Holmes’ Team Tasty Tomatoes and Involvement in a Local Church

The process of designing a new dish can be so much more fun when shared with some enthusiastic friends. That is how the Holmes’ Team Tasty Tomatoes side dish (page 93 of A Recipe for Survival) came to be. My friends (A. K. A. Junior Advisory Team) were stopping by for a visit on a day when I was planning to find a way to make kale easier for Brody to digest. He had been struggling to break down greens in his mouth, and I was remembering what I had learned in chemistry about getting different substances to dissolve into a solution.

That day, I shared with my Junior Advisory Team my preliminary thoughts on the design of the dish, and they added their suggestions. We worked together to prepare the dish and after tasting the results, we agreed we had a winning combination of flavors and nutrients! The memories of working together with my friends make this dish even more special to me!

Some months ago, I took pictures as I was making the dish. I prepare tomato dishes more frequently in the summer when the price of tomatoes is lowest, but I don’t always have time to prepare a post at the same time that I am cooking. So, here is a dish that reminds us of summer in the middle of winter! See page 93 of A Recipe for Survival for the recipe.

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes in progress

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes

Recipe design can be enhanced with friends’ suggestions and the activity can be made more enjoyable when sharing their company, but it does not actually require the input of others. However, other aspects of life require interaction with fellow human beings.

Now and then, I hear someone say that we believers don’t need to attend church. In some cases, the person who doesn’t want to be a part of a local body of believers has been hurt in a past church experience. While we human beings can be rather unkind to one another, the answer is not to avoid being a part of a local body.

If I chose not to be a part of a local church, then I would miss out on the opportunities to learn to obey all the “one another” commands in the New Testament. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn how to bear with others. I would not have the chance to forgive others if I carefully avoided any situation in which others could hurt me. I would not be able to bear others’ burdens or comfort them if I were not involved in their lives enough to be aware of their burdens or know of their sorrows. I would miss out on so many opportunities for my own spiritual growth if I tried to isolate myself from other  believers.

I also appreciate others’ observations and input into my life. I would miss out on all the benefits of fellow believers’ wisdom and perspective if I chose not to be a part of a church. It’s so easy for us to run off on peculiar tangents of belief; being involved in a church and listening to our leaders provide a safeguard for us not to head too far down any path which may not be Biblical.

I feel sad for those believers who think that building relationships with others in the church is optional. They miss out on precious encouragement from regularly meeting with others who are also learning how to apply God’s Word to their lives. Skipping church means they miss out on the encouragement that comes from hearing others sing God’s praises. Simply seeing my leaders attending church with their families encourages me to continue obeying the Lord in all aspects of my life. Hearing them singing of their love for Christ and knowing that they also are applying God’s Word to their lives throughout the week spurs me on to live my life in a way that honors the Lord.

I remember an expression I heard a long time ago… “We are like bananas; if we get separated from the bunch, we will be skinned!” Perhaps a better reminder comes from the Roman soldiers’ shields.

A few years ago, I heard in a sermon that the shields were built to be interlocking. A quick Google search on the design of their shields confirmed that for me. The sermon I heard was from a series by Pastor Scott Bashoor on the Christian spiritual armor as described by Paul in Ephesians. Paul spent a lot of time with Roman soldiers since he was a prisoner for his faith for years. So, he likely had a visual reminder of armor right beside him as he wrote this passage on the armor of God. The sermon and description of the interlocking shields gave me an encouraging image. Three soldiers could team up together… even if the one in the middle were quaking in his sandals, the two on either side could link their shields to his, and together, the other two could help the one in the middle to stand his ground. There are times in all of our lives that we need fellow believers to help us to persevere. What a loss for those who choose not to interact with and build relationships with others in a local church!

Psalm 35:18 from www.BibleGateway.com

I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

Hebrews 10:23-25 from www.BibleGateway.com

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Ephesians 6:10-20 from www.BibleGateway.com

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore,having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 [b]in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 [c]With all prayer and petition [d]pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, [e]be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in [f]chains; that [g]in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Better Hummus, Discoveries, and the Freedom of the Potter

Now and then, my mistakes in the kitchen result in new discoveries.

I tried following my recipe for Yummy Hummus one day and neglected to read the entire note on my recipe card… the result was the hummus was much too watery. Since I had wanted to try making falafel, I thought this might be an opportunity… I could take my failed rendition of hummus as a starting point, refer to the recipe my friend had drawn my attention to, and possibly develop something new! I decided to give it a try.

Another friend was visiting me that afternoon. I told her about the falafel recipe and my concern that Brody can’t handle fried food as well as he used to since he had his gall bladder removed. She suggested that I try to bake the little falafels. So, that’s what I did. I not only got to try a new falafel recipe, I modified the Yummy Hummus to become Better Hummus! Here is the result in both recipe and photographic forms!

Better Hummus with Crackers

Better Hummus

1 cup dry garbanzo beans

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

1/2 tsp dried red pepper

salt, black pepper to taste

3 Tbsp chopped parsley

3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

 

1. Rinse and then soak the garbanzo beans overnight.

2. Cook the beans until they are tender enough to pierce them with a fork.

3. Add the beans and 1 cup of the liquid from the beans to the Vitamix along with the other ingredients except the salt, black pepper, parsley and cilantro.

4. Starting on low and then switching to high speed, blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

5. Add salt and black pepper to achieve the taste you like.

6. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, stir in the parsley and cilantro, and enjoy! We love this with crackers!

Freda’s Falafels

Better Hummus Ingredients

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup tapioca/rice flour blend (roughly 50/50 for the blend)

Sesame seeds

Butter for the cookie sheet

1. Prepare the Better Hummus recipe above, except use all the water that was with the garbanzo beans while they were cooking.

2. Combine the baking powder with the flour blend.

3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

4. Butter a cookie sheet.

5. Form the falafels into little patty-like shapes. Coat the falafels in sesame seeds and then bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

As I experimented with these, I tried adding more flour to the mix with different batches.

Falafel Experiment from Hummus Mistake

I decided I preferred more flour. My first attempt resulted in falafels which were a bit “wimpy.”

Freda's Falafels Take 1

More flour in the batter produced a better final product. The result was the falafels stood “taller” and didn’t collapse as much as they cooled after baking.

Another attempt at Freda's Falafels

From time to time, I struggle with discouragement and discontentment when I consider how my life is “turning out” as compared to how I had thought things would go. If I dwell on what I had planned to be doing by age 40, I can become quite sorrowful… but when I remember that God is the One in charge of my assignments in life as a member of His household, then I experience more peace.

I know that He is good and He does good, so I can trust Him as He is working in my life. Brody often reminds me that our lives here on earth are not about accomplishing certain things. Instead, God’s purpose for us is to prepare us spiritually for Heaven and to bring Him glory in our lives now and for eternity. We know His love for His people is measured by the sacrifice He made on the cross for us. So, even as we face difficulties and disappointments, we can know for certain that He is not being unkind to us; He is lovingly working in our lives for our spiritual good.

Romans 8:28-30 from www.BibleGateway.com

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

My aunt took this photo a few months ago in New Salem, NC. She couldn’t remember the name of the studio. I would love to contact the potter in this photo to confirm that it’s okay to share the photo on my site.

Potter at work

This photo is a beautiful reminder to me of God’s careful shaping of my life. He does not make a life out of failed experiments as I sometimes make a new recipe out of mistakes in my kitchen; rather, he is masterfully carrying out the purposes He has had for eternity past. My little lifespan is a tiny part of what He has designed for His creation. Even with the pains and disappointments, I can trust Him that He is molding my character to resemble His Son more and more. Since He is the Potter, He has the freedom to make whatever He chooses from each lump of clay.

Psalm 33:10-11 from www.BibleGateway.com

The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Some years ago, my church gave us Sunday School teachers a gift of the classic edition of My Utmost for His Highest, a daily devotional by Oswald Chambers. For many years,  I read it every day throughout the year. Then I took up other devotionals for some time. Perhaps on January 1st, I’ll pick it up again for this coming year. I remember a quote from Oswald Chambers about God helping Himself to our lives…. I found the quote below from a cached page from www.utmost.org.

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

Is He going to help Himself to your life, or are you taken up with your conception of what you are going to do? God is responsible for our lives, and the one great keynote is reckless reliance upon Him.  Approved Unto God, 10 R