Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Thursday, December 1, 2011

'Tis The Season

Bring it on!

Christmas is my favorite holiday, with my birthday running a close second (don't even try to tell me that my birthday isn't a holiday).

Retail Christmas is a phenomenon that has grown into an evil monster covered with green eyes with dollar signs instead of pupils, and multiple arms; something of Biblical proportions straight out of the book of Revelation. We won't go there.

The Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier every year. This year I noticed fresh cut trees for sale before Thanksgiving--quite a surprise.

I have made a tradition of buying a tree the first weekend in December, but this year, with trees cut so early, Leland and I decided to get our perfect tree home and into a bucket of water before it turned into kindling.

So much for tradition. The tree went up *gasp* right after Thanksgiving. This tree really will be kindling by Christmas day, but oh makes everything happier!

Photos by Lynne Holder (c)2011 

The Christmas of my heart is about family, love, laughter, and the delightful antics of my 2 year-old granddaughter, Kate, to name just a few of my favorite things. 

 Photo by Jon McCalmont (c)2011

Thankfully, it's not about the stuff. It's about God's gift to humankind.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. --John 1:14 

As the Christmas season begins it is my intention to see all that is beautiful. I started with the beauty I see in our perfect little tree, and the beautiful, child-wonder on Kate's sweet face.

She is definitely on the Nice List.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Today I came across a message from a dear friend. He wrote it in August and I had forgotten it, stuck at the bottom of the list of Facebook messages:

I've been catching up on your blog posts. I love your writing. You write just like you speak, and I can pick up on your humor, happiness, sadness and even your frustration...Please keep writing. You have something very special going on there, and only God knows how He will use you through your gift of writing.

It impacted me again, much as it did when I read it almost 4 months ago. To think that anything I had written made an impression on someone, enough to write me such an encouraging note, was amazing. But this time it was a little sad.

I haven't kept writing. The reasons are many. This has been a difficult season of life, one where every step has been met with obstacles on my path--not little ones, but those that cause me to stop in my tracks.

Rock slide in the Smoky Mtns, TN

The picture above feels like my life--what I see every day. The questioning this has brought about feels justified, born of sheer frustration. I feel thwarted.

Will God ever use me through my writing, for anything? 

I read this while I sipped my coffee this morning:

How little those know Me who think I wish to thwart them. --God Calling

How little I know Him. That made me stop and think, which can be a good thing or a bad thing for me. It usually leads to more questions, but for now, I choose to own this statement (with a prayer to know Him more), and flip the "off" switch in my brain. Time to just be--to rest in the blessing of what is, this moment.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stone By Stone

I have a great little book titled God Calling; a collection of the writing of 2 women, arranged in passages by day, covering an entire year. The passage I read today was another reminder that I have not mastered patience, and its very close companion, trust.

Heaven's Colors 

Looking back you will see that every step was planned. Leave all to Me. Each stone in the mosaic fits into the perfect pattern, designed by the Master Artist. It is all so wonderful! But the colors are of Heaven's hues, so that your eyes could not bear to gaze on the whole, until you are beyond the veil. So, stone by stone, you see, and trust the pattern to the Designer. 

Trust, to my mind, means letting go. It's so hard to let go. Why? Because we're taught that hard work and perseverance result in success. Chase your dream and never give up. Right?

Letting go feels like giving up. Letting go feels like the sure demise of one's dreams.

Maybe, just maybe, letting go is falling into a big, fluffy pile of warm blankets.

Maybe letting go is trusting that the pattern of our lives is already designed and laid out--and it is a beautiful mosaic.

Maybe letting go is the way to all we can ask or imagine.

Maybe there's something greater--something more. 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. --Ephesians 3:16-19 

Maybe grasping hold of God's love is our greatest success.

But seek first his kingdom...and all these things will be given to you as well. --Matthew 6:33

I'm not going to lie--it's still not easy to trust that and let go, but it is my goal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


That big plate full of stuff I was talking about a few weeks ago was suddenly and unceremoniously dumped in the trash.

Plate empty.

In its place? A crap ton of lemons.

This morning I received a job rejection after a phone interview, a face-to-face interview, a personality profile, and a week of waiting.

I wanted a positive, upbeat environment after the hell I endured for a year and a half. I wanted to actually believe I was making a difference in people's lives, in some small way. Everyone I met was so nice and I thought everything went very well. Then I got this:

"Thanks for interviewing with our company...we wanted to inform you that you were not chosen for the position."

A form email. Nice.

How is it that I don't have what it takes for this job?

I shook that off as best I could, telling myself every encouraging verse, positive quote, and cliche I could possibly think of to bolster my sagging self-esteem.

Move on. That job was not meant to be mine. God has something better for me.

I left for a meeting that had been anticipated for about a week. It had to do with an article I had pitched to Reject Apathy about the pain and suffering that still exists in post-civil war Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Managing Editor liked the idea and gave me a deadline of November 4th.

The bell rang, the starting gate flung open, and I bolted out of the chute. I thought about my angle day and night. I interviewed someone who had been to the camp this past spring. I wrote a few sentences while waiting to interview a Bosnian national via Skype.

I just knew I was doing something of Kingdom value.

At lunchtime, I met with the person that I believed would be able to facilitate donations to a refugee camp where people live in deplorable conditions, and I believed I had support.

[Looking in the mirror] Oh, the naive and idealistic. Bless their hearts.

In less than 15 minutes my article was shot down. Don't bother with 911.

Two rejections--rather big ones--by lunchtime. Ouch.

At home again, I sat at my desk to check my email. First in the stack--Your credit card statement is ready for viewing.

I tried very hard not to, but there was too much on my internal pile of "stuff". I felt the volcano start to rumble and rise in my throat, and then--tears, damn it.

Who knew that trying to help a group of suffering people in a war-torn country that is yet to recover 16 years later could be so complicated? So political? So many toes to step on?

Clearly, I need an intuition tune-up, or God just needs to simplify things by writing his plan for me on my walls. Fine with me, go ahead and mess up the paint. 

How have you handled your rejections?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Apologies!

To all who have been visiting my blogs recently, I offer my sincere apologies for Google+ bombing all my posts and removing all the photos.

I was not aware that being a Googler and a Blogger meant that all my photos were linked to Picasa albums; therefore, when I deleted those mysteriously appearing albums from my G+ photos...well you can well imagine my horror the next time I went to visit my blogs.

I am now wiser for this excruciating lesson. I loved sitting for hours on end trying to figure out what picture I had posted on the oldest posts.

On another topic, I still have a lot on that aforementioned plate. The chef thought I was still hungry and dumped another serving, or 3, on there, so now my head is spinning.

In other words, I'll see you when I see you.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time To Hit Pause

I have a few things on my plate, as they say, that are demanding my time and energy, so this blog is on hiatus until further notice.

I hope it won't be too long before I'm back to post again. In the meantime, enjoy the great fall weather. God bless and keep you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

No Matter What

I say I am a writer. 

What if I don't write every day?

What if I don't want to be negative and only write on the days I feel good?

What if I write when I don't feel happy and illuminate the dark corners of my life?

What if I'm just real?

I can write if I am happy, sad, moving forward, stagnant, grateful, or struggling.

I should. Life is all of those things, and more.

No camping on the banks of "that river".

Still, I hesitate. 

Who wants to read the negative bits of being a dreamer?

Does anyone care?

Do you write, no matter what?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Mentor

Have you ever had a person in your life that was your "go-to" for information and advice--someone who supported you and guided you on your path?

A mentor. 

I have never enjoyed the privilege of a spiritual mentor, but I was fortunate to have one in my journey into my modeling career. This unique individual was my fashion photographer, Michael Wray.

I can easily say that he was the most interesting, complicated, and probably the strangest person I have ever known. He was an amazingly creative and talented photographer. You will never see his best work, because he kept it safely guarded. I counted myself highly privileged that he showed it to me.

When I walked into my first photo modeling class with Michael, I had no idea what was ahead of me. When he picked up his camera and we headed out of the studio to the top level of the parking garage, I was at a loss to understand what could possibly be the point of shooting anything up there.

I had a lot to learn. Case in point:

Photo Credit: ©2007 Michael Wray
  Michael's vision for me on the top of the parking deck--the power business shot

Make me want to click the shutter, he would say. And if I didn't, he wouldn't, and he would walk right on by. Ouch.

I loved his class. He made me uncomfortable. He pushed me. And we became close friends.

Photo Credit: ©2007 Leland Holder
If not for Michael Wray, I never would have gone to Miami. He challenged me, I listened, I acted. He made me. As a result, I had experiences I wouldn't trade for anything.

He didn't just push me out of the studio nest, he told me to call him with every detail of my agency encounters in Miami, every casting call, every callback, every booking. He would call to make sure I was okay if we hadn't spoken in a while.

I owed him.

After I returned from Miami in 2009, for reasons unknown to me, Michael had chosen to put our friendship on the back burner. No matter how often I called and left a voice message or emailed him, he chose not to respond; even to the news of my marriage to Leland.

A year went by. I wondered if any of our mutual friends had heard from him. I was hurt and confused. Then, I wondered if he was okay.

Suddenly, one day, my phone rang and Michael's number and name showed up on the screen. Shocked, I answered the phone. He asked me to join him for dinner at one of our hangouts on Highland Ave. I was so happy to hear from him, I said I would meet him outside the studio in the parking garage and we would drive to the restaurant together.

At the appointed day and time, I parked my car, got out, and as I moved toward his car, he got out and stood up. What I saw terrified me. My round faced friend was thin, gaunt, and scary looking. I hugged his bony frame, looked him in the eyes and asked, Are you alright?

Suddenly, all those questions about why he ignored me for a year didn't matter anymore.

My friend and mentor was dying.

On this day one year ago, after 2 weeks of hospice visits, watching him fade and miraculously come back for a while, I sat beside his bed, my hand on his chest, while he took his last breath.

I remember Michael and I having so many conversations about life, and inevitably, we would laugh and say, Can we go home now?

He's home.

Thank you, Michael. For everything.

Monday, August 29, 2011


It's unfortunate that this one little word, winning, has become the laughing stock of the English language in the wake of the (thankfully) now quiet, Charlie Sheen circus.

Laugh. I don't care. Today, I'm winning!

I will be on my way late Tuesday afternoon for an industrial video shoot for a pharmaceutical company.

Icing on the cake? I'm playing a doctor.

Do you know how many times in my life someone has actually said to me, You should have been a doctor. I'm dead serious (sorry--that dead thing--not medical humor).

Now I get to channel my inner MD when I slide on the white coat and stand in front of my medical practice minions. She says, with a slightly wicked grin.

Can I be House? Can I be snarky and obnoxious and brilliant and say awesome words like autoimmune, sarcoidosis, hematoma, and stage 4 glioblastoma? Start him on prednisone and if he dies, we know we were wrong.

Pass the Vicodin and practice the limp.

Sadly enough, the doctor I am playing, according to the script, doesn't know squat about federal drug regulations and wants to do a little illegal something for her friend in the office across the street.

The real me spent years in pharmaceutical QA and Regulatory Affairs. And wanted to be a doctor, once upon a time.

I have to play dumb?

Anything for a good time. 

It's not paying much, but it's not about the money, it's about loving the work.

It's a piece of the dream puzzle falling into place, one piece at a time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everyone Needs a BFF

I've seen many stories of women who have held on to high school or college friends all through their lives. Regardless of marriage, careers, children, moves, divorce, and all the other stuff of life, they managed to maintain their friendships.

As I watched these stories, I marveled at them, and thought, how wonderful that must be, but I've never experienced it. I moved quite a bit, and I think I basically gave up on the idea of a best friend, choosing not to risk being disappointed with making friends and then losing them.

Like most things in my life, finding my best friends has happened later in life for me than most people. I had to grow up.

Better late than never.

As I began my modeling career adventure in 2007 I was involved in photo modeling classes, taught by Michael Wray, the agency's fashion photographer. We would all congregate on the top level of the parking garage of Lenox Towers in Buckhead and Michael would put us through the paces of learning to be photographed for fashion and lifestyle print.

After the first few classes, a new person showed up on the top level of the parking garage--Carrie. She had modeled as a teenager and was pursuing it again as a newly divorced mother of 2 small children.

Have you ever been inexplicably drawn to someone? Well, that was the case with Carrie. I started talking to her, and the fact that there is an 18-year difference in our ages never seemed to be an obstacle to our conversation.

It was quickly apparent that Carrie is one of the sweetest souls I have ever met. The bond we share is made of the steel forged when women share their hearts and souls, no holds barred. We have a spiritual connection that makes us sisters. I feel safe with Carrie. I trust her with my heart (and I'm very careful with it). She is smart, funny, and beautiful, inside and out. 

While I was in Miami Beach, Carrie flew down to visit a couple of times and those visits are some of my fondest memories. One of those trips was for the purpose of adding pictures to our portfolios. Michael was in town on other business, so between that and the great locations, the opportunity for a shoot was not to be missed. Of course, we had a blast.
Sidebar--> Thank you, Steve, for joining the party!

I returned to Atlanta in 2009, in the throes of the recession, and started over again. Work, mission trips, catching up with my kids, a new grand baby, and my wedding had all my attention.

Meanwhile, Carrie earned her Master's degree while teaching full-time and raising her 2 children. Regretfully, I didn't communicate with her as I should have; our relationship boiling down to occasional emails amidst our busy lives.

I hadn't seen her in I don't know how long--too long--when the imminent death of our friend, Michael, brought us together. We met again under painful circumstances, but seeing her again was as though no time had passed.

September 6, 2010

 Since then, nearly a year has passed and lots has happened. Carrie is now a Christian counselor, as well as a teacher, specializing in play therapy. Leland and I were with her in June to photograph and celebrate her marriage to Tim, also a Christian counselor. Together they run a non-profit counseling center, Second Wind.

We've both come a long way since the evening classes on the top level of the parking garage. We've had some great adventures, helped each other grieve, laughed, grew, and celebrated how God redeemed the lost years by gracing us with our husbands.

I am more than willing now to risk losing a friend so that I can have a friend. I'm blessed to have this one--my best friend. People come and go through our lives, but there are friends with whom we will always be connected. Whatever life brings our way, I am certain Carrie and I will always find each other.

Do you have a best friend story? Do you have one particular close friend or a group of several that has stuck together for years? Please, share!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do I Believe?

Since writing about my most unlikely of dreams--becoming a model--I have been entertaining those fond memories of my year working in Miami Beach.

And I wonder, if not for the recession, would I have stayed? If not for the recession, would I have gone further in my modeling career, and more into acting? If not for the recession, would I have ever returned to Atlanta, dated, and eventually married the most supportive and unconditionally loving person on earth?

What if...

The reality is, the recession happened and it halted much of modeling and advertising in their tracks. Film production left Florida, along with the tax incentives. I did go back to Atlanta, and of course, married Leland Holder. One dream became my reality after one seemed to have ended, but some dreams never really die.

Fully aware that the business is vastly different in Atlanta than in Miami Beach (read: slow), I managed to book jobs here and there--a print job for Home Depot and several stock photo shoots with a local photographer.

A casino commercial I filmed in Miami was picked up for another year, which resulted in a nice check. It made me think about going back, but there was no point until there were indications of economic recovery.

I listed myself with a virtual agency, Talent Soup, a visionary concept from the creative mind of Rad Harrell, self-appointed Talent Chef. I went about the business of work in the corporate world (and hating it), enjoying marriage, all the while thinking, some day.

Talent Soup submitted me for a few projects over the next 2 years, until May of this year, when things began jumping. I was submitted for 5 projects in about 6 weeks--crazy for this area--and went to one casting.

It was exciting to see advertising pick up again and I knew it was time--invest in new pictures and be ready. I went into high gear planning a photo shoot to update my pictures for my online portfolios on Talent Soup and at Mega Models in Miami. A week of coordinating schedules of my most amazing photographer and husband, Leland, modeling partner, Scott, and makeup artist, Sav, and we had shoot day set in stone. One of my favorite parts, shopping for shoot wardrobe, was done in an afternoon.  

I was jazzed. It was fun. I realized, even after all this slack time, how much I enjoy this. If this is work, bring it on. Modeling and working on TV and movie sets, working long hours, are the things I have done that have actually resulted in being pleasantly exhausted at the end of the day.

Smiling between yawns, after 12 hours on set. Ready to do it again.

So this is what it's like to love your job.

Since that jump in submissions in May--nothing. Cue the crickets. Strange, since I had received an email from Rad about the shortage of talent in the 55+ age range. So I emailed him my theory about the never-ending American cultural view of beauty being youth, and the norm of men my age typically being cast with younger women. I had apparently correctly identified the gap for female talent in my age category.


Whereas once the doors flew open and the phone rang off the hook, now the doors AND windows have all seemed to shut and lock, and the phone is silent.

But do I still believe that all things are possible?

Are you kidding? I've lived it. I still believe it. Admittedly, some days it's easier to give up than others, but deep down, I know it can still happen. Doors of opportunity can be opened. The phone can ring.

Now, there is a difference, and not just in the business. Where I once had a white knuckle grip on this dream, I now release the outcome. I trust God to do with it as he sees fit, because I know he has my best interests at heart. And in his heart is where I love to be.

Dream your dream, take all the steps toward it that you can, and then release the outcome by placing that precious dream into the loving hands of God.

Do you believe your dream is still possible?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Never Too Late

Have you ever thought about those dreams you had as a kid? Did you put them aside, or did they become your reality?

There were plenty of things I dreamt of doing and being as a kid, but the one thing I know I was born to do was to ride horses. I wanted an entire herd of them, and endless, fenceless land to ride through.

When I was about 13 years old, I began dreaming something new. I wanted to be a model. Looking back on it, it seems pretty odd, given the outdoorsy tomboy I was, who followed her father everywhere, but that's what happened.

I brought my wish to my mother. Her immediate answer was, No.

But, why?

I don't remember all the reasons she gave that this would be a bad idea, but the one that stuck was, They'll only reject you. Someone will think your nose is too big, or you're too short, or you're too...

Whatever. I knew I was done.

I was totally deflated. I went to my room and looked in the mirror. My nose isn't that big, is it?  I looked at the magazine article I had read about what was required to be a model. I'm just the right height and weight--5'7", 117 pounds--maybe a little short, but maybe not.

I knew it was a waste of my energy to think about this any longer, knowing that, in my house, no meant NO.

Dream over, buried.

Fast forward, oh, 37 years. I was divorced, kids grown and out on their own or in college, self-employed, making a new life for myself in a new city. A year earlier, I had written a list of no limits dreams and goals and stuck it safely away in my file cabinet. On that list was the goal of becoming a successful model.

I went to a singles group dinner one night in February, 2007, where I met a photographer named Leland Holder. He told me his specialty was executive portraiture, and he asked me if I had a professional head shot for my website. Of course, I didn't. It was a snapshot that I had cropped to head and shoulders.

A few days later, I found myself sitting in Leland's studio, with my stomach in knots, for my very first professional portrait. He was very good at setting me at ease, the glass of wine not withstanding, and he quickly had several good shots.

He looked at me and told me I was very photogenic. Then he asked me The Fateful Question:

Have you ever thought about being a model?

Suddenly, I felt that 13-year-old girl come to the surface. I smiled and asked Leland, Can I tell you a secret?

He lowered his camera, gave me his full attention, and said, Sure.

I've always wanted to be a model, but my mother wouldn't let me when I was a kid.

Well, modeling has changed a lot since you were a kid, and there's a big demand for mature models. I've gotten some really good pictures of you. You should think about it.

Uh-oh. He had to throw me that bone.

That first photo shoot turned into 2 more, and before I knew it, I had enough images to put together a portfolio. I had no idea what I was doing, but I compiled a list of local modeling agencies and with my small collection of photos, I got in the car with Leland and went to the first one on the list.

The agency owner happened to be at the front desk when we walked in. She shook my hand and introduced herself, looked at the photos, and asked me if I could come back the next week for an interview. The following week I signed with that agency, and was ushered back into the photo studio to meet their fashion photographer, Michael Wray.

Thus began an adventure that I never could have imagined. It took me to Miami Beach and 3 more agencies, and one of the best years of my entire life from 2008-2009.

You wouldn't believe the naysayers I had to plow through to get to Miami. These are people who don't want you to realize your dreams because they're too afraid to venture out of the Land of Familiar themselves. But they don't matter.


God provided every single thing I needed for this adventure, including my friend, Steve, to keep me company along the way. For the most part, I was alone in it, in Miami, but only in the physical sense. God never left me. He never will. I grew that year, spiritually and emotionally. It took that time away, by myself, for God to accomplish that work in me.

Michael asked me that first day he met me, Why have you decided to start modeling at age 50? 

I replied, Well, I've been wanting to do this since I was 13, so I figured now would be a good time.

He told me several times he never forgot that.

Do you have a dream that is buried deep beneath the adult world of "shoulds", "woulds", and various pursuits of the American Dream of material wealth? One that the naysayers told you couldn't be done? One that you were told was childish? Or you were just crazy? Then I would encourage you to dig it out, bring it into the light of day, and consider nurturing it.

Trust me. It's never too late.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Was Born To Surf

Last night Leland and I watched the movie, Soul Surfer. If you haven't watched it, you should. It is the true story of surfer, Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm in a shark attack. It is also about her journey through the tragedy; adjusting to new limitations, her change in perspective, and her return to competitive surfing.

Bethany was on the rise as a competitive surfer, having been sponsored by Rip Curl shortly before her tragic accident. She was living an idyllic life with a strong, faith-based, loving family, a best friend to share her surfing passion with, and the promise of a brilliant future.

I wanted to be her as I watched this story begin to unfold. Who wouldn't?

Then that shark came out of nowhere and took off her left arm, along with her hopes and dreams. But like any passionate dreamer, Bethany was thinking only of getting back into the water as she lay in a hospital bed, in pain, recovering from a horrible trauma.

Once out of the hospital, watching Bethany's return home and the limitations she was facing, the frustration, the pain on her brothers' and parents' faces as they watched her, brought tears to my eyes. And the paparazzi camped in the front yard, like buzzards circling their next meal, made me angry.

With determination born of faith--I can do all this through Him who gives me strength--she adapted to life with one arm. She learned to surf again, her family cheering her on along the way. Then she decided to go to the next level; to compete.

Bethany's dreams of competitive surfing came crashing down around her as she gave in to the heart-breaking frustration of trying to regain her pre-injury abilities. Faith withered under the strain of the seemingly impossible.  

She gave up.

She gave her boards away to some of her younger fans and decided to go with her church youth group on a mission trip to Thailand, following the tsunami of 2004. There, her perspective changed. The suffering, wreckage, and hopelessness of the aftermath of the tsunami brought her out of her own suffering and into the lives of those she went to serve.

Back home with a renewal of faith, she decided to surf again, and to prepare for a national competition. Her father rigged her board with a hand hold that would allow her to duck dive through the surf and pop out on the back side without being pummeled by the waves. She trained, and trained hard, because, as she said, I was born to surf.

In that competition, God gave her the wave of her dreams as the entire lineup of surfers sat in a calm sea and the clock ticked off the last seconds of the heat. She came close to winning that competition, and would have if she had only stood on her board one second sooner, before the horn blew signaling the end of the heat. She placed fifth because that dream ride didn't count.

Not to Bethany. It counted.

How quickly I lose my grip on faith and give up on my dreams. Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story, and for encouraging dreamers everywhere. You are beyond inspirational--a true champion of the faith.

                            Bethany Hamilton at the Champions of the Faith Awards, Atlanta, GA

What were you born to do? Have you given up on your dream? What can you do to bring it back to life?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Setting The Stage

As defined by Merriam-Webster:

Dream (noun):  a : a strongly desired goal or purpose
                      b : something that fully satisfies a wish

What the dictionary doesn't say is how dear to us our dreams are.

We are born with some of our dreams having been programmed into our DNA by the Creator, as are our personality and physical characteristics. They have been with us since our earliest memories.

Some of our dreams we choose as we grow, and they change from childhood to adulthood, and even in later years, but I want to believe that even those find their roots in what lies in us on a cellular level.

We do with them what we will--ignore them or pursue them, or as I prefer to say, nurture them.

Most of us are familiar with the beliefs we were taught on our way to adulthood--that unless a dream results in a certain comfort level on the socioeconomic scale, it is not worthy of nurturing. We must put it aside as childish and act like an adult.

God bless The Rebel. 

Cue Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild. (Generation Y, take note. Coolness existed long before you showed up). Visualize yourself speeding down a straight stretch of road in a convertible (on a motorcycle if you prefer), music blasting. And plaster a wicked grin on your face.

Now that the stage is set, I'm planning on sharing my story of the most unlikely of dreams actually becoming my reality. It's quite a tale, it's long and will be condensed, and my goal is to inspire the reader. I'll let you know when it's written.

p.s. You are free, you know. Free to dream, free to nurture your dreams, free to choose to believe that all things are possible, free to flick the naysayer across the room (figuratively, or perhaps, a literal flipping off of the flesh and blood version--thank them first for their input).

Have a wild weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Birthday Randomness

The Holder's don't simply celebrate a birthday one day and move on. No, no, no. We celebrate Birthday Week. This is my week.

On August 3rd, I turned, umm, 55. There, I said it. And I felt it in my throat, sort of like acid reflux.

My goal was to kick birthday ass, my reasons for which, you can read about here. If you're short on time, let it suffice to say, in light of (or regardless of) the many less than happy days of the past year, I decided to party hearty.

There is another reason I believe birthdays need to be a big deal: I have already outlived my mother by 4 years of age. Trust me, every year becomes more of a celebration knowing that none of us knows how long our stay here will be.

The week-long festivities commenced on Sunday, with a date with the hubs to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2--great movie--followed by cocktails at one of our favorite spots. It was quiet, intimate, and perfect for nice, chill conversation.

The next 3 days each brought more birthday surprises from my most wonderful husband and children. I love my kids, and my granddaughter Kate, who called to say, Happy Bu-day, Gamma! 


Unfortunately, Birth Day went downhill from there. Plans for a night out on the town were squashed as Leland came home from a location shoot with his shoulder muscles in spasm.

Pain from hell. Chiropractor. Ice. DMSO. E-stim. Pain. Much vocalization and declaration that this is as bad as childbirth. Excuse me?!

We did eventually enjoy a very nice grilled steak dinner, followed by CAKE!  

Okay, cupcakes, but still, it was cake with frosting and cute dots in different colors. And candles stuck in the middle. It was FUN. I felt like a kid.


But there's one more surprise to top off the day like a cherry poised atop a mound of whipped cream on an ice cream sundae.

This video:

This angel is Mary Claire, 4-year-old daughter of our wonderful friends, John and Elizabeth. John is one of our mission team members from our October '09 mission trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina. We all learned a few words in Croatian as a result of our visit, and Mary Claire has picked up a few herself. What she is saying is, Slava Bog!, which translated is, Praise God!

Leland and I played this over and over, laughing our heads off every time. I know why Jesus loves kids so much.

Yes, Mary Claire, Praise God--Slava Bog, baby! Birthdays rock!

How do you celebrate birthdays? I would love to hear your story!

p.s. The week isn't over yet!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Life Lessons

My husband, Leland Holder. Where do I begin? There is so much I could say about the man I've known for 4 1/2 years and been married to for 1 1/2 years, but this is about his generous and giving spirit.

And a few life lessons.

Leland is known for giving his time and talents as a professional photographer, here and abroad; on several occasions, traveling to Eastern Europe and his heart's connection--the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Evangelical Church of Capljina. He has also been known to give his last dollars to people who have asked him for financial assistance.

Lesson 1: People have taken advantage of his giving nature, and that has hurt, but not anymore. Not on my watch.

He gives easily and without a thought to what is in it for him. It is who Leland is, at his core--generous.

I have been praying for some time that God will return to him what he has given, multiplied many times over. I seriously don't know anyone who deserves this more. I believe I am seeing the beginnings of that prayer being answered, and I am grateful beyond words, but it has been quite a test of endurance to run the race of faith and not grow weary.

Lesson 2: Sometimes, you feel like you've been in the waiting room so long that you consider changing your address.

Lesson 3: Sometimes, however, an act of generosity will come back to you surprisingly fast.

Recently, we were at the farmer's market in Buckhead. Leland was in line for a cup of coffee; organic something or other, from some remote region of the planet, no doubt grown by some magical people, which of course would justify the horrendous price. To me, it's just another cup of crack. But that's beside the point.

The person in front of Leland was a young mother with her baby in a stroller. She had ordered a cup of coffee, but was surprised to find out that the vendor only accepted cash. Since she couldn't use her debit card, she started to turn away when Leland told the vendor, I'll buy her coffee. Two cups, please.

The young woman told him he didn't need to do that, but in his typical fashion, he insisted. He could not let her just walk away, empty handed. The vendor was so impressed, he said to Leland, That's really nice of you, paying it forward. Your cup is on me.

I can't tell you how that small gift encouraged both of us. It was as though God was saying, Don't give up, I have heard you. Stay strong.

Lesson 4: I know, it was just a cup of coffee. But maybe God speaks in the ordinary. I think so.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Celebration of Life

Yesterday, Leland and I attended the memorial service at Buckhead Church for our friend, Kathy Marotta. We heard stories of her life--struggles, overcoming, serving others, teaching, writing, relating--from her friends and Pastor, Jeff Henderson. 

We grieved, we laughed, and we left with hope--hope in the promises of Jesus for life that never ends and eternity with Him, if we simply believe.

I have a story about Kathy that I would like to share with you now; testimony to her heart and her giving nature.

Around the time that Kathy's book, No Burning Bushes, was due to be released, she came to Leland's studio to sit for head shots. She could light up a room. She laughed and had a great time through the entire photo shoot. She was a natural in front of the camera.

As she sat in the office reviewing the pictures on the monitor with Leland, the conversation turned at some point and I was telling her about some of my recent struggles. I wish I remember the conversation well enough to quote what she said, but honestly, it was what she did that I remember.

She reached into her purse and dug around for a minute (it was a really big purse), and when her hand reached what she was searching for, she pulled it out and said, Here.

I opened my hand, and in it, she placed a tiny glass cross.

I stood there for a second, just looking at its beauty. I said something profound like, Wow, this is so beautiful! I asked her if it was Murano glass, and she told me it was, and that she had bought it while on a trip to Italy.

I started to hand it back to her when she said, No, you keep it.

Shocked, touched, speechless for a second, I looked into her beautiful eyes and told her thank you. She just smiled and said, You're welcome.

A random act of compassion and generosity; a moment between us that I will always treasure. She pointed me to the cross.

If there's anything Kathy will be remembered for, it's her heart for people and compassion for their suffering.

In remembrance of Kathy's giving spirit, her family has asked that anyone wishing to do so, donate to two charities:

  • Charity Water 
  • Global X - Bosnia: In Project Category, select Ministry Projects from the dropdown menu, then select Global X-Bosnia in the Project dropdown menu. Continue with supplying personal and payment information.
Our loss would be redeemed by these charities being supported, particularly the one closest to her heart, the Evangelical Church of Capljina, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

Take time to celebrate life today. Be grateful, be content, be hopeful.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dang Those 2 x 4s

Yesterday was an interesting day--not one of my favorites, by any means, but necessary. It was a lesson day, provided by the good old 2 x 4, strategically applied to the side of my head.

Dreamers and idealists are practically conjoined twins. You can hardly have one without the other, the way I see it. I'm a hopeless idealist, which is why I am so quickly disappointed by what set me off yesterday--This Blog.

What the author (one I respect and admire for his excellent writing) wrote shocked me and offended me. Frankly, it was an awful piece that indicted teenagers and baby boomers as guilty of creating "their own blogs — all for the sake of being heard. They’re taking up space with half-formed opinions and rants, and it’s given the blogosphere an infamously bad name." He then proceeded to say that "their content sucks", it should piss off the real writers, and "you can judge and mock too, if you really want."

It seemed so unlike him. It was smug, snobby, elitist--even if, as he says, it wasn't his intention. Intention or not, it was. His point, which was ultimately supposed to be that good writers have to be good marketers as well, was completely lost.

I commented on it. I was too nice in an attempt to gloss over how I really felt. Then I went too far and I was dishonest. When he replied to my comment and said he was sorry if he offended me, I told the author of the post, "No harm, no foul."  

I lied. The truth is, it was a huge foul and I was offended.

Somehow, I managed to lose my voice, once again.  

When will I ever learn?  
When will I ever figure out that the sky will not fall on my head if I speak my mind?  
When will I ever stop seeking the approval of others?

I understand the source of my tendency to be a sweet, easy-to-get-along-with-don't-hurt-anybody's-feelings-or-rock-the-boat person. I was trained well to seek approval.

For the most part, I think anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a caring and genuinely nice person. The fact is, it's not who I really am, at least not all the time. Some things can make me mad--justifiable mad--or sadden me, or hurt my feelings (tell me I'm too sensitive one more time--go ahead, make my freaking day).

I can say what I think and not second guess my opinion, apologize for it, or let people off the hook.

For the sake of being heard, which I think I still have the right to do as an American (dare I say baby boomer) citizen, I have one thing to say to the ivory tower Great Writers looking down on the lesser among you:


Monday, July 25, 2011

Calling All Unequipped

What comes to mind when you think of a leader? Is it someone in a management position in corporate America, a pastor of a mega church, a commanding officer in the armed forces, or a politician in public office? Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but there are leaders in each of these scenarios. In my mind, these are people who drive a European import with a model name that looks like alphabet-number soup, live in a gated community in a McMansion, go about 4 people deep before access is gained (one of those might be a bodyguard), and when they speak, everyone stops to listen.  


Recently, the issue of leadership criteria became personal when Leland and I visited friends, John and Elizabeth Morgan, who we hadn’t seen in a couple of years, since they moved out of town for business reasons. We love this couple because they’re so easy to be with, so honest and transparent; spiritual family.

Over the course of the weekend, our conversation turned to small groups. We told our friends how our group had experienced some commitment issues among its members, and has basically fizzled out. Immediately, they both chimed in with, you should lead a new group! 

Us? My husband and I both laughed and agreed that we’re not leadership material.

Our friends smiled and said, well, that just proves that you’re probably the perfect ones to lead a group.

I have never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that I would be in the place of leading any group, other than in my job as mom to my little herd of 4 children.
We still weren’t sure what to think, but since Elizabeth had worked on staff in the small group ministry of our super-sized church, we had to stop and consider she might know what she’s talking about. What ensued was an eye-opening conversation about what John and Elizabeth considered to be the qualifications of a couple’s group leader.

We then proceeded to run through the reasons why we weren’t so sure:  

We’ve never done this before. 
We’ve made a lot of stupid choices in life. 
We’re not so sure we’re on a high enough spiritual plane. At one point on our paths, we've both walked away from organized religion and Leland was an agnostic for years before returning to the faith. I am someone who questions everything like a hard-core skeptic, refusing to believe everything I'm told, unlike the automaton I was; a product of a graceless church environment. 
We both struggle with prayer. 
We have both failed once at marriage.  


Most of us know the story of how God called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. We know Moses came up with more than one reason why he thought he wasn’t fit for the task:

Who am I? I’m nobody special.
What if the Israelites don’t believe you sent me?
What if the Egyptians don’t believe me or listen to me?
I’m a lousy speaker.

God gave him answers to all his questions, promising to do amazing things for him in the process, and all Moses could say was, Lord, please send someone else to do it.

Moses was simply a shepherd; nothing special. Slow to speak. Totally lacking any confidence in himself, and apparently, the God in the flaming foliage he was talking to. Helloooo!

Feeling a bit Moses-ish, we promised our friends we would prayerfully consider applying for small group leadership. During that process, I remembered back to last November when I wrote a mission-related blog post.  Here is an excerpt: I am humbled. I am sorry for thinking God cannot do whatever He desires to do, through me. There are no obstacles to the fulfillment of His purpose, other than our selves.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we completed the church’s group leader application process. To our surprise, we were scheduled for an interview with a small group staffer at church. It seems the boulder-strewn, twisted, detour-filled lives we have lived might just make us relatable, and therefore, great leadership material—along with the fact that we are simply willing to put ourselves in the position of being a channel for God to pour his power through, and into the lives of those that we do life with in our small group, beginning in September.

I let John know of our decision to jump into small group leadership, via Twitter, knowing he would share the news with Elizabeth. He tweeted back, God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. That made my heart soar.

My view of leadership has changed. True leaders are servants, not masters; channels of God’s power, not the power source.

What is your take on what makes someone leadership material?

p.s. Thanks, John and Elizabeth--we love you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

C'est la Vie

Life is [fill in the blank]. Of course, we would fill volumes with words to describe our journeys here, from the most joyful to the most devastating of experiences.

In the last year, I can easily say that I have ridden a roller coaster of emotional experiences. Here's the year in a nutshell:

  • I thoroughly enjoyed a surprise birthday party with friends and an awesome cake. I love cake. I love my friends for celebrating with me. I love my husband for cooking up this party.
  • My fashion photographer, mentor in the modeling biz, and close friend, Michael Wray, lost his battle with cancer, on Labor Day. I sat beside his hospice bed, hand on his chest, as he breathed his last breath.
  • As a result of Michael's death, I made a new friend in Gaby Hirsch, who traveled all the way from Germany to be with her friend of 30 years as he made his transition. 
  • My son got married in September. It was a fabulous wedding and I will never forget the groom/mother dance. Happy tears welled in my eyes.
  • My nephew on my ex's side of the family committed suicide. Oh, dear God. He was so young.
  • After a year and a half at a job that was sucking the life out of me, I left with no other plans to fill my bank account, trusting in my true Source of supply to sustain me as I recovered my authentic self.
  • The week of Thanksgiving I suffered an extremely painful back injury while riding a polo pony calmly around an arena. Dream shattered.
  • After this injury and months and months of a recurring physical problem, I set about getting well, with the help of my chiropractor and his extensive knowledge of clinical nutrition.
  • My savings were completely depleted in my efforts to be well.
  • Christmas with family! My first Christmas in years with a kid and a room full of toys. Child-like wonder. Buddy the Elf. Too many yummy cookies. Tons of pictures. Lots of love.
  • In January, I sprained my left ankle. It still swells and causes me pain. I can't work out without aggravating both my ankle and my back injuries, no matter how careful I am. I find myself battling anger every day as I remember how fit I was and realize how unfit I am now. My body has declared mutiny.
  • We celebrated my middle daughter's 30th birthday with a big surprise party that her husband threw. He is a master of the sneakiness. I loved this party. Family, her wonderful friends, and yes, fabulous cake.
  • My husband and I suffered our first relationship crisis. 
  • Leland and I traveled to Florida and Virginia to attend events with his family. It was my first time meeting most of them. Truly lovely people. My youngest daughter took advantage of our close proximity to Northern Virginia to see her mom and step-dad. It's always a treat to see her beautiful face.
  • I spent 5 glorious days in Arkansas with my daughter, son-in-law, and the amazing Kate the Great, celebrating her second birthday. Takeaways: Spend time with small children, and recover your own child-likeness. Family is everything. 
  • I have had several weekend opportunities to spend time with my 2 kids and their spouses in NC, a short 4 hour drive from Atlanta. I don't care what we do, or if we do nothing but hang out in the kitchen, I never laugh so much as when I'm in a room with my kids.
  • A friend of ours died suddenly last week. Tragic, painful for so many, and difficult to process.
C'est la vie--such is life. It seems so flippant, but it is really true. We have never been promised comfort on this journey, but we have been promised trials and we have been promised that God will never leave us. He promises hope and a future. 

Such is life: Joy, pain, tragedy, sickness, comforting, healing, birth, death. 

As I look toward celebrating another birthday in a couple of weeks, I don't think I feel like having a party; surprise or otherwise. Birthdays are shiny-happy events and the shiny has dulled a bit this year.

On the other hand, maybe it's exactly what I should do. I need to make my c'est la vie not so much about shrugging my shoulders at life's pain, as about celebrating life's joy in the midst of sorrow.

You're invited.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Memory of Kathy Marotta

Kathy Marotta was a stranger to me when, in the fall of 2009, we became members of a team of 7 people from North Point Community Church, whose purpose was to minister to the people of the Evangelical Church of Capljina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the surrounding community.

 She was not a stranger for long. Her easy smile, wonderful laugh, and genuine heart for people drew others to her.

 The October '09 mission team to BiH, in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
From left: Kathy Marotta, Lynne Holder, Nancy Smith, BJ Burggaller, Sandy Balmer (not shown are the 2 brave men on our team: John Morgan and Leland Holder)

Kathy wore her heart on her sleeve. She was open about her own struggles and what God taught her through all of them, hoping that her own story would shed some light and encouragement on someone else's path.

On Friday evening, July 15th, 2011, her journey here ended as she passed into eternity and the love she longed for--straight into Jesus' arms. 

Kathy formed many very special connections with the people in BiH and they quickly became her overseas family. There are many people there, as well as here in the US, who grieve her loss, but with the knowledge and comfort that our separation is only temporary.

In my mind's eye, I see my friend in the heaven of my dreams-- joyful, that fabulous smile, surrounded by light and love--at peace.

Save us a place at the table, Kathy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What a Gem

Years ago, I subscribed to Notes from the Universe, from Some days, there arrives the gem among the ordinary sand and stones that makes me smile a mile wide. Today was one of those.

The time will come, Lynne, and it will be sooner rather than later, when your greatest admirers and protégés will look at your life - your achievements, possessions (especially your successful career), and passions - frown a little and sullenly say, "Yeah, but for you... it was easy." At which point you should conceal any yearning you may possess to either object or laugh hysterically. Instead, lovingly look them square in the eye and say, "Yes, and it can be easy for you, too."

Get used to it,
    The Universe

Lynne, you have much to teach. 

Yes, I admit to dreaming this scenario, but whatever path my life takes, that post-script is true for all of us.

We each have much to teach. Don't doubt it. Your path is for a purpose, so share it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Not Just a Dream--An Event

I realize that the promise I made in my last post to share my experience was not done "soon", for which I apologize. I ran into the brick wall of resistance--make that RESISTANCE. The battle is over, however, and here I am.

After I read Heaven is for Real and realized how encouraging and way off the typical human experience scale the story is, I wanted to share my own atypical story.

Why? Because God doesn't always fit in our ridiculously small box. We can't pronounce that we've got him figured out. There are plenty of mysteries left because we're not as smart as we think we are, and here in the physical realm we see spiritual things dimly.

In 2005, I moved to Atlanta to start a new life after surviving a string of losses: Divorce, the house was sold, empty nest, to name a few. I was shell-shocked, but God was good and provided beyond my dare-to-dream plans. Still, there were challenges that come naturally with moving to a city where you don't know a single person and start your life over. It was lonely at times.

After one typical, nothing out of the ordinary day, I dropped into bed for a good night's sleep. I don't think I stayed home that night, however. I had a dream--no, an experience, really--that was absolutely stunning.

I knew I had fallen asleep, but suddenly, I found myself in a very different place, surrounded by brilliant, nearly blinding golden light. I remember squinting to see if I could make out any objects or people. I couldn't see clearly but I knew I wasn't alone. I was familiar with feeling alone and this was the polar opposite.

My attention was diverted by the sounds I began hearing. They were so incredibly beautiful and soothing. It was music, but not from any instrument, and there was singing, but there were no words. It was music I had never heard before--the voices were the instruments, I think. No accompaniment necessary.

The feeling was indescribable. Love, warmth, fellowship, and incredible, unstoppable urge to worship God. JOY flooded my being and spilled out like a dam had burst inside my soul. All I saw was brilliant light, but I felt others all around me in the same state of utter joy and lightness--all praising the Creator of the Universe.

I remember thinking, This is almost too much to bear.

I woke up, eyelids popped open and breathing as though a syringe full of epinephrine had been shot into my veins. I couldn't do anything but lie there awestruck for a few minutes.

Was that a dream? No way. I couldn't have thought that up in my wildest imagination.

That was an EVENT, and one I will never, ever forget. It was an incredible gift. Whenever life seemed overwhelming. I always remembered my glimpse of heaven, and was reminded not only that I was not alone, but that the suffering we endure in this physical realm is temporary. What a future we have to look forward to!

Later that year, I would realize how God had not only meant that for my present encouragement, but to prepare me for what was going to be one of the challenges of my life.

That's another post for another time. Right now, to sleep--perchance, to dream.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dreams and Questions

Anyone who sleeps has dreams. Either you don't dream much, or you dream every time you sleep and forget what it was all about when you wake up. I have a feeling the latter is the case.

I love dreaming. I don't remember my dreams often, so when I do, it's an event. In some of those cases when I don't, I wake up feeling as though something incredibly significant has happened, or I feel as though I've been busy all night long and waking up is like coming home after a long day at work. I really wish I could remember those dreams.

And then I wonder, were they dreams, or were they reality?

I have entertained questions over recent years that I realize I will not have answers to, at least not in this realm.

What if--what if, when we fall asleep, we enter reality? What if, when we fall asleep, we leave our physical shell and our spirit travels? What if, when we're "awake", that state is really a dream?

I recently read Heaven Is For Real, by Todd Burpo; the account of his 4-year-old son, Colton's, emergency surgery and time spent in heaven while under anesthesia. Colton was near death because of a misdiagnosed case of appendicitis that resulted in peritonitis. The surgery was necessary to remove several large abscesses in his abdomen.

The story is beyond fantastic--heart wrenching, fascinating, and encouraging. It really got me thinking, maybe I'm not too far off in my theory that we're not always "home" when we sleep.

Colton's parents carefully reviewed every word of the surgical procedure that was transcribed and placed in his medical record. Nowhere did it state that Colton had stopped breathing or that his heart had stopped beating. He never died. His spirit left his body and spent a few minutes in heaven meeting his great-grandfather, his sister that he never met because his mother had miscarried early in pregnancy, and sitting in Jesus' lap having a little chat. And he did homework. Homework?

This leads to another question I've entertained over recent years. Is time as we know it just an illusion? Colton says he spent a few minutes in heaven, when clearly, what he experienced would have taken much, much longer. I'm thinking the answer is "yes", and I believe this is clearly validated in Scripture. Earth time is not heaven time.

As for the question of whether our "awake" state is really a dream, I believe that we exist as parts of 2 realities: heaven and earth. We are primarily spiritual beings. The body is just the residence for the journey in the physical realm. We are here, and there--in the world, but not of it.

As I stated, I don't believe I will have a definitive answer to my questions until I make my transition from physical limitation to free spirit, but I have had my own interesting experiences of heaven, outside of the OR, and not under general anesthesia.

I promise, I will share with you soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This is one of those days I'm upside down. I'm in the place I call "funk", where, regardless of the reality, everything feels wrong.

I don't like the way I look.
My gray hair is streaked with yellow, and it just lies there, flat and lifeless.
My house needs cleaning, and I don't want to clean, but the uncleanliness causes uneasiness.
My dreams feel so far out of sight it seems pointless to try seeing them.
My husband annoys me for no particular reason. He tells me he loves me, and my mind says, No, you don't...nothing here to love.
Everywhere I turn, I see something I don't like, and wish to change it--immediately.
Love seems so distant--God seems so distant.
I've had just about enough of this game. I hate games and I think I'll go home now.

Not pretty, but there it is.

I'm experienced at these random "funks". It does no good to fight it or deny it exists; however, there is something else I can choose.


This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice (even if I feel funky) and be (sort of) glad in it. Maybe later I'll feel really glad in it, but let's rejoice anyway. Yay today!

Wow, do I have four great kids! Thank you, Lord, that you chose me to be their mother!

Wow, do I have one amazing granddaughter! Thank you, Lord, for bringing this sweet soul to our family. And what a good job her parents are doing raising her!

What a dream come true is my husband's love for me. If I thanked God a hundred times a day, it would hardly be enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for bringing us together.

Thank you, Lord, for turning the ashes of my life into beauty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Uncomfortable Joy

I have resisted this idea that my story matters and that I need to tell it.

My story has some really fantastic parts, which I don't mind sharing at all.

My story has some really icky parts, which I think I will keep buried in a deep, dark cave, thanks. As my kids were so fond of saying once upon a time, nobody gots to know.

Lately, I've been hearing again how I need to tell my story. Every time I turn around, that little voice in my head is telling me to write it.

Awwwww, REALLY? *whine* Do I have to?
Someone needs to hear it.
Darn it, it's ICKY. What if I will never be able to show my face in public again? What if it's not only me who's embarrassed? 
What if, what if...yada, yada. No one ever said it would be easy or comfortable, but someone needs to hear it.
Ugh. Okaaaaaaaaaaay.

Good grief, am I really that childish?

Last night I sat down to write a story that is a snapshot of the big picture of my life. At 1:30 a.m., thoroughly frustrated at how difficult this was, I finally fell into bed. I remember waking up a couple times during the night with some of the sentences I had written floating in my semi-consciousness.

The story was finished and submitted for a guest blog post at 1:00 this afternoon. I clicked "Send" as I breathed a quick prayer that God would use it to someone's benefit.

This was uncomfortable, but I feel joyful relief. Yes, our stories matter, and in my case, it's really prideful that I kept it carefully guarded.

Do you have a story that might be uncomfortable to let into the light of day? Will you consider writing it for others?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Kindred Spirit

On February 13, 2007, I was minding my own business when I met a gentleman at a singles dinner.

On February 13, 2010, I married him.

Leland Patrick Holder is one of the most unique individuals you will ever meet. He is an extrovert. I think he could make friends with a rock. He has a huge, sensitive heart. His sense of humor keeps people laughing. He talks a lot, but he knows when it's time to be quiet and listen. He is a giver. He loves BIG, and he loves unconditionally.

He is flawed, as anyone who knows him well will agree, with a smile. He swears too much.  He can be judgmental. He's addicted to coffee. He's easily distracted and forgetful. He falls asleep, face planted on the desk in front of the computer, while processing photos.

And I love him.

Leland is an artist; a professional photographer.

He'll shoot nature at every opportunity, this place being one of my favorites.

 Kravica Falls, Bosnia-Herzegovina

He loves to shoot photographs of people, capturing that split second in time when a look tells a story.
 Gypsy woman begging on the streets of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

He looks through the lens with his heart; a heart for people and the beauty of God's creation, and a heart for the God who has loved him throughout his life's many twists and turns, ups and downs. When he photographs, he prays to see his subjects as God sees them.

In his 20s, Leland had a job that a lot of people would envy, working for Florida Power and Light. He earned a nice salary. He was house hunting and thinking about settling down into a life of the daily grind, white picket fences, marriage, and children.

And then he quit.

He had a dream. Florida Power and Light, white picket fences, and anything resembling status quo were not in it. This young man with a rebellious, adventurous spirit who had grown up on the east coast of Florida surfing, spear fishing, and diving, packed up his van and hit the road for the Western US. He followed his heart, traveling from one state to another, taking pictures, experiencing life, and just being.

In this video (please excuse the quality, or lack thereof, my unnecessary commentary, and sudden outburst over the raindrops falling on the equipment), Leland briefly tells of his journey to becoming a professional photographer. It was spontaneously shot while Leland was giving me a lesson on the technicals of photography. I never really meant for it to do anything but sit in my video folder, but I think his story of breaking out and following his passion needed to be told. Enjoy!

Leland's website & galleries
And, even though he loves people, he has no time for social media (I attempt to manage it for him):
Twitter: @LelandHolder