WHM – Day 10

A time in your life when you felt beautiful….

You know the kind of belly laugh that is so hard, barely any sound can come out? I love that kind. As buddy the elf would say, “smiling’s my favorite”. Come to think of it, I have never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.
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As I looked back in the rear view of my memory, the snap shots of “beauty” that I saw all involved those I love… my wedding day, conversations with my dad, loving on my kids, laughing with my sister til we were in tears… so much beauty in my life. Still, I was having a hard time defining a time where I felt “beautiful”. The beautiful memories were endless, but remembering a time when I felt beautiful was not coming as easily.

Last night something unexpected happened. I was reading Ben Wilson’s daily blog post (@www.marriagesrestored.com) about forgiveness. As I scrolled down the page I saw an old video clip that was recorded at least five years ago. It was of my husband and I, talking about our experience connecting with other couples going through a hard time. As I began to watch, it felt like seeing an old friend that you hadn’t seen in a long time. I thought to myself, “was that really only five years ago?”. Behind every word, I knew too well the pain and struggle that was so real in my life at that time. I remembered the fight we had on the way to make the video, and the tears that almost convinced me to back out. I remembered the uncertainty that I spoke of and the fear of the unknown and all the messy emotions I had to face. I remember when the video was first posted on youtube it gave me a stomach ache to watch and I immediately clicked the dislike button. And today… five years and nearly 10,000 views later, I watched it and FELT true beauty.

There is something incredible about that, that I just can’t explain.

Because others were willing to love me, in my mess, and without an agenda, I became willing to hope. I took a risk. I chose to embrace the uncertainty, instead of run from it. What I saw in that video was growth. I am no longer the same girl in that video. But she is what made me who I am today.

Forgiveness was an incredibly powerful part of that process. And trust me… it is a PROCESS. The more I was able to put in God’s hands, the more I was able to know God’s heart, and the closer I let him, the tighter he embraced me in my sorrow.

Through the process of forgiving, I learned that I not only had to forgive my husband for the hurt he had caused, but I had to begin to forgive myself. That proved to be just as challenging at times. In reading stories like the prodigal son and the story of the woman caught in adultery, I began replacing the lies that I had somehow accepted as truth, for what God says is true about me.

Luke 15:17-24 (*personalized)
I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, “Father, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your daughter.
20-21 
When Sara was still a long way off, her father saw her. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced her, and kissed her.
‘Father, I’ve sinned against you; I don’t deserve to be called your daughter ever again.’ 22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress her. Put the family ring on her finger. We’re going to have a wonderful time! My daughter is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

I told myself often, “No one here is throwing stones, but you have got to drop your own.” I listened to the song ‘Forgive Yourself’ by Downhere, over and over again, until I had the courage to write a letter of forgiveness to myself. (which I never would have done on my own, but was asked by Krista, 2 years ago, during our book group- reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers) Here’s what I wrote as I began to forgive myself. Although it’s short, these words took a long time to get onto paper and the power that was released as I spoke them out loud with a safe group of encouraging women, is indescribable.

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Sara,
You’re forgiven. I forgive you for giving up. For giving up on being loved in your marriage. I forgive you for the choices you made trying to fill that void. I forgive you for hiding from God.
Love,
Yourself

Today, Michael and I are closer than we’ve ever been. Not only to each other, but to the One who has redeemed us. We now have that hope to offer to other couples who are struggling. That hope that I borrowed when I had nothing left, is now mine to offer. What is more beautiful than that?

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (MSG)
Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.

ImageLast May my husband and I reconfirmed our love for each other, with a small group of people that had been with us when life was hardest for us… in fact, they were the very same folks we referred to in the video. Ben and Ann Wilson led the celebration, for without them, we may not have had the courage to trek through the treacherous path.

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG)
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

I want to share the beautiful words that were spoken to me by a beautiful woman… a woman that has SO much to do with the woman I have become. She spoke these words right before I shared my vows. I love you Ann Wilson.

{Ann to Sara}
It has been such a joy to watch you grow from the beautiful yet broken girl to the more beautifully scarred yet stronger woman… unafraid to shed and share her tears, her heart, and her gifts… especially if it brings light and life into the soul of another.

You have gone from a girl cloaked in fear and uncertainty, to a woman who is inquisitive and curious about her soul and the souls of others.

You have gone from a girl who only knew pain, to a woman beginning to truly understand the meaning of pain, and one who embraces the sorrow that accompanies it.

You have gone from a girl ready to give up, to a woman who believes in herself, in her marriage, in her Jesus.

You have gone from a girl who didn’t believe forgiveness had a place in her life, to a woman who’s been forgiven and who feels truly redeemed.

You have gone from a girl under a dark cloud of sin and shame, to a woman clothed in beauty… a daughter of the King, who wears a crown of grace.

{Ben to Michael}
Hero.
You make me smile. I have fun being around you and hearing about your hunting adventures and outdoor excursions. You are a great athlete and for a long time you relied on that without really knowing your heart. But Michael, there is solid gold in there. You are a strong man in physical strength and in heart. A weak hearted man wouldn’t be standing here today.

Sara’s poetic heart may be amazingly confusing to you at times, but I challenge you to see the adventure in pursuing her soul. It may seem like a wild jungle in there at times, but there is beauty that will stun your soul heavenward in worship.

So explore, engage, enjoy. Enjoy the wife of your youth. Body and Soul.Image
Hero.

{Sara to Michael}
Thirteen years ago, we were just kids… 17 years old and preparing to graduate high school while planning our wedding. Although we were young, we were in love; and God had a plan for our lives. As I thought about our future together in May of 2000, I wrote these words:

“I want to marry Michael because I want to discover life with him. I want to fulfill the plans that God has for both our lives…together. I want to help him be all that he can, and I want to know that he is the one backing me up. I love him in a very special way and it means so much to grow with him.” 

Michael, after nearly 13 years of marriage, I can honestly say that I love you more than I ever did. The day I met you changed my life. And now I can’t imagine my life without you. I want to make this next chapter of our lives together something that we will both cherish. I vow to give you the rest of my life, and I thank God every day that you are in it.

{Michael to Sara}
In May of 1999, I signed your yearbook our junior year, and this is what I wrote:

“I’m so glad I got to know you this school year Sara. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it with anyone else. You made it exciting, and the year went by so fast. I love you Sara, and I know you love me. I love you just as much…no, more. I’m going to love you forever and never stop. I still look forward to the day when we are walking on the beach when we are 80 years old. Then my life will be complete. Thank you for the awesome school year and changing my life completely. You have made me realize so much about myself, and other people, and God. Thank you Sara, I love you. God bless you. Love, Michael”
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I can’t believe 13 years has already passed. I am truly blessed to be standing with you today. God has done some amazing things in the last few years. You saw something in me… in us, that I couldn’t see until now. You have shown me how to love and I vow to never stop trying to show my love to you.

You have shown me that love is so much more than a word or a single feeling. It’s the culmination of everything; every feeling, every response, every motion, every thought, every decision, every kiss and every hug. So when I say that I will love you and never give up, I am promising to love you with my entire soul. Every fiber I have in my body is yours.

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I feel that I owe you so much, you have saved our marriage. You have shown me grace and forgiveness unlike any I have ever seen in another person. I didn’t know it was possible to be so deep into the darkness like we were and now feel so joyful and in love again. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with you.

I vow to be your best friend and stand by your side for the rest of my life. I promise to be faithful and to love you unconditionally, protect you loyally, challenge you spiritually and serve you faithfully. You are the bride of my youth, a beautiful gift from God. I love you.

So when you hear the expression “God works in mysterious ways”, you can think of our story… how God took something so broken and hopeless and made something so beautiful, wrapped in his amazing grace. He is amazing… and I am filled with gratitude and wonder, each and every grace filled day.

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My name is Sara Mae Garcia, age 32. I grew up in a family of five, traveled all over the country with a dad that enjoys adventure; never a dull moment. Spent the latter years in Homer Alaska, where I met my high school sweetheart at age 16. A year and a half later we were graduating high school, got married, joined the Air Force and then had a baby. Moved our little family to Spokane Washington in May 2001, had another baby in and eventually moved to Warrensburg, Missouri January 1st, 2008, on military orders. Although I resisted the move, I really came to love that place and dearly miss our Warrensburg family. We are now at our 3rd base, about nine months into our four year stay here at Hickam Afb on Oahu Hawaii. In three months we will be married for 14 years, and our two wonderful children, (Caitlyn,13 and Covy,11) bring us so much joy. They are truly incredible. I love photography, music, cats, reading, food, hearing people’s stories and most recently homeschooling. Being a military wife constantly trains me to be okay with the unknown and uncertainty of our future. I am grateful for the struggles that sin brought into my life, because it gave me a chance to know the depth of who I am and who God is, in a way I couldn’t have known otherwise. 

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9 thoughts on “WHM – Day 10

  1. Sara, I love you friend. You have brought joy and hope into my life. Thank you for being my friend and listening and loving me. Crying tears of gratefulness and love for you as I sit here missing you. LOVE ya!

  2. Sara I absolutely love this! Thank you, for sharing so much straight from your heart. It really spoke to me ((hugs)) to you, my friend.

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