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. Photographs of vacation adventures fill a wall in my master bedroom. If my husband and I are fighting, usually over something minuscule, the images remind me there are a million more good times than bad. The fight is a blip on our radar, in over a decade of happiness.

Devastating News

In December 2014, our beloved K-9 Boss received a cancer diagnosis, riddling our world with devastation.

January 2015 was a rough month for Boss. His prize possession, a tennis ball, laid in front of him, with no movement. He’d curl up on his pillow barely getting up to eat or go out to potty. The effects of cancer were 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 agonizing.

Days before we were to put him down, our friend Julianne, with Julianne Smith Photography, offered a living family photo session.

Joy in Sadness

The day before the photo session we considered canceling because Boss was so lethargic, but on January 19, 2015, it was as if God gave him a final gift, zestfulness. It was just a day, but the old Bossy was back. He was playful, energetic and ran around the house like a wild man.

Julianne came to our home, and instead of the standard posed pictures, she captured how we lived life with Boss. She snapped a multitude of heartfelt photos. Some pictures were humorous, like me sitting on the toilet (lid closed) because he’d often come in the bathroom if the door weren’t close. Why these types of photos? I wanted to remember the little things that use to drive me nuts, but in his last days, I cherished.

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

What’s Your Talent?

As you go through 2018, think about ways you can use your talent to make a difference in someone’s life. Something you take for granted may be what someone else needs to navigate through a difficult time.

Giving Challenge: Over the next week, use your talent to brighten someone’s day.

Here’s to Giving and Living Intentionally in 2018!


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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 empowers people to change their life by giving and living intentionally daily!

Schedule Stephanie to speak at your next event by emailing her at Stephanie@GivingGal.com!


  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…..do 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

  4. I have that day marked on my memory cslender. I never met Boss but from our conversations and your pictures, I came to know and love him because of what he meant to you guys. I think if Boss and you every year on this date.

    • Stephanie Jones Reply

      Harold-This is the sweetest thing. Thanks so much! It means a lot.

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