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

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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

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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

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Growing up with a Dad in a Wheelchair

Sometimes people ask “What was it like to grow up with a dad in a wheelchair.”

 

I get caught off guard and I normally answer with “Uhh normal?”

 

I answer in a question because I’m confused by the question.  I don’t know if people expect me to say that it was hard.  If they think I will say that I hated growing up with a dad in a wheelchair, that somehow it made my life difficult.  I don’t know how to respond to the question because to me it feels absurd. My childhood was normal. I didn’t have to do without, I didn’t have to accommodate for the wheelchair, it wasn’t a hinder in my life. I was a happy kid with a normal childhood, nothing traumatic happened to me.  I can’t say much for growing up with a dad in a wheelchair but I can say a lot about growing up with a happy-go-lucky, charismatic, always have a smile on his face, embarrassing, always makes-friends-with-strangers dad.

That I know all about.

 

My dad is a happy guy.  He thrives off of being in public and making conversation with anyone who will listen.  He goes out of his way to talk to strangers and he makes sure they leave with a smile on their face. To me this was absolutely terrible.  I am an introvert and strangers are people I have to make small talk to, I hate small talk.  I go out of my way to avoid talking to people while my dad goes out of his way to talk to people.  I think my dad loves small talk because he knows it can lead to something more.  Or he knows that saying hello and giving a big smile will make someone’s day.  And although that is true, it went against who I was as a person.  I was a shy kid, I didn’t smile at strangers and it took a lot to get me to open up to new people.  I was extremely shy with a dad who had a big personality.  I wanted to hide in a corner while he wanted to shine.  

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Growing up I wanted my dad to stop talking to everyone.  I wanted to go into a grocery store, get what we needed and get out.  No, not my dad.  He needed his presence known.  He said hello to everyone he came across.  He called people Chief, “Hey Chief how’s it going?”  When Chief walked away I would ask if he knew them, My dad would say “Yeah that’s Chief.”  And he would smile a big grin.  Did he really know Chief’s real name?  I’ll never know.

 

“Dad can you please stop talking to strangers?”

 

That only lead him to talking to more people.

 

My dad had a way of getting people to laugh and joke with him.  He is one of the most charismatic people I know.  I always stood next to him a watched and as the conversations unfolded I would simply nod waiting for it to end.  Sometimes he would try and bring me into the conversation and I would start to get hot and red and force myself to half smile.  Didn’t my dad know that talking to people made me uncomfortable?  

 

My dad did everything with a smile on his face and when it was just me and him I liked to joke around and have fun too.  It was only when strangers were around that I clammed up.  As a little girl when he needed something out of reach I knew it was my job to get it for him.  He would point to the high shelves in the grocery story

 

“Ash can you get that box of cereal down?”  

 

First I would step on his feet that sat on the foot rest, then I would climb onto his lap, and get down what he needed. I held onto his shoulders as I stepped down from his wheelchair.  

 

Sometimes if I couldn’t reach from standing on his lap we would have to get innovative.  

 

“Ash go get a broom, hurry I’ll count to ten and wait here.”

 

I would run down the the broom aisle, grab a broom, and head back to the aisle where my dad was waiting. He would always finish counting to ten when I arrived no matter how long it took me to get back to him.   My dad would use the broom to slowly move the box of cereal, inching it along until I started to fall off the shelf.  He would open up his arms and catch the box.  I would take the broom back where it belonged and by the time I came back to my dad he was talking to a stranger. My dad and said stranger would be laughing and talking.

 

“Come on Dad we need to get milk.”  

 

That was my hint to tell him that we couldn’t waste all day talking to people.  

 

Now, at times I try and take lessons from my dad and my childhood, I try and say hello to strangers to remind myself that even though it is out of my comfort zone that it’s a nice to do so.  If strangers spark up a conversation with me I think “What would Sergio do?”  And in that moment I soften up, let down my guard and remember that my dad never turned down a conversation.  I know that my dad genuinely enjoys talking to people and sometimes it annoys me because it makes tasks like going to the grocery store take more time but in those extra moments are little bits of joy.  

 

I might never be the happy-go-lucky, charismatic, always have a smile on her face, makes-friends-with-strangers kind of a woman but I do know that if I try to be that person I have the best role model to follow.

Keep Rolling On!

 

A photo posted by @thewheelsofgrace on

Ashley

Ashley

Creator and Editor

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

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Good Looking Mexican in a Wheelchair

 

Hello,

My name is Sergio Sanchez; I’m the Good Looking Mexican in a Wheelchair, that has a smile on his face. That is usually how I introduce myself when I meet new people.  I want to give my readers a picture of how I get through a day living in a wheelchair, a snapshot of me being a father while still maintaining a normal life, and staying sane.

Being in a wheelchair forces me to see the world in a different way. Everyday activities can become challenges.

Let me give you an example, something as simple as going to the grocery store could turn out to be a disaster. If there is no handicapped parking available I’m forced to park in a normal space. This is ok until another car parks on my driver’s side and then there’s no room between the two cars for me to get my wheelchair through. How do I get into my car so I can drive away like everybody else?  This is when It hits me I’m different, handicapped is the first thing that pops into my head. So just going to the grocery store takes some thought for a guy in a wheelchair. I have to think things through from start to finish before I make any move. I turn into the robot character from the movie The Terminator, I scan my surroundings, identifying any danger, and try to figure out how to deal with it, without drawing too much attention to myself. Because if it takes too long others will see and try to help and before I know it I have a crowd around me trying to help. Well that word pops back up Handicapped. I know people mean well and want to help, but most of the time they get in my way.

I’ve learned that I need to travel as light as possible; it easier for me to get around faster, this means no wheelchair breaks, no backpack, no arm rests, and no handles on my wheelchair. I could say that I have mastered the art of breaking down my chair and putting it into my car in less than 3 minutes. This is important because this is the amount of time it takes for someone to get out of a car and around to my side and not have to stand there waiting for me to put my wheelchair together. Thinking things through this way was helped me feel more normal and not so handicapped when I’m in public.

As a father I see that my kids are always watching me, so I use these times as a teaching moment for them to see that if they put their minds to it they can do anything  no matter the situation. I don’t want them to see that I use the excuses of not being able to walk to hold me back.  Yoda said it best “Do or Do Not There Is No Try”

 

As a kid I wish I would have lived my life with this attitude. I would not have had as many struggles or used as many excuses while trying to find my way. I could have achieved my true inner goals if I lived by the DO. It’s sad to say that it took me being shot and being confined to a wheelchair for me to open my eyes. I had to be physically handicapped before I could see how handicapped I was inside.  But this is why I have decided to share my life’s story with the world.  Its a story that shows that through tragedy and an attitude of DO, good can come, from the inside out.

I believe that we are all handicapped in some way, the only difference is that some are easier to see than others.

I keep my sanity by not letting myself be limited by being handicapped and staying away from the dark side.  I never imagined that as I was dealing with my struggles of living in a wheelchair that I would gain an audience that would be interested in how and why I do what I do.  Well it’s simple to see why people are interested, it’s because many of us live being handicapped by our situation and are in search of the light. My message is that life is worth fighting for and that we all can find what we are looking for we just need to DO! But I must say that I couldn’t do it alone. I had to hit rock bottom before I could grow. I had no clue to the open hands waiting for me in the darkness, waiting for me to lead me to the light. Instantly my heart and my mind were attacked to get rid of my guilt, anger, and hate erupted. The battle was won and what replaced the ugly in my heart and mind was love, hope, and faith. God needed to put all of the pieces of my life together like a puzzle so he could reveal to me the image of what my life should look like. I had to let go of all the anger, hate, and guilt that I had carried around my whole life. That was my true handicap. That day God gave me purpose by opening my eyes and showing me how he cured me from a handicap that was bigger than not being able to ever walk again.

This is my story and my journey is the share it with the world.  I want people to see that I don’t use the excuse of not being able to walk to hold me back.  I want them to see how thankful I am for getting a second chance at life.

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

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Sharing My Wheelchair Story

I had the opportunity this week to speak in front of a crowd of young teenagers, to share my story and some of the challenges that I faced when I was put into my wheelchair.

I first started off talking about when I was their age and how much I really struggled at that time in my life with who I was. I truly believed that I had nothing good to offer, I felt alone, I felt afraid and I had no one to help me in my struggles.

I told them that I believe all teenagers struggle with some form with these emotions and anxieties,  I needed to make sure that they heard out loud that there are more people going through the same kind of struggles everyday. Some of these people we’d call friends, some we only know because they went to the same schools, maybe the same church or live in the same neighborhood. I promised them that we all of us have gone through these struggles and every single one of us and has been forced to learn how to deal with them in their own way or another, some good some bad.

I spoke of how easy it is to get people’s attention now all I have to do is just roll myself into a room and people become curious and want to know why I’m in a wheelchair.  Who is this guy? I am Sergio Sanchez the good-looking guy in the wheelchair. My chair makes it hard to be invisible now but it doesn’t mean that it’s changed any of the emotions and anxieties that I still go through and have gone through.

I had no outlet for feeling alone and unworthy, like sports, church youth groups or just a good role model to follow. Instead, I gravitated to the only thing that I know and that was the streets. I learned fast there are certain things that I could never do in front of people when they have decided to go down the road of the streets like crying, show weakness, or showing that somebody ever get the better of you. You’re always put in a position to have to prove that you’re down to do anything and that your not scared.  To prove that you are willing to cross the line and take a risk. To prove that no matter how big the person is in front of you that you won’t back down. This was translated into acceptance and respect.

I craved the respect so much that it seemed that I lived in trouble, I was always part of the bad stuff and I gained a reputation for being down, crazy, and a troublemaker. In the eyes of my buddies, and my friends in the streets I felt like I was the man on top of the world. I never felt invisible and I always felt that I had somebody in my corner.

This way of living was why I ended up in a wheelchair. Being Reckless and only caring about how my friends saw me caused me to put myself in bad situations regularly. Situations that had me being shot at or chased by the cops on a regular basis it’s amazing that I’m still alive and it’s amazing that I never made it to prison. But this was only the beginning not the end for me.

When people see me in my wheelchair I can see that their wheels start spinning trying to imagine all the hardships that I have gone through. They want to know how I ended up in my wheelchair, the actions the steps, they want to hear everything. As soon as I let them know that I was shot 6 times their eyes open wide with amazement and unbelief that this could happen to somebody and that they still could be alive but when I tell them I was shot a second time in the back of the head they’re left speechless, there’s no way that this could ever happen to someone and not die.

I let people know that me surviving had nothing to do with anything that I did, but that it had everything to do with the Lord protecting me for something bigger. I am an example of his awesome grace. He looked past my sins and He’s revealed my purpose in life, it is to share my story so that people could see and believe.  I want my story to tell a story of hope, of love and of the Lord’s grace. That no one should have to feel that they have to walk this life alone afraid and invisible.

 

 

 

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

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