Looks Like We Made It: Let’s Go Home 1.1

Let's Go Home

Looks Like We Made It

Chapter 1.1

Sergio

Please note that while we are sharing our memoir it is a work in progress.  The title “Looks Like We Made It” is a working title.  The words in the chapters are are also a work in progress.  This is not a final copy, but rather a chance to share our story.

I laid in my cell and stared out the square window from my bed. There was nothing to really stare at but the light posts illuminating the black asphalt. I watched as the wind blew an empty Big Gulp cup across the lot, until it slipped out of sight and into the unknown darkness. I was about to become that empty Big Gulp cup, I was to be flown far away from home, to land in a place that I had never seen before, empty. I wrapped myself tighter in the blanket as if maybe this would prevent me from being blown away. I didn’t want leave home, I didn’t want to make new friends. Why didn’t I tell the judge that I didn’t want to move?  Everyone was telling me that this was going to be good for me, that I needed a change, bull crap, they just didn’t want to have to deal with me anymore. This was as much for them as it was for me.

Why didn’t I run a different direction instead of trying to run through the parking lot of the mall. The cops were onto to me and knew the car I was driving was stolen. I thought if I could ditch the car I could out run them. I turned down a road so my friend and I could jump out and run. The car slammed into a big metal trash can and as I jumped out a loud voice told me get out with your hands up, my instinct was to get as far away as possible. I was close to my uncle’s house, if I could get there I could hide out. But I would have to cross the mall’s parking lot, it was too risky to try and go around. With my heart rate raising and my lungs trying to keep up with my running I stopped and hid under a tree until I could see the cops pass by, then I could make a break for the other side. I saw the lights turn to go around the side of the building and I darted out into the lot and ran as fast as I could go, behind me I could see a set of headlights turn my way and start to speed up in my direction. I was in the middle of the parking lot with nowhere to hide. In an instant I was surrounded by red and blue sirens. Busted. Get on the ground, get on your knees and put your hands in the air. At that moment I wondered how long my sentence to juvenile detention was going to be. It was my last night I would be able to walk around in Colorado Springs. I wouldn’t get a chance to tell anyone goodbye.

I had pushed the limits of the law and a long-term sentence was coming for me. I had been slapped on the wrist several times, but that was over. I was out of chances. I thought I would be sentenced to a juvenile detention center for at least a year. But my fate was different than I expected. I didn’t get another slap on the wrist but I didn’t get locked up either. Instead I was banished. My probation officer must have been on my side or he felt bad for me. He did everything in his power to allow me to move out of the state of Colorado and never to return. My parents took this plea and arranged for me to move to California with my oldest sister Angelica.

I was detained in Zebulon Pike before I could leave to California. I called my girlfriend to tell her I was leaving and didn’t think I was ever coming back. She had news of her own. I’m pregnant, the only words I remember her saying. The phone went cold against my ear and the chill spread throughout my body. I was in a situation I had no idea how to handle. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t help her. I was struggling to take care of myself. I was being sent away and there was nothing either of us could do. After the chill I began to warm up and I calmed, instantly heading into denial. The baby wasn’t mine, she had been with other guys, was she actually pregnant? I couldn’t care for her, or the baby even if it was mine. I never thought I was hurting anyone but myself. I thought I could handle the situations I put myself in and they only affected me. I was very wrong. I was leaving behind a trail of broken hearts and broken promises.

The only light in my cell came from the window facing the parking lot and underneath my door. When my cell became slightly darker I knew it was because the guard was standing in front of my door. I heard the metal key being inserted into the lock of the door as it was being turned. It was an odd time for the guard to be letting me out. He was brief with his words and they should have sounded like freedom

“Mr Sanchez get your stuff, it’s time.” He said, but it wasn’t quite freedom, it was the start to an unknown life.   

It was so late at night I felt like he was sneaking me out, but it was so there wasn’t a big ruckus from the other youth. I was guided to the staff work station to get my personal belongings but before I was given my clothes I had to sign a form stating that all my stuff was there. One black muscle shirt, one grey hoodie sweater, one black pair of jeans, and one set of white shoes. Sign here and get dressed your mom is waiting to take you. As soon as I was ready the guard lead me to the front door where I could see my mom on the other side waiting, BUZZ as soon as I heard the door unlock I pushed it and walked through letting the door slamm behind me. My mom greeted me with a half smile and together we walked down the long hallway to the last door that had to be buzzed to open. As soon as my face touched the cool air of the night I felt an unusual chill come over me.

I could see my mom’s car, a fire engine red Ford Taurus sitting in the parking lot. I knew my dad had to be in the car by the exhaust coming out of the back tail pipes. I got in the back seat and no one said much except for my mom telling me my flight plans. You will fly to Los Angeles and your aunt will pick you up and take you to the bus station to Santa Barbara where your sister will be waiting for you. I stared out the window the rest of the drive to the airport. I was trying to grab one last image of the town, the place that I called home. The drive was normally thirty to forty minutes long but this night it seemed like it was more of a five to ten minute drive. I read the road sign exit to I-25 next right and when I heard the blinker come on I felt a pressure coming from deep inside my chest. I could hear my heart pumping every time the blinker sounded, if I wanted to stay this was my last chance to open my mouth and say something.  I needed to convince my mom that I could change my bad ways and start listening, I would have to convince her that I would stay away from my friends. But nothing would come out of my mouth. There wasn’t anything I could think of that I hadn’t said before and failed at. Mom please don’t make me go! I looked out the window trying to figure out what to say, the sign that read Airport 2 miles hit me in the face, come on Sergio think of something to say. I had to change my mom’s mind, that’s the only way this car would turn toward home. My mom was the leader of our family, she carried the weight of making sure we had food, clothes and shelter. Even if it meant that she had to work two jobs and that she went without. Her past had conditioned her to work hard and provide. She taught her kids there wasn’t any room for wishing or hoping, if you wanted to make something happen in your life you made it happen with hard work and sacrifice. There was no room for showing love by hugs and kisses she showed it by providing. But in that moment I didn’t want a strong mother, I wanted my mom to stop the car, pull me out of it and give me a hug and kiss and tell me let’s go home.

 

 

 

Sergio

Sergio

The guy in the chair, who lost his ability to walk, but found his mobility through a change in his heart. A change when his mind was awakened by the gift of Purpose.
“And your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Its darkness will be like the morning.” Job11:17

Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

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Writing Our Book Part 4

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Take Care of You in 2017

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Merry Christmas Prayers

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Writing Our Book Part 3

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We Are Meant to Change

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We Are Meant to Change

We’ve reached the time of the year when we are encouraged to take stock of life and be thankful. This isn’t difficult for me, all that is required is that I open my eyes and look around. I have a wife that respects me and shows me how much she loves me.  I still get  to see my kids open up their eyes to the start of a new day. I wake up to the shelter that my wife and I have built for our family, to protect us from the elements. I don’t go hungry and I have the things in life that help make it easier to live, like transportation, clothes, and a job.

Is this what it’s supposed to look like, Is this how it’s supposed to sound? I would have to say yes, only if all I gave you was the fast version or the upper level of my story.

I am thankful for the things that I can see surrounding me everyday. What I have mentioned is only the reflection of my thankfulness the true meaning comes from the journey, putting one foot in front of the other or in my case one push after the other of my wheels and how it’s gotten me here by remembering the obstacles that formed my foundation.

I was reminded of how I got here  after Halloween, when I visited a gentleman in a nursing home, that was recovering from a gunshot wound that took his ability to walk. Somehow by just passing through the front doors of the home, I found myself catapulted back to age 18 again being in the exact same position trapped to my bed staring at the ceiling with nothing but my thoughts, wondering what my future was going to be like, why did I live, and how was I going to live in a wheelchair?  I was scared, angry, and confused all at the same time. This was like having a black curtain surrounded around my bed preventing anything positive light from coming in. I felt as if i was coming to visit myself today.

I was visiting to lend support and to help answer any questions that there could be about being in a wheelchair. But at this moment I was the one that felt as if I needed the support.

Entering the room and seeing the bed with the metal bars on the side instantly sent a chill up my spine, these were there to prevent me from falling out of bed as if I i was an infant again. I entered the room and the man staring back at me wasn’t myself but instead someone going though what I have been though.   His expression was the same look I see in my daughter Gese’s 9 year old eyes when I come home from a business trip. He was glad to see me and he had a lot of questions. Questions that only I or someone in a wheelchair could answer. He wanted me to share the secret to how to live a fulfilled life in a chair. He wanted to know what needed to be done to achieve his life back. But he stopped me before I could say too much and he told me that he didn’t want to offend me but he didn’t want to hear about God. I was 100% ok with this, I wasn’t here to tell him about God, I was here to show him about God. In that instance I felt the light break through the black curtain in the room. Instantly I was propelled back to reality, I was not that young man any longer and I had to remember that sometimes the things we can’t change are meant to change us!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, For his compassion never fails”  Lamentations 3:22

So what am I thankful for, I’m thankful for the journey that the Lord put me on so I could learn to live a new life and so I could experience what life was meant to be.  I am thankful that I am a changed man.  

What are you thankful for ?

Sergio

Sergio

The guy in the chair, who lost his ability to walk, but found his mobility through a change in his heart. A change when his mind was awakened by the gift of Purpose.
“And your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Its darkness will be like the morning.” Job11:17

Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

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Writing Our Book Part 4

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Take Care of You in 2017

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Merry Christmas Prayers

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Ain’t Too Proud To Beg

Sergio

Sergio

The guy in the chair, who lost his ability to walk, but found his mobility through a change in his heart. A change when his mind was awakened by the gift of Purpose.
“And your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Its darkness will be like the morning.” Job11:17

Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

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Writing Hurts

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Writing Our Book Part 4

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Take Care of You in 2017

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Merry Christmas Prayers

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Writing Our Book Part 3

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We Are Meant to Change

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Writing Our Book

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The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

 

Labor Day weekend of 2016 will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. This Labor Day weekend I didn’t find myself getting up early to roll around the yard, picking up foreign objects that had blown in or pears that had fallen from the tree. I didn’t have a plastic bag crammed between my legs to hold the unwanted treasures that I usually found. No yard work this weekend, we had different plans. Instead doing yard beautification projects we decided to make a road trip.

 

This trip wasn’t one of those out of the blue let’s just go and do something moments that we’re famous for. The planning started about 3 months ago with a surprise phone call that had me on the receiving end.

 

“Hello, Sergio do you know who this is?”

 

Instantly I knew and without even thinking twice I responded, “Yes, Tina how are you? I’ve been looking for you.”

 

“So have I mijo I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I didn’t know if I was ever going to hear your voice again. “

 

Tina, Allen’s mom was the voice on the other end of the call.  I instantly thought of Allen and our friendship from 24 years ago.

 

I still see him in my thoughts, smiling at me and giving me the look that tells me everything’s going to be alright bro I’m in a good place and don’t worry about the past. This was the kind of guy he was, the type that would give you the shirt off of his back and not expect anything in return. I wanted so badly to put in a CD of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and jam out with him, crack jokes about whatever came to our minds.  Back then, there weren’t many people in the world that I felt that I could be myself around, he was one of the few. Suddenly I had this aching desire to hang out like we did back in the day.

 

“Wow how did you find me, how did you get my phone number?”

 

Tina started to giggle, “I was talking with my brother about wanting to find you and your family and he just looked at me and said Google him, and I found you. I got to see you and your family on your website, you have a beautiful family mijo. I’m so happy to see that you are doing good, I’m so proud of you, it looks like you’re in a good place.”

 

“Yes, God has been good to me he has filled my life with many unbelievable gifts. I am no longer lost in regret, guilt, and sadness of the past.” As soon as these words came out of my mouth I felt like I fell into my memories, remembering how hard it’s been to make sense of why my life was spared and why my friend Allen’s was not.

 

I get the guilty feeling inside again, because the night that I was shot I believe that if had I kept my mouth shut and turned away, things would have been different not only for me but for Allen and his family. It seems unfair that I lived because even though I will never walk again I can still see my family. Allen would never make it back home safe to his.

 

I imagine what his last thought was. Was he thinking of his mom and dad worrying about where he was and the dangerous position he found himself? Or how to get out of the way of the bullets zipping past him? Did he see me get shot and was he scared?

 

Instantly Tina’s voice brings me back to reality as she tells me “Mijo I’m very proud of you.”

 

I tell her that I now have a purpose, I was saved to be able to share the tragic events that happened in my life so that others could witness God’s great works and how He changes lives. This is my purpose and my everyday drive.

 

“Sergio I miss you I want you to come and visit me Mijo I want you to bring your family so I can meet them and they can meet my son Jonathan.”

 

Instead of Labor Day weekend being about a barbecue with friends and family or a home improvement project it became a reunion of reconnecting with a missing part of my life. Until I received  that phone call, I had no clue of the gap that I had in my heart until I heard Tina’s voice say” Mijo I’ve been looking for you ”.

 

It had been a long time since I revisited the night I was shot and how it affected so many lives. It’s been a long time since I said Allen’s name without it being part of one of my public talks. The feeling of remorse still hits me right in the gut, with the thought of Allen not being here and the pain that I created that night because I couldn’t just walk way. All I can think about is why Tina would want me anywhere close to her or her family. I’m the reason Allen is not here, if I just would have never opened my mouth.

 

I will always have physical scars that the world can see but the scars that can not be seen are harder to heal from.  This weekend will become a renewing of the heart project.

 

As Norah, Ashley, and I start the 8 hour drive to Tina’s home, I start to feel the anxiety filling my body.  All I can think about is how does Tina look now?  I wonder what Leo thinks of me making the trip to go visit he and his family?  What does their youngest son Jonathan think of the gu in the wheelchair visiting with his family?  Even though I’m anxious I’m still really excited

 

I feel like I should roll down the window and scream Tina here we come.

 

The long drive will be good for me it’ll help me get my thoughts together. We don’t get far out of Yuma before I feel a smile build on my face and I start thinking that God’s hands wrote this chapter of my life, he’s orchestrating all of this, and Allen’s at his side smiling. He’s telling us it is time for the healing to start. There is nothing more powerful than seeing God’s awesome beauty is on display outside of our windows as we drive through the mountains. Hearing the sound of the running water flowing alongside the road and smelling the air filled with the scent of fresh pine coming from the Douglas fir, Cottonwoods, and the Aspen trees. Being so high up in the Rocky mountains makes me feel as if I could roll down the window and touch the clouds.

 

After 8 hours of driving through God’s country we pulled into Tina’s driveway and I instantly realized that she looks the exact same as I remembered her.  She still has the same short hair dark hair just a little lighter, and her smile is as bright as ever. I could tell she was very excited to see us, it’s been a long time since we were together; I was a kid back then trying to figure out life and what the future was going to bring. The anxious feeling I had all the way there didn’t take long to pass once Tina came around to where I was sitting. I had to move the steering wheel up so I could turn my legs to hug her. I could feel Allen’s presence because I felt just as comfortable being with his mom as I did with him. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was an amazing feeling, I never thought this day would really come. Sitting across the couch and going through old scrapbooks, news paper clippings and reading poems of Allen was something I didn’t realize I needed. It felt like therapy for all of us, it’s good to talk about the past, it helps lighten the load for the journey in front of us.

 

While all of this was happening I glanced over to my wife and started to think, our lives were not supposed to turn out the way they had. The odds were always against us. I wanted Tina and Leo to see that I didn’t waste my second chance and that I was trying to do the right thing as a husband and a father. I try to be a positive influence to anyone that I come in contact with, I try to keep Allen’s memory strong in my life.

 

My past has taught me not to complain and to work hard, I don’t blame anyone for my failures, instead I work to learn from my mistakes. I relinquish all the control to God knowing that through Him I will be strengthened.

 

In going through memories of Allen we came across an essay he had written in school. It was titled The Golden Rule.  Tina and Leo taught their son to live by Golden Rule, and he kept true to that saying while he was my friend.

 “Do Unto Others As You Want Them To Do To You”

 

I’m going to make a commitment to live my life by the same rule and I encourage everyone to do the same.  To Keep Rolling On!!!
Thank you Leo, Tina, and Jonathan for a wonderful experience with my family!

 

 

Sergio

Sergio

The guy in the chair, who lost his ability to walk, but found his mobility through a change in his heart. A change when his mind was awakened by the gift of Purpose.
“And your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Its darkness will be like the morning.” Job11:17

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

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Back to School: My Extra Cup of Coffee

This morning as I began my day with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. I was overcome with a feeling of hope and possibility of what the day would bring to me and my family. It’s hard to explain, It’s a sensation that overcomes my body I feel at peace, all my worries are taken away at this moment and my thoughts are clear and focused. This is the time that I am able to see why I do what I do as a father and a husband for my family.

 

This is not a new thing for me, I actively seek to see things that remind me of my journey. I want to see the path I have traveled to make a new life. I want to be reminded of how wonderful it is to be alive. Things as simple as being able to sit on the deck, the one I that I built with my own hands, and have a cup of coffee while I watch the sun come up or looking cross my dining room table at all the back to school supplies that we had to buy because school is about to start. I get excited for the kids, they get a fresh new start at making new memories and adventures that could last forever. This is when I take a deep breath and say a prayer to the Lord. I thank Him for the opportunity that he has gifted me with. I tell him how honored and grateful I am to have Him believe that I could handle the responsibility of taking care of my family, for always providing for us and for having patience with me even when I don’t listen to his instructions. I end my prayer telling the Lord that I appreciate having another day to witness his awesome power.

 

I do this because I never want to forget the struggles of growing up. I want to shield my kids from ever having to feel the pain of not having enough money for new shoes, clothes, and how it made me feel.  Doubt, shame, and regret are not feelings that a young boy or girl should have when starting a new year at school.

 

I wanted to be like the other kids, I wanted to have new things, I wanted to feel like I belonged.

 

The disappointment and agony that I felt sent me down a path that I wish I can go back today and tell the Sergio,back then, not to do it because the price would be too high to pay later.

 

I believed how could anything good could come from a person like me. I was the kid that had a permanent desk in the principal’s office because I was a disruption. I was the kid that the teachers talked about ending up in prison or dead and that I had no future. I was the kid that you would double check that your purse was safe or that your car keys were put away because they could disappear. I was the kid that you would see in the back of a cop car acting like this was an ok thing being handcuffed and taken to juvie. I was the kid that started putting poison in his body so he would feel better about who he saw in the mirror.

 

Growing up I can’t say that as a young boy or man I ever let my mind just wander in the world of possibility, let alone hope. My resistance came from fear of being disappointed at not being able to achieve any of my dreams, goals. I learned at this age that I was different than everyone else and that my future was already set for me. What I had done was let my fears be greater than my dreams or goals.

 

Amazingly this is when the Lord gave me an unusual blessing. It seemed to to come from out of the blue. I was laying in a bed fighting for my life from multiple gunshot wounds believing this was the end and that my life was going to finish the way it had been predicted my whole life, as a waste. I wanted more from my life I just didn’t know how to change my world and thought it was too late. This is when my blessing was given to me. In the darkest moment of my life He stepped in and made His presence know to me by removing the fear of death and inserting the possibility of life. Even though I would never walk again I felt hope. He taken my doubt, my regret that I had lived with and replaced it with hope and opportunity.  I had tried to live my life my way and had made a mess of it, but now with God’s presence in my heart I could see the right way is through him. As I look back at the process that opened my eyes to his way I still feel the pain and hurt of the past. It has been hard to get to the place I am today, but I am filled with hope and joy because it’s a new day and the possibilities are endless for us all.

 

As I drink my morning cup of coffee today and see my kids school supplies and backpacks sitting on my dinning room table. I get a smile, I wasn’t supposed to be here to see this. I can’t waste any time, I need to be involved in their lives, this is my mission.

 

I need to help guide my children through the maze of doubt and regret by sharing my past mistakes so they can see that I wasn’t perfect, not even close to it, and I don’t expect them to be. Maybe I can help keep them from losing their way by telling them that they matter and that they have worth. I can show them that with hard work and perseverance their goals and dreams can be obtained. I can work hard at providing for them so they never have to worry about being hungry or not have a new pair of shoes to start the new year.

 

I want them to know that I will always be here for them, that even when they stumble and fall. I will be here. I want them to know the source of my strength comes from the Lord. I want to help guide them to God so they can see that God doesn’t give us what we can’t handle he helps us handle what we are given.

 

I have to have an extra cup of coffee so I can have more time to imagine what great things the Lord has in store for my children and my family.

 

Today I’d like to encourage you to pick up an extra cup of coffee and say a prayer for all of our children starting a new year at school, that they may be safe, that their minds be opened to the world of learning, and that their goals and dreams shine as bright as the sun.

 

Remember To Keep Rolling On.

 

 

Sergio

Sergio

The guy in the chair, who lost his ability to walk, but found his mobility through a change in his heart. A change when his mind was awakened by the gift of Purpose.
“And your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Its darkness will be like the morning.” Job11:17

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

We share our stories not so you know what we've been through, but so you're not afraid to share your own. Tell us, what's your story?

Posted by The Wheels of Grace on Monday, February 22, 2016

Looks Like We Made It: Looking For Home 1.2

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Writing Hurts

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Writing Our Book Part 4

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Take Care of You in 2017

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Merry Christmas Prayers

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Writing Our Book Part 3

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Hands That Are Thankful

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We Are Meant to Change

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Writing Our Book

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Ain’t Too Proud To Beg

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