Why Activism & Creating Affirming Spaces for Women Moves Me

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Black Womyn Rising (May 2016)

Ever since elementary school, I have stood up against any perceived injustice. Not on a picket line, more subtly I suppose, as my early protesting involved befriending kids others made fun of or ignored.

On the weekends, Dad told my brother and I stories about his life, the years he spent in Hounduras before coming to the U.S. We learned about his childhood, both the simple beauty and abject poverty. Those expressive eyes held a tinge of sadness as he told us about wearing shoes only on Sundays, as they walked to church; they traveled to school barefoot.

I sat there, all of 6 or 7, fully absorbed, unable to push the sentences about hardship back, tears and anger welled within me. Of course he said, “don’t cry,” “I’m fine now, Meldy” (his nickname for me), and yet, as he hugged me tenderly, smelling of cologne and peppermint, I couldn’t shake the heaviness of it all.

Why did I have shoes and clothes and other children didn’t? It felt absurd, cruel and unfair, and I wanted to change something, however small. I always felt a deep desire to transform the world in my own way, bringing light and beauty.

All these years later, I finally feel I am walking into my purpose as an activist, organizer, and cultivator of affirming spaces for women. Sometimes God must remove the noise, distractions and barriers which are hindering us from growth.

Rocking a shirt given to me by my good friend Kayla (includes names of Black womyn and girls murdered or assaulted by police)

And I suppose this is how I have come to work with Black Womyn Rising, an intergenerational organizing collective  I helped found with several other sistas based in Baltimore. Our work is intersectional (meaning we seek to understand how various forms of oppression operate and  impact black womyn and girls), and rooted in transformative love and global sistahood.

We are deeply concerned with resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color.  In the spirit of Nina Simone and so many other foremamas, we uplift the beauty, complexity and the rich layers of blackness.

While social justice and activism are a deep part of my soul, so, too, is creativity. Writing, photographing, sketching, these outlets are oxygen for me. Last year I founded Women Creatives Chat, a community that lives online for now (working on planning some events) whose mission is to inspire, empower (through tips, resources and regular Instachats), and connect my fellow creatives with one another.

Since launching on Instagram late last year, it’s growing daily. And I feel blessed to follow and connect with women from all around the world who are creating and trusting their unique visions. You and I truly can have the life we seek and dream about it. It begins with clarity, which I believe is rooted in prayer, a personal relationship with God and radical self love.

Graphic designed by Emelda De Coteau Founder, Women Creatives Chat

 

Anyway, enough about me! What sets your heart on fire? What do you feel called to give to the world?  I want to hear all about it in the comments below, sweet friends.

Finding the Blessing In Our Struggles 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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A few months ago, I joined an awesome tribe of writers at Our Words Collaborative, a Christian devotional website where we share how God is moving in our lives. From time to time, I’ll republish some of those devotionals here on Mondays. I think it’s a great way to kick off our week – centered in faith.

Artwork by Ainsley Jordan

There are days I wake up, beating back exhaustion and swallowing tears. The past few years have stretched our family in ways we never imagined. And yet, through it all, an unrelenting faith is taking root. Often I pray not day by day, but second by second.  Most people would not place struggle and blessing in the same sentence, but I now understand God uses our most painful experiences to help grow us beyond ourselves, and into the realm of steadfast belief. His grace always sustains and guides us, even when we feel alone.

“If I told you my story, you would hear hope that didn’t let go…” 

– Big Daddy Weave, “My Story” 

I believe God will do the impossible. And I say this to myself repeatedly, especially during those times when the weight of disillusionment chases me, relentless in its pursuit of my joy. Confessing victory over what looks like destruction defeats the enemy every time. It’s not an easy mindset to practice, but it’s a liberating one.

I draw strength from various ministries, meditating on verses of scripture which feel as if they were written solely for me. And I read books by healing ministers such as Becky Dvorak (Dare to Believe: The True Power of Faith to Walk in Divine Healings and Miracles) who works in Guatemala, and travels the world with her husband, delivering powerful testimonies, teaching people to activate their faith and walk in the supernatural.

“Everything is possible for one who believes.” -Mark 9:23 

Slowly, friends, I am learning to transcend the physical and embrace my spiritual eyesight. God can and will do the impossible in our lives. Yet we must do our part, cultivating radical and unwavering faith within our hearts. I would like to share two ways I am activating my faith throughout the day; I pray it helps you on your own journey:

1. Surround Yourself With God’s Promises: Put up encouraging and healing scripture verses all around your home and office. Read them aloud daily, several times a day. Commit them to memory.

2. Celebrating God Through Song: Listen to praise music with meaningful statements about victory and perseverance. I particularly enjoy songs from prolific artists such as Big Daddy Weave, Mali Music, Lauren Daigle and Plumb.

Our struggles are shaping and refining us. Instead of resisting them, embrace the lessons and allow your soul to bloom through connecting to His presence.


Prayer: 

Dear Lord,

Help me to understand what appear to be obstacles are actually opportunities to activate radical and unwavering faith. Today I might face struggles, but remind me you are here, standing alongside me, conquering each roadblock.

When I am tempted to talk to co-workers, friends or family, remind me to first come closer to your spirit. Place your words within my heart: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Amen.