What Joanna Gaines Taught Me About Thriving

I have a confession. I can be a bit…shall we say…contrary. Which kills me to say because my oldest son absolutely drives me crazy with his contrary ways. I don’t know where he gets it.


I resist watching movies or reading books that everyone else goes gangbusters over for the simple reason that I don’t want to be a joiner. If everyone else loves it I automatically have to hate it. I know, I KNOW. You don’t even have to tell me. Contrary.

In my defense, I don’t tend to actually like the popular things; at least, not in their time. I started doing yoga before it was cool. My style tends to be a little more vintage and classic than current trends. And no, I don’t like Beyoncé. I won’t and I will not.

So, even though my husband and the rest of the entire world absolutely love the show, Fixer Upper, part of me kind of wants to hate it. But I JUST CAN’T.

A friend gave me The Magnolia Story and I devoured it in two sittings. As much as it pains me to admit, I sent away for my membership into the official Chip and Joanna fan club. I’m sold. In love. Smitten.

If I’m going to hop on a bandwagon, it might as well be the super inspirational and impeccably designed Gaines family wagon.

Let me tell you what got me.

Honestly, I could take or leave the design aspect. There style isn’t really my own. I don’t go for the rustic, reclaimed look. I like a mix of vintage and modern. I’ve said it before, but my style is a cross between boho-vintage and granny-chic. But that is neither here nor there.

I love how the Gaines interact with each other. (Good grief, am I really blogging about this? Just keep going, Rebekah, just keep going.) I love that Chip believes in his wife and is her biggest fan and supporter. I love that Joanna always speaks so highly of her husband. In a day and age where everyone likes to pick and complain about their spouse, their high regard for each other is refreshing.

But what really sold me, or I should say, inspired me, about this couple and their story, was Joanna’s take on life.

It was in the middle of all that struggle that I found my true inspiration as a designer – the very thing that so many people seem to be drawn to now that I’ve received this opportunity to share my work with the world.

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 – where ever “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.

-Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

This, THIS is the lesson I’m learning right now.

I was talking to my sweet friend, Jordan, the other day. We were talking about the misconception of the hustle. About what it means to be “killing it.” People portray thriving as working at high levels of constant success. This looks and sounds sooooo appealing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be working hard with constant success? Who wouldn’t want that to be their goal?

The thing is, though, that is impossible. It’s an illusion, and completely, totally, 100% impossible. Can we work hard? Yes. Should we? Absolutely. But will we ever reach a place where we are working hard in total success? Never. On the flip side, if we are working hard in failure, does that mean we aren’t thriving? DEFINITELY NOT.

For me, I’m working really hard as a wife, a mom, and an individual with my own thoughts, dreams, passions, and gifts. But…I’m not getting paid, I’m not famous, and the work I do on the daily is far from glamorous. It is easy to have a picture in my mind of what “thriving” will look like when my current reality is displaced by something better, more shiny, more well paid, and more recognized than my current gig.

This is a lie, of course. As well as a distraction and major source of discontent.

Is life perfect now? No, of course not. But can I thrive in my today? YES!

What’s more, I agree whole heartedly with Joanna. If you can’t thrive in the times that are painful, difficult, and less than perfect, you’ll never be able to thrive in the good times. Thriving isn’t a dollar amount in the bank or accomplishing a professional goal or a daily workout regiment or meeting some quota; it’s a mindset. You are either thriving in your now, difficulties and all, or you’re not.

Today, I woke up with this heavy on my heart. How easy is it as a young momma to think about how much better life will be…when the kids are potty trained….when they stop waking up at night…when they master this new skill…when they go off to school…when-when-when! We are constantly displacing our contentment and trading our thriving for simply surviving.

I’m realizing now that this is an active, constant choice that we have to make. We have to wake up each day and remind ourselves that we aren’t waiting for our life to start happening, THIS IS OUR LIFE.

I think it’s worth noting that as I’ve been walking through this lesson lately I’ve also been reminded of the flip side. We don’t need to wait to thrive, but also, there are plenty of things that can wait, and if we would just take them off our plate for a season, maybe just maybe we would be able to see the thriving start to happen.

What did this look like for me?

Well, I couldn’t thrive with a million and one personal and professional goals and do the big picture stuff that my husband and I have planned for our family. Are there certain things I would still love to pursue or experience in this lifetime? Ummm, you bet! But those things will always be there. The other things, things like making the most of this precious time with my kids and my husband and this journey that we are on – that most certainly has an expiration date. So I’ve taken some stuff off my plate to make room for others, and in doing that, I’ve found that I’m able to work a lot harder at a lot less things with much greater success.

Am I crushing it? Well, not according to social media standards. But you know what? I’m really, really happy. My kids are happy. My husband is happy. I believe in what I’m doing. I have a peace that comes from following God and not an agenda. And I’m learning that maybe this kind of thriving is preparing me for the next kind of thriving. The thriving that will come when I do get to pursue other things. And maybe, just maybe, when that time comes, I won’t miss it.

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 your mind-set for the rest of your life. You’d just get stuck in it.

So I finally flipped the switch in my mind. I said, “I have to choose to thrive, even in the pain. Even when it’s tough.”….

….The miracle of that breakthrough moment for me is that I didn’t really let our situation get to me. I didn’t wallow in it. I didn’t allow it to dictate my happiness.

-Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

This is such a powerful lesson for me. I wonder how many good days I labeled as bad simply because I let situations get to me, or simply because I was in survival mode. It makes me a little sad to think about, actually. But I would rather look that reality straight in the face and learn from it than  pretend that I don’t have a whole ton of room to grow in this area.

I haven’t always gotten it right. I’ll be the first one to admit that. Motherhood has felt so hard so many different times. But a survival mindset is a choice. I also have the choice to make life much harder in this season than is necessary. I want to get better at  focusing on the things that truly matter, and giving them my best, knowing that I can thrive in any situation, in any season.

I have everything I need to be happy and to thrive. I don’t want to give my circumstances the power to tell me otherwise.


So how about you? I’m not asking if you love Chip and Joanna. Good grief, everyone loves them. I’m asking you if this message resonates with your heart, in your life. I truly desire for my blog to be an encouragement and inspiration to others. Right now, I’ve scaled back on other things so that I can be more available to my husband, my kids, and my friends. If this is a subject that is tugging at your heart and you could really use a friend, I’m here. Seriously. Send me an email. I’d love to talk to you and hopefully walk with you on your journey to thrive, in this season and in the next. ❤


6 thoughts on “What Joanna Gaines Taught Me About Thriving

    1. I’m so glad you connected with this post. It’s something I have been learning for a long time now, but I have a feeling it’s a never ending process! Thanks for reading and for commenting. 🙂

  1. Thanks for writing. When you share your life it gives us other mommies some solidarity. Keep it up, I always look forward to reading your posts!

    (I tried to comment yesterday but don’t think it went through. Or if it did and I’m being redundant, my apologies!)

    1. It really does mean the world to hear that what I share give other women a sense of solidarity — that is why I write! Thanks again for reading :-).

      I just posted your comment on yesterday’s blog…it was stuck in moderation land, lol. 😉

  2. This is so, so, so fantastic. Thank you for writing this! Fantastic post. I don’t know who Chip and Joanna are (i’m living under a rock, yes). But “This is such a powerful lesson for me. I wonder how many good days I labeled as bad simply because I let situations get to me, or simply because I was in survival mode. It makes me a little sad to think about, actually. But I would rather look that reality straight in the face and learn from it than pretend that I don’t have a whole ton of room to grow in this area.” YES!
    I’m FB-posting this so my other mommy friends read it. Keep thriving – I know I’ll try!

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