it feels like a second home {dominican republic}

dominican republic, hello monday By September 7, 2015 3 Comments

Last week Steve and I spent a few days in the Dominican Republic working on some new designs and connecting with our team. It was short, sweet–such a great trip! And we are glad to be home. I’ve been to the Dominican so many times in the last year–it feels like a second home.
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 dominican republic lisa leonard-02Hello lush plants everywhere. It’s so green!

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-03Hello dentist’s office painted with my favorite color.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-04Hello best coffee in the world.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-05Hello casting tree. This wax is about to turn into sterling teenie tiny initials.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-06Hello mold for the swing free earrings.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-07Hello creating a mold for a new ring. Exciting!

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-08Hello map of the D.R.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-09Hello wax that will soon be the connected heart necklace.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-10Hello palm trees and puffy clouds.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-11Hello Steve playing guitar. He’s in the D.R. I surprised him with a guitar to keep there. He sounds so great when he plays!

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-12Hello part of our team. Lots of planning and laughing and more planning.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-14Hello busy streets of the D.R.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-15Hello fruit and candy for sale.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-16Hello beautiful church in San Pedro de Marcois.

hello dominican republic lisa leonard-17Hello jet lag. I slept ten hours last night. It was awesome.
Hello moto-conchos {motorcycle taxis}. They pile people on and drive crazy!
Hello missing Dominican coffee. It’s so delicious.
Hello day off school and work. It’s perfect timing. We can sleep in and take it slow.
Hello hiking with the family. We did a new {to us} hike last week and it was so fun!
Hello heat wave. It always gets warm in September.
Hello massage. I have a gift card that I need to use!
Hello making enchiladas this week and taking some to friends who have a new baby.
Hello photographing new designs to share with you. I can’t wait!!!!!
Hello to YOU! It’s a brand new week {and a short one at that!}

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

 

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update on jazmine

dominican republic, finding beauty By July 21, 2015 3 Comments

My heart is so happy today! I have an update for you about Jazmine, the precious little girl I fell in love with in the Dominican Republic last February. While doing a home visit one day we ended up meeting Jazmine, her brothers and her grandmother. It was a life-changing experience and honestly, I can hardly talk about it without crying. If you haven’t read my post about Jazmine, you can start here.

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Jazmine stole my heart. I think her often. When I tuck my boys in for bed at night, I pray that Jazmine knows she is loved and precious. This little girl, with a severe disability, lives tucked away on a mountainside in the Dominican Republic. She matters. She matters to God, she matters to me, and she matters to Compassion.

After we left Jazmine’s home, I wondered if I’d ever hear from the family again. Well, good news! Compassion has been keeping me updated on Jazmine’s care and her family’s needs.

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Compassion International has helped Jazmine’s grandmother get a wheelchair that will enable them to get around easier. When Compassion brought the wheelchair to Jazmine, her grandmother said,

“ I am very happy, we have been waiting for a long time to have a wheelchair, others has promised it but never keep it “
“I feel like a child with a new toy!”
“Now, I can visit church, it is more easy to transport Jazmine”

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Isn’t that exciting?! I hear Jazmine loves her wheelchair. I’m told she smiles when her grandmother straps her into her chair. I mean, she’s got wheels now. She will live more life, see more things and be able to move!
And there’s more! Our Lisa Leonard community was able to purchase a bunk bed and new bedding for Jazmine and her brother. So instead of the whole family sleeping in one bed, they’ll be able to have their own space. We should be getting photos of that soon and I’ll share them with you. This community is making a difference. YOU are making a difference!
*
If you’re not sponsoring a child, today is a good day to change a child’s life.
Click here to sponsor a precious kiddo from the Dominican Republic. It’s beautiful, amazing thing!
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hello home {the best!}

adventures, dominican republic By May 11, 2015 4 Comments

Hello friends! We are back home and soaking up lots of extra cuddles and family time. We had a great time in the DR–very productive with some fun and even a little bit of sightseeing! It’s beautiful and I love the DR–but there’s no place like home, right?

Today I’m sharing pics of our time last week and saying hello to a brand new week. Join me?

***Hello Monday is where I greet the new week with an open heart and a fresh perspective. It’s a new beginning–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 Altos de Chavon. It’s an artists colony with incredibly stone work. Truly breath-taking!

Hello finding love. It’s everywhere.

Hello time with my love. So thankful for him.

Hello stone steps–so much detail.

Hello hard working rhino.

Hello golden flowers, golden sunset.

Hello church built 50 years ago that looks thousands of years old.

Hello breeze through the palm trees.

Hello nighttime at the marina.

Hello little star twinkling above the trees.

Hello fresh fish. Very fresh. I don’t think I’ve ever had such fresh fish.

Hello delicious. I wan’t sure how to eat it but I figured it out.

Hello all done. Yum.

Hello color and light.

Hello laundry and emails. {I’m always saying hello to those!}

Hello snuggling with my boys. So happy to be home!

Hello sipping an extra cup of coffee to fight the jet lag.

Hello needing a day off to get the house in order.

Hello new designs to photograph and share with you!

Hello getting back into our rhythm with eating good and exercising.

Hello to YOU! It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. What are you saying hello to this week?
Leave some hellos in the comments section or link your own hello monday post there.

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What it means to be a sponsor for a child {meeting Joely}

dominican republic, finding love By February 24, 2015 12 Comments

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.

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hello heart split in two

dominican republic, hello monday By February 23, 2015 2 Comments

Hello friends! We are back from the Dominican Republic, jet lagged and soaking up snuggles with our kiddos. I left a big part of my heart over there, but I am simultaneously so happy to be home. It’s crazy how our hearts can live in multiple places, don’t you think?

It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. 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 waking up in my own bed. Love that.

Hello pancakes for breakfast. Our family favorite.

Hello lots and lots of cuddles on the couch and soft scratchies. We have catching up to do.

Hello editing pics from the DR. So much beauty–my heart can’t take it.

Hello missing Joely {our sponsored daughter}. She completely stole our hearts. More pics tomorrow!

Hello unpacking and catching up on laundry.

Hello packing lunches and planning dinners for the week.

Hello creating a new design for mother’s day. I love to create.

Hello photo shoot and new things to share. I can’t wait to show you!

Hello meetings and emails. So much to do. Always more it seems!

Hello crafting with Matthias. Fun!

Hello feeling THRILLED that 160 kids have been sponsored from our trip to the DR. You can see the count here!

Hello donating 10% of the proceeds from all sales this week to compassion international. So exciting!

Hello to you! It’s a brand new, beautiful week. What are you saying hello to this week? Leave some hellos in the comments section or link your own hello monday post there!

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The beauty of the Dominican Republic

adventures, dominican republic By February 19, 2015 8 Comments

I am surrounded by beauty.

the beauty of fresh fruit.

the beauty of a little girl’s smile.

the beauty of a cottage with gingerbread trim.

the beauty of eyes that sparkle.

the beauty of perfectly mismatched tiles.

the beauty of colorful clothes drying on a line.

the beauty of friendship.

the beauty of flowers growing past iron bars.

the beauty of twin sisters.

the beauty of a breeze that blows through the flag.

the beauty of a hillside with uncountable steps.

the beauty of a woman walking to work.

want to be part of something beautiful? consider sponsoring a child in the dominican republic. it will make all the difference in this child’s life.
{and the necklace pictured above, is a gift when you sponsor}

we fly home tomorrow night. i have more to share with you next week. i’m leaving part of my heart in the DR but i can’t wait to squeeze my beautiful boys!!!

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There will be hard moments, but I need to hold myself together

adventures, dominican republic By February 18, 2015 24 Comments

Before this trip, I had already traveled to the Dominican Republic three times. I’ve traveled to Guatemala multiple times. I’ve been to the countryside in Thailand. I’ve seen poverty and heartache.

So when Compassion asked me to come to the Dominican Republic, I said yes. I wanted to understand the people more deeply. I wanted my heart to fall deeper in love with the DR.

But I didn’t want to get too attached. I didn’t want to get too emotional. I didn’t want to be too broken.

As I packed my suitcase for the trip, I was determined to be strong.

“I already know what I’m going to see”, I told myself. “There will be hard moments, but I need to hold myself together.”

These trips can be overwhelming and heart-wrenching and exhausting. “But I’m fine”, I assured myself. I’m not going to let my emotions get the best of me.

And then we went to visit Elsa, who is a grandmother to Jazmin, and her two grandsons. Jazmin was born with a disability. She can’t walk or talk. She can’t chew food. When she was born, her mother didn’t want her. She is completely dependent on her grandmother to care for her and meet her every need. When I saw her curled up in the corner of the couch, I longed to hold her in my arms. With her grandmother’s permission, I scooped her up and I melted into a puddle of tears.

And I wasn’t fine.

All I could think about was my sweet David and how very loved and precious he is to me. What if we lived here on this mountainside? What if there were days I had no food to give him? What if I couldn’t afford medicine when he was sick?

Jazmin, you are worth three plane rides, a bus ride and a climb up steep stairs.

You are worth crying hot tears and being a complete mess.

You are worth cuddling and kissing and loving.

You are worth having my heart shattered into a million pieces.

You are worth every diamond, every pearl.

Each and every child is worth it. You are worth it. I am worth it.

Because of Jesus, each of us is worthy.

Tell a child she is worthy today. Open your heart and let yourself be part of something truly amazing. Click here to sponsor a child through Compassion.

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1 little step to become better person {the lump in throat}

adventures, dominican republic By February 17, 2015 18 Comments

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.

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a mother’s heart

adventures, dominican republic By February 16, 2015 4 Comments

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.

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hello color, beauty and light

adventures, dominican republic, hello monday By February 16, 2015 12 Comments

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.

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