Book tour!

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I am so excited to announce an Eyes of A Lion book tour coming this fall! Come to one of these events with a person in your life who has had to face a sad season or doesn’t know Jesus. We will talk about the anchor we have for our souls and how impossible pain can lead to incredible power! I believe every one of these stops will be supernatural and Heaven will touch earth.

The message at each event will be filled with hope for people who are hurting and an opportunity for lost to be found. It is also an opportunity to give Lenya’s life a chance to continue to impact people. I’ll talk about major themes from the book (and maybe you’ll even have a chance to hear from my wife Jennie and daughters Alivia, Daisy and Clover!) There will be music from our band featuring original songs written after Lenya went to heaven and media elements giving a personal glimpse into her life.

Stay tuned to www.eyesofalion.com for more details on each of our tour stops. Our family hopes to see you there!


Lusko Family Launch Event for Through the Eyes of a Lion

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Yesterday was one of those all-time milestone days in life.  You only ever get to release your first book one time.  We spent a lot of the day on airplanes but we were able to do something very special right after we arrived back in Montana.  One of the themes in the book is running toward the roar — facing things you fear so they can’t chase you. The problem with running away from things you are frightened of is that they will always be right there ready to haunt you when you least expect it. We decided that one of the ways that we wanted to celebrate the launch of the book was to practice what I wrote about and face something that frightened us.

We hadn’t been back in the hospital Lenya was taken to the night she went to Heaven in two and a half years. I drive by it almost every day (which is hard enough) but hadn’t been back inside since the early morning hours of December 21, 2012. A few months ago the thought hit me that inevitably life would force my hand. Me or someone I love will eventually need stitches, have an accident or end up for some reason in the ER that will necessitate a trip to the place where we experienced a living nightmare. I decided that I would rather have our return be on our terms and by our choice. It is always better to happen to your life than to have your life happen to you.

We brought copies of our book with us for all the emergency room employees and with a prayer for strength parked our car and marched in through doors we came out in desperate shock on that cold winter’s night. Was it easy? No. Did we get somewhat stunned by flashbacks and even feel nauseous because of the way smells triggered memories? Yes. But am I glad we did it? Absolutely. Walking in there was scary, but now it has no power over me.

We also went to the emergency services building the ambulance we rode in the night Lenya went to heaven was deployed from, and brought copies of the book to the paramedics and firefighters serving there. The men on each end of this pic were part of the crew that answered the 911 call on December 20, 2012 that I talk about in chapter 3. They came to our aid when we needed them and fought for my daughter. For that I will always appreciate and honor them.

I don’t know what it will mean for you today but I pray God gives you the strength to run TOWARD the roar. Once you face what you are freaked out by you don’t have to live in fear of it.

Do you have a roar story to share? You can do that here. (Look for the panel that says submit your story.)

Have you bought the book yet? You can do that here.

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Merry Christmas from Montana!

Our hearts are full of gratitude and adoration because of the gift of Christmas and the triumphant power of Jesus Christ our Lord. Our Savior fit into a womb and then grew up and destroyed the tomb! With hearts full of living hope we wish you a merry Christmas!

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(click the image to view our digital Christmas card)

And just so you know the entire Fresh Life Christmas worship experience will be streaming from beginning to end starting over every two hours. Click here to check it out.


10 years of Levi and Jennie

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Ten years ago today Jennie and I were married! It is exciting to have reached this milestone and have spent a decade together. I really can’t believe she married me in the first place, and the spell hasn’t worn off a bit. In fact, my love for her has only grown as I have watched her become more and more the woman Jesus wants her to be.

In the book of Genesis there is a man named Jacob who had to wait and work for seven years before he could marry Rachel, the woman of his dreams, but he didn’t mind. The seven years seemed as only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. When you love someone the things you do for them are a joy not a sacrifice. I can’t help but relate as I think back on these ten years. Time has passed quickly, difficult things have been diluted and joy has been enhanced by her presence in my life.

Not that it’s been easy. Uprooting from the city and pioneering a multi-site church in rural America, a demanding schedule of outreach events, an allergy to complacency and having four kids along the way has kept our calendar packed and our life wild. Friction and conflict are frequent realities. Jennie and I have a great marriage today, but it’s not by accident and it didn’t happen on it’s own. We have worked hard and fought for it. We have invested in our friendship, cultivated it and as a result we get to enjoy the fruit.

On the one year anniversary of Lenya going to Heaven Jennie and I were standing in the cemetery holding each other and Alivia took a photo of the two of us. When I looked at it later it hit me that this is not what anyone has in mind when they dream about marriage. You usually think about all your plans for the future coming to pass. Thats why looks, chemistry, money, and things you have in common, are ranked so highly.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those things of course, but how will they be when life goes worse instead of better? I know that back when we were dating I never pictured us shedding tears over the grave of a child together. I pictured us kissing on the top of the Empire State Building and preaching the gospel ’til our last breath, our kids beside us like little arrows.

The highest praise I can give to Jennie is that it has been an honor to suffer with her. It’s not the good times that show what is really inside, it takes pain filled moments to reveal character, and she has suffered magnificently. As it turns out our dreams and nightmares have come to pass together. We have kissed 102 floors above the twinkling lights of Manhattan, done ministry across the country together AND cried until we ran out of tears when one of our little arrows flew unexpectedly to heaven. In it all it has been a privilege to do so as the husband of Mrs. Jennie Lusko. There is no one I would want to hurt with, laugh with, scheme with, cry with, trail-blaze with, hold onto hope with or get old with more than her.


Merry Christmas from the Lusko family!

We are endlessly thankful for Jesus who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel! Merry Christmas from our home to yours.


The Year of the Eagle

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“I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Exodus 19:4

The other night at bed time we were tucking Alivia and Daisy in. We were talking about how we were close to the one year mark of Lenya being in Heaven. Alivia said, “Wait, how many days will that be?” “Three hundred and sixty five days,” I said. She looked surprised and sighed deeply. I asked, “How many days does it feel like it’s been to you?” She thought about it for a moment and then said, “Sometimes it feels like it’s only been two days and sometimes it feels like it’s been a thousand.”

She is exactly right. In some ways time has stood still. It seems like it was just a moment ago that we were clutching Lenya’s hands crying out to Jesus to send her back to us. The adrenaline, panic, hope and peace of that night seared all of that so deeply into my memory I can go there, whether I want to or not, very easily. In other ways it feels like we have lived a lifetime of grief and sadness, faith and worship in the last year and it is difficult to remember ever not having this thorn in the flesh.

As of today, Lenya has been in Heaven for exactly one year. She broke camp on December 20, 2012. Her earthly house, this tent, dissolved and she got to go Home. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. By earthly time, she has been there in Paradise for 12 months. The Bible says that to the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day so whether it has seemed as a moment to her, or an eternity, I don’t know. Perhaps like in C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” she has experienced more in this year than could fill 100 books, or maybe we will enter into eternity just moments after her.

There have been moments of unbelievable, incomprehensible pain in the last year. Having to walk into the waiting room and tell Alivia that her little sister and best friend is with Jesus. Standing in a snowy cemetery on the day after Christmas, watching as an all-too-small box is lowered into the earth. Coming across her favorite pair of boots, scuffed and beautiful. Seeing the notch marks on the pantry door where we measure the girls height continue to shoot up for her sisters while Lenya’s stays still, frozen in time at December 15, the last time she put her back to the door and giggled (and tried to get away with standing tiptoed) while we drew a line. I get sick to my stomach and nearly hyperventilate whenever I see someone giving CPR in a movie. Ambulance sirens make me lightheaded too.

But there has been breathtaking beauty too. God’s presence has been palpable. I have never known Him so closely or sensed His Spirit so strong as in this season of sorrow. If it weren’t for this pain I would not understand His strength the same way. I have screamed in the night and sunk to my knees in despair only to rise to my feet with supernatural strength that was not my own. We have felt Him hold us and breathe life into us while our hands were shaking and our hearts were aching. The name of the Lord has been a tower to run to, a shield to hide behind, a song to sing and a banner over us. The Spirit of Jesus has wet cracked lips, dried wet eyes, and defanged our fears.

Added to that is the way we have seen the Lord use our story and Lenya’s life. Our pain has been a microphone. The more it hurts the louder it gets. We have not only been able to minister to many other hurting and suffering people who are facing similar waters, but the Lord has broken us in ways that has allowed us to speak to people who might not have ever listened otherwise. We believe that nothing is wasted. Jesus has put to use what He has put us through and we know He will continue to.

The ramp-up for Christmas has been very hard because all around us are reminders of painful moments, but they are also reminders of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Yes, when I see a lit-up tree or hear a Christmas carol it makes me remember what we lost one year ago today, the fact that we set up decorations with Lenya for a Christmas that we never got to experience. But I also remember the way He sustained us, anchored us and gave us peace. Besides, the reason there ever was a Christmas in the first place is because of death. That’s why Jesus came — to defeat the grave. I choose to remember that because of Christmas, our life with Lenya is not over, it is just on hold for now. Until we see her again she is with the Prince of Peace, urging us on in this race of faith, reminding us to cue the eagle whenever we grow weak and reminding us to make it count.

If you didn’t have the chance to meet Lenya, the celebration of her life is available to watch online here. Through it you can really get a sense of the amazing person she is and what an impact she has had on so many people.


Happy Thanksgiving from the Luskos!

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Because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ there is so much to be thankful for. Life, salvation, hope, freedom, family, the promise of Heaven and so much more. I am even thankful for thankfulness itself. It’s powerful stuff. When there is a spirit of thanksgiving in your soul it alters the atmosphere in your life. Grateful hearts have no room for tantrums or pity-parties. It’s impossible to complain while you are busy saying, “thanks!” You can focus on what you don’t have and what you didn’t get, or you can thank God for all you have received and have been blessed with, but you can’t do both at the same time.

It has been a very hard year in our home, but we have never in our life experienced God more: Through His presence and His peace that surpasses understanding, through the outpouring of love and prayer from Christians all over the world. (those of you who have left blog comments and sent encouraging notes in the mail have blessed us greatly) Through the church that we are planted in that we call home. Our anchor has held within the veil and we are so thankful for Jesus!

2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.


Grapefruit // Great fruit

About once a month we take a day to fast and pray as a church. This is one practical way we live out one of our core-values and that is: “3. We bow before the battle.” On these very special days we get together in the evening, across the state, and pray and worship together. Nothing flashy or fancy, just an old-school Holy Ghost prayer meeting. It’s awesome.

The format changes, but I often have different campus pastors give devotional thoughts. Sometimes we take communion. I love these nights so much. No webcast or time crunch. They are some of the most extraordinary and powerful worship experiences. I often will share something about our vision or something the Lord puts on my heart right then in the moment. Last night we also heard something very special from a daughter of the house, my oldest daughter, Miss Alivia Sky Lusko. Check it out:


Happy Birthday Alivia!

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Today our oldest daughter Alivia Sky is eight years old! Her birthday is October 13th but in our house we call it “Ockatober-Firteenth” because that was how she first learned to say it when she was three years old. She would constantly ask us if it was “Ockatober-Firteenth.” Well today it finally is!

I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming. By the strength of God inside her she is the head and not the tail. Her love for Jesus and her insight is constantly a source of surprise and refreshment. She is smart as a whip, hilarious, and thoughtful.

She is a night-owl who considers anything before 9am too early and loves to stay up way too late reading. She is an extraordinary leader to her little sisters who look up to her — all three of them.

In her short eight years on the earth she has had to walk through incredibly difficult days, but she has done it with grace through her Savior Christ Jesus. The way she has processed and handled the pain of her sister and best friend Lenya going to heaven has been amazing to me.

Alivia made the decision to give her heart to Jesus a while back and she is very excited to be getting baptized today, on her birthday! I love her so much and it is an incredible honor to be her daddy and her biggest fan.


Happy Birthday Lenya

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I’ve always thought she had the coolest birthday. September 8, 2007. When you just use numbers it becomes 9-8-7. How rad is that? I don’t know anyone whose date of birth is a countdown. It was always so easy to remember when filling out forms or booking airplane tickets. 9-8-7. I told her once that no matter how many kids we had or how challenging it became to remember all the different date of births I would never be able to forget hers.

Today is 9-8-13. That means Lenya would turn six years old today, if she were still in our space and time. I don’t know how old she is in heaven, or how old she will appear to be when I get there. I have heard some suggest that since Jesus went to Heaven at 33 we will all be that age. If thats true then since I am 31 Lenya would be older than me! She would get a kick out of that. Of course, we have no way of knowing.

What I do know is that I miss her so much today. My reservoir of tears which ran dry several months ago is once again full and flowing. Waves of sorrow have been hitting me in the weeks leading up to this day when I instinctively would feel the need to begin purchasing gifts for her, help Jennie with party planning or consult the birthday girl as to what the menu for her breakfast in bed was going to be.

It is such a difficult and clumsy thing to face this day without the guest of honor here. I want to tell her happy birthday. To wake her up with the whole family singing loudly in her bedroom and watching her sleepy little face beam to see everyone in on it as we march around her room with a plate of her favorite breakfast foods topped with birthday candles. I want to ooh and aah as she comes downstairs dressed to the nines in her birthday outfit. To celebrate her all day long, speaking words to honor and bless her at every turn. Watching her open presents and envelopes with checks from relatives far away. To listen to her laugh and play with her friends at her party, taking pictures of all the fun.

I love being a dad. I love being Lenya’s dad. As hard as it is to be separated from her today, it gives me great comfort to remember that Jesus is in me and she is with Him. She is experiencing fullness of joy and pleasures evermore in His presence, and I am filled with the same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead — so there is a connection. She is in heavenly places, but I am seated there. I think that means my name is sitting on a space at the table. I can’t wait to join her. I have a backlog of hugs and snuggles I fully intend to deliver and I’m counting down the days. Until then, Happy Birthday Lenya!

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The first time I ever held Lenya, six years ago today.

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Celebrating her fifth birthday.