Valentines Day and Part 7 of My Journey… the Tornado Spins

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Yay.. valentine’s Day is tomorrow! I’ll be honest, it’s been kind of hard for me to face this holiday. I think I’ve just come to point where like many other people, I do feel that I too want my happily ever after. That being said, I’m trying my best not to hang around sulking and wishing that I had some amazing day all set up with a special someone. I’ve been single for quite some time now, and while there have been a couple of people that have sparked my interest… (those of you who know me personally know that I rarely ever crush so this is a miracle for me) I’m truly waiting on God and letting Him show me what He wants me to do with my life and who He wants me to spend it with. As for life as it is currently, I’m continuing to remain very vague on this topic. I’ll post in detail when victory shows itself. In the meantime, I’m facing my current trails with faith knowing that God has already won the battle.

Now, this next portion of my story is quite a bit heavy for me. To be quite frank, I’ve been avoiding writing this for the past few days. Why? Well, the season that I’m about to dive into and share with you all is season that was probably one of most trying times that I’ve ever dealt with. What’s crazy is, I never expected to go into this much detail, however I feel that sharing my story with you all will hopefully bring about some sort of reminder to you in your life that God will see you through no matter what you’re dealing with! This portion of my journey is written in what I’ll described as a tornado of words. This was the best way I could write it and I feel it best expresses what I was going through.

Before I start, I wanted to encourage you all to go to my friend Emily‘s blog and read her post on helping people during suffering. I was given the opportunity to speak on the podcast which is linked in this post and I would love for you all to be able to hear what the Lord placed on our hearts to share with you! Also, I encourage you to continue reading her blog as it is such a blessing and an inspiration to me and many others! ANYWHO… here goes!

Part 7 of My Journey

* trigger warning! If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are easily triggered, take caution because some of the pictures that I’m posting are of me at a pretty low weight and can be triggering*

Home, you never know how sweet that word really is until the very existence of that factor becomes an inconsistency in your life. For those of you who are just joining and reading my story, I encourage you to go back and start from part one of my journey. For those of you who have stuck along so far, thank you and I hope that you continue to join me.

I left off in my last post with my mom and I finally each finding separate places to live. I was set to move in with a woman for whom I was working, taking care of her home and critters while she worked out of town and came home on the weekends. Upon my arrival there, I got ready to start my fall classes. This time they were online at DVC. I continue to look for more paid work so that I could afford food and basic essentials outside of my rent expenses and actually found a job as a nanny picking up a little girl in Berkeley and taking her to school in Napa several times a week. In the crossover from my restaurant job to my new nanny job, I found myself missing a day of work at the restaurant and having to ask them to forgive me. I explained to them my situation and why I had not shown up. They graciously understood, and I served at that restaurant for the last few days that it was opened. It was so heartbreaking to see someone’s dreams shattered before my eyes. People who invested to build a restaurant that they loved so much to watch it completely sink. Meanwhile, my own life was falling apart and I was trying everything I could to pull it together.

As classes started, and I started my new job, family and life begin to get hectic! First off, the new nanny job promised me a certain weekly wage during my interview, however because it was not in writing they decided to change it to an hourly wage which completely affected my weekly income. Gullibly, I still signed on not realizing how much of a pay cut I was actually taking.

During my first two weeks of courses, issues with my troubled loved one arose. Finally, one evening as I was doing my algebra homework I received a phone call from her saying that she was stranded, and she felt she was ready to go to Teen Challenge. She was crying hysterically, terrified and riding a bus. I previously had promised her that the moment she was ready to get clean I would be right by her side. Holding true to my promise, I dropped everything I was doing, got in my car, called the number she called me from to find out it was the bus driver’s phone, and went to find her on the street that he last left her.

As I drove down Appian Way toward El Sobrante, I saw her walking fast with her head down and tears streaming down her face. I quickly pulled over, had her get the car. “thank you!“She said. “I made a promise to you, you’re serious about this right?!“ “YES!” She said.

Tears streaming down my face with gratitude to God, I drove off and decided to take her to a shelter for the evening so we could figure out and arrange a way for her to get to Teen Challenge the following day. I immediately called Pastor Port Wilburn who, from his own recovery bed told me to come over to his home and he would give me some ideas as far as resources and places that we could take her. On our way to his house, I was faced with a serious demon from my past. My loved one pulled a ball of white mess wrapped up in plastic out of her bra. I knew exactly what that was! It was meth! “I should probably get rid of this since were going to a shelter right?” She asked. “WHAT? Get that out of my car!” I screamed. She quickly threw it out the window, then pull the pipe out of her bra as well and said, “I should probably get rid of this too then right?” “Of course! I can’t believe you brought that with you!” I yelled! She then threw it out the window as well.

We arrived at Pastor Port’s house, and he was recovering from a serious surgery. Out of the kindness of his heart, despite his own trials, he gave me information regarding a couple of shelters in Richmond that could possibly help my her out. The first shelter, was packed and couldn’t take her. The second shelter, was the Bay Area Rescue Mission. By the grace of God despite the fact that she had already burned her bridges with them, they let her stay the evening. The problem is, the next day I found out that there was a paperwork process that she had to go through in order to get into the program at Teen Challenge. The delay lead to her getting antsy, and she headed back out to the streets to do her dirt. I was angry and quickly cut contact with her.

• Quick sidenote, the order of events with this gets really jumbled in my head because of the PTSD that I still suffer from due to these events. So, please bear with me.

About a week and a half later my mother called me to inform me that Teen Challenge was ready to start the process! Having a bad attitude at first, I grumbled my way through it. The next day we headed to Bakersfield. More than halfway there… OK by now it’s obvious that my troubled loved one is my sister, so I’m going to be real here! My sister began to freak out, we had to call the highway patrol to help us get her under control and we were forced to turn right back around and go all the way home. My heart grew cold, and I told her I would not help her until she was absolutely serious again.

Soon, with stresses that built up over time, I was completely unable focus on school, and dropped my classes… Pressure came in, with body in pain and the nanny job (which required a lot of driving) while still barely making ends meet…. I started driving, selfishly into training. It was no longer for the Kingdom nor as an example of a transformed life. It was a place of refuge when, instead, I should have sought God first to be my refuge.

Then, A glimmer of what I thought was hope appeared! The kitty lady and I talked about the possibility of my becoming a personal trainer, and I agreed to clean the mold out of the walls of her bathroom, in exchange for her paying for my training course… Seeing that I found a gym that would agree to hire me. 24 hour fitness interviewed and agreed to hire me, and I was quickly signed up for the “training is fun” course. Meanwhile, the kitty lady was preparing to have her bathroom remodeled thus causing me to have to leave and stay with my mom off and on throughout the rest my time living there. I literally ran around looking like a hot mess from all the pressure I was under. Within one week of receiving my course packet, I was off to Fairfield to take my test which, thankfully, I passed with flying colors!

Training,  going back-and-forth from the kitty house to my moms house, taking a crash course in personal training, and starting a new job where I worked early mornings and had the stress of trying to gain new clients, plus getting ready to leave my nanny job, stressed with the worries of my sister, and…. Then…. I get the call. As I was finishing a training run with my friend Katrina, I received a phone call from my grandmother. My grandfather’s condition had worsened, and the cancer spread to his brain. Was this whirlwind going to end? Within a few days my mom and I packed up a few things and headed out to see my grandfather. Wow… With a quickness, he went from rosey-cheeked & smiling at the sight of me to, lying in bed shriveled up and almost lifeless. I wept and wept and wept! nooooo… After all these years! Why? I prayed and begged God to do a miracle!

Right in the middle of this, I started having to see a chiropractor for the first time in my life. Pain… every area of my life was just. so. painful!!! So much all at once!

I worked one of my final days as a nanny the following day, mom and I had to leave. Then, just after work the next day… My grandmother called, crying. Grandpa had passed. So, as I continued to train, in the back of my mind I kept thinking “I’ll do this for you grandpa! I’ll do this for you!” And the whirlwind kept going… Like they say “first comes the promise, then comes the hurricane! ” I continued to press on! I was emotional, broken, still going back-and-forth between the kitty house and my mom’s house, dealing with the stress of not getting clients at work, I felt like a failure. I decided to add more onto my plate and joined the church choir at Hilltop. Niiiice!!! It was as if I was trying to earn some merit or trying to get someone’s approval. Why all the stressing and striving to do all these things? When really, all God told me to do in the first place, was to love him, and to run the race physically and spiritually for Him. ?! I had lost my site. I was so self consumed and so busy trying to please the world around me that I had fallen out of the Word of God. My foundation was crumbling,  and so was my life!

Clock ticked down to race day, and I finished my final long run for California international Marathon. I completed it surprisingly fast. To my surprise, Sharlet (my Godmother) and Johnny (my Godfather) ware there!!!!! We were all exhilarated!  We actually thought there was a possibility I could qualify for the trials!

As the clock ticked down even further….  More back-and-forth between home, my moms house, and choir. The night before it was time to leave for the event, While staying in my mom’s apartment, my entire body was in pain. All through training for this marathon, I was fighting an internal battle with under eating. A few times my mom had actually prayed privately because of how skeletal I looked… The self-hatred, the stress, pushing through just to prove to who? I lost sight of God, I lost sight of the only  reason I even take a single step let alone a single breath!

Finally, the event came. We stayed it in a hotel (Complements of the kitty lady) I Met up with someone who gave me confirmation of what I believe (yes even today) to be what God has called me to do… run ultramarathons. I then went and ate my prerace dinner, and we headed to sleep so I could be up and ready to race. As I showed up at the start line… I was completely unprepared for how cold it was! I felt like I was swimming in a pool of freezing water my muscles couldn’t move!

As I push through my body hurt… I crossed the finish line limping, to see Sharlet and the family and Bob McNair (Brother in the Lord who helped me get the job at the restaurant and supported me through many dark times) waiting to congratulate me for at least finishing… Yeah… I didn’t even qualify for Boston at this one. I was SO focused on my failure that I missed the blessing of the very people that were there for me! Shortly after meeting them I was off to the medical tent, where I received ice, and talked to Bob on the phone about seeing another doctor (cue the amazing Dr. Runco). Then, ahhhh mom to the rescue with a huge glass of White chocolate nonfat milk from Starbucks!!!! Recovery! Aunt Cheri came along with her and we all walked through Sacramento  on a mission to find a steak house! Not finding anything by foot, we opted to get into the car and found a red lobster.

As we ate, Cheri looked at me with deep concern. My dear Aunt,  My main running inspiration. She asked me what was going on. Reluctantly, I let her know. Between her and my aunt Wendy…. All I can say, is I’m blessed to have such amazing aunts! We headed back to the parking lot of the hotel and soon parted ways… Then, it was back home to face the stress of a sinking job and again uncertainty in my living space. How could I go back home? I felt like such a fool telling everyone that I was trying to qualify for the Olympic trials only to come home broken and empty-handed.

As the end of the year came, my heart grew more and more cold. Stress at home, stress at work, trying to regain my health… Meanwhile, I kept hearing God in the back of my mind. He kept calling me to pick that project up that I left a year before. The fundraiser race I had held with Katrina while everything was originally shaking down. It was inspired by the events that transpired with my sister. I tucked in the back my mind again and just drudged through life.

As things continued to go downhill at 24 hour I met a friend, who originally asked me out for a coffee date, however I had declined being that he was not a believer. This began an awkwardly platonic  friendship. My neediness for friendship at that point, Left me wandering to an older man without faith base that would have been wise me to stay away from. Though he and his family were incredibly Kind to me, I was still trying to fill that daddy void with a friend (seriously, friendship was as far as it went).

In the midst of this I began getting into new age using the excuse that I was a “spiritual” Christian with an “open mind”…uhhh… I needed to open it back up to Jesus! Needing to find some financial stability, I applied to work for a local coffeehouse and got the job. At this point I was completely unwilling to spend all day working at 24 hour fitness and work at the coffee house all while taking care of day to day tasks for the kitty lady, so, Another change of job. The coffee house it was!

As things continue to go on, a friend of mine offered to pay for the race fee for my next marathon, the San Francisco Marathon. Training began again in my will and my time.

Shortly after this I received a phone call from my grandmother… “Jamie,” She said…”You’ll never believe who called…”The only answer that came to mind, was…. “MY DAD!!!!!!!” “Yes,” she said… I’d been waiting for so long, prayed so many nights, just wanting to forget the past and have an opportunity to get to know my dad! Wow! Believe in miracles!

Despite an undertone of warning in her voice I asked for his number, and I made the call. Ring…. Ring…. Ring… “hello?” “hi! Is this (I’ll call him Maui for the sake of keeping his name private)” “Yes…. Who’s this?” “This is Jamie Barnhart, but you would have known me as Raven Frost (my birth name). I’m your daughter!” A sudden pause… “Hello?” I said. “yeah…” He said with a cracked voice…”I’m here” that night, we talked about where he’d been living and how he was so happy I’d called! wow! My dad, after all this time… What a blessing, or so I thought!

Believe it or not, this was just the beginning of many Trumatic events. Again, I am going to have to leave it here for now. I hope that my story is not boring you all in anyway but that it’s encouraging you to face your battles with courage! Know that God is with you. No matter where you are in life, whether things are good or bad, God is there and calling you by name! Until next time, God bless and keep pressing on!

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Pursuing Dreams in the Midst of Tragedy: Part 6 of My Journey

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Hey all I’m back again and I’m just going to dive right in where I last left off. As I mentioned in my last post, I really don’t want to discuss the goings-on in my current life because in all honestly this has become very dark season for me and I really want to focus on God and what He can do instead of venting and talking about my problems to you all.

Anyhow, I left off in my last post at the point where my world seemed to be falling apart. I was just informed that I had to leave the mobile home I was staying in and there was a possibility of eviction for my mom in the home that she was in on the same property. At the same time, I was preparing to host a race to raise funds for Teen Challeng for their human trafficking division, my finances went from being abundant to next to nothing and having to borrow money, and I also had been cast as one of the leads in a show called “Rivets” which is a show I had been wanting to perform in since the moment I saw it. On top of everything else, my health was beginning to go downhill. I had a nagging injury that caused me to limp a lot, and I began to struggle with post marathon depression and an eating disorder.

There were also elements that I did not bring up in my last post. You see, just prior to the marathon I was informed that my grandfather that I had just been reunited with had been diagnosed with cancer. Shortly after his diagnosis, I had to borrow money from him which was the LAST thing I ever wanted to do. This was a total nightmare!!

Meanwhile, in the middle of preparing for the fundraiser race, my computer totally crashed! It literally felt like all hell had broke loose in my life!

The second week of June 2011, I completely packed my things and moved in with a friend and her daughter. This was supposed to be for a very limited amount of time. While I was there, she was trying to help me find a new job because the restaurant wasn’t giving me enough hours. She wanted me to drop the show, quit running and forget about hosting the race. She said that I needed to get my things in line first before I try to pursue those areas. The problem with that was, I was already committed to the show, hosting the race, and to training for another marathon in an attempt to qualify for the Olympic trials. For me to drop those commitments during a very devastating point in my life would not have been psychologically healthy for me. I felt that I needed to continue to work at the restaurant and look for a different job that would allow me to be off in time to go rehearsals and provide a way for me to save up money. While this woman was most definitely wanting the best for me, I couldn’t mentally handle losing anything more at that time. Mornings I continued to put in my two- plus hour training runs, I spent the afternoons rehearsing alone, preparing for the fundraiser and looking for work. In the evenings, I went to rehearsals with my dear friend Irena who soon became like a sister to me.

June 25th, The day of the fundraiser came. Hardly anyone showed up. Thankfully, some of my dearest friends (including Irena and the amazing woman that would later be called my godmother) came and supported the event, otherwise it would’ve been a total flop. Katrina and I raised about $400, which was a TOTAL blessing, however I was so disappointed in myself for not doing better. I wanted so badly to do much more for Teen Challenge because I felt that this was my way of indirectly reaching out to my troubled loved one. That day also marked the day when the pain in my leg started to increase…. I had no idea how bad this would eventually get.

After the event, I did my best to shrug off what I felt was failure and focused on my next tasks which were the show and finding work/ a new place to live. July 13, opening night of the show came… that morning, I was informed that I was to find a new place to live that weekend. Also, just as I was about to start getting ready, I received news that my mom had been evicted from her home and was living in her car with my troubled loved one. I was shattered…. Devastated. I had no idea where I was going to go, I was worried sick about my mother, I was so angry and bitter at my troubled loved one for letting things go as far as they did and for not cleaning up. At the same time, I hated the drug that held her captive. Also, my weight had plummeted and I didn’t see myself as too thin. Anorexia athletica had set in.

I remember standing in front of the mirror and professor McKarthy came in to try to get everybody ready. She sensed something was off with me. I just broke and told her everything that had been happening. She stood and looked at me in utter shock, gave me a hug and not knowing exactly how else to respond… told me it was ok to pull myself together and to go ahead and just get on out there. Curtain came up, the show went on, and I have to say that was the best decision I ever made. Never have I felt more alive and more like myself then when I’m performing. My love for the stage, for performing arts… that was it… I was doing exactly what I felt (and still feel) that was created to do!

The following day, professor David came in and said that he felt that I needed some cheer. What a sweetheart! He handed me a brand new pallet of eyeshadow so I could do my makeup properly! Perfect timing too, because I didn’t have proper make up the night before. I felt my mind slowly slipping as I waited backstage to go on. I began to sing “In my own little corner, in my own special chair, I can be anything I want to be.“ From a movie remake of Cinderella. PTSD was beginning to take its toll. I had no idea what that was or that I ever suffered from it until recently.

Closing night came, and my mom informed me that after finding drug paraphernalia in her car, she had had it. She finally left my troubled loved one at a neighbor’s house and decided it was time to let her take care of herself since she was not ready to let go of the addiction. She and I spoke about what we would do the next day. She had nowhere to go, and as of the following day I didn’t have anywhere to go either. I was set up for an interview at a salon in Lafayette, so we decided to head out there in the morning and discuss living situations that afternoon.

The following morning, I packed up my things in my moms car, we went for a training run at my favorite local park, and I prepared for my interview. I was such a wreck when I showed up to the interview that the lady totally turned me down. I don’t blame her either. Shortly after that, I received a phone call from my professor who reached out and really tried to help us. She gave me some information in regards to some shelters and told me to call if I needed anything. Her kindness and her heart was more than I could’ve asked for during that time.

Just after her phone call I received an email from the woman I had been staying with saying that there was a woman in the church that I used to attend that was looking for a live-in house sitter. She needed someone to live in her home and take care of her four cats and home while she was away on business during the week. She would be home on weekends and the person would remain in the home. This job was a temporary assignment while she worked out of town, however, it was a job and place to stay. She gave me her email and I contacted the woman right away. I exchanged emails back-and-forth with back and forth with the woman I’ll just call “the kitty lady.” We arranged a time that day to meet and discuss the possibility of my taking the job. Upon meeting her, it appeared that I had received the job. However, it wasn’t to start until the following day. That evening, mom and I headed out to my grandparents in Cameron Park to spend the night and figure out what we were going to do.

The following day, we returned it to the Bay Area. After some prayer and consideration, I told my mom to let me call her employer and offered to talk to the company that she cleans apartment buildings for to see if they might allow her to work as a property manager in exchange for part of the rent and she could pay the rest. At first she resisted, but I told her that I was willing to speak and that she didn’t have to say anything. During the phone call, they told me to go into the office and they would see what they could do. We pulled up, I walked in, and shaking I asked to speak with the manager of the office. After I explaining to him what was going on, he took compassion on my mother and gave her an incredible deal allowing her to stay in an apartment they were just about to remodel on a temporary basis. Yes, both living situations were temporary, but they were just in the nick of time!

We then raced off to meet the kitty lady where she officially invited me to take the job. I then went and retrieved the rest of my belongings and I headed off to my new home in Pinole. Finally… some hope! Or so it seemed.

Now, I’ll have to stop here for now. As I’ve said many times, thank you all for joining me as I share my story. I hope that you all have a blessed weekend and I hope you continue to join me as I share many ups and downs that God has brought me through. Until next time, God bless!

This was one of the blessings in the middle of the storm! One of the cast members of Rivets happens to be related to MC Hammer! He came and saw the performance, and the cast got to meet him!