A few years ago I ran across Bianca Olthoff's blog In the Name of Love. Within minutes I felt as though she was my long lost soul sister.
Bianca is vibrant, full of life, and radiates. She uses her hands when she speaks...(like a lot), and fiercely chases her dreams without looking back. What really stands out to me about Bianca is her love for Jesus and her love for people. Her faith isn't compartmentalized nice and neat with a pretty bow on it in the God section of her life; it seeps into every area of her life. When you truly love someone or something you cannot keep it in a box. Love is doesn't allow for that.
I was so nervous to photograph her, because I look up to her so much, and was nervous that I'd say something super awkward (note: that happens in most of my conversations with people) or that I'd just start laughing for no reason (note: that happens a lot too).
BUT, the life giving and bright person that I have read about on her blog and heard about from others is the same person I met and photographed. (You better believe we had some C-H-U-R-C-H in our car ride to LA).
Bianca is a gem. Her story encourages and inspires me to fight to live a life of depth and meaning and purpose. I am so thrilled to share these images of Bianca and bits and pieces of her story.
Bianca thank you! Thank you for sharing your heart, your passion, your resolve, and your laughter with me; it's contagious and absolutely lovely!t
Q: Who is Bianca Olthoff, and what do you do?
Other than solving the world's problems, researching a cure for cancer, and helping elderly women cross the street, I'm really a down-to-earth girl who loves hard, laughs loud, and is passionate about freedom. [Note: I'm also dramatic and will exaggerate things... like finding a cure for cancer ;)] By day I'm Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign
, a global anti-human trafficking organization. By night I'm a writer
, wife, step-mom, and bible teacher.
Q: So, you’re a wife, mother, blogger, speaker, and human rights activist. Does it ever feel like all you do is work? How do you stay balanced and keep your priorities straight while being apart of so many different things?
A: Yes, I work very hard. But I once heard it said, do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do. I have to wake up at 5:00am everyday to get to accomplish what is set before me. The day is full and I usually don't stop until about 9:00pm to read. [And by "read" I mean watch something on Bravo.]
In all seriousness, balance is a word I'm still trying to reconcile. By definition, balance requires taut lines, rigidity, and perfection. But how many people really live life in this manner? We advocate for balance, but what we really want is a way to celebrate life without being ruled by it. This will look different for every woman in various life stages. For the new mom with an infant, waking up at dawn to run five miles is not possible. I have two step-kids so staying up until 2:00pm to hang out with friends and build community is unrealistic. But how can each of us celebrate the freedom we have with the responsibility we are entrusted with? That's what I'm more fascinated with!
So instead of fighting for balance, I'm fighting for running hard and extending grace. Run hard: Do the work. Extend grace: Sometimes we fail.
Q: You got married a few years ago, and have been vocal on your blog about being single and transitioning into this new season of life. Do you have any advice for young ladies like myself who are single, ambitious, and want to find that man?
A: Yes! The two most important things to look for both begin with the letter J:
- Jesus. Does this man love Jesus? And I'm not talking about whether he attends church or has a 10-pound bible. Does he LOVE Jesus and live by His word? There is a direct proportion to how a man loves God and how he will love you. He may be hot, but so is hell. Stay away from men who don't love Jesus. ;)
- Job. Does this man have a J-O-B? We don't need to continually feed the cycle of ManBoys who refuse to grow up and be cared for by independent women. No woman deserves to be married to a leech!
Q: Do you think there are some healthy ways a godly woman can put herself out there without seeming aggressive or desperate?
A: The best way to meet guys and have them know you're available is to be in similar social circles. Do you have a free night? Round up some people from church for dinner? There is an event at church for young adults. Go. Check it out. And if you're really crazy like me, take a stab at online dating. You never know who you might meet. For me, a coffee date ended up leading to marriage :)
Q: With so much on your plate, what are some tangible things you do to stay inspired?
A: I read. A lot. I always have literature with me in case I get a few minutes to sneak in a novel, article, or news report. I also love listening to This American Life or watching foreign films.
Q: There are so many aspiring bloggers out there. What are some tips you would give someone that is trying to enter into the (intimidating) world of blogging?
A: In the words of Nike, JUST DO IT! Take a baby step and be committed to the art of writing and posting. Whether it's a thought, a poem, a picture, or a story, post it, share it, and let others be inspired by your art.
Q: Who are 4 people in your life that influence you most?
- My dad. He came to this country with absolutely nothing and has given his life for the benefit others. I adore him!
- My mom. She's survived two forms of cancer, asthma, relapsing polycondritis, and five children. She's my hero!
- My husband. He deals with me and all my personalities. We thank him!
- My twin sister. We've been wombmates since day one. I love her!
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be Connie Chung, the 1990s news reporter for ABC Nightly News. I loved how she was able to tell stories from around the globe and how it affected our world. I may not be Korean and I may not work for ABC, but I now the baton of communication has been passed onto to us to share with the world what is going on around the globe. It's truly an honor.
Q: What are 5 of your most favorite things (anything from a moment in time, to candy, to music, to movies, etc.)
- iPhone: It's my bible, calendar, communication device, calculator, and map.
- Ricci: He's my adorable Daschund who I've fallen in love with.
- Stories: Nothing is more powerful that the art of storytelling. I can't live without them.
- My wedding day: Everything was simply magical.
- My husband's study bible: It's MASSIVE and my favorite thing is to go through it and read his notes or highlighted passages to see how God spoke to him.
Q: If you could give any advice to young women about pursuing their dreams and making them a reality what would it be?
A: Take the first step. Walking into the unknown is like attempting to find the light switch in a completely dark room. You may stumble, bump yourself, and maybe even fall down... but eventually you WILL find it. And the light will shine through and illuminate the path you created along the way.