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A Life Well Lived: Lessons My Grandma Taught Me

A Life Well Lived: Lessons My Grandma Taught Me

”But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thess. 4:12-14

I think most people, even those who had never met her, knew her by “Grandma Duggar.” Most probably didn’t even know her first name (Mary). 

She was everyone’s Grandma and proud of it too!

As kids, I remember grandma pointing out her birthplace…under a tree where a house once stood in the small town of Gentry, Arkansas. She’d reminisce of standing out on the dirt road as a little girl with some of her siblings (she was one of 4), and watching soldiers march down the road practicing their drills. 

She fell in love with Jimmy Lee “J.L.” Duggar and they got married and had two children, my Aunt Deanna and my dad, Jim Bob. Grandma and Grandpa were quite the couple! We joked that grandma had to keep grandpa in line since he was such a kid at heart. She was certainly a great example to all of us of sticking to the marriage vows, “in sickness and in health,” as she cared for grandpa until he passed away of cancer ten years ago. I remember her telling us a story….when g’ma was having contractions at home and about to head to the hospital to have their first baby, g’pa was so nervous and anxious to leave that he said, “Mary, come on! We’ve gotta go!…Mary, if you don’t hurry up I’m gonna leave without you!” (lol…a lot of good that would do!). They were a hoot. Even though they picked at each other sometimes, we knew they loved each other and losing g’pa was definitely hard.

My grandma taught me to thank God in every situation, realizing that only He can see the big picture. She would say, “Praise the Lord” all the time, and even talked about how thanking God for tough things that happened helped her release it to Him and acknowledge that he was ultimately in control. She was a great example to me and displayed many of the character qualities of the virtuous woman described in the Bible (in Proverbs 31). She was an amazing working mom and grandma (she never really retired!), great at business (she was a long-time realtor) and was always looking for ways to serve others. 

Grandma lived at the big house with us for awhile before I got married, then we lived with her for a few months when Derick, the boys and I were in transition back from the states before and after I had Samuel. During those times, she was always helping us out by cleaning, washing laundry (she could get stains and odors out of anything!), making eggs for everyone in the morning, hand sewing a hole quickly on-the-go, playing with and watching Israel, etc. And if we were sick or had an ailment, grandma would be right there with her elderberry juice or oil of oregano to help fix you right up! We were blessed with so many great memories together! She loved to shop and could find the best deals! Side note…she snored so loud she woke herself up sometimes…and anyone else in the same room, so sometimes there was a debate on who would share the room when we were traveling. lol One time I remember Amy volunteered, and then came over to our room after grandma fell asleep. lol. (And yes, she eventually listened and got a breathing machine for sleeping). 

She was such a supportive mom and grandma and pretty adventurous too. She was my Aunt Deanna and Cousin Amy’s biggest cheerleader in their music careers and businesses and traveled frequently to keep up with their busy schedules. And anyone who knew her well, knew of her love for Braum’s and their varieties of ice cream (she loved chocolate, cappuccino, and more!)…and I think she had some at least every day!  

My grandma showed me by example that we must love others more than we love ourselves! She would go out of her way to talk to people about Jesus. She was a real Christian and lived out her relationship with God for all to see. She also loved discussing the end times and Jesus’ imminent return. Every thanksgiving when we’d go around the room and say what we were thankful for, Grandma’s first thing was always the same, “I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness and Salvation through Jesus Christ.” If my grandma were meeting you for the first time, she’d probably ask you during the conversation a very specific question….one that she asked hundreds, if not thousands of people, “If you died today and stood before Jesus and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what would your answer be?” 

Yesterday, I was in disbelief when I got the word that she had tragically died. I’m still having a hard time processing the reality of her passing. When I think about all the lessons my grandma taught me (this post certainly doesn’t cover them all!), I know the greatest lesson she would want me to remember and pass along would be this: 

Nothing is more important than having a real relationship with Jesus Christ (repent of your sins, confess Jesus as your Lord, let him take control of your life and living for him with hope of life with him forever after death!). Life here on earth is short. We are never guaranteed another day! Do you know where you would go if you died today? What would your answer be if Jesus asked you why he should let you into heaven (hint: just being a “good person” or just repeating some words without actual heart change doesn’t work.) Read below if you want the answer! 

RIP, Grandma Duggar! <3 You are greatly missed! Life here on earth is less sweet without you here! But heaven is all the sweeter and we know you’re enjoying it now with Jesus and grandpa!  

Question: “If you died today and stood before Jesus and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what should your answer be?”

The Answer is mentioned in Titus 3:5-7: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” 

This means to be able to give that answer you have to: 

  1. Acknowledge that God created everything, and that we are his creations. Romans 1:20-21 “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[a] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
  2. Realize that you are a sinner and repent of your sins turn to God and away from sin. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10 “None is righteous, no, not one” 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  3. Understand that the penalty for sin of any degree before a just God is death and separation from God in Hell. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death;” Rev. 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
  4. Understand that Jesus (God in the flesh), came to earth as a man and lived a sinless life to take our place on the cross/pay the price for us/took our punishment for those who accept it. Romans 5:8 “But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 
  5. Confess with your mouth that you believe all of these things. Romans 10:9-10 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” 
  6. Turn from your sin and ask Jesus to take control of your life/become the Lord of your life/tell you how to live (He tells you through his word). Romans 10:13 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!” 

Then, live the rest of your life with confidence, humility and gratefulness to the one (Jesus) who saved you and tell others about him! Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of words, so that no one may boast.” Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Crist Jesus our Lord.” Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

Get baptized in obedience to what the Bible commands and to show others by outward expression how you have been changed. Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Read your Bible and pray daily to grow your relationship with God.

Join a local church that teaches from the Bible where you can worship and fellowship with other Christians weekly. We are not meant to live life in isolation! We need community and fellow believers. 

Don’t wait to think about these things! Your life depends on it! 

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” 

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved!”

Does being “good enough” get you to heaven? Watch this video.

The photos above are considered the property of the Dillard Family and may only be used with their written permission. Please request permission to use the photos.

50 Comments

  1. Virginia

    When we watch your show or see her in pictures you can just see and feel the love she had for all of you and for anyone! She had such pride in her eyes. I am so sorry to hear of her passing and my condolences to you and your family!

    Reply
  2. Veronica

    I’m sorry for your all’s loss praying for comfort!

    Reply
  3. Gina

    Thank you so much, Jill, for sharing so soon with us. Praying the peace of God for you all.

    Reply
  4. Christine

    Dear Jill ~ I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing such a sweet tribute to Grandma Duggar – a blessing to get to know a little more about her. What a wonderful example she is of a life well-lived for Christ! I have enjoyed watching her, as well as the rest of your family, over the years. Thinking of you all and praying for you as you say “good-bye for now” to Grandma Duggar.

    Reply
  5. Christin

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to your grandma. I’m sure she was very proud of you.

    Reply
  6. JAy

    Isaiah 57:1 is the one that has helped me when I have lost someone I dearly loved.

    Reply
  7. Marion

    A beautiful tribute to a woman who spread and gave so much love. All of you will be in our prayers and thoughts. She will be missed but never forgotten.
    God Bless
    Marion,Joan and Marilyn

    Reply
  8. Annie

    I’m so sorry for your loss Jill. I have been watching your family’s tv programmes for well over a decade, and kind of feel like I know you all, though obviously I don’t! You are all in my thoughts and prayers at this sad time. Grandma Mary was obviously a very special woman of God. May God wrap his loving arms around you as you grieve. xxx

    Reply
  9. Kristen Daniel / Kristen Wright

    It blesses my Heart to Hear You preach a message as sound as this without reservation or fear. I’m a grandma too. The Duggars will now be defended in this world. You come against them you Die. That is the Holy Will Of God. The Lord Hath Spoken it And it WILL come to pass.

    Sincerely,
    DEBORAH Duggar Wright (Mother & Judge)

    Reply
  10. Edna

    I can only imagine what her eyes are seeing right now. I can only imagine the glory she’s feeling right now.

    Reply
  11. Susan

    I don’t know what my answer would be if Jesus asked me that question today. What I do know, however, is that through you and thanks to her it has made me ponder that question. I must admit, typically when I read posts like this I skim through them because death affects me emotionally very much. I thoroughly read your post twice. You had a beautiful grandma. You have a beautiful family. You have amazing parents, and they have raise you all in the absolute best way. I want to reassure you that people all over our morning with you today and in the days ahead. We are also rejoicing because we know that grandma Duggar is now with Jesus and is the happiest she’s ever been. Continued prayers and thoughts.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thank you. <3

      Reply
      • Char Marquart

        What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady. So sorry for your families loss. We will be lifting you all up in prayer during this most difficult time.

        Reply
        • Derick & Jill

          Thank you.

          Reply
    • Karen

      Prayets for all of you…may the Lord comfort you , as you chetish the memories she gave you. Was she ill? What did she die of. If shesnored bad, she likely had sleep apnea.

      Reply
  12. Beth Zimmerman

    I am Saddened by the loss of your Dear Grandma Mary. I am Sorry you have lost an important and Beautiful part of your family. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family for God’s comfort during this difficult time.

    Reply
  13. Lianne

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your grandma.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks.

      Reply
  14. Stephanie Rovira

    I’m so sad to hear about Grandma Duggar. My prayers are with you guys during this time.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thank you!

      Reply
  15. Susan Hildreth

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Just seeing her on the show, she always had a smile. I know she will always watch over your family.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks.

      Reply
  16. Cynthia

    So very sorry to here about grandma duggar. Jill that was an absolute beautiful tribute to your grandma.She is very proud of you. I remember when my grandfather died . we were very close. He was 91 but I didn’t care. I wanted him back. On his death bed my mother told him there were a lot of people waiting for him on the other side. He wouldnt come back for anything I assure you. I remember on his last breath, he raised his arms looked up towards the sky and nodded his head. I am convinced it was an angel talking to him. While your family is deeply grieving about your grandma, rest assured, it is well with her soul. God bless to all.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Aww. Thanks for sharing and for your thoughts and prayers.

      Reply
  17. Regina Shea

    Jill,
    Thank you for sharing your special memories of Grandma Duggar. And a special thank you for sharing the gospel. I know your grandma is smiling down at you for doing that!

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks.

      Reply
  18. Christine M

    Thoughts and Prayers are with your family. Grandma Duggar was a gracious woman. ♡

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks.

      Reply
  19. Casondra radford

    Jill, this brings tears to my eyes. I want to be right there with y’all. I remember Grandma Duggar asking me that very question. Such sweet moments. I didn’t realize she moved into her own house. How rich that y’all got to stay with her? God is good.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Aww. Thanks girl.

      Reply
  20. Patricia Grimm

    So very sorry for your loss.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thank you.

      Reply
  21. Marie H.

    That was a beautifully written tribute! May the Lord comfort you at this time of loss.

    Reply
  22. Tammie

    I love you and your family so much!!! Your faith in our Lord and love for his people is beautiful to behold and I’m so thankful for the witness of God’s love that you all show. What a legacy your amazing grandma has left in this earth for the praise and glory of our great Lord and you all are continuing that legacy in how you live your lives for Jesus!!! You and your family are a blessing to so many, including my husband and I, and we really enjoy watching you. Thank you for living your lives according God’s holy word and not allowing the things of this world to influence you. This is truly the fruitful life that is available to all of us who will look to Jesus and allow his word to be our standard for living. I would love to be able to meet you one day, but if we never meet here in this earth I know I will get to meet you in heaven one day!! Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of Jesus our Lord!!!

    Reply
  23. Jesse

    Thanks Jill for all you do to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. Been watching your family, your grandmother and now you and your husband for years. I appreciate the legacy your grandmother and parents set in motion and the fact that you and your siblings are continuing it on. As Jesus wept when he saw the grieving his friends were going through, many grieve with you and your family now. As I’ve heard recently “Death in Christ is a more joyous occasion than a birth on earth.”

    Reply
  24. Christine

    So So Much love sending your way. I have been thinking of your family often. We are at that age where we are starting to lose our role models as there jobs on earth have come to an end and they go on to bless us from heaven. isn’t beautiful that you can see and feel and use your grandmother wisdom each day and pass it along to your beautiful family. I didn’t know her but I’m sure she would love the fact that she will continue to touch your families lives for generations to come. Love breeds Love and your grandmother clearly shared a lot of love.

    Reply
  25. Darlene

    Prayers for all of the Dugger family . God comfort each and every heart ! Sincerely Darlene Wall .

    Reply
  26. RIley

    You have such a sweet family. And, my, what a wonderful tribute. Thank you, too, for sharing the gospel in your tribute. It is often not presented that clearly these days! So Praise the Lord for that!

    Reply
  27. Amy Italiano

    Jill, I am so sorry for your loss. But I am so thankful Grandma is with our precious Savior, Jesus. What a comfort to you and your family. I pray God will give you all the grace and mercy to face each coming day and that He will bless you with peace that only He can give. She would be so proud of the beautiful tribute you have written and the message of salvation you have included! Much love to you~

    Reply
  28. Marin

    How do you pray to God? Is there a proper way to pray?

    Reply
    • Jan H Beckwith

      I was always taught you just talk to Him as you would a beloved friend!! So in answer to your question, just talk to Him and tell Him what is on your heart!!

      Reply
  29. Deborah M Berry

    I think your post is absolutely beautiful. I hope you are ignoring the bad press. God bless you all!

    Reply
  30. L. Robertson

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can understand your grief. When my grandmother past away, I was in disbelief and wanted to turn back the clock to spend more time with her again. I pray that you and your family with get through this difficult time. And don’t listen to the negative comments about you using your grandmother’s passing to make money. I know you wouldn’t do such thing. Those people just trying to make up controversy to bring you down. So ignore them.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks! <3

      Reply
  31. Kenda

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I pray that you and your family will find peace in knowing that she is in a better place.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thank you! <3

      Reply
  32. Pamela Walck

    So very sorry for your loss. I’m sure you have so many, many wonderful memories! You will see her again in Heaven because you are born again (and she was too). Awesome that we as Christ followers have that hope in Jesus! Thank you for being a light in a dark world!

    Reply
  33. Jessie

    Jill, Derrick and family…
    I check your site often, and I’ve noticed that’s it’s been a little longer than usual for a new post from you guys.
    I can only speculate that it may be (at least in part) because you’re still in such pain from your grandma’s loss. I wish I had a poetic or biblical response to make you feel better, but no words besides God’s can truly help you in this time of mourning.
    Please know I’m not a “fan”, per se… I’m just one that happens to have TV and happened to watch you and your family for years. So I guess I’m kind of like a long distant friend, a friend who knows a bit about you all from TV, and one that you know nothing about…
    My husband lost his mother 3 years ago… she was only 53 when she met her Lord, and my husband has still not “dealt” with it. I haven’t even really processed it, mentally.
    I wish the media would just leave you all alone during this time… I refuse to click on any more updates in my media feed regarding any Duggar, because the hatred and nastiness is just uncalled for.
    I don’t know why we haven’t heard from you in a bit, Jill… it could be the kids keeping you busy, life in general being a little chaotic… but if its mourning, please know there are some decent human beings out here that love those they’ve never even met, and pray for co.fort and strength for you and your support system.
    If I’ve misread or read too much into the whole situation and caused you more pain by bringing it up, I’m so very sorry.
    It’s with great hesitance that I even hit “post”… just know I’m coming from a good place if I’m wrong, okay?
    Alright well ❤ from upstate NY!

    Reply
    • Kim

      I lost my mum when she was 47 and I was only 24. I became an orphan in the prime of life. Others had it harder than me, I am not the biggest sufferer. Losing a parent is something you can never understand. It has been decades now, and her death still rocks me to the core daily. Whoever said time heals-lied.

      Reply
  34. KiM

    Jill, your mother in law is such a beautiful, helpful and Godly woman and I think the world of her and how she helps whenever I ask but I feel shattered by your writings.

    The writings are not bad, if anything the reinforce to me how much harder I need to work with my faithfulness and dedication to the Lord.

    Thank you for giving me some more help. Our churches in Australia seem to be lacking immensely in the teaching of the bible and the ways of the Lord and it is sad. I fear for our children.

    Reply

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