Stepping Into the Light

finding love, the meaning behind, worthiness By February 7, 2017 2 Comments

For anyone who has ever wondered if the messiness of love is worth it…

Opening ourselves to love means

Taking down the walls around our hearts,

And leaving our hearts vulnerable.

A vulnerable heart does not simply risk being hurt,

It will be hurt.

Love is not safe.

I am imperfect.

You are imperfect.

We love each other imperfectly.

We hurt each other.

So why take the risk? Why love?

Because in the broken down, messiness of vulnerability,

While we wade through the pain of sharp words

and the loneliness of being misunderstood,

we are met with the healing balm of forgiveness.

While we journey down an unexplored, windy path

Sometimes hand in hand, sometimes with our backs to each other,

We find something truly magical.

When we leave safety behind

We find truth.

The truth we are loved, exactly as we are; broken and imperfect.

We leave safety behind to find something immeasurably better.

We find LOVE abounding in grace and hope.

We find we were not safe before, we were simply numb.

Numbness is comforting.

Numbness means not feeling the deep, painful ache of our hearts

Being pulled and stretched and torn.

But numbness means missing out on the exhilarating joy of being known.

The joy of being seen, just as we are.

The joy of being accepted.

The joy of being called worthy.

The joy of hearing the God of the Universe say “You are enough”.

It is only when we step out from the shadows and let the light shine on us

We see ourselves as God sees us.

We see who He created us to be;

Quirky and insightful and creative and wise.

He knit me together and gave me a unique soul.

I am one-of-a-kind.

He knit you together and gave you a unique soul.

You are one-of-a-kind.

In that place of power, we look shame directly in the eye and say, “You are a liar.”

Now we know the truth.

We leave safety to find freedom abounds.

We are free from the fear that held us prisoner.

The sun shines on us, warming our shoulders,

Filling our hearts with peace.

We soak it up, knowing

We are loved,

Just as we are.

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We Need Each Other

david, matthias, the meaning behind By February 1, 2017 22 Comments

I have been surprised to find many times, instead of me teaching my kids, it’s my kids teaching me.

When Matthias was in first grade, David’s 1st-3rd grade special needs class would walk over to Matthias’ classroom for reading time, language arts and special projects. Mainstreaming created a space for students with special needs to learn beside their typical peers. In this environment every child benefits and grows.

While Steve and I love mainstreaming and having special needs kids working with typical peers, we were concerned for Matthias. He had just begun first grade and was adjusting to a full day at school. We didn’t want him to have to explain why his brother had only two fingers on his left hand or why his brother couldn’t speak with words. We didn’t want Matthias to feel he was in the spotlight. We wanted Matthias to have his own space at school. We explained our concerns to David’s teacher and we all agreed it would be best to have David work on skills such as kicking a ball or sorting colored blocks, while the other special needs student mainstreamed into Matthias’ classroom.

A couple months into the school year, David was playing in the small playground next to the larger playground. Matthias spotted David and his aide over on the little playground.

“Oh my gosh!” Matthias yelled as he ran over to the chain link fence separating the two playgrounds.

“David, DAVID! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” he yelled, waving and calling to David.

As David and his aide made their way toward the Matthias, Matthias turned and called his friends over.

“You guys, come here! Quick! I want you to meet my brother.” Matthias said.

Matthias was joined at the chain link fence by three or four friends. On the other side of the fence stood David and his aide.

“This is my brother!” Matthias said with pride. “When David was in my mom’s tummy his instructions got mixed up. That is why he only has two fingers on his left hand. That is why he is so small. That is why he can’t talk. But isn’t he AWESOME?!”

Matthias’ friends nodded with smiles.

“Bye David!” they all yelled as they ran back to their game.

When I arrived at the school that afternoon David’s aide recounted the whole story to me. I could feel the lump in my throat as she described how excited Matthias was to see David and introduce him to his friends.

I felt tears filling up my eyes as I realized I didn’t need to worry about Matthias. I didn’t need to create a safe place where he could be himself without having to explain about his brother with special needs. Not only was Matthias capable of explaining David’s special needs to his peers, he was proud of his brother. He loved his brother. He wanted to be near his brother. Matthias is better because of David and David is better because of Matthias.

{The Cross Bar Birthstone Necklace represents stability and strength}

We need each other. Together we have stability. Together we are stronger.
Family is messy and imperfect. Family is the foundation that keeps us on solid ground. Family is love. And love is everything.

Matthias has taught me so much about what it means to LOVE with your whole heart.
These two are better together.

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The Unexpected Gift

hope, the meaning behind By October 12, 2016 91 Comments

“I have a gift for you.” said the God of the Universe. “I made this precious gift just for you. I’m giving you this gift because I love you.”

I closed my eyes and held out my hands with anticipation.

“What will it be?” I wondered with childlike curiosity.

“Is it something wonderful like traveling to a far away country to see exotic and amazing things?” I asked God.

“No,” He replied. It’s far more wonderful than that.”

“Is it riches? I’ll have a large home, fine clothing, lovely things?” I asked.

“No,” He replied. “It’s much finer than anything you can own.”

“Is it beauty?” I asked. “Will I be graceful and pretty with bright eyes and long legs?”

“No,” He replied. “This gift is far more valuable than physical beauty.”

“Is it wisdom?” I asked. “Will I understand the great scholars and philosophers?”

“No,” he replied. “It isn’t wisdom. Your gift will bring deeper insights than wisdom can provide.”

“What is it?” I asked.

God placed the wrapped gift in my hands. This wasn’t the gift I expected. I didn’t understand it. It felt heavy—so heavy I could hardly hold it.

“Don’t unwrap it.” God said. “When the time is right, you’ll see the gift for what is truly is. Until then, trust me.”

“This can’t be my gift.” I told God. “It’s much too heavy for me to hold. It hurts when I hold this gift.”

“You can’t understand the gift yet,” God explained. “but this gift is made just for you.”

“I don’t want this gift. Can I have a different gift? This gift is too much for me. This gift feels painful and raw. Please God, anything but this.” I pleaded.

God spoke soothing words to me in quiet, hushed tones, “Just wait. Just breathe. Just be. Trust me. I made this beautiful gift just for you. You think it’s too heavy right now, but I will help you carry it.”

“Okay.” I finally agreed. “I will accept the gift. I don’t want it, I don’t understand it, but you are the God of the Universe. You are a good and loving God.”

I was surrounded by darkness. I felt afraid–nothing made sense. Those around me seemed to think everything was fine. Didn’t they understand? Nothing was fine.  I couldn’t see the way forward.

“I know you can’t make sense of this.” whispered God. “I will help you carry this gift. I will direct you each step of the way. I will walk beside you and soon you’ll begin to see things clearly.”

I held my gift and began to cry heavy, salty tears. The tears came freely, so freely I wondered if they would ever stop. On and on they flowed, so many tears.

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“Let the tears come.” whispered God. “Every tear you cry makes room for more joy than you can imagine.”

The ache in my heart was almost too much to bear. There were times I was sure my heart would break into a million tiny pieces. It was an ache so deep it seemed to come from a place inside me I didn’t know was there.

“I know you’re hurting.” whispered God. “This ache is because I am growing and stretching your heart to make room for a love deeper than you can imagine.”

With time my gift began to change me.

After a while it didn’t feel quite so heavy.

The tears made room for joy. So much joy.

My heart grew and stretched to make room for love. So much love.

As the darkness subsided, rays of light began to break through and something unexpected emerged.

Beneath the tears, heartache and darkness I saw my gift.

Hope. So much hope.

It filled me up. My hope was light and bright and good. It was so beautiful my soul could hardly take it.

the-unexpected-gift-lisa-leonard

God explained, “You had to walk through darkness to see the light. You had to cry heavy, salty tears to make room for joy. You had to ache deep in your heart to make room for love. This was the only way I could give you my true and lasting Hope.”

“Thank you.” I said. “The darkness has subsided and I can see more clearly. My tears have dried and made room for joy. My heart is bigger and I can love more deeply. I have hope. Hope is a gift more precious and beautiful than I ever imagined.”

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adventure is calling!

adventures, the meaning behind By September 8, 2016 13 Comments
Despite my good intentions, our flight to Paris a couple months ago had some stress–one incident in particular. Somehow, as I grabbed David’s baby food to throw it away, the sweet potatoes slipped out of my hand and went flying through the air. The box of orange mush landed in the aisle and the contents sprayed everyone nearby. I looked at the man across the aisle from me and he had sweet potatoes on his face, neck and shirt. I quickly grabbed some wet wipes while profusely apologizing. The woman in the seat behind him stood up and screamed, “WHAT WAS THAT?!” Oh my gosh, the shame fell over me like a heavy blanket. Five or six people hopped up out of their seats–each with orange flecks of sweet potatoes sprinkled across their clothes and seats.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, “It was sweet potatoes. I accidentally dropped my son’s food.” I continued apologizing as I handed out wet wipes to everyone around us.

Packing our bags a couple days earlier, I told myself, “Don’t think of it as a vacation. This is an adventure.” I was nervous but excited. I had visions of us beside the Eiffel Tower and eating macaroons, but I also had fears about the long plane ride and potentially sleepless nights. Traveling is challenging, but traveling with a kid who has special needs is even more so. When we travel our routine goes out the window–and it’s our routine that enables us to give David’s his meds throughout the day, keep him on a good schedule and plan for downtime. But France was calling! How could we say no? As I saw the sweet potatoes fly through the air in slow motion, I was pretty sure we should have stayed home.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself (in my most soothing inner voice) “This is an adventure. It’s okay if it’s imperfect. Adventure means things will get messy. It’s practically a requirement, right?” We arrived in Paris jet lagged and grumpy and I wondered if all this struggle was worth it.

But standing beside the Eiffel Tower I knew we had made the right decision. This adventure held magic.
When we ordered chocolate croissants at breakfast I let contentment wash over me. I soaked up a quiet minute during our crazy adventure.
We snapped a picture walking above the Seine River as misty raindrops landed on our happy faces. Adventure called and we listened.
Standing in front of Van Gogh’s self portrait I felt my heart soar with gratitude. Adventure had led us here.
Watching David and Matthias explore the cobblestone streets of France reminded me how adventure changes how we see ourselves and the world.

lets-be-adventurers-lisa-leonard

Of course we need routine; it’s how things get done. We need a schedule and a clock. We need school and work because it’s how we expand our minds. It’s how we accomplish tasks.

But we also need to break from routine. We need to throw the schedule out the window. We need to build a fort in the living room and not clean it up. We need to order pizza on a school night and leave dirty dishes in the sink. We plan a spur of the moment getaway. When we break from the routine we set off on an adventure.

Routine keeps us stable, adventure makes us flexible.
Routine makes us strong, adventure makes us brave.
Routine gives us discipline, adventure gives us boldness.
Routine depends on logic, adventure depends on imagination.
Routine makes the most of everyday. Adventure makes the most of life.

grow-roots-sprout-wingsToday I’m slipping on my cuff as a reminder that routine helps us grows roots and adventure helps us sprouts wings. We need both.

Routine helps us get up when the alarm goes off and lace up our running shoes. Routine enables us to keep the fridge full of groceries and the car full of gas. Routine provides a perfect environment for homework and home cooked meals.

Adventure on the other hand lets us make a new friend or try a new hobby. Adventure encourages us to climb a little higher and sing a little louder. Adventure gives us the freedom to fall in love, have another baby, start a new business and travel abroad. Nothing big and important happens without adventure.

And at the end of the day adventure reassures us, saying, “Don’t worry if you fail. It was just an adventure after all.”

It took us a few weeks to recover after our adventure in France. I was ready to get back into our regular routine and catch up on missed sleep. Routine is a good thing, but I know it won’t be long before adventure calls again. And I know we’ll take the risk, with the assurance we can always fall back into the comfort of routine.

Have you stepped outside of your routine lately?

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The risk of being me

finding love, marriage, the meaning behind By September 6, 2016 32 Comments

I was unhappy. Steve was unhappy. I began to feel afraid. We were unhappy so I must be doing something wrong. I was certain I could do better and try harder. I’m a pleaser. I want to make others happy—sometimes to a fault. I want to make my husband happy, my kids happy, my friends happy, heck I even want to make the cashier at the grocery store happy. I’ve long believed if I could make others happy, they would love me.

Steve and I fell in love. Initially we were just friends, hanging out in groups with other friends.  But as we spent time together I saw his integrity, insight and compassion. Once I saw his heart, I fell hard. I knew he was a good man. We dated for a few months, had a short engagement and said our marriage vows with confidence. I was determined to be the best wife I could be. I believed with all my heart, I would make him happy and he would love me.

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We’ve walked through some of the most difficult things two people can face; losing a job, depression and having a child with a severe disability. Through these storms our friendship has been a strong foundation. Inevitably though, when two flawed people spend an extended amount of time together, conflict happens. Things get rocky. And for us, things began to get very rocky.

We weren’t connecting. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. My fear was paralyzing me. I believed if Steve was unhappy he would stop loving me. I believed if Steve was unhappy it was my fault. I believed I could control his moods and emotions. I was certain I could do better and try harder. I kept a mental list of the ways I could please him. I put his needs before mine and tried to think of my own needs less. I tried to control our marriage, avoiding conflict at any cost. The more I tried to please him, the more I lost myself. Steve didn’t want a wife who lived to please him, he wanted the strong, confident woman he married. My fear of losing his love was putting walls between us. The harder I tried to make him happy the more frustrated and discouraged I became. I falsely believed if I focused more on him and less on myself I could heal our marriage.

I went from unhappiness to exhaustion and desperate sadness. No matter how hard I tried, nothing changed. I was reaching a breaking point, so I decided to risk it all and tell Steve how desperate I felt. He had no idea I was so deeply unhappy.  I’d been trying to save our marriage on my own—and I was losing myself in the process. We met with a therapist and both shared honestly and openly. She helped {and continues to help} us work through our blind spots. We began listening to each other more. I began to say what I wanted instead of trying to please him all the time. I started taking better care of myself and cutting things out of my schedule. I stopped trying to be everything to everyone and began to focus on being me—even if it meant rejection. I needed to be me, not knowing if Steve would love that person.

And something miraculous happened. It wasn’t easy or magical but it was truly amazing. Together, with tears and humility we began breaking down walls. Together we grew closer. Together we shared more, we listened more. Together we stopped casting judgement and being defensive. We set aside our fear of losing each other and began choosing to stay together.

I believe there are cycles within a marriage; we give all we have but love still breaks down. In the breakdown both partners have a choice: go through the pain and fear of reconnecting or continue to pull away. If in our brokenness we can be humble and honest, a new love begins where the old love left off. Love is risky. Showing up is risky. But a healthy marriage consists of two people, each showing up and being their truest self. Two people who adore each other despite their flaws and imperfections.

the risk of being me lisa leonard aodred ring

Slowly but surely I’m learning I can’t make someone else happy. I’m working daily to overcome false beliefs that I can control another person’s moods and feelings. I can only control my own emotions and my own actions. Caring for my own heart enables me to love better.  An ignored heart loves incompletely, a nurtured heart loves deeply. I want to be in a marriage where instead of avoiding conflict, we engage honestly, work hard, daily choosing to be together. When love breaks down, we begin again. I’m still a recovering people pleaser but I’m growing. I’m learning to feel my feelings and stop managing other people’s feelings. I’m beginning to understand love isn’t based on emotions or changing circumstances. Love isn’t one sided. Love thrives when two people choose kindness, patience and forgiveness.

Being me is risky, but losing myself is even riskier. Brave love is risky and beautiful.

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Honoring the Pain

david, hope, the meaning behind By August 30, 2016 59 Comments

David was four days old and asleep inside his little bed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit {NICU}. An adorable blue plaid baby quilt my sister made was draped over the side and a paper tag with David’s name written in cute, happy lettering was taped to the edge. His weight had dropped since birth a few days earlier and he was down to 3 pounds, 12 ounces. We had been told he had a rare genetic disorder but a million questions loomed in the air. We were in shock. We’d been expecting a healthy baby and everything had gone wrong. Both Steve and I were walking around in a daze. Steve sat near David and I stepped outside the NICU with a folder of bills and the checkbook. Even in crisis, real life demands to be lived. Bills have to be paid. Cars need gas. Clothes have to be washed, dried and folded. Well, maybe they don’t have to be folded. It’s surreal to do normal, everyday tasks while you’re world is crumbling around you. I remember clearly, sitting in the lobby right outside the NICU, opening the folder to pay bills and thinking, “This is so strange. Who cares about the gas bill? My baby was born with two fingers on his left hand.”

As I wrote the first check and tucked inside the envelope, our friends Josh and Maggie walked into the lobby. In the early years of our marriage they were our upstairs neighbors, worked in ministry with us and were some of our closest friends. They spent time with us during hospital stay. They brought groceries and arranged meals. On this afternoon, when our tiny David was only a few days old they sat down with me on the uncomfortable lobby couch and said nothing. They just sat, no words. I set the bills aside, buried my head in my hands and began to sob. The tears came from a bottomless well inside me. As I gave into the grief I wondered if I would ever stop crying. I held the pain in all its unbearable heaviness.  They sat with me, their arms around me and cried with me. They were powerless to change the situation but they stepped inside the darkness with me. I wasn’t alone.

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Pain demands to be felt. It won’t be rushed. It won’t be pushed away or minimized. There is no set timeline for grief. There is no bible verse or life truth that can lessen pain’s grip. No matter how much we may try to push it away or pretend it isn’t there, it manifests itself. There are no tricks or tips to lessening the agony. Pain is moving through darkness, one tiny step at a time with faith that eventually a ray of light will break through. We honor our pain with tears and time. We honor our pain by acknowledging its heaviness and hurt. We honor it by recognizing loss and the hole it leaves behind.

love and loss rings lisa leonard

We honor pain by allowing it to wash over us like a tidal wave, and in its own time it recedes a bit. That first ray of light breaking through the darkness is fresh air and we breath it in as deeply as we can. We breath in hope. And hope is the balm that soothes the pain. Just as we can’t expedite pain, hope also won’t be rushed. It comes in its own time. It comes as we honor the pain.

When Josh and Maggie cried with me they honored my pain. They honored our tiny baby David and the difficult road ahead of him. They honored broken hearts and lost dreams. They didn’t minimize the journey before us with advice or easy answers. They loved him exactly as he was—a whole soul inside a broken body. And they breathed in deeply with us as the first ray of light broke through the darkness.

Are you honoring the pain of a difficult situation right now? Are you walking with someone through pain?

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wholeness is a contradiction

finding love, jewelry, the meaning behind By June 29, 2016 4 Comments

What is wholeness?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve spent time reading about it, journaling about it and praying about it.

I want to be whole–but often I feel so broken and inadequate. I’m imperfect, but also amazing. I’m strong and capable but also prone to discouragement when I’m worn out. Wholeness is a contradiction. The more I accept my inability to be whole, the more I find it.

To fully experience life I have to open myself to every part it—the beautiful parts and the ugly parts.

wholeness lisa leonard2-01

Wholeness isn’t perfection. I’ve made my to-do lists and faithfully checked off item after item. By the time I reach the end of the list I have to start over again. The list is never-ending, but my energy is limited. I’ve tried to be perfect and failed miserably time and time again.

Wholeness isn’t life without conflict. I’ve tried to control things in my environment, my home, my family to make us all ‘happy’. It’s impossible. Each of us with our own personalities and preferences can’t be simultaneously pleased and content each moment. Relationship requires give and take. It requires flexibility and freeing ourselves to feel what we feel.

wholeness lisa leonard-01

Wholeness is waking up on a Saturday morning to pancakes and syrupy fingers.

Wholeness is taking the dogs for a walk and letting the laundry wait.

Wholeness is clearing our calendar last minute to stay home and rest.

Wholeness is a date night that ends with a fight. But we climb into bed and drift off to sleep side by side anyway.

Sometimes wholeness is laughing and sometimes it’s crying.

Sometimes it’s singing together in the car.

Sometimes it’s raised voices and strong opinions.

Sometimes it’s kind words.

Sometimes it’s forgiveness. Maybe all the time it’s forgiveness.

Wholeness is taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, so I can love you better. And knowing you need to do the same.

Wholeness is believing you’re strong where I’m weak. And I’m strong where you’re weak.

Wholeness is you and me smoothing out each other’s rough edges.

wholeness necklace lisa leonard

Wholeness is a little necklace around my neck reminding me together we are better. Together we are stronger. Together we will walk this winding road hand in hand.

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creativity takes courage {a lot of it!}

adventures, finding beauty, the meaning behind By May 10, 2016 37 Comments

Do you know that feeling—when you can feel the shame creeping up your neck and into your cheeks? When you wish the ground would swallow you up? I know that feeling well.

Years ago, when I was beginning to make jewelry, I sent a couple samples to one of my favorite local boutiques. The shop was located near the beach and carried high end clothing, vintage décor and handmade jewelry. I followed up with a phone call and we scheduled a time to meet. The thought of having my handmade creations in her store was exhilarating. It was exciting and humbling. It was also terrifying.

I carefully chose some of my favorite creations–lots of necklaces and a few earrings. Each was piece was placed in an individual box and all of the boxes were gathered into a structured bag. On the day of our meeting, I loaded up my creations, found a parking space near the boutique and walked with trembling steps through the boutique door.

early designs lisa leonard

{early designs from 2008/2009}

Deep breath.

The owner smiled and welcomed me to her shop. We chatted about the beautiful weather outside and a new label she was carrying in her store. As we talked, I began to lay out each necklace side by side. As I laid out the handmade pieces, I felt like I was laying out my soul, baring some of my most vulnerable hopes and dreams.

She turned her attention from the conversation to the handmade jewelry in front of her. With the precision of a surgeon and the strong opinions of an experienced buyer, she began to separate the necklaces into two categories. She went through each piece and decided whether or not it suited her taste. I could feel her words cut through me.

Yes.
No.
No
Yes.
No.
Yes.

With each ‘no’ my heart sunk a little lower and I wished the ground would swallow me up. With each ‘yes’ my hopes boosted slightly. I felt like a ping pong ball–she liked it, she hated it, she liked it, she hated it.

After a few very short minutes that felt like an eternity she counted the ‘yes’ necklaces, pulled out her checkbook and paid me for the pieces. I thanked her, packed up the reject necklaces, walked outside and got in my car. I drove down the street and pulled into a quiet parking spot. Then, like every strong and capable entrepreneur, I burst into tears. I felt humiliated. I felt rejected. I felt stupid. Who did I think I was making handmade jewelry? I was a failure.

But I could hear a little voice reminding me that this shop, a shop I loved, was carrying some of my handmade designs. Sure, she didn’t like every piece, but she liked some of them. She was carrying my designs. It was a success, not a failure. And even if she hadn’t bought one single necklace, that didn’t mean I was a failure either. It only meant the jewelry wasn’t her taste.

I was beginning to understand creativity requires courage. Sharing my creations with the world was a way of baring my soul. The jewelry was part of me. In a very real way, it was an expression of my heart.

Creativity is like hopping across a rocky stream, jumping from one stone to the next. Watching someone else do it is easy.  But as I took my first leap, my foot landed on a slightly unstable stone. Should I jump to the next stone or turn back? I could see the next stone, so I jumped. In order to get across the stream, I had to jump one stone at a time—sometimes changing course. I had to be brave.

Each step takes me further on my journey. Each step provides new opportunities, new insights, and new challenges. With each leap I am learning new ways of thinking that had never crossed my mind before. With each leap I am getting braver.

But how how do we find courage to leave the shore? How do we find the bravery to jump from one stone to the next?  I’ve found a few simple but profound strategies that work for me.

  1. I believe I am worthy and loved no matter what. My value isn’t determined by a successful jewelry business. I am enough. If I fail, I will still be loved. I will still be precious. I am surrounded by family and friends who treasure me just because I am ME. Even when I land on a shaky stone, I have a solid foundation. This gives me courage—so much courage!
  2. I separate my art from my soul–at least a bit. The work of my hands is a reflection of me, but it’s not ME. When someone doesn’t like my jewelry, that doesn’t mean they are rejecting me. It simply means they don’t like my jewelry. And that’s okay. But in the rare circumstance where they are rejecting me? Well, I go back to number one—I am worthy and loved no matter what.
  3. Failure is one of the best ways to learn. It’s impossible to succeed all of the time. If I’m able to look at a failure head on, knowing it doesn’t define me, I can learn from it, change a few things and forge ahead. Failure can be my friend.

Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I never expected my little hobby jewelry business to blossom into something bigger. I never expected to have a team of talented, brilliant people work alongside me to make it flourish. I never expected to connect with women like you–amazing women who have a beautiful heart and a deep love for others. I can look back with gratitude and look forward with hope. Where will the next stone take me?

current designs lisa leonard

{some of my best sellers from the shop}

Have you jumped from the shore onto a stone? How how you found the courage to share your creativity with the world? I would love to hear your story!

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finding hope in the heartbreak

inspiration, motherhood, stories from our community, the meaning behind By April 21, 2016 4 Comments

When you share your stories with my on Facebook or Instagram, it often stops me right where I am. It’s humbling to create jewelry that holds deep meaning–and when these handmade pieces become part of your story, it fills me. Jen’s story of heartache and hope resonated deeply with me–and you! When she shared on Facebook, many of you responded to her comment and encouraged her. This community is a beautiful place where people can be honest and feel loved. I’m grateful. I reached out to Jen to share more of her story with us. Here’s Jen’s comment from Facebook…

‘2014 was supposed to be a joyous year. In the spring, we thought my mom’s cancer was on the up and up, and my husband and I finally became pregnant. We told my mom early, thinking it would give her final push to really kick cancer’s butt. It turned out that it had a stronger hold on her than anyone knew, and the hospital stays started. We find out at our 3 month ultrasound that the baby has an irreversible birth defect. Everyone fought and prayed for the best. However, angels were made that summer; my mom passed in July, and we lost the baby two weeks later. I didn’t know what to do, that fog was so think. My family and I stuck together and through them and friends, I pulled myself out. There are now sunny days again–we have a beautiful little girl, named after my mom. Her room’s theme is You Are My Sunshine. ‘

It warmed my heart to see the ways you and others in our community responded, encouraged, and shared in the joy and pain. We asked Jen to share a bit more about her journey, and where she finds hope. Read for more…

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How do you experience hope each day?

I experience hope every time I look at my daughter. Rosabella fills me with hope every day — hope for a bright future for her, hope for the best for our family, and the knowing that everything is okay. My mom believed in hope, had given me a bracelet with that word on it.  We always hope for the best outcome possible. Sometimes the best outcome isn’t want we want, but what is best for the person going through the tough time.

When in this journey did you experience a glimmer of hope?

I first experienced a glimmer of hope when we found out we were pregnant. It was right around Mother’s Day 2014. I had wanted to give my mom a grandchild so badly, especially knowing she was sick. We told my mom early, at about 8-9 weeks. I thought that maybe this was the bump she needed to finally get her body back to where she wanted it.  We gave her a bracelet that said Grandma on it.  At first, she thought it was from our cat!  Then she thought about it, and I hadn’t seen her so excited in a long time!

What are some of the ways you feel supported by friends and family?

My husband was my rock during that tough summer. He was there at every doctor’s appointment, and had no problem with me staying for days at a time with my mom when she was home.  He encouraged me to do silly things to keep my mind off of things while my mom slept. Once my mom went into hospice, he came every night with me to see her.  My dad has always been an amazing person, but blew me away during those years.  They were divorced but became her main care taker.  He took her to every appointment, every treatment, and spent nights at her house as well.  He told me everything that happened at those appointments, and we all talked a lot as a family.  I see my father at least once a week now (he does some baby-sitting now and again too), and we do lots of talking and reminiscing.  I have a close group of girlfriends; like all friends we get involved in life and don’t always see each other.  During that time, they were the first to come to my mom’s house and brought food for my dad, my brother, and me.  They were always checking in. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Now we all have kids (well, one has a nephew she adores), and we try to get together at least once a month.

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How would you encourage someone going through the process of grieving the loss of a loved one?

I would say take life one hour at a time.  When you’re ready, take life one day at a time.  There is no amount of time that can totally take that hurt of losing a loved one away, but slowly the hurt does lessen.  No one can tell you that enough time has passed and you should be “over it”.  Only the person grieving knows when they are able to put one foot in front of the other.  What I also found helped was joining a support group.  Members of this group had all experienced a loss, and although not all losses were the same, we all knew that deep feeling of despair and grief.  It started as more of a therapeutic gathering, but now I attend because these people have become my friends. 

What have you learned about yourself this year?

Since Bella was born, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought in many respects.  The late nights, working on my Master’s program, working full time… I do have my moments where I think I cannot do it and I break down. In the end, though, it gets done.  I just think of my mom, and how hard she fought against her illness.  I am nowhere near the hardships she had to endure, and I know she would not want me giving up or breaking down.

Are there any other details or thoughts you would like to share with the community?

I know we’ve all heard this, but do not take anything for granted.  Life is short; a loved one is there one minute, and could be gone the next.  This is something that I keep in mind everyday.  Yes, I am busy and there are things that have to get done (work, classwork).  However, the laundry can wait.  Dinner can be later.  What matters most is my family–making sure I play with Bella as soon as we come home, chasing Chewie around the house for playtime, sitting down and spending time with Jason.  Take time to be with the ones you love.  But also remember to love yourself, too–for you are no good to anyone if you yourself are unhappy.

Bella and Chewie

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 This is so beautiful, Jen. Thank you Jen for sharing your heart! I am so glad the sunburst ring holds deep meaning for you. You are strong and brave. xx

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being shaped and formed and molded

jewelry, motherhood, the meaning behind By April 12, 2016 4 Comments

I don’t know how to make jewelry–or at least there are times I want to give up because it’s hard! Over the years, I’ve learned how to use my tools, but sometimes they still won’t cooperate. When I set out to create a new design, I dream, sketch, metal work, file, hammer, polish—and I can tell you, nine times out of ten, the end result is different that what I imagined when inspiration first came to me.

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I see symbolism here with motherhood. I dreamed about being a mom since I was a little girl. I wrapped my baby doll in a blanket and carried her around the house. I changed pretend diapers and hoped some day I would have my own, very real baby. When I held David in my arms for the first time, everything I imagined fell away. With a disability, he wasn’t what I expected, but he was adorable and precious. He was part of me and also uniquely himself. With Matthias’ birth I was similarly unprepared and facing the unexpected. When each of my boys was placed in my arms we met for the first time. That first day we began the adventure getting to know each other.

With every cuddle, kiss, tear wiped and hand held we are molding our children. With every comforting word and piece of advice shared, we are guiding and training our children. Each child brings his own personality, spunk and curiosity to life. Like metalworking and jewelry design, it’s an imperfect process. The artist and the metal work together. The parent and the child are each growing, changing and being shaped into something lovely.

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There is a beauty to a handmade piece that is forged from metal and shaped into something meaningful. When our pieces are made, sometimes the metal works in our favor, and sometimes it works against us. The process involves fire to soften and shape the metal, but it also requires cool water baths and the gentle brushes to buff and shine. There is push and pull—two forces at work. What results is better because of the struggle. The finished design is a combination of what I bring to the workbench and what the raw materials allow.  Motherhood, like jewelry making, is two forces working together. It’s a process of being shaped and formed and molded—not just the child, but the mother as well.

Each handmade piece of jewelry represents my mother’s heart. It’s the deep significance of a journey walked together. Through highs and lows each of us is changed and deep bonds are formed. This is where love flourishes. This is the meaning behind each piece of jewelry I create.

Stack on a few delicate birthstone rings or wear a handcrafted necklace close to your heart with the knowledge that being a mother is magnificent work—not because mother or child is perfect, but because together we are growing, becoming stronger and more whole.  Together we are better.

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Mother’s Day is just a few short weeks away. There is a perfect gift waiting to be created, just for you or a dear one in your life. Don’t wait—click here to see the pieces I’ve created for you.

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