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.

Loving Our Kids Takes Courage and Vulnerability

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: Kaboom Pics

“We cannot opt out of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure that’s woven through our daily experiences. Life is vulnerable… These are the challenges of being alive, of being in a relationship, of being connected.” – Brene Brown

When our babies come to us after hours of excruciating pain, we immediately pronounce them as perfect – those symmetrical faces, joyous smiles and spontaneous squeals of delight bring boundless joy. Then, little by little, as the pint-sized stage, peppered with milestones, fades, we notice imperfections; once cute gestures are annoying, and we long for simpler days. I know I do, especially when Nai is consumed by a tantrum, and my patience is frayed.

All I want in that moment, Mamas, is perfection – instant calm and compliance. So unrealistic, and yet I crave the easier, predictable path. You know, like in a nanosecond, she will simply “get” how to control her emotions. Ludicrous, right?

But in this era of social media, where nearly everyone’s smiling at us through filtered photos, it’s hard to face anything remotely perceived as imperfection in ourselves, let alone our children. The reality, though, is our kids are mirrors, through their struggles and imperfections we see ourselves.

This is the vulnerability and courage of authentic love, it calls us to accept the range of humanity – the beauty of light and hope, and the struggle of impatience, anger, aggression, and selfishness. Each challenge we face, as parents, changes us and our children in profound ways. Gradually, I am learning to surrender to gentleness, and stop harsh self-criticism. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day.

The other morning, while reading through my daily devotional, How Deep A Mother’s Love…. A Mother’s Journey, I stumbled across a scripture passage (Isiah 43:18-19) which so deeply connects to this season of my life: “Do not remember past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the dessert.”

Love, I am learning, is not a place of rest and complacency, but of trust and conscious bravery.  And, you know what, it grows not during times of ease or comfort, but struggle – those moments when your child is melting down in the mall, and somehow, you find the empathy to talk through it, or with a little one who faces daily physical, emotional or learning challenges.

When loving in these ways, you come to understand the core of love – no illusions, expectations, or prerequisites (e.g. if you present this way, I will love you).

You simply see with your heart.

Hip-Hop Taught Me Courage (Guest Blog Post by Keston De Coteau)

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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20130916-142039.jpg
Keston De Coteau
Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau

As a kid, I wanted to be a star, the emcee whose image rotated on Video Music Box, the first tv show to feature hip-hop music videos.

I remember rushing home from school to learn the lyrics of De La Soul’s “Potholes in My Lawn” 20130916-142621.jpgand Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story.”The way people reacted to music amazed me. I wanted to touch them that deeply.

I didn’t know how to start until one spontaneous moment in college, liquid courage took over, and I kicked a freestyle rhyme in front of friends.

I recall it so clearly. My knees couldn’t move, my eyes were shut; I fought anxiety and paralyzing fear. I did it.

People looked at me, like wow, this guy has something. I started recording songs, and focused on getting the music to the right person at the right time. This is where I learned that anything worth getting will begin and end with no.

I spent hours sending emails to labels. I cannot recall one instance where I got a response, but that did not stop me. For years, I mailed my music. I once created an art piece, and gave my CD to Kanye West’s mother when she spoke at the Baltimore Book Festival. I wanted it like nothing else.

I meditated, prayed and read books as sources of encouragement, all of this confirmed that relentless effort leads to success. Besides, Edison’s light bulb was not created until several thousand tries. I wanted my proverbial light bulb to turn on so bad I could taste real flavors in my dreams. Bottom line is no one responded, and this left me wounded.

I would hear this question all the time from the strangers: why aren’t you signed? People had favorite songs. I was on Looperman, and would get real fan praise asking for requests to work from people all over the world. That to me was not good enough. I wanted the success of artists like Nas, Jay-Z and Young Money.

E-mail praise and personal accolades were not enough. I couldn’t enjoy it, because the realist side of me knew I could not pay a bill with compliments. So I allowed the dream to die, until the day I turned on a camera.

Photo Credit: Dominique J. Allen
The author working.
Photo Credit: Dominique J. Allen

I shifted the focus off of me, and made other people feel like stars. As a result, artistically, I grew by leaps and bounds. I have connected with amazing talents such as Marcell Russell. Some of Marcell’s work includes musical collaborations with Lorenzo Johnson who produced for Ledisi and Maysa.

Maysa

Work with Marcell led me to Maysa who has performed with Stevie Wonder, and been invited to sing at the White House by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. My career also includes television production, a short about bullying (Imtimidation) which opened to a sold out crowd at Baltimore’s historic Charles Theater, and pieces for the Baltimore Ravens player, Jameel McClain.

kes and camera
Keston De Coteau
Photo Credit: Dominique J. Allen

In the end, I sacrificed my dreams to place the vision of multiple dreams in the immortal time capsule of film. By extension, I discovered this talent, and feel it is my calling. The guy who heard a million nos did that. I did it with faith and belief alone.

Those nos did not cripple, crush, or corner me. No to me is spiritual steroid providing strength to continue pushing my dreams to the ultimate level of success. No is not a cousin to failure. Failure is remaining deaf to your spiritual calling.

Find a way when there is no way. God whispers in your ear so you can hear more intently. Do not dismiss your calling. The spectacular awaits.

Live In Color – Keston
Post edited by Emelda De Coteau 

Hear Keston’s music on SoundCloud.