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  • Writer's pictureAmy L. Sullivan

Real-Life Gutsy Girls: Gutsy in the Face of Tragedy

Happy Monday, friends!

Exciting happenings have been happening, but the most important tidbit of excitement is that sweet Sophie from Massachusetts completed her book report on Gutsy Girlsand this small fact has made me smile no less 14 times. Let me show you. Could Sophie’s hand-drawn characters be more adorable? The answer is a resounding no.

In celebration of the release of Gutsy Girls: Strong Chrisitan Women Who Impacted the World, this is the second in a series of guest posts on real-life gutsy women. The women featured in this month long series aren’t the women you find lining the pages of history books, but these women are true heroes. They have lived bravely, inspired many, and we look at them with admiration. This guest post is from author and speaker, Amy Otteson. Today Amy shares about a woman named Susanne. Both Amy and Susanne have sons who nearly drowned. However, their sons’ stories have very different outcomes. Amy is a friend of one of my forever friends, and therefore, I know she is a good egg. Read on.


(text by Amy Otteson)

Have you ever met someone, learned their life story, and asked yourself, “How much can one person endure?” OR thought – Their life is like that of Job’s. It’s one calamity after another.

I have and her name is Susanne.

In the summer of 2010, my husband and I nearly lost our youngest child in a near drowning accident. Not to seem cavalier because it was the hardest thing that I have ever experienced. It’s a miracle that he lived, and our lives are changed forever. I bring it up because it was the caveat that brought Susanne into my life.

A few months after we were discharged from the hospital with our son, I was approached by a woman that shared a story of another little boy that had nearly drowned. He was fighting for his life on the same floor that we had lived on at Children’s Hospital. She asked if I would reach out to the family. Still suffering from overwhelming emotional meltdowns and anxiety from our own tragic events, I felt hesitant. That said, the desire to support anyone experiencing what we had been through was greater.

We met Susanne and her husband with this precious, blond headed little boy that was the same age as our son. Susanne was so gracious, open and warm. Our sons’ stories and sadly their outcomes are very different. Their little boy never recovered completely. The brain damage was very severe. He has a smile that will light up a room, but he can’t walk across that room. He needs help to walk, talk, and eat. Susanne gives all she has every day to him and her three other children.

I found myself questioning God’s mercy on our son all the while looking at the long road that this family was left to go down. After they left the hospital, Susanne and I would process what was next. I marveled at her faithfulness to God’s plan. Yes, she would cry out. Yes, she would question, but she stood resolute on this path that God had put before her.

The following year, Susanne’s sister and nephew were killed in a tragic car accident. Her brother-in-law survived the accident but had severe brain damage. He later took his own life.

Following these events, Susanne and her family lost their home in a forest fire.

All the while, her husband continued to work for a Christian missions group and Susanne would encourage other with her story and God’s faithfulness.

In disbelief, I would learn of the calamity that continued to rain down on this family. I thought about the verse in Job 2:9-10 where Job’s wife tells Job to curse God and die. Job’s response is, “Should I only accept good from God and not trouble?” This is precisely Susanne’s outlook. In the face of immense tragedy, she presses on and has more true grit, guts and determination than I have ever known.

Never does she stop and say, “Enough is Enough!” Never does she curse God (as Job’s wife suggested). Instead, they have moved their family of six to another country to continue to spread God’s love and God’s redeeming power. If that’s not gutsy, I don’t know what is.

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Amy Otteson lives outside of Denver, Colorado with her husband, Dave, and three young children. Amy and Dave are the authors of Giving Up Gore, a memoir of their son’s near death drowning and his miraculous healing. Amy enjoys time with her family in the mountains, running, skiing and volunteering with at-risk youth.

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If Amy’s story or words resonate with you, be sure to take a peek at her book, Giving Up Gore. Also, make sure to keep up with our month long series on real-life gutsy women by subscribing (just enter your email in the subscribe box) or stay in touch via FB, Twitter, or my new favorite, Instagram.


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