Lisa Leonard Designs

the lump in my throat

February 17th | adventures, dominican republic

Today we visited with Josefina and her daughter, Hilde. They invited us into their freshly painted home with wall patched together with brick, found wood and cardboard. Their entire home is smaller than a typical bedroom in the US.

While I’m here in the DR, I want to learn first hand how Compassion is impacting lives. I want the mothers to tell me how life is different now that their child has a sponsor.

When Steve and I asked Josefina to tell us how life is different now that Hilde has a sponsor through Compassion. Her response was, “Everything is different.”

So we pressed for more specifics.

“Can you give us specific examples of things she has now that she didn’t have before?”

This single mom with deep dimples and tired eyes, responded, “Now she has shoes. Now she has food to eat. Now she can go to school.”

Oh. Wow. We let it sink in.

Every minute of everyday of Hilde’s life is different.

Hilde literally has shoes and food because of her Compassion sponsor. Daily life is livable because of the resources provided through Compassion. And the future looks different because of the education, training and opportunities available to Hilde through Compassion.

 I asked her mom, “What do you want for Hilde that you couldn’t do for yourself?”

And she looked back at me with tears in her eyes.

And that lump came up in my throat. Because I am a mom, too. And I want every good thing for my children. And we cried together. Because life is hard. And being a mom is hard. Being a mom in poverty with very few resources is even harder.

I gave Josefina the necklace she is wearing. She put in on and told me, “No one has ever given me gift like this.”
She touched the necklace around her neck and I knew it was something truly precious to her.

As we turned to leave, I commented on a rag rug laid over a plastic chair.

“This is lovely, did you make it?”, I asked.

She picked it up, folded it into fourths and put it in a plastic bag. She put it in my hands and gave me a tight squeeze.

Josefina, who has so little, gave freely and without hesitation. I felt the lump in my throat and wondered why I am so hesitant to give when I have so much?

* * *

Friends, I tell you this story only so that you can know, without a doubt that sponsoring a child through Compassion, changes a life. I don’t want you to feel one ounce of guilt. I only want you to know that you can come alongside a mama and help her care for her child.

You can change a child’s life today. You can change their future.

You can be part of something truly amazing and beautiful.

Click here to see children waiting for sponsor.

a mother’s heart

February 16th | adventures, dominican republic

Today in the Dominican Republic, Our Compassion team leaders took us to visit a CDSP {Child Development Sponsorship Program}. This is the flagship program for Compassion and probably what they are best known for. You probably already know that you can sponsor a child for $38 month. Steve and I sponsor Joeli and we can’t wait to meet her later this week.
I expected the kids to be friendly and affectionate–and they were. So fun! I didn’t expect to be so moved by one mama I met. I didn’t expect to see Compassion so directly changing individual lives. Read on for more.

How cute are these girlies? Yep, they latched on to me quickly and stole my heart. We sat together and sang as the program started. Heart-melters.

Steve made friends, too. The kids adored him. He’s very lovable.

We brought necklaces to give as gifts. Here, I’m pictured with Veronica {on the left}, the CDSP head and Ana, a tutor {on the right}.

Homes are built with mostly found materials and are small, cozy and clean. There is sporadic electricity and often no running water. Beds are often shared by siblings and parents. This isn’t an easy way of life, but today I experience families full of joy, hope and love.

I passed out stickers and had an army of children happy to take them off my hands–and stick them on their foreheads. So silly!

Dominicans take pride in keeping their clothes clean. Even those in extreme poverty brush their teeth and hair and put themselves together.

This group of boys was playing by the river. The DR gets a lot of rain and this river swells a few times a year and floods the nearby homes.

Homes are brightly painted and the texture and color is breath-taking. And kittens and puppies are everywhere.

Above is Lisbeth, her mother and her younger brother. Lisbeth has a sponsor through Compassion and it has been life-changing. 18 months ago their home burned down after a neighbor knocked over a candle. Compassion helped them rebuild a new home, with concrete floors instead of dirt. The home is more stable and dries more quickly after a flood. Lisbeth receives medication, food and training through Compassion. Her mother says the emotional support that Compassion provides, especially during the crisis of losing their home, gives her hope.

I asked this single mother what she hopes for, for Lisbeth. She said she wants her to be obedient and to thrive. She wants her to be whatever she wants to be. Lisbeth wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and with Compassion, that goal is significantly more attainable.

I looked into this mama’s eyes and saw my own heart. A heart that simply wants every good thing for my children.

She doesn’t want my pity. She doesn’t want my charity. She wants someone to come alongside and say, “I get it. I’m a mom, too.” Sponsoring a child through Compassion directly changes that child’s life. It means the future looks completely different. It means today they will have the food, vitamins and medicine they need.

Click here to see children waiting for a sponsor. They will melt your heart. {and that necklace above is a gift when you sponsor!}

And if you want to see kids with special needs, waiting for a sponsor, click here. How cute is Damarisell {she has epilepsy}. Rensy has sass! Love it. She is visually impaired.
Chanelys is adorable. She has a speech impairment and medical needs.

Want to get excited? So much is happening! To see kids being sponsored while our team is here in the DR, click here.

hello color, beauty and light

February 16th | adventures, dominican republic, hello monday

We are in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic! It’s wonderful to be here. Steve and I are traveling with Compassion, International and we are looking forward to seeing a different side of the DR. Yesterday we walked and walked and walked some more. We explored the city and saw all kinds of color, beauty and light. It’s Monday, how about 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 flag {bandera} hanging from the mirror in our taxi. There are flags all over–so much national pride.

Hello tree with a heart-shaped knot. Love is everywhere.

Hello palm trees, ocean and warm sun.

Hello colorful kites. It’s carnaval here and people dance and party in the streets.

Hello obelisk in the center of the city.

Hello walking with a box of chips on your head. That takes skillz.

Hello walls painted with every color of the rainbow.

Hello sidewalks with heart-shaped designs. Love.

Hello to adventures with this guy.

Hello city by the sea.

Hello living out of a suitcase and trying to be low maintenance.

Hello scorching sun and life-giving breeze.

Hello sipping some of the best coffee in the world.

Hello missing my boys.

Hello kids that are looking for sponsorship. You can change a life–more details here.

Hello heart that is falling even deeper in love with the DR.

Hello Compassion, thank you for taking us on this journey.

Hello sharing it with YOU!

Hello brand new week with beauty waiting to be found.

What are you saying hello to this week? Leave some hellos in the comments or link your own hello monday post there.

headed to the Dominican Republic

February 13th | adventures, dominican republic

Hello friends!

Steve and I are headed to the Dominican Republic today with Compassion International. This will be my fourth trip to the DR in 9 months. We’ve been expanding our production there and creating jobs in a community that desperately needs them. This trip will be very different though. Instead of spending our days in the workshop, we’ll be visiting children, families and seeing Compassion at work. I love the Dominican Republic and I’m excited {and nervous} to experience it in a new way.

We sponsor a little girl named Joeli who lives near Santo Domingo. And we’re going to meet her. I can hardly wait! Joeli has special needs which, as you know, is close to my heart. I hope she’ll let me squeeze her. I really want to.

And guess what? Anyone who sponsors a child is going to receive the necklace pictured above. We are absolutely thrilled to team up with Compassion International.

Friends, the only reason we are able to go on this trip is because of YOU. This community cares about people. This community believes every heart matters. I am so thankful for you.

Please journey with us on instagram and follow along on the blog.

It’s going to be beautiful and messy and sweaty and emotional and I want to share it all with you {well maybe not all the sweatiness}.

Click here to learn more about Compassion.  Click here to get to know kiddos who are waiting to be sponsored.

Do you sponsor a child through Compassion or another organization? I’d love to hear about it!

thrifted cream dress, gypsy soul necklace

February 11th | what I'm wearing

Hey friends! I found this little gem of a dress at a thrift store last week for $5. It made my whole day! It’s Wednesday and I’m linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for some fashion inspiration.

I’ve been wanting a cream dress–just something simple and flowy. This one fits the bill!

I layered a long slip with the dress for a vintage feel.

The sweet bag is by Nena & Co. Love it!

On Monday, we shared the Gypsy Soul Necklace. Such a sweet piece. If you missed Monday’s special, you can find the necklace here. It’s very limited edition–so don’t wait!

Isn’t this necklace FUN? I love the adjustable leather–wear it super long or shorter.

Outfit details: Cream dress, vintage slip, both thrifted. Booties, Frye via Zappos. Jean Jacket, Gap. Bag, Nena&Co. Turquoise cuff, vintage. Gypsy Soul Necklace, My shop.

hello pain, hello joy

February 9th | hello monday

Lately it seems, everywhere I look there is pain. My heart hurts for friends who just want to bring their baby girl home from the hospital, friends who had a massive scare last week and thought their son had leukemia, friends who are on their way to UCLA for a long stay and other friends who said good-bye to a beloved dad and husband. And that’s just within the last week. So much heartache. We have ours. Those close to us seem to be suffering more than usual. You might be struggling too.

And I look around and I see beauty. I see blessings. I see actual, real-life joy. It seems impossible, but there it is. God is at work even in the muck and yuck. Today I don’t feel happy, but I still believe there is good. I believe there is beauty to be found. It’s a new week, how about 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 praying, more than I usually do. And that’s a good thing. It’s good to need God.

Hello giving myself permission to feel sad and not have it all together. It’s real.

Hello making dinner for friends and loving them while they are recovering from a rough season.

Hello working out. It’s good for me. I feel better when I’m done.

Hello creating and sketching. I have some fun things to share this week!

Hello packing for the Dominican Republic. Next week we’ll be there with Compassion International. I can’t wait to tell you more.

Hello hugging and cuddling and sipping chai lattes and doing things that comfort me.

Hello tidying up my desk at work. Um, it’s a train wreck!

Hello thrifting. I’m on the hunt for inspiration.

Hello to YOU. I hope you are feeling joyful and whole. It’s a new week, leave some hellos in the comments or link your own hello monday post there!

a sweet valentine’s breakfast

February 6th | celebrate the every day, family

I planned a fun Valentine’s breakfast for my sweethearts. We had to celebrate a little early because I’ll be in the Dominican Republic on Valentine’s day. I took lots of pics for you–plus our favorite {heart-shaped} pancake recipe is below. Yum!

I kept the table super simple but fun. I used things we already had around the house–but it feels special.

Real dishes, placemats and fresh flowers is fancy for us! We should do this more often, though. It’s so fun and hardly any extra work!

I taped construction paper hearts to twine and hung them from the ceiling.

I keep paper straws on hand and they always add whimsy to the table.

Homemade, high protein pancakes are a staple for us. We probably have them at least three times a week. Here’s the recipe:

For each person, you’ll need…
2 eggs, 1/2C whole oats, 1/4C cottage cheese, dash of cinnamon, 1/2t vanilla
Put all ingredients in blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Add a little milk to thin, if necessary.

For heart-shaped pancakes, Take about 1/3 of the batter, thin with milk and put into a squeeze bottle. I found this one in the cake decorating section at Michaels.

Squeeze and outline of a heart onto hot pan.

Fill in with batter. Add chocolate chips, if necessary. And it’s always necessary.

And you end up with a heart-shaped pancake. I’ve gotten better at these as I’ve practiced a bit. So fun!

A cake topper from our shop is so cute on a stack of pancakes!

And of course, exchanging hand-written valentine’s makes it that much sweeter!

Do you have anything special planned for Valentine’s Day this year?

flowy and free

February 4th | what I'm wearing

This dress and sweater are super slouchy and comfortable. The length of the dress keeps it from being completely frumpy, I think. Hopefully? The bottom line is, I felt comfortable and happy–so the outfit was a win. It’s Wednesday and I’m linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for some fashion inspiration.

If you’ve seen the national weather lately, we are at the warm extreme here in California. It’s been mid 70s. It’s awesome but it doesn’t feel like winter at all. And I know many of you are knee deep in snow and busy shoveling your driveways. I don’t want to rub it in. File this outfit under ‘spring inspiration’.

This bag is nothing if not FUN! It’s from Nena & Co. I might be in love.

The sweater and turquoise cuff are vintage.

And of course, my favorite booties, that I wear almost every day.

I’ve been really into dresses lately. They’re easy and make me feel put together {even if I’m totally not put together}.

I’m sending some sunshine your way today. Can you feel it?

Outfit details: Dress, Local Boutique, Plenty. Sweater, Ruby Rose. Booties, Frye via Zappos. Bag, Nena & Co. Bracelets, Earrings, My shop.

left field, san luis obispo

February 3rd | decorating, san luis obispo, shops i love

This brand new shop here in San Luis Obispo, Left Field, combines some of my favorite things–succulents, baskets, colorful rugs, rough stones, rusty metal, textured shells and lots of light. The result is magical. Today I’ve got lots of photos to share. I hope they inspire you!

Left Field is on Monterey, right across the street from Ruby Rose and just down from Splash Cafe.

Want to read an interview with the owner? Click here.

Browsing a couple amazing shops and clam chowder, hmmm. Sounds like the makings of a perfect afternoon, don’t you think?!

hello confused weather

February 2nd | celebrate the every day, hello monday

The weather around is here has been so warm! We had a couple rainy weeks and everything got nice and green. Then the sunshine came and persisted–so everything is in bloom. I think the weather forgot that it’s January. Last week I pulled out my camera to capture some of the beauty and send it your way. Here’s a little sunshine for those of you who are stuck inside with cold weather!

It’s Monday–a brand new week with so much to be thankful for! How about 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 blooming branches and blue skies. My heart can hardly take it all in.

Hello making time for quiet and making time for me. I don’t know why I have such a hard time sitting still–but I do know it’s good for my soul.

Hello play date with friends and trying to drag the kids away from video games. {after all, the sun is shining!}

Hello gift for you! If you want a copy of the above photo, just email me at lisa @ lisaleonard.com and I will send you the high res image. I think this would be so pretty on a wall!

Hello February. So nice to see you.

Hello groundhog day today. We should watch that movie–it’s such a great one!

Hello sister time. Be still my heart–I love time with my sisters!

Hello creating. I am working on some fun things and of course I can’t wait to share them with you!

Hello Valentine’s Day. It’s not far away!

Hello fighting a little cold. It’s not enough to keep me down, but it’s still annoying!

Hello to YOU! It’s a brand new week with beauty waiting to be found. Join me!

Leave some hellos in the comments or link your own hello monday post there!