Lisa Leonard Designs

Archive for the ‘adventures’ Category

I’m fine, thanks.

February 18th | adventures, dominican republic

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 want to understand the people more deeply. I want 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.

* * *

Want to read more? Ruth, Bonnie, Holley and Bri are all with me in the DR. Such beautiful hearts and beautiful stories. Click on their names to read their words and hearts.

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!

hello cambria, hello 2015

January 5th | adventures, hello monday

Well, friends, here we are in the year 2015. So futuristic sounding.

Last week we had my twin sister, her husband and my nieces in town. It was such a good time. The cousins played plenty of video games, played at the park, we ate out, had epic boggle competitions and just enjoyed each other.

We spent Friday in Cambria. It’s about 45 minutes up the coast from San Luis Obispo and it’s gorgeous. The mountains meet the sea and it’s breathtaking. We ate lunch at Moonstone Bar and Grill and then walked the path alone the ocean. After a little park play, we headed home for pizza and a movie.

It’s a brand new week and it’s a brand new year. 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 color. I love coral and yellow together.

Hello cousins. It’s awesome to play, lounge, fight, create and be silly.

Hello sweet moment with daddy.

Hello walking in the sunshine. Good for the soul.

Hello houses on cliff. I’m not sure I’d like to live that close to the ocean–but wow, their views must be gorgeous.

Hello seeing, capturing, creating.

Hello blur. Love the hazy memory created by this pic.

Hello loves. My twin sis and her husband have twin daughters. {My older brother has twin daughters too.}

Hello sweetheart. We are taking time to talk and dream and listen. We want to love each other better in 2015. We want to grow.

Hello swings and slides.

Hello epic synchronized swing jumping. Awesome.

Hello twin. We are identical–which means we were once the same egg that split into two. I literally feel like she is part of me. She understands my heart like no one else.

Hello back in the car and on our way home. Pizza and lounging with blankets and popcorn while watching a movie made for the perfect end to the day!

Hello back to school today. Kids are moderately excited. I am THRILLED. I kinda love our regular routine. Breaks are super fun and then I love to get back into the schedule.

Hello thinking about goals and dreams for 2015. I have some share tomorrow.

Hello groceries, emails and laundry. Always more to do.

Hello cleaning the house, tucking the Christmas decor away for another year and breathing in the simplicity.

Hello listening to David tapping out sweet tunes on the keyboard.

Hello to YOU! It’s a brand new week and a fresh start. What are you saying hello to this week? Leave some hellos in the comments or link up your own hello monday post there.

Montana de Oro

November 20th | adventures, san luis obispo

Last week, Steve was in the DR and friends came to stay and keep me company. We went to Montana de Oro and played in the sand and caves a bit. It’s so beautiful there. So peaceful–and good for my soul. And oh my goodness, pics of my boys from years ago at Montana de Oro. So much love.

As you can see I spent most of my time hunting for heart shaped rocks–and it paid off big time!

Where are you finding beauty today?

A big announcement!!

October 11th | adventures, jewelry

You may have noticed that I’ve been traveling to the Dominican Republic lately. Well there’s a good reason for that–it’s not just to soak up the gorgeous beaches. I have some exciting news to share!

I truly love the Dominican Republic. That beaches are breathtaking and the colonial zone is full of amazing architecture–but it’s so much more than that. The language, the people, the texture and light has captured my heart.

Steve and I visited in June, then I went back in September. Actually, I’m heading back next week too! There is so much to do!

Ready to find out what’s going on? Click the video below for more details!

Exciting, isn’t it?! I am thrilled to walk this journey with you!

sister birthday 2014

September 5th | adventures, celebrate the every day

A couple weekends ago I met up with my twin and our two younger sisters {also twins} to stay in an airstream in Buellton, CA. We had so. much. fun. Coming back to real life was painful–that’s how much fun we had. No responsibilities, no stress, no timeline–just talking, laughing, eating, playing cards and being together. Being real. Being loved. It was amazing. Can we go back this weekend??

Lisa, Susan, Ellen, Chrissie {my twin}

We visited the ostrich farm which was hilarious. They are aggressive and funny. And huge!

The airstream was so fun and cozy!

These are the weekends that feed my soul. So good. So very very good.

Have you gotten away lately?

oh these boys! {love!}

August 29th | adventures, family

We made it through our first full week of school! Matthias is in 5th grade and David moved over to the middle school. They aren’t on the same campus anymore and it makes me a little sad. Change is hard. Change is good.

We had our lunches packed, new school supplies, emergency forms filled out and we were READY! But things didn’t go as I’d planned. They didn’t go horribly wrong–they just went differently than I expected. I was worried about David and all his needs as he transitioned to middle school, but I thought Matthias would do just fine. Matthias has been tired and sad–he’s grieving the end of summer. He says he’s not ready for all the stress that school brings. David has had an easy adjustment–no issues, no stress, just smooth.

The boys are growing so fast, but still little too. There is so much to process and discuss. I am honored to journey alongside them and watch them change and grow. And it’s crazy and heart wrenching and stressful!

Mostly the way they love each other is completely humbling. It happens outside of me. It can’t be forced. And as they grow I see how much they care for each other. How much Matthias looks out for David and how David wants to be near Matthias.

My heart is full. Crazy and stressed, but so full.