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.

Beauty / Style Finds: Bethany Joy’s Inspiring & Faith-Based Artwork 

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/
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I discovered Bethany’s beautiful artwork through Our Words Collaborative, the Christian website I write for monthly. In August, she was the featured artist which means her inspiring pieces accompanied our daily devotionals.  I found my spirit lifted each day as I opened my in-box to mediate on these faith-filled words. I wanted to know more about the person behind the art so I thought, why not interview her for my bi-weekly series?! I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about this lovely young woman, and her artwork as it uplifts so many of us. Don’t miss the coupon code at the end of this post so you can purchase your own piece of artwork from Bethany!

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Bethany, owner of Bethany Joy Art

I absolutely love that your middle name is Joy! How fitting! Your sweet presence shines through social media. How do you cultivate and maintain peace & joy in your life? 

I seriously love that my middle name is Joy. I have always been so thankful to have it as a constant reminder that there is always joy to be found in every circumstance. My mom’s middle name is also Joy, so it is an honor to carry on the name and all it stands for!

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When I set out to start my art business in January 2015, one of the first things I did after re-opening my etsy shop (I had tried etsy before in college with photography prints when I thought I was going to be a photographer) was creating an Instagram page.

I’m usually quite the introvert, so sharing and selling my art on social media scared me just a tad. I never wanted to sound too “sale-sy.” So I made it my goal (in addition to selling artwork) to share positivity and encouragement through my social media presence also-shining God’s light into the world in my own way. 

I think that the encouragement and joy that I seek to share really plays well with the bright colors that I love to use in my art…the perfect pair!


Many challenges have been overcome throughout my life because of encouragement from my family members and friends, so I always try to keep that all in mind and pay it forward to others during the process.

Tell us details about your artwork. What materials do you work with? What is the price range for your paintings? Can someone order a customized piece from you? 

I work mainly with acrylic paint, but love to use other materials like watercolors, gouache, oil paints, pencil, ink, oil pastels and more in combination with the acrylics! Creating textures within the vibrant colors is a main goal of mine. Using more than one type of medium helps me achieve that goal.


I also use a variety of tools to paint with in order to add texture in addition to paintbrushes as well such as painting combs, palette knifes and even my fingers. I like to paint on a variety of different surfaces as well: canvas, wood, paper, panels, and more. Variety is key!
The price range for my paintings really depends on the size, product and materials used. My art prints are $15 each and are high quality reproductions of my works on paper. Currently, my original artwork ranges in prices anywhere from $30-$300.

Someone can definitely order a customized piece of artwork from me! I love to work with customers to create the perfect painting for them. Contact me via email, on my website, or via social media any time to discuss custom options!

Your mission is rooted in bringing love and positivity into the homes of customers through art. I notice you work a lot with florals. Have flowers held a special significance in your life? What is your favorite flower? 

Oh, I could go on for days about my love for flowers. Isn’t it amazing that God created them all so beautiful, delicate, and unique? There’s so much inspiration that can be drawn from flowers and I love them so.


My first memories of flowers are of my grandfather and I gardening together when I was 4 or 5 years old. We planted lots of sunflowers! He was one of my favorite people in the world and so holding onto those memories even after he’s gone to Heaven is so important to me.

Although sunflowers weren’t his favorite flower (he liked lily of the valley) they still remain one of mine. I still love to garden and have even ventured into arranging flowers as well. I recently got married in 2015 and one of my favorite wedding preparation activities was arranging all of the bouquets, centerpieces and arch decorations the day before we tied the knot.

Some of my bridesmaids and sweet family friends helped and we were surrounded by hundreds of flowers (a dream come true!) I have since done some floral arranging for friends’ weddings and would love to continue doing that in the future-so fun!

I can’t quite settle on a favorite flower however, here are a few of my all time favorites: sunflowers, zinnias, dahlias, and cosmos!

What inspires you to keep creating art? What other artists do you admire and why? 

I am really inspired by the outdoors, the children that I teach, and my faith. I believe that God gifted me with the love for painting, so it is my job to carry that out and share with others!

Nature is always a form of inspiration because there are so many colors, shapes, and textures that never cease to keep proving their amazing uniqueness.
Since I also work as the Art Director at my local Boys and Girls Club, I am continually meeting new and inspiring children as well. They keep me on my toes and sometimes end up teaching me more than I feel I teach them. The way children approach art is messy yet beautiful and helps inspire the abstract elements and bold colors in my art.

A few of my favorite artists include Katie Daisy, Emily Jeffords, Mae Chevrette, and Raven Roxanne. Each of these artists really shine and express their individuality in such unique ways and it is truly refreshing to me. I love their uses of color, may it be soft and smooth or bright and bold. Each of these artists have inspired me in different ways and have a presence in the art world that I really hope to achieve in my own way one day.

If you could chose one quote or verse of scripture which summarizes your biz, what would it be? Why? 

“God will yet fill your mouths with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

This verse is probably my all time favorite verse and has been ever since I remember first discovering it in high school. This verse is not only a reminder that God gives us joy, but also a reminder to me that good things take time.

Becoming a successful artist doesn’t happen over night and takes lots of perseverance and patience. This verse helps remind me to keep working towards my goals and chasing my dreams and that joy is always around the corner even during the times when it doesn’t seem like it.

What advice do you have for other creatives who want to share their work with the world but are afraid? 

Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your creations out into the world, and most definitely never give up on your dreams. The world needs your art…remember that!

Social media is a great way to begin creating your “brand” and sharing your creativity and thoughts with others. Make friends! Having a sense of community and other’s who understand what you’re going through is so valuable. I always love making new “insta-friends” it’s all about making connections.

Share 3 random fun facts about you!

I love bees, even though I’m allergic. My family and close friends have called me “Bee” for as long as I can remember. The nickname has always stuck with me, and even inspired me to get a dainty little bee tattoo!

I used to take banjo lessons! Although I can’t play many songs, I love to get my banjo out every so often and attempt to play!

I love the beach, but I’m a mountain girl at heart. Hiking with our fun-loving puppy and a picnic is a perfect weekend date for my husband and I!

Keep up with Bethany Joy!

Shop at Bethany Joy Art and when you get to check out type in LIVEINCOLOR for 10% off your purchase good through October 5, 2016.

Follow the inspiration by following Bethany Joy on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Note: All photos courtesy of Bethany Joy Art

 

Inspiration For Yours Ears & Soul: Poet / Singer Jamila Woods, New Hip Hop Artist Naji & Nuturing Friendships 

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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Jamila Woods via Soundcloud
Photo credit: via jamilawoods.com

Can I be real with y’all? Stress threatened to annihilate my joy this week. I didn’t know if I could post this series. But then I started to think about God, and how through all the chaos and challenges, His spirit brought me serenity and beauty.

I am still digesting Sarah Jakes-Roberts powerful sermon about renewing your mind for the miracle.

I heard about Jamila Woods’ music, but this morning was the first time I had a chance to listen, and I am in awe! She totally and completely restored my musical life, y’all.

Blk Girl Solider, an ode to the epic resilience of black women is on repeat. These lines: ” She don’t give up… Rosa was a freedom fighter, and she taught us how to fight. Assata was a freedom fighter l, and she taught us how to fight…” Listen to the whole album on Soundcloud (it’s free).

Speaking of musical inspiration, heard of Naji? He is a thoughtful young Hip-Hop artist whose latest piece focuses on a range of issues from the violence in our communities to police terror and the legacy of systemic racism.

Hip-Hop artist Naji | Image via YouTube

I love this beautiful piece on the daily devotional website Our Words Collaborative by Andrea Marlowe on standing in our faith and remaining true to our relationship with God, no matter what others think.

Loved this podcast on Black Girl In Om about truth in sistahood and friendship.

I am inspired by the Sioux tribes of North Dakota who are resisting construction of  the Dakota Access Pipeline, and instead  calling on us to honor nature.