Loved. Safe. Taken Care Of.  Whether we are being given a gift, having our needs met, or just simply being held – there is the sweet feeling of being a child again – able to lean upon someone else for a moment while we take a deep breath.

Our world upholds independence and self-sufficiency and places these qualities upon a pedestal to be held in high regard. And while these qualities can be very positive, we often trade one for the other, turning our backs on dependance and vulnerability.

IMG_0025.JPG

IMG_0020.JPG
One of my favourite things about being a follower of Jesus is that His Word says that we are adopted into the family of God. 1 John 3:1 says:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (NIV)

No matter how old we get, no matter how much responsibility we take on, no matter if we have children of our own, or our children have children – we always get to stay “Children.” We never outgrow the love of the Father. We never outstay our welcome in His house.

This beautiful Truth sets us free to let our guard down – not only with our Heavenly Father, but also with one another. We can take off the titles we wear, the responsibilities we carry, and the stubborn pride of self-sufficiency, and just “be.” We are children. Each of us with scraped knees, hearts that can be molded, and a deep need to be loved, accepted, and have a place that we belong.

My prayer for you today is that you would let your guard down and let God be “Father” to you. Let yourself Be Loved… for you are the Beloved of Christ. And may I be even more bold and challenge you to let your guard down with someone else in your life – allow yourself to be taught, get lost in someones embrace, and delight in being LOVED!

— Jalene Elsa

 

 

A Problem with Perfection

I’ve never claimed to be perfect… such a claim would be prideful. Since pride is not a likeable quality, it would not fit into the personality of the ‘perfect’ person. Making such a claim of being perfect is then counter-productive at any attempt to be perfect. So I may not have ever claimed it, but maybe I’ve thought it. More appropriately I’ve wanted to be able to think it; I’ve always assumed that achieving perfection was the goal.

But what is perfection anyway? In our churches and society I think it is an illness. It is an illness because it has crippled us in our ability to connect with people and God in the most human way which God designed us to connect; perfectionism poisons vulnerability. Even as I write this I worry about what readers will think of word choice and the presentation of my thoughts. Will they approve, be impressed, click ‘like’? Or will they discard it as another whimsical attempt at a blog to be lost in the sea of the internet? Either way, the thought and desire to appear perfect to YOU, haunts my thinking.

But I am not perfect, truly (I don’t say that to appear perfect… seriously), none of us are. Yet we will often times exhaust ourselves to appear in such a way that seems perfect to others. We do this with strangers, friends, and even our closest loved ones. Worst of all, we do this with God.

In the Old Testament we read about a man named David. He was far from perfect. What is appealing to me about David though, is that he was honest about that fact. In Psalm 32 we read a glimpse of David’s prayer journal where he prays,

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not hide my iniquity.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’
And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

I hope to genuinely share in David’s discipline of not hiding iniquity, of not hiding imperfection. In these few verses we see the beauty of David’s vulnerability: God restores him. Instead of hiding he exposes something of himself that would have been detestable to God perhaps fearing rejection. Instead of rejection though, David receives grace and forgiveness.

It seems that many of my interactions with God and people, unlike David’s, involve me trying to be perfect. It is as if I am scared that people will see something detestable in me and reject me. So I hide imperfection, my failings, hiding the very things that are so much a part of being human. The scriptures do not endorse this type of behaviour, in fact the gospel of Jesus Christ seems to speak the loudest to those who have found and fully realized their imperfection.

The Apostle Paul gets this too. After stating reasons that made him a pretty ‘perfect’ type of christian, he settles in saying, ‘ If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness’ (2 Corinthians 11). Is that backwards or what? The Christian way is then not a way of perfection, but of imperfection. 

Unfortunately a lot of our Christian expression is glossed over in this mentality that because we have Jesus, everything is now perfect. Our worship services do not lend themselves to emotions of pain, frustration, deep sorrow, loss, or anger (perhaps labeled ‘imperfect’ emotions), but should not those services be the very place that we share with God and others the imperfect realities of our lives?

It is in our imperfection that we are drawn nearer to him who is perfect. It is in our weakness and recognition of our insufficiency that Jesus can break in. When we recognize pain, hopelessness, frustration, anger, pride and are honest about them, then we can truly bring them to Christ. When we are vulnerable with God and others, amazing healing can take place.

I am not perfect, and I am going to guess that neither are you. Lets not see that as something to hide. Instead lets be honest, lets pray honest, and lets stop trying to hide from God and each other. Is there a risk? Well yeah, but I believe it is one worth taking.

-Adam Foster

 

take Delight & be Deliberate

Almost six months ago I came away from a time of prayer and reflection regarding the (then) upcoming year, with two words. Delight & Deliberate.
As I prayed about the word, ‘Delight,’ I immediately thought of a verse in Psalm 37.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4 ESV)

At first read, I couldn’t help but jump to the second half of this verse. My eyes alight with the hope of receiving the deepest desires of my heart. Could this be a year of longing fulfilled? Of dawn breaking through such a long dark night?

The second word, ‘Deliberate’ didn’t come with any obvious scripture, but I was inclined to look up the dictionary definition. According to dictionary.com it is defined as this:

‘Carefully weighed or considered; intentional; leisurely and steady in movement or action; slow and even; unhurried;purposeful; willful; applied to what is done not hastily but with full realization of what one is doing; applied to what is definitely intended or done on purpose.’

I felt strangely convicted reading this definition. So much of my life has felt hurried and rushed. Lived like something to get through, constantly feeling behind, hoping that circumstances would make my decisions for me.

But these past few years, Adam and I have found ourselves in a deep valley. It has been a season marked by loss, grief, unfulfilled longing, exposure, barrenness, and painful refining. Yet, I am realizing that sometimes one of the greatest gifts that we can receive is being in a place where we find ourselves flat on our backs on the floor of a valley. Because for the first time in a long time we actually look up. We stop running. We are overcome by stillness. We listen…. because we literally cannot do anything else.
DSC_7740-2
It was in that place that these two words were like salve on an open wound. I used to think that a miracle in my life would look like answered prayer to receive the desires of my heart, but now I am realizing that a real miracle is actually knowing and Delighting in the LORD and His sufficiency even with desires unfulfilled… not because I don’t still hope for those things or long deeply… but because HE has become the deepest desire of this heart.

I have also realized staring at the stars in this deep and dark valley, that I am graced with the privilege to choose; that my God has made me to be intentional – to live on purpose. I am not a victim of circumstance, of others decisions, or my own failings. I am not meant to live tossed about in the wind blowing here and there by all the many ideas the world presents to us. No, in fact as I lay there in that valley and the Holy Spirit began to painfully tear away all of the layers of mud and grime that I was previously standing upon, I realized that we are indeed meant to stand on the solid rock, which is Christ. And this foundation is laid because of Grace, through faith, by Deliberate choice. Our lives are not steady by chance. They are steady because we take intentional steps.

So, Elsa & Foster?  I’ve known the direction that our heavenly Father has been inviting us towards for quite some time. But I thought we would get there on accident…I was wrong. Deliberate step.
Joy in the midst of uncertainty, anxiety, and sorrow? Absolutely. Because in the valley, there is a feast that awaits us; where our Shepherd and Prince of Peace gives of Himself and our delight is no longer dependant upon circumstances but we find true delight in HIM.

— Jalene Elsa

Elsa & Foster

Why Elsa & Foster?

Not to make things too confusing, but we currently have our music under two other names. Our first album, ‘Only One Thing is Needed,” was recorded in 2013 and we self-titled this album with our first names, “Adam and Jalene.” This past year Jalene released a solo 3-track EP under her own name, ‘Jalene Elsa.”
As we have dialogued about the “why” of our music and ministry, we have began to lean more and more to going by our middle names, ‘Elsa & Foster.’ We still wanted our name to be personal, but also rich with meaning behind what we do, and a reminder to spur us on and to continually cast vision as we move ahead. As we did a bit more research, we found that the name ‘Elsa’ (from Elizabeth) means ‘promise of God’ and the name ‘Foster’ means ‘wilderness.’ It was exciting to us as we realized that these two meanings really summed up the “why” of our music and ministry: to express and declare the assurance and hope (promise) that we have in the person of Christ in the midst of this pilgrimage that each one of us is on in this life. (wilderness).

DSC_7832-2
It has taken time, prayer, and an abundance of Grace as we have ventured to hold onto the assurance and sufficiency of Christ in the midst of the dark valleys that we have found ourselves in over this past season- that bring us to this point of assurance – not just with a decision for the name ‘Elsa & Foster’, but to the ministry that we have been called to be faithful with. It is a privilege to be able to combine words and melodies that invite you to know the sufficiency of our Saviour in a deeper way, and also an honour to have walked through seasons of wilderness ourselves that we might be able to offer hope and point to the true Light who shows the way when all seems dark.

-Elsa & Foster-

P.S. – Fun Tidbit! There is a song on Jalene’s solo EP called ‘Be Still.’ Originally this song was called ‘Let Go.’ However, after some discussion with her producer, she realized that having her name on the EP as, ‘Jalene Elsa’ with a song called ‘Let Go,’ was just asking for trouble! Thus the song title was changed.

%d bloggers like this: