Does the Guinness Book of World Records have a category for “longest period of time for keeping the same item magnetized to a refrigerator?” I sincerely doubt it. However, since the first all-steel home refrigerator was introduced by General Electric in 1929, that’s only a 95-year record to contend with. So, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. My magnetized item is actually a piece of newsprint (stuck in a magnetic frame), that says in large letters, “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” It’s been on my various refrigerators for 32 years. How do I know the exact amount of time? I know because my son Tim, who has Down syndrome, was born 32 years ago.

32 Years Ago—Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: My Sheer Act of Faith

Five days after New Year’s Day of 1992, I gave birth to my second son. That evening, I heard the words that changed my family’s life forever. “We believe your son has a chromosomal abnormality.” As it turns out, a little piece of extra genetic material can influence a whole host of changes in a human body. Some of those changes create authentic challenges (to the point of being life-threatening, such as severe cardiac conditions). Some of those changes bring forth wonderful qualities in a “super-abundance” not as fully experienced by those of us with a typical collection of 46 chromosomes. In those early days, my heart was understandably caught up with the former: the weight of the authentic challenges and the practical nature of addressing those difficulties. By choice, we did not know in advance that Tim had Down syndrome. (That’s a conversation for another day.) Nor did we know that he would have a tumultuous ride of health issues in his first year, culminating in open heart surgery at seven months old. The tsunami of new responsibilities in terms of medical care and therapies, accompanied by grief at the loss of my expectations for what I thought Tim’s life (and ours) would look like, made our infant and toddler days with our oldest son, Freddy, feel other-worldly. Sometime, early in this journey, is when the newspaper clipping became attached to my refrigerator. “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

Christmas vacation occurred the weeks just prior to Tim’s birth. We were all home together, as my husband had time off from work. And I specifically remember intentionally enjoying that time with Freddy—knowing (but not how much) it would change soon, with the addition of a new baby. I also distinctly recall singing a particular song with him—one that I remember God bringing to mind (from my own childhood) during that time. It was this:

There is a name I love to hear
I love to sing its worth
It sounds like music in my ear
The sweetest name on earth

O how I love Jesus
O how I love Jesus
O how I love Jesus
Because he first loved me

How often I repeated the words of this child’s hymn in the ensuing weeks of hospitalizations! How often that truth was an anchor to my soul during those early days. And how clearly it was summarized in the post I eventually put on my refrigerator: “Jesus LOVES Me, This I Know.” The unwavering steadfast love of God in Christ holds me fast. My God who was not asleep at the switch when Tim was conceived, but who has ordained all of Tim’s days (and mine) loves us.

But it was more than that. It was: “Jesus loves me. THIS I know.” I cannot adequately emphasize how much weight was on the word this. The cry of my heart was, “I do not know how to do this! I do not recognize where I am, and I do not know or understand where we are going!” But this I did know: “Jesus loves me. THIS I know.” And at that time, it was the only thing I was certain of.

“Jesus Loves Me. This I Know.” Declaring this truth, on my refrigerator, with my words, and in my ways—was an act of faith. Sheer God-given faith in the midst of a lot of heartfelt anguish, and in the midst of traveling an utterly unknown path.

32 Years Later—Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Tim’s Living Testimony

Fast-forward through 32 years of parenting a child (now an adult) with intellectual disabilities. I still have the same magnetized message on my fridge. And yet, the meaning is now so much deeper and so much fuller. It is not just a sheer declarative act of faith, although that faith and that statement are still true. Now, I also live with a person who is a living testimony of the love of Jesus: Tim Hubach.

Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that Tim is angel-like (those myths about people with Down syndrome do still float around, sadly). Tim needs Jesus, just like I do. But Tim loves Jesus, so much more than I do. Tim lives like, acts like, prays like, and breathes the very air of his complete trust that “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” What a blessing that has been to me, his Mom. I hear him pray for 10 or 15 minutes over his (previously) hot breakfast, until it grows cold. Why? There are people he knows who need to know the love of Jesus! Today. Now. As genuinely as he does. And as experientially as he does. Tim knows Jesus’ love. He trusts Jesus’ love. He demonstrates and declares Jesus’ love. Not perfectly. But in a super-abundance beyond most of us who have a typical set of chromosomes.

The Scriptures teach that faith is a gift. A gift from God. And to whomever God gives that gift, he also gives the capacity to receive it. Well, what capacity for faith God has given to my son! He may read more slowly, speak with a stutter, and struggle with math. But at this, he excels: “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” No doubt. No fear of others. No hesitancy to ask God for his every need (and everyone else’s too).

So, yes. “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” will remain on my refrigerator until I take my last breath. (Or until refrigerators are no longer made of metal, then I’ll move it somewhere else!) When I was a young mom of a baby with Down syndrome, it was a sheer statement of God-given faith. Now, as the older mom of an adult with Down syndrome, it is a celebratory statement of God’s work in our lives as a family—demonstrated in bold relief, by Tim’s faith lived out before us.

32 Years Later—Will You Celebrate With Me?

As my family celebrates World Down Syndrome day this year, will you celebrate with us? Will you celebrate the unique gift to humanity of a group of image-bearers who “have a little extra something”—in so many ways? And in doing so, I hope your heart will praise their Maker too. Not for their disabilities per se (which are a normal part of life in an abnormal world), but for them as persons—so uniquely created and gifted to reflect their Maker in ways that are “head-turning” to the rest of us.

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Stephanie Hubach

Stephanie O. Hubach is a Research Fellow in Disability Ministries in affiliation with Covenant Theological Seminary. From 2007-2016 she served as the Founding Director of Mission to North America’s Special Needs Ministries (Presbyterian Church in America). She is also a founding member of the Lancaster Christian Council on Disability (LCCD). Steph is the author of Parenting & Disabilities: Abiding in God’s Presence (P&R Publishing, 2021), Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability (P&R Publishing, 2006, Revised & Expanded Edition 2020), and All Things Possible: Calling Your Church Leadership to Disability Ministry (Joni and Friends, 2007). She has been published in ByFaith magazine, Focus on the Family magazine, and Breakpoint online magazine and produced a Christian Education DVD series based on Same Lake, Different Boat. Steph and her husband have two deeply loved sons, the younger of whom has Down syndrome. For further information on her work, go to