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Video: With the ‘help of God,’ ‘love,’ Duggars thrive

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    >>> this morning on today's family, the duggars. we have watched the arkansas family grow and grow and grow over the years on their tlc series "19 kids and counting." today, the duggars, number 21 and all.

    >> yet somehow they make it work simply and peacefully. michelle and jim bob have written their second book "a love that multiplies." michelle , jim bob and kids, welcome back.

    >> good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> your oldest son joshua is missing but for a good reason.

    >> yes, he and anna are here in new york, but they are expecting our second grandchild in a couple of weeks. so they're resting and taking it easy because we were enjoying new york last night and we didn't get to bed early enough.

    >> she didn't want to deliver here.

    >> that's a good excuse. it works out well. it's been a tough year for you. i know that josie was born three months premature.

    >> yes.

    >> you were very ill at some point.

    >> yes.

    >> i know there were a lot of times spent at the hospital. the family was uprooted. how have you made it through that?

    >> oh, by god's grace. we are so thankful. we realize the preciousness of life. looking at josie today, you would never know that she only weighed 22 ounces at birth.

    >> she looks great.

    >> fantastic.

    >> she's a miracle baby . we are so grateful to have her. just the fact that she's here is something to be grateful about.

    >> and a question for any of the older kids to answer. one of the advantages of having a big family is when times get tough you can lean on each other a little bit. what did you learn about family in the past year?

    >> i think it drew us closer together as a family unit. we all moved to little rock which is three hours from where we lived in northwest arkansas . we didn't want it to divide our family in any way and cause stress. we camped out in little rock for several months.

    >> sticking with some of the older children, i have wondered over the years watching you be interviewed on this show. based on your experience in this family are you more or less likely to go forward as adults and have very large families?

    >> more likely.

    >> more?

    >> you think you will have a lot of children?

    >> yes, sir. i think so.

    >> why do you think that?

    >> i guess our parents always taught us that we are best friends . having your best friends with you all the time, your brothers and sisters , is really special.

    >> guys, you feel the same way?

    >> yes.

    >> show of hands . anybody here want to have a small family? no. not one.

    >> lots of grandkids.

    >> you're on your second book now. jim bob , what's the message here?

    >> well, this book talks about josie 's story at the beginning and all of the struggles and challenges. the lord gave us grace to get through it. it goes deeper into our lives of why we do what we do and what makes us tick and all the bible principles behind why we do what we do. it's a special book. not just because we wrote it but hopefully it will encourage families. many have encouraged us over the years. hopefully it will be a great inspiration.

    >> it goes without saying every time we have you on the show or talk about you we get a lot of comments. a lot of people have questions. one thing people want to know is during these difficult financial times how you do it. i know you both have real estate licenses but how do you make ends meet?

    >> good question. back about 20 years ago we went through jim salmon's financial freedom seminar to get out of debt and stay out of debt. that helped us to get established. then we -- we paid cash for the house, built it at a family project.

    >> is it a monthly struggle? are you making sure you get to the end of the month?

    >> we have invested in commercial real estate and we have that all paid for. so we have rental income. really, we are insulated from the financial situation that the country is in. we have had a few renters that moved out. but the lord has always met our needs. it's amazing. as we have had our children and expanded our family, god has always increased our income just a little bit more to take care of it.

    >> each one. our family motto, we say, is buy used and save the difference. we love to go to thrift stores and pawnshops.

    >> who's a really good shopper?

    >> jinger.

    >> you know a bargain when you see one?

    >> we have never bought a new car. we spend less money on clothes than most people do.

    >> everything we wear is thrift store finds.

    >> the new season of tlc starts tonight.

    >> yes.

    >> has it always been good having the cameras around or are there times you wish you could say, get out of here?

    >> at first they would put the camera in our face and say, be normal. now the home crew is like family. syst

    >> is there any misconception you want to clear up about the family? you're smiling.

    >> i don't know.

    >> there is a lot of love in our family. i think people would say, well, if michelle would have breastfed the babies --

    >> that's one thing. if you nursed your babies, you wouldn't have children that close together. i did, but god made me different. we are loving and enjoying every one of them. so i think that one little misconception, probably that has something to do with mom, with me.

    >> we feel the most important thing is encouraging each of the children to love god and serve others. we love each one of the children. each one is thankful to be here.

    >> we're thankful you are here as well.

    >> we have said every time we're so impressed by how well behaved your kids are and nice, nice young men and women. that's a testament to your parents.

    >> the book again is called "a love that multiplies." jim bob , michelle , the rest of the duggar clan, thanks for

TODAY books
updated 6/7/2011 9:19:41 AM ET 2011-06-07T13:19:41

The Duggar family, stars of the TLC series “19 Kids and Counting,” now number 21 and somehow manage to make it work simply and peacefully on a daily basis. Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have written their second book, “A Love That Multiplies.” In this excerpt they talk about the moment when Michelle was rushed to the hospital for what they believed were kidney stones, but which turned out to be premature labor with Josie.

Chapter 3 - A surprising test begins

Our roller-coaster year rolled along. January’s ice storm and Grandpa Duggar’s death in mid-February had gotten 2009 off to a rocky start, but Michelle’s positive pregnancy test in August and Mackynzie’s birth in October lifted our spirits and filled our hearts with joy. In our big, active family, it seems there’s a major or minor crisis about every thirty minutes, but most of 2009’s crises seemed to get resolved according to our most frequent advice: wait a minute; it’ll pass.

Discuss on TODAY Moms: The Duggars would love more children... how about you?

Then came Thanksgiving, when we welcomed family members from near and far to join us. The house was full of loved ones sharing happy sounds, delicious aromas, and a rich sense of thankfulness and contentedness.

And with Thanksgiving came ... a stomach virus. Or was it the flu? Something was sweeping through the family, infecting one child after another. Fearful that we were all coming down with the H1N1 virus — swine flu — which was causing such concern around the country at that time, we took the first couple of young patients to the doctor. Tests showed it wasn’t swine flu but some other kind of virus.

Submitted by Libby Reed  /  UGC
Cover@Scott Enlow, Studio E Photography
The illness progressed through the whole family, knocking each one of us out of commission for about three days each. When I (Michelle) looked at five-year-old Jackson’s throat and saw white spots, I nearly panicked. “We’ve got strep!” I told Jim Bob.

Back to the doctor we went, taking not only Jackson but also eleven-month-old Jordyn, who was showing symptoms of sore throat and fever. Again the tests came back negative for what we feared most. The doctor said the problem was the Coxsackie virus rather than streptococcus. The potential complications weren’t as severe, but many of the symptoms were the same.

By the time the virus had run its course through the Duggar household, fifteen of the seventeen children living at home had been sick, as well as Jim Bob and me. We were wiped out! A friend asked how we were holding up, and I told her, “I don’t know whether to say our nights are long or short. We’re not getting a lot of sleep at our house!”

I didn’t keep track of how many boxes of tissues and Popsicles we went through, but it had to be dozens. The last patient recovered just as everything was gearing up for Christmas — and a host of other activities.

The biggest thing on our calendar was an up-coming Christian mission trip that would take ten of our older children and me (Jim Bob) to El Salvador. We’d made similar trips to that area of El Salvador in the past, but this year a hurricane, along with its aftermath of mud slides and rock slides, had destroyed thousands of the crude shacks occupied by families in the poor villages we would be visiting. We were going to help rebuild homes; plus, with our friend Todd Hertzberg and his family, we had committed to bringing wrapped gifts in our checked luggage for the 250 children who had already been invited to a Christmas party at one of the other poor communities.

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A few days before we were scheduled to leave, I gathered a half dozen of the middle Duggar children who would be going on the trip and headed to a local discount store to meet the Hertzbergs and do some shopping. It was a joy to see our children diligently searching for special gifts for the El Salvadoran children, piling several shopping carts high. Following our assigned list, they picked out, for example, eighteen gifts for ten-year-old boys and twelve gifts for nine-year-old girls. Then we went to the Samaritan Thrift Store and picked up hundreds of clothing items that were being donated. The children stuffed the clothes in big, military-style duffle bags to take to El Salvador.

The children also were preparing for musical Christmas recitals and programs, we were meeting with out-of-town editors about starting this book, and the Australian film crew was scheduled to spend the first weekend in December with us, shooting video to broadcast in early 2010 on the popular TV newsmagazine Sunday Night. There were still homeschool lessons to be taught, more than twenty people to feed (film crews and other visitors in our home at mealtime are always invited to join us), and lots of tender hearts and minds needing attention.

We managed to slip out on the evening of December 3 for a double-date dinner with some friends, heading to one of our favorite casual restaurants that serves the most delicious sweet potato fries. Oh, they were good!

And a few hours later, oh, how I (Michelle) regretted eating them! I had indigestion. The kidney stones that have bothered me on and off for years often flare up when I get dehydrated, and when back pain joined my indigestion, I assumed that’s what was happening. Tossing and turning and walking the floor throughout the night, I knew that eating those greasy sweet-potato fries had been a mistake.

That Friday morning, December 4, we had to get up earlier than usual because the Australian team was scheduled to arrive in time for breakfast at eight thirty. They showed up as planned. We all gathered around the long dining table, pleased to get acquainted with these new friends who’d come so far to meet us. Afterward we gave the crew a tour of the house, settled in for some quick interviews, and then went about our normal day (if any day is ever normal in the Duggar household!) while they did their filming.

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Hear an excerpt from 'A Love That Multiplies' read by Michelle Duggar

I (Michelle) had hoped that as time went by the indigestion and kidney-stone discomfort would ease, but instead it worsened. I’m constantly aware that my mood and disposition set the tone for our home, so my goal is always to maintain a pleasant, optimistic demeanor, knowing that all those little eyes are watching me. But the back pain seemed to increase steadily, coming in waves; whenever it intensified, I slipped away to our bedroom to curl up on the bed. Then I tried lying back on my recliner, seeking a position that would ease my misery. Meanwhile, Jim Bob and the older children covered for me, leading the family through its daily schedule and helping the film crew with whatever it needed.

By that evening the pain exceeded what I was able to bear. After Jim Bob talked to the doctor on the phone and explained my symptoms, she recommended we come to Mercy Hospital in Rogers. We quickly headed out.

I could never have imagined that it would be nearly two weeks before I would see our family again — or that seven months would pass before I was home again.

From "A Love That Multiplies" by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar. Copyright © 2011
Reprinted by permission of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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