Sunday, December 29, 2013

What are God's plans for me?

     It's about time for me to finally start writing again. I've been on a break. I called it a sabbatical... either way, I'm ready to express myself through writing again. I haven't shared any new developments about my business and other activities publicly yet.  Officially, as of September 30th, I closed down my LLC - Health and Justice Enterprises. The home based bakery has been shut down and I've ceased doing events. This was one of the hardest decisions of my life to date. I'd put so much energy, heart, sweat, and tears into this endeavor,  that to just close the doors to the business was like closing the door on my dreams. I was devastated. I prayed and fasted for 3 days before making the final determination. I had to do what God wanted for me and my family. I had veered off course, strayed from God's plans, drifted away from my original mission and I needed a course correction. The best way for me to do that was to obey the Lord and start doing things His way. I decided that I needed to trust Him. He knows what is best for me, He's got me, He's watching out for me, and He knows the beginning from the end. I want my life to bring God glory. I want to live for Him. I needed to realize that I can't do anything apart from Him. He holds all things in His hand, including my dreams, my hopes, and my heart.

     "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart," Jeremiah 29: 11-13

     I've taken these last few months to focus on my relationship with Jesus and those things that make me, me. I have examined my life through my past and my family's past. There are so many decisions that I'd made throughout my life, and up until now I didn't take the time to figure out why I did or didn't do certain things. No matter what, through it all, God has loved me every step of the way... even when, years ago, I'd turned my back on Him and lived on my own  terms for so long. One thing that I know that I know is that I am a child of God and I don't have to do anything to earn His love because He already loves me, unconditionally, full of mercy and grace.

Moving on...

     Jesus is the motivation behind everything that I do. I had taken my business out of His hands because I got tired of waiting on Him. In my own strength, I couldn't fulfill my dreams and hopes. It is a hard lesson to learn but you know what, life is full of hard lessons and tough choices. I had to decide to either follow God and close down the LLC or keep doing it my way... which clearly wasn't working. I am still passionate about ending human trafficking. I'm still passionate about healthy eating and eliminating GMO's. But... I am more passionate about God and living that God first life that my pastor always talks about.

     I've been reading two books, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero and The Blessed Life by Robert Morris. Both books have radically and subtly changed my views and guided me to alter my life's course. Reading those, studying the bible, and through much prayer, I am in a much better place today than 3 months ago. I have been waiting on when I would be ready to bare my soul and start writing about my journey in this life. The time has come...

     I don't know what will become of The Cooking Activist Company, but The Cooking Activist is still inside me and I believe that dream is still alive and in God's timing I will start something new. I'm preparing for 2014's twenty-one day corporate fast with my church family that I do every year. I am full of hope and expectation of God's power moving in my life. If you pray, please pray for me... if you don't pray, think about me from time to time, I would really appreciate it!

Love you all,
Libby Mahoney

"Commit your plans to the Lord and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

Monday, April 29, 2013

Newtown Outreach

Last week, I wrote about what my purpose is and how knowing that, helps me focus on the opportunities that help me to fulfill that purpose.

With my purpose in mind, I took on the challenge of volunteering to prepare dinner for an outreach that we were having at church.  We had invited the women from a section of Jacksonville called Newtown.  These women live downtown in a poorer section of the city.  Sisterhood at Celebration Church focuses on empowering women to reach their potential and teaches women how to live intentionally and with purpose.  Sisterhood has started to do outreaches throughout the City of Jacksonville and surrounding areas in order to bring it's mission to women all over.  We plan on bringing Sisterhood all over the world as well, to Northern Ireland, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, and Greece.

Personally, I hadn't been able to attend any of the outreaches so far, so the Newtown Outreach was my first time!  I was given a budget, I made my shopping list, I enlisted the help of some of the women that I serve with, and we set about with the purpose of feeding these women.  I planned on about 50 people (women and children) to feed and I needed a cost effective yet filling meal to feed them.  We decided to make spaghetti and meatballs, a simple, delicious, and filling meal.

I bought some organic beef in bulk plus organic salad, raw veggies, and fresh crusty bread.  We made lots of spaghetti and homemade salad dressings.  We served sweet tea and water to drink.  Now, while I did not bake dessert, we did serve petit fours from Fresh Market after dinner.

The day of the event came and we brought crockpots, my meatballs, and cans of tomato sauce to the church.  We set everything up, chopped up garlic, fresh basil, and fresh oregano for the sauce, and turned on the crockpots to cook everything.  I gave myself enough time for the sauce to cook, before the women were set to arrive at 5:45.  Then, we went shopping for the fresh veggies, bread, and drinks but by the time we got back to the church, the power was out!!

That meant the meatballs weren't cooking and we didn't have any air conditioning, any lights or media and we weren't sure what to do!  We discovered that the other side of the building had power, so we moved the crockpots so the food could continue cooking.  We decided, instead of cancelling the event, we were going to continue setting up and prepping just like the power hadn't gone out.  We prayed for a miracle and waited on God!

The search was on for candles and we opened the blinds to let in the sunshine and we kept on decorating, chopping vegetables, and setting up the tables in the dim light.  We had tea lights set up on the buffet tables, lamps were brought in with 4-5 extension cords attached, and we used carts to carry hot meatballs and sauce from one side of the building to the other.  It was definitely a challenge, but instead of everyone giving up and cancelling the event, we decided that nothing was going to stop us from loving on these women and feeding them and their children.  Someone had live worship music set up on the stage with a singer and a guitarist, and they sang while we worked.

At 5:45, the bus drove up with 21 women and 43 children!  We received them with smiles on our faces and a positive outlook on the situation and explained that the power was out but we were going to go on with the event. We opened in prayer and started serving them by candlelight!  The kids were not afraid but they were definitely hungry!  My heart was bursting with joy seeing the little children enjoying my food and asking for seconds!  I love to cook for people anyway, but this was so much different than anything I had experienced up to this point.  I was so moved by the Holy Spirit in this moment and filled to overflowing with love for this group of people.  When it came time for Charise Orozco to speak, the lights came on in an instant!  Everyone cheered and we were so glad that we didn't give up!  I think that spoke volumes to these women and the love in the room that night was overwhelming and almost brought me to tears.  Chari spoke an awesome message that encouraged the ladies and me as well!  I felt so blessed that night to be able to share in this moment in time with the ladies of Sisterhood and the ladies of Newtown!

We said goodbye with the promise of seeing them again!  I can't wait until June when we do this again!
God is so good and He really showed us His faithfulness that night!

We had a pamper zone set up for the ladies and they were able to get their fingernails painted!  We also had a photo booth for the ladies and the children to remember the night!  Kennon Munger organized the whole thing and Liz Hineman released Kennon and I to do what needed to be done in order to pull off an amazing event!  I wanted to give a shout out to the ladies that helped me cook, set up, and serve the food, you did an amazing job!

"But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever.  Spread your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy.  For You bless the godly O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love."  Psalms 5:11-12

Monday, April 22, 2013

What is your purpose?

What is your purpose?

How many of us wonder what our purpose on this Earth is?  How many of us just wander around without purpose, just doing life without focus, going through the motions without a clear destiny?

Last week at Sisterhood, things started to come together for me.  I had been wandering around my life, not really focused, not living with purpose.  I was hoping that things would change but I didn't have a clear plan or path to where I was going.  It was like getting in your car and you know where you want to be but your GPS isn't working and your driving without a map, without a guidance system.  That is pretty much a waste of time and gas, to go somewhere without purpose and a plan!  Why would we live our lives like that?  Life is more than working to pay bills, getting through the school year just to start a new one, getting from one event to another.  We should have dreams, goals, plans, and purpose to guide us through life and to give life meaning.

The theme of Sisterhood Mornings this semester is called, Rhythms of Grace.  We are talking about doing life with a rhythm and setting the pace with the things that matter the most, the things that help us to fulfill our purpose.  Linda Riddle was the speaker last week and she talked about opportunity and purpose.  Different opportunities come our way, doors open, things happen and we have to decide whether to take on those opportunities or to pass on them.  If we don't know what our purpose in life is, how can we know what opportunities to take?  

What are you most passionate about?  What are the things that bring you joy?  What are the things that make your heart soar?  What brings fulfillment and contentment into your life?  

Read this passage from Proverbs 31:16:
"She considers a new field before she buys or accepts it, (expanding prudently and not courting neglect or her present duties by assuming other duties); with her savings of time and strength, she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard."

The Proverbs 31 woman uses wisdom in her planning and opportunities.  She takes the time to consider new opportunities before she agrees to them.  She has to make sure her current responsibilities aren't going to be neglected by taking on this new thing.  She has margin in her life and only takes on things that will be fruitful and further the fulfillment of her purpose.

My purpose in life is found in Proverbs 31 verses 8-9:
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.  Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice." New Living Translation

My purpose is directly related to women and how women are objectified in society, treated as less than human and less than/not equal to men, and how those things affect how women perceive themselves.  

My focus is to help women to attain a healthy mind, body, and soul with emphasis on the body.  The most important things to me are healthy eating, positive body image, and combating objectification of women/children.  I believe that in changing societies view of women and shining a light on how objectification degrades females, that will help to break the cycles of abuse in domestic situations, human trafficking, and the sex trade.  If a woman, through taking care of herself produces a positive body image, she will be less likely to fall into the traps and snares set out to destroy her.

My goal is to bring God glory by being a godly woman that loves her body, the body that God gave me, to love the LORD with all my heart and with all my soul, and to champion women's strengths and successes.  God created women to partner with men, not to be tread upon and used for men's pleasure.  Together, men and women are meant to compliment each other's strengths in building family and community.  

With a clear purpose and goal, I can now set a plan in motion to fulfill my purpose!  Focusing on God and His plan for my life will help me to choose the opportunities that arise carefully and with godly wisdom.  

"Good planning and  hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty"  Proverbs 21:5

Saturday, January 12, 2013

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Tomorrow kicks of a very important and transforming season at my church.  This season, we will participate in a corporate fast called Awakening.  The great thing about this, well, one of the great things is that individually, we choose what our fast is going to look like.  Corporately, we come together as a congregation to pray and worship.  The most common fast is called a Daniel Fast, which is basically a vegan diet.  It consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and beans.  There are many variations with juice/water only days mixed in.  The main idea is to give up the type of food that you cling to for emotional reasons and your favorite things.  In this way, you must lean on God and focus on Him.  We feed our spirits instead of our flesh by reading and studying the bible instead of finding solace in a candy bar or french fries.  My favorite things are; chocolate, french fries, bacon, chicken, and macaroni and cheese.

Pastor Stovall Weems has put together this ^ incredible book to help us during the fast.  My first time fasting was in 2008 and it was amazing!  The purpose of fasting and prayer is to put aside the things in the world that take time away from our time with God.  We purposefully focus all of our energy on getting closer to God by disconnecting from the world in whatever way we need to.  Some people give up facebook, video games, tv, etc.  It's how I quit smoking a few years ago.  We have the option to fast one day a week, up to every day for 3 weeks.  My husband and I usually do all 3 weeks, and we will do that again this time!  Our children also fast, not so much from food as from tv, video games, candy, desserts, etc.  Celebration Church puts together a calendar for the kids so they can experience the fast with their parents.

One of the awesome events during the fast is The Revival!  So many influential pastors will be speaking this year with great worship and fellowship should make this 5-day event phenomenal!

  "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled."  Daniel 10:2-3 NKJV

 “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words."  Daniel 10:12 NKJV

Monday, November 5, 2012

Health and Justice... has been quite some time since I last blogged here.  I wanted to give an update to what my business looks like now and what is upcoming for me.

I've have transferred my business from a Sole Proprietorship to an LLC.  The official name is Health and Justice Enterprises, LLC.  We will continue to do business as The Cooking Activist Company and under that name we will be a cottage food operation, offer personal chef services, farmers market vendor, and event vendor.  We will be selling our baked goods at the St. Johns River Farmers Market in St Augustine, Florida this weekend.  Our products for this weekend will be whole grain cookies and muffins made with fair trade and organic ingredients.  We'll also be giving out free samples of sweet potato and pumpkin pie and we'll also do pre-orders of pie for the holidays.  It's very exciting!!!

I wanted to talk a little about Health and Justice Enterprises.  Our tagline is: fighting for justice by promoting healthy lifestyles.  We want to encompass all the goals that we have into a broad net.  The way we fight for justice is by telling people about the need to purchase fairly traded products.  There is slavery still around today in American agriculture and numerous other industries.  We use fair trade ingredients in our baked goods and we attend trafficking awareness events to educate communities about this atrocity!  We do this part of our business usually without payment but with the end goal of teaching others about agricultural slavery around the world.  This is what I've focused on since 2010 and 2011.  This year, 2012, I've begun to use my skills and passion for cooking to be a personal chef and expand my business.  Now that I am an LLC and I have a business partner, together we are going to take this to the next level!  First, we will start selling baked goods at a farmers market and in 2013 we have plans to have our own commercial kitchen!

When I decided to start my own business, I really didn't think it would take this long to get going but I realize now, that it takes time to develop ideas and raise money to accomplish goals.  I've written down goals and desires over the last 2 years and I've whittled down, cut out, and changed a lot of ideas.  The one thing that has remained over all this time is the desire to educate the world about the atrocities around us and to do that using wholesome baked goods and from scratch cooking!  I've stuck to my main goal and theme and over time my passion and desire has grown instead of diminished!  I'm going to stay the course and follow my dreams!  This is only the beginning and I'm reaching for the stars!  There is so much more to do and I love my line of work and I can't wait to see what happens next!!

Please support me by liking my page on facebook, following me on twitter, and sharing both with your friends and family!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Whatever Makes You Happy…

The pursuit of  happiness has been the justification for so many destructive behaviors and habits in today’s culture.  I’ve heard and used the excuse, “As long as I’m not hurting anyone, I can do whatever makes me happy.”  Through all of the things that I’ve learned over the years, all of the pain I’ve experienced, the trials and tribulations that I’ve walked through; the pursuit of happiness doesn’t always make us happy and we almost always effect the people around us by our behaviors and attitudes, whether they be positive or negative.

As a parent, I can see why we need boundaries, accountability, and restraint in our lives.  My kids want everything that they see, they want it now, and they want what others have.  They think that if they get what they want, then they will be happy.  It's my job to say no to the things that they want, especially if it will cause problems, cost too much money, and have negative consequences. Will instant gratification keep us happy?  What will keep us fulfilled and content?  One of the things that most of us think is, “If I just had this one thing, then I would be content.”  Most times, we get that one thing and then we focus on something else that we can’t live without, and this cycle is perpetual and never satisfied.  Money and material things can’t make us happy, and often times the pursuit of wealth causes us to compromise our values and morals.  We can become dishonest, disloyal, and self-serving in our pursuit of money and material things.

The pursuit of happiness can look different for different people.  We naturally want to avoid feeling bad, experiencing pain whether physical or emotional.  We don’t want  to ever be uncomfortable and out of our comfort zone and there are many different ways to numb pain or to avoid pain altogether.  But, one of the most amazing things about pain is that it changes us by adding wisdom to our lives.  Have you ever refused to take someone’s advice that has experienced pain because you thought you knew better?  When things turn out exactly liked you’d been warned, only then can you see the wisdom in the advice.  Pain through trials and tribulations help us to grow emotionally, building wisdom and widening our eyes to the pain of those around us.

Sometimes to get to where God needs us to be, a place where His blessings flow, we need to walk through the fire to get there.  Trials, pain, suffering, and tribulation are necessary to shape our hearts and change us into who God knows we can be.  Without those seasons in our lives we won’t grow, learn, or change direction.  Oftentimes, we can’t see where He is taking us until we are already there and we can’t know the impact that our faithfulness and integrity will have on the world and the people around us.

One of the things that got me thinking about this topic is the obesity epidemic in our society today.   Eating is the easiest thing to do that can take our mind off of pain and suffering.  Certain foods can become addictive and we can feel that we don’t have the strength to stop eating.  Even though you may think that eating doesn’t hurt anyone around you, think again.  We set an example to those around us, people are watching what we do whether we care or not.  We teach our bad habits to our children, families, friends, and acquaintances.  People learn by example and through experience.  On the same track, we can show others positive examples by being responsible to take care of ourselves and those around us.  

I’ve learned that as humans, we try to fill the empty parts of our heart and soul with things, be it money, food, drugs, alcohol, and meaningless/shallow relationships.  There is great joy to be found in healthy relationships with others, our connectivity to people, and our pursuit of God.  One of the things that the bible teaches us, is to surround ourselves with people that are for us, people that will lift us up when we are sad, lonely, in pain, and depressed and people that will hold us accountable for our actions and motives.  We need to purposefully avoid those that only hurt us and lead us to hurt ourselves and others.  Pruning those connections in our lives will make us stronger and more able to bear the things that life brings to us.  Without pain, rainy days, and hard times we can’t appreciate the good things in our lives or realize which people are most important to us.  So stand strong wherever you are and have faith that what God brings you to, He will bring you through.

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    He saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
    He surrounds and defends all who fear Him. 
Psalm 34:5-7 NLT

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Can Do All Things...

A lot has changed over the years. When I think about the person I used to be and the things that I used to do, it is a miracle that I am doing the things that I am doing now. When I got married, I had reached a milestone in my life and I thought all that was left to do was to have children. So that's what I did...I had 4 kids and I thought that my life would be about raising them and then becoming a grandmother, and then I would die and go be with Jesus. Now, that doesn't seem so bad but that is just the status quo, I suppose. I thought that once I became a Christian, I would live my life, try to be good, do the right things and let life happen around me while protecting my kids, praying for others, and paying bills. By the time I reached 30, I had been a teacher for almost a decade, I had 3 kids and I was doing okay. I didn't have any career goals worth mentioning, I didn't have any life goals other than losing weight, and I didn't have any relationship goals other than being nice to everyone! My whole world was turned upside down when I joined Celebration Church and I found out that God wants more for my life than what I was doing, that there are people out there without hope that need to hear about who God is and what He can do. What I learned about God's character and power and love just burned in my heart and spurred me on to seek out my purpose. I've learned that the Christian life can be anything but safe and boring!

I had a very hard season right around the time that we moved to St. Augustine. I hit rock bottom during that time and I remember thinking, “Is this all there is to life?” I had become discontent with the status quo and I begun to want more from life but couldn't fathom how I could possibly do more when I had 4 kids to raise, isn't that enough? I joined a small group where I read Christine Caine's book, Can I have and do it all, please? That is exactly what I wanted to know! This book had a section of questions in it that helps women discover their purpose, and it was these questions that set me in the direction that I have been going in ever since! It's hard to believe how far I've come and where I am headed. I loved being a preschool teacher and loving on the kids and their families, but God has something more for me and I intend on giving everything I've got to follow Him!

There have been so many things going on to avert me from my mission and goals! We are totally broke, so trying to start a business is not easy but only the impossible can happen with God! I've had so many health set backs since 2009, it would take another blog just to go through them all! God has been right by my side, though, and my new motto is, “Nothing is going to hold me down, I've got to keep on moving!” As an example, just yesterday while I waited for my kids at the bus stop, a piece of mulch went through my shoe and punctured my foot! Talk about crazy, blood was dripping and my toes and shoe were red and instead of sitting down and panicking, I pulled off the shoe(which took the wood out of my foot), looked at the blood, put my shoe back on and walked home! The reason why I walked is because I didn't have my van yesterday since my husband's car battery had died. Lately, I've been just pushing past the pain and through the uncertainty and the results have always been better than if I had just stayed still. I'm not taking no for an answer anymore. I'm not going to just be content and be silent. My heart and my mission have to do with people. There are a lot of people out there that have no one thinking about them, praying for them, helping them through the rough patches, caring for their safety and well-being. God has given me a purpose and I intend on accomplishing that purpose with honor and integrity.

Today, I am standing at the precipice, the start of something that could be just more than I'd ever imagined or hoped for, but that is the kind of God that I serve. He does amazing things through those who have nothing without Him. This may mean that I won't be a stay-at-home mom anymore but this new venture may help me be there for my kids and provide things for them that I can't right now. Nothing in this life comes easy and that is something that I am learning, and nothing comes easy that is worth having. I'm not doing this for just my family, I'm doing this for families and children within my sphere of influence.  We'll see just how far God takes me, because I am willing to go there with Him!

So keep your eyes and ears open for what is to come. I pray that God moves mountains and makes the impossible possible because I've got big God-sized dreams that require faith the size of a mustard seed and a God that is big enough and strong enough to make my dreams come true!

Please pray for me! I'm going to need it!

Libby Mahoney
The Cooking Activist and Warrior for Christ