December 27, 2012

an anchor of the soul

on christmas eve, three days ago now, i had the absolute honor and privilege of painting on little lenya's casket. it was the most difficult thing i've ever had to do, impossible really....

i was in the car with my husband on sunday when i got a text asking if i would paint an anchor with a verse on lenya's casket. i can't even describe the mixed emotions of honor and sadness, beauty and tragedy. it was unlike anything i've ever experienced. my husband was silent as i read the text and cried, squeezing my hand so tight. i'll never forget that moment. of course i agreed, i wanted to do anything i could for that sweet family i love so much.

christmas eve morning i woke up with a heaviness... wondering, praying, crying... praying, wondering, crying out to God. how on earth was i going to do this? my husband had already left for church to get ready for the second round of christmas eve services, so i got a ride with my dear friends [who are family to me]. crystal asked what i was doing that day [they were singing for the services and i usually help out in the green rooms]. i took a deep breath and told them i was going to paint her casket. the car was silent then i said what i had been thinking for the last 12 hours - "i don't know how i'm going to do this...."

crystal said exactly what i needed to hear - "it's how we get through anything else - by the Holy Spirit." she told me of the times she's had to sing at funerals, crying right before and after her song, but somehow she was completely able to sing like normal.

a couple of hours later, i got the call that it would arrive at the funeral home shortly. as soon as i got in my car, i was crying, just praying over and over again - "ok, Lord, i can't do this, i need You. i need Your strength." repeating verses like:

"and He said to me, 'My grace sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.'"
[2 corinthians 12:9]

"...He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it..."
[philippians 1:6]

i sat in the funeral home, waiting for its arrival. it was running late, so the funeral director showed me where i'd be working... in one of the viewing rooms. i slowly set up my paint and brushes, then sat and cleaned up the sketch, waiting. the door opened, there it was. i forced myself to keep it together until the funeral director left... then i wept. i stood there staring at it, thoughts of lenya going through my head - her beautiful raspy voice, her big brown eyes, her sweet little hand that i held so many times as we crossed the street at church... i put both hands on the casket and whispered another prayer to Jesus... "carry me.... let this glorify You."'s a prayer i've continued to pray for the luskos... that they would be carried.

the minute i started painting [and for the next 4 1/2 hours], i had a different mindset altogether. there was a calm, a stillness in my heart and mind, a peace that surpassed all understanding. i stopped crying. i was focused, on a mission. God was carrying me. there is no other explanation. God uses the impossible situations to show us that ALL THINGS are possible with Him.

when i finished the painting, i just stared at it in disbelief. i couldn't believe [i still can't] that i had done what seemed impossible... i praised God in the quietness of my heart. i thanked Him for being faithful.
i left the funeral home, crying tears of joy, overwhelmed by the grace and strength of God to get through this, and knowing that little len isn't held down by the grave, but with Jesus now.

in the old testament of the Bible, people would set up altars or memorials after God had done something great, as a way to always be reminded of His deliverance and a way to share the testimony with others who hadn't been there to witness it themselves...
i wanted to write and document this, not only to remember the faithfulness and real strength of God, but to encourage you to put your trust, hope, faith in Him, who is an anchor of our soul, who is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think, who will carry you through the impossible, He always will. He is real. He is alive.

lenya's amazing memorial service will be archived soon and is definitely something i'd recommend everyone watch. i'll keep you posted on that, but feel free to check out fresh life's website for other awesome messages, like this past weekend's christmas service... a message that pastor levi gave days after his daughter went to heaven... incredible.

the pain and temporary struggle i experienced, that i've just written about, is obviously nothing compared to what the lusko family is experiencing right now, so please continue to pray for them... i can't imagine...
[in lieu of flowers, you can make a donation to skull church, which lenya loved heart and soul.]

love to each of you.



  1. Cousin, I had no idea what an amazing artist you'd become, but your sweet loving spirit does not surprise me at all. Miss you. Xoxo. - Riley

  2. What a beautiful moment with God in such a time of sorrow. Little Lenya and her family has been on my mind a lot this past week. Continued prayers for strength in the New Year.