There are certain kinds of books that I find very comforting. Biographies, memoirs, books that detail the twists and turns of someone’s life and or career. One of the things I struggle with in my own life is trust. I have a hard time letting go of some of the fear and anxiety that we all experience and letting myself rest in the assurance that things will work out in their own time. For that reason, I find it very comforting to listen to someone else talking about their life, good times and bad, and reflecting on where they ended up. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (and Mark Dagostino) was the perfect book for me.
Now, there’s a couple reasons you might pick up this book. Maybe you enjoy watching Fixer Upper and want to learn more behind the scenes details. In which case, I would say “Great! You’ll love this book!” That was the reason I originally picked up The Magnolia Story, but it wasn’t the reason I fell in the love with this book. Personally, I was drawn to their reflections on their life, family, and their faith. There’s something really authentic and wholesome about the values they present, both on the show and in their book. I find it super refreshing. There is a strong emphasis on the fact that “people are what matter the most.” They both talk about their relationships with their parents, siblings, and how much their families mean to them. In turn, this shows in the way they are choosing to raise their own children. They also talk about all the people that mentored and supported them during their journey, and how they are trying to return the favor and give back. The book is written in a back and forth dialogue, almost like an interview, with Joanna writing first, and Chip adding a few paragraphs here and there. One of the things Joanna talks about repeatedly, is the way Chip treats other people. That is one of the things she admires the most about him. Even when they were first dating she noticed the way he went out of his way to talk to everyone, and treated everyone with kindness and respect. Again, I think that is a really refreshing reflection. I know that’s the kind of person I want to be and I think it’s nice to have reminders of that. That was my take away from the Mr. Rogers documentary and it was one of the things I took away from this book.
I also really like their approach to design. They talk about creating spaces that are going to be the right fit for your individual family. They point out that the best design for your home is not always going to be the most expensive or flashy. And yes, now that they are really popular you can buy the “Magnolia” line at any Target and it’s going to be on the spendy side. But if you really listen to what they’re saying, their philosophy is based on finding new and creative ways to use what you have or purchasing a 10$ item at a garage sale and restoring it.
Finally, I think this book really emphasizes hard work and faith. Chip and Joanna discuss their belief that God had a plan for their life, in both the good times and the bad. Their reflection on the early days of their relationship is pretty humorous. They talk about their different personalities, coming to understand and appreciate the other person’s strengths and weaknesses, and finding out that they had the same values and priorities where it mattered. Life comes along with plenty of difficulties and mistakes, but it can be really comforting looking back and seeing how those challenges and mistakes changed you and helped you to become a better person. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through the difficult periods of my life. That doesn’t make them any easier when you’re going through it, but I think it can help us find comfort in those times. At least, that has been my personal experience. I don’t want to borrow worry, or spend my time lost to stress and anxiety, I want to reach a point where I can find peace and happiness even when my life is hard. Anyway, that’s the goal.
Rating: 5/5 stars