Thursday, September 26, 2013

Walkin' Sista-tas T-shirt

October is breast cancer awareness month and what a better way to celebrate and support than with a Walkin' Sista-tas t-shirt!

The t-shirts are in and are going fast! They look fantastic and you'll definitely want to get one before they are gone. The cost is $15 and sizes are limited. You can either pay via paypal to my e-mail address (leannehjohnston(at)gmail(dot)com) or make a $15 donation here.  You are also free to make a larger donation to help me meet my minimum goal of $2,300!
The shirt is $15, the man is priceless! 
Because sizes are limited, the t-shirts will go to the first one who requests a size and pays. To see if we have your size, shoot an e-mail or leave a comment. I'll get right back to you and let you know. Then you can pay or donate and I'll get you your shirt!

These t-shirts would not be possible if it weren't for fabulous supporters like Richardson Fry Photography, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Doodles and Drawings, and Elizabeth Givens Web Designs. Because of them, we are able to use 100% of the money raised from the shirts to go directly to Susan G. Komen. And the shirts look fabulous!
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Toddler Finger Paint Art

If you follow me on Instagram, you got a sneak peak last week of how we're transforming Wesley's nursery into a big boy dinosaur room.
We're doing it on-the-cheap and not too cutesy, which has forced me to be even more creative (and cheap!) than usual. Similar to when we had Wesley finger paint canvases for Christmas, we decided to transform a canvas into a dinosaur centerpiece. We had a canvas on had that was the perfect size, but the wrong colors. So I primed it 4 times. It took forever, but I was left with a (free!) blank canvas ready for whatever we wanted to do with it.

Jarrod and I decided we wanted it to say "Roar!" It's what Wesley says all the time and we figured with our limited artistic abilities, it would be fairly simple. We chose colors that would fit within our color palette we chose for the room. One trip to Wal-Mart and $1.85 later, we were good to go! We used small bottles of acrylic craft paints and paint brushes we already had in our supply.

I took my blank canvas and painted it bright yellow. It took 2 coats (on top of my 4 coats of primer) for it to be the coverage and perfect shade. Once it was completely dry, I passed it to Jarrod to stencil it with painters tape.

We used blue painters tape because it's what we had on hand. Jarrod decided to go for a funky and angular look. He taped off the letters ROAR and an exclamation point. He started by using one piece of tape to judge how large to make the letters. Then he went back and made the letters thicker with more tape. The letters ended up being about 2 tape-widths thick.

Once we had the tape on the canvas, we made sure it was really stick by scraping it down with our fingers. It was a good enough seal. Because we were making something fairly abstract, we were okay if the seal wasn't perfectly clean. Had we been more concerned with that, I would have gone over the edges of the tape with the background color to seal it.

It took Jarrod about 20 minutes to get the tape on the canvas. We decided to have our painting session at the kitchen table. Jarrod covered the table with an old fitted sheet and I got out the paint brushes. The fitted sheet was perfect because it didn't move around and protected the table all the way around from wandering paint-covered fingers!

And then we waited. We had the paint out and ready, the table covered, and the canvas set. Wesley napped for almost 2 1/2 hours, leaving us very impatient! As soon as he got up, we got him a quick snack and stripped him down for some painting fun!
He was a little timid, but with some help from his Daddy, he got right into it! We tried to get him to use the brushes or his fingers. He preferred to do both. Jarrod and I made sure to cover the tape so that the letters were clear. Wesley didn't seem to mind us helping and eventually got right into it... getting his hands covered in paint!

He was super excited when we talked about what he was doing. He makes crafts at school, but we don't paint much at home with him, so we weren't really sure what he was going to do. He liked talking about dinosaurs while we painted.

Until he was done.

Don't worry, that's just a crumb on the corner of his mouth, not paint! 
Thankfully by the time he figured out that he had paint all over his hands and it wasn't coming off, he was just about done! We moved the canvas around to try to get all the edges covered. It helped that we used a long and narrow canvas rather than a square one because he was easily able to reach the whole thing from his chair.
Immediately after this picture was taken, Jarrod and I went into crazy-parent mode. We scrubbed down Wesley and got his hands clean. He no long thought that painting was fun. Thankfully, we were done and felt really good about the canvas! Wesley had fun and was off playing with cars before we even got the brushes in the sink.

We waited for the paint to mostly dry before removing the table. I know waiting for it to dry completely runs the risk of pulling off the paint with the tape, but I wanted to wait long enough to not mess up the awesome and skillful design.
Jarrod asked if it would take 3 days to dry. No, just 30 minutes or so!
Later that afternoon I pulled off all the tape. I was careful and did it on the protected table because it was still a little wet. The tape came off perfectly and left all of the paint on the canvas. Thankfully! We put the canvas in a room with the ceiling fan on and it was completely dry in a few hours. We hung it in Wesley room after his bath but before he went to bed that night.
 The yellow is a little bit brighter than I intended, but it's growing on me. Once we get more color in the room, I think it will be much better. We have a lot of ideas to continue the not-so-cutesy dinosaur theme in here. As you can see from the above picture, I created dinosaur silhouettes for above Wesley's crib. I found the images on google, made them white on a colored background, printed them out, and put them in the frames that were already there.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wrecking of the Holy Spirit

Yesterday, I wrote a few bullet points about a night with Jen Hatmaker. It literally wrecked me, so it's something I'm going to be processing for a while. Here are more thoughts.

Making the gospel real means being broken and poured out for someone else's salvation and healing. Before you think I'm going crazy, this does not mean "saving" people. Salvation and healing is a justice issue - do you have food, safe housing, and purpose? How can I help? Entire groups of people don't have anyone to make the gospel real to them. Jesus wasn't hitting people with the Bible (or Torah or scrolls), he was healing people to restore them into right standing in the community, feeding people who need food, and generally hanging out with the outcasts. 
The scope of suffering happening in our watch, church, is daunting. 
It was especially challenging thinking about being the top of the food chain. Obviously I know that, but hearing Jen Hatmaker tell us that we are the most resourced people in the world - I was moved. Resourced was not a word I've used before to describe myself. I have every possible resource at my fingertips. I could literally do anything I put my mind to. I've done very little to deserve this right. And yet, how am I using it? To resource the resourced? To bless the blessed? To serve the safe? Is that the best use of my gifts? Or am I squandering everything I've been given?

Justice is about setting things right. It is not right for mamas to bury their babies because they died from starvation when we throw out food. It's not right for little ones to be sold because their parents cannot afford them when we can buy our boy anything he wants. It's not right for people to be homeless when we think it's a tragedy to cancel cable. How do we do the right thing?

Before we arrived, I was practically throwing a tantrum about others not doing the right thing. Because people don't do the right thing, sometimes I am inconvenienced. But I'm not starving, homeless, or suffering. Yet, here I am not showing justice.

Jen Hatmaker talked about the events leading up to their lives being turned upside down as pulling the string on a sweater. Let's just slowly tug this thread and see what happens. Let's begin to work with the homeless and see how that goes. In the end, they were left with a completely unraveled sweater, personal experience with the homeless, refugee, impoverished, and at-risk children, and a whole new understanding of sharing the Gospel.

I spent the entire weekend and the days since, I've ben praying about where the thread is. I've been convicted about sharing the Gospel with safe people. I spend my whole day job working in ministry. I work very hard and share the Gospel of grace, compassion, and love with everyone... Well, not EVERYONE... I thought everyone, but now I'm reconsidering. That's a story for another day. But here I am. Wondering where the thread is and who God is going to call me to make the Gospel real.

Basically, I'm searching for the right string to pull. I know that God is calling me.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Do the right thing.

One of our favorite TV lines around here is from an episode of Psych called Thrill Seekers and Hell Raisers. Shawn is listing the books of the Bible, "Genesis. Exorcist. Dooooo the right thing!" Jarrod and I quote it all the time. We're crazy for Bible jokes. And really  I wish everyone would just do the right thing. I'm not asking for the good thing or the Leanne thing, just the right things.

Things are happening in our small little Johnston world that I don't find "right." I don't think people are doing the right, just or equitable thing and it's not just affecting my family, but many (many many many many) people. I was telling some stories to a few girlfriends and said that I really just wanted people to do the right thing. (Something I'm sure is said about me often!) Little did I know, God was going to hit me over the head in just a few hours...

Last week a few girlfriends and I went to see Jen Hatmaker speak at a local church. I knew that it was going to rock my world because her books rattled my core. Not only was it a fantastic night with some of my favorite girls and I was surprised by some of my dearest friends, but also Jen Hatmaker was incredible. I literally laughed until I cried and had my soul rocked.
Someday we might be close enough for me to call her Jen, but that day is not today. Today she's Jen Hatmaker. Say it like it's one word.
Because of Jen Hatmaker, God moved in the most incredible ways. I literally felt the Holy Spirit lighting my soul on fire. Don't worry, I'm not sure what that means either. I'm going to just give you a recap. Be prepared for a random mishmash of thoughts.
  •  I almost peed my pants several times. Jen Hatmaker is insanely funny. She has the gift of deadpan. It's a gift I wish I had. She talked about spanx and compared them to breaking biscuit out of a can by slamming them on the counter. Seriously. So right. I literally pealed my spanx off in the limo moments after I got married. And I left them there. Knowing I'd NEVER squeeze myself in them ever again. 
  • Jen Hatmaker talked a lot about Eucharist. We focused on the scripture from Luke 22:14-20 where Jesus is transforming the passover feast into what we know of as communion. The passage most Christians know as "do this in remembrance of me," Jen Hatmaker translated as, "Constantly make this real." Jesus is telling the disciples something remarkable - after redefining a 1500 year tradition, he tells them to constantly make real the message of the Gospel. In our church we take communion once a week and I am very familiar with communion. I've studied communion theologically and practically. But do I constantly make the Gospel real for people? Nope. Definitely don't. 
  • We are the most privileged and resourced people on the planet. This is of no fault or favor of our own. How are we using the resources we've been given to constantly make the Gospel real for people? 
  • Everyone has basic needs and it's our job to meet them. We cannot talk systematic theology with someone who is literally starving. While I've never tried to talk systematic theology with someone who is literally starving, I have tried to talk systematic theology with someone who is completely unable to handle that craziness. This has nothing to do with education or intelligence and everything to do with meeting people's needs. 
I originally thought I'd write one CRAZY long post all about Jen Hatmaker, what I learned, and how the Holy Spirit is moving in my soul. But then it turned an incredibly long post, so I'm breaking into several posts. Get ready. Check back tomorrow to hear more about how the Holy Spirit is wrecking my life. ;-) 

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Very Bad Trip

When we were in Paris there were movie posters all over town advertising a movie "Very Bad Trip 3." We laughed about the strange "translation" every time we saw the poster.

Last weekend the poster flashed inside my mind while walking down the cereal aisle at our local Tom Thumb.

Let me back up a little bit...

I love the idea of living in a walking city. A city where you can easily walk to the grocery store, work, and local restaurants. Jarrod hates this, but if there's an opportunity to walk somewhere, I'll do it. It doesn't happen often, as we live in suburbia and I work in the city, but when I can walk, I will.

On Saturday morning Jarrod had a meeting out of town. I decided to keep Wesley entertained by taking him to the grocery store. We didn't need much, but we did need the essentials for the week. I examined the list and decided we could walk. Everything would easily fit in the walking stroller. Decision made.
You can see that this isn't going to end well, I'm sure. Foreshadowing, folks. 
In my head, the grocery store is about 1/2 mile from our house. It's not. It's about 1.5 miles from our house. Still  not bad, a walk Wesley and I would do with ease. We got to the store with little trouble. I brought Wesley diaper bag just in case, which turned out to be added weight we didn't need. Better safe than sorry.

We sailed through produce grabbing bananas, mushrooms, potatoes, green beans and grapes. We got this, Wesley! I felt confident. I should know better.

We continued through the store - tahini, corn meal, ground turkey, salsa - the stroller is getting full. I have cans in the seat with Wesley, produce balanced on the sunshade, and ground meat in the pouch under the seat. We grab two half-gallons of almond milk (I had a coupon for 2, not 1)... Things started to get a little crazy at this point.

Wesley is completely done shopping. He wants to hold a can. He wants to hold the corn meal. He wants to pull every.single.tag. off the shelves.

One more item on the list. Chex. Gluten-free corn chex. Easy peasy, I think. They can slide under the seat and we'll be home-free!

We get to the cereal aisle and...thump. The front tire goes completely flat.


The stroller is completely loaded down with stuff and a toddler...who is not thrilled that we're still at the store. I struggle my way to the front of the store to check out. The thumping of the tire is incredibly loud. Perhaps not to everyone else, but definitely to me. I'm now the crazy lady pushing a toddler in a huge stroller, weighed down with a gallon of milk (among other things) and a flat tire.

Wesley and I manage to get through the checkout line. I opted for the self check out to limit my exposure. I grabbed a candy bar because I was starting to get faint from embarrassment. Once the groceries were bagged, I had to dig out the coupons. I had them in the bottom of the diaper bag. Naturally, this took more time than needed, but eventually I'd paid for my groceries and was ready to go. A long line formed around me. I hastily picked up my bags and practically carried the stroller to the door.

I took refuge in the small Starbucks section at the front of the store. I pretended to be playing with Wesley while I attempted to find a good spot for all of my groceries on the stroller. I had no choice but to completely weigh it down, causing the poor front wheel to deflate more by the second. Once I had everything relatively secure, I began my trek back home.

My arms burned because of the lack of steering. I had to avoid all curbs because the front tire couldn't help me. Wesley wasn't amused at all - I had cans piled up around him and took all his legroom for important things like tahini.

I wish I'd gotten pictures. I thought about it but that seemed too cruel at the time. I can laugh about it now, but I promise you there was no laughing on Saturday morning. I didn't even want to tell Jarrod about it because now he will NEVER be on board to walk to the store!

And frankly, he's probably right!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade Hummus

My kid crazy loves hummus. He will lick it off a spoon if I'd let him. He loves peanut butter too, but I try to limit that because of the sugar (even in the natural kind!). So we buy hummus periodically. We make it on occasion, but tahini paste never seems worth the expense.

One day Wesley was eating a hummus sandwich for lunch. As Wesley is prone to do, he got hummus literally all over his face. Not the best thing to have all over his face, but not a huge deal. Until his face started turning red. The area all around his mouth was bright red.

Yikes! This hasn't ever happened before...

Thankfully, Wesley was completely fine. He didn't even notice and once he was clean, the redness slowly went away in a few hours. This caused me to read the list of ingredients on the hummus - lots of things I could not pronounce... I declared no more hummus for Wesley.

Fast forward a few days and we went to a local Mediterranean restaurant with friends. The hummus was fresh and Wesley went to town...getting hummus all over his face. But this time, no redness! His face was completely fine.

I decided at that moment that Wesley did not have any allergies to chick peas, olive oil, or tahini, but rather has a reaction to the other things in the store-bought hummus. He could have hummus, but we'd have to make it at home.

In order to save more money and eliminate cans from our house, I bought a bag of dry chick peas and cooked them.

Homemade Hummus
2 cups of cooked or canned chick peas
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of tahini

To cook the dry chick peas, first you need to soak them. I soaked them for about 12 hours in clean water. While they were soaking, cook or roast shallots and/or garlic in some olive oil. Drain the chick peas, add about 2 cups of clean water, salt, and toss everything into a slow cooker for 4 hours on low.

Take 2 cups of the cooked chick peas and put them in a food processor. Add the tahini and begin to slowly blend. Add the olive oil slowly while blending until smooth. This took 4 tablespoons for me.

Because I seasoned the chick peas, I didn't need to add any salt to this, but if you haven't or if you feel it needs more salt, add some and blend it.

If you have cooked a bag of chick peas, you'll have some left over. You can either make a few more batches of hummus or you can freeze the chick peas for later. I opted for this because I can defrost chick peas as needed and make more homemade hummus whenever I need it!

$1.54 - bag of chick peas
$9.76 - jar of tahini (28 tablespoons - 14 recipes' worth!)
$5 - Bottle of olive oil

I estimate that I can get 3 batches of hummus out of one bag of chick peas. The total cost for 3 batches would be approximately $2.50 or $.83 per container. One container at the store is typically $3 or so. Meaning, I'm getting more than 3 times as much hummus for the price. And the biggest win is that there aren't any preservatives or anything I cannot pronounce in the homemade stuff!

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'm back!

This weekend I began to compose blog posts in my head again. I normally get ideas during the day and write then as I think of them - scheduling them for different days. So the days that I can't think of anything still gets a post. But then I stopped having ideas. I stopped composing posts in my head. I didn't know what I write about. So I essentially stopped writing. Without any warning or reason.

And this weekend I had a few ideas. You'll see them pop up this week. They include an embarrassing story and a recipe. Exciting stuff, folks.

But here's a little backstory as to where I've been. I became increasingly discontent with life. Not really my life exactly, but many large parts of my life. I became frustrated with our religious denomination, one that I've devoted my life and my family. Small frustrations became amplified by Jarrod's call to ordination. And I know you don't come here to hear me ramble on about denominational systemic changes. You also don't com here to listen to me complain. And I was doing a lot of complaining. At least in my head.

Small and large frustrations were magnified when we had to budget 4,000 hard-earned dollars to seminary tuition payment. That's one semester. Six credit-hours. Two classes. Just the beginning of a long line of 60 or so hours Jarrod has left. I started doing the math and got angry.

Since becoming debt-free, money has taken on new meaning for me. It means increased dollars for fancy food, a beefy emergency fund, and an adopted baby. I was angry

I'm working on becoming content again. I'm finding peace and energy. There is room for change and while I might not see it on the systemic level, it is definitely present in individual lives. We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I can focus on that every day and live into that calling. I can do what God has called me to do - transform, reform, and share love and grace with everyone.

So for now, I'm back. I promise not to bore you with denomination speak, but I may begin to add in more about our call as a family and how we are incorporating it into our daily lives.

How do you snap out of a funk? How do you find hope for change?
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Wesley's First Day of School!

Wesley has been at the same school since Jarrod began his new job. We love it and he's very happy. This new school year, Wesley started in a new classroom. He is with a lot of his old friends (5 toddlers total) and knew his teachers also. But it's a new room and that warrants pictures!

This one above is my absolute favorite. We were singing "If you're happy and you know it..." and Wesley puts his fingers on his cheeks like they teach him at school. Adorable!

This new class also means Wesley has graduated from a "crib" room to a "nap mat" room. I bought a nap mat at Walmart and quickly searched Pinterest for the best patterns. I found several that I really liked. I decided that I wanted a cover with velcro so that the cover could be removed and washed. I also liked the idea of having a blanket sewn into the cover. I ended up using this tutorial for the blanket idea and this tutorial for everything else. I didn't add a pillow. Wesley doesn't use a pillow in his crib so I didn't add one on his mat. I also opted for a fleece blanket rather than minky because it was over 50% cheaper. I folded the fleece over and sewed it so it's plush! 

I didn't snag any pictures of Wesley's nap mat, but I will as soon as it's home to be washed! I made it in about an hour and it was very easy! 

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

August 2013 Goals Update

Well, my blogging funk caused me to be a few days late on this. Better late than never, right? August was a stressful and exciting month for the Johnstons! We worked a lot, traveled, got ear infections, and both Wesley and Jarrod started school! Wesley just moved to a new classroom at school, but that's still a big deal!

Here were our goals for August
  1. Jarrod starts seminary 
  2. Jarrod reads one non-fiction & Leanne reads one book 
  3. Try a new recipe 
  4. Go on one date 
  5. Have one family activity 
  6. Leanne walk 75% of days
We did really well on our goals. I cannot believe we had 6 goals this month. That's a lot for all the changes that happened!
  1. Sure did! He even posed for a picture! :-)
  2. Jarrod and I both read another book by the same authors as last month! Jarrod read Rob Bell's Love Wins and I read Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith . I'm reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master" and On Becoming Toddlerwise right now. Jarrod's reading for school. 
  3. We did eat a lot of new food this month! We had prickly pear fruit (in a smoothie), Thai eggplant (roasted with tomatoes and spaghetti squash), homemade pickles, easy alfredo with pasta and veggies, baby bok choy, and baked spaghetti squash
  4. We had a retreat away for a whole weekend. I was leading it and Jarrod was playing music, but it was still time away for us. That's going to have to count as a date for this month! 
  5. Sadly, nothing. We cherished the time we had with Wesley at home and running errands together. Because of my travel schedule and Jarrod starting school, we didn't have a whole lot of time together this month. The time we had was spent wrestling, going for family walks to the park, and reading lots of books. 
  6. Done and done! Even with a pesky ear infection, I did walk a lot this month! I've been pretty diligent about waking at 6am Monday-Thursday to walk 2 miles, walking in the evenings with the family, and on the weekends going 4-5 miles either with Wesley or Lucy. Which is good because the 3-day is in 8 weeks! 
I'm sorry I've been so absent lately. Perhaps I should have made blogging a goal! I haven't been reading blogs as much either because I've been reading books. I guess it's okay that I've been somewhat absent because that means I've been spending time living life, processing things, and dreaming about the future. Some of the things I'm processing are just too much for this blog. At least for now. I'm curious about the future, what God is doing in our family, and what our life will look like in 5 years. 
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