Last summer, Kate and I started casually tossing around the idea of trying to book a stay at Chip and Joanna's Magnolia House, a late-1800s house in little known McGregor, Texas, that Joanna fell in love after showing it to another couple on their show. When this couple did not purchase it, an idea started brewing in her to restore this uniquely designed house to its original beauty and rent it out for others to enjoy. The fixer upper journey of the Magnolia House aired at Christmas time in 2015, and officially opened to guests later on in 2016. I remember watching this episode with Beau and thinking how dreamy it would be to see it up close, but I never would have guessed that a little over a year later, we'd walk through its doors, cook dinner in its kitchen, drink wine on its porch, and etch our own stories into its hundred-year pine floors. Chalk it up to a little part our parents, who kept our kids so we could do this, a little part Kate and her ambitious desire to go after experiences that inspire us and change us, a little part husbands who love their wives and said yes to sacrificing time and resources to make this happen, and a little part God's handiwork in a friendship with Kate that has strengthened and inspired and called us to connect in ways that reach us out of what is expected. Oh and perhaps a little bit of luck that we were one of thousands refreshing our computer screen that day in August who happened to get in and reserve a spot for the following March. Whatever it was that led us through that wrought iron gate and into that dream of a home in little McGregor, Texas, we were thankful and ready to savor every piece of it until Rob and Marianne kicked us out!
I've been avoiding this post for a week now because it seemed too big to put into words just how special this stay was for us. A little bit undeserving and overwhelmingly thankful were the feelings that surfaced as we speechlessly walked through this house and admired the details Joanna had so carefully put together to bless the lives that would be touched here. From the natural light that seeped through every corner, to the scratches in the floor and the imperfections on the shiplap, it was easy to see this house breathed years of stories and the hard work of many. We were greeted with a cake plate full of fresh pastries from the Silos, fresh fruit and orange juice waiting for us in the fridge, beds with the dreamiest bedding I had ever laid eyes on, and concrete counter tops just waiting to be cooked on. It didn't take long for Kate and I to decide we would not be leaving until it was time to check out!
Our first night was relaxed and unforgettable. We became locals for a few days in McGregor, throwing together the makings for an impromptu Italian feast at the local grocery store, making due with a sparse selection of fresh bread, herbs, and wine, which made it all the more fun. We put on some music, poured some wine, chopped tomatoes and onions for bruschetta and filled the house with the smells of garlic and olive oil for a simple marinara sauce. Then we gathered around Clint Harp's farmhouse table, passed plates and prayed thanks, and settled in for hours of conversation, both deep and light-hearted thanks to Beau's version of deep. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown, too? :)
Thanks for always keeping it real, babe.
After passing around the rest of our cupcakes from Silos Baking Co., it was Nate's idea to take a late night stroll around the block. I loved this, not only because we got to see this beautiful place lit up in all its glory at night, but because it looked so uniquely out of place in this sleepy little town. The volunteer fire department was right across the street, a dog barked at us from inside a chain linked fence just a few houses down, and it seemed the rest of the community was completely asleep as our foreign steps hit the pavement of the street that was being re-asphalted earlier that day. And something about all this only added to the magic of this place - a treasure restored and given new life in the most unexpected of places. Now, hundreds of people drive the extra 17 miles to catch a glimpse of her, take a selfie on the sidewalk, and go eat a cupcake and visit an antique store down the street. It was unreal to see the impact of such a thing. Chip and Joanna's impact was felt for sure, but God's loving presence came out of the woodwork here, and would be continued to be seen through the faces of others who humbly serve so well in this place. More on that tomorrow...