My life for yours

October 17th, 2011

Your love compels me, Lord,
To give as You would give,
To speak as You would speak,
To live as You would live.

Your love compels me, Lord,
To see as You would see,
To serve as You would serve,
To be what You would be.
~Doug Holck 

Question:   I would like to think I would do my all as you have done for Verity to help her achieve her potential if I had a [child with Down syndrome].  She is your child, your own body, most loving parents who do not abort will do that.  But I am still so stunned to see you willingly adopt Katie.  How do you do it?  How do you find the compassion and the love to love a child who may never love you back in the way we understand love?


Answer:  This is quite a question.

You know what flitted across my mind when I first read it?

You mean everyone else doesn’t think Katie is beautiful and desirable?  Is it really so shocking that someone could love her?     

Oh, yeah; I forgot that not everyone is looking at her through our LOVE glasses.  Wow.  Looking at her through those other glasses?  Eeeeek, I guess she does look scary, doesn’t she?  Like nothing more than a bleak list of problems to bring grinding hardship to our family for years on end.  Looking at her through these lenses, my heart instantly feels weighed down by a suffocatingly burdensome sense of duty.

Sorry, I can’t bear this for one more second.  I’m taking those dark, scratched, smudged, ill-fitting, HEAVY DUTY martyr-glasses off, and putting these LOVE glasses back on.

There’s my girl!  She looks better already, and…huh!…so do you!  Hey, we all look better when seen through LOVE glasses, don’t we?

It was October 25th, 2010, almost a year ago, that I first looked into the eyes of a little girl in a Serbian mental institution, and heard the reporter say those words.

“Katerina is nine.  She has Down syndrome.  ‘You don’t want to let go of my finger, do you?'”

In a flash, my eyes were opened.  I understood that I was looking at my child, my own body, my own flesh and blood, a human being.  I felt the same wrenching pain and grief at the Serbian Katerina being thus treated that I would feel if Verity were being thus treated.

In that flash, I knew the truth.  The children in those orphanages aren’t from some other species.  God didn’t design some human beings to do okay growing up without loving parents, and design other human beings to do best growing up with loving parents.  Abandoned and neglected orphans with special needs are human beings just like I am a human being.

Joe watched the video.  He turned to me, our eyes met, and we knew.  We would adopt at least one of these little ones someday.  We couldn’t stand to see what they were doing to our own flesh and blood.

In our country, children born with special needs are nearly always guaranteed access to health care and therapy to help them reach their potential.  In Eastern Europe, children born with special needs are nearly always guaranteed to exist in state care and die before reaching adulthood.

Oh, my precious girl!  Who would not want you?  I look at your pictures and my heart hurts with the longing to hold you in my arms again. 


What would you be willing to do for your child?  Oh.  Does that make you some sort of hero or Mother Teresa?  Well, we are not heroes or Mother Teresa, either.  Katerina is our child.  We love her.

Does this mean we think that loving Katerina will be easy?

Listen, we have ten children.  We know that parenting is not easy.  We know that living closely with any human being is not easy.  Living at a distance from some human beings is not easy, ahem.  We know that bringing Katie into our family will not be easy.  Doing what we have done to adopt her has not been easy.  We know it is not easy for others to love us, and it is not easy for us to love others.  We know that real love comes at a cost, and that means loss.  We know real love requires sacrifice, and that means giving up.  We know that it can be hard to think about cost, sacrifice, losing, and giving up.

We are not naive or starry-eyed.  Real love is hard work, even when the recipient is beautiful and desirable in our eyes, and we believe with all our hearts that the hard work is worth it.

We’ve learned from experience that human love has limits.  It can grow apathetic and run dry.

But we’ve also learned that the love of Christ doesn’t ever grow apathetic or run dry.

If you see more than the ordinary human love when you look at us, please follow it back to its source and understand that what you see is the love of Christ compelling us.

At this point, we’re not really sure where our human love leaves off and Jesus’ love picks up.  We’ll no doubt see that more clearly when Katie wails during the whole flight home.  <grin>

But please take an insider’s word for it.  We can keep loving Katie, and all our other children, and never run short on love, because our inside source keeps us well supplied.


And now I have some more questions for you.


Questions:  Do we consider ourselves to be Christ’s people?

Have we enjoyed the benefits of the love of Christ?

Do we understand that the love of Christ is a compelling love?

Do we understand what it compels us to do?

Well, what did Christ’s love compel Him to do?

Oh.  It compelled Him to give His life for ours.

Why did Jesus give up His life for us?

To give us life?   Yes, it was to give us life.

So, now we have life.

But what is it for?

Did Jesus really die to give us life so that we could tell Him thank you, and then…

…spend it trying to make self feel good in whatever way works for us?  Protecting, preserving, preferring, pleasing, pleasuring self?

Could we not expect Christ’s love in us to compel us to give our life for others?

Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?*


“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”


*That is a link.  Please click on it and watch.



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26 Responses to “My life for yours”

  1. Deanna says:

    Real love is hard work….
    It’s the truth isn’t it?  We want love to be easy, but it’s often messy and painful and challenging and hard.
    Your writing and way of expressing yourself is a blessing.

  2. christy says:

    I look at Katie and see a gorgeous, sweet little girl who deserves so many hugs and kisses from her new family.  AQnd of course she is beautiful!  Those big brown soulful eyes just draw me in.  She is your child born on the other side of the world and of course you would do anything to get her and bring home…as you should!  You have many prayers from this family as you continue on your journey to bring her home to her family…where she belongs!

  3. Ann says:

    I never knew I was this selfish, but to be very honest, I am scared of adoption because I am afraid I can never love a child that I did not give birth, scared of handling their issues, scared of the unknown, you name it. I am not even talking about adopting children with special needs. So we do the next best thing, sponsor children and help people who have the heart for adoption. But bottom line we just throw money, we don’t do the actual, hard work. Most of the people we help monetarily in adoption rarely if ever look for children with special needs.  So many people have watched the video, many have felt compassion, but your response is so different. You wanted to do something, you were moved to do something.  You stun and awe me. Your heart is so different, certainly different than my selfish one. This is what the love of Christ must look like. I have rarely seen this in action even among christians, especially among christians.

  4. cinny says:

    I love the “love” glasses and that I look better with them on, too.  I can’t wait until you get her home and love on her.

  5. sabrina says:

    This is so true and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing this truth and living it.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I have adopted and I can tell you there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my adopted daughter (with Downs) that I would not do for my bio children. I have 2 of those as well. 
    I love Katie and most likely I will never get to meet her here on earth. But I will meet her someday. On the other side, in glory. I will look into her precious eyes and tell her I prayed for her and love her. 
    She is beautiful and she is a child of the King. I’m thankful that the Lord taught me how to see through the “Love” glasses      

  7. Andrea Mann says:

    This made me tear up a little today.  We have told around five people (we know) that we intend to adopt a child with DS.  I would rather talk to other DS parents, I have never met, on a forum. than to have to tell someone else and hear their ‘why you shouldn’t do that’ responses.
    Praise God that He knew you had a duaghter on the other side of the world.  Praise Him that He fills your hearts (and ours) with the love that our children need! 

  8. cindy says:

    You put this soooooo well Susanna

  9. Ginger says:

    Love this! What an honest question. Good for her for asking. :)
    I learned that it was easy to “feel” compassion while my adoptees were still in another country. I became quite dependent on God’s perfect love and compassion after the adoption. His patience and compassion are unending and unfailing. As long as I faithfully relied on Him, I was able to love compassionately and patiently. When I tried in my own power, I failed every time.
    All glory to God! 

  10. Keely Guthery says:

    I get so much encouragement from your posts.  It is a blessing to share in your journey and see God work in and through your family.  Praying my family can live this love too, someday.  Thanks for finding time to share thoughts in the midst of your busy life!

  11. Michelle says:

    She is so beautiful and I cannot wait to see her home in your arms!
    A question:  Is she the same Katerina from the video?

  12. Susanna says:

    Michelle, no, that little girl was nine years old several years ago, and she was from Serbia. We named our little girl after her, though. Our Katerina is from a different Eastern European country. :)

  13. Anna T says:

    LOVED the Francis Chan clip, yes, often obedience and trust means jumping into the water and not knowing the outcome : ) !!  Praying for Katerina to come home SOON!!  She IS beautiful and it IS understandable how the “world” has a difficult time understanding…  ((Hugs)) and prayers!!

  14. Anne Ross says:

    GOD does not view children or our precious Angels through the superficial eyes of the world!! katie is a precious angel and the love she will give back the world will never understand!!!’

  15. Stephanie Lynch says:

    I think Katie is beautiful!!!  I see it!!!  God has blessed you with the ability to write in such a way that moves and touches the heart.  It is spoken with truth.  I always know that your posts will reveal truth.  Thank you.

  16. crystal says:

    She is absolutely beautiful!!! congratulations and whenever I come to this blog and see her I also think “how could anyone not want her?”  PTL that he brought her and your family together!

  17. Susanna says:

    Thank you for being honest! I agree that while special-needs adoption is not God’s plan for everyone (like my 97-year-old grandmom), there are many, many people who could be doing it, and are choosing not to.

    From where we sit, though, I have to say we are surrounded by people with huge hearts, who are responding to the need and joining together to help bring little children with special needs into families. They are saying yes to what God prompts them to do to help, small and large, and every single gift is beautiful and necessary. Also, I could name so many families who are ready to proceed with special-needs adoption as soon as God opens the door for them. My hope is not in the goodness of man, my hope is in GOD who can change any mind and fill any heart with His love, just like He did ours. :)

  18. Brooke says:


    Your writing is amazing and touches my heart in so many ways. I feel so much closer to God after reading your blog… You are a beautiful person inside and out and your journey to Katie is nothing short of a miracle… For Katie, for your family and for all of us watching, IF we let it inside our hearts.

    Your Katie is a beautiful amazing child… She has endured a life that we can’t even imagine and yet she is there still, holding on, waiting for her family to come and get her and bring her home to LIVE… To flourish and to be loved like all children deserve. Your child… She is YOUR child, no matter where she was born, she is YOURS!!! I LOVE that she is coming home soon and can not wait to begin our journey to that same country someday to bring our child home.

    Thank you for sharing, for being so open and honest and for loving…

  19. Katherine Lauer says:

    Thank you so much for this post, for describing these truths. THANK YOU.

  20. Shanna says:

    I’ve found in my experience that for extended family members of adopted children, the love glasses sometimes do not go “on” until they have had the chance to spend time with the adopted child and get over their own fears.

    A wonderful and appreciated post!

  21. Lauren says:

    Whenever I need a reality check, I come here.  We have three very young boys at home, and we hear often that we are irresponsible for bringing a fourth, with special needs, into our home.  We hear how unfair it will be to our three boys.  Most times, it doesn’t bother me, but other times I let those little seeds of doubt grow.  It is during those times that I come here, and get my priorities back in line and I’m reminded that with God, anything is possible.  You are such a blessing to me.  Thank you.

  22. Jamie says:

    Thank you for this post and thank you for truly following Jesus.

  23. Autumn says:

    I love the love goggles, thank you for the inspiration you have been and will be. Like so many others, when I read your beautiful words, I am brought back to reality. Love is the ulitmate sacrifice for us, it truly is the hardest things to go through. Without love you never experience the abundance of joy nor the despair of sadness…it is blind and knowing..but never without faith. Just as we walk through this life, we are never alone even when we stray. Thank you so much for taking time to write, I truly feel better after reading your post, it touches my heart and rallies my spirit in ways I can not put into words. Your words help me to be that better person. I thank God for people like you, he has given you special gift :) I know you touch many others as you do myself!

  24. meriah says:

    Love glasses! YES! Love it

  25. April (justonemorebaby) says:

    Susanna what a fantastic post. But I just wanted to say this comment “Also, I could name so many families who are ready to proceed with special-needs adoption as soon as God opens the door for them.” touched me more than anything. 
    In that past I have looked at Reese’s Rainbow and just been so sad, I long to be able to bring one of those precious babies home but it’s just not an option right now (finances and the fact that we have crammed everyone we could into our tiny house!) I just felt guilt all the time.
    Your words made me realize that the Lord hasn’t opened that door yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to jump through it the moment He does! I can still pray and give what I can to help others adopt in the meantime.
    Thank you! 

  26. Kasey says:

    Susanna, you have just summed up our purpose here in life in those few short answers.  We are not here to serve ourselves and find the easiest path to our greatest comfort.  Life is hard.  Life is cruel.  But life can also be so beautiful when you have those Love Glasses on!  I am so glad Katie was created to fill that empty spot in the heart of your family!  I am praying!

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