Lisa Leonard Designs

Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

meeting joely {our sponsored daughter}

February 24th | dominican republic, finding love

On Friday, last week, we met Joely, our sponsored daughter through Compassion. I was nervous to meet her–would she be shy? Would she like us? I guess I didn’t need to worry. You guys, she completely stole our hearts.

I say sponsored ‘daughter’ because seeing firsthand how families view sponsorship is amazing. The consider you family and are so grateful for the sponsor. If you have considered adoption, but aren’t able to take that leap, sponsorship is an amazing alternative.

Joely needs a couple surgeries–cleft palate repair and cornea replacement {for her left eye}. We will be talking with Compassion further to see how we can help with the surgeries. We chose Joely because children with special needs are so close to our hearts. You guys, she is FULL of spunk and personality. Getting to hold her, getting to play with her made my heart explode with gratefulness. Sponsoring a child through Compassion is life-changing for them. And for us, too.

We brought her a few small gifts–this stuffed fox she named Didi, stickers, paper and crayons. It really broke the ice to have a couple gifts and to have some activities to do together.

She was a little shy at first but warmed up quickly. And once she was warmed up, she was silly and bossy. She had us laughing so hard.

Didi got lots of stickers put all over her.

Joely lives with her mother, grandmother and grandfather. She really latched on to Steve and wanted lots of piggyback rides and cuddles.

We also brought Joely a necklace so she would remember the she is ‘so very loved’. Seeing that necklace around her neck was heart-melting. This is the same necklace that Compassion is sending as a gift to anyone who sponsors a child. Precious.

I love her. Can you tell?

Above, Steve and Joely give Didi, the stuffed fox, kisses.

Before our trip, I knew child sponsorship was important, but I had no idea how life-changing it is. A sponsored child will escape poverty. The will have amazing opportunities because someone is willing to spare a few dollars a month.

Steve and I are trying to figure out how many more kiddos we can sponsor. Each of these children is absolutely precious. When a child finds out she has been sponored, the family rejoices–it’s HUGE. It’s life-changing. And the letters sent from sponors are treasures. The kids read them over and over and cling to the words of someone miles away who loves them. It’s truly humbling how so little can do so much in someone’s life.

This week we are donating 10% of all sales to Compassion International’s unsponsored children’s fund. This fund helps care for kids who have been accepted into the program but are not yet sponsored by an individual. Click here to shop.

And will you please sponsor a child or two? It’s a beautiful thing.

investing in love

January 31st | david, finding love

The fall mornings are always chilly even though after a couple hours the sun comes out to warm everything. Before we leave the house, I pull a warm vest around David and strap him snuggly into his car seat. As we arrive at school, I slide open the van door, give him a kiss on the cheek and lift him from the car.

David has special needs. He was born with a rare genetic disorder called Cornelia de Lange. Because of his syndrome, he doesn’t use words to communicate, he has only two fingers on his left hand and he depends on us to feed and diaper him. David is very relational and loves to cuddle and hug—but he is cautious with new people. At times he voids eye contact and prefers to play alone.

At the beginning of the school year, he took hesitant steps toward the classroom, pulling on my hand and trying to slow my pace. It was a new school with new faces to get to know. Every morning, his teacher would bend down and with a big smile on her face, and welcome David to school. For weeks it went like this, hesitant steps culminating in a warm welcome and a fairly disinterested David.

But she persisted. She showed love and kindness to David. She invested in him…

I’m sharing at {in}courage today. Hop over to read the rest of the post. 

surprised by love

January 27th | finding beauty

As I live, I learn there is so much more to love than I used to think. It’s deeper, wider, stronger and more beautiful than I used to believe.  Here are some things I’m learning about love…

1. Love grows in rocky soil. With a little sunlight and water, love can grow even in difficult circumstances.  It doesn’t require ideal conditions to thrive.

2. Love is resilient. It gets nicked and scraped, but if those bumps and bruises are tended to, it will heal to become even stronger.

3. Love is a renewable resource. Sometimes I feel used up and empty. But with a little rest and room to breathe, I am refreshed and ready to love again.

4. Love is brave. A heart that knows it is loved is willing to risk and be vulnerable.

5. Love expands. There is no limit to love. As we’ve made new friends and watched our family get bigger, I’ve seen my heart stretch and grow.

How has love surprised you?

beauty in brokenness {free printable!}

January 23rd | blog friends, finding beauty

It’s Friday friends! Whose ready for the weekend?

Today I am featured over at Barn Owl Primitives’ blog. Such an honor! I adore Kristi–and although we’ve never met in person, we regularly connect online, through texts and with phone calls. I can tell you she is a woman with heart who has built a thriving business that creates beautiful things. She and her husband work together {like Steve and I} so we have a lot in common.

If you’ve been hanging around here much, you’ve probably heard me talk about finding beauty in brokenness. I used to think I could create a perfect life, now I realized there is no perfect. But there is still so much beauty! In the crazy, everyday mess, I see bits of beauty and love–and it fills my heart!

Barn Owl Primitives created this gorgeous sign for me and guess what, today they are making it available as a FREE printable just for you! How amazing is that?! Click here to find it on the Barn Owl Blog. 

Happy Friday Friends!

Loving Each Other in the Mundane

January 22nd | finding love

Married life is so different than I thought it would be.  When we were young and in love, I was sure we would be the couple that would beat the odds—and you know what, in some ways, we have. But it’s nothing like I expected. I thought true love was fluttery feelings and never disagreeing.

“Okay,” I used to think, “we can have the occasional disagreement, as long as we communicate well, listen to each other and resolvd things in a calm, healthy manner.”. But marriage isn’t usually so neat and tidy.

Now I think true love is something altogether different. It’s actually deeper and more profound than I used to think.

Steve and I are well matched. During pre-marital counseling, our pastor had us take an assessment to help us identify ‘red flag’ areas where conflict would likely arise. When the results of the assessment came back, there were no red flag areas. Sure we had different backgrounds and slightly different perspectives on some things, but overall we approached life with similar beliefs. We exhaled a huge sigh of relief. We were going to be okay.

We got married, decorated our apartment, and stepped into life thinking we had it figured out. We had a solid friendship and we truly enjoyed being together—but we didn’t have a clue about what life was about to throw our way. We started off optimistic and in love, then real life happened all around us. We’ve been through some crazy, hard stuff—depression, getting fired from a job, friends divorcing and having a baby with a severe disability. We’ve held each other and cried with grief in moments so dark we could hardly see a way forward. Through those rough waters I have been so glad to have him by my side

We’ve also had some amazing experiences together—walking the red carpet with Gerard Butler at a movie premier in Los Angeles, attending a ball in Ginezno, Poland, sipping tea in an old estate home in England, oh, and building a thriving business together. We’ve done things I never dreamed I’d have the opportunity to experience. I remember moments, staring into each other’s eyes, and not being able to hold all the joy inside. And through those fairytale moments, I have been so glad to have him by my side. His smile, his friendship, his sense of humor makes the exceptional even better.

But after 15 years of marriage, I no longer believe it’s the highs and lows that make or break a marriage. The lowest lows and the highest highs are the exception to the rule. And while they may be extremely difficult or hugely exciting, they don’t define a marriage. It’s day to day life that makes or breaks a marriage. The drain of the mundane can be exhausting. We work together, raise our boys together and live life together. It’s busy and stressful. Sometimes, after the boys are in bed, and we are both sitting on the couch catching up on our favorite BBC show, I wonder why it feels like there is a wall between us.  Those bricks pile up one at a time—a small comment that hurts or being too tired to share details from the day. Each one doesn’t seem like a big deal, but over days and weeks they pile up to create a wall. Sure, these bricks can be torn down, but it takes vulnerability. Someone has to reach out to the other person with a hug, kiss, or a kind word. The same fatigue from the every day stress of life, the stress which allowed the wall to go up, makes it hard to tear it down.

I used to think highs and lows put strain on a marriage—but now I see it’s more than that. The every day stress of life is what makes marriage so challenging {and so beautiful}. Every day we have to fight the distance that wants to creep in and build a wall between us. I wake up in the morning to Steve making breakfast for our family and give him a little kiss. And bricks come down. Sometimes I slip a little note into his bag that says, “You are brave.” And bricks come down. Every day we have to hold each other, listen to each other, and share our hearts with each other. It isn’t fancy, but it matters. It isn’t complicated but it’s not simple either. Marriages are built in the little, everyday moments of life. Marriages are broken through the everyday strain of life and the drain of the mundane.

As I sit here reflecting on how different married life is from what I expected, I feel grateful that I married my best friend. I am grateful that he and I are committed to breaking down walls and fighting the distance. Together we are learning to be more vulnerable and to love each other better in the midst of the mundane.

feeling fallish {finally!}

October 22nd | finding beauty, what I'm wearing

This morning is actually felt like fall. It was chilly and my scarf felt cozy {as opposed to me wearing cozy things regardless of the warm weather. We’re so ready for some cooler temps and rain around these parts!

I’m linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for some fashion inspiration.

Have you heard of fashionABLE? It’s an awesome shops that creates sustainable business in Africa. Pretty awesome, right? This scarf is from their shop.

I love mixing prints and this floral with the striped scarf is fun without being crazy.


Outfit details: Coated jeans, Banana Republic {similar}. Floral top, Collective concepts, TJ Maxx {similar}. Scarf, FashionABLE. Heels, Target. Bag, Target. Necklace, My shop.

I’m loving the 30″ chain on the tiny diamonds necklace–it’s perfect for layering scarves over a necklace. I’m ready for fall. Who’s with me?

*brand new* nativity set! {love}

October 14th | finding love, inspiration

OH MY GOSH!

Friends, I have been working on this project for a year! It’s been such a labor of love. I started it as a gift for my nieces and nephews. I wanted them to have a keepsake to treasure year after year that reflects the true heart of Christmas.

As it started coming together, I knew I had to share it with YOU as well!

Our brand new nativity includes 15 hand-molded pieces and a stable made from California Oak wine barrels and a story book with the Christmas story.

Molding baby Jesus was a truly humbling thing. How can one capture something so meaningful, life changing, world changing and hope-filled?

There are three wisemen, a shepherd and six hand-crafted animals. The pieces range from 1/2″-2″ each. Precious.

Each nativity includes a story book that tells the Christmas story and has questions to help kids {and adults} understand the meaning of the nativity.

Joy has come to the world!

Today we are offering a very limited edition nativity with a few very special features.

*Baby Jesus is finished in gold
*Marking from California Oak wine barrel are visible
*Bottom of stable is signed and numbered by me

Growing up, the nativity was part of our Christmas celebration every year. After we went to sleep on Christmas eve, my parents would place Baby Jesus in the manger and we would wake up to find him there. We read Luke 2 together and talked about the gift that Jesus gave us on Christmas.

Do you have a nativity tradition to share?

Click here to see the new nativity set! {There are only 100 limited edition sets, so don’t wait!}

the impossible

July 10th | blog friends, finding beauty

the impossible-01

There are many days where we do just fine. We have a rhythm that works.  Eggs are scrambled and coffee is poured. We cuddle on the couch and I pat David’s back or give Matthias soft scratches. There are baths with bubbles and clean clothes folded in drawers. The house is tidy {enough} and we have time to run and play in the park.

But woven in between the mundane, beautiful moments of the everyday are moments of anger and frustration. They sneak up on me when I least expect it.

Last week I found myself taking a look around the house and feeling a satisfied contentment with the imperfect. I’d had a productive morning of washing sheets, remaking beds and packing up too-small clothing to give to a thrift store. As I sat on the couch feeling like I had a hold on life, David pushed a toy off the table and it landed hard on my toe.

I’m blogging over at {in}courage today. Hop over to read the rest…

the best kind of worn out

June 10th | david, finding beauty

This post is from four years ago. I just ordered new shoes for both boys and they arrived yesterday–and I remembered this post. As soon as I looked it up, I got tears in my eyes and knew I wanted to share it with again. It gives me all kinds of hope.

worn-out-hand-stamped-jewelry
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these are the shoes david wears every day.

and guess what? they’re worn out.

there’s a hole right through the bottom of the shoe.

and you know how he did it?

exploring, walking, running, and generally getting into trouble.

wornout-hand-stamped-jewelry
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and we couldn’t be happier.

i remember when david was born

and the doctor told us he would never walk, or talk

that he may not see or hear.

and we cried.

and we wondered and waited.

and one day, when he was five years old-he did it!

for months, he’d been pulling up, cruising, but finally, HE WALKED!!

worn-out3-hand-stamped-jewelry

and now he’s wearing out his shoes.  love that.

here are some new kicks. get busy wearing them out, kid!

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and david we love you.

you are pure joy and silliness.

hello noticing, hello monday

May 26th | finding beauty, hello monday

It’s been a whirlwind few days–with a quick trip to UCLA to see David’s GI doc, comfort him with all the GI pain he’s having, host guests, and try to keep up with work stuff, I’m feeling overwhelmed! I’m trying to slow down, give myself grace, let thing be imperfect, and notice the beauty that’s all around me! Join me for some hellos?

***Hello Monday is where I greet the new week with an open heart and a fresh perspective. It’s a new beginning–and there’s so much to be thankful for! Join me by leaving your own hellos in the comments section or linking up a hello monday post there!***

Hello sunrise against the jacaranda tree. Breathtaking.

Hello sipping coffee and taking a deep breath.

Hello soaking up a Monday holiday and cuddling with my boys.

Hello blue skies and summer only days away. Hooray.

Hello having my camera handy so I can capture a beautiful moment.

Hello being present in the moment, even if it’s imperfect.

Hello fresh flowers in our kitchen window.

Hello noticing Matthias’ sharpened pencils and his determination to draw the perfect Jedi.

Hello noticing the sweet tunes that David is tapping out on the piano.

Hello making a to-do list that’s reasonable and crossing things off one at a time.

Hello Monday. It’s a new week, filled with beauty. I want to take time to notice! Will you join me? What are you saying hello to this week? Leave some hellos in the comments or link up your own hello monday post there!