I listened to The Magnolia Story for the first time a few months ago, and decided I needed a second listen before I could give it the attention it deserved in a blog post.
This book, to put it simply, changed my life. It’s changed the way I think about things, the way I hope for things, and the way I look at my future.
I fell in love with the show Fixer Upper a few months before the book came out (thank you Netflix) and was utterly in love with Chip and Joanna, their family, and their outlook on life. After finishing some other books, and finding myself with an Audible credit, I decided to listen to The Magnolia Story.
In this book, Chip and Joanna tell the story of their lives, pieces of their childhood and family stories, how they met and fell in love, and their journey to becoming two insanely popular reality TV personalities.
Now, people always say “You have to be looking for fame and fortune to agree to going on a TV show. Those people on reality TV aren’t real, they’re not genuine, and they’re probably not that nice.” But I have to believe that Chip and Joanna are absolutely everything they say they are. Real people who talk about fights they got in, their financial hardships, silly mistakes they made, who happened to end up on TV even though they have never had a TV in their home (and still don’t!)
They represent what I can only hope to be like one day, genuine people in the middle of whatever life has handed them, praising God while they enjoy their lives, and work hard with whatever opportunities they are handed.
I first listened to this book when Randy and I were making some decisions, when I’d been feeling lost in my purpose and path, and when I wasn’t, as Joanna talks about, “thriving” but simply “surviving.”
There were so many passages of the book that made me weep. It was like there were words written right for my heart and situation, they were everything I needed to hear and recognize and believe.
None of it was new philosophy or things that I hadn’t ever heard before, but the way the story unfolded and the conviction behind the words made all the difference. The way they were written, the timing with which I listened to each chapter, all of it lead to me feeling like I could be a different, better person thanks to a book.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“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.”
“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 beauty, either.”
“I realized that my determination to make things perfect meant I was chasing an empty obsession all day long. Nothing was ever going to be perfect the way I had envisioned it in the past. Did I want to keep spending my energy on that effort, or did I want to step out of that obsession and to enjoy my kids, maybe allowing myself to get messy right along with them in the process? I chose the latter – and that made all the difference.”
“It’s up to us to choose contentment and thankfulness now—and to stop imagining that we have to have everything perfect before we’ll be happy.”
“Have you ever looked at the bud of a magnolia flower? It’s a tight little pod that stays closed up for a long time on the end of its branch until one day, out of nowhere, it finally bursts open into this gigantic, gorgeous, fragrant flower that’s ten times bigger than the bud itself. It’s impossible to imagine that such a big beautiful thing could pop out of that tiny little bud. But it does.”
“I always said, “When things come against us we can either turn on each other, or we can come together and turn on it.”
“I finally believed it was actually a beautiful thing to be unique and to be different.”
“…sometimes second chances lead to great things.
All of my doubts, all of the things I thought I wanted out of a relationship, and many of the things I thought I wanted out of life itself turned out to be just plain wrong. Instead? That voice from our first date turned out to be the thing that was absolutely right.”
“I came to think of God as more of a gracious friend who was accompanying me on this journey, a friend who wanted to carry my burdens and speak into my life and shape me into who I really was and who I would become.”
“I mean, that’s life. Life is never predictable. Life is never really manageable. If your mind-set is always, “I’m just surviving”, it seems to me that would wind up being the mind-set for the rest of your life. You’d just get stuck in it.”
“It is no easy thing to trust in God, to walk away from a career, to give it all up not knowing if you can ever get it back or even come close. But I did it. I heeded his voice, and somehow I found peace about it.”
“Whether you are in an eight-hundred-square-foot home or living in a dream house on a lake, contentment is found on the way.”
“I felt good about having made the decision to walk away and lock that door. It’s funny, though, looking back on it now, because one very simple concept in life never occurred to me as I was walking away:
Even locked doors can be unlocked in time.
I simply never could have imagined just how much God had in store for us, and I certainly couldn’t have dreamed just how many keys to other doors God had already placed in our hands.”
“life is found in the glass of spilled milk and in the long, narrow hallway filled with socks and soccer balls.”
“One thing I learned there on that beautiful front porch was if I wanted to be successful, if I wanted to do important work one day, I would have to increase my capacity. I had to learn to manage disappointment. I needed to learn how to make the most out of those “opportunities” Chip seemed to keep finding.”
“It’s difficult to put into words, but there was something about that experience that helped me find myself. I would go home every night and write about my experiences—what I’d seen, what I’d done, and sometimes just about whatever I was thinking or feeling. And as I did that, something shifted in me. I started owning who I am, realizing that I was unique and that God had a unique purpose for me. I’d spent my whole life worrying about what people thought about me or whether I was good enough or thinking about what I should be doing instead of really digging down to find out what I wanted to do.”
I could go on forever and ever about these quotes and pull a million more. Basically what it came down to was that reading this book opened my perspective about what happiness can mean, what I’m doing day in and day out, and about trust. This entire past year has been a giant lesson on faith and trust for me, and the fact that this book helped me grasp that concept even more is just another example of how aware Heavenly Father is of us, what speaks to us, and what we need.
So here’s to spending less time watching TV (except for new episodes of Fixer Upper, of course) and spending more time in my journal, more time in nature, more time discovering what I’m passionate about and what makes me thrive. More time on the simple things, more time with Randy, and more time with God.
Here’s to opening up that tight little magnolia bud, and blooming.