We all know Chip & Joanna from Fixer Upper. They have undoubtedly become America’s favorite couple, but we want you to enjoy a little more of their story today! Grab that coffee and let’s get to know more about Jo Jo.
Late 2016 I, Danielle, sat down to enjoy Chip & Joanna’s book, The Magnolia Story. I loved how refreshing and honest it was. Her journey is beautifully flawed and widely celebrated. Joanna grew up in Texas where her father owned and managed a tire shop. With a father half Lebanese/half German and mother full Korean, Joanna realized in middle school, she “looked different” from other kids and began to struggle with a lot of insecurities and shame. She went on to graduate from Baylor University with a Communications major, opening up a great opportunity for her to intern in New York. During her time in the city, she found great comfort and enjoyment in the little boutiques that she would discover off the beaten path. These boutiques are what birthed the dream for Joanna to have a shop herself one day. At the end of the internship, she returned to Waco, TX desiring to be close to the family to work at her father’s tire shop to potentially one day take over. She had all these dreams and had heard from the Lord early on that He was going to give her a platform and that He had a calling on her life, yet she had no idea what that meant.
In the waiting room of that tire shop, she met Chip Gaines. Opposites from the beginning, they both found enjoyment and balance in the strengths of the other. The first few years of their marriage were an adventure, countless moves with Chip’s spontaneous desire to buy and flip houses, investment interests and continuously on the brink of broke. A few months into the marriage, Joanna casually shared her dream and love of boutiques, not thinking anything of it. In true Chip form, he said, “let’s do it!” Within months, the first shop was purchased remodeled and open for business. Before long, people in the town began bringing their friends to this new, cute little boutique where Joanna had built a loyal clientele. With their first child and another on the way, Joanna began to feel the pull to stay home for a season and to be more present with her family. Confused about the supposed “platform” and heartbroken over her dreams of having her boutique, they sold everything in the quaint Magnolia shop and closed the doors. As she locked the doors for the last time, she says she can remember hearing God whisper, “Joanna, if you trust Me with your dreams, I’m going to take Magnolia further than you could’ve ever dreamed, so just trust Me.”
She was able to be home with her family, enjoy them and began to do some design contracting work for neighbors right from the convenience of her home. Chip continued to work on Magnolia Homes, their realty company, and she jumped in where she could. She reflects, “I really had to cultivate a place of faith that I never had before. I had to trust Him as He would speak His promise to me. This trust brought peace, although my circumstance hadn’t yet reflected His promise. His Word doesn’t return void, and God was working in my heart to establish deeper levels of trust that I now look back on and am thankful for.” Being home she was able to take her kids to school every day, which was located across the street from these historic abandoned silos in downtown Waco. She would often look and admire them and their footprint and the story they told, wishing someone would do something with them. (Isn’t it funny the little seeds that God plants in our hearts!)
One day while traveling, Chip dropped Joanna off at a park, encouraging her to reflect on this past year and what God had for her in the next chapter. As she sat down to think, reflect, pray and write, she heard that still small whisper in her ear, “Joanna, it’s time to reopen Magnolia.” Surprised and uncertain how or why now, she climbed back in the truck and shared it with Chip, to which he responded, “Let’s do it!” In no time, Magnolia on Bosque Street (the original location for Magnolia Market) was re-opened and more successful than before. After a blog post highlighting a kids space, Joanna had created a television network asked to come and meet the couple. They agreed to do a pilot, easy right? Wrong- Chip & Joanna had a challenging time.
HGTV agreed to spend a weekend with them, following them and, filming what they do. Joanna shares that they were so awkward and didn’t really know what to do until in true Chip form, a delivery arrived. Without telling Joanna, Chip, bought a houseboat off the internet (sight unseen) as a “flip” project, to live in after selling their current home. With cameras rolling, the couple completely forgot they were being filmed and began to un-package the delivery, the news of the house selling and what they were supposed to do. Chip begged Joanna to give it a chance, which she was reluctant and frustrated at first but agreed. They walked the boat and began to collaborate and design what they could do to fix it up. A few hours later they realized the cameras had caught everything, to which the producer responded, “That was amazing! If I do my job right, you two may just land yourselves a reality show.” They were so confused and remember thinking, “who would want to watch that?” The pilot aired on May 23, 2013, and we know the rest is history.
Joanna Gaines as a Catalyst Woman:
- She never stopped dreaming and she still doesn’t
- She didn’t allow her lack of experience or training to keep her from moving forward, she just figured it out as she went and trusted God in the process.
- She honors her husband in her actions and words. Whether through television or written media, she never disrespects him, dishonors him or complains about him. She accepts him, doesn’t change him and loves him for who he is. She appreciates their differences and trusts him.
- She is obedient to how the Lord leads her, trusting Him, knowing that His plans are for good, to prosper her and her family.
- Family is the priority. Through their writing and filming both she and Chip strive to have family time, boundaries and quality time with their family.
- She is an encourager- through interviews, Joanna seems to always add an encouraging approach reminding women of truth and grace.
I don’t know who she is behind the cameras, but what I do know is the testimony she has shared and the way she leads on screen, and the way they talk about their family and giving back. Besides her amazing style, I love the way she honors her husband and he honors her. Their fun- loving, honoring approach, acceptance of the other and teamwork I believe has made them, catalysts.
My hope for you today is if you are dating, married or single that you would take a close look at the way you speak to and about your significant other. That you would be mindful of how to honor them, even when they don’t deserve it and lastly, accept them for who they are and not who we may want them to be.
You are a Catalyst Woman.