I was nervous to approach Jill for the Real Beauty project. I barely knew her, she and her husband Thayer used to bring their two little boys to the AWANA program at our church back in 2008. That summer, Thayer was killed in a motorcycle accident. Because I didn't know Jill well to begin with, I didn't stay in touch with her.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. Aubrianah and I were talking about women we'd like to include in the project, and Aubrianah said to me, "What about Jill?" "Jill who?" I said. That may sound callous, but I was surprised at her memory. Aubrianah was barely 11 at the time, I had never discussed Thayer's death with her, and she had never even spoken to Jill. I believe that God brought Jill to her mind. So, even though I was nervous to approach Jill, I felt like we needed to see if she was willing to share her story. I thought, "Either Jill needs us, or we need her."
Jill didn't need us. For the last three years Jill has been busy raising her boys, sharing her story, comforting others, and turning tragedy into beauty. She didn't shut down, she joined in a community. She got her boys involved in Kids Haven www.kidshavenlynchburg.org and developed relationships with other young widows. She organized a monthly sort of support group, so women who had experienced loss could all spend time with other women who 'get it'. Just this year she traveled to Uganda with Mission Link International. The organization has recently started a widow's ministry and Jill got to share her story and hear stories from beautiful women who live in a different country but share the same loss. For three years Jill has been sharing beauty.
Even though I loved hearing Jill's story and hanging out with her during her shoot, I still didn't know why the Lord had brought her to Aubrianah's mind. And then I read Jill's blog. Jill didn't need us or our project, we needed her! I read almost every bit of her blog that very night. She doesn't try to fake perfection or write long eloquent posts. Her openness, her humor, and her willingness to share her innermost thoughts have inspired me. What good is beauty if it can't be shared? I have seriously been touched by beauty, and I am blessed to be a part of this project and to have met Jill!
You can read Jill's blog at www.jillbotham.blogspot.com