There’s nothing that is more relaxing to me than to zone out in front of the television for a couple of hours after Ali goes to bed. I’ve been talking and answering questions and playing princesses and meeting needs all day long, and by the end of the day I find myself needing to shut down my communication department for at least an hour and rebuild my fried brain neurons.

And so, television lets me do that. Chris and I can cuddle, be entertained, pay as little or as much attention as we’d like, and have time together, yet all the while recover from our busy days.

However, I know that television isn’t exactly always the most positive input into my life. Sure, some shows aren’t bad, but it seems like most shows out there are constantly pushing the limits.

There are dichotomous characters that are both extremely brilliantly good while having very bad characteristics at the same time, shading the lines between hero and villain (like one of my favorite shows, House).

The limits of what can be aired on television are always being stretched, seemingly one millimeter at a time so that hopefully no one notices.

And sitcom characters are usually portrayed little worse, less intelligent, less in-control, or some other “less than” than the average person, almost as if to make us feel better about ourselves.

However, there is at least one show out there that I feel is on the other end of the moral and ethical tug-of-war of media. One show that actually convicts me and exhorts me to be a BETTER person. The Duggars.

Currently titled “19 Kids and Counting” (It changed last week, so if your DVR was set to record 18 Kids, you need to reset it), the Duggars are different and stand out – but not in a weird freakish way like most people assume. They stand behind their convictions in a way that is so humble, non-judgmental, accepting, and loving that it continuously reveals the lack of conviction in my own heart.

Not that they make me want to have 19 kids or only wear skirts – they don’t. At all. Those issues aren’t their focus and they don’t try to push their points of view on these and other personal convictions. The ways that they challenge me are in their attitudes, their firm grasp of glorifying God in every situation, and their complete lack of stress despite 19 reasons to stay in constant chaos mode.

I get stressed and frazzled with one kid. As I said, by the end of the day, I need to zone out in front of the television to “recover”. They manage to stay composed, loving, patient, joyful and kind seemingly continuously.

Granted, I know that every second of their life is not recorded and would never presume that they are perfect, but the way that they handle the big things in life leaves me speechless.

Last week, they showed the birth of their 19th baby, Josie – their first premature delivery. She was delivered at 25 weeks and weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. Michelle had gall stones and preeclampsia, and her life and little Josie’s life were very much at risk.

Despite the fact that their oldest 11 kids were in El Salvador by themselves on a missions trip, the younger 7 were at home with Grandma, and they were three hours away at an intensive care unit, Michelle and Jim stayed completely calm and trusting of God’s control of their situation.

Although they did allow the event to be recorded, it was done in such a way that it was more than obvious that they weren’t doing it to make sensationalist television or to gain more viewers – they were allowing themselves to be recorded in their moment of greatest weakness and pressure SO THAT they could show that they don’t just praise God in the good times – but in the bad and uncertain as well.

In a moment of crisis that large, I know that I would not respond with nearly the grace that they had – because I don’t even respond to the tiniest of crises that way.

I know that they are quite controversial and many people claiming that they shouldn’t have this many children, that Michelle shouldn’t put her life at risk by continuing to get pregnant, that they shouldn’t have their family on television, and the list goes on, but I believe that they are obeying God as he has led them to do. No, their decisions aren’t for everyone – and they make it very clear that they don’t believe that they are for everyone. But God is definitely using them to encourage those of us who are watching their example and amazed at their abilities.

I can only hope that my significantly-less-than-19 children turn out half as strong, convicted, loving, and smart as all of their children seem to be.

I am not by any means against “normal” television – I watch plenty of it for sure. But it is refreshing and very GOOD for me to watch a show like this that challenges me, exhorts me, and encourages me to seek holiness.

I want to support shows that have this positive effect on me. I want to find more of them! Let me know of other shows that you find to be positive influences.

I have been pleasantly surprised and blessed that the Duggars were nothing like my preconceived notions of how I thought they would be, and how very “real” and entertaining they are, all while encouraging me in my faith and peace in God.


19 Kids and Counting airs on TLC Tuesdays at 9/8 central. Re-runs of 18 Kids and Counting air at 7:00am and 7:30am on TLC every weekday morning.

22 thoughts on “19 Kids and Convicting.

  1. I love this family. I love everything they stand for and I wish I could have half of their conviction for the Lord. They raise 19 children the way I want to raise my 1. I think they are a wonderful example of what a God centered family should look like, regardless of its size. Every time I post something about the show on facebook, I always have to defend them. If more people lived like they do (saving, no debt, thrifting etc) we might just see some kind of change. In a nutshell…I love them.

  2. I haven't watched the show but I like what you had to say about it. They sound wonderful.

    She looks GOOOOOD to be the mother of 19!

  3. wow – your post came at the perfect time for me. I actually had never heard of the duggars – I'm so out-of-the-loop…but I just spent an embarrassing amount of time checking them out online and share your conviction!

    These days – with sick kids, josh gone, and a sick mom (pregnant…again, but not with #19 AND I haven't announced it yet on my blog, but it's relevant to my comment) I have felt the pull of self-pity. I feel like I'm always the one giving…and all I really want to do is get under my fleece blanket and go to sleep. Then you have to go and post about this lady with 19 kids and still has a cheerful heart and a spirit ready to lead her kids for the day! Ouch!!

    But, seriously…what a good encouragement for my heart. Get off my rear, go love my kids, invest my heart in them and stop complaining about the great privilege I have to be a mom.

    thanks for your thoughts. I'm encouraged.
    blessings to you, friend.

  4. I've seen snippets of their show and like you, found myself admiring their trust and how they glorify God. Now I really want to start watching it.

  5. We don't have cable so I have never watched their show consistently. I just saw snippets when we were on vacation months ago. But I just got through reading their book and I had the same thoughts you did. They aren't preachy, they are just living their lives and loving the Lord.

  6. I love the Duggars, and I love your post about them! Thanks! And, to those who haven't watched the show. You should!

  7. hello from Mississippi!I love the duggar family so much! I agree with you 100% about how they encourage you to be better parents. My husband and I are fixing to start the financial plan that they follow and for the past 3 months we have been doing "buy used save the differance" we have saved over $500 in 3 months just by hunting consignment shops (if you go to the ones near the rich neighborhoods you can often get super high quality clothes for cheap!) and using coupons!

  8. I admit I don't watch the show regularly, and can't imagine having that many children, but I have seen them and I am amazed at their conviction and faith. I will also admit that I don't neccessarly think it is healthy to have that many children, but I respect them and agree that God has blessed them everytime they have a child.

  9. Thanks for that beautiful post about a family I and my husband never miss on TV. I have felt so bad for them as the criticism has poured out in the middle of their current crisis, making it even harder than it already is. The detractors of the show, when they are also watchers as on the Duggars without pity site, watch with a critical eye they would never turn on another show or another family they actually know. I find the show and especially their book inspirational. We should all exhibit the loving kindness of our Lord Jesus as well as they do!

  10. I've never watched their show but I hear such good things.

    I agree with you on TV. I absolutely love it but sometimes I get a wakeup call and realize that something I'm watching is full of sin.

  11. I love the Duggars and have the utmost respect for their family, even if I personally have no desire to have 19kids or wear skirts. They really are a wonderful example of a loving, cheerful, Godly family.

    Great post!

  12. I don't understand the hating on the Duggars that so many people do. They are making choices for their family. I find it quite telling to compare them to any other "reality show family" and they come across as so genuine–just real and good. I love watching them.

  13. Rachel,

    I have seen bits and pieces of their show and find them to be just a wonderful family. My SIL has 7 children and has said that the more she has the easier it is because the older ones help with the younger ones.

    What I really wanted to say was how refreshing it is to hear young folks such as yourself wanting to be a person that is faithful with God; I truly am hearing and finding more young folks and couples that are seeking their faith and finding what a wonderful God we have.

  14. We record the Duggars and watch the shows faithfully. Both Emily (12) and Mandy (6) LOVE to watch them. I'm not exactly sure what it is about the show that they enjoy, but I'm glad they do, and that it's a good one to watch. John (10),on the other hand, doesn't understand why someone would want to watch a show about what a family does every day!

    Much of their convictions are based on Bill Gothard's teachings from the Bible. I've been to several of his seminars (not recently), so I recognized a lot of "why they do what they do". The most important thing (and what I feel the Duggars are trying to portray) is to follow God's leading for YOUR family – which isn't the same for everyone.

    Before I watched their show, I had only heard about it from different people – with different opinions. When I finally did watch it, I was pleasantly surprised to find them more "normal" than I expected. Recently I watched the episode "Ask the Duggars" – where people from all over asked them varying questions. Michelle did comment on how hard it was when the first 6 or so were little. She didn't have older siblings to help. Imagine what the show would have been like if they had started filming with "6 Kids and Counting" instead of "14 Kids and Counting". Probably would have seen a different side :)

    In closing, this is one reality show I don't mind watching. Very inspirational!

  15. Thanks for the heads up Rachel. It's not a show I will probably ever watch, but it's because I just don't "get into" the TLC family/children shows (I don't know why). BUT, it's nice to know there are good shows still out there :-)

  16. I'm with you one the conviction! Every time I watch them I marvel over how so many people in that house can all have inner peace that radiates to one another so well. What would it be like if all God's people could accept each other and work together like they do?

  17. I agree with you so much! Everytime I watch the mom, Michelle, on TV using such a kind voice, and being so peaceful, it ALWAYS convicts me… a good way. :) I truly believe they are 1 of the few programs on TV that are actually worth watching. It's so nice to see such a wholesome and beautiful family living out their faith and lives for the rest of us to watch and be inspired by.

  18. This is my favorite show!

    The Duggar family (and Michelle in particular) is such an inspiration to me. Watching their show is the main reason that I began to feel so convicted about my lack of patience (& temper) with the kids. It is my goal to respond to my kids they way Michelle & Jim Bob respond to their children.

    Another thing I love about their family is that all the children have a genuine love and respect for each other, they want the best for their siblings. I want Luke & Aubrey to have that kind of relationship, and I know it is not the easiest thing to cultivate.

    I was very close to a family in my church in Atlanta who remind me a lot of the Duggars (they used the same Bill Gothard (ATI) homeschool materials. I never once heard the parents raise their voice, they were extremely patient & loving, everyone in the family loved the Lord with their whole heart, they had strong convictions, but never were judgemental or forced them on anyone else, and all of their 4 children have grown up(1 is still a teenager) to have the same passion for Christ as their parents do. Not one of them have strayed from the Lord and I believe this will be true for the Duggars too. I want all of these things for my family and watching this show helps me realize that it is possible, but that there are things in my life that I need to change in order to have that kind of family.

    If you haven't already, you should read their book, it's fabulous! I've taken a few of their tips from the book and implemented them with the kids.

  19. ha! And I just bought season 3 off itunes. My girls and I watched it together – it was fun times! Where would I be without technology…?

  20. Agreed! I heart the Duggars too :) Its so refreshing to see such a family on TV these days, really following Christ in everything they do.

  21. Although we don't have cable, I have seen snippets of this family on the network news from time to time. This is one of the few cable shows I actually wish I could watch once in a while.

    I really appreciate what you have said about them here. So many people seem so disturbed by their family and are very judgmental toward them. I think perhaps their consciences are being pricked by this family's loving, humble attitude.

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