Tuesday, October 23, 2012



I can't say I will remember it as the best of years.  It has truly had it's fill of sorrow, strife and loss.

2012 will always be the year that I lost one of my closest friends.  One of the most traumatic events of my 34 years.

I was recovering from surgery.  I had some minor surgery just after school let out.  As I lay in my pain-medication induced haze, my friend called me.  Rachel had called a few times to check on me.  This time she called to talk about something that was bothering her.  I talked to her, but I don't remember what I said.  I remember telling her that the pain meds were making me a little loopy and I was tired.  She told me we'd talk again soon.  Little did I know it was the last time that I would hear her voice.  We texted some more that night.  The next day, I texted her a few times and she never answered.  That horrible day was June 14, 2012.  Later that evening, I got on her facebook page and saw all these comments about how much everyone would miss her.  After a phone call to another one of her friends, it was true.  Rachel had gone home to be with the Lord.  It was so unexpected.  Then again, I don't know that it would have hurt any less had I expected her to go.  Nevertheless, I fell in my husband's arms and I wept.  I think I even yelled "no, not my friend, my friend can't be gone!"  The next few days went by in a haze.  Her dad called me and asked me to say a few words at her funeral.  I agreed.  I sobbed through those words, but I was able to honor my friend.  My sweet husband held my hand through that whole funeral.  He told me it was hard to watch me sob about my friend in front of everyone.  Then it was over.  We were home and the funeral was over.  Rachel was gone.  I had been to her house after the funeral... all of the touches she had put on her home.  But she wasn't there.  I couldn't sleep.  I've never cried so much at once.  I am so thankful for my husband who held me while I sobbed and wept so many times.  And that's when I realized I had to grieve my friend.  I realized I had to hurt, I had to let myself ache for her loss.  And more than that, I had to lean on the Lord for strength.  My own little boy didn't really understand why his mommy was so sad.  He'd just tell me that he was here to cheer me up.  I'm so thankful for my son.

The journey of grief is one that I liken to the sea.  Sometimes the waves are hard and crashing, and other times the sea is calm.  So are the waves of grief.  Some days are better than others.

But at some point, I have felt that the prayer and scripture have begun to open the door to allow me to heal.  Don't get me wrong, I would give anything to pick up my cell phone and call Rachel right now.  I'd give anything to hug my friend again or go shopping with her.  But she's gone.  She's resting with the Lord in a place way better than here.  I am finally at a place of healing.  I'm not fully there, but I'm on the mend.  God has been so good to me through this loss, so good.  I couldn't be more thankful that Rachel was a part of my life.  She'll always have a special place in my heart.  I'm sure that there will be more tears shed as I miss her and that the waves of grief will still come at the most unexpected moments.  But right now, I can say that healing does come from the Lord.  Psalm 30 provides one of the best descriptions of healing that I've ever read, and it fully sums up my journey to healing.  May the Lord be glorified in my healing.

1I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2Lordmy God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
4Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain# stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
11You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lordmy God, I will praise you forever.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Remembering Rachel Part 2

Just the other day, something personal happened and I wanted to talk it through with someone.  I was babysitting a friend's adorable baby, so I was kind of occupied all day.  After the sweet baby went home, I ran to the store.  Trips alone in solitude are usually the time that I would call Rachel and talk things through with her.  (I remember she'd often answer the phone "hello chica")  It's hard to talk uninterrupted when you have a 7 year old.  Funny thing is that getting on the phone immediately spurs an involuntary alarm in your child's brain that they need their mom.  Now. Not later. Yes, it is an emergency.  You get the point. I finished my quick shopping trip and sat down in my car.  Truly in an involuntary response, I picked up my phone to call Rachel. Before I hit my contacts list, I remembered that I can't call her.  I drove home that afternoon with the music off and in silence.  I'm praying to soon get to a point that I have those moments and smile.  Smile because I had Rachel in my life.  She was a wonderful part of my life.  Not many people can say that they had a friend like Rachel.  I can.  I need to be thankful that she was part of my life, and grateful that I will see her again when it's my turn to meet Jesus.

Rachel loved to play games.  She loved competition and was always good at almost every game.  It was hard to beat Rachel.  You quickly realized that if you wanted to win, you'd better get on Rachel's team. In fact, Paul and I were playing a game with Rachel and Dennis once when we were visiting the Orlando area.  Austin was just a baby.  Rachel and I were playing against Dennis and Paul.  Rachel and I were absolutely beating the pants off of Paul and Dennis.  The guys started laughing, really hard, about their demise in the game.  Paul fell backwards and passed out.  All of the sudden, it wasn't funny anymore.  When he woke up, I took him to the ER. Paul ended up being okay.  He pinched a nerve that caused him to pass out.  This was all from laughing too hard.  While I took Paul to the ER, Rachel and Dennis stayed in our hotel room with Austin.  They didn't have a problem, and gave up their own comfort to sleep the majority of night in our room so we could make sure Paul was okay.  That's the kind of friend Rachel was, the kind who was always loving and selfless.

Last night, Dennis hosted a game night in honor of Rachel.  To be honest, I was a bit nervous that I might be sad while I was at Rachel and Dennis' house.  I didn't want to ruin the party with my tears.  Instead of the night being an evening of sadness, it ended up being a really fun time.  It was a great time of laughing a lot with her family and friends.  It was good to see Dennis.  I even got to see the last scrapbook that Rachel was working on.  The last time I left her house, I was sobbing all the way to the car.  This time, I left with a smile. A smile of gratefulness for her friendship.  I will always miss my friend.  Today, I'm grateful for her.  I'm so thankful I got to have a friend like Rachel.  It ended way too soon, but I'm so thankful that I had the 11 years with her that I did.  'Till we meet again in the arms of Jesus, I'll always cherish you in my heart Rachel.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Remembering Rachel- Part 1


The person I called for almost everything.

A reliable friend.

Someone who helped everyone, all the time.

An excellent teacher.

Someone who was always working on another language to learn.

The friend I told things to that I would never tell anyone else.

The one who would always remind me to look to Christ.

The person I had a lot of plans with for the future.

It was going to be so great.

But then the Lord called her home.  My heart is broken that she is gone.  Without warning, my friend went home to be with Jesus.

I miss her dearly.

I want to honor her memory.  I want people to know how great she was, and how her life truly honored the Lord.  I don't want to forget how wonderful it was to have her as part of my life.

Rachel and I met when we were first year teachers.  We were both crazy enough to take a job in a ghetto school.  I mean it was terrible.  It was right between 2 high poverty housing projects.

During the first days of pre-planning, Rachel and I were in the same "new teachers" meeting.  Mind you, out of maybe 25 or 30 teachers at the school, about 15 were first year brand new teachers.  Warning sign #1 that we should never have taken a job in that school.  As we were in the meeting, we were told that they would not be able to help us if we didn't tell them how we needed help.  Rachel piped up and said "excuse me, but how are we supposed to know what we need help on if we are first year teachers and don't know what we don't know".  That very second I began to like Rachel a lot. :) It was after the meeting that our friendship began to blossom.

School started and it was crazy.  We dealt with behaviors that you would never think a small child would exhibit.  Many many days we spent time after school in one another's classroom venting about what we had dealt with that day.

As I got to know Rachel, one thing that became evident was the absence of the Lord in her life.  2 other co-workers and myself began to pray for her.  Eventually, I invited her to church.  She started to come with me. At the end of the school year, Rachel accepted Jesus as her personal Savior.  It is because of that decision that she's with the Lord now.

I miss Rachel, a lot.  I've picked up my phone several times since she's passed to call her. I'll always miss her.  Always.  But I know that when it's my turn to meet Jesus, Rachel will be there waiting for me.

So you might be reading this thinking that you don't care about the ins and outs of my friendship with Rachel. That's not the point of writing several blog posts about her.  I want to convey what kind of person she was, and I hope I can do her justice.

To Rachel, my sweet friend, I will always miss you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crock Pot Freezer Cooking

Today, I made 10 meals and 18 twice baked potatoes to freeze.  Most of these meals are crock pot meals, which makes it even easier.  Here's a run down of what I've done today, with recipes.

Cheesy Chicken and Hashbrown Casserole

Here is how I made this:
-1 bag of hasbrowns (I used refrigerated, you could use frozen)
-1 large or 2 small chicken breasts, cut in strips and cooked in diced onions
-about a cup of grated cheese
-1 can of cream of chicken soup
-8 oz of sour cream
-about 1/4 cup of milk to thin it all out

I combined the ingredients above in a bowl and then put them in a freezer bag.  To cook, thaw it out the night before in the fridge, then layer it all in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.  I suggest using a crock pot liner to make clean up easier.

Twice Baked Potatoes

I wrapped the potatoes in foil and baked at 400 for 1 hour.  Then I split them in half and scooped out the insides.  I put the insides in a bowl and added grated cheese, butter, sour cream, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  You can add whatever you want, the sky is the limit.

Then after I mixed up all the goodness into the scooped out potatoes, I scooped them back into the potatoes as you see on the left.  Then I topped them with more grated cheese.  I grated the cheese using my new salad shooter which I found at the thrift store for $2.  Score.  Did you know that the grated cheese in the bag at the store has chemicals added to it so it won't stick together.  Ew.  I'll grate my own. thankyouverymuch.

After I prepped the potatoes, I placed them on a cookie sheet and put them in my freezer.  I leave them there for a few hours and then put them in a freezer bag and then into my freezer.  The fancy term for that is flash freezing.

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

I got this recipe from here:
Here's the recipe:

4-6 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts (i threw them in frozen... even easier!)
1 bottle BBQ sauce (sweet baby ray's all the way!)
1/4 c vinegar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder

I combined everything in a freezer bag, wrote the directions and froze it.

Thaw in the fridge overnight and then dump it all in the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.

Crock Pot Creamy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

I got this recipe from here:

To prepare this for the freezer, I put 2 chicken breasts in a freezer bag and added a bottle of BBQ sauce.  Thaw it out the night before in the fridge and then cook on low for 3 1/2 hours in the crock pot.  Before serving, shred the chicken and melt 8 oz of cream cheese in with the mixture.  Serve on buns of your choice.  Add whatever you'd like to make it yummy.

Bacon Ranch Chicken
 I got this recipe from here:

Here's the recipe:

  • 4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons of Real bacon bits
  • 1 Teaspoon of Minced garlic
  • 1 Package of Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 Can of Cream of chicken soup
  • 1 Cup of Sour cream
  • Cooked egg noodles

I combined everything except the egg noodles in a freezer bag.  I will thaw it the night before in the fridge and will cook it on low for 4 hours.  Shred it and serve with cooked egg noodles.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is my concoction, I made this up on the fly. 

- 1 chicken breast cut into small chunks
- 4-5 diced up carrots
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- frozen veggies of your choice
- 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 8oz of cream cheese
- milk to thin it out a bit

Put all of this in the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.  Heat the crock pot back up and put biscuits on top before serving.  Cook the biscuits until done.  I think it'll take about 30 minutes to cook the biscuits if you put the crock on high.

Italian Chicken

I got this recipe from here:

To prep this for the freezer, I seasoned the potatoes, carrots and chicken separately and put each one in a quart freezer bag.  Then I put the 3 quart size bags in the larger freezer bag and freeze.  Thaw the night before in the fridge and then layer in the crock in the morning and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Chicken Alfredo

This is not a crock pot meal.  I took a large chicken breast and cut it into strips and cooked it with onions.  Then I added a jar of alfredo sauce and some frozen spinach.  Thaw it the night before in the fridge.  Warm it up and then add cooked noodles of your choice with it to serve.

Taco Night

Another recipe on the fly.  In the large freezer bag is a pack of tortillas, a ziplock of grated cheese, 2 chicken breasts in a ziplock and another ziplock with a can of black beans with diced onions and taco seasoning.  I intend to thaw all of this out and then cook the chicken and beans on low for 3 hours.  Shred it and serve on the tortillas and add cheese.

 Mequite Chicken

I literally took 2 chicken breasts, added a bottle of mesquite marinade and froze it.  Cook on low for 4 hours and serve over rice or pasta.

Chicken Spaghetti

I modified this to meet my family's taste preferences.  I added frozen peas, diced carrots, and onions.  Then I put 2 chicken breasts in the bag and poured the sauce mixture over it.  Cook all of this on low for 4 hours.  Shred and serve over spaghetti.