A Momma Story (with a redemptive ending)


***What you are about to read is a recap of a day that unfolded several years ago. My kids were really little, my soldier was deployed, and I regularly found myself struggling for perspective and stamina amidst the comedy and chaos of our daily lives. Recently, I came across this snapshot and felt compelled to share it…praying someone, somewhere, might read it and be encouraged for the adventure they are faithfully walking out each day in this military life.

What a day.

I decided to try an outing to get some errands done. Yes, I am crazy. Packing up three small kids and going out in public is a guaranteed collision with CRAZY! BUT, the kids seemed up for it, I did several breathing exercises, and off we went.

However, when we got to the store, all three kiddos began begging for “prizes” and “stuff” from each aisle we went down. Each time, I said “no,” explaining that they didn’t get to buy something at every store we went to and that they needed to start saving some of their “allowance” for those special treats. Well, that news didn’t go over very well. Immediate gratification roots are definitely predominant in their little minds and “saving” makes no sense at all.

Anyway, the short trip was horrible. All three kids fighting, pushing, deliberately disobeying me – and we were only in the store about 5 minutes! As two of my three children started crying (loudly), a man standing in line in front of me turned around and said, “Boy, I remember those days.” To which I politely smiled and said “Um-hm.”

Thankfully, another clerk came up and opened another register, looked directly at me (although there were lots of other people in line) and eagerly said, “I can check you out over here.” Again, I politely smiled and thanked him. While we were paying, the kids continued to cry, whine, fight, and argue with me, to which the cashier said, “Boy, you sure do have your hands full, ma’am.” Again, I politely smiled (more through my teeth this time) and said, “Sir…you have no idea.”

Finally, we began the walk out to the parking lot and to our car. I stopped the cart outside the store to unload the kids and our bag and grab their little hands to walk out past the cars driving by when I realized that Mary was standing up in the child seat part of the cart with her pants down at her ankles (still hollering, of course). At the same time that I noticed her immodesty, Hannah tripped over the wheel of the cart and crashed into Joshua, who turned and yelled at her and immediately started another wave of hysterical weeping (from Hannah, that is).

I recovered just long enough to pull Mary’s pants back up (with one hand, mind you, and almost dumping her out of the cart in the process), to scold Joshua for his unkind words to Hannah, and ask Hannah if she was all right. To which she replied tearfully and insistently that she needed a band aid, even though I could find no blood on any part of her body.

Sigh. Yes, there’s more…

Once we got back into the car, I strapped Mary into her seat (yes, she was still hollering) and instructed the other kids to do the same. Hannah then asked me, optimistically, if we could go to the Dollar Store, to which I said, “Absolutely not!” (Yep, she started crying again.)

Joshua then looked out the window and saw a woman coming out of the store by herself. He stared at her for a moment and then announced, “That woman is SO lucky!” We all stopped in mid-thought/scream and stared out the window, dumbfounded at his declaration. Finally, I asked, “Joshua, why do you think that woman is lucky?” He looked back at me with great exasperation and replied, “Because she doesn’t have any kids!”

Oh. My. Goodness.


The chaos of my life seemed to stop at that moment and I begged the forgiveness of the Lord for my resentful heart and frustrated attitude at my children, and ultimately, at my life.

It was also painfully clear how closely my oldest, Joshua, had been paying attention–in the store, to the man, to the clerk–but more importantly, to me. He got my message loud and clear and I was ashamed that he heard it. I stopped what I was doing and asked him to come up to the front seat and sit in my lap for a moment.

I hugged him for a long time and began to talk about the story of how his dad and I had prayed to God for a long time to give us children.

I told him that the day he was born was probably one of the most joyful days in my life. He smiled impishly at that statement, but asked me, “Why were you happy when I was born?” I looked into his hopeful eyes and replied, “Because I had loved you for so long, prayed for you for even longer than that – and that was the day that I got to see your face. That was the first day of many to help you grow, learn, and become who God had designed you to be.”

He thought about that for a long time, then looked at me for reassurance again. I went on, “Being a mommy is a big job, Joshua, but I don’t want to do anything else. I am the lucky one, honey. I am the lucky one…tough days and all…I am the lucky one.” Satisfied and convinced (with a tight hug and lots of kisses), he smiled and went to get back in his car seat.

Later, when we got home, Joshua kept talking about wanting to make something in the kitchen. We had been making “goo” the last couple days and I was not enthusiastic about creating another container of stinky, messy goo. So, needless to say, I wasn’t very supportive of his idea of how to spend the rest of our evening.

However, as the evening unfolded, he just wouldn’t let it go. So, finally, after seeing all three of the kids getting in on the ideas of how this “project” would play out, I agreed and resolved to redeem the evening with some bonding time over the kitchen counter.

Well, I wasn’t sure what Joshua wanted to make (nor was he) so I just started handing him ingredients from the cupboard. Flour, bread flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, white sugar, graham cracker crumbs, honey, eggs, oil, water, chopped pecans. With stools pulled up to the counter, each took a turn at pouring in items and stirring the concoction of “goo.”

Suddenly, Mary boldly stuck her finger in the mix and put it in her mouth for a taste… “Hmmmmm! Goooooooood!” Hannah and Joshua looked at each other with great surprise and drama and plunged their own fingers in for a taste. All week we had been making awful, stinky goop and it hadn’t occurred to them until that moment that what they were making, with my help, was sweet and edible!

I smiled at our three little chefs and announced that we had invented something entirely new…a “new recipe that needed a new name.” (More beaming smiles.) Joshua thought really hard and then declared, “It should be called, ‘The McKinney Family Eating Cake!” Hannah took another finger swipe and mumbled an approving, “Yeah!” Mary, who didn’t even notice we were naming it, continuing to slurp up whatever she could get to stay on her finger.

We baked the “cake” and after bath-time that evening, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Joshua had gone downstairs and set the table for our “cake feast.” Napkins, forks, drinks poured (several clean up rags on the counter as evidence of the attempt), plates on the table – he had thought of everything – and was so very proud to have us all come downstairs and sit together to take the first taste of the “McKinney Family Eating Cake.”

We took our bites at the same time and all agreed it was good, but the batter was better! Ha-ha!

What fun! And we all thanked the Lord that our day had been turned around for good. Whew! What a day that was! I am tired just reliving it.


I still laugh when I recount all the ways that the Lord would show up and redeem a day that I was convinced was un-redeemable. But that, my friend, is what He does.

My prayer is that you would take notice, not just of the grime-filled moments, but of the glory-filled moments that He brings.

They are there. Even if you just have to look a bit harder, they are there. Though you’ve heard the cliché, “They grow up so fast,” often, I am finding that to be sadly true. My kids are 15, 13, and 12 now. Wow! We are still making memories together, crying and laughing at the way life often unfolds…but always grateful.

Grateful for the blessing of one another.

Grateful for this crazy military life we’ve been called to live.

Grateful for the faithfulness and goodness of our Heavenly Father, who loves us enough to always point the way home.


She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:25-30

The song I want to share with you today is from Sara Groves, entitled, “Setting Up the Pins.” It’s a song about family, routine, and how, if we are not careful, we can lose the main point in the midst of the mundane. Oddly enough, this song has remained a favorite of my youngest daughter, Mary. Makes me smile.


With joy for the journey,


Join Sarah and the Worship Team at our next Strength2Thrive Conference in San Diego on October 28! Found out more information and register here – you’ll be so glad you did!