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