“whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phillippians 4:8

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

In the last week of December 2016, I found out that I was having a miscarriage. Obviously, that was rough. As I dealt with lingering morning sickness for a week after I found out, I wasn’t able to do much. In the previous weeks, I had watched YouTube or read fluffy books, but none of that appealed to me. This particular pregnancy had felt real much sooner than my other three, and it was hard to deal with its end. I wouldn’t be bringing home my little baby. I’d be losing it. Happy, light fiction wouldn’t help me; it felt frivolous. So I looked over the books I had in my Kindle library and found The Magnolia Story. I had bought it a couple months before but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. It didn’t necessarily call my name, but I opened it.

I tell this story because it is inexorably linked to my review of this book. When I wanted something real and genuine and uplifting, I found it. I also found the healing that I so desperately needed at that time. This week, I read it again because I wanted to see how my feelings changed without the trauma in my life that first time. It was, of course, different this time around, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

The Magnolia Story is a memoir written by Chip and Joanna Gaines - the stars of Fixer Upper. Chip and Jo tell the story of their lives apart and together. The underlying theme throughout the whole book is faith in God and hard work. They started from nothing and worked their way up, but they don’t credit themselves. They see God’s hand in their lives in little miracles when they needed them. I love it.

Along with their stories of faith, I am inspired by the way they pushed forward and worked toward their dreams. They supported one another and worked hard to make them happen. They weren’t afraid to work and make things happen. They also encourage their readers to live similarly. Their words help motivate me towards working on my own dreams.

Hard work wasn’t necessarily a theme that appealed to me greatly when I read the book two years ago, but faith in God was. Something Jo talked about also stood out. She told a story about how she worried that her house always had to be perfect, and she felt like she was continually cleaning up after her kids. She had the inspiration that she needed to let it go a bit and enjoy her kids. She recognized that she really didn’t have that much time with them, and she needed to enjoy it while it lasted. I think that’s what stood out to me most in that first reading: enjoying the children I did have. Two years later, I have added a sweet little girl to my family, and as I work to find balance in my life, I try to remember that bit of wisdom. Reading the book again has been a helpful reminder.

Lincoln's Last Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis