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Luke’s Story

Luke was diagnosed with leukemia (AML) on October 2, 2007, a few weeks before his 7th birthday.  Over several months, Luke faced chemo, radiation, and two bone marrow transplants.

Luke lost his fight to cancer May 6, 2010.  We miss him deeply every day.  Our comfort and hope is in knowing that Luke is safe and happy in heaven.  He's laughing, playing, and joking around with loved ones, and face-to-face with his loving Creator.  And one day, we will be with him again.  I love you more, Lukey!

"Here is what I am commanding you to do. Be strong and brave. Do not be terrified. Do not lose hope. I am the Lord your God. I will be with you everywhere you go."

Luke wrote this for his second grade class in March 09.  It seems like an appropriate introduction, since it shows how he views this fight against cancer:

Hi. My name is Luke, and my life so far has been an adventure.

I was born November 28, 2000 -- that makes me 8 ¼ years old. I was born in Vancouver, but we moved to our home in Battle Ground when I was 5 years old. My brother Jake is my best friend. I also have a little sister named Tori. My dad is the principal of the middle school and the high school at King’s Way. My mom is the best mom in the world (at least to me). We go to Hockinson Community Church, where my Papa is the pastor and my cousins are there.

Last year, I had leukemia. Leukemia is a kind of cancer that goes in your blood. I had to spend most of my 1st grade living at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Even though I was sick, I had fun there. They had video games and a playroom. They even had a fridge where our family could put our food.

I got a Wii when we were there, and we hooked it up to the TV in my room. We played it for a long time. My family called me the “Spare King” on the Wii bowling game. I played Wii baseball against one of the doctors. There was a nurse’s assistant named Kathy who used to tickle me. I would tease her by taking pictures of her. People sure do a good job at Doernbecher!

When I was at Doernbecher, I met a kid named Austin who had the same leukemia as me. Austin and my brother Jake and I became good friends. We would have a ton of Nerf gun fights in the hallways at night. Austin did not make it through cancer. At least he is with God right now!

Last summer my family and I got to go to a place called the Caring Cabin. The Caring Cabin was a cool place next to a little lake, and close to the beach. I had a blast, and so did my cousins! After that I got to do a “Make A Wish.” I chose to go to San Diego. When we were in San Diego, we got to go swimming at the hotel. We went to Lego Land, Sea World, and (last but not least) the San Diego Zoo. It was an awesome summer! I can’t wait until this summer.

I’m glad God made me. He is very important to me. There would be no love without God. I know that Jesus died on the cross to take away my sins because He loved me so much. When I was sick with leukemia, I wouldn’t have made it without God. It wasn’t just the medicine; it was God. He has plenty more plans for me!

Luke Jensen

Latest Journal Update

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

[I hope you enjoy our photo.  We took this last summer on our family vacation to Central Oregon.  The original idea was that this "wax lips" picture would go on our Christmas cards.  Well, we didn't send out any Christmas cards... so here you go!] 

As we look back on 2011, we are thankful that the Lord has been faithful through good times and hard times.  There’s no getting around the fact that life without Luke is very difficult and painful.  We never stop missing him.  We will never get used to it or get over it.  Just when any of us think that our days are getting easier, those feelings come back like a crashing, suffocating wave.  This is not to say that we live each day depressed and gloomy, but we do live a shorter distance between laughter and tears.  Any of you who have experienced significant loss know what I’m trying to express.  There is a bundle of loss that we carry, and the trick is learning to carry it in a way that we can still function and live with purpose.  Quite simply, we just can’t do that without God carrying us.

So, I begin with “Happy New Year”, and then I hit you with that morsel of joy.  (Have you ever seen the old “Debby Downer” sketches on Saturday Night Live? Cue the sad trumpet: “Wah Waaaah”)  Well, the thing that we’ve come to learn is that this is just how grief works.  It’s not a straight line from loss to restoration.  You don’t measure recovery in days or chart progress in clear steps and stages.  Grief is messy business.  

I don’t share this in order that anyone feel sorry for us.  We have more than enough of that.  I share this in order to attempt a proper answer of the sincere question: “How are you doing?” (a question I truly appreciate) I have answered this question various ways, from the safe answer (“pretty good”), to the sarcastic “fantastic!”, to the more honest “I don’t really know”.  A thoughtful question deserves a thoughtful answer.

I have many reasons to be thankful, and I’m especially thankful for the love in our family.  We are so proud of Tori and Jake, and so happy to see their smiles and successes.  Jake has made a great transition into seventh grade this year.  He’s played football for the first time, and absolutely loved it.  He’s enjoying being back in basketball now, and is managing to balance sports with school work (much better than I did when I was in seventh grade).  Jake talks more freely about Luke than he was able to a few months ago.  I love hearing his stories of favorite Luke memories, or seeing his spot-on Luke impersonation.  Vikki and I love the fact that Jake continues to be caring, thoughtful, and enjoyable to be around (mostly).  I just cannot express how proud I am of that courageous young man.  For her part, Tori is always finding ways to honor Luke.  She has claimed his favorite stuffed animals, some of his clothes (like his cherished polar-bear pajama pants), and even his favorite color.  Tori changed her favorite color from pink to light blue, one more way to honor her brother.  As we may have mentioned before, Tori is the one who talks about Luke the most.  She’s not afraid to tell you that she misses her brother deeply, but can somehow do that with her beautiful sunshine delivery.  Yeah, I’m very proud of that amazing girl.

We are thankful for great (yet often bittersweet) memories in 2011.  I am thankful for the amazing “Luke’s Lego-cy Carnival”, that so many of you attended last May, which raised over $16,000 for our favorite charities.  I’m thankful for the very cool “Luke’s Local Artists” event that Ryan Foote put together, which also raised several thousand dollars.  I am so thankful for the new county ballpark, being built next to our school, that will be named “Luke Jensen Sports Park” -- that it soooo cool!   And I’m thankful that God has equipped me to move into this current school year with a greater sense of purpose and conviction than ever before -- I’m so thankful, in fact, that I have the great privilege to serve the Lord at King’s Way.

This Christmas season was probably easier than last year’s, if only because it wasn’t our first without Luke.  My low point: When stuffing the stockings on Christmas Eve, I couldn’t figure out what to do with Luke’s stocking, and I just broke down.  My high point was the next morning, watching Tori, Jake (and Vikki) so happy and appreciative for their gifts.   Another high point of the Christmas season was “borrowing” items from my mom’s nativity scene and taking them on a photo tour.  (

Years ago, when I was still a teenager, I adopted a life motto: “Never satisfied, always content”.  The idea was that I should always be pushing forward with purpose, working toward a goal (Never satisfied -- Philippians 3:12-14).  At the same time, I am to be ever-thankful for where the Lord has me, with the peace and confidence that the Lord is in control of my circumstances (Always content -- Philippians 4:11-13).  Now, twenty years later, I see that there’s a catch.  How can we be fully content in a life that has suffering?  Am I supposed to be numb to pain, in denial of my loss?  

This is where hope comes in.  Not just hope for the sake of hope, and not just wishful thinking.  We have hope in Christ, that He has given us new life through the power of his resurrection.  It is a hope for my future -- that one day I will be face-to-face with my Creator, the very one who has carried me each day. That there will be no more tears, sickness, or heartache, and that we will see our son again.  This hope serves to close the distance between “what is” and “what will be”, which means I can be content in the midst of the pain.  It is a hope for my future, but also for today.  It means that I can put my eyes on today, on the life in front of me, and live with joy and purpose.  

As I’ve said, many of you can relate to this.  Those of us who have experienced significant loss (grief, divorce, abuse... we all have known some form of loss) understand the unending thirst to feel wholeness, comfort, peace.  How do you quench this thirst?  What do you place your hope in?

I don’t know what lies ahead in 2012 and beyond.  I do know that it will bring some crazy mixture of highs and lows.  I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to what God has in store for the year ahead, and I’m confident He will be faithful every day.  It’s for that reason that I can say: Happy New Year

Steve Jensen