Joanna Gaines Challenges Herself to ‘Savor What She’s Sown’ as Son, Drake, Heads Off to College

As she waits for fall, Fixer Upper co-star Joanna Gaines, pens mixed feelings of gratitude, excitement, and loss in a recent Magnolia blog post. She and her husband and co-star, Chip, will send their oldest son, Drake, off to college this fall.

Beautifully transparent, Joanna Gaines opens up.

Gaines said, “I’m ready to watch autumn sweep up summer’s display and to see the wisdom in what fades. I’m drawn to this measure of life: from what was to what is now.” 

The successful designer and business owner loves the hard work that goes into a big reveal. It takes consistent, intentional effort to design a plan, demo a house, reconstruct rooms, correct mistakes, and add a splash of farmhouse décor. Gaines connected this toil with the changing of seasons. “The story of fall is one of strength sown steadily, and it’s our story too,” explained Gaines.

“It’s the harvesting part I haven’t always been great at, the savoring of what we’ve sown.”

“Soon, our oldest son, Drake, will be leaving home for college. In the grand scheme of heartbreaking things, this one comes with a lot of gratitude and excitement.” said Gaines. “But still, my first child is moving away, and our family dynamic will change because of it, and that can feel like a loss of its own. I catch glimpses now of what that life will look like and wonder if—or how many times—that might bring me to the floor.”

Chip, Joanna, and their five children (Drake, 18, Ella Rose, 15, Duke, 14, Emmie Kay, 12, and Crew, 4) live in a farmhouse on 40 acres of land in Waco, Texas. The transparent couple and family have often shared how they “have experienced a little bit of all of it. Losing a loved one. Shifts in friendships. Bills we couldn’t pay. Moments where our hearts were broken. Times when all hope felt lost and circumstances were out of our control. When all I could think to do was lay facedown on the floor in surrender.”

But as fall approaches, Gaines is challenging herself, albeit imperfectly, to savor what she’s sown.

“What we learn is that life is not about holding out only for the days of brightest possibility. It’s not only about finding ourselves a crisp new page. Sometimes, in order to move forward, we have to surrender ourselves to the promise of growth that follows the fall. Easier said than done, yes—one thousand times yes.”

My son, like Drake Gaines, is headed off to college.

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I, too, had my share of mixed feelings as my husband and I moved our first son into his dorm this month. Taking him to college seemed similar to when we took him to kindergarten. (Wasn’t that just a couple of years ago?) Thankfully, his school of choice is just over an hour away. But the changes have already set in. He no longer bursts in the door each day exclaiming, “What’s poppin’, party people?!?” I no longer remind him to take out the recycling. His chair sits empty at the dinner table.

But we FaceTime, and for that I’m thankful. In fact, we were FaceTiming the night before classes began when he shared, “You know, I think I need to change my major.” Being the thoughtful mom that I am, I offered the idea of attending his first day of classes before he decided.


Janna Firestone
Janna lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two teenage boys. You’ll often find her hiking, paddleboarding, or enjoying a good board game indoors. She's an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan, and an even bigger fan of coffee, dry shampoo, and authentic conversations.

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