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  • Shelly Roberts

Just Keep Breathing

Recently our daughter was hospitalized for colon surgery. She’d been struggling for months and we were hopeful that relief was close at hand. Little did we know things would get much more serious before getting to the other side of her current health crisis.


One evening she started gasping for breath. Her airway was collapsing. The red light was pressed and a dozen people came charging into the room ready to assist us. All eyes were on me, her mom. Often I'm looked to as the translator for our complex non-verbal daughter. I felt a bit frantic as we all tried to make sense of what was happening and I wondered when things would settle for a second so I could call home to talk to my husband. Impulsively, I lifted the weight of her head up from her shoulders, trying to open up her airway the best that I could. Someone reached for oxygen, another for medications, a few more lending a hand to try to help stabilize her. In that moment I felt so helpless, yet I can’t even imagine how frightened she must have been.


Things settled for a bit and then we repeated the whole scenario yet again. Earlier that day she was struggling from surgery complications and we were waiting to see if her body would recover on it’s own, or if she’d need an additional surgery. By now I’d been advocating for a good week for her 24/7. I was weak and weary, yet I wouldn’t trade my role for anything in the world. When love runs deep, so does pain when your dear ones are hurting.


Soon we were escorted back across the hall to the Pediatric ICU. That’s where we had begun her recovery and it felt like a heavy set back. I longed to be at home with my husband and other children. My aching body missed my own bed. My emotions felt raw and exposed. Maybe this was the crisis we’d all been dreading. Her medical team had worked so diligently to give her every possible chance to not require a tracheostomy. Yet to keep living, you have to be able to breathe and her airway was under such stress.


The next morning her surgery team came through for rounds. It was a solemn morning as everyone felt the weight of this set back while also confirming she indeed now had a respiratory virus on top of everything. Her surgeon gave her some timely instructions before he left that morning …. Just keep breathing, Joy – Just keep breathing!!” And in that moment I sensed the Lord instructing me to do the same. I’m often reminded on this journey that I can’t do it on my own strength. I don’t much like being face-to-face with my limitations. Yet, they are nothing to Him. He never requires me to be strong enough. HE ALONE is all that I need and He offers Himself so freely to me, if I’ll just lean into Him and receive what He has for me.



Thick in the midst of a long list of limiting diagnosis, my daughter fights to keep living. I learn so much from her. Even when we feel too weak to take another breath, He provides the grace needed. And as I breathe in His grace, my heart fills with praise recognizing just how very good He is to us. He sustains us through each season.


“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” -Psalm 150:6 

Are you needing to remember to breathe today? No matter what you are facing, you can be confident that His strength is enough for you today. He will stay right by your side as your lungs fill up and you find your praise once again.



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