I’m a sucker for a good book. My fascination with Home and Garden Television is unparalleled. Combining those two things makes me very happy. That’s why I was so happy to see that Chip and Joanna Gaines, of Fixer Upper fame, were writing a book. The Magnolia Story was published in October of this year. It is a must read for anyone that loves home improvement, solid life advice, a good love story, or all of the above.
Reading this book was so enjoyable, not only because of the great writing style and moving stories, but because it offered some great lessons that everyone can learn from. Here are six lessons we can learn from the HGTV power couple.
1) The entrepreneurial spirit cannot be tamed
A major thread throughout the book was Chip Gaines’ unstopped entrepreneurial spirit. By the time he and Joanna met, he was already running several businesses and had moved on from several others. Now he and Joanna run different businesses, He is living proof that the entrepreneurial spirit cannot be tamed, and you don’t have to tame yours. Even if it seems a little hard to handle, keep going. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, there is no use hiding it under a bush. Let it shine. Be the Chip Gaines of whatever you’re interested in. Don’t give up when the going gets tough.
2) You don’t always need an upgrade
One of the most touching exchanges throughout the book was Joanna’s reflection on her wedding ring. The night Chip proposed, he allowed Joanna to help design her own ring, on the spot. They were young and didn’t have much money, so years later, Chip offered to buy her a new, bigger ring. An upgrade. Joanna refused. She said she was perfectly content with the original ring. It represented who they were. She wanted to always remember that moment. It was such a touching moment of the book. Bigger is not always better. You don’t need a huge diamond to represent your love. If you truly love something and what it represents, you won’t need to “upgrade” it later on.
3) You can always re-open the door
Everyone that loves Fixer Upper dreams about going to the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas, but this is actually the second incarnation of the business! That’s right, back in the day, Joanna ran her Magnolia Market at a different location, in the early days of her and Chip’s marriage. It was very successful, but she eventually decided to close down in order to spend more time with her growing family. This was decision that she admits was not easy to make. Whether you’ve always been a career woman or not, it is hard to give up a passion project. However, not every door is sealed forever when you close it. Joanna kept her passion brewing. The store is back and better than ever. Decisions can be hard when we make them. It can feel like the end of the world, but you can always re-open the door if it is meant to be open.
4) He can be your Fixer Upper, but you can’t change him
If you’ve watched a single episode of Fixer Upper, you know Joanna’s running joke about Chip being her first fixer upper, and it’s true. The book is full of further proof. Heck, he was over an hour late for their first date. I once watched an episode where he ate a bug. Just because someone is a fixer upper doesn’t mean you can make them a new person. Even a fixer upper house is still the same house at the end of the renovation. The beauty of Chip and Joanna’s relationship is that it has grown, flourished, and changed both of them in many ways. Chip is still so much the man he was when Joanna married him. We all meet guys who make us say “we’ll if only he wasn’t X” or “if I could change Y” but that isn’t how relationships work. You can appreciate the work that needs to be done. You can help him avoid making decisions like buying a rickety old house boat, sight unseen, but you cannot make him a new person. That’s a good thing.
5) Being broke doesn’t mean squat
Chip and Joanna Gaines seem to have the perfect life. It hasn’t always been fresh flowers and a nice big farm. In fact, they were broke for the first few years of their marriage. Their honeymoon consisted of a road trip to New England and they lived in Chip’s rental property for several years. At one point, they didn’t even really have the money for bail – read the book for more on this. However, they persevered, they made the best of the situation. They found a way to make it work. One of the best examples of this in the book was Joanna decorating her first nursery on a major budget. They couldn’t even afford window treatments. Joanna and Chip, being the creative fiends they are, made something money couldn’t buy out of picket fencing. They ended up making more of those to sell because everyone loved them. Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of fun. In fact, some of the most creative designs arise out of budget constraints. If you’re broke, just think outside the box. It doesn’t have to hold you back forever.
6) God will provide
A recurring theme throughout “The Magnolia Story” was the grace of God in the Gaines’ lives and the lives of those around them. There are so many times in the story where they talk about how something would not have been possible without a lot of prayer and God’s guidance. A perfect example of that came when they were building a lot of houses on some land they owned. They desperately needed the money. The financial crisis had finally hit Waco and the bank’s hands were tied. There was no more money to be had. A wonderful couple came along and said that God had told them to invest in Chip and Joanna’s business. It was a beautiful offer and show of trust, and how God could nudge and provide. The story of how Chip and Joanna ended up with the farm is another great example of God’s providence, but you’ll have to read the book to hear about that one.