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.

To the Mom Hurting Now -It’s OK to Cry

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 via website Unsplash

 

“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we are all in this together.” – Brene Brown

In this era of social media and photo editing, everyone’s life looks perfect, at least on the surface. We edit what the world sees. No one likes to admit when it’s all crumbling or there is struggle – kids behaving badly, spouses plucking our nerves, the fear which lives alongside regret.

Besides, some of us hop on Facebook and Instagram to forget or reinvent ourselves. The reality we construct online is more palatable than facing who we are, minus the filter.

Several years ago I spoke with a close friend who admitted to wrestling with postpartum depression. She didn’t want anyone to think less of her so she suffered alone. How many of us, I wonder, mask our sadness? Wouldn’t it be powerful if we allowed our pain to serve as a place of connection, not isolation?

As a child, I rarely saw my own mother cry. She appeared to me as a paragon of strength, always holding everything together. Only later, as I grew older, and our relationship matured, did her vulnerability emerge. Our deeper connection, particularly now that I am a Mom, has given me the courage to cry.

It is OK to cry. I remind myself of this often, particularly on those challenging days when I am swimming in anxiety, despair, or frustration.  It is OK to sit within these emotions, ingesting their weight, without wallowing in them or succumbing to self pity.

As Moms – especially  for African-American women – we are taught to embrace a certain toughness. Feminity remains inextricably linked to whiteness. Vulnerability feels like a luxury we cannot afford, but clinging to this “super woman mythology” deeply wounds us, burying our voices.

Years ago the poet Audre Lorde said: “Women of Color in America have grown up within a symphony of anger, at being silenced, at being unchosen, at knowing that when we survive it is in spite of a world that takes for granted our lack of humanness, and which hates our very existence outside its service. And I say symphony rather than cacophony , because we have had to learn to orchestrate those furies so they do not tear us apart.”

And, indeed, so many of us do, suffocated by long-exalted stereotypes and misperceptions.
But Mamas, as you read these words, hold fast to this truth: tears do not weaken us, they liberate us. We release what we can no longer carry. Releasing is an essential part of humanity; we cannot move into new seasons and places of development without it.

Today,  tomorrow, or the next day, if you feel the urge, go ahead and cry. It’s OK. I understand. Not one of us can navigate this parenthood path completely alone.

If we walk together, our sorrows, frustrations, and those moments of joy become the building blocks for a community of Mamas determined to embrace truth and love, not merely for themselves but generations to come.

🔽
Do you cry, or hold back your tears?  

How about sharing your frustrations or fears with other Moms? Does it help when you do? 

Be Gentle & Loving With Yourself Everyday

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

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Becoming an adult often means we swallow pieces of ourselves, hide vulnerabilities under the guise of responsibilities. Frequent crying  is labeled juvenile, a personal weakness… Yet if ever there were a period to be gentle with ourselves, it is now, when the energy in the world tugs at us daily, assaulting our psyches.

As women and Moms we are relentless with self criticism. I wake up with a mile long to-do-list and silently berate myself when things fall by the way side. Often I struggle to even feel worthy of rest.

There is so much to do, I tell myself – homeschooling, blogging, planning meals and errands for the week. How can I possibly lay down, or go sit in a cafe  and read (one of my favorite past times)? And yet, each time I surrender to rest or doing something only for me, I feel renewed.

Why is it so tough for us to show compassion towards ourselves?  It’s a habit, y’all, and like everything which becomes part of our daily lives, we have to do it over and over again.

When you and I feel overwhelmed the next time, the weight of responsibilities suffocating us, we have to first begin to breathe. It instantly centers you, becoming your sole focus during that moment.

The hubby, Kes, says that to me whenever I become frantic. Take a deep breath, baby.  And then, because he’s perfect for me, he follows up with something hilarious: “I’m gonna start calling you ‘Mel & The Frantics’ cause you always in a panic.” Now I am laughing so hard I almost snort. If y’all could see his face, eyes wide with amusement, you would bowl over with laughter, too.

Audrey Hepburn, whom I admire for her kindness, humanitarian work, and gracious beauty said: “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

All of us need those moments when joy erridicates worry. Sometimes, we have to look in the mirror and crack up at our own mess!

Releasing judgement, anxiety, and silencing all those “should voices” in our minds is another essential part of embracing gentleness. American culture is very much rooted in a kind of personal gratification based on what you do (work hard and then play). Yet there are days when we must relax without having done everything.

This is a tough on for me, y’all. I am goal / project / achievement-oriented-person. But the longer I foster self care and love in my spirit, the more I come to increased clarity, understanding gentleness means releasing fear, the fear of not measuring up.

You and I are enough. Our strength and beauty is not inextricably tied to productivity. We are more than our accomplishments. Gentleness, compassion, honesty and humor are the way forward, illuminating our day-to-day paths. Each one of us deserves a life overflowing with lasting gentleness and joy.

 

Are you gentle with yourself? If so, in what ways? If not, how can you start?