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!

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.

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 (2008) 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