Whether you are in an eight-hundred-square-foot home or living in a dream house on the lake, contentment is found on the way to the ‘farm,’ not on the ‘farm’ itself. — Joanna Gaines
Chip and Joanna Gaines charmed their way into my heart when Fixer Upper seasons 1 and 2 hit Netflix. I will admit that I binge watched the show, and I think I finished both seasons in one day. I love the way the Gaineses structure and decorate the homes with each specific client in mind, and Joanna’s style and decorating sense absolutely blow me away. But the thing about the show that impresses me the most is the relationship between Chip and Joanna. The way they relate to each other demonstrates how much they care about each other and put each other’s needs first. Part of me wondered if it was all just for show–if they were only behaving that way toward each other for the benefit of the viewers. But after reading The Magnolia Story, I am even more impressed with them as individuals, business owners, a couple, parents, and followers of Christ.
I bought the book on a whim as I was surfing through my kindle store, thinking that I would get to it someday. Little did I know that once I read the introductory chapter, I would not be able to put it down. The conversational style of the writing along with the interactions Chip and Joanna have on the page itself were enough to draw me in and make me feel connected to them as a friend more than a reader.
Beyond telling the history of their little family and letting us in on the multiple business ventures on which they have embarked, they share the lessons they have learned along the way. Some lessons have been about business, but most of the lessons learned are about life and living it to the fullest. Joanna gives the credit to God for leading her step by step through the major decisions in her life, and Chip acknowledges that God performs miracles on a daily basis, even when they do not recognize it right away.
My favorite part of the book is a story Joanna tells about recognizing her perfectionism is keeping her and her family from enjoying life. As she comes to this realization, it changes the way she thinks about her home and its purpose. The benefits of this lesson extend beyond her home and family as she tries to incorporate spaces in the homes of her clients for each individual who will live there.
I have never chosen a word of the year for my family, but as we enter 2017, and after hearing Joanna’s heart in this story, my choice for 2017 is “Thrive.” I do not want to simply survive–survive my children’s schooling and their activities, survive these early years of being business owners, survive the ministries of which I get to be a part. I want to thrive in the day-to-day moments and enjoy them. I want to remember them with fondness instead of cringing at the memories.
And, in the interest of full disclosure, I binge watched Fixer Upper on Netflix again after reading the book. It is even better when you feel like you know the stars!
If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in the beauty, either. — Joanna Gaines