Oct 8th, 2013

two hundred and ninety one

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It has been 291 days since my Lenya Lion breathed her final breath here on earth and then shed her body like a cloak as she stepped into Heaven. Two hundred and ninety times I have had to wake up in a world I like a little less for her absence from it. The only thing worse than waking to that painful realization, yet again, is trying to go to sleep with it lying on my chest like a weight.

The crack of light under the door seeping into my room often bothers me as I lay in bed unable to sleep. I know that light is coming from a hallway in which is her bedroom. I know that she is not there tucked in her bed. I cannot go and check on her, kiss her forehead, pull her blankets up tight around her or watch her chest rise and fall as she dreams.

Fortunately, I know that she is not in the grave where we buried her body either. She is in Paradise, in the presence of God. By whatever measure of time that is used in Heaven, these 291 days has been as glorious for her as they have been bitter here. She has the knowledge that we only have in part down below. She is basking fully in the glory of God that we can only handle a hint of while we are in these frail, fallen bodies. She is safe and will never experience pain or suffer ever again. Lenya has arrived.

She also knows and understands how God is using the pain we have endured and are carrying to make us more like Jesus, the King of Kings, who she gets to walk with and speak to. When I call that to mind, the exceeding weight of glory that is being produced in us, this present affliction is put in it’s proper place — it morphs from an insurmountable mountain of grief and sorrow into a temporary, light affliction.

As a dad it is unspeakably difficult to be be separated from my little girl and absolutely unable to get to her. It’s scary enough to put your kid on a bus to go to school where they are out of your supervision for eight hours.  It’s a whole different thing to see your kindergartener move to Heaven with out you, and to have had no time to prepare or chance to say goodbye either.

In the most difficult moments what I must do is intentionally remember the fact that I am moving towards her not away from her. Every day that passes brings me closer to my day of arrival in eternity. There are two hundred and ninety one less days until we are reunited. And while I can’t get to her, until that day I CAN do things that register excitement in Heaven and bring joy to her heart and the heart of God. I can focus on Jesus and live for His glory — the same glory that illuminates Heaven like the sun and lights up her face. I can focus on lost people being found and seek to fill that Land with new citizens.

Posted in Lenya Lion


  1. You and your precious family never fail to encourage me! Even in my hard times you remind me that we can still be used by God to point them to the cross of Christ!

  2. What a blessing to know that we will see them all again! I praise God knowing that my Dad, who passed away at 43, when I was 17, is up there getting everything ready for when we come to join them.

  3. J.Jenkins Says:

    what a beautiful way to express you deep sorrow in the loss of your sweet child.And what a great way to remember you are only moving closer to the real happiness. Levi you have made such a change in so many peoples life. I am not sure if you can ever fully know how much. I know in my house you have. We were not really following Jesus in my home. I taught my children about God and as much of the Bible that I knew , even though I never fully read it . But when you did the O2 Esperance here in Boise I knew it was a sign that we needed a change in our home. So we went to see you and we where blown away. You made such a impact on my 2 young adult boys that both of them gave there life’s to Jesus that night. And as a mother I want to say Thank You. God has used you in such a beautiful way to help his children understand where there home really is. Don’t ever change Levi.

  4. You and I have same pain. It has been 3-month Ian left us.
    Ian was 5- year old sweat and friendly my first boy.
    Jesus made this not a real one. It is just a shade of death. So we can stand. We can praise Jesus.
    Every in the morning I have to reset that accident with God’ view. But it is still painful.
    I am korean who moved in hacienda heights. CA. 6 years ago. So my english is not good. But we have same pain and same hope. Have a good day in Jesus

  5. Serra Bruflodt Says:

    Levi, like so many of your sermons on death, there really aren’t any words for us to say. But I can tell say that your testimony is like a rushing wave. It really impacts people’s hearts. I teach Sunday school at Harvest OC. I’ve had the privilege and honor of having this beautiful little one in my class. And now, sometimes Clover. Coming from someone who is a daddy’s girl, my dad is my best friend, my hero, my spiritual leader. Although I’m not little anymore, I am still his little girl. And Lenya is still yours. Thank you for sharing your story. You and Jenny are truly shining for Jesus. And that light you talk about… it flows and radiates. And we all feel Lenya in our hearts. Harvest OC continues to pray for you both and we absolutely LOVE having you at our church. You’re family. Thank you again Levi. Christ alone, cornerstone.

  6. Lisa Brown Says:

    This sweet story about your sweet Lenya is full of your love for her.
    It completely describes me when I think of my precious 16 year old.
    She left for school and little did I know I would not see her in this world again.
    It’s been a long 2,016 days since I’ve seen her but I know that to her that time is minute!!
    Thank you for sharing and I look forward til we are all together in the midst of our Heavenly Father!!!

  7. Sonia Werk Says:

    I see that many times God strengthens leaders through tradegy. They come to a crossroads…. and at that crossroad they have a choice given by God. To see past the external and temporal and press into the upward calling of Christ Jesus or they can keep their eyes down, self focused, bound and captive by their own sorrow and pain. You and Jennie have chosen that higher road and it is for the good of the body and the glory of God! I listen to you via iPhone app and I ask the Lord to continue to strengthen you and use you. His plan is OH SO BIG and Sweet Lenya is reaping the rewards of it all right now! I am so deeply encouraged by you and Jennie- as is all the body that see, hear, and love you! LUKE 4:18

  8. Tracy Douglas Says:

    To the Lusko family: I do not know you personally, but I have been drawn to your sweet family when I saw a picture of Lenya with Crystal Lewis on instagram. I soon then found out that the little girl I gazed at had went to be with Jesus. After that I began to follow you and read your blogs. They are so heart felt and bring tears to my eyes. My husband and I pastor a church in Ozark, Alabama and have 3 children. We both have watched some of your ministry archives. Although I have never experienced your pain of losing a child, I have experienced your love for a child. Your love for Jesus and your family radiates loud to the world. Im so glad I discovered your family. Prayers will continue to go up from Ozark, Alabama!

  9. Ruth Martin Says:

    My husband and I desired to have children with all of our heart. Sadly, both times we were pregnant our babies were born absent of life. It is a daily struggle but we know that our children our in heaven playing with all of the beautiful little children like your sweet little Lenya who has gone home to be with Jesus. Our hope is in the promise that one day we will be reunited with our loved ones and never will we have to say goodbye again. The absence of children in our home is difficult, but the promise of eternity with them at our side brings joy to our soul! They are safe, protected and well loved in His care. Yes, Jesus loves the little children…all the children of the world!

  10. Renee Says:

    I also listen to you on my phone app from Chattanooga, TN…heard your name when I was listening to Greg Laurie and then found your website. Only then did I learn about your sweet little Lenya … what a horrific heartbreaking experience for you and your family. Because you are sharing your loss and express your innermost feelings with, I can’t help but feel a part of your suffering and also a part of the joy of knowing she is at home. She is home with our Savior and all the brothers and sisters in God’s family. As my heart aches for your loss, I can’t help but enjoy a vision of Pastor Chuck reading a story to her. Thank you for your gift of teaching and for being so open. Praying for you!

  11. Beautifully said Levi! I am praying for you often brother!

  12. Man I am so so sorry for your loss. I pray that your frequent, raw and poignant postings on the loss of your daughter are cathartic, and that they lead people to Jesus, who is giving you the strength to get through this almost unspeakable loss :(

  13. Michelle McMichael Says:

    Dear friend in Jesus. I too lost a precious daughter age 33. It doesnt matter what as ge our children go to Heaven to spend eternity with our Lord, it is a parents worstworst nightmare. But the Bible says “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” These words have helped heal my aching heart for the past 17 years. And this life on earth is just a blink of the eye compared to eternity!!!my Julie and your Lenya are dancing in Gods beautiful meadows together so very happy and joyful. We will all be together sooner than weknow as THE RAPTURE spproaches. All our loved ones who have gone before us are waiting with open arms. God bless and keep you and your family. You are in my prayers.

  14. God bless you.
    I’m writing you from another continent and yet I feel close to you in my heart. The great divide between us, oceans and land, doesn’t separate a sense of our humanity as fathers or as people that can feel deep loss. The division of our earth-bound plane and that of heaven is an eternal divide but sometimes it’s as thin as a veil of mist. Pain, so rejected by all of us, is that place where we can feel God’s hand in that mist almost tangibly.
    Your pain, through God’s grace, has brought you closer to the God you serve.
    Thanks for bringing me and many others closer to the heart of God today.

    tracy richardson lisbon portugal

  15. Pastor Levi,

    I was so touched by your sermon tonight. As I sat on the second row in the Matthews campus, quietly attentive to your every word, I couldn’t help but mourn inside. Sorry upon sorry. You know that pain it just comes over you when you want to breathe but you can’t get a full breath. It feels like your chest is going to cave in. Its the feeling we so often are left to endure after sudden loss of a loved one. I lost my late husband of 20 years to what they tell me was suicide. I mourn for the loss of my former best friend, the father of my kids taken too soon but even more recently a couple friend of mine had a baby whose heart just stopped beating in the birth canal. She had a normal pregnancy, labor but all of a sudden no heartbeat. It has been overwhelming for all involved. I know that only God knows what happened and just like me and you they will never know why this life was taken from them. I sat silently as you spoke because as many times as I wanted to say, AMEN or YES no words came out. The tears I cried were also for the midwife who attended their birth. She is so heavy, I think people forget even the medical professionals know that heavy chest feeling & mourn the loss too. It is traumatizing for all. Thank you again for sharing your pain on such a personal level. I believe God smiles when we rise above & fight through the pain. I am looking forward to hearing my God say those precious words, “well done.”

  16. Madison Says:

    She’s still with us

  17. Dear Pastor Levi, Jennie, and family,
    Although I have never met your family, I want you to know that Lenya has has a very big impact on my life. After hearing Pastor Levis message last year for Christmas about the light shining in the darkness, God profoundly used Lenyas legacy to prompt me to meet my Savior. Literally seconds before I heard that message almost one year ago, I thought, “this is the darkest time in my life,” and right after that I heard Jesus tell me, “That’s why I came, that’s what Christmas is all about. I want to shine light in your darkness.” It was then that my Mom asked me to watch that Christmas service online. Jesus spoke so lovingly though that message that brought a ray of hope into my life. I remember thinking, “How can this person be preching after his daughter died.” I marveled over Gods strength that I saw in you Pastor Levi. I did the same when I saw you Jennie speak about your daughter at her memorial service. That service spoke volumes to me. I saw this little girl who had such great, simple faith. She loved Jesus so much and was so free. At the time, I was so in bondage to fear and depression that this idea of this was so wonderful. Lenyas life spoke volumes to me of what my life could be. I too could have that simple child-like faith. I too could love Jesus and be His child. I too could know a God who would lavish His love on me. I too could live in that kind of freedom, totally rid of anxiety and depression. I too could have life. Well, at the end of January, I met the Jesus Lenya loved and served and God used her to bring me to a true relationship with Him. I want you all to know I still remember your family my prayers and am grateful that I got to know yor little girls story. I will never forget Lenya because she was someone along the road I met to my Savior. She helped lead me to Him. year later, I remember her and reflect on how she was used by God. I am truly sorry for your loss and I want your family to know that I will continue to pray for your family. Gd has used all your lives to change me. Thank you for being obident to the Lord, for being an example, for yeilding to the Spirit in difficult storms, and for shining the light of Christ to others. Thank you Pastor Levi for posting this about your daughter. I am one of the lost now found. One of the new citizens of that Land.

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