Jan 27th, 2013

The happiest place on earth


One of the girls’ Christmas presents this year was a visit to Disneyland. We were supposed to fly to California the day after Christmas and spend a day riding rides and meeting characters, and if Lenya had her way, eating lots of cotton candy. Things turned out very different. Our airplane took off without us as we stood shedding tears in a snowy cemetery.

A smaller, stunned and broken-hearted version of our family eventually made it to California. We hadn’t kept the trip a surprise so they had all been talking about it for several months and had mapped out which rides we should go on while we were there and in what order. Though she wasn’t with us, we headed to Lenya’s first choice and rode it right off the top. It was all bittersweet. We have terrific memories of her all over the park, from previous trips, that we cherished and were stung by as we laughed, smiled and cried our way through the day.

One of Disneyland’s nicknames is, “The Happiest Place on Earth” and, even though adults love to bag on this title because of the long lines and dollar signs, I think it is pretty fantastic. Especially when you experience it through the eyes of your kids. The sights, smells and sensations are all carefully crafted to be warm, bright and exciting. That was Walt Disney’s whole idea, to build a utopia for children of all ages, a perfect little world where fantasy is reality and dreams do come true–if you wish upon a star. Of course it’s all fake. There is a dude inside the Mickey costume, you can’t live in the castle, and it all closes at end of day.

The good news is that Jesus said that there really is a place like the one Walt tried to create, where every dream comes true. It’s not the Magic Kingdom, but the Messiah’s Kingdom. It’s called Heaven. He promised that there is room for us in His Father’s House and that He would bring us there one day. My daughter Lenya is there with Him right now. The Bible also promises that the day is coming when all of Heaven will come down and be permanently fused to the new Earth. When that day comes there will be no unhappy places on the planet. All of earth will be as cheerful as It’s a Small World, but much less creepy.

What gave us great joy as we waited in line for Dumbo, one of Lenya’s very favorite rides, ate six dollar churro’s, and took photos that have a conspicuous absence in them, was the thought that Lenya is in the place Disneyland is trying to be. Paradise. Though we wished desperately she could be there with us we held on to the comforting reality that she was not missing out on the fun. We were. Our sadness was for us and not for her. We wanted her there with us to laugh at the silly faces we made for the camera at the end of Space Mountain, to meet Ariel and to spin furiously in the Mad Hatter’s Teacups because it would have been better for us. But returning to this fallen earth would not mean more fun for her but far less.

The reality is even the happiest place on earth, on it’s best day, can’t hold a candle to Heaven. Disneyland is like a cross between the DMV and the Dentist compared to the slightest sliver of what Heaven will be like. David said that one day in God’s courts are better than a thousand elsewhere. She is with the Lord in a perfect place and she has been made perfect too. In the Kingdom she is in there really are princesses living in the sparkly castle, and she is one of them. And maybe just maybe the animals really do talk where she is. We miss her with all our hearts and I have no doubt that she is looking forward to the day when we will see what she is seeing and experience what she is experiencing. I can’t wait. Until that day I want to reach as many people as possible so they can go there too.

Posted in family, Lenya Lion, raw thoughts


  1. Monica Tomchek Says:

    Wonderfully ministering.. For we are sad for you too! Praying for you and your family!

  2. I love how Clover is not totally sold on Pluto being a pal in the picture.
    When Lenya left, the things of this world grew even dimmer.
    What a day that reunion will be.

  3. Suellen Willis Says:

    I attend one of Pastor James MacDonald’s campuses. He told us about your family today. My heart ached for you all. I wanted to run home and look you up on the internet. You see, I lived in Belgrade, MT for 11 1/2 yrs. I have a special place in my heart for those that continue to live there.
    I am truly saddened that your family had to lose such a precious little girl. I am so thankful that we do have the HOPE that we will see those we love again! I too have a little boy in heaven. His name is Seth. I look forward to seeing him again! Until then I know he is in good hands.
    I will be praying for you all. Grief is a hard road. You don’t expect your children to die before you do. Somehow we are able to move on and “live” again on this earth, even though a part of us is gone.
    Take care and as we say at our church, “You are loved.”
    Suellen Willis

  4. Andrea Says:

    Much love to all of you… our hearts grieve with you, our prayers are with you, and we anticipate meeting your precious Lenya in heaven one day.

    Our little ones watched her celebration of life with us, and they were so excited to see a little child like them who loved Jesus and served Him every way she could…they still talk about her and can’t wait to meet her in heaven.

    Love you Lusko’s!

    Andrea, Jason, Jake and Sophie Mills

  5. Al and Glenda Meyer Says:

    What a wonderful message of hope and encouragement. We also are parents of a child that is at home with the Lord, and I am comforted that she is safe and happy in the arms of Jesus. She will never again be sick or feel pain. Thank you for reminding us that there are special places here on this earth to celebrate and enjoy with our families, but our biggest celebration will be our homecoming with our Loved ones and especially our Lord. When you were here in Riverside a few short weeks ago, your message made a big impact at our Orangecrest Satelite church campus. We saw several people make a profession of faith after you spoke. Levi, God is using you to continue to bless others, even in your pain. Thank You!

  6. Sara Trammel Says:

    We’re ready to storm the gates of hell with you! Heart and soul!

  7. Charis Says:

    Thank you for being real, honest and open even in the darkest of days!!! The enemy is being being defeated as we march on! In it heart and soul!! As always, not a day goes by that the Lusko’s aren’t in our prayers and on our minds!!

  8. Steve and Bonnie Williamson Says:

    Can’t wait to meet your little lion in heaven! But my heart breaks for your loss. We will continue in prayer for you and your beautiful girls. With much love and appreciation. Steve and Bonnie Williamson . michigan

  9. Jayne Hartman Says:

    Words can’t express how I have felt for you and Jennie in the last month plus. Beyond broken and saddened for you. Tears springing to my eyes when I see you or think of you and your family and yet each time it remind’sme to pray. Praying without ceasing has become more true in my life since the night of Lenya going to heaven. Heaven has become more real. Thank you for your unimaginable example, for letting God use you mightily in the midst of such heartache. We love you all so. Heart & Soul.

  10. Oh, Pastor Levi and Jennie, how bittersweet your Disneyland trip must have been with precious little Lenya missing…and yet you did just what she would have wanted you to do, going on all her favorite rides, eating cotton candy galore, and enjoying each other and the magic of Disneyland in her absence. I can barely express how moved I am by your words, not only in this entry, but every time I have heard you speak at church since little Lenya’s death…so raw and honest and with so much transparency… My husband and I grieve with you, though I do not know by experience the pain of losing a precious child. But we do have a 4 1/2 year old grandson that we adore, and could not imagine life here on earth without him… and though this is a dim comparison to what you are feeling, but it’s the only way I can relate to the pain you are experiencing. My husband and I pray for you every day, and appreciate you more than you will ever know… You have brought life, hope and expectancy back into our walk with the Lord, and that is priceless. With love, Mike and Gail

  11. Solis' Says:

    Heart and Soul

  12. Kathryn Berg Says:

    Tears in my eyes as I write…a reflection of your love for the church God has given you and the witness of your love and trust in Him “through the valley of the shadow of death”. I keep thinking, “I’ll bet God did take Lenya to heaven on a “winged horse”…why not?! After all, he is our heavenly Father and can do anything and would want to do anything for his precious Lenya.” One day we’ll know for sure.

    Levi and Jennie, we’re just so grateful for your famiy and for your ministry here. You are making such a difference in the lives of so many, as I said before, including mine. My whole focus and perspective has changed. Knowing Christ isn’t the most important thing; it’s the ONLY immportant thing! And, my purpose and goal in this life (and, hopefully, like Lenya, my legacy will be)to make known His love. God bless you. KB

  13. Cynthia Baber Says:

    Cynthia Baber Says:
    Thank you so much for sharing this Disneyland trip;your feelings and Jesus at work in the midst.WOW I stand in awe- that had to be a bittersweet trip and you guys persevered through, trusting in His faithfulness.Thank you for being so transparent and raw through your deepest pain.I saw a lot of Cameron in Lenya from the videos. She was bold and now she and Cameron are in glory- ‘I can only imagine.’ What a special couple you are-may He continue to use all your pain/tears for His glory!

  14. Even in your grief you and Jennie are faithful and you are bold. Such an inspiration for us all. Heart and soul, we stand with you in love. And Alivia, your skirt and your mouse ears are beautiful!

  15. alana myers Says:

    still praying for your continued comfort, peace, and perspective as only our Lord can give.

  16. Jeanie Haugestuen Says:

    Continuing to hold you up in prayer and giving thanks for your wonderful testimony.

  17. Joshua Says:

    Amazing post. Praying for you all.

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