Two Decades! Happy Birthday, Jessica!!!

January 1997:

  • Fargo wins Best Film at the Critics Choice Awards
  • Pete Sampras wins the Australian Open
  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis returns home
  • Dennis Rodman kicks a camera man in the groin
  • The Packers and the Steelers were getting set to play in the Super Bowl (Please, not again. As I write this I can still pull for the Steelers and Falcons…)
  • 321491_4832527489535_88458044_nJessica Rachelle Tanner came into the world

January 23rd, after a long and tiring delivery (seriously, I was absolutely exhausted and Tammi was pretty tuckered out too! – I will pay for this…), Jessica made her presence known with a few grunts and then a well throated wail.  She was here and we knew our lives would never be quite the same.  We were parents.


14845_4832535569737_1004727741_nLooking back now, I was so proud of my wife and her ability to just know what to do.  She took to being a mom like it was the most natural thing in the world, but me?  Well I never dropped her on her head or anything, and I knew which end food went in (no doubts about which end it came out) but I remember thinking several times, “Who on earth decided that I have the maturity to raise a child into an adult that will offer some type of value to society!? Shouldn’t there be some type of screening?”

312424_4832536289755_358998531_nOver all, she was a pretty compliant little rascal.  She had her moments when she was handful, but she was a quick learner and was always willing to please.  We kept watching her and wondering, “Is she about to go nuts yet?”  I know what I was like, and I just kept thinking that eventually I was going to see behavior in her that would allow parents, teachers, Sunday School Superintendents, Little League Coaches, and almost every member of the ladies missionary committee to start with the comments.  You know the one in particular…

“Now he is getting the payback he deserves!”269250_4832546410008_2047369841_n

We waited.  She turned two and nothing.  We waited a little longer and she turned three. Nothing.  We waited a little longer and as 4, then 5, and then 6 passed by, we still saw nothing that led us to believe that we were in any trouble or that any was on the immediate horizon.

319800_4832619651839_1615562737_nSchool was going well, She loved to learn and play with friends.  She loved church and all of her friends.  She was good in just about any situation and we just kept waiting.

428156_4832566610513_1096762012_nThe double digits hit.  Then the teen years began and I thought that if it was ever going to happen, now would be the time, but nothing.  It was like she just didn’t have it in her to get into trouble like her old man did.  She even got along with her little brother!  Seriously!  Where did this kid come from!

10947232_910103895675869_4578714176413601194_nLet me be clear.  Jessica is not perfect.  She had plenty of times when she made bad choices and got herself into a bit of trouble.  There is no such thing as a perfect kid.  Also, Jessica was not a push-over.  She has a very stubborn streak in her that has been the foundation for a lot of things that have made her into who she is today.  Sometimes that stubborn streak made things a little challenging, but it never got to a point of considering a boarding school…

14374_10204988308685895_8072762211283183066_nI look back and wonder what did we do.  Tammi and I had talked extensively about how we wanted to raise our kids.  We discussed discipline, education, boundaries, how we would love on them, all kinds of stuff.  We did what we thought was right and we prayed that God would kinda push us into line where we might be slipping off the track.  We were consistent, but this was also our first attempt at things!

1524871_10204988312125981_6073152218507561151_nI realize that there was much more at work than us.  It was more than grandparents (although she has four fantastic ones). It was more than aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, and even more than her little brother.  It was more than the books we gave her, the television shows she watched or the songs she sang.

It was God.

1531582_10202369106847486_1823399421_nJessica knew that she was our daughter, but she also knew she was a child of God, and she wanted to make Him happy.  She asked questions when she was little about how she should do things that make Jesus happy, and would talk about how Jesus made her happy.  She saw the animals that she loved as a way that God gave 69612_4832795136226_313258255_nsomething to her to enjoy. (I still think she really believes that all animals were put here for her enjoyment, but at least I have been able to make her understand that she is not responsible to house all of them!)

10931362_10204988326286335_7658708027850509645_nShe knew that she wanted to know God more, and as she got older, she began to do more about it.  She started to read her Bible almost every day. She began journaling.  She wrote out prayers. She talked with people about God.  She had an understanding that the real God, Creator of the universe, knew and loved her, and she wanted to know and love him too.

13925696_10207273181213396_854820111773209752_oI think that was the biggest reason the teen years have flown by.  We watched her grow into the young lady she is today, and we just keep being amazed at what she has become.  Again, not perfect.  Again, a touch stubborn at times. In the end, a young woman with a loving heart, a beautiful smile, and a desire to serve God.

13710545_10208928556869637_8601244820599326179_oTammi and I are so proud of our daughter.  We did what we could.  We gave it our best, and we are thankful for who she is today, but we know that her relationship with God is the lion share of what made her into who she is.  We are just very thankful hat Go allowed us to have a part in it.

12957503_10208158878748165_5934551320912919766_oToday, Jessica is 20.  Two decades have passed since I was told I had a little girl.  I will always be able to see her at that moment. I will always be able to recall that  feeling of excitement and fear all wrapped up together.  I will always ask that question, “What did I do to deserve this?”  I say it now too.

13934659_10210114881419583_3885674236626471502_nHappy Birthday, Jessica!  I’ve loved you from the first moment I set eyes on you, and I am very proud to be your Dad.  I know that like your old man, you sometimes feel inadequate – not up to the task.   You want to do things the right way the first time and you get frustrated when that doesn’t always happen.  You want to be more, to do more, and to never let anyone down.  I love those things about you.  They scare me sometimes too.

14021570_10209124877977542_8285539014382639705_nThey scare me because I know how the doubts can weigh on your mind. They drag you down and make you feel unworthy of good, unable to help, paralyzed.  I don’t want that for you.

As I said to you the other day, I want you to see yourself as I know you are.  I am able to stand on the outside and see the woman you are becoming.  You have not only potential to become something amazing, you are already potent in this moment as you are making a difference in the lives of those around you.  You are already being that amazing woman, and the day will come that you will recognize those strengths.  You are going to do great things as you lean on God and partner with him to help others even more.


I love you, squirt!  You have done a lot with your first two decades.  I can’t wait to recap the next two in 2037!

Love you,



Just A Quick Thought

inauguration2017good-2This week we watched a new President take the oath of office to the most powerful position in America, and arguably on earth.  There was no military coup, no killing of the outgoing ruler and his family, and no mass killings.  There were a number of prayers, speeches, and parties.  This is a good thing.

We also had riots and protests in the background.  People were upset about how things happened in the election, who ended up winning, and the things our President has done in the past.  A lot of hurt feelings are floating around out there.

Frankly, I get it.  People are not happy about a lot of things.  I get it.  People feel like they have been maligned, silenced, oppressed, and marginalized.  Yep. I get it.

Here’s the thing.  Breaking windows, burning police cars, starting fights, and holding up signs peppered with vulgarity doesn’t fix things.  It makes a mess, and makes the people who need to hear you end up marginalizing you even more because of your behavior.

I’m not saying that some of the people (SOME, not all) may not have a legitimate beef against someone or something.  They are allowed to have those feelings.  Nothing wrong with having them, and nothing wrong with a proper expression of them. The danger comes in when you give yourself over to those feelings.

Yoda warned us that the emotions were the path to the dark side of the Force.  When feelings become your barometer for what is right and wrong, then you will always end up oppressing someone else in the end.

Solomon said it this way:

Proverbs 16:32 (ESV)
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

At the end of the day, it comes down to self-control and putting aside the desire to be right in order to do right.  It is kind of a funny thing, but you can do wrong being right, but you can never be wrong when you do right.  Just one of those goofy things.  It just comes down to doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like it.

We have had a huge shift in our nation over the last 40-50 years where we are so driven by our feelings that we are not always able to see the difference between right and wrong anymore.  We have been told that having explosive reactions to events is an acceptable way of “venting” our feelings.

Sorry, but that is not how venting works.  Ask anyone who has worked around boilers!  A vent is a controlled release rather than an explosion.  One may make a bit of noise, but there is little to no damage, but the other can be catastrophic.

So, the question is, did we see venting or explosions this weekend?  Public opinion is split.  Just look at at the major news outlets and you can see just how strongly people feel about how their view and feelings are being addressed.  I have a better question though.

Did we do right?  Did we look to do good in the opportunities that presented ourselves?  Did we join in the arguing, the backbiting, the name calling, the marginalization of people and their ideas? (Yes, I am talking to both sides of the coin.)  Did we DO RIGHT?  Did we DO GOOD?

Alexis de Tocqueville said:

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

He also said:

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

We enjoy our liberty here in America.  We have freedom to express ourselves and enjoy so many freedoms the rest of the world looks at longingly.  However, we are at a point where things are getting dicey.  We need to get back to a sense of morality in America where we seek to do what is right.  If we don’t, things are just going to get worse.

To do that, we need to control ourselves.  Express ourselves rightly. Support the leadership we have and influence them to do better.  We have to have faith in each other to get things done and stop assuming that someone else is out to harm us in any activity or sound bite.

Ultimately, we need to have faith in God and His ability to change people and grow them to be better people.  A person who submits authority of their life over to God will always get a better return than running it themselves.  That requires a person to do what is right even when their feelings are telling them to be right.

I am not thinking of any individuals as I write this.  This is not a specific observation, but one that speaks to the pervasiveness of this issue in our society today.

If you are a person who has been hurt, maligned, marginalized, abused or oppressed, please know that the majority of people out there did not want for that to happen.  They don’t think it was right.  They don’t want you to suffer, and if you engage them, will likely listen to your heart and may even help you make the change you so desire.  I know God will.  He has been in that business for years. Relentlessly.

Gonna go pray for my country, its people and its leaders.  We all need it.


Happy Birthday, Relentless Growth!

number-candles-perfect-for-any-cakeI started blogging 4 years ago today. The blog page has gone through a lot of changes since then even though you can’t see it here, but I hope the same cannot be said for me.  God has done a lot in my life over the last four years, and I am thankful that I have been able to experience that change and have had the opportunity to share some the story with you.

Click the link here to see how it all began, dig through the archives, feel free to share it with your friends, and let me know if there has been anything that has been a blessing to you.  We all like a little encouragement on our birthdays – even blogs!

Get out there and live a Relentless Life!


Oh, Charlie…

wp-1483394087870.jpgThis is Charlie.  Charlie is my wife’s 11-year old Cocker Spaniel.  His claims to fame are:

  • He is loved by my wife
  • Has a dinner routine you can set a clock by
  • He can bark loud enough to make you consider adult briefs are a good idea for every day wear – even if you don’t have an incontinence problem
  • He can shred an entire roll of toilet paper in under 2 minutes with no warning or reason
  • He eats just about anything – I mean anything. (Your imaginations can run amok.  Feel free to write in your suggestions.  He has probably done it already.)

One of Charlie’s favorite things in the world to do is eat.  His number one favorite food is popcorn, but anything that you happen to be eating, dropping, or throwing in the trash is a close second.  While his kibble is his primary food (a nice lamb and rice mix that helps with his allergies), and he is fed twice a day, he will follow you around looking for any morsel as though he has not eaten in 3 years.

One time we left Charlie in the care of a person I will not name to protect their innocence, and that person was absolutely amazed at Charlie’s zeal for food, and they decided to see if Charlie could get full. They just kept filling his food dish every time he emptied it, and Charlie would just empty it again.

We are not sure how many times this cycle took place, but when we got there several hours after the last bowl was consumed, Charlie’s belly was swollen tighter than a drum head.  The scary part was that it was not that Charlie ever stopped eating.  They just finally quit because they were afraid that Charlie would eat himself to death!

Feeding time for Charlie is a pretty intense time.  There is a lot of whining, dancing around, and reluctantly sitting and waiting for the “OK” before he is allowed to dig in. The waiting is usually accompanied with a little more whining and a full-body quiver that is almost painful to watch.

After we say those two magical syllables that release Charlie from his forced restraint, he empties his dish. I say, he empties the dish, but you can’t really appreciate the speed, efficiency, and well… the volume with which he does so.  Imagine putting marbles in a bucket and then sucking them up through a shop vac.  Only with the occasional gargly, wet, choking, gagging, and wretching sound.  Yep. Something like that, but still, you just need to hear it.

Charlie’s passion for his food is more than just a passion.  It is an unhealthy drive in him to consume as much and as quickly as he can – even at the peril of his own life.  We have been shocked and amazed at some of the things he has eaten that are not food in any sense of the word,  yet Charlie deemed them as such.

Finally we wound up buying a ball to put in Charlie’s dish to give him an obstacle to eat around.  The theory was that by having something that big in his way, he would not be able to take such big bites, would eat more slowly, and would therefore chew something rather than inhaling it, thereby aiding in his digestion.

Not the success story we were hoping for.wp-1483394087867.jpg

I still keep thinking he is going to just swallow the ball whole.  Seriously.  Never slowed him down for a single second.  I guess at this point, we can safely assume there is nothing on earth this dog and his gut can’t take.

So, the other day I was reading in Jude, and I came across this verse and I instantly thought of Charlie:

“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasonable animals, understand instinctively.” – Jude 10

If there is one thing that Charlie understands instinctively, it is that he was designed to eat.  He is ready to go at any moment, and he has no qualms about what comes his way.  It’s not the healthiest way to live, though. He needs some help to keep him safe.

I’m sure if Charlie could talk, he would tell us how wrong we are. How he has things under control. How he can stop whenever he wants! He probably would tell us to back off and let him live his life.  That we don’t care about him. That he can make his own decisions and stop telling him what he can and can’t eat.

Sounds like me before diabetes kicked in… Well, that’s another story, and things are much better for me now.  I was smart enough to make a change.

Desires are not bad things, but if we don’t understand the drive behind them, they can be damaging to us.  Charlie might not know much, but he knows he likes to eat.  Whether he is hungry or not never really enters into the picture.

Do we stop and ask ourselves why we want the things we want?  What is the drive behind the desire?

Jude is speaking here of people who have decided that they will blaspheme God by saying that God’s grace gives license to give themselves over to the pleasures of the flesh.  They are taking the gift of salvation and twisting it to become a free pass to do whatever they want with no intention of following God.  In essence, they are claiming an identity as child of God while completely ignoring His commands and sovereignty over creation.

They go through life with the illusion of some Christian rules (a big silver ball), but they act no different, and are harming themselves without abandon because all they care about is having what they want and not being restricted in any way.

A really effective way to die if nobody stops you.

Again, there is nothing wrong with having desires, but we need to take the time to analyze what we are really trying to satisfy in them.  There are a lot of things we can get wrapped up in, and not all of the things you might be thinking about are bad things, but they can become that way.  Mark Driscoll put it in very clear words (they must have been, because I understood):

“When a good thing becomes a god thing, that’s a bad thing.”

Charlie and I have food in common as our good thing that became a god thing.  It could have destroyed me if I had not been willing to make a change.  Charlie’s would destroy him if we didn’t use a measuring cup and keep his food in a place where he can’t get it.

What desires do you have?  Are you looking at what the motivation behind the desire?  Are you taking that desire and holding it up to the Word of God and what it says to see how it holds up?  If it can’t, then it needs to either go or at a very minimum, you might need to get the equivalent of a big silver ball!

Be Relentless in your life by constantly looking at your life and evaluating what needs to go or be guarded.  We need to do it in our lives, and we need to ask some friends to come alongside us and help with it too.  Sometimes their eyes see things we can’t.  It might hurt, and you might feel like it is unfair, but you’ll be alright.  After all, you’re also working on being Resilient!

Would love to hear from you, Dear Reader!  Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.  Me?  Well, I gotta go feed the dogs…


Psalm 101 for 2017

Note to the reader:  If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I am not posting an image here every day here anymore.  I have decided to move daily image posts to my Relentless Growth Facebook page.  You can find that page, like, and follow here.  This page will be reserved for writing moving forward.  Hope to see you in the Facebook world!

wp-1483279541415.jpgOne of the routines I have right now is reading in Psalms every morning before my feet hit the floor.  I don’t do it to be spiritual or to impress anyone.  I do it because I need it!  Since disciplining myself in this way, I find I have a little more grace to extend and a more positive outlook on the hard days as I have a bit of God’s Word rattling around in my mostly empty skull.

Last week I hit on Psalm 101, and after a couple days of looking at it, reading it, and thinking about it, I began to wonder what David’s thoughts were when he wrote it.  I know he was led by the Spirit to write it, but I wonder what the prompt for it was.

Since we were closing in on the end of 2016 and the thoughts of the New Year, goals, plans and dreams were running through my mind, I began to wonder if this was a “New Year’s Resolution” list for David. Is it possible that this was his list of things that he wanted to work on for the upcoming year?

I mentioned in my last post that I would be sharing more about this chapter and how I wanted to use it for myself in 2017.  Stop and think about it.  This is not a bad list!

  1. I will sing of your love and justice, lord.  I will praise you with songs. – I want to praise God more this year. I want to tell people about His love for me and how He has made changes in this life of mine that He has paid for.
  2. I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. – I want to live a life that doesn’t make people wonder if I am a fake Christian, just putting on a show.  I want people to just believe that God is real to me and that I am the same person in the workplace that I am at home or with my friends. I want to be careful to avoid the things that cause doubts.
  3. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. – I want to protect my eyes from things that are evil. I want to be sure that I am engaging in honest actions with people and avoid anything that will pull me into evil thoughts or actions.
  4. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. – I want to keep my thought life clean and focused on things that give God glory rather than things that give my flesh power.
  5. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. – I want to not only avoid negative talking about others, but also I want to be a voice that speaks up against that behavior.  I want to both be humble and promote humility in others.
  6. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me.  – I want to surround myself with people I can trust for encouragement, correction, love, and joy.  I want to help people live and work with a strong moral code.
  7. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. – I want to bring truth to light in my surroundings. I want to use grace and mercy to uncover the deceptions that are around me and  bring a restoration to the circumstances and people involved.
  8. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the lord from their grip. – I want to be on the lookout for evil every day.  Evil is not usually a person, but evil actions need to be addressed for what they are and they need to be stopped.  In all things, I want God to be glorified where His people work and live.

seo-checklistI don’t know if this was David’s list for a New Year, but I do see where I can take this list and use it as an outline for how I would like to act this year.  If I can even make a little progress on it in my life, that will be a good thing!  There is nothing wrong with a single step as long as it is in the right direction!

2017 is a fresh start.  I have made my plans for this year, and in total, they are pretty big plans!  I will need to be Relentless this year in order to accomplish them.  I will need to keep a strong Focus on the goals.  I will need to be Resilient as obstacles pop up and try to pull me off track.

What do you think?  Would love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment and share!

Happy New Year!