Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Utah Valley Magazine and the Woman at the Well

Photographer Kenneth Linge
 I had the opportunity the other day to meet an incredible person.  Kenneth Linge is a photographer from Norway that has been living in Utah for the last 10 years.  I personally have been a fan of his work since I was in my teenage years.  He takes amazing, beautiful, and touching photos.  

I got the chance to have my picture taken by him because I will be appearing in the Utah Valley Magazine in April.  While I was at his studio I got the chance to get to talk to him for about an hour.  I must tell you of his smile.  He has a smile that will warm your heart and open a room up to talking.  His spirit is so kind and so beautiful.  He has a very thick accent and at times it was hard to understand him, but I knew him from his spirit that I felt.  He made me feel instantly comfortable, and when he spoke to me I felt like the only person in the room.  His stories of people he has photographed was amazing.  He told me some of their stories and it touched my heart. 

As I sat there listening to him talk and tell of his life, my mind often drifted to that of the Savior's life.  The Savior had the opportunity to meet so many people from all walks of life, as Kenneth has.  He was able to talk to them, and hear their stories, touch their lives, and put a smile on their faces.  Through his stories we have each been touched.  The light of our Savior and his compassionate service has brought me to my knees in gratefulness many times.  

Kenneth told me of a story of a woman I know very well.  This woman was burned in a fire over 90% of her body.  I have met her, listened to her speak, and have felt of her spirit.  It was so interesting to hear Kenneth's version of this woman.  He got to be with her one on and one and got to take her picture for the same magazine I will be in.  He got to hear of her story and feel of her heart.  As he told me about what a beautiful person she is inside, he told me that the most beautiful thing about this woman was her bursting, brilliant, loving, eyes.  He said that is what he focused on when he took her pictures.  He said her eyes really were the window to her soul, and her soul is beautiful.  This story reminded me of Christ and the woman at the well.  I have loved this story for years, but to be reminded of it in such a beautiful way touched my heart.  This woman felt like she was not worthy of love, certainly not of her Savior's love, and as he touched her and embraced her and told her what an incredible human being she is, this woman softened.  She felt of our Savior's unconditional love and was once again renewed.  Even though she had been through so much, and had sinned in the eyes of God, Christ let her know that he loved her still.  That if she would then decide to follow him she would be clean forever.

Now I'm not saying that the girl that Kenneth burned was dirty or had sinned, I'm simply comparing how he found her wonderful spirit, love, and light, behind her burns and scars just as our Savior found the woman at the well's love and light, while she was living in sin.

It made me see that we are each equal in the eyes of God.  He loves us each the same, and if we will simply be willing to stop whatever it is that we may be doing and choose to follow him he will renew us and save us.  Our Heavenly Father has saved a place for us in his eternal kingdom.  It is up to us to choose to get there.  I know that no matter what he have done, may be doing, or will do in the future, our Savior and Heavenly Father will always accept us, forgive us, and one day they will welcome us into their eternal kingdom to live with them again.  I'm so grateful for this knowledge that I have and for the opportunity I had to meet Kenneth Linge and have him remind me of this very simple truth.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Through the Mouth of Babes

Today was my first day back teaching my Sunday School class since I had surgery a week ago.  Oh, how I had missed my little children.  I teach the 3 year old children in my ward, and I must say I am definitely the lucky one.  As I'm sitting with them in singing time I could tell they were all a little tired.  I had 1 child on each side of me holding my hands, and I had 1 child on my lap cuddled into my chest sucking her thumb.  It felt so good to have their little loving spirits surrounding me.  A little boy in my class kept asking Sister Jill (me) when it was time for class.  He loves my class because they always get a treat, a drink, a story, and a game.  Sharing and singing time is kind of long because they have to sit there and be so reverent, but they do such a great job.  I was so thrilled when I got to tell him that it was finally our turn to go to our class.  

We got up to walk to our class, and the little angels folded their arms and quietly walked behind me into our classroom.  We set up our chairs and I sat down with my husband to teach our lesson.  I was so thrilled about today's lesson because it was on how our Heavenly Father and Jesus love us.  It was about all that Jesus and Heavenly Father have given us, and how they gave us the earth, our families, our pets, and our elder brother who gave his life for us, because of their deep and immense love that they have for us.

I started out the class with an opening prayer.  One of my sweet little girls came and sat on my lap and I helped her say the prayer.  After that we started class.  I started by bring each child one by one up to me, holding their hands, and telling them 3 things that I loved about them.  Then I looked in their eyes and asked them if they knew that I loved them.  It was so incredible to see the smile come across the child's face who was holding me hand when I said this.  Each one with so much confidence said, "Yes sister Jill.  I know you love me".  It touched my heart and filled my soul with joy to see these little precious children know how much I love them.

As the lesson went on, we got to a part where my husband got to tell the story in Mark 10: 13-16 about how Jesus blesses the little children.  It was so touching to me to see my husband tell each of these children how Jesus always has time for them, and how he loves them, and how he spent time giving each child a blessing because they were so special.  These little children sitting in my class fully understood that Jesus loved them, and that they were pure and innocent just like the children that Jesus blessed that day.  I went on to tell them that just like Jesus blessed the little children in the bible, if we ask and pray to Jesus and our Heavenly Father, Jesus will bless us too.

At the end of class I gave each of my children a treat before their parents came to pick them up.  1 by one they gave me a hug and left my class.  At the very end my husband and I were in the room with just 1 little girl.  This little girl has been so shy towards Dave.  It took her a couple weeks to warm up to me as well, but today was amazing.  She was sitting on the ground next to me and I had just given her, her special gift when my husband started to tell her how special she was to us.  He told her how much he loved her and how grateful we are that we get to be her teachers.  She looked at my husband and said, "No brother Dave, you're the one that's special and I love you."  I was so touched I nearly cried.  To see this precious little Child of God open up to her teacher and let him know that she loved him just as much as he loved her.  It was a moment I will treasure my entire life.

I know these children will grow up and might not remember sister Jill, but I will keep these special little spirits in my heart until the day I am gone from this earth.  I just think about when my husband and I head off to medical school in a year, and how these children will move onto their next class, and how much I will miss them.  I'm so thankful that Jesus let me see today a little bit of the love that he has for these special children and why.  I've not been blessed with the ability to have children of my own, but being able to be with these children is the next best thing.  If I can't be a Mom, I hope I get to be a teach for the rest of my life.  I'm so thankful to have these children teach me just as much as I teach them.

I hope you all have a great week and I'll talk to you all soon!

Sister Jill