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: June 2015
Its Friday again. I always wake up on Fridays with that pit in my stomach, that fluttering of anxiety in my heart…why can’t we just skip Fridays?
Everyone else celebrates them. TGIF. Yippee.
I was doing OK. Until I looked at facebook (yes that again) and saw a picture of a huge group of FHC freshman at a pool party.
Oh God. Oh God why.
I’ve described pain so many times in the 70 or so times that I have blogged. I have talked about it in so many ways, tried to describe it in every possible light. Drowning in an ocean. Being cut from the inside with glass. Having your heart ripped out of your chest and replaced with rocks.
All I can think right now is- gut-wrenching. An often used phrased. Probably to the point where it doesn’t even get the proper response- it doesn’t even mean anything anymore.
Think of your guts. Your insides. Your core. The very center of your existance. Twisted. crushed, squeezed until they no longer resemble anything whole and healthy. Just beaten.
The thing though, is after you cry and cry and cry and cry eventually you just stop and you have to go on. You just…have to.
I’m supposed to be making candles. My friend took my littles so I could make candles. I sell them, you see, to raise money for Guatemala. For a van to help people who are hurting in Guatemala.
The candle money is going to do a bit of traveling, though you see. First the money will help to hire a lawyer so that the Live Like Lucas Foundation is created. A non-profit. So that when the LLL 5k happens in October, there will be a non-profit for corporate, or individual sponsors to contribute to. Then we will have a successful race. It is going to be an incredible race. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we are going to make some big money for Guatemala.
Big things are happening. Race planning, non-profit planning, LLL is going to grow and grow and grow. Cuz guess what.
Yup. God wins.
God is going to win through this gut-wrenching tragedy.
Facebook. Blessed, cursed, facebook.
I so often open it to find encouragement, hope, a little support for the day.
Today I made the mistake of opening it right before I went to pick up my daughter from camp- an hr and 10 minute drive, all by myself.
I have never had facebook do a “timehop” for me although I have seen others posting theirs. I opened it to a picture of a smiling glowing 11 year old Lucas. It was the one year anniversary of him recovering from MRSA. I had written something to the effect of, “one year ago today was the darkest scariest day of our lives, when Lucas’ life hung in the balance. We didn’t know if he would survive. Today he is healthy, happy, and thriving. Praise God.” It was June 20 2011.
Oh God. I cried out. Oh God the pain. Why did you save him only to have us bury him five months ago. The agony, the utter raw ocean of pain that washed over me. It was something I hadn’t felt so raw, sharp and deep in the recent months. As the reality sunk in deeper and deeper I was already on the road, late as usual, needing to get my Brenna. I needed to pick her up so she wasn’t scared and wondering. Where’s Mom.
I think today was the hardest I have grieved in a one hour period. The hardest times are by myself, often driving, anyways. I often moan and shriek and wail in the car. No one can hear me. I can let out the ugliest cries I want.
I called my husband and he told me to pull over. He told me stop thinking about him. To stop thinking about him, stop aching over him, stop grieving him is like telling me to stop breathing.
I kept driving. For one hour and ten minutes I cried out to God, “how could you do this to me. Don’t you know I love him? Don’t you know I can’t live without him? Why didn’t you stop this? How could you let him die? How could you let him be hurt? How could you take this amazing and intricate creation of yours, this loving, caring, gentle, intelligent, compassionate boy and allowed him to be crushed? How could you leave a mother with constant flash backs of her boy crumpled by the side of the road, fatally injured??”
I don’t hear an answer. I don’t know why. I don’t know if God has this amazing ultimate plan that involved a horrific accident killing my child or if this was just a result of the planet earth that God set to spin thousands of years ago and the human race just plods along its path- whatever happens happens. Or maybe…something in between. Theology doesn’t really matter when all you have to deal with is the reality of death. I have to fight so hard to fight bitterness and anger because I don’t know and I don’t understand. I have to fight it because all I have to cling to is His love and the way I have seen him work since the day my son went to heaven.
I know there is a God. Do you know why? Because I can get out of bed. Because I have a mission. Because I want to have a non-profit, and I want to help people, and I want to inspire people the way Lucas inspires me. Every single day. If there was no God I would have died right along with him. There have been 1,000 things, to make a low estimate, that he has sent to comfort me, to help me, to guide me, to inspire me and to show me His Face.
I see it every day. Every single day.
But I still hurt. So. So. So. So. Bad.
I wanted to go to an open house of a former piano student, one that I LOVED so much. I was planning to go. Then at the last minute I crumpled. I am not sure if I will ever go to a graduation open house again. My precious boy will not graduate. He will not get a drivers license. He will not go to prom, he will not play on the high school baseball team. He will not get married or have children. He will not graduate from college and become a doctor.
I have to live with that every single day. Every day. I may not be able to share in others joys because of my pain. Every day I have to get up because of four little faces. I look at them, stare deep into each of their eyes, and tell myself, I will not leave you. I will NOT leave you and make you endure the pain of losing a brother and a Mother.
I have to be here. I simply have to be. I am not going to just be I want to be a do-er. I have to push past the pain and be a do-er. I am going to Guatemala in less than a month. I am going to hammer and saw and sand the living you-know-what out of those houses and I may be bawling like a baby the entire time.
I saw a quote the other day somewhere, “people will remember you when you die by what you love.”
I remember Lucas because he loved God and his family and people. He just loved everyone. He showed them respect. He showed them kindness.
I want to be known the same way. If I can accomplish anything in this life it would be for people to remember me the same way.
I don’t know how I am going to get through tomorrow. I didn’t even realize it until about two hours ago, when my daughter asked me if she could take a friend to get ice cream after school tomorrow.
Then it hit me- like a boulder. Like a semi. A tidal wave of pain and sadness. Our ritual of getting ice cream after the last day of school. We have only done it a few years but the kids have it now ingrained in their memories.
Last year I think Lucas had an exam that day that the girls had their last day of school. We went to pick them up and he saw all the elementary teachers standing in a row, waving to the busses as they drove circles around the circle drive, honking. He immediately wanted to go say Hi to them. My boy. Always loving his teachers, wanting to see them again and reconnect with them. He walked up and hugged them- Mrs. Schanski, Mrs. Beatty, Mrs. Deegan. All amazing, inspiring, caring teachers who helped shape him. They laughed as he towered over them. After chatting for a minute we left to get ice cream. We decided instead to get sandwiches at Schnitz’s and ice cream later, I think mostly because Lucas was hungry and convinced us all that was the best idea. We sat outside in the sun and ate, reveling in another successful year.
I am so proud of all my kids. So stinking proud. Yet I remember that day so clearly, like crystal thinking how proud I was of my Lucas- so tall and handsome, so respectful and polite, graduating already from eighth grade. Middle school had been tough. He had lost a lot of confidence mid- eighth grade when suddenly his grades started to slip and he just seemed kind of lost. He wasn’t himself. We didn’t know what was wrong. Yet he fought to bring them back up and was getting his footing again. He was not a quitter, in fact that was the last thing Lucas was. He was a fighter. He was his own worst enemy- every time he got a grade that was not up to his standards he beat himself up. He had ended the year on a really good note and he was so happy to be out of middle school.
It felt so good to sit there with my beautiful children. All of them. From towering to tiny. It was gorgeous sunny day. The flowers were blooming and the birds were singing. Life could not have been better.
I realized two hours ago that he would be missing from our “schools out” party tomorrow.
Lately I have been fighting the memories so hard. Working like crazy to distract myself because I don’t feel like I can go there. It will break me. They say it’s a spiral, you feel like your coming around and then you end up back at the beginning. I feel anxious. Thinking about him makes my stomach churn and my knees buckle.
I keep telling myself, one day at a time. One day at a time. Just don’t think. Keep busy and keep moving and don’t think. Then it will be the next day, and the next and someday it will be over.
Tomorrow is a day I don’t want to live through.
I miss him.
I am absolutely, entirely alone. There is not a child in my house. None.
I have no idea what to do with myself.
There are clothes to fold and wash, I want to plant some of my plants, my house is a disorganized pile of things everywhere that makes me want to cry when I look at it. My to do list is currently 11 things long but it is really only the things I can REMEMBER I have to do….
Somehow none of it seems the least bit important right now. When my kids are around I feel like I need to get this done and I need to get that done and no mommy can’t play right now she needs to make a phone call…yet when I am sitting by myself here it just doesn’t matter.
Maybe because I just had to change the autofill on my computer and take my son’s email out and replace it with mine. Whoever is emailing firstname.lastname@example.org is not getting an answer. No one is checking Lucas Van Sprange’s facebook page. Maybe that is why nothing matters right now. Because it just doesn’t.
The hurt changes, they say, the pain changes. I was listening to a song last night that said there is no sorrow on earth that heaven can’t heal. David Crowder.
I’m sorry David but I don’t know how I feel about that. This does not feel healable to me. This moment- to -moment- survival- because -I’m -in -so- much -agony feels like what happens when you lose your child. When you lose your gem, your gift, your blessing, your hope for the future. When the unthinkable happens. the nightmare comes true. Everything is shattered.
God brings healing. For many, many, many people. I think you can heal from a divorce or a parent dying or alcoholism or so many different things. I should not be speculating on these things that I have no experience with. I just think, and maybe I’m wrong, that there are a lot of terrible things to which God can bring complete healing. No one should ever put limits on God and I realize now I am doing just that. I just don’t think my heart will ever stop bleeding. I am weak. I am a sinner. I feel bitter and angry sometimes. I want to know how it could be Lucas. Of all people, him.
I don’t KNOW how God can allow suffering to such an extent that they pray every day for the heavens to open up and swallow them up. I will know I guess someday.
Some things are not for us to know.
That’s why he is God.
The God we can cry out to, “I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!”
And through my sobs he says, “I know you don’t. But look around at all the beauty. Look at all the amazing friends I have given you. Looks at all HIS friends you have met that are just genuinely amazing kids with big hearts. Look how many people have learned even just a little bit of how to live like Lucas. Look how much closer you have come to me even through your pain. Look how much bigger your heart has gotten and how much perspective you have gained. You will make it. I am holding you. Minute by minute, second by second, you will make it.”
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.