I'm sure those of you with children that suffer with asthma will find this story all too familiar:
One evening, a few weeks ago, as we put the little ones to bed I was keenly aware of the slight weazing noises that Beany was making. He had a cold and often lately, for him, colds go into asthma. I chose to go ahead and put him to bed, seeing that he didn't seem to be struggling. An hour later I awoke to the sound of that barky, high pitched cough. I picked him up and he pushed away, which is how he responds to the panic of not being able to breathe. So, I quickly got the black bag out and started the nebulizer and Beany just layed there and breathed the mist, knowing that it would help. Breathing treatment over, I put him back to bed (in our room) and went to sleep again, satisfied that all would be okay now, at least for a couple of hours.
An hour later I awoke again, this time to a different barky, high pitched cough, accompanied by the sounds of crying. I ran (Dad says "flew") from my room to the hall where Builder was standing, trying to catch his breath in the midst of coughing and wheezing. Builder has never had a problem with asthma so I assumed this must be croup. Having had several children to the emergency room early on in our parenting years, I knew they would treat this with a breathing treatment. So I started up the nebulizer again and explained to Builder how to breath with the apparatus so the medicine gets to his lungs. It seemed to calm him, although I could still hear the wheeze, so we went back to bed. Now both of the youngest were in our room. I layed there in the dark, watching the full moon, and listening to the relatively quiet breathing of Beany, and the still-to-tight-to-not-worry-about-it breathing of Builder. Not fifteen minutes later, Builder asked if he could do the "breathing machine" again. I said "no, it was too soon" and felt like a terrible mom for depriving my child of air. What could I do? Can a child overdose on albuterol? At that point Dad got up and thought perhaps Builder was just still a little panicked about not being able to breathe earlier. He closed our bedroom door, we got out the big quilts, and we opened both the windows. Cool, fresh air drifted in. As I felt it on my face I knew Builder could feel it too. "Breathe the fresh air Builder. Isn't that nice? That will help." I wasn't positive as I said these things, but I knew I had to ease his fears. I also knew I might be taking him to the ER soon. A few minutes later I heard "Mom! It's helping!" and sure enough, as he drifted off to sleep I could just hear the sound of his steady breathing.
As I layed there, thinking about the panic these little ones must feel when they are deprived of something as basic as air, I thought about the panic I often feel in my own life. Not because I can't breathe in the literal sense, but rather the stifling feeling of being overly burdened. There is always so much to do, to worry about, to plan for. The house that is never as clean as I would like, the children's education, all the extra exciting things in our life that cause joy, yet stress. I thought of how sometimes I feel as though I'm drowning and no matter how hard I paddle I just can't get my head above water enough to really breathe.
So where do I find my "fresh air"? It takes a little more than just getting out of bed and opening a couple of windows. It takes being quiet enough to hear that "still, small voice", being quiet enough to receive His peace. It's not easy to find that quiet in a house full of small children but with a little effort, it's not impossible. And when I do, it's like that cool air on my face. It reminds me that He is with me, blessing me with grace to do all that He has required of me. Strengthening me to embrace each new adventure that comes along.