God

Running Again by Louis Holstein

I started running again. In my training I change the route almost every run, but in my long distance runs I am always required to run over the place where I fell. I don’t need the reminder. The scars on my knees are reminders enough, yet the route reminds me again.

“See the lip in the sidewalk? That’s where you fell. That was where you stopped running for two months and started dealing with what would be your housing crisis. Remember that?”

Early Morning Selfie.

Early Morning Selfie.

June and July 2019 were one for the books. I know I already wrote about it, but as I have begun running again I have realized, sometimes the best thing one can do is just that: start again. I’m sure there will be posts in the future where I discuss in more detail my disappointment with God and his letting me fall, but for now I’m grateful He is allowing me to get up and run again. I was a little over the half-way point in my long distance training when I fell.

My big goal this year was to run a marathon and with wounds on my knees and hands, and the stress at home, I figured it just wasn’t going to happen. When I decided I would start training again, I counted the weeks to see where the training fell in proportion to when the marathon race is. The training fell perfectly within the allotted time: 18 weeks of training, with the race in 19 weeks.

Open up and let your heart live.

Open up and let your heart live.

I’m still not sure why I fell, or why we had to leave our home of 4 and 1/2 years, but this I know: I am training again and we have a new home where new memories will be made (maybe even the birth of second child). In the words of one of my favorite musicals, “all that seemed wrong is now right.” We’re okay. We’re running again.

“So it's
Into the woods
You go again,
You have to
Every now and then.
Into the woods,
No telling when,
Be ready for the journey.”

Running and Falling by Louis Holstein

“True Vine” [I am called to abide in Him, though sometimes He is hard to follow, or hard to see, yet I will still abide in Him. He will see me through.]  Acrylic and pastels on stretch canvas.

“True Vine” [I am called to abide in Him, though sometimes He is hard to follow, or hard to see, yet I will still abide in Him. He will see me through.]

Acrylic and pastels on stretch canvas.

I fell on my run last week. Skin versus concrete is never a fair match. With a bloody hand and knees, I paused the podcast I was listening to and the runner app I was using and picked myself off the ground. I examined my wounds. I’ve written recently about the past few months journey with the Lord. He has asked us to drink a cup we didn’t want to drink from, and it has been hard. It is interesting how many thoughts rush in when we are wounded. As I got up from my fall I became frustrated. I had run this route too many times to count and I had never tripped and fallen before. So why now?

It is ironic, really, because during that run I was purposely going slower. I wanted to enjoy the process, breathe the oxygen, feel it in my lungs, give attention to my legs, and let go of my anxieties. It was in this calm state that I fell. It was in these rush of thoughts that I realized God allowed me to fall or perhaps caused me to fall. I know when we use the language “fallen” it usually has something to do with sin, but I’m not talking about sin I’m talking about God getting our attention. That’s what makes following God so challenging, He rarely works within our plan or expectations. He is the God who obliterates expectations. 

It could be argued I’m making a freak accident way too spiritual, and maybe I am, but this fall spoke to me. It reminded me that no matter how I think I am doing, God knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I need in order to grow and become more like him. I may think I am being reflective,  but He knows what is going to truly make me reflective. I may think I have surrendered something, but He knows when I have fully surrendered. I may think I have paused, but He knows.

If it is God allowing the fall, so be it.

⁃ Louis

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.

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

edited.jpg

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.