Blogging Again – Staying Woke & In Faith

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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Life comes at you fast.  Taking time for your art is tough, especially when you’re a creative mama juggling tons of ideas, building community (Pray with our Feet – the new website is coming soon + Women Creatives Chat, founded for women of all artistic disciplines, centering wellness and empowerment and authentic connections),  and still deeply disturbed about the state of the world. Being woke, y’all, can exhaust us; staying in faith when the logical part of your brain is screaming give up – even tougher.

And yet, here I am, back to blogging, asking God to give me grace and the words to continue lifting up the importance of faith and activism – one word, social media post, and blog at a time.  Because everyday, it seems, there is a new crisis – catastrophic storms (climate change), hatred propagated by the alt right movement, problematic rhetoric and actions from the Trump administration, the prison industrial complex’s growth and xenophobia disguised as immigration policies and on and on…

Feeling overwhelmed is totally natural, but we cannot stay mired in it. God is calling us to show up, serve and offer the light of faith (“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17).

And I believe, now, more than ever, we must cultivate community – it’s what’s driving me to create a new discussion series on Instagram @praywithourfeet – Woke Wednesdays (live on Instagram),  where we center conversations as a way to spark change within ourselves and the community. I’m super excited to vibe with our first guest, next Wed., Oct. 24, 7pm EST –  Alex Ambridge (@bridgerofgaps), a beautiful soul, yoga instructor, lover of life and self-described “open heart warrior”; he is on a continuous quest to raise his consciousness.

Alex served with the Peace Corps (2012 – 2014) and lived in Ghana which changed my life. He’s passionate about bringing people together from different backgrounds, holding space for personal healing and social change. He currently teaches in the studio YogaWorks in Fed Hill, and also volunteers teaching yoga and mindfulness to kids as part of the Food Project in West Baltimore.

Yoga ties everything together for me,” Alex says. “I am in therapy and regularly see an acupuncturist and also have a bachelors degree in philosophy. All of these things are reaffirmed through my yoga practice. I truly believe that everything within the universe is One vibrating on various frequencies of awareness.

Our minds are programmed to perceive the universe in terms of differences like me and you. Yoga helps me to get out of my head and into the body where the experience of oneness comes through.

Alex and I are delving into toxic masculinity (Why acknowledging this is critical for us all, and how men can learn to recognize the patterns within themselves and others), white privilege (mythology around whiteness, and the necessity for white folks to become honest about how they benefit from this daily), and finally, we’ll tackle breaking free from internalized oppressions (what does the daily work look like).

I hope you’ll join us and share with others – sparking change through conversation…

Why Putting Your Faith Into Action Matters 

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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Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As the busy Mama of a toddler, it’s tough to hit the bathroom solo, let alone go on an outing! Y’all, the struggle is real! So when Mom and Dad asked me to dinner, and said my brother would join us, I declared Daddy daughter time in our household and raced for my keys. Since there were only a few hours left before Nai’s bedtime, we headed over to Clark Burger. For months I drove past wistfully thinking of sitting under those expansive umbrellas, eating slowly, enveloped by city sounds, and now, we were here.

Our conversation, punctuated by bursts of laughter, bounced from the guilty pleasure of reality TV to news, and all the mundane stuff which somehow feels infinitely more interesting when you’re with family. I looked over between bites of the veggie burger and then I saw him, sitting, face sunken from fatigue, worn pale skin, brown eyes pleading for us to see him.

His whispers for spare change lost in the euphoria of a balmy Friday summer night. Dad, I said, “we have to help him.” “Of course,” he nodded in agreement. Before I knew it, I was digging in my purse for money. As we finished our meal, I kept my eyes not only on his lanky frame, but the people passing. No one stopped.

Too often, even Christians approach issues of poverty, systemic racism, exclusion of folks who are differently abeled, etc., by simply walking along, content to espouse flowery words of love once a week, while pushing them aside Monday – Saturday.

Photo Credit: Tamara Menzi
But friends, people are in pain, and more than ever they need the radical love of Christ and compassion. They may never open a bible, but they will meet you. Your life is a testament to the Father’s love. Let’s not turn away because it’s too tough. God is calling us to infinitely more.

Jesus loved, healed, and delivered people everyone else shunned – the tax collector, those with physical challenges and relationship issues (remember the woman at the well?). This is what we are called to do through our daily walk. “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).

As we handed him the money, he thanked us profusely, and then did something I will never forget. He looked toward heaven and praised God for this unexpected blessing, nearly in tears. For the past few weeks, as I reflect on our meeting, I am reminded of another scripture passage, Matthew 25: 35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Let us cling to love instead of judgement, extending empathy before condemnation. God freely gives us His love not to confine it inside of four walls, but to share with everyone.

How do you give back in your community and put your faith into action? 

Stay Informed & Involved:  

I love Sojourner’s magazine, it’s a progressive Christian publication and website which looks at all that is unfolding through eyes of faith and social justice.  I recently discovered Christian Left, another online space for liberal Christians.

National Coalition For the Homeless (donate and get involved).

Back on my Feet, ” a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.”

Listening for God’s Voice in Hard Times 

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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Artwork by Alyson Nailah Designs

Recently, fellow Our Words Collaborative writer, Ari Heick, wrote about the word God gave her for 2016, “relentless,” and how she is coming to understand this in a more expansive way: “God will answer my prayers and will fight all my battles for me. I need only to be still. I need only to be relentless in my pursuit of Him. I can let go of everything else without any guilt or shame. I am who God created me to be and there is no condemnation in that. I will release my worries to God. I will stop striving. I will stop trying to fix things or control things…”

Her devotional resonated deeply, and also reminded me of God’s word for us this year – breakthrough. He revealed it on a crisp autumn day. Mom and I drove with Nai to The Healing Rooms in Chevy Chase, MD. We were seeking prayer and healing for her. You see, the words do not always flow easily for our little one. She struggles to express herself verbally and for the past few years, as we cheer her on in speech and occupational therapy, we pray for deliverence, the complete unlocking of her voice.

This journey teaches us daily to embrace compassion, and see not with earthly eyes but spiritual ones, pressing through with unshakable faith. Often, friends, the experiences you and I label “mundane” such as conversations and self expression are miracles for others.

And so, on this brisk Saturday, a beautiful young African woman with skin the color of mahogany, ran up to us after our prayer, as Nai bounced around on the church playground, and insisted with quiet conviction, “God has a word for you all – it is breakthrough.” While the volunteers were praying for us, she said, “I prayed, too.” God had told her a breakthrough was coming not only for our precious Nai, but the entire family. Immediately, I ran and told Mom, my voice overcome with ecstatic delight, and soon after I texted my husband and two sisters, ending each sentence with exclamation points and joyful emojis.

For months I held on to this word, and then life, in all of its unjust fury, nearly trampled us. Frequent setbacks in various areas threaten to obscure our vision, but still, we press on and believe. Not long ago, I discovered a beautiful song by gospel singer and pastor Travis Greene, “The Hill.” Towards the end as he recounts several astounding testimonies, he says something which I now hold close to my heart: “Trust God too much to give up.”

Whatever word or purpose God has given you, friends, do not release it, pull it closer to you and declare this promise over every area of your life. Mom often reminds me, particularly during periods of frustration or despair, God must do a work in us and this takes time. Perhaps instead of a large breakthrough, in His infinite grace, God creates a series of breakthroughs, growing us spiritually, situation by situation, moment by moment.

One day while reading the book of Luke (18: 1-8), I discovered a persistent woman and in her tenaciousness and grit, I see myself. Maybe you find yourself in her as well? She is the widow who presses the judge relentlessly for a solution:

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Mancomes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Do not lose heart, no matter how large the mountain looms, or what the doctor gloomily reports. Above all, beloveds, believe God, for He alone is faithful and will deliver each of us from many obstacles, transforming them into opportunities for His presence to become magnified.

Prayer: 

Dear Lord,

Help me to shut out every voice and listen only for yours. Allow my days to be guided by your wisdom and direction, not consumed by worry and fear. Let me hear your words in nature, through people I meet, and allow me to see others as you see them – liberated and whole.

Open my heart to your grace, and forgive me for succumbing to weariness. I speak Jeremiah 29:11 over every challenge I encounter: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In Jesus mighty name, I pray, Amen.

Previously published at Our Words Collaborative where I am a monthly contributor, along with a tribe of other writers.