Live Like LucasThe non-profit organization Live Like Lucas was founded in August of 2015 in order to accomplish the goal of empowering youth to spread kindness. Our first official event was on January 16, 2016 where we had over 200 youth as well as adults participate in service projects and random acts of kindness in the Grand Rapids area. We served a pancake breakfast at Park church, made over 100 lunches and hygiene kits and distributed them to the poor along Division avenue. We made breakfast and did activities with the children at Hope Community, which is temporary housing for single moms and their children. We went to nursing homes and played bingo and bowling with the elderly. We distributed fifty 10.00 gift cards at Meijer as a random act of kindness. The result of just this one day was astounding. The volunteers had their eyes opened to situations that they had never been in before and met people unlike they had ever encountered. They saw people in poverty as real, worthy, human beings who weren’t just lazy. They saw the elderly, as one student put it “peppy and funny and mischievous.” They connected with people who were far outside of the Forest Hills “bubble.” And they wanted to go back. They wanted to do more. They asked, “When can we do this again?” Live Like Lucas is not just about spreading kindness out on the streets of Grand Rapids but also in our schools. We are currently researching programs and speakers to encourage our youth to practice kindness EVERY DAY- not just to their own friends but to those who feel alone and disenfranchised. We want to encourage friendships across all social, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Teaching kindness also needs to start young. We are working on a program with “Lucas puppets” for the social workers to use to teach lessons on being kind to others and encourage conversation about sadness and loneliness and bullying. The kids will be able to put letters to Lucas in a mailbox so they can express their feelings and in turn the social workers can address these issues. One especially powerful method of learning about kindness in a global way is through mission projects. Our goal for next summer is to fund or partially fund at least 10 trips to Guatemala for kids who would otherwise be unable to go due to financial concerns. Lucas went 2 years ago with my grandparents and it was life changing for him to see the utter poverty and lack of medical care that was available for these people they visited in remote villages. He was prompted to really think about what his future looked like- he had planned on going into the medical field and now felt drawn to the mission field. Live Like Lucas has a vision of youth who look outside of themselves, look outside of wealth and power and popularity as goals and really see the world as how it is- full of hurting people. Even a small act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. It may even change their life.
Monthly Archives: January 2015
I hate waking up and realizing that everything is the same as it was yesterday. He’s still gone. I’m scared. So scared.
I’m scared I won’t be able to go on with the rest of my life. I went to a school event with my daughter last night. I really, really wanted to go for her. To show her that she still has a mommy that wants to do things with her.
It was so hard. I texted a friend last night, I feel like my insides have been carved out and replaced with broken glass. Everything hurts so bad. Everything at the school reminded me of him. I wasn’t expecting that. I had forgotten that an artist by the name of Tom Woodruff would be there; who taught Lucas drawing at Goodwillie. Lucas was always gushing about “woody.” One thing I am certain about, was Lucas knew who the good people were. He knew who really cared. I’m not really sure how I got through the “drawing” section of the evening, because I could barely hold it together. I just knew I wanted to tell Woody how much he meant to Lucas. They had seen each other after Goodwillie and talked and Lucas was really impressed he still remembered his name. Woody treated him like an old friend. People like Tom Woodruff need to be told they are making a difference.
What I was getting at is I am terrified of going on without Lucas. Going on so broken and hurting. If a simple Eager Reader Night was difficult how am I ever going to function again. How am I going to go to basketball games. Lucas played on an MVP team last year. I don’t know how I will do watching Brooklyn play softball; so similar to baseball. Lucas’ love. How am I going to do ANYTHING.
I am scared of remembering. When memories of him start flooding back I shut down. I try not to remember. As much as possible I try not to think about him, at least not in depth. I can think of his heart, and soul and mind, but not the physical Lucas. I want to hug his tall lanky frame and mess up his curls so bad, That is unthinkable pain- remembering the physical. That is when I am hanging by a rope above an abyss ready to fall in.
Yet I cling for all its worth. I cling to that rope that is my faith. I grip is with my entire being knowing God will not let me fall into that abyss.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Last night this song gave me so much comfort. Please, please, listen to it and let it comfort you.
Today I don’t feel like blogging. I knew this day would come eventually, where I just don’t know what to say.
So here are the words I wrote for the pastor to say at the Celebration of Life.
“I wasn’t sure if I could write something for this service. Yet every moment since Friday morning I have felt Lucas’ presence urging me on. There is absolutely no way I could have made it to today without his gentle voice in my ear.
I am sitting in his room for the first since Friday. It is heart wrenching and comforting at the same time. His tigers pennant on the wall, his goodwillie snowshoes propped in the corner, his bow and arrow next to his desk. I smell him. I feel him. This boy will be with me for forever.
I always thought to myself, this boy is too good. Too perfect. The way he hugged and cared for me before I could even ask him how he was. The way he treated his siblings, always willing to pick up the slack when I was too tired. I never, ever, remember him complaining when I asked him to watch his baby brother while I made dinner, or read to his little sister Bryleigh. He would always clean the kitchen after dinner. He would see the look of exhaustion on my face and say, “you need a hug.” He said the ALL the time. He was my special guardian angel from God. I sometimes felt like he understood me like no one else in the world.
I don’t think I’ve really even begun to grieve him yet. The loss of this boy is so profound and deep and wide. I’m not even sure that I’ve begun to go there. I know there will not be a day that goes by I don’t feel that ache, that hole in my heart. The pain so intense I fear it will swallow me whole.
I think it would if I did not have hope. First of all that he is with his Lord and Savior who created him. Formed him. Otherwise Lucas would never have walked this planet. God knew who Lucas was and everything about him from the dawn of creation. Lucas was God’s gift to me, our family, and the world.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
I would also be in complete despair if I didn’t feel God was going to use this tragedy and bring good from it. We only see a tiny piece of the puzzle . A glimmer. Some day it will all be revealed. I don’t think God wanted to Lucas to die. He grieves with us. If is the sinful and broken world that results in death and suffering and pain. God has plan. God will use the incredible 15 years Lucas had to change people. To have an impact. To heal the broken and hurting. To spread kindness and love.”
11 “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.”
This song is so perfect
As the days go on I feel like it’s getting harder. Reality is setting in. I was trying so hard to fight off that pain, trying with every ounce of my being. Not to feel too much. Not to think too much. One thing that I discovered is going “out” is very painful. I was basically just hanging out in my house for the most part for 10 days.
Then I decided to go to Meijer. I just wanted to feel a little normalcy. It was exceedingly hard. Every thing I walked by seem to remind me of him somehow. The workout gear. The hunting gear. His favorite body spray. Then I started remembering how quite often I would be getting ready to go grocery shopping after dinner and Lucas would jump in the car with me. We would go to Meijer together, just to hang out mother and son. It was always his idea. My sweet loving boy. There was so little time for that. With 5 kids it is so, so, hard to get one on one time with them. I literally walked through Meijer in slow motion, willing my feet to walk down the aisles. I didn’t want to stay and I didn’t want to leave.
I drove by Forest Hills Central for the first time since the accident. My preschooler wanted me to take her to school. So I said OK. Didn’t think it would be a big deal, but it was. Terribly horribly painful. As I tried to slow down my breathing I thought, those kids need prayers. So I prayed for them. I begged God to use this tragedy to change them. To breathe the breath of God into that school.
A friend was talking to me about the place where Lucas is buried. I am hyperventilating typing this. I cannot cannot cannot think about him in a casket. It makes me want to lay on the floor and scream. It makes me want to go lay down in the snow and cover myself in it. Just feel the freezing cold seeping into my bones instead of feeling such intense mental anguish.
I have not been doing as well. The shock and adreneline is wearing off. I know I will make it though.
Someone sent me a beautiful verse that has been comforting to me.
I Samuel 1: 27-28. “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”
Lucas was mine, but yet he wasn’t. He was always God’s.
I fell apart last night. It surprised me because it just came out of the blue. I found his baseball glove, under the couch.
Sometimes when you lose someone you go to this place of such deep agony, such profound pain and sadness, you don’t think you can go on. I described it to my Mom as feeling like I’m laying at the bottom of the ocean. There’s miles and miles of water above me pressing on me, drowning me, the pressure is going to kill me. I literally could not breathe. I felt like the rest of my life was going to be that upward swim, towards heaven. It would be agonizing slow. I had miles of water to swim through. I had no oxygen. I knew I was eventually going to get to the top but it would be a terrifying and horrific journey. It was a very dark place. I didn’t feel like I felt God’s presence, I felt very alone and afraid.
Yet he was there. I was crying out and screaming “NO GOD! PLEASE! PLEASE! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!” I just kept saying, “NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. I NEED HIM. I NEED LUCAS.”
Yet he was there, in my darkest hour. I didn’t feel God at that moment but he was there. He picked me back up off the floor. I went from a place of hopelessness to hopefulness. I felt like I could live again. He will NEVER leave.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I have been so incredibly blessed. Just over and over I am showered with the blessings of the people around me. They are being Christ’s hands and feet to me. I have meals for months, message after message after message encouraging me and holding me up. Cards up to the ceiling. People coming in just to keep me company, help me in any way I will let them 🙂 I never could have dreamed in a million years that people cared so much, had so much to give.
God has blessed me in numerous and vast ways.
I thank God most of all for my new perspective. I let my daughter wear high water pants today without a blink of an eye. If you know me, that’s big. HUGE.
For HOPE. That I will see my son again. Life passes in the blink of an eye. Our lifetimes are like grains of sand on the beach of the universe. I will see him and will know him and hold him again in heaven. I know that he is at complete peace and complete happiness in heaven. He gets to see God. Talk to God. Know God in a way none of us can. I’m jealous. Its that, “this is not goodbye its see you later” that IS HOPE.
I am blessed with a new community of women that embraced me, comforted me, loved on me, distracted me (in a good way). I believe Lucas whispered in God’s ear to send them to me. Before, Lucas was my human comfort. Now they are, amongst many others.
New life has been breathed into my marriage. We now lean on each other in a way that we never did before. We appreciate each other in a brand new way. Beauty has come from ashes.
I am blessed that I had a son like Lucas. That he is inspiring others, and it is my hope and fervent prayer that is spreads and spreads. That others may know his Jesus.
This is one of my favorite verses. Our pastor always ended the service with it.
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Numbers 6: 24-26
I used to see life like I was looking in a fun house mirror. Things were out of shape, distorted. The thing was though, I didn’t realize how distorted it was. There were things I felt that should change. I knew my life was not going the way I wanted it to. It was the perspective that was wrong. All wrong.
One the things about being in this new club I have found myself in, this “club no one ever wants to be in” is that there are some strange perks. I think, personally that having such a huge loss puts everything in perspective. I feel like its part of why this blog just flows out me. When you have something “sacred torn from your life” as the Natalie Grand song says, very little of what was important before, matters now. I feel like I can put my heart and soul out there and have thousands read it, and it people don’t like it? Who cares. Nothing can hurt me when I’ve experienced a world of hurt.
Back to the perspective. I used to think that it was OK to be in my own little shell. I was depressed and had marriage problems a too many kids to keep my sanity. I was really being closed off. These things suck just as bad whether you are before or after a life changing experience. I hope that for me these things get better- a lot lot better. Yet I will always completely understand how it feels to be hurt and alone and closed off. I will do my very best to minister to these people. To try to seek them out. That’s just it, depression is the great isolator. Those who are depressed want to close themselves off. If only I had tried to reach out beyond myself more, try to find a community of christian women, try to think of others more and myself less.
Another huge one for me is how to spend my time. I thought I had a “hobby” but they were time wasters. There are many many great hobbies. Mine was dumb. I kept telling myself it was okay because I was part of a huge online community where others had the same hobby. Okay, I”ll tell you- its a certain brand of kids clothes. I’m sure many of you are like, huh? I just wanted my kids to be super cute and it made me feel good to dress them in just the right outfit. It also takes a lot of work to hunt down just the right piece because its that kind of brand. Not even to begin with the time it took to sell it. I’m sure this all sounds really crazy to you. I’m going to have new hobbies now. Playing with my kids more. Reading. Bible study. If I can find a way to relax that is going to improve myself or others I’m gonna do it.
There are so many other ways that my perspective had changed. Friends are soooooo much more important now. A group of amazing Christian women has just embraced me and enveloped me in love. If only I had leaned on them before. My family was not as important as it should have been. I held grudges; that they weren’t there for me enough, didn’t say the right things, didn’t support me the way I needed. It’s all about forgiveness and acceptance. We only have one family. We never know how much time we have with them. Our differences are so minute when we realize we are all children of God. People are put into our lives for a reason. Love them. Forgive them.
My marriage before was coming apart because of selfishness. Neither of us wanted to give up anything. We wanted to hold our stance and demand we were right and the other was wrong. Marriage is about sacrificing everything for the other person. Its not about self, if you give yourself to your spouse and put their needs first they will do the same for you.
I’m in the club no one wants to be in. Yet the view from here is amazing.
I Corinthians 13:2
Now all we can see of God
is like a cloudy picture
in a mirror.
Later we will see him
face to face.
We don’t know everything,
but then we will,
just as God completely
I still don’t really accept my son’s death. OK not at all. I don’t think there will ever be a day where I truly am good with it. That seems pretty impossible. I think I am at the tip of the iceberg of comprehending it. I keep feeling like I am about to fall from a cliff at any moment where I will be immersed in the reality of his absence. Right now I feel sick and heartbroken and tired. Very very tired. Yet held. Held by the saviors arms. Held up by prayer.
Today at church it was absolutely perfect. Every song and every word went straight into my heart and just made it swell. For a moment I thought, Lucas is not next to me like he always was. That hurt. Yet I just kept focusing on the beauty of the service. The sermon was spot on. It was about accepting people. It was a Lucas sermon.
“Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Lucas was really good at that. Way better than I was. That was something I always struggled with, dealing with people who bugged me for whatever reason. I would starting talking bad about them and he would always stop me. He was always gently guiding me into being a better person. I remember when he was in kindergarten there was a little girl who had down’s syndrome and his teacher would tell me how much he wanted to help her in any way he could. He absolutely positively accepted people for who they were. He not only accepted but loved and cared for them. He had a good word to say about everyone. Acceptance is so hard for many many people. If they don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us, even believe like us, they’re not in the club. I am absolutely guilty of this. Yet I will never look at things the same way now. We need to accept not just because its the nice thing to do…but because it is how Christ accepted us. As Bob King said this morning, Christ didn’t just look at us and say,” Ok fix yourselves, straighten yourself out, and then I’ll save you”. No he accepts and saves the dirtiest and filthiest of sinners. We are all different and we are all children of God.
Keep Lucas’s legacy going…Accept one another.
There is a song called Great is Thy Faithfulness. It says “morning by morning new mercies I see”
That is what I thought of when I woke up this morning. I haven’t sung that song in ages, but those were the words I thought of. It’s always hard to wake up and realize that it’s still true. It wasn’t a nightmare. To feel that heaviness in my heart, that ache. To look at my sweet two year old next to me (he sleeps with me) and realize he won’t know him as he grows up. It’s going to be a struggle. The struggle of my life to figure out what to do with that hole in my life that just can’t be filled. The broken heart that can’t be healed.
Yet morning by morning new mercies I see. I can get out of bed in the morning. That’s a real plus. I can put one foot in front of the other. I can breathe. I have had people blessing me in every way possible. Just bathing us in their love and prayers.
I have somehow been able to laugh. The picture of my son trying to ride piggy back on his friend Christian. Just try to picture a 6 foot 4, 195 boy (well he was kind of a man) attempting to ride on the back of his, well, quite a bit smaller friend. Cracks me up. So many things have brought me joy, and I think that’s Lucas. That’s exactly what he would want and he’s sending me from heaven. We would always joke about how he wasn’t funny. Like, he would try to be but it wouldn’t exactly work. It was funny that he tried to be funny and couldn’t be funny. Yet he laughed. a lot.
I have been able to answer a question that I have had running through my head. The saying is, “everything happens for a reason.” Well that just didn’t sit right with me. Not a bit. No not my son dying. Well I decided that is not true. Its not everything happens for a reason, its God can take any situation and use it for his glory. He can take any horrific occurense and use it to reveal himself. To show us salvation, love, grace, and mercy.
I haven’t liked rollercoasters in a long time. They make me nauseous and give me a terrible headache. I never knew truly what an emotional rollercoaster felt like, but I’m pretty I don’t like those kind either. Mostly it makes you feel sick. Then there are the times when you are at the top and its exhilerating and freeing just for a moment. Mostly I have been just cruising, trying not to feel too much. Really enjoying talking to my friends and reading heartfelt cards and seeing the incredible generosity our community has. For a moment this morning at 5 am when the house was completely quiet I truly thought I was in the valley of the shadow of death. My heart felt like a stone. A rock. So heavy and burdensome it was going to fall out of my chest. I took a couple xanex and went back to sleep. Thank God.
Today I wanted to just try to relax and let my body know it was not in trauma anymore. Therapists are a blessing. They tell you what to do when you just don’t know. I wanted to put my grief in a box and put it on a shelf. For a bit. I know I have the rest of my life to grieve him.
I don’t think I really have started to MISS him yet. I have grieved, cried, wailed, flung myself on the ground, screamed out in pain. I have not let myself miss him. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all.
Then I was just finally getting dressed a few minutes ago and going through a basket of clothes. In it were some of his shirts, his basketball shorts, his socks. It was then that I really missed him. His size large tall shirts that still barely reached his wrists. The underarmour shirts that he never had enough of because he thought he had to go to the gym EVERY DAY. I don’t think there is a 15 year old in history that was more interested in exercising. Well really, getting muscles. Every time I saw him he had a protein shake in his hand. His things. His person. I’m going to miss him so much. So. So. So. So. So. So. much.
Jesus hold me. Hold me tight.
Lucas would want us to listen to this
i just buried my son.
I had to put a casket with his body in it in the ground.
There is nothing in the world, nothing that can be that painful. If I can imagine the depths of hell and burning alive I can’t imagine it being that painful.
No one should ever have to go through that. Ever, ever, ever, ever.
I thought I would be Okay, I kept telling myself he doesn’t live in that body anymore. This is just something we do, symbolically. I was lying to myself.
Its not okay. Its not okay. its not okay.
I loved that boy with every cell of my being, every ounce of energy, every bit of love that was humanly possible I poured into that boy. I held him as a tiny newborn and rocked him, cared for his every need, kissed him so much I probably rubbed his hair off. As he grew up we were inseparable. He told me everything. It was my life to take care of him and his siblings and devote myself to nurturing them into adults. I wasn’t perfect, oh noooooooo. I just loved them and poured my soul and energy into them. That love between a mother and child I can only imagine as a reflection of God’s love, some small piece of that on earth. So powerful.
Its not okay.