God’s Promises: Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

Be encouraged–His mercies are new every morning.

Feeding Babies: Best Store-Bought Baby Food

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Buying ready-made baby food is not a necessity unless for some reason your life makes it a necessity.  But just because something isn’t a must-have doesn’t mean we can’t use it now and then or even choose it for a season.

I am perfectly capable of making baby food (as are you!), but I have thus far been feeding my now seven-month-old primarily from the selection of Earth’s Best Organic baby food along with egg yolks, a couple of mashed dinner veggies, and organic apple sauce.  Note: I do not buy apple sauce under the “baby food” label because it is the same thing but more expensive!

We will talk more about making your own baby food in another post.  But for now, I wanted to talk about the best store-bought baby food I have ever tried.  Because, really, if I don’t like the taste of the food (or can’t even recognize that the peas taste like peas, regardless of whether or not I like peas), why would I give it to someone else, like, my child?  Can’t I give my tender baby for whom I would give anything something that doesn’t repulse me?

I don’t know why it has become the norm for parents to gag at the smell of an opened jar of baby food and say it’s nasty because, well, it’s “baby” food.  On a recent outing, I was in need of baby food and stopped in at Safeway for a jar of peas for my baby.  Being out of Earth’s Best First Peas, I quickly grabbed the next-best-looking thing (it said “organic”) and headed to where we had to be.  Once there, baby wouldn’t eat it.  My son (3) asked for a taste, then quietly remarked, “ugh, it mates me want to pit it out”.  So I tried it, and it was… unappealing, to be polite.

So is there a baby food that doesn’t taste or smell like “baby food” as we have come to know it?  YES!  In my current opinion, Earth’s Best makes the most wholesome, organic, REAL baby food on the store shelves.  Their organic baby food tastes fresh, ripe, unadulterated, and healthy like the rest of the food we try to consume daily.

Babies are sweet and delicate, but they are still people.  Delight them not with sweets and treats, but with the deliciousness of the real food God created.  Excite their palates!  Expand their food curiosity through joyous eating.

At my favorite store, Vitacost, the 2.5oz “Stage 1” jars, perfect for a new eater, are $0.89.  The 4oz “Stage 2” jars are $1.29/each.  I can occasionally find Stage 2 at Safeway or Target on-sale for under $1.00.  If the cost seems steep, we’ll cover that in another post.  Until then, reflect on a few areas you may be able to cut back so your baby can grow a healthy taste for food.  Do you buy five espressos a month?  There’s your baby food budget!

Happy feeding!

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Earth’s Best, nor was I paid to review this product.  I just wanted to share my mommy experience and helpful products!

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Heart for Hospitality

I have always had a heart for hospitality.

My four-year-old daughter also has a heart for hospitality, and she’s a natural.  Here’s the table she set for us…

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My experience with hospitality is a lot like this blog post.  I so want to give you something worth reading–enjoyable, satisfying, useful even–that I go over and over again editing and contemplating until it almost never gets put out there.

Sometimes I get into a mode of focusing on what is less important long enough that what is more important never gets done.

My husband and I have been married for almost ten years.  And we have always lived in houses while working on them.  This has been my main reason for not inviting people over to our home–I want my home to be warm and inviting for them and not a disorganized construction zone.  My hubby’s doing his part, now this homemaker needs to do hers.

What makes hospitality is the same thing that makes a house a home.

It is silly, looking back, that I have worried that people would not feel welcomed or comfortable in our home until our to-do list gets done.  This is our home.  And if we can love and laugh and make joyful memories here, then why can’t we invite others to do the same?

True hospitality is an expression of love, and it is that, not the location, which envelopes our friends and family.  When grace is at the center of your home, you can be hospitable.  Truly, hospitality without grace is just flattery.

Hospitality makes me want to come over.  Whether you have tea or just water, a couch or just a corner of the floor with crawling babies, hospitality doesn’t wait–hospitality makes room.

Can you identify one thing about the most hospitable person (or people) you know that makes you feel so warm and welcomed?  Does your neighbor bring over homemade treats?  Does your friend cuddle up in a chair with woolen socks and hot tea just to listen to you talk?  Please share!

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Why I Blog and Why I Don’t

There is a reason behind this blog; a reason behind visiting a free blog-hosting site, designing a simple blog space and beginning to post words, phrases, and paragraphs on the worldwide web. There was a reason, and there still is a reason. Sometimes we need a reminder of what our reasons are.

This blog comes forth from the thankfulness I have about my own life.

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I didn’t begin writing or wanting to share what I think because I was in deep thought over the life of my sister, cousin, friend, or anyone else I know and think I have some grand wisdom to improve their lives. It’s because in my own life I have needed the fellowship, the advice, the voice in the desert, and I have been edified, encouraged, challenged, convicted, and spurred on by words penned by other people tens, hundreds, and thousands of miles away that I will never meet this side of heaven.

A couple of years ago I was in a motherhood desert, and while I was there I was hungrily (but discerningly) keeping my eyes open for Godly fellowship and wisdom. I found blogs and books, some of which I still enjoy, such as Generation Cedar, Nursery of the Nation, Sally Clarkson’s “The Mission of Motherhood” and Nancy Wilson’s “The Fruit of Her Hands”.

One day when my mother was over for a visit, I was sharing with her the fruit I was deliciously devouring from the authors’ and bloggers’ pages, and my mother said,

“A good book, written by a good Christian author, is like fellowship.”

Sweet fellowship. That is exactly how I felt. I felt like I had the privilege of sitting down with an older, wiser, sweet woman of God and she was sharing her heart with me, saying “I know, young mother, I’ve been there. Let me tell you about it and see if you can relate.”

Tell Me Again Why I’m Here

I wish I could share with you the entire chapter of “Heavy Branches” in Rachel Jankovic’s book “Loving the Little Years”, where she talks about our duty to bear fruit and our non-duty of worrying about what happens to it. I hope you are able to hop over to the bookstore and add this book to your treasury as soon as possible.

Just what does being fruitful look like?…true fruitfulness requires constant, year-round attention. It requires taking risks. It might mean making a truckload of apples to throw in a ditch out in the country somewhere. It is funny to think about, but God does not tell us to necessarily be strategic with our fruit. …What happens to all our fruit is not our problem. That doesn’t mean that we are not to care about the fruit. While it is on our branches, it is our life work. It is an offering to God, and we ought to care immensely about the quality of our fruit. But the branches are our responsibility; the ground is not. (p. 32, 33)

I want to bear fruit. I want to share where I’ve been and what I’ve learned for the other Melissa’s out there. For the girls, women, wives, mothers and hopefuls who just need one more voice in the desert. Do I think I’m a saving grace? No, that’s Jesus Christ. But I’m here for a reason, just like you. I’m here to bear fruit.

Spindly Branches on The Blogfront

Rachel Jankovic goes on to say that worrying about the ground only limits our production, our bearing of fruit ripe for the picking.

But what does this apply to in real life? …Are you holding yourself back on things, afraid that the end result will not be worthy of your labor? Are you afraid to fail? …Are you limiting the branches upon which you are willing to bear fruit? (p. 33)

I can’t think of who might read this blog, because when I do, I think of the people I know and why they already have or don’t need the fruit I have to offer. I think of what I think they might think, and that is completely fruitless.  The ground is not my responsibility; my own branches are.

Bursting into Bloom

Fruit is the purpose of this blog. I want to share bushels of fruit with you–the bushels God has given to me and the bushels He allows me to give. I have been so blessed by the fruit of other people willing to burst forth with photos of their children, stories of their marriages, recipes, thoughts, and ponderings of God’s Word. Not because I think they are right, sometimes it’s not an issue of wrong or right, black or white–There is right and wrong, but within the bounds of righteousness there’s a whole lot of life, full of individuality and creativity, because God is infinitely creative. That’s what fellowship is; sweet, fruit-filled fellowship is when God‘s children share in each other’s harvests.

Apples and Oranges

You may not fancy my fruit. Or maybe you do like my fruit, but not my variety. Maybe you love my fruit and like my variety, but at times my ripeness doesn’t suit your palate. That’s ok. The apple tree doesn’t worry about whether every person and animal will enjoy its fruit and use it for beautiful things. The tree was created to bear specific fruit, and its work is to do that to the fullest, working heartily as if unto the Lord and not for men. The beauty that gets made out of the fruit is the work of God’s hands, not ours. God is the One who allows fresh, crunchy apples to nourish life. And it is God who turns rotten apples into fertile soil. We might bake the pie or till the soil, but God is the giver of life.

Don’t be afraid to bear fruit. Delicious, abundant, and specific fruit.

Praying you have a beautiful, fruit-filled day!

(02/07/2014 Update: This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small percentage of Amazon orders placed through the links above)

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