Christmas With Two

We love Christmas time around here, and having two children for the first time this Christmas season was double the fun! Christmas is practically a month long with all the festivities that come with it, and with all of that, we are very adamant about remembering why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place. Now that Kinsie is old enough to understand, we really tried to make the birth of Jesus the focus throughout the Christmas season. As a result of this, she became obsessed with Baby Jesus! She got super excited every time she saw a Nativity scene, and constantly sang songs about Baby Jesus. Of course she still got excited about Santa, Christmas lights and presents, but she at least seemed to understand the real meaning of Christmas (to the extent that a 3 year old can understand it). There was a lot that went on this month, so here were some of our favorite Christmas activities this month…

Breakfast with Santa Party

Kinsie’s cousin Emery had her 3rd birthday party at the beginning of the month, and it was a “Breakfast with Santa” party. It was so cute and so much fun! Santa came and each kid got to sit on his lap and take pictures with him. Like on the Polar Express, Kinsie was very shy, but excited to see Santa. Brax was all smiles like usual!

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Meeting Santa

I have always said that I would never force my kids to visit Santa and sit on his lap and get a picture of them crying…I would only take them if they wanted to see him. Last year was the first year that Kinsie really could have a choice, and she wanted to meet him. Same with this year, and Brax is still young enough that he doesn’t seem to care either way. We visited the same Santa we did last year, he is a great one! Both the kids did great!

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Christmas Music Program

Kinsie’s preschool had a Christmas music program this month. They have been practicing their songs for quite a while now, so Kinsie had been singing them to me at home constantly. She particularly liked the song “Oh What a Special Night,” which is about Baby Jesus being born and all the animals in the manger singing to Him for His birthday. It is a precious song, and luckily her cousins knew it too…so they later sang it on the beach in Florida! Kinsie did awesome in her program! She sang all the words, (we could even hear her among all the voices) and did all the motions. It filled my heart with so much joy to see her singing so excitedly about Jesus!

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Christmas Eve at Aunt Renata’s

The last few years we have done pretty much the same Christmas Eve and Christmas Day routine. On Christmas Eve morning we eat breakfast at Ryan’s parents’ house and open gifts with them, then go to Christmas Eve service, then to Ryan’s Aunt Renata’s house for dinner and gifts. This is always a highlight, as we love spending time with everyone in the family. Kinsie seemed to love opening gifts even more this year because now she got to help Brax open his as well! Brax of course enjoyed his gifts, but seemed more interested in the ribbons and boxes! Both of the kids slept the whole ride home that night and went right to bed when we got home. We still left out milk and cookies for Santa though so they could see if he ate them in the morning!

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Christmas Morning at Home

If you recall, last year I woke up on Christmas morning feeling terribly ill. I spent the entire day vomiting, so I didn’t get to enjoy watching Kinsie see what she got from Santa and opening all her gifts. I prayed that we all stayed healthy this year for Christmas, and I did have a sinus infection, but I would take that any day over the stomach flu! The kids were so excited this year to see what Santa brought them. The main gift that Kinsie wanted was the game Hungry Hungry Hippos, so she was thrilled to see it when she woke up! She also got a fishing game, a talking minion, and a hippo shirt. Brax was excited about his Mickey puppets, dinosaur teething toy, and elephant rattle!

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Christmas Day at Papa and Yaya’s

Another tradition…after opening gifts with our individual families, we always meet at my parents’ house for brunch and gifts. Last year we had 3 kids opening gifts, and this year we added 2 more to the mix! Brax and Kolly couldn’t do a whole lot of the opening on their own, but the three older cousins came to their aid. It was Christmas chaos all morning and we loved every second of it. The kids were all so happy opening their presents and just being together. After all the gifts were open, we stayed for a while and the kids opened all their new toys and games and played with all of them. It was a perfect day spent entirely in our pajamas and enjoying each other’s company.

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Kinsie got a ton of hippo related gifts this year, which is funny since she has been obsessed with the song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” She indeed got a hippopotamus for Christmas…or a few for that matter! Our boy Brax also had a wonderful first Christmas!

It was a wonderful month of December, and we had so much quality family time. It is times like this that we really realize how blessed we truly are. Christmas with two kids certainly added another level of chaos, but I wouldn’t have it any other way and I can’t wait to see the joy on the kids’ faces year after year on Christmas.

Easter Blessings

We had a great Easter Sunday celebrating with family and friends. As you already know, Kinsie gets really into holidays these days, so of course she was all about Easter eggs and bunnies. While all of that is good and fun, since Kinsie is able to understand so much more now, I tried really hard this year to help her learn why we really celebrate Easter. I tried explaining how Jesus died for us, then came back to life…but it is hard to explain that to a toddler when they don’t really know what death is yet. So instead, we just focused on the idea that we celebrate Easter because Jesus loves us, because she understands that concept, and loves the song, “Jesus Loves Me.” I really feel that society gets way too wrapped up in the “eggs and bunnies” part of the holiday, that they forget (or may not even really know) the true significance of Easter, and I want Kinsie to understand that significance at an early age so she always knows it as she grows up.

When Kinsie woke up in the morning, she was pumped to see what the Easter Bunny got her. She got an Easter basket with a personalized dinosaur placemat, Olaf tattoos, a magnetic building set, a new set of stamps, and Ninja Turtle bath toys. As you can see in the picture below, she was pretty excited, and even had to take her new bath toys to church with her.

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After an awesome sermon at church, we went to my parents’ house for Easter lunch and an egg hunt. Ryan’s parents and brother were out of town for Spring Break, so unfortunately they didn’t get to join in on the festivities, but we still got to be with Ryan’s sister Megan and her husband Tim, Aunt Renata and her family, and Ryan’s grandparents. We also spent the morning with my parents, my sister’s family and some family friends. After lunch, the kids had an egg hunt. This was definitely one of the highlights of the day!

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After the egg hunt, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house for some family festivities with his mom’s side of the family. Like I mentioned in my last post, Kinsie has pretty much given up naps, but she’ll fall asleep easily if she rides in the car late in the afternoon. She fell asleep on the way with her Easter basket clutched tightly! Even once Ryan got her out of the car, she was still passed out! Once we got up to the house and she heard all her aunts and cousins, she woke up refreshed and joined the fun.

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Kinsie loved getting to play with more of her cousins and have another egg hunt. Ryan’s cousin even dressed as the Easter bunny (even though it was probably the creepiest Easter bunny you could imagine.) Some of the kids were terrified! Kinsie was definitely skeptical, and she would only go see the bunny if I went with her. We had a great time catching up with Ryan’s extended family.

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We really had a great day, and the weather was beautiful throughout most of the day. Kinsie loved getting to find eggs with all her cousins and friends. Throughout the day, I would even ask her why we celebrate Easter and she would say “Because Jesus loves us!” So even with all the hoopla, I still accomplished my goal this Easter! While Easter is the main day we celebrate the incredible act of love that Jesus did for us, really this is something we should celebrate every single day. Whenever I sit and really reflect on the crucifixion and the resurrection, my mind is completely blown. I know that I need to do a better job each and every day of reminding myself of the love that Jesus has for us, and the hope that the cross has given us. If you want to see an awesome Good Friday and Easter sermon, I would highly recommend the sermons from my church home, Traders Point Christian Church. The links of the sermons are below in case you are interested…

TPCC Good Friday Sermon

TPCC Easter Sunday Sermon

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Happy Easter from the Matthews’ family!

Spring has sprung!

I am so excited that it is finally SPRING!!! While this past winter wasn’t near as bad as last year, it is always so refreshing to be done with the cold, dreary winter in Indiana…especially when you have a crazy toddler and a very small house! We took her out to play in the snow one day, and she was less than thrilled. She didn’t mind sitting in her little car, or when we held her, but she wasn’t crazy about playing or even standing in the snow. She’s definitely my child!

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Kinsie has been pumped about the fact that we can go outside and play now. She makes sure I take her out every possible chance we get. I had a 2-week spring break, which is always much needed. The first week was cold and rainy, so Kinsie and I had to get creative on how to spend our days. We spent a few days in Muncie with Ryan, went shopping, and watched “Pups” (101 Dalmatians) a few more hundred times. Even when it was raining, she was always looking out the window telling me she wanted to go “outhide,” or go “wee” (swing). So of course as soon as the rain stopped and the temperatures broke 50 degrees, we were outside and she was in heaven. We have a great fenced-in backyard with lots of stuff to entertain her. She loves sidewalk chalk, bubbles, her water table, and finding leaves, rocks, sticks, and worms! Yes, this girl likes to make friends with worms.

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Kinsie is obsessed with going to the playground. She loves to swing and go down the slide. Her newest thing is going down the slide head first. Of course we are always waiting at the bottom to catch her though! Spring break_117

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We also had a very busy and beautiful Easter weekend. Kinsie is getting to the age where she understands so much more and is so much fun during holidays. She was really into all the eggs and bunnies (she calls them “hop hops”). While we were in Muncie, we went to the mall and I’ve always thought the Easter bunny was kinda creepy, but she saw it and loved it! She kept yelling “hop hop!” and laughed when it waved to her. On Easter Sunday, we went to church and heard another amazing service with 138 baptisms over the entire weekend! After church we had brunch and an Easter egg hunt at my sister’s house. The kids LOVED their Easter egg hunt! Kinsie literally could have done this all day.

After Kinsie’s nap, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house where she got to do another Easter egg hunt and play with some of her cousins. Finally, we went to my parents house for dinner. Since the kids had so much fun with their egg hunt earlier, we had another one for them so they were pretty excited! Easter is such a special day to me because it is a reminder of the amazing grace that Jesus has for us. It is really important to me that Kinsie, and my future children understand why we celebrate Easter and what the Easter bunny and Easter eggs represent. As young as she is, I made a point to read books about the story of Easter and tell her all about Jesus. Hopefully as the years go on she will learn what it means to accept Jesus into her heart too. It was a busy Easter, but I was so grateful that we got to spend it with the people that we love most!

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Happy spring everyone!!

A Very Kinsie Christmas

Kinsie was only 3 months old last year during Christmas, and even then she was fascinated with the lights, trees, and new toys…so I figured that this year, with Kinsie being 15 months old, Christmas would be 10 times more fun. Well, it was! We put our Christmas tree and decorations up right before Thanksgiving and she was amazed. She LOVED the Christmas tree. I wanted to teach her not to touch it but just to look at it, so I told her that we just look and say “Oooo, ahhh,” (which is what my sister and I used to say when we saw Christmas lights when we were little) so she picked that habit up immediately and that became her go-to phrase for any Christmas decorations. Anytime she saw a Christmas tree or Christmas lights, she’d say “Ooo ahh,” usually as one word. Our neighbors across the street went all out and had a blow-up Santa and snowman, as well as a lit-up Gingerbread house, so she spent a lot of time looking out the window at their decorations ooo-ing and ahh-ing away. We took complete advantage of the holiday season and read lots of Christmas books to Kinsie, and listened to Christmas music every chance we got. Her favorite Christmas song was Frosty the Snowman and she’d be-bop along every time it played. Every time she’d see Santa, she’d say “Ho Ho Ho!” (including when we read her Bible and there was a picture of Simeon, who also had a white beard!) Since Kinsie was so into Christmas decorations and lights, we had to find as many activities as we could that we knew she’d love, such as Christmas at the Zoo and the Danville Winterland light display.

Like last year, she had a blast at the zoo. It was pretty cold, so we had her wear mittens. This was the first time she wore them, so she wasn’t really sure what to do with her hands. She just sat in her wagon awkwardly holding her hands up (see picture below). She loved seeing all the lights and animals. Unfortunately, it was much more crowded this time than it was when we went last year, so we weren’t able to go to the dolphin show. We still took her to see the aquariums though and she got to see dolphins swimming around underwater.

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On Christmas Eve, we exchanged gifts with Ryan’s family. My mother-in-law bought a small bounce house for Kinsie to play in when she’s there, and she was pumped! When we went to Ryan’s cousin’s daughter’s birthday party a few weeks ago, they had one of these bounce houses and Kinsie had a blast bouncing and rolling around. I was somewhat of a nervous wreck because bigger kids kept charging in with no regard and I didn’t want Kinsie to get hurt (of course she didn’t mind the extra chaos). I felt much better with her playing in it this time since she was on her own and she could bounce and roll as much as she wanted. She had a blast!

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Kinsie received a lot of other great gifts from Ryan’s family as well, including a Doc McStuffins outfit and all the doctor tools. She still loves to wear her doctor outfit when she plays at home…I guess she wants to be a doctor like her daddy!

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Later in the afternoon, we went to the Christmas Eve service at church. The Christmas Eve service is one of my favorite times to attend church, not only to hear another awesome sermon, but also to see lots of new people come to church with their families and hearing the gospel message for the first time. The sermon is definitely worth hearing, so if you interested, it is available here. After church, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house for dinner and to exchange gifts. For her Christmas gift to Kinsie, Ryan’s aunt painted a small table and chair set with her name on it. She was all about this table when she opened it and still is. We have it in her play corner in the living room and she’ll always sit at it and play with her toys whenever she gets the chance.

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On Christmas morning, Kinsie was super excited to see the gifts that Santa brought her, especially a large stuffed bear that she immediately hugged and wallered all over. After we opened our gifts at home, we went to my parents’ house for breakfast and to open more gifts. Ryan wasn’t feeling great throughout the day (he was sick on Christmas and I was sick on Thanksgiving…not the best luck!) but he still got to watch Kinsie open her gifts. Every time she would open a gift, she wanted us to take it out of the box right away so she could play with it. She was overwhelmed with new toys and didn’t know what to play with first! Since Ryan didn’t feel well, we just hung out at my parents’ house most of the day. Kinsie loved getting to stay in her Christmas jammies all day and play with her new toys with Briggs and Kerigan.

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Christmas is such a special time of the year and it is so much fun to watch your child’s face as they open gifts. However, it is extremely important to me that we always keep the real reason for the season in mind. Even though Kinsie is only a year old, we took every opportunity to talk to her about Jesus. When she played with her Little People Nativity Scene, we showed her Baby Jesus and told her how much He loved her (which usually led to her kissing Baby Jesus), and we read the Christmas story in her Bible on Christmas Eve, which was a tradition that we did when I was growing up. The sermon that we heard on Christmas Eve does an amazing job of explaining how humbling the real Christmas story is and why it was so significant that God sent a savior to be born in a manger to save us from our sins. My sister had her kids make a birthday cake for Jesus, which is another awesome way to remind children of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. It breaks my heart that people get so obsessed with giving and receiving gifts that they often forget WHY we give and receive gifts at all. I want to raise Kinsie to always know why we celebrate Christmas and how grateful we should be for Jesus and what He has done for us.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family!

Diane’s Dancing Again

When life gets too hard to stand…kneel.

About two weeks ago, on August 3, our lives were abruptly changed when we lost someone very special to us. My brother-in-law Ryan’s mom passed away pretty unexpectedly. Diane Robinson was an amazing, beautiful, compassionate woman who impacted so many lives. She had Multiple Sclerosis and therefore had been wheelchair bound for many years, but the strength of her heart exceedingly made up for the lack of her physical strength.

I knew Diane for 10 years. From the first time I met her, I could tell how genuine of a woman she was. My sister, Krista dated Ryan for about 5 years before they got married, and even before we officially became family, Diane embraced us entirely. She and her husband Don never missed a single event, milestone, and get-together that I can think of in the decade that I’ve known them. No matter the occasion, Diane was always there with a smile on her face. She was not only a loving mother to her three boys, Scott, Ryan and Lance, but she was a mother in one way or another to everyone she knew. As a teacher in the Danville schools for 28 years, she made a difference in so many students’ and community members’ lives. Diane had a unique and individual relationship with everyone she knew. Whenever she had a conversation with someone, she genuinely cared about what they had to say. She always asked me how Ryan was doing in med school, and what book I was currently reading (we had a shared love for reading), and how much she loved seeing Briggs, Kinsie and Kerigan grow up together. She loved this blog, and always told me how much she enjoyed following our lives and the adventures we went on with Kinsie. She always bought Ryan, Kinsie and I gifts for Christmas…even if they were ridiculous things like flat bill hats and umbrellas. She just wanted to show us that she cared about us. I was also lucky enough to get to be in a fantasy football league with her for the past 4 years. She always came to the draft prepared with the names of her favorite players and would do anything to get those players, even if it meant spending all of her draft money on them and having no money left for the rest of her roster. Diane was one of a kind and never failed to make you feel loved just by being in her presence. I was beyond blessed to get to call her my family.

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Briggs and Kerigan adored their Nana

So where do we go from here? How do we handle going through something so heartbreaking to us? I am still trying to swallow these questions myself. When someone passes away, many people ask, “Why them?” or “why were they taken from us?” These are questions that we will never fully be able to answer until it won’t matter anymore. The only way to get through things like this is to think of the bigger picture. We can’t just think of this life that we are currently living, but the one that comes after we leave this Earth. We may have lost Diane here in this life, but she has started her eternal life and is dancing with Jesus now. She’s no longer held back by her physical circumstances. She’s free of any pain, hurt or discomfort that she felt while she was here. She’s free. We are going to miss her every single day for the remainder of our time here, but that gives us even more of a reason to live like Jesus every day…so we can someday see people that we love again. So we can someday be free of pain and suffering. And most importantly, so we can spend eternity with our Lord and Savior. Diane may not have walked for the last 20+ years of her life, but she was one of the best examples I knew of what it looked like to walk like Jesus.

We love and miss you, Diane. Save us a dance in heaven.

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Baby’s First Christmas

As a child, Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year. You can’t wait until Christmas morning to see if Santa came, and what he brought you. This was the first year that I got to celebrate Christmas as a parent, and it is just as exciting in a completely different way. Even though Kinsie is only 3 months old, we had a blast playing with her and watching her react to all her new toys that she got for Christmas. She has become so much more responsive and interactive lately, so she actually enjoyed her new toys and visiting all of her relatives.

Ryan and I are always busy during holidays with both of our families and we always try to make our rounds to spend quality time with each family. A few days before Christmas, we got together with my mom’s side of the family which is always a blast. My aunts and cousins always love spending time with Briggs and the babies. On Christmas Eve, Ryan, Kinsie and I went to Ryan’s parents house for breakfast and to open gifts. Kinsie got some awesome gifts, including some blocks that her Aunt Megan made with letters, bible verses, and pictures of all the people in Kinsie’s life. She will have a blast playing with those and recognizing everyone as she gets older! After gifts, we went to the Christmas Eve service at Traders Point. It was an amazing service! At one point, they invited all the kids on stage to dance around with glowsticks singing Little Drummer Boy. It was awesome and very powerful! Right from church we went straight to Ryan’s aunt’s house (his dad’s side) for dinner and gifts. Finally from there, we went to my parents’ house to eat dinner and exchange gifts with Ryan Robinson’s family. Busy, but wonderful day with family!

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Kinsie enjoying her time opening gifts with Ryan’s family

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The Matthews family on Christmas Eve

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Fun cousin time

On Christmas morning, I was so excited to be Santa Claus! I woke up before Ryan and Kinsie to set everything up. Like I said before, it was almost as exciting as it was when I was a kid! Our little family opened our gifts, then we ventured back to my parents’ to exchange gifts with them and Krista, Ryan and the kids. We all ate breakfast while Kinsie and Kerigan took a Christmas morning nap in their car seats on the dining room table together. The best part about opening gifts was watching Briggs’ face when he received a train set from his Bapa and Yaya (his name for my parents). His key phrase for the day was “Open it!” As a kid, you think there is nothing better than getting gifts on Christmas, but watching the children you love open their gifts comes pretty darn close!

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Kinsie opening her gifts from Santa, mommy and daddy

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Me and my sweet girl

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Hanging out with dad watching her cousin Briggs open his gifts

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The boys checking out Briggs’ new train set

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Kerigan was worn out after opening gifts!

Finally in the afternoon on Christmas day, we went to another one of Ryan’s aunts house (his mom’s side) to celebrate Christmas with them. Kinsie got to meet her new cousin, Emery and they just so happened to be wearing the same outfit! Kinsie had a lot of fun playing with her aunts and cousins, then took a nice little nap in mommy’s arms. What a life!

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Kinsie with her new cousin, Emery in their matching outfits

Overall, we had a wonderful Christmas. Ryan and I are so blessed to have so many people to share the holidays with. I can’t wait to watch Kinsie grow each year and teach her the true meaning of Christmas. When I was growing up, my family and I had a Christmas Eve tradition of reading the Christmas story in the Bible before going to bed. It was a great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas and to remember how lucky we are to have a God that loves us so much that He had his son be born of a woman, placed in a manger, go through life as a child, an adolescent, and then a man, just to be killed on a cross to pay for our sins. I would love to carry on this tradition with my children so they don’t get too wrapped up in the hype of Santa Claus and presents, and they remember the reason for the season!

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Merry Christmas from the Matthews family!

Spreading the love of Jesus one duck at a time

Like many others, I am a huge fan of the television show, Duck Dynasty. When Ryan first started watching it, I never really watched with him, but I’d hear it in the background of whatever I was doing at the moment, and all I thought was, “What a bunch of ignorant rednecks.” However, it turns out that I was the ignorant one. In June, we had the pleasure of having Willie Robertson visit our church, Trader’s Point, to discuss his faith. After hearing Willie speak, I gained a new respect for him and his family. I decided to give the show a chance and actually watch an episode. Then another. Then another. Then, I was hooked. Not only is the show probably one of the funniest shows on television, but it is so refreshing to see a real Christian family in the Hollywood spotlight.

The more I learn about the Robertson family, the more I know that they are the real deal. They are who they are, and they don’t try to be anyone different in front of the cameras. When the producers asked them to cuss more and fight with each other, they refused and said “That’s not us.” When they were asked not to pray on camera, they did it anyway and said, “That’s who we are and that’s what we do.” If only everyone were that determined to stay true to themselves and what they believe in!

It is really sad how so many people are turned off by Christianity based on what they see and hear in society. They often feel judged and ridiculed and have religion shoved down their throat. That is not the way to get people to church. The more you shove it in people’s faces, the more turned off they become. This is why I respect the Robertson family and their show so much. They don’t shove their religion in people’s faces, and its not all they talk about. But you can see the way they live and the way they present themselves. Even though they have fun, wreck havoc and make fun of each other, their love for each other and for Christ is very apparent. People who have Jesus in their hearts have a certain joy that you can’t get any other way, and that joy shines through. If you live your life according to God’s word with that joy in your heart, it attracts other people. It may spark people’s interest enough to discuss the Gospel and invite them to church, but at some point, you have to let God do the rest.

The Robertson family is filled with the holy spirit and they let it shine through the big screen. Millions of people of all different types watch the show every week in order to be entertained by the hilarious insights of Uncle Si and the crazy adventures that Willie and Jase have while they are supposed to be working. Anyone who has watched the show knows that they are in no way perfect, but they live their lives with Jesus in their hearts and are not ashamed of it.

Below is the video “I Am Second.” Phil, Jep and Reed Robertson all share a part of their testimony on how they came to know Jesus Christ. As they talk, you can see the raw emotion in their eyes and how much knowing Jesus has changed their lives for the better. Take some time to watch this video and witness the power of Jesus working in their hearts.