A Conversation with Sarah McKinney


“It is all about making the right list,” whispered Sarah as she took a sip of her tea. We were catching up. Sharing life. Stealing a quiet breather with a friend. It felt like a sacred moment in the mundane of a Thursday.

“You see, joy and sorrow travel on the same track. The right list keeps us on the right side of the track.”

What I am learning

Psalm 27:13 has become Sarah’s lifeline. “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” She even printed the verse and posted it in her kitchen. It was an exercise of fixing her eyes on God through the hard stuff.

Cancer. The diagnosis brought a wave of emotions. A tidal wave. A tsunami at times. The road Sarah was walking with her mom was hard and uncertain but God’s goodness remained her focal point. “I will see the goodness of the Lord.”

“I looked for it everywhere. I needed it to be real and more than a promise.” And she found it in the simple things, like heart shaped leaves outside the hospital after a chemotherapy treatment.

Sarah started making a list. Right there in her kitchen. A plain piece of paper taped underneath the verse. This list, the right list, became her way of calling out the intangible, of making the unseen visible. A daily reminder and recognition of the character of God.

“I can see His goodness,” she smiled at me. A list of blessings, joyful moments, and encouraging words that have taken a life of their own on that wall. An altar of praise on a plain kitchen door.

“Through Jesus therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” Hebrews 13:15


“The character of God has become real to me,” she shares. “His love – His sovereignty.” She pauses, thoughtful, then adds, “I might not see the whole picture; I am not entitled to the whole picture. Yet I am reassured by the knowledge that He works for the good of those who love Him. My right list is my sacrifice of praise.”

How I am learning

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side.” Matthew 14:22

Immediately came after a mountaintop experience. Immediately came after the disciples witnessed Jesus feeding the 5,000. Immediately came after a colossal miracle.

Immediately came before a big storm. Jesus was waiting for them on the other side, on another mountain, praying.

“When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from the land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” Matthew 14:24

I wonder how the disciples felt in the middle of that storm. Scared? Frightened? Angry that Jesus sent them there? Maybe they had already forgotten their mountaintop experience. Maybe they could only see the wind against them.

This was a crucial lesson for Sarah. She explains that “we all go from shore to shore, miracle to miracle. But we also have to go through the storm.”

Jesus saw them struggling, battling the wind. He saw their fear and frustration. So he came.

Matthew 14:26-29

“But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

“It is in the middle of the storm that God finds out what is in us,” shares Sarah, “It is also where the enemy can get you.” The choice is ours: keep rowing, walk on water, or throw the oar overboard.

Think about it

Do you feel like you are in the middle of a storm?

Do you wonder where God is?

Have you forgotten your past mountaintop experiences?

Read the following verses. Meditate on them.

  • Proverbs 27:21
  • Psalm 27
  • Hebrews 13:15

Start making the right list.

I am All In when I offer a sacrifice of praise in the midst of the hard stuff.