The Garcia crew has BIG NEWS.  We’re getting our Chip and Joanna Gaines on!  We’ve formally accepted an offer on our current [dream] home and we’ve submitted an offer on our own little Fixer Upper! Stop laughing! Yes, we’re going to fix up our own house! Chill, people. It’s actually in decent condition and we’ll probably just need some paint, grout, and to knock a wall down. But still, I was definitely channeling my inner Chip when my husband gave me free reign to bid on the house without him even seeing it *covers eyes*. It’s going to be quite the new journey, but we’re excited for the change.

Although I’m excited to get going, this has been a hard and humbling season for us.  Two years ago we found the home we’re living in currently. It was my “dream” home. I walked in the front door and told J, “This is it!” before even making it passed the living room.  The character in this home far surpassed what I thought we’d be able to afford.  We left and put an offer on the house that evening. We were so excited that we didn’t even realize the master bedroom didn’t have a closet *forehead smack*. They accepted and the next day our house was under contract too.  God orchestrated everything perfectly – including closing on our old house and our new house within a day of each other.  Isn’t it funny how God always knows exactly what we need? And his timing is ALWAYS perfect.

[our home that we are currently selling – when we first bought it 2 years ago]

His timing was perfect in more ways than one. He also moved us into our current home, just minutes away from my family at the exact time that I (we) needed them the most.  Two days after moving into our dream house, when all of the boxes were still packed, our fridge wasn’t yet stocked, and we had hardly any furniture, I was admitted into the hospital for a blood transfusion/anemia and released with a diagnosis of colon cancer.  Talk about a real whirlwind, huh?  In the months that followed, I started to wrap my mind around our situation and get serious about treatment. I traveled all over to meet doctors. AG and I lived in NJ for a few months seeing doctors at UPenn and we traveled to and from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Slowly we started to get into a groove with treatment and life. As we decorated, began doing work on our house, and making it ours, it became my safe haven.

[Sleeping in the airport before her first flight to NJ]

  [my first appointment at Penn]

  [trekking through Home Depot to start on our house]


Then another curve ball – I lost my job.  My doctors wouldn’t clear me to go back to work (and most days I was too exhausted or sick to anyway), so my job of 5 years let me go. That took $40,000 out of our pockets for the year and hit our already overextended bank account hard. But I didn’t care. I was holding on to this home. This home was MY home, my dream home. My healing home. I deserve it! Right? My husband seemed to think so, so he gave in. He worked 7 days/week, 12+ hour days, overtime, details, etc. so I could stay in the home where I felt my safest. In a world where we were struggling financially, relationally, and with my health, the thought of giving up one more thing seemed too much to bare. We stayed so much longer than we ever should have. Luckily, with my husband killing himself working and my disability checks, we got by.  But were we really living? Was my husband really living? Probably not, but I didn’t care.

When we first moved here our marriage was failing and my life felt suffocating. I was overwhelmed at a 50+ hour/week job, new motherhood, and feeling sick. My husband and I were like ships passing in the night. Ships manned by Pirates and the Royal Army who didn’t usually see each other, but if we did, you better believe a full blown battle ensued. The busyness and severity of cancer put our marriage issues on the back burner and we formed a united front to help each other through it. But when it was done, we still wanted more for ourselves. So J and I started a marriage group at church a few months ago. Little did we know, God was preparing us through that group for such a time as this. I truly believe that working on our marriage was the last piece of the puzzle, the last thing we needed to struggle through before we could be released from this home and truly leave our old life in the past.

So when I say this was my healing home, I don’t just mean my body healed from cancer here. This was my healing house in more ways than just one. I still get choked up thinking about it. (What? NO! Of course I’m not crying right now while I’m writing this.) It was through this journey and in this home that I rekindled my relationship with God and I began to find the beauty in being a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. I truly and honestly, for the first time in my life, am so thankful for every little thing that I have.  Never did I think a marriage could be as strong as ours is now, as fun, as loving. We’re still far from perfect, but we’re lovingly getting through those murky waters together, holding hands, and mostly laughing through it. The safety I felt in this home, isn’t important any more. It’s just a house. Just walls, a roof, and a floor. It doesn’t make me stronger, faster, smarter, or healthy. My home, my safety, my healing place now – Is anywhere that my husband and I are going together.

So how did cancer convince my husband to get our Fixer Upper on? It brought us through all of the trials and tribulations necessary to prioritize our marriage, to prioritize each other.  Where before we found satisfaction in material things, now we find satisfaction in our relationship with God and with each other. We now know that we can tackle ANYTHING if we’re doing it together. So little fixer upper, we’re coming for you.


** For those of you who haven’t read The Magnolia Story, or heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines, you’re missing out. I’ve included a few of my favorite quotes from the couple that have been influential in my life and in our marriage.  These particular quotes are relevant to my life currently, but the Gaines have so much more to say than just what I’ve included. You don’t have to want to DIY your life to learn from the beautiful testimony this couple shares. You can find Joanna’s blog here

  • “Whether you are in an eight-hundred-square-foot home or living in a dream house on a lake, contentment is found on the way.” 
  • “Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning—and he will be there until . . . The End.”
  • “It was such a blessing to find myself thriving in the middle of the pain. Unless you find a way to do that, there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there–wherever “there” is for you–you’ll be happy. But that’s just not life. If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in beauty, either.”
  • “I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”
  • “It’s up to us to choose contentment and thankfulness now—and to stop imagining that we have to have everything perfect before we’ll be happy.”



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3 thoughts on “How cancer convinced my husband to get his Fixer Upper on.”

  1. Bree, your writing is beautiful, touching the heart. Thank you for sharing, you are such a courageous young lady and proud that you are part of our family. God Bless Partyof3 !

  2. My Bree. I cried through this whole post. Remembering and feeling everything from that time. Thank you, thank you, and I am ever grateful that I have my sweet daughter and her family to share LIFE and LOVE with. THANK YOU.

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