Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – THM S

Wow!! It has been a really long time since I have written anything to share with you.

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Our first snow of the year! November 19, 2016

I must say the last 8 months have been very full and stressful at times. In April of this year, after 2 years in Senegal, I began the process of packing, saying goodbyes and a million other things needed for a cross-continent move. It was really hard leaving friends who had become like family and saying goodbye to the boys I had worked with almost every day for those 2 years.

Before returning to Minnesota I had heard missionaries talk about reverse culture shock and about the fact that it can be hard to transition back into “normal” life. While I was aware that I might experience a time of adjustment, I didn’t really didn’t think it was something I would struggle with. Mostly because I was only out of the country for two years and I felt like I had done pretty well staying connected with all that was going on here. But in all honesty it has been a lot harder than I expected.

Thankfully it is getting easier and it is so good being with my family on a regular basis! It was such a blessing to all be together for Thanksgiving and I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas with everyone!!

Since returning home my parents and I have been following an eating plan call Trim Healthy Mama. It’s a great way to eat healthy and yummy food! If you are interested you can read more on their website…here.

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This eating healthy is so hard…

Tonight we created an awesome Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe that I just have to share! It was a hit! This recipe is a THM – S…which stands for “satisfying”. But whether or not you are eating the THM way I think you will really enjoy this casserole! Let me know if you try it.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – THM S
Serves – 6

4 cups Chicken (cooked)
1 lb. Ham (cubed)

Swiss cheese sauce:
1 cup Chicken broth
4 oz. Cream Cheese – 1/3 fat
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 tsp. Onion powder
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Parsley
2 cups Swiss Cheese

Topping:
4 Wasa crackers (crushed)
1/2 cup Almond flour
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter (melted)

  • Layer chicken and ham in a greased 2 quart casserole dish.
  • In a saucepan bring first 6 ingredients of the Swiss Cheese sauce to a boil. Add in the Swiss cheese. Heat until melted, stirring often.
  • Pour the sauce over the meats.
  • Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle on casserole.

Bake at 400F for 30 minutes

 

Enjoy!

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Lentil Soup – THM E

I am anxiously awaiting the cool season here in Senegal. A few weeks ago we had a break in the heat and it seemed as if cooler weather was just around the corner. Sadly the progress is slow going. Now I’m just hoping it cools off by the time my Mom arrives from Minnesota on November 23rd!

Yes, you read that right. My Mom is coming to Dakar! She will be here in 10 days from now! I can’t wait! It has been almost exactly 10 months since I saw her last. I am so excited to have her here with me for a few weeks! It will be fun to show her around and have her meet all my friends here.

In my excitement I am also trying to make sure I have food in the freezer so that we don’t need to be cooking the whole time. Although, we both do enjoy cooking and it will be nice to cook together again! So today I decided to make some Lentil Soup and freeze it.

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All of the ingredients ready to go. Except the tomato paste…I forgot to get it in the picture.

This recipe is one I threw together earlier this fall and liked it so much I have made it a few times. It’s really easy to make, so I thought I should share it! You can also make it more like stew by using less chicken broth.

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Now it’s time to bring it to a boil!

(I’ll try to add a picture of the finished soup when I pull it out of the freezer…I forgot to take one before I put it away.)

My Mom has been following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating about 1 1/2 years and I have been trying to eat that way as much as possible since June. If you are interested in learning more you can check out the website by clicking here.  This recipe is considered an E, which stands for energizing. It would be really tasty with a slice of homemade sourdough bread! The the recipe I use is from Gwen’s Nest and is also a THM E.

So as you being to feel the chill of fall here is a great recipe to warm up with!

Lentil Soup – THM E

4 cups Chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Lentils (cooked)
or
[2 cups Lentils (uncooked) and 8 cups Chicken broth]
2 Carrots
1 med. Onion
3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
3 Bay leaves
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/8 tsp. Turmeric powder
Salt and Pepper

——–

  • Chop carrots and onion. Mince garlic.
  • Add everything to a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Turn heat down, cover and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.
  • If using uncooked lentil simmer for at least 1 hour.

There you have it…simple! Enjoy!

Old News

Wow! It has been way too long since I posted anything here. I got on today to look for my Homemade Soft Pretzel recipe and noticed it had been three months since I had written anything. Three months! So decided I had better get on and write something…even if I don’t feel like I have much to share right now.

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Traffic in downtown Dakar on a Tuesday afternoon. Often cars come within just a few inches of hitting each other.

After living in Senegal for over 15 months I think I have forgotten what would seem new and interesting to someone who has never been here. But I think if I try to look at life through your eyes I will find things to write about that will interest you. If you have questions about life in Senegal please leave me a comment and I will try to write a post about it! My life has been so full of new things since I moved here. Things I don’t want to forget…so even if its old news I’ll start sharing some of it with you!

Let’s go back 7 months ago today.

On December 25th, at 2 am I flew out of Dakar. I was headed home to Minnesota for my brother’s wedding! About 22 hours later, I was getting some of the best hugs of my life! What a sweet Christmas memory! I wasn’t expecting to be home at all during my two years here in Senegal, so it was extra special to be home for Christmas. God is so good! My brother’s wedding was such a special day and the time with all of my family was truly a blessing! I’m so thankful that God worked out the details for me go home for a visit and that he knows our needs even before we do.

Here are some pictures of my trip. I didn’t take all the pictures I should have…but I enjoyed each moment with family and friends! Which is sometimes more important than capturing the moments in a pictures right?

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Celebrating Christmas!

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Christmas dinner #2 – I loved getting to spend time with all of my nieces! They are getting so big!

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Coffee time with the soon-to-be bride and groom!

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Hugs from my big bro…the best!

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My beautiful Mom, dashing Dad and wonderful aunt on the day of the wedding.

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My old car all decked out as the wedding get-away vehicle.

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Fun family dinner…some of us look like we were having a little too much fun!

Birthday Blessings

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Thursday I turned 29. This past week has been filled with blessings…birthday gifts from God.

The week before my birthday I was treated to lunch by some friends as an early birthday present! Not only did they buy me lunch…they also showered my with some very thoughtful gifts!

[PICTURES TO COME…]

All week God has been showering me with beautiful sunsets! These pictures are a poor replacement for the real thing…the color and layering of clouds has been truly breathtaking!

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and this year it was my birthday too! I traveled with some friends to our teammate’s house, about an hour and a half away, to celebrate the holiday together. On the way there my friends sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I received some lovely cards from my “nieces”! We also saw a monkey running across the road…that was a first! I wish I had a picture of that to share with you.

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I am so thankful that although I am far from home God has giving me “family” to celebrate special days with! Not only did I have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and pie…I also had a yummy chocolate cake to make my day special!

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As a perfect ending to my day, I spent 1 1/2 on Skype with my family! It was so nice to talk to all of them! My 2-year-old niece sang “Happy Birthday” to me and gave me so many computer hugs and kisses!  Then the big girls joined the call and sang to me again! I can’t wait to see them all next month!

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Today I arrived home and was greeted by a surprise…I cake made with a mix and frosting my mom had sent!  I had no idea she had sent a cake for my birthday, it was such a sweet unexpected surprise! So my friends sang “Happy Birthday” to me and we had some chocolate cake together!

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

I’m sorry it has been so long since I have shared anything with you.  The last few months have been so filled with preparing to move to Senegal…and now I am here!  I arrived in Dakar less then a week ago and have already begun to settle in.  Hopefully, now that I have arrived I will be more consistent with posting.

Although I haven’t been writing here about all that has happened in the last few week, I have been updating family and friends through Facebook.   So I thought that for now I would share those updates with all of you!

The last few weeks in review…

Sunday, April 6th – “Today I experienced such an outpouring of love from my church family at Faithbridge Church! This morning started out with a commissioning service – to pray for me and send me out from the church body to be God’s hands and feet in Senegal. After church, some of my dear friends had planned a pot-luck to give me a chance to say goodbye to so many special people in my life. I am still in awe of all the love and encouragement I received today!!! Thank you all so much for your love and prayers…I will miss worshiping and serving with you in Park Rapids!”

 

Wednesday, April 9th – “FSM staff (Thanks for the memories Kim – Africa is not that far away, besides now that your planted in West Africa we can rotate our students over there, summer of 2015, right)” – Phil

My last night working alongside Patti and Phil (our youth pastor).

Friday, April 11th – “Today I said the last of my goodbyes in Park Rapids…now I’m on my way to the cities for some time with my family before I fly out on Sunday! A very emotional day, but I am so excited to be on my way!”

Sunday, April 13th – “Our girl enjoying a drink from Caribou Coffee!!!” – Mom

Here’s me and my Dad…waiting for my flight!

Tuesday, April 15th – “Sunday I said goodbye to Minnesota and my dear family. Thank you all for praying for us…although it was very hard to say goodbye I definitely felt God’s peace through it all! When I was checking in I asked if it was possible to get passes for my family to come to the gate with me (explaining that I was leaving to live in Africa for two years) and they said yes. What a great blessing!!! I’ve been having a great visit with family and fly out for Dakar tomorrow night. I’ll be sure to check in with all of you sometime Thursday or Friday.”

My older brother Mark and my niece Caelyn were able to come spend some time with me before I left…I’m so glad they came!

Thursday, April 17th – “Praise the Lord we just got a call from Kimberly Johnson and she is safe in Africa after a good flight!!! We will all continue to pray for you as this new phase of your journey with God begins! Love, Dad & Mom”

“God is so good! I have arrived in Dakar safe and sound! I left the airport in Washington, DC at 6pm last night and got here around 6am (the time zone here is 5 hours ahead of MN). It is a little after 2pm here now…I have had breakfast, a tour of my new home, begun to unpack, seen much of Dakar on a trip the a grocery store and taken a nap. Thank you all so much for your prayers! I had a good flight and was able to get some sleep.”

Friday, April 18th – “I’m still working on getting a short video put together…but it’s all new to me so it’s taking longer then anticipated. Today I got to meet many of my World Venture teammates at a team meeting. It was great to meet them and begin getting to know them all! It was 84F today…just a little warm for me! But tomorrow should be a little cooler.”

Saturday, April 19th – The first picture is of my new home! The rest are from the park and zoo just a short walk from home. I loved sitting by the lake with Denise today…different birds and a much warmer temperature, but it felt a little like MN! God is so good! Happy Easter! 


Sunday, April 20th – “This morning I enjoyed an outdoor Easter Sonrise service at Dakar Academy! It wasn’t quite like home…but the students did a great job with the choir and drama! In the afternoon I went with the McCarthys to another missionary couple’s home for Easter Dinner. Which included ham and lemon meringue pie! Happy Easter!!!”

 

So there you have it.  I hope that gives you a good picture of what the last few weeks have looked like for me!

Beautiful Lengths

Ever since I’ve been little my Mom and I have had this contest to see whose hair is longer…

It started when I was around 6 years old; two of my friends got their hair cut…and it was very short.  My Mom and Dad really didn’t want my hair that short, but I thought I really did want it cut like their’s.  So…my Mom decided to make it into a contest.  My hair was longer then her’s, but if I got it cut she would be winning!   The funniest thing about this story is that it worked!  I gave up my desire to cut my hair and didn’t get my first real haircut until I was 10.  In the many years since then my Mom and I have kept up our little competition (although it’s been mainly just for fun)!

As I have been preparing to leave for Senegal one thing on my to-do list has been to get a hair cut and not just a few inches.  A few months back I asked my Mom and my sister-in-law if they would be interested in us all cutting our hair together and donating it to “Locks of Love”.   They said, “yes”!  Once our hair is cut none of us will get it cut again until I come back from Senegal.

When they both said, “yes”, I looked up “Locks of Love” online to find out their requirements.  What I found was enough for me to look for other places to donate our hair…

So after doing some research we decided to donate our hair to Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths”.  I was very comfortable with their mission and reputation.  Here’s some info from their website

Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene® and the American Cancer Society®, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease. The role of Pantene is to help women grow long, strong*, beautiful hair and provide the funds to turn this hair into free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. So far, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks, which distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country. To see if you are eligible to receive a free wig or if there are wigs available in your area, please call the American Cancer Society’s Wig Bank Line at 1-877-227-1596.

Here are pictures of our pre-cut hair:

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Here are the new looks:

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So far I am really loving my new hair and I’ve been having fun trying new things that didn’t work with long hair!

December Newsletter

I love this time of year…first there’s Thanksgiving, then Christmas and finally New Year’s Day! Each holiday is different, but each one helps me turn my thoughts to God; what he has done, is doing and will do in my life.  I hope and pray that as each year passes I am better at recognizing the gifts God has given me and then presenting those gifts back to him.

This year I have approached the holidays with a different perspective than normal.  This new perspective comes from the fact that the next time I will possibly be at home with my family for the holidays is in 2016.  Even that is dependent on how God leads me in the next two years.

As I have pondered this truth it has made me all the more grateful to have this time with my family.  I would encourage you to enjoy your holiday celebrations with the same gratefulness!  Each moment that God has given us is precious and if God has blessed you with family and friends don’t take those relationships for granted.

It’s hard to believe that 2013 will soon give way to a new year.  I hope that throughout this year you have had chances to grow and mature in your walk with God.  I am looking forward to all that God has in store to teach me in the coming year.  There will be so many new things in my life in 2014!  It is exciting, but also a little scary.

Earlier this year one of my partners reminded of God’s command to Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”  He says it four times in chapter one alone. He knows how easy it is for us to lose sight of him and get caught up in our fears, but when we look to him and remember his promises we are given the power we need to be strong and courageous.  Let’s live our lives in His strength this year!

Sharing out of PovertyHe’s only six, but he said, “I have enough to share.”

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One day little Ouseynou told us not to give money to our littlest t boys if they needed help because they happened to be short on their quotas for the day.  Ouseynou said he had it covered.  We asked him what he meant and he said, “I have enough to share and I want to help them.”

What a joy it was to all of us to hear that this little boy, who has nothing but his begging can and flip-flops, cares so much for the littler ones! And this has now become a daily occurrence on Ouseynou’s part.

We are humbled and encouraged by such a selfless act by one of these terribly neglected and mistreated children of Senegal.  That such generosity can come out of such a miserable life could be a wonder, or it could be a testimony to the transforming power of the love of Christ and God’s word.

(Shared with permission from Dave and Denise McCarthy’s 2010 newsletter)

Final Thoughts…

I am so excited to share with you how God has been moving since I last wrote to you!   It has been such an encouragement and blessing to see my support levels continue to rise and to know it is only a result of God’s goodness.

One-time Expenses – 100%

 Monthly Expenses – 66%

In January and February I hope to finish up meeting with friends and churches.  Also, in January I will be attending my final training with World Venture at their headquarters in Littleton, Colorado!  I am excited to see how God will bring all the final pieces of the amazing journey together in the next few months.  If you haven’t gotten to visit with me in person about my plans I would love to get together with you, just give me a call or email me and we can set up a time to get together!

Thank you for your prayers!

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Family Time

The last two weeks have been full of fun family times!

Ok, so this isn’t quite what our Thanksgiving dinner looked like…but close!

My brother Mark and his wife Jenny arrived at our house the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and were able to stay until Saturday. What a blessing!!!  We enjoyed a nice visit together and an awesome Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m so thankful they were able to come and stay with us…life gets so busy sometimes that these moments of time are so precious!  

In some ways I feel like my time for special family moments is running out…

God has continued to provide the partners I need to begin ministry in Senegal.  I now have partners for 60% of my monthly support…which is an awesome feeling!  It’s so exciting to see God moving me forward on this journey!

Moving forward is good, but it can also be hard.  Starting this new chapter in the story God is writing with my life means that another chapter is coming to a close.  I have always had a hard time with knowing how to deal with change, so I have to keep reminding myself that God has always been with me and he will see me through these changes too.

So, my Thanksgiving this year was a little bittersweet…it will be three years before I am home to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family.  But I am confident that God will see me through the times of sadness that I’m sure will come as I celebrate next year in Senegal!

Ok. Picture time!

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Hunting for the perfect Christmas tree!
Mimi – Angela – Papa

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Angela – Auntie Kim

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Here’s our perfect tree!!!

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The girls had lots of fun decorating the tree while Papa watched!

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Mimi’s good at reaching the high branches!

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Our puzzle project…didn’t quite finish it. Maybe next time!

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Angela…the little baker girl!

 

Fun Fact Friday

Here is a fun fact many of you don’t know…my sister-in-law Jennifer is writing a book series!

“The House of Envy” – Chapter 19

Jen has loved fantasies since she was little and about six years ago she began writing.  Her first book The House of Envy is geared toward young adult to adult women…it looks at where we get our sense of worth and beauty!  It’s a heartwarming and intriguing tale that will be enjoyed women, as well as men.  She is currently working on her second book which is geared toward men.

I feel so blessed to have a sister-in-law that is truly like a sister to me!  It’s hard to believe she has been a part of my life for 10 years already…I look forward to seeing our relationship grow and change over the next ten years.  Jen has been such a Godly example to me.   Through trials and joys I have seen her cling to God and continue to praise him…not always an easy thing to do!

Feel free to check out her blog and read a few excerpts of her book…I know she would love your input!

Here is a link to her blog…Inspired Allegorical Tales

This is a sweet children’s story she wrote not long ago…Actually Ashley

This is my niece…isn’t she a cutie?