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: February 2015
I haven’t even been able to fully process last night- it was so powerful, so spirit filled, so beautiful, I almost feel like I dreamt it.
It was the Holy Spirit. From floor to ceiling, one corner of the gym to the other, one basket to the next- the spirit of God. If you didn’t feel it-
you weren’t feeling.
I was simply a vehicle in my speech- speaking of the son who deserved everyone wonderful word spoken about him. I wished I could make a movie instead- but my simple five minutes had to suffice.
I woke up thinking about Winnie the Pooh and though I haven’t fully grasped this idea- I feel like Lucas drops hints to me through these out of the blue thoughts I have. I looked up Winnie the Pooh quotes and this is what I found:
“If there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, you are stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important part is even if we are apart I will always be with you.”
I absorbed that into my being- as well as cried many lakes of tears- and decided I must say my speech. I was going to have one of the teachers read it. I realized then at that moment- I am stronger than I seem. My baby boy is going to be urging me on.
He wants to make a difference. In his life this is all he would have wanted and I (and God) are going to make sure that it happens. He deserved that. He would have wanted the message of living life as if it is not your own to resonate through that public school gym.
This is what it said on the cards handed out with the blue “live like lucas” bands last night:
“We wear this bracelet to celebrate the legacy of a life lost too soon. In his fifteen short years, Lucas taught us more about life than many learn in a hundred. Lucas’ heart and his gift of loving others encompassed everything he did. His compassion was evidident in his service in Guatemala, through his loving on little brother and sisters, and by standing up for thoe being bullied at school. He cared for more about others than himself. Every day he sought to bring a smile to the face of those who were hurting. He overcame his own medical strugles with courage and dignity. His loss can never be filled but we ask that hyou wear this bracelet with the promise to carry with you a little piece of him, a reminder that we, too can make a difference. We can be a light in a dark world.”
Forest Hills Central was inundated with the Holy Spirit last night.
Every student pledged to LIVE LIKE LUCAS.
“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Today all I could think about was empty places. Sometimes my mind just goes places that I don’t want it too…
The empty chair at the table
The empty desk at school
The locker getting dusty
The bed that no one lies in.
It’s so wrong God. I don’t understand. The clothes laying unworn in his dresser. The place on the bleacher at the basketball game where he should have sat. Cheering on his team.
Instead we are celebrating his “life.” Past tense.
What a cruel, cruel world- how does it keep spinning every day?
How did I get left behind when he and I belonged together?
I just MISS him. Lord how can there be so much pain. How do I survive. I don’t know how I do, except I do. You never know how strong you are unless being strong is your only choice. For your kids. If he is worth grieving over they are worth living for.
I just MISS him.
I tried to have fun tonight- go out with some girlfriends, celebrate birthdays- I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I wanted to be at home watching a movie with him.
God show your face to me because I don’t know how this all works. Nothing in this awful world seems salvageable when your baby boy is gone. We belonged together. I should be with him.
God show me there is a way to get through this pain. That the world is still somehow…good?
I just MISS him.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
“pain is the most individualizing thing on earth. It is true that it is the great common bond as well, but that realization comes when it is over. To suffer is to be alone. To watch another suffer is to know the barrier that shuts each of us away by himself.
Only individuals can suffer.”
I walk this path alone. My suffering is mine and mine alone. God walks it with me but he cannot take it away. Every morning I wake up and realize my child is gone. My beloved child is gone. No matter how much I try to distract myself during the day, and it is a pretty futile attempt, I still have to wake up to that every day. Right now I’m not sure what to do with that except say it. I am hurting. I am walking a lonely road. I am the ONLY mother of THIS child and no one else can understand that hurt.
I hurt. So bad.
All that helps me right now is thinking about revelation- when God comes to make everything new and everything right. I cling to that.
Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
I Thessalonians 4: 16-17 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of god, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
This was sent to me in an Ada Bible church email several days ago. I just opened it this morning- it is called “revelation song”
Today was so hard. Every day is so hard. I am hoping someday, maybe ten years from now I will say, “I was happy ALL day today.”
We went to my Mom’s for dinner. We frequently go there on Sundays and this was the first time without Lucas. It felt otherworldly, like in a dream…how are we all just here doing our thing and our precious Lucas is gone? It didn’t feel right. Not at all.
When we would go there for dinner one thing that always brought me pride was the way he treated my parents, with such love and respect and reverence. My Dad, God love him, is one of the greatest men I have ever known. He does however have a penchant for sometimes telling long rambling stories. Lucas would always sit there next to him, in rapt attention, never once acting like it wasn’t the most exciting thing he had ever heard. Family was EVERYTHING to Lucas. He would have gone to visit Papa and Grandma every day if he could have.
He wasn’t there today. I didn’t think it was possible for my heart to hurt so much. Something sacred has been torn apart. A communion of family has been forever changed.
When I got home, somehow out of the blue Lucas’ belt appeared on the floor. It was the one that I had bought him to wear to homecoming. How is got there I don’t know, but I sunk to the floor and sobbed and immediately thought to go light candles. Something to radiate in the pitch black night. I don’t do it every night but it always comforts me.
So I went to buy new candles and I thought- how many?
Part of me wants to buy a thousand. There isn’t enough flame in the world to represent my Lucas. He was ablaze with life.
Then it came to me.
Seven. Seven is the number of completeness and perfection in the Bible (both physical and spiritual). It is used 860 times.
I lit seven candles for him because he is complete and whole and perfect in heaven.
He was my everything on earth- but he is everything to God.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
How much of our life to we spend wanting things?
Me: A new kitchen. A new car. A new couch. More friends. More date nights. Less fat. Cuter hair.
We want and we want and we want…
Until one day the thing we want most is not there. We can never get it again. We can argue and beg and cajole and save our money for the rest of eternity and we cannot have it.
So we bargain with God, not because we know it will work but it somehow makes us feel a bit better. “Lord I would die a thousand deaths just to see him for one more day. Just to hold him one more time. One. More. Time. Anything God…please….”
There is nothing I can do.
Why did I spend so much time wanting? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid things.
All I want is my Lucas.
“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.
I Peter 1: 24-25
Lord, I don’t understand how you thought I could handle this. I am an empty shell, shuffling around pretending to be alive. There are tears constantly on the brim of my lids that I am willing to stay there…don’t fall…don’t fall…
When I wake up in the morning I feel like a truck has hit me, like the most virulent strain of ebola has taken over my body. Except its ebola of the mind. My body feels like a limp noodle too, and my stomach is in a constant state of severe nausea. Just swallow it down. Swallow it down.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” psalm 34:17-20
I am waiting to be delivered Lord. I am waiting for the day when the pain doesn’t not encompass every single cell of my being, when my constant cry is not for you to take me to heaven. To take me to see him. When I want to live on earth and fulfill whatever mission you would have me do.
I want to understand, God, please tell me why? Why would you give me such a beautiful son that I loved more than my own life and then have him struck down like a branch chopped off a tree. I loved him so much God. Other than your love there is no greater love. No greater love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3: 16-17
I am feeble and weak, and I do not understand. I do not know that I can stand on my own two feet again. Yet Jesus you know everything because you knew me before I was even created, even an inkling of a thought.
Today I really needed him. Lucas, that is.
It was one of those nights where I was alone with the kids and nothing was right in the world. They all wanted me, they all needed me, I had nothing left to give. Dinner needed to be cleaned up. Toys needed to be picked up. Subtraction problems were supposed to be worked on. Brady didn’t want to eat anything for dinner and was crying. Bryleigh was balancing precariously on top of the table trying to rehang valentine decorations. This was all before the whole teethbrush/pj’s/prayers drama. It wasn’t even bath night. I didn’t even cook for Pete’s sake.
It was one of those nights Lucas would have stepped up, because that’s what he did. First he would have tried to hug me and I will embarrassingly admit I would resist at times, I was too pissed off at my chaotic world. I would jokingly pummel him and our standing joke was he would stand right in front of me, his really tallness over my tallness and tell me I was short. I would then touch his chin and tell him his chin hairs were getting too long. They were blonde. White blonde.
He would remove Bry kicking and screaming from the table and try to find something Brady would eat. He would promise to do the dishes after his homework. Most of all he was just there. There to understand. To help as much as he could without failing his biology test.
Sometimes its just about being there.
Its about showing up.
I am exhausted. To the bone, mentally, physically, emotionally.
I wonder how many days it has been since he walked through my door…30? 31? Time doesn’t seem to be measured in days any more, but moments without him. Seconds that tick by that he is no longer here.
I wonder how it is possible that is hurts more every day. Today for the first time I was really angry. Not at God, strangely, but at Lucas. How he didn’t see that car. Then I remembered something that I have not said to anyone, something that we had just found out about. Lucas did not have stereo vision. His eyes did not always work in sync meaning he had trouble with depth perception. He had been diagnosed with it only recently and there was nothing that could be done about it. We didn’t even know how long he’d had it.
It gave me a tiny bit of comfort, if you can call it that at all, that he had not realized how close the car was. We will never know.
It doesn’t matter though- his hair products are still sitting by the bathroom sink, his coat hanging in the mudroom. Just waiting. Forever waiting.
How can it hurt so much? How can so much agony be even possible to feel?
The world is not right without him in it. Nothing is right anymore. Nothing. I don’t know how the earth keeps spinning, how the sun rises and sets, how people can go about their day just like they always did. They scurry around like ants on the vast landscape of Earth, and yes I know life must go on and people have to be fed and cared for and money made and empires built.
Yet my Lucas…everything stopped for him.
He’s in heaven! I shout to myself, He is in glory! He feels no pain or sorrow or sadness!
Why don’t I feel better.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Ultimately though I know that God has not forsaken me. I just don’t understand his answer. I don’t understand anything about this. Death is a mystery, this unbearable pain is a mystery- nothing about this is fathomable. I only know three things:
1. Lucas is with Jesus his savior
2. His savior is also my savior and I have to trust him.
3. I want Jesus to come back SOON. Come Lord Jesus, Come.
Lanterns burning with ferocity floating up, up, up towards the blackened sky.
Fire and Ice.
Celebration and Pain.
Laughter and tears.
How to save such a beautiful event in my heart without it breaking? How to mingle such beauty with such pain?
A celebration of a life so full and so vibrant, such happiness that a life was lived and enjoyed and shared with others.
A life that should have been longer.
To see a community come out in the bitter cold to show solidarity, to lend warmth to hearts that are cold with grief and pain.
What a paradox.
Yet there is one thing I know, and I know for sure, that Lucas’ light did not end on January 16. It really only began. Each person who takes their candle and lights it from his will keep it burning. It will not go out. We will not let it go out. We will never forget.
“You are the LIGHT of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
God is there in suffering.
Maybe more evident than anywhere else. Dare I say it? He is not just the God of glimmering rainbows and dew covered leaves or sweet soft little newborn babies. He shouts his glory through those things. He proclaims himself as the creator of all.
Yet he whispers in our suffering. Sometimes it is the still small voice that is more persistent and convincing than a shout. When we are weak and crumbling on the floor and cannot go on, it is that gentle whisper. “I am here.”
When I cannot get out of bed because the nausea of grief is too great, and all I can do it wrap myself in blankets, the still small voice says, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
“God,” I cry, “I cannot go on. I cannot function. The weight is too great. The pain is too great.”
“we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 3:3-5
Being a Christ follower means embracing struggle. Yet we have this promise:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” Isaiah 43:2
Is this life supposed to be easy?
It is through suffering that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
I see him, more than ever through my suffering. Though my human mind and body is beaten down my soul, my spirit is willing. I will conquer. I will glorify HIM through this.