Thursday, April 23, 2015

Update, Update!!

Wow! It has been a while since I have been able to share what’s been happening in my little part of the world. I’ve been slipping on the recipes, the exciting news, the little epiphanies, and more. Work has been super busy for me and really required most of my attention. Being a Photographer, Website Administrator, Marketing Coordinator, Account Manager, Creating CSV files for a new Sales Rep App; AMP and more for my full-time job at CMI. And a Part-Time Chauffer, Freelance Writer, Domestic Goddess, Wife,  Chef, Accountant, Maid, and Mom to four Fur Babies for The Price Family all while attempting to eat, sleep and bath in between…well, I have really not had too much time to say even…Hello.

Let me catch you up on the last several weeks.

 A new baby! Fur Baby that is. Meet Dodson, the little puppy terror who captured our hearts. He's the happy boy trying to steal the attention.




While out for a walk one Saturday morning, this little cute ball of fur decided he wanted to follow us home. Just when we thought he would run off because he would get so far ahead of us while we were walking, he would turn around and run back to see us. Long story short, several flyers around town, 3 hours going door to door in the neighborhood, and advertising on Social Media…we learned Dodson was meant to live with us. He thinks everything is his to chew, everything is his to sit on, and all we want to do is throw his chew toy for him ALL day. It really is exhausting having a new fur baby in the house, but such a delight. He is part of the family now.

      Freelance Writing! One of my dreams is to be a writer. I don’t think I am necessarily that good…to write. However, it is something I enjoy immensely. Probably because I always have a lot to say and never any time to say it. So I like to write it all down. Besides, it helps me process feelings. I began writing for Sumter County Living Magazine and submitted my first Article a little over a month ago. Since then, I have had 3 additional assignments for Albany Living Magazine. The people I have met in the process have impacted my life in the most positive ways. I have the opportunity to meet very inspirational people who really put life into perspective for me. On top of it, I get to give credit to God for it because the majority of the people I interview are Believers and they want to share how God is working for them. The fact that I get to meet awesome people, work for awesome people and write for a Publishing Company that isn't afraid to highlight God's awesome power is a blessing that is not lost on me. Neither issue has come out yet, but Albany Living Magazine will be out in June and Sumter County will be out in August. I can’t wait to share them with my family and friends...and you!

     Counselor! Another passion of mine is counseling. I actually went to College to be a Counselor, but I never finished…because well…I was too busy being a teenager and young adult and that was more important. However, God has filled that need in a way that I am thankful for and yet at times, it can really wear me down. Every day there are at least 2 people who come to me with a problem. Why? I really don’t know…other than “Free Sessions Here” is written across my forehead. I am not complaining, I enjoy being able to assist people or simply lend an ear. I must admit that my sensitive nature does make it difficult sometimes because I care deeply and when everything else in my life is hectic…my body wears down from carrying my load plus the load of others. But I have really been needed lately and I am thankful to report that some of the issues that I have helped people work through have come out for the good of God…that I am more than thankful for!!


      Health Concerns! Ugh…I tell you. When one thing happens that is good, something bad happens. Okay, maybe not really. But lately for me it seems that way. I have really healed a lot over the past 9 months; lost 45 pounds, learned what my body likes to eat and what it simply rejects. I’ve shared a part of that journey with you already. Now I am getting sick AGAIN! Not as in…I am so sick that I need pity. Just as in…I am sick again and really tired of it. I do know however that a part of that stems from something my mother always told me. I can’t go and go and go and not get sick. I have a weakened immune system and being a sensitive person on top of that, if I go and go and deal and deal and help and assist and try to be Wonder Woman, I always wind up worn down, tired and sick. So, please pray for me to get well. I would appreciate it.

      New Project! Finally, having asked for prayer. I want to invite you to join me on something I think we could all benefit from. It's been a while since I've done this, but I used to make a Prayer Calendar that I would give out to willing participants. Beginning in May I want to begin a daily prayer calendar again. Each day we focus on one to two specific needs. These needs can be unspoken requests, requests made known but names not mentioned, etc. How this works: submit your prayer request to me at racheljwellons@gmail.com. If you have a specific date you're requesting prayer ex. Medical appointments, family issues, testing, etc...make sure to put what date you would like to have everyone pray for you. Once the calendar is filled I will submit to all participants for you to print off and place somewhere you will see daily...each time you view that calendar you will be reminded to pray for that person/need. It will help us all grow closer together and to let those in need know that their name is being lifted up. I did this several years ago for about a year and it was powerful and we received many answered prayers. So I can begin the calendar, please start submitting ASAP. Days may fill up quickly and some may need to be moved to June, so please make sure if you need prayer on a specific date to let me know when you email me. Never be embarrassed to ask for prayer. We all need them.

Sorry I haven’t been on here in a while. I think everyone understands as we all have really busy busy moments. Especially you moms!!! Wow!! How…do…you…do…it?!

Love,
Rachel


Monday, March 16, 2015

Which Would You Prefer?


Chocolate Spread 1:Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread®
Ingredients: Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Palm Fruit Oil, Sea Salt, Natural Vanilla
Serving size: 2 tbsp.
180 Calories, 14g fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 8g Sugars, 4g Protein

Chocolate Spread 2:Nutella®
Ingredients: Sugar, Palm Oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Skim Milk, Reduced Minerals, Whey, Lecithin as emulsifier (soy), Vanillin: an artificial flavor.
Serving size: 2 tbsp.
200 Calories, 12g fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 21g Sugars, 2g Protein

I love, love, love, adore, cherish, love, desire, crave, and love chocolate and strawberries. Before this lifestyle change, I would buy strawberries in bulk and a jar of Nutella® and dive into heaven. Since I have been making smarter food choices and discovered Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread® and began eating organic strawberries instead, my heaven became even more heavenly.

Yes, it costs more money, but listen…for me, making the right choices now instead of paying for them later is worth every extra penny I spend. Also, this is a treat for me. So if my budget won’t let me buy it, that really is okay…because treats shouldn't be consumed all the time. Adds to the waistline ;)

Also, notice the difference in the picture below between an organic strawberry and a non-organic one. The organic strawberry is smaller. While the conventional one is really big and appealing for the eye, it is not so much for the tummy.


For one, more than 40 different pesticides have been found on non-organic strawberries. Also, “organically grown strawberries are more nutritious than their chemically grown counterparts.” Finally, they contain more vitamins and antioxidants. 

Love, 
Rachel


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recipes

I haven’t been posting my recipes lately because I have been super busy! But I’ve had a handful of people asking me to assist them with learning to eat healthier. It makes it easier for me if I just post my recipes on here. I have a lot of catching up to do so I am including a few recipes in this one post.

Turkey “Burgers”
1 pound ground turkey
1 tsp. poultry seasoning (or can use any spices you prefer)
S & P to taste
¼ tsp. cumin powder
Tomato
1-2 Zucchini
Organic Ketchup
Horseradish Mustard
1 tsp. Grapeseed oil
1 tomato sliced

This can easily be grilled outside or cooked on your stove top. I grilled (or my husband did)

Pre-heat grill.

To the raw ground turkey add poultry seasoning (or seasonings of your choice), S&P, and cumin. Massage together and make into 4 equal patties and transfer to the grill.
While they are on the grill, slice zucchini into thin circles. 
Take a sheet of tinfoil and make a “pocket” and lay the zucchini on the sheet. Season them with S&P and stir in the grapeseed oil. Place on grill. Cook burgers until they are no longer pink and zucchini until it is tender and brown.
On a plate, layer 4-6 zucchini slices, turkey patty, tomato, ketchup, mustard and top with additional zucchini.


.
Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie
1 Free Range Organic Whole Chicken
Two stalks of celery
Three carrots
Fresh rosemary
Poultry seasoning
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ cup almond milk
3 tsp. grapeseed oil
1 cup broth from cooked chicken
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit & Baking Mix

In a large stock pot, cover the whole chicken with water. Into the pot put carrots, celery, rosemary, seasonings, S&P and 2 tsp. grapeseed oil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover to cook until tender and no longer pink. Take chicken out of the pot and let cool.

Preheat oven to 425

In the meantime make the pie crust according to Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit & Baking Mix package directions and cut into equal strips. (note: there will be left over crust, either wrap it and refrigerate for a few days or sadly, discard)

In an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish place the remaining 1 tsp. grapeseed oil to coat the bottom.
Remove the skin & bones from the whole chicken once it has cooled and shred the chicken. 
Into the dish, add the shredded chicken, S & P to taste, almond milk, broth, and 1 tsp. biscuit & baking mix and stir. (if the mixture looks too thick, add additional broth or almond milk as it some of the moisture will cook out in the oven and you will want it to be moist and not dry)


Place the pie crust strips on top and bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then turn down to 350 and cook an additional 20-30 minutes or until top of crust is brown and chicken is bubbly.





Enjoy and as always...

Love, 
Rachel

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm A Writer Ya'll!!

I did it, I did it, I did it!!! Well, God did it! Today, March 10, 2015 I submitted my very first article for PRINT you guys!! P-R-I-N-T!! Then want to know what I did after that? Submitted an invoice!! Like a, hey...I need some money...INVOICE!

I have always wanted to write and I have always wanted to write for God. All because a Facebook friend reached out to me to speak with her Publisher, meeting with said Publisher, and praying for the right words to type...God came through and did so in a major way for me.

I have officially submitted my first article for Sumter County Living Magazine and it will be delivered in August.  And you know what? These people aren't scared of God. They aren't afraid of hearing how He works in peoples lives and they aren't afraid to deliver it to the citizens of this county (and many others) through a hometown magazine.

I just can't stop basking in the glory of God right now and how awesome He is to allow me the chance to be a conduit for His greatness! How amazing He is to allow me to speak up for Him and use His name in a day and age when so many people are trying to silence it!

I wanted to celebrate with God in a major way today. When I got in my car, this song was playing. I turned the speakers up as loud as they would go and jammed out, sang along, cried and realized that my past is just that...my PAST!! When others say "you can't do this" or "you'll never be enough", etc... ignore it. And if this doesn't seem like a big deal, that is okay with me because it is to me, God, my husband, my family and my friends.

Whoop..............WHOOP!!

Love,
Rachel

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Possibilities

My tea is steeping and rain is falling outside my window. Life is good, God is good. I have seen many dreams come to pass over the past two years that have blown me away and taken what faith I had and stretched it so far and so big that I know God really does want the best for me…for you. I understand grace now and what it really means. I once had a friend tell me “You don’t know how to accept God’s grace.” That was huge for me and resonated within for about 6 years.

I used to think I had to be a martyr for my previous marriage, my place of employment, to those who struggled with their own demons by “saving” them, and on and on. I used to live my life working to earn the grace only God can so freely give. Not until I stepped out of the boat and held my hand out to God in faith did I begin to see that sometimes God needs us to help ourselves.

Yes, He is always present and will always be there for us. But there are times when we have to take the training wheels off and show that we believe we can ride without falling all while knowing that He is watching to make sure that if we should crash, that He is right there to pick us up and set us back into motion only if we know in our hearts that He is there.

A while back I created a visual board for myself of my hopes and dreams that I knew could only come true if God allowed it and if He were to put the right people in my path or create the circumstances to make these dreams come to pass. I sat this visual board by my bed and look at it every single day. At the top of it are the words “It’s already mine!” to show that I know God will provide if it is His will. I have been speaking those things that are not, as though they were. Happily and with great joy I can announce that over half of what is on that board has come to pass.

Here are a few:

     In Love: I have the most wonderful husband!! I know God specifically handpicked him for me. I am still on a daily basis, shocked that this man God has given me knows me so well and treats me so well.

    Donate: I now, alongside my husband, sponsor a child through Compassion International which was something I was unable to afford 3 years ago.

     Writing: I have been blogging again and just received my first Freelance Writing job last week. I have two articles to complete and hand in by April 13th with the opportunity to complete more assignments afterwards.

     Happy and Healthy: Since God and only God has given me the strength to change my life from living to eat to eating to live, I have lost almost 40 pounds and gained energy, better quality of life, easier movement, and less pain.


While these are only a few of the dreams that God has turned into a reality, these are the top 4 and mean the most to me. I am a true testament to what God can do for someone who “rarely gets lucky” (side note: I don’t believe in luck). He can take some serious situations and turn them around for not just good, but AWESOME! And because He has done these things for me, I must do this for Him….I must let you know that without God, much is impossible…but with God…ALL things are possible.

Love, 
Rachel

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Beauty Routine

So many things have been happening lately that I honestly haven't had the time to catch everyone up on where I am with my lifestyle change. I am researching and learning many new things so forgive me if this post is all over the place. I will try to keep it as simple as possible.

As you will probably see over the next few posts I am in love with coconut oil. I used it earlier in the week in a recipe that you can find here and I have become hooked. Not only have I been cooking with it more (look for recipes soon) but I have also started using it as a main staple in my beauty regimen. My hair and skin have never looked and felt better.Along with consuming only water and hot tea (occasionally organic lemonade or grape juice) to give my skin and hair moisture, coconut oil has really given me a glow.

How I use Coconut Oil for my hair

1. While I am in the bath (I don't take showers) before I wet my hair I take about a teaspoon of Organic Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil and run it through my hair. It is difficult to get the coconut oil out of the jar as it is in a solid form, but once it gets on your hands and you rub it, the heat from your hands will melt it. I really concentrate on the ends of my hair first. While it sits in my hair, I proceed with washing my face with my normal face wash.

2. I wet my hair and wash with my regular shampoo. I have read different ways to make your own shampoo from coconut oil by adding apple cider vinegar. I have plans to do this, but for now I stick with my go-to shampoo.

3. After I have rinsed my hair thoroughly I will then put another teaspoon or two of coconut oil in my hair as a conditioner and let it sit for about 10 minutes. This step can be done about 1 to 2 times a week when you have the extra time. Also, I am afraid if I do this daily, my hair will become too greasy. Taking a comb or brush, I spend about 3 minutes running it through my hair.

4. Finally, I shampoo once more and allow to towel dry if I have the time. If not, I will blow dry it on a low heat while styling.

I suggest doing this for the first time on a night when you don't have to go anywhere the next morning just in case it looks greasy. This way, you can have a day or two shampooing your hair without using the coconut oil to remove excess oil.

How I use Coconut Oil for my skin.

1. I have replaced my shaving cream for coconut oil. The razor glides smoothly over my skin and leaves my legs feeling and looking silky smooth. It is great for under your arms. Bonus: It won't irritate your skin or leave you with ingrown hairs or bumps.

2. After I bath with my regular soap or body wash, I take a handful while I am still in the tub and apply it to my entire body, including my face. Then I rinse off with water and towel dry by patting the moisture from my skin.

3. Finally, after all is said and done and I have my comfy PJ's on, I apply it to my fine lines and wrinkles and use as a lip balm.

I have really enjoyed how it has made my skin and hair feel. Even my husband has noticed and commented on how silky my hair and legs are.

Here are two images. The first is of my hair, excuse the quality of the picture. The second is one I took this morning before getting out of bed to show how clear my skin looks and how clean and smooth it appears.

Neither of these pictures have a filter. Coconut Oil is AWESOME!!!


Let me know if you try it and how you like it!!!

Love, 
Rachel

Monday, February 16, 2015

O.M.C.

Oh... My... Coconut!!!

This is the most creamy, delicious, flavorful, yummy, comforting dish I have made since Day 1 of my new clean eating lifestyle. Completely bored of the same old thing and then experimenting with new dishes that while YES, awesome!!!...left my stomach heavy and upset the next day...I am giving this dish mad props. 
I was extremely nervous about making this. These ingredients were not cheap and I have never in my life purchased coconut milk or coconut oil. I prayed for this to work and turn out delicious. It did!!

Savory Chicken and Noodles

I took the recipe here and once again made my own version

3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded ( I boiled mine)
5 yellow squash, peeled, cubed and boil until tender
1/2 c coconut milk
2 tbs, coconut oil, melted
1 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. lemonaise 
2 servings of gluten free rice/quinoa spaghetti noodles cooked


Directions:
1. In a bowl stir together coconut milk and all seasonings with a spoon.



2. Once your squash is tender and cooked through, drain and using a potato masher, mash until smooth and creamy and set aside along with cooked, shredded chicken.

3. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, melt the coconut oil.

4. Once the coconut oil has melted pour in the coconut milk with seasonings. Add the chicken, apple cider vinegar and squash then stir. Once it begins to boil, turn to a simmer.



5. While the mixture is simmering, cook noodles according to the package directions, drain and transfer to pot. Stir together, plate and enjoy!!!



Recipe makes 4 servings.

Please make this!! You won't regret it...

Love,
Rachel

Friday, February 13, 2015

Calm Down

Stop what you are doing right now. At this very moment, stop everything and listen to me. I want you to close your eyes for the next 30 seconds and deeply breathe. Take long, deep breaths to the point you almost ache. Do it now.....

Better?

Life can be so extremely overwhelming. There are times when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Because of this we honestly miss life. It seriously just passes by. As a child I can recall thinking Christmas, summer vacation, my birthday would never come. Life was lived day to day. I don't recall worrying about what was going to happen tomorrow or focusing on the days behind because my eyes were so eager to see what the current day held for me. Life was bigger as a child and even as a teen. Have you ever walked back into your old Elementary School or High School? Ever gone back to a home you visited when you were younger and realize how small it is now?

Trees were taller, nights were longer, friendships were more sincere. What happened?

I believe that our focus changed. It changed us and how we perceive our day to day life. Every person, every form of pleasure we seek, every thought or idea that we entertain has the ability to create a positive or a negative effect on us. More often than not, we humans tend to focus more on the negative. It is just easier, but why?

Mainly because there can always be a downside to everything that is good. However, there can always be an upside to everything that is bad; though it seems that we spend more of our energy on remembering the bad and forgetting the good.

How many times can you recall your bills being paid on time and without any penalty?
How many times can you recall your finance charges increasing or your water being shut off or a bill collector contacting you?
How many times has your boss or a co-worker, friend, spouse, teacher praised you? What did they say?
Can you recall the negative things they said to you? Is it easier to remember the bad?

Fortunately, yet unfortunately, you are not alone. Our brains are actually wired to remember negative events more than positive ones. However, this doesn't mean that our focus has to remain on the unfortunate experiences thus creating an attitude of doubt or pessimism. We can actually change our focus back to a more relaxed state of mind where the good outweighs the bad.

Here are 3 steps to help you change your focus to a more positive way of thinking and living.

1. Breathe

When we are relaxed we breathe slower than when we are anxious or experiencing negativity. We actually take breath for granted because it is a powerful tool used to calm the mind when the going gets tough, when we feel threatened or when bogged down with worry. Deep breathing slows down your heart rate and brings with it a sense of calm. There are many ways you can practice deep breathing by looking online for tips and techniques. For me, there are two ways I calm my emotions down and put my mind back into a more realistic way of thinking.

A. I close my eyes and breathe in through my nose until I can no longer take in a breath. I hold that for a count of 10 and release it through my mouth to a count of 10.

B. A new technique I recently learned was to breath in through the nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7 and release through the mouth for a count of 8.

2. Gratitude

It really is easiest when life is going great and things are running smoothly to have a grateful mindset. But when things get rough that is when gratitude is most difficult. Being grateful for your bed, home, family, friends, job, transportation, clothing, food, laughter and so much more is one way you can begin to change your focus. Looking at the everyday things we take for granted or just expect to have easy access to because it has always been readily available opens up your mind to see how blessed we all really are. Even those less fortunate tend to have a more grateful attitude than most of us because they have been through or are going through a lot in their life and they really appreciate the blessings they do have.  Because gratitude will give you a sense of perspective that maybe life isn't as bad as it appears, you will become more high spirited when the going gets tough.

3. Forget the Past/Change it from Negative to Positive

Your past does not define your future. Your mistakes, missed opportunities, loved lost, etc...are no longer present. They are behind you for a reason. Too many people I know, including myself at times, dwell on the negative things they have experienced once before and often many moons ago. We wish we would have done this or not have done that. Focusing on the past can greatly hinder our progression into the future. To change your focus in this area why not share your story with someone? Use your negative past experiences to mentor, counsel or encourage someone you know who may be going through the exact same thing this very moment. Turn the bad into something that can be used for good.

While we will all have bad days we can change our approach to receive these negative experiences in a calmer fashion. Practice these three steps and watch the child in you realize that things aren't as big as you remembered.








Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ground Chicken Mexican Casserole


I really love to cook. 

Cooking is like therapy for me, it is a way I show love and it is a creative outlet. Sometimes preparing meals after a really long day is just not what I want to do. (I believe we all could agree the feeling is mutual) So lately my home cooked meals have been really blah. Not eating fast food anymore, while better for my health and wallet, is not better on days I am tired. So I will simply cook some Quinoa and throw in veggies. Once or twice a week this is fine. However, multiple nights in a row it becomes really boring.

I couldn't take another round of boring last night so I put my thinking cap on, went to the grocery store and when I got home I proceeded with making a meal I am proud to call my own. (Although it really is many different recipes all in one and has been done before by others) But still…my own.

Ground Chicken Mexican Casserole

1 pound lean ground chicken (no antibiotics, hormones, grass fed, organic)
1 cup Lundberg’s Wild Blend Rice (gluten free-whole grain-vegan-non gmo)
2 cups(or less) + ¼ cup Homemade Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
1-2 gluten free tortilla shell(s)
¼ cup non-dairy cheese or any cheese of your choice

In a pan cook ground chicken until brown and no longer pink. Meanwhile, cook Wild Blend Rice according to package directions. In an 8x8 casserole dish, spread ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom and place the tortilla shell on top. Once rice has cooked, transfer the ground chicken into the bowl with the rice and increase the temperature to high heat. Pour the remaining sauce into the same pan and let it boil rapidly for 3-5 minutes being cautious not to burn the rice…stir occasionally.

Turn off the heat and transfer the Chicken and Rice to your casserole dish. Top with an additional tortilla shell if you would like and shredded cheese and place in a 425° pre-heated oven until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Let cool and enjoy.


Homemade Enchilada Sauce

1 tbs. dairy-free butter or regular butter
1 ½ tbs. grapeseed oil
1 ½ tbs. Quinoa flour (or brown rice)
1 tbs. non-GMO cornstarch
1 ½ cups chicken broth (free-range low sodium)
6 ounce can tomato paste
6 ounces water
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried ground cumin
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. salt
(feel free to add 2 tbs. chili powder, 1 tsp. garlic…I just can’t consume either of these)

In a bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch and set aside.

Set the chicken broth beside the saucepan you will be using

In your saucepan, heat the butter and oil together over medium heat. When butter is melted and the oil has a slight boil, whisk the flour/cornstarch mixture slowly into the pan.

Immediately pour the chicken broth into your pan, but slowly and continue to stir. Increase the heat to medium-high.

Consistently whisk the mixture for about 2-4 minutes or until thickened.

Add tomato paste, water, and seasonings and whisk until combined. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

All in all this took about an hour to prepare and cook. You can very easily make this process quicker by using a quick cook rice of your choice, two cans of enchilada sauce and even faster with pre-cooked shredded chicken. Just combine it all together and throw it in a casserole dish with your tortilla and cheese.

Just remember, I prefer if you do this in a more organic way ;)

Love,

Rachel
Update: Just had leftovers...better the second time around!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Scar That Reminds


I have a scar.

It has been there for 17+ years.

This scar was caused by a pain so colossal and overwhelming that I couldn't breathe.

This scar was difficult to handle both physically and mentally and shook me to my very core.

This scar, it reminds me.

I applied lip gloss today and felt it.

I was 18-19 years old. I was in my room with my then boyfriend. We were arguing, not for the first time either. We argued a lot. He grabbed me by my face and bit straight through my lip.

This is my story of survival, of the scar that reminds me. It is the first time I have ever shared this story. Be patient with me as I unravel my soul in front of you.

He was in my Art class my senior year of High School. He was funny, smart and had a lot of friends. He sat beside me and made me laugh. One day he made a mixed tape for me and gave me a letter telling me how beautiful, smart and funny I was... how amazing I was and how he wanted to pursue a relationship with me. I fell in love.

The first slap came out of nowhere. We were in his bedroom with his mother in the kitchen and his father in the living room. We had a small disagreement. Out of nowhere he blindsided me with a slap to the face. I heard a boom within my ears and my body was filled with shock. Immediately he fell on top of me, clinging to my body, convulsing with tears and poured out his sorrow and shame for laying his hands on me. I was confused. I was hurt. I felt his sorrow.

For months it never happened again. I believed that was the only time it would ever happen and that his remorse was genuine. He became a prince. He was a gentleman; opening doors, taking me shopping, listening to my music, reading me poetry, taking me on trips, treating me like I was a queen.

Then it happened again. This time it wasn't a slap, it was a punch to my stomach and a threat that if I told anyone or tried to leave him that my life would be in danger as would my families. From that day on things became more intense. I walked on eggshells so as not to upset him. We had a routine. He would abuse me and then buy me jewelry or write me a letter or make a grand gesture to “prove his love” for me. I felt confused, I felt isolated and I felt trapped. The “man I knew” verses the “man he was becoming” were two different people and I so desperately wanted to have the “man I knew” back. I stayed. I stayed out of fear, love and confusion. My self-worth was slowly diminishing and I felt unlovable enough to stay.

As time progressed so did the intensity of his attacks. Slaps turned into blows. Blows turned into choking. Choking turned into being drug by my hair, which turned to kicks, which turned to knives held to my throat, which turned to blood being drawn, which turned to rape.

I told no one. I couldn't out of shame for myself, fear for my family and “love” for him. I became a shell of a person.

I don’t know how to tell you when an abused woman has had enough. I don’t know where to tell you she finds the strength to leave when any ounce of strength she had prior to the relationship is not only gone, but so deeply gone that even sleeping becomes too hard and requires too much power. I can’t even explain to you how I left.

It started one Saturday afternoon and progressed into Sunday.

Saturday,

In my own home with my family in the kitchen he got so mad at me because I didn’t want to leave and go off with him alone that he grabbed my face with both of his hands and pulled me to him. He leaned in like he was going to kiss me; instead he bit straight through my top lip.

Sunday,

My boyfriend and I were talking with his mother and she was sharing funny stories of his childhood. I felt safe enough in her presence to “laugh at him” and to joke him as well. I knew the repercussions, but for a brief moment, the ability to mock him within a safe environment was so overwhelming that I couldn't stop. Then it was time for me to go home. No sooner were we out the door when he grabbed me by my hair and pulled me across the concrete driveway. With steel toe boots on he began to kick me in the stomach, back and legs. His mother heard my screams and ran outside to get him off of me and I lay there on the ground, broken. She drove me home.

I began to ignore his calls and I tried my best to avoid him on campus. I had enough. Maybe it was the embarrassment of his mother finding out, maybe it was relief that someone finally knew, and maybe it was sheer exhaustion…but I ended it. He continued to try to see me, but I continued to tell him it was over.

However, this wouldn't be the end. It was a Monday morning. I was skipping class and sleeping in. I didn't have the energy to get up. It had been two weeks since we were through. He knocked on our front door and my grandmother let him in. She didn't know, I still had not told my family. I was still asleep. He came into my room and stood over me while I slept. I don’t know how long he was there. Eventually he woke me up. He looked crazier than I had ever seen him. Or maybe now I was seeing him for who he really was for the first time. Maybe this time apart and all I had been through finally opened my eyes.

He sat down, pulled a gun out of his pocket and put it to my head. I was frozen; couldn't move, couldn't speak. I don’t know what he said other than I ruined his life and he was going to end mine. Silent prayers and crying out to God in my mind saved me. He put the gun in his pocket and got up to walk out. That was it. 

Weeks later he approached me outside of my psychology class while we were waiting for our Professor to arrive and handed me a letter with red hearts all over it. In front of God and everybody I ripped it up, threw it in his face and finally stood up for myself. I told his fraternity everything he did and I put as much shame on him as I could. Eventually he would never even have the courage to look at me when we passed. I stood tall and unafraid. To this day if we pass one another he won't even look at me.

I have a scar and it reminds me. It reminds me that I am strong, that I am a survivor, and that I am worthy. It reminds me that I am a powerful woman.

Love,
Rachel

P.S. You can leave. It is hard and it is scary. It is not an easy road and not all women ever make it out. But there is help available and I am here to support and encourage you. I will even help you find a way out.


P.P.S. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. While there is a lot left out, the majority of the fear and pain is on this page. One day I will be able to tell my whole and complete story without fear. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When I Need A Treat

Chocolate, yum!
Fruit, yum!
Pecans, yum!

I love love love desserts. I probably have the largest sweet tooth ever, thanks to my mother. Finding yummy treats when you are gluten free, 50% vegan (can't commit 100% right now), against GMO's and want to eat organic as much as possible, having a yummy dessert can be challenging. Especially when you live in a small town where these options are few and far between. Despite these challenges I have found a new dessert that makes me so happy!!

I take "Enjoy Life" Cocoa Loco Baked Chewy Bars - (NON-GMO certified, Gluten free, dairy free, soy free) and add raspberries, black berries and crushed pecans.

I unwrap that chocolate goodness of a bar and heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds, crumble it and add my berries and pecans.

DELISH!!!

Love,
Rachel

Quinoa & Bean Burrito

Another delicious success for me along this food journey to health. I am going to keep this post short and just go ahead and share the recipe.

This recipe is gluten free and vegan friendly. Remember, always look for Certified Organic labels & Non-GMO labels.

Quinoa & Bean Burrito

1 serving Bob's Red Mill Quinoa
1 can Vegan Refried Beans
Yellow & Red Grape Tomatoes
Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
1/2 Lemon juiced
1/2 Avocado - cut into cubes
1/4 cup Cilantro
Cumin to taste
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste


Begin cooking Quinoa according to the package directions. This is where I add a little bit of salt, grapeseed oil, pepper and cumin along with 1 tsp. lemon juice for flavor. (Can easily use quick cooking quinoa instead that is already seasoned)

Heat refried beans in a small pot and turn off.

Add 1 tsp. Grapeseed Oil to a small pan that has been heated over medium-high heat. To the pan add the pine nuts, tomatoes and salt. Sautee until tomatoes are tender and pine nuts are toasted.




Transfer tomatoes to a bowl and add avocado, remaining lemon juice and cilantro. Break everything up with a fork.



Lay tortilla shell flat on a plate and spread a layer of refried beans over tortilla. Then add a layer of Quinoa, finally spoon the tomato mixture down the middle. Roll like a burrito and enjoy. Feel free to add cheese (if going vegan, add daiya mozzarella style shreds)




Please note that you can add more tomatoes, cilantro and avocado if you are cooking for 2-4 people. I cook for myself so my quantities are less than for an average size family. I cook my husband a separate meal each night as he is not into this lifestyle at all. While he supports it, he just can't hang, ha!

Enjoy!

Love,
Rachel






Friday, January 30, 2015

My First Pizza

I just had my first pizza. Okay, not really my first pizza. But, it is my first in a while. I did attempt a gluten free pizza from Domino's several months back, but was extremely ill afterwards. My body just did not like all of the other ingredients, I guess.

I have been craving a thin crust, crispy, flavorful slice and after a very long week and I knew that tonight I needed a certain element of comfort. So I took matters into my own hands to create my very own delicious "masterpiece".

I was scared, I admit. I enjoy taking recipes I find online or dig out of the vault in my recipe box and making them my own by adding and eliminating ingredients. But to just wing it tonight without a proven method of deliciousness or reading reviews from others who have tried it and loved it was a little scary for me. I was hungry,  I barely ate today and I just wanted to enjoy a moment with good food. I couldn't mess this up.

This pizza is gluten free and vegan friendly. This pizza is crispy and delicious. This pizza had flavor and completely satisfied my need.

Rachel's Tomato, Squash, Zucchini, Pine Nut Pizza

Preheat oven to 375

Ingredients for the sauce:
2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 golden grape tomatoes
Salt to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until pine nuts are roughly chopped.

For Pizza:
Thin gluten free pizza crust
(I will take the time to make one from scratch soon; tonight wasn't the night)
1/4 of a whole squash thinly sliced - almost transparent
1/4 of a zucchini thinly sliced - almost transparent
1 small tomato of your choice
Pepper to taste
Daiya mozzarella style shreds (or a dairy free cheese of your choice)

Once you have blended your sauce, brush over the entire pizza crust.

Layer your remaining ingredients and top with the dairy free cheese.



Bake for 10-12 minutes and then turn to broil for a remaining 3-5 minutes. Be careful to continue to check back every minute or so to make sure you aren't burning your pizza. Allow to cool slightly,
slice, kick back and enjoy!

I really enjoyed this pizza. It completely satisfied me and I am looking forward to exploring more options with my toppings. Dealing with IBS and gluten sensitivity really limits what I can and can't have. However, I am learning that I can indulge in the healthiest way possible and I couldn't be more thrilled!! 

This journey is long, it is tiring at times and it has been boring some days. That being said, I am experimenting and expanding my research for all options to find out that I can live this way and be completely satisfied! 

Let me know if you try it and what you think. 

Love,

Rachel

Monday, January 19, 2015

It May Shame You - But Don't Judge Her

I wrote this article a few years back on my old blog and felt compelled to share it again. Sanctity of Life Sunday was yesterday, 01/18/2015. I watched a powerful video this morning on the gift of grace for women and men who chose abortion at one time in their life and now suffer with shame and guilt. I encourage you to read this article and then watch this video after you have read the below. (Entry has been edited)


To think about after reading: If you are interested in helping women who are suffering please contact me below in the comments section or at racheljwellons@gmail.com. I have information that includes how to help women, spread the word on getting help, and making care gifts to send to women who attend “Rachel’s Vineyard” retreats. Thank you! (Please note: I am not affiliated with Rachel's Vineyard- we just happen to share the same first name)

I have sat with many girlfriends who could hardly see through their tears. Their breath was short and gasping. I held them as they cried on my shoulder. I prayed.

It is a word, a topic, that scares many Christians. With it comes a label that is inescapable. It is a secret so large that most women who do it, never tell a soul. They will live with it for their entire life. This decision was made out of fear, uncertainty, bad advice, and lies from the enemy.

Abortion

There are Christian women who have at one point or another stood on a very thin line. A line between right and wrong. They have been subjected to make a decision that would forever alter the course of their life.

A teenager who does not want to shame her family, chose it.
A woman who has been sexually assaulted, chose it.
A woman who believed it was a woman’s choice, chose it.
A woman who was not a Christian at the time, chose it.
A woman who felt she had no other options, chose it.

This choice then turned out to be a sin that was not easy to seek forgiveness for. It became a sin that she found would never leave her thoughts. She labeled herself a murderer, unforgivable, shameful, a bad mother.
According to abortionno.org and The Alan Guttmacher Institute and Planned Parenthood's Family Planning Perspectives.

Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as "Born-again/Evangelical".

Even though these statistics are high, we do not see churches or Christians in most communities offering help for women who made a decision; chose a path she now wholeheartedly and shamefully regrets.

She is forced to carry this burden alone. She is afraid that she will be rejected by her Church family if she seeks help. She is frightened that if anyone ever found out, her Christianity would be questioned.

I am writing this devotion today because I hear and see Christian women demeaning and judging other Christian women who had an abortion. It does not matter if this woman has changed her life, or now is Pro-Life, or hurts so deeply she wishes she could erase this mistake. It does not matter that she is shamed, the silence that answers her cry for help only makes the heartbreak deeper.

This is the one sin she will forever judge herself for. She has no need to receive the judgment from anyone else. Here is what she may go through because of her guilt and shame.

Guilt, Anxiety Panic Attacks, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts, Psychological “Numbing”, Abortion Re-Experiencing, Anniversary Attacks, Survival Guilt, Eating Disorders, Interruption of the bonding process with present and/or future children, Alcohol and drug abuse,Other self-punishing or self-degrading behaviors, Brief reactive psychosis.

Even as I type this, because I know certain women who are unable to bear children that have never had an abortion and I have heard their unforgiving views on women who made that mistake, it makes me fear being judged for bringing this to light.

But as Christians we are called to help those in need. A Christian who chose a path that was covered in sin is no less of a woman because of it. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. Jesus' death on the Cross was a cover for the mistakes we ALL make. The sin we ALL have in our lives.

If you are a woman who suffers from the guilt and shame of having had an abortion, I want to pray for you. You may privately contact me via e-mail at racheljwellons@gmail.com

Here is a site that I would love for you to check out by clicking on Rachel's Vineyard.

Here is a book that you can order to read to receive help from your pain by clicking here.

To women who have had an abortion: There is healing from this pain. As a Christian, you know God’s promises for you. Your sin is no greater than any other sin. King David was a murderer, an adulterer and more. God called him a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22)

If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, please know there is healing through Him. If you have questioned or “toyed” with the idea of believing but feel you are unworthy, you are not.
Romans 3:23 (NIV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

To women and men who create judgment on women who had an abortion: Open your hearts and your arms. Show her that she is lovable and worthy. Treat her as God would; with a forgiving heart.

Love, 
Rachel

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

For Fibro & IBS Fighters

I've taken my health into my own hands. Years of doctors, tons of tests, many prescriptions and I am fed up! Over the past 10 years I have experimented with alternative treatments, including dietary, to treat my IBS and Fibromyalgia. Temporarily it seemed things would work.

First step, I eliminated red meat from my diet for my IBS as I noticed that was a huge culprit for me. I haven’t consumed red meat in over 9 years. It helped greatly and still continues to help. However, flare ups with both illnesses would still occur too often. I won’t take you through all of the experimenting over all these years. I will just jump straight to what I know has worked for me.

Before I do that I would like to say one thing to you…

It is hard.

I am not going to sugar coat this. One of the symptoms of both fibro and IBS is depression. When you are depressed the last thing you want to do is eat what is good for you. You want comfort food. Sugar, soda, chips, etc… So I know that making this first step is a huge one because depression really doesn't want you to change your diet. That being said, I want to encourage you. YOU CAN DO THIS! I promise. If I have, you can. 

I am you and you are me. We both don’t want to get out of the bed. We both hurt in places we never knew existed. We both run to the bathroom afraid we won’t make it. We both don’t want to go to social events. We both would rather curl up and sleep (when we can) or watch movies and eat comfort food.

However, if there is one thing I know about us fibro and IBS sufferers, it is this. We are fighters. We fight to be heard, fight for proper diagnosis and fight for a cure. Part of this fight, I believe, is fighting our food cravings and changing what we consume. I have compiled a list of 3 ways you can begin to take control of your fibro and IBS with diet.

Avoid additives
MSG, GMO’s, preservatives and sugar substitutes actually increase sensitivity to pain. I am not a scientist, but have read that these contain chemicals that activate our nerve cells. Well, as fibro sufferers, our nerves are already overactive. Why send them into overdrive by putting unnatural substances into our body?

Stop Drinking Carbonated Drinks
I have to admit that this was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I went from full sugar sodas to diet sodas to sparkling water. I wanted to keep carbonation in my life at any cost. Well, it cost me. Cost me more pain. Since I have eliminated carbonation not only has my IBS eased up, but my pain has also. Many carbonated drinks contain caffeine which is a stimulant. Again, as stated above, why would we want to stimulate ourselves any more than we already are?

Don’t “Drive-Thru”
Okay, you can shoot the messenger on this one. Talk about difficult. Fast food is part of our life. When your entire body aches why would you want to stand in front of the stove for hours? But trust me on this one. Now, I am not saying stop it forever. There will be times when you must have that #1 super-sized. But you can cut back significantly. If you haven’t, I encourage you to follow The Food Babe on Facebook or check out her website. I will let her tell you why you need to stop eating out. Basically, it all goes back to avoiding additives.

Listen, I know this isn't easy or even fun to read. I understand the need for comfort when so much of our life is painful. We work just to get up and go most days. But I promise you that if you ease yourself into this that you will notice a difference. You can read how I changed my entire lifestyle here. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Love,

Rachel






Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When You Must Have Chili

It has been cold, cloudy, foggy and rainy out. Yesterday was the perfect day for Chili. I can't have REAL Chili as the spices don't agree with me. But I seriously wanted it. So I looked online for Chili recipes that were unique and different. Hoping once again to find something I could make my own. I came across this recipe from the Skinnytaste website and my mouth literally watered!

Oh, if I could eat that....wow! Any-hoo...I went home and created my own spin on her recipe and I would like to share it with you. I did use a small amount of chili & taco seasoning to give this a little flavor. This soup/stew is gluten-free, IBS sensitve and low in fat.

Rachel's Wish It Were Cheesy Chili-Taco, Chili-Taco Soup/Stew

Ingredients:

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp. Cumin
1 lemon - juiced
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Chili Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Taco Seasoning
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 10 oz. can organic diced tomatoes
1 4 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup refried beans
2 cups reduced fat organic chicken broth
1 package Gluten Free - Corn Free pasta shells (Quinoa shells are fabulous!)
2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cilantro to garnish


In a large pot drizzle the olive oil in your pan. Once heated, add your salt and pepper, cumin, chili and taco seasons. Add your ground turkey and mix together with the olive oil and seasonings. Make sure you use lean meat so you don't have to drain your turkey and lose any of the flavor from the seasonings incorporating together with the meat. When your turkey is brown add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and refried beans and stir. Once it is all incorporated, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and pasta shells. Cook pasta shells 16-18 minutes or according to package directions.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with Rice Tortilla Chips. If you can stomach cheese, add as much as you desire. I have to be careful, so I added 1/2 teaspoon of sharp cheddar to mine.


Love, 
Rachel



Monday, January 12, 2015

Vegenaise

Well I did it. I spent the majority of my weekend in the kitchen. I made a creamy and yummy homemade Chicken Salad, Gluten Free Chicken Picatta, & Vegenaise. The shocking part of my time spent in the kitchen Voguing with Madonna, Startin' Something with Michael Jackson and all while cooking... is that afterwards my husband tried all of my recipes and LOVED them. 

Now listen, this is a picky man we are talking about here. A man who does not like cheese nor apple pie!! So for him to like it, not fake like it...but like it as in ASKED me if I could fix him a plate because it was so GOOD liked it! Well, let's just say it made this woman extremely happy and a tear of joy may have been shed! 

I followed several different Vegenaise recipes online. However, I always like to make things my own. So I looked over a few and came up with the following recipe that I used as the base for my Chicken Salad: 

Vegenaise


Ingredients:
  1/2 cup sweetened almond milk (most people use unsweetened soy...see below for an additional note) 
  1/4 teaspoon Organic apple cider vinegar
  1/4 teaspoon Organic honey
  1/2 lemon juiced
  1/2 teaspoon Organic Dijon mustard
  1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Directions:
Place all the ingredients except the extra virgin olive oil in a blender on high-speed until creamy. With your blender on a low speed, slowly stream in the olive oil to thicken the mixture. If any of the mixture gets on the sides, scrape it down and mix again. Season to taste. Feel free to add more salt, pepper, mustard, lemon, etc... Place in a Mason Jar and refrigerate. Before use, shake the jar.

I used this in place of mayonnaise for my chicken salad and it was divine!
*Note* It was slightly thin like a dressing so if you want a thicker consistency use Whole Fat Soy Milk instead of the Almond Milk. Once it sits in the fridge for a while, it will continue to thicken. Please give this a try and let me know how you like it.
Love, 
Rachel