What Is It About This Woman?

Joanna Gaines is a Celebrity who Isn't Reading Hollywood's Script

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By Carrie Gress

Two years ago, we added on to our home. As the framing went up, my 7-year-old daughter waltzed in and said, "You should really put some french doors over there." And she was right. The plans actually did call for french doors "over there." But how did she know about french doors? I scoured my brain, only to realize that the hours of watching Chip and Jo on HGTV's Fixer Upper had made a clear impression.

I don't watch much TV and admittedly, I felt a bit lost after my one go-to show ended. What would I do without Downton Abbey? I found my replacement in Fixer Upper.

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After watching a few episodes, I was struck by this couple. What made them different? While Chip is the show's clown, I think the real difference is Joanna. She isn't at all the kind of woman we are used to seeing in entertainment or just about anywhere in the public square. She is confident and capable, but beyond that, there were some real differences:

She has four kids

She loves being a mother

She has made career sacrifices to be with her kids (closing down her store to be with them as toddlers)

She wanted more kids (the fifth is on the way)

She isn't an extrovert

She loves her husband and doesn't dominate or belittle him on camera

She isn't using her fame to promote a political agenda or run for public office

She is a Christian with the conviction that God is using her for his plan and purpose

Contrast this with most every other women in the public square and the differences become even more striking. This is not a woman from central-casting fitting into a role - this is a real woman, that other real women every where wish they had as a friend. So much so, that her popularity has soared, surpassing even Oprah Winfrey.

 Sign available at Magnolia Market, 1 Cor 13:4-7

Sign available at Magnolia Market, 1 Cor 13:4-7

What sets Joanna apart likely has much to do with her living faith. It can be seen in subtle ways on the show and she has also spoken of it publicly in this video made for a Palm Sunday service at Baylor University. In it, she talks about her own journey of faith and the ways God has directed her steps throughout her life, offering her hope even when she thought her dreams were coming to an end because of the sacrifices she made for her children.

Joanna's faith also comes through in the products they sell at Magnolia Market. It is displayed starkly in signs that feature passages from scripture, but also in the simple beauty of her products made with real materials, that can lift the mind and soul.

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In ten years, the Jimmy-Don signs will likely look dated, and the shine of shiplap will have faded, but in the end, Joanna is doing what has animated good mothers for centuries - made homes beautiful and nurturing spaces so children can grow up healthy, happy, and set apart for Christ.

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Yes, Chip and Jo have been wildly successful, creating something of an empire. It is clear, however, that between cancelling the show at the height of its popularity and opening themselves up to having another baby, they are putting family (and hopefully their faith) first.

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Fixer Upper's popularity is the fruit of a happy, healthy, God-fearing family, with a mature woman at its heart. Hopefully HGTV and other channels will figure out how powerful this combination is and will produce more like it.

 Chip and Joanna, with her little sister and her husband, when they announced that baby #5 is on the way.

Chip and Joanna, with her little sister and her husband, when they announced that baby #5 is on the way.

A Real Conversation with my 3-year-old Son

Son: Mom, I am gonna be a builder when I grow up.
Me: That is great.
Son: I'm gonna build you a house.
Me: That is so wonderful. I will really love that.
Son: Will you be my Jo?
Me: Your "joe?"
Son: Chip always has Jo.
Me: (Smiling big) Yes, I will be your Jo.

All photos from HGTV and Magnolia Market.

Carrie Gress