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 2016
I think about him every day.
In a hundred tiny ways-
Today when I got up I read a text from my daughter that reminded me of him. It started with “Mother!”
That is how he always texted me when I was late picking him up. Which was…..often. It was usually 5 minutes maybe 10 but to a kid that’s always an eternity and a half. So I would say “sorrrrryyyyyyy….” kind of half meaning it, after which I would explain how Brady had to have a last minute diaper change or I needed to wait for the potatoes to finish boiling. He would always flash a huge smile at me and tell me it was okay. Then ask me how I was.
I was complaining to Brooklyn about how the snack food in our house always disappears like we house an army of hungry wolves, and I remembered how he always took extra granola bars for his friend who never took a lunch. I would see him shoving 4 or 5 in his lunch bag and throw my hands up in despair… but not once thinking, what a kind friend he is. I was only worried about the grocery bill.
I remember collapsing on the couch after a long day of mothering and attempting to keep our house “clean” enough the CPS workers would not come calling, and Lucas would be sitting there on his phone, and he would ask me if I wanted to watch Big Bang Theory with him. That was “our” show. We watched separately more than together, I say regretfully but it was one we both loved. I wish I would have said yes more often. I know he was trying to cheer me up but instead I would go to bed, too weary to think of anything but my pillow.
I did not intend to blog today about regret, although so often what I intend is not what ends up on the screen. I was simply missing him. Overwhelmingly missing him and had a quiet moment where I felt the keyboard calling me.
In my opinion the greatest anguish, the greatest pain, the greatest sorrow is having that child that you can never talk to, never touch, never hug again in this lifetime.
Yet in passing on facebook this week I saw a post about someone famous eulogizing his wife. He said something to the effect of, “I can’t say I lost her because that would mean I don’t know where she is. I do know where she is.”
I read that and I tried to think of that, only that for 20 minutes. I actually set a timer and just let that thought of him in heaven saturate my mind. I tried to let my ever tortured heart be at peace with the thought of him with Jesus. I would like to say that it made me feel so much better. Yes- the thought of him in heaven does bring me joy.
It is just that joy overlaid with the same sadness that plagues me day after day. Like a cloak I wear. Glasses that I see through. I still feel happiness. I laugh. I smile. Yet the cloak never leaves.
We are so surrounded by, drenched in, permeated by this world and its pain. We try to keep our eyes on Jesus but it is a constant struggle to remember that this is only our temporary home. This earthly life is but a grain on sand on the beach of our eternal life. Our human brains can barely grasp that idea. We are so very “in the moment.”
I said in my last blog that my human life means nothing to me. I did not mean I don’t truly intend to live my human life to the fullest- to the glory of God. I just mean that with the pain I carry, with the perspective I have gained through this loss, I look forward to my next life with intensity. I hope every day that today will be the day that we lose this earthly skin and gain our heavenly glory.
However it may not be today, or tomorrow, or next year, or twenty years from now.
This life- this is the hard part. This is the race.
It has been a long time since I ran a race. I do however remember how it feels. I remember running a leg of the mile relay. A full out sprint all of the way around the track. At first it feels pretty good. Stretching your legs out, pulling out ahead of your opponent little by little, feeling the crisp air fill your lungs and the adreneline pumping. Then you hit about half way and your legs start feeling a little heavy. Your breath more labored. Your brain has to psych you up for every step. That gap between you and the next runner is getting smaller. Then your lungs start to burn. Your legs feel like lead. It takes sheer willpower to keep going. Your body is telling you “hey! hey! we’re maxed out now! lactic acid has filled your muscles and your heart is beating at maximum capacity! stop! please!” But you ignore that voice and push on, through the pain, and cross the finish line.
This is the hard part.
It was never meant to be easy. Whether you have lost a child, or not. You may have lost a sister, a Grandma, a job, a relationship; its all pain. It’s all part of the race.
We weren’t put here to coast through life without a care in the world; sitting by the pool drinking margaritas. Duh, everybody knows that. Yet when hard times fall on us we cry out and say “God where are you? This is too hard! I can’t do it!” I HAVE DONE THIS. I CONTINUE TO DO THIS. I AM HUMAN. YOU ARE HUMAN. WE DON’T LIKE PAIN.
This is the hard part. This is the race. Remembering my sweet boy every single day and feeling that deep awful pain but NOT GIVING UP. I am still here. God wants me here to run the race, to further his kingdom, to proclaim his name, to live life every day for HIM. To live life for my creator who loves me and has the greatest prize that ever existed waiting for me.
When I finish my race.
It’s January. Errrr February. I think. Winter sucks.
I feel very guilty saying that, because of course every day is a new day that the Lord has made and we are supposed to rejoice in it. Right?
Okay so today I saw a beautiful sunny sky with fluffy white clouds and it looked just like a gateway to heaven. So every day isn’t dreary and cold and sleeting or raining or muddy and gross…?
I’m just having a hard time and anyone else who suffers from seasonal depression let me hear an AMEN. Bring on the spring, pretty please. With some sunshine and rainbows on top.
Yep I’m struggling with guilt, because no one deserves a mommy and a wife who is a grumpy troll and really, really wants to just climb in bed all day.
I had to take a long drive today, 2 hours round trip and it was brutal. I find whenever I am driving in the car alone for any length of time it is just so utterly painful. It is then that I realize I am not alone with my thoughts very often- they are often occupied by grocery lists and chore lists and dates and to dos and many many children talking to me…and when it is quiet I immediately turn to the TV. MUST OCCUPY MIND WITH DOWNTON ABBEY or X-FILES or MY 600 LB LIFE. Now there’s a diversity of shows.
A long drive means lots of time to think about him. How terribly terribly horribly much I miss him, and how every day of grief feels like it’s starting all over again- just tearing open the wound and letting the blood gush out.
I cry out to God in such anguish and desperation and I wonder how he feels so see me, his child, in SO MUCH PAIN. How he could take a boy from his mama and watch her languish on earth with a giant hole in her heart. There’s not a day that goes by I don’t wish I could go to heaven. Not a day that goes by I don’t wish I could push a fast forward button to the end of my life when I finally get to say goodbye to this earth. To finally end all this earthly pain and sorrow and suffering. My life here means nothing to me.
“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
So I am left to ponder how I may complete my task. I can only pray that all this suffering is somehow part of my task, somehow part of a bigger picture that will ultimately be to his glory. It all just seems too much to comprehend. I’m just a really really broken person who is really mean to her kids right now writing a little blog to help with her pain. I don’t feel I am doing anything to glorify him- just surviving. One minute. One hour. One day at a time. One load of laundry. One recitation of Toot! Toot! Beep! Beep! at a time. One practice (oops we missed that today) one conference, one meeting, one dinner attempt…
That is my life right now. Baby steps. One thing I do know is that God meets us wherever we are. No matter how much we have sinned, now matter how broken we are, no matter how many times a day we just wish to be in heaven. No matter how reluctant we are to struggle through this life on earth sometimes. He is right where we are- the Master of Universe, King of all Creation, is right down on the floor with us while we are crying.
It’s called amazing grace. Bathe yourself in it- accept it-enjoy it- it is His gift to you.