Over the last few weeks I had the greatest privilege interviewing the moms of the tender warrior series and sharing their stories of motherhood. I got to step into their lives just a little and see and listen to their tears and triumphs, the love and grace, the challenges and the miracles of how God has been their lighthouse and saving grace through every single step.
This experience started as a way to love on women who are tirelessly chasing God while raising children and then it turned in to God pouring love and truth into me through the voices of these powerful warriors. I didn't even know what to title this project until it was completed. After sitting with each of them and seeing all they carry, the challenges they face, the sleepless nights and all the love that explodes out of them that they were nothing short of gentle and fierce... thus- tender warriors.
The majority of my life I never wanted to have children. I just didn't feel I had that "mom gene." I was never really good with kids and definitely did not know how to have that voice that women get around children.. you know the voice I am talking about. People used phrases like 'Criss cross apple sauce hands in your lap' and you might as well have been speaking a tribal tongue because I didn't know what they were saying but the kids sure did! Nope- kids and the marriage combo were not for this girl.
I decided I would simply travel the world and write about it. I would just be a free bird and nothing would 'tie me down' or 'hold me back.'
I stuck to this mindset well into my mid 20's even as I dated my now husband and even ended things with Adam for a short time because I knew he wanted a family.. and not just a family... a large one!! During our time apart my heart was shattered.
He was the first man to understand my heart for Christ and we shared our faith together and he even challenged me which I was not used to. It sounds a bit crazy but I know God said to me, 'Trust me. He is the one for you. Just go and trust me.'
So I married Mr. Adam Stluka knowing that children was on the docket for us. The thing is I loved Adam so deeply and knew that since God put us together I didn't want to have children just to have children or because Adam wanted them- I wanted to have our child. I wanted what we could create together. I wanted what GOD would do THROUGH our children.
Throughout my 20's in college before I met Adam- I was diagnosed with a chronic kidney illness that knocked me to my knees. It was rare and the outcome was slim. The medications to try and combat it ripped my body apart; lost chunks of hair, my muscle mass, my face was a blow pop, I could barely stand without help. It was a dark time and a miraculous time because I found Jesus then.. Like I really found Him. When I had a miraculous recovery, even doctors could not explain, I knew it was The Lord and I knew it was because I truly truly believed He would heal me that He did. I knew He must have had some kind of purpose in my life that I felt unworthy of.
When Adam and I decided to walk down the kid road I visited my doctor to see if my kidneys were healthy enough to carry a baby. The doctor told me that physically kids may not be an option because of the damage done to my body during my treatments for my kidneys in the past. When the doctor told me this, to my surprise, I cried my eyes out.
The doctor told me if my kidney function was less than 50% then my body could not handle a pregnancy. After many testings and sitting in the doctors office awaiting results with Adam nervously pacing and my palms sweating- he entered in and told me news that shocked us both.
"Lacey we ran the tests and your kidneys are not functioning at 50%... They are functioning at 150%- ABOVE the average person's rate," said my nephrologist. As tears streamed down my face, he continued with, "It is as if your body never had this disease and your kidneys are more healthy than an average person. Lacey- this is incredible." I sobbed. Adam cried and my doctor, Dr. Mansour, jumped up and down rejoicing with me as he had been fiercely by my side the years we fought my illness.
I was so overwhelmed by God's grace in my life and by how much I realized I wanted me and Adam's baby and how much God wanted it. Even though I wasn't even pregnant I began writing to my baby telling him about God and his endless love and power in our life. I knew God must have a very big purpose for this miracle baby.
When I got pregnant and had my son, Miles, I was so nervous. When I held him I wondered if the mom feeling and love would just switch on? Let me tell you- it didn't just switch on.. It was like a waterfall of love I have never felt in this particular way pouring and pouring over me. Who knew such a little fella with a head full of hair and bright blue eyes could cause such a reaction within me. I was overwhelmed.
Me and Adam would talk about what kind of purpose God might have for this little person inside my belly and I firmly believe that Miles will do something in this world that neither me or Adam could do.
Me and Adam made a promise to him to raise him in a legacy of compassion, boldness, generosity and serving God and others.
Our lives tend to look a bit crazy with traveling and serving on mission trips and people ask me if I will slow down going to Africa now that I have Miles. The answer to that is no. I will not slow down serving God or loving people or living out the example Christ came down and died for. I will spend every day making Christ's sacrifice worth it and I want Miles to see that and when he is ready I want him to join us in that lifestyle. I want Miles to see his parents living out an example of bold faith and be inspired by it. I want Miles to have miraculous experiences, but how can he live something out that he doesn't see. So when God calls us to go out into the world- the answer will always be yes, send me.. and one day- Send Miles.
I have learned many things from the women I have interviewed, my friends, and my own tender warrior- my mom. She instilled my foundation in Christ, she exemplified an example of humility, perseverance, patience and courage. She believed in me more than anyone has and that is a big reason why I believed in myself and have such a strong faith in Jesus. My mom is my warrior; fierce, strong, gentle and loves me more than I deserve.
Wrapping up this week- I have felt God speak into so many areas of fear and given me hope of what is to come whether through listening to moms with multiple kids, adoption, kids leaving home or my partner in ministry tell me how fearless she is because of God's mightiness.
While motherhood is an uncertain road and most of us want to know what to expect or what to do or wish it came with a guidebook.
Here is what I know is certain...
-God is sovereign and we will not fear.
-When we are weak- God will show up and smash the devil with his right hand
-The devil will NOT win over us as women and as mothers. We will NOT cower to the likes of him and he will NOT steal our joy or our purpose. We will not trudge along and we will not simply "survive." We will thrive, have passion and live in joy even if we have not showered, have spit up on half our clothes and haven't slept in days--- We will choose to be full of JOY.
-We will find community that will pull us along in the race when we have run out of breath
-We will have grace, grace, grace with ourselves, our husbands and our kids.
-We will let God have control and we will release "our plans"
- We will expect miracles
and we will go to battle everyday in Prayer
Because we are women. We are mothers. We are God's masterpiece and because we are warriors.
Special thanks to Danielle Brewer Photography for donating her time and photography!
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