Lenya Lion Category
Two years ago today I woke up in a home with five beautiful girls sleeping soundly in their beds. My wife and my four little daughters. Alivia and Clover shared a room, as did Lenya and Daisy. All of us in neat little couplets. Happy.
For 24 months full of difficult days we have fallen asleep as a family of five. The symmetry in our lives has been thrown off kilter. One of our little saplings has been transplanted from our nursery to the wild forest above.
On this two year mark my heart is filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude. I am thankful that I was given the honor of being Lenya’s dad. I felt her kick inside her mom’s tummy and chose her name. I was there when she was born and have loved her fiercely every day since. Being a father to daughters is the best job I ever had.
I am thankful for the way her move to Heaven has lightened my touch on this earth. I am thankful for every tear that has fallen and every sigh that has escaped my lips – for each one has been answered with strength from on high. As a family we bear a scar that will never go away, but we brandish it as proof of sustaining grace.
The name of the game the first year was survival. We did all we could to keep moving so as to not fall asleep and die in the snow. It wasn’t pretty but we made it. The second year I spent most of my free time writing. I feared that the lessons learned in the crucible of great pain might have been written in evaporating ink – if they weren’t preserved they would be lost. So I wrote like the devil was chasing me. Through the Eyes of a Lion is the result and I cannot wait for people to read it.
What awaits the Lusko family around the next river bend? Laughter and pain. Pleasure and sadness. Weeping and worship. Family day on Fridays. Lots of coffee. Preaching the Word. A generation called out to strength and honor. Jesus will build His church. All with a void, a conspicuous absence that keeps our thoughts tethered to our homeland, and eventually … we will be reunited with Lenya Lion in paradise.
Today is November 20, 2014. Exactly 23 months ago today my daughter Lenya left this world and went to be with Jesus. From that Thursday to this one it has been 100 weeks. She has been in Heaven for 700 days.
I think often about what age she will be when I see her next. How old will I be when I leave this world? What age are people in Heaven? Seeing the movie Interstellar has recently had me thinking about whether time in eternity passes differently than here below. In the film traveling through worm holes to a distant planet causes astronauts to only age an hour for every seven years back home.
While watching emotional scenes in the film where the ramifications of the relativity of time are realized I thought about how the Bible says that, “to the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day.” And I daydreamed about Heaven’s time.
Could it be that Lenya has already lived ten lifetimes full of bliss? Will I arrive in Heaven only moments after her? I don’t know. I am eager to hear from her about her experience–whatever and however much that may be.
Waking up 700 different mornings on a planet without her has been the greatest burden I have ever carried, but along with that has come the strength to keep soldiering on. I am so thankful for her and exceedingly grateful for the way God has used her relocation to Heaven to keep my thoughts and hearts buoyed to my true Homeland.
There have been 100 weeks of heartache, and 100 weeks of joy unspeakable. God has taught me to run with a limp and sustained me with power from on high.
Isaiah 46:4 I will continue to carry you even when you are old. I will take good care of you even when your hair is gray. I have made you. And I will carry you. I will take care of you. And I will save you. I am the LORD.
On Lenya Lion’s birthday back in September I shared the news that I had written a book in her honor. Last week I had the opportunity to travel to the Thomas Nelson headquarters and officially announce the title and share the heart behind it at the company’s national sales gathering.
The book is called Through the Eyes of a Lion. It is about how seeing life through the lens of faith will allow you to see the wild calling that is on your life and enable you to go through things that would be otherwise impossible. The book will definitely be helpful for hurting people but I didn’t write it to be a manual for grieving, but as a manifesto for a whole new high-octane way of living. It’s not a book about death, it’s about life.
It has been tremendously exciting for me to work on this project for the last year and while it has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done, it has been thrilling at the same time. I am really excited for this message to be set free. It gives me great joy to think of God continuing to use my daughter’s life and story to bless people.
Right now I am in the midst of the editing phase. The manuscript is being bounced back and forth between me and two different editors and being fine-tuned and tweaked along the way. I thought I would have a hard time with the editing process…but it has actually opened my eyes to see weaknesses I didn’t know were there and I am so happy with how much better the material is for it–even though a few paragraphs I worked really hard on have hit the cutting room floor grrrr! Something I have been keeping in mind along the way is that the process is the product.
The book is set to release on Tuesday, August 4th and I will be updating you as the process continues to move forward.
Happy October everybody! I have been thinking of this date, October 1st, for a long, long time. In addition to it being the first date of the NW Skull Church tour it is also the due date for the manuscript of my book Thomas Nelson. I have writer friends who have told me you can always get an extension but I really wanted to get it in on time. And I did! We clicked send together all as a family and sent my final draft off to Thomas Nelson! It really was exciting and a special moment for us as a family. The journey has been difficult and God has been faithful. I really believe in this project and I can’t wait to see God use it as it goes out far and wide.
Being in Spokane is also extra special as we have come to this city many, many times together as a family. Lenya’s allergist was here and when she was really young and had health problems we came here for her to see nutrition specialists. We are believing God is going to do big things through this Skull Church tour. If you can’t make it to Spokane, you can join us on the webcast 7pm pacific at skullchurch.com. Blessings!
On this day seven years ago at 11:04 am Lenya Avery Lusko was born into this world. It was such a wild and exciting time for us as we suddenly became a family of four. We were 8 months into our church plant, still very much getting used to life in Montana and we couldn’t possibly have been more excited to have this native of the Treasure state coming into our home. A cute little Lenya Lion cub had joined our pride.
After five wonderfully thrilling years with her in our lives she was summoned by the King to join Him in Paradise. Like an arrow loosed from the string she flew to the Target and struck the mark. Bullseye. There is a void in our quiver, but even more determination in our hearts to live for what matters most–an abundant entrance into Heaven and an effective life for Jesus along the way.
As we now come to September 8 for the second time without her on earth we do so with broken hearts. What would the Lenya Lion look like as a seven year old? How different would the chemistry and dynamic of our home be if her spunky personality were still an everyday factor and not just memory and a future hope? These questions have no answers here on earth but there will come a day when I will see clearly and I will be able to give the endless birthday hugs and kisses my heart aches for.
I am very excited to finally announce a secret that I have saved for this day. It is a birthday present for our beauty girl. For the last year I have been writing a book in Lenya’s honor! It has been a difficult journey that has tested my faith and more than once felt like it was more than I could bear, but it has also been an enormous privilege. I am thrilled to announce that Thomas Nelson will be publishing this project. Sometime in 2015 it will be released. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I can’t wait to see what God will do with it. Happy Birthday Len Len! I love you with my whole heart and God is going to make the devil pay.