Saturday, May 29, 2010

Welcome Summer!

On Sunday night I had a lot of stress and anxiety about this summer. My summer officially began on Monday and although I'd been preparing for months, I was terrified. My part-time job was about to go incredibly full-time. I was about to have four college students under my care to train. Was I ready?

By Monday afternoon I hit the ground running. I had a lot to prepare for before my staff arrived that evening. Courtney decorated their living quarters. I put together their books and picked up t-shirts. Finally they arrived and we got to know each other over a delicious seafood dinner. Summer is here!

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are a blur of amazing moments. As I get to know my staff better I am so impressed with them. I am impressed with them because I think they will do a remarkable job at each of their responsibilities, but I am also impressed with them because they are incredible people. We worked very long hard days and accomplished a lot of things.

On Friday night Jarrod and I had the whole staff over to our house for dinner. Over games and delicious food, we laughed and relaxed. I am thrilled that even after just a few days they have developed friendships and work very well together. I can't wait to see how the rest of the summer plays out.

That said, now it's Saturday and I have a burning in my chest called anxiety. I have already been up to the church twice today. I have a complete to do list for today, another one for tomorrow, a third for Monday, and a fourth for the rest of the week. My mind is racing and going over important and less-than-important details. I am trying not to worry, but I do not feel prepared for the 90 folks coming to Slidell on Sunday. I do not feel like I am in control of even the things that I really should have control over.

Ultimately God is completely in control and the things that are supposed to happen are going to happen. Our job is to show grace, love, and compassion with not only our volunteers each week, but in the community as well. I find peace in knowing that we are part of God's bigger plan. We will be changing lives and making an impact on the community. Please be in prayer for my staff and our volunteers this summer. I'll be sure to keep you posted!
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Jarrod and I have had some changes in our life recently and I have been terrible at keeping up with our blog. In hopes that I'll write more, I have moved our family blog to Blogger - which is where is also hosted. Hopefully now I will have no excuse not to update regularly!

Here is what has been going on over the past few weeks with the Louisiana Johnstons!

On April 23rd, Jarrod, Courtney, and I were in a relatively serious accident. I say relatively serious because the airbags went off, the car is undriveable, and we were scared. However, we are all absolutely fine. We are sore, bruised, and still a little shaken, but absolutely fine.

My sweet husband planned a surprise with my sister for my birthday and wouldn't tell me a thing about it. We packed up the car with snacks at about 4pm and started driving west. We have dear friends in Baton Rouge; I figured that is where we were going. It was dreary and raining - the worst driving combination. At 4:15pm when we hit the highway headed out of town, rush hour traffic was just beginning. Traffic would cruise along - slow to a crawl - cruise along, lather rinse repeat.

Before we were even out of our town, traffic slowed very suddenly. Jarrod was driving at a reasonable speed and at a very safe distance. Nevertheless, he hit the brakes, just like everyone else. Nothing terribly unusual in driving during rush hour. The car in front of us swerved off the road to the left to avoid hitting the car in front of her. She was tailgating, but it seemed everything would be fine. These things happen all the time.

Suddenly the car in front of us decided to come back on the road. She swerved back onto the highway from the grassy median and spun out. We braced, knowing the impact was coming. Her car was perpendicular to the highway across both lanes. Thankfully we had slowed considerably from our highway speed by the time we hit her. Airbags went off. Windshield shattered. Lots of screaming. (mostly from my husband) ;-)

Of course there were lots of cars everywhere. We were terrified someone would hit us from behind and honestly, it is a miracle no one did. While our plans were canceled and my car is a mess, the most important people to me, my sister and husband, were fine. Scared and sore, but fine. The state trooper finally made his way to us two hours later (there were at least two other much more serious accidents on the highway within an hour of ours) and said that the woman we hit was issued a reckless endangerment citation and as far as he could see, we were "just driving." That provided some peace to my sweet and worried husband.

We also learned a very powerful lesson on Friday afternoon. We are all relatively new to this area of the country. We do not have family down here except for each other. However, we had calls, texts, and voice messages from countless people starting about 5 minutes after the crash. People wanted to come and sit with us while we waited. Friends wanted to cook us dinner, lend us a car, and kiss our first child (in many many years). In the midst of this terrible inconvenience, we were shown love and community.

After several weeks of working with insurance, on May 7th we purchased a new-to-us car. We went to a dealership, cash in hand, and after some negotiation, we left with Stella - a silver 2004 Honda Accord. She drives great, is very smooth, and we both love driving her. The best part is that we didn't go into debt to get her!

The same day that we bought Stella, we also heard that our application for a new condo was accepted. On June 19th we will be moving across town into a condo. We are renting a gorgeous two bedroom condo on the bayou. We will have a deck, stairs, and lots of natural light. While we aren't excited about physically moving, we are really excited about our new place. It is in a great location and is even less per month than we are paying now.

In the midst of these super exciting changes, we also went on a tour of the Abita Brewery with some dear friends, had an incredible time at a crawfish boil, and worked hard.

We have some exciting/different changes occurring with our jobs as well. My job really kicks into high gear on Monday when my summer staff arrives. Our first summer group (of 90 people!) arrives on May 30th, so the staff is really hitting the ground running. I'm excited about the summer, but also very anxious. I am ready to have the staff here so that we can start preparing together.

Jarrod is getting two new bosses in June. Our dear pastors are leaving for a new church and opportunity. We are excited about our new pastors, but change is always challenging. It is going to be an action-packed summer full of change, busy-ness, and fun. Check back often to read more about our favorite recipes, see pictures of our new condo, and hear about our adventures as we draw nearer to our 1st wedding anniversary!
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Soup

We made Chicken Enchilada Soup and it was delicious! We made our own chicken broth from a rotisserie chicken and used the dark and some light meat in the soup. I am a terrible recipe follower, so here’s my version of the recipe!
3 cups of chicken broth
1 can of cream of chicken soup
3.5 cups of water
1 can of Rotel – I use the real deal, but the mild or just stewed tomatoes would also be appropriate for kids with sensitive taste buds.
2 T worchestershire sauce
1 chopped onion
1 small brick of 2% velveeta
Chicken – You can use 2 cans of canned chicken, 3 breasts of grilled chicken, 2 packages of fajita meat chicken, etc… I used most of the meat on a rotisserie chicken, but I’ve also grilled chicken breasts on the George Forman in taco seasoning and cut that up for the soup.
1 corn tortillas.

In a large pot add the water, chicken broth, soup, rotel, worchestershire sauce, and onions. Bring to a low boil for 15 minutes. Add chicken and cubed velveeta. Be sure to turn the stove down to medium or low after adding the cheese and stir until it is all mixed in. Cut tortillas into strips and add to the soup. Simmer. You can add more tortillas on top if you’d like. I serve this soup with corn muffins. Delicious!
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Portobello Pizzas

Jarrod and I used to love pizza nights. Either Thursday or Friday nearly every week we would make our own pizza. Each week it was something different... We'd use left-over chicken, alfredo and a cheddar blend or mushrooms, marinara, and mozzarella. We always looked forward to pizza nights. We've tried the gluten-free pizza dough but it's just not the same. Since we learned of Jarrod's gluten-intolerance, pizza nights about died....
Until we saw Rachael Ray make Portobello Pizzas! She made them as an appetizer, but we decided we could easily make them as a meal and reinstate pizza night! (Although not as often as mushroom caps are more pricey than pizza dough!) If you want to see what Rachael did, click on the above link. If you want to see what Jarrod and Leanne did, keep reading. We made a few minor adjustments to fit our life.
  • 4 large portobello mushroom tops, stems removed and gills scraped and reserved
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling plus 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound turkey sausage (not in casing)
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
Preheat broiler.
Dress the mushroom caps with liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil the portobello mushrooms 5 minutes on each side until tender.

While caps are broiling heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add sausage and brown and crumble the meat, then add spinach, garlic, mushroom gills, and tomatoes to skillet and cook another few minutes. Add half & half to skillet and reduce 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the sausage from heat. The original recipe did not include the gills or spinach. We loved the tastes that both of these ingredients added. It also made the sauce go that much further. We had lots of extra!
Fill mushroom caps and top with cheese, place under broiler to brown 2 to 3 minutes.
Absolutely delicious. If you like mushrooms, this is definitely a great recipe. If you don't like mushrooms, don't add the gills to the sauce. :-)

My plate of deliciousness.

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