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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My story Part 3

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Hello all! I’m back again and it’s been quite a week! Still battling some physical pain which has caused me to take it easy minus a few short workouts to just keep my body moving and going. I’m learning I have to really just feel my body out and be kind to myself right now. Instead of going out while my mom goes to work, I’ve opted to stay home and clean my room which was really hard to do during the semester between school work, work, and physical pain. I’ve also spent a lot more time reading the word of God. I found that in times like this, the word of God is my ONLY source of strength. God is my only true source of comfort and companionship. Honestly, this has become yet another season incredible loneliness and pain. At times, it feels like my life has become a prison. Thankfully, it’s nothing like some seasons I’ll review over the next few coming posts as I continue on with my journey. In order to keep my mind off of the negativity, I’ve arranged time to meet with friends as their schedules provide, tried to be at work a little bit more as my body and my health allows, and most of all, I’ve have kept my head and spirit in the word and in worship. Now, I left off last week with my troubled loved one returning home after being forced into sex trafficking on the streets of San Francisco, and that’s exactly where I’ll pick up!

My Journey Part 3

I don’t know if any of you reading have experienced this, however I found throughout my life that various songs, smells, or sounds bring back emotions or memories that can stir up incredible feelings of joy and/or pain. One particular sound that brought a mixture of feelings of relief and trauma at the same time was the sound of the Dora the explorer theme song! That along with pretty much anything that has to do with Dora the Explorer almost brings me back emotionally to time when I would wake up in the morning and be terrified yet relieved all at the same time to hear the song playing on our television.

You see, when my troubled loved one returned, she tried to stay away from her predators. The problem is… the process of brainwashing is a very intense and psychological process that pimps put their victims through. She had been severely brainwashed and traumatized. So, as many victims of this form of slavery do, she kept returning to the very people who striped her of what was left of her virtue.

For days on end, she would be missing. My heart sank as I would see the worn and stressed look on my mom‘s face as she and I both worried about what was going on while she was gone, yet were terrified of her returning home due to the fits of out rage that she would go through and the havoc she would wreak on the property as a result of her ties to the drug and sex trade world. Every morning I would either wake up to silence or to the sound of Dorothy explore playing on our television. If there was silence, she wouldn’t be there. If the music was playing, she was normally sleeping on the living room chair or couch and I would be terrified to wake her not knowing what kind of mood she would be in. I remember one time waking up and just crying not knowing what to do. I hated what was happening to her, what was happening to our family. Some nights, we would get frantic phone calls from her saying she needed to be picked up somewhere or had been beaten by her pimp in a liquor store.

One night, I saw her come out of one of the rooms in our house dressed to perfection. She looked like an innocent, pure, young lady… almost like a porcelain doll! She had a beautiful yellow sundress on. Her makeup was done so perfectly: eyelashes long and beautiful, cheeks just the right shade of rose with a hint of burgundy, white frosted eyeshadow around her eyes with just enough eyeliner to accent them… Her hair was done to perfection as well. Part of me envied her. The other part of me, just wanted to throw up knowing that men were using her like high priced toilet paper for their dirty deeds! On the streets of San Francisco, these men just saw her as a high-priced toy. When she came home, I saw her as someone I wanted to hold and hug and tell the little girl inside of her that it’s OK to watch Dora the Explorer, it’s OK just be a kid, and that she didn’t have to be a toy for those monsters anymore!

Within just a few short months, she went from being a high priced prostitute in San Francisco to being sold for just a few dollars on the streets much closer home. She went from looking like something you would see on the cover of a magazine to looking like someone who had really been drug through the mud. Finally after several months of dealing with the constant tug-of-war, police calls, emotional breakdowns from her as well as the rest of us in the house, dear friends of ours helped us get her on a plane and sent her back to New Mexico in hopes that this would help put an end to this phase of life. I felt so guilty, thinking I hadn’t been there enough for her, that there was something I could’ve done. At the same time I was so angry at her for all that she put us through! So much love yet so much bitterness all at the same time towards the same person. I was even more bitter at the people who did that to her, and all the childhood trauma we both had been through that lead us to that point, again bringing me back to sense of guilt… wishing I could have done something to save her…. in hindsight, I know now that there really was nothing I could do. I couldn’t save her from childhood abuse, I couldn’t save her from those men. What I COULD do, was try my best to stay straight and set an example that hopefully one day she would follow.

When she got on the plane, my family and I tried to go about living her life normally again. It was just really hard to shake it all off. My mom went about working her butt off day in and day out, my brother did his best to just be a normal kid, and I continued working at hometown and housesitting, racing, started attending CCC for performing arts, and worked in various areas of ministry including the worship ministry at Rock Harbor and youth ministry for an organization called younglife and wildlife. Meanwhile, public speaking opportunities begain to open up for me.

(Me speeding at a church called the Journey for their Celebrate Recovery meeting)

A youth group leader that saw me at one of the races recognized me from running on the street of El Sobrante and asked me to speak at the El Sobrante Christian academy. It was such a blessing and an honor to share my passion for running and the story of what God brought me through to so many beautiful, young faces! On top of it, I was reunited with my dad’s parents and siblings after over 20 years of separation! Finally… it felt like life was coming together!

In January 2010, I ended up in my first relationship since my move to the bay area. From the beginning, I felt a stirring in my gut that it just wasn’t right. Yes, we were both believers. The problem is, we were both very broken believers. After dealing with a few uncool situations where I could sense that he was trying to control and manipulate me, I finally exploded at him over the phone and hung up. He quickly broke up with me, and I later found out that he was following me after our separation. Though it doesn’t sound like much, being in the situation was horrifying. Shortly after that relationship ended my grandfather (on my mom’s side) passed away after dealing with severe battle COPD. I did my best to focus on classes, work, bought my first used car and just kept pressing on… meanwhile, I began to try to find control with food. Slowly, I started eliminating different foods in order to be “healthier.” This would later become a much larger issue.

Around August 2010, I received a notice in the mail announcing the Oakland marathon! It was to be held in March 2011. I thought that this would be the perfect way to celebrate 4 years of being drug free. Thankfully, that semester I had decided to step back from classes and focus on ministry and work. While on staff at hometown, one of my customers was interested in my story and why ran. We later exchanged information, and she offered to sponsor me for the event! Meanwhile, after being asked to speak for the youth group at hilltop community Church, I joined the youth leadership team there and a dear friend who was also a leader joined with me and helped me kick off was to be known as the “Race to Break the Chains,” which was a event 5k/ 10k running event that we were going to head up the following June to help raise money for Teen Challenge to help them build a home in San Jose for women trying to escape human trafficking. This was obviously a cause that hit very dear to my heart… then the major attacks came!

While out training for the marathon, I was knocked off my feet at a dog park by two dogs that had rushed out of the water. I shook it off and told the owners that I was going to be OK. Little did I know, that injury would lead to bigger issues down the road.

Soon, my mother and I received news that my troubled loved one was trying to return. Race day began to come nearer and nearer, and threats of her return did the same… finally, just two days before the event, they were no longer threats. I quickly had to pack all of my belongings, and by the grace of God, our landlord allowed me to stay in a mobile home on the property. Day before the race, I headed out for my last 3 mile run with my godmother who talked and prayed with me, a sense of dread overcame me. When we finished, and parted ways, I returned home and saw my mother and her sitting in the window at the counter in our home discussing life. I went in, tried to be as cordial as possible, and went about my day, preparing for the following day’s event. Right away, arguments and fighting began. I quickly left, went to the mobile home, and ate my dinner. As I went to bed, I started to cry. I hated arguing, I hated the chaos, and I just wanted a normal family life! I felt shoved out of my home and unsafe… so much chaos and commotion right before was to become one of the biggest days of my life! I don’t mean to sound selfish, but this had been something I had wanted to do for years. All I really wanted to do was to enjoy the race, and have an amazing recovery meal with my happy family… That feeling that I feel after I had split for my exfiancé in San Diego started to flare up! I felt so empty…. yet there with me in the loneliness was Jesus.

Now, this is where I’ll have to leave off. I do want you all to know that I love my troubled loved one with all my heart! It was never my intention for there to ever be any anger or bitterness between us. If you have someone in your family that you’re able to have contact with and you have differences between the two of you. Let them go! If you have someone in your household that you take for granted and you don’t hug on a daily basis… HUG them and hold them close! Don’t take them for granted! Don’t go one day without letting the people that you hold deer know that you love them!Honestly, I have let mine go… though circumstances that will be discussed (within reason) later have kept me separated from my troubled loved one… when I HAVE seen her, I’ve done my UTMOST to make sure she knows how much I love her.! This is why I stated time and time again, live, love, and give with your whole heart! Until my next post, God bless and give love!

Summer review and a spicy comfort meal that will chase the sorrows away!

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Amazing how fast time flies. It seems as though I barely had time to catch my breath during summer break, and now… here come classes in less than two weeks. This summer has been full of many ups and downs. I started off with the release from my chiropractor and physical therapist to start aqua jogging and lifting weights. A dear friend of mine bought a gym membership for me for my birthday, so I was so excited to be able to get back into the gym and start rebuilding my health. Little did I know, that would quickly come to an end. You see, many of the exercises at my physical therapist gave me worsened my health situation. Due to overly tight abdominal/ psoas muscles along with IT band pain (brought on by the band exercise given by the PT) my health began to go down hill once again. Outside of work, and responsibilities, I spent a great portion of my time in bed icing, heating, and just trying to find some relief. After a while, that became my comfort zone. I found myself getting off work and looking forward to heading to bed to lose myself in binge watching episodes of various TV shows. Yeah… I get it… totally unhealthy!
In the midst of the trials, a childhood dream of mine began to come to life. I dear friend of mine invited me to an event that sent me into a series of working in a field that I’ve always dreamed of. For now, due to the status of the project, I’m not at liberty to discuss the details. I will say though that while working on this project, I came to life! I would come home and my body just felt like I could do more regardless of my back issues. It’s as if every cell in my body ignited with joy and with passion knowing that I was on a road toward what I was born and created to do! If there were anything I could ever have in this world as a career, I would choose this. “Despise not the days of small beginnings” right?
Annnywho, finally I got sick of the work and bead routine. I was missing time with my beautiful nephew and mom.. isolated in misery, focused on all the pain and reminiscing on shattered dreams when something stirred in me. After my mom expressed how she felt about my behavior, my eyes opened and I was determined to fight back! I started stretching, and doing everything I possibly could to help my body feel better. I started watching movies with my nephew, pushed myself out to enjoy some time at a local beach with my family regardless of the pain, went on a few short walks alone, and did my best to enjoy what I do have.

Things seemed to improve for only a moment when I hit yet ANOTHER BUMP! This landed me at the Chiropractor two days in a row… feeling like there was a huge screwdriver being shoved in my lower back, hobbling through each day and praying to God I would be able to walk the next day. As my mom drove me home after my most recent visit to the Chiro… I sat there, looking at the legs that once took me flying through trails, over hills and mountains and streets… that now….. have a hard time making it through a day’s work let alone a nice walk on a walking trail. In other words…. they were nearly failing me. At that point, I broke… I. just. broke…. “what can I do about this semester? I can’t bear to face another one in this amount of pain! What about my dreams? What about the things I’ve always wanted to do with my life? Why is it that it seems that every time I reach for something things seemed crumble between my fingers?” All these thoughts began to rush through my head. Then I declare it out loud, “I will run again! This is temporary! God has a good plan for my life! I refuse to back down! I’m not giving up!” So, with these declarations, I’ve decided to go from a certain chiropractic company that is just surface level treatment and not working for me to working with someone I worked with before, who knows my history, does more in depth work and who will hopefully help me get some answers.
As for my eating patterns, it’s been an up and down roller coaster with me. There are days when I meet my calorie requirements, days when I exceed them, and days when I fail miserably at coming close to what I need to sustain and live. The fact of the matter is that I thought that being weight restored would make everything better. That somehow my body would magically begin to agree with me and allow me to have more freedom. This wasn’t the case. As a result I’ve daily battled the internal desire to do what the world has done time and again to me… abuse me. The thing is, this is a battle I’m determined to win with the power of God. Others may have abused me but I am not a victim! Others may have hurt me but I will not fall prey to self-pity or temptation to self abuse!
Today, I’ll leave you with this. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I know I have dreams of being an actor, traveling the world, of being able to provide not only for my family and for myself… but also give back to the world around me, to make a difference in the lives of those around me for the glory of God… however, I learned that I have to leave everything out before the Lord and let him direct my path. His will. Not mine. Below is a recipe for a delicious time meal that I adapted from one that was given to me through a friend at the following link:

20 min Thai basil beef

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Thai Basil Turkey

Ingredients
~ 1 pound of ground turkey
~ 2 shallots, diced
~ 2 red bell peppers diced
~ 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I forgot to put this in when I originally tried the recipe)
~ 1 jalapeño pepper
~ 1 Anaheim pepper
~ 1 package of shredded red cabbage
~ 1 tablespoon honey (I didn’t measure mine when I put it in and probably added more than this)
~ 1 lime, juice and zest
~ 1/2- 1 cup basil (I bought a mini basil tree from sprouts market)
~ 2 green onions, thinly sliced
~ sea salt to taste

Directions
Place the turkey and shallots in the pan to cook until almost thoroughly cooked through. Add the remaining veggies and basil, along with the lime juice and honey and simmer until veggies are tender and turkey is thoroughly cooked. The original recipe calls for soy sauce, tamari sauce, OR fish sauce. I’m allergic to soy and tamari, and didn’t have any fish sauce so I opted out of it all. Feel free to try using anyone of those options if you’d like. I served mine with brown rice. As a result, it was a wonderful meal after dealing with a serious day of pain! Perfect comfort food!

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Until next time… God bless and as always… keep pressing on!

 

Spring break with purple sweet potato bread

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Spring break! Here it is, and boy is it beautiful outside! Living in the Bay Area is so incredible! There’s so much color and life in this area it’s unreal! For the first time since I started going to college I’ve had no major homework assignments to focus on or exams to study for, so I’ve tried to make the most of it by enjoying time with my family (eating my new favorite treat… enlightened ice cream bars) and baking.

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Just before spring break started I received two very special packages from a friend of mine in Colorado. Miss Emily sent me a doughnut mold and a jar of Georgia grinders pecan butter! With that, I got straight to work on coming up with new recipes! I haven’t completely mastered the one I’m going to post yet so I’ll save that for another post. However, today I’m going to share a recipe for something I came up with after enduring an emergency dental appointment. To make a long story short, after weeks of having a swollen face, I found out I had an abscess in my lower right jaw. When I went to have it investigated, they found that there was a piece of tooth root left behind from a previous extraction that caused a huge infection. It very well could’ve been connected to the heart problems I was having before. So, after the surgery to remove it, I ended up eating mush for the better part of a few days (still just getting back to eating solid food 😞). During that time I was determined to get my nutrients in. In an effort to do so I came up with a recipe for purple sweet potato bread!

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As for my body in the physical pain, I’ve talked about it so much on here I really just don’t see the point in bringing it up anymore. Y’all know my struggles… Spring break has had its own. Put it this way, once again I’m doing a lot of icing and heating and spending time at home, in pain. Psychologically and emotionally, it’s been wearing however I’m choosing to keep my chin up and praise God through this storm in my body. Well part of me wants to hope that I’ll run again, right now even working out seems impossible. For those of you pray, please pray for me because honestly I just don’t know what to do anymore. The best I can do is move forward, keep praising God no matter how painful this season is, focus on what’s in front of me, try to help others so I get the focus off of me, and bake till I can’t bake anymore! I’m going to cut this one short and leave you all with the recipe for purple sweet potato bread 🍞! I hope y’all have a wonderful spring. I hope to post soon with a new donut recipe!

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Purple sweet potato bread
-1 and 1/2 cup baked, then mashed purple sweet potato
-1 egg
-1 egg white
-1/2tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp almond extract
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Mix ingredients and bake 350° For 15- 20 min. Let cool and…
You may top with slivered almonds and a drizzle of honey 🍯
OR your favorite nut butter

New Years with Turkey Soup!

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Well…. here it is, the New Year and… so much to be grateful for! Yes, me… the one who is scrapping cans and bottles together to buy food and gas is GRATEFUL. Why? I’m alive, I have family, friends, school, work… plus… I woke up this morning. I really have been fed up with stressing on little things. It seems every time my family and I have even begun to get ahead, we get knocked down. We see advancement in finances and health… then BAM… HIT! I got up this morning and was like, “you know what God… My life is not anything like what I wanted it to be. My body hurts, my spirit longs to walk, run, and race freely, my family and I are barely getting bye but You know what? Compared to others in poverty stricken countries… I’m filthy rich! So, I’m going to thank You for the MANY times you’ve shown up and sent provision, for the fact that I can worship You freely, and for the fact that I’m even breathing!” Then, this weight was lifted off of my shoulders! Why?

Matthew 6:19-21 – Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

In 2016, I kept focusing so much on what I didn’t have that I’d forgotten to stop and enjoy the many things I do have… I got so focused on “storing up riches” and trying to get financially stable that I’d forgotten that all of this is all temporary.

That being said, I want to just encourage you… whatever “resolutions” you may or may not have, keep a Christ perspective. Ask the Lord to show you what HE wants you to have as resolutions and to help work through you to build His kingdom for the benefit of others. For me, this means drawing closer to Him, asking Him to help me continue to build the vision He has instilled in my heart and to use my life for His glory.

This year, I was blessed with the honor of singing backup for the amazing Linda Jackson at our New Years Church service! That woman is absolutely incredible! What an honor to share the stage with such a beautiful legend.! I then wen home and enjoyed some sparkling cider with mom and nephew and… went to bed at 11:30… hahaha!!! Honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Great fellowship and time with my loved ones… what more could I ask for?

Short post today, however… I’ll go ahead and leave you with some food victories and a recipe for some tasty turkey soup! I came up with my own recipe while trying out my new slow cooker that I got for Christmas (thanks Mommalou)!

Food victory… theo Dark Chocolate bar!!! This sucker is almost gone and has been such a delicious treat! Something I didn’t even allow myself to have when I was working out/ active and all I can say is… boy was I missing out!

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Sparkling cider… yes… this was a victory, because when you are restrictive, even things like sparkling apple cider can become huge phobias!!!

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Turkey Soup Recipe:

Ingredients

~1/2 turkey carcass

~4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

~1 cup chopped turkey

~4 chopped carrots

~5 stocks celery Chopped

~1/2 white onion

~1 clove garlic minced

~1/2 teaspoon bay seasoning

~1/2 teaspoon sea salt

~1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

~Rosemary to taste

~ Water to fill line

(Cook rice separately)

~1 cup brown rice

~1/3 cup broth

~1 and 2/3 cup water

Directions

Place carcass in slow cooker with vinegar and water to fill line. Set cooker on high for 3 hours, then place on low for 7 hours (overnight). Strain broth into an extra bowl  pulling all remaining turkey off the bones. Place bowl in the fridge over night. Pull bowl out and scoop off layer of fat from the top, place broth in slow cooker with seasonings, turkey, and veggies and set on high to cook for 2 hours. Then cook on low for 2 more hours or until veggies are tender. Meanwhile, place rice, broth and water into a pan to cook on the stove. Follow general rice cooking procedure for this.  Keep the soup and rice separate even in storage in the fridge, it will keep the rice from soaking up all of the broth in the soup. Put them together when you’re ready to consume!

What made this soup taste the best was that while making it, I did a bible study by Kevin Swanson (thank you miss Emily) with my mom. So, I was preparing fuel for our bodies while we fueled our spirits!

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I hope y’all have an amazing year! I’ll post as time and inspiration provides! God bless!

 

 

 

Carnival, Magic, plus pumkin brealfast bars!

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Hey y’all! I hope you had an amazing week! Mine was… well…. eventful! I started the week (as I mentioned in my last blog) with a visit to Dr. Runco then a stop to see my god Grammy who is still in the rehabilitation center. One of the greatest things I’ve been able to truly grab a hold of in this season is the value of people and relationships. Seeing god Grammy was like a breath of fresh air! While there, I was able to discuss (with my god mother’s sister) some possible positive goals to set my feet towards as far as education and/ or employment. By the end of the visit, I felt excited and ready to face some new challenges! The following day held the challenge of recovery. I did a very light, gentle, two mile jog and headed home. Wednesday I headed out after bible study for another jog. This one was about 4 miles. Then… my muscles tightened up and pain began! I consulted Runco and he instructed me to take it easy the next day and do a lot of stretching, so… I did just that! A light 3 miler with lots of stretching and ice… thankfully, stiffness and pain was gone by Friday morning! Mom took little guy and me to Fernandez park and like a happy little puppy, I headed off for a 4 mile run. Just as I was headed over a bridge to finish the last mile, I felt a tug in my left side. So, I pushed myself in by taking shorter strides. I made sure to cool down, stretch and prayed that it would subside. Meanwhile, I refocused on the Hilltop Community Church Harvest Carnival. I was set up as a volunteer to help with the games, so…. I shrugged off the worry about the tug I felt, and prepped myself to enjoy an evening of laughing kids, handing out candies and enjoying a free magic show put on by Alex Ramon (former ring leader of Barnum and Bailey Circus, head magician at Illusion Fusion voted best show two years in a row)! When I arrived at church, the set up was BRILLIANT! Huge jumpies filled the parking lot, games flooded the old sanctuary, and the anticipation of the illusionist show was in the air… and like a little kid…. I wanted to meet the guy behind the magic who actually attended my church in his childhood! After my volunteer shift ended, I waited with the crowds in the foyer for the doors to open, then we headed in for an amazing treat! Alex’s modern twist on classic illusions along with new ones of his own were amazing! I can honestly say that it was pure art! After the event, Janet (our pastor’s sister and church treasurer) told me if I wait till the crowd died I’d get to meet him. So… I waited. As I waited, I talked to his assistant, Meghan who is really involved in fitness and wellness and told me about Alex’s sister who does something called the ring wellness! As we chatted, I began to get even more inspired to set out on the quest I’d talked to my God mom’s sister about on Monday. As I continued to wait I was blown away by what I witnessed.. Alex took time and shook hands, took pictures and talked to pretty much everyone that walked up to him! My reason for waiting to talk to him? Well, here is someone who was raised by a teacher and truck driver (both hard and humble jobs to work), found a form of art that he practiced and perfected, now travels the world blessing people with his giftings, comes back to his home church to do a FREE show and takes the time to make each guest feel important. Ummm that shows a LOT of character! When I got up to talk to him I told him how encouraged I was by his story. We talked a little about what I do and when I told him why I run, he said, “tinkeredeemed! You tagged me on instagram!” Apparently he remembered me from a picture I’d posted and tagged with his name to advertise his event and apparently, he read my mini instagram bio! Wow! What a blessing! Anywho, like a kid I asked for a photo and autograph and like a sweetheart he gave me both =) I then headed home with new ideas and a heart full of hope for the future!
The following morning, I woke up and… I faced my current reality once again. Still unsure if whether or not the tug I felt was anything to worry about, plus worries about finances, the possibility of having to care for little guy while my mom works this upcoming week (meaning I risk further injury due to having to lift him) being that we can’t afford day care thus week… poor little guy. It’s not easy on either of us. uhhh I headed out to Kennedy Grove to the one place I knew I could jog, clear my head, and… pay my respects to my recently deceased God Dad. I pulled up to the fire trail entrance, parked and jogged in. I quickly paid my respects and headed out of the park and onto the streets for my favorite run in my original training grounds. About one third of the way out toward Valley View, the tug in my left side started up again. I carefully pressed on, went to my turn around point and headed back, tug again then… again… SOMETHING was off! I stretched out, got in the car, took off to do some quick errands and headed home. Man… my heart ached. I’m trying so hard to get back up only to continually get smacked down! Again, I shrugged it off and finished my day with a smile. Sunday, church… pain… I almost wanted to stay home, however I sucked it in, kept a smile on my face and headed off to enjoy the purple book class and service. This I’m glad I did! The presence of God was so thick if it were an ocean, I cold swim forever in it! On top of it, Pastor Jim’s message really helped me dig deep! It talked about the faultlessness of God and how Good calls us to pursue holiness. That we should be like Isaiah who, even though he was the”holiest”of men in his time admitted that he was a man of unclean lips the very moment he stepped into the presence of God! Man… something to definitely gnaw on for a while. I didn’t want to leave because again, outside of those doors the realities of life awaited me like laughing giants. After service, my family and I headed home. After lunch, my mom decided to take little guy and me to the park. There, I walked a bit only to feel the tug worsen. I’d hope that it was just muscle tightness, but the pain worsened even more when I headed to the car to go home. I nearly couldn’t walk and I told my mom I needed to see my Chiropractor our go to urgent care. Neither were opened, and tomorrow, well… I face taking care of little guy, praying that I’ll be able to do it without any pain. Not sure of if and when I’ll be able to get some relief from this… I just keep on focusing in the promises of God. No matter what, I’ll continue to believe that God will turn this situation into something good. In the mean time, I’m thankful for the fun that I’ve gotten to have along with the time spent with loved ones. As far as running and racing… honestly, I can only hope and pray for a miracle. Dr Runco has done an amazing job and hopefully he’ll help me get to the root of the issue and Lord willing ( now that I finally have medi-cal ) I may be able to get some sort of physical therapy. However, I choose to keep my chin up despite the pain and frustration of my current situation and encourage those who are in the position to race, run, and even just live in good health to do their best and give it their all. In closing, I just want to say that whatever hand life has dealt you, find something to smile or laugh about, love fearlessly, cherish times with your loved ones and most of all seek the Lord and He will guide you through even the darkest of times! Now on to the recipe!
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*Pumpkin Breakfast Bars*
Ingredients/ Crust
-1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-1/2 cup apple sauce
-1/2 large, ripe banana mashed until liquid smooth
-1/4 cup nonfat or 1% milk
-1/3 cup honey
-1/4 tbs vanilla
Ingredients/filling
-1 15oz can of pumpkin (trader Joe’s)
-2/3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 cup (packed and slightly heaping) brown sugar (you can also use honey)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° spray an 8×8 square baking pan with olive oil cooking spray. Mix banana, Apple sauce, milk, honey, vanilla thoroughly. Mix brown rice flour and oats together, then slowly mix liquid ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed, take 2/3 of the mixture and cover the bottom of the pan setting the remaining 1/3 aside. Now, for the filing, mix pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar. Take mixture and cover the dough (inside of the pan) evenly using all of the mixture. Take the remaining 1/3 of the dough mixture, create little crumples and sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin. Place in oven uncovered for 30 min or until crumbles are golden, place out on a rack to cool and serve!
I hope y’all have an amazing and blessed week. If your get to try the recipe I hope your enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it! GOD bless 🙂
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