2023 Bold Beautiful Perfect: Jill
“My life was a roller-coaster ride filled with fear, abuse, drugs, abortion, interracial marriage that divided our family, then more abuse… but thanks for God’s grace and mercy, I no longer have chains binding me.“
Tell us about yourself, Jill!
Since I was a small child, I’ve always believed that someone was watching over me and that one day everything would be okay! My prayers were eventually answered when I turned 40: I graduated from college, filed for divorce, my two daughters were in a good place, and I was FREE! I still remember that day while walking in the park. The air was fresh, the sky was a beautiful blue, the grass was vivid green, and my spirit was filled with joy – something I had not felt in a long time!
Prior to that, my life was a roller-coaster ride filled with fear, abuse, drugs, abortion, interracial marriage that divided our family, then more abuse… I no longer have chains binding me, thanks to God’s grace and mercy! I praise Him daily.
How did you come to understand your inner beauty?
My mom would often call me “her Christian child.” I was the only one of five siblings that loved summer Bible camps and visiting different churches in our small country town. Loving God was easy – looking in the mirror was tough! (see James 1:23)
In time. God opened the gate and all of the burdensome chains fell off. I realized the amazing love of God inside of me – even knowing my past, He still loves me! When I look in the mirror, I see His love, feel His love, and I know that He loves me more that I can ever imagine! (see Psalm 103:1-5)
What parts of your story can you share to help women to understand their own beauty?
God uses EVERYTHING for good in our lives: the good, the bad, and the ugly! There were times when I would cry out to God, “Why me?” I felt locked into a physically and verbally abusive marriage where my husband’s drug use and adultery had gone too far. During the last altercation, he tried to push me off the 4th floor balcony of our apartment complex. My family struggled with acceptance. They kept the doors closed and I had no place to escape with my two beautiful biracial children. But finally, God made a way for me to get out and move on.
Six years later, I married a man that I knew would be an amazing father to my children. We went to church, tithed, had a nice home and good jobs. Eventually drugs became a part of our relationship and I became a crystal meth user.
My life changed in 1996 when my daughter was hit by a car. The doctors said she would be crippled from her waist down. I collapsed to my knees crying out to God, begging Him to heal my daughter. I promised Him that I would never do drugs again, only please heal her!
My dear friend Mable laid hands on my daughter in the hospital and prayed for her healing. On the day my daughter was discharged, she was in a wheelchair to the car. She stood up and walked from that point on!
God changed our hearts. He made it possible for my ex-husband and me to be friends in a way that opened up opportunities for family gatherings.
If you’re wondering about my promise never to do drugs again… because of God’s amazing grace, I have never had the urge to do drugs again! He has given me the freedom without shame to share my story to help others.
Learning to love ourselves is like a huge puzzle. It comes together in God’s timing, and the feeling is beautiful inside and out.
Tell us about your experience with the photo shoot.
I’ll be 65 in March. I wanted to do something special for me, and Brandi made my dream come true!
In my younger years I had dreams of being a model. I’m 6 feet tall and slender; I had the height but questionable beauty. It took me until my 40’s to realize and believe that I am beautiful inward and out!
On two separate occasions—once in Africa and the other in Belize—I was told that “I have a bright light” with the female’s hand over my heart! Learning to love yourself takes patience, and it’s worth it!
The photo shoot experience was a first for me. Brandi took her time for instructions on posing techniques, suggested idea shots based on my personality and more. She gave me the freedom to laugh and have fun! I am truly amazed and I encourage all women who want to experience their beauty to give her a call.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes! One of my favorite Bible Verses: Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV): “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'”
The past year or so, I have prayed to God to “grow me in the Word and show me the world He created.” I vowed if He made this happen that I would spread seeds by mentioning His name to others everyday!
I went on my first solo trip for 4 months, visiting 12 Countries, staying in hostels and meeting people daily! I had conversations anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. The overflowing joy and the love I felt brought tears to my eyes! I praised God throughout each day for being such an amazing Father who gave His daughter such a beautiful gift. Follow your dreams!
Philippians 4:13 (NV): “I can do all [things] through him who gives me strength.”
You are more beautiful than you know!
To book your own fabulous Portrait Session, contact us through the inquiry form below.
International Award-Winning Portrait Photographer
Brandi Stage is an international award-winning portrait photographer based in Bay St. Louis, MS. She creates an exceptional magazine-style photo shoot and timeless heirloom portraits for women, men, children and pets in her studio or on location.