By LaMeka Howard
The Winter Olympics is coming, in 2022, and there is a new star conditioning to be the next Gold Medalist. Her mother knew, from the moment her eyes contacted her daughter’s eyes, after delivery, that one day she’s going to be something special: a star. This young woman of color will be the 3rd African American woman, in the world, to participate in the Winter Olympic Games (WOG) ice speed skate in short track. Prayerfully she’ll receive her hard-working reward. She has been conditioning 24 hours a week, 6 days a week, and her work-outs include: suicides, wall sits for 45 minutes straight, 101 push-ups straight, 14 full arm pull-ups straight, squat 220 pounds, bench press of 185 pounds, cardio, sit-ups, running at the highest speed on the treadmill at 15 level and on and off for 30 minutes, training on ice, and many other work-outs. Each one helps manage her weight, enhances her muscle tone, and strengthens her inner and outer core to maximize her trade. In addition, her coach stretches and challenges her to reach her goal. She is self-determined, self-starter, self-motivator, and over-achiever.
Who is this young woman of color? Her name is La-Starr Sneed. Let’s explore more into her world of how her life all began…La-Starr and her sister were neatly, fearfully, and wonderfully crafted in their mother’s womb, not yet knowing the world around them. Although she and her twin sister were unplanned and unknown by their mother, Ayeesha Williams, is one story that is not foreign by mothers with unexpected pregnancies. The next question comes, well, how did she not know she was pregnant? There are many women that asked that question. Williams was unaware of her pregnancy due to regular monthly menstrual cycles. She never missed a month, and there were no other signs of pregnancy such as morning sickness, extra food cravings, sensitive sense to smells, and no weight gain; however, when she discovered her pregnancy, she immediately decided to term it. Since it was too late to term her pregnancy, after her doctor measured her belly to determine her trimester, Williams became angry at God. She asked God, “Why God?” “Why would you allow me to get pregnant and you know I love to get high and I will not stop.” It was the same feeling that Halle Berry had in the movie Losing Isaiah. She thought that being high was greater than becoming a mother. All God could do is protect her twins by the blood. He didn’t want Williams to know about them because if she had known too soon, she would have had the opportunity to abort them.
Williams was not ready for motherhood, and she was neither mentally nor financially prepared. Her life was surrounded by pharmaceutical distribution and pharmaceutical consummation. God already knew in advanced that he needed to protect her children but had designed his children in Williams so she can transform her life to be closer to Him and to become a great mother for her children. During the time she was pregnant and consuming drugs, it was interfering with God’s creation in her that soon would lead to health complications.
On November 12, 1986, La-Starr Sneed was born, at home, to her parents Ayeesha Williams and Robert Sneed in Los Angeles, California. Williams delivered her baby herself while she was sitting on the floor watching soap operas. Sadly, her twin sister, Robin Sneed, died inside of her mother’s womb, during her mother’s second trimester. Her mother experienced insurmountable vaginal blood loss, and that’s how she discovered the loss of her baby: Robin. She knew that it had been from the drugs. God took her home and La-Starr was given a life to live abundantly for her and for her sister.
After her birth, social services had taken her into their care until Williams exhibited health improvements. Typically, these situations may either take one year or greater before parents are re-united with their children, but Williams set a plan for three months that she’ll be re-united with her daughter. Her plan was a success. Social services re-united Williams with her daughter, and she was able to come home. Social services also said, “Never in history have they given a child back to a parent this soon.” They could tell her spirit was completely different and it was because she had stopped using drugs, turned her life around, and had given her heart to the MOST HIGH. La-Starr came home with her mother and with her grandparents Vernetta “Candy” Woodman (she called her Gamma) and William “Bampa” Woodman Jr. Grandma Candy advised the social workers “As long as I had breath in my body, I would not let that happen,” of having her grand-daughter living in the system. She also stated “Her grand-daughter will always have a place to call home.” Williams received an abundance of support from her parents in raising her daughter. They lived in an apartment in California, where she was surrounded by love, church, God, education, and family, and her grandparents were strong influencers on her life. During La-Starr’s childhood, she was involved in church, track-n-field, music, and other recreational activities that stimulated her mind. Her mother advises “She was always involved in something.”
When La-Starr graduated from high school, she experienced several different types of relationships that she never thought she would experience abuse, trauma, divorce, loneliness, disrespect, and other emotional rollercoasters and emotional turmoil. The first relationship led her to become a wife. She didn’t love him, however, she decided to date him because he was preaching, and she thought if a man is preaching the word of God, then she would want to share the experience with him too. She was also excited about potentially having the title as a wife. She had a low-self-esteem during this season of her life and thought by being with him would redeem her from her insecurities.
After dating, they experienced a Jagged Edge moment of, Let’s Get Married, as he proposed to her, they eventually planned their wedding, and then it happened: they became one under God. They had two beautiful children, Se’Lah Seraphim (11) and Ze’Phaniah Zyion (9). She promised the Lord that whenever she was blessed to bring a soul into this earth realm, which is His footstool, that she had to honor the Highest Heavenly Holy Abba Father by naming her children something to do with His Word. She knew the importance of naming her children something significantly with meaning because it defines who they will become. Her children’s names are prophetic. Her daughter’s name Se’Lah means “Pause and reflect,” and Seraphim means one of the celestial beings hovering above God’s throne in Isaiah’s vision. Ze’Phaniah means, “God has hidden” Zyion means “A Sign.” Amazing!
Life came-at-her-fast, and the word divorce was considered. This moment reminded her of the movie, Why Did I Get Married Too in the role Janet Jackson played as Patricia Agnew, advising her husband she wanted a divorce. In her upbringing, divorce was not an option. It was important for marriage to last, but in their case, the best solution was divorce. Her marriage was an experience that she and her ex-husband learned from, and she realized that she did not have to do everything while her husband was unproductive. It took two in order to create a marriage, so it’s the same throughout marriage. Fortunately, it was not a divorce court show situation, but it was a situation that she never envisioned. She waited for her special day to become someone’s wife, someone’s love, and someone’s companion, and it went South. “Wow,” she says, “Is this what I’ve been patiently waiting for my whole life?” She respectably and patiently waited to join one with Him by staying a virgin, and she wanted to be the best wife for her husband. It was what she hoped for of having a Tony Terry experience, of Everlasting Love, a promise when she joined with her husband; on the other hand, what she hoped for didn’t happen. She admired her grandparents’ union of 60 years and hope to share that same lifestyle: a long-term marriage. When she became married, there was no oneness under God by working together; instead it was oneness working by herself in their marriage. Her husband was dependent on La-Starr and was not motivated. She cooked, cleaned, worked, and everything that’s in a mother’s resume description. She wore many hats, and her hats became overwhelming.
When La-Starr was finalizing her divorce, she was with child and she hid him from family and from friends. She would hear the whispers, “Why is she having another baby by him,” “He’s isn’t any good,” and “She better stop having all of them babies by a lazy man.” There were other unkind remarks and non-favoring comments, and the unpleasant experience of being pregnant. She wore coats in the Summer, which some pedestrians may think she’s insane, especially in California with the hot Summer heat, direct sunshine, and cool apparel worn by others, but she didn’t care about her attire. She didn’t want anybody else to know to only receive negativity. What mattered is her husband was happy and he wanted more children, however, La-Starr didn’t want to be placed in a position of uncertainty and struggle. She set in her heart to leave him for the past 6 years if he didn’t change. Her mind wasn’t focus on love; instead she valued the title of marriage. It’s the anticipation of having the title of marriage, the position as a “wife”, and the ring to symbolize I’m taken now. She knew happiness superseded the title of marriage and the other titles, so she decided to divorce him. Thereafter, her divorced was final and she welcomed her son, Ze’Phaniah. She and her family were evicted from the apartment because she was not receiving extra income to pay for her monthly expenses. She eventually placed everything in storage from the apartment and started a new life.
Four years later, La-Starr developed a new relationship with another gentleman she met online, and she thought this new experience would lead her to a better life. Sometimes after having children, a mother may become lonely and start rushing in relationships that may not be fruitful for their lives and for their children; in this case, she rushed what God didn’t prepare for her. To avoid having to deal with loneliness, she thought to herself, maybe he could be the one; however, her loneliness led her into the wrong direction in what she thought was love. She and he continued to develop a monogamous relationship and over time his attributes became unattractive. Her new relationship led her into mental abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, kidnapping, and constant threats. She tried to do everything she could to please him, but it still wasn’t enough. He forced her into difficult situations that she felt uncomfortable, forcing her to post pictures of a happy relationship when it wasn’t happy and excusing her of being involved with other men when she wasn’t. She did everything she could to keep him satisfied. Finally, she had enough, and when she had the opportunity, she left him. Her kidnapping is what triggered her to leave. She went missing from the State of California with her children for three months and he had taken her to other States far from California. Miraculously she escaped. He was arrested, and she knew this relationship had expire. This led her to restructuring her life by living in unwelcoming conditions, homeless shelters, in-and-out-of-her-car and having a lack-of-privacy. When her car became her full resident, she met another gentleman online. This time she knew that it could possibly be different.
She was able to manage her living expenses by paying her car note, working, paying her cellphone bill (in case of an emergency situation), taking her children to school and to child-care, feeding her children, having basic necessities and using public facilities to keep herself and her children clean. She would either go early in the morning to clean herself, by taking a shower--while leaving her children in the car as they wanted to continue to sleep because they didn’t want to get out in the cold--and then going to another facility to bring her children in to clean them too. If that wasn’t available, she would use baby wipes as soap to clean herself and her children. Times were hard, and it was quite frustrating, but La-Starr never given-up. There were times she received rejection from the homeless shelter because admissions mentioned that she neither looked homeless nor smelled homeless. What? It was very surprising for that to be a requirement to receive a place to stay in the time of need. Especially with a family of three. What’s admired is that she never allowed her circumstance to make her look like what she’s been through. She and her children lived in a car for approximately two years with no means of family support.
When her children would sleep, she would use that time to help fill her loneliness, and social media was her remedy. The third gentleman that she met didn’t start with a conversation of hello my name is or may have your telephone number or can we meet somewhere. No…no. She had given him and his wife a compliment from a video she admired about how much he explained his love for his wife. She commented on his page that she hoped to have someone to show her appreciation as he did for his wife and how much she admired his words and love for her. Immediately he, his wife, and his mother contacted her via social media, and wanted to pray for her. Eventually they were in contact, and he offered for her to come live with him and his wife. She didn’t think it was a great idea. He kept offering her to live with them both, and she decided to take a chance. When she lived with them, she discovered something unusual: a cult relationship. His wife was very submissive, and he was very controlling. He became controlling with La-Starr too where she and his wife couldn’t shave, couldn’t leave without him, couldn’t get their hair done, couldn’t get their nails done, couldn’t wear make-up (not even arching their eyebrows), couldn’t wear pants, shorts, and even designer sneakers (especially Air Jordan’s). She couldn’t function without him knowing their every move. When she would become sick, she wasn’t able to take medication. Her paychecks were collected and managed by him, and she and his wife didn’t have neither access to their money nor spending their money for necessities. He kept it all. She was able to leave that situation and lived back in her car.
She knew things would get better by continuing her work and taking care of her children, and she had a M1 Motorist License. In her club, she met someone else that she was not interested in, but he kept pursuing her. He also had his M1 Motorist License. She explained her past to him about her former relationships, and he made a promise that he would be different. How many times have women heard this promise from their boyfriend or significant other? The promise, is it true? Well, it was broken. He was very cold and nonchalant. When she became pregnant by him, at three months, she lost her job. She asked, “What are we going to do?” He replied, “That’s your problem.” Two months later she transitioned from the bedroom they shared into the living room, and he hated it. Since he hated her transitioning to the living room and having the sense of separation, he told her “get out” and she kindly removed her and her children’s personal belongings from his home, and she was homeless at five months pregnant with her two children. He was currently on medication for his mental illness (diagnose as bi-polar) and was not taking his medication as prescribed. This led to frequent outrageous outburst and unpleasant experiences with him. She no longer wanted her and her children to be in this environment.
Months later baby, Na’Zareth meaning “Separated, crowned, sanctified” Habakkuk meaning “embrace,” and Gethsema’nii (1) meaning “oil press,” was born to her and to her ex-boyfriend. La-Starr kept her promise by fulfilling her promise to God. She said a prayer to God that she remembered Him bringing Daniel from the lions’ den, and several other scriptures that saved people from harm’s way in the Bible. She told God that if He did it for them, she knows that He can do it for her too. She recited her favorite scripture every day of Luke 1:37 (King James Version) For with God, nothing shall be impossible and James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Amazingly God answered her prayers. He was able to have her and daughter Se’Lah and son Ze’Phaniah to play in a commercial where she received a fruitful paycheck. She used her earned funds to rent her own apartment and that's a milestone for her because she had an apartment when she was married and it had taken her 10 years to get her own place again. Finally it's a place she can call home for her and for her family. She was able to decorate it with her personal touches and have her children decorate their rooms according to their liking. She was able to feed her children, save money to begin another chapter in her life, and move forward with conditioning for the WOG. She weighed 178 pounds after having her last child, and she eventually lost 42 pounds and she is 3 pounds more than her previous weight before pregnancy. That means she’s closer to where she was before. She is an amazing example for all mothers that no matter mothers’ weight after pregnancy, mothers can reshape their figures—especially after having c-section. It takes a lot of will-power. It takes determination, motivation, and dedication. La-Starr works out at the gym, and in the ice-rink. Her coach is very understanding by allowing her children to come with her while she does her work-out. Her children will either skate or they will watch her. They are amazed at their mother’s work ethic, and how she hasn’t stopped in reaching her goals. If she is unable to go to the gym or ice-rink, due to babysitting not available for her children, she’ll work-out at home. Her mother is also proud of her daughter and what she’s accomplished, and she prays for her daily. Although her grandparents are no longer living, their spirit lives in her and she knows they are smiling down at her. What remains in her heart is what her grandmother said to her when she was little that "One day the world will know your name." Her father is routing for her too that she’ll make it.
Overall, she was not stopped from being born during birth, she was not stopped in her divorce, she was not stopped in her abusive relationship, she was not stopped by homelessness, she was not stopped by what the world thought she should do, she was not stopped by her weight gain, she was not stopped by being a mother, and she was not stopped of having children, because she didn’t have a babysitter, she kept moving forward. That’s the key. No matter the obstacles, get through it.
She does not claim to be a VICTIM of her circumstances but a VICTOR because she serves the God of ISRAEL, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob with all her soul, her mind, her strength, and her heart. Her calling is ministry, since the age of 4. She would use her mother’s speed-dial on her telephone to call everyone and leave prayers and prophetic warnings that came to pass. She saved lives from destruction. Praise God.
She is inspired every day to work-out and train for the Olympics. She has a set schedule of her work-out routine and she eats healthy. For her to stay lean, healthy, energetic and fit, she is disciplined with what she consumes. Three of her favorite foods are scramble eggs stuffed with diced tomatoes, jalapenos, Cayenne peppers, bell peppers, and onions (fajita blend), sweet bake potatoes and Acai fruit bowls with Granola bar, agave, and honey, and she stays hydrated with alkaline water. She had a c-section, with Se'Lah and two v-bacs with Ze'Phaniah and Na'Zareth-Habakkuk, her weight fluctuated, and she still managed to achieve her goal in losing and maintaining her weight. Amazingly she has six-pack abs, after having three children, and is determined to keep her belly fit. This can motivate other mothers they can do it too.
She tremendously enjoys motherhood. She is proud of her daughter Se’Lah because she is growing into a beautiful young lady that enjoys spending time with family and cooking for them too. Her son Ze’Phaniah admires his mother and pushes her to be the best, and Na’Zareth, is attached to her when she’s working out…it’s like a Look Who’s Talking moment. When La-Starr is not at them gym values ever minute with her children whether it’s reading together, shopping together, going to the park together, having conversations together, and going to church together. She would not change it for the world. She is blessed to have three healthy children and is blessed that God has given her to raise them up in His way. She wants her children to know they can conquer the inevitable with God.
When she is asked, “Who does she look up to?” Her response is, “It is not anyone famous. No, it is not anyone well-off. It is singled-mothers of multiple children and how they are able to get things accomplished with limited help from other souls as they care for the little souls they have charge over in this earth realm.” To her, that is a “Super Shero” in her eyes. There are three things she encourages: first take the time out one day and talk to multiple single mothers who have two or more children and be prepared to be amazed at all she must do throughout the day. It will truly change your thoughts on single mothers of multiple children.” It surely did with her. Secondly, she encourages mothers to never give up on their hopes and dreams. She advises “Not to settle for less because you are worth more than what you think.” She advises “Not to rush relationships because you’re lonely but wait for what God has for you.” She also encourages mothers that “All things are possible if you just believe in yourself and know that God is able to do all things.” These are the positive words that not only she uses to inspire other mothers, but what she uses in order to speak life over herself.
Let’s continue to watch La-Starr and pray for her during her journey that she will continue to be blessed. She has a jovial spirit that transforms lives, and we wish her must success on her future endeavor.
You can follow La-Starr on Instagram at LastarrOlympicgurl for updates on her progress to the Olympics and watch her preparation towards meeting her goal.