My Daughter – A Tender Heart for Others

So my last post was about how we were able to see God working in my son’s heart at the fair last week as he dealt with disappointment and worked on having a good attitude in spite of it.  This time I want to share some of the things I saw in my daughter this past week.10364133_10203636597533961_2843149509723224561_n(1)

Let me preface this by saying that Jessica loves animals.  No, you didn’t understand me right.  She LOVES animals.  I’m still not sure you are really getting what I am trying to say.  SHE LOVES ANIMALS!  This started back at roughly 6 months of age when her favorite toy in the world was a mini beanie baby lizard from McDonald’s that she eventually named Weezard.

As she grew her love for animals became more and more apparent.  She was bit by a dog that she tried to kiss, and we thought that would finally temper her fascination, but it didn’t. She happily jumped in a  pen to play with bear cubs, was willing to grab snakes, bugs, spiders, or any other thing that ran across the yard.  A trip to the zoo for her was just about as close to heaven on earth as she could imagine.

10511299_814656361886595_5277955452073193160_nSo, when we started her in 4-H with dog obedience, I knew there were bigger things coming.  It seems like it all happened so fast, but I blinked one day and we had several dogs, a gerbil, horses, and pigs.  (I have thus far held off rabbits and cats, but she has been caught actually setting food out for the mice that live in the barn.)  The amazing thing is that no matter how many animals she owned, her first thought was always to share them with other people.

As she has gotten older and more experienced in the fair, she has really gotten good at showing animals and finding opportunities to excel in the different things that she does.  When she first started, she might win a prize or two, but now it seems like she walks away with a prize no matter what she enters!

This is the kind of thing that would go to the head of a lot of kids – I know it did to me when I was her age!  It never seems to happen with her.  She will win something, and she is actually surprised that she won!  Then she actually will feel bad for the people who didn’t get to win!  Not a fake pity, but a genuine concern for their self-esteem.

I think her attitude in winning is a part of how Zach was able to manage with his disappointment.  He never saw his sister gloat over her awards, and she cheered him on the entire time.  He could see her heart for him.

On a mission trip to Florida, she had the chance to work with a little boy that was, in her words, “a very naughty boy”.  As she spent time with him over the week, she was struck by the life that this little guy was living.  She said God broke her heart for kids who are hurting, in need, or with special needs, and she knew in that moment what God wanted her to do with her life.  Her plan is to take her love for animals and her love of sharing her animals and use them to help kids with special needs, emotional problems, or relational/trust issues.  It is all she wants to do.317950_4832775375732_2019616679_n

A couple of times last week, Jess had an opportunity to step out and help others get to experience a victory.  Zach was able to be a part of one of them, and that was one of his highlights of the week as well.

10354881_10203636555492910_1675975671504441886_nThere is a boy that belongs to some friends of ours that has some special needs.  He is a smart young man with a ready smile that melts your heart, and we have really enjoyed getting to know him. This year his parents have really been working with him to get him out in the pen to show his own pig.  This is not a small task for any kid, and for him it was a very big mountain to climb.I’m sure there were people that walked by without noticing what was happening that day, but my kids were so proud to be out in the pen with this brave little guy who boldly stepped out of his comfort zone to show this pig.

This is the type of work Jess has decided that God has called her to do, and I believe the heart that He put in her is already being exercised and molded to do just that.  She loves to work with the young kids, to show them love, and to make them smile.  She is learning to help little kids move past their fears to overcome obstacles.

There was a little girl at the fair that was terrified to go out in the ring with her pig.  Her mother was there trying to talk her into going out, but the little girl was crying and refusing to do it.  Jessica squatted down and started talking to her, and before we knew it, she was out in the ring with this cute little red-haired girl and helping her show her pig. As the girl kept walking with Jess and her pig, pretty soon, Jess started to hang back and let a little distance get between her and the girl.  Before long, Jess was just leaning on the fence, and this little gal was running her pig like she had been doing it for years.  Jess said that was one of the best parts of the whole week.10520633_10203636570773292_7859788137322730734_n

You  might be reading this post and thinking that I was just trying to tell you that my daughter was good with animals and likes kids.  You would be wrong.  What I want you to understand is something much deeper than that.

Like I said before, Jess has always loved animals, and she has always been a nice girl that got along well with others, but God did something in her heart a couple years ago that has become very evident.  Now there is a pairing of her love for animals with a God-given and internally RECOGNIZED mission to serve the little ones, the hurting ones, the “least of these.”  She has been given a heart that actually cries out the words of Christ:

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14

It brings Tammi and me such great joy to see how she is looking for opportunities to develop that calling in practical, real ways as she goes through life.  She is in her Bible and taking what she learns and applying it as she goes about her day.

She is going into her senior year now.  There are a lot of things that are up in the air right now as far as where she will go to school, what kind of track her education will take, and a lot of other things too.  I’m excited to see how things are going to go.  One thing I know is that at this point in her life, she is dialed in on being the young woman God wants her to be.  I am praying that it continues to be that way.

God has blessed us with two great kids.  Are they perfect? Not in the least.  Do they mess up?  You betcha!  They are my kids! So, why am I so proud of them?  Is it because they are so good at what they do?  Is it because Zach has a good attitude, or Jess is nice to people? No.  I’m proud of them because they have a relationship with God as teenagers that I didn’t have until I was in my late 30’s.  I’m proud of them because they are learning to lean and depend on Him in a way that will allow them to be stronger in their faith and able to  do more for the Kingdom.

The power at work in them is from their relationship with Christ.  Accepting Him as Savior was only the first step.  The important thing is that they are looking for ways to follow Him, and to learn from His example. My prayer is that they will always be Relentless in their search to know Him better.

You can know Him too.  If there are any questions you have concerning a relationship with Christ, please message me, and I would love the chance to share with you.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong



Author: Tom Tanner

I'm a follower of Christ, husband, and father. Over the last few years I have been learning how to dig deeper into God's Word and letting it influence more of my life. As I learn, try, fail, and repeat in this process I am seeing God's hand more and more in my life and that of my family as well. This journey is long, hard, and at times a little lonely, but living a Relentless life for Christ has rewards that reach beyond me and my family. My prayer is that it brings God glory and leaves a legacy that will show His influence in my life.

3 thoughts on “My Daughter – A Tender Heart for Others”

  1. Another great post about another great kid! You and Tammy have done an amazing job with your children and it’s so fun to see them maturing into the godly young people they are becoming! Thanks for sharing this story, it’s an encouragement to all of us who have kids and have passion to see them move toward God!


    1. Thanks for those words, Joe. Tammi and I are constantly amazed at how God is blessing us with our kids. There are moments that he is doing in because of things we have done with them, but we know that He is also working in their hearts in spite of some of the things we have done. What a merciful and wonderful God we have, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share what He is doing.


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