A full quiver.
"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.... How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." (Psalm 127:3-5). This biblical quote concluded an article that appeared in our October 29, 2007 issue, which told the story of the Duggar family of Springdale, Arkansas. At that time, the Duggars had 17 children; on December 18, 2008, Jordyn-Grace Makiya Duggar joined the family, making a total of 18 children!
According to the family's website, www.duggarfamily.com, Jim Bob and Michelle were married on July 21, 1984. At that time they followed the current trend and "planned" how many children they would have, and when they'd have them. When after several years Michelle suffered a miscarriage due to conceiving while using birth control, the couple concluded that "their selfish actions had taken the life of their child."
It was then that they "prayed and asked God to forgive them, and to teach them to love children like He loves children. They asked God to bless them with as many children as He saw fit in His timing." And the rest, as they say, is history, with the 18 children ranging in age from 20 to newborn.
The family's entrance into the limelight began in 2002, when Jim Bob ran for the state Senate in Arkansas. The whole family was present at the polling place on election night, and they caught the attention of a media photographer, who snapped a picture. That photo was printed in the New York Times, and inspired an article in Parents Magazine, which inspired a documentary on Discovery Health Channel. The family is currently busy filming the second season of their reality show for TLC, "17 Kids and Counting." (TLC has announced they will change the show's title to reflect the 18th child, but has not revealed the name yet.)
Regarding all this publicity, Michelle says, "We prayed about it and felt this would be an opportunity to share with the world that children are a blessing from God. We said the only way we would do it is if they did not edit out our faith, because that is the core of our lives."
The economic aspect of raising such a large family can be challenging. Jim Bob and Michelle are both licensed real-estate agents. The family lives in a 7,000-square-foot home, which the Duggars built themselves as a family project and own debt free. Michelle relates, "We have lived very frugally, and our family motto is to 'Buy used and save the difference!' We shop at thrift stores and garage sales."
The Duggars believe that they are "ordinary people with our individual weaknesses and imperfections, but we serve an extraordinary God who delights in demonstrating His great power!"