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How Do I Build Peace into a Stressful Day?

Photo of Katie WKatie W | Bio

Katie W

Katie and her husband are focused on community development and disciple making while living simply among an impoverished and unreached people group in West Africa. Katie is often found sitting on a mat sharing about the Bread of Life while breaking bread with courageous, hard-working, persevering but struggling women. You will also find her teaching nutrition to moms of malnourished children at the local hospital or cooking a big pot of food over the fire to feed begging children. Her own 3 children believe sand is a better playground than grass so you can see them climbing sand dunes together and enjoying a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies at the top. Katie and her family enjoy helping new believers create songs from the Psalms in the local music style and language and study Scripture in such a way even the most illiterate can participate. They continue to pray for a disciple making movement among the people they love.

In my last article, we learned a lesson from my one-year-old daughter on how to find peaceful moments regardless of the chaos of the situation. We call them “rock-a-chair” moments, based on the song my kids started singing as they rocked in the kids’ rocking chair.

May I share with you a handful of ways I’ve found that help create “rock-a-chair” moments for me, even in sorrowful times? Join me in discovering moments within our days to be drawn into our Father’s arms and to soak in His goodness. Even if we can’t feel that goodness in the moment, we pause anyway because we trust that He is good and He can carry us.

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you” (Ps. 116:7, NIV).

Can we stop striving so hard to make sense of everything and just create space for Him? Here are just a few ways I’ve found helpful to create “rock-a-chair” moments in my crises moments.

  • Take deep breaths in and out to quiet your soul. Breathe in Jesus and breathe out the worry/fear/anxiety.
  • Put yourself in a “worship timeout.” Find those playlists and let the songs articulate the prayers for you.
  • Color your prayers. Just sit with a set of markers and see what comes. I am often surprised at a session of doodling and when I suddenly realize I’ve just spent time praying while coloring.
  • Pray and journal. Write your hopes or fears and maybe draw as you pray, surrendering it all to Him.
  • Connect with someone. If you are having a hard time reaching out to God, ask God to give you a connection with someone who can encourage you, and whom you can encourage.
  • Try writing your own lament. David poured out his troubles to God, but often ended in praise. Psalm 13, Psalm 86, and Psalm 142 are wonderful examples.
  • Give yourself grace. And even more grace.

Remember that Jesus grieves with you during your times of sorrow and overwhelming stress. I was pausing to do some listening prayer concerning a deep grief in my heart about a boy who had become like a son. He had been sent away and was in incredibly heart-wrenching circumstances.

I heard as I listened to the Lord, “It’s okay to grieve. I’m grieving too.“ Wow. Our good Father knew exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. He knows what you need to hear too. He is grieving with you and is with you.

The other day I looked up from my work to see my son’s friend, who knows no English, sitting in the rocking chair and hesitantly singing out, “rock-a-che.”

He didn’t get it quite right, but he had heard my kids and was mimicking what he had heard, swaying in our favorite chair. When we choose to turn to Jesus and make “rock-a-chair” moments, we not only give space for bringing Him into our own lives, but those around us take notice.

When we allow Jesus into all our moments, no matter what we feel like, we then give space for others to see in whom we have put our strength. Those around us notice that our responses are different from those who serve a different master. They observe that we are a people of hope and joy. They see that we are not of those who give way to fear.

In submitting to Jesus in rock-a-chair moments, we are creating a place to invite others to find His grace and to discover their own “rock-a-chair” moments in His perfect presence.

And it is in these moments that His glorious and amazing kingdom grows, in our own lives and also in the lives of those around us. So wherever you find yourself sitting (or next time you find yourself sitting on a half-filled bag of rice), grab on to Jesus and lean in for the best “rock-a-chair” ride of your life!