Jun 27

Dear Kids | The Columbia Zoo

Dear Gabby and Evan,

Several weeks ago I decided to live up to my stance against Saturdays spent inside watching TV.  I bought tickets for the Zoo and your mother and I planned a little trip to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia.  Just like any other trip we “plan” to go on, I “planned” to leave an hour before we actually need to so we could leave on time (shhhh….that’s our little secret).  We grabbed a little Mickey D’s on the way out of town and adventure was ours.

We did encounter several problems.  One in particular was what I refer to as the “ATM Situation”.  The Zoo brochure brags about 2 ATMs on site so I didn’t stop and get cash.  Yes, I know.  I am a banker and I didn’t get cash before coming home. Tisk. Tisk.  Anyway, when we arrived we found that ALL ATMs were out of order and the cashiers in the gift shops don’t allow cash back on purchases.  Normally, not a problem, but the zoo also only accepts cash for their highly popular Merry Go Round and Rock Climbing Wall. Luckily there was a nice “older gentleman” that was not of “Generation teXt” that understood what I needed.  He guided me to the theater where I could buy tickets for you to climb that Rock Wall, Gabby and for both of you to ride the Merry Go Round.

You both may have been learning about animals that day, but I wrote this because I wanted you to know what I learned from you that day.

The way you approached climbing that Rock Wall showed me how to approach the adversities in life.  You took on that wall with child-like innocence, dogged expectation, and the pure belief that you belonged at the top.  That is what got you there.  You didn’t get to the top and then believe you belonged there.  You did it how God intended.  Believe, Do, Have.  Thank You.

The way you looked at strange animals and then looked back at me for an answer to “what is that” before forming your own opinion reminded me of how to approach new things in life.  I should turn to my Father in Heaven first and then form my opinion with his guidance.  Thank you, Son.

The day turned out Amazing.  Not just because your mother and I pulled off a Zoo Adventure, but because we all relaxed and enjoyed the time provided for us to make powerful memories.




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  1. Rita Andrews

    Ryan, I just love reading your blogs on here! This one really touched me!!! Jesus said that “if we humble ourselves as a child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 18:4) God shows us so much about ourselves through our children. Gabby and Evan are two wonderful kids! Continue to do what you’re doing, Ryan and thanks for allowing us to be apart of the family here on your website.


  2. Ryan McKinney

    Thank you for the kind words, Rita.

  3. April Maas

    Ryan I love this post/letter to the kids. You are such an amazing daddy to Gabby and Evan. The way you took your own lessons out of the kids having fun is so special. You have two of the greatest kids ever. Love u all- auntie

  4. Lisa Sweat

    Ryan, This made me cry. This is so sweet and I am so proud of you. You have a beautiful family and even though we don’t get to spend time together I feel like I am visiting you and your family everytime I read your blogs. Just know that I love you, Amber, Gabby and Evan very much.

  5. Amber McKinney

    Wow Ryan that is such a wonderful letter to our kids. we are so lucky to have these wonderful children that the lord has blessed us with. and we both learn from them daily, my wish is for God to continue to bless our lives today and always.

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