Monday, September 27, 2010

Why We Love Our Jobs....

This picture reminds me of why we love our jobs after 22 years. Over 900 students from Cal Poly and Cuesta Community College have packed Mountainbrook Church for the past 2 Tuesday nights to come to the weekly meeting of Campus Crusade. The thing that I think is fantastic is not the number. What is so cool is that there are so many of these students who are having an amazing impact on their friends and others. For example, last Tuesday I saw sweet Kaitlyn. Last spring I got to sit down and have lunch with her (at my very favorite deli in SLO - and there are a lot to choose from - Lincoln Deli) and talk to her as she was applying to go on a summer mission trip. Now, our family's trip to El Salvador was work....lots of prep work ahead of the trip, putting things in order, etc, but I feel like ours was pretty cushy compared to what Kaitlyn did. She spent 4 weeks in the inner city of Seattle, sometimes working with homeless people and people with drug problems, sometimes working with kids, and - this is my favorite part - doing ministry in a women's prison (this was her favorite part, too). They showed a video called Magdalena (about the life of Mary Magdalen) to the inmates and then had discussion groups afterwards.
What is so amazing to me is that Kaitlyn is just one of about 100 students who did stuff like this all over the world this past summer. And many of the rest, who 'just went home', or 'just went to summer school', or 'just worked' made an impact on their families, friends, and others. Every student in this photo has an interesting and unique story, and special abilities and gifts, and it is our privilege to be able to work with them, and hopefully challenge and inspire them, and help them to grow. And that, in a nutshell, is but one reason why we really really love our jobs.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Favorite Road

This is my favorite running road. It goes behind our house, on the other side of the creek. I run past fields and oaks, cows, horses, sheep, goats, llamas, pigs, and an awesome donkey named Jack. I've been training for a half-marathon with Running Buddy Jennifer so we've been all over the roads and bridle trails back here. It sure beats the new treadmills at the gym, which have tv screens instead of fans in them (some people prefer this), which in turn makes it difficult for me when 'Overly-Sweaty Guy' or 'Too-Much-Aftershave Guy' end up on the treadmill next to me. Yuck! I've actually met Jennifer at the gym at 5 a.m. twice now to avoid them. For some reason, it's much easier to run 8 miles out here than 4 miles in the steamy treadmill room. I even prefer the smell of cows and horses to the smell of bad after shave. And every time I go, I am reminded of how incredibly blessed we are to live here, where we can run on roads like this just about whenever we want. Even after dark, if we do end up getting the headlamps we are thinking of buying. Until one of us gets sprayed by a skunk....then that will be the end of that.


I went into the garden to pick 'a few' squash and tomatoes, and I discovered the mother-lode of ripe red tomatoes (67, to be exact). The squash and pumpkins got hurriedly shoved onto the basement shelves (I will deal with them later). Since I had the morning at home, I decided to make tomato sauce. I already have about 12 cups of roasted tomatoes in the freezer, and tomato sauce is pretty easy. My foodie friend asked me to tell her how I do it, so I told her, but she thought it sounded 'too easy'. I explained that if it was complex, I wouldn't be doing it.....but here are the steps:
1. Wash the tomatoes and cut off the tops
2. Give them a good squeeze to get out some of the juice and seeds, then toss them into the blender
3. When the blender is full, grind them up. I use the "sauce" setting. Probably anything is fine - I suspect all of those settings are pretty much the same, and that all of the labels ('puree', 'smoothie', 'baby food') are just a marketing gimmick. Does this make me a cynic? Or just really smart?
4. Pour the tomatoes into a large pot and add garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, maybe a little sugar...whatever spices you like.
5. Here's the 'trickiest' part - simmer until it's thick. The juicier the tomatoes the longer it will take. Mine simmered for about 2 hours today. I just stir and check every so often. And taste. But I don't taste until it's been cooking for a while, because otherwise it just tastes like tomatoes, and I myself don't really like that.
6. At this point, I let it cool and store it - some will go into the fridge, because we will be eating it over spaghetti squash tomorrow. The rest I separate, in 1-cup portions, into individual ziploc sandwich bags, in the freezer. I lay them flat and freeze them and then put them in larger freezer bags. Then, when I need a cup or a can of tomatoes for some recipe this winter, I can just thaw and use. Easy as pie! Hey, I have some of those in the freezer, too....