Who doesn’t love Chip and Joanna Gaines, the young couple from the HGTV program, Fixer Upper? They are cute as all get out, good-looking, personable, Christian, and Texan! What’s not to like? And to top it off they do amazing things with old, ugly houses.
You may have seen they have one of those “as told to” books out called The Magnolia Story. Actually it is attributed to them “with Mark Dagostino.” Mr. Dagostino did a great job of organizing the narrative and helping them tell their story in a captivating way. They are hardly old enough to have enough narrative to fill a book, but it turns out they have a compelling tale; how they met and became HGTV stars and Waco celebrities is really fascinating and funny.
While Chip has always been a go-getter and Joanna has always had an interest in decorating, it was the combination of their talents that helped them both achieve more than they ever could have alone (or married to people more like themselves). They are quite opposite in their approach to things, with Chip always looking to make the next deal, sometimes selling a house right from under Joanna after she spent months “fixing it up.” Joanna confesses to have spent a lot of time crying about many of Chip’s impulsive decisions. But Chip is also the one who encouraged her to open up a store immediately instead of the “someday” Joanna envisioned and to take opportunities she would never have taken without his support.
They both attribute their success to God’s hand in their lives—and the way they actually got their TV show is such an unlikely story that Believers will agree that God must have been wanting to see a few fixer uppers transformed. The tale involves a houseboat that Chip purchased unbeknownst to Joanna and his idea that the whole family could live it in while their real house was being “fixed up.” It isn’t giving away too much to say Joanna was not “on board” with the boat idea. But how that purchase helped seal the deal with HGTV is worth the price of the book.
An encouraging aspect of the book is how Joanna’s life militates against the pervasive “credentialism” of our society. Credentialism is the idea that only people who have been certified by some third party are qualified to do certain work or make certain pronouncements. Joanna has never had a course in design or décor. She was a communications major. But her credentials are the fact that thousands of people want to purchase her design expertise and hundreds of thousands, nay, millions, want to watch a show where she demonstrates that expertise. You don’t have to always have someone else’s approval to use your talents.
Ok, so we will be getting back to some scholarly biblical books in the future, but I so enjoyed the company of these two charming people while reading their story, I had to recommend their book. It made me laugh. And I came away liking them both more than ever.