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)

1st Quarter of 2019 : What's Good? by Louis Holstein

I love words. It was no surprise to myself when I decided to start highlighting meaningful words on my instagram this year. Every month I would choose three quotes that had spoken to me that month and showcase them. It challenged me to be looking out for rich ideas, and it also allows me to have a backlog of those ideas. The end of this month marks the end of the first quarter of 2019 and it’s surreal to me that time has moved so quickly. In order to recognize the end of this season, here are the nine quotes that stood out to me this year so far.

If you would like any of these images feel free to e-mail me at louisholstein@gmail.com

Paris 2019 by Louis Holstein

Paris, France, where do I begin?

I had very high expectations going into this beautiful city, and by the middle of the visit, my expectations were already blown out of the water. With every corner and ally, park and museum, shop and patisserie, there was a charm that is like no other place in the world. Paris put a spell on me. I’m attempting to plan my escape back to the City of lights, but in the meantime I wanted to reflect on this amazing trip.

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We bought the Museum Pass, which got us into over 50 museums and monuments. I found that it was an incredible deal for the price. I was overwhelmed at the scope of art and history found throughout the City. We were able to tackle 4 art museums, 2 churches (including Notre Dame pictured below) and the Arc De Triumph all in two days. The Loruve is as impressive as they come. Being the largest art museum in the world, nothing could prepare me for how big this art museum was. A trip back just to get inside that museum again would be worth the price of a plane ticket.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House) This opera house inspired the Phantom of the Opera story.

Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House) This opera house inspired the Phantom of the Opera story.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum

Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur

A view from the steps of Sacré-Cœur

A view from the steps of Sacré-Cœur

A view from the Musée National d'Art Moderne.

A view from the Musée National d'Art Moderne.

The Parisian culture is so unmistakable. From eating dinner at 8 PM, to always dressing to impress, I could find myself getting lost in this way of life very easily. We loved using the metro and bus system, and chatting with the locals. There is something special about seeing a City through the eyes of those who live there. Paris was everything I could have ever imagined it would be- but better. It’s strange to be blogging about it now, I have so much to say, but I don’t feel the need to write it all out here. I guess some things are better left in the heart. If you have a chance to visit Paris, all I can say is: DO IT.

I’ve linked Ashley and my recent podcast about our travels below.

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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.

My Favorite Movies of All Time (Top 21 List) by Louis Holstein

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As a lover of film, therefore I often get asked what my favorite movie is. I answer with a monologue about how I can’t possible have one “favorite movie” as there are so many that have immense importance to me. This response leads to the follow-up question, “Oh, so what are you favorite movies?” The question is not met with another monologue, just silence. I know I have a list, I just need to organize it. Hence, the inspiration behind this post.

I wanted to have a top ten (influenced by AFI’s Top 10) but quickly realized I would be unable to a, keep the list at 10 films, and b, have a favorite film in each genre that AFI highlights. (Sorry, you will find no Westerns, Courtroom Dramas, Gangster, or Mystery films in my list). I went through the movies I own, and years of Oscar nominations to narrow down my favorite movies of all time: my top 21 list. I didn’t set out to name my favorite 21 films, but as the list was complied it just stop in completion. 21 is the number. In no particular order, here we go.

  1. The Dark Knight (2018) 94% (8 noms, 2 wins)

  2. The Social Network (2010) 96% (8 noms, 3 wins)

  3. An Education (2009) 95% (3 noms, 0 wins)

  4. Beauty and the Beast (1991) 94% (6 noms, 2 wins)

  5. About Time (2013) 68% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  6. Gigi (1958)* 78% (9 noms, 9 wins)

  7. West Side Story (1961)* 94% (11 noms, 10 wins)

  8. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (1966) 95% (13 noms, 5 wins)

  9. Short Term 12 (2013) 98% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  10. Eighth Grade (2018) 99% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  11. Jaws (1975) 97% (4 noms, 3 wins)

  12. Psycho (1960) 97% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  13. Finding Nemo (2003) 99% (4 noms, 1 win)

  14. Arrival (2016) 94% (8 noms, 1 win)

  15. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)* 91% (10 noms, 8 wins)

  16. Jurassic Park (1993) 91% (3 noms, 3 wins)

  17. Australia (2008) 58% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  18. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) 76% (2 noms, 0 wins)

  19. Pride and Prejudice (2005) 86% (4 noms, 0 wins)

  20. The Wife (2018) 85% (1 nom, 1 win)

  21. Doubt (2008) 80% (4 noms, 0 wins)

Code:

  • % Percentages- From Rotten Tomatoes,

  • Noms- Nominations (From the Academy Awards)

  • * Best Picture Winner

    That’s an average percentage of 89% Rotten Tomatoes score, and a combined

    48 Academy Award wins and 98 nominations.

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Honorable Mentions:

  • Roma (2018)

  • The Lion King (1991)

  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

  • Pocahontas (1995)

  • Cloverfield (2008)

  • Room (2015)

  • The Shape of Water (2017)

  • Coco (2017)

  • The Intouchables (2012)

  • Inception (2010)

  • Spider-Man (2002)

  • The Prestige (2006)

  • Annie Hall (1977)

  • The Florida Project (2017)

Perhaps over time these films will slip into my top 21; or maybe the list will be extended to 25 or 30 films! Who knows for sure, right now my top 21 is near perfection for me. I encourage you to list your favorite films. I surprisingly learned a lot about myself by doing this. It’s worth the time.

- Louis

Communitas: A Tale of Two Paintings by Louis Holstein

On the eve of Founders Day, an event all about the celebration of community, I decided to reflect on two paintings from last year.

Community - Painting by Louis Holstein

And here I am, back to the topic of Community. What can I say, I think community is one of the most important necessities to live a healthy and whole life. We were not created to live life alone. Last year I curated my first exhibition featuring Ashley’s photography. The overarching theme of the show was the role of community in an individual’s life and how that, in turn, is a reflection of the ultimate community: the Holy Trinity. The show featured three interactive stations, and the art piece you see above this text was the final product of one of the stations. It was a community mural. I had selected four colors and draw squares for people to fill in. I also numbered the squares so it could become a paint-by-numbers event, but people rarely followed the numbers. In fact, as you can see, they didn't even follow the instructions of painting one color per square!

At first I was annoyed with the lack of compliance, but I remembered that this was a risk of a community mural, you never know what you are going to end up with. Aside from the obvious lack of following directions with color placement, everyone followed the directions regarding “painting in the square.” I had imagined all the colors blending beautifully, and it just wasn’t happening. This wasn’t true community. This was a painting created with specific colors in specific boundaries. But true community includes all the colors. True community blurs the boundaries. I began to fill in the white squares of the painting, but I couldn’t stop. Below is the final product.

If you look closely you can see the remnants of the first painting. This is what I believe true community looks like, full of color and boundary-less. It is messy and unpredictable. It can only occur if vulnerability is chosen. Vulnerability is hard, but living a life without community is harder.

- Louis

“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.” - Madeleine L’Enngle

Communitas - Painting by Louis Holstein

It Is Not Real, But It Is Beautiful by Louis Holstein

Do I matter? What is the purpose of my existence? Who am I? These questions make us human. These questions separate us from the other species on earth. The human experience is constantly looking for meaning, purpose, and worth.

I’ve been wrestling with virtual reality recently. If you read my last blog post you can see why. I’ve become fed up with searching for truth in the lie that is social media. I use social media, and although I despise certain elements of it, I see it’s nuance to relationships and community. I recently dove head first into some over-thinking, indulge me for a second.

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Parthenon In Nashville Tennissee

Over the holiday break in Puerto Rico, I stumbled across this lit-up tree. It was in the back of the garage and not inherently Christmas decor. I was mesmerized. The randomness of the tree, the lights illuminating from the tree, and the beauty of the tree all captured my attention. It got me thinking, “can something that is not real be beautiful?” Well, “of course,” I quickly respond. There are beautiful things all around us that aren’t real. Fictional stories, fake flowers, and Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, all beautiful things, but none of them real. It was then, in my list of not real, but beautiful things, Makoto Fujimura came to mind. He says this,

Beauty is the quality connected with those things that are in themselves appealing and desirable. Beautiful things are a delight to the senses, a pleasure to the mind, and refreshment for the spirit. Beauty invites us in, capturing our attention and making us want to linger. Beautiful things are worth our scrutiny, rewarding to contemplate, deserving of pursuit. They inspire- or even demand- a response, whether sharing them in community or acting to extend their beauty into the spheres.
— Culture Care, p. 32

What is beauty? According to Fujimura, things that are a “delight to the senses, a pleasure to the mind, and refreshment for the spirit.” In other words, we are talking about more than esthetics. Fujimura goes on to say “beauty is connected with satisfaction, which may point to the way beauty feeds the soul.” So can things that are not real be beautiful? Perhaps, but more importantly, are these not real “beautiful things” feeding my soul? If the answer is, “no,” then maybe they’re not worth my time.

I see so many not real, but beautiful things on Social Media. This twisty trail of thoughts has not only led me to a healthy view of those virtual platforms and art, but also to a practical approach in the way I interact with them. I can admire things that are not real, I just won’t spend much time on them- social media included.