Joanna Gaines opens up about the secret struggles which led to her great success.
She’s gorgeous, creative, and makes up half of the world-renowned dynamic duo behind HGTV’s hit show, “Fixer Upper.” But there’s a side of Joanna (also affectionally known as “Jojo”) Gaines that many viewers don’t see on TV.
Joanna took to her blog to share her own personal victories (and struggles) as a working mom. And her words are so raw and real, I found myself choking back the tears. Every mother needs to read this.
As many American mothers know, balancing work and family life can be quite challenging. Which begs the question: just how does Joanna Gaines manage it all?
In a recent tell-all interview, Joanna revealed the heartbreaking struggles which ultimately led to her unparalleled success. Every woman needs to read this.
It’s strange to think that just three years ago, hardly anyone had ever heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines — or Waco, Texas for that matter.
But today, Joanna’s life serves as living proof of the American dream — and just how mightily God can use one woman’s life.
Joanna is the beautiful, creative genius behind Magnolia Market — a furniture and home decor shop located in Waco, Texas. Additionally, she directs and designs all home renovation projects on the TV show, Fixer Upper; she’s the co-owner of the adorable bed and breakfast, Magnolia House; and has just announced that she’s opening Magnolia Bakery.
And just in case you’re wondering: yes, Joanna Gaines somehow manages to love her husband and raise their four beautiful children all the while. But Joanna Gaines hasn’t always had it easy.
Joanna was raised in the Lone Star State, where her father owned a tire shop. But growing up wasn’t easy. Joanna was bullied as a child for her heritage and bought the devil’s lie that who she was “wasn’t good enough.”
When asked about her ethnicity, Joanna replied, “I love hearing all the guesses. Although I did play Pocahontas in high school, I am not Native American. My father is half-Lebanese/half-German and my mother is full-Korean.”
It wasn’t until middle school that Joanna realized that “not everyone was like her.” As a result, she fell prey to the lies of deep insecurity and shame. In an exclusive and vulnerable video, Joanna opened up about her struggles.
After high school, Joanna graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Communications and was inspired to join the world of design while interning in New York.
But Joanna’s first job was almost anything but glamorous while working at an ‘all-you-can-eat buffet.’
Jojo joked, “I still have an appreciation for buffet lines.”
But even at an early age, Joanna knew the Lord had a sovereign plan for her life.
“I heard Him [God] specifically say, ‘Joanna, I have a calling for you. You’re going to have a platform one day.’ I remember hearing God say, ‘Joanna, there’s going to come a time when I’m going to say for you to go, and I’m going to need for you to step out and go.'”
And Joanna’s life is proof that God knows what He’s doing. But contrary to popular belief, Joanna actually has zero ‘interior design’ background. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t good at it. With a successful TV show, house-flipping business, market, and online furniture line — I think it’s safe to say that she’s pretty good at designing. Jojo humbly explained:
“I was actually a communications major and had never done design. I had always had a dream to open up a boutique of some sort. I didn’t know what kind of boutique, but we found this little fixer upper building and tackled that project together in the first year of marriage, and that’s when Magnolia opened, our retail location. I sold a bunch of products that would go in the home.”
Fun fact: The name “Magnolia” (Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, Magnolia Farm) comes from a super cute story, dating back to the days before Chip and Joanna got married.
Chip explained, “When we were just dating, I would pick these blooms from Magnolia trees. If you’ve ever seen them, they are almost just bowl-like, and that whole thing just always inspired us. So when we had the opportunity and were trying to figure out what to name her little boutique, Magnolia Market just stood out to us. That stuck with us and here we are now in furniture and paint, and all the bits and pieces will have some magnolia statement to it.”
But the road hasn’t always been easy. Shortly after opening Magnolia Market the first time, Joanna felt that the Lord was transitioning her to stay at home with her children.
Unable to both manage the store and be obedient, Joanna made the heartbreaking decision to close the successful little shop. And just like that, Joanna trusted God’s plan and said goodbye to everything she’d worked so diligently to build, so that she could be at home with her beautiful babies.
Joanna shared, “I remember the last day, you know we’re closing the shop down and I’m crying because it’s the end of a dream. And I feel like I hear God say, very clearly, ‘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.’ I remember hearing that and feeling completely peaceful about it, and I walked away.”
Ultimately, knowing God’s Word and remembering His goodness was what enabled her to trust His plan. Joanna shared,
“God taught me to study the Word and believe it, even when it hadn’t been fulfilled yet. 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.”
A few years later, the phone rang, and Chip and Joanna Gaines found themselves on that ‘platform’ God had put on their hearts so many years ago. A production company heard about the their home renovation business and Joanna’s background in design — and the rest is history. The unique stage the Lord custom-built to reveal His power and love was HGTV’s one-of-a-kind show, “Fixer Upper.”
Chip and Joanna co-star on the show and share the load of helping one lucky couple select and remodel an old home in central Texas. The show’s pilot first aired on May 23, 2013, and it quickly became a world-wide phenomenon.
Perhaps the most important thing about Chip and Joanna’s journey is that God taught them to trust Him with everything — and to make Him their everything. Early on, the power couple made a commitment to put God first in everything they do, and it’s just a beautiful thing to see what God’s done with their lives.
In an exclusive interview with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the parents of four shared about their faith and the impact the successful TV show has had on their lives. The Gaines explained:
“Our family has made a commitment to put Christ first, a lifestyle our parents modeled for us very well. They showed us how to keep our marriage and family centered around God. As for “Fixer Upper,” we have been surprised at the impact of our faith through the show. We haven’t been overtly evangelical, but the rich feedback we have received on family and love all source from our faith. Jesus said the world would know His disciples by their love for one another, and we’ve glimpsed this in practice and strive for it every day.”
But despite their unparalleled success, Joanna considers her husband and her family her greatest gifts on this side of eternity. In honor of Mother’s Day, Joanna shared,
“I love that we set aside a whole day to honor and celebrate the women who raised us. My mom was an amazing mother who dedicated her life to her three daughters. She was selfless yet strong – and the most beautiful woman I know.
Mother’s Day holds a special place in my own heart because of the little ones who made me a mom. I love waking up to their little feet bringing me the handmade gifts they’ve poured their hearts into making. These are the moments that remind me motherhood is a gift, and fostering these little people’s growth is my favorite job of all.”
And in case you haven’t caught all of the little Gaines’ names, here they are: Drake (6), Ella Rose (5), Duke (3), and Emmie Kay (2).
Whether you’re a working mom, a single mom, or a woman praying to be a mom – Joanna’s message can encourage us all. The proud mother of four shared,
“Every year as Mother’s Day gets close, I get a little nostalgic about my kids and how much celebrating them in the day-to-day means to me. So today I wanted to sit down and type up a little letter to all moms, encouraging you to fully appreciate the season you’re in, and also to share some of the challenges and triumphs I’ve experienced as a mom.
As a quick side note, when I started writing this post it was all about the joy of motherhood — but when I thought about all the strong moms around me, it didn’t take me long to realize the name “Mom” isn’t easy to come by. These mothers have fought infertility, miscarriage or even the loss of a child. So whether you’re a mom right in the middle of raising your babies, or you find yourself in the throes of immense pain — this day is for all of us.”
Joanna went on to reveal that every mom (including herself) fights the enemy’s lies. Joanna encouraged,
“You are enough.I think at times all moms get this insecure feeling of “I’m not doing enough.” As a working mom, it’s the hardest when my kids grab onto me as I’m walking out the door and say, “Mommy please stay home!” I don’t want to ignore that, so I always explain to them that being with them is my favorite thing in the world. I explain that I have to work just like they have to go to school. I also let them know what I’m doing at work that day — whether it’s filming the show or going into the office — and what time I’ll be home. Taking a few seconds to let them in on this other huge part of my life has really helped them understand that Mom and Dad have a big job to do.
I have had to find creative ways to connect with the kids during the day now that I work, to let them know I am always thinking of them. I’ll send them a little note in their lunchbox or surprise them and pick them up early from school for a fun date.”
“When I was staying home these same feelings of “not doing enough” would find their way into my mind. In that season I spent a lot of time focusing on balance. Nap time was when I got things done. Whether it was folding laundry, prepping dinner, writing my blog or doing design work — that was my time. It was important I kept myself creatively fed during those years, so I never let myself be filled with feelings of discontent. I hope if you’re in this season now you’ll take the time to allow yourself a few minutes a day to do what you love, too. I found it was the thing that kept me balanced and energized.”
Joanna encourages mothers to find joy in the midst of chaos, and despite the millions of things fighting for your attention — to slow down and enjoy the little souls the Lord has entrusted you with.
“Taking the time. The young stage my kids are in is the sweetest. Chip and I are their favorite people and they still stop what they’re doing to greet us at the door when we get home. I really want to savor this season for as long as I can. When I get home from work I try and leave my phone in the car and make that intentional effort to play and connect face-to-face with them. Even when I’m tired at the end of a long day, it’s fuel to see the look in their eyes when I ask them to cook with me or go play outside. As a mom, sometimes I have to change my mindset and remind myself what’s important. I only have so many hours a day to spend with these sweet, little people. And they won’t be little forever. So I get up and keep moving.”
“The littlest things. The details have always mattered to me, especially when it comes to my kids. Whether I’m making cereal for breakfast or a big, fancy dinner, I want them to know that celebrating them in small ways in everyday life is a big deal to me. When Chip and I are traveling a lot, the first thing I want to do when I get home is cook. I want my kids to have the security that when Momma’s home, there will be a good meal. At my birthday breakfast a couple weeks ago, Chip had the kids go around the table to say what they love most about Mom, and each one of their answers was that I cook for them. I’ve been cooking since they were born, and I’ve never heard them say anything like that. The fact that they notice and feel provided for in the kitchen was a sweet moment for me.”
“Motherhood can be difficult. It’s not an instant gratification thing all the time. When your kiddos are just babies and you’re changing diapers or listening to whining constantly, it can feel overwhelming. But I want to encourage you, because one day you’ll be sitting around a table for your birthday breakfast and you’ll realize that their little hearts are thankful for you. And they do notice things like Mom’s homemade meals.”
“I hope you feel so loved and celebrated this Mother’s Day. And no matter what season you find yourself in, just know that you are doing enough, and you are loved and appreciated. Take a few moments today to look around and appreciate your children and the stage they’re in. I know for me, the thought of them growing up and moving off makes me want to burst into tears! So this Mother’s Day I plan to milk it for all it’s worth, and squeeze them just a little longer.”
Thank you, Joanna, for your powerful message to moms. May we all be encouraged to trust God’s plan for our lives this Mother’s Day — regardless of what season we find ourselves in.
While I was listening to Joanna’s powerful story, I just couldn’t help but think of Ephesians 3:14-21, which reads:
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth…
And I ask Him that, with both feet firmly planted on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine, or guess, or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around, but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
It’s clearly no surprise why Chip and Joanna Gaines have inspired countless of lives across the country. Thank you both, for reminding America what is truly admirable. And thank you, HGTV, for promoting such a wholesome TV show! Please share if you agree!