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: September 2015
I think the hardest thing is knowing there is no foreseeable end to the pain in sight. As I grow more and more comfortable talking about him to people- and in just living the daily life of “a mother who has lost,” the pain still just seeps deeper and deeper in my bones.
Lately it’s the feeling that every day that goes by I feel like I should be healing a little more but in reality I’m grieving a little more because its one more day since he lived in my house. Slept in his bed. Ate dinner with us. He’s one more day further from us. That was the most painfully obvious part of everyone else starting school- he didn’t.
I know I’m having another one of those one step back seasons right now. It makes me wonder how progress is measured when you lose a child. Will I ever really step forward? What does that mean?
The fact that life goes on doesn’t mean progress to me. It means putting on a brave face. It means adjusting to the fact that your eyes might be red sometimes going into the grocery store or picking up your child from soccer. It means just trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep some semblance of a life going for your family. Staying afloat. Trying really, really hard to enjoy the things that you once enjoyed.
There’s just so much ache though. Every time I see a homecoming picture or talk of getting driver’s licenses- who are we kidding, anything that has to do with teenagers. Anything to do with baseball. Anything to do with hunting. Talking about being tall. Talking about high school and classes and grades and getting into college. Every. Time. I go into a store I feel my heart grow heavy with pain at the sight of something that he would wear or eat or throw or shoot… basically LIFE reminds me of Lucas.
I sold candles at the Painted Farm girl Flea market yesterday. It was amazing, fun, touching, tons of people; sold almost every candle. I met so many strangers who read this blog and were so sweet and encouraging and it felt SO GOOD. I had my brave face on talking to people all day about my sons legacy. How we are starting an organization to help bring youth together and scatter kindness. To do service projects and missions across the world. Explaining how my son’s heart just empowers and inspires me to do this thing and really put love into action. Like he would do. Like he would want.
Then I got in my car and cried, like so many other times, a soul wrenching guttural cry of a mother who has lost a piece of her. Who feels so lost and hurt and desperate. Just to see her boy and feel his warm skin and hug him so tight. There is one thing to have this deep desire to carry out your son’s legacy and do something good with a terrible situation. It is another to have empty arms and an empty bed in your house.
I don’t know that it will ever go away. I just kept thinking about the contrasts last night as I tried to sleep. That amazing feeling when you really share a part of yourself with someone and relate to them and that they are on this journey with you. That people pray for you that you’ve never even met. People seeing the LiveLikeLucas and taking your card and asking you what it means. Feeling like you are touching lives. So many highs.
Life is breathtakingly beautiful. God given, God breathed life. Whether its one day or ten years or fifteen or one hundred. Every day is a gift.
Sometimes I just cannot handle it. Sometimes I think I AM THE BIGGEST HYPOCRITE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. I AM SO MAD AT GOD I AM SO MAD I AM SO MAD I AM SO MAD. Today, at this very moment, I am irate.
I miss him so much. I miss him so desperately, so acutely, so painfully, so unbearably I want to literally go outside and started digging a hole for myself. I cannot, will not accept that I won’t ever see him again. Cannot accept. I must have him back. I LOVE HIM GOD SO SO SO MUCH. I NEED HIM. I NEED HIM LIKE AIR. LIKE WATER. I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT HIM.
I just found his lunch bag in the cupboard. Oh my dear Lord Jesus his lunch bag is still in the cupboard waiting. Waiting to be used. It needs to be filled with yogurt and almonds and granola bars and some extra for Christian and go to school. It needs to go to Forest Hills Central High school and be carried by a handsome six foot four gentle giant who made people smile and consoled them when they cried. Who told his teachers how much he appreciated them and came home and asked his Mommy when he walked in the door how her day was.
I laid on the floor and willed myself not to throw up. I’m sorry this is graphic. You should know by know that I say whatever is on my mind, I suppose there are worse things than throwing up right?
I remembered the coat in the cubby and the cologne in the bathroom drawer that I have not been able to touch along with this square blue lunchbag and I fell. Completely. Apart. Right at the seams- crack. If you were here you would have heard a crack.
I had Pandora on the radio. The moment I felt myself crack apart this song came on, one that we have held close since January 16 because it so aptly describes, well everything we are going through. Really everything about Christianity.
Listen to it. I am no longer crying right now. Five minutes ago I couldn’t breathe through my sobs but I have been reminded by God, oh for about the 4,639th time in the last eight months how much he loves me and has a home for me in heaven. I am sad. I am sad about Lucas. BUT LUCAS IS HOME!!!!
Life has been very chaotic lately. First week of school. Sending my 3rd baby girl to kindergarten. New milestones of grief. My brain has been all over the place, and I have to tell you, it was pretty unorganized before I had “grief brain.”
I’ve been trying to make as many candles as I can for the Painted Farmgirl Flea market. My sale at Kennedy’s was a smashing success, netting almost $1,000 for the van. I love making the candles. Yet I feel torn with my sweet 3 yr old at home asking me to play cars, read books, play outside; the laundry calls ( I try to block it out), the ants are having a heyday with the crumbs on my floor, there are meals to be made…oh and the 6 and 9 and 12 year olds do require a tad bit of attention too. Alas. Overwhelming.
I am also starting (with the help of a board of amazing ladies) a non- profit foundation. Which requires much thought and planning and paperwork and brainstorming and more paperwork. Then a little more paperwork. It is something I am immensely passionate about and tremendously driven. LiveLikeLucas. Its not just a name or a slogan but a way of living. Lucas’ legacy of kindness, of selflessness, of love will live on. Not just an idea, a passing fad- an entity. It will change us. It will change others. People will see how powerful just a drop of kindness can be- it spreads and spreads. It heals wounds and forms bonds; forges connections and builds good will. The kindness of one boy can have a ripple effect across oceans.
Today I was feeling a bit discouraged- with the amount to do and the the very fuzzy and unorganized brain that I have. The sheer number of people in my household can have that sort of effect as well. Thank goodness for my Mother and the Mondays she comes over and always makes everything OK. A good dose of Grandma Linda will cure all ills.
I was standing at the counter making hamburger patties and she said, “I have something to show you- I’ve been waiting until just the right moment because I know it will make you really emotional and I don’t want to make things worse.”
She hands me a notebook that she had found while cleaning out one of my drawers a few weeks earlier.
It was a notebook Lucas had used in middle school at around 13 years old. She opened it to a page that read this, in Lucas’ unmistakable handwriting.
“I was the recipient of a string of brain surgeries. I, despite the odds, retain good health and show few signs of the afflicting ailment. There were many miraculous moments that compelled many around me to come to a stronger Christian faith. I went into a medically induced coma and was expected to emerge some two weeks later. Despite their fearful expectations I awoke four days later. This astounded all that were involved to a great extent. This miraculous healing was only a small part of my experience with the grace of God.
Soon after, my heart, having been damaged, began healing vigorously. It made such rapid improvements, it rendered the doctors dumbfounded. My eyes having received much stress, lost all function. Whilst in the hospital, my eyes regained their complete function. None of the things said were normal or much less expected. These things could not have come about so impeccably perfect and ideally (given the circumstances) without the divine hand.
I have been around many of the faith, and many more who are not. The prevailing theme is that, quite honestly, the faithful are better off. I don’t mean money, or success as others might have it, but a sense of happy contentedness. I have noticed this same things occurring in my life when I put God first. My family put God first by coming to him in my time of need, and that is why I am here today, that is why I am a man of God.”
13 years old. A man of God. A tremendous gift to me and so many others. Wise beyond his years. A legacy and a faith to be carried on. THIS is why it is all worth it.
Every time I think the pain to be away from you hits rock bottom, as deep as deep can go, it goes a little further. Today the tears flowed so often I’m surprised I didn’t just shrivel up. I wanted to see you off to your sophomore year of high school so bad, so bad, I couldn’t stand it. Driving past the high school to drop off your sisters at school was the emotional equivalent of being burned alive. I have never. Ever. Missed you more. I wanted to hug you, to hold you, to ruffle your curly hair, to playfully wrestle you as we used to do, my arms just ached with the absence. I felt in such limbo today- stuck between a rock and a hard place. Your absence is the worst hell I can imagine. Yet I must stay here. I can’t leave my other babies, my four other beauties that I love with all my heart. Yet they have only part of a mother.
You are everywhere though in my pain I cannot “feel” you as others have described their loved ones who have died. You just pop up everywhere- a soccer picture from first grade, your old ipod on the basement floor, your sandal in the corner of the garage. I find myself bringing you up in so many conversations, like you are still here but then your name just hangs in the air- another painful reminder. Having to pick up your class directory from last year with your handwriting on the front. Looking at your handwriting is torture. Looking at your picture is torture.
I don’t know how I’m going to make it without you my sweet boy. You just knew me so well, knew just what to say, just how to help; so handsome and smart- I was, I am, the proudest Mama on the planet. How you could be taken from this earth at fifteen years old is STILL unfathomable to me. I think I will go to my own grave still unable to completely comprehend it. How life can be so cruel and heartless, how deep a level of pain the human spirit is able to feel. How physically I grieve for you my son. It literally takes my breath away.
Such love, such a bond between mother and son we had. It is so infinitely unbearable to be without you. The fact that every day that passes is one more since I’ve touched you, talked to you…your presence is just that much further away.
I must remind myself. You are perfect. You are in glory. You would never want to come back to this sad downtrodden earth. You get to be with Jesus. Why doesn’t it help my pain. I just love you so much. I love you so very very much.
I recently posted this to facebook; I had stumbled upon it while looking for another verse. I know I was meant to find it, because I do feel like I am failing. I feel like I am failing my family because my grief is so deep and overwhelming. Being around them reminds me that he is missing, it reminds me that he is no longer their big brother or son on earth, it reminds me of how desperately we can try to be good parents and then one day have one of those precious jewels just slip through our fingers.
As so many things have surprised me, the weeks leading up to school have been like a tsunami in my soul. An endless beating of pain like giant waves crashing over villages destroying them. I feel like my village is being destroyed. I feel like I have lost my bearings as a wife and mother. The pain just envelopes me like giant vise squeezing the life out of me.
I feel lost.
I can barely stand the outside world that moves on with vacations and outings and celebrations and families that are WHOLE.
Inside my family I feel like a failure. Too beaten up to be of any worth.
So where do I go?
I will not fail. Every part of my being says “you are failing” but God says “you are not.” He says that I am perfect. That because of him I am perfect no matter how completely utterly worthless I feel, how defeated, how tormented, how I will never be whole again.
Thank you Jesus for that. Otherwise I think I might just let go of the rope.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I am strong. If strength is measured in tears, well then, I’m getting pretty buff.