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: March 2015
It’s been just over six weeks and it is still so early. So fresh. I still, as crazy as it sounds feel like he just might walk through the door one of these afternoons around 3:00. Maybe it doesn’t sound nutty at all. After all I had him for fifteen years. How does one’s brain catch on to that? We are so accustomed and familiar with life. Life is familiar and second nature. Comings and goings. Meals, activities, games, outings, gatherings, sitting at home doing homework. Life. Doing Life.
Then it stops for one of our own. One of the fold. A treasured piece of the puzzle. A precious son.
I saw every part of it, every horrible part and I still don’t really believe it. In my heart of hearts as his mommy I still don’t really believe it.
How can we be good with this? Ever? That is what I am questioning today. Every day.
We are not good with death. I am not good with death. Is anyone? What a foreign, awful concept that there is no Lucas sitting at my kitchen table and eating dinner with us. That he’s not sitting on my couch talking to his friends on his iphone. He’s not practicing baseball. He’s not sitting in class taking notes. He’s not where he is SUPPOSED to be. HE’S NOT THERE.
I struggle, I really struggle with thinking about him in heaven not because I don’t think he’s there but because I want him here more. I can’t picture heaven, I don’t know heaven. I don’t know what he looks like in heaven. I don’t know if he can send messages to me from heaven. I don’t know heaven. I only know here.
I only know what he looked like eating sloppy joes at my dinner table that Thursday night. I only know the appreciative look he gave the guy who gave him a haircut Thursday night. He had gone to someone new and he raved about how precise and artistically he cut hair and how cool it was he was in a band. He got a new hair product. a really expensive one. Then we went home and he went to do his homework and I went to bed.
Then like a stop button hit on a movie was his life over for me. I didn’t see him the next morning until he was laying in the snow. I was a lazy stupid mom and didn’t get up to see him off to school the next morning. I didn’t give him a hug. I only got to touch his lifeless arm and face and kiss his lifeless forehead at the hospital.
I know his “life” didn’t end there. I told 1200 people that at a basketball game. I am just dealing with my humanness that I still want to be his mommy. HERE. Yes, I know I am still his Mom I just can’t cook him dinner or hug him or drive him to practice or talk about girls or school or friends or watch him play baseball. That sure as hell doesn’t feel like a Mom.
God help me. I know that this is going to a long hard struggle. Probably for the rest of my life. The more books I read, the more groups (mostly online) the more I realize that this is just not an event in your life, this DEFINES you. How it defines you is up to you but there is no escaping the pain. There is simply no escape.
Do I feel differently about the struggle and the pain because I have a God who loves me and shares the pain with me? Yes.
Every day I read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. March 5: “Make friends with the problems in your life. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust me…”
“I will not necessarily remove your problems but my wisdom is sufficient to bring good out of every one of them.”
Every day this book speaks to me and seems like it is just for the struggles I am having today.
I cry buckets of tears. Every day. Yet I never feel alone.
Busy…it feels good to be busy…no time to think or reflect or remember or ponder. Rearranging bedrooms, picking paint colors, sorting what clothes fit and what ones don’t. It’s how to survive, much of the time. I feel like it is what I should be doing so I don’t immerse myself in hurt. Just plug along, keep on swimming, keep on swimming…
Ha. Says my brain. Nice try. I was trying to clean up the duck “area.” Yes we have one surviving domesticated Pekin duck. Lucas got chickens after Goodwillie, 17 to be exact, and 4 ducks. The other fowl were not so fortunate. They fell prey to hawks, raccoons, foxes and other various ferocious beasts.
So we have one duck left. She doesn’t even have a name, because when you have 21 birds you don’t get around to naming them. I was worried about her this winter being the only one left and the chicken coop had been sold. We had built her a shelter last year but she hadn’t used it. It was out on the way way back of our property. I asked Lucas to please go get it. My good- hearted son dragged that beast of a wooden box, covered in dirt and grime and grossness closer to the house so poor ducky might be interested in using it. I remember watching him do it, seeing how nasty and heavy it was, and thinking, what a great kid I have.
Then we had to go to TSC to get duck food and hay. Once it freezes the ducky can’t dig in the pond or yard for bugs or whatever it eats. So Lucas and I went, all the way to Lowell, with Bryleigh and Brady in tow. Hay and duck food come in huge amounts so of course he loaded them up, and as I paid I was like, wow this is really expensive. I just bought it anyway.
As we got in the car I kept looking at the receipt and shaking my head. Lucas looked at it and started laughing. The hay was like 23.00 or something. We both were laughing our heads off that we had bought the gourmet hay.
As I was cleaning up the ducky area today and spreading the hay it didn’t really hit me at first but as I was cleaning I remembered our trip. It hit me like a deluge of pain. It was such a short time ago we went. Such a short time ago he sat next to me in the car and we laughed and talked and his warm living breathing person was there.
Since my sister was with my kids today I started walking down the road, tears streaming down my face, sobbing, moaning, doing the ugly cry. The snow was dirty and slushy, cars driving by sprayed me with sludge. I wondered if it was possible to die of a broken heart.
I actually sat by the side of the road. In the snow. I googled most comforting bible verses. This came up:
I thought how I had looked at him thousands and thousands of times and never thought once I might not have him forever. How was I to know that was one of the times I would fondly remember with him, a simple trip to TSC?
It is something I don’t know how to wrap my brain around. Every interaction I had with him, every look, every word was important. I think of them like precious gold. I think what I would trade for one more minute with him. Even one minute. I even wish I would have touched him in the hospital, somehow, while they were working on him just to feel his skin but I was too scared. I didn’t recognize that boy on the table. I was terrified. Then he was gone.
Every word. Every interaction. Every minute spent together: gold.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know.
So…..its hard to come down from the “high”or adreneline of a basketball game in the legacy of your son and have hundreds of people pledge to want to live like him.
Then the next day its done, and you’re like, oh. Ok. It’s done. I hope they don’t forget.
That’s just one emotion. Then there’s the fact that your kiddos are hurting too, and you’re hurting and sometimes you just can’t comfort each other because you are hurting in such different ways. It’s so, so, so, hard to just be mom to four other kids after you have lost one.
Brooklyn, Brenna, Bryleigh, if you ever read this do not feel hurt but it is very hard losing your oldest son. I don’t really know how to explain it but since he was my first born, it was through difficult circumstances, I was a single Mom for awhile, it was just different. Because he was older we had more time to have “adult” discussions and really bond as people. He helped me just as much as I helped him.
I feel like I have lost my identity. Being Lucas’ Mom was an identity. I was, and am, so fricken proud of that kid. He gave me something to wake up to, and say, I am mother of an amazing child. I am still a Mom but such a broken one. To kids that are hurting so much and there is no one to fill that role. I need to try. Harder. But there is so much pain, so much pain. I don’t know when it’s going to get better. Right now it is more intense than ever. I love this verse
so I started reading Isaiah 35 and it is so beautiful and healing to my soul.
Joy of the Redeemed
35 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
I feel like a parched land, like a deserted road. My hands are feeble and my knees unsteady. Right now I can’t see past the here and now, where the “what should have been” isn’t going to be. The only way to describe it is wanting to die. Like the people in chronic pain who want a Dr. Death to come to their mercy. It is so intense. So relentless.
I just have to keep telling myself, Melissa, one more minute. One more hour. You can do this. You have to keep breathing even if every breath comes with tears. God loves you. The highway of Holiness is coming.