Jesus

I Will Sing. by Louis Holstein

“If it is God allowing the fall, then so be it.”

Those were the words that ended my last blog post. I uttered those words in full surrender, although I didn't realize God would still ask for more. I’ll spare you the gory details (you can hear the story over on Casa de Arte Podcast episodes “Where we are (For Now)” and “The Art of Community (Nurturing and Receiving)”) but we went from a house of 4 and 1/2 years to homeless in a matter of days. It’s not to say that we didn’t experience hospitality from our friends and family, but we were still without a home. Our home. We were displaced.

“Bursting”   Have you felt so wounded that you thought you might burst?

“Bursting” Have you felt so wounded that you thought you might burst?

It’s funny, really, because everyone said we wouldn’t be homeless. “Homelessness” was the worst case scenario and surely that wouldn’t happen! “You will have a place to stay,” many people said, offering their extra rooms. It was as if “having a place to stay” was the opposite of homelessness- it’s not. Regardless I was grateful for the sentiment, and for the confidence that was had by them. I didn’t have it. I had a feeling we would be displaced, I just didn’t want to believe it. I felt that God wanted it for us. That’s a tough pill to swallow. God wants my little family to not have a home? Why, God… why?

I’ve written here time and time again about suffering. I think suffering is truly the thing that connects all of us, no one is spared from it. God doesn’t always give the healing, or save the life, or provide the home (on time). God required that my perspective shift. My understanding of suffering and pain, and the role they have in my life needed to change. Steffany Gretzinger once said, “The kindness of God is that He doesn’t measure my pain to yours. He is just a Father who cares about all of it.” I clung to this quote because when I would feel pain, I would downplay it because I knew it “could be worse.” Yet in a way, Gretzinger set me free. She essentially said, “don’t compare your pain to others, God doesn’t.” So I stopped comparing my pain, and just allowed myself to be broken. I was disappointed in God; He had let me down.

“Reaching”   As I reach for Him, He doesn’t numb the pain, but sits with me in it.

“Reaching” As I reach for Him, He doesn’t numb the pain, but sits with me in it.

He let me down in that He didn’t give me what I wanted (or thought I needed): A) to stay were we were living or B) to move somewhere better than where we were living or C) don’t let us be with a home (i.e. homeless). He had other plans. All my plans were thrown out the window when I signed on to temporary housing through an Airbnb. I cried a lot. Ashley cried a lot. Before long Alana would be crying on more than one occasion saying, “let’s go home.” Brokenness abounded.

Then on June 26th, I stumbled across a recently flipped home in Mulberry that was for rent, surely it was too good to be true. As I arrived at the property, checking to see if it was real, I felt God say, “This is the house.” He was quiet and concise. He gave me the opportunity to believe Him, or not. I chose to believe Him.

Ashley and I jumped in faith. We attended a viewing of the home (with 3 other families touring at the same time), put in the application and trusted if it really was meant to be ours, then nothing could stand in the way. Within a day were approved, and as we left to my parents house for the 4th of July festivities, we were notified the home was ours. So now with a signed lease and eyes filled with tears, we can see the promise.

“Staying”   So I will stay here a while, I will not leave because it is painful.

“Staying” So I will stay here a while, I will not leave because it is painful.

It’s strange how it all worked out. I like to have answers for God, and why He does what He does, (sometimes He reveals His reasons) but in this season I don’t have the answers. Not with this test of faith. I don’t know why we went through what we did, and honestly I don’t even know if I passed the test. What I do know, is what I knew before all of this happened: God is good, God is kind, and God is in control. In this midst of my disappointment, these truths don’t change- they can’t change! God is God no matter what I’m facing, no matter how bleak or frustrating or unfair. I told Ashley, “Faith is trusting God in the midst of a letdown.” There are so many little miracles that got us to where we are today. I’m certainly not going to complain about this process, although I do not understand it. As the days go on and we settle in our new rental home, perhaps God will reveal more. Maybe God will show us how we’ve grown. Maybe not. Brooke Ligertwood said it perfectly, “God’s blessing sometimes feels like a wound.” Right now I feel wounded, tired, and broken. As I move forward and trust God again for another day on this earth, I know He holds me close.

I will continue to sing His praises. “Sometimes we sing something because we believe it, because we are sure. Sometimes we sing it until we are sure.” (Steffany Gretzinger)

I will sing until I am sure.

-Louis


This blog is supposed to be about my art musings. HA! The first half of this year hasn’t been what I had planned. So here is to more ArtTalk, more inspiration, and more creating in the days ahead!

All Things, Everything by Louis Holstein

It is common language in Christian circles that God wants our “entire life.” God wants our whole being, every thought, every concern, every thanksgiving; God wants all of this. All of this is true, God does want these things, but at the root of it all God wants us. All the worries and requests are important, but God just really wants me, my love. The Creator of all things wants me? There is nothing I can do to make me less wanted or more wanted, God wants me right where I am. God loves me. God loves you. Full-stop. No question.

“i cannot sin anymore”  Acrylic and oil on canvas board.

“i cannot sin anymore”

Acrylic and oil on canvas board.

The last few months have been a season of crushing (as one would crush grapes for wine). God has been crushing Ashley and I as He asks us to trust Him with the most important physical thing in our lives: our home. Unknown as Florida weather has been our housing future and I have come to realize God wants it. God wants that part of my heart, that part of my security. It seems one lesson after another.

I painted this image back in March. It was created to represent the darkness of sin, and how once we are exposed to the light we can no longer sin. Once we touch and taste the light of our how we are created to live, the darkness has no hold. I’ve walked with God for the last 15 years and I am just now beginning to understand this lesson. In the same way, God is asking us to trust Him with our home.

Trusting God should be easy. Has He not done miracles before? Has He not be faithful before? Of course He has been! My God has brought me to the exact moment I am currently living in. Yet with all of this knowledge both in my head and heart, it does not make it any easier. In the realization that my situation is not any easier, I realize it’s okay. It doesn’t have to be easy. Who said it would be, easy? Why shouldn’t it be hard? Why shouldn’t it break me? To be broken isn’t a crime, and I will not apologize for it! It is through eyes wet with tears that I can see the promise. God will act. God will be faithful to us. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know if we will be living in the same house next month, but I do know this: God will see us through. I don’t have much to hold on to, but this I do: God will see us through. God will see us through. God will see us through. God will. see. us. though.

“Implosion”  Acrylic and oil on canvas board.

“Implosion”

Acrylic and oil on canvas board.

Tuesday // A Short Film by Louis Holstein

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Why is living in the moment so hard? I do an excellent job being wounded from the past, or worrying about the future, but what about enjoying the present? What little moment am I missing as I run through my daily routines? It was these questions (and a certain Academy Award-winning film) that inspired me to create Tuesday, my first short film. I grew up with home videos and realized that while Ashley and I had little snippets of Alana over the last two years (exclusively on our iPhones), we didn’t have anything that told a story or was cohesive in anyway. What I wanted to create was a 4 minute portrait of our lives on a random day in the week. I wanted to stop at the simple details that we so easily overlook: waking up, doing the dishes, going to work, eating a snack, walking the dog, going to bed.

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It helps that I have been reading, Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (a text I highly recommend). Warren makes the case that it is in the “overlooked moments and routines that we can become aware of God’s presence in surprising ways.” In making this film, I can confirm that is true. I can also confirm that while this was a creative exercise, it has changed me for the better. I don’t want my life to pass me by without me realizing what I had. I will only be 28 years old, with a beautiful 22-weeks-pregnant wife, and a 2 1/2 year old daughter for this season, for this time. The days may go by slowly, but the years go by fast. I want to treasure this part of the story; I want to have gratitude for this part of the story. This is Tuesday.

We're all traveling through time, together, everyday of our lives... All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life… I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it... As if it was the full, final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.

- Tim Lake in About Time (2013)

So Sweet to Trust by Louis Holstein

Photo by  Ashley Holstein  / Mulberry 2017

Photo by Ashley Holstein / Mulberry 2017

“Count the patience of our Lord as salvation.”

I’ve spoken about Mulberry time and time again. With every step of faith in this City, God has seen Ashley and I through. I am grateful for Him, so grateful. I’ve been messing around with film work recently, and I wanted to capture this town. Nothing fancy, no special effects, just Mulberry, and the places in Mulberry that God has asked us to trust Him in. Each location featured in this film has a specific meaning to Ashley and myself. Looking back I’m grateful. A friend of mine recently said, “surface level Christianity only works for people who aren’t going through anything.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Like a tree’s roots going deeper looking for water in a drought, so has Mulberry caused us to dig deeper into God’s presence- and I am grateful. Seven years later, I am tasting the sweetness of trusting God.

Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus,

just to take him at His word.

Just to rest upon his promise,

and to know “thus saith the Lord.”

Jesus, Jesus how I trust him,

how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.

Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus,

oh for grace to trust Him more.

2018: Year in Review (What I've Learned) by Louis Holstein

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I journal. Every year at the end of my journal (1 for every year), I write the good of the year, the bad of the year, what I learned in the year and Goals for the next year. 2018 was no different. While there was a half page of bad, I almost ran out of space to write about the good. Goals are all set for 2019, and so now came the cringe-worthy part: reading my journal entries from January 2018 to present and drawing up what I learned. I usually find myself annoying in past tense and this year was no exception. Regardless I found 2018 to be a year of great learning, but also a year with lots of reminders. I pray going into 2019 that I can grow from these lessons and not repeat 2018 all over again. Without any further ado, straight from journal, here is the list of what I’ve learned.

What I’ve Learned in 2018 (featuring all the reminders too)

(in no particular order)

  1. I have the most capacity to create when I am overflowing from the Creator.

  2. To be known by God is everything.

  3. Social Media is mainly a lie.

  4. Outrage rarely wins people over.

  5. I must not confuse God’s silence with anger.

  6. For the believe, the worst is not the last.

  7. Surrender breeds humility.

  8. There will never be a moment in time where obedience to God becomes easy. It’s always a step of faith to obey, and that is hard.

  9. People will think whatever they want to think. I answer only to God (and my wife).

  10. Obeying God out of fear and obeying God out of trust are two very different things. One has to do with work I do and the other has to do with the work God has done.

  11. God loves me completely and extravagantly. There is nothing I can do (or not do) to have more (or less) of God’s love. Receiving God’s love has nothing to do with what I do, and everything to do with what God has done.

  12. My love, adoration, worship and interest does not keep God close. God’s closeness is in God’s character. It is not about what I do, it is about what God has done.

On Mercy - A Year Later by Louis Holstein

When I first felt the push to write a book, I truly scoffed a the idea. I wouldn’t consider myself a writer, and I certainly didn’t feel qualified enough on any one topic to write a whole book on it. It was then that the idea of publishing my personal journals was brought to mind. This brought a new wave of insecurities, doubt, and denials. My personal journals? What if people think I’m crazy? What if people think I’m a heretic? What if, what if, what if?

Asking, “what if?” never gets anything done.

On Mercy Book Image

I read through 10 years of journals (if the idea of publishing my journals wasn’t cringe-worthy enough, reading through them certainly was). Picked out the most timeless entries, that is, the ones that I felt still related to me in 2017 and On Mercy was born. I’m so grateful to my editing team, Sydney, Carmelle, Brittany and Cathryn. They helped me be a bit more inclusive theologically and made sure I was making sense grammatically. Selecting Ashley’s photographs to complete the project was probably the most fun. I found it a true joy searching through her photographic history to find pieces that complimented my words so well.

On November 1st, 2017, On Mercy was released. One year from today. On Mercy allowed others to partake in the work God had been doing in my life up until that point. Our lives are not our own, and when I surrendered mine to the Lord, I knew he would use it to bring others to Himself. If you haven’t gotten a copy, I encourage you to! From what I’ve been told, it is a great read ha.

For a limited On Mercy is ON sale :), you can find it here.