HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ is one of the few shows that Michael and I really enjoy watching together over a cup of tea or bowl of ice cream once in a while. We like it so much, that we actually BUY it on Itunes. (I know, who does that?) Since we don’t have cable and don’t want to wait for the seasons to come out on Neflix, we just purchase it on there and follow along as the episodes are released!

There is definitely something appealing about Chip and Jo’s lifestyle. The farm life, their entrepreneurial successes, Chip’s adventurous antics, and Jo’s calm and creative spirit… we’ve received inspiration from Jo’s style to put into our own home renovations (I’ll share more about this later). So needless to say, I was excited when Michael’s mom gifted their new book to us for our annual family book club.

I’m a less than average speed reader (working on that), and I breezed through this book in probably 5 hours total. It was an easy read and I’ve recorded a few of my thoughts here regarding this story:

“I wonder sometimes if we know ourselves a lot better than we think we do when we’re children. We get into our teen years and college years, and so many of us let others redefine who we are, or we get lost along the way and have no idea what we really want to do with our lives. But once we finally figure it out, it often seems easy to look back into our childhoods and find a few clues to say, “Hey, maybe you were headed in that direction all along.”

-Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

I was inspired by Joanna’s comments that maybe we know ourselves best as children. She said she remembers playing store with her sisters as a child. I can look back to my childhood memories and remember doing really weird things like pretending to be a dog and acting out movies with my cousin Megan. I remember playing with Barbie, skateboarding, and climbing trees.  However, I don’t think there was anything particular about my “purpose” revealed through my childhood. I do think there is some truth laced in the fact that we try so hard to conform to other people’s standards growing up. As a die hard people-pleaser, I definitely relate to that. I think it’s awesome that God eventually clearly revealed to Jo and Chip what they should be doing and which direction to turn. I also see that it took some experimenting and failures along the way of course. Don’t we all end up in that spot at some point in our lives? Experimenting, taking little steps of faith, and doing what we can to be used by God and love people along the way? I just pray that I can be still and in tune enough to hear! (Matthew 22:37-39)

 “It was such a blessing to find myself thriving in the middle of the pain. Unless you find a way to do that, there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there–wherever “there” is for you–you’ll be happy. But that’s just not life. If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in beauty, either.”… “I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.” 

-Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story 

I drew a connection with Jo as she explained this concept about thriving… In the first few years of our marriage, I was always striving to be a better wife to Michael, and a better person overall. I always ending up disappointed though because my expectations weren’t met (for myself or otherwise). It wasn’t until later that I realized how skewed and unattainable that concept of “trying to be a perfect” was. I was trying to check boxes, and for what? Michael and I’s marriage struggled because of it and I’ve learned, just as Joanna explains in this book, that thriving is actually trusting and releasing control. Does this mean I’m good at it all the time now? Nope. But we have been able to thrive and grow closer to each other though ONLY by the grace of God, by releasing control and intentionally loving each other. That’s definitely a continuous prayer for us!

This topic also reminded me of the concept of the book I recently ordered called ‘Nothing to Prove‘ by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Jennie Allen. Can’t wait to read this one soon (comes out the end of January).

“Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning—and he will be there until . . . The End.”

-Chip Gaines, The Magnolia Story

I think the Gaines did a good job sharing their faith and giving God the glory for everything that happened in their story. That’s probably what makes this book so special for me to read. It’s a story not only of how Magnolia evolved, but a reminder of how trusting God, obeying Him, and believing in His promises can lead to unexplainable circumstances. There is literally no limit to where God can take us if we trust Him.

Some negative review comments  I’ve read online regarding The Magnolia Story include: “Too cheesy…. unrealistic… boring”

My response would be… I think it’s amazing that everyone’s story is their own. Despite what people say about it, The Gaines have this story to tell and while parts of it may seem boring or cheesy or crazy, I love that it’s uniquely theirs. Just like our stories are unique to us. We’ve all been created with a beautiful and distinct purpose, with a specific set of gifts… to do something that no one else has ever done before. Could you imagine what would happen if everyone in the world embraced that?

A bit of Chip & Jo’s heart exposed here.

The Magnolia Story can be purchased on Amazon!