Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!!! We decided to do our Christmas letter a little differently this year and send it out electronically instead of on paper.
I hope this letter finds everyone healthy and enjoying the holidays. It’s been another very busy year (aren’t they all). In addition to all the kid’s games, programs, and activities, this was a big transition year for us with Caleb starting high school, Sarah starting middle school and Marisa in elementary school with no siblings for the first time.

In June we flew to Orlando and spent a week at Disney World with Mandi’s dad and stepmom. We ate at a lot of great restaurants, rode a lot of great rides, and had a wonderful time. I think everyone’s favorite was dinner at the California Grill on top of the Contemporary Resort overlooking the Magic Kingdom and watching the evening fireworks over the castle from the roof of the resort.

Marisa started 3rd grade this year and continues to be involved in Girl Scouts and Kid’s Club at church. She started playing the violin in the orchestra this year and was invited to be in the math club at school. She also played volleyball for the first time this fall and really enjoyed it. She was getting pretty good by the end of the season and is excited to play again next year.

Sarah started middle school this year and is in 6th grade. She’s adjusting very well to middle school life and likes changing classes every hour and participating in after school activities. And of course loves hanging out with her friends and going to Crash (church youth group). She plays softball from March to October and her team (the Purple Sox) did very well this year. She loves to pitch and play third base and ended the season with a .667 batting average. She also plays basketball from October to March and is always a tough competitor. She currently leads the team in fouls.

Caleb started high school this year and is adjusting well to high school life. He really likes the block schedule and is doing very well in all of his classes. If you know Caleb, you know football is his life. He had a good season playing at cornerback and receiver with the freshman team. They had a strong season going 6-3 this year. When not playing football he spends a lot of time in the gym getting ready for next season and watching sports on TV. He’s also playing basketball this winter in a church league and enjoys going to Krew (church youth group).

Mandi stays very busy running the kids around everywhere and trying to keep track of everyone’s schedule (not an easy task). She also started a new job in November with the Liebe Company in the accounts payable department. So far she’s enjoying the change of pace. Mandi also keeps all the stats for Sarah’s softball and basketball teams so she’s busy at games.

My (Dave) schedule just seems to get busier and busier, but that’s the way I like it. I’m still working for Aon Risk Services in St. Louis as a senior account manager. I’m coaching Sarah’s basketball team this year, which is a lot of fun, and also assistant coached her fall softball team. Caleb and I enjoy going to the gym together a few times a week to lift and play a little basketball and I’m Sarah’s designated catcher when she goes to her pitching instructor (I have the bruises to prove it).

I hope everyone is able to spend some time with family over the holidays and take time to reflect on how God has blessed you over the last year. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances God provides hope and comfort. He sent His Son into this world as a baby to provide a means of salvation to all of us. This was truly the greatest gift ever given. May you and your family experience God’s blessing this Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

The McKay’s (Dave, Mandi, Caleb, Sarah, and Marisa)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gridlock for President

Well, it's election day again and those that have read this blog and know me personally know I have some very strong opinions on politics. However, as I have been thinking about this election over the last few weeks (and receiving several calls from Sarah Palin and even one from Betty White about puppy mills), I've grown more and more annoyed at both parties. I find myself more than ever voting for the lesser of 2 evils, which is really sad. There seem to be so few good candidates out there and I am of the opinion that both parties are equally at fault for the mess this country is in. They spend all their time tearing their opponent down, but none of them will ever tell us what they want to do to fix things. My favorite ad was one for Roy Blunt running against Robin Carnahan in Missouri, which simply stated, "Robin Carnahan, she's wrong on every issue." Seriously, every issue? No one could be wrong on every issue.

Which brings me to my point. I don't want them to fix things. In fact, I don't want the government to do anything except to defend me and maintain my roads. Other than that I want them to leave all of us alone. I want them to stop spending so much of my money on ridiculous programs, lower our taxes, and let us live freely as our founding fathers intended when they drafted the Constitution. I want them to stop over taxing and regulating businesses so they can be free to expand and create jobs and stop bailing out the ones that are failing due to mismanagement. Every time the government tries to fix things, we end with with higher taxes and more debt. And even with that the problems never get fixed. I am more and more convinced that the vast majority of our elected officials are simply incompetent and incapable doing the job they were elected to do. The only solution they ever come up with is to tax the American people and spend more money, even if it has to be borrowed. Our elected officials are supposed to enact the will of the people, but they have forgotten that mandate and are only worried about pleasing those that line their wallets and keep them in office.

Therefore, my vote this year goes for gridlock. Let both parties fight all they want to in Washington (as entertainment it's good stuff). As long as neither party can push their agenda through, "we the people" will be left alone to pull ourselves out of this mess. Despite what the folks in Washington think, we are smart enough and more than capable of fixing these problems ourselves if we are allowed to keep the money we earn and spend it where it most benefits our local communities and businesses. We couldn't do much worse than they have.

So I say bring on the gridlock. The more the better. As long as they are all occupied with each other, they are leaving us alone.

As as the founding and sole member of Americans for Gridlock, I approve this blog.

God Bless,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Creed (well...sort of)

As I was celebrating my 39th birthday over the weekend, I got to thinking about my core beliefs. Those ideas that I hold through which I view the world. I got to thinking about how the church creeds do such a great job of stating a core set of beliefs and how those core beliefs are the lens through which everything is viewed. So as I stand on the precipice of turning 40 next year, I decided to make my own list of core beliefs. My own personal creed if you like. My intention was for this to be a serious list, however, as I began brainstorming I found myself bouncing from deeply held beliefs to strong opinions and even to some lighthearted things. So I decided, instead of filtering the list, to just put it all out there. Both the serious and the not so serious. After all, that's a better picture of who I am and the lens through which I view the world is often a skewed mixture of both.

Keep in mind, these are in no particular order so the juxtaposition may seem odd at times, but that's me, an odd mixture of beliefs and viewpoints that don't always make sense and sometimes even contradict themselves. So here we go. You may want to get comfortable, it's a long list.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who through His perfect life and sacrificial death atoned for the sins of all who will trust in Him, alone, for salvation.

I believe that I was born a sinner in need of God's forgiveness and that this gift of salvation is solely given to me because of His grace and that there is nothing I can do to earn it.

I believe the Bible is true as written in the original manuscripts and when interpreted in context.

I believe in the Trinity, however, I confess that I do not truly understand the concept.

I believe Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter of the 20th century. I know he can't sing, but that's not the point.

I believe that mankind was created in God's image and that God created everything that exists. I believe creation took place over a very long period of time and thus don't hold to a literal 6 days of creation.

I believe that God has blessed each of us with certain talents and abilities and that He expects us to develop those talents and abilities through hard work and that we should use them to glorify Him.

I believe that everything we do, if truly done for the glory of God, is an act of worship.

I believe that sometimes you have to use strong language to get your point across.

I believe U2's Joshua Tree album is the most perfect album ever recorded.

I believe that the majority of politicians, Democrat and Republican, are only interested in looking out for themselves to get reelected and will say anything you want to hear to that end.

I believe our political system is broken.

I believe in term limits for all members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. I believe all elected and appointed officials should serve one 6-year term with no opportunity to be reelected. This includes the Supreme Court.

I believe the journey is often more important the the destination.

I believe that just because I don't understand something, it doesn't mean it's not true.

I believe that sports are a great metaphor for life.

I believe that God sometimes allows us to struggle through difficult times to bring us closer to Him.

I believe that previous statement can really suck sometimes when you're in the middle of it.

I believe Jesus will return someday as He promised to restore all things to the way they were intended to be from the beginning. However, I have a real issue with people who tell you they know exactly how the "end times" will play out. I believe those that draw up timelines using Revelation and current events are foolish and are primarily out to sell you something.

I believe abortion is the greatest genocide of our generation and find it unbelievable that intelligent and educated people can support it. I find it even harder to believe that some Christians support it.

I believe that it is the church's responsibility to care for the poor, not the government.

I believe that the so called "prosperity gospel" preachers (Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn, Joel Olsteen, Oral Roberts, etc.) have done more to harm the Christian cause than further the gospel.

I believe the old Van Halen with David Lee Roth is far better than Van Halen with Sammy Haggar. I'm just sayin'.

I believe in a small government and a free market.

I believe high taxes are destroying this country. Didn't we fight a war against Britain for the same thing? Except our taxes are even higher than theirs were. Now I sound like a Tea Party person.

I believe football is the greatest sport ever invented.

I believe that John Lennon was significantly more talented than Paul McCartney. I love the Beatles, but really, listen to their solo work and it's hard to argue.

I believe that the times I spent fishing with my grandfather were a taste of heaven on earth.

I believe that a long hike in the woods can restore your sanity.

I believe being a father is one of the greatest joys in life.

Finally, I believe that I have been truly blessed in life with a truly wonderful wife, amazing kids, and great friends and extended family.

God Bless,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Youth Group Reunion - Thoughts on Friendship

Once again I have to apologize for the long lapse in posts. It's been a crazy, but extremely fun summer and I just haven't made the time to write. Fall will be busy as well with 3 kids all in Fall sports, school, church, work, etc., so no promises, but I'll try to be better about keeping up with it.

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend a reunion of my high school church youth group. It was great to see people that in some cases I've not seen in 20 years, including my youth pastor from that time. I've occasionally run into some friends from time to time (and see a couple of people regularly), but this is the first time that we've been able to get most of us together all at once with our families. We had a great time telling old stories, looking at old pictures and videos, and watching our kids make fun of our hair and clothes.

But you see this was more than just a chance for me to catch up with old friends because these people were more than just high school friends. They were people that I shared my life with during those critical teenage years. Not just the normal high school stuff, although there was plenty of that, but these were people that I laughed with, cried with, prayed with, studied God's word with, struggled to understand God with. These were people that knew all my faults and I theirs and we still decided to love and support each other. These were people that saw me at my best and at my worst and were still my friends. These were the kind of friends that were unshockable and weren't afraid to confront you in love and dive into the deep dark places we sometimes go in life. These were the kind of friends that you get together with after 20 years and it seems like you were just with them yesterday. You just pick up right where you left off.

Did we always get along with one another? No. Did we fight and argue sometimes over silly things? Yes. Did we wound each other, sometimes deeply? Yes. We were human after all and even worse teenagers full of hormones and out of control emotions. But we truly cared about each other. Did we do this out of our own strength and wisdom? Certainly not. We were able to do this because our foundation was always Christ. The bond of our faith in Him is what our friendship was built on. You see, when you spend hours upon hours praying and worshiping the living God with one another, sometimes dealing with very serious issues, you grow close in ways that are hard to explain. This is what Christian community is all about.

We were also very fortunate to have a youth pastor that loved us unconditionally and modeled Christ to us. Talk about unshockable. He was always available night or day. He was always honest with us and was never afraid to tell it like it was. Whether we needed a strong reminder that we were drifting off the path or a shoulder to cry on, he was there. The man that I am today is due in large part to him. Thank you for your leadership, Rick.

We were also very fortunate to have parents that were willing to open their houses to us. We were always hanging out till all hours of the night (or morning) at someone's house. But they offered much more than their homes, they also offered their hearts, wisdom and guidance. Again Christian community with one generation passing it along to the next.
It was truly amazing to see all the people there that are serving God in some capacity in the church today. Missionaries, pastors, deacons, teachers, and servants in other areas too numerous to name. In my service to my church as a deacon, I've always tried to model the humble servant's heart that Rick always showed us in his time with us.

Sadly, there have been some that have drifted from their faith. However, I'm hopeful that they will once again discover God standing there with open arms waiting to welcome them home. That the good work that was begun in them so many years ago, He will see through to completion. Just as He's doing in all of us. We're all just at different paths on the journey and God's sovereign grace can overcome any obstacle.

I pray for my children everyday that they would have friends like the one's God blessed me with. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. I hope that I can pass this idea of Christian community on to them so they understand that none of us can do this alone. Thank you all for your friendship and let's not wait another 20 years to get together again.

God Bless,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life is Crazy, Politics are Crazier

Sorry to all my readers (all 3 or 4 of you) for the long hiatus. I didn't intend to take the last few months off from updating my blog, but the craziness of life has prevented me from taking the time to sit down and focus long enough to actually write something. It certainly hasn't been for a lack of topics to write about as a lot has happened, especially politically, in the last few months. The biggest thing is he healthcare reform bill that was finally rammed through Congress and passed into law despite overwhelming disapproval from the American people. While I don't foresee any immediate problems, I believe the long term effect of this law will be devastating to our nation as taxes will inevitably rise to pay for it and the quality of health care will inevitably decline. I believe this is only the first step in the process of dismantling our economic system as we slowly continue to move toward a socialist structure.

The bailout of the banks last year was also a step in that direction. The federal government now has even more control of our healthcare and our money. We've seen how well that has worked in other countries: riots in the streets, high unemployment, poor quality healthcare, bankrupt governments, etc. For some reason our liberal leaders seem to think what has failed in other countries will work here as long as we trust them. Their pompous elitism makes me nauseous. I can tolerate most traits in people, but arrogance is not one of them. They promise to take care of us as they slowly take away our freedom and choices in the marketplace. This is of course all done with our money, which they seem to think they can mange better than us apparently. Now I may not be the best money manager in the world (sorry honey), but when I look at the size of the deficit it's obvious that our government doesn't have a clue how to manage money.

The thought of giving them more so they can "take care of us" is frightening. I'd rather take my chances on my own and if I fail so be it. The problem is they will never admit when they fail, they only blame the "evil" corporations and ask for more money from us. They have always failed to realize that those "evil" corporations are who provide jobs and a stable economy, not the federal government. By the way I'm not just pointing my finger at the democrats, the republicans are just as much to blame. In fact, maybe more so as they claim to be conservative, but fail to stand up and fight for what they say they believe in.

Wow it feels good to get that off my chest. I can't go this long without writing again. It just gets too pent up and I start to get crabby. I could go on, but I don't want to bore everyone.

On a lighter note, I'm glad spring is finally here. School is almost out for the summer, we're in the middle of softball season (go Purple Sox), high school football camp is coming up in a few weeks (go Patriots), my youngest daughter's dance recital is in a few weeks, and our trip to Disney is getting close. I love summer. I just wish I had the summer off like the kids do. I knew I should have been a teacher.

God Bless,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Always Liked Roller Coasters

I'm finding it interesting the direction my blog has taken over the last year or so from when I started writing. My original intent was to spend most of the time commenting on current events and issues, however, as it continues to evolve, I'm finding it's taking a more personal direction. I still get into current events occasionally, but it seems lately this has been almost like therapy for me as I work through all the crazy stuff that floats around my head. That being said, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I wrote in my last blog about all the changes and transitions that are happening in the life of my family this year and how excited I was about them. I am still extremely excited, however, the reality of that much change combined with our incredibly busy schedule has really thrown me for a loop recently and I find myself struggling to trust God and let Him be in control.

In the end that's what this is really all about, me trying to micro-manage everything, which never really works out all that well. You would think that I would have learned that lesson by now, but no, I'm just as stubborn about it as I ever was. Instead of looking back at how God has always provided and sustained me, I continue to worry at each turn and try to control everything. As I'm finding out, I really can control very little and that just adds to the frustration. Still, I believe God is using this to mold and shape me into the person He desires for me to be. As I continue to struggle, He is always faithful, even when I'm not. I've always found it interesting that in the Old Testament God named his chosen people Israel, which literally means struggles with God.

This journey is full of change and as much as I like to think I deal well with change, I really don't. I'm sure my wife will attest to that. It's funny, in the midst of all this anxiety, I caught the last 30 minutes of the movie Parenthood the other night and found myself completely identifying with Steve Martin's character as all the craziness of his life was overwhelming him. But in the midst of all that was going on, his grandmother comes into the room and starts telling this story about how much she always liked roller coasters better than the merry-go-round. Even though the roller coaster had a lot of ups and downs, shook you around, and could be quite scary at times, it was still a lot more fun and exciting than the merry-go-round that just simply went around in a circle constantly viewing the same scenery over and over again. What a great analogy to life. Yes, life certainly has its ups and downs and can shake you around a bit, but it's through those times that we grow and learn to trust God. We can appreciate the highs much more after having been through the valleys. If we choose to embrace the roller coaster instead of fearing it, when we get to the end of our life we'll be able to look back and say "what a ride!".

So, despite everything, I think I'll choose the roller coaster as well. It's just more fun.

God Bless,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Looking ahead to 2010

Where in the world did 2009 go? I think that may have been the fastest year ever, at least in my lifetime. I really don't know where the time goes. But then again with 3 kids all involved in sports and other activities, work, church, etc. I guess I do know where it goes. I just wish it would go a little slower sometimes so I could enjoy it more. Everything except for work that is, I wouldn't mind that passing a little faster.

I know my wife thinks I'm a little obsessed with sports, especially when my children are involved, and she's probably right, but there are few things in life that are more enjoyable for me than watching them compete in their various sports. In an era when so many kids prefer to stay home, watch tv, and play video games, I'm really proud of my kids for spending time working out in the gym and on the track to prepare themselves for their sports. They all work very hard in the off-season and in practice and it shows when their on the field/court. I don't know where they'll end up going in their athletic careers, but the lessons of hard work and preparation will go with them in whatever they do.

I can't believe that my oldest child is about to turn 14 (not really a child anymore, he's almost as tall as me) and will be starting high school in the Fall. At the same time my oldest daughter will be starting middle school and my youngest will be the last one in elementary school going into 3rd grade. It will be a big transition for everyone come August and will be the first time we've had 3 kids in 3 different schools. We've definitely moved into a new phase in life and I for one am enjoying it, even though it does make me fell a little old and tired.

With all this change going on, I've been finding myself in a very reflective mood lately, thinking back to my high school and middle school days. I've found myself listening to a lot of 80's music and reminiscing. I think my kids are tired of hearing dad's stories of the old days, but I hope they have as much fun in middle school and high school as I did. Plus it's really fun to embarrass them by turning the old music up really loud and singing along when their friends are around. I've been trying to get them to appreciate this time in their life and not keep wishing they were older. This has been especially hard with my 7 year old, who just doesn't understand why she can't do everything her brother and sister can, even though she gets to do way more than they ever did at her age.

Of course the difficult thing is to not try and relive my youth through them and to let them be their own people and have their own experiences, both good and bad. Just because a certain thing was a great experience for me (or a bad one) doesn't mean it will be the same for them. It's also difficult sometimes to hold back on making decisions for them or telling them what to do, especially when you know the consequences of their decisions may not be the best for them. But you also can't just let them go out totally on their own, they're just not experienced enough and that would be abdicating my responsibility as a parent. It's hard sometimes to provide guidance without being controlling.

I'm excited about 2010. We're going back to Disney in June with my wife's folks. We had a great time when we were there 3 years ago and are already planning all that we want to do. This time though we have a little experience behind us, which should add to the experience. Looking forward to the 2nd half of my 10 year old's basketball season. She's done a great job for her 1st year and is really starting to play well. Once she's done with basketball, softball starts up right away and she's very excited (as am I). I'm looking forward to seeing how her pitching continues to develop. I can't wait to see my youngest's dance recital in June. She's been working very hard since September and always makes her daddy proud. My son starts high school football in August and I can't wait to watch him play the sport he is so passionate about at the next level. He's also worked very hard in the weight room and has come a long way from when he started playing in 7th grade.

I do have concerns about where were headed as nation and will probably write quite a bit about that this year. You know I'm good for a rant now and then. But I wanted to start the year off a note of hope. To quote one of my favorite songwriters, Bill Mallonee:

"there's a time for listening to the thunder
there's a time for cleansing all the sins
there's a time when i'm slowly going under
this time isn't one of them

there's a time when joy is so elusive
out of your grasp and three sheets to the wind
there's a time crying is conducive
this time isn't one of them

most of my life's been like a wedding
the moment where the bride and bridegroom kiss
sometimes i can believe all that i hope in
this moment feels like one of them"

I'm excited to see what else God has in store for my family this year that we haven't planned. There are always surprises along the way in this journey, some good and some difficult, but God is amazing through it all.

May God bless you and your family this year.