November 12, 2012

Meeting the Duggar Family!

Recently, we were in Fayetteville, Arkansas to visit our family and attend a benefit golf tournament, banquet, and birthday celebration for my grandfather. It was an INCREDIBLE weekend! We hadn't been able to visit in about 5-6 years due to different things, and it was indescribable to be back where we have so many memories. We were simply there to be with family and just spend quality time together, but little did we know it would turn into so much more!

I've been in touch with Michelle Duggar for about a year. Their family knows of my grandfather (they've listened to his sermons and our families share many mutual friends), and I emailed them many months ago, telling them how much we love the show and sharing the connection that they might know my grandparents. Jim Bob wrote me an email back and said they would love to see us if we're ever in the area. He gave me Michelle's number, and we had texted on and off for awhile, trying to get something scheduled. However, we ran into conflicts, such as bringing Liam home last year (I didn't want to travel with him so soon after coming home), and they went through the loss of their sweet Jubilee. 

Well, we arrived in Fayetteville on a Thursday night, and Friday was the golf tournament. My dad and brother were playing in the tournament, so my mom and sisters and I were together. We had to run a few errands, and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Mermaid's, a restaurant we have loved for years. By the time that was done, we were planning on going to some shops, but we stopped by Walgreen's to get something first. While we were sitting in the parking lot waiting on my mom, I decided on a whim to text Michelle and see by if some small chance they were in town. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to try! I didn't expect a thing. Well, she IMMEDIATELY texted me back and said they would love to see us! She and Jim Bob were flying out that night for a meeting, but she said if we could get there before 5:00, that would be perfect. It was 2:00, and I knew we HAD to go! I started freaking out and showing my sisters my phone, and when my mom walked up to the car I rolled down the window and yelled "GET IN THE CAR! WE ARE GOING TO THE DUGGAR'S!!!!!!!" It was nuts.

Michelle sent me their address and we put it into the GPS. I was driving, and my sister was navigating. They live about 20-25 minutes outside of Fayetteville, and so we had plenty of time to freak out on the way - ha! Every time the GPS lady would say "In .3 miles, turn left" or something like that, we would have a whole new wave of excitement. Then the GPS lady said "Approaching destination." We looked to our right, and THERE IT WAS! The house! Like a group of ridiculous teenagers, we started screaming. It was ridiculous and hilarious at the same time! 

Michelle opened the gate, and we saw several of the kids playing outside. It was so surreal!!! We knocked on the front door, and Michelle opened it, immediately greeting us SO warmly and kindly. We immediately hugged and started talking right away.

The first thing I noticed about Michelle is how incredibly genuine she is. We all immediately started talking like we had known each other for years. I was also so touched by her hospitality. Here she was, about to leave on a trip in a matter of hours, and she opened her home to us on almost no notice. It was more than we ever expected, and it blessed us so much.

Alyssa and Andrea with Josie:

Jinger was having a piano lesson with "Nana" - she's been featured on the show before. :) It was amazing because the whole time we were visiting, she was playing BEAUTIFUL Christmas music. I just wanted to pinch myself - being in the Duggar home and listening to Christmas "background" music on the piano. . .it was just perfect!

Andrea and I with Josie and Jackson:

We had such a great time with the kids. They were so precious and so NORMAL. They were incredibly sweet and also very hospitable! They were showing us things, offering us snacks (which Michelle vetoed, only because their snack selection had been sitting outside for several days - haha!), and asking us to read books. :) Here I am with Josie:

We also met the Duggar cat:

Andrea got the camera and the girls did a little photoshoot :)

Their home was absolutely beautiful. It was so surreal to have seen it on TV, and then be there in person! It felt so cozy and very warm and welcoming. I'm not even sure how to describe it, but we all said how we didn't want to leave. You could feel the Lord's presence there, and it just felt so comfortable.

We talked about a ton of things - I wish I could've just pulled out a whole list of questions. If I ever get to visit again, I'm going to be prepared with specific questions on parenting, etc.! I just feel like she's so wise and genuinely wants to get to know you. I just thoroughly enjoyed her.

The film crew was there doing interviews in their workshop/garage, so some of the kids were out being interviewed. We met one of the production assistants when he came inside to get Joy and a couple of others for their interviews. Another thing I noticed - Michelle wants everyone to know about Jesus! This particular production assistant was newer to the crew and she immediately told him about a Christian website where you can download and listen to a ton of great sermons and lectures. I could tell that it's her heart's desire for people to hear about Jesus if they're in the Duggar home. It really touched me.

Michelle was SO SWEET to sign books for us! She brought out this huge stack and we insisted that was too much, but she wanted each of us to have them - we cherish them!

Of course we all wanted pictures. :)

Jinger finished her piano lesson and we got to meet her! She is BEAUTIFUL. My mom and sisters and I couldn't stop talking about it. She is just strikingly beautiful.

We had the most amazing time visiting the Duggar family, and hopefully next time we can meet more of them. Jim Bob was out running errands, and a few of the older girls were at a Bill Gothard seminar (or they were teaching at one, I can't remember). We meant to drive by Josh's car business, but ran out of time. :) It was such an honor and privilege to be in the Duggar home and experience first-hand their godly, warm hospitality and love. Michelle kept saying, "You are just the sweetest friend!" and "Thank you, friend!" I laughed and said "I am one of Michelle's FRIENDS - I have MADE it!" and we all laughed so hard. She asked me to keep in touch and we're going to exchange Christmas cards. She also asked for my blog address. :) 

The Lord was so sweet to give us this time to meet a family that we admire and love so much. We enjoyed every minute and can't wait to hopefully visit again in the future!
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