Both Michael and I have fallen in love with the HGTV show, Fixer Upper. Yup, I outed my husband. He’s a dude who watches HGTV. At first, Michael watched the show to placate me, then we both realized after just several episodes that the magic of the show wasn’t in the crisp white shiplap, it was in the hosts, Chip and Joanna Gaines who make marriage shine in all of its attractiveness.
I didn’t know after reading their book, The Magnolia Story that there would be some pretty amazing hope-filled life hacks that we can all glean from. I was so impressed by Chip and Joanna Gaines’ hope-filled words that I knew I had to share them with you as well.
Because I can’t keep good things a secret.
1. There Should Be Contentment in the Journey “If we’re trying to push anything, it’s the hope that there’s contentment in the journey. 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 the “farm” itself. (pg. 182)
Joanna and Chip both daydreamed about growing up to basically be the modern equivalent of Ma and Pa Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. What they didn’t expect as an added bonus was a book and TV contract, and millions of adoring fans. Anyone on the outside looking in at this couple will assume they were an overnight success. What we don’t ever see televised is the journey it took to get them to “the farm.” That journey included living in a tiny, old 800 ft. square home, and coming home from their honeymoon to an unlivable house filled with a rank odor of rotten meat mingled with baked-in-the-sun dog urine matted in the carpet, which understandably brought Joanna Gaines to tears.
There was hardship after hardship, yet there was still contentment in their hardships. Their dream farm and success didn’t bring them contentment because they already had contentment. Even when they were poor and almost lived in a mold infested, hole pitted houseboat.
2. If You’re Wanting to Get Married, Find Someone Who Will Help You “Bloom” and If You’re Already Married, Find a Way to Work Together More as a Team “Nowadays when I think about the name Magnolia, I think about it in terms that refer to much much more than blossoming our business. I think about the buds on the tree, and how they really are just the tightest buds- they look like rocks, almost. And I feel like when Chip and I met, that tight little bud was me. I was risk averse, and in some ways, I don’t think I saw the beauty or the potential in myself. Then I wound up with Chip Gaines, [I] bloomed…If I hadn’t married Chip, I might not have ever bloomed.” -Joanna Gaines (pg. 181)
If you’re single, friend, this is the type of relationship you want- someone who will see your God-given potential and help you to bloom, encouraging you to venture out of your safe-zone, and desiring to water you with truthful words of affirmation. If you’re married, find ways that you two can work together as a team.
Both Michael and I have complained in our years of reading relationship books that although we would glean nuggets of truth from them, it really more or less feels like a perpetuation of the narrative that men and women are entirely different species.
Except those books are missing something that Chip and Joanna Gaines understand. When you get married, you may have different chromosomes and tendencies, but you also become one in marriage. In becoming one, we’re on the same team with our spouses. Joanna says,
“The magic Chip and I had discovered early on [is] that we seem to grow stronger the more time we spent together…We both fell more in love with our work, too, with every new project we tackled.” (pg. 86)
May we try to find similarities in our spouses in what we can accomplish together as a team while appreciating and yes, even blossoming from our differences.
3. Even Though You Have Plans in Life, Sometimes They Don’t Always Go as Planned, and That’s Entirely Okay. “If I had planned my life, it never would have ended up like this. So maybe it’s kind of fun not to plan. Maybe it’s more fun just to see where life takes you. After all, we’re living proof that sometimes even the messiest stuff and the biggest mistakes can take you someplace wonderful.” -Joanna Gaines (pg.179)
Joanna details how her ideal man before meeting Chip was a conservative buttoned-up type, and how her doodles of design were safely tucked away inside her mind and notpad with her practical career endeavors leading her to one day own a Firestone. Now owning a tire store isn’t bad, but Joanna had design potential that was locked away and needed an unplanned man to allow this bud of potential to blossom. Could there be anything unplanned in our own lives that could cause a surprising blossom of potential?
4. There Can Still Be Joy in the Suffering. One of my favorite parts of the book was seeing Joanna Gaines extending herself to a fan who was dying of cancer. This fan- who was only in her thirties- wrote about her love affair with Fixer Upper on her personal blog, only for one of Joanna Gaines’ own personal friends to discover this woman’s article, showing it to Joanna who then had the prompting to decorate this dear woman’s house for Christmas. So, Joanna Gaines flew over several states to visit this woman who she says “radiated so much peace and beauty in the midst of her evident pain. Joanna says ever so profoundly in The Magnolia Story that even though this woman’s life was waning in time, she was still full of life.
“The more we spoke, the more amazed I was at her story. She chose to find joy in the midst of suffering. Every inch of her home reflected beauty and life…What would the world be like if everyone had [this woman who was dying of cancer’s] mindset?” (pg. 170)
5. You Will Not Thrive Trying to Live the Pinterest-Perfect Life. What we all see right now from Chip and Joanna Gaines is their glamorous show and perfectly curated online boutique, Magnolia Market. We see PERFECT and yet so many of us feel so far away from perfect. Joanna explains how she tried to keep to the Pinterest perfect standard but failed to find satisfaction to fully thrive. And this is Joanna Gaines whose face and personally crafted colored pallets are featured on almost every home decor board you’ll find on Pinterest.
If Joanna Gaines can’t obtain Pinterest-perfect perfection, we need to come to a realization that it is a myth that will choke us of any chance we have to thrive ourselves.
6. Switch Your Mind-Set From Surviving to Thriving “If I’m just going to sit around and say I am “just surviving” every day, well, guess what? When a big wave comes along suddenly, I won’t be surviving-I’ll be drowning. I mean, that’s life. Life is never really manageable. If your mindset is always “I’m just surviving,” it seems to me that would wind up being your mindset for the rest of your life… So I finally flipped the switch in my mind. I said, “I have to choose to thrive, even in the pain. Even when it’s tough.” -Joanna Gaines (pgs. 147 -148)
We have to come to the point where we decide surviving isn’t good enough to finally thrive, even in circumstances that seem unfavorable.
7. Spend Your Time on What Matters “I realized that my determination to make things perfect meant that I was chasing an empty obsession all day long. Nothing was ever going to be perfect the way I envisioned it in the past. Did I want to spend my energy in that effort, or did I want to step out of that obsession and to enjoy my kids, maybe even allowing myself to get messy along with them in the process?” (pg. 144)
Joanna Gaines recounts this moment she had when she had to reflect on the very question we all need to reflect upon, “What am I going for in life?” Was she going to try to keep striving for a perfection she couldn’t reach? Are we? Is that the sum total of our life, friend? This doesn’t mean we quit trying in life, but it does mean that a certain revelation moment should happen for us, just like it did for Joanna Gaines. We should be spending our time on what matters.
8. Listen to God Before You Quit “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.” -Joanna Gaines (pg.182) Guys, let me just say, I think we can quit too soon. We lose hope, we grow fearful, and we don’t listen to God’s voice. Sure, sometimes there are valid things in life that we need to quit. Sometimes there are even times where we should quit something that makes sense not to quit- like the situation Jonna faced when she felt God telling her to quit her work at Magnolia Market after it was making a bust in sales. But she also heard God telling her “Joanna, if you trust me with your dreams, I’ll take them further than you could have ever imagined.” Let’s try to listen to God’s voice and our support team instead of letting that niggling voice of fear creep in.
And may we always remember…
Hope is always an option,