There are times when we are called upon to face things that we never dreamed we would go through. And there are those around us who appear to have it “all together” and yet, if we were to take a closer look we would see that everyone struggles with something in life. That’s the nature of this life we live. Some struggle with their self-esteem- not feeling quite good enough. Some might struggle with financial challenges and others with health- or lack thereof. Many struggle behind closed doors, with abuse of one kind or another. Some are living with broken relationships, and others face the loss of life or the life of someone who is close to their heart. One thing I know for sure: no one is immune from those things that come our way and cause our hearts to ache- those things that bring us to our knees to seek for solace from a higher power- those things that make us cry out in anguish and wonder WHY!

I had the privilege of being the care taker to my darling daughter, who was battling an uphill battle with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of juvenile bone cancer. She fought hard and it was amazing to watch her as she would interact with her doctors, nurses, techs, and other patients at Primary Children’s Medical Center and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Her complete optimism and her amazing smile was infectious. I watched as she would lift little bald ones onto her bed at Primary Children’s and color with them or read them a princess story. I would watch as the night nurses would come into her room after all the little ones were settled in for the night and laugh and joke with her until late into the night. I watched as complete strangers, who were so angry that they were in treatment for this horrible disease, have a complete attitude re-adjustment after spending just a few minutes with Natalie as she laughed and talked of her struggles and told them how blessed she was.

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On the other side of this story, we were blessed as hundreds of people reached out to us and gave of their means and their time and their resources. They brought meals, blankets, and sweet gifts of the heart. Some gave the gift of skydiving and trips to help us make memories. Some created fundraisers to help Natalie fulfill her dreams. There were those who worked in our yard, just to ease our burden and those who came to visit when spirits were a little low. There were those who took us to lunch, called on the phone, or dropped by to lift us on hard days. Those simples acts of service will never be forgotten. Sadly, I said goodbye to my sweet girl in August of 2010.

Because of the countless friends, those we knew and those we didn’t, who lifted us up at every turn, I have decided to move forward with a dream of paying it forward, or giving back, however you want to phrase it.

I, through Lasting Memories by Marjean, have put together “LIFTING HEARTS”, a portion of my business, to help others have a brighter day. How this will work is dependent on you, my dear friends! I would love to help make a “better day” for those who need a lift. So, if you now of someone who is hurting, struggling, suffering in body, mind, relationships, or finances, someone who you feel would benefit from a free photography session, please nominate them by emailing me at marjeanj26@gmail.com and please include a short story telling me of their life and struggles.

I am excited for this new adventure in my life, and I’m counting on meeting some amazing people who I hope I can help and whom I know will change my life. Thank you for helping me fulfill this dream of making a difference. HUGS!