The silver lining

It's easy to have a good attitude when things are going well. It's easy to have a thankful attitude when things are starting to go well. It's easy to start feeling accomplished if things keep going well. It's also easy to start feeling quite superior when things are going really well. 

For the most part, this is a capitalist world. We are taught that if we put the work in, we can reap a "better life". That, of course, can create a lot of competition, comparison, and thus, division. We sometimes develop a way of looking at others as a stumbling block in our way to success. We often become self-centered, inner focused and selfish; only worried about our own. 

And then tragedy happens. War happens. Terrorism happens. Widespread hunger happens. A natural disaster happens. And we unite. All of a sudden, we need each other to survive. All of a sudden, we need each other for comfort. All of a sudden, we are all equal. 

Isn't it interesting how in times of trouble we don't argue about politics, don't fight over religion, don't judge people based on the color of their skin... The silver lining of tragedy and disaster is that when we are all stripped of what is of value, we very quickly get back to our original state: that of unity, humility, and joy which is found in sacrificial love.

X Es


Anti-social blues.

I had a thought today. I noticed, that for the past maybe 2 weeks I hadn’t “hung out” with anybody. Besides the people I saw for work and saw around, I hadn’t intentionally made plans to ‘hang out’ with somebody. Of course, I’m always one to “philosophy” about this kind of stuff, so I started exploring the “why” behind the reason I had been extra ‘antisocial’ these past weeks. 

Was it because I’m tired? Its a valid hypothesis considering I do have a busy life… But I don’t buy it, there is no way I’m THAT tired. So maybe it is that Im lazy. Well, maybe, but if it was something “appealing” enough I would definitely motivate. So maybe its just that its not appealing enough to hang out with people. Which obviously is a ridiculous idea, and one that scares me a bit. So what is next? An introvert. Am I an introvert? Or am I just not that much of a “people person”? 

Come to think about it, I don’t know if I have that many people who I consider to be REALLY close to me. Definitely much less than I would have imagined as a little girl. So maybe its just that I don’t like too many people… Or I don’t like too many people enough. Do you?

Another reason could be that maybe Im a focused and hard working person. Which I hope to be, but does that justify no human contact? So maybe Im just hurt/ trust issues/ too many broken hearts to open up again... Or maybe it could simply be that I am so full of myself and so self absorbed that I am perfectly content with myself, by myself. Which is kind of a funny idea and I really hope not the right one.

I guess it could maybe just be technology… The internet and phones, the accessibility we have to people we didn’t “make the effort” to physically meet… The illusion that you can be connected, while you are really just becoming more and more reclusive… 

New year, same (but hopefully improved) me.

I have been getting some emails about life advice, new year resolutions and success. I assume they think Ive been doing "well". I've also been getting quite some backlash for reasons I am still yet to understand. I assume they think Im doing horribly. Its all perspective after all. To be honest, when it comes to success my guess is as good as yours. Even success is about perspective as it is only YOU who can define, and achieve your 'success'. For example, some people might define success as fame and fortune, some people as family and friends, some people as achieving a certain goal or completing a certain mission, and some people have no idea, they're just ticking boxes and crossing calendar days. 
Personally, I have no idea what the key to life success is, I'm on a journey and I still have wayyyyyyyyyys to go. Just like you.
Im still trying to navigate this world that is full of injustice and confusion. Trying to navigate the praise, the backlash and the indifference. I wish I had some answers, just like you. But even though I am not claiming to have any foolproof methods for you today, I thought I would just share some experience and hope it resonates with somebody.

I just had a birthday a couple days ago, which I had completely forgotten about until the day before.
"Oh yea! Tomorrow is the 28th already?! I totally forgot about it!" -Me every year.
However, whether you remember or not, you get older each year. More wrinkles creep up, responsibilities grow, your energy levels go down, stress level goes up... We become more and more critical of others, more disillusioned with the world, less impressed by its beauty...
Why? Are we just jaded? Are we just 'tired of it' and 'over it'? Have hardships finally gotten the best of us? Too many heartbreaks? How can we defeat these feelings of disenchantment? Well, here is some food for thought.

- Be grateful. When you see a person who is grateful, you are naturally drawn to them.  When you are grateful, you are humble because you appreciate every good deed and every blessing. When you are grateful, you are naturally selfless because you love without expectations. When you are grateful, you can naturally love better because you take nothing for granted.  But we are jaded, we are angry, we are ungrateful. We carry so much weight and so much baggage. We are divisive and critical, we've gotten hurt too many times. So we become grumpy, mad at people, mad at this generation, mad at the "system"...
Gratitude is my new years resolution.

- Be kind. Please don't be the grumpy pants, sad Sally, pissed Paul. Give me a break. There is nothing less attractive than someone who just looks for the worst in people. Please don't be the internet troll, do yourself that favor. You are only making yourself unhappy and angry when doing that, you are comparing and judging and wasting your valuable time talking about what you think someone else is doing wrong. Start focusing on being a better person yourself! We are supposed to encourage one another, lift each other's heads, respectfully disagree, lovingly persuade...
Redirecting perspective is my new years resolution.  

Know who you are. I have to admit, Negativity and bad sentiments don't really get to me. I am pretty decisive and I know who I am, people's words can only affect you if you don't know who you are. Unlike a punch in the face, somebody's bad comments about you will only affect you if you give them that power. But don't think I woke up one day at 19 years old and I knew exactly who I was. It is always a process defining who you are and it can be found out in many ways such as passions, talents, callings, faith, end goals... I think it can all be summarized as VALUES. Your values define who you are.
If you struggle with comparing or finding purpose, if you haven't yet been able to figure out what you want to be and where you want to go, I advise you to start with your values. This new year start drafting a list of your values. Spend some time on it, its so important. Try to add to it as you live your life and think of more things that make you tick. Big things such as 'I want to marry someone of character', not like "I need Mike to be my husband because he's so cute and I am 13 years old". Im talking about life direction, long term dreams that you hold dear. Do it before you get jaded. Find out who you are.
Defining who I am is me new years resolution.

- Be patient. Nothing happens overnight and nothing changes overnight. Studies say that just to create a new habit it takes minimum 21 days. We are stubborn, opinionated and set-in-our-ways. Quite annoying if I must tell ya. We want it our way and we want it now! We follow people on social media and think we know them and the work that goes behind someone else's "success". Everybody who is good at anything works hard. Nothing happens simply by luck. People have to put in hours, put in work, put in sacrifice, put in TIME. Years, decades, a life time. It takes time to perfect a craft, there are no short cuts. It also takes time to build character and its something we all must work on until our last day on this earth.

People spend too much time worrying whether who gets the worm is the early bird, the bird that knows the sleep pattern of the worm, or the bird that has bigger wings... I once heard someone say that it is all of them. The bird that gets the worm is the bird that knows itself well enough to work within its strengths to get the worm.

Put yourself in a position of advantage this new year. Be grateful and get a fresher outlook in life, be kind and stop wasting your time on the negative, find out more about who you are and what you value, work hard and have enough patience to see the fruit of your hard work. 




Hiding behind a smokescreen.

By definition, to hide behind a smokescreen means to put or keep (oneself or an object) in a secret place; conceal from view or discovery. A smokescreen is a place of concealment, usually disguised to appear as part of the natural environment; primarily used by hunters, birdwatchers, etc. 

But hiding behind a smokescreen isn't exclusive to hunters. Even you and I- regular humans- try to disguise and 'fit in' as to appear part of our "natural environment".  

Fitting in. Familiarity and comfort zones. The unnoticed cozy feelings that keep us from taking chances and having some faith in ourselves for once. And unlike popular belief, focussing on your personal comfort and ability to blend in only keeps you from owning up to the calling that was personally and intentionally given to YOU.

What do we expect God to do with a bunch of minions with no personality and no originality? Isn't the entire concept of free will one that clearly tells us that our belief revolves around personal relationship? For that reason, I believe the plan for your life is bigger than living like a minion. Of course, whether you see the reality or not is entirely up to you. I am just pointing out the fact that there are billions of us who are each unique, so trying to have us all‘fit in’sounds redundant to me. 

When we try to hide behind smokescreens, what we are essentially doing is hiding ourselves (or toning our true selves down a notch) in order to feel like we belong. Putting aside our convictions and giving into peer pressure. Acting in whatever way seems to appease those around us.

I am sure most of us have found ourselves hiding behind a smokescreen at one point. The main (of many) issues I see with that, is the fact that we get stuck in this 'wannabe' version of ourselves, comparing and measuring up and, as a result, we develop enough insecurities to put us on antidepressants. 

The good news is that we don't have to stay there, there is no need to hide. Hiding stems from a lack of self-confidence, and the constant comparison of ourselves to one another that allows their expectations of us define us. Oh, and also for putting too much focus on what you're NOT rather than WHO you ARE.. It stems from not understanding that each of us are one of a kind, deliberately and purposefully made to be the way we are. Intentionally unique

Don't get me wrong, smokescreens are a challenge for us all at some level. The key is recognizing it and reminding yourself to keep discovering who you are and what you stand for. And when you find it- fight for it. God can't bless the person you pretend to be.

Wearing For Love and Lemons sweaters, Camilla bathing suit, Xevana jewelry
Shot by Hannah Burton


You see, the problem is that you can never please everybody. What one person raves about, the other fully criticizes you on. I am often caught in the middle, in between completely different worlds, both of which somehow make sense to me, but not to others. It's outrageous to some. Called a narcissist, an abomination to Christianity, an indictment to the gospel... but then also barely fitting into the world which seems to think my last name disqualifies me and my faith offends them. Some super-skeptics, who feel like their purpose lies in exposing and calling out people who are flawed, regular humans like you and I, but who actually try to make a difference... I get it.. We all fall short at some point or another, but the goal remains to always give our lives, sacrificially, at a high price, to be true to a calling to honor God and love others.

What is a hero anyway? Our dictionary defines the word HERO as 'a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.' Well, for one can actually say that in a very flawed world, full of imperfect people, I have the opportunity to know such selfless and loving people. From my birth parents to my in laws, from an amazing church of dedicated volunteers who serve with such joy that they can change an atmosphere with a simple smile that radiates pure love, to my husband and the United crew, who happen to be incredibly admired for their talent, idealized for their courage to take ground and pioneer in a world that does not support them, for the sole noble purpose of helping their very critics and skeptics, whether or not they are recognized,  appreciated or even payed what they're worth- real talk now. But somehow people would prefer to focus on my designer bags that I honestly had WAY before I even walked into this church. Pfff. People just miss the point. So much criticism I am hoping this film will help put an end to, but of course that's just hopeful thinking as criticism and cynicism grow with influence and exposure.

I read something last night that bothered me a bit. People like to talk a lot about things they know nothing about. The problem with this generation is that we are more concerned with our freedom of speech (and our rude, unfounded and often uneducated opinions) than we are with the value placed on BUILDING and LOVING our fellow human beings. No wonder we have gotten to where we are, full of division and disagreement and anger and hopelessness and war... Full of dumb sensitivities and offensive discriminations... Somehow we pick everything over love... Somehow we pick everything over God... And somehow we end up here, in a broken world, without any hope and without any unity...

I have to admit, I prefer to be a person who will love, forgive, get walked on, forgive and love again, than to be a person who will never be able to fully love and believe in others, a person who is more concerned with finding imaginary discrepancies than  actually giving people the benefit of the doubt and simply loving them. What's life without unconditional love anyways? I will freely give of that which has been freely given to me. As I see it, that's the only way to live.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this project (and other incredible projects that share the same heart and message). I applaud you, not for your talent or ability to draw a crowd, but for your willingness to be on the frontline, taking the hits, so that others would prosper. Mad love.