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: May 2015
I never have time to do this anymore. Blogging. I am not even sure how I did before-I just had more help, more people around more burdens taken off me. That cannot last forever. I do not have to get children to school tomorrow so I am despite all odds I am typing.
As we speak my three year old is outside sweeping the driveway and refuses to come in. I tried a dozen times and now Rich is attempting to cajole him in without a temper tantrum.
The 5 year old is ever presently near me, she is half sitting on my lap telling me I still haven’t looked at her end of the year preschool goodies. Give Mommy a minute, I say, please?
The 9 year old is sulking because…well that is what she does these days. Pouts. Groans. Cries. Nothing is right in the world hardly ever.
11 year old- gone. She is easy though. Usually.
I feel that stinging in my heart that makes me want to write. That sharpness that says, just let it out. I just read something for the second time on facebook about death that people think is…comforting? helpful? It makes me bawl. It makes me sting. I genuinely do not want to hurt the feelings of the people that shared it. Who would know?
This paragraph… is like hieroglyphics to me. It makes utterly not sense, not at all, not ever. All I feel is absence. Heart wrenching, hollowed out anguishing absence. Death IS something at all. It DOES count. He has NOT slipped away into the next room. Something HAS happened. NOTHING is the same. I am not the same, YOU are not the same, and life will NEVER be the same. What we were to each other will never be again. I don’t know how to speak to a dead son. Yes I will speak of him in the happiest of ways because he was AWESOME. I don’t know how to laugh at the jokes we shared because he is not here to share them.
The one true statement, “why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?” He will never be out of mind. Never ever ever.
All is not well.
There is a beautiful, amazing video about Lucas that was made by a student at Forest Hills Northern that was just posted on my facebook page. I could not watch it all. I had to turn it off. Yes I will watch it. Maybe tomorrow.
If anyone would like to know, what it is like to lose a child, it is not in that paragraph. It is the worst pain you can possibly imagine times a million. You cannot pretend that they are in the next room and you are just talking to them and joking with them. THEY ARE NOT THERE. There is emptiness in your house, in your heart, in your mind, in your life.
I do what I do, whatever that is, purely by the grace of God. I think that he is literally pulling me out of bed in morning and carrying me downstairs and holding me up while I make coffee and breakfast and laundry and change diapers and run errands and dinner and baths and…then I crash. All day I look forward to the moment when I can take my Ambien and not be in pain for 7 or 8 hours.
It is ALL I have to hold on to in the tumultuous waves of pain. Grace. I hold on to the legacy of my son and cling to the fact that it can still do great things in the world. Even if he is not here.
A kind friend sent me a mothers day card with this verse:
“You are precious to Me and honored and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4
I have been repeating that verse over and over to myself. Through the sting and the ache. He loves me. He loves me.
It hurts too much to write. I hurt so bad right now I can’t see the computer screen. I just read what someone wrote to me after the mother’s day blog- that I have no choice. I have to keep on keepin’ on. That is exactly it. I have no choice. I feel like that is just the hardest part of all- to keep doing the normal stuff. When I do laundry I think of his laundry missing. When I make dinner which is really never, more like buy pizza or pick up chicken it is a noticeably smaller amount. When I play with my with my kids outside it is ALL I think about. What he was like when he was 3. How he looked shooting hoops. How he looked pushing Brady on the swing.
When is he going to walk in the door again. I just can’t believe it. How did I lose my baby boy.
Once upon a time I didn’t know how I was ever going to be a mother. I was 20 years old, just finishing my sophomore year at Calvin College. I was pregnant. No one at Calvin was ever pregnant. I almost switched schools but at the last minute decided I didn’t care if people stared at me. It was some of the hardest months of my life. I felt quite strongly I wasn’t ready to be a single Mom. So I went to Bethany Christian Services and they talked me through everything and were very understanding. They didn’t try to sway me either way but instead helped me see that it was possible to raise my baby.
Lucas Elliot Van Sprange was born January 6, 2000. My beautiful boy. An incredible blessing from God.
I don’t understand why I couldn’t have had my blessing longer.
I loved him so much. I still love him so much. He was an amazing person.
That is why I cannot let a 16th go by without honoring him in some way. By doing some good in the world like he would be doing if he was here.
I would like to Give Back this month to a place that helped me- Bethany Christian Services -by counseling me as a terrified pregnant college student.
They also have a branch where they relocate refugees. People who have gone through pain and hardship and are strangers moved to a new place. They often have nothing.
Bethany has asked for donations of things like diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, toilet paper, toiletries, bedding and pillows. I have donation tables set up at Forest Hills Central, Eastern, and Northern High schools May 15 through 22. You can also leave things on my front porch. If you would like to donate and are not near to the Forest Hills area, please message me and we can figure out a way to pick it up.
Thank you with all my heart for helping me remember Lucas in a meaningful way.
I got through today by denial. I went to bed last night and thought of what today was, and who wouldn’t be there when I woke up. I sobbed harder last night than I can ever remember. I couldn’t stop. It was just coming out like a volcano, hot molten tears than ran and ran and ran.
Then I woke up and it was like I hadn’t slept. I was so tired I felt like I had run an emotional marathon. I finally got up at noon in an attempt to go to lunch with my family. My sweet babies gave me their presents and I gushed over them. I hugged and kissed them and loved on them, in my mind it was just a robot. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t cry in front of them. It started in the shower again. I tried to get ready and couldn’t stop the tears. I felt physically ill.
I spent my day watching Downton abbey and putting labels on candles. The Live Like Lucas candles are gorgeous. So much work but I find it relaxing and somewhat addicting. Okay very addicting. I found a few more wine bottles all polished and wicked and ready to go at 12 am and I couldn’t help myself. I had to heat up more wax. It’s my way of coping. They are unique and beautiful each in their own way and they have a message. His message. That is what gets me through the day. His message. God’s message.
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Eph 5:1,2
Days like today I hardly even think I have a handle on what’s happened and yet it rocks me to the core. I’m not even sure I comprehend it and yet I cry for hours on end. I wonder how many years it will take to really sink in.
I just know that I get it now.
I. Get. It. Now.
There is not a second to waste, not a minute to spare, to do what we are supposed to do here. We are here to be God’s people, his chosen ones. To live in his image. To be in the world but not of the world. To heal the broken. Even if we are the broken.
You see, there must be a reason I am the broken. There must be a reason. If I am to go through this life hurting it will not be for nothing. Why? Because I am his. He counts the tears that drop from my eyes and knows how many hairs on my head. It will not be for nothing.
This is all I need to know. He is in control. He’s got this.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
It’s Mothers Day weekend. One week from today it will have been four months since he said, “how was your day Mom?”
Lucas always made sure I got something for mother’s day. It was so important to him. He would pick out flowers from the farmers marker usually- such an incredibly beautiful gesture from a boy. Just a boy. With a giving heart. One time he was going to be gone and I remember he ordered flowers for me to be delivered. Completely on his own. He was only 9 or 10 years old. He used my credit card, but of course I could have cared less. He was thinking about me. He loved me. He was the best son a mother could ever ask for. Ever.
I’m angry I have to be alive this mothers day. Its too much. I’m angry I have to live through this incredible tortuous pain and longing and aching and arms that are empty of a tall strong boy that loved me SO MUCH. And I him.
I just want to go to heaven and be with him.
So many mixed emotions. It was a sparkling, beautiful day today, the kind the makes you want to climb to a hilltop and have a picnic. The kind of day where you feel guilty if you stay inside instead of every possible minute soaking in sunshine and listening to the birds.
Days like this give me a pit in my stomach. I want to enjoy them so much but just can’t.
At our house we have been watching the geese in the pond behind our house. There are four Canadian geese that have decided to make our small piece of wilderness their home and they are very entertaining to watch. In addition to our lovely nameless little Peking duck. I keep watching carefully to make sure they don’t start picking on her. I have become very fond of our little ducky and it they went after her I would be the first one running outside to grab those Canadian geese by the neck. Little ducky is part of the Lucas era, you see. She came with the first batch of chickens he raised from chicks. They all succumbed to other predators but this one is a fighter. She has outlived the rest by years and survived bitterly cold winters. She reminds me of Lucas- a fighter. Fighting off a near fatal brain infection. If only he had outlived us all…
My little boy is so enamored by nature and animals and at 3 years old reminds me so much of Lucas…so so much. The way he entertains himself by trying to unscrew everything with a screwdriver, how he is always, always trying to help me. Everything I do. He follows after, picking up clothes. Insisting he fill the dishwasher with soap, sweeping the floor, cleaning up anything that spills, picking up his puzzles without anyone him to. He is sweet as sugar and just a happy and agreeable as can be.
Today he asked me three times in the car about Lucas.
“Where does Lucas sleep?”
“When is Lucas coming?”
You don’t know heartbreak until you have to try to explain to a tiny boy that his big brother died. I don’t know what else to say. He died. I say over and over. If I say he is in heaven then Brady thinks he is just away on a trip. To heaven. \
The three month mark is about the time when your brain stops trying to subliminally tell you “he’s on a trip.” Its the point where your brain says “oh sh*t, he’s really not coming back.” Three months is too long for a trip.
Three months is when a mother really starts cracking and everyone else starts forgetting. Other people die, there are tragedies, world scale ones, people get cancer, there are accidents, the world keeps spinning on.
It doesn’t stop for one 15 year old boy who was someone’s whole world.
I start to hear comments like, “I think its time to take down those pictures.” “The kids need to move on and not think about sad things anymore.” “The Live Like Lucas days might be too much, its just really in everyone’s face.”
I’m trying to celebrate his life. I’m celebrating the gift that was given to me and share it with others, use it to uplift and encourage. I’m trying to do good for the community, for the world. That will always have to do with Lucas. His name will be on everything – its not Live Like Melissa. He is my inspiration, my model, the whisper in my ear. The only way I can cope- the only way I can get through these long agonizing days is by filling that giant hole of his loss into a giant pool of hope.
I’m not sure how that has an expiration date.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”