Thriving, Not Surviving: A Magnolia Story Review

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Review of The Magnolia StoryThe Magnolia Story” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino is out and I’ll admit to devouring it in 24 hours. As infectious as Fixer Upper is, I was relieved to find it’s flavor seamlessly translated into the book, satiating my craving to know what makes this seemingly idyllic couple so inspiring to millions of fans. I mean, c’mon. Don’t we all wish we had that fairytale of success and happiness?

The book is written from both Chip and Joanna’s perspectives – and personalities, with a different font representing each of their voices mixed throughout the chapters. It reads quickly, as if you were sharing a cup of tea with them, chatting at one of their gorgeous, uniquely worn farmhouse tables. It made me LOL, it brought tears to my eyes (more than once), and it was refreshingly authentic, breathing their signature down-home style through every page.

It’s a story of their journey – not just their success. It’s an incredibly honest account of how they’ve let their faith guide their lives, faith from above and in each other. A couple so vastly different in backgrounds and strengths, but how they’ve complimented each other and continually build one another up so that together they are better than separate.

There were hard times and they aren’t sugar-coated in the book. That’s what makes them so relatable and what I think many will identify with. What really resonated with me, was her perspective on living intentionally, “thriving not surviving.” In Joanna’s words,

(From page 168) “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.

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 the beauty either.”

Preach woman.

And a little more,

“I am learning that getting our intentions right simplifies our decision in life and changes our perspective. And in the end, what’ is all about is thankfulness and contentment.”

So many quote nuggets I could share with you but I won’t. You just need to read it.


I will say though, that I came away with these new observations:

  • A Magnolia Story is a tale of their journey. Success did not fall on them overnight. It was years of a roller coaster of good and bad, hard work and God-given gifts for listening to your inner voice and seizing opportunities.
  • They’re good people and they cherish the good in others. We should all be that way.
  • They let faith be their guide. Unapologetic and not intrusive about their faith in God and trusting that he will chart their course, Chip and Joanna have always turned heavenward to guide them through the many changes in life.
  • Attitude is everything. Jo cites a number of times where she had to get above a challenging situation and deliberately change her thoughts to deal with it. By changing her perspective, those events turned into blessings that otherwise had she let her unhappiness or discomfort continue, would have destroyed her. And then there’s Chip and his boundless energy and positive, committed nature, his positive attitude is solid throughout.
  • It’s an account of the many phases of their life together and separately. I loved how Joanna shares not only where she was in each step of her journey, but what her self-talk sounded like. She’s honest about being lost and finding herself in unexpected ways.
  • Chip is no clown. Yes, he gets the laughs on the show and he seems like the goofy husband whose motivated stunts are purely to keep Jo from her comfortable introverted self, but he’s a Baylor business grad and self-taught entrepreneur that is accomplished and smart. I don’t think he gets enough credit.
  • They are a power couple not interested in power. They’re buoyed by their love for each other, the families that they welcome into their lives and are just living in this understated, peaceful, giving, and remarkable way.
  • They don’t have a TV. I can hardly imagine how different my life would be if we did not have a TV. For one, I would have missed out on getting to know these amazing people and the seemingly boundless uses for shiplap.

The only reality TV I can truly appreciate is where people (and homes) are built up to their greater potential. HGTV’s Fixer Upper is on my DVR always, and thankfully, this book serves as the prequel to what unfolds weekly on my favorite hour of television. It’s insightful to their DNA individually and as a couple. I love to know stories of good people doing good things and this must-read book will leave you rooting for your friends Chip and Jojo and whatever else is on their journey ahead.

Get your copy of The Magnolia Story on Amazon.com.

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