It was a place I never dreamed that I would actually be able to see for myself. You see people, places and things on TV, social media, and in magazines but it's almost like they aren't real until you see for yourself that they are. I was trying to explain this to my husband after I returned from Magnolia in Waco, Texas this month. It was a surreal experience for me.
I thought that I was going to be able to escape the snow being in Texas, but I was wrong. According to the locals, it had been 15 years since they last had a snowfall like the one they had while I was there. I had to laugh. Rare things happen to me far too often! It did, however, make for some unique photos at Magnolia!
Chip and Joanna Gaines helped to bring a positive light on Waco through their "Fixer Upper" show on HGTV. After speaking with many of the locals and employees, the general consensus is that they are glad that they did. Waco averages about 33,000 visitors a week and I can see why.
It was quaint. Peaceful. It was so pleasant to just be still in. The people there were happy. It was kind of like being at Disney World (minus the screaming kids around you). People simply wanted to be there.
I met a woman that lived in the Waco area who shared that her kids used to climb the stairs of the silos that Chip and Jo made famous. I love seeing things brought back to life. It's why we bought the house that we did and are still chiseling away at it.
Chip and Joanna now have the area built up around the silos with the Magnolia Market, a little bakery called, "Silos Baking Co., and the Magnolia Press Coffee Co. which had only opened a couple months prior to us being there. There are food trucks, gardens, an open area to play and just sit. Everywhere you looked was a photographers dream.
Not too far from that area was the Magnolia Table, which we went to twice and experienced both their inside dining and Take Away dining. Dave Ulman, a very happy employee at the restaurant, informed us that a hotel is also coming. Their network, which will be 100% family friendly, will be launched this year as well. Needless to say, Chip and Jo are not done restoring their home town. I think they are just getting started. ;)
Also in Waco was Joanna's "Little Shop on Bosque." I have to say I had a moment there as I just stood inside that tiny building and looked around. I thought, "THIS was where Joanna started; where not long after opening it she made the hard decision to close it."
I remember tears just streaming down my face when I read that part out of their book, The Magnolia Story because I so resonated with what she went through (and it must be noted that tears do not fall often from these eyes)! That was me with my photography business. It's like she was writing my story:
"I loved that shop. I loved being there every day. Yet once I was pregnant with Ella, I heard a voice...it was saying, Jo, It's time to stay home with your babies.
I didn't really want to hear that. In fact, I argued with the voice...'No, I can't,' I said. 'I'm finally getting this! It's working!'
What I'm trying to say is that I truly love everything about that shop.
...it was like our first baby.
I will remember 'til the day I die the moment I stood on the front steps and locked that shop door for the last time as tears rolled down my face.
Even as I stood on those steps, trying to say goodbye, I kept asking God, 'are you sure this is the right move? If it is, why does it seem so painful and hard?'
That's when I heard that gentle whisper, Joanna if you trust me with your dreams, I'll take them further and then you could have ever imagined.
It is no easy thing to trust in God, to walk away from a career, to give it all up not knowing if you can ever get it back or even come close. But I did it. I headed his voice, and somehow I found peace about it."
-Excerpt from The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino
You will also see in the images some of the nine other women I was with on this trip. The main reason for our trip was to attend a Christian women's conference called, the IF Gathering in Dallas. Magnolia was just a big bonus. I intentionally photographed a couple of the women because, they too had their own businesses and I thought they might want some updated photos of themselves for marketing purposes. :)
I was away from my boys and man for six days and pumping by hand every few hours so that my seven month old would be able to continue nursing when I returned. It was not easy leaving them, but I knew that I needed this trip as a follower of Jesus, a wife, mother and friend.
We were an eclectic group of women who became very good friends by the end of this. I will forever cherish this time and the opportunity that I never thought I would have. I am incredibly grateful to God for orchestrating it. He is the keeper of my heart, He knew one of my deepest desires and was faithful to carry it out.
**Side note: No company or person paid me to go to Magnolia, to take photos or share any of this info. I just love seeing how God is using Chip and Joanna Gaines and am happy to support their mission in being the light of Jesus through the gifts and passions that God has given them.