Are You Using Your Talents to Give to Others?

If your house was on fire and you could grab one thing, what would you choose? Hands down, I’d snag a basket and pile in as many pictures as possible.

Pictures are the gateway to our past. They bubble up cherished memories we’ve long forgotten. There is a reason why my master bedroom has a wall filled with pictures from vacation adventures. If my husband and I are fighting, it’s a reminder that we have more good times than bad. That this thing we are fighting about, usually minuscule, is a blip on our radar, in over a decade of happiness. Those pictures snap me back to reality. A reminder, there are a million more good times than there are bad.

Devestating News

In December 2014, our beloved K-9 Boss received a cancer diagnosis. We were devastated as we wouldn’t have much time left with him.

January had been a rough month for Boss. His prize possession, a tennis ball, would lay in front of him, with no movement. He’d curl up on his pillow all day barely getting up to eat or go out to potty. It was heartbreaking. All his life he’d been a worker. He’d served the Indiana State Police as a K-9 officer and loved his job. To see him mope around with no energy was hard.

Days before he left us, our friend Julianne, with Julianne Smith Photography, offered to do a living family photo session. She'd come to our home, and instead of posed pictures, she walked around the house with us and snap pictures of us with Boss capturing how he lived life in our home.

Joy in Sadness

The day before the photo session we considered canceling because Boss wasn’t up to it. But on January 19, 2015, it was as if God was giving him a final good day. It was just a day, but the old Bossy was back. He was playful, had energy and ran around like a wild man. Julianne snapped tons of great photos. We took funny pictures, like me sitting on the toilet (lid closed) because he’d often come in the bathroom if the door weren’t close. I wanted to remember all those little things that use to drive me nuts, but in his last days, I cherished those moments.

Boss passed away four days later on January 23, 2015. Days, weeks, months and now years after his death, the pictures Julianne took of Boss remains one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever received. She used her talents, to bring joy one last time to our dearest Boss, and give us a lifetime of memories.

What’s your talent? As you go through 2017, think about ways you can share and give your skills to others. Something you take for granted may be what someone else needs to navigate through a difficult time. What talent will you share?



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About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. She challenges people to live their dream, discover their gifts, and do amazing things!

You can contact Stephanie by email at


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4 thoughts on “Are You Using Your Talents to Give to Others?

  1. I love playing the piano and feel God gave me that talent to share. On Christmas Eve I took the opportunity to volunteer at the local nursing home during the lunch hour to play Christmas carols for about an hour. It was one of the best experiences! I went to give and took away so much more. I think that’s what is great about giving… it with your whole heart and the return is so much more than what you give!! Thank you for sharing all of your giving ideas so that we can share in the giving journey and the love that is returned through giving!

  2. I was recently invited on a mission trip to supervise OT students. I am so excited to use my profession to serve both students and the patients we will work with in another country. Thanks for challenging us to use our gifts!

  3. Hi Stephanie. I absolutely loved this post, although I am so very sorry about the loss of your dog, Boss. I can totally relate to what you said about the photographs being the first things you would grab in the event of a fire. The house that I grew up in burnt down several years ago and our family lost all of our old home movies and pictures, including pretty much all of the pictures of our deceased mom. Ever since then I have advised people to store their family photos and home movies in fire safe boxes and to keep them together in one easily accessible place in the event of a fire. Also, this post was thought provoking for me as well. Im going to put some more thought into what gifts and talents I can bless others with.
    Your Compel sister in Christ,
    Rebecca Berschwinger