Lisa Leonard Designs

Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

embracing change, embracing this moment

September 24th | adventures, finding beauty

It has been such a season of change! In some ways, fall feels more like the ‘new year’ than January 1st. The kids started school and have new teachers. It’s a new rhythm. It’s exciting, disorienting and it’s life–life is full of change. Sometimes I wish things didn’t have to change–but looking back I see the blessings of change. I’m glad these moments have been captured on my blog and instagram. I can look through photos and remember little details. I can see that we’re different today than we were then.

When I’m in a season of change, we like to stop and reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going and where we want to be. I like to reflect and plan. I like making lists and setting goals.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 10.36.22 AMThe boys have changed so much since I started blogging 10 years ago. {Check out this post–the boys were so little, I stamped jewelry in my garage, we celebrated David taking 6 steps. Crazy!} Heck, BLOGGING has changed so much since I started blogging ten years ago.

My boys are in 6th grade and middle school. They are full of thoughts and opinions. Their needs are so different than they used to be–but no less important. Steve is CEO of our business that started at our kitchen table. When I wanted to quit, he gave me hugs and pep talks. When I needed a break, he would jump in and help. When I didn’t know what to do next, he took brave steps to make the business stable. Steve has not only supported the business but visioned how to grow it and make it thrive. There would be no Lisa Leonard Designs without him.

We are literally moving our workshop as I type. I’m typing among packed boxes and empty tables. We are scheduling utilities to be turned off in our current space and turned on in our new space. We’ll be downtown in San Luis Obispo–more on that soon. It’s exciting. It’s crazy. It’s kind of hard for me to believe it!

We are partnering with artisans in the Dominican Republic to hand-craft our jewelry. It provides life-changing jobs for these people–which means they will have food, housing and education. I never thought the hobby business that started in our kitchen would touch hearts around the world. I haven’t built this business alone. We have a team of amazing people here in California and in the DR that make this business work. They believe in the heart of Lisa Leonard Designs.

And YOU have supported this little business. You’ve loved me and my family. You’ve prayed for us when David had open heart surgery and you’ve cheered for us in the good and bad. You’ve cried with me on hard days and laughed with me on good days. You’ve shared your own journey with us–the beauty and the pain. I am so thankful for this community. I’m thankful for you.

We are all in this together–and I’m so grateful.

update on jazmine

July 21st | dominican republic, finding beauty

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!

new for summer! {and what it means to me}

June 26th | finding beauty, jewelry

Our new summer collection is here! You guys, I have been so excited to share this with you and now I can! Each piece is full of meaning and heart.

Summer is such a special season, don’t you think? The kids are out of school and the regular routine is out the window.

Summer is for sandy toes and splashing in the waves.
Summer is fresh strawberries, sunscreen and staying up past bedtime.
Summer is for taking silly selfies that in ten years will be priceless mementos of memories made.
Summer means the sun on our shoulders and our hearts full of love.

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Some of my favorites include the swept away necklace, the anchored necklace and swing free earrings.
You can see the whole collection here. 

It’s summer! Warm sun, warm hearts! Let’s make memories!

Which piece is your favorite?

giving love to the least of these

June 25th | thoughts

showing love lisa leonard2-01Last week I saw a homeless woman with two kids standing on the corner with a sign asking for help.

The younger son had a blanket tied around his neck like a cape. As he jumped around, pretending to be a superhero, I thought back to the days when my own son, Matthias insisted on wearing a cape everywhere. The older daughter was drawing on a sketch pad. My kids do the same things. I wondered what it would be like to keep my boys occupied while standing on a street corner for hours. It seemed exhausting.

I kept driving because I’m busy and she’s probably not really homeless — she’s just trying to get a handout. At least those were my first thoughts. I just wanted it to go away.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about her. On Sunday, our pastor encouraged us to pay attention to that tug on our hearts and stop to listen to God’s prompting. Ugh! I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to pray. But I felt that tug on my heart, so I pulled over the car and sat for a moment.

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

finding balance

May 19th | thoughts

I often get asked how I ‘find balance’. If balance means the house is clean, the kids are attended to, I’m caught up on emails and I’m wearing a cute outfit with lipstick—then I have never found balance. My house is a mess, my kids are loved, my email list is long and I wear the same jeans almost every day.

Balance is illusive. What does ‘balance’ look like? How can we as busy moms find it? I have a slightly different perspective that’s helped me.

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

meeting joely {our sponsored daughter}

February 24th | dominican republic, finding love

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

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

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

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

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

Didi got lots of stickers put all over her.

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

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

I love her. Can you tell?

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

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

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

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

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

investing in love

January 31st | david, finding love

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

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

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

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

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

surprised by love

January 27th | finding beauty

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has love surprised you?

beauty in brokenness {free printable!}

January 23rd | blog friends, finding beauty

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday Friends!

Loving Each Other in the Mundane

January 22nd | finding love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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