The Artist Heart

My friend Rose has a little quote by Saint Francis of Assisi hanging in her bathroom that says,

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.‚ÄĚ

IMG_9929If you’ve ever met¬†my husband Craig, you would surely know him as a laborer and craftsman. However, if you were to spend any amount of time with my husband, on any kind of project that involves woodworking or building, you would know that he has the heart of an artist. And so it is when we get invited to come alongside kinfolk who are working on any sort of building project, that Craig Holland comes to life.

In March, we were invited by the Vincent family to come and stay with them in Bendigo, Victoria and partner with them on an epic month-long project remodeling their home. The bedrooms were in the back of the house and the kitchen living room in the front. Their hope was to flip it around and put the bedrooms in the front of the house and the living areas in the back of the house, thus enjoying the gardens and having more space to host gatherings.

Andy, a civil engineer and fellow “artist,” was the perfect partner for Craig, as he had already worked through much of the tedious details¬†around his home reno project. The stage was set, materials were gathered and many gracious¬†hands came¬†to join in on the¬†mundane tasks of the everyday jobs.¬†Had it just been a cut and paste job however, there wouldn’t have been any artistry or joy but it was during those moments of conversation where Andy and Craig had to solve a problems, entering the mystery of the unknown, that the artists heart was allowed to flourish.

The final product was not just a functional space but a space that felt like an artist hands had touched it. The finally was a home, sacred and secure which is surely a gift to those living in the space, but so much more to the head and hands that created it. We are grateful for opportunities like this, to exercise our gifts and talents, to be in community, working alongside our kinfolk, excited for the coming joy of dreams come true.

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On a Wing and a Prayer

It means, “In poor condition, but just managing to get the job done.”

Apparently, this phrase originated during WWII. The earliest reference that I can find to it is in the 1942 film The Flying Tigers. The screenplay, which was written by Kenneth Gamet and Barry Trivers, staring John Wayne:

Gordon (John Wayne): Any word on that flight yet?
Rangoon hotel clerk: Yes sir, it was attacked and fired on by Japanese aircraft. She’s coming in on one wing and a prayer.

The phrase was taken up by songwriters Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh and their WWII patriotic song Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer, 1943 tells of a damaged warplane, barely able to limp back to base.

Boy, can we relate to limping back to base and we can attest that without the prayer part the whole phrase wouldn’t have legs to stand on.

IMG_1262Recently, we pulled into a large parking lot in front of a strip mall adjacent to Indian Harbor Beach, FL. We were going to be partnering with Glen Clark & The Family for a weekend festival called Spring Beach Fest. We were excited and arrived the night before the event, settled in, got to know the crew, played some music and talked logistics for the next day.

The morning of the festival we pulled our bus behind the Main Stage as a backdrop and wind break. IMG_1289As we pulled into place, our bus stopped moving, it wouldn’t respond to our commands but kept idling. We knew something was wrong and started to panic but the festival crew was in high gear and there was no time to try to figure out what was wrong with the bus.

I sent an SOS out to all of our kinfolk around the globe asking for prayer and were encouraged by all of the immediate responses. Craig got on his bus forum at busconversion.com and started asking questions. The guys responded right away and gave him some great ideas of areas to explore on the bus. He did what he could with the information but eventually had to release his efforts for lack of knowledge. We started to investigate towing options but as we took a step back we realized it was Sat and most bus mechanical shops wouldn’t be open until Monday. We also knew that getting a tow during the festival wasn’t a practical or safe option. So, we tried to set aside our issue and focus on our purpose at the festival.

IMG_1275As we prayed and others prayed for us, our faith was strengthened and we were able to stay present, serving alongside the Clark family. The fellas helped with set up and us girls started to focus on creating a space of hospitality on our bus, making a big pot of homemade chai and a Mediterranean lunch for everyone. And, although there was a cloud hanging over us, we all could sense the presence of those praying for us.

Things started to settle down a bit, we played a set of music, then rested for a moment, taking in all of the joy around us; the beach, those serving food on the main grounds, the children laughing and playing in the jumpy castles, those engaged in hardy conversation and the many bands that played that day.

IMG_1286Early evening, I came back into the bus to start working on dinner and noticed that our stove was acting weird. I lifted the grill and found that the gas line was on fire and was nearly scorched through. I turned off the stove immediately, and sat down to catch my breath. I realized that we were just spared an even more dramatic crisis of a bus fire! I was thankful, however I was so discouraged because I no longer had a way to care for others using my kitchen. The weight of the whole day started to burden me and I sighed. I managed to whisper a short prayer and then sent out another SOS to all of our kinfolk;

“Update on Bus breakdown. Craig has started to narrow down issue but has only solved a bit of the puzzle, something to do with the air compression and the breaks. Our bus is sitting as the backdrop at a little grassroots festival, Indian Harbor, FL. Fine for the night but tomorrow turns back into a strip mall parking lot. ¬†On top of that, feeling thwarted as we found the gas main on our stove was scorched. Thank The Lord we found it, or our bus would have blown up. Means I can’t cook for the crew here which is frustrating! We’re all starting to feel the stress. Plus there are a few external/relational situations that we are present at the¬†festival. So, our focus has been on caring for others. I know God is faithful no matter what. Still need to cry though. Please pray for us. We could use a big fat wet kiss from God right now.”

The responses poured in:

  • Vanessa¬†at 7:10pm;¬†Prayers are going up!! Lord, set them back on path to do Your work! Any assignments or schemes set against them must be released in Jesus’ name!!
    Love you guys and are praying for it all to be restored asap! And with little cost to you! 
  • Ginny¬†at 7:18pm¬†Praying for a fix. Praising God you discovered the stove issue.
  • Bente.¬†at 7:19pm¬†so very sorry..I pray for peace and provision.
  • Joseph¬†at 7:20pm¬†I’ll just join you in crying, tough day in the Apple Donky as well….God is Good all the time
  • Sofija¬†at 7:42pm¬†So sorry! Praying for you guys… So glad you all are safe.
  • Grace¬†at 8:04pm¬†Praying for you sweet friends…
  • Melanie¬†at 8:06pm¬†Father in Heaven, hear our cries.
  • Kelli¬†at 8:16pm¬†Ugh. Continued prayers (from earlier post today). So sorry. Good WILL come of it….but yuck.
  • Niqee¬†at 8:43pm¬†Oh dear sister cry! That is highly acceptable! It is in those times that we truly give it over to God. He never leaves us. Embrace the journey. Never easy but always beautiful!¬†
  • Brett¬†at 10:06pm¬†Lifting your family up!¬†
  • Janae¬†at 10:34pm¬†Praying for you all!¬†So thankful that it isn’t worse.¬†Praying for that big sloppy wet kiss!¬†
  • Debbie¬†at 5:16am¬†Praying from across the big pond¬†
  • Jerry¬†at 9:16am¬†You are a picture of walking with the Lord. Do what you can while you wait on him to do what you can’t. Go Craig! That cooking part I know bugs you Jana. You love serving. Lord, from a far thank you for way you are involved with us all. Near. Faithful. Showing up not only to do but to be, so we can enjoy you beyond wonder. Thank you for watching over the Hollands.¬†
  • Jane¬†at 9:24am¬†Praying for you guys!¬†
  • Cara¬†at 10:18am¬†Praying for a mighty miracle of mysterious bus fixes and your friends hearts.

Our spirits were lifted by the prayers of those who heard our cry for support. That’s when I realized that the whole episode with the bus wasn’t about the bus.¬†The most debilitating thing wasn’t the bus being broken down or even the worry of how to pay for the repairs. The most debilitating thing was dealing with a sense of being isolated and alone. Prayer became our focus and through it all, we understood that prayer was our life line.

As the¬†festival came to a close our attention turned to solving the problem of electricity for the night. You see we have been building this bus as resources become available and one of our last things that we hope to build is the inverter/generator system, which will allow us to dry camp, but that will come when it’s meant to come. In the meantime, we prayed and found favor with the local bar, called Bishops, which allowed us to run our electrical cord across the parking lot to them. We slept hard, knowing that the next morning we were going to have a busy day dealing with our¬†broken bus. We woke up the next morning to a surprising and encouraging text from our friends Karen and Doug.

IMG_1305We met Karen and Doug at Lifest a few summers ago and have kept in touch with them ever since. They are some of our kinfolk who were praying for us and just happened to be an hour north of us in Sanford, FL.

Doug, a retired diesel mechanic, stated that they were on their way and hoped to try to problem solve with us. Sure enough, they showed up shortly after and Doug and Craig got to work. They spent all day sussing out the problem finally narrowing it down to a break chamber issue. Over the course of 8 hours they fixed my stove and temporarily got the bus running enough to take it up to the MCI shop in Orlando, saving us the $400 tow. We were taken aback by their love and support and willingness to care for us unconditionally and noted it as an answer to the many prayers, giving thanks!

IMG_1356Doug and Karen were volunteering at New Tribes Missions Homes and had arranged for us to park our bus for the night in their RV park and the next morning Craig and Doug brought the bus to the MCI shop. While our bus was in the shop they organized for us to stay in a duplex in the community for the two nights it took to fix our bus. Their generosity allowed us time to take a deep breath, get some laundry done, share a few meals, learn about NTMH and share in community without the burden of our bus issues pulling us down.

In the end, the bus was fixed, our repair costs were eventually covered by those who felt compelled to care for us financially and we were able to continue on our way. But, even if all hadn’t fallen into place, we know that through it all, God is faithful, hears our prayers and because of this we experienced a deep sense of connectivity through a difficult time.
We also believe that because of the faithfulness of the saints in our lives we made it through on a wing and prayer.

Bus Conversion- Painting

Inspired by the historical street cars in San Francisco, specifically the 1946 “Philadelphia,” and this little potting planter, we have chosen to paint our bus what some folks call sea-foam green. We had the paint organized and Craig had been slowly stripping ¬†the sides of the bus. It was one of those projects that was sure to take a long time, chipping away at it here and there. However, upon arrival at our host home in Mt. Vernon Iowa, we found an eager and expert set of helping hands in the Anderson fellows. They are the one’s who actually brought the subject up in conversation. Asking, if we had any desire to paint the bus. We answered, “well, sure, someday.” That someday was this weekend. With tools in tow and paint, they sanded and cleaned up the remainder of the bus. Taped it off and away they went.

We couldn’t have organized or asked for a better scenario. Besides, a helping and encouraging hand at painting the bus, we enjoyed the delights of solace amongst the fall colors, sharing meals and inspiring conversation, and plenty of activity for the kids on the ¬†the Anderson’s farm.

We didn’t see it coming and the blessing will continue to go with us as a reminder as we continue down the road. Serendipity!

Below showcases the process.

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Some day, day down the line, we’ll add a red pin strip and art work on the back.

Team Holland and Outback Consulting


It’s been a trying and testing 10 days. The emotional transition of Virtual School started one day after we returned from our 8 week tour. Our final days of working (9-5 job) were finishing up and we found out our health insurance failed and the research to take care of a skin cancer issue are back on the table. To top it all off, there is a bus sitting in our yard that needs immediate attention. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much this week.

All hands on deck! With the help of our children and a friends we find ourselves in the final stages of demo.

It’s been a huge learning curve as we are really shooting in the dark, trying to learn as much as possible to meet our deadline of Oct. 12, 2011. From what we’ve read it will be nearly impossible, as most of the folks who we are gleaning wisdom from, say it will take 6 month minimum, up to 3 years to convert our bus. Oh well! We’re always up for a challenge and with the help and support of our FIRST SPONSOR and friend, Marc Brummel of Outback Consulting¬†and¬†Brummel Architectural Group, we now have a plan!

We’ve been stretched beyond recognition regarding our need to always be in control but that doesn’t mean there isn’t suppose to be a plan. And, sitting down with Marc was a breath of fresh air. Offering his mad skills and innovative talents, we were able to dream, weave & create a real live working model of our home. It is a true gift and we are so thankful to have this vision to share with you. Here you go… have a look at our new home. (of course we are open to the plan changing but this is a start)¬†

We’ve been asked what our needs are and up until now, we really didn’t know?Having a plan has helped us sort it all out. So, Here is a list of tangibles:

  • Helping hands: Help hanging sheet metal mid-week. Next week help from Welders, Electricians, Plumbers. Contact Craig if you have a bit of time/talent to offer. 920.883.6874
  • Meals– Any help with meals these next two weeks would be so appreciated.
  • Rental referrals-¬†Our lower, 2 bedroom apt. is for rent starting anytime after Oct. 1. $750, includes ALL utilities, parking and a shared laundry, yard space. (no smoking, no pets)
  • Support- Our fundraiser is this weekend. Sept 17. 8-4pm is our donations sale. All of our belonging will be available, give what you can. 5-8pm; Potluck/Concert ($10 suggested donation) Our dear friends, The Unfortunate, from Chicago, will be joining in the fun. We will be set up to take credit card, cash or check. Also, our PAYPAL link has not been working but if you go to www.paypal.com and use janahollandmusic@yahoo.com to route the donation too it will make it our way just fine. Otherwise checks can be sent to: 732 S. Clay St. Green Bay, WI 54301
  • Here is a list of basic Systems we need to raise funds for (est): Heating System: $400, Electrical System: $2000,¬†Plumbing System: $1200, RV Windows, $1000,
  • *¬†These items are luxury items that would facilitate a more comfortable or economical ride: Generator: $7500,¬†Air Units: $1500, ¬†Veggie Oil System: $5000, Solar Panels: $1500
  • ¬†Basic interior needs: ¬†1/4 in plywood, 2×4’s, Flooring: tile, cork board, wood. RV toilet, Fridge, RV stove/oven.

Thanks for joining the team.