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


Friday, August 5, 2011

All About Wisdom

"For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord" Proverbs 8:35 NKJV 
Seeking wisdom brings life and favor. Wisdom is prudence, an understanding heart, truth, righteousness, knowledge, discretion, strength, and justice. Wisdom brings riches, honor, and wealth.
"But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death." Proverbs 8:36 NKJV
Contrary to wisdom is wickedness, crooked and perverse things, evil, pride, arrogance, ignorance, and death. Wisdom is better than silver, gold, rubies, and the things that we desire. 
 I'm learning how to seek after God's heart and seek after wisdom instead of pursuing comfort and security. The things this world says are important are meaningless. I want to desire the things that God has for me. I want to put aside my selfish ambition and live for Christ. My heavenly Father has remained faithful and true to His word. I find strength, compassion, love, and favor with the Lord. His ways are better than my ways because He knows the beginning from the end and He promised never to forsake me. I'm standing firm on His word because it never returns void!  
Our heavenly Father has us in the palm of His hand, close to His heart. His economy is greater than this country's economy. He has all of the resources to make our dreams come true, to provide for our families, and to guide us down the right paths. I trust in Him more than the world. He has so much more to offer us than society. Put aside worldly desires and clothe yourself in godly wisdom and righteousness. We can boldly approach the throne of grace because we are washed clean by the blood of Christ. We have been redeemed, not because we do the right things all the time, but because He loves us. Remember He loved us first, while we were yet sinners. We are saved by faith, empowered by grace, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. I pray the fire of Holy Spirit fill you and encourage you to step out in faith today. Honor Jesus' sacrifice for you by helping someone who doesn't deserve it. I pray for discernment so you can see how far someone has come instead of seeing where they are. I pray for strength so you can stand up for Jesus and be witness of His love for humanity. I pray that your purpose in Christ is revealed, that you may glorify Him with your life and find contentment.
 
"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself." Luke 12:29-31 The Message

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Cookbook and Ministry

When I first started writing a cookbook, I was just going to do an organic cookbook. Over time, this project has developed into part of my ministry. I've become very passionate about several things; health, organics, gmo's, fair trade, and God. When I was talking about my ministry with my mentor, who is awesome by the way, I was explaining what was on my heart. I want to reach out to others and teach them about eating to support the body that God gave them, which will strengthen their bodies so that they can have the best possible impact on the kingdom. We can take care of the bodies that God gave us in such a way that brings Him glory and enables us to take the gospel to the lost and hurting in the world.


 I posed this question to my mentor, “How do I start a ministry like that?” She replied, “You are already doing something about it, just keep doing what you are doing and God will open the doors for you when the time is right.” The more I thought about what she said, the more I began to understand what that meant for me. That got me thinking about my cookbook and then inspiration hit! I was going to use my cookbook as my platform for reaching others! I started to rethink the format from being “just” a cookbook, to a book that can inspire others to live a life dedicated to God. Most Christian books focus on the spirit and on certain behaviors or sins. There aren't many books that focus on health and wellness from a God perspective; that the way we take care of our bodies is a testimony, good or bad, to others about how we feel about ourselves and God.


 I desire to teach others not just how to love God, but to love themselves and to see themselves as God sees them - perfect creations worthy of love. It is my opinion that people use food as medication, eating emotionally, and thinking that they aren't worth the trouble to take the time to be careful about food choices. It's so easy to focus on others and neglect ourselves. When we don't love ourselves or see ourselves through God's eyes, we are diminishing the capacity for the effectiveness of our ministry. I had to learn how to love me and how to see me the way God does. That perspective really changed me and my outlook on life and how I see others as well. See, eating healthy doesn't have to be motivated by vanity, eating healthy should be motivated by love for self, others and for God. It's okay to love yourself, vanity comes when you exalt yourself above everyone else. 


 We were all created to be unique. Instead of focusing on our imperfections as negative, we should rejoice in our differences and love the fact that we are different. Each of us has something to offer the kingdom of God, God made us different so we can bring our uniqueness to the table and make the body of Christ whole. If we were all bringing something to a potluck dinner and everyone brought dessert, what would we eat for dinner? If everyone's strength was evangelism, who would be there to pastor, to teach, to lead, to serve, to minister, etc. We each have a role in the church, we each have a gifting, and we have strengths and weaknesses that are used for God's glory not our own.

I am writing an organic cookbook with a focus on God and I want to teach others about issues that surround food; slavery, genetically modified organisms, and society's impact on women. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Answered Prayers

Chocolate Graham Cracker Cookie Sandwich



Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:7-12

I have had the dream on my heart to open a bakery and have my cookbook published since February 2010. So much has happened and changed as time has passed and I've almost given up on my dreams several times. Each time I was about to just say, 'forget it! this is never going to happen. I've got no money, no one would publish my book, I don't know how to run a business, I've got no formal cooking training'...on and on the negativity would go and get me down. Each and every time, God would step in with encouragement from someone, from church, from facebook, my daily study, from music, from twitter...God can reach out to us from anywhere! It would be a verse from scripture, from a song, a message from a sermon...etc that God would remind me that He is bigger than my shortcomings, He is greater than the world, and I shouldn't measure my abilities by the world's standards but I should instead rely on His strengths, wisdom, knowledge, and provision. I've been learning to see my dreams from God's perspective, to look at the possibilities according to God's power, and to trust in God's promises because of His faithfulness that I have experienced by walking with Him.

It's amazing, I've been applying the messages preached by my pastors at church to my life – actually following their advice and I'm seeing God move in my life, just like they said He would. It all started with seeking Him first. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12:29-31  has been my mantra over the last 6 years. I've really been working on making this true for my life, putting God first in everything. This year I've learned to put Him first in my finances and my marriage. This season that my husband and I are going through has really been life changing. See, we are going through it together, each of us dealing with different, individual issues and shared issues, as well. The awesome part is that in Christ, we have the strength to do life together, to support each other, love each other, and hold each other accountable with a spirit of love instead of condemnation.

Pastor Matthew Barnett from the LA Dream Center preached last weekend on Matthew 7:7,8, the way he explained this passage of scripture had a lasting impact on my prayer life. I've learned just to ask God for what I need – I don't need to have things perfect before I ask, I don't need to say the words in a perfect order or in a perfect, eloquent way. I just need to share what's on my heart and what's on my mind with God; “Ask and you shall receive”.
I've learned that looking towards God, keeping my eyes on Jesus, seeking after God's heart will help my heart's desires to line up with God's desires for me. I will hear God and be able to respond to Him when I am continually praying and talking to Him throughout the day and by reading His word to renew my mind and heart daily. “Seek and you will find(HIM)”. Instead of seeking out my own way to make my dreams come true, in seeking God, He will take my dreams beyond what I could ever do myself!

The doors that God has opened and closed during this time have been a blessing. I've learned to wait on Him instead of barging in or slamming doors, which I've been really good at in the past. I realize now that so many more things are possible with God than without Him. “Nothing is impossible with God.” I had to think - I can do xyz on my own and hope for the best or I can bring this to God, do this His way and have His resources and power involved to make my dreams so much more than I could ever ask or imagine. I've been waiting on God to show me the best way to get my bakery off of the ground. I don't have any financial resources for start-up cash, I have no access to a commercial kitchen, and in Florida it has been illegal to operate a home bakery business. I've been discussing this with God, searching for a solution, and networking with others to see what doors would open for me. The only commercial kitchen that I've found so far, is 40 minutes from my house and with 4 kids at home for the summer that would make it nearly impossible to make that commute worthwhile. I was ready to give up, again! I found out yesterday, that a new piece of legislation was passed on July 1st called the Cottage Food Legislation that now allows home based bakeries to operate in the State of Florida! This is huge for me! I can now do baked goods to sell at farmer's markets and for the general public! This is the start that I've been waiting for. God moved in an unexpected way. I never would have thought that the law would change, I assumed God would move in a different way and I see now that this is exactly the best way to start making money and getting my feet wet serving the public.

I wanted to share this answer to prayer with all of you because I believe that in order to bring God the glory He deserves, we should share our hardships and victories with others. I was ready to start putting in job applications at Publix or restaurants around town. We have been struggling financially this summer and as a stay-at-home mom I not bringing in any money to help with the bills. I felt like I was going to have to put everything on hold in order to make sure my kids have enough to eat but instead of panicking, I prayed. God gave me the strength to hold on to my dream and He has provided the way and the provision for us!  God is so good, He is good ALL the time!

 I'm also praying to get my cookbook published, it is a daunting task, writing a book proposal but by the grace of God I've been putting one together. Now I just have to find someone that wants to read it! Amen! That is a blog for another time...
Please check out my new blog, it's one for my cookbook at thecookingactivist.wordpress.com.
Stay tuned for more about my bakery and my book! Until next time...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Dream Job: Dreams Realized

Delightful Oatmeal Cookie, organic and fair trade

This is a picture of a cookie label that I made for my first event, it was a human trafficking awareness event and on this particular night I was announcing my plans to open an organic fair trade bakery. I've always loved baking and cooking but this was the first time that I stepped out, in public, and it made it so real! I didn't have a location, money, or equipment when I did this, all I had was a dream and a passion and I wanted to make a go for it, even if I didn't succeed at least I was going to try.

What is one thing that you have always wanted to do but still have not done? What is holding you back? It is fear, finances, a day job, kids, family responsibilities?

I used to be afraid of everything! I wouldn't talk to people that I didn't know. I wouldn't share my wild and crazy dreams with anyone, not even God - but you know what? Life is too short to hold back! I've come to a point in my life that I've realized I'm not getting any younger. The older I get the more I see my potential and I don't want to squander the gifts God has given me, even if it means putting myself, my dreams, and my heart out there for the world to see. I figured if I just start by telling others what was on my heart, then maybe just maybe my dreams would be realized. I am writing a cookbook with a unique format. I've been working on the proposal and getting ready to submit my work to an agency by the end of the week. I want to open a bakery, I'm going to start out renting a commercial kitchen and build my business by catering and setting up vendor tables at events and farmers markets. I've found that I love to blog and take pictures of food, so this is my avenue for getting my dreams out in the open.

Whatever it is that you've dreamed about, it's not to late to start doing something. Start by talking about your dreams and the ideas will follow.

I've got a long way to go before I open the doors of my bakery but until the meantime I am going to keeping moving forward, jumping hurdles, dodging bullets, and praying my butt off!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shine 2011

Each year, Kerri Weems, organizes the most wonderful conference for women called Shine. Pastor Kerri's vision for this conference has caused Shine to grow and expand in ways that are incredible and so far outside of the scope of any church experience I've EVER had! I am so blessed to be a part of Celebration Church and to be a part of this house that Pastors Stovall and Kerri Weems are building.
The person I am today is radically different from who I used to be. I was saved, married, and became a mother in a span of 2 years. The adjustment to becoming a Christian, a wife, and a mother totally swallowed me and I lost myself. I didn't know who I should be and so I became invisible. I lost my sense of style, I stopped taking care of myself, I never put myself in a position to make friends, and I forgot about the things that used to be important to me. I spent the first 6 years of my marriage birthing 4 children, every 2 years a child was born. That in itself is mind-boggling! I immersed myself in my bible but not in church. I attended church every Sunday and I attended bible studies and church functions as a dutiful Christian but I wasn't living, I was sleepwalking through life. I thought that as a Christian my life was over, in that I couldn't have fun like I used to, I couldn't dress with style, I couldn't be beautiful, I couldn't be crazy. I essentially changed my personality to “fit” with what I thought God wanted, what the church told me God wanted.
With having children, I naturally gained weight and didn't try to lose it. I ate and ate all the worst foods and I didn't care about myself or love myself enough to take care of me. My mission was to take care of my kids, be a wife, be a Christian and Libby was gone. My identity was not my own anymore. I only wore makeup on Sunday, I only dressed nice on Sunday and during the week I wore big, baggy gray t-shirts and sweat pants to work. I was miserable, but I loved the Lord and my only solace was the joy I felt during worship on Sunday and the joy I had reading and studying the word of God.
I wanted more for my life. I asked God, “Isn't there more to this life than what I am doing?” I yearned for purpose, direction, and destiny. My husband and I started talking about looking for a new church, a new life, and a fresh view of the world. We heard about Celebration Church and it was on our list of churches to visit. We are a mixed-race family and we wanted to be in a mixed-race congregation and most of the options were for one color congregations. I started to exercise and eat better and that changed my outlook of myself. God empowered me to work on my health and I started to take care of my appearance. At this point my 3rd child was 1 year old and I was 50 pounds overweight. Once I started to lose weight, I started to dress better and I started to go to the hair dresser regularly, I started to wear make up at work, I was transforming into me. I know that sounds funny, but I was rediscovering me. I started reaching out to others and making some friends.
Michael and I chose to visit Celebration Church first. We never went anywhere else after that. It was Shine 2007 weekend and Christine Caine was speaking that Sunday. Her fire and passion blew us away! We came from a congregation that didn't allow the women of the church to speak from the pulpit, where the women of the church didn't have a voice. We made the decision to join Celebration 2 months later and our lives have been revolutionized.
Flash forward 4 years...
I am now 30 pound lighter, I love to take care of myself, I have been empowered by Pastor Kerri's vision from Shine 2008, 2009, and 2010 to be the woman that God sees. I love myself, I love my sisters in Christ, I love my Lord, and I love my life!! Christine Caine challenged me to step into the destiny that God has for me and fulfill my purpose in the kingdom. Lisa Bevere challenged me to Fight Like a Girl. Priscilla Shirer taught me how to discern God's voice. Pastor Kerri has shown me God's love for me and how to have a panoramic view of the world around me. I was ready for Shine 2011. I knew God had something for me and I knew that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me, to be a part of advancing God's kingdom.
For the first time, I served as a volunteer at Shine. I served alongside some of the most beautiful, well-dressed, on fire for God sisters that I've ever met! I was in the background, serving the volunteers breakfast and dinner. I felt so honored to be able to serve the ones who were serving the women attending the conference. I love preparing food for others. Hospitality is one of my gifts. Pastor Kerri has provided the opportunity for me to use my gifts for a kingdom purpose. I've been reading Lisa Bevere's book Lioness Arising which has woken a sleeping lioness that I didn't know was there in me. Pastor Kerri was right when she said that we don't lose our identity when we live full on for Christ...instead I have found myself! I know who I am in Christ now. I intend on using my life to further the kingdom of God, linking my arms with my sisters in Christ, living well with my prince, being the doorway of life as a woman, changing the way that I see things, praying powerful prayers, raising up my kids to fear God, and passionately and purposefully pursuing my destiny as a daughter of The Most High God. Thank you Pastor Kerri for loving God and stepping out in faith to fulfill your destiny. My life is forever changed. I will honor you by living my life dangerously and fully awake and by living a God-first life.
It is impossible to write in one blog everything that I have learned over the last 3 days. The Man-panel was awesome! All of the speakers that spoke into my life; Jentzen Franklin, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Bevere, Mercy Lokulutu, Dr. Sandra Richter-author of The Epic of Eden, and Kerri Weems. The passion and dedication of the volunteers and staff at Celebration Church have moved me to give more of myself to the body of Christ than I ever have before. The worship team at Celebration, along with Kari Jobe make worshiping God so beautiful and moving. To see what goes on behind the scenes to make Shine amazing makes me so thankful that God brought me to this particular church, in this city, for such a time as this!  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday's coming...



Picture the most beautiful place you've ever been, here on Earth, and now imagine that this is a place where there is no more pain, no more death, no more violence, anger, sadness, worry, anxiety, hunger. What awaits you is love, freedom, joy, happiness, fullness, satisfaction, laughter. If you've ever lost a child, that child is there and will run to you, perfect in every way, waiting to love you and reconnect with you. I picture my grandmother in a glorious new body, just like when she was in her youth. I can see her sitting in the most wonderful English garden surrounded by flowers, in full bloom all year round. Who can you picture in heaven waiting for you? The God who created us, who created the world, wants us to return to heaven to be with Him. Death here on Earth isn't the end, it is just the beginning. Life here is the proving grounds, our battlefield, where we are tested and tried through trials and tribulations. God gives us the tools we need to get through to the other side to be with Him forever, but He needs us to turn to Him and accept His help, His love, His guidance, His wisdom, and most of all His Son, Jesus. All He needs from us is love but we have to give it freely, it has to be a choice that we make of our own free will. Do you want your husband or wife or child to love you only because they are forced to do it? Is that love? God wants our love, He can't force it on us and I wouldn't want Him too. He is there waiting for you to turn to Him. It doesn't matter where you are in life, it doesn't matter what you've done or who you love. Nothing can disqualify you for receiving that love and forgiveness, except to reject that love and forgiveness. No one is perfect. No one gets it right all the time. All of us have issues, problems, and things that we think get in the way of God loving us. You need to know right now, that God loves you more than you can imagine just because He created you. He loves you right where you are today and He always has. Our soul yearns for that perfect love and the way we go after that perfect love can be very destructive. Money, beauty, fame, success, health, longevity, clothes, cars...none of those things bring lasting joy to us. We chase after the American Dream, or the dream from where ever you live, but it never satisfies our deepest desires to belong, to be accepted, to be loved, to be cherished. What is your dream? A big house, a car that never breaks down, kids who obey the first time, a partner that responds to your every need, a positive balance in your checking account, taking trips around the world, being loved unconditionally, finding your soul mate? God created us to live in the most perfect place imaginable. It is written on our hearts, that is why we long for it but we never know how to make it happen. We strive in life for the best but it will never, ever satisfy us the way God can. Jesus sacrificed His life for you so that you can go to heaven and live in that perfect place. There isn't anyone here on this planet that can complete you the way Jesus can. He knows exactly what you need and He loves you and He knows your deepest secrets, you know, those secrets that you will never utter to anyone alive. The mercy of God is like this: When you turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness, everything you've ever done wrong is wiped away and all He sees when He looks at you is love.

This is a picture of heaven from the book of Revelation 21:1-5 The New Heaven and The New Earth:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away ever tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

This life isn't all there is. God gives us a hope for the future, for eternity. Our bodies will pass away but our spirits will never die.

Instead of living a life devoted to the things that bring you pain, live a life devoted to the ONE who gave you life and loves you freely.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 5th Trafficking Awareness Event

On April 5th, I was a part of a human trafficking awareness event at the Manadarin United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Fl.  The event was organized by Nancy Rushton, the President of the Mandarin United Methodist women.  Nancy has been doing so many things to educate the Methodist Women about trafficking and modern-day slavery!

April 5th UMC MandarinHere is the table that I set up for this event.  I baked brownies and I created a new cookie recipe, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.  I planned on making my signature cookie, Delightful Oatmeal Cookie, but I ran out of AP flour and I forgot to buy raisins!  I ended up using whole wheat flour instead and they came out really good!!  I also had samples of the Fair Trade ingredients that I use, set up on the table.  Of course all of my ingredients are organic!
There were a lot of other tables set up by various organizations that are operating in Northeast Florida.

Shop to Stop Slavery table My friend Robin Rossmanith had a table set up for her website, Shop To Stop Slavery.  Her website is an awesome resource for consumers to find products that are ethically produced and slave-free.  You can find things from sports equipment to jewelry on her site.  It is really helpful for holiday shopping ideas!

Reading for Awareness UMC Book Club Reading For Awareness is a book club that Nancy has started as a way to engage the members of the community and raise awareness about slavery.

Slavery awareness books These are a few of the books that were there.  Gary Haugen from International Justice Mission and David Batstone from Not For Sale wrote several of the books in this selection.

City Rescue MissionCity Rescue Mission is located in Jacksonville and they focus on helping the homeless get off of the streets and get their lives in order.  The homeless are the most vulnerable for being trafficked into slave labor and sex-trafficking.

DCF Refugee Services Program Jacksonville has a Refugee Services Program through DCF, the Division of Children and Families.  This service helps victims of trafficking receive the help they need to stay in the country, if they are foreigners and they help survivors locate services to help them become contributing members of society, from medical care, to housing, and jobs.

World Relief Jacksonville World Relief Jacksonville works with DCF and other government agencies to provide refugees and survivors of trafficking with various services.  World Relief in a world-wide agency that does some amazing things to help those oppressed by others.

I didn't get a picture of the Made By Survivors table :-( but Sarah Symons, Executive Director and Founder set up a table as well.  Made By Survivors provides women in India and elsewhere around the world the opportunity to be gainfully employed and learn a trade in order to provide for their families.  This gives these women a chance to get out of the cycle of poverty and out of a life in brothels and red light districts.

Transitions Global Last but certainly not least is Transitions Global.  Seth Johnson, their Jacksonville Advocacy Director, set up this table.  Transitions provides aftercare to girls rescued from trafficking in Cambodia.  They also provide support and a template for other organizations that establish aftercare facilities in other countries.  They do amazing work and have a very high success rate for rehabilitating these children from the pain and suffering they endured in the sex slave trade.

I didn't get a picture of the guest speaker, Crystal Freed.  She is a lawyer here in Jacksonville and a integral part of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, NFHTTF.  She is an effective communicator about the plight of sex-trafficking victims.  She participates in speaking engagements around the city of Jacksonville and she works tirelessly to inform and educate others about being vigilant and observant to what is going on around them.  Crystal encourages the community to work together to protect children from predators and to spread the word about trafficking. Here is a news story about Crystal and the NFHTTF

I feel honored to have been invited to share in this event.  The people that are a part of this community of abolitionists here in Jacksonville are awesome and inspiring.  There are other organizations that were not represented there but they are all doing some amazing work!

Remember, together we can make a difference!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meatloaf

Meatloaf patties, mashed potatoes, green beans
I love meatloaf!  Instead of baking it in the oven, I made patties with the meat.  I wanted my meatloaf to be the healthiest meatloaf and still taste good.  So, I went to Whole Foods Market, and picked up some Stage 4 beef and ground pork.  They have a rating system for their meat that tells the consumer about the farm that the animals lived on.  Stage 4 beef is grass-fed and roams about in fields and stage 4 pork is pastured and happy.  At your average grocery store and most restaurants the animals live on factory-farms.  The movie Food Inc, does a good job showing the contrast between factory farms and organic farming.  The biggest difference is the way the animals are cared for. Factory-farmed animals are given tons of antibiotics, hormones, and are they are kept in inhumane living areas, without adequate exercise, fresh air, freedom of mobility, fresh grass and hay.  Cows are supposed to eat grass.  On factory-farms, cows are fed genetically modified corn and soy instead of grass.  Corn causes health problems in cows, which the cow is given antibiotics to combat those health problems.

Here is the list of ingredients that went into my meatloaf:
Grass-fed beef
Pasture-raised ground pork
Organic red peppers and sweet onions
365 Brand panko bread crumbs (no chemicals or soy)
Organic eggs
Sea salt
Black pepper

I mixed it all together and instead of putting it in a loaf pan, I made burgers.  I served the meatloaf with organic mashed potatoes and organic green beans.  It was so yummy!  Just knowing where the meat came from made it taste even better!  Grass-fed beef is worth the extra money for taste and health!  I've changed the way I cook and the way my family eats...we eat less meat because it costs more.  We eat more veggies, whole grains, and fruit as a result of eating less meat.

Farmers Markets are good places to find local farms that sell beef, pork, and chicken.  Organic produce is very important to avoid pesticides and gmo's.  Make your family's health a priority, it is worth the money and the time!  

Have an awesome day!

Libby
The Cooking Activist

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Mukti Ball


from the facebook invitation page: "Mukti is the Bengali word for freedom. Freedom is something that many of us don't think about when we celebrate Valentine's Day, because we've never known a world without it. Sadly, that's not true for the millions of men, women, and children caught in the sex trade. This event isn't a fundraiser, and it isn't a guilt trip, it's a celebration of the freedom that we have the power to bring, if only we re-think how we celebrate this holiday. Last year Americans spent over $14 BILLION dollars on Valentine's Day. This year, instead of spending money on something temporary, invest in something permanent. Do something different.

Skip the expensive, overcrowded restaurants and instead join us in a celebration to bring freedom for those caught in the sex trade. Come hear one women's freedom story and see what is being done to overcome the evil that’s enslaving over 20 million worldwide. 

This will be a fun, semi-formal ball, and it will include cocktails, dinner, and dancing."


This is a picture of my table that I set up for the ball.
   

The Cooking Activist Table

I made these Coffee Gateau cupcakes with fair trade and organic ingredients.   I used fair trade brown sugar, cane sugar, and confectioners sugar...everything was organic with organic pecans on top!  I used organic espresso in these and they were like a shot of espresso...yum!

Coffee Gateau mini cupcakes

These are Vanilla Brown Sugar mini cupcakes also made with fair trade and organic ingredients. I ended up putting one fair trade/organic chocolate chip on top of each cupcake for decoration.  They were so good!  This was my first attempt decorating with icing using a decorating bag and tips.  They came out really cute!

Vanilla Brown Sugar Mini Cupcakes for the ball

I also had a basket of my signature cookies, Delightful Oatmeal cookie, which I packaged individually with a label, for the guests to take home with them.  Here is the link to the rest of the pictures from the event.

 The other organizations that were there with me were:  Love146, Grace Ministries of Jacksonville, Transitions Global, Made by Survivors, Shop to Stop Slavery, The Defender Foundation, and Mukti Imports.  Kristin Keen is the woman who put this ball together, she is a founding member of Sari Bari, they are providing, for women from the red light district in India, a chance at life outside of the brothels.

I meet a lot of really cool people that night!  I was also able to share the importance of buying fair trade products for the guests.  We are all fighting for freedom from slavery for people all over the world.  People, children, women, and men are forced to work on farms, plantations, factories, brothels, strip clubs, prostitution, nail and hair salons, massage parlors, as domestic workers, construction workers, janitors...the list goes on and on.  This is happening everywhere around the world, even in America, the land of the free and home of the brave.  I am being brave and stepping out to tell the world about this atrocity.  We can't allow this to continue, not here in America or anywhere else in the world.  I want everyone to see that one person can make a difference, one person does matter, one person can have an impact on the world around them.  My goal is to bring God glory with my life. I will lay my life down for Jesus and follow Him to the ends of the Earth.  I am an abolitionist. I will do whatever I can do, with the talent God has given me, to raise awareness about human trafficking.  I will change the world one cookie at a time!

Have a blessed day!
Remember, you can make a difference in someone's life...

Libby
The Cooking Activist

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My first event this year!

Last night I attended my first event as The Cooking Activist!  I am so excited!  I joined several organizations that are here in Northeast Florida for a documentary viewing, a panel discussion and information fair.  We showed the movie "At the End of Slavery" by IJM or International Justice Mission.  The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about human trafficking and modern day slavery and to give people the tools they need to take action and do something about slavery.  These were the organizations that were there: 
Amnesty International UNF-Northeast Florida:
A Jacksonville-based grassroots organization actively involved with hosting, sponsoring, assisting and collaborating with human rights related events, organizations, activities, campaigns and research.
Transitions Global They have an aftercare facility in Cambodia and they assist other organizations in establishing homes for survivors of sex trafficking around the globe.
Made By Survivors: Their handicraft programs offer survivors of sex trafficking a job that enables them to support themselves and live a meaningful, independent life.   Made By Survivors also provides an economic alternative to slavery and exploitation for women and youth at high risk for being trafficked. 
World Relief Jacksonville: World Relief provides refugee services to foreigners by helping them adjust to life in America through a variety of ways.
My table for Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2011This is a picture of my table at the event!  I made and packaged organic fair trade cookies, I displayed some fair trade ingredients, and I had some handouts for fair trade resources, a sample of my bakery menu and a packet that included a little about me, my plans for a bakery, and my cookbook.
My homemade organic chocolate chip cookies This is the label I made for the chocolate chip cookie. I made it with fair trade sugar and chocolate.
Delightful Oatmeal Cookie, organic and fair trade This is the label for my signature cookie, Delightful Oatmeal Cookie, these were a big hit!  I was able to sit on the panel for the discussion after the movie.  I was able to tell the audience about my passion for ending trafficking, how I got started as an abolitionist, and what they can do to help end slavery today.  I shared my heart last night and it was great to sit with others that are passionate about this as well.  I look forward to working with these organizations in the future for more events like this!  I'm excited for what God has in store for me this year. This is going to be my best year ever because it will be my best year spiritually!(my pastor, Stovall Weems)
I want to thank Robin Rossmanith for organizing the event!  You are awesome!!  Robin has a website called, Shop To Stop Slavery, which is a fantastic online guide for all of your fair trade shopping needs.
Each of us can do something to help abolish slavery!  Tell a friend today, share my blog with others, get involved volunteering, buy fair trade products, donate to one of these awesome organizations that I described above, or organize an awareness event!  Get started today and let me know what your plans are!

Libby,
The Cooking Activist

Organic Leak and Potato Soup

Organic Homemade Leak and Potato Soup

I made this soup today and it was very easy!  Today is day 3 of the fast and this is what I had for lunch.  Visit Awake21.org for a virtual conference and more information on this 21 day fast.
Here are the ingredients:
3 Tablespoons of olive oil or organic unsalted butter(don't use if you gave up dairy for fast)
10 small organic potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped
Package of organic potatoes Organic white potatoes
2 1/2 cups organic leaks, washed and chopped, green and white parts
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups of water or vegetable broth
sea salt
black pepper

Heat the oil or butter in a pot and then add the leaks and garlic, season with sea salt and pepper. Here is a picture of the leaks and garlic right before I put them in the pot.
Organic leaks
Cook for 5 minutes and then add the potatoes, bay leaves, and thyme.
 Stir and let cook for about 1 minute and then add the broth or water.  Bring the soup to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and let the soup cook until the potatoes are soft about 20-30 minutes.  Once the potatoes are nice and soft, turn off the heat and ladle the soup into a blender.  You will need to blend it in batches and be careful with the steam, fill the blender only halfway.  Once it is blended it will be ready to serve, season with sea salt and pepper to taste once it is in your bowl.  Makes 7 cups of soup.  You can garnish with cream or cheese if you did not give up dairy.  Lovely soup for a cold winter day like today.  Enjoy!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Penne with sauteed vegetables

Penne with Sauteed Vegetables

Today started the first day of a 21 day fast that I am doing with my church.  Everyone choses what they will fast from and each one tailors their fast to fit their needs.  Today I started out with just liquids until dusk, about 5pm. Since I already have to avoid pretty much everything due to my soy allergy, I figured that starting off with just liquids would be a good idea.  I had just water and coffee until lunch time and for lunch I made a smoothie.  Here is the recipe:  Please, don't use soy milk...unfermented soy is not healthy in large quantities, especially conventional(gmo) soybeans.

Makes 2 servings
8 frozen organic strawberries
1 frozen banana, cut up
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 large spoonful cashew butter(for protein)
1 cup of 100% cranberry-raspberry juice(or your fav) no sugar added
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk, almond milk, or coconut milk
Blend, add more juice or milk as needed. Enjoy!


I wanted to post what I made for dinner tonight.  It was really good!  
1 tablespoon oil, some good oils to choose would be; coconut, avocado, or olive oil. Avoid any soybean oil based spreads.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 package of mushrooms,chopped - any mushroom will work
1/2 package of fresh string beans, ends snapped off
1 package penne noodles
veggie broth or organic vegetable boullion cube
black pepper
sea salt

I started off with some oil heated in a pan.  Cook the minced garlic for 30 seconds and then toss in the onions.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions start to brown.  While the onions are cooking, boil some water in the same pot you will use for the pasta.  Blanch (place them in the boiling water) the green beans for 2 minutes, remove from the water and then chop into bite sized pieces.  Once the onions are ready, put the mushrooms and green beans into the pan and season with pepper and two dashes of sea salt.  Cook the veggies until the green beans are done to your liking.  I like mine crisp.  
Vegetable stir-fry
While the veggies cook, place the pasta and boullion cube into the water, or dump out the water and use broth, this will add more flavor to the noodles.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Once the pasta is done, drain the liquid and place in a large bowl.  Toss with the vegetables.  Serve.  Makes 4-6 adult servings.  This veggie stir-fry would go well with brown rice too!
Enjoy!

Libby
The Cooking Activist

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why am I an activist?

This a repost of a blog that I wrote for another blog site.  I wrote this a few months ago and I have added to it...

As a black American, I grew up learning about an institution that is part of my heritage...slavery.  My ancestors, which I'm doing research on, were slaves.  American slaves toiled on plantations in America, working as servants and farm laborers.  I've read countless novels, history books, and watched many, many movies about the plight of the American slave and the Transatlantic slave trade.  In America, slavery was abolished and every one lived happily ever after, right?  Well, not quite, the effects of that time period are still felt today in the culture of America in the still present cultural and racial division between blacks and whites.  This has been part of my life growing up here, especially being a product of a mixed-race family.  Up until 2 years ago, I had assumed that slavery was something from the past, not something going on today and if it was going on today, it certainly wasn't happening anywhere that had anything to do with me!  I have found out that slavery most definitely does exist today AND it is going on right here in America, but not just in America, in Florida...in my neck of the woods.
Florida is the #2 or #3 destination State for human trafficking!  When I read that, I was floored!  I learned about agricultural slavery because of my research into organic food due to my soy allergy and I learned about agricultural slavery going on right here in my state.  The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has a lot of information about slavery on Florida farms.  Migrant workers are trafficked into Florida and forced to pick tomatoes and other produce.  They are not paid enough to live on, they are often in debt bondage, they are kept in substandard living conditions, the women and girls are often raped and sexually abused, and there are travelling brothels, with sex trafficked girls, that travel around the state to the farm workers.  The workers are subjected to massive amounts of the pesticides that are used on conventional produce and even though organic  farm workers are not subjected to the dangerous pesticides, there are no labor laws to protect them and they are not paid properly or have unions to help them.  The Organic Consumers Association works to raise awareness for the need to protect farm workers, here in America, and Whole Foods Market is also joining the fight for fair labor laws for organic farm workers around the world.

People in America are being tricked, coerced, and/or forced to work as strippers, prostitutes, housekeepers, janitors, nannies, in construction, in nail salons and massage parlors, in pornography, among other "jobs".  Children are a big part of slavery, 50% of slaves are under the age of 18.  All over the world, men, women, and children are living as slaves.  They are beaten and whipped, paid very little or not at all, they are raped and sexually abused, they are living in awful conditions, and receive little to no medical care.  What good is the American dream if it is brought to us on the backs of slaves?  Everywhere I look since I've become aware of this, I see the blood, tears, and pain of children abused, women beaten, and men broken by the needs of a society that has to have things cheap and convenient.  It is estimated that 14,500 to 18,000 men, women, and children are trafficked into the United States every year.  90% of the women and children are used in the sex industry and the average age of entry into the sex industry is 14.  There are 300,000 American children in the United States that are at risk for being trafficked into sexual slavery.  These numbers have been changing since I became aware of what is going on.  Authorities don't know the extent of trafficking victims because it is such a hidden crime and so many people don't know anything about it.  A lot of victims don't even know that they are trafficking victims and they don't know their rights.  In some cases, police will arrest the victims or deport them and their trafficker is never brought to justice.  In the case of foreign victims, their trafficker/pimp will take their documentation papers, visas, and passports so they cannot go the authorities and their papers will expire.  They are told lies by their "masters" and believe that no one will help them if they try to leave.

One misconception here in America is about prostitution.  It is not a victimless crime and the pimp is a trafficker and making money off of sexually abusing children.  The "johns" that utilize prostitutes are really pedophiles and abusers of women because a lot of girls are not there by choice or they have been beaten and raped so many times that it has become the only thing that they know.  I watched a documentary a few weeks ago called Very Young Girls and it was really an eye-opener for me about what American children go through when they are victimized by a pimp.  The girls in the documentary were as young as 12 when a pimp forced them to sell their bodies for money.  Gems is the foundation that made the documentary and has been providing services to sex trafficking victims in New York City.

 There is a great website called End Slavery Now that has combined all of the organizations and individuals that are working to abolish slavery worldwide.  They have tons of resources, movies, books, and pictures that tell the story of the modern-day slave.  The Polaris Project has more information about the extent of trafficking and slavery worldwide.  We can each play a part to end trafficking and slavery.  We can take a look at some of the wonderful abolitionist foundations out there in the world to see what they are doing to fight this.  We can tell everyone we know about what is going on.  We can keep our eyes open to the signs of slavery and refer them to authorities.  We can donate money, join a non-profit or start your own group.  Write a blog, get on twitter, talk about it on Facebook.  Social Networking is a great tool for raising awareness.  We have a job to do.  Jesus asks us to take care of those who can't take care of themselves, the poor, the downtrodden, the abused, the castaways, the helpless...the list goes on.   Now that you know, you should do something about it.

Much love,

Libby Mahoney
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Libby's Biography

Elizabeth was born in Cherry Hill NJ in 1976 to James and Virginia. Friends and family have called her Libby since she was very little. She lived in Pennsauken,NJ with her parents and sister until she graduated from 8th grade from a Catholic school in 1990. She moved with her family to Erial, NJ and went to high school in Blackwood, NJ until she graduated in 1994. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, PA for 1 year with the goal of going to nursing school. She did not do very well academically that first year and she took some time off to decide what career she wanted. In 1996, Libby attended Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ to pursue her lifelong dream of being a teacher. While taking classes, Libby took a job as a preschool teacher at Kindercare Daycare Center where she worked until graduation in 1999. With her associates degree in hand, Libby left her job and entered Rutgers University in Camden NJ as a French Major in the Secondary Education Teacher Certification track. A mere 2 semesters from graduation, she decided to forgo the Bachelor's degree because she missed the preschool age children, so she left school and got a job at Children's Discovery Center in Mt. Laurel, NJ where she became the Lead 3's teacher. The preschool industry is a low-paying career that doesn't require a higher education other than a high school diploma. Instead of going for the stability and benefits of a public school teacher, Libby devoted her career to reaching children ages 3, 4, and 5. During this time she met her future husband, Michael Mahoney, and when they married in 2001, they moved to Florida.

Libby continued to pursue her career as a preschool teacher in Jacksonville by taking the required 40 hours child care credits, becoming certified in CPR and first aid, and submitting to background checks and fingerprinting through JSO. Libby taught preschool ages 3 and 4 at Calvary Christian Jr Academy from 2003-2009. She took continuing education courses and attended FSCJ to become certified to teach VPK. Libby was a key proponent for implementing VPK at her school and assisted the director in establishing the program at the school. Libby wrote curriculum guidelines for the VPK program and the 3's program using the Florida State VPK Standards and her extensive knowledge and experience from teaching. During this time, Libby birthed 4 children and worked until her youngest was 6 months old. The cost of childcare was too much for the humble income of a preschool teacher and Libby said goodbye to her career and became a stay-at-home mom. The time and freedom gained by staying at home gave Libby the chance to focus on her passion of cooking. She was suffering from an allergy to soy and she began to teach herself how to make everything from scratch. She got the idea to write a cookbook since she was creating so many new recipes and in marketing herself she began a twitter account and a blog to talk about the things she was learning.
Libby got involved in raising awareness about human trafficking after hearing Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign, speak about the shelter they had built and the girls they were rescuing from sex trafficking. Libby was moved by these testimonies and desired to use her passion for cooking to do more than just write a book. She wants to open an organic fair trade bakery to show her community of Northeast Florida how consumers can affect the world around them and individual lives by purchasing ethically made products. Libby wants to use the profits from the bakery and cookbook to further her philanthropic goals. Libby has a vision of a boarding school that will take in at-risk children and survivors of trafficking. She wants to help orphans, foster kids, runaways, and throw-away children to get a chance at a life that would not be possible on their own or otherwise.
Libby plans on returning to school in the Fall of 2011 to finish her Bachelor's degree in Education with a minor in business entrepreneurship at UNF. She hopes to get her master's degree one day in Education/Business Administration so she can create the kind of school she'd always dreamed of working in.

If any investors, publishers, or literary agents are interested in Libby's plans for a bakery or cookbook please contact her at thecookingactivist@gmail.com

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

I'm starting the new year off with my first public event as The Cooking Activist!  On January 11th, to commemorate Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I will be a part of an event here in Northeast Florida.  Here is the official press release created by Robin Rossmanith from Shop To Stop Slavery.  This event will bring several anti-trafficking agencies together for a public event that includes a documentary viewing and panel discussion for the purpose of informing the public about trafficking, what is being done to combat this awful crime, and how we can change the lives of the victims and survivors. Each organization is doing something to battle trafficking and/or to help survivors. These are the organizations that will participate in the event: Shop To Stop Slavery, Made By Survivors/The Emancipation Network, Transitions Global, World Relief Jacksonville, The Cooking Activist(me), and Amnesty International. Here is a link to the facebook event page. If you will be in the area please come to the event! It will be held at Journey Church, located at 5941 Richard Road, Jacksonville, FL 32216 from 7-9pm. Tell all your friends about it!!


Happy New Year!!


Libby
The Cooking Activist