When you've lost someone, the holiday season is an emotional grind. Luke is gone. The ache is deep. There are no words, no kind gestures, that can even begin to take away the pain we're experiencing. We're so grateful for the calls and the cards and the visitors who helped us make it through. On Wednesday Judy spent the afternoon helping Laura prepare our Thanksgiving dinner. On Friday we had dinner with Tony and Danielle, along with baby Everett and Luke's buddy Jude. Our parents called. Matt called. Katie called. Rhonda called. The Mustaines stopped by. We received hand written cards, and yellow flowers. These words, these kind gestures, they made a difference.
This afternoon about a dozen of Luke's friends (see photo) came to our house for lunch. We've always loved having young people in our home. After lunch we shared memories of Luke. Very poignant, and a tremendous blessing to me and Laura. Two of Luke's friends, Brian and Ethan, wrote and recorded a song in honor of Luke, and shared it with us today. Man. Very, very powerful. If you have a few moments, it's worth a listen. Click here for the link. (Yes, that is Luke's actual heartbeat you hear in the middle of song.) Here are the lyrics:
Whole in Heaven
Where have you gone?
You feel so far away
I never thought we would have to come to this day
You never lost heart, through the pain, through the chains
Who's to gain, stayed the same, never once did you change
Crying I don't know how you could be so strong
I know we'll see you soon, no it won't be long
Couldn't be happier since you made it home
But since we're not with you all we can do is mourn
The Lord gives and takes away, now you're truly saved
Cannot wait for the day, when we again see your face
It doesn't seem real, you're done with this Earth
You're in Heaven with our savior free from the curse
The sufferings that we face are not gonna last
Your sufferings are gone, they're all in the past
We lost a brother, in remembrance we look high
We're running the race, but this was your final time
Broken on Earth
Made whole in Heaven
Heaviest thing that I ever felt
Left behind, but I know he’s doing well
Man the light and life of Christ was bright in Luke Elijah’s life
He knows Jesus took the sacrifice
For those of God, it’s all the same
When the Father calls us Home, to live is Christ but to go it’s gain
This is not a goodbye, just a see you later
The journey will be long, but we know He’s with the Savior
Pain now is not worth comparing to the glory because of His love
We are more that conquerors, nothing ever will be able to separate us, uh
Luke, bro, you forever made an impact
Your body let you down, but your purpose stayed intact
I don’t know what to say, man I don’t know what to feel
We prayed for you bro now you’re perfectly healed
Broken on Earth
Made whole in Heaven
Hello friends. For the next weeks we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know. This one was written by Marsha McGuire on September 6th, the day Luke passed away. Luke met Marsha's son MacKale at DeVos Children's Hospital as they were battling cancer at the same time. The photo below was taken at DeVos last December, when Luke was bloated having just completed steroid treatments for his lung. You can read more about MacKale's story here.
Our hearts are heavy today. Losing friends or family to cancer is never easy. When your son loses a friend . . . a boy . . . a child . . . it is unbearable. We never knew Luke before cancer had ravaged his body. He was one of the first friends MacKale made when he entered the world of childhood cancer, chemo, surgery, broken bodies and hospitals. You couldn't help but love this kid. Luke was kind, outgoing, witty, wicked SMART and funny.
I remember one day when he found out Mac was in clinic and he didn't have his wheelchair, he grabbed one of those rolly doctor stools from his exam room and rolled himself down the hall until he found us. The nurses were searching everywhere for him.
When the pediatric oncology floor was making team posters for each room right before the big MSU/UofM football game, kids were posting banners of their favorite pick . . . MSU or UofM. Mac, of course, displayed his MSU poster with pride! Luke didn't care about football . . . He picked OHIO . . . just to make us crazy. (We loved him for that!)
He was brave and had such amazing faith. It makes my heart hurt to think of a world without this young man, but as he proclaimed in his own words, "broken on earth, made whole in heaven." This young man of incredible faith, touched so many lives and was an example to so many of us. I have no words Laura and James that will comfort you, but I can assure you that your boy was truly loved by all of us.
We love you Luke!
Marsha, Mike, MacKale, MaGill, & McCoy McGuire
Last weekend I was watching "The Shawshank Redemption," and I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something familiar about the actor who played the District Attorney. The more I watched, the more I kept wondering where I'd seen him before. Then it hit me...it was the same actor as the guy who played Dale on "The Walking Dead"! I was so excited (and relieved) that I figured it out, and the first thought that came to my mind was, "I can't WAIT to tell..." My heart sank. Tears quickly formed behind my eyes. Luke was the one person I wanted to call, because "Shawshank" was one of our favorite movies, and we loved watching "The Walking Dead" together. He would have loved that conversation, and I would have loved having it with him.
It was one month ago today that Luke died. The loss is profound. We miss him so deeply, so consistently. There is a gaping hole in our lives, and in the world, because Luke is gone. We have lost a son, a brother, a grandson, an artist, a friend, an entertainer, a servant, a student, really a phenomenal young man. There is no replacing him.
At the same time, though Luke's life has ended, his impact on the world has not. We have been touched by the different ways Luke has been remembered. I've had four different people tell me they've shared Luke's story during sermons they delivered at church. The Mason High School band performed "Star Wars" (Luke's favorite) at halftime of the football game, and wore yellow ribbons in Luke's honor. There was a moment of silence in Luke's honor at the annual "Compete for Cause" Mason / Okemos soccer game, and several players wore Luke's name and "Romans 8:18" on the back of their jerseys. John King competed in a kayak race in Luke's name. The other day I visited the bank, and there were a bunch of "I made a donation to cancer research" stickers on display, with Luke's name written on them. Each of these stories has breathed a little bit of life into our broken hearts, and we are grateful.
My "daily cry" takes place each day when I stop by the Mason Post Office and get to see what's in P.O. Box 818. I walk in, pull out the Luke Legacy Fund envelopes, and then I go sit in my car and cry as I open each one. The generosity is mind blowing, but what really impacts me is the variety of people who have been moved to make a gift to further Luke's vision to help kids be able to hear about Jesus. This means everything to us, because it shows how far reaching Luke's story has been. It's the very definition of a "legacy." We are grateful that Luke's life has inspired so many. In the one month since Luke died, the Luke Legacy Fund has received over 120 donations and the total amount is nearing $50,000. Our goal of $200,000 by January 1st is within reach. We have already begun praying for the kids who will be able to attend camp next summer because of scholarships they receive from the Luke Legacy Fund.
One month. Has it only been one month? Has it already been one month? We are so grateful for the ways Luke is being remembered, but we miss our boy. We just do. It's hard, and it's painful. One month. Please keep our family in your prayers.
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, and Luke)
Hello friends. For the next weeks we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know. This one was written by Aaron Porter.
So often since I got the news of Luke's passing, I have thought about the mission trip where I had the amazing opportunity to serve along side Luke. Before we went on the trip, James Granger had everyone who was going on the trip over to his house for a cookout. We were all gathered in the basement and talking about the upcoming trip. James asked us to share a bit about ourselves, including what name we preferred to be called. Luke said (jokingly, I think) that he preferred the name "Thunder." So...that is what we called him. Only he could get away with re-naming himself, "Thunder."
But that is just who Luke was. He was funny, he was charming, he was charismatic and he was definitely a friend to whoever met him. He connected so well (see photo) with the kids in Mexico. And he was GREAT at magic. I am still trying to figure out the magic tricks I watched him do in the lobby of Riverview. He was amazing.
Luke was these things and so much more. He was so strong in his faith and he was an inspiration to so many. I was (and continue to be) inspired by his strong faith. For someone who was about to have his leg amputated in his fight against cancer to have written Romans 8:18 on that leg ("For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us") inspires me in so many ways. Most importantly, it inspires me and it encourages me in my relationship with Jesus.
I will miss Luke and my heart aches for James and Laura, Jay and Sam. At the same time, I am comforted in knowing that he is in heaven with Jesus, completely healed and cancer-free.
We miss you Luke!
Hello friends. For the next weeks we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know. This one was written by Danielle Pyle.
Last night was the first night in 2 years we haven't asked God to heal our friend Luke. In some ways it feels like our prayer was unanswered, but the truth is, Luke is healed and whole in heaven now. We are profoundly sad to have lost our friend...one of my son Jude's very best buddies, but take comfort in the truth that because of his faith, Luke is in a place of no more pain, tears, or cancer. We are so thankful for the ways Luke loved and invested in our boy and that he got to meet sweet Everett. We will choose to celebrate Luke's life and legacy over this next week, but we will deeply miss his wisdom, musical talent, humor, and the gift of his time that he generously shared with our family. I want to be like Luke when I grow up...I think that means he had a life well lived.
We love you Luke!
When I go, don't cry for me
In my father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed, and I'll be whole
Sun and moon will be replaced with the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed, for my Savior knows my name
It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away
-All my Tears
Hello friends. For the next week we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know.
Today's tribute is from Matt and Stacy Santen, who have been our close friends since High School. Matt was on my High School tennis team, and was the person who invited me to Young Life, which is how I eventually came to faith in Christ. Stacy (then Barham) and Matt were both on Work Crew with Laura at Frontier Ranch for a month after their senior year in High School. Fifteen years ago, Matt and Stacy planted River Ridge church in Charleston, West Virginia. River Ridge has now grown to 1900 attenders at two Venues. The Santen family owns a cottage up north near Petoskey, which allows our families to spend time together each summer. The attached photo of Matt and Luke shucking corn is from the summer of 2015, about a month before Luke was diagnosed. My guess is that Luke had just smoked Matt on that outdoor ping pong table, though I'm sure Matt remembers differently. :)
The link below is from Matt's sermon from yesterday, September 17, 2017, after spending the week here in Michigan for Luke's memorial events. Please take a moment to listen. We are grateful that Luke's life of faith is having impact in all kinds of places.
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, & Luke)
Hello friends. For the next week we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know. This one was written by Jim Granger, Luke's grandfather.
"Broken on Earth; Made Whole in Heaven"
That is how Luke described himself to the campers at Young Life camp about a month ago. All of the work crew were asked to write about themselves on a cardboard (two sides) and this is how Luke introduced himself to "tell his story". The cardboard is now on the mantle of the house. I wanted to let you know the thoughts going through my head about Luke, some of which you know, others may be new insights:
--To know Luke was to love him, so there is an emptiness already; I'm sad for what could have been, while being thankful for what was
--Luke was a very special young man, ready for any challenge, the bigger the better
--He was an intellectual, strategic, inquisitive
--As a very young kid, when presented with a gift that needed construction, rather than pouring it out all over the floor and floundering to find pieces that fit together, he would first get out the directions...read them, and then begin to put the toy/structure together in an orderly manner. He could easily have become an architect, or an engineer
--As many know, from the family reunion and other venues, Luke was a very talented magician. Among the many things over time that he became obsessed with learning about, magic was high on the list. He utilized the internet to find tricks and how to do them, then practiced for days and weeks in front of his mirror to perfect his delivery. He only performed them, even for family and friends, when he knew that he had the trick perfected. He wowed us all
--He was a "natural" decision-maker...somehow he innately knew how to utilize the decision-making process to his advantage
--He was a supreme multi-tasker, enough of one to sometimes drive me crazy. Playing a game, talking, checking his various electronic devices while also watching a program on TV. And, not falling short on any of these....while beating my pants off at whatever game we happened to be playing
--Luke was a people-person, easily going up alone to strangers, or groups of strangers....and 10 minutes later it is like they knew him for years. For that reason he was a magnet for people, loved people and they loved him in return. He had loads of friends (his "crew/posse") and kept them all in his "sphere"
--He was amazingly comfortable with adults from a very young age
--He was a musician, learning quickly to play many instruments. Had a real ear for music, loved the piano mostly, but also the flute. In order to play in the school marching band last year, he learned how to play the vibraphone (similar to a xylophone) in about two weeks....and was stationed right in front of the Band Director as the band marched prior to the game and during half time. He loved the band and all the players. They wore yellow armbands all year on their uniforms in honor of Luke
--He was a movie buff, and had an amazing critic's eye
--Luke was a "games king" and loved any game that could be played competitively..from Words with Friends, to chess, to pool and ping pong, and the list goes on and on. His Dad was his closest competitor (except for the electronic games that he played with his friends over the internet), and they had many, many knock down, drag out competitions. Neither liked to lose!
--Luke was very spiritual, a practicing Christian who walked the walk. He loved Young Life, Young Life camp and his last, greatest wish...which was fulfilled, was to be able to be on the Work Crew at TimberWolf Lake this past Summer. He was set up to work for four weeks, and was able to do it for just short of that goal
--School came easy for Luke, almost too easy. In several grades he was bored most of the time, even though the teachers would give him extra work, higher level, just for him. When he could no longer attend school in person, they would send work home for him to keep up with, and a tutor to go over the tough stuff. He did that for almost two years, and kept up with his class enough to be able to move on to the next grade
--Luke was a big picture guy, with that inquisitive mind, he was always one step ahead of most of us. He saw beyond the obvious.
I could go on and on, but I know you now have a solid picture of my third grandson, Luke. We will miss him deeply, and I know that the world will miss him also.
And Lord, especially now, please take care of our boy. We miss you Luke!
Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate Luke's life and mourn his death with us earlier in the week. We were blown away by how far you traveled, and how you changed your plans and took time off work and school in order to come and be with us. We are grateful for your prayers, for your tears, and for your presence. We miss our boy so much, and we are lifted by the fact that so many saw Christ in his life.
We know that not everyone was able to join us at the memorial service on Wednesday. We would love to capture your memories and stories about Luke as well. At Luke's service and reception we asked those in attendance to share their favorite memories or thoughts about Luke on memory cards, which we will then bind together into permanent "guestbooks" to allow us to enjoy our memories of Luke into the future. If you would like your memory captured in these books, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a typed memory/thought about Luke and your contact information, and we will be honored to include it.
In addition, at Luke's request we have established the Luke Legacy Fund to provide affordable opportunities for kids to experience Jesus at a Young Life camp. Earlier this year Luke received a $10,000 gift to use for anything he wanted, and he decided to use it as seed money for this camp scholarship fund. Our goal is to raise $200,000 by January 1, 2018, and that money will then be invested through the Young Life Foundation (all gifts are tax deductible!) and distributed to kids who need help funding their trip to camp. The response has already been overwhelming! For more information, you can visit lukelegacyfund.com, or you can make checks payable to "Young Life" and send them to P.O. Box 818, Mason MI, 48854. We are so excited to be able to remember Luke through helping kids hear about Jesus.
Thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do, to help us honor and remember Luke.
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, & Luke)
Hello friends. For the next week we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know. This one was written by Rachel Matuszewski, who served on the housekeeping (or "Towashie") crew with Luke at TimberWolf Lake. She seated front left on the couch in the photo.
I remember Luke telling our "Towashie" team, “I wouldn’t replace my cancer with the friends I have made from it." We were sharing the happy and crappy parts of our day, where Luke refused to have a crappy. In living out his favorite verse from Roman’s 8:18, the pain of Luke’s illness did not compare to the joy he brought everyone he touched through his perspective.
Yellow outfits. Rubix cubes. A deck of cards. A servant’s heart. In our month of service together on Work Crew, this is what Luke brought every single day with a smile. I don’t think I have ever owned anything yellow until I met Luke, but I can’t imagine him in any other color. He shined God’s light and the yellow reminds me of it. He spread the Lord’s love into every corner of Timber Wolf Lake, through his commitment to serving in Housekeeping and in sharing his deep faith. In presenting his cardboard testimony, Luke shared the truth of Christ’s promise. Broken on earth…made whole in heaven.
At the end of a long day, Luke was always up for a game. Any game. His shared his collection of diverse Rubix cubes with everyone, and could beat us with any deck of cards. He was incredibly smart while playing and incredibly patient (with me) while teaching. Regardless of how he was feeling, Luke’s joy was contagious.
When Luke’s dad first told us about Luke, I immediately thanked God for his servant’s heart. In a matter of weeks, Luke taught everyone on Work Crew what it meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He was always willing to serve with all the energy he had, and loved everyone as the Lord loves us. Luke taught us God is in everything. I remember him standing up after another week of camp had passed. Luke told us he saw God through being able to throw a Frisbee again. He taught us God is in every victory and lesson learned. Hundreds of kids saw Christ in one way or another this summer at camp. I think if they looked at Luke, they would know the kind of person Jesus calls us to be.
Luke, I love thinking about you "made whole in heaven". I love picturing you playing Frisbee, games, and standing with our Heavenly Father. You taught us so much about what it means to be a servant of God and to do His good work. I am so thankful for the amazing work you have done in our lives.
Thank you for everything,
Hello friends. For the next week we will be posting a series of tributes written in honor Luke. If you'd like to write or suggest a tribute, please let me know. This one was written by Holly Corr. Holly and her husband Joey are long time friends of ours, and Holly has graciously volunteered to clean our home for the past couple of years as we cared for Luke.
Luke: "Oh no, what season are you on (for Gilmore Girls)?"
Me: "I'm a season behind you but I'll just wear my headphones while I clean."
And sometimes he would say no and change it to another show, or sometimes he would watch Gilmore Girls anyway.
Two years ago in August, I started my cleaning business after much prayer. I KNOW God led me in that direction because I was going to be able to contribute financially to our family. But God's path is never just one dimensional. It is a work of art...a multi-layered path. God said yes to the cleaning business to also bless me by having me bless others. I am so honored to say that for the past two years I have cleaned for my friends James and Laura. I am honored because I had no idea that cleaning for them would allow me to get to know them better, along with Sam, Jay and Luke.
There are so many things I loved about walking into their home and yes, I'll admit, sometimes I walked in with apprehension because I would never know how Luke was feeling. But my momma taught me to walk in anyway. And that kid...that LUKE! Yes, I saw him at some weak times but also some wonderful ones, despite his condition. This boy lit UP one day when his dad returned home from a conference and another time when Grandpa Granger entered the room. This boy L-O-V-E-D his momma. It always made me laugh that he would watch Band of Brothers or the Walking Dead with his dad and then watch Gilmore Girls with his mom, always pausing the show if she left the room for a minute...so they wouldn't miss anything. This boy got me hooked on Gilmore Girls and other teen shows I'm not exactly proud to admit. Oh, Luke.
Just over a month ago, I showed up to clean as a friend of Luke's was leaving to get him some kind of coffee that, according to Luke, would take away this friend's man card. I started to work but Luke stopped me. "Sit, sit," he said pointing to the chair next to him. He wanted to understand a conversation he had overheard me having on my cell as I had walked into the house. He and I sat and talked for like an hour. I learned so much in that hour: Luke loved skyscrapers and has been to many. Luke knew city sky lines by looking at the pictures. Luke was interested in other people's perspectives...and was not afraid of his own opinion! Luke liked to beat the snot out of you when playing any and every game ever made (hey, thanks, Luke, for giving me a 30 second head start on the Rubix's cube game even though I needed a few hours to even understand what was going on). I had no idea this was the only time I would get to spend with just Luke. I had no idea it was the last time I would get to see him at all.
I've been thinking since yesterday, how do we let go? How can we let go? So many of us feel like Luke belonged to us. He was in our church family, our community, our friendships, our hearts. But he didn't belong to us. He belonged to our Savior and our God has him now, as we know. We are just left here wondering how the rest of life looks without his sweet and generous gestures and that famous Luke grin.
Just before I actually started working that day in July, Luke, along with Sam, Laura and Mark Burley, watched a video that had just been released by Macklemore: Glorious. The video (even though a part of it made Luke blush a little) was an amazing tribute to the singer's grandmother and the song will always remind me of you, Luke Granger, standing now in the presence of GLORY!
Love you Luke!