So this blog post has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas. But since Marshall has been napping well lately, I've had a little more down time (yippee!) and once I finished wrapping presents, baking cookies and decorating the house, for the past few days I've been able to slow down and enjoy a little down time.
During those wonderful quiet moments (I'm trying to cherish them now before Baby 2 comes!!!), one of my favorite things to do (after Bible study, of course!) is to watch one of my favorite shows. Lately I've been into Giada at Home. I am picky about my cooking shows, but there is something so elegant, peaceful and soothing about watching her cook. Her food, her demeanor, her entire presentation is so calming. I'm not much of a cook, preferring to buy pre-ordered and pre-prepackaged Dream Dinners over making my own, but I enjoy learning from her, even if I won't ever put it into practice.
And of course, there are a few trashy reality shows that I enjoy, like Keeping Up with the Kardashians (Kourtney ROCKS!) and Kendra (I love how she keeps it real!). My hubby just rolls his eyes when he sees me watching those shows. I don't think his Simpsons show is much better. Come on.
But one of my favorite shows, which is a bit more uplifting than my reality junk and even Giada's cooking is 19 Kids and Counting, the story of the Duggar family. I have officially become a fan.
Now, let me just say, like many critics of 19 Kids and Counting (the family gets bashed by the press a LOT!), I had a similar first impression when I started watching the show: they seem like a group of fundamentalist, backwards, homeschooled, unattractive and socially awkward kids with overly protective parents who aren't living in reality. They are very open about being Christians and at first, it made me cringe to think that as a Christian myself, I could be associated with them. But...I kept watching.
The first thing that won me over me was the love, tenderness and laughter shared between the parents, Jim and Michelle. Unlike reality shows I'd watched in the past with multiple kids (like Jon and Kate Plus 8 before they split!), there was no harshness, criticism, back biting or nagging. Instead, they were a team. They encouraged and supported one another. They jumped in where they saw a need and served. There was no complaining, no mean-spirited arguing, no selfishness that is so common in marriage, especially the ones portrayed on TV. And yes, I get that this is reality TV and perhaps they are just "acting." But raising 19 kids under one roof, whether you're surrounded by a team of cameramen or not is gonna bring out the worst in you at some point. And the "worst" in the Duggar family is still so amazingly humble and Christ-like.
More than anything, I see Jesus in every single one of them. I see how precious their family meals are together, how they celebrate each and every birthday like it's the most special day in the world (even though they have 19 to celebrate every year!), I see how the parents set aside 1 on 1 time with each child to make sure they get quality time with mom and dad. I see their family devotional times together, reading the Bible and praying, and it's not a rote, forced and boring thing, but an enjoyable, celebratory time to come together as a family and seek the Lord.
I'm especially amazed by the gentle and quiet spirit of Michelle Duggar, the mom. She's been through a lot. She'd had 19 children by NATURAL childbirth (no Epidural for her...wow!). She had preclempsia with 1 baby, causing her to be bed-ridden at 20 something weeks, with 15 other children to raise. Recently, her 19th baby, Josie, had to be delivered at 25 weeks. She had to move to Little Rock, Arkansas and stay with Josie at the hospital for 7 months while her husband, Jim Bob, took care of the kids back home (after they temporarily stayed in a guest house for a couple of months as a whole family). She had gall stones right AFTER all of the drama with Josie. She even admitted on TV that the pain was worse than labor. WOW! And yet, through all of these trials, I never once saw her get bitter or complain. Sure, it was hard and she wasn't trying to hide her weakness or struggles. But her dependence on the Lord was so steadfast and sure that she wasn't shaken by the challenges that came her way. I SO want that kind of faith and perserverance!
Even the little things, like the strict dress code they enforce (the girls wear long skirts and the boys wear long pants, no shorts or sleevess tops allowed for any of them!) no longer annoy me as much as it did at the beginning. At first, I thought perhaps they were judgmental about it, thinking others who didn't dress like they did were going to hell or something. But they've talked about their views and that's not it at all. It's only that they want to prevent their boys from stumbling and present their girls in a way they believe is God-honoring to their bodies, rather than sex symbols. And while I don't necessarily believe that wearing shorts or sleeveless tops is a bad thing, I can respect them for wanting to encourage purity and beauty, without showing skin. They do the same with TV, movies, magazines, books and the internet. Michelle has said, "We don't want garbage in their mouth, so why put it in their minds?" Kudos to her!
So if you haven't ever watched the show, I encourage you to give it a chance. And don't write them off after just 1 episode. Yes, they're a little socially awkward and not the most attractive or dynamic personalities that you're used to seeing on TV. But it's evident they love each other and they love Jesus. And as a mom, who's about to be expecting her second, it's so encouraging to see how this family does it, with 19 kids, loving each other well, depending on the Lord in all that they do. If Michelle and Jim Bob can raise 19 children, surely I can handle 2! And more than anything, I want others to notice the same thing in our family...Jesus. In our marriage, in our children, in our interactions, in our struggles, in our everyday lives, may Jesus receive praise, glory and honor!